All in all, the year was jam packed with all sorts of activity. It wasn't a bad year... or a particularly great year... but a reasonably good year.

Old friendships were rekindled... new ones made... some redefined. Hellos, goodbyes and everything inbetween.

I can feel yet another stage coming on for me. I'm not sure where this one will take me... but I am assured that it will be an adventure nevertheless.

My Thanks to all of you who have shared your time with me. Your presence in my life has made me all the richer for it. Looking forward to 06!


Have a Happy & Safe New Year!

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... of the year and there still seems a lot more to do. I actually got to go out to a couple of movies this week... and I may just take myself out for another today. It's actually one of the few times of the year that I have the luxury of time to do this. The last time I actually went out for a movie was sometime last year. Even though the "home theater" is fast becoming the norm, the communal experience in a darkened theater is still quite special. Of course there are still movies being made that really should be seen in all their glory on the big screen. There is also nothing quite like the magic of these flickering images being projected onto a screen. Oh, and the movies that I caught were Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as well as Memoirs of a Geisha featuring 3 of my favorite Asian actresses.

For those of you who dropped by to check out the HNT yesterday... Thanks for stopping by. I'm looking forward to seeing what the New Year brings... though I do have a few ideas. ::sneaky snigger ::

I actually got to Skype with my friend Kien in London yesterday. If you haven't tried out Skype... you should. For one... it's free... and the sound quality is really quite good. There is also a beta version that allows you to video chat in real time. Good stuff!

more later...

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This continues my review of the year from my last 2 posts. If you are here just for the HNT... slide on down to the end of this post for it.

On Blogging
I explained blogging to someone once as "a virtual daily meeting at the fountain of the town square"... and I still find that to be true. I began blogging in March purely out of curiosity. I figured that it would help me get my writing chops back. In the beginning there was a small pod of friends who were also blogging and we would comment on each other's blogs. (This included my long lost cousin, lelly, who I haven't seen in 36 years.) As time has rolled on some have continued posting regularly and some haven't.

As I continued writing (on my own blog) and reading other blogs (there are a great many I enjoy reading everyday) I began exploring blogging as an Art Form. Afterall, it is a form of expression... so, why not? I have been most satisfied with my HNT and Picture Daze posts. HNT for allowing me to attempt a virtual theatrical form and Picture Daze for helping me chronicle snippets from my life... past and present. (Incidentally, you can find all those posts linked in the sidebar.)

General Observations: 1.) Blogging can be bloody addictive. 2.) Kinda like life... bloggers float in and out of yours. 3.) I have revealed quite a lot of myself through my blog... which I really don't mind! I think I will continue blogging. For those of you who have visited... THANK YOU and hope you visit again... soon!

On Half-Nekkid Thursdays
I ran across Aughra's blog while I was surfing and saw my first HNT. I followed the links and discovered a whole slew of bloggers participating. I chatted with SSM about it and decided to throw my hat into the ring. What it did for me was widen my sphere for a potential audience. After posting the first few... I finally realized that this was also an execellent opportunity to REALLY explore blogging as an Art Form.

The Great Emperor Os deserves all the kudos for starting (and maintaining) this delightful insanity. I am enriched by all the wonderful people I have met through HNT. Let's continue mutually visiting for a long time to come!

My Favorite HNT post
Os has set a theme for today. Coincidentally, I had been planning to do this anyway... so here goes. To tell you the truth... I do like all the ones I have posted. (It's an old playwright code - if you don't like it, don't expect others to love it.) Yes, I've had a tendency to post the "epic extavaganza HNT". If you haven't noticed already... I love playing around with genres. For instance "old monster movies" with the Franken-HNT, or "cooking show" with Half-Nekkid Chef, or "graphic novel ala Frank Miller" as in Adventures Of Jimmy.

I chose this one mainly because it was the first in the epic style and paid homage to one of my favorite genres... the detective noir. Also, I got the idea at 4 PM and a series of fortuitous events occurred (including my friend, Dragonfly making a surprise visit) that allowed me to take the original spark I had and realize it in complete form within a short span of time. From writing to photoshoot to post (and a little photoshopping in between) ... total time under 2 hours. My favorite pieces have always been the ones that were fast and furious. When I am in that "zone" of creating... there is no feeling in the world like it! I also think that the marriage of all the elements (text, music & pictures) work really well. And... it's bloody silly... hell, it still makes me laugh out loud!

So, without further ado... here it is as it was originally posted Sept. 21, 2005

I'll be attempting an "audience participation" HNT this week. (Warned you I'm a theatre person, didn't I?)

What is HNT? Click on the nifty button on the sidebar to find out.

To enjoy the full effect of this you need to:
1. Click the music on.
2. Read the post out loud in a detective noir style. Guys try your best Humphry Bogart, ladies... try your best sulty Kathleen Turner.

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It was one of those late Summer afternoons when the mating habits of flies on a crusty canine turd seemed like the only game worth laying bets on. The only thing on my pith encased noodle was an HNT post that was due and I didn't have a doodle of an idea what slimy form this week would take.

I was sippin a vodka mango between puffs of a coffin nail when I eyeballed her slow, swaying, bounce saunter up my driveway. She was built like a guitar waiting to be strummed by a one handed gypsy who worked nights in a piston factory. The curvy shadow at the door knocked twice and let herself in.
"I want in on this HNT thing." she purred from her smoky lips. The moment I heard that I knew this "demando doll" was more trouble with a capital T and looking for more.

"Not so fast, sweet cheeks. What makes you think I have any idea what you're talking about?"

She sat down and the surly upturned curve from the corners her ruby pucker suckers told me she knew. She grabbed one of my Javanese shadow puppets and toyed with it like a blind rabbit playing a skunk in heat.

"I've seen your "thang" on Osbasso's list."

"My thang?"

"On Osbasso's list. I want in."

