Wednesday, December 30, 2009

End of the Year

I spent these last days of 2009 rearranging, transferring, signing, filing, running, pondering...moving! Today I got a new driver's license and registered to vote in the state of Pennsylvania...again. Eventually, I even made dinner plans to say good-bye to a year I'm beyond happy to say good-bye to. It seems like only a week ago I was greeting 2009 with a bit of optimism. While it had its high points this year shriveled like a cat-turd in baking soda.

Awhile back I had a friend that was considering working abroad. Something I've always considered. He told me while he decided against it...he wanted to get on the ball to start a family. Dude was and still is single. "You're basing your life plans on someone you haven't even met yet." "Well, yeah, I guess, sort of."

Would make for some weird arguments down the road wouldn't it? "Damn it honey, you ruined my dreams of backpacking Europe for two years with that inheritance money I received, at least give me this blow-job!!"

"When were you trying to backpack Europe?"

"Three years before we met!"

I think instead of these tacky-shallow promise and chastity rings you see these future-psychiatric-file cretins wearing there should be a different type of ring and a different type of promise: The Live Your Life Promise.

"Future soul-mate, if you're out there I want you to pursue the things you want to pursue and let the ride take you where it will. Don't try to force anything or assume the path you want to take is wrong just because some of your peers may have never learned to think for themselves. Don't worry about me because you can guarantee I'm living the best I can and I'll see you when our paths cross. In the meantime I suggest you do the same because otherwise you'll just be a walking basket case of regret and shopping coupons and quite frankly that's nothing I feel like waking up to ever."

See you in 2010.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tiger Woods and Kurt Cobain

I never liked Tiger Woods. Never. It's those class-act-pretty-boys we always have to look out for. They're the devils in the blue dresses ten times out of ten. I remember the first time he won the title. He was crying, his parents were there, it was historical. He was a class act, a role-model, just a swell guy. Every kid got a set of golf clubs for Christmas that year, myself included. I always sucked at the damn game.

I remember in the 4th grade or something similar, maybe it was 5th or 6th I can't be sure, we were allowed to write a book report on any book we wanted. Usually, there were restrictions, but, this time in particular we were given free reign...Any book we wanted, as long as it had chapters.

Naturally, I wanted to pick a book I already read, and not just any book I've read, but the one I've read the most. Which, at the time, was "Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana" by Michael Azerrad. I still consider that one of the best rock biographies I've ever read. I met Michael Azerrad about two years ago in Seattle at the About A Son screening. Talked to him for a bit, told him I really dug his books and considered him one of the top music journalists out there these days.

Anyway, turns out the teacher was embellishing on our liberties a bit, because I wasn't permitted to do my report on Nirvana. I never cared for said teacher, she didn't last long. I asked her why, she told me that a biography wasn't appropriate.

"But it has chapters."

"It doesn't matter."

Later I found out that she was letting another student in the class do their report on a BIOGRAPHY on Tiger Woods. Being the tempered little guy that I was I confronted her again.

"Why are you letting (forget) do his report on Tiger Woods? That's a biography."

"Tiger Woods is a class guy, Kurt Cobain was a drug addict that shot himself."

All the while I'd have to see every kid and adult I know form some mawkish obsession with Tiger Woods for the next year or so until his fifteen minutes became a little more subdued...

Well, well, o, how times have changed. Class act? Role model? Don't get me wrong, dude got a piece of Joslyn James, all power. But, I'll just settle for her movies. The sponsors are crumbling, his image forever tarnished, and yet the Bleach re-issue is selling quite well. Which, by the way, the live tracks are great. Wish I could see my old teacher sometime, like the time in 2006 when I ran into my ultra-conservative republican accounting professor the day after the democrats won.

Smells like Teen Spirit? No. Smells like Karma.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Art of Being in Public...

...Is one I've never mastered. In fact, I realize that I shouldn't be in public at all unless I've had at least two cups of coffee. Anything less and I'm not equipped. I'm like a football player taking the field without pads, a musician going on stage without an instrument, or somebody that supports Sarah Palin without understanding any of her politics...err...somebody that supports Sarah Palin.

Today I went out after cup one, pummeled my way through the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner later. There was one cashier, dude in front of me was giving her a sales pitch on how he could save her money on the candy that they sell. Apparently he worked for some candy wholesaler or something. "Who do you get your candy from? Gee, we can save you 75 cents per unit!" This went on for a good five minutes, I found out the cashier lived in Ballard with her husband and really loves the neighborhood, they might move to the suburbs soon because they want to start a family, and on and on and on and I'm clearly waiting and honestly don't you realize this is your job and how the hell did some guy decide he wanted to spend the rest of his waking days with you given you can't even manage a TWO PERSON LINE!

Eventually, she noticed my rolling eyes and rung me up. "Do you want a bag?" "Yes." She looked at me strangely. "What? One word, that's all I've got for you, I don't have anything to sell you, I don't distribute candy, if I did I'd be bored." We weren't connecting. If she ever saw me do comedy she probably wouldn't dig it, if we ever met at a bar we wouldn't talk long, and if she was ever a cashier and I was a patron we probably wouldn't see eye-to-eye because she'd babble on and on to a candy distributor that takes his job too seriously.

