Friday, February 13, 2009

Viva Chilito, Dream Team Triples, Redneck Wendy's, and Rent a Box

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

What ever happened to the Chilito?

Let's flashback to the early 1990s. I ate at Taco Bell frequently during college. One of my favorite items was the 79 cent Chilito. I usually ordered two of those during my dining experiences at the eatery we also referred to as South of the Border. The Chilito was essentially a chili cheese burrito. Since I had an aversion to veggies, the Chilito was the perfect item for me to feast on. It contained just sauce, cheese, and beef. Not one veggie like offensive shredded lettuce or e. coli crusted tomatoes.

Chilitos? Heavenly. Delicious. With the right amount of spices, cheese, and meat.

One day, I went to Taco Bell and the Chilito had vanished from their menu. What the fuck? It turned out that comedian Paul Rodriguez had been taking shots at Taco Bell in his stand up routine. Rodriguez was born in Mexico and grew up in East Los Angeles. He busted on Taco Bell for using Mexican slang for one of their products. He pointed out that a chilito was also known in some circles as a little penis.

The suits at Taco Bell quickly abolished the Chilito. They renamed it Chili Cheese Burrito. How lame. Some franchises removed the item from their menu altogether. Damn racists could not bring it to sell small penis burritos on their menu.

Ah, the Chilito. How I missed thee.

I stopped going to Taco Bell shortly after I moved to Seattle and did too much acid and read too many anti-corporate and "fast food is evil" books. Besides, there was a chain called Burrito Loco which served huge ass burritos that could feed you for an entire day.

In Los Angeles and Vegas, Taco Bell was an afterthought. If I considered any sort of Mexican food, I went to El Pollo Loco instead. I can't even recall the last time I went to Taco Bell. Perhaps a late-night Charlie-fueled bender a couple of years ago when we drove around Hollyweird in search of something that was open.

* * * * *

In the summer of 1992, I lived in Atlanta and shared an ice cream truck business with Feldman, one of my fraternity brothers. The summer of 1992 featured the Barcelona Olympics. The big story that year surround the first incarnation of The Dream Team.

For the first time ever, professional basketball players were allowed to compete for the gold. It was a rule that changed due to constant pressure from the US basketball officials who were embarrassed after two humiliating loses. The US men's squad, made up of a bunch of college stars such as David Robinson, got stomped by Brazil (and Oscar Schmidt who dropped 46 points) in the 1987 Pan American Games. The very next year, the men's team lost to the Russians in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. The Americans won the bronze medal that year, but that was an embarrassment upon the US basketball community.

So the Dream Team was going to save America's dignity in the all American sport. Corporations like McDonald's cashed in on the hoopla and gave away souvenir cups with their meal deals. I ate at McDonald's four or five times a week back then (when I wasn't eating at Wendy's or Taco Bell) and I particularly loved the Triple cheeseburger special for $3. Fries, souvenir cup, and a triple cheeseburger for a mere $3. Best deal in Atlanta.

The back of our ice cream truck was filled with souvenir Dream Team cups and empty boxes of ice cream.

At the end of the summer, I wrote several pages of an unfinished screenplay that I based on my experiences as an ice cream man. I never completed the project but I think it would make a clever short film someday.

* * * * *

I lived within walking distance to Wendy's when I lived at the Redneck Riviera during the first summer that I moved to Las Vegas. I must have eaten there five times a week out of sheer laziness and convenience. The young black woman who worked the cashier knew me because I came in so much. I usually ordered "the usual" or something different. The usual was the #6 or a spicy chicken sandwich with a Biggie sized iced tea and fries. The something different was usually some sort of double cheeseburger with bacon and no lettuce.

On days that it was crowded, I brought my sandwich back to my room to eat. On days that Wendy's was not crowded, I ate it there in order to take advantage of the free refills on iced tea.

Some of the poorest of the poorest folks who lived in the Redneck Riviera popped into Wendy's and not to buy food. The usually went into Wendy's to use the bathroom. They were so broke that they frequented the $1 menu on McDonald's one block away. I once saw a couple of kids rush in and run out with a hand full of yellow napkins. What they needed them for, I had no clue.

