100 Days Of Happiness

ImageWhenever I think of the 100 Years War, I feel bad that they didn’t consider this idea first. Because being happy is a crapload better than dying.

The 100 Days OF Happiness Project is a challenge – kind of like The Cinnamon Challenge – just done 99 consecutive times and you substitute the pain and suffering with a warm and cozy feeling. Now, in a perfect world, you could go all Marquis De Sade and throw in an extra 20 days for good measure (as one could debate that sodomy was his “happy” place.) Furthermore, why not shoot for a lifetime of happiness? (see Hugh Hefner). Well let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. 100 days is a damn good start.

On paper it’s an easy effort: You sign up at 100Happydays.com and once a day you find something that makes you happy – then post a picture of it via whatever you’ve got (Instagram, Twitter, etc.) with the hashtag #100happydays. I’m doing mine STARTING TODAY via My Instagram Account and everyone is invited to come by and check it out or play along with me. I’d love to follow your progress!

And just for kicks, I’ll post my first entry here:IMG_20140430_114245

What you see there are two of three birthday balloons in my bedroom, recently given to me at a party my family threw for my 41st day of life. I was really touched by it so I have them floating on the ceiling so that they’re the first things I see when I wake up.

Tomorrow I’ll find something different, hopefully, because the challenge is, you gotta do it every single day for 100 days. Hence the name, duh.

So, off I go! Here’s to me not screwing it up because I forgot to take a photo and post it on the internet!

p.s.

You also have the option to keep yours private. Party-poopers.

Advertisements

Book Review: Jonathon Livingston Seagull

image

This thin book lasted roughly an hour from cover to cover. The words take up half of each page and other pages are packed with just as many photographs of
seagulls. Everything about the novel is pedestrian, except for the message – which I respect, but only halfway agree with. To wit:

All seagulls have human names and, in this edition, speak English, presumably with seagull accents(??). This story centers around Jonathan Livingston, a
seagull who desperately needs to break away from the demands of his society and just be himself. But seagull world ousts any members that choose to do more with their fowl lives than look for food. Jonathan is that member. He wishes to push himself, fly faster and farther than any bird; do fantastic acrobatics in the sky, and will risk his life day in and day out searching for his idea of the very best that he can be. And it doesn’t take long before he is sent packing by his seagull brethren.

I understand what is happening here. Bach is celebrating personal identity. Fine, I’m all for people doing what they want to do with themselves.  It’s all we did in New York City. But I don’t love Bach’s approach. Through JLS, he displays the view that not only is being different a right, but sheer brilliance as our protagonist not only tops himself and his kind physically, spiritually and mentally, but he literally attains more awesomeness than any human. He becomes a seagull Jedi Knight whose outrageous superiority even allows him to travel through time.

Yes, yes – the sky’s the limit! I get that too. Yes, yes – some people need this kind of self-help message. Also understood. But Bach’s “Break rules! Be different! Or you will never aspire to greatness” theme creates limitations for those who prefer a counter approach to life than his own, and is therefore underlyingly hypocritical. For instance… Jonathan knew the mandates of his community yet he chose to go against them, shun them, break them openly. If he was so dead set on his own agenda, he should have willingly took off on his own, free to do whatever he wants.

But no…Bach indirectly preaches rule-breaking instead, when rules are the very things that keep a society from falling apart and becoming chaotic. Destruction
and bedlam are what make the Joker and various other villains of yore so infamous.

Not saying JLS is a criminal mastermind in the making, but he is a seagull with phenomenal super powers, a psychiatric profile of lusting for personal gain and a history of life-altering rejection. All he needs is the straw to break the camel’s back and God help the seagull population…

Okay, got carried away a bit with that last paragraph. All in all, Bach put together a self-indulgent short with a strong message that one could call both good and bad. I am indifferent to it.

That Time When Rachel Ray Told Me To Kiss Her Ass

rachel

I worked in TV in New York City for 20 years. During that time, I met some interesting people. Some of them I’d have left alone, if not for my friend’s website http://www.Jerrysass.com

Okay let’s make this long story a short one. Here’s the deal: most TV people know each other.  And my friend was dating a girl who was friends with FoodTV Host (at the time)  Rachel Ray. They both worked there and one day Rachel asked her if she wanted to come to a party that her boyfriend (now husband) was playing at with his band.  My friend said yes and invited us, me and my wife.

My friend Jerry found out that we were hanging out with Rachel Ray that night and asked me to help him out. See, he has a website called Jerry’s Ass Dot Com, where he posts various pics of celebrities holding a toy donkey. He’s got tons of them, from George Bush to Greg Brady. I was there to help, so when he asked if I would get a pic of RR with the “ass,” I said YES.

