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Jun. 28th, 2009

Writing got a little slow Friday night. Did a little on the novel, got stuck, took a little trip through some of my other writings and progress, and came across one of my short stories that hasn't had its climax and ending written yet. That'll be the next thing I work on after I finish the novel, or maybe the thing to work on a little if I get stuck on the novel. We'll see. I got a little more work on the novel tonight. Tara and LVP are going to a bridal shower tomorrow, so since I'll have the house to myself I'll be devoting a good chunk of the day to writing - a sneak preview of most of my forthcoming early July hiatus from the jewelry store, much of which I'll be devoting to writing work. 

Other than the writing, today was a decently accomplished day.  Got housework out of the way and a little grocery shopping too. 

Friday, the 26th, was exactly one year away from the day Tara and I will get married. I was calling it a "minus-first anniversary" but Tara thought "pre-anniversary" was better. I think either one works but "minus-first anniversary" sounds like a countdown and what else are we doing anyway but counting down the days? :)

I just proofread this and realized that in the second paragraph, I used the word "today" a second time in the first sentence, writing "today was a decently accomplished day today". Oops. Yeah, I guess I'm that tired; might as well rack. 
No novel writing yesterday. Tara and I took an impromptu trip to Knobel's to dine at the restaurant there and walk around a bit; I hadn't been at that place since 1983 or '84. I had just met her at her place of employment when I got a text (SMS relay of a CNN Breaking News tweet) about Michael Jackson being rushed to the hospital, so we were on both of our BlackBerries (well, me on both mine and hers - for some reason mine had trouble connecting at first) trying to find updates. I think we were halfway to Knoebel's when I got on MSNBC's mobile site and read the confirmation. Damn. Farrah Fawcett and Sky Saxon were bad enough, but this was definitely an out of the blue shocker. 

I did do a little writing last night when I got home after ten - a blog entry about yesterday's passings for TGML. I'll have to ratchet up on the word count on the novel this weekend - do at least 2,000 then take a quick break and write at least 1,000 more words. 

Today is Tara's and my pre-anniversary, or as I like to call it, our minus-first anniversary. Whoa. TIme is flying. Yesterday, on our way to Knoebel's (in-between trying to find updates on MJ) Tara said to me, "Do you know what we'll be doing a year from today? Our rehearsal dinner." She also reminded me that the rehearsal dinner was my responsiblity. It is? I didn't know that. 

Off to get ready for the day job, so more later. 

Jun. 18th, 2009

I'm a little out of sync lately. Tuesday Tara and I had an impromotu visit to Sonic. We both had extra-long coneys, regular size Frito wraps, and chili cheese tots, plus drinks. Verdict: way too much food eaten. Yikes. I weighted myself Tuesday night before bed and I'm at 220 pounds. That's at least 30 pounds more than I should be. Sonic is great but  their way-tempting food tends has really thrown off my attempts to eat healthier. 

After Sonic, we stopped at Five Below for a few minutes. Tara got herself a little wastepaper basket for her bedroom and I found a DVD of Beatles newsreel footage. Then we stopped at Barnes & Noble for awhile. I decided to add to my Haruki Murakami library (Murakami always seems to be inspiring to me as a writer) and bought Sputnik Sweetheart (I still haven't seen What I Think About When I Think About Running anywhere) and also surprised Tara with a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank that she was looking through. Then we stopped at Price Chopper as Tara needed a few things from there and called it a night. Tara made me buy an energy drink (I forget which brand) because she thought I was getting tired - small mistake. I got enough energy for driving home, but once I got inside I started to feel the crash. Nothing other than VitaminEnergy or those little 5 Hour Energy shots works like they should for me. As a result, I didn't get any writing done that night. 

Last night, LVP and I went to my cousin Jennifer's to get our hair done (mine trimmed, hers cut and colored). Got a little writing for the novel in via Moleskine while I waited for LVP to get finished. Jennifer had some stupid kids movie on that her son kept ignoring so I put my earbuds on and some MiniMoni music on shuffle. After dinner and Olbermann I transcribed that freewriting and added a little more before I started to get tired.  

