Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It seems utterly fucking ridiculous....

...that it's taken *goes back and checks the archives* over two years to get to the point that I could tweet this:

And that's just the first draft. I got tons left to do 'fore I can call this muhfugga Done widda big D. It's like I just crossed the Texas-New Mexico state line on a road trip to California. Or Japan. Of course, part of the reason it took so long is that at least a year of that was me learning the lesson of committing to the project. Maybe other people can dabble at writing something of novel length and get it done, but I am not one of those people. I can put that at the top of the great big list of lessons learned.

I was walking out to my car after work one day last week, thinking about this scene I'd been working on earlier that day, just these two people out in the woods having a quiet conversation, when suddenly, BOOM, those two people in the dark became a whole other way of seeing this story I've been trying to get together. It was there all along, I just had to stick with it long enough to get to where I could see it. My head totally exploded, it was disgusting.

So yeah, tons left to do. This is me, looking forward to the next milestone.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Free of Training Wheel Tyranny

Over the summer, my eldest figured out how to ride his bike without training wheels. He'd tried a few times before and not quite made it, but on this one particular day, he must have awoken with an extra bit of stubbornness in his blood. He refused to give up until he got himself up on two wheels. I had little to do with it other than standing back and watching and offering some encouragement. Any and all offers of actual physical help were rebuffed.

"Fuck this training wheel shit," he would've mumbled to himself, had he had his father's vocabulary at the time.

To celebrate the event, he wanted me to make a .gif of him on his bike, similar to the one I made of his brother running up and down a railroad track. Except he didn't know the term .gif, so he called it the thing where I take the camera and take pictures like ga-jing ga-jing ga-jing ga-jing ga-jing....or however you spell the sound of a camera snapping.

So finally, months later, I finally got around to it.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Things To Remember

That morning when I was cooking bacon and I heard little footsteps racing to the kitchen followed by Simon yelling "I smell bacon!"

My kids' cute little voices. 

The way Simon asks to listen to "Jam" and he means "Millionaire" by Queens Of The Stone Age. Also, the day I introduced them to "Iron Man" and how Simon demanded to hear it a dozen times throughout the day. 

The time Henry was all pissed off about doing his science homework until he started measuring things on the scale and got all into it. 

The way Simon used to ask "What's his naaaaame?"

How the boys like to wrap themselves around my legs and make me walk them around the house. 

How the boys like to wrap themselves around one of my arms and let me lift them up. 

The way I'm able to make them both fall over laughing by pretending to be a dumb monster who's just stumbled across a lightsaber. 

That Simon likes to sleep in a tent in his room. 

Henry putting his arm around Simon and saying "we're little brothers!"

The time Simon shouted "I'm a princess!" and meant it. 

Listening to Henry would rap along with "Egg Man" on the way to school during his kindergarten year. 

Taking a walk with Simon and the treasures he found - a stick and a feather. 

Taking the boys out of bed to go to the bathroom and the way they'll talk in their sleep. Or fart. 

The way Henry asks to go to the donut store for breakfast by just saying in a deep voice "DOOOONNNUUUUUT."

Hearing Simon downstairs, singing to himself while he plays.

The way Henry ducks down in front of me, then leapfrogs up into my arms.

The time Henry went jogging with me, smiling the whole way, and how he said "I didn't think I could run that far" when we made it back to the house. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Ewings Came In The Mail

For whatever reason, the people at the American Association of Retired Persons seem to think that my wife’s uncle, who passed away about four years ago, lives at our house. I know this because they send us their magazine every month and it’s got his name on it, right there above the address. Sometimes I flip through to see what the old folks are getting themselves into these days. Mostly, it just ends up in the recycling.

But the cover of this latest issue caught my eye.

Yep, those are the people from Dallas smiling out at you from the page of this blog. Sue Ellen, J.R., and Bobby Ewing of the Southfork Ewings, they of the intrigues and the infidelities and the oil-soaked family drama. I guess they have real names, but who needs a real name when you're a Ewing? Apparently they’re doing a remake of the show, or to put it more accurately, a continuation that picks up decades after the old one left off, and it includes some of the original characters such as these three, as well as their children, now all grown up and being as shitty toward each other as their parents were back in the 70s and 80s. When I first heard about it, I was actually kind of surprised these actors were all still alive, but there they are. Hell, Sue Ellen’s even looking kinda good. Wuzzup, old lady?

