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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Merry New Year


A sign of the times - a bloodied, crucified Kermit the Frog in the East Village.

Well, 2008 is almost over. It's a quiet New Years Eve. Jen is sleeping on the couch, and I'm just passing time, waiting for midnight with my bottle of Blue Moon. It was a so-so year. I spent more of it unemployed than I spent employed. No major milestones, no major tragedies. Wall Street monguls somehow got a few billion dollars from the government as a prize for destroying our economy. My weight fluctuated like William Shatner's. Jen is still beautiful. The kids got older. Mandy lost and gained new teeth, Joe discovered girls, obla di, obla da... I finished the first draft of a novel I've been dicking around with for years. I reconnected with a lot of old friends on the internet, and I lost two friends in real life - Rose and Mrs. Jackobick. Here's hoping that everyone out there is doing well, and that 2009 is better. We'll have a new president by the end of the month, and I'm hanging on with hopeful skepticism.

TTFN
-Tony

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Nerds Without Cash

Someone was kind enough to post the new Dr. Who special, "The Next Doctor" on YouTube, sacrificing his account to the great gods of TOS violations to do so. (Sometimes, I wonder how long it will be before they start fining you for watching copyrighted material on YouTube.) Earlier, I commented that from the preview, it looked like the episode was going to be a ripoff of an audio adbenture, "The One Doctor." I was very happy to be wrong. Not only was it an original story from Russell Davies, but it was very well written. (A very nice retro-clip can be found here.)

I've been getting depressed over my cash situation. I know, everybody's economic life is shit right now, but I feel like I've gotten absolutely nowhere in the past eleven years. It took me almost nine years to get to the top rate for an NYC electrician, and ever since I got there, there has been such horrible unemployment that I've barely been working half a year at a time ever since. Meanwhile, since I started, my rent has almost doubled and the cost of living has skyrocketed. So even though my hourly wage is now five times what it was eleven years ago (and a higher tax-bracket means my take-home is only about three times,) the massive unemployment, raises in rent and other costs of living has increased so much that I'm barely doing any better than I was when I began. I know, I know, life sucks all over, I should be glad to have a place to live and the union finding work for me, etc., but it still blows.

On the lighter side, Jen Joe & I watched Love at First Bite last night. For those who haven't seen this pure 70's gem, I have to say Arte Johnson steals the show as Renfield. ("Noooo.... my lunch... will eat you!") It's also great to remember a time when films weren't terrified of being politically incorrect - I doubt many of the "catch the black chicken!" jokes would make it into movies today.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Potpourri

A few weeks ago, my father grumbled that William Shatner used to play a hero, but, "now he just acts like a jackass." Sorry dad - although a living god, Mr. Tambourine Man has been acting like a jackass for years - but it raises an interesting point: Where did all the admirable heroes - even those as one-dimensional as Captain James Tiberius Kirk - go?

On the Caroline Kennedy issue: thank you Hillary Clinton, for cementing the NY senate seat as a holding place for celebrities without experience who want to get a very high step up into politics.

Isn't there simply something fundamentaly wrong with an economy that constantly rides a roller coaster? Shouldn't something be done about governments (or government agencies - I'm talking to you, NYC MTA) that are constantly crying poverty, and constantly cutting services and jobs while demanding more from your pocket?

A few years ago, I asked Jen, "do you remember as a kid seeing a really weird Christmas special about aliens being the three wise men or something?" She didn't - but after some searching, I found that it did exist, and it was called "A Cosmic Christmas." It's nice to know some things aren't just in my imagination. Anyone else remember this?

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, December 22, 2008

Nostalgia Just Ain't What It Used to Be

Having worshiped Ray Bradbury since I was twelve, I was thrilled to find out that The Ray Bradbury Theater - an 80's cable series dramatizing some of his short stories - was finally available on DVD. I had missed it the first time around, as back then my parents thought that cable = Satan, (they actually have FIOS now.) Netflix only had the first two disks from a set of five for some silly reason, but Amazon was offering the box set along with The Martian Chronicles for about $25. Cool beans.

Let me start off by saying the DVDs are of unbeliveably crappy quality. There are videos on YouTube that look better than this. The DVDs are about five hours each. Maybe six or seven DVDs would have been better than five. Consumers can buy a stack of fifty blanks for an average of $40 at Best Buy and a DVD publisher probably gets an even better deal for buyuing in bulk, so I can't imagine that the extra DVDs would cut into the bottom line that much.

Now we come to the adaptations themselves. Hmmm...

Perhaps the oddest problem is that Ray himself wrote the scripts. Bradbury's stories can be broken up into eras: Horror, Sci-fi, Fantasy, and Nostalgic. (Clive Barker made up the wonderful phrase, "to wax Bradburian" to describe nostalgic writing.) Sadly, this TV shows suffers from the same problem as Ray's script for his own Something Wicked This Way Comes: the source material was written by a young man in his horror phase and adapted by an old man in his nostalgic phase. (Seriously - how terrifying could a Disney horror movie be?) Many of the stories are changed, usually for the worse. Sometimes it's an updating of a 40's era story to the 80s. (In The Man Upstairs, for example, the plot device of a stained-glass window is changed to some sort of silly captain video binoculars) In some cases, it's taking a connection that the reader made for his or herself and making it painfully obvious for the viewers. (In The Playground, the annoying kid now chants "I'm the daddy, you are Steve" over and over again.) In most cases, however, the problem is simply that some five to ten page short stories - no matter how well written - just can't be stretched to 1/2 hour episodes. (The Pedestrian is a perfect example: An Orwellian robot cop arrests a guy for taking a walk. That's it.)

It's not all bad, maybe I'm just nitpicking because I love the stories so much. The Coffin is very well done (and it's pretty funny to see Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) playing a bad guy while the CEO of OCP (Dan O'Herlihy) plays the goody.) Michael Ironside's portrayal of a not-to-smart murderer in The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl is another gem, and played out almost like an old episode of Alfred Hitchkock Presents. I have to wait until I get the rest of the DVDs, but here's hoping there's more gems than turkeys.

Any other life-long Ray Bradbury geeks out there?

TTFN
-Tony

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tony's Parenting Tips

My friend Mike is going to be a proud papa soon, and asked me if I have any advice. Here's what little I have - not that I have the presence of mind to follow it as often as I like. And no, I don't claim to have thought of any of this on my own:

Adults are butterflies, kids are caterpillars. It's easy to think that kids are just little butterflies, but they're not. They are completely different,. They see the world differently, and they think differently than we do.

Kids are going to do stupid shit. When you get angry, ask yourself if what they did is worth getting angry about, or if you're angry because you're afraid other people are going to judge your parenting skills.

Your life isn't all about you anymore. You don't have all the answers and there is no more time to find them. You can't go off and do whatever you wanted to do or chase that dream, etc. Yes, you can still work on that novel or complete your med-school degree etc, but your plan to circumnavigate the globe in a lawn chair tethered to weather balloons or to run away to Bombay, India and be movie star has to be put on hold. Now your plans all have to be about your family. But the reward of having one outweighs it all. At least for me it has.

Nature takes precedent over nurture. Maybe you have a character flaw you blame your parents for, and you think, "If I don't do what they did, my kids won't turn out like I did." Then your kids start acting the same way anyhow, so you think that if you can punish the behavior out of them. It doesn't work. (It didn't work with you, did it?) Not that you should let the kids run wild, etc, just be prepared that the kids are going to act however their nature dictates them to, no matter what you do or how much you punish them, or how infuriated you get.

I need glasses because I can't see. Someone else might not be able to see either. However, my glasses aren't going to help them. I can go on and on about how my glasses helped me, and don't you realize I just love you and I just want to help you, why won't you let me help you, etc etc etc- but my glasses simply won't help. Problems are the same way - what worked for you might not necessarily work for your kids. Sometimes they need to figure it out on their own.

Don't compare your kids to your nieces and nephews or your friends' kids and don't compare your kids to each other (if there are more than one.) They all have their own personalities and abilities and they'll surprise you by how different they are. Just give them love and it'll work out.

Any more ideas?

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rambunctious

Illustration Friday: Rambunctious

Poor fellow looks like he's had a little too much caffeine. (Click on image for higher resolution.)

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, December 15, 2008

Paint Paint Paint

Sorry I haven't been on all week, but I've been painting the apartment. Well, half of the apartment. Some rooms took me all night. The place is ancient and has been patched a thousand times, but I did the best I could with it, and it looks a hell of a lot better. The next step is the living room/ foyer.

This week I'll be back on my regular walking/writing/etc schedule. Sadly, Jen and I have one of those "May your kids do all the crap that you did" things to deal with, so that's going to take up some time and energy.