She of course was talking about that Maverick from Montana who ran the slickest skin sensation this side of Harry Connick's junior. She knew that I knew and that she had me by the curly-q-fries in hot boiling lard but I still wasn't gonna roll over like a five dollar hooker with a ten dollar habit.

"O.K. suger thighs, what do you have to show for it?"

She whipped off her silky pink blouse like a Siamese schucking mangos on the Mekong.

"How about these?" she teased, working the smoke maker between her fingers like a busty latina rolling the tightest chimichanga in a 99 cent border cantina. "I want to see what you got to show, big boy... and I want it in color!"

I warned her, "It's long and it's dark."

"Go ahead. I like being scared." she mocked.

I took it off and let it down. I turned to look and her full rubies quivered like a bowl of jello in an old folks home. She thought I was some surburban palooka with a hankering for a champagne colored SUV but found an orangutan in 501's instead.

All she could say was, "What conditioner do you use?" It was over and she broke.

But her breaking broke me. This old boy scout was about to learn some new knots to tie and some new tents to pup.

When it was over we were done and the score was even. She walked away into the evening leaving this shmoe wanting for more. So, it goes. It's a crazy business but someone's got to do it. As she faded off down the driveway I heard her say, "Happy HNT, hair man."

Special thanks to my friend Dragonfly for joining me this week and making this HNT possible.

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EDIT: Looks like I'm hitting 20,000 today. Check the counter (way below) to see if you're "it" and comment to let me know!

Continuing in this week's series of reviewing the year I am trying to simply state my observations. My intent is neither to point fingers nor to be smug. Whether these actions were committed by me or others, these lessons I have found valuable in my continuing education of life. We learn through example, through victories and through defeats. The trick is to recognize, acknowledge and hopefully learn. That being said... let's continue...

Significant events that moved/affected me this past year.

Pope John Paul II passed away this year. Now here was a man of substance. He was an actor, playwright, resistance fighter and priest. I may not have agreed with everything he said or did... but I respected him for his thought, faith and conviction that we could all be... better. He reached out to teach and inspire... for that I am grateful. The funeral was moving and awe inspiring in the celebration of his life and work. For all intents and purposes I am a lapsed Catholic (at best) but I regarded this man (as I do the Dalai Lama) as a total "Dude"... simply because he never stopped trying.

Observations in life
Several in my generation and age group have stopped living.
It's a troublesome observation I have made this year. I'm not talking about dying in a physical sense... but more in an emotional and spiritual way. It's almost as if on their journey through life they have come across a wall and are unwilling to climb it to find out what is on the other side. There is a comfort in their unhappiness and going with what they know instead of facing the challenge and being open to more learning. It's almost as if these individuals (many of whom are enormously talented) have simply given up. Sure, I too on occasion wallow in self pity... but if I ever give up... please just put a gun to my head and put me out of my misery.

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EDIT: I may hit the 20,000 mark on my counter this week!
Last week was my "slug time" of my 2 week vacation... this week the "nose to the grindstone" part begins - work that's unrelated to my employment. Oy, I say!

The rest of this post goes with the post below. I will list one or two as the week goes along.

Significant events that moved/affected me in the last year.

Today marks the one year anniversary of the Tsunami that hit SE Asia. The devastation was on biblical proportions and the human animal was forced to realize and be reminded (again) that we are really not in control of anything... except ourselves. Yet within all of that, there emerged heroic stories celebrating the human condition... that our greatest accomplishments are the ones where we give of ourselves to others.

And now I have also been reminded how forgetful we can be. Even though the devestation affected the region of the world I was born into... I myself was only reminded of the Tsunami while watching the Sea Gypsies segment on "60 Minutes" last night.

Lessons in life

Issues from one aspect of our lives spill over to "infect" and affect all other aspects of our lives.
The adage "Don't take your work or problems home..." is easier said than done. If there is an unresolved issue it will permeate and color your behavior outside of the "situation". The solution? Try to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.

You cannot expect honesty from anyone unless they are honest with themselves first!
Everyone has their "best intentions" but until a person is prepared to be honest with themselves first, all those "best intentions" will not bear fruit. On several occasions I have seen people get caught up in the moment and promise the world... only to "flake off" seeing "it" through... whatever "it" might be.

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It's the dance of life, isn't it? This time next week we enter into a New Year... new beginings... new hopes... new opportunities... and new lessons to learn.

I just don't do resolutions. Instead I do a review at year's end about what I have learned. It helps remind me how far I have come and if I have applied what I have learned from the year before. Some things I've had to relearn... some are brand new... and some have been sharpened even more.

So, that's what you get to look forward to this week. Impressions, perceptions, lessons learned and perhaps even some of my favorite postings from this blog as well.

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To Everyone out there... may the season bring Joy & Peace to You and Yours!


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And this will end this short series for the season. Check the 4 posts below for other seasonal movies.


Sure this is not the standard "feel good" movie for the season. (My other choice was "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence") Think of this one as the "Orwellian Christmas Carol" or "Cratchit Flips Out!". The movie uses Christmas as a backdrop which is why I picked it. Hey, not all of these HAVE to be feel good.

The first time I watched it a "heated discussion" ensued outside the theater over the ending. My 2 movie companions thought it was depressing and I thought (and still think) otherwise. I suppose my perception that we are only truly free within our minds has a lot to do with my view of this film.

The visuals (even by today's standards) are stunning. The effects were all achieved in the old pre-cgi days and is a visual feast. Now there are 2 versions of the movie. There is the Terry Gilliam cut and the other (more "optimistic" version... and shorter) cut by the studio under Sid Sheinberg. There is a whole convoluted story over the controversy surrounding the making and release of this movie... but you can read about that elsewhere. (BTW watch Gilliam's cut if you can... unless you own the Criterion box-set that has both versions.)

