The wife and I decided to take the boys to Fire Mountain Grill the other day. It was the day of Terrance's 5K, which he did fantastic in, btw.

The boys were off getting their plates refilled while Tonya and I were eating our meals. Off to my left was a waitress busily placing wrapped silverware on empty tables. She was talking to another waitress. The exchange went something like this.

WAITRESS 1: The exterminator was hear, so I don't think we're gonna have a problem.
WAITRESS 2: Oh, the exterminator was here?
WAITRESS 1: Yeah and I ain't seen any all day. But they're still around, I think.

Okay, what the fuck? Whatever it was the exterminator didn't get can't be fucking good. Especially in a restaurant.

Look it's no secret, I'm not real fond of buffets. Not with all the ones I went to in Arkansas. Watching those inbred, hillbillies ingest large portions of mashed potatoes while smoking their Doral Lights. Ugh.

But I go to them. Most times, the food ain't bad. In fact, more often than not, it's pretty good. And the price is fair too.

That, however, doesn't always apply to Fire Mountain. This place has been a thorn in my side for some time.

As we sat there and continued to eat despitethe "exterminator" fiasco. A woman behind us made some comment about roaches. My wife and I both looked up at each other.

Me: Did I just hear what I think I heard?
Tonya: Yes.
Me: You hear it too?
Tonya: Yes, I did.
Me: Damn it, it wasn't just me.

We're not going back to that place for a long, long time.


The Last Five: Nov. 2, 2006 4:41pm

I'm going to start something here. If I'm near a computer and I've got the stereo, iTunes or iPod going, I'm going to list the last five things I listened to at any given point in time. Here's the first offering:

1. Lord Raise Me Up - Matisyahu (Live at Stubb's)
2. Sweet Child of Mine - Guns n Roses (Appetite for Destruction)
3. Poor Fractured Atlas - Elvis Costello & The Attractions (All This Useless Beauty)
4. Not Listening - Papa Roach (Getting Away With Murder)
5. Heaven - Simply Red (Picture Book)

What are you listening to?


The Differences Between Us

Last night, my wife and I were watching television when a commercial came on. It was for a children's toy that was part chalk board, part speak and say. A neat contraption. I muttered to Tonya that they never had anything like that when I was a kid.

After that commercial ended, another quickly rolled through.

Wife: That was cool.
Me: That's what I said.
Wife: What are you talking about?
Me: What do you mean?
Wife: I don't think we're talking about the same thing.

Rather than continue with the conversation verbatim, let me break it down. The basics about men and women can be easily explained like this.

When I watch a commercial, I watch the commercial for what it advertises or what it says. When my wife watches a commercial and the spokes woman is wearing a particular kind of dress or a blouse, that's what my wife is watching.

I can't think of how many times we're watching the same thing and I comment on what's ON the screen and she's commenting about what's IN the screen.

I wonder what that says about our differences.



Despite the fact that I tend to lean towards a sort of cynicism that would directly indicate I hate people in general, sometimes that's just not the case. A lot of times, I have such hope and love for people. The soul of an idealist still lingers somewhere inside my brain.

That day in September five years ago might have had something to do with that feeling coming up in me again. The way we all came together as Americans, as New Yorkers, to pick ourselves up and to heal our wounds. There are some wounds that will never heal.

I just wanted to post a message, for myself, for anyone who will listen, in hopes that we all start to heal a little bit more.

Their plan failed. We're not running from them; we're running at them.

Peace, love & understanding....


Meeting Bruce Campbell

I've got a bunch of heroes. Martin Scorsese. John Frankenheimer. Shane Black. But there are heroes that don't always resonate with the public. Like Bruce Campbell. He is "Ash" from the "Evil Dead" trilogy.

Recently, my brother text messaged me with great excitement. Most text messages are generally ambiguous, but when it comes to my brother, I can tell. Especially when it comes to something like meeting Bruce Campbell.

So, my brother texts me and tells me, "I'm going to meet Bruce Campbell." I'm in Texas; he's in Buffalo. I'm just as excited as he is.

A few days later, he calls me and tells me all about the book signing and his long conversation with Bruce. I say long because my kid brother, my blood, got me three different books, all autographed by Bruce. And during this time of signing, he had a very cool conversation with him.

I'm not gonna go into the whole thing here, but I will say this. During the conversation, Bruce shared something with him which he prefaced with, "Here's some trivia.."

Apparently, Bruce was persuaded to write his first book, "If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor" by the "PC Guy" from the current Apple advertisements. The "PC Guy" is named John Hodgman and according to Bruce, was the reason for his first novel. Hodgman is a published author (Areas of My Expertise) and a contributor to both the New York Times Magazine and the Daily Show w/John Stewart. How's that for interesting. My brother also mentioned that he worked for Apple. Bruce followed that up with a comment about how he knew all these movie makers, since he was in the "business", and he was the only "idiot" still using a PC.

From the entire conversation, Bruce Campbell sounded just like I'd always hoped he'd be like. What's more, this was his first book signing tour and he still managed to take pictures and sign things that weren't his book. He is and will continue to be one of my heroes and inspirations.


Plush Toy Holocaust

I take the freeway to work most days. Unless there's lots of time to kill and then I take the scenic route.

Most of the ride to downtown is relatively uneventful. But yesterday's ride was cute, yet gruesome.

As I finalize my approach into downtown, I ease over to the lane that leads to my exit. As I did that, I found there were dozens of plush toy carcasses all along the shoulder of the freeway. Dozens of 'em. Well, some of them were just parts of bears or monkeys or clowns. Others lay face down in pools of rain water. They were spread out over 30 or 40 feet.

I'm going to get a picture of it tomorrow. It's too odd to fully describe and too strange not to have a picture of it.

There's an orphanage somewhere with a bunch of crying kids.


Suri Cruise: Tom's Pride & Joy

Suri Cruise is a very special child. This picture obtained by very special, confidential sources is obvious proof. How dare anyone say Cruise was lying about having a child? Just look at this face. How could anyone make something like this up? Obviously, everyone else is lying.

