Thursday, March 31, 2005

Why I'm Not in Advertising.

I listen to news radio on the way to work a lot - for job reasons, obviously, plus the traffic report.

So I also listen to a lot of commercials.

And every now and then, one catches my ear.

The latest is a commercial for an outfit called "Intelligent Energy." I'm not convinced how intelligent they are, though. Why?

Because their phone number is - and I'm not making this up, I swear to God - 1-877-I've-Got-Gas.

They've even got a catchy jingle for the number.


To me, that doesn't say "energy." It says bad Mexican food. Like the kind I get at work from the Mexicanese place, so named because it's the only place I've ever seen where you get a side of sushi with your tacos. The tacos are great, don't get me wrong, but if you've ever had the jalapeno quesadilla, you'd know why they should buy Intelligent Energy's phone number.

Now, I'm not in advertising, and I've never wanted to be, but you tell me there isn't SOMEBODY at that company who listened to the little jingle and said, "Hey, wait a freakin' minute..."?

After all, that's replaced the reigning champion for "What the Huh?" Commerical, which had been an insurance company (no, I don't remember which one - ad guys, take note) that actually was trying to sell a product "that will pay you even if you don't die."

Even if you don't die???

I've got to find that insurance company and buy its product. Clearly, Joan Rivers already has.

Hey, it's worth a shot. Maybe I won't die - and thanks to that special policy, I'll still get paid!

Intelligent Energy

Hey, insurance company, whoever you are, if you read this, leave a comment with your link! And tell me and my readers how I can avoid death.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

My Third Wish: A Prehensile Tail!

Recently, someone asked me what I would wish for if I had three wishes.

I came up with "love." Then "money." Then I got stuck. Fame? Adventure? Bigger equipment? I couldn't think of anything good.

But now I know what I want. A prehensile tail!

In recent years, I've developed something of an obsession with monkeys. Or as I like to spell them, munkees.

(Not the Monkees. They suck. Smash Mouth's "I'm a Believer" cover was so much better.)

Anyway, somehow my obsessive-compulsive streak has gotten stuck on munkees.

For those of you who doubt my obsessive streak, I offer as evidence the Unofficial Roster (divided by position, using all appropriate biographical data, plus statistics!) and the $500 I've dropped on Civil War books in the past six months.

Then there are my alphabetized DVDs. And CDs. And books. Just the hardbacks and trade papers.

And so forth.

Anyway, I've developed the largest stuffed munkee collection of any adult I know. And I'm notorious around the office for lightening the mood in stressful situtations by muttering "munkee. muuuuuunkeeeeee. MUNKEE!" until everyone laughs.

Yes, it makes my co-workers think I'm at least slightly unhinged, but better that than they know the truth: That I'm really fucking weird.

The odd thing about my munkee fixation is that I really don't like animals. At all.

I do like fish. Sort of.

I had a goldfish when I was a kid. I won him at the Bloomsburg Fair, tossing ping-pong balls into fishbowls, and unknowingly practicing for my later years as a beer-pong player. Actually, I think my mother won him, which would explain why I was so lousy at beer pong. Point is, fish didn't last, thanks in no small part to some bad advice from the fish store guy my mom consulted with on its care. We buried Goldie in a paper bag under first base in the front yard.

In college, a buddy of mine had a major-league fishtank. I enjoyed egging him on - he always said when I drove him to the fish store, he came with more fish than when other guys drove him to the fish store. So at the least, I like WATCHING fish. I love aquariums. Still, going to the aquarium is different from talking to a stuffed munkee.

My parents had a cat, which recently died, may she rest in peace. Fifteen years is pretty good for a neighborhood stray, and that cat had more personality than most. So I made an exception to my I-hate-cats rule for Shadow. Shadow, by the way, for your comic fans, was almost-sorta named after one of the X-Men. When my folks took her in as a kitten, my mom kept calling her Kitty. So I, the X-Men fan, started calling her Shadowcat, after Kitty Pryde. My mother, seeing a black-and-white cat and having no concept of the comics I was reading (featuring the manic-depressive and mildly psychotic Rachel Summers as Phoenix), though I was referring to Shadow Cat. So Shadow became Shadow.

I don't like dogs, either. I'm kind of afraid of them. I was bitten by a poodle when I was little. So dogs - and French people - make me slightly nervous.

Nonetheless, I ended up with a dog. Figures. Actually, my parents ended up with a dog, winning - or really, losing - a custody battle with my ex-fiancee when we split.

So my parents have my ex-fiancee's dog. You wonder why I drink.

Morgan is a dachshund, bred for hunting small animals, and amusing people with their funny bodies. He's a purebreed, which means he cost me a fortune and looks like every other dachshund.

He's curious, like other dachshunds. He's clever, also like other dachshunds, especially when it comes to finding things he can eat. Note I said "can eat," and not "should eat."

Unlike other dachshunds, however, he is not only almost nauseatingly cheerful, he's dumber than a bag of wet mice.

He's got a small brain and smaller bladder, which is why my parents have to walk him every few hours, and why they'll probably resent said ex-fiancee until the end of time, especially when it's raining.

I could tell story after story about Morgan. He's got a very long tail, which is constantly wagging, and I've always said when the tail stops wagging, it will be time to bury him in the back yard. But you know what they say about dachshunds with long tails? Yup, we couldn't get him fixed soon enough. When he was a puppy and still living with me (and her), he used to greet whoever came home first with a raging erection, necessitating two things: 1. Standing back for several seconds before entering the house; and 2. Keeping paper towels between the kitchen, where we barricaded him while at work, and the door. Once, a friend of mine rushed in, scooped him up despite my cry of "Don't!" and then groaned and said, "He peed on me."

"That's not pee," I said. It's a wonder he didn't drop the dog. Not that Morgan's not capable of falling on his head on his own. He does it occasionally, I think just to amuse himself. He's about six inches off the ground, and he hits his head on things.

But for those of you saying, "Hey, enough with the dachshund erections. What about the munkees?" I'll get back on topic.

(stream of consciousness, remember? you were warned.)

Munkees, you say, can be scary. Like the chimps that just MESSED UP that dude recently. Last wire story I read, they were trying to reattach his nose, and then the reporter sort of remarked, as an aside, that he'd also lost his testicles and a foot.

I'm thinking, if that were me, I'd be like, Doc, screw the nose, I can get plastic surgery. How 'bout we put back the foot and at least one of the nuts, huh?

Well, I'm prepared for such situations. I have a special sweatshirt. It has a hood that protects me from evil munkees.

Well, it protects my not-so-inner child. The one who chirps "MUNKEE!" around the office.

The adult in me would run like hell, or at least curl up in a ball and cover my nuts.

I don't want an evil munkee, though. I want a cute little munkee that follows me everywhere and uses his prehensile tail for good, not evil. Or a robot munkee. A robot munkee would be very cool, because it wouldn't require food, or hog the bathroom.

