Tuesday, April 30, 2013

30 Really Really Really Bad Story Ideas: Blind Jupiter, Ghost Cats, and the Return of the Shadow People

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The April project has come to an end. If you're not familiar with what I was doing this past month, check out.... Brain Projects and a Dozen Half-Baked Ideas.

Every morning, I jotted down one random story idea. Only one. The simpler and more absurd the better. For May's project, I hope to turn a few of these half-baked ideas into actual short stories and who knows if any of those short stories can be expanded into a screenplay or novella. Ah, I'm getting too ahead of myself.

I originally posted the first 12 ideas a couple of weeks ago, but today I'll post the entire list...

Story Ideas [April 2013]

 1. Grandmother gets typical cataract surgery but comes out with the ability to see the ghosts of her dead husband and sister.

2. Dope sick junkie horn player recording an album in Tokyo desperately tries to score smack in Shibuya, but ends up crossing a pimp from the Yakuza.

3. Salesman has impulsive habit to tear out random pages out of the Holy Bible in every hotel room he stays in, but he doesn't throw away the pages, yet collects them in a box that he keeps in his garage.

4. Shitting diamonds. Small-time diamond smuggler swallows gems for cash.

5. Spending an entire summer with the subjects from the Manet's paintings that currently hangs in the Manet room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. All of the subjects (like the Spanish singer, The Woman with the Parrot, and the boat captain, etc.) know each other and they all hate Manet for one reason or another. They all talk shit about him while they hang out at the same Parisian cafe in the 1880s.

6. Two words: ghost cats. Widowed woman from Portland feeds the neighborhood cats that aren't actually there. Her neighbors think she's crazy but she's the primary caregiver to hundreds of ghost cats.

7. A pair of childhood friends reunite after twenty years while attending the funeral of one of their classmates, who slipped off the subway platform and fell in front of a 6  train. After some amateur sleuthing, they find out he was a biologist working on a miracle cure for the common cold and he was murdered by a hitman working for Big Pharma.

8. Army psychiatrist must evaluate soldiers returning to Earth after finishing their tours on Venus defending various mining outposts in the Great Desert.

9.  Autistic homeless person is a chess wizard and hustles tourists in games in front of the Eiffel Tower.

10. Alcoholic washed-up ex-pro is a caddy for his son, who is a professional golfer contending for the Masters, but the caddy is back on the wagon and has to avoid his son's Evangelical wife.

11. The newly hired manager of Quentin Red has a tough first day on the job when he has to fire the psychotic bass player who threatens to commit suicide after locking himself in the bathroom of the tour bus.

12. This takes place the day after the classic race between the turtle and the hare, when the hares discover out the winning turtle was illegally using speed and other performance enhancing drugs, thereby tainting the race.
13. The BBQ. Lenny throws a BBQ and no one shows up except his neighbor, who tries to find every excuse to leave, but can't.

14. The Goldfish. Thirty-six years and still alive. It wouldn't die.

15. Cats are alien spies. (THANKS WAFFLES!)

16. A video game designer sets out to create a game that never ends.

17. Chinese-born Dishwasher living in San Francisco's Chinatown is hired by a brokerage firm because he supposedly has psychic ability.

18. Bored used-car salesmen during the oil crisis of the 1970s try to earn extra cash by becoming Elvis impersonators.

19. The day Marty had to tell his kid Santa Claus didn't exist.

20. A divorced father drags his kids to the middle of Ohio to find a roadside diner in which he ate the greatest banana split of his life, only to find out the diner burned down years earlier.

21. Going blind in outer space. One by one, contractors working on a mining colony on one of Jupiter's moons mysteriously lose their eyesight. A clergyman incites a mutiny when he convinces the blind miners that God took their eyesight for their lack of faith.

22. When Jimmy went to college, his mom threw away his baseball card collection. Twenty years later, he goes on a journey to find every card he used the own.

23. The Return of the Shadow People.

24. The ghost writer. A writer with rehabilitating insomnia befriends a ghost. The two write a screenplay together about how the ghost was murdered by his father-in-law, who is the retired chief-of-police.

25. Hotel room 732 had five inhabitants inside of a week.

26. A loan shark drums up business by attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings.

27. Charles got paid to paint replicas of famous paintings. No one liked any of his paintings, but his replicas were more authentic than the originals so much so, INTERPOL thought he was framed in a massive art theft ring.

28. A drag queen estranged from his family for two decades must go back home to Kentucky for his father's funeral.

29.  A priest is stabbed trying to help a homeless man eating out of a church's dumpster.

30. A man claims he has cancer so his friends and co-workers will do a walk-a-thon to help pay for his medical bills. He doesn't have cancer. He's lying in order to use the money to pay back his bookie.
I told ya some of these were bad ideas... but that was the point. I have 30 terrible ideas. Now, onto the next step and figure out which ones to write about. Which ones would you like to see expanded into a short story?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Books by Sunlight

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Sunlight. I prefer to read by sunlight. I'll find any location to read (on the subway, on the bench in a park, in a cafe in Amsterdam), but if I had to pick a light setting, I opt for the natural light of that  glowing star responsible for illuminating our universe.

I'm suspicious of people who claim to be bored. It usually means they're one-dimensional philistines who don't read books. Avid readers with any bit of unstructured time fill those gaps with reading. It's like being an alkie. Instead of drinking beers at the local pub... it's opening a book and letting the mind wander.

Most of the stuff I read on the internet is junk food. Even my stuff. Especially my stuff. I'm the equivalent of a fast-food chef.  I can crank out deep-fried content on a variety of topics.

Books are like fine dining. Books are refined and contain deliberate words. I read crap on the web to fulfill my desire for junk food. I read books for a more hearty and wholesome gourmet meal. Of course I'm generalizing here and there are exceptions to both ends... I've come across web content that is like a seven-course meal and there's some books that are like a sloppy fast-food cheeseburger. But you're missing my point... the time you invest in a half-baked blog post is like grabbing a dirty-water dog from a street vendor and eating on the go, whereas a book is like a three-hour feast that requires a substantial amount of investment to consume the meal and then even some time afterwards to think about the manuscript and properly digest it all.

I read fiction to teach myself how to become a better writer. I read non-fiction to teach myself new things about the world I didn't know before I woke up that day.

I've always been a book worm and opted for a book over television. I still do. My only addiction is sports and that complicates things. Reading books is way healthier (for the mind) than watching TV or sports because I'm not bombarded with 15 minutes of commercials for every hour I devote to reading. I read books approximately two hours every day. If I devoted those two extra hours of my time to TV, by the end of the week I would have watched 3.5 hours of commercials. That's on top of the usual viewing I make. If I didn't read so much stuff on the internet and didn't read books a couple of hours every night, I'd be spending 5 hours watching TV, which means 80-90 minutes of commercials every day or a good 8+ hours a day. If you watch a lot of TV, you're spending the equivalent of a work day getting brainwashed by commercials and have all of your worst fears and insecurities manipulated by banksters, Big Pharma, and Hollyweird.

I prefer to watch the few TV via DVR so I can zip through the commercials. Even then, you still get visual recognition of logos and such. The shitty aspect about sports viewing is that I'm forced to watch commercials, which are recycled over and over and over. It's horrible during March Madness when I'm anxious about the game I bet on and I get to see the same fucking mobile phone commercial seven thousand fucking times that my head is going to explode.

The best part of NBA League Pass and MLB.TV is the lack of commercials. They are offer up local feeds (so I can get YES for Yanks games or MSG for Knicks games) but they block out commercials. MLB goes to a "Commercial Break" page and an MLB logo, while NBA shows you scores! I got spoiled sweating sports that way. The worst sport to watch is football because  of a nonstop blitz of commercials that makes you feel like Cambodia and Laos when they were getting carpet bombed by Nixon. The worst part of football on TV is that insane commercial before and after a kickoff, so you have to sit through six minutes of advertisements with a touchback sandwiched in between.

I prefer to read by sunlight. Natural light bouncing off of industrial-grade publishing paper is easier on the eyes. I try not to read books late night because of the strain on the eyes, even strong desk lamps. Mine broke a couple of months ago. Actually, the light bulb broke and the lamp is fine, but the lamp was an Ikea piece of shit and the bulb was a weird shape, which meant normal stores did not carry the bulb. It was difficult to buy in real life and super expensive to purchase it online. I found the bulb for... $23... not including shipping. What the fuck? For the price of a replacement bulb it was cheaper for me to buy a new desk lamp. In this case, planned obsolesce backfired. I found an alternative lamp for under $10 and it included a more common bulb.

Man, I'm starting to turn into that curmudgeon that says "They don't make shit like they used too."

Three books arrived on Saturday and two of which I needed to read for a work project. I picked up one of them was 99 cents and the other was a fucking penny. Yeah, two books for a buck. I wanted to jump right in and start reading but couldn't figure out where to start, so I read little bit of each book on Saturday. On Sunday morning, I picked one up by random and started reading in my office with the natural sunlight.

