All posts by Michael Paul Gonzalez

Live vicariously with me! (part 1)

Vicarious living for you! We had to get a point and shoot digital camera for an upcoming wedding my wife is shooting (it’s going underwater! woooooo) But it also means I get to have a new toy to take around town and show you some stuff.

First: Me, and a plethora of monkeys gifted to me through the years (and yes, my fanboy fight club print/Chuck Shrine)…

My ‘hood: Leimert Park – this is my street. Great old style architecture…nice neighbors, kind of the best kept neighborhood secret in town

The actual Leimert Park is a great collection of store, art houses, and this, the Lucy Florence CoffeeShop, which is amazing with their cakes and food and cakes and stuff.

Here’s a great mural in Leimert Park, on the side of a bookstore. I once heard a conversation in here where two black radicals were talking about how “blood needed to be shed” to solve “the problem”. Awkward…

Driving over Baldwin Hills down Stocker, we pass the oil fields…if you’ve seen Mulholland Falls, you’ll remember this area…

I’ll do my best to take requests in this thread. I don’t go to too many touristy places, but if there’s a movie location you know about, let me know…maybe I can shoot it…

Next… a trip to Pann’s!


Oh, Bengals…my Bengals… another year lost, and we’re only five games in. Bears? Same deal. I have nothing to root for this season except Bret Favre going back to the playoffs.

My writing workshop with Max Barry is going great, and I’m getting a lot don eon my novel, hopefully have the first draft finished early next year. I haven’t had time to post here because Aleks has been busy shooting weddings, and I help! (Call me Shake n Bake). And, I’ve been doing massive database updates to and some cosmetic work on I just landed a couple of other cool site gigs that I’ll show off here soon, and if I could get a good digital color artist, I’d be well on the way to launching SurfMonkeyDesigns new look.

I’ll leave you with a baffling picture…The NFL managed to promote steroids and homoeroticism for the children of San Diego (not that there’s anything wrong with that…). I don’t know who designed this Chargers mascot outfit, but they’ve got issues…

(note – they’ve since revised the look so it’s a guy in a Chargers uniform with a “Mac Tonight” style giant wedge head. Not much improvement, but at least he’s clothed…)

PS – I have it on good authority that the only reason the Cubs bowed so gracefully out of the playoffs (and quickly) was to gear up for next season. After all, the drama and emotional payoff will be much higher now that it will have been exactly 100 years since their last World Series Championship. Good God.

Meet the new Bengals…

…same as the old Bengals…
What the f*#k is happening in the NFL right now? Undefeated Detroit Lions? Undefeated Packers (with a QB older than Larry King), the Bears can’t buy a win, and Cincy’s playing like a high school team trying to show off its QB and WR corps while forgetting about…everything else. It’s painful, I tells ya.

The NHL is back in gear now, and my beloved Avs have made some interesting offseason moves. They’ll be a team to watch for in the postseason. As for my Islanders…well, they’ve got a lot of work to do to recover from the fire sale that saw them lose the bulk of their money players. I’ve always got my fingers crossed, but I just don’t see them as a Cup contender this year.

In GOOD sports news…
There’s a chance…albeit a small chance…that the Cubbies could make it to the World Series this year. I haven’t had my hopes this high since Andre Dawson and Jody Davis were playing at Wrigley.

Holy Cow!Two games up on the Brewers and we’re heading into the stretch…

Novels! More novels!

It’s incredible what happens when you clean your desk. A new sense of purpose! Direction! Etc! I’m one week into the Max Barry novel workshop and enjoying it immensely. It’s made me realize I have quite a few books in my head, a good sign. Max has published four books, but written nine. So, there’s hope for everyone. I’m rewriting Hit and Run (outside of the workshop) and using the workshop to finish a fun project called Angel Falls. Once it’s out of draft mode, I’ll post more about it. It could be the start of a series of books (unrelated except for location and a few characters). I’ve also got a couple of stories in my head to follow up. One is a near-future SF book and one is a historical horror novel about Sawney Bean. Look him up, interesting guy, interesting family…

Between helping on wedding photoshoots, websites, writing, and school, I think I’m the best kind of busy I can be.

