Friday, May 18, 2012

Bread Loaf

No, not the one in Middlebury, VT but a better one! Crustier, more tender and infinitely addictive. I dusted off my ancient bread machine, added a little flour, water, yeast, salt, sugar and butter, some NF dry milk, a recipe for heaven.

Bread Loaf

Monday, July 5, 2010

In Cars

Wow. A whole year since I last posted here. Tempis fugit, yo.


I'm driving around the other day and I see this car stalled and a guy pushing it while another guy sits in the driver's seat, and people whirring around it all impatient and stuff, and it occurs to me how I don't see people pushing cars much anymore. Is it because cars are just better now, more reliable? It seems I used to see cars being pushed a lot, back in the day.

So then I start thinking about my first car, a used '62 Renault Caravelle that my mother bought for $525 when I was 17 and starting college. It was just like this one pictured, a red convertible with 2 tops, but I imbued mine with Flower Power by sticking huge, plastic flowers all over it.

The Red Bullet.

For a while the Red Bullet had no reverse but it was small and light and I could easily push it backwards out of parking spots, but no parallel parking. The points in the voltage regulator would stick. I'd see the needle on the ammeter in the red zone and I’d get out of the car, open the trunk where the engine was, and bang the voltage regulator box with my fist to unstick the points so the battery would charge.

I had generator problems, too, resulting in lots of dead battery issues. I learned how to jump start a car. Solo, no small feat. You had to look for a parking spot that was sort of downhill. I got cozy with Speedy, the AAA guy who looked just like Sonny Bono. He came to jump start me and my car for lots of dead batteries, and sometimes I’d ride around with him on calls. Then I found out he was married. Oh, and a heroin addict.

My well-meaning but dumb friend, Harry, kindly offered to put water in the radiator for me (the Bullet overheated a lot and always needed water), but he filled up the oil tank instead. Not much happened. The Red Bullet was resilient in odd ways.

So I had to add water to it all the time and the radiator cap was on an extension hose-thing from the radiator, directly suspended above the distributor. If you got sloppy with the water, it would drip on the distributor and the car wouldn’t start or it would miss like crazy. I’d have to take the distributor cap off and take the air hose to blow all the spark plugs and connections dry. I learned a lot about cars. That car, anyway.

It was a nightmare of a car most of the time but man, it had traction. That thing hugged the road like a motherfucker; whipped down curvy canyons like a race car. "Hold true, Red Bullet." I actually would say that.

I borrowed my mom's Chevy Nova to take my brother and some of his buddies to the beach to surf. We piled the boards on the car and I tried to hurl through Topanga Canyon like I could in the Bullet, and the Nova wallowed wildly all over the road. We nearly crashed. The Nova was no Bullet.

It didn't do too well going uphill. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can ...

There was a time when the only way to stop the Bullet was to yank up the emergency brake as hard and fast as possible while pumping the foot brake to the floor, and downshifting to second gear. Somehow I avoided a catastrophe until the brakes were fixed.

Driving home from frat parties, stopping, opening the door, vomiting (I’m not proud of this). The Bullet never judged me.

Summer nights, in the wee hours of the morning, my GF, Kathy Poole and I would cruise in the Bullet over to the original Tommy's on Rampart, way before it became a chain burger place. Top down and no reverse. If you don't know L.A., Rampart is and was some bad-ass scary high-crime neighborhood, but we were 18 by then, and therefore, immortal. We smoked weed, a felony in those days, even one seed could put your ass in the Big House, and we’d head over to Tommy's for chili burgers with thick slices of beefsteak tomato and those hot little peppers, all served by ex-cons. We’d sit there bloody eyed, wolfing down our burgers amongst the bad asses. They'd offer to help, though, some of them, when they saw us pushing the Bullet.