Tonight I'm setting a new daily word count goal: 2,500 words a day. That'll be a good challenge. Since I DVD Olbermann anyway I should save the viewing of him until I'm in bed. 
 Well, yeah, that's about what I'm doing at the moment. Been up for about an hour or so. 

Yesterday I wasn't sure what was going on, thinking that I'd probably be hanging out at the house, getting some writing done, or running a couple of errands for the house.  Instead, around 3:30 or 4 Tara calls and asks if I want to go "somewhere". She will not specify where when I ask her, telling me it will be a surprise. It's an excuse to hang out with my fiancee so I say why the hell not. She picks me up and asks if I'm hungry. Unfortunately, this isn't the case for me at the moment given that I'd eaten lunch a couple of hours before. We stop at a McDonalds for a tideover (Tara got fries and a drink, I just got a sweet tea). Tara then randomly mentions IMAX movies. I've never been to one so we hit Google on our Blackberries, locate the IMAX in Reading, boot up the GPS, and off we go. 

For some odd reason, the GPS gives us a route that is mostly country roads. What? This is their "fastest" route? Maybe we should have set the GPS for shortest route instead. Anyway, as we're going down these roads we pass a few sites that would have made for good pictures had we gotten out our cameras. Tara saw a grange hall I forget exactly where (but wouldn't be too hard to find if we took the same road again) that she thought would look good as the subject of a sepia-tone picture.  I wholeheardedly agree. 

We get to Reading with a good half-hour to spare. Night At The Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian is the IMAX feature there. I have got to say, seeing a movie on a ceiling-to-floor screen with some badass surround sound is pretty amazing. The seats in the theatre are long-backed recliners - perfect for watching such a huge screen! Very crystal clear picture and sound - then again, this is digital technology we're dealing with here. The movie was really good - good storyline and a hilarious cameo from Oscar The Grouch and Darth Vader. Definitely made me want to go to the Smithsonian someday. I'd like to hit a couple of art museums the next time Tara and I hit New York but that's another story. 

Afterwards we start to head home but Tara wants to hit a diner and there's one she likes in the area, so she has me punch up the name "Reading Diner" in the GPS. It brings up the West Reading Diner. We get there and it's not the diner Tara was thinking of (we later find out on the way back home - on Highway 61(!!) - that Tara was thinking of the Route 61 Diner but we go anyway... after two holdups. One caused by a very heavy fucking rain, and the other 'caused by the sudden post-rain realization that we are in the wrong parking lot - we are actually in one belonging to another restaurant as we discover signs prohibiting anyone but customers of the other restaurant to park there. We drive the car the quarter-block to West Reading Diner's parking lot and go in. The diner is pretty nice, a bit retro but the booth jukeboxes run CDs (I didn't get to play any music though). Tara got spaghetti with veal and I got a cheeseurger. The food was pretty good. We got home a little after midnight and I just checked my social sites before crashing out. 

Jun. 12th, 2009

The weather's been a little too craptastic for my tastes this past week. The other day around 5 in the morning there was a hellacious motherfucker of a thunderstorm. Normally, I'm a heavy sleeper, but this particular thunderstorm sounded like a fucking bomb was going off. I am surprised that I was not hanging from the ceiling by my fingernails and toenails a-la Sylvester the Cat. It certainly fucked up my sleep cycle that day. Part of me thinks I am still feeling the effects of that interrupted sleep cycle. I don't necessarily have to have a full eight hours of sleep, just nights where I don't get "interrupted" in the middle of the night with high-decibel thunderclaps or sudden needs to get up and piss at 3:30 in the morning.  