Enter the distractions. First the Knicks game, which tilt me (see below). Then my upstairs neighbor gave violin lessons on Sunday in the space right above my office. Fuck me. Her students are not-so good and it's torture to hear them stumble through violin screeching that sounds like two cats getting sawed in half. When she finally finished the lessons, the our nextdoor neighbors decided it was their turn to make a lot of noise. Someone in the building next door recently moved in and had a house-warming wine tasting party. Rough. 20-30 hipsters and their purse dogs congregated 20 yards away from my office. Bad music. The muffled conversation and yipping of dogs sounded like geese fucking each other with corkscrews.

I was already on tilt by the atrocious officiating in the NBA. I'm not betting on any of the playoff games, but from a fan's standpoint I grew increasingly angrier over the weekend at the horrible manipulation of games because 5 out of the 8 series were on the verge of a sweep and most of the games were lopsided and boring blowouts. I get it. The NBA is a business. A global empire. Sports entertainment. But the refs were blatantly obviously horrendously trying to help certain teams that it became unwatchable. My bud Shamus is one of the most clear-headed and academic minds I know and even he questioned what was going on in one particular game. Even Nicky, who constantly has to play the role of Agent Scully to my conspiratorial Mulder, noticed something was amiss. Then again, she has a deeper understanding of show business and TV ratings. In Hollywood terms, sometimes a TV show milks a specific storyline over a full season in order to keep the viewers engaged for the duration. In NBA terms, they want to extended their storyline an extra game or two in order to rake in more cashola from ticket sales and ad revenue. That's cool... it's big business... just try a little harder to not make it so obvious.

Anyway, I was sickened about the state of the NBA and all I wanted to do was tear through a couple of books that I need to read before I started a new work project mid-month. With a limited window of time, I felt like I was banging my head up against the wall to the soundtrack of soused hipster chatter and irksome screeching violins.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Giant Fucking Robots (Fiction)

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

2015. Silver Lake. Two middle-aged men dressed like 15-year old skater kids stand in front of a vegan Malaysian-Tex-Mex taco truck.

"I haven't seen you in a couple weeks. You look paler than usual."

"Been busy. I'm almost finished with a screenplay."

"You and three million assholes in this shit hole of a abhorrent city."

"Mine's different."

"That's what all those shit-for-brains shitstains say."

"Seriously. Mine is different. It's about the inequality of wealth in the world."

"The inequality of whats-a-who?"

"Wealth. Inequality. You know, the rich keep getting richer. The shrinking middle class."

"Why the fuck did you write that kind of pinko-commie bullshit? You don't get it do you? Why waste your time with some sort of social injustice crap? You'll never sell it in a million years. This is not the town for that type of commie bullshit. Grow your hair out and move up to Berkley and adapt it as a stage play and get some naked hippie chicks to act it out in the middle of Golden Gate Park."

"Keep talking shit. After you finish reading it, you'll apologize because it will change your view on the world and how we're complicit in helping the rich trick the middle class into blaming the poor about all of their problems. Divide and conquer. It's the oldest trick in the book, except I wrote a post-modern version."

"Post-modern-whats-shit? Dude, are you back on the sauce again? How long you've been living in this fucking town? Ten years? Fifteen years? Stop using more than two-syllable words to describe your script. You know all of those exec-u-monkeys suits at Warner Brothers are fucking brain dead morons. Explaining a simple concept to any non-creative is like trying to explain nuclear physics to fucking Corky."

"They'll want to read this. Even the dumb ones. It's one of those once-in-a-generation scripts. It'll create buzz. I'm thinking so out-side the box that someone will want to take a chance on it."

"Are you snorting bath salts again? Lacing your joints with rat poison? Drinking floor polish? Shoving vodka-soaked tampons up your bung-hole again? What the fuck happened to you? Were you kidnapped by aliens or something and replaced by a total fucking self-righteous shit-for-brains?"

"When you're done with your ornery rant and get off your soap box and finally go home, please check your email. I sent you the latest draft."

"What did you agent say?"

"She hasn't seen it yet. You're the only person I sent it to. The only person who read it was Juanita, my cleaning lady and she loved it."

"Whaaaaa? Your fucking maid read your script?"

"She wrote two spec scripts already. She's been asking me to show them to my agent."

"Geez, that's how fucking bad it is in Hollywood, eh? Even illegal maids who can't even fucking speak English are writing a script. Now you know why I'm working in the non-script reality genre. Writing reality TV is hard fucking shit. It's impossible enough to get real fucking actors to say your lines without changing shit up or stepping on the jokes. Good luck getting shit-for-brains reality TB douche-queens and dick-cheesers to follow the fucking general outline."

"Maybe if you wrote about real-world issues instead of fake-world issues, you might feel a lot less angry about yourself?"

"I can write whatever the fuck I want, but in the end, it's tough to sell anything anymore without taking it in the ass. Seriously, please save yourself the embarrassment and humiliation and delete that script. Don't show it to your agent. Don't show it to anyone. Burn the fucker to the ground. Even if it's the greatest social inequality script in the world, not a single fucking suit will be foolish enough to even broach the incendiary subject in public. This is the golden age of excess and over-consumption and giving dumb mother fuckers their 15 minutes of fame. The dumber, the better. If you want to write about social inequality, then start a Tumblr and post pictures of starving pot-bellied children from third-world countries."

"You're usually very supportive, yet you're now being mean. What gives? Even when you wrote for that shitty reality channel, the one that had 24-hour coverage of the Kardashians, I never gave you shit. When you wrote for the spin off show that followed their dogs, I still respected you. I never gave you shit. I could have, but I knew you needed to pay the rent like the rest of us."

"Fuck off, dude. That fucking dog had fucking puppies and now there's three fucking spinoffs and a fourth one fucking coming. I gotta keep milking those fucking Kardashians-fucking-clowns for every cent I can. Those vapid beasts are gonna pay my kid's college tab. Get with the program. Stop with all this inequality crap. You're biting the hand that feeds you."

"People don't like to talk about wealth and the grossly absurd division of wealth for a reason. I can judge by your reaction. You're proving my point exactly. That's why this script is going to be huge. It makes people angry. That's my point. They should be enraged. If you're not angry, then you're not paying attention."

"This town is a bastion of snobbery. Stop fighting against the world you're a part of. If you want to sell a screenplay, you better write a Spider-Man spec script otherwise, it better have zombies, vampires, or giant fucking robots. Better yet, how about all four? Spider-Man fights zombies, vampires, and giant fucking robots. Think smarter. Giant. Fucking. Robots."

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Around the Horn: Draft Woes, Spider Killers, and German Speed Beatles

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

 Another busy week on Tao of Pauly. Here's what you might have missed...
Sunday Fiction: Shadows -- After taking some time off from the Fiction department, I penned a little something based on a story someone once told me about shadow people.

Bad Films: Bagger Vance -- I love sports films, but this one was one of the worst I've ever seen.

German Speed and Early Beatles -- I watched a little bit of the Beatles documentary and wrote about my favorite part in their history working in German clubs while fried on speed.

Killing Spiders -- I removed a spider before my girlfriend woke up and saw it and freaked out.

Agony, Sorrow, and False Hope (a.k.a. Life As a Jets Fan) -- The NFL draft is upon us and I had blocked out those bitter memories about being a Jets fan.

Broken Ikea Lamps, Ambushed by Sprinklers, and Westbrook's Knee -- I woke up and started off on a bad note by breaking a lamp. It was all downhill after that.

Over at Ocelot Sports, I wrote a couple things...
Lamentations: The LOL-Jets on Draft Day -- The Jets are one of the worst teams in pro sports to root for, yet despite their constant fuck-ups, I have been unable to walk away from them.

Bronx Bums: 4/28 Report - Wounded Yanks Sweep Jays -- My weekly report on the NY Yankees.

Over at the Tao of Fear, I posted something about the Alien prequel... Prometheus: Symbolism and Explaination.

I also found inspiration from this week's writing music...
Giant Steps by John Coltrane
Somethin' Else by Cannonball Adderley
Hub Cap by Freddie Hubbard

Friday, April 26, 2013

Broken Ikea Lamps, Ambushed by Sprinklers, and Westbrook's Knee

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Sometimes you wake up and know right away if you're going to have a good or bad day.

I fell asleep around sunrise. I had a rough time sleeping the last week especially. I think it has a lot to do with the fact I watched more "TV news" in the previous week than I had done all last year. I was captivated by the Boston Bombing and somewhat paralyzed because I could not get any real work done.

Nicky had to get up early for work, so I didn't crawl into bed until I was ready for sleep around sunrise. I passed out for a couple of hours and woke up around 8am because I heard the first leaf blower. My neighbors hired gardeners to make their lawns look pristine. Image is everything in the Slums of Beverly Hills. Most of those guys are paid peanuts while the landscaping company rakes in big bucks. In order to turn a max profit they force their workers to fire-up loud machinery early in the morning. Normally when the machines go off, I'm in my office writing or researching or reading and I get irked that they are disturbing the peace. This instance, I was in bed when I heard the annoying motor from the leaf blower next door.