At least, that's what the baby's casting agents tell everyone. Casting for Cruise's Baby must be taking forever.

I look at this photo and I'm afraid. Very afraid.


This blog is...

Classified. Or about classifieds. I love 'em. Not the vehicle ones or the homes for sale or the job ones, but the ones that post things for sale. And the pets.

The paper here has a classification called, 'bargain basement'. I love to browse that every day. I don't know what it is about that. I mean, lots of times, I don't have a need for 'Bucket Seats for Pinto of Bobcat,' but I like to read about them. I don't have a need for 'Reptile Habitat clean and secure w/lamp, new heat pad, 20 gal long,' but it's neat that it's out there.

I don't know what it is about the 'bargain basement'. Someone owned these things and love them for a time and has now decided to part with them. Or maybe they didn't love them. Maybe they didn't even want them. Who knows.

I could use a 'Coke 2 door glass cooler,' but I can't afford it.


Wonders of the world

Examining some of the many features of my new toy, er, I mean, cellphone, I decided to see if it came with any games. I was then reminded of my wife's dismay:

Tonya: Man, this sucks.
Me: What?
Tonya: This doesn't have very good sounds. It doesn't even have any games.

Despite the fact that our original's phone's shelf life was about six minutes, it was still a good phone. Color screen, backlit numbers and relatively decent volume. Our new phones are fucking cool.

They've got a speakerphone, a camera, they came with a headset and car charger AND it's a flip phone. I've always wanted a flip phone. The only thing with these phones is that the service providers want you to buy ringtones and wallpapers and games. So they don't put anything cool on them as default.

The first day we got ourselves one ringtone to help personalize it. The phones also came with these fancy, mock-leather cases that you can clip to your pocket or belt. She put her's on her phone to help differentiate it from mine.

For the next few days we were taking pictures and sending them and trying new text messages and sound and all sorts of stuff.

Anyhow, back to my original rant. I decided to browse through the games available for purchase. I just wanted to see what kind of stuff this phone could do.

They had the obligatory games, like Tetris, but then they had stuff like Tiger Woods PGA Golf, The Sims 2, 2006 FIFA World Cup and even a Family Guy game. On a cellphone.

Anyhow, I browsed around until I ran into one that caught my eye. Call of Duty 2. Now, I played Call of Duty on the PlayStation 2. It was freakin' hard. There's all kind of period weaponry, different ways to attack and a very accurate story line. All in all, it was a great game that I'm sure took a long time to create, let alone play. Here's what the cellphone game boasts:

"Application Description:
Experience the true intensity and tension of war in the most realistic World War II game ever seen on a cellphone."

On a cellphone. Ugh.


You play the hand you're dealt

I didn't bring my lunch to work yesterday, so I took a walk to the Rivercenter mall and their expansive food court.

A burger just didn't sound very appealing, but I didn't have much money. I had relegated myself to getting a Hunger Buster from Dairy Queen, when suddenly I spotted a Schlotzsky's sandwich shop. I looked through the menu and counted all the money in my pocket. I'd be able to squeeze out a sandwich and a drink.

So, I ordered my food and when I got my drink, it had this scratch and win thingy stuck to the side of the glass. I pulled it off and stuck it in my pocket. I didn't figure I'd win anything anyway.

I made the long trek back to the paper, my nearly bald head baking in the hot sun. There were puddles of tourists all over the streets. You can tell the out-of-towners by the sun beaten squint and way their mouths hang open in a sort of "I just had a lobotomy" kinda way.

Anyhow, I got back to work and sat down to eat. Toward the end of my meal, I remembered the scratch-off thingy in my pocket and grabbed a coin.

The game is like a hand of poker. You rub out the top layer to reveal your hand, then the dealer's and then you can see what prize you win. I like to do it all in that order.

So I scratch off my hand. I had to look at it closely because the letters are so small, but I had four queens. Four queens. That has to be a good thing. Then I scratched off the dealer's hand. A full house; 3's over Jacks.

I had to think for a moment whether four queens beat a full house, but I was reassured by a coworker that they did.

At that point, I was fully satisfied I'd won big. I mean, four of a kind is a hard hand to get on one deal. Let alone on some randomized scratch-off game. So I scratched out the prize and what did I find:

"75 cents off your next pizza purchase."

Never has a four of a kind felt like a losing hand.


When It Rains...

Tonya and I loaded up our two boys and hit the open road for Houston a few days ago. Our trip had several levels.

On one level, we were on our way to admit Aaron, our oldest, for surgery at the Shriner's Hospital. The Shriners' organization perform medical procedures free of charge to qualifying families. Tonya has taken Aaron there since he was a wee little knipper. Most recently, we took him there for a procedure to remove some metal hardware from his hip. The following surgery would then correct the alignment of his left leg (which turns inward due to his cerebral palsy). To make a long story short, he was scheduled for surgery on the 27th.

Part two of our trip consisted of taking Terrance, our youngest, to the airport for his summer visit to Arkansas. It also marked a first for Terrance- his first plane ride -a fact that we were reminded of for several weeks, nearly every two to three hours.

Tonya quit her job in preparations for the three weeks she and Aaron would stay for rest and rehabilitation. During that time, I had prepared to work overtime and edit my film. Terrance would arrive in the middle of the month just in time for school.

Our plans had been firmly set in stone.

Part I: Pressure
Tonya has been dreading this surgery for Aaron. The procedure is scheduled to take 3 hours and is wrought with a bit of peril for Aaron. Since he has the use of only one lung (and not a complete lung at that) anything that requires anesthesia is dangerous. He must be kept under constant supervision by physicians who understand his condition and the pitfalls that it creates. It seems unless there's a "Doctor" in front of your name, most physicians won't really listen to anything you have to say regarding the condition of YOUR OWN CHILD. Nevermind the fact that she's gone to school for respiratory therapy. Nevermind that she's made it a point to ask the questions and understand the answers to all of the things that happen to Aaron. Her statements in regards to his condition have been met with some hostility and have fallen on deaf ears. Needless to say, there's been a lot of pressure building in our home.

