Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day, Dad

Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father!
Lydia M. Child (1802–80), abolitionist, writer

Dear Dad:

Happy Father’s Day. I decided to write an open letter to you to let you know how loved and appreciated you are by me, and many others including my siblings, but this is my letter and my blog, so I will use it for my letter to you.

I find it rather interesting that the older I get the smarter you have become. All the many virtues such as your unselfishness and tenacious attitude have been passed down and carried on. I see a few of your qualities in me, and I recognize many in Daughter too. So, while time takes its unrelenting toll on all of us, it does not diminish your standing in my eyes.

You taught me much through your hard work and by the simple eloquence of your example. Your tireless and most impressive, your uncomplaining (a trait that neither Daughter nor I possess) efforts over the years to provide for us all. The years of toiling outside carrying heavy loads, waking at the crack of dawn have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.

One of my proudest memories is of you coming home night after night from a full day of the hard labor of sheet metal work to see you at the dinner table each evening working with mom to transcribe your notes and compile your final notebook for the sheriff’s academy, which you aced with a perfect score. You did this for the love of it, not for any financial gain. Once you retired from your day job and public service, you moved on to plying your trade for the space program. Impressive indeed.

Like a championship team where the individual efforts work together to bring about the best; you and mom have succeeded. Thank you.

Your son

On The Mark -- Remembering Dad

I was flipping hamburgers on the BBQ on Father’s Day when my asked me, “Do you remember that opening day game when you were 12?”

Yeah, dad, I thought to myself. That game had occurred 35 years ago but I still felt I had played it that afternoon. It was opening day in Little League, 0-0 in the bottom of the last inning. I was pitching a gem. There were two outs and an opposing runner at third base, the first player to get that far all day. At the plate was the other team’s best hitter, who would go on to lead the league in home runs that year. I had struck him out in each of his previous at-bats.

My dad, the manager, a two-time state champion as a high school pitcher who threw two complete game shutouts on the same day to win the second championship, came to the mound.

“This kid hasn’t gotten around on your fastball all day, so don’t fool around. Throw him fastballs and let’s win this thing in extra innings.” I threw fastballs and had a one ball, two strike count on him. But I felt he was starting to time my pitches better, plus I was in love with my curveball, so I decided to fool him and throw a curveball.

Problem was, the ball didn’t curve, and all I remember from that point was the sound of the crack of the bat as the ball soared over the center field scoreboard and we lost 2-0. My dad never mentioned it later. I figured he knew I had learned my lesson and silence was more powerful than rubbing it in my face.

“Yeah, dad, I remember it like it was this morning.”

“Well, so do I, and I want you to know that I gave you bad advice that day, son. That kid was sitting on your fastball. You should have thrown him a curveball.”

Oh my god. For half his life my dad had agonized over that pitch, but for the wrong reason. I flipped hamburgers for a few more minutes, the silence between us interrupted only by the sizzle of hamburger fat on the coals. This was a major moment for me, perhaps the toughest decision in my life at that point. I could let it go and let him live with the false memory. Or I could own up to it and get the lecture I thought I was going to get at home that night long ago.

“I did throw him a curveball, dad. Only it didn’t curve.”

Again, silence. I could hear 35 years of tape rewinding in his head.

“You what?! I told you to throw fastballs. No wonder he hit the shit out of that ball.” The words came out as fast as air from a popped balloon. Perhaps the fastest words he ever spoke in his life. We brought the hamburgers in and the family talked about current times, reminisced about the past. Then my dad turned to my mom.

“You remember that opening day game where Mark” and he went on to re-tell the story. It was obvious she had heard it many times while I had moved on with my life. At the end of the story he turned to me.

“Well, I hope you learned a lesson.”

You have no idea, dad. You have no idea.

He passed a couple years later (and a couple years ago), complaining of a headache while walking to his car and then suddenly collapsing from a massive stroke.