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, December 05, 2008

Questions, questions

Joe & I have a nightly ritual: every night when he goes to bed, he asks me a question. Sometimes they're fiction based, (Star Wars, Metroid, Babylon 5,) sometimes they're science based, (how do blankets keep us warm?) and sometimes they're religion/ philosophy based.

Last night's was one of these. During the day, I said, "Oh poop!" (literally.) Joseph told me not to take the Lords' name in vain. I explained that the Lord's name was NOT "Poop." So last night's question was, "What IS taking the Lord's name in vain?"

(Let me backtrack here and explain that this question almost certainly comes from my father. Whenever he hears someone on TV or a movie or in real life say "Goddamn it," he goes into a tirade about how we shouldn't take the Lords name in vain.)

So I explained that it means literally to blame or to curse God when things go wrong. I added, however, that I don't think God really minds. First of all, He's God, He's pretty darn big, and His feelings probably aren't hurt that easily. Second of all, God created people, so he understands that people get hurt and angry and lash out from time to time.

"But God never answers my prayers," Joseph said.

Ok, this was a new one. "What do you pray for?" I asked.

"I ask him why we need to go to church to worship Him." (Let me interject here and say that Jen and I are not really church going folk, and Joe goes with my parents whenever we visit.) "And he didn't answer me."

So I explained that I don't personally think we do, as God is everywhere. Joe said that he liked going to church with Grandma and Grandpa and I said great- nothing wrong with that. I went on to explain that I think the only way prayers get answered is through other people. (Doctors heal, police & firefighters rescue, friends & family care, etc.) and that if we have any purpose in life, its to do God's work by answering each others prayers -or even our own. (Yes, I've blogged about this before. Sue me.) So if he has questions, ask people, and they may be answered. Or, the answer may come to him through life in general, and he'll have an "AHA!" moment.

Any thoughts?

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, December 04, 2008

David Warner for Doctor!

It's always good to have things to look forward to. Being a certified nerd, I eagerly await certain movies (Watchmen) or games (Grand Theft Auto 4) or in this case, Doctor Who Unbound (audio adventures that take place in an alternate reality) episodes to come out:



I know the new Dr. Who is on a major "cute and romantic" kick that the young whippersnappers and the ladies seem to love, (and watching the trailer for "The Next Doctor" it looks like they once again remade an audio adventure: "The One Doctor"... grr...) but seriously- can't we get a petition started to have David Warner signed up as the 11th Doctor when David Tennant leaves? I'm really sick of my favorite show being turned into a soap opera.

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Webby is Back!



Illustration Friday: Balloon

To celebrate the restoration of Webby (my webcomic) I've done this week's Illustration Friday as an issue! Lucky you!

TTFN
-Tony

Delayed Blogging

Sorry it's been over a week since I was here. How much has happened? Not much.

You knew I had to bitch about it sooner or later: So let me get this straight. Obama has resurrected team Clinton (including Her Royal Heiney Herself) in pretty much the same way that W resurrected his father's and Regan's old team. I fail to see where the promised "change" comes in. As far as Hillary goes, I can understand wanting to keep your enemies closer (thank you, Michael Corleone,) but the number four spot is still too close. Couldn't he have rewarded her final-month, lukewarm support by making her ambassador to Madagascar or something? At least she'd have some lemurs to dance with...

I'm still unemployed, trying to keep busy. I go for two one and a half mile walks every day, with my Dr. Who Audio Adventures to keep me company. (Thank you, Big Finish, for selling downloadable DRM-free mp3s that I can play on my Pocket PC without any fuss.) Keeping up my 1000 words a day in the novel, meditating 15 minutes in the morning & at night, spending at least an hour a day working on False Idols, doing shit around the apartment (I have to paint sooner or later) And yes, playing GTA 4 once the kiddies have gone to bed. :D

Speaking of the X-box, thank you Sony for finally allowing Netflix to stream Columbia films to that wonderful toy. It took you long enough.

The pictures that were lost when AOL dumped its My FTP Space have been resurrected (the hard drive they were originally on is fried, I have to buy a new pcb board and see if I can repair it) by downloading them from AOL with Filezilla's client program. Why AOL couldn't have simply let users retrieve their old files through them I don't know. Anyway, the illustrations that were here back in early 2005 have been replenished. My project for the next few days is to bring EgotisticalProductions.com and Webby (my web-comic) back to life.

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, November 24, 2008

Once Again, I am a Gentleman of Leisure

Well, here we are, laid off again. Thank God for the Union, that they'll find me a new job. It is annoying, though. I was finally with a good shop (Unity) where I didn't have to worry about checks bouncing or unpaid benefits or people expecting me to do ridiculous, unsafe things to protect my job. I worked for a succession of great foremen there, good guys who treated me like a human being. I had survived about five waves of layoffs, and I didn't manage to survive this one. Sure, it's not a nice feeling, not being wanted. I knew times are bad, and that we were all going to go eventually.

I'll get assigned to a new shop soon enough, then I'll have to go through the process of adapting to a new boss (and him adapting to me) all over again, making friends, etc. That's what I hate the most: you make friends, and then you have to go. We all went out to the bar on Friday, and everyone made sure I didn't have to pay for anything. You can't ask to work with nicer people than that.

Oh well. I'll have time to write when the kiddies are at school, and animate, and do a lot of crap around the apartment. There's a lot of work that needs doing. Maybe Jen & I can get out to see a movie or two while the kiddies are at school. Silver lining.

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, November 17, 2008

You're Such a Character!

Back in the day, whilst in our cups, my friends and I would play the "which character would you want to be" game. Though sober, I was thinking about this today, and I've narrowed it down to three:

3: Ford Prefect, from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Ford (who hails from "a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse,") had the best job in the universe: he would hitchhike to a planet, write an entry for the Guide about it, and upload it to his editor via the "sub-ether net." A fee would automatically be paid to his account, which he would promptly drink and party away. This lack of funds would cause him to have to hitchhike to the next planet that needed reviewing. Sounds like a good life.

2: The Doctor, from Doctor Who. Come on. Who wouldn't want a TARDIS? Travel anywhere in space and time? Did I mention you get two hearts and thirteen lives just in case your adventuring gets a little reckless? Enough said.

But the winner is...

1: Atrus, from the Myst series. From playing the games, it seems that he can create worlds just by writing books decribing them. From reading the novels, you find out instead that an infinite number of worlds exist, and his books just link to any one of them based on his discriptions. Does it really matter? It's still one of the coolest powers ever.

OK, itr's your turn. Of course, you're pretty spiffy on your own. But given the chance to play a role, who would you like to be?

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!

A few weeks ago, someone was kind enough to rearend us at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel. After staying a week at the dealership, we got the car back yesterday, with at least two items STILL not repaired. Jen took it back today to have one item (the trunk door) fixed. After she drove home, she realized that they must have disconnected the rear brake lights when they fixed the trunk, because they don't work now. So she has to bring it back AGAIN tomorrow and argue with them that whatver's wrong, it's their fault.

Ever feel like screaming like the great Admiral Kirk and having your hoarse cry of frustration echo across the universe? I do!



TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Static in My Attic from Channel Z.

Today's Novel Progress: 809 words.

Lately, my mind feels like a radio with a broken dial. I keep getting different signals. Happy, sad, angry, content, paranoid, secure, loving, ostracized, ambitious, apathetic, etcella, etcetella, etcetella. My superego's tinny little voice that's whispering, "it's not supposed to be this way," but that's probably because TV, book, and movie characters don't ever act like that. Unless, of course, they're bloody loonies. Right now, I'm listening to The Beatles' White Album for the same reason 3/4 of the people on this train are wearing headphones: to drown out the other faulty radio between our ears. "Everywhere there's lots of piggies, living piggy lives (snort snort) You can see them out for dinner with their piggy wives..."

TTFN
-Tony

PS Am I the only one NOT looking forward to the new Bond film? I don't know, the last one - although extremely well done - just wasn't any fun. The best Bond films all have just a touch of camp, IMHO.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Stick Prop 8 Up Your Tuchas!

Today's novel progress: 781 words.

I must say, this whole Prop 8 thing really burns my wick. Seriously. What the hell gives someone the right to decide what other people do with their lives? Someone once told me that the sanctity of marriage must be preserved. I've got news for you - whether your marriage is holy or not is up to you. How the hell does what two other people do change the holiness of your own marriage? OK, I admit - sometimes I wonder how many gay people just want to get married because they're told they can't - but so what? Millions of heterosexual couples have gotten married for stupider reasons. Think about it. If God is all powerful, then he's the one that wired people's brains up the way they are. And if your God is a "loving God," and he created people who are attracted to others of the same sex, do you really think he wants them to be lonely, miserable, and fight who they are all their lives? I can name a few million sins worse than the crime of loving someone.