I mean, let's face facts. An adult carrying around a stuffed munkee would scare people. An adult being followed around by a small pirate munkee would get girls.

My munkee could watch TV with me, and get beer from the fridge with his tail, and curl up in bed with me, like Morgan does when I'm home visiting the folks.

I'm starting to think I really, really, REALLY need a girl. Or I'm getting cabin fever and going stir-crazy.

But it's late, I'm tired, hungry and slightly unhinged.

You want a daily, or at least near-daily post? Some days you get cool stories, some days you get dachshund erections and munkee obsessions. Forgive me.

Links:, home of my Unofficial Roster
Smash Mouth, because the Monkees suck
Look up Shadowcat at
Dachshunds, AKC-style
Build-A-Bear, where I got Mookie, my favorite munkee, on his debut weekend (free $2 banana accessory!)

By the way, for those of you wondering if my obsession ever pays off, or if it's just a worthless brain defect, let me just say this: When I went to Mardi Gras last month, the girls LOVED the squeaking-munkee beads! Not as much as I loved the shotgirls at 711, but that's a whole 'nother post...

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Oracle of Delphi. Delphi Auto Parts.

Yeah, I know. I didn't write anything this weekend, either.

I was traveling again, this time spending my three-hours-each-way drive not headed to Maryland, but home to my parents' house in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.

I know, you're thinking... A Jew, going home for Easter? Just coincidence, I assure you. I didn't see a single rabbit or egg, though my dog chased a squirrel and I had duck for lunch on Sunday.



I told you to duck.

(I know, that only works in person, and not in type, but I couldn't resist. It's late, I'm tired.)

Trivia: How many days did the Feds and Rebs clash during the Seven Days' Battles? Answer at the end.

Back to the title track: While I'm on the subject of driving, I've had a revelation, a glimpse into the future, if you will.

And thus, a prediction: In my lifetime, assuming I actually live to a decent old age and don't die either A) on I-95 halfway to Maryland; B) at my desk at the office; or C) of chicken wings, we will see cars that drive themselves.

And I, for one, can't wait.

Three hours, each way, in the car, doing nothing but dodging speed traps and singing badly and after weekend upon weekend of this, I've realized that I'm really, really looking forward to the day when I can get into my car, tell it where I'm going, and sit back and relax.

I look forward to doing two things: 1. Sleeping - after all, who hasn't driven tired? It's dangerous, for you and others, and I'm as guilty as anybody. I've been going to Maryland on Friday nights after work - that's an 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. drive after nine hours in the office. You wonder why I listed I-95 as a potential Little Big Horn in my film career? Seriously, who hasn't gotten up too early or stayed up too late and been forced to take the wheel? Now imagine if your car would just get you there, and you could kick back and relax.

2. Read. I love to read, if it doesn't show, and I'd have gotten to Day Seven of the Battles and beyond, if I could put those six hours each weekend to better use. I love to drive, but I love to read more. And I love to ride in a car and be able to look at the scenery and enjoy the air, instead of white-knuckling the wheel like I did in the storm today when, with one jackass in an SUV tailgating me, another jackass in a giant pickup slammed on the brakes in front of me just as he entered a giant puddle on New Jersey's fine highway I-78 (your tax dollars at work!). To continue bitching, tonight, on my way home, I almost got run down by Jackass No. 3 of the day, who came zipping up on me at about 95 mph then didn't quite change lanes completely before trying to pass me. Nothing like swerving at 65 mph to wake you up. I shit you not, as he went past me - on the right, no less - his driver's side wheels WERE STILL IN MY LANE!

There's never a state trooper around when you need one. I get pulled over because a $3 light bulb is out, and this idiot zipped away, unscathed, into the night, probably to widow some poor lady by running down her freakin' husband.

But I digress.

The robot car. Look, let's face it, GPS is the first step toward my motorist's paradise. The other day, when we were filming at a new location, the only person who didn't get lost, except those who had been there before, was the one with the GPS in her car. One guy got lost three blocks from the site, that's how confusing the directions were. But that blessed GPS got its owner there without a hitch.

So you've got a car that knows where it's going and knows how to get there. All you need know is a way for it to drive itself.

Now, as anybody who's been to Carnegie Mellon since about 1992 knows, they've figured out how to make remote-control full-size vehicles. Nothing like walking down a Pittsburgh street only to see a camouflage Humvee zip by (this is pre-9/11 when I was there, so it wasn't exactly common) and then after it goes by, you realize: Hey, there was no one driving that Hummer!

(By the way, does anyone else find the idea of naming the ultimate Alpha Male Overcompensating vehicle a "Hummer" kind of funny?)

So the way I see it, between the GPS and the Robot Hummer (put punch line here), we're about a third of the way to a fully automated car, the kind you see in movies ranging in quality from "Timecop" to "Total Recall" to "Minority Report."

Or, if you're honest about your sci-fi, ranging in quality from "Minority Report" to "Timecop" to "Total Recall."

So if I make it to the average life expectancy, I've got about 50 years or so left, give or take. That assumes I spend more time eating Saladworks food than Barber's Chicken Cordon Bleu, but still.

So I'm throwing down the gauntlet, Detroit! (Or Tokyo...) Give me my automated car. I just ordered some more Civil War books, and I've got another trip to Maryland to go!

Easter on the Web
Bloomsburg, Pa.
Hummer (the truck)
(I'm tempted to put a "Hummer (not the truck)" link here, but my mother reads this blog. Go find your own porn, ya perverts.)
Delphi North America
And a little on the Oracle
(Not that Oracle!)

The answer to the trivia question, by the way, is six. But I'd guess calling it the Six Days' Battles With a Day Off in the Middle would just be too awkward for the history books.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Never buy a car in the first year of a redesign.

To make up for yesterday's lack of a post, I'm going to - surprise! - actually write a post I promised to write.

(sorry, I know, step one on the road to no-blog hell... I fell asleep reading Stephen Sears' "To the Gates of Richmond." it's no fault of the author, i'm just not sleeping well these days - either too little or too much.)

In any event, today's post is about two of my favorite things:

Gran Turismo (in its fourth incarnation) and my car.

How do they go together? Well, because Gran Turismo, the "real driving simulator," is the reason I own a Mitsubishi Eclipse.

Well, one of the reasons.

When I turned 25, my (very generous) parents decided that now that I was eligible for cheaper insurance, I was on my own. And my car, a little Mustang, which had gotten me through several years of college after my first car (a Cougar) died, was itself slowly dying.

So I thought I'd treat myself to a new car (little knowing the five years of financial devastation buying a nice brand new sports car would cost) to go with my new insurance payments.