Terrance is like any normal teenager. Filled with angst. Plagued with deafness. And afflicted with an attention span of a squirrel on speed. But when his mind locks in on something he really wants, he ain't afraid to let you hear about it. I don't know how many questions I've answered about air travel. And how many times I've heard how great his grandma's cooking is and how he listens to her better than us because she's nicer. While I've had her cooking and agree that it is very good, I don't think she'd be anywhere near as nice if she had to live with our son. His grandmother, Donna, went above and beyond and bought Terrance a ticket on Southwest, to and from. She didn't want to have me driving to Houston and then to Sherman to meet her and her husband, BJ. That was an awesome thing to do.

With Tonya having quit her job, our concerns were raised further with my job. As a temporary employee, I wasn't sure if I had any sick days or if any of the days I had to be absent for Aaron's surgery were covered. This would put a strain on us, financially, if the days weren't paid. We didn't really think of that until the time crept up on us to travel to Houston.

At the end, there's my film. I actually did what I set out to do: I finished on time and on schedule. Well, almost. I fucked up the internal mailbox scene twice. And I'd forgotten to record Luis' narration for THE ENTIRE FUCKING FILM. I had to find a way to get done what I had to do before I left. Luis would be gone before I returned and if that happened, the film would be incomplete. I also promised Tonya that I wouldn't talk about the film while we were en route and in Houston. That would be a tall order.

Did I mention that our cell phones were cut off a day before we left for Houston? I didn't mention that, did I? Yes. They were cut off. Tonya and I share a plan with my mother and father on T-Mobile. Apparently, a month or so ago, someone in Dallas opened an account with all of my father's information and then ran up a huge bill. My father has since been in a struggle to obtain information from T-Mobile, who has essentially washed their hands of the entire episode and the incredibly rude collection agency, which has also been less than forthcoming with information on this bogus account.

PART II: On The Road Again
Tonya figured it would be a great idea if we left early Wednesday morning, the 26th. This was good for several reasons. Most importantly, the heat is incredibly bad for Aaron. Secondarily, it would keep all of us cooler to drive in the dark. We also planned to stop for breakfast just before Houston at this place the Shriners' drivers take Tonya and Aaron each time they go to Houston. We left a little later than we planned, 3am, but we were on the road and making good time. Until the rain started. We tried to keep the windows down a little, since the windshield was getting foggy from all the body heat and breathing. Fortunately, the rain wasn't hard and it wasn't constant. Unfortunately, neither was my energy level. I was twice as tired after our breakfast stop and was becoming quite irritable. My condition and the weather, didn't improve much when we finally made it to Houston. Traffic on I-10 West was crawling. There were six or so wrecks on all the highways and byways leading into Houston. I had just enough juice to get us to the hospital.

Upon admittance, Aaron has to go through a few tests (blood, urine, etc) before he can be green lit for surgery. Just as these tests were to begin, the anesthesiologist came and the discussion about Aaron's pulmonary condition began. Tonya tried to explain to them what they would later find out, but there was no doing. They postponed the surgery and scheduled Aaron with a pulmonologist for exams. Knowing we don't currently have insurance, they footed the bill for all of that. And for a hotel for two nights. And for a few meals.

Tonya was angry and rightfully so. Still, we let them do their song and dance, trying to figure our between ourselves how we'd handle the next surgery date. With my job not being secure, we agreed she'd have to come up with Aaron, alone. That's a prospect I didn't want her to have to contend with, but Terrance would also be returning about the same time and his school would then begin.

Somewhere along the way, Tonya strained a muscle on her back. She hobbled around, from place to place in real pain. I had to buy her some back pain meds to help her sleep, but the concrete block beds at the La Quinta didn't help it at all. She was horribly unhappy. It was a chore for her to even get in and out of the car.

We waited for Friday to come so that we could put Terrance on his flight and make our way home.

Part III: People Suck
The ride back would be a trying one. After sending Terrance on his way, we had to make the journey back home. So far, we'd adjusted for all the changes and all the things that had gone wrong. We knew it would be hot and we knew it would be trying as Hell for Aaron. We made our way out of town, hitting a bit of traffic, but feeling confident that once we left Houston our troubles were over.

We stopped a few times and took restroom breaks and got cold water and snacks. After a couple of 20oz Lipton Green Tea's, I had to stop a few more times than I cared to. It was a stop in Weimar, Texas, that broke the camel's back for this trip.

I had to stop and go to the bathroom. Tonya figured it would be good for all of us to do so and get something else to drink. We pulled into a small, non-descript Shell station. After we did our business, we noticed that the store boasted a lot of Pick 5 and scratch-off winners. Tonya thought maybe we'd try our luck and get a scratch off ticket. We won nothing. On the way out, I grabbed another ticket and another tea and got in the car. I took off my Docs and wore my flip flops for the rest of the ride home. After getting in the car and starting towards the highway, we began to hear a very distinctive sound. I knew the sound very well.

Tonya: What's that noise?
Me: A flat. That sounds like a flat.
Tonya: I think you're right.

When we pulled over, I got out to inspect the tire. What I found was nothing more than the most infuriating thing in the world.

If you have children reading over your shoulder, you should have them go to their rooms at this point.

I looked down to see the rear, driver's side tire flat. I thought maybe I'd picked up nail or a piece of glass, but those assumptions quickly left me as I noticed the SIX PUNCTURE MARKS that went around the tire. Six. Some lousy, piece of shit, mother fucking, son of a bitch slashed my tire. Some sorry fuck neck took the time to punch large holes into my tire, not once, not twice, but SIX FUCKING TIMES. And for what? What good would that kind of vandalism do? It's not like spray painting a wall or setting a building on fire or stealing money. All those things might be considered a statement. No, this sorry fuckhead decided that his statement for the day would be to slash MY FUCKING TIRE. His act of rebelliousness would be to ruin an otherwise good tire. To ruin someone else's property. For what? FOR WHAT?!?!?