I got out of bed. Foggy and groggy. I took a long piss and heard more annoying sounds -- upstairs neighbor blow drying her hair and the leaf blowers. I walked into the living room and promptly knocked over a lamp. It was one of those cheap Ikea lamps in which you assemble yourself. Flimsy. The energy-saving bulb crashed onto the hardwood floor and shattered in a million pieces. Shards everywhere. Everywhere. Fuck me.

Nicky was about to head out the door and go to work. I told her I'd clean it up and trudged to the closet to get a broom to sweep up the broken light bulb. The lamp was broken and I'd have to buy a new piece of shitty lamp from Ikea and wasted four hours trying to figure out what the fuck I want. The shelf life on Ikea products are usually under 24 months, so I should be grateful this lamp lasted twice as long.

After sweeping up the glass, I was up for good and would not be able to fall back asleep. especially because I was blitzed with a memory of something I once read that suggested the new energy-saving bulbs used mercury. Was that just conspiracy fodder, or a legit claim? I was too tired to look it up.

Just when I thought things couldn't get worse... my Blackberry went on the fritz. Sometimes it glitches up. Sometimes my friends joked I'm getting spied on by the government or I'm getting directions from the Mothership. The reality is not as sexy. I run the fucker into the ground because I use it more than I should. Once the Boston Bomber got caught, I put my CrackBerry aside and turned it off for most of the weekend. It was very productive! When this week started, I kept a safe difference between me and my mobile device. The less time I spend on it, the more time I will not waste time dicking around.

Alas, I woke up and the phone wasn't working. My emails did not come through. I changed the battery and waited for it to reboot. That's when I tried to remember the phone number from my last landline. I only recalled the prefix. It's been nine years since I last had a land line and it's been almost 11 years since I got m original mobile number. Yeah, I'm one of the last lucky few from NYC to have gotten a 917 area code.

I showered and changed and walked down the street with the intentions of grabbing breakfast at the diner. I got about three or four houses down and that's when the sprinklers turned on via a timer. Four little black nubs shot up out of the ground and drenched the sidewalk. More water was going on the pavement than on the grass. My jeans wee soaked.

Another bad beat and I had not even walked half a block. I guess things couldn't get any worse, right?

As soon as I sat down at the coffeeshop, I glanced at my phone which had properly re-booted. I was swarmed with a shitload of emails and text messages. I read the bad news first. Russell Westbrook blew out his knee and he's done for the year because he needs surgery. Westbrook played for Oklahoma City and they were the only team that could potentially beat the Miami Heat. The only big bet I had made for the NBA playoffs was a futures wager on OKC Thunder to win the NBA championship this year. They lost to Miami last year (4-1 in the NBA Finals) but I thought this was the year they upset Miami. In addition to the wager I made before the season began, I doubled down when the regular season ended last week. two bets on OKC to win it all. Looks like those bets are dead in the water. Unless Kevin Durant can score 70 points every night, I doubt OKC will even return to the Finals.

I returned to the apartment after breakfast. My big bets were toast. My jeans were still wet. And I needed a new Ikea lamp. All things considered, it wasn't as bad as I thought. Sure, no one likes to sweep up glass while completely groggy and no one wants to get drenched by sprinklers and no one wants to see a premier athlete go down with an injury. Yeah, the day started off rough, but if that's the worst thing that happens today, then I'll be a very lucky person.

With that said, the Jets are a couple of hours away from making their second round draft pick. I really hope they make the right choice and don't go after Manti Teo. Then again, I'll really feel sorry for  Geno Smith or Ryan Nassib if they get drafted by the Jets Circus. I thought I was having a bad day, shit, dealing with Ikea is peanuts compared to your life being ruined by getting drafted by the LOL-Fucking-Jets.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Agony, Sorry and False Hope (a.k.a. Life As a Jets Fan)

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I put the misery out of my mind for a couple of months. The malaise of being a Jets fan is like a seasonal depression. Once the playoffs began, the Jets no longer existed. I didn't have to think about the Jets over the last couple of months and blocked the past season out of my memory. I did not want to have to re-live the misery. But since the draft is tonight, it was impossible to ignore all the chatter. I was on the verge of blowing the entire thing off until I watched the latest 30 for 30 documentary about the 1983 NFL Draft and the agent who repped both Dan Marino and John Elway.

Elway was a golden boy from the get go and got picked #1 (by the Baltimore Colts). My hometown NY Jets passed on Dan Marino and picked an unknown QB from UC-Davis (a Division II school) named Ken O'Brien who excelled during his workouts and dazzled scouts with his arm strength. at the time, the word on the street was that Marino was a cokehead. His senior year's stats were nothing compared to his stats from his junior year. Everyone suspected he was on the sauce. A couple of local cops looked into the story but they came up empty. The school gave Marino drug tests during his final year and he passed them all. The truth was that Marino was not a cokehead but it was impossible to quell those rumors so his stock dropped to the back of the first round. Even the Pittsburgh Steelers passed on Marino. It's hard to fault the Jets. They went with their (wrong) intel and it came back to hurt them because Marino is fucking Marino. Kenny O'Brien had a good career, but it wasn't anything like Elway's or Marino's, so Jets fans are haunted with another memory of "what if we picked Marino instead of O'Brien?"

Nicky saw part of the documentary and was shocked the Jets passed up on Marino. She had no idea about the Jets horrid past with their draft picks. For every one that turned out a superstar, they had a dozen of busts. This morning I saw a montage clip of Jets fans booing their first round picks from different drafts from the 1980s and 1990s. It's funny in many ways, but incredibly sad in others. It's painful to watch because you see the franchise make horrible pick year after year after year.

I wrote something about the utter torment Jets fans must endure to cheer on a team that let's us down year after year after year. Check out: Lamentatons: The LOL-Jets on Draft Day.You can see the montage video with all the Jets' fans booing their picks.

Sports is supposed to be uplifting and inspiring. It's supposed to promote teamwork and overcoming obstacles and pushing yourself to achieve something you never thought was physically possible. But when your team sucks, like the Jets do, it's hard to get inspired by a bums of morons running the team into the ground. I'll spare you all of the Jets bad beat stories, but I sincerely doubt they can turn the franchise around with this upcoming draft. It's nothing except false hope.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Killing Spiders

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I killed a spider. Quietly. Like a ninja assassin. I didn't remain silent to sneak up on the spider, rather, to not wake up my girlfriend. She hates spiders. HATES. They freak her out. She screams like a little girl and then I swoop in to the rescue and save the day.

The spider knew I was there because it could feel my heart beat. It knew I was close. I totally missed it when I stepped into the shower. I first saw it in the upper corner. I looked up and saw something I thought was a stray wire. After the water got out of my eyes, I saw a pretty big, nasty spider with long-ass legs.

If Nicky saw it, she'd freak out. Go crazy. Make a scene. She hates spiders.

I finished my shower and when I was done I made sure to not make a big fuss. Nicky was still sleeping so as long as she was still in the bedroom, she would never have to know about the spider. All I had to do was liquidate the pest and harmonious life could continue.

But killing spiders is bad, according to Buddha. We're supposed to cherish all life. But then it's cool to eat cows but not kosher to kill spiders. I don't get it. Life is hypocrisy.

I think one of the primary reasons my girlfriend has stuck with me through the years is my willingness to kill whatever pest freaked her out. When we lived in San Francisco with Halli, I pulled double duty and had to remove pests whenever either lady came upon one. It was pure comedy for me. Sheer terror for them. At least I had some purpose in life. Just when I thought I was aimless, directionless, rudderless, and not feeling good about any of my petty accomplishments, at least I can add arachnid slaughter to my resume.

 In this case, I used a baseball bat and let the spider crawl onto the end and then shook it off into the toilet and flushed it down the drain. It could still be alive somewhere in the vast Los Angeles sewer system, or maybe it was breakfast for whatever rats were living down there.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

German Speed and the Early Beatles

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I couldn't sleep and watched a little bit from a Beatles documentary. I was particularly interested in their early days after they got a job working in Hamburg, Germany in August 1960. Over a period of 15-16 months, the Beatles played on and off all over Hamburg before returning to Liverpool, England.

The Beatles didn't start out as the "fab four", rather this incarnation had five guys and Ringo was still playing with a more popular band. After the Germany run, the bass player (Stu Sutcliffe) returned to art school (Paul McCartney took over on bass) and the drummer (Pete Best) was replaced by Ringo.

 In the early 1960s, Hamburg was more like Amsterdam is today. It was only 15 years after the end of WWII and Hamburg had become a destination for debauchery and raunchy sex. The Beatles played in different strip clubs and brothels, eventually paying their dues and working their way up the proverbial ladder. They started out providing background music for strippers. After a while, there were good enough that they could play one of the bigger venues in town (almost 2,000 seats). More importantly, they finally graduated from titty bars and whore houses.

Why was Germany vital? For one, the band played nonstop seven days a week. If they didn't have any chops yet, they eventually developed it in Germany. It's that whole 10,000 hours rule about it taking that long to become an expert at a specific task. God knows how many sets. They played four or five sets a night (and made around $25/week each). They played from sundown to sunrise on most nights and eventually mastered their instruments. They used their money to buy cheesy leather jackets and American-made cowboy boots. They looked like hoodlums or extras from a greaser motorcycle gang. I guess they had to look a little tougher if you were playing for a bunch of drunks, who did not take kindly to a dainty and poncy atmosphere.