Last night Tara and I tried out a Chinese buffet in Hometown that had  reopened under new management. Suffice it to say - the food selection sucked and little if any of the food these was very tasty. We will definitely not be going back to this particular place. Afterwards we bummed around at the Wal-Mart next door for a bit. I didn't really need anything but I poked around the DVDs and came across a pack that had the first season box sets of Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere together for 20 bucks. I used to watch both those shows often when they were on NBC, so... definitely worth it. Even back when I was in junior high school, I was very selective in my TV habits. Then I brought Tara over to the house and we ended up watching a movie on PPV - Bride Wars. Pretty decent movie. A couple of silly moments, and the movie kinda dragged a little for a scene or two after those, but a good storyline and a nice climax and ending. 

Today was a little lame. OK day but the part-timer was being her usual aggravating self. When the SM is out of the store for much of the day and it's only the bossman and part-timer there, nine times out of ten I always wonder why the hell I just don't take Thursdays off. It would be a good day to just stay home and recharge a little. 

I've started on the fresh Moleskine with more freewriting/story work for the novel. Things are a bit slow going with it but OK. What I have written up looks good. 

Way tired now. One more day of work for the week, chin-up, tally-ho and all that shit. Hell, I should call off tomorrow - I think I fucking deserve it! I'd even settle for sneaking out in the middle of the work day and going to Sonic for a Coney and a limeade.  Goodnight!

It is an honor to be in front of you today as we congratulate all of our graduates and welcome their families and friends. My name is Henry Rollins and the fact that I was asked to speak briefly to you all today is one of the highest compliments I have ever been paid and most terrifying propositions I have ever been given. I only hope my words have some meaning and merit.

I would like to thank you for going to college. I would like to thank you for taking years of your life and devoting it to study and the pursuit of knowledge. The world is in great need of people who can think, people who value ideas

For a moment, think of the person you were before you came here as a freshman or a freshperson if you will, and the person you are now. Of course, there was a large amount of good times, carrying on and engaging in behavior that we need not mention here. It is perhaps why the human brain is allotted such a vast amount of cells, so that it’s not a big problem when a few million fall off the back of the truck.

But amidst all the fun and frivolity there were infinitely long stretches of time where you had to hit the books and work and work in order to achieve. There was no one there to tell you to keep at it but you. And you did it, and here you are. You may not need every single course you ever took to get you though life, but the focus and discipline that was required to complete the course will be invaluable tools that you will utilize and that will hopefully benefit you and those around you for the rest of your life.

Your education and the time you spent here must be more than merely the means to a good job and financial security. Those are certainly important concerns but I am hoping for much more from you. To come all this way only to become content cogs in a large machine or merely indistinguishable threads in a massive tapestry is not enough. It just isn’t.

I know you are well aware of what is happening on planet Earth in 2009. Some say that we are in tough times. I believe we are in challenging times that are in need of bold thinking, fresh ideas and new ways of going about old things. This is where you come in. The future greets you today. You are a very big part of what it will be.

So, it is incumbent upon you to take all that you have learned and all that you have worked so hard to achieve and do something with it that is more than the gathering of items and the purchase of a place to put it all in. Because at the end of the day, that is a bit of a checked swing, isn’t it? You don’t want to retire into the dull roar that quickly and quietly, do you? I should hope not!

It is interesting, the excuses people give when they tell me why they don’t read as much as they used to, don’t travel or inquire as much as they did years before. They tell me they got tired, the kids, the job, the drive to work, the grind, not enough hours in the day, they say. When someone would tell the great philosopher Seneca that there wasn’t enough hours in the day, Seneca would reply that the gods had been quite generous with time allotment but that many people made poor use of it. Not a second of your life will you ever get back. Make every day count, or acquire a taste for regret.

I don’t understand how a mind that has been enlightened by years of study and immersed in an environment of such frenetic intellectual activity could ever suffer the crushing blow of complacency. I hope that none of you ever suffer this self-inflicted, greatly compromised condition. Not only is it inexcusable, it is boring as hell and no fun at all.