The world that Gilliam creates morphs designs from the 1940's with technology of the late 1970's. Part of the fun of the movie (if you've never watched it before) is figuring out when reality slips into fantasy in the plot. It does have it's flaws but I still love this movie. All in all a strange pick, I know.... but think about it as the savory dessert to a super syrupy dinner.

Favorite Scene/s: The whole damn movie!

Sexiest Scene: The bedroom scene with Kim Greist. (Is this fantasy or reality?)

Click here for the song that permeates the entire soundtrack of this movie.

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Had another meeting tonight so, couldn't do the gift thing as per Os's instructions. To all you bloggers and especially the HNT crowd... Have a bloody great one!

Now for the seasonal movie post for today...


The first time I watched this movie I was instantly transported back to my own childhood. Strange, considering I grew up in a tropical (equatorial, as my teachers would often insist) climate halfway around the world. So, how could this movie about a kid living in the snowy Mid-West (based on the stories of Jean Shepherd... who also wrote the screenplay and narrates) have anything in common with me? Everything!

That's part of the magic of this movie. The hopes, fears, expectations and vivid but earnest fantasies of Ralphie cuts across cultures and time. His obsession with the Red Ryder BB gun is similar to mine at aged 7 with an 8mm movie projector that I so desperately wanted for Christmas that year. I lobbied my parents HARD for it... only to receive lukewarm responses (at best) from them. I fantasized about how I would set up movie screenings in my neighborhood... and be hailed a hero for doing so. In one fantasy Julie Andrews (who I had a severe little boy crush on) shows up as I'm screening "The Sound Of Music". She is so impressed that we drive off in her limo to the local A&W for chocolate shakes and curly-Q-fries. As a result my own celebrity status is so supreme that people point to me and speak in hushed tones wherever I go. All of this would and could happen if I only had that projector! Alas, that Christmas I got my first bicycle (with training wheels) ... and forgot all about the projector. Santa brought me the projector following Christmas... problem with the mail, I think. I was over my projector obsession but still delighted to receive it and often screened the 4 reels I got (over and over again) under my bed.

Yes... I love this movie! So much so, I've been tempted to buy this on several occasions. Afterall, I did create this when I was younger... and it is a "Major Award"! It's ELECTRIC SEX, I tell ya!

Favorite Scene/s: Once again there are lots and lots... here are a few: 1.) The whole FRA-GEE-LEH scene never fails to bust me up. 2.) Tongue-on-the-frozen-flagpole scene is so totally true! 3.) The singing Chinese waiters with severe "R" and "L" substitutions.

Sexiest Scene: OK... Raphie's teacher is kinda hot... especially in that witch costume. Woof!

For more on this series of "seasonal movies"... check my last 3 postings.

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And the seasonal movie post for today is... (drumroll)

A Christmas Carol

This particular version (1951) is the one I recommend. I have seen several other versions and it is still this one that I always come back to. I like the version with Patrick Stewart for the design elements... and the fact that for the first time I think they got the Ghost of Christmas Past right - the whole cgi morphing young or old asexual quality. However, it is this one with Alastair Sim that speaks to me. For more detail, read Zonthar's recent post on this old chestnut.

Now, I do have a bit of history with this story... only because I had to adapt it for the stage several years ago. This was a couple of years after I had played the role of Scrooge in a musical version to Zonthar's Marley. (We have since reprised our roles several times in "our" version.) In an attempt to get out of playing the part in the musical version (yeah, I'm a theatre person who hates acting) I tried to scare me off the director by suggesting that I play Scrooge as a Jew. Of course I wasn't serious... I was just trying to get out of the gig... and what better way than to suggest something controvertial for a "family show". I justified this by explaining that 1.) He is the only kid who doesn't go back home for Christmas holidays.... hmmm... 2.) Dickens was probably doing a take on Merchant Of Venice...Scrooge is a money lender like Shylock... he even cites Shakespeare in the opening paragraph... both their names begin with the letter "S".... hmmm... hmmm... 3.) Disraeli, Fagin, yada yada... hmmm... hmmm...hmmm... it didn't work. I did the show and at final dress blew a touching monolog in the end by calling Marley... Bob. (There was also a curtain call where my shirt-tail stuck out of my fly from a not so perfect "quick change" backstager... the applause that night was thunderous BTW.)

Several years later, after reading over 40 odd scripts I decided to undertake the task of adapting it myself for the stage for my theatre company. (We needed a "money show" that year!) I hated the fact that almost all the versions were staged as a "pretty Victorian" drama. WTF??? (Have these people forgotten that Dickens wrote Oliver Twist, etc???) Upon reading the original story and doing some research (including snippets from Dicken's journals) I set it in industrial revolution England - not a pretty time. Workhouses, pick-pockets, hookers, and general dankness ruled. And most importantly we tried to get back to the "ghost story" aspect of the piece. Our version even had "handlers" who held a tight reign over Marley's chains who we jokingly referred to as Christmas Ninjas. Our Marley was more of the "pissed off - Fuck, I'm in Hell" character instead of the "woe is me" gentleman ghost. Zonthar still delights in the fact that people would jump out of their seats and children would burst out in tears at his entrance. BTW his entrance was from under Scrooge's bed and our Marley scene is still talked about around town.
Thereminman composed and recorded a creepy soundtrack of disemboweled Christmas Carols that enhanced the effect that I was going for - it's a ghost story and NOT the Tiny Tim show, dammit! (check out the 2 samplings of his brilliant soundtrack below.... and to give yourself a good case of the Heebie Jeebies ) SSM played Scrooge in our last production of it. I can go on and on ranting about how this particular story is almost singularly responsible for the commercialism of Christmas today... but enough about our production.

Back to the movie... If you decide to pick this one up...
For the love of God watch the Black & White version!!!! Which idiot thought it was a good idea to colorize this thing? Alastair is wonderful in it! The "old school" cheesy special effects work... especially the swirly hurricane of ghosts. And of all the versions... this one is closest to presenting the story... as a ghost story. (Can you tell this whole Ghost Story thing is big with me?)