The band slept in a store room next to a bathroom that old German hookers (both regular and transvestites) used regularly. Yep, every band has to pay their dues and the Beatles suffered with the constant aroma of trannie urine.

Lennon and McCartney had not yet become a songwriting dynamic duo. The Beatles played covers. Nothing but covers. But the later it got in the night and the emptier the clubs got, they were able to play their favorite covers -- mostly delta blues -- from legendary southern bluesmen. They even tossed a few Elvis covers into the mix. Those Germans fucking loved Elvis.

The band was jacked up on speed the entire time in Germany. Heck, the Germans helped invent speed. The club owners gave the band Preludin tablets (a.k.a. Prellies) which helped keep them playing late into the night. There was no Red Bull in 1960. It had yet to be invented. An energy drink for them was a glass of warm beer and a small Prellie pill that put a bunch of pep in their steps.

Everyone has to start somewhere. The Beatles got their humbling break in Germany by cranking out frantically fast blues covers for tourists, while crocked to the tits on speed. You net your ass when they finally returned to England, they were grateful for the chance to not have to bunk next to jaded German whores.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Bad Films: Bagger Vance

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I blame the insomnia for my lapse in judgement. 2am. No sleep. No dreams. Just the warm glow of the TV flickering in the darkness. I blame the marijuana for making me lazy. The remote control was on top of the TV stand a few feet away. I was nestled into the couch. Sort of glued to the comforts of a special pillow arrangement that gave me maximum support for my aching back. I was lazy and comfortable and unwilling to move, so I was tuck watching whatever was on the channel. In this case it was The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000 directed by Robert Redford).

I enjoy sports movies, but this one was utterly horrendous. I was shocked that Redford directed such a shitty flick. Bagger Vance was originally a book and like most books, they are superior to their film versions, but the original manuscript was much better because it relied more on an old tale from India from the sacred Bhagavad Gita, about Krishna helping a warrior get his mojo back. Stuff like that makes for great literature, but it fails to translate on the big screen.

Bagger Vance was a $60-million flop. Most of that budget went to pay for the bloated salaries of Matt Damon, Will Smith, and Charlize Theron. The rest went to the art department who did a decent job replicating the tail end of the Great Depression in the deep South save for one thing... everyone should have been skinnier. People only ate once a day back then... and that was if they were lucky. Weight aside, Bagger Vance is as much a subtle period piece as it is a golf movie. It was a time when everyone wore ties... even the unemployed broke dicks down on their luck.

Anyway, as the story goes... the richest man in Savannah, GA built a huge golf resort but construction was completed smack in the middle of the Great Depression. Without any wealthy guests, his resort is a failure, so he killed himself. His grieving daughter (Charlize Theron) inherited the golf resort and its debts. She decided to host an exhibition tourney between the world's two best golfers (Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen) in order to raise her resort's profile. The mayor wants one of their golfers to be represent Savannah and the town picks one of their homegrown boys -- Capt. Junuh -- except he hadn't played in over a decade and has serious PTSD from WWI. Back then, it was called "shellshock." Capt. Junuh (Matt Damon) could have been a great golfer but he returned from the war a different man. Unable to cope with his demons, he gave up the game of golf for good and spends his night drinking whiskey and playing cards with local derelicts. To complicate things, Junuh used to bang the resort owner's daughter and she's been a scorned lover ever since he left for the war.

That Matt Damon character sounds familiar right? It changes over the years from story to story. In Westerns, it's a gunslinger who lost his bravado. In this instance, it's a golfer who lost his swing. Oh, and there's a love interest. Typical story... a "war" puts the kibosh on a relationship.

And what's up with the title Bagger Vance? Yeah, the caddie is named Bagger Vance (Will Smith). Bagger literally appears out of nowhere once night and offers up his caddy services to a washed-up Junuh, who has four weeks to get sober and get ready to play. Yet, you barely see his development from rusty golfer back into his robust former self. Aside from hitting balls in the dark while Bagger Vance dispatches zen-like phrases, or a quick scene of Junuh hitting balls in the rain, it looks like that part of the film was heavily edited for time purposes. To me, that would have been the most interesting part of the film... the painful and arduous process of getting back on the horse... is more appealing that the glory of the comeback.

The golf scenes were shot majestically. They tried to use 1930s-era equipment so they played with wooden clubs. Golfing attire was still very similar 80 years ago... everyone was still dressed like a pimp.

I vaguely recall Spike Lee getting furious with Will Smith and Spike called him out for taking a huge paycheck to do a "Driving Mr. Damon" flick that ignored serious race issues that plagued the South in the early part of the 20th Century. Spike criticized the film for playing up the mythical "magical negro," which he thought was a cheap ploy to move a along story, while ignoring all racial undertones.

At the time I didn't think anything of Spike's outrage (most critics assumed this was venom by Spike because Smith picked Michael Mann to direct Ali over Spike), but after seeing the flick I can understand Spike's frustration on Will Smith helping Hollywood continue to gloss over America's race relations.

On the other hand, I saw Bagger Vance more like a Yoda for Matt Damon's Luke Skywalker. Yeah, it's hokey and absurd to think that Bagger Vance is literally some dude who walked out of the shadows and shows up out of nowhere to be a caddy who dispatches astute wisdom on how Damon can get his golf swing back, overcome PTSD, rekindle his love life, re-capture his love of the game, and somehow play 72 holes of golf in two days without taking a single drink. But that's what happened. Behold, the magic of Hollywood's magical negro! Yeah, the more I think about it, Spike Lee was right.

Good things: cinematography... the Georgia coast is stunningly beautiful. Also, there's a scene with Grantland Rice, who shows up to cover the match, and they refer to him as the greatest sportswriter in America.

Bad things: Charlize does not get naked. Her accent is inconsistent and more southern than Savannah (you have to had lived in the South to notice the distinct difference to a coastal Southern accent that you will predominately find today in Charleston and Savannah). It also seems as though Damon drops his weak-ass attempt at an accent about 1/3 through the film.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Fiction: Shadows

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

She was 43 years old when she first contacted me. I worked at a small-time newspaper in Bellingham. The editor printed my phone number at the end of my column. That's how she got my number.

"Can we meet... in person? I don't like... talking... talking... over the phone.... like this... it's not good. We must meet."

The way she said it made it sound like she was pleading for her life.

"You know the Horseshoe? It's a coffeeshop around the corner from the newspaper."

"No. I don't want to do this in town."

She picked a random McDonald's twenty or so miles outside of Bellingham. I met her around 9pm. With the exception of a trio of high schoolers stoner kids goofing off in the corner, we were the only ones inside.

She looked like one of those anti-drug ads for meth heads and they show a before/after picture of a once beautiful woman who was afflicted by drug abuse. Well, she looked like the after photo. Worn down. Gaunt. Thick, perpetual dark circles around both her eyes. Long, stringy hair. She reeked of cigarettes and the faint aroma of wine. She drank McD's industrial black coffee with several sugars. She eyed a couple of shriveled up fries on my tray. It wasn't like the same goofy look your dog gave you when he wanted your food scraps. She was locked in on the fries to avoid eye contact with me.

"I told this story to different people," she said. "No one wanted to help me. No one in my family  believed me. My friends stopped talking to me because they thought I was crazy. My husband insisted I see a shrink or he'd leave me. The drugs didn't work. Made me crazier. I kept seeing more shadow people. It was only worse. The doctor and my husband were conspiring to keep me drugged up. Whatever the doctor gave me was too strong. I begged him to lower the dosage. He wouldn't. I stopped taking the meds and left. That was last summer."

Her accent was British, but she said she lived in Canada for most of her adult life before getting married and moving to Seattle. After she left her husband, she lived in a cabin outside of Bellingham.

"It's been frustrating. I didn't think anyone could help me until I read your article."

A few months earlier, the town was buzzing due to a UFO sighting. Several witnesses including a deputy's wife had posted videos on YouTube. UFO sightings were common in the Pacific Northwest.  Belligham PD fielded a dozen or so every year. The locals chalked it up to secret test craft from Boeing's mad scientists or some black ops military project. Both Boeing and the Air Force denied any involvement in the UFO incident. I didn't think anything of the story. It was one of 14 articles I filed that week. When she initially read it, she jotted down my phone number but she waited two months to finally call me.

Sometimes when you interview someone, you're not a reporter and more like a dentist and you're pulling teeth and it's a painful process in order to extract any pertinent information. Other times you can't get the person to shut up and they ramble on and on and on and they think they're providing you with tons of juicy intel, but the downside is that most of it is hot air. Every once in a while, you hit the jackpot and come across someone in which everything they say is valuable. Out first meeting at McD's was just that. She asked that I do not record her and even asked to see my pockets to make sure I was not hiding any devices. She was uncomfortable when I started taking notes with pen and pad. I apologized and listened, nut took mental notes.

