Thursday, September 30, 2021

September Words of Wisdom

Either you will control your government, or government will control you. 
--Ronald Reagan

If you're lonely when you're alone, you're in bad company. --Jean Paul Sartre

Every time we stomp down our introverted nature, we crush part of our soul in the process. --Michaela Chung

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meanings of words, yo can control the people who must use the words. --Philip K. Dick

Instead of trying to make your life perfect, give yourself the freedom to make it an adventure, and go ever upward. --Drew Houston

It's dangerous to be right when the government is wrong. --Voltaire

We're at the stage in the west in which a love of liberty is equated with fascism, its direct antithesis. --Alice Smith

There's something really simple and idyllic about living in a house very close to the water. --Andrea Riseborough

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly. --Edgar Rice Burroughs

And when you look up at the night skies over Montana, it's hard not to think that we can't be alone on this rock, that there isn't something else out there or up there, in charge of this whole crazy-ass enterprise. --Anthony Bourdain

Let a series of happy thoughts run through your mind. They will show on your face. --Unknown

Distance yourself from people that you don't want to become. --Shane Parrish

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. --Winston Churchill

What the government is good at is collecting taxes, taking away your freedoms and killing people. It's not good at much else. --Tom Clancy

I don't wish bad on nobody, but you reap what you sow in life, you don't get to treat people like shit and live a happy life. --Unknown

The secret to getting ahead is getting started. --Mark Twain

Solitude is dangerous. It's addictive. Once you see how peaceful it is, you no longer want to deal with people. --Mia Siya

We got rid of the mean tweets and all it cost was everything. --Clifton Duncan

If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere. --Laura Ingalls Wilder

Be addicted to bettering yourself. --Unknown

One of the most cowardly thinks ordinary people do is to shut their eyes to facts. --C.S. Lewis

A party without cake is really just a meeting. --Julia Child

Learn from your past...then pack your shit and get the fuck out of there. 

Your imagination creates your reality. --Neville Goddard

A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not be trusted by anybody. --Thomas Paine

Taking joy in living is a woman's best cosmetic. --Rosalind Russell

We're blessed with the opportunity to stand for something - for liberty and freedom and fairness. And these things are worth fighting for, worth devoting our lives to. --President Ronald Reagan

My entire life I wanted to become an American, and I've never understood since immigrating here why so many people are ungrateful for what they have and where they were born. --Brigitte Gabriel

Stop thinking about writing as art. Think of it as work. If you're an artist, whatever you do is going to be art. If you're not an artist, at least you can do a good days work. --Paddy Chayefsky

Happiness consists of living each day as if it were the first day of your honeymoon and the last day of your vacation. --Leo Tolstoy

I'd have to guess about 95% of Americans who mainstream media call "far-right" want only to work for a living, keep most of their money, raise their kids in peace, get them a good education without left-wing indoctrination, own a nice home and be left alone. You know, "extremists". --Kyle Becker

So long as men and women write what they want, then all of the other freedoms - all of them - will remain intact. And it is then that writing becomes an act of conscience, a weapon of truth, an article of faith. --Rod Serling

By choosing to be our most authentic and loving self, we leave a trail of magic everywhere we go. --Emmanuel Dagher

Cream rises. Excellence does have its rewards. --Anthony Bourdain

Don't be afraid of being outnumbered. A lion walks alone while the sheep flock together. --Unknown

Never wish them pain. That's not who you are. If they caused you pain, they must have pain inside. Wish them healing. That's what they need. --Najwa Zebian

There is nothing more exciting than peace of mind. --Unknown

Tuesday, September 28, 2021


The burger wars are getting catty:

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Wait, what???? There's a Dexter podcast?

Yes, there is and it's launching October 1.

Apparently there was one before. I had no idea.

If you go into the Apple podcast store and search under just "Dexter", you'll find the original. You'll have to search under "Dexter new blood" to find the new one.

Now I have to go catch up on the old podcast. There goes my Thursday!!!

Monday, September 20, 2021

Recent reading: "Wicked Crescenta Valley"

Wicked Crescenta Valley by Gary Keyes and Mike Lawler

My brother lives in an area that is part of the Crescenta Valley, a beautiful group of foothill communities in the San Fernando Valley that includes Montrose, La Crescenta, La Canada-Flintridge, Sunland, Tujunga, Verdugo City, and parts of Glendale. These towns are largely upscale, family oriented small communities. However, the area has a colorful history and the less law-abiding aspects of that history are highlighted in this slim (142 pages) volume that doesn't always go into great detail, but makes a great starting point.