I was coming undone. And the situation felt as though it got worse. I really didn't, but at that point, a fly could have pushed me over the edge. As I tried to change the tire, the heavy traffic flew by and shook me and the car. Tonya played lookout while I started the process. Some people would move over to the far lane. Other people would try, but traffic would prevent them from doing so. Still others didn't give a shit and would just ride that line and zoom past me and my wife. No one bothered to stop nor did the police or highway patrol pay us a visit. All these things further reinforced what I've always felt about the majority of people: they are no good.

After some struggle with the tire, I managed to get the donut on and we drove into the next gas station to make sure it was properly inflated. We then spent the next couple of hours driving around 50MPH all the way home.

Epilogue: Be It Ever So Humble
Tonya and I were never so glad to see our house. Not to mention our bed. I saw a couple of other people with tire troubles, but there was just no way for me to stop and help them. I thought about it. In the back of my mind, I'd hope that someone had thought about me as they drove by, knowing that might bring some solace to my plight.

We were so happy to be home after such a trying few days. Now we await for Shriner's to let us know if and when Aaron will have his surgery. We've got bills to pay and things we need to do and it just seems like they've asked us to place everything on hold. While I know their service is so valuable to us and that they do such a noble thing by offering it free of charge, I feel like it comes with a few strings. Strings that we must deal with and smile.

In the end, all that's important is that Aaron have the best quality of life possible. With the surgery or without.

And despite how bad the trip was, I was with my wife and my kids. I can't ask for a better gift than that.


Ronald McDonald Must Die

We had day 6 of shooting on my film, "A Matter of Time", today and we went right down to the wire. I had hardly any time to get myself ready for work or to grab something to eat.

I took my son, Terrance, to the store to pick up some pizzas for he and his brother. While there, I figured I'd grab a coupe of those little, double cheeseburgers that McDonalds has on their Dollar Menu.

First, let me just say that I've seen Super Size Me. And I've sort of, kind of, felt the after effects of too much Mickey-D's. Lately, I've been using these little burgers as a substitute for a real meal. They're cheap, they have two paties of what appears to be meat and they can be eaten on the go.

I left my son at the Wal Mart near the house with money to pay for the pizzas, stopped and got those greasy little burgers and made my way. I always get two with no pickles and no onions. They always compensate by adding far too much ketchup. Not to mention that they're greasy as all Hell. They'd slide right out of your hand if it wasn't for the McWrapper. And the fact that the processed McCheese is stuck to the McWrapper.

As I got in my truck and drove away, the smell from the burgers started to make me sick. I mean, I became physically ill. I felt like I might toss my cookies right there in the truck. Just typing this out I have to drink some water and resist the urge to hurl.

But I need to eat something, I thought. My wife gets after me when I don't eat and I get those hunger headaches. I unwrapped a burger, rearranged the McWrapper so I could eat the greasy morsel and took a big bite. I took three before I had to put the thing away. I was going to get on the freeway. I didn't want this to be what the cops told my wife:

Police: Ma'am. I have bad news.
Tonya: (shaken) What's wrong?
Police: Your husband was involved in a collision on the 410. He's dead.
Tonya: (Crying) NO!!!
Police: Ma'am it gets worse.
Tonya: (still crying) How could this be worse?!?!?!?
Police: When we were able to peel him from the steering wheel, he had two McDonalds' 99 cent hamburgers squished against his face. I think it was suicide.

I could feel my arteries hardening as I chewed. In fact, I could feel the grease running through my veins.

When I arrived at the company parking lot and got out of my truck, I figured I needed to finish what I started. I took the bitten burger out, fired it down with great remorse and uttered to myself, "This is the last double cheeseburger I'm going to have." As I passed an alley, I saw a bum sitting the warm shade of a building. I called out to him.

Me: Hey, bub, you want this?
Bum: What is it?

Now, this immediately drew my ire, so I thought, 'Oh, you really deserve this now.'

Me: Food.
The bum thought about it. Bum: Okay.

He just sat there. And since this directly conflicts with how I feel about some homeless people, I launched it at him. It fell near him and he reached out and took it.

Bum: Thanks.

When I got to my desk, I quickly chugged down the remainder of my "sparkling water beverage" which was "mandarin orange" flavored in hopes of washing out what remained of the grease bomb.

If we kill Roland McDonald, could anyone really prosecute us?


The Big Picture

I lifted this straight from IMBD.com. I think it's from Reuters Wire Service.

Poll Shows Moviegoers Are Big DVD Buyers
A poll of moviegoers indicates that 83 percent of those who see ten or more movies per year in theaters also "frequently" or "sometimes" buy the DVD of many of the same movies, the New York Times reported today (Monday). The study, conducted by Nielsen Entertainment, concluded that seeing movies in the theater and at home "are not mutually exclusive occurrences" and appears to boost arguments by theater owners that they would be harmed significantly if movies were released in theaters and on DVD simultaneously. Thirty-six percent said they would skip the multiplex if that were to occur.


What the fuck? These theatre owners are getting their panties in a bunch because if people are given an option of dropping $20-$25 on a brand spankin' new movie or dropping $80 for the same movie they only get to see once and then have to buy all the marked up concession stand crap, people will most likely take the $20-route. Does that logic fail to register?

Listen, I'll be the first to say, I love the movies. I loved them when I was a kid and they were $1.25 for a brand new release. I even loved them when they were $3.75. And loved them when they went up to $6. But at $8 a pop, I have to shell out nearly $40 to take my family to the movies. Then there's the food. A bucket of popcorn is almost $5. Drinks start at $3.25. And there's the overpriced candy. Let's do some math:

Aaron: soda ($3.25/sm), candy ($4/split with Terrance)
Terrance: soda ($3.25/sm)
Tonya: soda ($4/lg)
Me: soda ($4/lg)
Family: popcorn ($4/w/refills)

With tickets and tax added, I'll drop nearly $60 on a night at the movies. SIXTY FUCKING DOLLARS. I'm not saying my family isn't worth the expense. I love them. If I could afford to drop that much at a time, I would do it with a big fat grin. But the key here is AFFORD TO DO IT.

