Thursday, August 30, 2007

The one in which I answer the questions

Hullo! Now that I'm back in the swing of blogging, I can finally get to the interview questions Jin asked me a few weeks back!

Kind of nice to not be obsessing over moving and packing... and finally able to catch up on my life.

Speaking of which: Anybody want to buy a townhouse in scenic Hillsborough, N.J., the nation's 23rd best place to live?

But I digress.

Anyway, on with the interview!

1. Do you remember the first horror movie you saw? Do you think it was
this film that began your obsession? (I mean 'obsession' in a good way! ;-)

When I was 10, I went to a sleepover birthday party, and (among other films) we watched "Jaws"and "Jaws 2"back-to-back. I didn't go swimming for about two years. And I still shower quickly. I think that's really what did it.

2. Dead Hunt! How did it come about? Did you just start writing and out
it came or was it a long process? Most importantly, will I be able to
get it from Netflix and when?

The idea for "Dead Hunt" was one I'd come up with a couple of years before the whole process started, visiting the HorrorFind Weekend with my friends from I started on a short story and never really finished it... but then, when my friend Joe Ripple, of Timewarp Films had an idea that eventually led to "DH," it turned out, when we were talking, it was the same idea that I'd based my story on. So we discussed it, and he took my treatment (a synopsis of a script) to his partner, the late Don Dohler, and they decided to have me write it. The actual writing didn't take too long. I'm a very momentum-based writer, so there were some sleepless nights, but I delivered a first draft fairly quickly. Of course, there was the inevitable revision process after that, which they were kind enough to let me be a part of.

And you should be able to get it from many different places very soon. Last I've heard, it's a September release.

3. YAY! You are engaged to a cute chick that seems pretty darn fabulous!
Tell us more about the wedding plans, honeymoon plans or basically
anything you haven't told us already!

The wedding is Aug. 3, 2008, at the Berkeley Plaza in Berkeley Heights, N.J. It's a very popular wedding location, and has nothing but rave reviews. We've booked a highly regarded DJ and a highly regarded photography studio. And then we put a lot of the planning on hold until after our move, though we are registered at a few places, notably Fortunoff.

As for the honeymoon, we were thinking of somewhere exotic, like Iceland, but because of the house purchase, we're pondering something a little more domestic, but equally fun.

4. After a glance at your 101 in 1,001 I noticed this entry: "97. Be
interviewed by someone, instead of doing the interviewing." I don't
suppose this counts...does it? I bet you meant in real life! ;-) What
famous news person would you most like to meet in the flesh?

I've actually met quite a few vaguely well-known news people, thanks to my profession, but among the truly famous, it's a tough call. The late Peter Jennings was the newsman I grew up listening to, as "World News Tonight" was my parents' nightly news of choice. But among the living, I think the obvious choice is Walter Cronkite, just for everything he's seen and done in, and for, the profession.

Among newspapers, of course, at this point I'd think Woodward & Bernstein are probably the heroes of choice.

But all in all, I'm not too interested in newsman as celebrity. I enjoy sharing a press box with the Oakland Raiders beat writers, none of whom are household names, and I respect their professionalism tremendously. Often even the least-known of journalists has some great stories to tell. My father spent some time as an intern in radio news in college (he was a journalism major), and I love the stories he tells.

That's not really an answer, is it?

5. Wow. A click back to your first post ever informed me that you have
been blogging for 2 years this month. Why did you start blogging? Has
there ever been something you wanted to blog but found you just couldn't
'type about it' or is Life on the Rim pretty much a 'tell all'?

Two years, really?

I didn't think it had been that long. I'll have to check.

I started because one of my friends had started a blog, I'd read some about it in the tech pieces we ran in the paper, and as a writer, the thought really interested me. But I was either too busy or too lazy to do anything about it, until one day, I had a story I wanted to share with the world. And that became my first post.

Which, now that I look it up for the link, was in March 2005. If you're curious.

As for taboo subjects, like anybody else, I suppose I have certain secrets I just will never tell. Plus, I try to stay away from anything that might get me in trouble at work. After all, journalists pride themselves on their objectivity, and newspapers have an editorial board that speaks for them and their staff.

So I don't say where I work, I don't talk about work too much, and I leave out a few secrets from my past, particularly painful ones or ones that might involve people who don't need those stories brought to light.