My mom was the one who first told me about the new show, which is fitting since she was a huge fan of the original show back in the day. It was quite rare for her to miss an episode. In fact, one of her primary motivations for buying a VCR was so that she could record it anytime she wasn’t going to be able to catch it at airtime. She worked a lot, and when she wasn’t working, she was often running me to this or that activity, so this wasn’t uncommon. She pored over the instructions for how to set the timer to start and stop recording at the right time. If I was home, it was my job to make sure her shows found their way onto tape. I don’t remember if it was Dallas, Knots Landing, or Falcon Crest, but I once forgot to record one of her shows, and you can bet your ass I heard about it. Looking back, I can’t really blame her for getting mad. You work your ass off all day, you come home and all you want to do is kick back with your show, but your lazy kid couldn’t even be bothered to press a goddamn button? What the hell, young Holmes? Get with the program.

So that magazine up there’s been sitting on our coffee table for about the past week, and every time I walk past it, I get this weird twinge of nostalgia. At one point, I even caught myself devoting an entire thought to hoping the show does well. An entire thought! That caught me by surprise. I have absolutely no intention of watching the show, and the original was never really my thing - no talking cars, no Mr. T, no mystery-solving stuntmen - yet here I was hoping that it does well. Normally, I wouldn’t give this kind of thing a second thought, or if I did, I’d cheer for it to fail because I’m wired like that. But in this case, childhood memories overrode that and dosed me with the warm and fuzzies for a show I hardly ever actually sat down to watch.

But I guarantee I’ll be able to hum this theme song until the day I die.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Making Comics

The main point of this post is just to have an excuse to put up the gif down below, but first I'm gonna write a bunch of words to explain it.

My primary creative obsession the past few weeks has been creating a series of comics for my friends in Loaded Gun Theory to help them promote their new show. Basically, they just gave me a copy of the script and let me pick out any snippets of it that I thought would work as a stand-alone teaser in comic form. Wanna check 'em out? Here's some links:

A Chat Over Chess

A Taut Line

Tea With Martha

The Creator

The process for these things started off with me creating a loose storyboard to figure out what pictures I was going to need. I can't draw for shit, so all the pictures in my comics start with photos. Since I was working with a script and actors in this case, I basically just put the actors in a spot and had them run through their lines while I snapped pictures of them from different angles. In some cases, I ended up getting kind of snap happy and ended up with assloads of pictures from a given scene, which when put together look something like this:

All that just to get this tense little exchange:

Those two dudes are my friends Bill and Ian in the roles of Geoffrey and Tiernan. My favorite pic from that whole session, which you can see tucked into the gif up there if you look closely, is this one:

Almost as if he's breaking character, looking over at the director, and saying:

Simply glorious. 

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Post-Apocalyptic Chess

My friendosauruses in Loaded Gun Theory wrote a new play, Our Apocalyptic Dream, which is going up in just a couple of weeks. They asked me to take a few scenes and comicify them as I am wont to do. This is the first one, featuring my friends Bill and Ian, having a friendly chat over chess.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

This Time I Hit A Cow

My friend Daniel put up a story on Facebook the other day about how he almost drove his car into a cow. I left a comment saying that I actually did hit a cow once, to which Daniel responded asking for me to clarify just what I meant by that statement. I responded with the whole story, exactly how it went down, and afterwards realized that it was actually a pretty good little tale that I thought would be worth sharing. So here it is:

It was night time and I was driving down the long narrow two-lane road that leads into the neighborhood where I grew up on the outskirts of Houston. It's a semi-rural semi-urban area with a bit of industrial thrown in for good measure. You can find livestock, heavy-machinery manufacturing, a trailer park, and houses all within a few square miles. There are no street lights on this stretch of road, so it's just you and your headlights and whatever assistance the night sky might have to offer. Way up ahead of me, I saw the tail lights of another vehicle swerve, brake, but then continue. It made me think I should give my brakes a tap. I'm glad I did because a second later, a cow stepped right up out of the ditch on the side of the road and walked right out in front of me. I slammed on my brakes. I would have swerved, but the ditches on either side of this road are quite deep, the kind you don't get out of without a tow truck. My tires were still screeching when I broadsided the beef, though I dont' think I was going too fast at that point. It was enough to knock the cow over, but it got right back up again and continued on across the road without so much as a moo. My truck's hood had a nice dent in it. So if anyone ever asks you, "Why did the cow cross the road?" you can look them in the eye and say, "To fuck with a man's truck."