TTFN
-Tony

PS - If Prop 8 goes into effect, than how can poor Walter and Perry ever get married?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Confusion Say...

Today's novel progress 740 words.

I've been thinking about what I said yesterday, and then it hit me: I know life is beautiful, and we should be thankful, etc. etc. etc. But with so many people in therapy and taking medication, or committing suicide, or self-medicating themselves with (illegal) drugs, alcohol, food, sex, etc., or needing to constantly distract themselves with games, books, television, the internet, or whatever - surely there must be something really, really wrong with this thing we call life. If only I had it in me to be truly zen, to not want anything, to just live in the present and not worry about the past or the fututre, to just accept that everything is just the way it's supposed to be, and that nothing should be any other way.

Happy birthday to me tomorrow!

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Latest Psychological BS

Today's novel progress: 723 words

I heard the most inane commercial on the radio today for... dog antidepressants. I shit you not. Is your dog exploding with energy? Barking too much? Doesn't like being left alone in a cage all day? Biting people? Well, I got news for you: it's a fucking dog. What did you buy a dog for if you didn't want it to act like a dog? Maybe that's the reason people need antidepressants as well: they're trying so hard not to act like people.

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congratulations!

Today's novel progress: 711 words.

Dear President-Elect Obama:

Congratulations on your winning the electoral vote by a landslide. People were literally dancing in the street last night. I wish you the best of luck, you have a hell of a job ahead of you. So just a word of caution: By all means, be proud of yourself, but please, don't popularity cloud your vision.

Allow me to explain.

Bill "Slick Willy" Clinton was a president who could do no wrong in the eyes of the media or his followers. He believed himself above the law, an attitude that led him to commit perjury and become the second president in history to be impeached, (third if you count Nixon's resignation.) His desire to bask in the glow of the dot-com bubble instead of warning caution over the inevitable crash caused the recession of 2000. President George W. Bush armed himself with the conviction that God approved his every decision and surrounded himself with yes-men. 9/11 gave him the highest presidential approval rating ever, a statistic he used to shred the constitution and mire us in a never-ending preemptive war. While the current financial crisis has bi-partisan causes, the gap between the rich and poor under his leadership has become the greatest in history, and wanton deregulation has possibly caused a second great depression. Here in New York City, mayor Bloomberg overturned the term limits the people voted for twice because of his conviction that, being the great liberal nanny that he is, he knows what's best for us.

Do you understand what I'm saying here? You won the electoral vote by a landslide, but 46% of the people voted Republican. They didn't do this because they were the hateful, racist, uneducated, militant Nazis that the media made them out to be, but because (besides simply having different values than you do,) they had legitimate concerns about your lack of experience, national security, your economic plans, and (dare I say it,) your past associations with questionable characters. Don't forget, as Clinton, W., and many presidents before them did, that you have the job of leading this half of dissenting Americans, NOT marginalizing them. No, you should not compromise your ideals for them nor should you appease them. You merely need to take the time to understand and respect them as fellow Americans. You have much to prepare for in the next few months. Make remembering to be humble one of your lessons. Remember, as the liberal media will continue to treat you as someone who can do no wrong, that your judgment is not absolute. (And for that matter, remember the lesson of Hillary Clinton: the liberal media is a fickle mistress.) As the little gay guy chanted in History of the World, "Remember, thou art mortal!"

Again, congratulations, and best of luck to you.

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, November 03, 2008

No, Virginia...

Today's Novel Progress: 685 words. Every word has been like pulling teeth the past few weeks. I'm pretty sure the reason is because I've been trying to lose weight, and, as always, it's become my latest obsession. This is no good, because it's taken the place of the obsession that was getting this goddamn book finished. I can only be completely focused and obsessed with one thing at a time, be it a novel, an animation, artwork, losing weight, etc. I can be a frighteningly obsessive person - just ask any woman who's survived me loving her.

I listened to Ziggy Stardust on the subway today. Are there any other Monty Python fans out there who mentally substitute Mr. Gumby's voice over David Bowie's in the song "Five Years?" (My brain hurts a lot!) The trains seem to have been taken over by ads for something called Remy Martin. Aparently, if I give it to my lady friends, they'll start lezzing out. (Wow! "Lezzing" is in Mozilla's spell-checker!)

There comes a time in every parent's life when, like the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus, a child must be told that Adam and Eve were figments of someone's imagination. I tried not to get too exasperated at Joe's response: "But God WANTS you to believe in it." No, he probably wants you to use your brain, but that's just me.

Anyway-

TTFN
-Tony

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

AOL Has Fornicated Me.

Note: AOL has decided to suddenly close down it's FTP site, without any sort of notification to its users. So, many of my pictures are now gone, and EgotisticalProductions.com itself is down until I can find other hosting. I guess I'll go through Verizon, (my service provider,) for ftp space and I have backups on hard drive and disk - but this situation is just a bunch of shit I didn't need. Thanks, AOL, you useless bunch of rancid monkey scrotums. Thanks a fucking lot.

Today's Novel Progress: 749 words. It's going very slowly, I seem to be at a deciding point. I have made a decision, however, the main character's son is out. Some of his attributes will be taken on by the wife. I've also noticed that all the women in my story's names start with the letter "L." Odd. I wish I wasn't such a haphazard plotter.

The Ultimate Mom of the Year award goes to Elena (aka French Toast Girl) for the awesome costumes she made for her munchkins - Mahna Mahna & the Snowths. I am in some serious goddamn awe here. Joe & Mandy were a ninja & a fairy, respectively.

We watched Attack of the Killer Tomatoes last night as a family-friendly Halloween film. "Puberty-y, puberty love/ There's nothing li-ike puberty love/ It's so neat, it's so cool..."

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, October 30, 2008

That's Tony the Electrician - NOT Joe the Plumber.

Today's novel progress: 701 Words

Hi, I'm Tony the Electrician, NOT Joe the Plumber. Tony the Electrician lives in a small apartment in Queens. He has a wife and two kids that he loves with all his heart & soul. His take-home, while nothing to sneeze at, is light years away from Obama's $250k tax ceiling. He'd never think of buying his boss's business because he thinks it would be far too much of an anal pain. He's usually unemployed six months out of the year, and has to squirrel away what he can during the months he does work. He spends those months working on a number of projects that never get finished, such as novels, animations, and a video game. He likes classic science fiction (Kurt Vonnegut, Phillip K. Dick, & Ray Bradbury) long walks in the park, and SCUMM-style adventure games. He can also sing a darn tootin' version of Frank Zappa's "Baby Snakes."

So, being much more interesting, more talented, better looking, and more modest than Joe the Plumber, how do I get the kind of national coverage that my external locus of control craves? Anyone?

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mulling It Over

Today's Novel Progress: 769 words

The pace is slowing down at work, but I'm trying not to be worried. Mandy's latest cuteness: when watching The Muppet Movie, looking out the window up in the sky for Gonzo after Richard Prior gives him the balloons. (Awwwww!) Digging out some old PC games to re-play, and thinking how much it sucks that EA's fucked up DRM (SecuROM) won't allow me to do that with the games I buy today. Isn't it nice that they no longer want us to buy games, just rent them. For $50.

Pre-Election quote of the day, from Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451: "If you don't want a man unhappy politically, don't give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none."

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cold

Today's Novel Progress: 752 words

It was cold and rainy today. The job has walls up, but no heat. It's only in the 40s, but I have to work with a jacket on. Even in the break room, the heaters don't do much and it never really gets above 60. What's going to happen come December, January, & February? You know, I think I deserve a job where I can be guaranteed AC in the summer and heat in the winter and clean bathrooms. But then, I'm just happy to have a job, and let's admit it, one that pays pretty well, so who am I just to bitch?

One week until all this nonsense is over.

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, October 27, 2008

Random Thoughts

Today's novel progress: 734 words.

God, what is the world coming to? Crazy women carving "B"s in their faces, mothers beating their kids up with pipes, kids being allowed to handle Uzis and accidentally shooting themselves - people, get a grip out there.

The current economic crisis reminds me of the one in Vonngeut's Galapagos, specifically the bit about how the world's resources had not changed, the amount of food in the world had not changed, just the imagined value of pieces of paper had changed.

