Debt-Limit Crisis

Visa contacted us recently and informed us that we were about to reach our debt limit, but that we had the option of increasing our limit if we acted before our current limit was reached, which I calculated would be in about two weeks.

My wife told me that we’ve increased the limit before and we should do so again, because we have obligations that we must meet.

I told my wife that I would not agree to an increase in the limit unless we dramatically cut our (her) spending. Fewer donations to charity. Fewer guns and knives for her purse, to be used for self defense. Less spending on frivolous visits to the doctor for her and the kids. Let’s get rid of some of these damned pets.

My wife told me that she would consider making some cuts, but that I needed to agree to make some more money. I told her no way, that would cut into my free time; that if I made more money, she’d just spend it; that making me work more and then taking my earnings away from me was just like taxing the rich; that we needed to “starve the beast.” She pointed out that my income has been flat for twenty years or so and that it’s just common sense that we need more money if we want to continue to live decently with a larger family. She pointed out that in this case, “the beast” was my family.

Did I mention that my wife is African-American? I’m a white guy from Iowa. My wife is a bleeding heart who never saw an undocumented alien she wouldn’t hire to mow our lawn.

“If we don’t get this done,” she said, “I won’t be able to send my parents a little money this month. You know they depend on it.”

“Baloney,” I said. “The day we reach our limit happens to be the day I get paid. We can send them some money and pay the interest on our Visa, no problem. With a little left over for food.”

“What about getting the grass mowed?”

“Tell Jose you’ll pay him later, or mow it yourself.”

“What about our trip to St. Louis?”

“We’ll go to Lincoln instead, and stay with my brother and his family.”

“Your brother keeps using the N word when I’m there. Our children don’t like it. They don’t like it when he uses the half-N word about them either.”

“Babe, I’ll be honest with you,” I said. “If you can’t cut spending, I’m going to go out and find a white Iowan woman who will.”

“I’ve polled the children,” my wife said. “75% of the members of this family have decided to increase our revenue by placing all your belongings on the front lawn and selling them.”

L.A.’s Second-Most-Famous Freeway Chase

A short post to commemorate L.A.’s second-most-famous freeway chase, which occurred on this date, July 18th,  on the Los Angeles freeways and mesmerized TV viewers for hours.

At two in the afternoon, Dennis Hopper left his home. He intended to buy cigarettes and beer, but he was so befuddled by drugs that when he climbed onto his bike and took off, he instantly forgot where he was going.

He entered the Harbor Freeway southbound, which was jammed up. As he weaved amongst the stalled cars, a Highway Patrol unit snapped on its lights and hailed him, ordering him to pull over. He didn’t slow down. The patrolman worked his way to the shoulder but by then, Hopper was long gone.

The patrolman radioed ahead and a KFWB copter picked up the transmission on its police band. By now, Hopper was eastbound on the 10, which was gridlocked. He eluded two CHiP units without even knowing that he had done so. The copter picked him up and was soon joined by copters feeding KCBS, KGIC, and KLAC. At this point, Hopper entered the East LA Interchange, the intersection of the Santa Ana (I-5 south/US 101), Golden State (I-5 north), Pomona (CA 60), and Santa Monica (I-10 west) freeways, which was frozen solid due to multiple fender-benders and the spillage of a load of lettuce into liquid tar from the ruptured tank of an asphalt truck.

Hopper at this point was signing autographs through the open windows of cars. Obscured by upper levels of the interchange, at some point he left the pavement altogether and was picked up in Boyle Heights after he stopped at a convenience store and bought his beer and cigarettes. The clerk called KTLA, having watched the pursuit of Hopper on TV until then. KTLA’s copter was joined by two police choppers and they spotted Hopper just as he was entering the heavy traffic northbound on the Golden State. It was later determined that on this stretch of his journey, he drank the six-pack he had just bought.

Patrol unit after unit watched helplessly as Hopper, smoking and snorting white powder, motored between cars down the jammed 110, back to his starting point. After an unorthodox exit from the road, he roared back to his house, dropped his bike in the driveway, went inside, and fell asleep in his laundry room under the ironing board. Knocking on his door and ringing his bell brought no response. Neither did bullhorns, which caused Hopper’s rich neighbors to protest. The clutch of copters hovering overhead created a terrible racket and the mayor was forced to call them off, after several studio heads read him the riot act.

A warrant was obtained and officers removed Hopper from under the ironing board. He was fined an undisclosed amount for traffic violations and his next movie was a monster hit.

My Wife Gets Some Work Done

My wife insisted on getting some work done. I tried to talk her out of it, but to no avail.

“What if you lose that special combination of features that I find so appealing?” I asked her.

“I’m doing this for me, not for you, buddy. You never look at me anymore anyway.”