She was obviously distressed and needed help. I sat and focused on every word and every sentence. I was doing everything possible to divulge the truth and watched her body movement attentively, almost like a poker player, trying to gauge any hidden emotions. She was telling me two stories. One with words and another with her non-verbal communication. She could twist the truth with words, but it was harder to hide her body language. Her hands tensed up when she spoke about the sleepless nights. She tapped her nails on the table in successions of threes whenever she shared details on her constantly being followed. A vein on the left side of her neck bulged when she spoke about detectives unwilling to assist her.

Sometimes hurt people just want someone to talk to. But she didn't want someone to just listen. She wanted someone who could help her. I couldn't tell if I should be contacting a Native American shaman, a Hollywood script writer, or a local shrink.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Around the Horn: Windy Coltrane Choices, Twitter B-Days, and Clinton's Knee Jerk

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Happy 4/20 Day. If you don't partake in the herbs, then let me clue you in... today is St. Patrick's Day for  potheads. To honor this festive days, I posted a couple of things...
Marijuana - Drugs, Inc. -- Over at Tao of Fear, I added the weed episode of my favorite docu-series by NatGeo.

Happy 4/20 Day with Snoop -- Over at Coventry Music, I added a classic Snoop Dogg song Gin and Juice that gives me instant flashbacks of smoking blunts in the mid-90s.

Okay, now that we got the holiday celebration stuff out of the way, it's time to recap the last week on Tao of Pauly...
Art and Copy Reprise -- It was a lazy week mostly because I was glued to the Boston police scanner every waking hour after the Boston bombing. On Monday night, I managed to turn everything off for a couple of hours and watch a documentary on advertising and the original "Mad Men" from the golden era of advertising in the  60s-70.

Wind Chimes, Wind Choices -- Life comes down to those moments when we get to stray away from the path of comfort and normalcy.

Bill Clinton and the Battle of Wounded Knee -- Did I ever tell you the story about how Bill Clinton blew out his knee when he fell down a flight of stairs at Greg Norman's house?

Twitter Birthdays and Media Obituaries -- I celebrated my 5th twitter birthday yet I'm worried about the future of post-modern "24/7 news now" journalism.

And the NBA regular season ended on Wednesday and the NBA playoffs started today. I wrote a little something about the postseason for Ocelot Sports. Oh, and I almost forgot... I'm writing a weekly report on the Yankees.
NBA Playoffs Preview: Heat-Thunder Reprise -- I'm anticipating a repeat of last year's NBA Finals between Miami and Oklahoma City.

Bronx Bums: 4/14 Report --The Yankees bounced back from a 1-4 start and went on a 5-1 mini-streak to get back on track with a 6-5 record, which is good enough for second place in the AL East.

This week's writing music included...
The Last Trane by John Coltrane
The Bremen Concert by Charlie Mingus and Eric Dolphy

Friday, April 19, 2013


By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

TAD was a band from Seattle that was spawned in the late 80s and lived until the late 90s before they broke up.  They were fronted by a guitar player and lead singer named Tad who looked like a 20-something, head-banging, stoner-version of Tony Soprano.

Flashback. Early 90s. Rainy Seattle.

Yes, I'm forcing you at gun point to hop into the Tao of Pauly time machine where we jump through the wormhole and visit the early 1990s and the Pacific Northwest. The loudest band in Seattle at the time was TAD, and this was still a few years away from the entire city getting turned upside after Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden hit the airwaves and blew up the Northwest. TAD was one of the more popular bands during the pre-grunge era and played an intense and loud version of thrashy-punk-metal. They never expected to hit it big, but they loved music and wanted to have fun, so whenever you went to a TAD show, you expected to see four dudes who got shitfaced backstage then stumbled onstage and rocked out as loud as they could. Their goal was to make their fans shit themselves. They wanted to play a "brown note," or a note so loud, dark, dirty, nasty and explosive that it would incite uncontrollable bowel movements.

In 1989 or 1990 (I'm too lazy to look it up), TAD co-headlined a European tour with Nirvana, but Kurt Cobain's band opened for TAD on most nights. The two bands shared a van and zipped around Europe together. Nirvana was a newer band and sort of like TAD's younger brother. Nirvana lacked a significant presence overseas in the U.K. and Germany, whereas TAD had been around the block a few times. The indie press and some underground radio stations in random countries took a liking to TAD, which helped generate a bit of buzz for the Seattle's heavy metal troubadours. Music writers (from England to Germany) had keyed in on TAD because they were the opposite of those cheesy hair bands from the 80s. I'm sure the Euro press were fascinated with the heaviness of the music (loud, bloody ears, bong-rattling Pac-metal) and the heaviness of the lead singer Tad.

Someone with a sense of humor from Sub Pop, TAD's record label from Seattle, had tweaked the band's bio which is why writers referred to Tad as a former butcher, while others pointed to his career as a long shore fisherman or even a logger. In reality, Tad was a guy who looked big enough to play offensive lineman for the Washington Huskies, but he had magical fingers and could shred the guitar like Stevie Vai. The rest of the band resembled pretty much every other band from the Pacific Northwest -- long-haired stoners who look like they slept in their dirty clothes.

TAD was loud, chaotic, boisterous, raucous, and deafening. Did I mention how loud there sounded? There was heavy metal and then there's was fucking TAD, which was 150x louder than the loudest metal band you ever heard. Bloody ears. You can't listen to TAD for more than a set before you're ears start to bleed and you have a throbbing headache from your brain getting smacked up against the inside of your skull courtesy of TAD's thunderous sound.

Most of it was an act. TAD was never a butcher, nor a psychopath with a chainsaw. He was originally a drummer who decided he wanted to learn how to play guitar. He teamed up with a guy names Kurt, who was an English major and a poet. Kurt's penetrating yet catchy lyrics and Tad's vast knowledge of music theory gave TAD a solid foundation. Throw in tons of booze, drugs, and Gen-X cynicism and you have a perfect recipe for comedic angst.

Here is the documentary about TAD titled TAD: Busted Circuits and Ringing Ears that I caught the other night. This doc chronicles TADs rise and fall including a ton of bad beats like getting dropped by a couple of record labels and getting sued by a couple of Jesus Freaks...

If you dig the last wave of cool punk-mental (none of that hair band crap, I'm talking speed metal, punk thrash from the late 80s and early 90s), then check out Hype!, a documentary by Doug Pray (I embedded the 'Hype!' video in this previous post), who did an excellent job explaining how Seattle went from a sleepy town to the epicenter of grunge overnight during a media blitz, bombardment, and money grab that the city had not seen since the original Alaska-Klondike gold rush in 1898-99.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Twitter Birthdays and Media Obituaries

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I celebrated my 5th Twitter birthday today according to Twitter. Yes, in 2008 I finally caved in and joined the cult of Twitter primarily to test it out for that summer's World Series of Poker. I was always looking to add a different aspect to my coverage in addition to just "blogging" or writing long form articles. Twitter poked the curious in me and I wanted to give this new social media platform a whirl and test run for several weeks before the WSOP started.

In 2006, I was invited to a meeting with some of the original Twitter developers and I walked away totally overwhelmed and had no idea what they were talking about. Initially, a couple of tech-savvy friends were early adopters (like @JenLeo and @WilW) and I kept a keen eye on how they used it. I found a specific use for Twitter in 2007 when I backed a friend in a couple of L.A.-based poker tournaments and he used Twitter to update his progress.

The original Twitter concept was that it would be a service that sent you "tweets" via text messages because this was a time when the majority of mobile phones did not have web-capabilities. Yes, this was during an end of an era in which mostly everyone did NOT own a smartphone. So I could be sitting in my office or at work somewhere and I got intermittent texts updating me on what friends were sending to Twitter.

Now, aside from a specific task of getting updates of a poker tournament, I didn't really see any importance of Twitter. As time passed (in the tech field, two years seems like two lifetimes), more people starting buying smart phones and Twitter's users exploded, and very quickly "tweets recieved as texts" became obsolete and people got Twitter updates from the website or apps.

I figured out a nice balance to cover the WSOP with Twitter and blogging. I used Twitter throughout the day to update "breaking" news (mostly eliminations), while I used a blog to write a long-form piece capturing highlights and commentary from the day's events. It wasn't a perfect system, but it was the best of both worlds -- instant gratification vs. long-form content.

By 2009, the early-adopters phase had been over for a couple of years and mostly every "brand" jumped on the Twitter bandwagon. It took a while to sort things out, but Twitter had become a valuable source of breaking news. It's safe to say that I found out about 90% of celebrity deaths over the last four years I via Twitter.

I found out about 9/11 through an instant message... and I was living in NYC at the time. My friend from Japan had pinged me on AOL messenger and asked if I was safe because a bomb exploded at the "Two Towers" as he called it. Take note that he said "bomb" because it was night time in Tokyo and he had retired to his room to strum on his guitar and listen to music but he had saw a news blurb about a bomb exploding at the World Trade Center. He hopped online and pinged me. Within seconds I had turned on the TV and saw the carnage. I also logged offline because this was at a time when you had to use a phone line to access the internet via AOL. So whenever you called someone and you got a busy signal, you assumed they were tied up "surfing the information super highway." The moment the modem logged off, the phone rang. My mother worked at a doctor's office in Chinatown and she said they were expecting "walk-ins" from any victims that were Chinese immigrants who didn't have health insurance or were afraid to visit an ER. Sadly, that doctor's office did not get a single walk-in. There were very few survivors that day.