When me and my girl got to the party, RR was already BOMBED OFF HER ASS and running wild around the modest little club. She was fun but drunk and her two chaperones were having a hard time trying to get control of her. Yeah, they gave up, and as I proceeded to get drunker myself, I approached Rachel Ray with some bullshit:

Me: “Hey! I watch ‘$40 a day’ all the time and I’ve seen you go over that amount like four times and that’s bullshit!!!”

Her: “You know what?? It’s really hard sticking to those rules and anybody who doesn’t like it can kiss my ASS!”

SO she turned to me and smacked her ample buttocks and there was nothing but mesmerizing jiggle.

Hold on, let me think about that for a sec….

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

OKAY, that’s when her boyfriend came over, and btw his songs were some of the most depressing things in the world. The CD had songs like “Terrible Things In A Captain’s Hat” and “That Horror Under Your Bed.” Not sure if he was the writer or his whole band was to credit, but these were some bum out songs. “Killer Spikes In An Innocent Jugular” and such. Just paraphrasing, so when he came over glassy-eyed with “Hey man, you guys are cool, thanks for coming out,” I was glad to see him. Still, after making enemies with Rachel, I had no idea how I was gonna ask her to take a photo with the donkey but I did it and she said YES.

And there’s that photo, right up above. Much younger, much drunker and much cooler than her present years. And to be honest, I was drinking so hard that I don’t remember what happened next.

Please go to Jerry’s Ass and see more photos of celebrities holding ass.

P.S.

The one of Kid Rock is also mine. I asked him, after his being interviewed at one of my TV gigs “Show me the finger that gave Pam Anderson hepatitis.” And he did.

The Emotional Primrose Path

image

The last thing I ever wanted to do was write a blog with such a pretentious title as this one. But a recent viewing of “Frasier” sparked a memory I’ve chosen to share about my ex-wife.

It’s the one about Frasier’s ex-wife Lilith visiting him in Seattle for reconciliation long after they’d broken up in Boston. Good show, and the first time I’d watched it eons ago, I probably just laughed. This time, I identified.

Continue reading

Four Questions and Four Answers On Writing.

Writing FLow ChartEver wonder why you do it? What’s the urge? Where wil it take you? Where do you want to go?

This entry is a piggyback to Jodie Llewellyn’s An Inspiration Post, for writers. I liked her post and commented that I was gonna do one of my own and link her. Her motivating tool was four questions…

1. Why did you start writing?
2. What do you love the most about writing?
3. What goals are you working towards, right now?
4. What advice do you have for other writers who may be struggling with a lack of inspiration, right now?

And she gave her four answers. I’ll do the same. Have some fun and play if you want, because I feel like when you ask questions like these out loud, your answers may surprise you. And hopefully jazz you up for some serious creativity.

Here are my answers:

EN GARDE!

1. Why did you start writing?

Couldn’t help it. It called to me. In high school, I had the urge to start a novel. It was crap and I only did one chapter, but I got better and my wordsmithing caught the eyes of some teachers and next thing you knew I was writing for the community paper. Then, I got the Asbury Park Press Scholarship for college and they gave me a job for the summer. I was always writing something somewhere and that has never stopped.
2. What do you love the most about writing?

When I was working for newspapers, I did my job. That was all I could do. But now when I write for the hell of it, I try to create as much as I possibly can. Even when I’m writing a Yelp review, though I’m largely just fucking around, there are times when I will really try and invent a theme or a point or just make something out of nothing that I can feel proud of. Creating something that I like is the most rewarding part of writing.
3. What goals are you working towards, right now?

Right now I’m happy with the Yelp reviews because it fuels my fix, as does this blog. Pushing words into existence without talking gives me a feeling of gratification. Not like I’m a god, but more like a contributor. As if I’m helping build worlds upon worlds upon worlds that we can all take part in and let our imaginations run wild in. Tolkien did that for me, as did King. But the big scheme is to begin writing my novel.
4. What advice do you have for other writers who may be struggling with a lack of inspiration, right now?

Depends on what you’re trying to write. I’m trying to write a novel, and that involves deep characters. When I write stories (screenplays or whatever) I go back to the grandparents of each character. I create origins for them, and that tells me what their children have to work with. Then I work on their children’s children. Next thing you know, I’ve got characters built that are much more interesting than the ideas I began with and I’ve got a whole new and better story. Chapters have built themselves (in my outline so far) because I dug so deep into my characters’ pasts.

Please keep this model going. I thought it was so cool when I saw it on Jodie’s blog. And I’d love to hear about your own journey!

