Settling in…

I got two wonderful packages in the mail this week. One was a birthday box from my parents, whom I was very pleased and happy and ecstatic to visit in Wyoming on my trip cross country (thank you very much, so there.) and the other was from my favoritest author in the world, Chuck Palahniuk. How cool is this. Chuck is famous. I mean, borderline Stephen King famous. He used to answer fan mail all of the time, but now only opens his mailbag a few times per year. So I wrote him, thinking, maybe I’ll get a letter back. I got a box containing a ton of cool stuff. An autographed book, and a whole bunch more! COOL! It’s amazing to see someone who is probably as busy as all get out do something this nice for his fans. I’ve been to his readings before, and I know Chuck likes to go the extra mile, but I can only imagine that he’s doing this for thousands of people. Wow. (If you email me, I’ll tell you everything I got. It seems tawdry to post it here).

So now, I am going to bed and I will wake up tomorrow one year older, ready to fight the holiday crowds and to go to the zoo! MONKEYS!

I have to say that the end of this week has been so much better than the beginning, which was probably the most soul-crushing time I’ve had in a while. (I worked a 40+ hour work week. In three days.)

Where on Earth did all of these heavy things come from?

So, I’m still in the process of lifting heavy things, but this time for a good cause. I helped my fiancee move cross country, and in the meanwhile many things happened, mostly good. Such as:

1. My fiancee lives in the same city with me now! (Wheeee!)

2. I got to eat at Twin Dragon for the first time in several YEARS. (GREAT!)

3. I drove across the country, but seem to have done all of the good parts in the dark. (Indifference)

4. I’ve gotten a few more rejection letters from agents. (Not good, but a learning experience)

5. George W. Bush got re-elected. (We’ll see. But I’m thinking, not good)

6. I’ve learned that my apartment, although seeming clean to me, was actually quite dirty. (Good?)

7. I got an autographed Cerebus Comic Book. (So there!)

8. I got another parking ticket. (KILL)

9. I’m almost ready to begin a new book, and possibly a screenplay! (ooooo)

10. I inserted this to make the list reach ten. (TEN!)

So that’s been me lately. More to come.

Confucius and the (non) wisdom of George W Bush….

I’ve been reading the Sayings of Confucius. It’s always strangely satisfying and somewhat eerie to me when ancient wisdom fits into modern times. I give you:

“On matters beyond his ken a gentleman speaks with caution. If names are not right, words are misused. When words are misused, affairs go wrong. When affairs go wrong, courtesy and music droop. When courtesy and music droop, law and justice fail. And when law and justice fail them, a people can move neither hand nor foot. So a gentleman must be ready to put names into speech, to put words into deed. A gentleman is nowise careless of words.”

So here, the Master has addressed the entire line of Republican spin regarding the war in Iraq, and, I believe, thrown a barb or two at Toby Keith.

Also:

“A proverb says ‘My one joy as king is that none withstand what I say.’ Now, if none withstand him when right, will it not be well? But if none withstand him when wrong, might not this saying all but wreck a kingdom?”

So get out there and vote!

Rest in Peace, Rodney Dangerfield

The death of a celebrity is not something that usually affects me in any noticeable way. There are the rare few that truly make me sad, and those are usually the ones taken by foul play: Kurt Cobain, Phil Hartman, etc. But then there are the legends. The ones who leave a tangible hole in your life, a gap that you know will never be filled. Bob Hope. Fred Rogers. Michael Jeter. Johnny Cash. Ray Charles. You mourn them, but you know heaven is becoming a more interesting place. And if it wasn’t before, it will be soon.