I found out about the Boston Marathon thru Twitter. I saw a tweet from @MerchDawg. He was somewhere in Tennessee, saw a news blurb via Twitter and then passed the news along to his followers. Within seconds, my timeline flooded with tweets. I quickly turned on the TV and waited. It took anywhere about 15 minutes for the first mainstream outlets to break into their daily coverage and report the bombings. At that point, it was at least twenty minutes since the first bomb went off at the finish line. I spent the rest of the afternoon with a keen eye on forums, including a few corners of the web that a lot of people would rather not venture.

When something happens... an event... you have to realize that you will never ever get an objective view of that event unless you happened to be there yourself. Any place that gives you that nuggets of news is nothing more than a filter. Now, some of those filters are obviously slanted. Firstly, it's a business. The people who own the filters have monetary agenda -- which is their prerogative to do so. Some organizations are politically driven so you'll get whatever slant that happens to be. Other spots are pure propaganda.

But right now, 24/7 news channels are in the business of breaking news, so they run with information that has not been properly vetted. This is a huge problem and is the major root of tons of disinformation. Now add to the fact that everyone with access to social media is a "citizen journalist" with a mentality to "win the social media race" of being first to scoop the MSM. That just causes more confusion.

Back in the day, when there was only a single nightly news telecast or a morning edition of a newspaper, journalists worked on stories up until the deadline and they published/aired verified information that had been vetted through multiple sources.

That last line of defense has disappeared in today's GIVE ME NEWS NOW era. So now, it's impossible to trust anything you see as BREAKING from certain organizations because of their desire to be first and not accurate. Old school newspapers and editors know the proper way to verify a story, but the turn around time is too long. Sadly consumers want everything instant rather than accurate. That "gap" is what killed newspapers.

The public has a thirst for information now... they sacrifice accuracy for immediacy.

As a media consumer, you want news NOW but it's coming at a price. The next media titan will be the person(s) who figures out how to have a perfect balance in providing fast, yet accurate information.

We want filters that make us feel comfortable which is why if you have a specific political leaning you will watch a specific news network and troll on their polar opposite.

Twitter is essential because it's about what is happening now. It's the pulse of the now. if you want a sense of what's going on, just tune into Twitter. But that's all you'll get is a pulse. You have to dig deeper to find the real story. Unfortunately, we're a nation of bloated consumers with superficial tastes. Hence, why we're doomed.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bill Clinton and the Battle of Wounded Knee

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

"I have a saying about high school girls...
I get older, and they stay the same age."

Time flies. It's been 16 years since William Jefferson Clinton tumbled down the stairs at Greg Norman's house and our 42nd President blew out his knee. The official story, according to a White House press release, said Clinton tripped because of "shadowy steps" outside Norman's home (on a golf course in Florida). But we know the real story... El Presidente jacked up on Bolivian Marching Powder and twisted his knee while trying to bang Miss Florida Teen in the hot tub.

I never bought the official story about the shadowy steps. My theory included a schwasted Slick Willy chasing around high-end escorts and he tripped because that's what happens when you have your pants around your ankles and try to run after someone one-third your age. That's how Slick Willy promptly tore up his knee chasing pussy around during a bacchanalian orgy at an Australian golfer's palatial estate. That sex-crazed scenario fits his playboy image.

The American public could never see our President in a moment of weakness... that's simply un-American. The leader of the "free" world should not be a clumsy goober with bad eye sight who can't even walk down a two steps in someone's porch without fall on his fat ass. But then again, the public does not need to know about Bill Clinton penchant for co-eds and cocaine.

I dunno why the over-protective press secretary tried to cover up the origins of the dreaded knee blowout. The sordid truth is far more compelling... Slick Willy tore his ACL while Jell-o wrestling a trio of U.F. sorority girls in Greg Norman's back yard.

Writing about Bill Clinton's wounded knee from 1997 gave s me a flashback of Phil Hartman's spot-on impersonations of a self-indulgent, yet bubbly version of Clinton, particularly the McDonald's cold open and his sly remark to his Secret Service detail, "You know... there's a lot of things we're not going to be telling Mrs. Clinton."

America overlooked all the rumors and evidence about Slick Willy philandering ways, yet when he took office, little did we know he had a few cards up his sleeve and a couple of interns stuck to his zipper.

The mid-90s were a much different era before snark became the American pastime. The masses did not have an open forum to express themselves aside from the bathroom stall at dive bars or gas stations. Had this Clinton-Lewinsky happened today, Twitter would be flooded with terrible ejaculation and crooked penis jokes. An avalanche of Bill Clinton blow job memes would actually break the internet.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Wind Chimes, Wind Choices

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The winds arrived. The Native Americans absorbed the winds as messages from the spirits and nature gods. If you don't know how to decipher those warnings and tips, then you were doomed to struggle during the tumultuous times ahead.

The winds swirled. Whirled. Whipped. Sliced. Howled. Penetrated. The winds kick up tons of pollen. Flowers. Leaves. Pollen everywhere. Millions. Billions of microbes.

Charles Peirce once used a razor metaphor to describe the harsh winter winds of Minnesota. It's still SoCal in the mid 60s, so even the most intense winds didn't drop the temperature by more than a few degrees. These winds were nothing close to a frigid torment of winter when dealing with your skin. Your nose and eyes were an entirely different battle. If you had any allergies, you were screwed. Even if you wore goggles and plugged your nose, drank Allegra smoothies, and injected Zyrtec into your bloodstream, you still couldn't avoid getting attacked.

The winds facilitated a pollen invasion. But once you got hit, you had a shitty day and bounced back the next day as the winds still whipped against the palm trees on the street.

These winds blow in from the ocean. Its origins thousands of miles away into the heart of the Pacific. That's where the spirits exhale from and the winds whip all the way to the California coast and scatter into Death Valley.

On a good day, the winds blow away all the toxicity of Tinsel Town. It blows out all the trapped pollution and smog and whatever chemtrails were leftover floating above the skies of SoCal.

Sometimes the winds arrive just in time to blow away the lingering stench of the past that you can't quite shake. I thought the lord had taken away the gift had had given me, but after the winds slapped me in the face as a harsh, yet tough-love reminder that it was always there but my vision had gotten so bad I couldn't see it had never left.

* *

My girlfriend teases me whenever I'm watching a jazz documentary (which is like every other night).

"And then... he got addicted to heroin."

She thinks every jazz musician is a junkie and at one point had their career was derailed by heroin abuse and $80-a-day habits. Most of the time I have to correct her with statements like... "Monk? Not a junkie. The cat was straight up crazy and floating around Pluto most of the time, but Monk wasn't a junkie, just weird."

We're all addicts in some way or another. Most of all, we're addicted to the status quo. It's the comfort of familairity and routine that makes the every day drudgery somewhat palatable. Shaking things up can send you into a fit, like a scene from Rain Man.

Daily life is a series of routines. The excitement (either anchored by wretched anxiety or curious enthusiasm) is within those moments you deviate from the path of familiarity. The largest shitstorms of stress happen when we have to deal with obstacles in our path or make choices that take us out of our comfort zone. Someday you'll realize it was silly to waste all that useless energy on worrying about those choices you thought were life altering because you had less to say in the matter than you foolishly thought.

It's when we break out of these mundane routines, dreaded responsibilities, and pointless tasks when we feel "alive" for the first time in ages. Alive again. But in order to be re-born, you would had to have died... and returned to the void before you get spit back out and reborn. From light to dark and back to light again.

Choice is an illusion, like a cheap magic trick you see from a Vegas street urchin. Life dumps you off at a used car lot where you get duped by a series of elaborate bait and switches and instead of leaving with a brand new car in your favorite color, you're sputtering away in a lemon with bald tires, and feeling so damn lucky to be driving such a piece of shit.

Sometime you can work hard and outrun variance to end up on the the plush end of Easy Street, but by the time you get there, you're so numb from busting our back and running the rat race that you can't sit back and enjoy the entire ride.

The bigger picture choices have been made for you. You can only control what you control... which is how you handle the mind fuck of knowing you're being funneled into an existentialist meatgrinder of gross over-consumption, planned obsolescence, and cognitive dissonance. Yeah, resistance is futile, so why freak out about the ride when we have not choice where it goes, so just sit back and enjoy the ride instead of whining about it?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Art and Copy Reprise

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I recently re-watched Art & Copy, a documentary by Doug Pray (Scratch, Hype, Surfwise). If you like Mad Men but don't much about the advertising biz, then you'll enjoy this documentary.


The damn YouTube police took down the original upload. Dammit! Look for it on Netflix or elsewhere.