Odd comic costume choices…

So, here’s something that’s always bothered me. Comic book heroes and villains with really strange choices in attire. I’m talking about things beyond Superman’s underwear on the outside of his pants, or Hulk’s ultra stretchy pants. Let’s look deeper, shall we?

Pitt. I remember him briefly from the tail end of my comic collecting days. He was some kind of Hulk clone from outer space who made friends with a little kid. Beyond that, I don’t remember much. So here’s my question: chains, I understand. Pants, well, you gotta have pants. Vest… vest?! Why is Pitt wearing a vest? Is he a logger? How did he find this thing in his size?

Does it help protect him in a fight? Is he part of a grunge band? Also, the chains seem a bit of overkill, I think. One or two would be acceptable. But it’s crossing into S&M territory here.

I think this will be an ongoing series…

Hey! It’s September!

Here’s what’s been happening in life:
Firstly, the big huge website news: I just finished launching a newly redesigned – it’s a nationally syndicated radio show where people can call in to interview famous rockers. I actually got to sit in studio for a live Queensryche performance – awesome. Anyway, check it out, vote on the polls, etc. Tell me if you see any bugs.

Even cooler news: Back at Comic-Con, I asked Ken Knudtsen (of “My Monkey’s Name is Jennifer” fame) if he could do some artwork for SurfMonkey Designs for me. Things are coming along nicely, and it’s going to be a HUGE relaunch for that site soon, so it’ll have its own unique design – you’ll love it!

Aleks landed a wedding job in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, so in November we’ll be vacationing/working in the sun! I’m really excited about the trip.

I just finished a travel writing class at MediaBistro, and came out of it with an article worthy of publication (I hope) which I’ll be querying editors with this week. To top it off, I’m starting a writing intensive with none other than Max Barry in one week! My life just keeps getting crazier and more hectic, and I love it!

One of the things we talked about in the travel writing class is doing daily half hour writing, something I could certainly put this blog to better use for. There’s so much going on with politics, life in California, and I need to keep my fingers moving on the keyboard.

Here’s a fun video to entertain you this week: the majestic comedy of the Meyer Bros.
Meyer/Meyer ’08

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What is the What

I usually post book reviews exclusively on my other blog, but this one is just too good not to talk about. “What is the What” by Dave Eggers is probably the most important book of the year, a life-changing work that’s incredible.

Sudan is a nation mired in war, and its people seem destined to suffer. Valentino Achak Deng is a survivor of the civil wars, one of the Sudanese “Lost Boys” who trekked 1,000 miles to escape his country and grew up in a refugee camp. Eggers combines elements of Deng’s story with some fictional narrative to create what is possibly the most compelling book I’ve ever read.

It’s easy to get buried under the landslide of hard luck that comes Deng’s way, from his village being leveled to his incredibly painful exodus across Sudan, losing his family, losing his friends, and constantly fighting off hunger and disease. The format of the novel is incredible, echoing Deng’s message throughout: somebody please listen to me. Hear me. We begin in the present in America, where Deng has been relocated for safety. He becomes the victim of a home invasion robbery, where he’s beaten and nearly killed while all of his possessions are stolen. The book becomes a prayer from Deng, words spoken in his mind, imagined conversations with his persecutors, his friends, anybody who happens through his life. Somebody hear me. Validate me.

Deng grows up in unimaginable circumstances, bringing us through his passage into adulthood. He sees friends killed by lions on the walk out of Sudan. Groups of boys executed by bombers. Dead bodies, horrific mutilations, and yet, Deng struggles on. It’s not all horrible. There are moments of great humor, such as Deng falling in love, and uplifting passages that will make your soul sing.

The title of the book refers to the legend of creation told to Deng by his father. “The What” is something endowed to the Dinka tribe of Sudan by God. It becomes the driving force in the story, yet we never hear it fully explained until the end. Deng keeps talking, to his captors, to the police, to his Christian neighbors downstairs, to hospital orderlies, to patrons of the fitness club where he works. Someone will listen. Someone will hear.

Read this book and be changed forever. Read about Valentino Achak Deng and his efforts here.