Spri

A Yelping Hand To The Small Business Owner

image

As a chronic Yelper since 2008, I’ve reviewed over 700 businesses. It’s a genius free-labor model that I wouldn’t take part in if it wasn’t fun – made extra cool with my Yelp Elite status, granting me access to free stuff, exclusive social gatherings, etc. And I was recently contacted by a business because I am good at it.

This niche little shop in Sanford, NC is struggling for business. To the point where the owner and, presumably the owner’s friends, posted a bunch of favorable fake Yelp reviews about said failing venture to make it shine. But Yelp’s bullshit detection algorithms shuffled these bogus posts into the “non-recommended” pile to be ignored. So, apparently at his wit’s end as to what to do to save his livelihood, the owner reached out to me, a stranger, for help.

To anyone not in the know, Yelp is a business review site and its battery is members – normal folks like you and me – who write the reviews. It’s the most popular review site on the planet and its power can make or break a small business. But they also have a preferential member tier called the “Elite” which is supposed to be its most trusted review source. Reviews from Elite members never get thrust into the “non-recommended” file. And this business owner knew this when he contacted me.

It was a simple message: “I’m a small business owner not getting a lot of traffic. I’ve only been open for a few months and I’d rather not close down in a few months. I was wondering if you had any interest in my product, and if so, would you mind paying a visit and reviewing your experience? I’d be happy to admit you free of charge for your patronage.”

Cut and dried. No bribery attempt, no innuendos, just a businessman with an honest invite for me to do something I’d have probably done anyway (700 reviews, remember?) And don’t think I wasn’t leery at first. After all, I’m a victim of attempted bribery. While I was in NYC, this Moroccan place offered me a free dinner for a POSITIVE review and I told them to hit the bricks. Different ballgame here.

So I checked out the place and it looked really nice. Cool renovations from the last tenant’s textile production house. Really sweet staff. So very strange that this place was being so largely ignored. And that’s when it hit me: the location sucks! What was he thinking? Behind a strip mall?? That’s the first thing they teach you – location, location, location! Can’t see it from the street and if you’re not looking for it you’ll never find it!

And that’s what I said in my review. Four out of five stars, because though everything was really cool, it wasn’t an incredible experience and the location choice was just bad business. And though I’m merely just one goofy-ass internet addict, hopefully my review counted as the kind of help he was looking for. I honestly mean that because hell…I’m terribly biased toward small businesses. Good ones, anyway. So if you’re like this poor fellow and you’re worried about whether your little nest egg will last or vanish, reach out to a few Yelp reviewers personally and ask them over. It works…as long as you don’t suck, that is. Have your shit together or it will backfire.

As well it should.

“Come And Get It” by Problem Child…Finally GOT IT!

OPENOIMN

A damned hard to find song gets found and I’m gonna post the hell out of it for all the people who’ve waited a freakin’ year for the release. Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook…all my sites. Immediately.

Thanks to Netflix original programming we’re seeing some wonderful television. So long-suffering fans of “Arrested Development” being canceled get brand new seasons. Big welcome to the American adaptation of Britain’s “House Of Cards.” And in the much loved category of original programming, “Orange Is The New Black” could be the best of the lot. And then there’s the shit pile, where “Hemlock Grove” sits with its horror premise of yet another world where modern werewolves are just pathetically depicted as big dogs (see “Twilight” and “True Blood.”)

But Hemlock did one thing right: during a well-shot killing of two girls, a very cool song is being played in the background. Hearing the phrase “come and get it” over and over again, I took that to be the song’s name and went about to finding it. And failed every step of the way!

There weren’t enough seconds in the song clip for my phone’s Sound Hound app to decode it.

unnamed

Internet searches for the soundtrack to the show drew blanks!

come paisis

It seemed like everybody was looking for this song.

come answer

“Problem Child.” A nobody band was being stingy with their song! Breadcrumbs. And while some internet sleuths were dead set on the wild goose chase of insisting this was a song by Icona Pop, others like myself just waited patiently for a road that didn’t hit dead ends. Yet I kept seeing pieces of this damn song and just couldn’t get my hands on it!

final

This was getting damned ridiculous. Now…tonight while dicking around on the net, the song pops into my head. On a search that I expected to end at the usual useless broken road of suspects, a major discovery bobbed out of the water. The song had finally been released after over a year of anybody ever having heard it on mediocre scare TV.  Wait, it had finally WHAT???

come

Quickly I set up an ITunes account for myself after repeated attempts at trying to hack my ex-wife’s failed. This was finally happening! It was seconds away! A little of that old clickity click and hello download prompt!! I finally got that goddammed song! And yes, as I write this…it’s been playing over and over and over again. I’ll be tired of it soon, but for now, it’s sweet sweet nectar from the buxom bosom of success.