* * * * *

I would never buy real food at Jack in the Box. I only venture in there for beverages and the occasional shake. Usually after writing all morning and afternoon, I head over to the Jack in the Box down the street for a big assed iced tea. I slowly drink that over the course of the evening.

I have to get to the Jack in the Box before the sun sets. You never want to be caught inside Jack in the Box there after dark. That's when the CHUD people come out of the sewers and order Teriyaki bowls.

Even at Jack in the Box, they have been slashing their work force. They installed a brand new computer kiosk and cut down on a cashier spot. You placed orders from an ATM like machine which accepted cash.

On the walk back to our apartment down the street through the slums of Beverly Hills, I noticed the plethora of 'For Rent' signs that were propped up on the front lawns of different apartment buildings of all sizes that lined our block. Apartment buildings in the neighborhood are nothing like you'd see in New York City. It's more like a massive two-story building that was broken down in six to eight units. There were a lot of smaller types that looked like a two story house that was split into two or three apartments.

As I walked around the neighborhood the last couple of weeks, those 'For Rent' signs became more and more visible. Three bedroom and two bath. Two bedrooms and two baths. And lots of one bedrooms available. Heck, there have been two opening in our apartment building for several months. The owner keeps dropping the price every month by $50. No one wants to move in.

"No one is moving to L.A. anymore," mentioned Nicky.

The entertainment industry has been slashing jobs and any of the dream chasers (actors/musicians/model types) that are moving to Hollyweird for the first time were not going to live in our neighborhood. It was too expensive and for the price, they could find something cheaper in the Valley.

A homeless guy pushed a dilapidated grocery cart down the street. Several garbage bags filled with empty cans and bottles were stacked on top of each other. He pushed the cart a couple of feet and stopped in front of a palm tree. He wandered down the alley and rummaged through a dumpster before he repeated the process and went through all of the recycling bins from all the apartment buildings on our block.

Even the housing slump has affected the dumpster diver. More 'For Rent' signs meant less occupants and less garbage and less income for the guy who returned all the bottles.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sunken Treasure! By Wil Wheaton

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Wil Wheaton has a brand new spanking book.

Sunken Treasure! is currently for sale over at Wil's latest book features a collection of new material and old material (which appeared over at Wil's blog).

I enjoyed Wil's previous books such as The Happiest Days of Our Lives and Dancing Barefoot. Oh yeah, and my favorite Just a Geek. I thumbed through Nicky's copy of The Happiest Days of Our Lives and forgot that Wil had mentioned me in the "Thanks" section.

And yes, I'm one of Wil's legion of fanboys. I already purchased my copy of Sunken Treasure.

Oh, and if you are interested in an audio-version oh The Happiest Days of Our Lives then click here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Writing Process

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

During a phone conversation a couple of weeks ago, a fellow scribe recently asked me how I write. A fellow blogger sent me an email recently weekend asking me the same thing. And then Otis posted something about searching for a perfect place to write. I thought those were odd questions, but it made me examine the tiny minutia of the process to make sure I was doing everything right. Sometimes, I slip into bad habits.

This is not a How To Write guide or post or anything like that. This is more of a "email expanded into blog format" kinda of post that discusses the recent routine that I've fallen into which has provided me with more comfort to write.

To start off, for the first time in several years, I actually have a place to live and a place to write... in Los Angeles. The stability of the routine has done wonders for the quality of my writing. Prior to the apartment in the slums of Beverly Hills, the last home base that I had was back in New York City in a studio in North Riverdale just a couple of blocks from the city line. I wrote all of my unpublished novels and two screenplays in that out-of-the-way place. Since I got booted from the apartment, I had been homeless and shuffled between my mother's apartment and my brother's place before I fell into a job in the poker industry where I constantly lived in hotels and short-term apartments all over the world, when I wasn't crashing with at my girlfriend's pad.