After that I went across the street for some lunch at one of the busiest sandwich shops in Seattle. Of course I had to wait. It's a small joint, cash only, so I stood off in a corner while I was waiting for my sandwich. As luck would have it the table closest to me and within earshot was two people on what appeared to be THEIR FIRST DATE! Jackpot! I love this stuff, really. I listen all the time, then I try to gauge whether or not they have a shot, who's into who, it's a riot. Dude was way more into her than she was him. Eventually she brought up the ex.

"He told me my cats were dirty, that did it, we were done."

"So, do you like Dexter?"

Really guy? A TV show? That's all you've got? She already pulled the ex card, hope you didn't pay for this.

"No, not really. I don't know, I mean I do still kind of miss him..."

Crash and burn dude, crash and burn. It's over. Tables opened up around me, I could've sat down and waited, but like hell I was moving.

I even gave guy a topic but he botched it.

"What's with that creepy red-headed guy standing over there?"

"I don't know but it looks like he's laughing at us...and he's writing something down."

"I'm getting security."

Not a word of it. Maybe it's a bit insensitive that I got a kick out of a guy's failed date but hell, the sandwich was only $7.50, and I'm sure he makes a good living. Maybe he distributes candy.

Monday, November 9, 2009

To measure success...

In the metaphorical marathon that is health care reform our government just jogged 10 feet. (And during that 10 feet trampled some womens' rights and continued to pad the pockets of the parasites we've come to recognize as the insurance industries). With the amount of back-patting the governments are doing after this 10-foot scramble the marathon may never be finished in our life-times my fellow tech-happy-slightly-cynical-twenty-somethings. Alas, the world is full of pros, cons, crashing bores, scandals, failures, and every so often something interesting gets put on paper or record.

I won't be on stage as often this week. Main reason being I've got tickets to see the Mountain Goats tomorrow and the Pixies (Doolittle tour!) on Thursday. I figure I'll learn something watching people more advanced at their craft than I am at mine.

The Seattle International Comedy Competition is going on this week and I was hoping to catch some of it tonight since some of my friends are in it this year, but I got into the Steeler game, plus the beginning of the wet season has its way of encouraging me to stay indoors. After the game I put on a documentary about cults just to assure that I won't have pleasant dreams about another Super Bowl victory but instead am guaranteed twisted nightmares remnant of a Rob Zombie flick and I'll wake up in a cold sweat, maybe with heartburn.

My favorite bars are those that remind of a Bukowski novel. The place down the street from me, during the week at least, seems to be in that vein. Sadly, it took me over two years to give it a shot, and I've only got a few weeks left out here. I've been digging it though. One of the candidates for mayor drinks here on a regular basis, one afternoon he was telling me about the corruption and the votes unaccounted for, he's been robbed of several thousand he claimed, King county is up-in-arms, we're a sinking ship...Could be a drunk or he could be a right drunk, stranger things have happened.

"Some poets are drunks but not all drunks are poets." Though I'd also add that people that refer to themselves as poets probably aren't poets. What's a poet?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Songs to Stay Sane By

For anyone else that's feeling the grudge of this year of our lord 2009. Lately, I've felt like the main character from "Death of a Salesman." I go from stage to stage and eventually realize there's no money in my pocket. Eventually I'm going to lose it and wander into the same place every day at 8pm and start telling jokes.

"Who is that guy?"

"I think his name's Ron. He comes in every day, nobody has the heart to tell him this is a Funeral Home and he should probably leave."

Anyway friends, load this as a play-list and of course, no need to thank me, just pay it forward.

"This Year" The Mountain Goats--I listen to this everyday as soon as I wake up

"Fall Back Down" Rancid

"Los Angeles is Burning" Bad Religion

"Home for a Rest" Spirit of the West

"Wind Up" Jethro Tull (I'll buy a beer to anyone who can tell me the connection between SOTW and J-Tull, yes, there is one).

"Chris and the Angels" Hamell on Trial

"On and On and On" Catch 22

"The Dug Out" Ladyhawk

"51-7" Camper Van Beethoven

"Five to One" The Doors

"Atlantic City" Bruce Springsteen

"Droid" Selby Tigers

Friday, October 9, 2009

Really Playboy?

The October issue of PlayBoy will feature none other than the legendary Marge Simpson on the cover, a first for the magazine. The reason for this: to attract 20-somethings to the magazine, whose average-aged reader is 35.

It's good to know that just because most of us 20-somethings are broke because of the recession and don't have 7 girlfriends and millions of dollars Hugh assumes that we all fantasize about cartoons...May as well be realistic since apparently none of us are getting the real thing.

"I've got no cash, no lady, no future...show me the cartoon tits, please. Seriously, this is all I have left, the cartoon tits."

Besides, when I heard about a cartoon being featured in PlayBoy I lost all interest when it wasn't Lois Griffin from Family Guy. Lois is a true renaissance woman, well-read, intelligent, independent, sassy, sexy, why, she's practically perfect albeit two flaws: She's too old for me and she's animated. If Lois was in her 20s and a real person, well, I'd be down.