Happy Father’s Day, dad.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What I'm Listening to and Watching

Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she had to walk into mine.
Rick Blaine, Humphrey Bogart from "Casablanca"

As Time Goes By --- Frank Sinatra
Memories of You – Frank Sinatra
Until the Real Thing comes along – Carmen McRae
Black Coffee – Ella Fitzgerald
Somewhere Along the Way – Frank Sinatra
A Million Dreams Ago – Frank Sinatra
Willow Weep for Me – Frank Sinatra
Blues in the Night – Frank Sinatra
My Melancholy Baby – Ella Fitzgerald
I Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry – Frank Sinatra
Only the Lonely – Frank Sinatra
Autumn Leaves – Frank Sinatra
Maybe You’ll Be There – Frank Sinatra
Too Late Now – Frank Sinatra
I’m Pulling Through – Carmen McRae
Don’t Worry ‘bout Me – Frank Sinatra

Sam: [singing] You must remember this / A kiss is still a kiss / A sigh is just a sigh / The fundamental things apply / As time goes by. / And when two lovers woo, / They still say, "I love you" / On that you can rely / No matter what the future brings-...
Rick: [rushing up] Sam, I thought I told you never to play-...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Misanthrope – Miscellaneous Musings

Life’s an awfully lonesome affair. … You come into the world alone and you go out of the world alone yet it seems to me you are more alone while living than even going and coming.
Emily Carr (1871–1945), Canadian artist

Quotidian. Nothing new, nothing exciting all is quiet this week. The air conditioning system is working, but I have had no need to use it, which is always the case, right. Management also fixed the fireplace, which I also don’t need at this point. I firmly believe that carrying on and not accepting that status quo results in action. Note my new air conditioning unit compared to the people below me. I also suspect that my electric bill will be less because the units are more efficient these days.

Plays. Watched an excellent play this week with my playwriting colleague from work (PCFW). We saw “The Trials and Tribulations of Trailer Trash Housewife” Zephyr Theatre at 7456 Melrose Ave., L.A. From the theater’s press release: The play explores the hidden emotions, shame, and secrecy battered women face, while also offering hope, healing, and truth. A delicate blend of frightened humor and pain, it delves right into the heart of abuse. In just a mere two hours audiences will journey into a world that could fill a lifetime. Explosive one-sided arguments erupt and build, until one disastrous night it all goes too far and the lives of those in the trailer park will never be the same.

Soccer. I watched the World Cup Saturday afternoon. I enjoyed the game between Argentina and Ivory Coast. Soccer is a wonderful sport. I don’t buy the idea that American are not interested in it. I believe that our newspapers and television media do not cover it as they do other local sports.

Self Portrait. While taking a snap shot of my exciting new air conditioning unit (you can tell how exciting my weekend is), I decided it was time that you had a vision what The Misanthrope looked like, trust me your imagination is to my advantage.

Elvis Costello. His newest CD, which it seems that I just wrote about not too long ago was a jazzy set of songs titled “My Flame Burns Blue.” The even newer CD that came out this past week is called “The River in Reverse” with Allen Toussaint is another wonderful CD, which I recommend.

Dinner for one. Saturday tonight, I had a barbeque boneless chicken breast. I will accompanied it with corn on the cob, half a twice-baked potato, a seafood salad and baked beans. All accompanied with a white wine. I read a bit, watched the Dodger and the Angels a bit, watch a movie (see below), and called it a night. Not too exciting, but I needed the rest.

Wedding Crashers. This was a blockbuster movie? I thought it would never end. Ok, granted I watched the uncorked version. After the three main stars, I only knew Henry Gibson. I'm not even sure B2 will remember Henry Gibson. This movie only gets two stars on my Netflix rating.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Landlord Frustrations

I feel as if I were a piece in a game of chess, when my opponent says of it: That piece cannot be moved.
Søren Kierkegaard (1813–55), philosopher

This is the letter I wrote to my apartment complex manager. I have not yet decided whether to copy the national office and let them think I have cc the newspaper. The manager called yesterday and said everything was going to be taken care of. Great, they'll fix it all up and I won't want to move. I once heard that former homeowners were the worst tenants, if that is true, I guess I'm proving it.