I took the Bullet to San Francisco once, with my GF Sandy S. It didn't make it back that trip; there was LSD and a dropped clutch in Sausalito, sleeping on Stinson Beach except not sleeping because of being so high on acid. Sandy and I hitchhiked home to Burbank; it took us a couple of days because we went back through Big Sur. We met some good people along the way that gave us a ride all the way to our homes. Then I took my sister's big white Impala back up to Sausalito and jerry-rigged some kind of tow thing. and towed the Bullet home to drive another day. Only one headlight worked on my sister’s car, and I had cracked a contact lens while camping on the beach on the return trip, so the Impala and I had this one-eyed symmetry going on.

I had the Bullet for about 2 years. I got a job at Blue Cross on Sunset and bought a brand new Mazda 626 via the credit union. I traded the Bullet in but I forgot for how much. I want to say $90. It still had the flowers.

So those guys push the car, I think it was a Toyota, into the Chevron across the street. They were probably out of gas.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Everything Matters! by Ron Currie Jr.!

I finished EVERYTHING MATTERS! in two besotted days, and I'm in that stunned afterglow full-feeling, teary-eyed reverie of having read something so wickedly funny; so crazy ass absurd yet so profoundly moving/heartbreaking and so oddly but overwhelmingly uplifting. Ron Currie Jr. just blows it out of the park (baseball being a major player here) in oh so many ways.

"You wish they understood as you do, that there is no escape and never was, that from the moment two cells combined to become one they were doomed."

What a ride. Everything matters, kids.

'S Been A While . . .

This is the 'ketchup edition' because a lot has happened and I've missed it all.
  • So first, because this blog is about ME, my story "Afterlife" was a Story of the Week over at Narrative Magazine, and what a joy ride that was! Lots of great comments and I felt like a proper writer. For a week. And now to carry on with my big bad self.
  • Farewell to Farah Fawcett. Charlie's Angels notwithstanding, she was brave and ballsy and my heart goes out to her and her family and mostly to Redmond, her kid.
  • And Michael Jackson, holy shit! Nothing I can add here to the media voyeur monster machine, but his music was sure a part of my life and my kid's life and his weirdness was always something to marvel at.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ununbium (112)

****BERLIN (Reuters) – A new, superheavy chemical element numbered 112 will soon be officially included in the periodic table, German researchers said.

A team in the southwest German city of Darmstadt first produced 112 in 1996 by firing charged zinc atoms through a 120-meter-long particle accelerator to hit a lead target. (Is it just me, or is that kind of hot?)

"The new element is approximately 277 times heavier than hydrogen, making it the heaviest element in the periodic table," the scientists at the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research said in a statement late on Wednesday.

The zinc and lead nuclei were fused to form the nucleus of the new element, also known as Ununbium, Latin for 112.

(blah blah blah, here's the whole Reuters article)

The atomic number 112 refers to the sum of the atomic numbers of zinc, which has 30, and lead, which has 82. Atomic numbers denote how many protons are found in the atom's nucleus. (I love this.)

In 1925, scientists discovered the last naturally occurring element on the periodic table (FYI: Uranium). Since then researchers have sought to create new, heavier elements.

Proving the existence of atoms with such a high mass, the so-called superheavy elements, is a complex procedure because they exist for only tiny fractions of a second and then decay radioactively into other elements.*****

Creating new elements, that's so God Particle. And something about atomic nuclei forcibly fusing to produce something brand new that only exists for fractions of seconds is so Las Vegas, baby.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Freight Stories, No. 5!

The new issue of Freight Stories is up, with a story by yours truly, "Wreckers", and lots of great reading by some awesome writers. And it's gorgeous! Andrew Scott and Victoria Barrett, the editors, have done a beautiful presentation and I'm all verklempt and shit to be amongst such illustrious company!

Adam is Gay! Duh!

He comes out in this week's issue of Rolling Stone. Adam Lambert makes me wish I were a young boy.
Or a green snake . . .