When you vote next week, remember this quote from Robert Anton Wilson & Robert Shea's Illuminatus Trilogy:
"I am also puzzled," Sam Three Arrows said finally. "I worked, long ago, in New York City, in construction, like many young men of the Mohawk Nation. I found that whites were often like us, and I could not hate them one at a time. But they do not know the earth or love it. They do not speak from the heart, usually. They do not act from the heart. They are more like the actors on the movie screen. They play roles. And their leaders are not like our leaders. They are not chosen for virtue, but for their skill at playing roles. Whites have told me this, in plain words. They do not trust their leaders, and yet they follow them. When we do not trust a leader, he is finished. Then, also, the leaders of the whites have too much power. It is bad for a man to be obeyed too often. But the worst thing is what I have said about the heart. Their leaders have lost it and they have lost mercy. They speak from somewhere else. They act from somewhere else. But from where? Like you, I do not know. It is, I think, a kind of insanity." He looked at Hagbard and added politely. "Some are different."

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, October 24, 2008

All Hail Bloomberg

Today's novel progress: 708 words

For those outside the New York area, our beloved mayor has managed to bully and coerce the city council into doing away with term limits, for them and himself. Making no bones about it, he's decided we need him more than ever, and that the law should be changed. The problem is that voters decided in 1993 and 1996 to keep term limits, and Bloomberg says we CAN'T have another voter referendum on the subject because... um... it wouldn't be fair to um... apathetic minority voters who um... don't go out and vote. Yep. It's a load of bullshit. The Daily News sings his praises, that this is a great moment for democracy - because the people should have more choices come November. How? How when 89% of New Yorkers want the voters to decide again, and Bloomberg decided that no, he and the council know what's best for us? Isn't it nice that the will of the people can be taken away just like that, if someone powerful enough decides so?

I'm sure everyone from time to time has said "if I could go back and change the constitution, I would..." Well, one of the nifty things the founding fathers thought up was the system of checks and balances. The government is divided into three parts, and they're supposed to check each other. The problem was that the government "of the people, by the peolple, and for the people," stupidly left the people out of the loop. So, if I could change the constitution, I would say that the people would have to vote every four years on anything that had to do with the employment of the represenatvies themselves. All salaries, term limits, beneftit packages, gift regulations, lobbying, etc, would be decided by the voters. This way, there would be some small accountability to the citizens of this represenative democracy. Oh yeah, and while I was at it, I would have the constitution guarantee the right to privacy as well. Wouldn't that be nice?

TTFN
-Tony

PS - A side note - were there any other Monty Python fans who saw W. and found themselves singing "Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, dum dum dum the night..."?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Today's Newspaper in a Sentence

Today's Novel Progress: 720 words

Today's NY newspapers in one sentence: Did you know the Republican Party spent $150k on Sarah Palin's clothes? Did you know the Republican Party spent $150k on Sarah Palin's clothes? Did you know the Republican Party spent $150k on Sarah Palin's clothes? Did you know the Republican Party spent $150k on Sarah Palin's clothes? Did you know the Republican Party spent $150k on Sarah Palin's clothes? Did you know the Republican Party spent $150k on Sarah Palin's clothes? Did you know the Republican Party spent $150k on Sarah Palin's clothes? Did you know the Republican Party spent $150k on Sarah Palin's clothes?

In other news, the boiler's busted. No hot water. Crap. But then, flush it with cold water.

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blah

Today's Novel Progress: 744 words

Wondering where this book is going. Is it ending soon? Is the final showdown going to take place? Does there need to be a final showdown? Saw W. today. I wonder how many people who see it realize that every conversation that wasn't public record was you know... made up. Richard Dreyfuss did an awesome Dick Cheney - even better than Darrell Hammond on SNL!

To whom it may concern. You have your vote, I have mine. My vote is between me and the lever, and so is everyone else's. That's the beauty of a private ballot. One of those silly "rights" things.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thunder, Thunder, Thunder.... HORSE!

Today's Novel Progress: 702 words.

Got a letter today that my rent is going up $100 tomorrow, and another $100 next year. Who do I elect to get my rent to go down? Everything seems to be one step forward, two steps back. Work is getting chilly - that's the joy of deck jobs, they're sweltering in the summer and freezing in the winter. Just wait until it really gets cold! At least the heat is on here. I don't want the kiddies getting a chill. I got the deluxe edition of Dethklock's Dethalbum off of I-Tunes (the soundtrack from Metalocalypse - warning- awesome yet graphic clip.) For a cartoon, it kicks quite a bit of tushy!

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, October 20, 2008

Slowly I Turn, Step by Step...

Today's Novel Progress: 806 words.

I'm watching Amanda who's watching The Muppet Movie for the nine-billionth time. It is such a great film, though. "Bear left!"-"Right, frog!" "Myth! Myth!"-"Yeth?" "I've lost my sense of direction!"-"Have you tried Hari Krishna?" None of the other films- especially the post-Henson ones- ever came close to this gem. Meanwhile, she's rolling a beach ball to me. She wants to throw it, but it's not a good idea inside the apartment. Have we learned nothing from the Brady Bunch (except that Marcia was a coke-whore?) You know, I'd be more impressed with Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama and talk of how we should "not just continue basically the policies we have been following in the recent years" if he hadn't been... you know... one of the main architects of those policies. That fact seems to have been lost in all the broohaha. And while we're on the subject of politics -To those responsible for Family Guy - is it possible to drop the propaganda and just go back to being funny? Seriously. Enough already.

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday

Today's Novel Progress: 731 words.

Well, here we are again, Friday night. Nothing exciting at work today. I bent the pipe, I went up on the ladder, I connected the pipe. Of course, there was a lot of measuring and using a level and hacksawing in there too. It's an art. Joe's watching Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader. I'll watch with him a moment, but I can't stand the non-stop bullshitting they do to keep the actual number of questions to a minimum. It's like watching Hollywood Squares, but you only get one c-list celebrity instead of nine. Now Jeopardy - there's a game show. Non-stop questions, save those five minutes when they talk about the contestants' boring lives and I flip back to a Simpsons episode I've seen a gajillon times. At least AdultSwim.com has new episodes up. By for now - keep your teeth clean.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Complain, complain, complain.

Today's Novel Progress: 708 words:

Ok, let me say that I like Obama. And one of the things I like about Obama is that his campaign hasn't sunk into victimization. Sadly, the media is doing it for him. I'm getting sick of reading weekly editorials about how some white people "may not be ready" to vote for Obama. (Read, if you're white and vote Republican, you must be a racist. You're not a racist... are you?) Ok, the O isn't doing it himself, but it's starting to get obnoxious. I mean, the latest ABC poll shows that caucasians are split 52-45 for McCain, but 95% of African Americans are voting for Obama. So, unless you're ready to call them racist, stop it. Another thing that pisses me off about Obama is that he bought commercials in video games. Ok, I'm not really pissed at him about this, just the gaming industry itself. See, I have this silly notion that commercials should be limited to shareware games (called "adware") - not games that I plunk down $50 to play. People play games to escape their miserable lives for a while, not to get even more pollitical shit thrown in their faces. Just a thought. As far as the debates last night, good for you, McCain, for telling Obama that if he wanted to run against W, he should have done it four years ago. Too bad that everything else that came out of your mouth was a load of bullshit.

A sign of the faltering economy: Wachovia closed down one branch in midtown, and has reduced the tellers of the nearest one to two. The result was a line that almost went out the door. At least people (hopefully) have money to deposit.

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Disjointed

Today's novel progress: 811 words.

Joe & I saw City of Ember on Monday. It was nice. Not thrilling, but nice. The kid behind the candy counter was so obnoxious. Every time we asked for something, he kept asking us if we wanted to upsize. Forget that their "small" soda is about half a gallon already. I've suffered as a Waldenbooks manager when we were forced to push those goddamn discount cards on everyone (has anyone noticed how the price of books shot up astronomically since those were introduced?) so I have compassion for people working behind counters, but still, if it's obvious people just want their stuff, give them their stuff and don't waste their time trying to get them to waste more money! On a different track, I am so sick of all this political shit, I can't wait until this nonsense is over. They said on the news this morning that there's no guarantee that the bail-out money will be used to stimulate the economy and not be hoarded by these Wall Street failures, but the treasury is "certain" that they will do so. Thanks. Thanks a lot. Meanwhile, AIG goes on yet another junket. Just great.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"I got no strings, to hold me down..."


Illustration Friday: Strings. Smile, the internet loves you!

Today's novel progress: 722 words. There's a throw away joke in a Family Guy episode about Peter narrating his life. The more often I write, the more I find myself doing this. Any other writers out there find themselves doing the same thing?

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Today's novel progress: 913 words. Happy anniversary, Jennifer. I loves you.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Wishfull Pranking

Today's novel progress: 831 words.