I’m hoping this post pops up during searches for the song because I wasn’t the only sad sack out there pining over this stupid shit. Excelsior! The little things, indeed.

How I Became The Road’s Most Dangerous Man

Everything I’m writing here is true. I didn’t put it up on April 1st because it’s ridiculous enough to be considered a joke. But it’s not.

I used every last dime of my saved unemployment money and tax refund to buy a car. This was done out of need and optimism. Need because I was over borrowing cars from family and optimism because should I ever get a job, I’ll need to drive to it. Enter the shittiest car to ever rain down from a cloud of crap.

image

“A couple new tires and a paint job and you’re good to go!” he said.

I bought it from my nephew’s dad, who is a preacher and mechanic. So I not only expected a fair deal but also something that runs. For $1300, you can’t hope for anything awesome, just a piece of shit that runs. And abstinence! Because I don’t expect to ever get laid again.

The muffler is so loud, it’s like Megatron from the Transformers is chasing me. It has buttons that don’t do anything. The radio is shot. It reeks of whatever gassy/oil-ish substance that was on the mechanic’s clothes whenever he got in to test it. The roof drops rusty things on my head. Oh, and it points at me with its antennae and  laughs. That part is particularly mean.

Getting your car registered in NC is the most tedious process on the planet. I went to the DMV and got dicked around with false info. I was told I needed to do this and that and that and this. After hearing about my trials, my nephew says “Forget that. I’ll take your papers to my friend Cariah. She works there and knows what to do.” Zip zip, done. All I needed to do was get my car inspected and plated. I was beginning to think that when folks don’t know you down here, they screw you. Like out of some fucked up old movie where the cop is the garage owner’s brother and both shake you down for money. But if you know somebody…

So the Mechnicher (mechanic + preacher) tells me to go to his normal guy’s shop for inspection on April first. The “normal guy” takes one look at my car outside from behind his counter and tells me all the reasons why he can’t pass it. “But Harvey told me it would be okay,” I said. “Oh, you didn’t say you were with Harvey,” he responded, and went on to PASS me on everything without even looking at the car, ever. Ever. I didn’t even need to bring the car. The normal guy does NOT practice normal procedures.

So, I’m driving now simply because I know people. And I have the most dangerous car on the road. Fear me.

Book Review: The Known World

image

“The Known World” by Edward Jones gets its title from a small excerpt within one of the middle chapters. I can understand that, as finding the right name name for such an ambitious and ultimately satisfying novel must be like trying to achieve absolute perfection. Impossible, because there’s no such thing. But Jones sure comes as close to it as anyone can.

This Pulizter Prize winner about the waning years of slavery in Manchester County, Virginia is constructed through an endless array of stories about the lives of about two dozen characters. None of the stories are told in any particular order and it’s not uncommon to read about certain exploits from a character who had died in previous chapters or had not even been born yet. Writing a novel this way leaves a margin for error large enough to drive a truck through, but Jones weaves these fragments into a whole with expert precision.

Some would argue that the story is about Henry Townsend, a free black slave-owner. Others would call this a record of the trials heaped upon his widow Caldonia after his demise. In truth, there really is no true star of this show. Actually, there is one major player: Integrity. The light-skinned teacher Fern refuses to pass for white and insists on staying true to her foolishly unfaithful and inept husband. Field-hand Elias forsakes his running ways to stay close to the woman he loves. Henry crusades the hope of his people by owning slaves and pledging them lives of relative comfort lest they discover true hell beneath the crackling whips of inhuman white masters. His father, Augustus, disowns his son for this very reason, never relenting to the ideal of slavery under any circumstances. White sheriff Skiffington uses the word of God to keep him on the righteous path. Mr. Robbins, the most powerful man in the county, rules the land with a slack fist, insuring fairness for both sides – but with his own point of view. These people have deep backgrounds and strong personalities, driving this stellar novel toward infinite potential, heeded only by the eventual meeting between reader and the inside back cover.

The depictions of slavery inside are harsh, unjust, hopeful and proud. I’ve read more torturous accounts on slavery in books about slavery. This is not that book. The very essence of the piece can be summed up from the solitary existence of Moses the overseer, a fiercely complex presence from the mind of Mr.Jones. On the first page, he is strong, in charge, filled with a selfish duty to his lot. So much so that he eats dirt to gauge the lay of the land for harvest time. Somewhere in the middle, he’s filled with ambition and hope for a life that seemed out of reach before, having eaten precious, priceless fruit from the forbidden tree. And on the last page, broken, lame and alone, Moses is a beaten man without even enough will or care to eat anything at all. How many people from that era, existing through the imagination of God knew what that was like? A lot, I’m sure.