I can't believe Hugh thinks we twenty-somethings fantasize about cartoons, the nerve.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Facebook Groups I'd make if I had more freetime

...And wasn't worried I'd be the only member...

1. People who avoid e-wars but read them for entertainment.

Seriously, nothing good ever comes of them. It always ends up a posting match and everybody loses. I refuse to engage in them. Yet, they can be damn amusing to read sometimes.

2. I drink energy drinks and wonder if they're this generation's cigarettes.

Only time will tell...Ulcers? Eventual heart disease? Though, I'm certainly no doctor.

3. Italian-Americans who are tired of Italian-Americans with an obsessive and obnoxious nationalistic pride, you make the rest of us look bad.

Seriously. Healthy pride is one thing but if you base your entire personality and identity on the mass of soil ancestors you never even met came over from, get a hobby for hell's sake.

4. Children are usually afraid of me and I don't know why.

Maybe they have some kind of animal-like instinct and can tell that I don't care for them, or maybe they heard that joke I used to do about how living near the Boys and Girls club made me wish abortion was included in every basic health care plan.

5. I like girls that tell me when they need to fart.

It's natural, it's bold, it's honest, which in turn makes it sexy. Just don't drop trow and take a shit on the floor, that'd be too far.

6. If you think Charles Bukowski was sexist you need to look up the word 'misanthrope' in the dictionary and get over yourself.

You're too shallow to be that anally PC.

7. I write blogs that I probably won't think are funny or clever in the morning whenever I can't sleep at night.

See above.

Friday, September 11, 2009

An Open Letter to Joe Wilson

Dear Joe,

Boy, this is embarrassing, I mean honestly. I know, I know, you've got your support, some people have even been giving you money, I'm sure you're happy to be making money, even if it means catering to the whole "instead of solving problems let's focus on Obama being the anti-Christ" demographic.

Prostitutes make money too Joe. And, compared to you, they're far more respectable.

Sure there's a time for public dissent, there's a time for protest, but not when doing so turns an event meant to solve one of the largest domestic enigmas facing our country into yet another stage for political theater. I perform on stages all the time Joe, and you know who doesn't belong on stage? The heckler Joe, the heckler doesn't belong on stage.

I hate to be trite and play the whole "politicians are assholes" card but damn Joe, I question whether or not you're potty trained. We all need to have a concept of time and place Joe, and the other night, boy, you pissed all over the seat.

I was embarrassed for you Joe, and you have no idea what this means coming from me, I've got a thick skin when it comes to embarrassing politicians...I'm from PENNSYLVANIA for heaven's sake. We had RICK SANTORUM!! Ah, excuse me, just threw up in my mouth a little bit. Coming from an Italian-American family o boy, he was like that dude from Harry Potter, you didn't mention that name at the dinner table. Yes, that homophobic, Bush-parroting disaster of a human being whose name is now a synonym for post-anal sex lube and fecal matter was quite the embarrassment, convinced those weapons of mass destruction were going to turn up any day, making the most foul of homophobic and racist comments and then hiding behind a bible, man, I never thought that guy could be topped.

You've topped him Joe, you've topped him. Couldn't you have saved it for Hannity or Beck Joe? They were just a phone call away.

Anyway Joe, to leave on a positive note you've given me hopes that they'll just can the whole thing and eventually the voice for the single-payer system will become too loud to ignore. Idealistic? Yeah. I mean hell, we can't just yell out whenever we want.

--Ron

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My New Diet

At times I have a weird eating schedule. Sometimes I won't be hungry in the afternoon, go out and do comedy, then be starving by the time I get home. I've decided that from now on whenever I have a terrible set I won't eat when I get home...because I ate already, I dined on a shit-sandwich. It only seems fair.

Tonight was definitely one of those nights where I wouldn't be eating, but I decided to let it slide because I was starving and knew I wouldn't sleep well if I didn't eat something. I'm already slacking off.

I did canvassing for a bit, not just because I needed some quick cash but because I thought a job like that would help with stand-up, if I can convince a stranger to give me their credit card information on the street I can convince them a joke's funny. It was tough. The toughest job I've ever had. And it's brutal. I felt like shit everyday, mentally and physically. My day would start at around 7:30am, and it would end around midnight. I wouldn't have time to go home after the shift because I'd go straight to stand-up somewhere. I got sick nearly immediately. I lasted three days. With everything else I had going on, it just wasn't going to work at the moment. Still, I enjoyed seeing that side of humanity, in terms of human interaction you're just a pan-handler that makes an hourly wage. Within my three days somebody told me to fuck off once, a woman propositioned me for sex and three people signed up with me. I would see tourists finding their way through downtown, looking for the library, Pike's Place, Pioneer Square, the Space Needle at times, though I was never really near the Center.

According to my supervisor one of my flaws was my low energy and the fact that I didn't approach a ton of people. We found that it was because I pre-judged them. "Why?" He asked me. "Because I've lived, I've seen shit, I know we're supposed to be optimistic about human compassion but I'm not sold." "Everyone that comes through our doors have seen shit, you've got to give people a little bit of credit." He was right about the first part, and he had a point, most of the people there were well-traveled, eclectic, cultured, but we all see different things. With the path I've chosen over the past several years I feel that I give my fellow man enough credit. We're flawed, we're animals, the best may be behind us, but we can learn and we can love. Some would call it misanthropy, others cynicism, I call it a healthy dose of realism.