Your curiosity must never wane! Ever. You are, therefore you want to know, want to go, want to know more and want to go further. As college graduates, you know all too well how much there is to know and the incalculable amount of fascinating things there are to explore, from thought to geographic destination. It is your curiosity that you must enhance, strengthen and value, more and more as the years go on and on. It is your curiosity that you must guard against exhaustion, apathy and that awful plague called middle age. You are allowed occasional but brief vacations from your curiosity, DVD box sets of television shows and carbohydrate rich foods are permitted—but don’t make a career out of it! It is your curiosity that you will pass on like a genetic trait to your children, infect all those around you like a virus and inspire the anger of those who have chosen to admit defeat. One of the greatest and most powerful words in any language is: WHY.

When you stop wanting to find out, you’re done. There are few things more unendurable than being forced to spend time with someone who is intellectually incurious. This can never be you. Ask a question. Go forth. Arrive at the answer. Catch your breath. Ask Why. And then set off again. Never relent!

The world is in need of bright minds. Individuals who seek to spread peace and prosperity by the way conduct themselves and the value they place on the lives of others and on life itself. These people, by way of their concern and awareness, whether they know it or not—are leaders.

You lead through kindness, generosity, tolerance, innovation, the quest for knowledge and a basic, resolved goodness that is incorruptible, inexhaustible and undefeatable.

You do not lead by intimidation, by economic coercion, overwhelming military might or sanctions.

Brutality, oppression and the constant threat of violence only results in brutality, oppression and actual violence. The world has more than it needs.

A member of the Ku Klux Klan doesn’t need a frying pan upside the head! He needs an Al Green record and some good books. He needs better information so he can make better decisions and reach better conclusions. He needs to be inspired. You could do that for someone else, you could do that for a lot of people. It might take a lot less and go a lot further than you think.

If you have noticed, I keep mentioning the people and the world around you. I have been doing this because you are surrounded. You are surrounded by millions of square miles of land, billions of gallons of water and who knows how many cubic feet of air. You share all of these finite and vulnerable resources with millions of people. Everything you do, affects someone else, perhaps more than you realize. I am hoping that you understand that your responsibility to yourself and your well-being must also somehow include the planet on which you live and the people you share it with because like it or not, it does.

And now it’s time for my self-serving op ed. Of course, everything I have said to you thus far, has been merely my opinion. Fair enough. Here’s something that perhaps has little to do with our topic today but this is something I will not allow myself not to say to you on this very important day: It is my opinion that all wars are avoidable and unnecessary and could have been prevented by more compassionate governance of peoples and the highest possible value put on life and human rights. I know that one day, war and torture will be relics of the past. That racial discrimination, homophobia and other intolerance and ignorance will be looked upon as primitive, half-baked behavior that no one could ever be induced to repeat. I know that future generations will look back and wonder, “What in the world were those people thinking?”

From that history they will understand that some of their duties as human beings are to pursue peace at all times, to make sure that famine and human suffering never return, and that the stewardship and care of the planet and its very delicate ecosystem is in everyone’s best interest.

But, I am an impatient person and can not, will not, wait for these conclusions and actions to be part of some distant future. I want them to happen right now and I want you to be a huge part of that.

I think you will, and I think you’re going to be great at it. I think that some of the decisions you will make and actions you will take will make things better. You don’t have to be a doctor or a hero to save a life and you don’t have to be a scientist to brighten the future. All you need to do is care and get involved. I know you will, and I can’t wait to see how you act upon every ounce of your tremendous potential.

This is a great day. It’s your day. And so are all the ones to follow.

Think you can handle it?
I bet you can.
The future is bright.
I know this.
I’m looking at it.
Congratulations.
Good luck.

I'm getting back into the writing swing - did 1,500 words for Here Is The Wonderland, meant for an earlier scene in the book. I started the idea with some longhand freewriting in my Moleskin (which is already starting to get full) until I had three and a half handwritten pages - which wasn't a wriiting goal, just where I stopped writing at the time. Then, last night after dinner, I started transcribing the start of the scene from that notebook into a fresh Word file until I had it complete. The scene awaits me sticking it into the ongoing rough draft manuscript.