Other than that, though, as far as my thoughts on things, there, it's pretty much a tell-all.

Thanks, Jin! Hope you (and everyone else) enjoyed my answers!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Miami Diari, Days 4 and 5 (now with pictures!)

When last we left our intrepid hero...

It was Saturday, in Miami, the final day of the AAJA national convention.

Then moving intervened. But now, the conclusion of our story, featuring, as advertised, the two most amazing words in the English language:



That's right. Saturday was the day of my big trip to Monkey Jungle...

But first, the convention.

The most awkward moment of the weekend: I was sent, by proxy, to the chapter treasurers' meeting. Please note: I am not the chapter treasurer. There's a reason for this. That reason can best be summed up by saying: I don't handle the money. And I don't do math.

Needless to say, it was, outside of the free leftover breakfast items, an absolute disaster. One other participant-by-proxy fled as soon as even remotely dignifiedly possible. I lasted a bit longer, but not much.

Then we were off, driving our little rental car (a Chevy POS that, other than the lack of power locks/windows, actually kind of grew on us) through the Florida equivalent of over the river and through the woods to...

Monkey Jungle: Where Humans Are Caged and Monkeys Run Wild!

This is probably my new third- favorite place on Earth, though you'll have to take my word for it for now. At least, until I can post pictures.

This was awesome. Except, probably, for the fellow who got peed on.

And the fact that it was, once again, hot as hell.

Monkey jungle is what seems to be several acres of Florida jungle, with caged tunnels running through it, which the monkeys wander down from the trees to climb on, and you can put little raisins into little bowls-on-chains, which the little monkeys pull up to the roof and eat from.


We didn't see any capuchin monkeys - my favorite - sadly, but we saw tons of squirrel monkeys - Marisa's favorite.

There was also a gorilla - big monkey sit! - and an orangutan and lots of others.

Don't worry, there will be pictures! Big monkey sit!

Despite the heat - the soda we bought out of a machine came out near boiling, it was that hot - we struggled through, then retreated to the air conditioned car and went back to the hotel for the evening's festivities.

That included a silent auction, where M raided the CD-for-$2 table, and the great big gala. I served as one of the ticket-takers for the event, continuing my journalistic-event tradition of serving as the world's worst bouncer.

Then it was inside for a fairly nice dinner and a terrific, moving keynote speech by David Ng, the executive editor of the New York Daily News and a former colleague - in fact, the very man who talked me into joining AAJA.

Did I mention, at one point, as Tina Kim fled the room briefly, she stopped by my table for a wink and a nod?

Then it was...

Karaoke night!

Once, again, AAJA fights Asian stereotyping one free beer and dreadful song at a time. Actually, it's a pretty entertaining event, led by three young ladies in dresses that could only be described as lingerie crooning "Like a Virgin," and a couple of guys who jumped off the stage into the crowd and stuff.

Then there was some kind of hiphop guy who started grinding on folks in the audience while performing - after stripping off his shirt - and somehow, to M's probably unending delight, chose me as the token "yeah, let me grind on a guy for laughs" victim.

So I got into it a bit, grinding back. I think that got him by surprise, but hey, I was good and drunk and fully confident that - unlike last year - I was taking a good-looking woman back to my hotel room at the end of the night.

Yeah. I'm confident in my masculinity.

Then it was...

Tina Kim time!

That's right, capping my new don't-read-this-M lust for the journalist-turned-comedienne, she did a set at the show.

I thought it was pretty darn funny, if a bit ill-timed - by the time she hit the stage, everyone was kind of drunk and well into their conversations, so she had to shout over the crowd sometimes. Still, it went off quite well, and then Miss Kim disappeared into the night, and my fond memories.

And after that, 'twas time for a last free beer, then off to bed.

Sunday was getaway day, but because last year's convention had some Sunday programming, I scheduled an evening flight... and this year's didn't have any.

So we checked out, had a spot of brunch - giving our balloon munkee to the hostess at the hotel restaurant, for her little sister, thus ensuring it had a nice home rather than, say, bursting on the flight with a loud POP and causing both tears and a Homeland Security investigation.