By the way, here's what our health-care bill should say:

"Non-Profit Single Payer. There. Any room for misinterpretations or bogus death panel claims? No, I didn't think so. All of you insurance industry moguls can get new jobs selling used American cars. As for the rest of you, you're welcome."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Small Victory

Over five years ago I had a dream that I got pulled over by a cop. It was a female officer and when she approached my window she was gorgeous. She told me to watch my speed and that I was lucky I was cute. She winked at me and left.

Tonight I was driving home from a gig in Tumwater (had a great time, always a fun room) and I got pulled over by a female cop! It was an interesting situation, initially I had no idea why I was pulled over.

"Do you know why I pulled you over?"

I was upfront, "to be honest, no, I don't." I said it cordially.

"Well you were driving right on top of the person in front of you, and you were swerving in and out of your lane."

Technically, both things she said were true. I was on top of the car and front of me briefly, because I was trying to get around said car, they were going maybe 50, but I couldn't get around them because there was a car in the other lane also riding their break. For whatever reason in my experience the northwest has no concept of the fast lane.

As for the swerving thing, yes, I slightly swerved once, because their flashing lights startled me, I swerved slightly and then pulled over.

So both things she said were true, albeit a stretch.

Her next question: "How much did you have to drink tonight?"

Which I could've taken personally but chose not to.

"Nothing."

"What about earlier?"

"I have had absolutely nothing to drink tonight."

Which was true, I'm incredibly strict about drinking before shows, I feel like it throws my timing off, and I didn't drink afterward because I left after the show was over.

"So if I give you a breathalyzer you'll blow zero?"

"Yeah, unless mouthwash or something makes it go above."

She took my license. She came back a few minutes later and told me to watch my driving. I started to apologize and explain myself, but she stammered off. No goodnight, nothing. In my side mirror I saw her waving off the car behind her. She reminded me off a pouting kid, the school bully that didn't get to beat up the small kid because an adult showed up.

This wasn't an officer that was concerned about my safety or the safety of others on the road, this was an officer that was one of the cars involved in a speed trap and they wanted to slap a DUI on somebody. They wanted to humiliate someone and make them walk in a straight line, say the alphabet backwards, see them squirm. And, tonight it wasn't this guy.

Now don't get me wrong, there are some good cops out there, you hear about people giving their lives for the cause. On the flip-side you also hear about police officers killing people with tazers. I salute law enforcement for doing the job they do but I'm not naive enough to ignore the fact that police brutality is a huge problem in the United States and elsewhere. I have this theory that for every good cop there are about 6 or so bad ones. I base this on experience and I have yet to meet an officer that falls into that one in 6.

Eh, so it goes. She didn't wink at me, didn't tell me I was cute, oh and just for the record she was heinous.

Monday, August 3, 2009

In a Bathtub no less!

Amici, I've been a lousy blogger. Usually I like to grace the inter-cyberspace with my ramblings twice a month. Not necessarily every other week, my time management isn't that disciplined, if it were I'd probably be much more successful in the game. I blame it on Kaplan, and I blame it on the heat.

In Seattle we've had record-breaking temperatures, for those that don't live in Seattle and may not find meteorology all that interesting. Around 83% of all buildings in the Seattle area do not have air conditioning, our temperatures broke 100. My apartment of course falls into the 83%. At one point I filled my bathtub with cold water, set my computer and cell phone on the toilet, and sat in the tub to go about my day. My "home-office" is by no means glamorous to begin with so it wasn't much of an adjustment. To an on-looker who didn't know there was a heatwave it probably looked like the most bizarre suicide attempt they'd ever seen.

Anyway, enough on the heat.

A woman in the Bronx is suing Monroe College because she claims their career center did not help her get a job. She majored in information technology. The college defends the effectiveness of their career center, indicating several recent English majors that have gone on to be successful baristas.

Lastly, Over the next month or so I'm going to be deciding what to do about my novel. I've been trying to get it picked up, I've gotten some interest but no small presses have any money these days, they're hardly putting out anything and understandably so. I'm aware of many more innovative and cost-efficient ways to get this thing out there independently but I haven't considered them out of fear of rejection from the publishing industry. Alas, I've reconsidered and reality gave me a slap. The publishing industry, in many ways, is a sinking ship. A renaissance is coming and they either have to embrace it or go the way of the Buffalo. Not to mention I made the decision to walk away from the industry back in May, so why not go all out?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Back in the Saddle

So, I've returned from across the mighty pond and it's that time again...A time I never look forward to...A time that always occurs when it's wanted least because it's never wanted...A time that any aspiring musician/comedian/writer/poet/actor/artist can relate to and all regardless of craft equally loathe...day-job time.

Just typing it sends chills. But, alas, I need to get a little supplement income going on. Part-time would suffice.