Friday, May 04, 2012

Trying To Change The World

Adam Yauch aka MCA died today. He was 47 years old. I was sitting in Starbuck's when I read the news. It was all I could do to keep from crying in front of the whole damn shop. I loved the Beastie Boys as a kid and still love them as an adult, and not just nostalgically. They just kept on making great music. And "Egg Man" is one of my eldests's favorite songs.

There's that saying about the unexamined life being not worth living. I'd have to say that anybody who goes from

Roses are red, sky is blue,
I got my barrel attcha neck so what the fuck you gonna do?


Well on the tough guy style I'm not too keen,
To try to change the world, I'm'a plot and scheme

inside the span of their lifetime was doing some pretty powerful self-examination. And the fact that he did it in a public setting in a genre of music that's, rightly or not, not often known for evolving towards kindness, is incredibly admirable. Rap, music, art, hell, the world could use more of that.

Rest in peace, MCA. And thanks for everything.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Because Noone Cheered Him Up

So I don't mean to turn this blog into "Yo, Peep My Kid's Artwork" dot com or anything - though that would undoubtedly make for a pretty good blog with tons of submissions - but this one really caught my attention.

Apparently, it's hanging outside the library at his school. One of our friends texted it to my wife, who then texted it to me, who then placed it here, surrounded by text. I love texting. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Penny The Androgynous Robot

I found this sitting on the kitchen table one day when I came home from work. It's startled me how much I've been enjoying the art that my kids make, but this one in particular grabbed my attention. I asked the artist, my 6-year-old, if I could have it.

"Sure." I thought I detected a twinge of excitement in his answer, though it was heavily diluted with nonchalance. 

"What's its name?" I asked him. He didn't have a name for it. I told him that as the artist, he had to give it a name. 

"Well you could name it since I gave it to you," he said. 

"How about Sergio?" I suggested. He didn't like that. That got the disapproving look and the shake of the head. 

"Okay, how about....Goldie? Since his head is gold."

He looked at the picture for a moment as if considering it again for the first time since signing his name to it and setting it aside. "Penny, since his body is colored like a penny." It was not a suggestion. It was a christening. Penny was its name and its name was Penny. I liked it and I told him so. 

"So does that mean he's a girl, since Penny is a girl's name? Oh, or since he's a robot, maybe he's not a boy or a girl. Maybe he's androgynous." And then I asked a 6-year-old if he knows what androgynous means, halfway expecting him to tell me that yes he did. But he didn't. I told him it was kind of like being both a boy and a girl or neither at all. Wait, is that right? I thought to myself. Is that the word I'm looking for? 

As I type this, Penny hangs on the wall to my right. She has a great view of the clutter that is my desk. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Things I Won't Be Able To Do Forever, Episode 2387

The smaller kid rides on my back as I run through the yard. My oldest kid is hot on our tail. I can still outrun him, but he's gaining on me a little every day, plus I've got this shrieking leprechaun on my back. He chases me around the yard a few times and almost catches me, but I manage to make it back to the deck AKA base where I plunk down on my ass, sucking wind.

Then they switch.

The youngest is not as fast as his older brother, but now I'm carrying the larger of the two kids on my back, and the extra pounds don't go unnoticed. Our yard slopes, and on the way back up I notice a burning sensation in my calves. Really? I think. I'm working that hard?
I make it back to base, still untagged. My eldest hops down and I sit with a heavy thud. Inhale, exhale....

And then they switch.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

What I Hear In My Head Every Time I Look At This Picture

We took los boyos to the Sherwood Forest Faire a while back...kind of a Renaissance Fair kind of thing. All I'm saying is, if you ever have the chance to enroll your kids in sword-fighting classes taught by a guy named Oskar Hasselhoff, by all means, sign them up. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Writing Music


The joint’s packed with fancy folks. Lots of laptops, lots of bluetooths, lots of plastic surgery. The orders being placed and filled by the chipper baristas behind the counter are marvels of idiosyncratic expression. the music playing over the P.A. is in no danger of harming anyone. Sitting by the window with his tall coffee (“Room for cream?” “Yes, please.”) is The Holmes, typing away at his laptop, his head connected to the device via a pair of headphones. He types, stops, reads, considers, types, etc.

Outside the window by which The Holmes is camped out, we see a large truck, a Ford F-1-Asshole or whatever, shiny and black. It hops the curb into the parking lot, roars across the asphalt, and knocks a taillight out of a Lexus before screeching to a halt outside the coffee shop’s entrance. The driver jumps down and yells something unintelligible as he stomps around to the passenger side.