Anyway, here is the trailer below...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Around the Horn: Reading Binges, Puke Writing, and Half-Baked Pies

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

This is what happened over the past week..
On the Road (Modern Film Version) - Here is both parts of On the Road, the film version with that vampire chick.

Pie Crushers - I received an unexpected gift at an unexpected time -- a gourmet cherry pie.

Weird Tales - Music. especially mix tapes, help jog the memory when things get hazy.

Binge Reading - Reading books in one sitting.

The Puke Secret - The key to writing is to write... a lot... an regurgitate everything inside your head.

Brian Projects and a Dozen Half-Baked Ideas - A year of monthly projects including coming up with 30 ridiculous story concepts.

Anyone But Tiger - I woke up early on a Saturday to watch golf.

Over at Coventry Music, we posted a couple of things...
Background Beats - Spring 2013 - Jonas is a drummer and he posted his quarterly mix of some of his favorite background beats. This is an eclectic mix that is perfect to have going on in the background.

Dead Home Movies (1986-89) - If you like the Grateful Dead, then you're gonna love their home movies that were shot on tour during the late 80s. Amazing candid footage.

Dead Flashbacks 4/12/78 - One of the better Grateful Dead shows from 1978. They were on fire that night in Durham, NC.

Over at Tao of Fear, I posted about a TED lecture that was banned! Graham Hancock gave a speech about DMT and the search for raised consciousness. No wonder it got banned.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Anyone But Tiger

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I woke up early to watch golf.

Okay, not really. I woke up early to do finish my taxes, but I was eager to peek in on the progress of a bet I made against Tiger Woods winning the Masters. It seemed like a risky bet at the time. Tiger had just won his second tournament in the month of March and his third of the year. He regained the #1 ranking in the world since he tumbled out of the top spot in 2010. His odds to win the Masters were shrinking and everyone jumped back on the Tiger Bandwagon. It was the perfect time to bet against him. Anyone but Tiger.

When Nicky woke up on Thursday she saw me sitting on the couch with the TV on. It was tons of green. Golf in HD. Nicky shook her head. She had put up with a few weeks of college basketball and was more than patient and cooperative with the madness of March Madness. The last thing she wanted was another marathon of sports. She rolled her eyes as she waltzed through the living room and went to the kitchen to make a batch of coffee.

I heard her say, "So who did you bet on?"

"Anyone but Tiger."

Tiger posted a solid opening round (70), but had an ugly Friday (73), which resulted in Tiger making a foolish mistake that cost him a two-stroke penalty and might have cost him the tournament. I saw the news as soon as I woke up and knew that my wager was looking very good. Tiger had a good Saturday all things considered (70) and I have a feeling that Tiger will shoot in the high 60s on Sunday, so that penalty will most likely come into play. Although Tiger had never won a major by coming from behind, I still hope Tiger makes a run. It will give me a heck of a sweat on Sunday, as I root for anyone except Tiger.

The only other guy I'm rooting for -- Freddy Couples -- is still in contention, because the 14-year old Chinese kid is near the back of the pack. Couples won in 1992 at a time I started to get into golf and played somewhat regularly during college. I had just gotten a new set of clubs and was hacking my way around public course in Atlanta struggling to break 100. I had more fun than anything else learning the game. My friends were total drunks and a few of them were potheads and we had a blast getting blasted while toking up on the course.

I worked at a country club one summer and experienced what a southern country club was really like. Talk about serious class issues. I could write a novel about it. Sort of like Caddyshack meets Godsford Park. I worked in the tennis center and prepped clay courts. That's when I got called a "cracker" by one of the members who happened to be losing his tennis match and decided to take it out on the help. He didn't know I was a college student and assumed I was a local redneck. Didn't matter. It was one of those instances when rich people feel as though their entitled to shit on the help/ I didn't say a word and bit my tongue (I was too exhausted to say anything anyway) but thought it was funny because I was he New Yorker and he was the Georgia resident. If anything, he was the fucking cracker.

I hated the country club job, but I hated mostly every job I ever had, so that's not saying much. On a positive note, I was in great shape at the end of that summer especially because I rode my bicycle to/from work everyday through the quaint Lullwater section of Atlanta.

Anyway, Freddy Couples won the Masters in 1992 and I was pulling for the guy. Since then, he had back problems and never won a second one, but I'd love to see him make a run and give these younger golfers a run for their money. If Tiger makes a run and Freddy gets hot, then CBS' suits will get a stiffy at the ratings on Sunday afternoon.

Speaking of Caddyshack, check out this article (from a few years ago) which detailed the making of the film Caddyshack.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Brain Projects and a Dozen Half-Baked Ideas

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The goal: get my brain back into creative shape.

The creative muscles atrophied after taking an extended hiatus and a couple of epic benders in San Francisco. I had no idea how to shake off the rust and get back into writing shape aside from jumping in head first and writing as much as I could. I also had no idea how long it would take for me to get back into a groove because I had never take more than a few weeks off before, and even then I was still working in some capacity. In the previous seven years I fell into a bad habit of not focusing on creative side projects when work and life got in the way.

When 2013 rolled around, I was ready. Eager. Willing. Hungry. I felt the fire once again for the first time in years and I was ready to jump back to work. I had a few problems... 1) I had too much I wanted to do, 2) I had limited time to do it, and 3) I had no idea how I would be able to pull everything off because I was rusty.

I knew patience was the key and it could take a while to get back into shape, so in the meantime, I set set up a diverse and short-term creative regimen. I came up with the idea to do something different every month to avoid boredom but more importantly, each project would require a different time commitment, so I could cater each month's project to fit within my work/travel schedule. For the months I was super busy, I could work on a project that required less time and didn't screw myself by committing to something I had no time to do.

I figured these monthly mini-projects could be a fun way to jump-start the brain and dabble in diverse endeavors that would build creative confidence and strength, because nothing is more dangerous than not believing in yourself. I've seen too many of my peers drown themselves in their own self-doubt, and I was not about to join them.

These monthly mini-projects give me the rare opportunity to explore a new medium (not just writing or blogging, but painting, photography, and videos). This not about making good art, rather it's about taking chances and making bad art. It's all about not being afraid to create something from nothing not matter what the results. Along the way I expected to finally find my writing groove and get back on path, but in the meantime, I wanted to have fun and do some random, yet cool stuff while massaging the creative parts of my mind that had been dormant.

The first of these monthly projects actually kicked off in late 2012 when I decided to write about sportsbetting for 30 days in a row. I used Tumblr as the medium for that project (jokingly titled Ocelot Sports) and it eventually spawned a new blog and website (and eventually a podcast).

In January upon my return from NYC for the holidays, I re-dedicated myself to every day blogging and revamped Tao of Pauly with posts 5 days a week. Luckily, that project's intent spilled over in February and I haven't stopped.

In February, I started a dream journal, but that was an abysmal failure due to chronic insomnia and I had only a couple of entries. I still continued a futile attempt at a dream journal knowing that I'm lucky if I can get down one detailed dream every ten days or so.

In March, the project shifted to painting and I intended to crank out a new painting every week, but I fell short of the mark and got three done but never started the fourth because I was behind in other projects. The good news is that I have a few blank canvases left over which will get filled up eventually.

In April, it was my "five second story pitch" project. I started jotting down brief ideas for really bad one-act plays or screenplays.... just one simple idea per day... in the hopes that at the end of the month I would have 30 half-baked ideas.

Eventually, for May's project, I would like it to be a continuation of April's project. I will pick four or five of the best ideas from April and try to develop them into short stories.  I'll force myself to write one short story a week based on the best of those 30 half-baked story ideas.

Here is a glimpse into this month's project and the first dozen half-baked ideas...

Story Ideas [April 2013]
1. Grandmother gets typical cataract surgery but comes out with the ability to see the ghosts of her dead husband and sister.

2. Dope sick junkie horn player recording an album in Tokyo desperately tries to score smack in Shibuya, but ends up crossing a pimp from the Yakuza.

3. Salesman has impulsive habit to tear out random pages out of the Holy Bible in every hotel room he stays in, but he doesn't throw away the pages, yet collects them in a box that he keeps in his garage.

4. Shitting diamonds. Small-time diamond smuggler swallows gems for cash.

5. Spending an entire summer with the subjects from the Manet's paintings that currently hangs in the Manet room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. All of the subjects (like the Spanish singer, The Woman with the Parrot, and the boat captain, etc.) know each other and they all hate Manet for one reason or another. They all talk shit about him while they hang out at the same Parisian cafe in the 1880s.

6. Two words: ghost cats. Widowed woman from Portland feeds the neighborhood cats that aren't actually there. Her neighbors think she's crazy but she's the primary caregiver to hundreds of ghost cats.

7. A pair of childhood friends reunite after twenty years while attending the funeral of one of their classmates, who slipped off the subway platform and fell in front of a 6  train. After some amateur sleuthing, they find out he was a biologist working on a miracle cure for the common cold and he was murdered by a hitman working for Big Pharma.

8. Army psychiatrist must evaluate soldiers returning to Earth after finishing their tours on Venus defending various mining outposts in the Great Desert.