While nothing compares with the feeling of watching something like "Superman Returns" on the big screen, if the prices continue to go up and I'm given the option to buy the movie (which I most likely will anyway), I'll grab the DVD and run.

I know why I go to the movies. It's not the same reason most people go. I go because I'm a film buff. There's nothing that compares quite like watching "Army of Darkness" or "Apocalypse Now" on the big screen. Or some sweeping epic. A western. "Die Hard" was awesome on the big screen. I should know. I saw it 12 times. 8 of those times I paid full price ($3.75).

And you can't always wait for the print to head to Cinemark's Dollar Theatres. There's nothing worse than sitting in those crappy seats, your shoes stick to the floor and the print is worn and wonky. Not to mention the fact that people who go to the Dollar Movies go and pretend that it's THEIR LIVING ROOM. They kick their feet up on the seats, talk on their cell phones and cut up with their friends. Just shitty.

With the advent of better special effects, bigger budgets and two-studio pictures, I've seen the prices of tickets rise by 50 cents every couple of years. And the concessions go up three fold. Before long, you'll have to take out a loan to go to the movies.

It's all a game of numbers. Is Tom Hanks worth $20 mil a film? No, I don't believe so. If less money changes his desire to act better, then he needs to find a different career. Because last I remember, he said that he loved acting because "he got to pretend to be different people." He never said he loved getting bags full of money. Everything a studio does, from working their people till all ends of the night to paying an actor, AN ACTOR, millions of dollars translates to higher ticket prices.

When I was a kid, my Dad would take the family to the movies pretty often. I doubt that they go to the movies at all now. But back then, we were guaranteed to see a new release movie, $1.25 for the late show, then we'd go have pizza. It was only at the movies that I got to have some pop. Dad discouraged soda at home. I'd get my own and a bag of popcorn. I remember the feeling of the theatres then. I got excited when the lights went down and the trailers started. To this day, I hate being late the movies because I love the trailers so.

I'll never stop loving movies. Never. But if I'm given a choice as to where I want to enjoy the movie, I'll pick at home with my wife and my kids any day. Theatres don't have a pause button.


"You Will Believe A Man Can Fly"

Everything comes full circle.

I busted my ass jumping off the side of my house with a towel wrapped around my neck pretending to be Superman when I was a kid. My mother made me the ABSOLUTE COOLEST COSTUME EVER. I dare anyone to beat my mother's costume. She hand made me a Superman costume. From scratch. She even bought me these crazy boots that she later hot glued or adhered red fabric to so that I'd have real boots. My mom fucking ROCKS. She had done it once before when I wanted to be Batman, but that's fodder for another post.

Last night, after nearly 20 years, Superman finally returns to the big screen in Brian Singer's aptly name "Superman Returns."

I've written about this before, but maybe not on the blog. I remember the first Superman poster like it was yesterday. The blue and red streaks shooting through the clouds. And the tag line, "You will believe a man can fly." Say what you will about that movie, but look at the powerhouse cast you had. Marlon Brando playing Superman's father. The great Gene Hackman as Superman's enemy. The then unknown Chris Reeve as Superman. Directed by Richard Donner. Story and script by Mario Puzo. I left there believing I was Superman. The feeling hasn't yet subsided.

I'll be honest with you. I'm scared. And I'm not even an uber geek when it comes to Superman. I never really kept up with the comic books. But when it came to my favorite superhero, hands down, it was always Superman. He died and came back, for Christ's sake!

I've got a bunch of Superman action figures. I try to look for new ones all the time to add to my collection. I try to buy two at a time, so I can take one out of the packaging.

I have yet to purchase the original Superman poster, though. I've been looking around for a print that's close to the original date and that I can afford. Although a reprint would be just as good.

I said at the beginning that everything comes full circle. Superman represents a lot of things to me. He's not just my favorite superhero. Not just one of the first movies that I really remember making an impact in my life. He's a major reason in my wanting to write and direct films. Miles Davis talks about the fire that drove his life. It was in St. Louis and the year was 1944. He'd heard that Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, among others, were going to be playing a small club around the way. He loved listening to Diz and would often play along with records and memorize solos.
He grabbed his horn and went to the venue. While he was there, a man approached him and asked him if he had his union card. He told the man he did and the man told him they needed another horn; their trumpet player had gotten sick. Miles said that at that time, he had been just chewing on everything that Dizzy ever did. He didn't recognize the man who asked him to join the band until they got up on stage and Diz began to play. He then realized who that man was.
He went on, about the Jazz heavy hitters on that stage that night. He said Bird (Charlie Parker) just mesmerized the group. He said they all took turns playing solos, one after another. He said that night he played the best music that he's ever played in his life. Ever. Everything he did after that, he said, was just an attempt to recapture that moment in '44. He chased those notes till the day he died.

I think that you could interpret that several ways. What I chose to read from it is something positive. This torch I carry for film was sparked when I saw a guy in blue and red tights fly across the screen. It wasn't the man, the myth or the legend that got me. It was what he represented: everyone has some super power inside. So we don't have x-ray vision or super strength. Maybe our gifts are intelligence, wisdom or talent. I know that's what make my wife super. She's understanding, sexy, loving and supportive.

I don't know when my gift was planted, but I know what helped it grow. And some 20 years after it sparked my dream, I'm finally going to do what it's asked me to do for more than 10 years. On July 7th, I begin shooting what will be my new film, "A Matter of Time." Even the title seems fitting. This project will test everything I've learned. There have been lots of starts and stops in this journey. Lots of pitfalls. This time, there's only blue sky.

"They are a good people Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. It is for this reason above all, their capacity for good, that I've sent them you, my only son."

You will believe a man can fly.


How Ironic

As I was leaving work a day or so ago, I cut through the loading docks adjacent to the Express-News press. The area I mention is sandwiched between the main offices and the press area.

Walking through there shaves a minute or two from my walk to the truck on most days.

Anyhow, as I was making my way out of the dock area, I happened to glance down to find the classifieds from the paper I got canned from, Rumbo. A truck had just left the docks and ran over it. Greasy, black tire treads were stamped across the tabloid pages.