Meanwhile, I was playing a groundbreaking game on my PlayStation: Gran Turismo, which billed itself as the ultimate driving simulator, featuring real cars mapped out down to the tiniest performance detail.

Now, I love cars, but I don't know much about them. (More on that momentarily.) It's like that scene in "Days of Thunder," where Cole Trickle tells Harry Hogge he knows how to drive but doesn't know anything else about cars.

So I'm playing Gran Turismo, and all the best cars are made by Mitsubishi. The GTO (or GT3000 in the U.S.), the turbo Eclipse, the fabled Lancer Evolution and my personal favorite, the lightweight FTO.

So I figured I'll give Mitsubishi a try when I'm test-driving cars. The new Cougar was disappointing - it had a slow pickup in real life, just like in Gran Turismo 2 - the Dodge Avenger - cool name, and that's it - was worse, and I was starting to think I needed to expand my American-car horizons to the Far East.

(At some point, I'll post my riff on Jews and German cars...)

Thus, I figured I'd give Mitsubishi a shot; after all, this is the company that made all those fine cars I'd been racing on my PS2.

One problem: In 2000, Mitsubishi had completely redesigned the Eclipse, turning the turbo model into a sleeker N/A model.

And between a persistent salesman with the unfortunate name of Dick Johnson and the thrill of V6 power on the Lehigh Valley's hills, I bit when the manager asked me what it would take for me to leave with a car.

My first new car, my first car purchase, my "Baby," in Tampa Blue Pearl.

And at times, my nightmare.

Let's get one thing straight. I love my car. It's got a moonroof - another first - and a 4-CD in-dash changer. Bucket seats. In leather. Power everything. Plus ABS and traction control for the parental types' peace of mind.

I also love to drive. And with a 45-minute commute each way, and my three months' worth of trips to Baltimore, I'd better.

Fill that CD changer, pop the roof in good weather, and we're off to the races. Well, maybe not the races, I'm not the world's fastest driver, but I do love a good road trip. A touring car would be perfect for me, but a sports car has the handling I like in a crowd. Little did I know I'd move to New Jersey and face those crowds every day.

The trouble with the car was simple, though - there were a lot of little things wrong, things Mitsubishi probably corrected in later models - one door was crooked on the hinges; the passenger window didn't line up quite right; there were two recalls. Then the CD player had to be replaced. One winter the windshield wiper screws came untightened on three straight snowstorms. Every try to drive looking out the passenger side of the windshield?

This is all in addition to the routine maintenance; oil changes, tune ups, timing belt, wiper blades, etc.

These were minor problems, though, compared with what I'd face in New Jersey when I moved from the Lehigh Valley.

You see, I'd gotten a special car - a showroom model with special wheels, available only on such versions. It was great - I was an early adopter of the new design and between the color (not the traditional Eclipse red, or the common black and silver) and the wheels, my car really stood out in a crowd.

The the Jersey roads wreaked havoc on my two-piece aluminum wheels. I guess I wasn't alone, since Mitsubishi yanked them for 2001, but it sure felt that way.

Every hit a pothole hard enough to dent a wheel? No? Every know anyone who has? No?

I've wrecked six.


At $400-plus apiece.

And that doesn't count the three perfectly good wheels I traded in for $75 each to get a set of the one-piece aluminum wheels I hoped would last longer. And they have. I've only dented two of those, and one held the air anyway (I kept it for emergencies), plus there's a small dent in one that's still on my car.

I replaced three of the two-piece jobs, which I would describe in the exact words I'm thinking of, except my mother and father BOTH complained about the language I'm using in this blog.

Let me put it this way, ask me about wheels and New Jersey roads, and you'd think I was a star of "Deadwood."

You know, the HBO hit that's made - cover your ears, Mom - cocksucker one of the most popular words in the English language.

I love my Baby, but I physically flinch every time I hit even the smallest of bumps in the road. It's disgraceful. My tire pressure is high and my blood pressure is higher. The dealer suggested I switch to smaller wheels (15"), but that would require a brand new set of tires, and in all those wheels of misfortune, I've destroyed exactly one tire.

So since I've spent all my money on wheels, I can't afford a new set of tires.

If you're wondering, one 17" aluminum wheel costs more than my monthly car payment. So yeah, I'm just a little bitter.

But the good news is, I paid off my car last month - I have the title in hand - and my car's at 125,000 miles and counting. See, there are some good points. My Baby loves me, and I love her.

Of course, I fantasize about my next car - and with GT4, I can even test-drive it.

And the video game license doesn't allow for damage, so I don't even have to worry about the wheels.

Speaking of GT4, let me tell you how I became the first person in the history of my local EB Games to buy the same game on two consecutive days.

My rotors went - the car would shake like mad whenever I braked, and the dealer wanted $700 to replace the four rotors. Yikes!

So I asked Joe Lee, my office's resident car expert and racer, if I had any choices. He told me about turning the rotors. But they were too thin to turn, according to the dealer. So Joe suggested mail-ordering parts. Four rotors: $200. But now what? As I mentioned above, I know nothing about cars.

But Joe, bless his heart, offered to make the repairs. He likes tinkering with cars, and he's the kind of friend who'll save a buddy $500 for the privilege of getting his hands on one. He's also got a bunch of cool tools, like a pro-style jack and an air gun for removing lug nuts. I would guess he uses them all when he races with an outfit called NASA (not the astronaut one). And since I had to help (my share of the deal), I got to play with them. Cool!

Anyway, I offered Joe money. He declined. I offered him food. He said that would be fine, but no rush. Then the next day, GT4 came out. And when I told him I'd bought it, he said - jokingly - "Did you get one for me?"

So I did.

Fifty bucks, to save $500 - sounds fair to me. On the other hand, I'm not sure it sounded fair to his wife. But I can't tell, because I don't think she's speaking to me. Amazing. I'm on her shit list, and I haven't even met her yet.

At least with most people and all of my ex-girlfriends' parents, I get to meet them before they hate me.

But it's OK. If they come after me, I've got a sweet V6 I can use as a getaway car.

At least until I hit a pothole. That's why I have Triple-A.

Mitsubishi Motors
NASA Northeast

And to think, Mitsubishi's redesigning the Eclipse again for 2006. I may be looking for a new car by then, but it's not going to be that one. At least not unless my Baby makes it to 2007. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, I'm a freakin' moron.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Blatant shilling!

I can't think of a thing to write about tonight, except for an "about me" post, and I'm not prepared to write that yet, so until then, I'm going to just offer up the blatant sales pitch:

You've heard about the movie!

You like the blog!

Then why not check out some of my other writing?

When I'm not at work, I'm putting the "free" back in freelance for a pair of Web sites:, one of the top horror and samurai DVD review sites on the Web, where I write genre DVD reviews and help moderate the forum. I'm "The Hitman" there, and at my own site,, which I share with my buddy Stewie, who's also got a blog here you should check out!