Last night on Craigslist I saw an ad for a dishwasher at a diner down the street from me. Daylight hours, part-time, I can walk to work, people will leave me alone, why the hell not? So this morning I dressed a little nicer than my regular morning wardrobe of boxers and socks and headed on down the road.

I asked for the person I was supposed to ask for and waited at the end of the bar for her to come out of the kitchen. For those few minutes I was pretty much on display for everyone: To your right, a guy that finished college not too far from a 4.0 and is waiting to apply for a part-time job washing dishes. Summary: Shitty life choices.

My interviewer appears. Woman, looks early 30s, could be attractive if she didn't have the stereo-typical-Seattle-hipster-I've-never-learned-to-think-for-myself-so-I-let-Belle-And-Sebastian-do-it-for-me look going on. Summary: Libido killer.

Anyway, after a few minutes she tells me I don't have the restaurant experience she's looking for. Alas friends, I'm apparently under-qualified to wash dishes. I best let my girlfriend know right away. "Sorry, but you've got to clean the apartment alone..."

To save myself time and headaches and unnecessary early-morning walks to downtown Fremont, I've compiled my list of requirements that will surely have employers diving head over heels for my services. This is all I want in a day-job:

1. Flexibility: I can only work daylight, Monday-Friday. Every now and again the occasional fall-out gig will pop up, sometimes more than one. 2 hours advance notice should suffice for any conflicts that may arise.

2. My Boss: I want someone that isn't a passive-aggressive, condescending, arrogant waste of air and syllables. I realize this will be increasingly difficult in the fine city of Seattle as said behavior is not only common but, in my experience, expected. At the end of the day though, it's not that hard, tell me what to do, I do it, we leave each other alone. I'm not looking for a friend, I have friends, just do the work, go home. This method's flawless, trust me.

3. The Work: I don't work well with customers, but I can get through it when absolutely necessary. I don't do any rabbit gets the carrot garbage, save that for a naive recent college grad or someone from the suburbs that doesn't know any better. Physical labor is fine because it's isolating and one gets in better shape, two birds with one stone. Only thing, I don't do the outdoors for extended periods of time.

References furnished upon request.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Comedy and the "F" Word

I've heard this countless times, and most recently I heard this come from an 88-year-old woman that decided to do stand-up: The ever famous battle-cry against the "F" word. "If someone's truly talented, if they're truly funny, then they don't NEED to use profanity."

The above mentioned sentiment is little more than narcissistic nonsense. Hear me out. Did people making these statements ever stop to think that maybe some comedians don't feel the NEED to use profanity, maybe they just don't feel the NEED to NOT use profanity? Maybe it's who they are. Maybe it's how they're comfortable. Maybe, just maybe, they're not up there for you, maybe they don't really care about your opinion, maybe they assume that you're focused on their material and their point-of-view, and not the language they use. Maybe their attitude is such that if your level of tolerance is one in which you would dismiss a comedian solely based on language, then, well, fuck ya.

I personally fall into the category of clean. I'm not really vulgar at all. I didn't plan it that way, that's just naturally how my material turns out. I never sat down and was like, "hey, I'm gonna be a clean comic cuz my goal in life is to one day go on tour with Dave Coulier and entertain families, like the Wiggles only with punchlines! I'm gonna make this work!" Never happened. I actually sort of despise children.

I remember once not too long ago I did a show in my hometown of Pittsburgh and after wards was at a bar with a few friends, some who weren't able to make the show. My mom was at the bar so they jokingly asked her how the show went and if I was funny. Her response: "He's not crude or vulgar, he doesn't need to do that." That was it. Of course, she was just being my mom and such, but still, that was a bummer. I looked back at her, "If that's all you got from what I did up there, I really failed tonight." Then the topic was changed because, well, people just chalked it up to me being strange.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with not liking vulgarity or whatever else. If you don't dig vulgarity, if it's not for you, if it dilutes everything else for you, that's totally fine. Everyone's entitled to enjoy or not enjoy something. But who is anyone to define what is and isn't acceptable for the rest of us? And if something doesn't meet someone's definition of acceptable who are they to then write that off as talentless?

"There are two types of people in this world, people who create and people who destroy."--George Lucas

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Flooded Treasures

Lately I've been reading Oscar Wilde's fairy tales. Interestingly enough I'm coming across some that I had read in class during grade school. Obviously now the societal quips and commentary no longer go over my head, instead they knock me right between the teeth as if Wilde was yelling to me from the grave, "See? Humans haven't changed at all, it's the same bureaucratic nonsense and it always will be...P.S. If I were alive today you know I'd be a stand-up comic."

On Saturday I was walking down the road and there was somewhat of an informal yard sale going on in Fremont. I went to check it out and there were books. Tons of books. Turns out what happened was this guy, he was an older guy, lived in Seattle his whole life, has his own float for the Solstice Parade, believes Seattle Times is a huge conspiracy, cool guy. Anyway, turns out a bunch of these books were flooded, so this guy dove into the dumpster and fished them all out. He was giving them away to any interested parties. Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Hunter Thompson (more), all found, all salvageable. I also added some Chomsky and Nietzsche.