She used a clinic in Omaha, which her sister swore by, having had a lot of work done there herself. My wife was away for a month, visiting all her family members in the area while she was there.

Before she left for Nebraska, I warned her that if she went through with it, I was going to have some work done too.

“Go ahead,” she said. “It can’t make your face any worse.”

I came home from work the day she got back and found her in the kitchen. She faced me with a smile.

“What do you think?” she said.

“Not bad,” I said.

I unbuckled my pants and dropped them.

“What do you think?” I said.

She let out an ungodly shriek and took a step back.

“Get that thing away from me!”

A Trial Gone Wrong

Monday: You know that woman who killed her child but the jury let her go? Rumor has it that they’ve moved her into the empty repo at the end of the block.

Tuesday: No sign of the press, which is good. Of course, all the kids on the block have been forbidden to go near the murderess house. Folks walk their dogs on the other side of the street. I may walk past later.

Wednesday: The mailman says she doesn’t take in her mail, which is all junk anyway. He says he won’t deliver any more till she takes it in.

Thursday: She doesn’t water the lawn or anything. No car. Mrs. Jones says that she thinks her cat may be missing but isn’t sure. Mrs. Ramirez says she thinks she heard a scream in the night.

Friday: Rumor has it some kids snuck over and peeked in the windows of the murderess house last night. It’s vacant. I guess she moved out.

Flag Stickers

Whenever I see an American flag sticker in the window of a car lately, I’ve been asking the driver why it’s there. The results so far:

3 – Have a son, daughter, or spouse in Iraq or Afganistan.

8 – Want to show that they’re proud to be an American.

12 – Donated to a conservative campaign.

5 – Donated to Sarah Palin.

6 – Asked me why I wanted to know.

1 – Asked me where I was from.

1 – Told me to go f**k myself. (Also had a Dixie flag sticker.)

I Spill the Beans

I  spilled some pinto beans on the kitchen floor this morning. I missed a few when I cleaned them up and my wife later stepped on them, slipped to the floor, and hurt her foot.

“Do that again and it’ll be Beanogeddon,” she said.

“At least it won’t be a Pintapocalypse,” I quipped.

“Beanogeddon would be worse for you.”

“A Pentapocalypse would be a total disaster for both of us. I’m not talking about the revelatory aspects of the word here, just the common meaning that it’s taken on. Meanwhile, Beanogeddon would just be a big fight.”

“A Pentapocalypse would be me falling again and breaking something. Yes, a disaster. Beanogeddon would go more like this.”

“Ow! Hey! Lay off!”

“You’re on Mount Megiddo, Babe. Get those dukes up. It’s the end of the world.”

“Ouch! Stop it! Ok! Ok!”

“Beanogeddon is over,” my wife said. “The good guys won.”

Guest Post: Representative John Jakobs

Hello. I’m John Jakobs, your representative from District 51. I’d like to thank the blog administrator for providing this opportunity to me to speak to you.

As you may know, if you’re a resident in my district, the special election is upon us, and I’d like to take a minute of your time to ask for your vote.

Who to vote for? That’s what we ask ourselves. There is only one way to decide. You must dialog with the candidates and make your choice based upon their views, their beliefs, and their values. And their promises, of course.

That’s what I am now offering you. My beliefs. Write to me, email me, post a question on my wall, tweet me, call me on the phone, fax me. Track me down like a dog. Use whatever method you must to contact me with your questions.

And what are your questions? Let me give you an example. You probably know that 99 out of 100 reputable scientists support the view that the Earth is warming, as a consequence of human activity and to the detriment of all living species upon the planet, except the bugs. One scientist out of a 100, on the other hand, often branded as a nut, cries out in protest and denial, warning us of a monumental hoax, of junk environmental science. Which do you believe? The 99 or the 1? Contact me and state your view. Make your case and I’ll explain my beliefs on the matter to you as well. If we are in accord, take that into account when you vote.

There are those who say that government is the source of all our problems, that the smaller the government is, the better, and that the lower our taxes, the better for the economy. Others argue that in this time of globalization and environmental challenge, we must rely on our government to assure equity in the polity and reasonable control over capitalist practices. Tell me what you think and I will then agree with you, or try to convince you of a truth other than your own.

Another example: some believe that undocumented immigrants in this country contribute substantially to our industrial productivity and deserve a life of dignity and a clear path to naturalization and citizenship. Others would load the illegals, or “wetbacks,”onto boxcars by the millions and haul them back to Mexico and dump them there. Where do you stand? Let’s discusss this, one on one, mano a mano.

I could continue. What about the LGBT issue? Or as others would have it, the practices of homosexuals, or “homos”? What about taxing the rich? What about abortion: a woman’s right to control her own body or bloody murder? I have my views. Perhaps they’re the same as yours. That’s why I want to “get inside your head.” Reasonable people can disagree, but to garner your vote, it’s probably best if I agree with you.

