Thursday, February 18, 2010


I am ready for another comeback.  I am the Brett Favre of bloggers.  I keep trying to walk away, but my love of the game keeps bringing me back.  

I have spent 2009 backpacking across South America, six countries in all.  I have climbed a 19,000 foot volcano in Ecuador, traversed the largest advancing glacier in the world in southern Argentina, piloted a mountain bike down the World’s Most Dangerous Road in Bolivia, ridden a horse through Colombia’s magnificent coffee region, deep in the heart of the guerilla-controlled cloud forest, and trekked through Peru’s breathtaking Cordillera Blanca, a land of unfathomably high peaks and unforgiving altitude.  The beauty of these majestic places was matched only by the beauty of the people I met along the way; I was introduced to a simpler life, where wealth was counted in chickens and goats, and community solidarity was essential in maintaining one’s quality of life.  As my Spanish improved, and my culture shock gradually wore off, I was able to learn a tremendous lesson from the native, rural populations of South America – a lesson in compassion, cooperation and empathy.

I am refreshed, revitalized, and ready to rile some people up.

I hope to entertain you.  I hope to enlighten you.  But mostly I just hope to add my voice to the thousands of online voices that are challenging the mainstream media's decades-long vice-like grip on the flow of information in this country.

What am I rebelling against?  WHADDYA GOT???

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


I enjoy writing Japanese haiku poetry. It's pretty difficult to screw up, as long as you get the syllables right. And you don't even have to rhyme. And, given the constraints in length, I am prevented from rambling. They practically write themselves.

I am going to attempt to write a haiku every week... this weekly post will be called "The Weekly Haiku".... creative, right?

These haikus will be about anything and everything, and nothing at all.

Without any further ado, here is this week's haiku. The subject is Los Angeles, my current home...


Shopping bags in hand

Beautiful and desperate

Blonde botox trainwreck

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


No, I'm not trying to be some radical left wing contrarian who disses any outward expression of patriotism. I happen to think that patriotism, in small reasonable doses, is healthy for any citizenry.

What I cannot stand are FIREWORKS, CROWDS and PARADES.... which, in my estimation, form the real Axis of Evil.

FIREWORKS are loud, dangerous and really uninspiring. I live in Venice Beach, Califorina, which adds to my disdain for fireworks. I live in a neighborhood in which shootings occur regularly (not as regularly as they did 10, or even 5, years ago...but still). In the days leading up to the 4th of July, and the days following it, the Venice night is filled with the POP-POP-POP of firecrackers. These sound remarkably like gunshots. I literally flinch every time I hear it. I'm being totally serious. 2 years ago a bullet was actually lodged in the exterior wall of my apartment building.

Every year somebody gets their hand blown off or is blinded in a fireworks mishap. It's just silly. Somewhere Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of this nation, is shaking his head and wondering how lighting off an "ATOMIC GEYSER" is emblematic of a nation's patriotism. He should know...he has been electrocuted. It doesn't feel good.

Even the big fireworks shows are lame. OOOOOOHHHHHH. AAAAAHHHHHH. Seriously? Unless you are a pyromaniac, a child, or are mentally disabled, what is so interesting about shiny fire in the sky? We live in a country where people would rather watch a fireworks show than look at the Milky Way..... 'Screw the observatory, I want to see things go boom!!!'

Perhaps I'm in the minority on this. Maybe I'm like the 4th of July version of Scrooge, but I just don't think that brightly colored explosions are beautiful or captivating in any way. However, when you think about it, given that the Los Angeles sky is too polluted to see any celestial bodies, perhaps fireworks are the closest thing we will ever see to an actual shooting star.

CROWDS are another reason I dislike the 4th of July. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I dislike people. People can be fine. But crowds...that's a different story. I'm not talking about a bunch of people on the escalator at the mall. I'm talking about the hordes of people that cram the beaches on 4th of July weekend... its an orgy of traffic, cameras, sunscreen, pit bulls, beer, umbrellas, boomboxes, blankets, barbecues and screaming children. It's a total shit show. It's hot. It's stressful. And as the heat and stress mount (aided by alcohol) about mid-afternoon, people start doing really dumb shit.