Monday, June 8, 2009

Gatekeeping and Vetting for Self-Published Books

So, expecting a rise in self-published books as a fallout from the publishing recession, is a new business that promises to vet self-published books for the discerning reader (for a fee of course, that the author puts up).
From the site:
"Books will be chosen for inclusion on the IndieReader site by a panel of editors, literary agents, and marketing professionals, and all categories of books (except for porn) will be represented. There will be a charge for membership; in exchange, authors will get a sales venue and a web page with its own URL. Authors will set their book's retail price and receive 75% of the sales (the buyer will pay for shipping). Authors will have complete control over the editorial content of their sites with no general restrictions on reviews, interviews, video, and audio."

It's a brave new world for entrepreneurship, yo. Via GalleyCat.

Two Journalists Sentenced to 12 Years Hard Labor in No Ko

Euna Lee and Laura Ling, journalists investigating North Korean refugees, were arrested by North Korean guards on March 17 near the Chinese/North Korean border. They've been tried, convicted, and now sentenced to 12 years of hard labor No Ko style, in a secret high court. No one thinks they're going to serve the time, rather, they'll be used as pawns for political leverage. It's a steaming hot situation, what with sanctions being considered by the U.S. the U.N. and Japan for No Ko's recent forays into nuclear foreplay, and North Korea threatening severe repercussions if that happens.
But here's what gets me: Euna Lee has a 4 year old daughter. What possessed her to go to North Korea? For what, exactly, fame? Glory? Self-actualization? I don't get it. And I hardly have pity when the baby card is pulled for sympathy, because no one twisted her arm to go. I remember having a 4 year old. Nothing could've convinced me to leave him. The way I see it, the duties of motherhood trump everything. EVERYTHING. I guess they thought they'd be safe (in North Korea???)
Color me self-righteously indignant on this one. I hope they're freed and returned home safely. And I hope Euna thinks twice before she takes on another risky job. Wait until the kid is grown some, it happens fast. 4 year olds need their mommies more than we need the scoop on North Korean refugees. Seriously.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What I One-Clicked Today

Three books, one-click.

Pasha Malla's The Withdrawal Method, which just won Canada's DANUTA GLEED Literary Award for best first collection of short fiction, and may I mention how adorable and funny Pasha Malla is? He scored $10,000 for this one, drinks on Pasha!

Also one-clicked Dennis Lehane's Gone Baby Gone for particular inspiration, and Jhumpa Lahiri's collection Unaccustomed Earth, whose stories, I hear, are so good they make you slit your wrists and gouge out your eyes.

As always, I encourage supporting independent bookstores (but Amazon is so fucking cheap, whaddareya gonna do?)

Giant Gobsmacking American Idol WTF???

Adam Lambert, American Idol first runner-up? Wha? There's never been a more talented contestant than Adam Lambert, and gimme a boy with eyeliner, nail polish and glitter any day. I think Kris Allen is adorable, or, as the French say, adorable, and talented, yada yada, but Lambert is in a league of his own.

Eh, he's already a supah star and will be just fine. But knock me ovah with a puff of smoke, yo.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Speaking of Hummingbirds

Hummingbird Skeleton

I'm super fascinated by the hummingbirds drawn to the feeder at my window. Boss Man is wearing himself out keeping other birds away, but they do get in to sneak a few sucks. Apparently, a dominant territorial man-bird will allow a female at his feeder after he's mated with her.

Girl gotta put out to get fed.

Look at the hummingbird's skeleton. Its forked tongue does a long wrap-around the skull and attaches to its forehead. Look at those wing bones, like filigree, and that way-cool neck, like beads. Wow. That little coccyx. I love this creature.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

American Idol Redux

Definitely, the best season ever. Danny Gokey got eliminated last night, but his version of "You Are So Beautiful" made me cry and still haunts me. Kris Allen sang "Heartless" on Tuesday night, and it's one of my favorite Idol performance ever. Kris killed.

And then there's Adam Lambert, all talent and glam angelic goth. They're all shining super stars.

And hey, didn't Jordin Sparks look hot in all her voluptuousness? You go, girl.