Probably my favorite place in the last few years? The canal apartment in Amsterdam. When my roommates Benjo and Johnny Mushrooms were asleep, I had plenty of time to write in the kitchen overlooking one of the canals. I also liked Scheckytown this past summer in Summerlin. When everyone slept, I wrote out by the pool with the bong nearby.

But now, L.A. is the place for me and I'm able to get comfortable and when I hit a groove, I can stay in that groove without any disruptions. Lucky for me, my girlfriend worked with writers in Hollywood and had to deal with their unconventional means to an end. She's also currently a freelance writer herself juggling a career in poker writing along with trying to pen a screenplay. She respects and understands the quirks that I have to go through in order to achieve the best results. That's why it's important to have people in your life that understand there are very important moments when you need to be left alone to think and work.

The most difficult thing about working in a "open" environment such as a media room at a poker tournament is the endless amount of distractions and disruptions. You really have to hunker down and focus on your laptop and trying to squeeze all those words out to the empty page. Same thing goes for a crowded internet cafe or bookstore. Sure I miss exotic places like Budapest and miss seeing my friends on a daily basis, but what I don't miss are the complete jerkoffs that you have to deal with. They often taint the environment. I don't miss those assmunchers.

My office

Thanks to a nifty birthday preset from my girlfriend, she redecorated the extra room in her apartment last fall. We turned the spare room into my office. The most important thing? A door. That's step one. Find a "closed" environment. The shut door is a symbol that it's time for me to go to work and it's a more important symbol for Nicky... if the door is closed, don't bother me unless there's an earthquake. And if there is an earthquake, it better be above a 5.0. And chances are if there's something that strong, I'm gonna feel it.

For you, finding a closed environment might be difficult. Not everyone has a den or office. But even then, those places can be distracting. Some writers flourish in an open environment and there are instances when I do as well, but for the maximum results, you need the minimum amount of people around and that's one. You. Anything and anyone else is a distraction. I knew one guy that wrote in a walk-in closet because it was sound-proofed and whenever he walked into that tiny area, he instantly switched into writing mode. A friend of mine in Seattle, his wife was a writer and she preferred writing in the car. She sat the back seat of the car (in the driveway in front of the house) and wrote with a pen and a spiral notebook as the Seattle rain outside slowly pelted the car.

Step two is the most challenging. Unplug. I shut off my cellphone. I used to hide it in a drawer so I didn't even see it to remind me that someone might have called. OMG, what if I missed a phone call? Not the end of the world. And if something horrific or tragic is going to happen, I'm sure it can wait until my writing session is over to find out if someone blew up a dirty bomb or if LeBron James got traded to the Knicks. It's not like I jump off the grid for weeks at a time my loved ones lose complete track of my whereabouts.

Unplugging also includes stepping away from email and addictive social networking sites. I had to shut off Twitter. The entire point of writing in a closed environment is to control your surroundings and eliminate any distractions. As much as I sit on the edge of my seat waiting for Daddy to post his next gem on Twitter, everything else (including my half-baked musings) is just static and that kills vital brain cells. And if your friends or relatives can't deal with you ignoring their constant pleas for attention, then tough shit. They're not real friends to begin with. Tell them to get a dog, or hire a hooker.

The avoidance of the internet and TV is crucial if you want to make vast leaps and bounds as a scribe. Especially avoiding everything mainstream media-based. That watered-down filth taints your vision as an artist. Anything commercialized like that needs to be avoided at all costs. And don't get me started on blogs. I stopped reading them and try to fill my mind with the giants. I prefer to re-read some of my favorite authors in order to remind myself what excellent writing looks like.

Recently? Thomas Pynchon and Gravity's Rainbow has been my late night insomnia reading material. Talk about an intimidating piece of work clocking in at over 750 words, but Pynchon is a constant reminder that you have to write well all the time when you're a novelist. With the blogs, I can get away with a throw-away post or I can phone it in every now and then for a poker-related assignment. But with a complete piece of defining work like Jack Tripper Stole My Dog or Project Z, every single chapter, page, paragraph, sentence, and word has to represent the best of me. Daunting? Fuck yeah. But I'm up for the challenge.