I’m guessing, in fact, that you and I agree on just about everything. It’s just a feeling I have. Contact me and let’s find out.

Thank you.

Choose Me (1984)

Watched Choose Me again the other night. Still love it.

Alan Rudolph wrote and directed it. How I think it happened:

Alan is sitting in a bar in Hollywood, waiting for someone like me to show up and drink with him and talk shop. He draws a diagram on a bar napkin. Three men, say, and three women. Each man hooks up with a woman, then they switch around a couple of times, the couples. It happens mostly in a bar like the one Alan is sitting in. The rest of it happens in a house like his house. A Hollywood house with a classic 40s vibe. Alan is going upbeat, technicolor noir. Everybody smokes. If the cigarette still has length, stick it in the corner of the mouth; smoke it down to the fingernails.

There will be a deep ambiguity at the core of the movie, Alan decides, right up front. That’s key. Gravitas and the comic. The hero, the main guy, the lead – perfect for Keith Carradine, he was great in Nashville, Keith with his hair slicked back, what a mug – is either a crazy liar or a f**king hero – I’ll never say which for sure, Alan thinks. First the audience will assume crazy, then hero, then crazy, then hero, then… at the end, we’ll take thirty seconds to rub their collective nose in the ambiguity, so they’ll all go Who wrote that?

The other actors, Patrick Bauchau makes a good bad guy with his accent, John Larroquette makes a good schmoe. The women? Can’t get Sarandon, so cast Leslie Ann Warren as the first lead, and Genevieve Bujold as the second, and Rae Dawn Chong as the young one.

Now I just need Keith to “interact” with each of the women, and the bad guy deals with them too, but he only yells at them or cuffs them onscreen, doesn’t get to smooch them or worse. The schmoe interacts with the lead woman, but only so he can go all hangdog on her for the rest of the movie. Poor man’s Greek chorus, him and Rae Dawn.

Done plotting. No, wait. Keith and the bad guy have to fight at least once.

Now, the direction:

All six actors are reading my lines. I want those lines to stay mine, not become theirs, so they all have to do their readings word-by-word. First audience reaction to this? That none of the actors can act. But nah, that can’t be right, they’ll think. Rae Dawn gets dumped on by the critics sometimes, but the rest are blue-ribbon. It can’t be them. It must be the director pulling the strings. It must be that the movie is like a play, or a musical, or something. Those upbeat-noir colors. That street set. The coincidences. That guy noodling with his saxaphone all the way through. Teddy Pendergrass treating the movie like his own private music video.

And boom, Alan is done, just as I walk up and tell him that I’ll have what he’s having.

Only, I’m not complaining because Alan is a very smart dude and he throws a lot of style up there onto the screen, provides a smooth, hip trip. Plus, I’ve always had a thing for Bujold.

Through Story 3

After I fixed her second flat, Anna parked her bike in my office every morning. I was coming in around noon and at the time and never saw her do it. I’d pass her work area and see her sitting at a workstation in there with the rest of the artists, generating storyboards. I never saw her smiling, but she had a quality that attracted me like a magnet. I made extra trips past the door.

On a Friday, after several weeks of this, I was hurrying back to my office in the late afternoon to balance my drug and alcohol levels. I was having trouble with my head, or my legs, or my fingers. I couldn’t tell which. The uppers and the downers in me were pulling in non-orthogonal directions but I couldn’t think straight enough to know what to do about it. My office door was open and Anna stood just inside holding her bike by the handlebars. She had her helmet on and her pantlegs were gathered up by bike gaiters.

I nodded and pushed past her to my desk. I felt her eyes on me.

“How are you?” I said over my shoulder. “I’m just…”

She was wheeling her bike out the door. I fumbled with my keys, trying to unlock my desk drawer while looking back at her. She pulled the door shut after her, with a click.

I lined up my pill bottles on the desktop and unscrewed their lids. How to proceed? I fished out a bottle of Jack Daniels from the drawer.

The phone on my desk purred.

“What are you doing down there?” Aaron said, when I picked it up. “Get back to the stage. Brad is ranting at the crew. Help him out. Help them out.”

“I’ll be there in a minute.”

“You’ll be there now.”

He hung up.

I dithered, took several deep drags from the bottle, and left it at that.

“I can’t say these lines,” Brad said to me when I got back.

“You can’t say Don’t go. I love you?”

“I can say Don’t go. I can’t say I love you.”

“Why not?” I said.

“This guy wouldn’t say that.”

“Well, then, just say Don’t go. Say it like you mean it. Say it like it will make her stop. Say it like you mean you’re in love with her.”