How fortunate that I should be there to see that. Irony at it's finest.


Brother Ben

My first couple of weeks in Arkansas were pretty shitty. I had removed myself from everything and everyone that mattered to me. It was a tough new beginning.

I kept to myself for a long time. I mean, there was a lot of tension from the locals. Not a lot of Mexicans in Arkansas when I first arrived. I was a drug dealer as far as they were concerned. Slowly, I started mixing more with my coworkers. I got invited to lunch and started exploring the city more on my own.

One Sunday night, the page reader came over to drop a page off at my desk. I can't remember how the subject of the Sopranos came up exactly, but we got to talking about the show. I told him that I'd watched from the beginning. He told me he and some of his friends got together to watch the show after work. Armed with the invitation to his apartment, I went home and grabbed a six pack of beer then headed over to his place to watch the latest episode. That was how I became friends with Ben.

I remember he was surprised that I brought beer. He was even more surprised when I didn't take the untouched beer home. Ben found a lot about me strange, I think.

Over the course of the next few years, Ben and I became close friends. I've met a few people in my life; none of them like Ben. During all the time we spent together, Ben never judged me about anything. He was always there to listen and offer advice. He's a great drinking buddy and a smart motherfucker too. Just an all around great guy. We found out we shared similar tastes in music and film. Not to mention the fact that we both enjoyed good conversation and a good cigar. Top that all off with our love of The Ramones and it sealed the deal.

I'd like to think that we both learned a lot about life from each other. Even though we've only been friends for a short time, I feel like we've been friends forever. I know that there were times where maybe I wasn't the best roommate, but he was forgiving.

Then there was the camera. The man bankrolled my miniDV camera. What can you say about a friend who helps you buy something like that? Shit, even if he hadn't, I've got lots to say about him.

There were times when my world was collapsing around me. He was there to knock a bit of it off my back and help me up. I tried to do the same for him whenever I could.

See, Ben wasn't just my friend. He was my brother.

We roomed together with another one of my best friends, Lyon, at a 5,000 square foot Victorian home dubbed "The Five Points". It was the ultimate bachelor pad. Three movie geeks, two TV rooms and a generous helping of beer. We hosted some great parties and had some great benders together.

We had our weekly drinking night, Thursdays, at a local pub. He and I, Stewart, Jeff Arnold and Lyon. That was our fortress of solitude. Those were good times.

And we took some road trips too. He and I saw Graceland together. We took a tour of the Gibson guitar factory in Memphis. We saw Dylan in Oklahoma City. And we even traveled to Dallas to visit a couple of arthouse theatres and catch movies we normally wouldn't be able to see.

It was his birthday yesterday. Sadly, it's another one I've missed. He's married now. He use to think it wouldn't happen; my wife would always tell him otherwise.

Ben, I wish I could give you more than just these few words. I wish Tonya and I could meet you and Jenny at the bar and share a pizza, a few drinks and a lots of laughs.

But for now, I'll just wish you many happy returns, a long life and lots of love.

Salud, dinero y amor, my brother. I love you.


Thanks Al Gore!

I just wanted to send Al Gore props for inventing the internet. He's brought me hours upon hours of fun.

I want to get to my first find quickly because it will be old and stale by the time I'm done. I must have been living under a rock not to know about this. I can't remember just how I came upon it, but it's quickly becoming my new mantra. What the Hell am I talking about?

Snakes On A Plane

This has become some kind of internet phenomenon. It's spawned all kinds of websites and attention.

Click Here

What's more, I found a great blog from a screenwriter named Josh Friedman. You need to read his Snakes blog. I've become a big fan of his blog.

Snakes On A Motherfucking Plane

Finally, there's a radio show that my brother, Ben, introduced me to.

The Treatment

Elvis Mitchell, formerly a film critic for the New York Times, hosts this show where he interviews actors, producers and directors. The talks are always lively and there's always something cool that you may or may not have known about the machinery that is Hollywood.

There's a lot I could say about these sites. But only one thing could truly sum it all up.

Snakes on a plane. Yeah. Snakes on a plane.


The Cordero Brothers

My brother, Dorian, flew into Corpus Christi to be best man in the wedding of one of his best friends. A week before the wedding, he came to SA and we did our drinking & catching up thing.

As we always do, we smoked a bunch of cigarettes, did a couple of Irish car bombs and sucked down a lot of beer.

After the drinking came the obligatory trip to Whataburger. My wife got up at 6 a.m. and found us asleep on the couch, TV on and Whataburger remains on the coffee table in front of us.

Here's the evidence.


Swing Batter...Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy....

One of the perks of working for the Express-News is that they give us tickets to see the local minor league baseball team, the San Antonio Missions.

I have yet to take Terrance to a major league ball game, but I've taken him twice to see the Missions. He really likes it. We buy a bag of sunflower seeds and both get into the game.

The seats are really good; right behind home plate. We even get VIP parking. Although this last time it proved to be the cause of a near heart attack. We walked out of the third base exit and couldn't find the car. We thought it had gotten stolen. I stopped and talked to a bike cop and found out we'd walked out of the wrong exit. The VIP lot was at the first base exit. Whew.

I never caught anything at a ball game before last Saturday. They were hurling "burritos" from the commentator's box late in the game. I couldn't figure out why they would launch food from a high window into the crowd like that, but as I caught one of these things, it turned out to be a "stress burrito". You know the stress, squeeze stuff: foam rubber. A local Neo-Mexican food place called Chipotle glued a sticker to the bottom for promotion. Turn in the foam burrito at one of their restaurants and get a real burrito. I've eaten there. Good stuff.

Anyhow, here's some pictures from the game.


And We're Back...

It's been a bit of a roller coaster ride these last few weeks. Being dropped like a hot potato by the company who claimed that I was a superstar. RUMBO is not heading down the tubes. All the loyalties have started to go out the window. The one of the founders is heading back to California and will 'remain in some capacity.' That's code for, 'I'm getting out before this thing comes crashing down.'