There was an old Chinese lady selling umbrellas this morning right outside of the WTC subway station - except it wasn't raining anymore. You could see in her face that she was cursing the rain-gods. On the fence outside of the WTC construction site, there are signs saying "NO TRESPASSING - VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED!" Oh, if I only had the testicular fortitude to print up signs to cover them with, saying "PROSECUTORS WILL BE VIOLATED!" But I'm sure there are cameras everywhere. Oy, I'm tired. 3-day weekend, coming up!

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Jujuflop

Today's novel progress: 711 Words. Very slow, plodding. I was tired, couldn't keep my eyes open. Hope I'm not just phoning it in.

I gave Elena a copy of Vonnegut's sci-fi classic The Sirens of Titan for her birthday. She asked if I think a demonic puppet master is controlling everything. Of course not - if that were true, then the world would make some sort of sense and it doesn't. The world is, in the words of the late great Douglas Adams, in "one whole jujuflop situation." I do, however, believe Robert Anton Wilson & Timmothy Leary's theory that we are robots programmed by our pasts. Some ex-millionaire out in California killed his family and himself, so I guess I'm a fucking asshole for my joke about circa 1920-sky-scraper-jumping-stockbrokers earlier in the week. Last week, here in New York, the cops tased an unarmed mentally ill man causing him to fall to his death. The lieutenant who ordered the tasing committed suicide because he didn't want his kids to see him be arrested. So, it's better to devastate and break your kids' hearts for the rest of their lives? Tomorrow is Thursday. I hate Thursdays. Thursdays are like when you've had a back-breaking day at work and you look at the clock thinking it must be time to go home but there's still two hours to go. G'night.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Boring.

Today's Novel Progress: 771 Words

Boring day, nothing really to talk about. There is a Pooh toy here that says the alphabet. The tablecloth has grapes on it. Mandy didn't eat all of her dinner tonight. When I was young & my heart was an open book, my mother made us eat canned string beans every night. Way to create a vegetable aversion, mom. 11th year anniversary in a couple of days. Joe's going to get his orange belt on Friday. Seems like yesterday I was bragging about him being a yellow belt. No desire at all to watch the debates tonight. I'm tired. Going to hose my body down, scrape the tiny hairs from my face with a blade.

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, October 06, 2008

MTA, How I Hate Thee...

Today's Novel Progress: 956 Words

Did you ever have one of those days where you're shagged out and really need a seat on the bus, but the bus doesn't even show up, so the next one is already packed by the time it gets to you and you're only the second stop for Christ's sake and you have all your tools with you because you got suckered into working all Friday night and had to take them home so you're in like sardines on this bus and because it was late you have to take the E train but of course the E train has missed it's time as well for some unknown but probably innane reason so the platform is full of pissed off people and when the E train finally does come it's crammed full of people so you have to stand and your knees are hurting and then it just stops in the tunnel for about three minutes between almost every stop and you wonder what kind of goddamn motherfucking monkeys they have working at the MTA anyway and when it finally gets to your stop forty-five minutes later all the way down at the world trade center the margin you gave yourself has completely vanished so you have to rush down the street with your toolbag on your back and your aching legs just to barely get to work on time and you wish a pox on the MTA and all who dwell within her, a pox on both it's houses and you wish boils to appear on all the bus drivers skin and terminal incontinence for its conductors and yea let not even the people who scrub the toilets be left out, let everything they eat from now on taste like canned stringbeans and finaly may he who rules the MTA receive nothing on his television but Star Trek Voyager forever and ever that he may know he is damned and wish to end the torment but it never ends, it will never end...

TTFN
-Tony

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Cost of Living

Yesterday's novel progress: 784 words

Worked late last night, and by late I mean 'till 2am. Somebody wanted to move a wall in their office. I don't know why, the wall seemed like it was in a perfectly nice space where it was, but no, they wanted to move it fifteen feet. Oh well, it keeps me employed. I had a few hours to kill in between shifts, so I went to a multiplex and saw what the marquis said was Tropic Thunder but turned out to be Righteous Kill. Wasn't bad, just a little too rushed, and there was a twist at the end. A pretty good afternoon waster. Everything is so goddamn expensive in NY. The ticket, small soda, and small popcorn cost me (and me alone) $22.50! After work, I took the subway back to Queens. I waited at the bus stop with a guy who lives on the same block, when a livery cab asked us if we needed a ride. I should have asked how much it was, because the three-mile ride cost us $10 - each. Whine whine whine.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Chilly

Today's Novel Progress: 793 words.

It got chilly over here very quickly. Poor kiddies, I don't want them getting a chill. There were helicopters with searchlights over our apartment complex this morning as I and about twenty other people were walking to catch the bus. I have no idea what (who) they were looking for but rumors abound. Debating weather I want to watch the debate or not tonight. Like it matters, but it might wind up being entertaining. Bloomberg, the only liberal Democrat to run on a Republican ticket, wants to do and end-rush around term limits by having the city council repeal them. Why? Because we have a financial crisis, and he feels he knows what's best for us. No, not quite the Nanny State, just the Nanny City. I wonder how much he's paying the Daily News to promote his propaganda. Um, jackasses, the problem with the bailout isn't that FDIC is too low (who has more than $100k in their accounts these days?) or that it didn't include health benefits or whatever crap they've tacked onto it. The problem is that it's a blank check with no strings attached. The problem is that there's no assurance that, as with other bailouts in the past, the cash won't just go to the people on top and the people on the bottom are left to go fuck themselves. Cut the strings of a few golden parachutes first. Not that I would ever suggest that I WANT them to, but when I see some ex-millionaires jumping out of windows, then I'll believe that another great depression is right around the corner.

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Tired.

Today's Novel Progress: 702 words.

I'm tired. So tired. Amanda, don't sit so close to the television. Jen's taking Joe to Karate. Chop Suey Phooey. Left over Chinese takeout for dinner tonight. Me so on fire, feeling hot hot hot. If only more people would do drugs, I'd have more people to laugh at. Halloween coming soon, broke out the Rocky Horror Soundtrack on the mp3 player. Anyone want to go see? It's been a while.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Babbling

Today's Novel Progress: 921 words.

Worked some OT today. I'm so frickin' tired. I couldn't even begin to tell you how tired I am. My legs feel like they're made out of dried twigs that have been left in the sun and set fire to. I have a cough I can't get rid of. Why did I work OT, I hear you cry? Because I'm an idiot. And I'm greedy. Every day it's up the ladder, down the ladder, up the ladder, down the ladder. Why I ain't skinny, I couldn't tell you. Praise Vishnu I don't have a desk job! Mandy woke up this morning just as I finished writing. They're all too cute, my Jen my Joe & my Mandy. I just gave Mandy a hug. She was sitting there saying "want huuuuug Want huuuuuuuug?" Who could say no to that?

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Little Word About Jawas.

Today's Novel Progress: 1002 words. Having fun turning characters on their heads.

Today we're going to take a moment to talk about the unsung heroes of the Star Wars universe, Jawas. Jawas are tiny, inoffensive creatures who like to take used droids off your hands and fix them up good as new. But many people don't realize that Jawas are actually the creatures that house the power of the force within their minds. (That's why their eyes glow, you see.) In fact, it was during a night of wild sexual abandon with Shmi Skywalker that caused little Anikin to be born. ("There was no father" my ass, she was just too ashamed to admit that she took part in a Jawa orgy.) So the next time you see a Jawa, don't chase it away, throw rocks at it, or call it a "filthy creature." Say "Thank you, Mr. Jawa, thank you for making the Star Wars Universe possible."

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Night...

Today's novel progress: 758 words.

Joe wants to watch "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader," but I told him not to worry - we I was already planning to watch the presidential debate. (Drum fill.)

As I've said before, I don't like Sarah Palin as a VP candidate - but honestly, I don't understand the utter rancor, (I mean "bitter hatred," not "Rancor," the two-legged guy in Jabba the Hutt's basement who's just doing his thing when Luke comes along and squishes his head in a garage door,) some people have for her. OK, she's the female version of Dan Quayle. So what? Some people are going to vote for her. That doesn't mean they've been "fooled," it just means they agree with what she (and McCain - he's the guy who's running for president) stands for. If you don't - then vote for someone else. That's how an election works.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Horray for Sanity!


Photo of the Yesterday: Sun peeking out from behind the clouds.

Today's Novel Progress: 747 words. I had to write using my Pocket PC on the subway, as poor Mandy was sick this morning. Blech. Puke everywhere.