Whenever I hunker down and write, I need to have a 100% media blackout. That's a difficult undertaking so I make exceptions usually for sports to get some sort of fix. But even then, it becomes a major distraction. I purposely picked this time of year to work on the bulk of my book because it is a dead time for sports. Football is over and college basketball is still a few weeks away on the horizon. But if it weren't for sports related distractions, I'd probably would have written a few more books by now.

The next step is background music. I love having music on in the background for anything... eating, cooking, fucking, driving, playing poker, working out, and especially writing. These days, iPods and iTunes have shuffle functions which makes it so easy to just hit one button and have music play non-stop for hours, unlike years ago when I had to constantly get up and change the CD. And then finding a complete CD to play through that won't bother me was always a tough task.

I created different playlists with hundreds and thousands of songs on my iPod. Almost all of them were created with writing sessions in mind. Nicky always makes fun of my morning Jazz mix. She'll wake up and wander into the living room that's overflowing with melodies from Ornette Coleman or John Coltrane. The Miles Davis playlist is epic and I can write for a week straight before I hear a repeat. Most recently, I have a Bob Dylan playlist that has been in heavy rotation as I worked on Project Z. I also created something called the '303 All Stars' which includes a lot of Afro-Cuban jazz along with the New Mastersounds and Medeski Martin & Wood

The type of music is important as well. You don't want to be distracted by the music but inspired. Jambands and jazz make for perfect writing music. Phish. Dead. Panic. Thelonius. Charlie. Bechet. Obviously, the time of day is crucial as well. I'm conscious of our neighbors in the mornings and late at night. I try to listen to music via head phones or at a low volume. In the afternoons, I can crank it up.

The smoking aspect is important to me mostly because nothing beats the first high of the day. I actually preferring smoking on breaks or before I need to re-read something that I have been working on for hours in order to give me a different perspective on things. Maybe that's why I have so many grammatical errors... I'm writing sober and editing stoned.

If you are a habitual cigarette smoker and have to go outside or interrupt your process? You're totally fucked. Nothing trumps a nicotine addiction so you'd better have an ashtray right next to your laptop. Don't let that vice distract you from writing.

The most important thing to writing is eliminating all desires before you sit down to write. That way you can focus on one thing... creating something from nothing... connecting the dots inside your heads and stringing together words and sentences to convey your inner chatter into some sort of coherent dialogue. Desires are distractions and infect your brain. We have enough problems filtering out all the consumerist messages all around so it's even more difficult to clear the mind and create.

Sex can be a major distraction. Get it out of the way as soon as you can before you write. And if you don't have a partner nearby, rub one out. It relaxes you and you won't be thinking about lustful things when you should be hard at work.

And if you need food? Eat it before you write so you won't be hungry mid-way. During the lowest points of my starving artist days, I lived off of biscuits (crackers) and Snapple iced tea and that's all I ate all day while I wrote until I met up with my brother at night and he bought me dinner. The hunger pains forces you to write better. It drives you. If you want to be full the rest of your life, then write better and you'll have enough money to buy whatever food you need.

At the same time, your brain needs to be sharp and food is fuel. I have a couple of Clif bars nearby just in case to keep my energy levels up during marathon writing sessions.

A perfect start of the writing day is when I wake up, have a quick romp, close the door, shut off the phone, avoid the internet and email completely, put on some music, have a smoke, and start writing.

Now, I have two distinct writing sessions; day and night.

I sort of described the day session. I have chronic insomnia and I'm up before the dawn. I have several hours to myself before Nicky wakes up. I go out into the living room to write out there with the window open. When she wakes up, I retreat to my office and shut the door. She prefers to write and work sitting on the couch in the living room with incense burning and coffee brewing and a bong close by. The smells remind her of an Amsterdam coffeeshop and that inspires her to write.