And, the biggest and best Oakland Raiders fan Web site, where I write a football column called "After Further Review" as "Ace" (the same name as here!). I'm also the self-appointed keeper of the unofficial roster, and I'd like to think it's the most thorough and up-to-date one on the Internet!

So until I think of something else to write, check out my other stuff, and enjoy!

Stewie's blog

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Well, that didn't last long.

I know, you're probably thinking, "Wow, that whole post-a-day thing lasted exactly a week."

But I have a good excuse: Remember that movie, "Dead Hunt"? (Well, you will when it comes out on DVD and you see it - trust me!) This weekend we wrapped up the primary shooting (except for a couple of days for a few scenes) and it was really a lot of fun - but I wasn't online, and thus, no blog.

(If you have no idea what I'm talking about, see the post called "Why Ann Marie Barbour kicks ass" below.)

So, considering Friday night I spent more time in the car than in anything vaguely resembling a bed, followed that with the rest of a whole night's sleep, and then suffered from a caffeine overdose last night (keeps me awake for the drive home, then keeps me awake when I get home...) I'm a little too wiped out for a really good entry.

So you'll get a random observation, and a small, strange story. Then I'm going to get the first decent night's sleep I've had in a while. After I play some Gran Turismo.

First, the random observation - among the many tolls I've paid between Hillsborough/Newark and Baltimore/Timonium/Annapolis, I've reached the conclusion that Delaware has the most attractive female toll collectors. I saw several pretty, fairly young women at toll booths over the past few months (frankly, the first I've ever seen at any toll booths), and all of them worked at the same toll plaza on I-95, the one at the Delaware/Maryland line. Not quite sure what to make of it, except that maybe I should have gone to the University of Delaware.

And the story: There I am, at 1 a.m. Monday morning, driving through Princeton at the end of my long trip home, when I get pulled over by a Princeton police officer. Now, I'm just awake enough to be pretty sure I didn't do anything wrong, and just tired enough to find myself wondering if I ran a stop sign or something - that's a looooooooong wait when the cops have that bright light shining into your car and you're sitting there waiting for Mr. Officer to amble up to your window; I'm pretty sure they do that to scare the crap out of you.

So the officer ambles up, gets the license and registration, etc., and I sort of befuddledly (is that a word?) asked him if I'd done anything wrong, thinking the entire time of the scene in "Dave" when Dave, driving the First Lady around, makes a left at a no-left-turn intersection.

Did I run a stop sign, as I feared? Was I speeding, perhaps? I had passed the officer driving fairly close behind a fairly slow-moving car in what I would guess is a 25 zone.

Nope, turned out the light that illuminates the license plate on my car had burned out (after 125,000 miles and five years, I might point out, possibly making it the most durable part on my entire Mitsubishi). He let me off with a verbal warning (thank you, Officer, if you're reading this!), especially when I told him the most coincidental thing: I had an appointment at the dealer this morning anyway, to get my oil changed and tires rotated.

Maybe I'll make my next post about the perils of buying a car in the first year of a redesign. Of all the grief my "Baby" has put me through, I get pulled over for a burned-out microbulb. Figures.

One more thought before naptime: North Carolina State upset defending champion Connecticut in the NCAA tournament, and my co-workers are all mystified why I'm so enthused, despite the fact I had UConn winning in my (very poorly chosen) pool.

Simple: When March Madness rolls around, a guy who went to a Division III school has precious little to root for, unlike, say, all the journalists from that factory up in Syracuse. Except, Carnegie Mellon produced, among its more famous alumni, Holly Hunter.

She, of course, is very short and so has nothing to do with the NCAA tournament. But a lesser-known CMU alum has plenty to do with it.

He's Herb Sendek, the coach of N.C. State.

Carnegie Mellon, by the way, last I heard from my buddy MTC, was in the D-III equivalent of the NIT (which is better than they ever did when I was there, doing the sports editor thing). Unfortunately, MTC went on vacation, and when I finally got around to looking, they'd already lost. Too bad. Still, a great season, no doubt! Funny, I only had the minimum of school pride, mostly in the soccer teams, which I covered, but I found myself caught up in MTC's enthusiasm - he still works there, in the Intramural department.

I'll have to tell the story about how I got back in contact with MTC later, too. It's a "small world" kind of deal. You'll like it. And it comes with a good story about a bench-clearing brawl in IM football!

Timewarp Films
A little about the Delaware Turnpike
The Princeton Borough police department
CMU men's basketball
CMU intramurals
N.C. State men's basketball
Coach Herb Sendek

I know, that's a lot of links, but you're talking to a guy who got an Arthur Miller "Crucible" reference into a slasher film script. I like those kinds of connections.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Top o' the morning, bottom of the lineup.

Whenever it's Saint Patrick's Day, I always think of one of the lessons I learned as a sportswriter back when I was in high school:

Never interview a coach on Saint Patrick's Day.

Or, as you'll see, any other holiday that involves drinking heavily.

I was about 16 or 17, and working as a "stringer" at my hometown paper, when I got the chance to write the spring high-school softball preview. So I'm calling around to the area coaches, getting starters, new freshmen, pitchers, that kind of thing.

I had a few days to work on it, since I had to call about a dozen coaches for all the area teams.

I get to one coach - who will remain anonymous; I got one coach fired that season, and that was enough for me - and I should have known I was in trouble when his wife had to call him in from the barbecue to talk on the phone.

Give this guy credit - he's the only coach I've ever talked to who flat-out admitted he wasn't going to win; in fact, he cheerfully pointed out the area's local kingpin team was going to be everyone, not just his girls.

Now might be a good time to point out that, from his last name at least, I don't think Coach was even Irish.

So things went along fairly well, even if he was a little vague on the statistics and things like that, until I asked him about his incoming freshmen.

Turns out he had two.

The first one could play a little, he said, hit a little, might get into some games.

The second one, well, about her, he said something along the lines of...

"Beautiful girl. Can't play a bit. But she looks *great* on the bench."

Needless to say, I didn't quote him on that.

Sadly, I never found out what she looked like, either. I did, however, spend most of the season flirting with another softball player. I mean, if Coach could do it, why not me? At least *I* was her age.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, y'all. And here's to ya, Coach, wherever you are!

(My further softball-coverage misadventures, including Stacey and the fired coach, deserve a post all their own. Just remember when we get there, I was 17 and didn't know any better!)

Coincidence? Dismissed as chance.

My latest evidence that no good deed goes unpunished involves World of Wonder - an awesome educational tool put together by graphic artist Laurie Triefeldt that appears in the newspaper I work for.

I always tell Laurie I must be World of Wonder's oldest reader (it's aimed at school kids) but I just love it - there's a different topic every week, with lots of great examples and illustrations. If you're lucky, your newspaper runs it, because it's syndicated. And if your newspaper doesn't run it, it should! Call them and tell them.