9.  Autistic homeless person is a chess wizard and hustles tourists in games in front of the Eiffel Tower.

10. Alcoholic washed-up ex-pro is a caddy for his son, who is a professional golfer contending for the Masters, but the caddy is back on the wagon and has to avoid his son's Evangelical wife.

11. The newly hired manager of Quentin Red has a tough first day on the job when he has to fire the psychotic bass player who threatens to commit suicide after locking himself in the bathroom of the tour bus.

12. This takes place the day after the classic race between the turtle and the hare, when the hares discover out the winning turtle was illegally using speed and other performance enhancing drugs, thereby tainting the race.

I told ya some of those ideas were horrible. But I have 18 more days to come up with four or five potential story ideas.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Puke Secret

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

A friend, stuck in a writing funk, flat-out asked via text message, "What's the secret?"

I answered quickly: "Not to sound like a stoned Yoda, but either you do, or you don't. There is no try."

A blank page is intimidating if you let it. I look at blank canvases and all I see is color combinations. When I look at a blank word document, I see a huge ocean that I have to swim across in order to tell a story. It's daunting. It's scary. But that's the way it is. If it was easy, then everyone would be doing it. Simply put...  I open up a blank page (for blogger or M-Word) , take a deep breath (or toke), close my eyes, and then puke words.

That's what it's all about. Puking words. I have to figure out how to expand that 2-word sentence into a 300 page how-to book so I can sell it for $20 to lost writers with a serious block or some other impediment.

That's the secret. Puke words. It's not really a secret. It's all puke, no talent. You just have to have the courage to puke... everywhere. There's so much puke out there that you don't have to be good, rather you just have to be not the worst puker out there. Sounds sad, but it's true. The standards are so low that even I can be exceptionally mediocre enough that people actually pay me money to puke words and suck less than everyone else. That pretty much described my entire career in poker. I might have been awful at times, but I was less awful than the average awful. That's how I paid my bills. That's how I continue to pay my bills.

It says "writer" as the occupation on my tax returns, but I know better. It should say "word puker."

Every morning I have a free write and its essentially free puke. For the Tao of Pauly, I used have a set time (15 minutes) and go for it. Blog puke. If I have extra time to put more into it, I'll give it twenty or thirty minutes. Sometimes I'll take a second pass or even rip through a rare third draft. With a few exceptions (David Foster Wallace essay or The Accidental Coach), the structure of Tao of Pauly is like a late-night set at a seedy jazz club. It's dark and smokey and lots of improvisation while trying to drain out the background chatter of uninterested drunks.

This corner of the web is always evolving. Looking back to when I first created Tao of Pauly, I realize what I used it for in 2002-03 was what I use Twitter for today. Along the way, it has morphed into longer form writing although it was seriously neglected during the peak years for Tao of Poker 2006-09. Just when I thought I had figured out what to do with this space, some weird things happened in life, and I say this like a lot of things I started in my life -- it became a burden -- and the last thing I wanted it to become. I took some time off and came to the realization that this is and will always be the most important soap box for me, or the perfect stage for me to puke words five days a week.

Puke words.

Seriously. That's it. That's the key to success. Step up to the laptop, open up the faucet and let the words flow through the tube-like fingertips. When it's done, turn off the tap and hit publish. Most of the time it's horse crap. But every once in a while it's edible puke. I'm very fortunate you want to spend a few minutes every day reading this tripe. Or, spending a half hour once a week on Monday mornings catching up on the last few days of posts while procrastinating. Or most likely in this modern age, you're problem reading my shit while you're taking a shit. Seems fitting. I always said Jack Tipper Stole My Dog was a great bathroom book. It wasn't a long-ass book so most people weren't too cranky with the ending. When you invest a significant time in a piece of work, you want a bigger pay off. The shorter the story... the smaller expectations. That's why Twitter is so easy. That's why Twitter is a cop out.

Anyway, I puke words. Other writers struggle and it's like drawing blood. Squeezing blood out of their soul one excruciating drop at a time. Don't fret over blood, just shove your finger down your throat and hurl away.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Binge Reading

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

It was almost 12:30pm and I opened up my laptop for the first time. That is super rare. I'm on my laptop from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to bed. But after the championship game ended on Monday night, I had barely been on my laptop over the next 40+ hours. I think I spent about an hour on Tuesday night on the machine and managed to scribble down a few half-baked thoughts before I felt the urge to close it and continue this mini-break.

The breaks are good. Good for my eyes. Good for my soul. Good for my independence. I've become a slave to the machines. The machines have won, but I relish in the brief moments that I can accomplish without the machines. One of these things is going for a long walk to have a chat with myself, and the other is reading a book. In both instances I'm forced to use my mind without the interference of technology or the machines.

I prefer to read as much of book as I can in one sitting, and then I like to polish it off as quickly as possible. Sometimes I read four books in a week. Sometimes I read four books in a month. It depends on how much free time I have, but the last year or so has taken on a specific pattern -- I binge read a book a week and then juggle eight to then other books in which I probably finish half of them. So over a month's time I probably read eight books -- four quickly and the other four were a labored effort that took a week or even two weeks trying to read it in small batches.

I'm the type of person who will rather devote two full days to finishing off a book, then to read it slowly a few pages at a time. It's just my personality. I can't wait for Arrested Development to dump all of their new episodes onto Netflix. Just like House of Cards, I will devour it all within a 48 hour period and sit on my couch toking hashish and watching everything in a nonstop bender like a true entertainment junkie. I'm the same way with books, or at least, I try to be.

I mean, I'm reading two types of book at any given time. The first category is a book I pick up and won't stop until it's done, sometimes taking one day (if I'm in a good rhythm I can read 50 pages in an hour). The second type is a book that I'm slowly reading over a couple of weeks. Sometimes the subject matter is too intense or too complex or something I have to re-read or look up stuff to understand what's going on, so I cannot take in more than an hour a day with that particular piece of work. Sometimes I juggle two or three books like this at a time and it feel more like college in which you read a few chapters of different books for different classes. I feel like those are books that don't completely enrapture me, but I feel obligated to read it for work reasons or for academic reasons or sometimes it's out of stubbornness if I committed myself to that book and invested time and emotion into it, so dammit I'm going to finish it!

I have piles of books I started to read but never finished. I used to feel bad about those aborted attempts. I felt like I was dishonoring those authors. But mostly, I felt guilty that I wasted my time doing other useless shit and I could have devoted more time to those books. Every once in a while, I actually finish a book from the start-stop pile and I feel even more guilty at the end for not finishing the book sooner and chastise myself for giving up on a book that had more promise than I initially thought.

Then again, a great story is a great fucking story. You want to read about it in one sitting. If any of those other books had something that hooked me in, then it wouldn't have gone into Purgatory and banished to the unfinished pile. As an author, your goal is to write a book that is so good that the reader doesn't put it down. Then again, I think about these massive books that were 800 or 1,000 pages in length and think... dear God... it's too daunting of a task to read those Mt. Everest of books. That's why I struggled with Infinite Jest. That's why I kind of which DFW broke it up into a series of three or four books, that way he could have spread that story out over a decade in a manner that even the most voracious readers could chew on without choking.

What I liked about Jack Tripper Stole My Dog was its size. It is more of a novella than a novel. The investment that readers put into it is minimal. So even if they fucking hate it, at least they can say... it wasn't that much of a waste of time.

In the end it boils down to this... I'm eternally grateful if you give me your devoted attention for a couple of hours, so I'm going to tell you a crazy, twisted story about some fucked up people that may or may not resemble people in your own life.

In the end it comes down to this... it's impossible to compete for people's attention, especially the written word. It's a form of entertainment that requires some usage of your brain. TV and sports is an easy choice because it does not require much effort. That's when when people come home at night after a long day of work or a long day dealing with their kids, so they want to zone out and have a smoke or a drink or just bask in the warm glow of the TV in the dark. The last thing they want to do is bury those nose in a book after a long day of work/kids, and the ones that do want to read, end up reading right before they go to bed, usually for the sole reason to make their eyes tired and they can fall asleep faster.

Authors spill their blood on the pages and they don't want to be the book on people night stands that puts them to sleep at night. You want to write page turner or the type of book that readers become so engaged in it that they forget to sleep and stay up all night reading it. Or better yet, you write a book that is so powerful and incendiary that the moralists are burning your book in a bonfire that is three stories high. Then again, at this rate our society is devolving into, we're probably 10-15 years away from public book burnings because knowledge is power and people get knowledge from books, where as they get brainwashed by the TVs.

Anyway, I got sucked into reading Open by Andre Agassi. I'm not a tennis fan but I had to read Agassi's autobiography for a work project. Several friends had recommended the book to me -- for different reasons -- but every one of them was right. I really enjoyed it and couldn't put it down. I spent the last two days engrossed in the book. I was even more excited to learn that one of my favorite authors, J.R. Moehringer, helped Agassi write the book. Even if you're not into tennis, the tennis scenes are super short and it's really am enthralling yet quick read.

With that said, I have a couple more chapters to read and I'm eager to finish it off, so I can pick up the next book in my pile.