People will set up blankets and chairs hours before the fireworks show, just to get a good spot. And they try to save spots. Just attempt to encroach on their city of blankets and canopies... the penalty is death.

PARADES are another reason why I detest the 4th of July. For one thing, Parades draw crowds (see above). But, it's more than that. I just do not get the allure of a parade. Okay, maybe I understand a victory parade when the home team wins a big championship, but I'm not talking about that kind of parade. I'm talking about the kind of parade that will dominate every 4th of July celebration in almost every town across this nation on the 4th of July. I'm talking about shriners on mopeds. I'm talking about high school marching bands. 4H clubs. Rodeo clowns. Flat bed trucks with amateur rock bands on the back. Politicians waving madly with frozen smiles. Karate students marching with their dojo. Stuff like that.

Not that any of these things necessarily annoy me in and of themselves. It's just that, why do they need to walk slowly down the street while we cheer in order for it to be a true celebration of our nation's independence? I'm all for celebrating our nation's freedom, uniqueness and unmitigated success. I just do not see how watching an old guy ride a moped with a funny hat celebrates any of those things.

I love my country. I might disagree with the way it is run sometimes. But I absolutely relish the fact that I was fortunate enough to be born here. I'm all for celebrating that. I celebrate it when I vote. I celebrate it every time I sit down to a meal. I celebrate it every time I write a post such as this on a public blog. I celebrate it every time I read a news story about rampant poverty, hunger and civil war in far off nations.

I can express love without celebrating Valentine's Day and I can express patriotism without celebrating the 4th of July.


I am a bit of an amateur cinephile (aka Film Geek), so from time to time I will use this space to recommend independent films which I have encountered that I believe really should be seen by folks who are seeking cinematic pleasure off the beaten path. These recommendations will not be "reviews" so much as little teasers intended to pique the independent film-goer's interest in the film. Some of the films will be new releases, some will be old films, but all of them will be films that, for one reason or another, have ignited that indie film geek spark in me, and which I want to share with you.

The first film I would like to recommend is "The Guatemalan Handshake" written and directed by Todd Rohal. I hesitated to make this film my first film recommendation because the director and cast are largely unknown and I honestly believe that the vast majority of film-goers would summarily dismiss it as an incomprehensible, low budget steaming pile of shit.

Is it incomprehensible? Yes, at times. Is it low budget? was made for under $200,000. Is it a steaming pile of shit? Yes again...but I mean that in only the best possible way. It is a steaming pile of shit in the sense that it surprises you, evokes a visceral reaction from you, forces you to change your course, and lingers with you the way only a bold sensory experience could.

The story revolves around the mysterious disappearance of Donald, played by Will Oldham (who some might recognize as the alt-folk musician Bonnie 'Prince' Billy), following a town-wide power surge, and follows the oddball events which transpire in the wake of this event. That is the only synopsis you are going to get from me. Trying to ascribe a "plot" to this film would be like trying to admire the Eiffel Tower by reading its engineering specifications.

Think David Lynch meets Terrence Malick. Think Napoleon Dynamite as directed by Alejandro Jodowrosky. Think Todd Solondz in a better mood.