He asked for two dollars since some of the books weren't flooded, I insisted on giving him three. Once when I was in between semesters at college there was a leak in my parents' basement and some of my books got it. A blow dryer, a little bit of sunlight, and a stubborn attitude that wouldn't settle for re-buying a soul-less republication from Barnes and Noble was all I needed to get them back to being totally readable. Hopefully I'll have similar success with these books.

Now, when I was in college I worked at Carnegie Mellon University in the receiving warehouse. Every so often I would go to campus to make deliveries to the book store. Sometimes there was a guy, similar to the Seattle guy, that would sell books on campus. I'd always see a flier near the book store so I knew when he'd be there. I'd try to go shop for a bit and since no one really wants to go back to a non-air conditioned warehouse in the middle of summer, it usually wasn't hard for me to convince my co-workers to stall for a bit while I checked out the book selection.

One time, I found the entire collection of "Notes of A Dirty Old Man" by Charles Bukowski. Not the collection that was published later, but all of the original writings that appeared in the paper he used to write for along with some of the other stuff he had been doing during that time that had slipped under the radar. I remember picking it up at the book sale and showing it to the guy. "Spine's ripped, I can't sell that...You want it, it's yours." Since then I've read that collection so many times that the ripped spine did give in completely, the book's held together by athletic tape now, and I still read it from time to time.

Experiences like the above mentioned make me wonder why I spend time worrying about money.

Friday, May 15, 2009

At the Airport(s)

I’ve come to terms that I’m one of those people that gets freaked out if I don’t travel regularly. The destination doesn’t matter so much, but I like to have a regular schedule of logistic obstacles. It’s the best time to think, especially when I’m flying.

I like to get to airports extremely early, like super early. I like to be through security with 2 hours to spare, you can do some of your best people watching at an airport. Airports are one of the many venues in which we as humans can realize how far yet how little we’ve actually evolved from animals.

My day started at the Seattle Sheraton where I was to catch the shuttle to the airport. I had a few obligations that I had to attend to in the city early. I planned on catching the 8:43 shuttle but when I got there the 8:13 was still waiting. I got on board, now, the driver’s supposed to be able to take my money, but she sent me inside. I asked her if I had enough time, she responded, “only if you run.” I guess in retrospect she was kind of rude but I wasn’t paying much attention. I waited at the concierge, there was a shuttle booth, but I didn’t notice it. I listened to banter back in forth with a couple trying to get to Vancouver. She informed them that the train left once a day, there was a shuttle that provided a quick service. This is all information one can obtain spending about 2 minutes tops on Google, maybe these people didn’t have laptops with them but let’s be real, they have money and they’re clueless. So I started getting a little anxious, not because I was in a hurry but because the shuttle was waiting, and I didn’t want to be that guy. Finally it took off. The lady gets to me. “How can I help you?” “I wanted tickets for that shuttle that just left.” “O, well their booth is right over there.” “Oops, I didn’t see it.” “No worries I can sell you a ticket here, will you be catching the next one?” “That’s the plan.” “You could’ve just bought it from the driver.” “She wouldn’t take my money.” “He didn’t except your money?” “She wouldn’t take my money.” “That’s strange.”

I went over to the booth I was supposed to go to in the first place. “Hey, just curious, can’t your drivers take money?” “Yeah.” “They wouldn’t take mine, they sent me straight in here, didn’t even offer, I had cash.” The girl sighed, “was it a woman driver?” “Umm yeah, do you guys have some weird policy with women taking money or something?” “Heh, no, she just does that, I don’t know why, I’m really sorry.” “Yeah, I just found it strange, oh well, life goes on.” The girl was cool. I probably could’ve talked her into giving me a comp trip but I wasn’t that bothered by the whole thing.

So I had a half-hour to kill in the Sheraton so I do what I think anybody should do and go around looking for a continental breakfast. I planned to walk in acting like I owned the place and score a free meal. Of course, a hotel as upscale as the Sheraton isn’t going to have such a thing, but I had nothing better to do.

Later at the airport I was waiting in line to check in. I went over to check to see if my bag was small enough to qualify as a carry-on and while doing so the guy behind me cut right in front of me. Proves that animal theory. I got behind him. “Wow, that was classy.” Again, I didn’t care, it’s just interesting how some people have no concept that life’s too short to be a dick for no apparent reason. We’re at the front of the line and they call the next person in line over, dude doesn’t move. They call again, he finally notices. “Let’s wake up buddy.” He didn’t respond to me, if you’re in that big of a hurry that you’re going to do something as petty as cut in front of one person, at least be on the ball with checking in.

As Karma would have it my line was quicker than his and I beat him through security. Yes, I did notice.

I’m at security and I put my stuff through and go through the metal detector. The TSA guy comes up to me. “Hello sir, I need you to either walk through the X-ray, or if you’d prefer I’ll give you a pat-down.”
My verbatim response: “I think I’d like you to pat me down.” I wasn’t trying to be funny or anything it just came out that way, I had nothing in my system but a Monster drink. After I said it though I couldn’t help but start laughing, especially since I could tell dude did not want to pat me down.