Favorite Scene/s: Scrooge's transformation in the end... not so much a redemption in finding religion but more of an awareness that he had been missing out on the joy of life.

Sexiest Scene: Are you kidding?

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... and it was O.K. There is still lots more to do... but that's for a different post. So,. since I have nothing else to say... lets roll on to the seasonal movie post for today...


This movie has actually climbed up the ranks as one of my favorite seasonal movies. (Although I could watch this one pretty much anytime of the year.) Before he watched it scarysquirrelman asked me for my take on it and I promptly replied, "Unabashedly Romantic". He scowled and hrumphed but borrowed it to watch anyway... and liked it. How is that for a recommendation? BTW guys... it's also a great date movie! Really! A really great date movie - holiday or otherwise!

The movie follows 8 separate storylines that span the 5 week period leading up to Christmas. The characters from each storyline intersect with the others but each storyline is a vignette (unto itself) exploring various aspects of "love". It's romantic, funny, sad, and touching all at once. In a recent conversation with my friend Zonthar, he noted that the movie had a "liberal amount of flesh and profanity". Yes, it is true (so, Mom and Dad, lets not keep the kids up for this one)... but I also think these very elements do help balance off those somewhat syrupy "Richard Curtis moments."

It was written and directed by (said) Richard Curtis who has over the years become pretty famous for penning romantic comedies such as The Tall Guy, the Bridget Jones movies, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral among others. Personally I think the movie pays sly homage to many of his earlier movies. For instance, there is both a wedding and a funeral in it (hmmm) ... and (my personal opinion) Emma Thompson's character seems to be an extention of the good natured, no nonsense character she played in The Tall Guy. And the cast! Damn, talk about a HUGE, amazing, talented cast!

Sasha has already chimed in on commenting about her favorite scene from this movie in an earlier post.
"... the "to me, you are perfect" flash cards to keira knightley! :)"

Here are mine:

Favorite Scene/s: There are actually quite a few... but here are a few: 1.) All the scenes involving "Jamie" (played by Colin Firth) and "Auerilia" (played be Lucia Muniz) conversing in their own languages to each other. He is an English writer and she is a Portuguese house keeper... neither of them speak a common language. 2.) The quiet devestation that Emma Thompson goes through when she gets a certain Christmas gift... all the while expecting another. 3.) The wedding and the funeral. (an homage?)

Sexiest Scene: Actually, I think the whole damn movie is sexy. It's smart, sexy, thoughtful, sad, ... almost a sure thing on a date!

For the last seasonal movie... see the post below!

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I know it's just the season. The weather was cold and dank earlier last week. Now it's wet and dank- it has rained off and on since Friday. But this is the season. The cold is expected to make a triumphant return tomorrow... along with his friend Mr. Fog.

It also is the season when I avoid driving to certain parts of town... actually, it's the season I avoid driving altogether. It's almost as if one can feel the levels of stress on the road. Everybody grabbing tight on to their steering wheels with an icy intent in their eyes to make this the best goddamn holiday season ever!
I was supposed to go out to a staff party on Friday but couldn't. I stayed home instead and decompressed. I think it was needed. Besides, my presence was needed at home.

Saturday was a full day of chores around the house assisted by one of my students. He's been earning money every weekend by helping me around the house. His weekend was brightened by the fact that he earned enough to get his very own cellphone. Later that night I attended an annual event that Fingers B puts on. There was drinks, eats and more importantly time shared with some friends.

Our lives together began on shared experiences and now experiences are shared less and less. The business of life has deflected all of us on to different paths... but it is always reassuring to share adventures, warmth and laughter when we do converge.
Today I'm beginning a (short) daily feature on writing about my favorite seasonal movies.

Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life

This holiday classic never fails to get me every year. It's amazing to think that it originally bombed when it was first released.

Yes, it's schmaltzy... but it's damn good schmaltz. Nothing is over wrought and everything is served up just right. I've always likened it to a bizarro version of "A Christmas Carol" - one in which Bob Cratchit has a nervous breakdown.

It's one of those movies with perfect casting. Jimmy's "George Bailey" has just the right amount of lovable crabbiness, the wholesome sexiness of Donna Reed's "Mary" and the unapologetic business coldness of Barrymore's "Mr. Potter" all stirred up in the perfect seasonal stew. Sort of like a great helping of "comfort food" for the holidays.

Favorite Scene: The eve of their honeymoon and George comes "home" to the old leaky abandoned house. His plans for a trip to some place exotic has been twated by the crash of the stock market... and has spent all the "honeymoon money" to save the Savings and Loan. He enters the house that Mary (with the help of Bert and Ernie) have decorated with travel posters. His look of wonder when he sees her and her loving effort to make the ordinary... extraordinary... is priceless. That scene never fails to tear me up.

Sexiest Scene: The phone call - you know the one... hot!

EDIT: Go to my friend Zonthar's blog for more takes on seasonal movies. And if you have a thing about chocolates (Cadbury especially) go read Dragion's take on it!

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Once again, a BIG OLE THANK YOU for your wonderful comments on my last HNT extravaganza for the year. (it's below this post.) The photo-shoot for it was wildly fun (and probably illegal in several states.)

Here are some answers to some questions posed in the comments.
  • The speech and thought bubbles can be found in the "other shapes" in Photoshop
  • Accumulated time for putting together that particular post... 6 -7 hours - broken up over 3 days
  • Jimmy is available for parties... as long as I can tag along.
more later...

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I began HNT with Jimmy... and I'm ending the year with Jimmy. In my original post I eluded to the fact that the ladies LOVED Jimmy... well, here is proof as my last HNT extravaganza for the year!!!

I went with comic book/ graphic novel style this time. So, click for the soundtrack here... then click the link to this week's HNT! Each act is punctuated with a change in music. You may also want to click on each of the 9 pics for a better look!