This is quickly becoming a very good way to complete the manuscript -- I've already freewritten a few other scenes in the past couple of weeks, mainly in Word, and they've come out very well. When you have a manuscript that is rapidly approaching 270 single-spaced pages, having a fresh separate Word file and then copy-and-pasting the completed scene into the manuscript is a lot easier than just looking for a space to fill in the manuscript itself and then trying to write. All I need to do is keep up this kind of creative schedule, trying to ramp up the word count as I go along if at all possible, and I should have this first draft finished sooner than I thought. 

I was looking back at some of the other entries on here that I have tagged with regard to writing. There's still a couple of other projects (mostly shorts/novellas) that could stand to be finished too, but this novel is top priority on my writing table. The music blog should be a close second. 
This is about all I can really remember. Everything else is either a blur or not very memorable. Like Joe Strummer said once when he was writing about the Clash's first American tour for one of the British music weeklies, "I only ever remember the very good days or the very bad days, so this day must have been just OK."

Sunday Tara and I took a bit of an impromptu road trip. I called her about 11 and she didn't think I could get ready to be picked up by her in an hour so I took her up on it. Got showered and dressed with at least 10 or so minutes to spare. We went to the Pocono Bazaar in Marshall's Creek, PA, a place I'd been with Tara only one other time before a couple of years ago... when it was January! Not the smartest move there. This time around it was much warmer compared to that day but it was still cold enough to require a coat 'cause of some unseasonably cold winds. We looked around for awhile and I picked up a book about Watergate called In Nixon's Web for about eight bucks, and bought Tara an "I Love You" charm for her Italian link bracelet. 

Afterwards Tara suggested that since we were right near the New Jersey border, we should look for an IHOP there. We ended up at one in Hackettstown, NJ. This was a rather tiny IHOP, I thought - built/remodeled into the one end of a strip mall. The place was nice and the food was good but about six feet away from us was a group of about 12 people seated at three tables pushed together, with the adults talking loud and their kids (all between, I'd say, 8 and 14 years old) frequently getting up out of their seats and jumping or wandering around. Their out-of-hand behavior is bad enough in and of itself, but it was doubly bad in my opinion because these kids were dressed in martial arts academy robes! The last time I checked - and one of my lifelong friends runs a karate school and I've done a couple of videos for them in the past, so I know - martial arts academies were supposed to teach kids discipline and respect, and these kids were anything but! 

I should mention as a side note that on the way over to this IHOP, Tara and I were half-joking about either looking for a White Castle, or going for the Staten Island Ferry so that we could eat at S'mac! Oh man, S'mac would be pretty good right about now! 

Last night LVP and I were trying to roast a chicken, and while we succeeded it took at least an hour longer than we anticipated, so we didn't get to finish eating until after 8! Around 9, I'm about to go put my car in the garage and I'm heading for my front door when Tara calls to tell me she was outside. I look and there she is in her car. I approach and she opens the window and hands me a plastic bag. In the bag is a plastic bottle of Kellogg's Eggo Butter Pecan syrup. This is because ever since we've been going to iHOP, I have been raving about their butter pecan syrup and Tara is often like, "Why don't you get some?" Well, now I do! She then says, "Here's part two" and hands me a big sideways brown paper bag. In the bag is a full tray of Revello's Pizza - she'd gone there that evening with her mother and sent me a pic of the tray they were indulging in via Blackberry Messenger, and when I responded with "Mmmmm...", Tara apparently decided to order me a tray out of the blue and bring it over. Whoa. Thank you, Tara - love you much :) Anyway, since I'd already (unfortunately!) eaten, I decided to wrap all of this pizza - 12 cuts - in foil and then in Ziploc bags, and brought it with me to the store for lunch. A few minutes in the toaster oven (once I'd figured out how to operate our particular model) and you would have thought it had just come out of Revello's kitchen! Excellent. Revello's is rather addictive pizza - so addictive, I should mention, that when Hillary Clinton was coming through here before the Presidential primary, she made it a point to stop for a tray (Her father was from the area - so is V.P. Joe Biden, BTW, but I don't know his opinion on Old Forge pizza). I ended up eating half the tray this afternoon by the way, and am only now starting to feel hungry again! Thoughts of S'mac may have me end up making some mac and cheese after I hit send on this - one night a couple of weeks ago I was craving Kraft Mac and Cheese, and must have reminded myself of this when I was at Wegman's the other day as I picked up two boxes while doing the rest of the grocery shopping. Heck with it, I'm gonna go make some right now! 