I’m now on a plane flying over Chicago, it’s dark out, and I’m listening to Rocket Man by Elton John. Now that’s perfection. “Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids, in fact it’s cold as hell.”
I touch-down in the Burgh around 10ET. You know, come to think of it, I’m not the man they think I am at home…

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Not after a lousy set, please?

Last night I didn't have the set I wanted to. It was an open-mic. For those non-comics out there open-mic is an opportunity to try out new material, work out a premise on stage, test out new tags to older material to try to expand on bits, etc. Of course, some people beat the same five minutes to death for years but, moving on. I didn't have the set I wanted. I didn't care necessarily that I didn't do well, but I was bummed that some of the newer material that I've been trying to work out and gravitate towards isn't quite clicking.

Rest of the night went on, quick question: Does a public domain(read: internet) joke about sleeping with your cousins in (insert city of ridicule) deserve an applause break? Should it even be uttered on stage? I didn't think so either.

Anyway, after all was over the great Tim Warner and I went for a beer down the street. This place is a biker-esque bar but it's just a stone's throw away from the apartment so we went. The bartender was playing this horrible pop-punk "emo" music, dribble I used to think was cool when I was 16 or so but then saw through once I realized high school didn't matter. Anyway Tim and I were talking shop, I was blowing off steam to a slight degree, and just then the most terrible cover of "Just Like Heaven" by the Cure came on. I mean TERRIBLE. It was absolutely nauseating. There were only like, 5 people in the bar, none of whom looked like they would be into this music with exception to the hipster skinny-jean clad bartender. For some reason, that did me in, I was fed up with it all, fed up with work, fed up with all of it.

So I looked up and said for all to hear, "This is the worst cover I ever heard, this is atrocious, whoever recorded this deserves to be shot in the skull."

It really was that bad. The song continued. "Dreamed of all the different ways I had to make her glow..." I looked down at the table, there was some cash sitting there which of course was my intended tip. I reached down and took a dollar and put it back in my pocket.

I know, I know, kind of harsh, but I was ticked. And honestly, if you're going to push your horrible taste down peoples' throats you should realize that you may catch one of them on the wrong day and they'll take it out of your tip. I'm a Cure fan, that was some bad old timing. I'm not sure if the bartender noticed or not but Tim was cracking up so I imagine he noticed.

Now it's time for some irony: I got home and pulled up my laptop, my girlfriend had put a drawing of Robert Smith up as my background. At that point I couldn't help laughing about the whole thing. Next time I'm in there I'll tip the bartender a little extra to make up for it, maybe he'll use the money to buy some better music and we both win.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Humble Pie's more bitter out west

I had a meeting not too long ago with somebody who has a pretty large role in the political and media relations arena here in Seattle. We talked about work and the world, and of course he asked me what exactly it was I wanted to do. So I told him. Now, he knew I paid my bills through writing, so he asked me some obvious questions, ones I wish I had better answers for...

Do you submit to (City Magazine)? Do you pitch humor pieces online? etc. etc.

Sadly my answer was a constant, "no, I'm going to work on that eventually."

Which lead to the inevitable, "so Ron, what exactly are you doing?"

This guy has 30+ years of success in the field of journalism, I'm sure to him we Hunter Thompson fanatics already seem amateur, nonetheless, I couldn't in my heart tell him what I was actually doing...erotic literature. Yup, in this economy, I gotta take what I can get.

While other people are pitching spec scripts, blogging for Huffington, negotiating publishing pitches, I'm editing orgy scenes between a girl and her two brothers. We all have our peaks and valleys I suppose.

Speaking of which, earlier this month (it's still April 30th) I participated in a comedy competition in Bend, Oregon. Bend is a neat ski-town in the middle of the state. Driving there, however, one must go over a pretty long pass. I hadn't checked the weather conditions. Starting the drive from Seattle it was completely pleasant, ordinary North-west spring weather. The pass was a different story. I hadn't realized how high in the mountains I actually was, and this pass was covered with snow and it was coming down...hard. I literally switched seasons in a matter of seconds. Now, I've never handled snow well, NEVER. When other people see me drive in snow they assume I'm a Seattle native, they're shocked when I tell them I'm from Pennsylvania. What can I say? I don't do snow.

Trucks were sliding, people were pulled over putting their chains on. I was in a Dodge Caliber rental, I didn't have chains nor would I have any clue what to do with them if I did. I wondered just how high up I was, there were little signs of elevation. Had I made a wrong turn somewhere? Am I still on the right road? When this is all over, I'm buying myself a GPS. I put the car in auto-stick, that helped a great deal. At that point, I let out an open call for help. I don't necessarily pray much, but hell, anything was worth a shot. I made it out, and of course once over the mountain the roads were completely normal.

I know it's trite, but after that I decided I was going to have a more positive attitude about things, not take anything for granted, focus more on the bright side...That lasted a few days. If you'll excuse me, cunnilingus calls.

Friday, April 10, 2009

An Open Letter to PETA from my Cat, Lucy

Dear PETA,

To avoid getting started on the wrong foot, let me say that I am, overall, in support of what you do. As a proud feline I do appreciate your pursuit of our ethical treatment and due to your informative campaigns my provider and I both refuse to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken, among other things.