Kudos for two signs of sanity in the digital age: the first is that Electronic Arts is being sued over it's draconian DRM in Spore - the same one it ruined Mass Effect for PC with. Sorry, folks, I understand you want to protect your product, but if I'm going to plunk down $50 for a game, then I own the goddamn game. I should be able to install it on my computer as many times as I like, as many years from now as I like, on as many different computers I own or ever will own. Hackers will find a way around anything, so the only people you're hurting & alienating are your legal customers. The second is that Jamie Thomas's (the woman who was fined $9250 per song that she had in a Kazaa folder) case has been declared a mistrial. Apparently, the judge finaly realized that he should not have instructed the jury that the record companies did not have to prove Thomas was actually distributing the songs she downloaded before fining her the price of a small house. (Can you imagine that - a judge actually instructing a jury that the plaintiff did not have to have proof?) Why the jury did not simply find her not guilty on the grounds that downloading twenty-four songs should not cary a penalty of $200,000 doallrs, I can't fathom. Hopefully the next one will have some common sense.

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Here's a Muppet News Flash!


Photo of the Yesterday: Joe & Amanda at Grandpa Ken's

Today's novel progress: 886 words. Father Yuri starts laying into Joseph. I'm curious where this is going...

Dear People of the United States: Let me tell you a fact that may shock you. We each get one vote. That's it. You get your one vote, I get my one vote. Please stop trying to get me to use mine the way YOU want. You only get one. Live with it.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

IF: Clique

Illustration Friday: Clique



Today's novel progress: 758 words. Trying not to write without a thousand imaginary critics looking over my shoulder.

It's an off day, nothing to really bitch about. Sorry.

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bear on a Bike


Photo of the Yesterday: Bear on a Bike in Midtown. I hope he didn't make that puddle...

Today's novel progress - 1063 words. Sean (I like that spelling better) Lorraine & Grandpa talk while riding home. Skweiz berates Streng in a separate car. I just have to keep writing & not worry about how it's going. Second drafts are for editing.

Yes, I know what they did in Georgia wasn't nice, but do we really need Russia to be a boogeyman again? Is it because we're actually winning the war in Iraq, (though the media is loathe to admit it,) and people are asking why we still need big brother peeking over our shoulders? Isn't it time to, you know, bring all of our $ home to roost & fix our economy?

That's nice that Treasury Secretary Paulson says a $700 billion bail-out "sticks in (his) craw." What sticks in MY craw is that the CEOs of these companies aren't having their assets stripped. What's craw-sticking is that after yet another bail-out, rather than trying to restore us to the supply side of the economic see-saw, the powers that be are pulling out all the stops to keep the never-ending spiral of consumerism going for just a few more years. What's in YOUR wallet?

Off topic - Who came up with the name "Shop Rite"? It sounds like it's making grocery shopping into an occult ceremony.

TTFN
-Tony

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Lazing on a Friday Afternoon


A statue on the stairwell at Midtown Comics (on w40th & 7th.) Anyone know who she is? A slutty, cyborg version of Wonder Woman, perhaps? Her feet look very Giger-ish. I was thinking maybe Serpieri's Druuna, but the hair isn't right. I could have asked, but that would have taken the fun away.

Today's Novel Progress: 666 words. My lowest number so far, but what a good'un! Sometimes I pick up steam & run with it, sometimes it's plodding along word for word. Oh well, no rush. Pilgrim is talking again. Is he explaining too much? Am I just explaining to myself? I think I stopped him just in time - it'll be shown later.

Sitting on a black windowsill in Times square, looking at this ridiculously huge TV screen at the Nokia Theater & wondering who Phil Lesh is that he should be sold out for six nights. Going to meet some old friends for a few drinks. Watching people go buy. An Indian-looking guy is selling touristy pictures from a card table- John Lennon, NY skyline, the Meryl Lynch bull- you get the picture. Bought some Heavy Metal issues at Midtown Comics. Just lazing on a Friday afternoon.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, September 18, 2008

We're Rich!


Photo of the yesterday. Damn, I'm pretty handy with a pipe bender...

Today's Novel Progress: 1234 words. Yep. I know it's as statistically as any other number, but it's still a goodie. Joseph talks with his father. Originally, my dad was the model, but Joe's (Catholic) father is sounding more & more like Jackie Mason. Oy!

I finished The Catcher in the Rye. A page turner, but pretty plotless. A coming of age tale. Meh. Don't see what the big deal is about. I started On the Road this morning. I'll see how that goes.

So... I reluctantly understand that the government had to bail out AIG to prevent thousands of more jobs being lost. However, if it's going to buy the company with $85 billion of our tax dollars, doesn't that mean that every tax-paying American should now be stockholders? Hmmm....

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Alpha Dogs Howling at the Moon


Picture of the Day: The World Financial Center in downtown Manhattan, as seen across the World Trade Center construction site, (with a moon!) at 7am.

Today's Novel Progress: 854 words. Joseph gets interrogated by the cops. I have a handful of policemen in my family, but no detectives to ask for help. I want the scene to be realistic, but like 99.9% of Americans, all I know of interrigations is from movies & TV. I'm trying hard not to write clichés. It's all going in an odd direction, different than the one I envisioned. But I guess this is the better one, because it's the one that's writing itself. Lorraine (Joe's wife) is showing a little chutzpah rather than just being there. Good.

God, I'm tired. I need to go to bed early if I'm going to do this writing at 4am schtick. Mandy's throwing tantrums, I think it's because she's unable to express herself. (Although five, she's verbally about three.) Some young bright lad with an inferiority complex pulled the chair out from under Joe as he was sitting down in class yesterday. Oh, to be able to pull a "Freaky Friday" for a day! Either way, the poor kid is going to have learn to deal with those wired to act in such a way. Once, in the army, a schmuck who routinely bothered me squirted his shoe-wax on me while I was taking off my boots, much to the amusement of his friends. I took a boot in hand and smashed his fingers with it, breaking two of them. Afterward, I was shitting bricks, afraid that I was going to be arrested, but the idiot told the drill sergeant that he was moving a locker and it fell on him. Then he spent the next few weeks following me around like a lost puppy dog, wanting to be my friend. I kept telling him to fuck off, which made him even nicer to me for some unfathomable reason. I'm not suggesting I would ever want Joe to hurt anyone - he's the sweetest kid in the world and I love him the way he is - but such jackasses have always baffled me. Though the construction industry is mostly full of decent guys, every once in a blue moon I'll run into one of them on the job: an asshole who thinks he can win social points by teasing me like we're in grade school until I suddenly flip into my "closet psycho on the edge" routine. Then they back down and act like they want to be best friends while all the while I'm terrified of what would happen if they took a swing at me. Seriously - I'm in shape, but it's a Weeble shape. Either way, the whole alpha-male thing is just beyond me.

TTFN
Tony

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ranting


Photo of the Yesterday: The time-traveling Mariachis (T-H-E-M!) Have found me once again! Though I am Sicilian, maybe they want me to join...

Today's novel progress: 833 words. Another starfish is making an appearance, and it's an unhappy one. Pilgrim and Joe are still a bit shell-shocked. I was wondering how to make Don Q. resurface, but he was nice & came back on his own. It's always good when the story writes itself. As John Cleese once said in a Monty Python sketch, "I don't want you to get the impression it's just a question of the number of words... um... I mean, getting them in the right order is just as important. Old Peter Hall used to say to me, 'They're all there already, now we've got to get them in the right order.'"

OK, is anyone going to pretend to be shocked when Joe, "Hillary Clinton is as qualified or more qualified than I am to be vice president." Biden falls ill with "unspecified health issues," (or is simply abducted by aliens,) so Hillary can ride in on her white horse to save the election?

In other news you're supposed to pretend to be shocked about, apparently, the Yankees made a deal with the city so the taxpayers would pay for their new stadium. Perhaps the unnecessary bail-out of a multi-billion dollar organization without any financial woes would not be so galling if a) The new stadium did not have less seats than the old, b) The price of seats were not astronomical and completely out of the price range of the average New Yorker, and c) The Yankees had not been sucking donkey-balls for the past few years.

Here is an experiment in the style of the late great Robert Anton Wilson. Find someone who - even after the recent flushing of the American economy down the toilet - still firmly believes in Reganomics. Honestly try your best to get into his or her headspace and understand his or her point of view. (If you ARE a firm believer in Reganomics, find someone who thinks that deregulation has ruined the economy, and try the reverse.) See what the world looks like from a skewed angle than your usual one. Return to your own - which you know is superior to everone elses - whenever you're ready.

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, September 15, 2008

Random Thoughts Across My Brain


Photo of the Yesterday: Skull in the Sky at Dorney Park.

Novel progress: 1133 words. Joseph is unconscious, retreats to a happy teenage memory. He wakes in a hospital. I may have to look critically at the memory & see if it's distracting from the plot. Does everything need to be pared to the bone these days? I thought books were supposed to be an alternative to edge-of-your-seat TV, not compete with it. Ah well, get it down first...