May. 16th, 2009

I would like to write about my day but I can't remember anything particularly notable about the day itself. Went to work, came home, had dinner, tried to write. I didn't go to the open mic at Dragonfly tonight - I had nothing prepared. I don't know when, if, or what I'll do there. I should just concentrate on writing and on my wedding (a little over 13 months from now - Jesus Xavier Christ!), and to heck with evverything else. It's a catch 22 - if I go as a listener, some peeps are going to recognize me and ask why the hell I'm not performing. 

Not sure how the weather is going to be this weekend. Today was very nice - low to mid 70's, I think. Rain is predicted at some point this weekend, but I think I've had more than enough of that shit this week. Yesterday (Thursday) it was raining so heavy that I think it briefly dampened my car enough that I had some trouble starting it up at first, so I had to give it a delibrately long enough run around town to get it dry. It did the trick. Right now I have the window of my den open and a nice breeze is coming in. 

Speaking of writing, I need to get some stuff on the music blog done this weekend and next week, I haven't written anything for it since I posted the Conor Oberst review last week. Plus, I want to work more on the novel, and I have an other idea that may be more of a writing exercise right now than anything else. I've been listening to a lot of jazz lately - nothing really new, but I'm thinking of challenging myself by trying to write about some of the albums I'm listening to. I highly doubt that these would fit on The Groove Music Life with all of the punk and J-Pop stuff, but you never know. What could I possibly do there, a sub-blog? I don't know, we'll see. 

Need to get some sleep as I have no fucking idea how my weekend is going to be and my eyelids are starting to do the blinking dance. 

ETA: Oh, here's something I just remembered. Last night when I was getting ready to call it a night, I start hearing shouting outside my den window. Some couple was arguing at the top of their lungs on the side street. I guess they were driving, got into one motherfucker of an argument, and started having a screaming match. For a moment I was wondering when I was going to hear someone getting hit or worse. It stopped before anything happened, I was getting pretty close to grabbing my phone and calling the cops. Its' a good thing I wasn't already in bed trying to sleep - I don't think I would have liked being worken up by those two assholes. 

May. 12th, 2009

Well, the replacement phone arrived Monday at work while I was out taking care of outside things for the store (banking, etc.). What a relief to have it! I put my SIM car and MicroSD card in and so far so good... until it resets itself again. On a hunch, I put a different MicroSD card in that I had and it worked fine. I copy my photos and ringtones to the other card and try it again. It resets. I immediately determine that a file somewhere on the card is fucking things up, but  I don't know which file it is (originally I thought it was a ringtone Tara sent me, but that didn't prove to be the case.) I check the files with my anti-virus program - nothing found. I figure screw it, reformat the original SD card (everything is on the other one) and put it in the phone, and I'll make new ringtones later on in Audacity (which I haven't done yet). Installed my Twitter and Facebook apps... so far so good. A clean start is good. 

Came home, listened to the new Meat Puppets album and the much-talked about Death (black proto-punk band from Detroit who recorded in 1974 but only ever got a single out - these guys predated both Pure Hell and Bad Brains!) LP and chilled out. Today was a good day. Time to call it a night...

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Reina Tanaka 'Hello Internet!'
cjmarsicano
CJ Marsicano (CJマルシカノ)
CJMarsicano.com

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