“I need more than that. Give me some words.”

“Don’t go. I… I’m hungry. Make my dinner first. Don’t go… I’m horny. I need you. That’s it, Brad. Don’t go. I need you.”

“Nah. He wouldn’t say I need you, either.”

“I want you?”

“No.”

“Don’t go. Stay.”

“Lame.”

“Don’t go. I… I have something to tell you.”

Brad perked up.

“Ok,” he said. “Now then.”

“So she hesitates,” I said. “She doesn’t look back but she says What?”

“Yeah,” Brad said. “And then what do I say?”

“You say, Come back in here. You say it strong. She comes back in. She says What? again.”

“Yeah? And?”

“And you say, I love you.”

“Oh for Christ’s sake,” Brad said. “Get the f**k out of here, will you?”

Later Aaron came down to my office.

“Miramar Palms,” he said. “I won’t take no for an answer.”

“I’ll write him the damn lines. I’ll do it right now. I’m feeling better.”

“Too late. He could see the shape you’re in. I can see the shape you’re in. Everybody can see the shape you’re in. It’s a useless shape. I can also see into that open drawer. Your visit to Miramar will be the studio’s treat.”

“I can’t go back there, Aaron. It almost killed me last time.”

“I’m driving you over there now.”

“Just like that? Without a suitcase? Without a toothbrush?”

“They’ve got plenty of your stuff from last time. You room is ready and waiting. It’s all set.”

I was already sweating. I reached into the open drawer and opened a random bottle and took out a couple of capsules and swallowed them. I picked up the Jack Daniels and drained it.

“That should hold you till we get there,” Aaron said, “barring traffic on the 405.”

“Tell the woman with the bike she can still  keep it here,” I said, handing him the key to the door.

Pinchas the alien

I’ve written previously about Amos and his sister Fruma (here and here). They’re aliens from another planet who work on contract at Universal. I forget how I know that they’re aliens, but there is no doubt in my mind that they are.

I don’t see Fruma much anymore. I asked Amos about her and he told me to forget her, and I feel as if I have.

Amos is a lot of fun to hang with and I asked him to point out others of his ilk.

“There are a number of alien tourists working in Hollywood,” he said, “but they aren’t of my ilk. We aliens all look human here, but back on our individual planets, most of us are just plain repulsive. It’s one more reason we like to spend time on Earth. Back home, drunk or not, you don’t want to screw a two-ton cockroach. Especially if she lives in a public toilet.”

“You’re highly evolved,” I said. “Why would you be replusive?”

“Humans are simple. Two of this, two of that. One schvantz. Smooth skin unless some hair on the back. On my planet, oy vey. Three zayin, minimum. Can you imagine three different painful STDs at once, caught from a damned roach? Evolution. Don’t get me started. Everything gets mixed in, the bugs, the birds, the frogs, you’ve got parts you don’t know what they’re there for. Like those old VCR machines here on Earth, with the knobs and the dials and the God knows what. Good riddance to VCRs.”

Amos introduced me one night to a guy named Pinchas, who was working as a compositor at MGM. We were over at the Power House on Highland, drinking caipirinhas on a hot night.

“You a tourist too?” I asked the guy.

“Damned straight I am.”

“Amos was telling me that you all appreciate the simplicity of the human body,” I said.

“It’s true. A babe has two breasts, in most cases. Genius. One isn’t enough. Three isn’t necessary. You play with one, then play with the other, go back and forth. Of course, here in Hollywood there is way too much gel, but once in a while you’ll turn up a natural pair… But you know what? It’s the simplicity of the human mind that I like most.”

“How so?”

“On my planet, I’ve always got nineteen things at once on my various minds. Whereas, look at you. One brain. A silly smile on your face. Your race strolling toward the cliff of racial oblivion and what are you doing tonight? Cocktails? A couple of lines on this napkin? A joint or two out in the lot? Close the place with a pitcher of beer? Genius.”

“Hey,” I said. “I’ve got a lot on my mind. I’m a worried man.”

Pinchas laughed. He drank. He banged his fists on the table.

“You’re sooo primitive,” he said. “Most of your urges and motivations and worries and fears are located in your unconscious. In your unconscious! You don’t even know what they are. You don’t even know that they’re there. My God, what I wouldn’t give for an unconscious. Can you imagine what it’s like being conscious all the time? Do you know how much booze and weed and crank and shit it takes to shut down my f**king conscious? Just take a hammer to my head. The last day on Earth and you’ll be sitting in here laughing at that joke about the bunch of bananas and the lonely doughnut.”

I reached over and conked him on the top of his head as hard as I could with the side of my fist.

Pinchas groaned.

“Yes,” he said. “Yes. For a second there I almost felt human.”