I'm with the Express-News now. I'd hoped to have been here long before, but I had to take my chances with Rumbo. I'm not upset about the firing. I'm not upset that all our work was diced and chopped and spit back out as some border town rag. I'm upset that we were lied to, from the beginning, and then left to hang from the flagpole until the bitter, fucking end. I gave them my loyalty and my blood; they gave me my walking papers. They tried to run with the big dogs and we paid the price.

To make matters worse, we were lied to in another respect. We were told that the company would do everything possible to set us up with another job. Do you know what that was? It was a shitty letter of recommendation. Shitty. Apparently, my hook into a new job was how "enjoyable he is to have in the newsroom." They never did a damn thing to find me another job. Had I waited for them to do so, I would have starved, lost my house and gone bankrupt. I had to find my own job and I didn't need the shitty letter of recommendation to do it.

Needless to say, my layoff has affect us in many ways. It has set us back in all respects. Tonya's brother was married this weekend and we had planned on trekking up to Arkansas for the wedding, but since I didn't have a job and she couldn't take time off because she was brining in the income, we couldn't go. We've had to tighten the belts in all ways and we've paid the price. My parents, thankfully, came to the rescue and helped us with a few bills and groceries because Tonya's check and my unemployment were just not enough.

Rumbo has now spent 1.5 million in a new advertising campaign to promote the recently reorganized product. They are rehiring designers at nearly $10,000 less. The VP of editorial, one of the founders, has stepped down and will be "promoting Rumbo's interests from California.' He's going to help expand the empire. In the meantime, people are leaving the company like rats off a sinking ship. I'm sure they will inspire a lot of confidence in their advertisers, not to mention their staff.

Shedding the hair was a rebirth for me. The Express-News is a new beginning for me. It's been tough learning all new methods and workflows, but I feel good. I'm doing business and have done several covers already. I know that as my knowledge base grows, I'll get better. I feel a little bit anxious; I want to know it all now so I can rock the house. But as my mentor, David, says, "Trust your instincts and take it one step at a time."

The family is good, healthy and together. We're lacking the wants, but we got the needs. And that's the important part.


Just A Little Off The Top

Well, yesterday marked a wild day in my life. Not only did I let someone other than my mother cut my hair- before you freak out, my mother has been a cosmotologist for the last 35 years -but I shaved my head. Well, almost. There's about a quarter inch of hair left.

It feels good. My head feels lighter and I don't wake up with all this hair all over my face. No more hair ties. No more having to spend 15 minutes washing my freakin' hair. Low maintenance. My best friend, Ben, takes the same approach. I wish I would have done it sooner.

Anyhow, I just wanted to share the news and throw in pictures of the event.

Yes, I took pictures.


For My Peeps!

I don't know what the Hell this Muppet song is called, but my wife got me this for Valentine's Day.



He's in the jailhouse now...

Well, it's a dark day for Terrance. Shit, it's equally dark for me.

Fudge, the slightly skewed Lab mix we got Terrance, bit a kid next door. The child in question, about 10 or 11 years old, got pinched in the back. It was a bite, just not a puncture bite. Fudge's teeth raked across the kid's skin. He drew blood.

The mother was frantic, but when Tonya and I went over to talk to them and see the boy, she started to calm down. Tonya and I didn't have any problem with her anger. She was justified. And we cooperated as much as we could, even in so much as reporting it before the kid made it to the doctor to be looked at.

Of course, the kid's mom said that she'd have to file a report. I knew what might happen then. Fudge would have to be quarantined for about ten days. Sure enough, they served us papers yesterday stating just that.

This morning, Terrance was heading out to catch the bus to school. I had Fudge on the leash, having just taken him out for a potty break.

"You're not gonna wish your dog well. You're not gonna see him for ten days." I said.
Terrance hesitantly approached him and began to pet him.
"I was just heading out, to catch my bus. I might miss it." he said
"Oh, okay." I replied.
I began to lead Fudge back to the crate.
"He doesn't have rabies, right?" Terrance asked with great uncertainty.
"Don't worry," I replied, "he's gonna be fine."
I heard nothing else but the sound of the door closing and him telling both Aaron and I that he loved us.

Before heading off to work, I took Fudge on the ride to the big house. As soon as we stepped off the truck, he began to bark and growl.

He barked at a woman who was coming into the shelter offices. When we were inside, there were three control officers taking a break. One of the three, the second woman, eyeballed Fudge as he barked and growled.

"He ain't happy." she muttered.

One of the other guards, the male, helped me get the paperwork to the cashier all the while Fudge was asserting himself to the officers. The woman he barked at outside, stepped out from a door and began to talk to me. Well, at me.

"He doesn't have to do that. He can be taught not to do that when strangers are near." she said forcefully, increasing her volume to surpass Fudge's barking.

She then instructed me to give Fudge a tap in the ass, with the side of my shoe, each time he barked at someone. After which, I should reward him. Each time he began to growl, she would bark at me.

"Do it now! Do it now!" she'd say forcefully.

So, I did it. It worked. Each time he barked less and less until, finally, he didn't bark at all.

"He's a nice dog, it's a shame he isn't well trained. But it's not too late."
With that, the grey haired stranger was gone.

"Sir, can I tell you something." the male animal control officer said. "If an animal control officer sees you kicking a dog like that, he ain't gonna be too happy."
"I was just thinking that very same thing. They tell us not to hit a dog and she's telling me the exact opposite."

The control officers were very helpful. They told me about muzzles and ways to help stop Fudge from being aggressive. It made the fact that I had to leave him there easier.

We walked to the back of the facility, which didn't smell too great. The officer led me into the kennel and signed some papers, then had me follow him to find Fudge an empty dog run. After finding it, he let me stay with him for a minute or two before he came back with a bowl of water.

The entire time, Fudge was hesitant to approach the water or even get near the cage. And when I got up to leave, he knew it. He began to yelp and bark.

They did tell us we could come and visit. We can even bring treats. But we can't have physical contact. A vet will check on him, daily, for signs of rabies. Of course, he won't show any; he's got his shots. But afterwards, when we pick him up, he'll have to get neutered.