The book is divided into ten chapters: Sex, Prejudice, Drugs and Alcohol (being remote yet so close to Los Angeles made it ideal for bootlegging), War (the area was a hotbed of American Nazi support), Oddballs and Freaks (including The Hog Farm, a hippie commune that briefly hosted Charles Manson before he was expelled), Cons and Swindles, Crime, Extreme Politics, Mean Mother Nature (including the notorious 2008 Station Fire and the resulting mudslides when winter rains came), and Sanitariums. 

Again, because of its remoteness despite its adjacency to Los Angeles, the area became a desirable spot for sanitariums. In the late 1800's well into the 20th century, sanitariums treated anything from not just the mentally unstable, but also  tuberculosis, drug and alcohol addiction, the aged and infirm, or just simple "exhaustion" (movie stars Clara Bow and Frances Farmer spent time in Crescenta Valley facilities). These places flourished for decades, but most have since been leveled and the land developed (one of the most successful of these is now the location of a shopping center anchored by a Ralphs). Only Rockhaven still stands and the City of Glendale was recently granted funding to preserve it so that it won't vanish like so many historic buildings in Southern California.

This book was published in 2014, so I imagine most locals interested in the Crescenta Valley's history already have it. The Brother picked it up recently at a local bookstore (Once Upon a Time in Montrose). He had previously bought a DVD of the area's history at the same place, but I can't remember the name of it. But that DVD provides an amazingly comprehensive history of the area, including hours of extras. But Wicked Crescenta Valley is a good place to start if you're interested in less savory aspects of the valley's past.

Part of the drawing power of the property was that film star Clara Bow had spent some well-publicized time at Hillcrest for "recuperation from the effects of a strenuous career." Bow was a silent film mega-star in the 1920's who mixed the glamour of Madonna with the out-of-control craziness of Lindsey Lohan. She was the inspiration for cartoon character Betty Boop and Peppy Miller, the female lead in the Academy Award-winning picture The Artist. She was unstable and in and out of sanitariums for much of her career. The fact that she was at Hillcrest at the very height of her fame attests to its high-class status.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

It's September 16. I just received the first Christmas email of the year.

Cost Plus World Market (a store I absolutely love, BTW) thinks we should start stocking up on advent calendars now!

Fall doesn't even begin until next week.

Too soon.

Scenes from a marina

Went out yesterday to drop off some mail, ended up strolling around part of the marina. I just love looking at the boats.

I also love checking out the boat names. People get really creative.

Dreams Come True

🎶 Just Sit Right Back... 🎶
They even used the Gilligan's Island font!

Rogue Octopus

Socially Distant
A recent purchase, maybe?

The Office

Someone needed a bigger boat.
What I also thought was funny is that once you've seen a
few bigger ones, the other boats look like wind-up toys. 

Even though live-aboards were banned years ago, apparently actual houseboats are still allowed.

A boat with places to go and people to see:

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Recent reading: Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine

Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine (September/October 2021)

I've decided to start including these because they're basically collections of short stories - some of which are damn good - and the mag is big enough that it does take a while to get through, so it does require an investment of time and attention.

My personal favorite this issue is the cover story, "Glass", by James R. Benn, in which an iPad time-travels to1960's rural Texas where a couple of guys down on their luck find a most unique way to plagiarize a future author. "No God West of Hays" is a tough, terrific western written by someone (Eric B. Ruark) who clearly knows the genre. Other favorites in this issue are "The Shoemaker's Children" by Tom Savage and revenge tale "Ice Ice Baby" by Barb Goffman.

From the magazine's website: Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine is one of the oldest and most influential magazines of short mystery and crime fiction in the world. Launched over 60 years ago, today AHMM maintains a tradition of featuring both promising aspiring writers and talented authors, spanning the full spectrum of sub-genres from dark noir to graphic works.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Jumping for joy

Recently on his podcast "Fame is a Bitch", AJ Benza mentioned that Danny Boy O'Connor of the band House of Pain is a listener. Benza also talked about a video that Danny Boy posted on his Instagram account of the crowd at a recent Wisconsin Badgers game reacting when House of Pain's immortal "Jump Around" began playing over the PA. And let me tell you, it is a thing of joy watching the crowd cutting loose and celebrating a return to live sports. Wait for it...