Anyway, there is a World of Wonder book out now, compiling some of the best pages, including ones on dinosaurs, sharks, undersea life, shipwrecks, hockey, baseball and numerous other favorite topics of mine. Needless to say, I snapped up more than one - mostly as gifts for young people in my life.

One of the books I intended as a donation to the Children's Museum in my hometown of Bloomsburg, Pa. My mother has volunteered for them since the very beginning, maybe 25 years, and I can't tell you enough how much I admire her for putting in so much time and receiving nary a cent in return.

As they say in "The Rock," I'm a mercenary. And mercenaries GET PAID!

Still, I try to support the Museum in whatever way I can, so I mailed the book, and that's when the trouble started.

First, I put the wrong address on the package. That's OK, Bloomsburg's a small town and my mother told the post office guys it was coming. Shouldn't be a problem, or so I figured.

The other books I sent arrived intact, and still no book in Bloomsburg. So I asked the mailroom folks. And (after they told me I probably shouldn't have mailed them from work - it was their idea, honest!) they said some of the books took a long time to arrive.

Of course, the next day, it arrived. At the newspaper. Returned why? Not for the wrong address. But for insufficient postage.

The odd thing, the (have I mentioned very nice?) mailroom folks said, was that the package not only had sufficient postage, it had too much!

(If you're wondering why I haven't mentioned where I work yet, I'm not going to. I like my job way too much to lose it in some blog-related fiasco over a $2.66 package. Rat me out, and I won't be able to afford the wireless Internet I use to write this blog, so it'll be your loss, too! Remember that. I love my job, Mr. Owner, Mr. Publisher and Mr. Editor! Please don't hurt me!)

OK, groveling done, I'll just point out that this time, I'm going to hand-deliver the package, since I'm going up to Bloomsburg in a couple of weeks. It just seems safer.

Of course, I'll only be going home when I'm done going to Maryland (to shoot the film, see the posts below on that) and that brings to me to an even stranger incident.

So I'm down in Maryland a couple of weeks ago, with my buddy Ed Hayes, my roommate from CMU. We visited the set (and nearly caused a disaster, but that's a story best left in the "untold" drawer of the "road to hell is paved with good intentions" file) and then drove back in the middle of the night.

On I-95 on the way back, we stopped at the cheerfully named Maryland House rest stop for a bit of gas and a bit of food (and probably, subsequently, a bit of gas - ba-dum-bum).

I'm in line at the fast-food spot when I notice lining up behind me is the Rider College hockey team, which is from the Princeton area, near where I live. Funny, I think to myself, we're driving the exact same route back - in fact, I'll pass Rider on the way home.

Then I remember Ed's younger brother, Brian, goes to that college.

Then I remember he plays hockey.

And then I see Ed bee-lining across the rest stop toward the team. And sure enough, there's Brian.

So, at 12:30 a.m., at a rest stop 200 miles from home, returning from the filming of the first movie I've ever been involved in, with the only guest I've ever brought to the set, we run into not just someone we know, but a relative, who's in Maryland, unknown to either of us, for a completely different reason.

Tell me that's not the strangest thing you've ever heard.

I mean, there's another rest stop about 30 miles up the road. If we'd stopped there, none of that would have ever happened. If we got out of the set 30 minutes earlier or later, none of that would have ever happened. If we hadn't gone at all, or had gone the next day, or Rider hadn't played Maryland-Baltimore County, any number of a million other factors, nothing!

What are the odds of that?

Buy your own World of Wonder book
The Children's Museum
Rider ice hockey

And, yes, if you're wondering, I realized I misspelled Spotsylvania in the Civil War post. Yes, it's driving me nuts. No, I won't correct it. I'm sticking to this post-a-day, no-editing thing as long as I can, damn it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

What I'm eating... right now.

My latest food discoveries run the gamut.

Now, I'm notorious among my friends for my cast-iron stomach. Not only did I once dream of writing the ultimate book on buffalo wings across the nation, I once offered to eat the food from the office vending machine for charity.

We have a holiday sale at the office where people can buy things for $1 and the proceeds go to a deserving charity. The way I figured, for $1 donation plus the price of food, I'd eat any of the prepackaged foods from the cafeteria machine, up to and including the tuna salad.

Not only would it benefit a good cause, it would probably get me a couple of days off from work, since near as I can tell, I get unlimited sick days at full pay.

But I have found my two new favorite foods.

(If you haven't guessed by now, I can't cook. If it's more complex than a good sandwich, it's beyond me. I'm one of those guys whose fridge contains nothing but beer and condiments, and whose freezer is stocked to the gills.)

First on the list is Barber Foods' stuffed, breaded chicken cordon bleu breasts. How can you go wrong? This combines all four food groups: Chicken, ham, cheese and breading. Six minutes in the nuke for two of 'em, and not only do they taste shockingly excellent, they smell absolutely fabulous.

Now, I'm guessing the concept probably nauseates about 95% of the people reading this, but you've just got to trust me. I love real chicken cordon bleu, and I love these things. Tasty and easy to make, conveniently packaged in pairs... Yum.

(Yeah, I don't know how I cracked 200 pounds, either. I eat nothing but chicken. And isn't that supposed to be good for you?)

The other new food addiction of the month is Saladworks. They opened a Saladworks in Hillsborough near me, and a doctor of mine recommended it because she said I don't eat enough vegetables (true). So I went. Because I can be talked into pretty much anything, especially when I'm hungry.

And boy, is this great! $7.50 and you get a huge salad (the only thing I need to eat all day, except for maybe a chicken cordon bleu after work) that lasts all day. And they'll put croutons (the best part of the salad) on anything!

Plus a free roll. I love bread. I've been trying the wheat rolls and they're shockingly good. I say shockingly because I normally hate wheat bread.

My favorite salad there is called the Tivoli salad. I don't know why it's called that, but it always makes me think of the visits to Tivoli in Copenhagen when I was little. Added bonus.

OK, all this talk about food has made me hungry. Time for some more salad.

Corporate representatives of Barber Foods and Saladworks, please leave a comment with your e-mail, and I'll send you my address for free samples and coupons. Thank you.


And yes, it's complete coincidence I've now written about someone named Barbour and someone else named Barber.

They don't name 'em like they used to.

I've been on a Civil War kick lately. It's becoming an addiction.

Normally, I like to read three kinds of books: Action fiction, eclectic history and sports.

But I bought a book on Gettysburg, the appropriately titled "Gettysburg," by Stephen Sears, and for about six months I've been reading virtually nothing but Civil War books.

Now, I'm from Pennsylvania, and besides multiple school trips to Gettysburg, about the most Civil War knowledge beyond the general schoolboy stuff I had was gleaned from a biography of Union Gen. John Sedgwick.