I've never had something like this happen before. I can't say I'm not upset, cause I am. He'll be released on Valentine's Day. Hope the big house don't change him.



Nothing is sacred.
Not dead bodies. Or live ones.
Now, it seems, drug dealers in Colombia are using innocent little puppies to bring their garbage into the U.S.

Heroin In Puppies

Sick fucking people.


We Pay Our Debt Sometimes

I was up one night watching Fuse, back when it was called MuchMusic, on the day that Layne Staley was found dead of a drug overdose. If you didn't know, Staley was the front man for Alice In Chains. Chains was one of four bands (Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Kurt Cobain's Nirvana) to bring the Seattle grunge sound to the mainstream. Just about every music & entertainment channel had run some kind of retrospective about Staley that day.

I was never fortunate enough to see Alice In Chains perform live. I'd always heard that they were one of the best live, rock bands of their era. There were times when I heard Staley sing and thought his voice was just so haunting. Even though I didn't know it at the time, his voice carried with it a great deal of pain. I'm still doing some research on him, to know him better even though he's been gone a while. He died at 34, a tortured soul, an "angry angel." The only time I had ever had a chance to see them was on the Metallica tour that would precede their release of the Black Album. The bill was Alice In Chains, Suicidal Tendencies, Candlebox and headliners, Metallica. Chains had dropped out of the bill before they made it to South Park Meadows in Austin, Texas. They had stopped touring completely, it was said. Reports of Staley's drug use were widely known and most of the people I knew all agreed that the band was done due to it.

But that night, MuchMusic aired a special on Staley that burned itself into my mind. They spoke to several of his bandmates, including Jerry Cantrell, who was shown to break down from interview to interview. It was the evolution of a guy who didn't know what to do for his friend. At first, he was oblivious, almost happy. But by the end, he was stuttering and fearful, maybe even guilt stricken. Fact is, no one knew what to do about Staley. Friends and critics alike all have said that it wasn't something that just came up, they knew it was happening. One music industry insider said, "He's never gonna get off that(heroin) junk." He struggled hard to get clean, from what I read, but it never came together.

I sat there, watching them air clips from their MTV Unplugged special. You could tell from the way his body slumped and the suddenly vacant stare that Staley wasn't well. Inside or out. The voice, even more haunting that before, came through clean and clear. I could see, in the face of Staley, that he wasn't holding on very tight. Another talented soul with a great gift was sent home.

If you've never seen Alice In Chains' performance on Unplugged, you should find yourself a copy.



Yesterday, like a lot of days, I debated on what route to take home. Usually, I take the freeway since it's the quickest way. My trusty truck, Scarlette, downs gas like a frat boy at a kegger. In the spirit of low gas consumption, I usually opt for the freeway, since that saves all those starts and stops.

But sometimes, I'll get on the freeway and the big Lite Bright signs they've posted in certain junctions warn of "Congestion Ahead; Use Caution". With that prompt, I then take the first exit off and take the street. The exit ramp takes me to my street and I just travel down that road until I reach home. The entire ride probably adds five minutes, maybe 10, to my trip home.

Well, yesterday, I decided I would take the freeway. The lit sign didn't warn of any congestion, so I went ahead. Little did I know that after about 10 minutes, I'd be chocking my steering wheel. I should have taken the street.

This afternoon, after waiting for a parent to calm her child down at the checkout line, I decided to take the freeway to work. I like taking the street because it gives me time to think about the work day and plan, but I was running late. Well, I'd be later because there was a wreck waiting up the fuckin' road. Ugh.

It's like Russian roulette but with all the bullets.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that 2/3's of the population of this town needs help.

ONE needs to be sterilized. Don't ask you kid if he/she wants to stop crying. Parents shouldn't need to ask. If you ask me, part of the problem parents are considered to be "soft" and why we lose our kids to "violent" video games and films is because we haven't put our foot down hard enough. 50 Cent ain't got shit on my Dad. He whooped my ass good and, as much as I hated it then, it made me a better person. Granted, you can't just smack a kid for any reason, but if a kid don't respect you for being his/her parent, they should fear you for being just that.

TWO people should be tested to see if they qualify to drive on the freeway. My wife, for example, CHOOSES not to drive on the freeway because it gives makes her nervous. Occasionally, for her job, she might take a stretch, but for the most part, she stays off. And she's better for it. There's a cross section of people who, despite how it makes them feel or how ill equipped they are for it, they get on the freeway. I just have one thing to say: stay the Hell off. I was seriously late for work because of an accident on the 410. Of course, I can see how it might have been cause by two people who might have been a little too sure of their driving prowess.

I guess it's just been a shitty day. Car wrecks, congestion on the roads, computer problems at work and I'm just tired.

I can see the cars on the freeway from my window. I dread the decision I have to make when I get into my truck later. Ugh.


Movie In The Works

I'm having a bit of trouble getting to the end of my latest script. My wife gave me two weeks to complete script and I have about 6 days left. She knows how much trouble I have finishing these things. The pressure is helping, but I'm resisting. Ugh.

I'm also trying to do a mad dash to get my Steadicam fixed, get a new mic for my portable sound mixer and try to narrow down my ideas for the resolution of my lead character's motivations. Not to mention that I've done some internet research on the theme of my script and it's opened up the possibility for this thing to go into a full-fledged feature, which I don't want to do because otherwise I won't get it done!!


I've had some writer's block the last few days and today I just feel like crap. Had some broccoli and cheese earlier that didn't quite agree with me. I chased it with some instant noodles and then chased that with a couple of Alka Seltzers. I feel good right now, but now I'm tired and slightly unmotivated. You'd figure that with living in a deadline oriented job I might be better with the pressure, but I'm just not.

I gotta get it together.

I think this project is gonna be great, once we start shooting. I'm gonna do video storyboards this time. My director of photography and another friend are waiting for me to bust out with the script.

I'm feeling better just typing this out. I think I'm working through my writer's block as we speak. I'll update the progression of this film as it develops. I'm gonna start a blog specifically for a diary of this project. I think that will help me too.

Stay tuned.


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