The day sessions are usually plotted out before hand. If I have time to take a morning walk, I'll figure out what I'm going to write then. If not, I'll sit down for a few minutes and brain storm with pen and paper my writing goals for the day. Prior to Project Z, my morning sessions were stream of consciousness writing for up to two hours. Some instances, I published excerpts of my morning ramblings onto Tao of Pauly or Tao of Poker or even Truckin'. Most of the time I deleted those warm up words. Occasionally, I'll save some of those scribblings into my personal journal. For the most part, the writing was simply working out and training. Once I completed my warm up, I could focus on the real writing; either for my websites or freelance clients.

When I'm writing freelance stuff, the morning sessions are pointed towards meeting the deadline in a formula; research > write > edit > re-write > edit > re-write. That's my least favorite part of writing even though folks like Mean Gene and Nicky love that stage of the writing process.

Currently, the morning Project Z sessions have included research and writing, with the editing and re-writing stage happening in the late afternoons and early evenings. I lock myself in the office and I write anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 words. I cut it down and then I print up what I've written. I bust out the red pen and slash and burn and trim and cut and re-arrange sections.

Hemingway's daily goal was 500 words a day. And you knew by the end of the day that those words were gold and every single one mattered. Me? I'm a shotgun writer. I throw up 10,000 words and hope to get 500 decent ones.

My goal is to get as much writing done by dinner time.... 7pm. Once I take a dinner break, the bulk of my day is done and it's time to enjoy a meal with Nicky or catch up on the rest of my life... ergo, I plug back in and throw up witty one liners on my Twitter feed and I play online poker and see how much money I lost in the stock market and I shake my head at hundreds of back-logged email and give my two cents into the latest group email thread with my brother and friends who are Yankees fans about the latest A-Roid scandal.

And then there's the late night writing sessions. After Midnight, when I let it all hang out. Those are my favorite sessions because they are a part of what I consider "real writing." At least, those moments provide me with the most amount of joy and satisfaction. I write for the sake of writing. Because I can and nothing feels better than the music flowing and my fingers dancing on the keyboards. In short, that's heaven on Earth.

The majority of those late night sessions are fueled by inebriation and insomnia. It's 1 or 2am and I can't sleep. I'm super wasted after a day and evening of heaving smoking (especially in LA with everyone's favorite medicinal marijuana carrying Hollyweird blonde). Sometimes, I pop a pharmie late night when my back has been bothering me or I take it for the buzz and warm fuzzy feeling. I love to let loose and unleash the inner scribe. No rules. No boundaries. I let my mind wander. You never know what you're capabale of until you take your talents out for a test drive. That's when I let loose.

And I write.

For hours on end without stopping to edit errors and run on sentences and dangling modifiers or fix my egregious spelling mistakes and just embark on old school rambling session where I just go on and on and on in one super annoyingly long paragraph without even a hint of punctuation while my drenched mind races and I do everything in my immediate power to magically capture all those magnificent words as they flutter on by and I try to accurately paint those word pictures of random images inside the hallways of my mind before all those fleeting thoughts have disappeared into the black hole of my brain and I freak out when I hear strange sounds coming out from the alley and I never know if it is a hungry stray cat fighting with squirrels to the death or a disheveled homeless person rummaging through my dumpster looking for empty imported beer bottles that the guys upstairs tossed out or its an alien probe wandering about and peeking into my window and digging up recon information as I frantically peck away at the keys in the complete darkness of the apartment humming along to a cover of Watermelon Man by the faint glow of the screen on my laptop as my illuminated thoughts drifted in and out before they faded to black and it was time for me to take a break.

Sometimes, I come up with some coherent things that are blogworthy. I also pick up plenty of ideas during those late night sessions which evolve into freelance articles and future blog posts. Some of them have evolved into new blogs altogether.

Sometimes, I have a breakthrough with an area that I was stuck on earlier in the day. Nothing is more fun than taking a crack at something while totally crocked. A scene or a sentence. Sure, the majority of the time, I'm still stuck and my revision sucked llama buttocks, but every once in a while, I manage to unclog that drain with something clever and unique that I never would have come up with during the more sober and structured sessions. I managed to go so far off the reservation that I found my way home.

And then, sometimes, when I can't sleep at all, night turns into day and all of a sudden, my late night writing session slowly morphed into a early morning writing session and as I sober up, I also shift gears. The drugs wear off and the mind thinks differently during the day that it did at night.