After that, we went for a quick stop at my grandparents' graves in the Tamarac area. They don't get many visitors anymore, but I wanted them to meet Marisa. And, of course, I cried like a baby. But I did make sure the graves were well-kept. I miss them, especially at times when I think of our wedding and the house and how I hope they can see me and they're proud of me. How I wish they could be there.

We also passed the Seminole Hard Rock hotel, which is probably best known as the place where Anna Nicole Smith died.

And then it was time-killing time.

The first plan: Beat the heat at the Miami Seaquarium.

Problem: It turns out, most of the Miami Seaquarium is... outside.

So after watching the sharks feed, the dolphins ("Flipper"!) leap and M melt, we fled for the indoor paradise of ... Dave & Buster's.

(M got much better pictures of the leaping dolphins, by the way, a practical lesson in the difference between an 8 megapixel camera and a 3 megapixel camera.)

So Dave & Buster's is at the famous Dolphin Mall in Miami. That probably suggests we could find it easily.

Ding. Try again.

So after driving around Miami for about two hours...

(This way. That way. Always headed to the West, but never quite finding the right North/South crossing.)

We finally found it - mercifully, we discovered it was close to the airport when we... drove right past the airport. We're both two stubborn to have actually given up and gone to the airport without finding the food.

So, in the end, I had my first Dave & Buster's experience, capped off by beeping the horn repeatedly on some kind of cross-country trucking arcade game as M got farther than she ever had before on said game.

And then the airport, a fond farewell - no fighting this time - to our little rental car, and our flight home, mostly harmless but for one of those "let's bounce through the clouds on descent" kind of landings.

Which leads us to our last strange story of the trip.

We're at the airport, waiting for a cab (I'd parked at the office), and I look around the taxi queue, and I swear I see a fellow who resembles the publisher of my paper (for those unsure, that'd be The Man).

I'm looking at him, he's looking at me, we're both looking puzzled.

Now, it's 12:30 a.m. on a Sunday night/Monday morning, and I'm thinking our publisher should either a) be able to afford a limo; or b) be able to afford airport parking. M suggested I offer to share a cab to the office, which I vetoed on the grounds that this would be the sort of thing that might lead to a) my being embarassed that it's not the guy I thought; b) my getting fired; or c) possibly my getting promoted to something impressive.

As I think it might've been Woody Hayes said of the forward pass: Only three things can happen, and two of them are bad.

So we got our own cab back to the garage, and as we're standing outside debating whether M should stand out there with the luggage while I get the car...

The publisher drives out of the garage with a little "hey, that's the guy from the airport" wave.

Which begs the question: No, not "why was the publisher taking a cab?" which was my first instinct, but more practically speaking, "how did he beat us to the garage?"

I guess it pays to be The Man.

And thus ended my Miami trip, and thus resumes my regular blogging.

I leave you with this bit of football expertise: My fantasy team's quarterback is Vince Young, whose rights I kept because I think he's just a couple of pit bulls away from being the next Michael Vick!

Editor's note: I added a bit, and added the pix! Enjoy! Big munkee sit! Little munkees pull!

That's it... back to the blog!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Miami Diari, Post-Vacation Interlude

Yeah, I know. You're still waiting for the munkee part.

I'm home. And home. We're moving Monday. So, for a few days at least, I'm the first person in my family to ever own a "second home." (By the way, if you're interested in a townhouse in Central New Jersey, I'm selling one. Cheap.)

I'll get around to Day 4 and Day 5 soon. Up to my eyeballs in work, paperwork, moving boxes, etc.

Downloaded the pix, that's the first step. Bear with me.

You'll get:

• Monkeys
• Sharks
• Tina Kim (again)
• Karaoke
• More tales from the airport

So it'll be worth the wait, promise. I'd write some now, but I'm averaging about four hours of sleep a night this week, which is about 1.5 more than Marisa and I've got to get some more or I'm going to fall asleep on the road on the way home some night and die.

And then you'll never get to read my answers to the interview questions Jin sent me.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Miami Diari, Day 3 (the one with Tina Kim)

When last we left our intrepid and procrastinating-blogger hero...

It was Friday, Day 3 of the adventures in Miami.

For the curious, 'twas also my six-month anniversary with Marisa, who has finally posted some serious pictures. Check 'em out. They're much better than mine.

(Which isn't even mine, but one I ripped off Tina Kim's MySpace.)

Anyway, I spent the morning working the booth, the noontime hour mooching a free lunch at the Awards Luncheon and the afternoon in one fascinating seminar (online ethics) and one less-than-fascinating, but much prettier one (making your cover designs pop - aimed, regrettably, at page designers).

The excitement of the afternoon was the luncheon, and not just because I got two desserts. Which was a plus, but not quite so much a plus as my cracking up a professional comedienne.

Those of you who know me, of course, know I pride myself on my sense of humor. It's what I use to make people smile, and what I used to use to try and get girls, in lieu of big muscles and big paychecks.

Of course, I'm no longer trying to get girls, but that doesn't mean I can't bust out the ol' joke-a-minute riff once in a while.

Like at the luncheon, when one of my colleagues at the paper arrived with the aforementioned Ms. Kim. Now, bear in mind, at the gala tonight (Saturday, Day 4 - the one with the munkees) they auctioned off a seat at the table with Yul Kwon (see Day 1) and Tina Kim for money.

And I got to spend the luncheon with Tina Kim for free. My buddy took off partway through, my other colleague had already vacated, and after a few jokes with this journalist-turned-acerbic comedienne, me and my buddy from our local AAJA chapter got to spend a little time chatting with her over lunch.

I must've done well with my humor - she asked for my business card, after having to whisper the rest of our conversation in my ear as she vacated the luncheon during the awards presentation. (No, we weren't that rude, people were gabbing and wandering in-and-out through the whole thing.) And lest you think I just ended up on her mailing list, she didn't ask anyone else at the table for a business card, thank you very much.

So that was exciting.

Anyway, we skip past the aforementioned afternoon seminars and move on to the evening's festivities. As also aforementioned, it was M and I's sixth-month anniversary and also one year to the day of our wedding.

So we went out to celebrate. After our disastrous evening on South Beach, we decided to try something a little more mellow.

We headed for Coconut Grove, a different kind of touristy attraction.

After walking around a bit, and giving the comedy of Judah Friedlander a miss, we found ourselves sitting down for dinner in a place called Cafe Tu Tu Tango (get it? tu. tu. tango?).

The place is a tapas-style restaurant/bar, the food was pretty tasty and the sangria was nice and cold. But the best part was, the place is full of art and artists and stuff. There was a guy painting just a few feet away. Even better, there was one of the best balloon artists I've ever seen.

No lame hats and poodles for this guy. He made Goofy. He made a giant hat. A sceptre. A bunny.

And for us, as seen above, a munkee. Not just any monkey, but a whole palm tree, with coconuts and a munkee climbing it. A real work of art. I mean, M asked him to make a monkey and it took her about halfway through to realize he was working on her balloon.

Not only that, as you might expect, my ever-chipper lady made friends with the other women in line. Turns out one is a doctor starting a special ed school. Figures.

He capped off the evening by climbing into a giant balloon. Don't ask. I can't even begin to explain. But trust me, this made my inner child smile. And my not-so-inner child.

All in all, a great evening out for our special night. Plus, we got looks from EVERYBODY on the way home, carrying that thing around. (Marisa included in the above picture for scale. She's 5-foot-8.)

By the time I catch up with today (Saturday), you'll see a lot more munkees!

Today was our visit to Monkey Jungle!

But first, I have a gala to attend and Karaoke night to drink beer at.

On to the next part!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Miami Diari, Day 2

Yeah, I know, I'm a day behind.

And also, let me refer you once again to Marisa's blog, as while I'm sitting in meeting rooms, she's petting baby alligators. And taking pictures.

Anyway, yesterday, which was Thursday, was the first "real" day of the convention.

Early on, after a quick bite with my sweetie and a brief chat with the convention's keynote speaker, a former colleague, I headed off to a seminar on the digital divide in newsrooms, both technologically and racially.

I know, you're waiting for me to get to the good stuff. Hang on.

After a quick, and free, sandwich lunch at the national meeting - complete with waiters! - it was time to work the company booth at the career fair, and that's what I did for the rest of the day.

Then, at last, it was off with M and her terrific sunburn to South Beach, which is everything we're not. Including trendy and Italian.

Yeah, I know, the city of Cuban immigrants in the state of retired Jews, and on the main drag of the hippest spot...

Italian restaurants.

Yeah, crowded as hell and you can't walk 10 feet without tripping over another Italian place. I mean, we must've checked out 25 restaurants looking for dinner and 20 of them were Italian. Which, of course, is where we ended up, since the others were either seafood or steakhouses, which ruled them out for M.

The only trouble was, we picked the place with a nice vegetarian section... and no air conditioning.

(No, no link. I can't remember the name. I mean, you look at 20 Italian restaurants in an hour and remember what one is called.)

Anyway, just about the time Medellin was going up 2-0 on Millonarios, M's heatstroke kicked in.

I mean, she went from beet red to pale white in about 0.3 seconds. Luckily, I scarfed down most of my steak (good, but not worth $27, damn tourist trap) while she was... indisposed, and then we fled with our doggie bags back to the hotel and the air conditioning.

She ate her food, but somewhere along the way, waiting for Barry Bonds to hit homer #755, I fell asleep.

Not quite the fun, nightlife-filled evening we anticipated, but then...

It's Miami. In August. It's fucking hot.

Stay tuned for tonight's almost-timely Day 3 update. Loads more interesting, free food... and Tina Kim!

On to the next part!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Miami Diari, Day 1

I'm sitting here in a hotel in Miami, slightly nauseous from a combination of rum-and-Cokes with too much rum, chicken wings and God knows what else, working up the initiative to launch my "Diari" of this year's AAJA convention here, which opened today.

There's a lot of negativity swirling around me right now, so I'm a little pessimistic about this one living up to its two predecessors.

For one thing, I feel like I'm going to vomit.

For another, although I delight at the thought that I'm here with Marisa (um, yeah, no attempts to pick up chicks this year, guys, sorry), I also have to work the equivalent of a full day at my company's recruiting booth, which cuts down on the potential for misadventure. On top of that, I made the mistake of checking my work e-mail, and one message really sort of grated on me.

On top of all that, it's a little tough to follow the previous post, on the tragic death of a man, with lighthearted tales of misadventure in the Florida sun.

Not to mention the fact that Marisa is the one out having fun all day, so she'd probably be a better writer for this.

But all that negativity aside, here goes.

Today's actually Day 2, but as we just landed late Tuesday night, I figure I'll wrap that into today.

The flight from Newark was uneventful until the end, when the pilot decided we'd had a pleasant enough flight and bounced through the clouds like a jailbait hooker strutting into a bar.

Then Marisa and I got into a fight over some complete confusion at the rental car place. Hell of a way to start our first real trip together. (And for those of you thinking it's probably all my fault, let me tell you, you're only about 90% right. So nyah.)

Anyway, once everything got sorted out and we made up, we got to the hotel, where we got a truly nice room and, it being nearly time for things to close up, we hit the hotel restaurant for some truly mediocre food (appetizer: mangled; soup: too salty; entree: too bland).

After a beer and a whirl at the video games at the bar (Yay, Donkey Kong!), it was off to bed.

This morning, I was up bright and early to go to a full-day seminar at what used to be my grandparents' hometown paper, the Sun-Sentinel, on creating multimedia reports in journalism. Fascinating stuff, well worth the time, and the best part was, I learned some Flash. Not enough to put anything up here yet, but maybe soon.

Then it was back to the hotel, where I met up with M and we went off to the opening reception.

That was a load of fun, highlighted by some interesting drumming, which you can see via my cell-phone camera at the top, and a visit by Yul Kwon, the winner of "Survivor" a couple of seasons back. He was mingling with the crowd and seemed pretty down to earth.

The other highlight was some of the stiffest rum-and-Cokes I've ever had. Plus, stalking down some of the hors d'oeuvres servers to snag several of the lone vegetarian item for M. She went chasing after a tray, I went straight to the kitchen. Clevermunkee.

Anyway, after we got back, we hit the bar for some real food - well, if nachos and wings are real food - and then... off to bed.

Or at least, off to burp and blog.

Tomorrow, the regular part of the convention begins, as does my quest to recruit people for my paper. Hopefully, things will liven up, or I'll get M to post some of HER pictures. She went to the beach with an old friend. I sat in a classroom all day. So until I can get "My life as a popcorn kernel" online...

Hang in there, and I'll be back for more tomorrow! (Well, later today.)

On to the next part!