Or, as David Gordon Green (Director of "George Washington" and "All the Real Girls") explains in an essay he prepared regarding "Guatemalan Handshake" and which is included in the new deluxe 2-disc DVD for the film:

The Guatemalan Handshake is a confident vision of the absurd, but it never crosses the line of being weird for weird's sake. It rises to the occasion of inspired filmmaking playfulness in ways of the pioneers: Fritz Lang, George Kuchar, Jacques Tati, Robert Downey Sr. and Alejandro Jodorowsky. Its heart is never lost in its humorist roots. Each technical contribution is far above the requirements of low budget filmmaking. It raises the bar and illustrates what can be done if smart people get in a room and decide to become the band that sets the new standard rather than dry humping the Top 40 countdown. Nothing feels cheap nor compromised. Performances are either naturalistic and highly believable, or perfectly stilted in the caricatures of the modern day fairy tale. It juggles a unique structure and is equipped with transitions that open gateways to other plots and sequences that we can only assume exist in this alternate reality. This is a movie where we drop into people's lives without explanation and see them at their most vulnerable. It is as insightful as it is ridiculous. Human moments of awkward connections and missed opportunities and life-changing failures are on display in glorious 35mm widescreen. This film is about the beauty within the buttcrack and the sadness behind a fart joke.

I could not have said it better myself.

You will either love or despise this movie. If you love it, please share it with friends. If you hate it, then I would love to hear why. I certainly will not judge you by suggesting that you "just didn't get" it. In fact, I'm not even sure I "got it" and, to be honest, that's what intrigues me most.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


A California law has taken effect today which bans the use of handheld phones while driving. This law was intended to improve public safety. But, if you ask me, it is really meant to curb public annoyance. And by public I mean ME. And by annoyance I mean my proclivity for ROAD RAGE (which is something I'm really trying to work on, but no amount of yoga classes or Tao Te Ching meditations will fully eradicate that furious seed within me which blooms every time I am obstructed by a driver more concerned with their trivial after-work chat than actually getting to where they are going).

I am less concerned that folks talking on their phone while driving will cause an accident than I am that they will inexplicably decelerate to a speed well below the posted speed limit and keep me from going where I'm trying to go. OR, that as a consequence of being on the phone, they will forget that they need to turn right until the very last moment and then suddenly hit their blinker, creep into my lane, forcing me to hit my breaks, and then turn right in front of me without so much as a wave. Come on! At least have the common decency to give me a wave! People underestimate the importance of the "Sorry, I suck ... you're the best" wave.

This got me thinking. If the legislature is going to start regulating cell phone use in order to alleviate my profound annoyance, here are some other laws I will be recommending to my state Assemblyman:

1. No talking on your cell phone at the food/drink counter. Just order your damn food, pay, and move aside. The person taking your order doesn't want to hear your one-sided, unnecessarily loud phone conversation, and neither do I. I just want to order my bagel. I'm hungry. So get with the program pal.

2. If your phone rings in the middle of a movie, you get the electric chair. No three strikes. Just zap!

3. If you are in a waiting room (or any other place where there is a crowd of people who are just sitting silently), you are not allowed to speak on your phone. Just step outside. Why should the rest of us, who are politely flipping through National Geographic and US Weekly have to listen to you argue with your wife about who is picking up the kids from soccer?

4. Wait until you get off the elevator to make that call. Seriously, I'm claustrophobic as it is. I don't need you bellowing some inane bullshit in my ear while I'm contemplating my own death.

5. Don't answer a call or check a text message (or worse, send a text message) while you are engaged in a meaningful face to face conversation with someone without at least excusing yourself and apologizing. I can't tell you how many times I'm in mid-sentence, and someone grabs their phone, reads a text, laughs, and starts writing a reply test, all while casually nodding their head and pretending to be following what I'm saying. I can live with people that acknowledge their rudeness, but I have little patience for folks that act rudely and then try to pass themselves off as expert multi-taskers.

6. I have a great idea for a ringtone: ring, ring....ring, ring. Ingenious right? Why do people feel like they have to use an excruciatingly loud, abrasive pop song as their ring tone? Unless Justin Timberlake is calling you, please don't use his shitty songs as your ringtone. Next thing you know, they will start selling Miley Cyrus microwave "finished cooking" alerts. Nothing says "popcorn done" like the vocal stylings of America's favorite hillbilly waif.