Early morning writing sessions at the dining room table

When Nicky went to Chile (or last year when she went to Poland) and I was home alone in the apartment, I got on a weird schedule where I was up for 36-40 hours at a time. I would take a meal break at 7am and 7pm and write in between those times when I wasn't asleep. I began my late night sessions around Midnight. I went to Nick's coffeeshop at 7am for a break and took a walk through my neighborhood. I returned and was back to my writing chair by 9am where I'd blaze through the morning and afternoon until it was 7pm and time for another break.

The key is to figure out what makes you tick and what happens during the most productive times. Then try to replicate those same exact things. For now, it has been working. I have been fortunate that there's zero construction or crying babies or noisy neighbors to tilt me.

And the things that used to distract me? No longer affect me when I retreat into my office. Once the door shuts, it's shut to the world around me. Then and only then can I explore the internal creative world in an unfettered way that will give me the best opportunity to generate the best work possible.

Then again, as Johnny Hughes liked to remind me, good writers can write anywhere at anytime under any circumstances. That's 100% true, but just think how much better they could write under optimal circumstances when you controlled every single aspect of your surroundings?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Dreams Words Dreams

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

The familiar faces, random street scenes, haunting images come and go. Like a police car speeding down the street in hot pursuit of a criminal. You can hear the vociferous sirens from several blocks away as the whaling sounds grow louder and louder until the deafening sirens reach an apex in front of your house and the windows shake for a few seconds before volume of sounds slowly decrease until the sirens become nothing more than a faint whisper.

I had one of those turbulent nights. Unable to sleep because I was not tired, but totally exhausted from the lack of rest. Sleep. The other journey that we undertake on a nightly basis. Some of us brazenly jump into the other world for eight or ten hours a day. And the bizarre thing about that? You can vaguely recall a couple of minutes of those numerous hours of down time.

Why is that? Why is it so hard to recall your dreams? And why is it that the magnificent ones that you recall seem so fuckin' boring to the person you told it to?

Ah, what dreams may come. I kept detailed accounts of my abnormal dreams from different eras in my life. The first venture into dream journals occurred when I scribbled down dreams on index cards during college. It was a life-altering exercise that I got into a habit doing around my the first part of my junior year. At the same time in my personal life, I began experimenting with psychedelics mostly while following the Dead around, and the index cards were my little reminders of the insanity that transpired while my brain was friend and I was so far gone on the other side that I could only muster up obscure phrases and a handful of buzz words which were my only clues to what it was like during my perplexing journeys into the other world.

The index cards were like a trail breadcrumbs that I left behind as I passed over the bridge from sane to insane. I needed clues on how to find my way out just in case I crossed over the edge.

A rubber band held the group of index cards together. When I left Atlanta and returned to New York City after graduation, I tossed the cards in a box and took them with me.

My dreams were always random. Peculiar. But most of the time, they were totally boring. After college, I met an angry French woman who spent most of her mornings analyzing her dreams from the night before. She gave me dozens of books about the subject of dreaming including dream encyclopedias which gave you detailed explanations of certain symbols and objects in your dreams. My favorite batch of books involved lucid dreaming and exercises that you had to do in order to take control of your dreams during the sleeping life.

The angry French woman was convinced that if she could unlock the darkest secrets in her dream life, then she could achieve greatness in her waking life. As an artist she relied heavily on what her psyche told her to paint. Of course, she was stuck in a stagnant place, which is suicide for an artist. A painter who never painted. Just another malcontent pissed off at the world. She was raised on hate and cigarettes. Perhaps that's why she never evolved as an artists and her talent sputtered in the mid-1990s as she was bogged down into a depressive funk for the entire time we knew each other.