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My thanks to Dragonfly, Glow, Fingers B and Trunk for their assistance and creativity on this one.
So, without further ado!


For more on the HNT madness click the nifty button in the sidebar. HAPPY HNT ALL!

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Tish tagged me for this one.
  1. I cannot start writing until I have won 3 straight hands of Freecell in a row. People who have seen me do this think it's an avoidance issue... I find the game helps me organize my thoughts. I also cannot write without some "white noise" in the background, music, tv, etc.
  2. If someone comes up to me and tells me they are pregnant I will tell them what sex the baby will be. My record for these predictions is 98% correct. Now if I could only do that with lotto numbers...
  3. If there is something I really want I will spend days talking myself out of it. Once I have convinced myself that a.) it's a waste of money b.) my life is better without it ... I will buy it anyway just because the price was good. And yes... I do have an uncanny nose for bargains.
  4. If I visit someone... I like checking out their fridge and what's in it.
  5. I will let things pile up to the point of the ridiculous before I decide to deal with them... just for a greater sense of accomplishment when it's finally dealt with.
I'm not tagging anyone.... but if you want to play... go for it!


I'll post my HNT tomorrow and it'll be my last extravaganza for 2005. It also may be the last one for the year for me. Graphic work and other pre-production duties for the Rogue beckons and my "Christmas Vacation" is pretty much shot because of it. I'm not whining... this has been a fact of life for the last 3 years.

FRIENDS WHO HAVE STARTED NEW BLOGS include ... DRAGION and WHACKMAN (lelly... the latter is a mutual friend of ours!) Visit them and show them the love!

more later... perhaps...

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Disclaimer: This edition of Picture Daze utilizes photos from other sources to facilitate the telling of the story. ... which happens to be true

1967, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The first time I saw him, he was emerging out of a huge dumpster wearing a semi toothless grin delighted in his paperbags filled with empty bottles. I was all of 8 years old at the time and waiting at the parking lot behind the offices where my father worked.

This triangular parking area was nested behind the High Court, the Masjid (mosque) Jame and a block of shops. The unobservent eye would only see an open parking lot anchored to the north by a covered parking area where the cars of the High Court magistrates were kept. This little sliver of real estate however was a world unto itself. This was the original center of the city. 100 yards away, tin was discovered in the 1800's at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers from which the vibrant city of Kuala Lumpur (Mud Junction) would emerge.

The parking lot was worked during the day by "the 4 abangs" (big brothers) who earned their living washing cars and providing valet parking due to the limited space the area provided. One of them was our one-handed driver, Mamat, but his is a story for another time.

A teh tarik stall was situated under the outer over-hang of the covered garage run by a good natured Indian Muslim man and was the hub of choice for the various office workers on their breaks.

At around 10 AM the Chinese chee cheong fun man would roll in on his trishaw cart followed soon after by the crusty old Malay nasi lemak lady. Over the next 3 hours the parking lot would evolve into a bustling dining hub with the best that street food could offer.

It was in this setting that I befriended Playboy - a Chinese man in his 60's with a ragged bush jacket, a floppy jungle hat holding down long stringy hair, a wispy "fu manchu"and a twinkle in his eye. This street person kept his entire belongings in 3 bundles in one of the covered parking stalls where he slept at night. I would find out later that the magistrates knew him well and always left that stall vacant for him. He supported his survival by pulling out bottles and cardboard boxes from dumpsters and selling them at Central Market... practicing recycling before it ever became fashionable or a movement.
(The High Court)
As I usually had an hour wait in this area after physiotherapy sessions nearby, Playboy and I soon became fast friends. He would always take the time to tell me stories, jokes and share what little he had to help me while away the time. Understanding very well that a whole hour was an eternity to a little boy. Often he would offer me bruised fruit he found in the dumpsters... always washing them and cutting away the bruised part before handing me a piece. He knew I loved mango and often when I turned up there would be a mango peeled, cut and ready for my consumption. I found out from "the abangs" much later that these mangos were never found but bought. I should have caught a clue because he never ate mangos... in fact it was one of the few fruits he didn't care much for. (Masjid Jame)

Whenever he told me a story he would make a clicking sound with his mouth... as if to punctuate important sections to his story. It may have just been a tick but to a little boy it was theatre. He also had a wonderful cackling laugh that was infectious. I saw him 3 times a week for 2 years. My parents never discouraged this friendship which taught me that a friend is a friend no matter who or what their social standing was. Besides, all our dealings were out in an open parking lot with lots of people around.

Over that span of time I had heard rumors from others. Some said he was once a high powered Oxford educated lawyer, others said he was an eccentric millionaire, yet others claimed that he had been institutionalized. To me he was a kooky and funny old man who happened to be my friend.

Early in 1969 he disappeared for a whole month. No one knew where he was. When he did reappear he had changed. He was more reserved and he just didn't look well. We would still chat... but he was different. There was a spark missing. I would later discover a bit of his past from my father and the reason for his antic demeanor.

In May 1969 political race riots broke out in Malaysia. We were under curfew for several months. When things calmed down I went back with my father to find Playboy. He wasn't there. The parking stall that used to be reserved for him housed a black Mercedes Benz. It was then Playboy's story began to unfold.
(Here is a rendering of Playboy I did from memory.)

Apparently he had actually once been a millionaire Tin Baron in the state of Perak. Polygamy was not outlawed in the country and he had 2 wives. Through a gambit the 2 women had conspired to gain control of his holdings. They succeeded and the old man blew a fuse and had to be institutionalized. When he was released he skipped town to get lost in the big city of Kuala Lumpur. He had successfully stayed under the radar for close to 15 years. Then early in 1969 they found him again and re-institutionalized him in a bid to get the rest of the cash that they thought was squirreled away. They found nothing and he was released... broken by the whole experience.