Are you listening Assemblyman Ted Lieu? Sure, I'm concerned about alternative fuels, and health care, and education. But, if you could just do something about the cell phone etiquette, we'd really be in business.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


When recently asked whether he was a MAC or PC guy, Republican presidential hopeful John McCain responded:

"Neither, I'm an illiterate that has to rely on my wife for all of the assistance I can get."

Mr. McCain rightfully took a little flack from the online media for this admission, to which one of his aides responded with this statement:

"You don't actually have to use a computer to understand how it shapes the country . . . John McCain is aware of the Internet."

Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican presidential nominee has no idea how to use the internet. This is genuinely alarming. Of course, there are numerous people in this country, and around the world, who for one reason or another do not know how to operate a computer or navigate the world wide web. Those people are not running for President of the United States. Those people are not proclaiming to have the tools necessary to revitalize our economy, improve our strained foreign relations, champion the development of emerging technologies and foster unity in a nation fractured by mounting class division.

Maybe if primary school classroom instruction was supplemented by mandatory online lessons, and schools across this nation were supplied with adequate computers, we could improve our failing education system.

Maybe if the HMO bureaucracy that results in rising insurance costs and delays in medical treatment was replaced with an internet based system for processing appointments and claims, we could begin to provide real care and real savings to our sick.

These are just two minor examples of immediate benefits derived from developing a computer-literate and computer-aided citizenry.

So, excuse me while I go make an internet donation to the Obama campaign.

Friday, June 27, 2008


..... Okay, you can call it that if you want.

I haven't posted on this blog for over two years. Maybe I was too busy. Maybe I've gone through some changes. Maybe I ran out of creative juice. Maybe I was lazy. Maybe I had a girlfriend. Maybe I've been selfish.

Maybe all those things.

Anyhow, I'm back. I'm going to try this again. I'm going to write about the absurdities of this world that catch my attention; the bits and pieces that piss me off, or inspire me, or challenge me, or make me laugh. In other words, I'm going to write whatever the hell I feel like.

If you happen to find it entertaining in any way... then, well, that's even better.

Signing Back On,

Absurd Hero

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Everyone's favorite heiress, Paris Hilton, has been short-listed to play Mother Teresa in an upcoming biopic of the beloved humanitarian. Not since 1960's sexual icon Sally Field (of "Gidget" fame) was cast as "The Flying Nun" has the Catholic World been met with a comparable cinematic assault upon all that it holds dear.

In 1967, when Ms. Field was cast as Sister Bertrille on the hit television series, "The Flying Nun," many in the Catholic community were appalled that the entertainment industry would soil the Catholic faith by allowing California surfing harlot -- "Gidget" -- to portray a woman of the cloth. The potential casting of Ms. Hilton as the Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta is certain to draw similar ire from the Catholic Church.

However, some in the Catholic community are pleased with the choice of Ms. Hilton as Mother Teresa, hoping that Hilton's acceptance of this "role of a lifetime" will transform her from vapid, promiscuous princess to serious, sensitive actress.

The Catholic Church has long taken credit for Ms. Field's 1984 Academy Award for Best Actress for "Places in the Heart," convinced that it was Ms. Field's role on "The Flying Nun" which legitimized her as a Hollywood star.

One Catholic Bishop interviewed for this story, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the following on the subject of Ms. Hilton's potential role as the divine Mother Teresa:

"I really enjoyed House of Wax, but was ambivalent about One Night in Paris. I found the shaky camera work to be distracting ... even for a sex tape. But, I'm hopeful that after playing our Beloved Mother Teresa, young Paris will be well on her way to the Oscar podium. The scientologists think they run Hollywood. Well, they don't. The Catholics do."

Ms. Hilton, initially unaware who Mother Teresa was, turned down the role because of a prior commitment to star as a talking handbag in the upcoming Disney release "Rodeo Drivin'." When she was eventually told that Mother Teresa was part Indian, Ms. Hilton is reported to have exclaimed "Okay, that sounds perfect...It will be like Dances With Wolves, but totally HOT!"