Thursday, July 30, 2009

Control-A, Delete

You’re welcome. I just deleted a rather whiny post out of respect for you and your sensibilities. With my catharsis completed invisibly, let’s move forward.

What would your catharsis be? What mental boils need lancing? To redecorate the metaphor, what sugarplums dance in your head?

Many times I’ve sat in this chair wondering what was going to be the topic de la nuit. (Can’t say “du jour” if it’s dark out.) I approach a potential post topic the way I would a movie concept. First, last and always-- remember who will be reading it.

Did you hear that? Sometimes it sounds like smashing dishes; sometimes it’s an old radio sound-effect horn. You see, I have no clue who will be reading this. Some of you I know well, some I know a little, some I’ve never met. So “know your audience” is out as a starting point, though I always begin there and bomb.

Okay, the gauntlet is down. I’ve just tweeted for a topic. I might get something, I might get nothing. This could get scary, and not in a delicious scarycookie way.

Friday, July 24, 2009


I stood up for a friend today.

This should not be noteworthy.

It’s as simple as that. Respect should accompany friendship, and action should accompany respect. Obviously I’d prefer that it all come with a side order of dignity, but I can’t afford to be picky.

Oh sure, we see people stand up for strangers, and have done it ourselves. This is good. But somehow along the way we stopped expecting our friends to stand up for us. “I can take care of myself” – I’ve thought, said and backed that up often. However, I’m not going to watch a friend be disrespected or mistreated. You wouldn’t either, if you thought of it that way.

The problem is in the perception. We see situations differently; one person’s joke is another’s insult. I’ve been there too, accused of overreacting on a friend’s behalf when I took offense where none was intended.

Judgment calls aside, let’s talk about situations where we know a friend is uncomfortable, right there, in the moment. Sure it’s awkward, you expect the friend to react directly. But you wouldn’t allow a general racist comment to go unchallenged, nor should you when something offensive is directed at someone you value -- even if it’s only implied and hanging in the air like a fart. I’ll light a verbal match to clear the air, and so should you.

“Friends help you move, good friends help you move the bodies.” Well, guess what. Speaking up for a friend isn’t on the level of moving bodies, and more people should do it more often.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Back in 1995, I cut what had been a mass of long hair to almost Marine-like brevity. I did it while on vacation. When I came back and went to my regular coffeehouse, a courtly old man in a suit and tie-- in San Diego, in summer (?!)-- walked up to me, took my hand, bowed over it and said very seriously, “You used to have such beautiful hair.” That was all he said. I never saw him before, I never saw him since. I let my hair grow back.

In 1999, I read an interview wherein an American actress described her character as “not having the confidence to have short hair.” That comment stayed with me. (Jenna Elfman, re: “EdTV”)

I don’t remember which French actress said that at 30, a woman cuts her hair to her shoulders. At 40, it’s cut to the chin. 50, it’s at the ears. This week I had my hair cropped to my ears. No, I’m not 50 and won’t be for a while. I did it because I wanted to. My hairdresser didn’t, but I’m bigger than she is.

What is it with hair? The guys at my hardcore gym didn’t comment. Significant, because here people are judged only by how they train. The guys at my regular gym asked when I’ll grow it back. There, women are judged by how attractive they look according to old-school standards that require lots of hair. Notice the use of “people” in the first case and “women” in the second. Freud should have been an editor, my point is already made.

Short hair definitely takes guts. The social template is more Bea Arthur than Audrey Hepburn. The short hair spectrum is something like gamine-boyish-mannish-butch. There’s something decadent about long hair. The most beautiful hair I know makes Lady Godiva look like the abovementioned Marine. (Hi, Sis!)

In my youth, I was a hair model, did you know that? But I’ve never been decadent. Never mind, I like it and Robert love-love-loves it, so that’s that.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pride And Prefaces

In my recent readings, two different people, (both of whom are smarter than I am) said that the way to write a book is to sit down and write. Do it every day, no matter what the words are. Just keep going, and in the end you’ll have written a book.

That’s inarguable. Write, and you’ll have written. Eat and you’ll have eaten. Verb and you’ll have… oh, never mind.

I look around and I see people living in their lives like that. Go through the day and you’ll have gotten through the day. While that’s inevitable to some extent (would you work if they didn’t pay you?) it bothers me that no one seems proud of their accomplishments.

It took two things to make me realize this. One is a game on Pogo; useless as it is, I’ve become very good at it, and I’m proud of that. The other is this blog. You’ll never see the books I’ve written, and my scripts are either rewritings or rewritten. You see this blog. It’s mine, and I don’t “just write” it. (Insert your mocking taunt here. I have enough self-esteem to handle it.)

We know people who are arrogant beyond their achievements. Ignore them, I’m talking about us. When we do something, we should, if we can, do it well. There is value in that. It should make us feel good. There’s nothing wrong with honest, earned pride. It’s healthy, and will help you get through the day.

Speaking of health, it’s hot so please drink enough water. No, it has no philosophical significance. I just worry about you.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


“Did you see the article in Monday’s paper? It was just like one of your blogs.”

I hadn’t, as it happens. I read three newspapers every morning (L.A. Times, N.Y. Times and the Daily News, in no particular order) but I skip the sports and health sections. The article in question was in the health section.

I never did find out what my friend meant. And, since the paper was already recycled, I never will.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Let’s talk about symbols and futility. Remember after 9/11, the solidarity flags people put on their cars got ratty and dirty. I got so angry seeing the ones that just fell off into the streets, to be run over or mashed into the gutters.

Then there are ribbons. When the red ribbons first showed up, it meant something. Now everything has a ribbon. I wonder what the color is for hemorrhoids. (Okay, okay, we all know what color that would be, it was a joke, people!) I’m okay with it, if someone shows up with an orange polka-dot ribbon I’ll ask what the cause is, and the ribbon will have done its job of raising awareness. Still, I can’t help feeling that the effect is weakened by ubiquity.

Where am I going with this? To Twitter, naturally. When Neda died, it was chic to cover your Twitter picture with green. Now I only see mine and one or two others still covered. The moment has apparently passed, only it hasn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think green Twitters will make a damned bit of difference in the world. Nor do I think the dire situation in Iran is the worst thing happening to humanity right now. Sadly, there is a list of worsts. Scroll up, this is also about futility. There is a good argument for the ultimate futility of all symbolic gestures. So what? They still have meaning, that’s the definition of a symbol.

My Twitter picture is green because I cared. It’s still green because I still care.