After the riots social services picked him up and put him in again. He died there 3 months later. Years later I was convinced he died from a broken heart and the loss of his freedom.

1989, Fresno, California. I had been commissioned to adapt "The Little Match Girl" by Hans Christian Anderson for the stage. (BTW, this was my first commissioned piece.) I only agreed to do it because I hated the original story - poor little girl hallucinates in the snow and dies! So, in adapting it I decided to "fix" the story but still maintain the spirit of it. I set it in 2 time periods - one being the turn of the century, both of which were set in Fresno. In the contemporary time period I decided to pay tribute to Playboy by creating a street character named Percy.

Anyway, the opening night premiere of the play was scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving at the Memorial Auditorium. We had had a rather iffy final dress rehearsal that afternoon. Two hours before showtime, my friend Zonthar (who was playing the Percy character) and I went down to a local store nearby to get some cigarettes. It has to be explained that Mugahlis was a grocery store where the local downtown winos came to get their "supplies" from. This usually occurred at 8 in the morning and 5 in the evening.
We are standing in line to pay for our purchases behind 6 or 7 other people... 5 of which are winos armed with their bottles of Night Train or Thunderbird. Earlier, Zonthar and I had a discussion about how to play the part of Percy... a result of jitters for opening night and a shakey final dress. As we stood in line... the man in front of us (a wino) turned around and beamed at us. He pointed to his sweater and said,

"Look at this. My daughter gave this to me yesterday. Can you believe that? She invited me over for Thanksgiving. We had dinner. Look at this. She gave it to me. I haven't seen her in 10 years. I didn't even know she was married. I have grandchildren now, you know? I don't knw if I'll see her again but she gave this to me. She may have bought it at a thrift store... but she gave it to me. She gave me something. She gave this to me... look at it."

He then paid for his Thunderbird and as he walked out of the store he turned, smiled again and said, "Happy Thanksgiving." As he left, I couldn't help thinking about Playboy and how differently his family situation played out so many years ago.

Zonthar and I returned to the theater and opening night was wonderful! The cast was stellar and Zonthar performed the part of Percy with a quirky dignity and pathos. Years later I used our encounter with the man in the store for another play.

Each encounter took place 20 years apart... yet were somehow connected. These 2 gentlemen from different times in my life and different parts of the world provided me with material and inspiration for 2 different plays. One play is titled "Bundle Of Wishes" and the other "The Holiday Show." My sincere thanks goes to both of them for the lessons in compassion they taught me. I hope I have honored them through my work. As a tribute to them and the season I will email PDF copies of both plays to the first 20 commenters to this post.

And so ends another edition of Picture Daze.


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The tule fog rolled in this morning and is only now (11 AM) beginning to burn off. Driving to work on days like these is always an adventure... sort of like going into nowhere from oblivion.

I love how it totally changes the visual character of the neighborhood. The cold dampness can also really cut to the bone. Sure, it's not like the cold in the northern states... but it is cold nevertheless. I once flew in from London (where it actually snowed that year) and Fresno actually felt so much colder. There have been years when we have been socked in for 3 whole months. Let's hope that doesn't occur this season.
I think I'll be posting a new edition of Picture Daze this weekend. I had stopped for a while and need to get back into a regular rotation once again. So, if you do swing by... check it out. Previous editions are linked in the sidebar. Click here for the last one I posted.
Thank you all who came by yesterday and for leaving your kind comments for my HNT post. Did anyone notice that it was the first one I have ever done with 1 picture, without a story or soundtrack or tricks or quiz? Radical, huh? LOL!

I also have to thank those who participated and contributed comments to the "What do you really know about Lecram" post. It was quite illuminating and flattering.

Have a good weekend!

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I got tagged by the_mrs... so here goes.

I changed the first one... from "Seven things that attract me to my husband" to "Seven things that attract me to a woman"

1.) Brains and the active use of it- probably the sexiest organ in the body.
2.) Compassion (not particularly the "Aw, poor baby... " type... although that will do in a pinch.)
3.) A Sense of Humor... and the ability to laugh at the absurdities of life.
4.) Independance.
5.) Passion.
6.) Common interests to make things fun.
7.) Enough differences to make things interesting.

Seven Things to Do Before I Die:

1.) Follow my Bliss.
2.) Write that "one" show.
3.) Make some kind of positive difference at least within my immediate sphere.
4.) Travel to all those great ancient places.
5.) Conquer all my bad habits.
6.) Making it... whatever "it" is.
7.) Becoming that crazy old coot who says "Git out of my yard... damn kids!"

Seven Things I Cannot Do:

1.) I cannot understand most languages.
2.) I cannot speak most languages.
3.) I cannot write in most languages.
4.) I cannot tolerate those who won't try.
5.) I cannot finish writing my play.
6.) I cannot find my sanity.
7.) I cannot take someone's life.

Seven Things I Say Most Often:

1.) That being said...
2.) Yo, bubba!
3.) Hmmm... not really.
4.) Can I get back to you?
5.) If I can... you can.
6.) Why yes... yes it is!
7.) Scotch rocks, please.

Seven Books (or Book Series) I Love:
I don't read much anymore but...

1.) Anything by Kurt Vonnegut
2.) The "Faraway Tree" series by Enid Blyton (still remember those from when I was a kid)
3.) Old "Mad Magazines" before they started putting ads in them
4.) Spoof novels like "Bored of the Rings."
5.) Catch 22
6.) Most Biographies
7.) "Holy Books" (religion is a hobby)

Seven Movies I Would Watch Over and Over Again:

1.) The Godfather Trilogy (every 6-9 months)
2.) Love Actually (fast becoming a Christmas favorite)
3.) Bridge on the River Kwai (and anything by David Lean)
4.) Brazil
5.) Searching for Bobby Fischer
6.) All That Jazz
7.) Casablanca

Seven People I Tag To Do Seven Sevens:

Not tagging anyone... but if you feeling like playing... you are welcome to.