Rodney Dangerfield was the first “adult” comedian that I really got. As a kid, I remember running to watch his stand-up appearances on HBO and Showtime, his movies, anything I could catch. Back to School was and is one of my favorite movies, along with Caddyshack, and even Rappin’ Rodney. Rodney had a way of turning self-deprecation into high art. I’m convinced he could have made anyone laugh at any time. Rodney could stand next to an inmate getting strapped into the electric chair, and start off with a trademark “You think you got it bad…?” and the room would be in stitches. Rodney’s zingers were so powerful, so overwhelming, that you truly didn’t feel bad for laughing at a thing he said against himself, mainly because you knew, on some level, he was talking about you. About all of us. Telling us to step back, take a look at our lives, and just let go. He could melt your heart in half a second with those four famous words: “I get no respect…”

In Junior High, those great years when self esteem is a concept that seems as remote and intangible as… well, a Triple Lindy, Rodney gave me laughter, not to mention some great comebacks that would disarm verbal taunters, and usually get them laughing with me. “You were the inspiration for twin beds!”, or “When you were a kid, they had to tie a pork chop around your neck just so the dog would play with you!”, or “When you were born, you were so ugly, the doctor slapped your mother!”

It hurt tonight when I turned on my computer and saw that Rodney had passed away after a long battle with heart disease. The man fought through a grueling operation just to prepare him for a heart operation that ultimately proved unsuccessful. I suppose it’s poetic somehow, that there was no way to replace Rodney Dangerfield’s heart. Rodney, always one to look on the bright side, said this before his series of surgeries: “If things go right, I’ll be there about a week, and if things don’t go right, I’ll be there about an hour and a half.” I’m sure somewhere in the back of his mind, Rodney’s only concern in the hospital would be hearing that his surgeon would be Dr. Vinnie Boombatz.

Losing Rodney hasn’t left a hole in my life. Like others I admire, his passing has left a space where light will always shine through, a reminder of his beautiful life, an assurance that in touching the lives of others, he has meant something to the world. In the classic climactic moment of Back to School, he made me believe that a middle-aged man could pull off the infamous Triple Lindy. And he’s still up there in the air, sailing.

Rest in Peace Rodney. You have respect, now and forever.

“What good is being the best if it brings out the worst in you?” – Rodney Dangerfield*

*A touching line, and fitting yes, but I think Rodney purposely mis-linked this audio clip on his website, Rodney.com

I’ve been attempting to read Patricia Cornwell’s Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper Case Closed for a few days now. I was truly excited to pick up this book and see what it was all about. Now, about halfway through, I’m trying to stop myself from throwing it away. It seems very hastily put together, and does a lot of finger pointing. Detectives should lay out cases before they point fingers. The book (so far) is almost a stream of consciousness case presentation. Walter Sickert was an artist. Walter Sickert liked to dress up. Is it not possible he dressed up and killed people? Is it not possible he wrote Ripper letters with different handwriting styles? I think his paintings can be plenty creepy, but it may be a stretch to call him the world’s most famous serial killer.

Anyway.

I’m off to the movies now.

The Move is Over… Long Live the Move.

Yes, the new office is shaping up quite nicely. Now, this weekend, I’m helping another friend move, and in a month, I’ll be moving my fiancee. I am the Sisyphus of the furniture world. I’m surprised I could make such a quip in my current state of tiredness. I’m even more surprised I just used a word like quip. Sounds dirty. Quip.

Anyway, I’m slowly getting my life back, getting my bills paid, and trying to enjoy the few free minutes I have each week. By the end of the month, I will have submitted We Can Reschedule to a short story competition, and should have Hit and Run off to a few more publishers/agents. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

And go see Shaun of the Dead! It’s been a while since I’ve see a movie that I feel I have to insist people go watch. Them Brits is funny.

Oh, the humanity…

Moving is no fun. Especially when what you’re moving is a lucrative dermatology practice. There’s heavy lifting, phone calls, more calls, meetings, more lifting, more planning more more more more. But today we finished moving in and we’re ready for business tomorrow! That’s the good news. The bad news is, lots more unpacking to do, so I will be exhausted for quite some time. I hope there’s a story in this somewhere. Also, for those of you who care, I’m sick. Getting over the flu or a cold or some kind of mystery virus. And I spread it around the office. Sharing is caring, right?

Read more horror!