Dear Metro NY- if you're going to run weekly editorials calling McCain a liar, could you, you know, cite sources, or at least give an example or two? (The whole bit about claiming Obama wanted to teach kindergartners sex ed when all Sen. O. wanted is for them to be taught to run away from predators is my favorite.) I know you're a free paper, but at least you could try...

The good ol' MTA was FUBAR as usual this morning. I know they're like everyone else & trying to do their best with what little they've got, but I really don't enjoy leaving early and arriving l...

I've been reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Both that and Emerson's Invisible Man describe conscious people receiving shock treatments, (I remember Jack thrashing around in the film version of Cuckoo as well,) but my Psych 101 book said they put people under for it. Maybe they didn't once upon a time. Oh well.

Goddamn, it's hot today. It was like walking outside into a brick oven at 5:30 this morning. There's something wrong with that.

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, September 12, 2008

Train to Nowhere


Photo of the Yesterday: On the proverbial "Train to Nowhere."

Novel progress: 690 words. I kept rewriting the scene, unhappy with the way things were going down. It's a twisty plot twist, one I never planned on. I'm going to have to revise this thing twice- once right away to even everything out. (The story's just getting down right now.) Then I'll let it cool a couple of months & then start trimming the fat. But I'm getting way ahead of myself.

Joe surprised me yesterday morning by making me a sandwich wrap before I left for work. Don't I have the nicest kid in the universe?

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Peoples is Peoples."


Photo of the Day: WTC site on 9.11.08. Supposedly, there were a lot of grand high muckamucks down there.

Novel progress 776 words. (Confucius say, He who snack heavily at night spend more time in morning sitting on porcelain than writing.) Joseph got a good look at Ralph's angel & saw how cruel and self-abusive it is. Pilgrim doesn't realize Joe can see other angels & Joe is keeping it from him. Joe demands Pilgrim help him to help Ralph, but Pilgrim refuses, wanting to bargain for information. Ralph meets up with Charlie...

I found myself tearing up this morning when I re-read the letter I wrote back in September of 2001. To be honest, it wasn't for those lost. It was remembering how scared & anxious we all were in the months that followed. I remember passing all the "have you seen" pictures taped to phone kiosks & imagining if that had been me, & how my wife & son (Amanda wouldn't grace us with her presence for a few more years) would have nothing left of me, no proof, no remains, no nothing. Ok, enough.

I've started to look at people, actually LOOK at them. Not staring or ogling, just long enough that something clicks inside, a feeling that I've made some sense of them. I don't think about them, I don't try to catalogue or make conclusions about what their wearing or how their walking if they're fat, skinny, prim, slutty, pretty, ugly, (or in some cases, pretty ugly) - I simply look. It's a weird feeling, like some sort of new sense that I'm getting a fleeting glimpse of. It's odd, because the trick to living in New York (or any city for that matter) is ignoring everyone and everything. If you didn't, you'd go mad. There's a constant cacophony of sirens, jackhammers, horns, and motors, people trying to stick a Metro or AM News in your face, people shouting into cell phones, people who stink, people preaching on the subway, bright flashing neon lights, giant televisions filling the avenues with mammoth advertising, angry people, happy people, poor people, sewer gas coming out of plastic orange smokestacks... The list goes on and on. If you didn't ignore the constant onslaught upon your senses you'd go insane. But actually looking at people, seeing them, how they slouch or stand proudly, how their faces are determined or sagging or lined or thin or broad, the clothes they chose to wear... it's just strange to suddenly be aware of everyone.

This morning, I talked to a man who works at the deli I frequented. He brought up the film M. Without thinking, I quickly followed with my Rocky Rococo impersonation. ("You may have seen me loitering around the drugstore, drinking chocolate malted Falcons and giving away free high schools!") The man's eyes grew wide. "You know the Firesign Theatre?" he happily exclaimed. We spent a bit of time relating our favorite bits. See? We're everywhere. (But how can you be in two places at once...)

TTFN
-Tony

In Memoriam



(Me back in September 2001, working on the roof of the Trinity building, restoring power at ground zero.)

As with previous years, the following is a letter I wrote to my friends & family in the days after 9/11. The letter is here in it's entirety, "warts and all." The only change I'd like to make is that while at the time we were told the death toll was 6000, it's now known to be about 2700.
.............................................

I'm sorry that I've been distant lately. I'm sure you can all understand, some even more than me.

I've been scared. I don't like to be, much less admit it, but I've been scared. I was lucky and in Queens, not in Manhattan last Tuesday. No, I wouldn't have been THERE (Though at 2 am I remember that I was working on the roof of a building a block away a month before this happened.) When the towers went down, I walked to the LIE overpass behind the apartment house and stared at the smoke that was in the place of the towers on the Manhattan skyline. Even though I'm one East River away from the close-ups on TV, it was stomach twisting. I called my foreman that night, and he told me how they watched it happen from the windows, 30 blocks away, how 20-50 year-old tough-guy construction workers were shaking, some crying, because they thought it was WW3 and the beginning of The End.

On Thursday, back in Manhattan, I had to walk from 42nd and Lex to 23rd and 1st, because the #6 line was down. (They were afraid of subway vibrations bringing down more buildings) It's not really as long a walk as it sounds, but I passed the recovery HQ on 1st ave- Past all the TV vans, and past a block's worth of pictures taped to plywood sheets. As time has past, these hopeful "have you seen" pictures have become memorials, and they're everywhere. I can't talk on the phone without staring into photographs with tearful notes of hope underneath, knowing they were put there by loved ones who will never ever see them again. I call my wife, and my voice becomes a dull monotone. She asks why and I'm at a loss on how to explain.

One of my friends at work is 40 years old, and he's a kind, good man. Today he suddenly started cursing himself, muttering what a failure he is. When I asked him what was wrong, he admitted it was because he started smoking again after giving them up cold turkey for 10 years. He told me he feels worthless, because suddenly he can't live without them again. I tell him it's an understandable need, but I can tell that my words don't help. I realize the frustration goes deeper than a pack of Marbalo 100s

Again, I'm on a job 30 blocks away from "ground zero", and I can see out the window that what was once a symbol of achievement is still a smoldering hole in the ground. I know it's only been a week, but I wonder when the skyline won't have a haze that has nothing to do with pollution. I walk down the street and I see people that are scared and jittery, no matter what their profession or race. I buy a paper from an elderly Arabic man, who wears a "God Bless America" shirt every day, and shrinks down in his kiosk- which is draped in American flags- like a frightened rabbit every time I, or any other customer approach. I give the little smile I have, but I don't think it does any good. I wonder if he's so afraid, why he stays here, and I realize he probably has no one and no where else to go.

Our shop is working on restoring power to one of those buildings- the same one I was on the roof of not too long ago (The Trinity building, 111 Broadway for those of you with a love for geography)- and being a lowly apprentice I helped the truck driver deliver material yesterday. My drivers license was scrutinized by armed police and National Guardsmen, like I'm trying to get onto a military base, and they make me wait in the cab while they and the driver search the truck. The won't let the truck get closer than a few blocks away and we wind up rolling 3' diameter wooden reels of sj cord down the street. The smell twisted my stomach, when I realized that what I was smelling was death- the death of a great achievement, of that smug "nothing can ever happen to us" attitude we Americans had without giving it a second thought, and, most disturbingly of over 6000 bodies.

And there's this feeling that grips me, this feeling that there's nothing I could ever do to protect myself, my wife or my son (I know that's a MCP attitude, but I'm sure Jen feels the same way about Joey and me.) And I wonder every night if tomorrow some new insanity will strike. I jump every time a car backfires. I run 2 miles a night (yes, frightening but true. This started a while before all this happened and I'm down to a not-quite-slim-yet 225lbs, thank you very much) and every time a plane flies overhead I flinch. I watched President's Bush's speech on TV tonight, and every time the picture flickered a little (I don't have cable, so 2 is really the only reliable channel- the others are coming and going- for those of you not in NYC, the WTC had all the broadcast antennas for the area except channel 2, leaving those of us cable-less with only CBS ) I thought "oh shit, what's happening now?" Every time I hear a siren, I wonder what's happened. The QM4 bus got held up at the Midtown tunnel yesterday (connecting Queens to Manhattan) because there was an accident. Of course, everyone seeing a bunch of flashing lights and emergency vehicles as we approach a tunnel, we instantly look around like caged animals, wondering if stage 2 had begun.

I feel guilty. Part of me tells myself that I have no right to feel so hurt or so angry- my family and my friends are all safe, and I'm alive and healthy. I'm a civilian now, I don't have to worry like so many others do. Who am I to feel so much? There are some without homes, without jobs, without their wives/sons/husbands/dads/daughters/brothers/sisters/fiancées... oh, you get the picture. I feel like I'm just whining.

