Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Aging Action Star

I would never want to be an action movie star who’s required to go shirtless or display his naked ass on screen. Once success comes, box office doesn’t allow you to age gracefully. All it takes is one sagging man boob or a drooping ass cheek and the career is kaput.

When you’re in your twenties and thirties, you can pull it off. But as the forties settle in and the fifties are lurking in the not-too-distant future, gravity is no longer a friend but a cruel force that laughs at you as it attacks your previously pumped body.

Sure, you could spend hours upon hours at the gym, and eat twigs and kale, but really, who wants to do that when Ben & Jerry is in your grocer’s freezer tempting you in ways kale never could.  

I was recently working on a film project that starred an action hero famous for being shirtless. As we prepped the production, I had the opportunity to be up close and personal to him, and what I saw made me gasp.

There were deep rooted crow’s feet on the side of the eyes and swollen puffy skin-bags beneath his eyes. Botox or some sort of fat injection gave the upper cheeks and forehead a shine in which I swear I saw my own reflection.

One day while roaming the studio I saw him jogging slowly. He was shirtless. There was significant man-boob going on. I was worried if he jogged faster he might give himself a black eye.

This traumatized me. Here was an action star, one of my heroes, not looking like an action star at all, but like an aging man with a trump-like orange suntan. A make-up artist can only do so much magic.

Damn, I thought, we’re nearly the same age. Do I look like that?

That night when I got home I stripped naked to see if my body was like his, worse, or in better shape.

I ran my fingers around my eyes and felt the crevices of little lines. Oh no.

I lifted my man boob and let it go and saw it jiggle. I frowned.

I turned to the side and jumped up and down and saw things shake that shouldn’t shake at all. I yelped.

I stretched my arms up and bent over to touch my toes. I got as far as my thighs. I sighed… and I cried.

My body is like the body of my action hero… aging. 

Luckily, I take comfort knowing I can hide my aging imperfections with baggy pants, oversized sweaters, and floppy hats. 

He can’t. He’s doomed to hemorrhoid and AARP commercials.

All I can say is… thank god I’m not an action star.

Monday, January 23, 2017

It’s Only $1.13 Said the Spectrum Customer Service Rep

Every month my cable bill is charged directly to my credit card.

This past month I upgraded my Spectrum service to add Internet and telephone so when the bill was available I logged on to my account to check it out. One of the line items was an unpaid balance from the previous month for $1.13.

How could this be? It’s an automatic billing from the company so there shouldn’t be any overdue balance. I convinced myself there had to be a logical explanation, and Spectrum customer service would surely know the answer to my simple question with a simple answer.

A few moments later I was speaking person to person with a young man who said he could help me. I told him about my automatic payment and asked about the overdue balance. He pulled up my account and confirmed there was an overdue balance saying it was probably a computer glitch but admitted he didn’t know for sure.

I asked for further explanation.  I wanted to know “for sure.”

He got testy with me and said “It’s only $1.13.” And I said yes, it is, but I want to know why I have an overdue balance when I get automatic billing to my credit card.

He then repeated “It’s only $1.13” but this time in a condescending tone. WTF?

That’s when he said, with emphasis, “Mike, it’s only a $1.13.”

Stop! Stop! Stop!

I hate being called Mike. My name is Michael and on my account it says Michael. Who gave him permission to truncate my name? Not me.

He was beginning to really piss me off.  

Before I could say anything else he said, “What do you want me to do, give you $2 off your next month’s bill?” He attitude was as thick as molasses and I wanted to choke him with a cable wire, but I didn’t only because I didn’t know where he was… in the USA, India, Outer Space?

I opted for the $2 discount on next month’s bill.

You can be damn sure next month I will be checking to make sure I got the $2 refund.

Oh Spectrum… I’m enjoying the Internet/Cable/Telephone package (so far), but your customer service needs an attitude adjustment.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Texting Zombies

Texting Zombies are taking over the sidewalks, the crosswalks, the parking lots, the parks, the streets, the bike paths, the hiking trails, the driver’s seat, the malls, and anywhere else you assume you’d find a person.

They look human – like boys and girls and men and women – but they’re unable to lift their heads up because their permanently damaged neck muscles only allow them to look down at their cell phones. Their stubby little fingers are permanently curled from grasping cell phones too tightly.

How did these Texting Zombies come into existence? For many, all it took was receiving just one text… just one text they answered too quickly… and thus, the addiction took hold. They’ve become the sad link to the de-evolution of mankind.

The other day I drove into a parking lot and was heading down a lane looking for an empty parking space when I saw a man walking towards me. He was in the middle of the lane. His head was down. He stubby little fingers were texting feverishly. I knew I was having a texting zombie encounter of the worst kind.

I kept driving and he kept coming towards me. Closer and closer we came.

I jammed on my breaks. He kept coming towards me… I honked my horn… He casually peered up at me, as much as his neck muscles would allow, and without missing a texting beat he walked around my car and continued on his unaware way.

I should have driven into him, but I was afraid of the damage it would cause… to my car.

It’s scary.

It’s dangerous.

Who the hell is everyone texting 24/7? I don’t know that many people with whom I want to constantly text. And the ones I do, I text when it’s convenient and doesn’t pose a threat to my well-being.  

Recently I was walking out of a parking structure when I saw a young man walking towards the parking structure. The arm of the ticket machine was up because a car had just left. Well… the idiot was so busy texting as he entered the garage – not through the actual walkway but through the clearly warned “this is NOT a walkway” area – that the arm of the ticket machine came down and smacked him on the top of his head.