And while I'm on the TV subject, this year's Celebrity Apprentice was pure entertainment, despite the nepotistic, ever more weirdly-coiffed pompous and bloviating Donald Trump. I was glad Joan Rivers won, let's hear it for old people! We'll all be there someday (if we're lucky).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


We have tons of hummingbirds nesting in the pines and silk trees outside my bedroom, so I hied myself to OSH and bought a hummingbird feeder and boiled up some syrup (1 C. sugar in 1 C. water, my mother's tried and true bird recipe) and waited. What I didn't know about hummingbirds is that they're fiercely territorial, but all I had to do was watch to observe it.

If any other hummers come buzzing by to poke into the sugar, one fierce Ruby Throated tsk-tsking fellow who's roundly claimed this feeder as HIS comes darting out of the pine (also his) to bombard the intruder. He will not allow any other bird to partake of the ample supply I've put out for them.

I get it though. I so get it. When my son decided to start cooking I had a hard time letting him into my territory. I get a bit too enraged hunting down the pots and pans that have their own territories the past 30 years that I've lived here. Emptying the dishwasher is another issue, chez moi. I have the matching Oneida Michelangelo silverware, and the stuff I ripped off from the Blue Cross employees' cafeteria (industrial silverware that will outlast the sun) when I was a student nurse supporting myself as a claims examiner part-time. THEY GO IN SEPARATE DRAWERS. At least, they do when I put the dishes away, and being that emptying the dishwasher is one of my least favorite chores . . .

The BF moved in 4 years ago, and there's this thing called "compromise" that's been a little tough for me. You don't wash towels with sheets, for instance, or underwear. YOU WASH THE FUCKING TOWELS WITH TOWELS. So he washes HIS towels with whatever he wants. Compromise. We all do our own laundry.

Meanwhile, this bird's gonna drive himself nuts, and I'm trying to have that mean something to me. It's constant, the shooing away of the invaders. It's gotta be exhausting. I'm getting exhausted just watching him.

One stealthy little bugger just logged a quick suck at the feeder that the boss-man didn't catch. Methinks it must've tasted even sweeter.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Night Train 9.1

Is out NOW! Night Train 9.1
Good shit, yo, pull yourself a beer or a cuppa joe and settle in.

Monday, April 20, 2009

It's 4/20 Kids!

Yes, it's the Columbine anniversary, yes, it's Hitler's birthday, but 4/20 is also a High Holiday for lots of stoner types. It's National Pot Smoking Day, "an unofficial counterculture holiday that is based on the simple concept of smoking some cannabis and being happy. "

Spark one up for freedom, yo.

Writing News!

The storySouth Million Writers Award Notable Stories of 2008 have been posted, and Narrative Magazine takes the top spot for best online publication with 8 notable stories.

Yours truly and humbly got a nod for "Lobster Girl" in SmokeLong Quarterly, and dearly beloved Night Train got two nods for "The Tree That Girdles Itself" by Donna D. Vitucci, and "Dating 101" by Angie Chau. Kudos, yo!

More shout outs to my darling pal Myfanwy Collins for her wonderful story "Liar" in Pank, to T.J. Forrester for his story "To the Bone" in Storyglossia, which also gets kudos for 5 notable stories this year. A shout out to FRiGG for 2 starred stories, and have you seen FRiGG's new microfiction issue? Sweet fancy MOSES it's good. Be sure to read the hilarious microfiction debate.

And in other writing news, 3 recent acceptances for yours truly and humbly.
  1. "Wreckers" will be in the next issue of Freight Stories
  2. "Fallen" (from my novel-in-stories-work-in-progress) will be in the annual (3rd) annual issue of Pank, along with Matt Bell, David Erlewine and the irrepressible Aaron Burch.
  3. "Birds, Bees" will be in the next issue of The Los Angeles Review.
If I got all this linking right I owe myself a beer.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring Fever

Tip-toeing through
the tulips
Today in Descanso Gardens
La CaƱada, California

Olfactory Orgy