I could watch this for hours. Jump up, jump up and get down!!!

And was that the theme from Bonanza????

Monday, September 13, 2021

First world problems, appreciating the little things in life, moments of joy, and the importance of gratitude

When I took my shower this morning I had this weird moment of utter joy as I watched the water draining properly instead of backing up and pooling in the tub. This will be a rather lengthy setup, but bear with me:

A couple weeks ago the management of my apartment building sent out an email reminding us to be careful what we put down toilets and drains - grease, various paper products, the usual. They also mentioned hair.

Because my hair is naturally curly and brushing it out turns it into a fuzzy, frizzy mess, I'm not in the habit of brushing it regularly, so it naturally sheds on its own and a lot of it comes out when I shampoo my hair. I catch as much as I can but a certain amount unavoidably ends up down the drain and eventually builds up, and Liquid Plumber doesn't work in large buildings. So because of the email, I decided I needed to be a little more proactive in preventing my hair from clogging the drain. 

First, I bought these hair catchers. Check it out, they even come in beach themes! So I installed one and the first thing I noticed is that the tub wasn't draining as usual. The water pooled up and I figured the hair catcher was probably impeding the drainage, but on the other hand it would help keep the drain from clogging, right? And the tub did eventually drain, so I figured it was a trade-off.

Saturday morning I was getting ready to take my shower and discovered that there was still water in the tub. Not a lot, but it clearly hadn't drained from the day before. I had also gotten these things at Home Goods last week that are basically pipe cleaners on steroids that are supposed to help clear drains, so I poked around with one of those to no avail. Oh, and before doing that, I pulled out the hair catcher to discover that in the week or so it had been installed, it hadn't caught any hair, but by now it was obviously that it wasn't what was clogging the drain, the timing was apparently just a coincidence. 

Luckily I actually have a small, second bathroom in the apartment that I use for storage. I haven't used it as a bathroom at all, because I simply don't need it. It has a small stand-up shower, so the good news was that after hauling a bunch of boxes out of there, I was able to take a shower. After that, I discovered that the shower in the master bathroom had finally drained. I didn't want to deal with it over the weekend, so I figured I'd just use the spare shower and put the service request in Monday to have the drain in the main bathroom cleared. 

On Sunday morning I was in the master bathroom when I discovered that there was some water in the tub again and that's when I realized it wasn't just a case of my drain being clogged - this had something to do with the building and possibly other apartments around me, and probably something I shouldn't put off. So I put in the service request and around 11:30 a couple of really nice maintenance guys showed up at my door and went to work. 

At one point one of the guys left, then came back and I mentioned that it looked like a bigger job than we'd thought. He told me that I shared drainage with an adjoining apartment and that we were both clogged. Eventually they got the situation resolved; when I asked if there was some way I could be more proactive about prevention I was advised that it was just something that built up over time, not anything that anyone did. These buildings are old - Marina del Rey was developed in the 1960's and I think my place was built in the early 70's - but unlike all the other old apartments in town that have been torn down and replaced with modern behemoths, this place is so nice they can't justify just flattening it, although major renovations to update the guts and interiors are planned a few years out. I've always taken into consideration that being in an older building means issues that I'm willing to deal with.

So what all this drama led to was my shower this morning, and how giddy I was to see the water draining. And that got me thinking about how fortunate it is to live in a modernized society. Not everyone does. There are people in the world for whom any running water is something they can only wish for. There are people who don't have enough food to eat. There are people who live in squalor. Right now, there are American citizens in Afghanistan living in constant terror for their lives, in absolute fear of death from second to second, wondering when their leaders will get them to safety, wondering why this didn't happen sooner and if it will at all before they're slaughtered for no reason at all in a third-world hellhole so far from home.

And I'm here doing the happy dance because my tub is draining properly.

Right now I'm sitting out on the patio in the early morning coastal haze, enjoying my new patio furniture and my coffee, listening to a young squirrel in the tree next to my patio adorably chirping up a storm, sounding like a cranky old man who wants the kids off his lawn. Sophie is out here too, and like me seems to be quietly soaking it all in. It's just so nice and peaceful, the kind of morning I moved back here for. The kind of life I wanted and am so lucky to have, regardless of what I might want but don't have.