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Damn, blogger was slow tonight! Anyway, it's time for HNT!

The temps are dropping and it's time to pull out my favorite overcoat for the season - my Tibetan Trench. Not sure if they call it that in Tibet... I do though.

This full length wonder is made out of thick tight weave cotton. (yes, it does come in wool as well) I bought it last year from the "Tibet Shop" in San Francisco mainly because:

a.) I figured the Tibetans know a little something about keeping out the cold.
b.) I thought it was really cool!

jedi Posted by Picasa

Oh, and the cool part... a scarf is built into the collar. So, you can wrap it around the neck... or pull it up over your head and go totally Jedi. And even cooler than cool... it only cost $55 ($109 for the wool one.) Sure, I look scary in it... but when don't I? (Oh, I may return with an extravaganza next week.)

For more on this HNT madness visit the Emperor with half his clothes by clicking the nifty button in the sidebar.


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Just curious. I've had this blog since March. I guess revelations about myself have unfolded in that time through various posts. Be it likes, dislikes, character, strengths, weaknesses, etc. So, if you happen by... list 5 in my comment box. You can copy and paste the following if it will help.

5 things I know about Lecram.


If you've come here to read the post on the "Panty Christmas Tree"... just click the link.

EDIT: Here is some appropriate music to help you through this exercise. LOL!

Powered by Castpost

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A recent comment by s t a c i e on a post below prompted me to give a little more thought to the recent news about how certain groups are pressuring retailers to use the word "Christmas" instead of "Holiday".

First, let me present the definition:


  1. A day free from work that one may spend at leisure, especially a day on which custom or the law dictates a halting of general business activity to commemorate or celebrate a particular event.
  2. A religious feast day; a holy day.
  3. Chiefly British. A vacation. Often used in the phrase on holiday.
from [Middle English holidai, holy day, from Old English hlig dæg : hlig, holy; see holy + dæg, day; see day.]

Please take note of definition number 2 especially... and it's root.

I'm all for calling a Christmas Tree... a "Christmas Tree"... instead of a "Holiday Tree". That would be like calling a Manorah ... a candlabra. However, I think that "Happy Holidays" is totally appropriate. Afterall, the season is shared with "holy days" of several other faiths and belief systems.

I could write a cynical rant that would provide all sides of the issue with a good slap up the side of the head for everyone involved... but it just wouldn't be condusive to the spirit of the season.

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for my friend Zonthar who has posted a great story about a recent nightmare trip to Atlanta. Also for Airplanejayne for her post on pies and nuts. Go on by and show them some love.

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Growing up Catholic in a Muslim country was really no big deal at all... at least not for me. When I grew up in Malaysia respect and understanding for people of other faiths was a matter of fact. Muslims, Hindus, Taoist, Buddhists, Sikhs and Christians were fervent in their faiths, cultures and traditions and respected each other for theirs.
I have to credit my mother for initiating the Christmas decorations at our home. We were one of 2 Catholic families living on our street. So when the Christmas season came along she would setup the Christmas Tree project among the neighborhood kids. This meant that we were all decorating the tree together. It didn't matter what faith you were.

Over the years this event became quite the neighborhood tradition. Usually on the week of about the 12th of December the house would be filled with neighbor kids all working on the tree. The excitement and anticipation on "tree day" was only surpassed by Christmas Eve.

In my memory there was only 1 traditional tree that ever graced our home. Mum was quite the crafty person so ideas for the Christmas tree was always a little outside of the norm.

In the picture above Mum was inspired by the a Winter scene with leafless branches. So, a branch of a Guava tree was cut, sprayed white and decorated. Looking back I have to admit that there was a certain elegance in it's starkness.

One year we scrapped the idea of a tree altogether and went with a cotton snowman instead. It was cute and all but not a particular favorite of mine. I guess I was ready for a new motif and it came the following year.

When I was 8 or 9 she totally scrapped the idea that the Christmas tree should have anything to do with Winter. She had a point because we did live in the tropics. That year, bamboo was sprayed silver and served up as the central ornament representing Christmas. I have to say that Mum's idea of going "local" had quite the stunning effect. So much so, we repeated the same idea the following year (this time in gold) and the results were breathtaking.

The usual neighborhood "Christmas Tree Crew" had by now dwindled to a stalwart 4 or 5. They included my neighborhood buddies including Tambi, Ganeshen, Balan and yours truly. We would begin at 3 PM and 5 or 6 hours later step back to admire the results. Relatives and friends had by now come to expect to see something different at our home for Christmas... and they usually did. Sometimes a little more different than they were ready for... more on that later.

By the time I was 12 I had taken over "creative control" of the tree decorating duties. One year I decided that 3 "payongs" (paper umbrellas), opened in 3 different stages would make up the tree. Here are a couple of pictures of said tree... one without lights and the other one lit.

At this point I guess I should explain how we celebrated Christmas. Christmas Eve was always my day. When I was younger the neighborhood kids would all come by and each of them received a present from my parents. Nothing fancy... usually a little toy or trinklet of sorts. After all, during Chinese New Year all us kids got "ang pows" (little red packets of money) from the parents of our Chinese friends. So in the big scheme of things us kids always scored "big time" during all the major festivals celebrated in the country.

When I grew older, my "crew" (now about 15-20) came by on the evening of Christmas Eve. By 10 PM we would walk about 5 blocks the local church for Midnight Mass. I went out of religious obligation... my non-Christian friends went to check out the girls. (O.K. I did too but don't tell my Mum.) We would be back home by 1 AM for the Christmas feast prepared by her. The menu always included Eurasian Chicken Pie, Devil Curry, Curry Puffs, Sebak (a sort of Eurasian salad), Pineapple Tarts and Sugee Cake . Then games would be set up at various areas of the house. Once we were tired from playing carrom, monopoly or blackjack we would all stretch out on the floor and fall asleep... usually by 4 or 5 AM.