The Holmes is typing faster now, his body trembling with energy. People continue to walk in and out, the baristas continue their attempts to outdo one another with their displays of extreme courtesy.

Outside, the driver yanks the passenger door of the truck open. There is a struggle before the driver yanks his passenger out of the truck, another dude. They stumble and fall down in the parking lot in a heap, each trying to land blows on the other.

Oh, a Norah Jones/Barbra Streisand duet album! How nice, especially when paired with a triple venti sugar free, non-fat, no foam, extra caramel, with whip caramel macchiato.

Outside, the two dudes are still battling it out. They’re stumbling like they’re drunk, but their blows aren’t missing. One knocks the other to the ground and kicks him in the ribs, the one being kicked manages to catch hold of the other’s leg and knock him off balance to take the advantage. It’s quite a show, but despite his proximity to the window, The Holmes only has eyes for his monitor. He’s pounding on the keyboard now, rocking back and forth in a possessed rhythym. He’s catching a few looks. He pounds his coffee con gusto! and returns to his wordsmithing.

Outside, one dude has the other pinned. He punches him again and again, knocking the back of his head into the concrete. Lovers of fine caffeinated fare step around them as they traipse in and out of the franchise.

The Holmes is head-banging and typing while Coldplay kicks the treble over the P.A.

The dude who is pinned under the other one drives the heel of his free hand up into the bottom of his opponent’s jaw, clamping his teeth together and slicing off the end of his tongue. He screams and stumbles backwards, almost colliding with a mother and her children on their way in for Mommy’s afternoon treat. He slaps his hand over his mouth and blood flows out from between his knuckles. His opponent jumps off the ground and comes after him, punches him once, punches him again, then again. They grapple, fighting not with technique but with drunken fury. One shoves the other hard so that he slams into the window where The Holmes is sitting. The Holmes doesn’t notice, just types frantically as he bangs his head, eyes staring widely at something only he seems to be able to see.

One of the fighters charges the other and together they fly through the window, shattering the glass into thousands of pieces. They slam into The Holmes mid-headbang and knock him to the floor as they fly through a display of travel mugs like a wedding cake on a rainy day. His headphones stay on his head as he falls, the cord pulls free of the jack, and the store is immediately filled with the glorious sound of heavy metal, drowning out the feeble P.A.’s attempts at entertainment. The two fighters, covered in cuts and bruises and smears of blood, both rise to their feet and continue their battling, but before they get very far, one of them slams into a woman fresh from pilates class, causing her to spill her venti, non-fat, no foam, no water, 6 pump, extra hot, chai tea latte. With a curse, she shoves him hard into his friend, and together they fall across a table of what appears to be business associates, all of whom get pissed off and dump the table over.

In a matter of seconds, the entire Starbuck’s descends into moshpit anarchy. As the scene goes dark, The Holmes can be heard laughing.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My kid left a note for the Tooth Fairy...

...and this is what it said:

Spelling translation: "I want to keep my tooth." Not sure what he intends to do with it, but then again, what does the Tooth Fairy do with them? Kind of a gross occupation if you ask me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Public Transit

This is about as deep as it gets around here until I finish the first draft of my book. Which, ya know, I'm okay with. We have so many Legos floating around this place.

Also, I almost misspelled "Kryptonite." My wife caught the typo for me. "Some nerd you are!" she declared. Some nerd indeed.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

The Stage Is Littered With Fragments of Shattered Expectations

There’s a whole set of expectations that accompany you, as an audience member, when you step into a theater. You’ll keep quiet during the performance. You won’t attempt to engage the actors in conversation unless they ask you to. You will not ask the people on stage if it’s over yet. And though plenty may come to mind, you most certainly won’t offer suggestions as to how the performance might be improved - at least not in the moment.

These are pretty reasonable expectations, so much so that you might not even think about them most of the time. Except, that is, when you get handed a permission slip to ignore them.

The Ash and I were brewing beer on New Year’s Day, along with the generous assistance from our friends Bill and Brandon. The boys were thoroughly uninterested in what we were doing, having taken the measure of it and determined that it stood to benefit them in no way at all. And then their friend, Neighbor Kid, came over, and the three of them went off and got lost in Little Boy Imagination Land, a place which, if I remember correct, is populated by dragons, tanks, and mermaids with snakes for hair and flamethrowers in their boobs. Among others.