She was unable to make sense of her every day life because she became too obsessed with trying to analyze all those little things in her dreams that she was convinced were symbols. Road signs. We're all on a journey through life and some of us get more lost than others. She, oh my, she was the most lost soul that I ever encountered. No wonder. All those meaningless dreams drove her insane trying to figure out what every little thing meant. Sometimes a cat in a dream is just a cat and not about her losing her intuition. As that cokehead Freud once said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

I should be sleeping right now at the 5am hour and whisking myself away into slumberland where the streets are made of dark Belgium chocolate and sometimes I can fly. Most of the time, I can never seem to get to where I want to go in my dreams and the food tastes bland. Seriously, do you eat in your dreams? You can't taste the food, can you? Next time you have a dream remind yourself to focus on the food. It's has no taste. I never figured out why.

Sometimes I dream in black and white. I was told that schizophrenics only dream in black and white and that the truly clinically fruitcakes lack color in their dreams. Sometimes the lights in my dreams give off unconventional hues, like lots of glowing greens from street lamps. Spooky.

Maybe I'm not crazy and I'm totally sane and everyone around me are the freakazoids. Everyone is running on triple A batteries and I'm a double A kinda guy. The one-eyed man is the king in the land of the blind.

The silence of the 5am soothes me. The absence of noise intoxicates me. All I can hear is the low hum of the refrigerator. Oh, and the clicking sounds of my fingers pecking away at the keyboard. Sometimes I have to listen to music with my headphones at this hour because I don't want to disrupt my neighbors or Nicky.

So I sit in the darkness. The only light? The luminous screen on my laptop. I peck. I hunt down the meanings and the symbols and constantly check the road maps. I'm on my way. I'm almost there. I just need a little more time to get there. And I think that I'm going to have to shut up for a while so I can concentrate on the next few steps in my journey.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Stream 2/5/09

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Let's just ramble.

A bulimic actress living in the building across from ours often pukes up her dinner at 8pm. Her bathroom is right across from my office. "Bleeecccccccccccckkkkkk!" echoed through the alley. It disturbed a couple of dogs next door as they whipped into a howling frenzy.

In LA, the locals don't walk much. It's not a pedestrian town, so when I quickly walk up behind someone, they freak the fuck out.

I fried up meats for a late lunch on Wednesday. Nicky was jealous because she's bogged down in a diet like everyone else in Hollyweird. We were both surprised that my bolognese sauce worked. She had a small taste and gave me the thumbs up which was inspiring because she's an exquisite cook. The Andouille sausage added some heat to the meat sauce. I served the sauce over an organic type of pasta that I never tried before. Not too shabby.

Cooking is a perfect distraction because it's a zen activity and allows my mind to wander and I can repair the parts of the writing project that have been plaguing me. I need to spend my morning exercising which is a great opportunity to take a mental dump.

I printed up the first 50K words of the white whale for Nicky and she gave me some harsh criticism. I wasn't looking for praise but rather an honest assessment of the work. She used to critique writers all the time as a studio exec and had lots of useful criticism about pacing.

"Needs less hookers," she said.

Just when I thought it needed more hookers. Sheesh. At least we identified some structural issues which I need to address ASAP before I continue on.

One week into February, I'm in the middle of a losing streak at the poker tables. I only posted one winning session so far this month. Ebbs and flows. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you get kicked in the balls. I hate starting out a new month with a series of consecutive loses. It seems like I'm chasing just to break even.

I found a nifty gadget for my Google homepage. It's Pac-Man. And I got addicted quickly. It was a nice way to kill time during the dead zone of insomnia, but then I found myself playing during the day when I should have been doing research or writing. I finally kicked the habit by removing the entire gadget. Gone. Vanished. No more distractions.

I missed Pac-Man. It might have been a decade since I last played. Maybe more. It was the old school arcade version too. I remember the first ever Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man. Talk about weak ass graphics.

One girl that we knew in college was uber-rich. She had an actual Ms. Pac-Man game in the sun room in her apartment.

My favorite video games growing up in the mid-1980s included Tempest and Kung Fu Master. When I got a little older, I couldn't stop playing Trivial Pursuit. The local video store had an arcade version of that game. Once the technology of home video game systems improved, arcades became useless for me. NHL Hockey and Mortal Combat and PGA Golf were much more appealing to me than pissing away quarters.