This stupid issue with plumbing served as a reminder of how fortunate I am to be here. I love my apartment, I love the layout, I love the patio and the fireplace and how luxuriously pin-drop quiet it can be (when the delivery and trash trucks aren't parked right in front of my place). I love being close to the beach and to water, and I really, really enjoyed the mild summer weather here as opposed to the high-90's/100 degree days the past couple of years in the San Gabriel Valley. 

It was something as simple as water going down the drain to bring all this on. I can get easily irritated by little things and I think the message I was sent this morning in the shower was not just to be grateful for everyday things that are so easy to take for granted, but to remember to have, to experience, to truly feel immense gratitude for what I have in life, at this moment. It was a humbling reminder that made me stop and think, rather than just going through the usual motions.

Now I'm off to get my hair done and to have a wonderful day. I hope you do the same.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

A somber and depressing anniversary

Given some recent events and the anti-American disposition of so many of our political betters, the 20th anniversary of the attacks of 9/11/01 is more depressing than usual. 

I just pulled these images from the internet, so let me know if any of them are yours and I'll give credit where credit is due. 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

New "Dexter" trailer!!!

Be sure to watch all the way until the end 😉


Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Podcast News: James Ellroy gets a second podcast

The Demon Dog is apparently enjoying the podcast biz - it was just announced that James Ellroy is embarking on a second podcast project: an adaptation of his novel American Tabloid. From the linked article:

The idea is that the L.A. Confidential and The Black Dahlia author and the Jared Gutstadt-run company are going to go where many others - including David Fincher, Bruce Willis, Tom Hanks and James Franco - have tried and failed before and take his book from the page. But rather than make it as a film or a TV series, he's going to turn it into a 12-part audio project.

Ellroy's novels are notorious difficult to adapt, in fact in my opinion the only time someone was able to pull it off was the feature version of L.A. Confidential adapted by Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland (who won well-deserved Oscars as a result). I've found other movie versions of Ellroy's novels lacking, and even two attempts to adapt LAC to television (in 2003 and 2019) failed to get past the pilot stage.

Time will tell if this pays off, but it seems like Ellroy's found his sweet spot with podcasting. From the Deadline article:

Ellroy: "I read the narration. Hotshot actors read the dialogue. Now I know why God made me a bass-baritone. This podcast will work some jolting juju and incite incendiary insurrection in Radioland!!!!"

Audio-Up CCO Jimmy Jellinek: "Audio is the perfect medium to deliver American Tabloid," said Jellinek. "We can build out the book's massive internal world through sound. Traveling from the Jungles of Guatemala to Castro's Cuba, Mid Century Chicago, Los Angeles, 1963 Dallas and the Jim Crow South alongside these characters would be prohibitive... 

...we're creating what may very well be the first true, scripted epic of the podcast era for what it would cost to feed the grips for half a day...

...When we're finished, you'll hopefully know we're the HBO or 70's Paramount of audio..."

Sounds ambitious and entertaining as hell if they can pull it off. And it's probably pretty much the only way you could dramatize a novel like American Tabloid. The novel runs 776 pages containing 100 chapters. When I was in junior high one of the local news radio stations played episodes of the old CBS Radio Mystery Theater (you can check out the shows at the link) and I loved listening to them. If American Tabloid succeeds, it could open the floodgates to tons of audio adaptations and I think that would be great, both as a listener and a writer.

The article also included the info that Ellroy's first podcast, now known as Hollywood Death Trip, will debut October 8 (which would have been my Dad's 81st birthday), so I'm looking forward to that.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Sweet 16

Hey Sophie! It's your birthday!

Yep, she's sixteen years old now. Old enough to drive...if she could reach the pedals. 

Hard to believe it's been fifteen years (she was one when I got her) since that fateful day over Labor Day weekend at the Burbank Animal Shelter. Sophie had been picked up as a stray in June, then they discovered she was pregnant. She was kept there to have her kittens, then once the babies were adopted out she was made available. She was as thin as a 2x4 and still had her milk sacs when I saw her. A few days later, after a mandatory trip to a local vet to be spayed, the sacs were gone, her belly was shaved and stitched, and she came home. 

I don't know if you can read it, but it says Possibly Pregnant. Turns out she was, otherwise she'd have been adopted out three months before I got there.

After spending the first 24 hours under my bed, she emerged and was fine after that. And she's been awesome ever since.

Sophie over the years: