Wednesday, May 30, 2001

cable tv roulette

[email composed 30 May 2001]

Just now I was flipping through the movie channels and discovered three different Guy Pearce roles playing simultaneously: on Showtime, as a military prosecutor in "Rules of Engagement," on Cinemax as a reluctant cannibal in "Ravenous," and on The Movie Channel, (in the only role where he gets to use his native accent) as a drag queen traveling through the Australian outback in "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert."

Coincidence? Perhaps.

If only HBO was showing "L.A. Confidential" he could have hit for the cycle...

Thursday, May 10, 2001

You say it's your birthday (da-da-da-da-da-da-da-duh)

[email composed 10 May 2001]

Today is the 30th birthday of my brother-in-law, Justin. He spent the day home recovering from a stomach flu. I'm told that last night he had a temperature of 103 degrees.

Some people will do anything to get out of having to work on their birthday, eh?

For those of you who have yet to reach this milestone, you probably approach this day with dread. For the rest of us who see it in the rear view mirror of the present, we know that it was the last moment of joy we experienced. Or it was just another day.

What can I say about Justin? He's smart, he has perspective on living, he's easy to talk to, he's can cook, he has a fine sense of humor, he has decent taste in music, and he looks okay in a skirt... er, kilt.

He's a good man. Sure, that expression has lost some of its luster by overuse, but it still holds truth when applied to him.

What does it mean to call someone "good"? Is it merely some default declaration to be applied if someone isn't bad? Of course not, although the not-being-bad angle certainly helps. The popular parlance would interpret it to mean he has a good heart. I'm not sure how well his ticker is pumping the blood, but since long ago someone seated the human emotions in that organ, we continue to use that expression to indicate someone cares.

About what one cares is another story. What it really indicates--having a "good heart"--is that the person cares about the same things that we do... and that really translates as he cares about us. (No one who dislikes us can be said to have a good heart. At least not by us.) So such declarations really say as much about the person saying it as the person about whom it is said.

Hey, there are worse things than having your sister's husband like you.

Justin loves my sister very much. It's almost disgusting how much he obviously adores her (still). (Granted, he didn't have to grow up with her...) He is a very lucky man--not just because he snagged my sister, but because he found love: not that desperate love some people settle for, but (for lack of a better term) true love. This is probably due (at least in large part) to the whole good heart thing.

In the end, it boils down this: he is someone worthy of me composing a message in his honor. There is no higher compliment I can possibly give.

However, I'm sure he'd trade these accolades for spending his birthday feeling healthy. Or to get his youth back.

who proudly considers Justin one of his people (a selective group, rest assured)

p.s. If there are any birthday wishes, mocking comments, random thoughts, inappropriate suggestions, etc., you'd like to pass along to Justin, reply to this and I'll forward them--unedited--to him. I'm sure he would appreciate them (remember: I said he had a good sense of humor). (I would give out his e-mail for you to reply directly to him, but I want him to continue to like me.)

[Six people replied with birthday wishes for Justin, only two of which actually knew him.]

Thursday, May 03, 2001

Walking Past the Library

(first draft at explaining my place in life and why I'm not using my degree in creative writing as you all would expect)

[email composed 3 May 2001]

As I walked back from lunch to the office the other day, I passed the downtown L.A. library. Reflecting on all the books inside, and on how few of them I’ve read—and how many I continue to not read—I felt as though I had not spent enough of my past preparing for where, on some level, I wish I was right now. Sometimes I think part of what holds me back from exploring writing more seriously is this disparity between what I know and what I think I should know (or at least with which I should have some experience, have some familiarity).

This, on the surface, sounds like an easily surmountable obstacle: turn off the TV, stroll down to the library, find such a book, and sit down and read it. Repeat as necessary. Then write things, invoking this knowledge when appropriate. Astoundingly simple, at least in theory.

The problem (had to see this coming) involves my level of motivation in doing so at this point in my life: I don’t want to do these this, I want to have done it. I fancy the idea of procuring the information, as it does interest me. Unfortunately, the period of my existence when I had time set aside for this sort of activity—school—has passed. So go back to school, comes a response.

Hell no to that! I know one thing, and that is that I’m way too lazy.

I blew it (on so many levels) back in college: I didn’t apply myself well, I didn’t always take what interested me but what fit into my schedule, much of the time I didn’t do more than necessary to get through. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I must have known I would regret these patterns down the road. (Okay, let’s extrapolate that out to make a general statement that I know I’ll regret everything I don’t do, not merely what happened—or didn’t—at a university.)

Luckily, I have amazing resilience, and can get over these feelings of self-disappointment. I only beat myself up for so long before it gets old—at least for the time being—and then I focus on what I do know, on what I have done, on what books I have read, and realize that, relative to a lot of people, I am very knowledgeable. And what’s the point anyway? It’s not like intelligence is rewarded in our society. (It’s certainly not critical for working in high positions of government.) I switch on the tube and look at whatever is on, then the next day I write some stupid little essay about it justifying my lack of change of behavior, and feel smugly content for a while.

However, eventually I do make some changes in my life to improve this situation: I figure out a different path to take walking back from lunch that avoids the library altogether.

one bachelor's degree, nine years of his life he'll never have back