June 5, 2006


Re: No solution to weekend emergency

Dear ____:

(Name of residential community) has outdone itself this weekend. You have made my life a living hell both figuratively and literally. Everything that was attempted was too little too late. I had to find other living arrangements this weekend. Weekend plans were canceled as you suggested that I stay in the unrelenting heat of my unit awaiting the promised relief that never arrived.

Finally, Sunday at approximately 3:40 p.m., the portable unit was put into my place (which was a temporary solution proposed Saturday afternoon, but was rejected then, but good enough 24 hours later), but because there was no place for ventilation the hot air negated the cool and all that resulted was a humid place and most likely a much higher electric bill.

I am delighted that I am supposedly receiving a new system today, maybe during the next heat wave, I will be able to live in my unit!

This is what I get for my $0,000, plus utilities I pay promptly each month! Let’s review my five months here:
  • Water pressure mysteriously reduced after two weeks and never returned to its proper volume (your offer to reimburse me for a showerhead would not make a difference, since it used to work with the current showerhead),
  • Neighbors who played music at 3 a.m. that I finally had to confront myself (twice),
  • Fireplace gas pipe rotted and significant hole on pipe reducing the effectiveness of gas starter. It’s still bad, but now it’s summer and I’m dealing with your antiquated air conditioning,
  • An apartment full of dead bees upon my return from one day away (did not report, my housekeeper took care of it),
  • Dishwasher that is worthless as far as cleaning goes. (Have not officially reported, yet. Now please consider it officially reported),
  • Piles of bird waste outside my garage from multiple nests of birds located on the eves above (Have not officially reported, yet. It was half-heartedly cleaned up once. Now please consider it officially reported),
  • No one mentioned that this complex did not upgrade its cable system, thereby rendering it worthless for televisions or computers, and of course,
  • The outdated dilapidated air conditioning unit that was never checked prior to moving in that has caused me nothing but grief and aggravation all weekend, while we have had record heat.

Maybe now you’ll understand my less than warm feelings for this place and how it is managed.

Thoroughly disgusted,

The Misanthrope

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Misanthrope – Miscellaneous Musings

Summer has set in with its usual severity.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 - 1834), poet

Dying of Heat. My apartment is rather nice; it has a wonderful view, which truly is its only feature. Friday night I decide it is time to turn on the air conditioning, but discover that there is no cold air coming out the vents. I have been yelling, leaving angry messaging, I have called their emergency line myriad times, I created a scene in front office, I carry-on in front my building rising my voice for all to hear as I argued with management about their incompetence and their entire bait and switch that I feel has taken place since I signed a lease. My place is well over 100 degrees inside and it is uninhabitable. I spent the night at a friend’s on Saturday and I will find another friend or go to my parent’s house tonight. Finally, today Sunday afternoon at 3:30 management is so proud of themselves for going to the hardware store and buying a portable air conditioning unit. They started to do that Saturday afternoon, but the head moron who is a condescending bitch, said no and they were going to get a repair crew out instead. Newsflash, when all of Southern California is sweltering under record temperatures there is not a repairman to be found, especially at 4 p.m. on a Saturday evening. The battle continues.

Ouch. I watched the movie “The Break Up.” As the movie drifted toward the end, I started feeling very uncomfortable. After it was over, I walked out of the theater with Daughter, I said, hit a bit too close to home to really be enjoyable and she agreed.

Playwriting Debut. I was unable to attend the rehearsal and direction of my short 10-minute, which I will explain a bit further down. The good news was that I watched the play for the first time with actors reading it while also do a few stage movements.

Kudos to the actors! They really transformed and brought life to the play. It was a thrill for me to watch it and here people laughing throughout. However, I there was a part of me that felt weird watching it and thinking I created it. It must be that old Groucho Marx comment about I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as a member.