"Who?" you ask?

Gen. John Sedgwick, a colorless if beloved Union corps (bigger than a division, which is bigger than a brigade, which is bigger than a regiment) commander who despite his high rank was probably best known for his last words.

Now, when it comes to last words, you have the great (George Gipp's "Win one for the Gipper") and the not-so-great (Socrates' "I drank what?").

John Sedgwick's last words were, "Don't worry, men, they couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!"

The Petras couple's "776 Stupidest Things Ever Said" series filed that one under "Predictions, Bad." Although to Sedgwick's credit, the Confederates didn't shoot any elephants that day. Just a general.

But back to the point, my new addiction.

Having finished Sears' "Gettysburg" (an action in which Sedgwick took part somewhat before he left his crystal ball at home and traveled to Spottsylvania) I moved on to his book on Antietam, and that was it.

I've read at least 10 books, I've got a stack unread a mile high and my Amazon wish list is in tatters. Look, you've got to understand, I'm a completist with a touch of OCD and if you rose to at least a colonelcy and command of a regiment in the Civil War, on either side, you've got a chance at a 200-page biography by somebody. Same thing with battles that killed at least 100 men; ever heard of Chantilly? Ball's Bluff (I didn't make that one up)?

If you haven't, and you'd like to know more, you've got your choice of at least two books on each. Now imagine a battle you have heard of, like, say, Gettysburg (again). Dozens.

There are two whole theaters of the war that Civil War buffs feel have gotten short shrift: The West (Tennessee, for instance) and the South (where Ulysses S. Grant made his name). History may be written by the victors, but in the case of the Civil war, it's written by the Virginians. And if it isn't about Robert E. Lee, they're not too worried about it. Nowadays, though, people are falling all over themselves to get more information out there about the biggest armies you've never heard of, the Army of the Tennessee.

Reading all these books, or at least their descriptions on Amazon, I've come to a few undeniable conclusions.

One is that there are two types of generals: The ones who follow their orders to the letter, and the ones who march to the sound of the guns. That's the conclusion reached by the part of me that was a history major for about six weeks in college, until the day I walked out of the library with 15 books for one 10-page paper and realized I enjoyed reading for pleasure a lot more than I enjoyed reading because my QPA depended on it.

The other major conclusion I've reached is that the North had the numbers, but the South had the leaders. I would guess everybody who knows anything about the Civil War knows that, but you have to realize, Grant beat Lee basically by figuring out that as long as there were three Yanks for every Reb, the Rebs could kill Yanks at a 2-to-1 ratio, and Grant could drink all he wanted and still make it onto the back of some impressive green paper.

Getting back to that "history is written by the victors" thing, I've realized that the Civil War is an exception. You see, the Southern side has been romanticized into these great men leading brave troops who wanted only to defend their homes and their rights. Never mind that pesky slavery thing. That's a post for a far more serious blog than I intend this one to be.

(Although I'll probably make fun of the Germans at some point. Look at my profile and you'll notice I'm a Jew, and therefore entitled. That's another war, anyway.)

The thing is, I think I've figured out why the Southerners have cornered the market on being romanticized.

They have character. And more important, they have cool names.

This seems to stem from two 19th-century Southern nomenclature traditions: Giving the kid a middle name that's really a family name, and then calling the kid by that middle name.

Northern generals have such inspiring names as Irvin, George, John, George again, Ambrose (all right, that's a maybe), Joe, a different George and the real exception, Ulysses. Among lesser-ranked men, you get George, John, John, two Phillips and an Oliver.

On the other hand, Rebels followed leaders with names that would never be confused for your typical Tom, Dick or George.

(Well, Stonewall Jackson was really a "Tom," but he was anything but typical. And Dick Ewell's own men called him "Baldy." Ever see a picture of Dick Ewell? You'd understand.)

But many Confederate names sound like someone made them up.

Dorsey Pender. Dodson Ramseur. Rans Wright. Carnot Posey. Cadmus Wilcox. Raleigh Colston. Jubal Early. J.E.B. Stuart, who had so many names, his initials made another one. P.G.T. Beauregard, another man with three first names. Powell Hill. Howell Cobb. Maxcy Gregg.

And you can't say J. Johnston Pettigrew doesn't just roll off the tongue. J. Johnston Pettigrew sounds like an aristocrat, and by reputation Pettigrew was one of the smartest and best-educated men in the Confederate army. At least until he charged a Union cavalryman with only a pistol and a melodic name. You know you were born under an unlucky star when your men put up a casualty ratio of 39-to-2, and you're half the 2.

Even the nicknames were cool. Stonewall Jackson, I mentioned. Allegheny Johnson. Grumble Jones. Rooney Lee.

(There's a book out there on a Western general that calls him the Stonewall of the West, and someone on Amazon wondered why Jackson wasn't the Cleburne of the East. Reminded me of the T-shirts they sold at school that called M.I.T. the Carnegie Mellon of New England. Um, no.)

The Union nicknames? "Fighting Joe" Hooker, whose last name stuck around longer than his nickname. (Hint: To paraphrase an ex-girlfriend, Joe loved the ladies, and the ladies didn't mind.) That was actually a trend: Ambrose Burnside's impressive facial hair is, at least by urban legend, the source of the term that switches his last name around. Abner Doubleday didn't have a good nickname, but then, he didn't invent baseball, either. Take your fame where you can get it. The Yanks did have J.K.F. Mansfield in the three-initial category, but you've probably never heard of him because he had the misfortune to achieve the pinnacle of his long career - corps command - two days before Antietam. The Rebs could hit a general at THAT distance, too.

My vote's for Dorsey Pender and Dodson Ramseur as having the two most memorable names. Those guys just sound like major generals, which they were. Division commanders before the age of 30. Man, I'm 30 years old and I can't even get promoted to slot editor, these guys are commanding about 10% of the Army of Northern Viriginia.

Yes, there are biographies of both men, and the brilliant "Lee's Lieutenants" by Douglas Freeman makes them sound so dramatic in its cast of characters I had to buy both books. No, they don't have happy endings, if you get my drift.

Pender was a prolific letter-writer, at least until the end of June 1863, when he rode to Gettysburg and got in the way of a Union shell. Ramseur, meanwhile, was described by Freeman as being told on the eve of battle that his wife's crisis had passed and the baby was born. "More than that, he never learns."

How could you not buy a biography of Stephen Dodson Ramseur after a line like that?

Totally off topic, props to the North Carolinians: Pender, Ramseur and Pettigrew, the coolest of the cool, were all Tar Heels.

I'm currently (and my use of that word alone should tell you I'm not editing these posts) toward the end of a biography of Powell Hill (A.P. Hill, more formally) written by a guy whose name escapes me, but who I figured had to be good because he has a Prize named after him (that the author of another book I read won). I like Hill, and there's something to be said for a guy who was called out for in the last words of Jackson (which he could have answered) and Robert E. Lee (by then, he couldn't).