I can't help being angry. We have the freedom of religion, but we jump out of our skins if someone says a prayer before a graduation ceremony or a football game. We have the freedom to own firearms, but we curse any law abiding citizen who owns one, while passing more and more lenient laws against criminals who use them. We showed the world that our presidency is a joke, that we don't care about our own history, our pride. We have a popular culture that demands more and more freedoms, but damns those who give/gave their lives and personal freedoms to protect the ones we have. I watched the speech, saw Democrats and Republicans give up their petty bickering that's been tearing the country to pieces, for the first time since WW2. It gives me a boost of hope, and I pray the sentiment lasts longer than this week, and reaches further than military resolve- into fixing our school system, into caring more about our OWN country's welfare, into bringing back production into this country so people can have jobs and learn trades to feed their families. I hope our politicians will stop trying to convince group A that everyone in groups B, C, and Q hates them, just to get their block of votes, then running around like idiots and asking "why?" when that hate turns to violence. I hope we learn to accept and love each other because we're Americans, despite our preference/denomination/color/sex. God, two weeks ago, that statement would have sounded so corny, wouldn't it?

We're at war, but we don't really know against who. There's no clear enemy, no one knows who will attack or when. Will it be us or them? Will it be "Us" or some nut like McVeigh, thinking we'll blame foreign terrorists instead of domestic? I realize I live on an island, and the only way to the rest of the world is by crossing another island (either Staten Island or Manhattan) Am I going to worry over every bridge and tunnel I cross for the rest of my life? And if it's "them," what form will it take? Watching 6000 people die as the WTC go down in flames is one thing. Watching millions in a city die from Anthrax in our water supply is another.

I'm sorry if I see this as just an NYC thing. It's hard to grasp that this is affecting the whole country.

It's an uncertain time, it's become an uncertain world. I just want you all to be certain that I love every one of you.

Those of you who've been forwarding bits of editorials, news items, letters, etc. Thank you, but it's you who's opinion I'm interested in. Let me know what you're thinking & feeling, if you'd like- you're more important.

Love each other, stay safe, and live your lives, for yourself and for each other.

-Tony

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Snakes are Yummy


Photo of the Yesterday: A carving on the Verizon building, taken from the pedestrian overpass on Vesey Street. Is there some folklore about a lion and a snake that I don't know about?

Novel progress: 831 words. A slow morning. I keep telling myself to go to bed early instead of playing Mass Effect but I never do. Anyway, Joe ran into Charlie, and told Pilgrim that sometimes people want to be left the hell alone. He realizes that [spoiler deleted] At the end, he looked in the Men's room mirror to see Ralph behind him & was shocked by... (to be continued tomorrow morning) I'm wondering if, in revision, I should make Joseph more pliant before he met Pilgrim to show contrast. I don't know... I like his unwillingness to let others mess with him. The tone of the first few chapters was different than the way the story is turning out. It was a little too commentary. I won't worry about it now. I think the names are going to change. Ken is going to become Sean (or Shaun - which spelling looks better?) Lynn and Lorraine are too close- one will have to go. Charlie Penguin & Pilgrim bother me, but I love those names, & the characters are miles apart.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Cup Finish!


Photo of the Yesterday: A sculpture on the side of a building in the Financial District. I really wonder what that cherub is doing in that bowl.

Novel progress: 1117 words. I've broken the Fives Law! Pilgrim's kind are becoming more apparent to Joe. Ralph is really starting to crack. Something bad is coming. There's two ways to handle it, and I find myself liking the characters so much I want to choose the more timid choice. Of course, to do so would make a weaker story, so it's not going to go down that way. I'm just surprised I feel so much for them.

This morning, Opie & Anthony were discussing that great bane of the Caucasian male, Political Correctness. This prompted the usual discussion about how PC sucks, and how the phrase "Politically Incorrect" has become more of an advertising term then having any actual meaning. But it got me thinking - how did this happen? And what exactly IS happening? As near as I can give it a defenition, Political Correctness is the phenomenon where, in any exchange, the meaning of the words and intent of the speaker is solely defined by the imagination (or in some cases the deliberate intention) of the listener. The meaning of the words used or the intention of the speaker is irrellevant, and a rediculous pollitical empowerment has been given to the listener. I think that sums it up. Any ideas?

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, September 08, 2008

"Heh heh heh... Pipe."


Picture of the Day Before Yesterday: Joe shows off his 1/4 Scottishness with the Local 3 Sword of Light Pipe Band at the (week after) Labor Day Parade in Manhattan.

Novel progress: 1065 words. But as this is the fifth day, I have to say the five thing no longer surprises me. Joe is beginning to see Pilgrim's kind everywhere. I eventually wanted that to be a possible ending, but I'm only halfway through. Joe buys a coffee and argues with a guy behind a counter. (There's been an awful lot of arguing, hasn't there? I don't want my characters to become my soap boxes. Back to Ayn Rand again - or Quentin Tarantino or Kevin Smith for that matter.) Maybe I'll have the counterman argue with a customer & have Joe egg them on. But he should be in the middle of things. Decisions, decisions...

Dear Senator McCain - I apologize for giving Obama advice while ignoring you. You were doing well enough on your own, people really weren't buying the "sidekick not a maverick" crap, and I didn't think you needed my help. But, jumpin Jesus on a pogo stick - why didn't you ask me before going with Sarah Palin? Obviously, you don't get it. Abstinence only sex education, creationism in the science classes, praying to help gays convert to heterosexuality... I don't know why no one explained this to you, but it's pretty damn doubtful that those on the far far right will vote for Senator Obama. It was us sane, undecided people in the middle that you had to woo. Plus, the fact that Palin is young & female just makes her look like a token choice, especially since she's a wingnut. The whole point was, you were supposed to be distancing yourself from those sort of people, not embracing them. Sigh. I'm sorry no one explained this to you- you should have talked to me sooner. Best of luck.

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, September 05, 2008

Merrily Rolling Along


Photo of the Yesterday: Mother & child, asleep on the E - train.

Novel progress: 1185 words. This five thing is getting downright spooky. Pilgrim explained about his religion. Pilgrim attacked Joe. Note: I should come up with Pilgrim's history & the story of his people just for myself. It would be better to have it cemented in my mind to make things more real. I describe him as looking like a Muppet. Will I have to change that to puppet for copyright reasons? I hope not, especially since Muppets have distinct mouth-shapes & are sewn with a Henson-Stitch (thanks Elena!)

The (week after) Labor Day Parade is manyana. Joe's looking forward to it & the Union wants a big turnout- but if torrents of rain are going to be falling from the sky- sorry, Charlie. Maybe the ghost of Harry Van Arsdale can part the clouds for us.

Not an original thought, but if you brought someone from the dark-ages to the present, their minds wouldn't be able to cope with the technology. Would that happen if someone from today went 1000 years into the future, or have we reached some sort of imagination threshhold, where anything possible can be visualized? I hope not.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, September 04, 2008

"Oh Five is Such a Pretty Number..."


Photo of the Yesterday: At the 2nd Ave. F train station. Obviously, the MTA is a little behind on changing posters. Either that, or someone just likes looking at vintage 1983 Carrie Fisher.

Novel progress today: 1015 words. I checked, Word IS counting every single word. That means for three days in a row my word count has ended in five. The Law of Fives - let me go reread the Illuminatus Trilogy. Notes: Ken got upset watching TV. Poor little guy. Pilgrim irked Joe. Joe fought with Ralph some more, this time from Joe's perspective. Pilgrim's ability to see people's pasts is becoming more prominent. Was this an ability he always had? Will it push things in a new direction? I think I'll just let events take their course...

As Stephen King and many other authors have suggested, I'm making sure I read every day as well as write. Not a chore, of course. I love it. Joe doesn't- something I'll never understand. Books were my best friends when I was a kid, and if they were controversial ones that gave my Sainted Sicilian Catholic parents apoplexy, all the better. I just breezed through Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. (Question: Who would win in a hand-to-hand deathmatch between Ayn Rand and Kurt Vonnegut? Objectivism vs. socialism tonight, only on Pay-Per-View!) I've started Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison, not H.G. Wells.) What is it with certain people at work who can't figure out that if I'm reading during lunch it's because I FUCKING WANT TO READ. I'm not reading just to pass the time in the hope that some brilliant conversationalist like you will come and engage me. Jesus H. Tap-Dancing Christ!

Off topic- a black guy just sat down next to me on the R train wearing jeans, a flowered (but tasteful) button-down shirt, a tie, giant sunglasess, and a mohawk. VIVA LA 80s!

TTFN
-Tony