So there we are, four adults standing outside around the brew pot, each of us with a brew in our hand. One of us was probably stirring. Neighbor Kid sticks his head out the back door and tells us that we need to come in and see their play. I misunderstand for a second, think I’m hearing him tell us we need to come in and watch them play, which, what? Why do we want to...? OH, play noun, not verb. Though, now that I mention it, there are plenty of philosophical discussions to be had regarding the relationship between play the noun and play the verb, what amount of the verb goes into the noun, what the noun actually is. I’ve watched them happen, read the treatises. Or was it a manifesto? Right now, as I type this, as you read this, someone somewhere is declaring, "it's a play, not a show!" It’s sort of like “Stairway to Heaven” - it’s never not happening somewhere.

We adults file into the house and into the living room where Neighbor Kid and our boys are waiting, their excitement to reveal their creation to us causing their skin to bristle with energy and their hair to stand on end. Neighbor Kid, because he is the oldest, gives the signal, and the play begins.

It starts with my oldest rolling a bowling ball and knocking over a row of pins. Then a remote control truck races onstage and knocks him over, then zips around the playing area. My youngest bounces in on a horse and attacks the truck. People are falling over. Dialogue is minimal. It’s all very performance art. And through it all, we in the audience are speaking, not only to one another in unhushed tones, but also to the three players. We’re asking aloud what it is that we are seeing. We're cracking wise. We’re offering our learned assessments. We’re pleading with them to stop bashing the truck into the piano. At one point, someone asks, “Okay, is that it?” Can you imagine? But the kids seem not to mind our jibber-jabber one bit. Though they would have been perfectly entitled to do so, not a single one of them turns to us and snarls “Respect the fourth wall!” 
We applaud them from a standing position and they bow.

Children. Expectations. Explosions.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

New Year's Day IPA

I spent New Year’s Day brewing beer. 

The equipment
I hadn’t planned to spend New Year’s Day brewing beer. It all came about when a long-standing wish of mine met up with an early birthday present from my Mom, a generous gift certificate to the Austin Homebrew Supply store. Wifearrific and I ran down there, picked out our equipment and the ingredients for our first batch, then came home and were all “OKAY! WHEN ARE WE DOING THIS THING?!” To which the calendar responded, “Uh, well, looks like you’re free on New Year’s Day, assuming you’re not too hungover.”

Amazingly enough, some of our brewing friends (that’s right, I’m lucky enough to have brewing friends - plural) agreed to spend their New Year’s Day brewing beer with us. I thought for sure the requisite hangover would have everyone down for the count, but such was not the case. 

Not hungover, as far as I can tell
Which is great, because frankly, the process involves a lot of standing around, waiting on things to happen, waiting on the timer to tell you it’s time to do the next step. And what a better way to stand around waiting on stuff than with your friends, all of whom brought beer along with them, because really? You’re going to not drink beer while you brew? Pshaw. 

At one point, the kids called us inside the house to show us a play they’d created and had been rehearsing. I doubt that happens at most breweries. That's a whole 'nother rabbit hole I'll have to jump down later.

After an afternoon of rich smells and thick concoctions, we closed up the whole works and shoved it into the pantry where it’ll ferment for the next couple of weeks or so, after which, it gets to age in its bottles for a while, and only then do we get to find out if we did it right...or right enough anyway. 

And now it just sits, in the closet, next to the dogfood
It’s odd, you know? Doing all this work to create the perfect environment just to let nature take its course, then sitting back and taking a mostly passive role, like some sort of non-interventionist God that just pokes his head in every now and then, “Everything going okay in here?” then pops back out. Sure, there’s more work to come, but our part in the actual making of the liquid is all but done.

I was talking to one of my oldest friends about our plans to brew on New Year’s Day, and he said it sounded like the start of a great tradition, an idea that I liked right away. I like traditions. Or no, scratch that. I actually kind of hate traditions, but that’s because when I think “tradition,” I think of some tired old ritual whose inconvenience has come to vastly outweigh its purpose, whose original meaning is long forgotten, and that only gets repeated because that’s the way it’s been done since before anybody can remember. No, I don’t need that. I like traditions I can be part of. And as is the case here, I like traditions that I can be in on at the start.

Mark your calendars now, because January 1, 2013 will be the second annual New Year’s Day Holmes-brew.

Wifearrific with beerarriffic