Blatant plug for a total stranger, as opposed to my usual blatant plugs for friends:

"And Then A.P. Hill Came Up" is about the best history Web site I have ever seen. Just incredible, and it really shows the power and limitless potential of the Web. There's a page on everything to do with Hill and the Light Division (another cool name, this one for an entire unit) except maybe the general's venereal disease, and I could live without a page on that, anyway.

After this, however, I'm not sure what to read. I've got some of the traditional overviews of the war, such as McPherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom," but I've always liked odd events and odd people in history, so I've been consciously or subconsciously avoiding both the traditional reads (Catton, Foote) and the overviews, and reading books on battles or biographies. So "Shiloh" might be next (the idea of Confederate Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston slowly bleeding death in the peach orchard without even realizing it has some tragic romance). Except I'm reluctant to move out West, where I'm less familiar with the history, when I have so many more books on the Virginia/Maryland/Pennsylvania campaigning that I could read. Including No. 3 on Gettysburg (with about six more on the wish list).

So if you've got any ideas, since more of these books are bound to inspire a post or two, well, that's what the comment link is for. Speak up!

As for when I'll shake this addiction, I'm guessing when the next book from either Matthew Reilly or Preston & Child (my favorite action fiction authors) comes out. Whenever that is.


And hey, I get home from work around 11:30, so that whole "post a day" thing doesn't count as missed if I can't finish writing before midnight!

Monday, March 14, 2005

My hypocrisy goes only so far...

I know I vowed that I wouldn't go back and edit my posts, but I went back and edited my first two posts... for very good reason, though!

I learned how to make links in the posts, so I went back and fixed the links so they actually work and you don't have to type them/copy them/etc.

I left everything else alone, even the line in my first post about not knowing how to do the HTML. As Doc Holliday said in "Tombstone" (I may be misquoting; how you misquote "Tombstone," I don't know, but my memory isn't quite what it used to be)...

My hypocrisy goes only so far.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Why Ann Marie Barbour kicks ass!

Yes, this is two posts in one day, thereby setting up an unreasonable expectation not seen since the time I got a 4.0 first semester freshman year, a mark never to be repeated. In fact, I never came close, even if I got the word "honors" somewhere on the degree.

Creative writing, if you're wondering. As my pal Phillip Gomez put it, we got a B.A. in B.S.

And by the way, my goal is a post a day. Reality? You'll be lucky to get one a week, but I'm an optimist, you know. I'm also addicted to Gran Turismo 4, so take your chances.

But you're probably wondering about the title. After all, what does Ann Marie Barbour, actress, mother and sometime QVC hostess, have to do with me?

Well, this is the post about my movie.

And "Why Ann Marie Barbour kicks ass!" seemed like a much better title than "My movie." In my other life, I write headlines for a living, and I know what sells a story and what doesn't.

By the way, I suppose technically it's not *my* movie. It's Timewarp Films' movie. But I wrote it, or at least most of it. And since this is my blog, as far as we're concerned, it's mine.

And Ann Marie Barbour is one of the stars. She plays Sari, who's named after my friend Sari. That didn't come out right. But you know what I mean.

Now, this post could just as easily have been called "Why Dennis Hill kicks ass!" or "Why Colleen Taylor kicks ass!" or "Why Justin Timpane kicks ass!" But Justin already got his post today. And I just like saying "Ann Marie Barbour." Yes, I read these out loud to myself as I write. Sue me.

And hey, if you're MISTER Barbour, no, I'm not a stalker. I'm a screenwriter. Put down the gun.

OK, first things first. I'm a screenwriter (I said that) among my other writing jobs. I got my start back at CMU, where I took Sharon Dilworth's Study of Forms: Screenwriting class (or maybe it was Survey of Forms, it's been a while. point is...). Then, under Professor Dilworth's no-doubt-amused guidance, I wrote a full-length screenplay for my senior honors project. It's not bad, but it needs some rewriting.

So one day I was sitting around, dreaming, as I often do, of a way I could finally get my writing published, and therefore justify all the money my parents paid for that CMU degree. Well, I thought, why not write another script? So I did, and I entered it in a contest.

I didn't win, or I wouldn't be writing this post.

Because this post isn't about that script. It's about the next one: "Dead Hunt."

Now, I'm not giving anything away about the movie - you'll have to buy the DVD when it comes out. And yes, that's a blatant bit of self-promotion. There's money in it for me somehow, though I'm not sure how, because I didn't read my contract that closely.

Anyway... point is, my friend Joe Ripple, one-half of Timewarp Films and the director for whom I wrote the script, has let me hang around the set (where I've tried my best to make myself useful) and I even got a small part in the movie.

No, now that I think about it (there's that stream-of-consciousness thing I'm going for again) that's not the point. The point is...

This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.

So yes, these are rose-colored glasses I'm looking through. It's only fair to point out, in the interests of disclosure, that this is a straight-to-DVD B-horror movie.

But it's going to be great! Trust me on this. You just wait and see. I can't wait, honestly, and I've seen!

So let's sum up why I picked that title:

Because being on set with the cast and crew has been awesome. I really can't describe it. I'd love to work with Timewarp again, but if this is a once-in-a-lifetime deal, I'll take it and love every minute of it. Even the ones when I'm driving to and from Maryland in the middle of the night (I live in Jersey. three hours, door-to-door. I could do it in my sleep. and have.).

They're not even done filming yet, so keep those virtual fingers virtually crossed for me - but I just want it up front: Everyone involved kicks ass!

This didn't quite come out as well as I'd hoped, which is a shame, because the title is so enticing. But I don't want to do a name-by-name list of everyone who kicks ass and why. Somebody'd get mad.

So when "Dead Hunt" hits DVD, buy it. And when you get to the end, watch the credits. And know that each and every name on that list was awesome to work with and has my eternal gratitude. Their talents, you can see for yourself. I can only hope my script does those talents justice.

God, what an experience. I can't say enough about Joe Ripple and Don Dohler letting me come along for the ride. If you're an actor, within driving distance of Maryland, go work for Timewarp. They do quality stuff and they're class acts all the way.

God, what a thrill this has been. I wish you all could feel the way I do. Just a few more weeks of filming, then the long summer of waiting for the DVD. I'll miss it. I always loved the camaraderie of acting, and being on set, I really felt like I belonged, and I really felt like I was part of something special. I hope you'll feel the same way when you see the film. Joe and Don and the awesome cast deserve no less, no matter what you think I deserve.

On the list of great adventures in my life, I daresay this is No. 2, behind only the night I got engaged, which remains, to this day, the happiest night of my life.

No, I never got married, but that, like the trip to the lesbian bar from the other post, is a story for another day.