By 9 or 10 the next morning everybody would get up and straighten out the house. Usually 3 of my crew would stay. The reason for this was simple... Christmas Day was when my parents had their friends and workmates over, so my friends and me became the "waiters" for their do. This practice continued even after my Dad passed away when I was 12.
I posted the picture of the "horn" or "saipan" hat above only because I couldn't find a picture of the Christmas tree I made by stringing 4 of them together one year. That was one of my all time favorites.

This tree made of halved coconut shells on a rattan tree was the second last one I designed back home. By this time we had moved to the new house. Mum had retired from government service and we had to leave the old neighborhood behind.

Yet, Ganeshen and Balan would still come by to help set up the Christmas decorations for Mum even after I left for the US. Mum delighted in their company and the fact that the little tradition she started with the neighborhood kids kept going into their middle age. They continued to visit every year to help decorate until Mum finally moved here to join me 7 years ago. We still hear from them at Christmas. It is this sharing of the season with my friends that I now miss the most... but times and places are different. The memories stay and we move on.

I'll end with this picture of the very last (and most controvertial) Christmas Tree I designed and created in Malaysia before I moved here in 1980. Yes, it is constructed out of panties! This particular tree over the years has become legend and is now part of the lore among friends and family back home.

Our Christmas is celebrated quietly now. I decorate the mantle over the fireplace in the living room... no trees. However, I make sure that the Devil Curry and/or the Eurasian Chicken Pie is still on the table for Christmas dinner. And now, it is I who does the cooking.

For other editions of Picture Daze... look in the sidebar.


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I've been slacking off... but I'm resolute about posting a new edition of Picture Daze later today. So, come back soon. I think I have a "holidays past" post a-brewin. If you are blinking in a stupor... check out my past Picture Daze posts located in the sidebar.

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NEWS UPDATE: There have been SSM sightings in the state of Washington. Go by and read his harrowing adventure "Stuck with a dry Pussy in a snow storm and Scared Shitless" and wish him well.

Thank You for swinging by and commenting on my HNT post. Your kind words helped lift my week out of the mundane.

The votes are in! 65 percent of you voted "Fuck No" so, I will keep it natural even if my upper lip will look snotty for a while. 62 out of 80 of you (as of this writing) voted. Now if that percentage was transferred to something like say... the national elections - we would have more of a representative government.

What really excites me as I get older is that I just may inherit my Dad's genes and get grey on my sides like Doctor Strange. That would just be too cool!

I was tagged by Tish with the following meme.

Project Description: (written by Vincent)
"I am quite a big asshole, eh? This project is called 'The Assholometer Bounty' simply because it is interesting find out, now that you guys know of my evilness, how much you would pay to get rid of me? How much would you be willing to fork out to rid the world of someone like me? Pillage my commenting box with any figure and I will total up the assholometer bounty as we go along.Let's face it. As much as people like to claim that they are nice people, everybody is an asshole deep down inside. In fact, not enough people are proud of the evil things they did. With the exception of a couple of guys, I don't think enough people blog about their 'assholic' tendencies. Wouldn't it be a joy to read of more people being evil?

1) All you guys have to do is blog about your most 'assholic' deed (or a few, if you wish) in order to get your readers to raise your bounty. The higher your bounty, the better. 2) Copy out these last few paragraphs including the project description. 3) In keeping with being an 'asshole', you are free to spread this meme along to as many people as you wish (the more the merrier since everybody hates memes)."- vincent

So, here goes my...
An Asshole Story Of The First Kind
Some of you are aware that I am somewhat "physically challenged." I was struck with polio at an early age and have lived with Jimmy all my life. If you are too lazy to click that link (asshole) Jimmy is my left arm. What makes this all the more insidious is that my disability is actually not that noticeable.

Truth be told, handicaps (yes, handicaps) can be some of the biggest assholes you will ever meet. They will often focus their anger and frustration of being physically inconvenienced by making able bodied folks feel guilty for their malady... and those poor fools fall for it!!! I know... I did it for years.

Asshole Incident #1: I have been going to pubs back home since I was 14. ( I think the age limit back then was... none.) Anyway, I was 16 when this incident happened. I walk into the pub at 4 PM one day and sit at the bar. A good friend of mine is bartending. The owner (we shall call him Paul) pulls up a seat to my left. We get into a conversation about nothing in particular. (Bit of background: Whenever I came into his pub, Paul ALWAYS sat to my right... this was the first time he EVER sat to my left.) The regulars are beginning to stream into the pub after the daily grind. Soon every seat at the bar is filled. My left arm Jimmy is now resting on the bar. Just before he leaves, Paul pats me on the back and says...

PAUL: Hey, it was good talking to you... I haven't seen you in a while.

ME: Yeah... I've been busy.

PAUL: (looking at the arm.) Man, you've lost a lot of weight... you used to be bigger before.

ME: (a beat... then raising my good right arm into his line of vision) Yeah, I use to be this big... (pointing to Jimmy on the bar) ... now I'm this skinny. I don't know what happened.

Paul (who is Chinese) turns every shade of red apologising as the rest of the regulars fall off their bar stools laughing. For the rest of the night all my drinks are "on the house." For the rest of the month I never had to pay for a drink in that pub. I knew exactly what I was doing and struck when there was an opening. It was subtle, creative... but an asshole thing to do nevertheless.

Asshole Incident #2: One would assume that handicap folk would be of help to each other - WRONG! I once stood across the street watching a blind man with a white cane navigate his way up a sidewalk. Nothing unusual about that... except that I could see he was heading toward a thorny bush that was hanging over a fence right into the sidewalk. I just stood and watched until he got tangled up... then walked away.

Postscript: I gave up using my handicap for asshole purposes in my early 20's. So, now you know some of my evil past.

I'm hoping my asshole days are well behind me so I'm not tagging anyone. If you want to play... have at it!

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