He cursed and screamed like a spoiled little child, punching the ticket machine. I did the human thing and ran over to see if he was okay. Without looking at me or saying a word, he resumed texting and continued on his way.

I almost pissed my pants laughing at that sad stupid silly self-centered texting zombie.

Texting Zombies are everywhere…  


Monday, December 12, 2016

Oh, Tijuana… Tijuana…

On a recent trip to Tijuana, my first trip ever to Mexico, I was followed by the Mexican police, stopped by the Mexican police, and accused by the Mexican police of smuggling pills.

Let me tell you what happened…

My heart was overflowing with excitement to visit Tijuana. Sure, I was warned by some people about the downside of Tijuana but, not being one to listen to other people’s opinions, I decided to see Tijuana for myself.

Two friends and I drove from Los Angeles to San Diego to catch the train to the Mexican border. While waiting for the train we befriended a man from Vancouver who was also making the journey into Tijuana. He joined us and spent the day with us.

We spent the afternoon wandering, talking to people, eating a nice meal, enjoying Mexican coffee, listening to live music, and as evening descended upon us, we went shopping for coffee beans (Veracruz coffee…. Delicious!), and then jumped into a taxi for the ride to the border. What we didn’t know is that the police were following us.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

We hadn’t driven more than half a mile when we were stopped by the police. I assumed the taxi driver was getting a speeding ticket. He stepped out the taxi and talked to one of the officers.

Seconds later there was a tap at the window. I rolled it down. The other officer asked me if I spoke Spanish and I said no. I rolled up my window. I thought nothing of it…

The officer tapped on the other window and my friend who speaks Spanish spoke with him. Because I was in the front seat and my friend behind me, the officer positioned himself so his hip was in my window where I could prominently see his gun.

Then I heard my friend telling the officer what we all did for a living. Then I heard the word “farmacia” which I knew meant pharmacy. This was followed by questions about what we bought and where we went. 

About 20 minutes later, the driver got in the taxi and we sped away.  He drove us directly to the border and walked us to the gate. I said, “muchas gracias.”

It wasn’t until we were at the gate that my friend said the cops accused us of embezzling pills from the farmacia and said they had video to prove it. What?!?

It was a shakedown for money, but somehow, and we don’t know why, the police let us go. No bribes were paid.

I can only imagine what would have happened if the police pursued their false claim… Would they have planted pills in my backpack? In my coffee beans? Would we have been sent to jail? Prison? Would I have become the bitch of Cell Block 7?

It was quite the (scary) adventure and one that I will remember forever.

And yes, I still love Tijuana.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Fox Eyes and a Whale Heart

I love all types music and because of social media I’m able to discover new artists I would never have discovered otherwise. 

As 2016 comes to a close, I keep thinking about some of my favorite music this year and the one CD I keep coming back to for repeated listens. It’s Fox Eyes, Whale Heart from indie singer/songwriter Bobby Jo Valentine.

I first came across Valentine through social media. A link to one of his videos popped up and I clicked on it. It was the song “Fly” and it hooked me with its powerful message.

I ended up buying his first few CDs.

From the CD Home came the delightful “A Hand to Hold” and my favorite “Come Back to Bed” which is pop music at its very best, and should have been a radio hit.

His latest CD Fox Eyes, Whale Heart is chock full of beautifully crafted songs.

I could go on and on about my favorite ones… the title track, Carry Me Away, Lion in the Summer, Sing Along, but I won’t. Instead, I’m posting videos for you to see and listen to for yourself.

It’s fun to watch new favorite artists continue on their musical journey. They become “ours” and we watch them develop and grow and we listen to them and we share their music for everyone to hear…

Keep your fox eyes focused on the beauty underneath
Keep your whale heart open
That is all you really need
To love life…
To love life…  

It’s one of my favorite CDs of the year.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Dog Squatting on the Boulevard

Sometimes I wish I was being followed by an overhead camera so I could share my experiences while I roam the neighborhood.  

As I walked along the boulevard today, I noticed a rather stately woman walking towards me with her little leashed dog trotting beside her. They looked so happy together that it made me fantasize about having a dog of my own. (Mine would be a corgi named Evelyn.) 

The closer we got the stronger the I-want-a-dog pang… my heart was swollen with doggie joy…

When we were less than ten feet apart I readied myself to squat down and pet her little pooch and compliment her on its cuteness.

And just as I was about to squat, so did the dog… and so did the woman….

The dog was squatting to take a shit.

The woman was squatting behind the dog with an opened plastic bag ready to catch the shit before it hit the ground.

I, in the first phase squatting, quickly stood. I wanted to laugh at the absurdity and at the woman concentrating on catching the shit in her plastic bag, but the poor dog noticed me and, by the look on his face, I knew he was mortified.

How would that woman like someone holding a bag under her ass to catch her shit?

I wanted to tell the dog to wiggle its ass so the shit would miss the bag and hit the woman’s hand, but I didn’t.

My doggie joy moment was dumped on. All I could do was walk away, though I kept looking back to see if she got it all…

And she did…

I’ve decided my dog fantasy was a fleeting fantasy. I just know I could never walk the boulevard holding a plastic bag of dog shit.

Instead, I’ll just get one of those 2017 calendars that features cute dogs in cute poses.