And hey, "DH" actors and crew: If you've got a Web site, post a comment with it. I have this fantasy that important people may read this blog someday, and maybe one of them will be a talent agent! Remember me when you're famous!

I wish I were a music video director.

This is my first post on my first blog. Not much of an introduction, but I've finally found the inspiration to write this stream of consciousness blog. My grammar won't be perfect, because I'm not at work, but hopefully you'll enjoy anyway.

My inspiration? Music.

I have had three friends in this life who are published musicians. Is "published" the right word? I'm a writer, so I'm going with it.

The first was Paul Tabachneck. I haven't seen Paul in years, but back in college at Carnegie Mellon, he had a band called Stone Soup. I think there's another band called Stone Soup, but this isn't them.

Paul and I were editors together on the Tartan, which is CMU's college newspaper. Anyway, after Paul quit as a section editor, he wound up on my copy staff. The proofreading lounge at the Tartan had this huge, world's-most-comfortable couch, and every now and then, Paul (and Victor, another proofreader) would put on a little impromptu concert.

The song he used to play was called "She the 4th (Andrew Got Another Lover)" and it's probably a joke only CMU students would get (the Andrew part. you had to be there). Anyway, one day, a while after I'd left CMU, I was visting Pittsburgh, and I found Stone Soup's "Self-Titled Debut" in the local music section of a CD store. So, seeing the title of the song (which I'd never known, but knew it was the right song) I bought the CD and I still mix that track onto driving music CDs.

I hope Paul's off making music somewhere. His stuff wasn't really my taste in music, to be honest, but that song was great. I'm sure you'll hear more about my misadventures at CMU in the future. If I keep this blog up.

My second friend who makes music is Heather Shayne Blakeslee. Blake and I went to school together in Bloomsburg, and she went on to be a folk-rock singer in New York, and then Philadelphia. I was the valedictorian in the Class of '92, by about 00.01 of a percent, and she was salutatorian. I'm not sure who is more embarrassed about that.

Anyway, Blake chased down her dream, God bless her, and she's got two CDs out, one called "Bones" and the new one called "Treon's Cut Rate."

I'm lousy with music, and I don't rightly know if it's fair to call her stuff folk-rock, but that's what I do. Think Indigo Girls, or Melissa Etheridge. If you like them - and I do, despite myself - you'd like Blake.

My favorite Blakeslee song is "The Ballad of Anna Mae," from Bones, and eventually remixed onto an EP she promised to send me but hasn't yet. "The Ballad of Anna Mae" would make a killer frontier-farm-Cold Mountain-horse-and-cotton-dress-and-hat kind of music video. I mean, killer. I wish I were a music video director. I've got the entire thing in my head. It would be absolutely killer, with horses and cowboys and this clearing in the woods and a ghost!

Blakeslee kicks ass and should make it big. She's got a beautiful voice, and "Snowing in Stroudsburg," off TCR, always makes me think of home, even if home is Bloomsburg and not Stroudsburg. Close enough. What a beautiful song. I think it's replaced "Opiates and Envy" as my second-favorite Blakeslee song.

Remind me to tell you the story of how I went to see Blake play in the lesbian bar.

Anyway, the other reason I'm writing this is because I just got another CD from a friend. This one's by a guy named Justin Timpane, who's an actor in the movie I'm working on with Timewarp Films. More on that in another post.

Anyway, Justin did the soundtrack for the previous film from the company, "Crawler," and he gave me a copy today (no, the movie's not out yet). Apparently, he's done a bunch of CDs, but I don't know - I only met him on this film.

Anyway, the first song on the soundtrack is a song called "Crawl." (Yes, I started three graphs in a row with "anyway," sue me. I'm not at work, I can write however I feel like. I told you this was stream of consciousness.)

Back to "Crawl." I'm going all-caps here for emphasis.


I put the CD on in my car at 5 p.m. and by the time I turned it off an hour and a half later, I'd played "Crawl" about a dozen times. (It's about 3 minutes, I'd guess.)

This song kicks ass.

It's perfect. I love it. (Well, almost perfect, I wish the whispered words at the end were a bit louder; I'm a writer, I love lyrics.)

This song kicks so much ass, I'm jealous I had nothing to do with "Crawler" because I want to play this song for everyone I know and I wish I could say it went with my movie. But it doesn't. I wish my movie had a song that cool.

Look, let's be honest, I've got bad taste in music. I own CDs by Tiffany, Debbie Gibson and Richard Marx. I shit you not. But I know good music when I see it, and this is good music. This is more than good music, this is great music.

By the way, of the three names dropped above, two have appeared naked in Playboy. Aren't you glad Richard Marx isn't one of them? Hey, "Hazard" kicks ass. But "Ballad of Anna Mae" is better. Same idea, though, just less pop kitsch and more haunting beauty.

Back to "Crawl." How can I describe it? I don't know. I don't know shit about music. It's rock, pseudo-metal, the kind with lots of guitars where you turn up the volume, open the sunroof and just let it play while you bob your head and thump the steering wheel.

It made me think of Bolt Thrower, except Bolt Thrower was insanely disappointing and this was just so frickin' awesome.

I turned up the volume at every intersection, on the off chance a record producer would pull up next to me in Princeton, roll down his window and say, "Who is that?" And then I'd tell him, because if there's any justice in the world, some record producer is going to read this and take my word for it and check this song out and make Justin rich.

(Make Blake rich, too, but it's a whole different kind of music.)

OK, here's how to think about it: I got to this bar called QXT in Newark. It's a Goth bar, and my friends Sari and Luisa take me. I have half a mind to take "Crawl" to QXT and try and bribe the DJ to play it because it would fit right in there. It's dark, pounding rock, the kind I love.

Perfect driving music. This one's going to be on a lot of mixes of mine.

By the way, one more reason I wish I were a music video director: Play "Crawl" and just film the Goth girls in plaid skirts and purple hair dancing to it at QXT. Oh. My. God.

And oh, my God, does this song kick ass. I can't even think of anything better to say, and I've got a degree in creative writing.

I've got to talk to Justin about his other CDs. The soundtrack to "Crawler" is great - even if I didn't get through it all because I listened to "Crawl" so much - but instrumental stuff doesn't make good driving music, and that's when I listen to music, in the car.

If the rest of his CDs are like "Crawl," I'll buy every one. Yes, I figure he'd probably give them to me for free, but I'm not above paying money to support my friends. Ask Blake.

And yeah, when my movie hits DVD, I'm making my friends buy it. There's money at stake there! I only get paid if we make a profit! (insert smiley face here)

So, to sum up: Record producers, e-mail me! I've found the perfect song. Between Blake and Justin, maybe I can have a finder's fee? I could use the money.

Links (no, I don't have a clue how to make HTML in this thing):

I'm not editing this or spell-checking it. Screw that. It's my day off.