However, I can't help but have a slightly acerbic taste in my mouth when I ponder issues of world hunger, our struggling economy, the environment, and war. These are issues that affect us animals as well and as I hope you can agree, are of a bit more importance than changing the name of fish to "sea-kittens." Which, by the way, I do enjoy a fine tuna myself, I hope this is not your attempt to paint us cats as cannibals. If so, know that I speak for the rest of the Animal Revolutionary Society when I say we will not be pleased. I have very close ties with the K-9 Chapter as well as everyone over at the Neo-Animal Farm. Anyway, to summarize, dare I say perhaps you should make yourselves aware that there are "fatter fish to fry." And no, I don't apologize for the pun. My provider hasn't written a funny joke in I can't remember how long, I've earned this.

Anyway, this brings me to my next point and what inspired me to write you, your recent request to the musical ensemble Pet Shop Boys. Now, with exception to the Hold Steady double-disc I've little to look forward to in regards to the music industry, and I'm certainly not without a sense of humor. What you seem to forget is that the worst thing you could do to your organization is become a parody of yourself, which in recent events you have taken many steps toward. You'd be naive to not acknowledge and adapt to the fact that you have extremists in your organization that make the far religious right almost look rational. With this in mind, making your request to the Pet Shop Boys to change their name will bear little positive fruit, and on the contrary will further diminish the cause you claim to be fighting for.

I understand your intentions are in the right place, but perhaps it's time to change the Pandora Radio Station in the marketing office. Just a thought.

All the best,

Lucy
President, Animal Revolutionary Society
Editor in Chief to Ron Placone
Activist

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Whopping 60!

For my past birthday a friend of mine bought me a copy of The Lenny Bruce Trials. I finally had a chance to dive into it. As of right now I haven’t entered the tragedy yet, basically I’m still to the point where they’re talking about San Francisco in the 60s. Quite frankly, I wish I was born 40-some years earlier sometimes…but it’s in my nature to always feel like the grass is greener on the other side. On the other hand, some say that the climate we’re in now is even worse than the Great Depression. I didn’t live through the Great Depression, so despite what’s on paper or in the history books I feel as though I’ll never truly know the accuracy of said statement.
So I asked my Grandmother. “Grandma, what do you remember from the Great Depression?”
There was a brief pause on the phone.
“O, wow, that was a long time ago, I remember stuff being rationed…You know you should ask your dad.”
“But he wasn’t alive then.”
“Yeah, but he’s good with history.”
“I’m looking for a first-hand account.”
“O, I really don’t remember that much, how’s Seattle?”
So I didn’t get a ton of information, not that my Grandmother would’ve been old enough to remember much, but I figured it was worth a shot.
I suppose there’s reason to look up today though, CNN released a piece informing us the masses that due to the Stimulus 60 people now have jobs. Nope, no mistakes in the numbers, 60. Those people must be getting a hell of a paycheck.
When it’s newsworthy that 60 people received jobs in a country with our population, I think it’s safe to say we’re in a nice amount of trouble. Who knows what will be newsworthy next…Perhaps by 2010 none of us will have jobs but we’ll know the menstrual cycle of every female celebrity.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Link to Seattle Sinner January Submission

http://www.theseattlesinner.com/endofanerror.php

My farewell letter to FORMER President George W. Bush

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Snow-Worthy

Hot-tubs, plastic forks, gas stations, bar soap, I'm smiling, I'm traveling. Have a night off in Missoula. So far the run's been pretty good, though the winter weather has been a bit exhausting.

This is the first time ever that I've met a Steelers' fan at every single show. There were two in Missoula, one at each of the shows in Idaho, and then one in Billings last night. Steelers' fans aren't the most common thing in the rural Northwest. If I meet one in Spokane, then I will have met a Steelers' fan at every single room in this run, that doesn't even happen in the northeast.

Drinking lots of coffee, occasionally mixing it up with a Rockstar, had to wait an extra day to watch the premier episode of Lost, and while the Inauguration was going on I was background noise to a basketball game for an uninterested audience in Montana. On the upside though, I've met some super cool people, saw some beautiful countryside, some for the first time, and stared in complete awe and jealousy that top-quality lunch meat is $5.99/pound at most in Yellowstone.

Several days ago I was in Idaho and I was starving. It was several hours until showtime. I was in a fairly rural area and I didn't feel like driving, not to mention it was insanely cold. I decided to order a Pizza. I placed my order for delivery, and then as custom I gave the guy my info:
"What's your address?"

"I'm at the ________ Inn, on Main Street."

"Room number?"

"223"

"And your name please?"

"Ron"

"Could you spell that?"

(Brief moment of silence)

My last name, yeah, people misspell that all the time, but really, RON? I was silent, I had never been asked to spell my first name before so I was a bit taken aback, also I was slowly realizing that somebody, somewhere thought it was a good idea to let this guy handle money for a living, and in that particular moment, my debit card information.

Now, the second issue, how can I respond to that without sounding like a jerk? I mean really, I had to spell R-O-N, like I was the Dad telling the babysitter not to let the Dominos' guy have any C-A-N-D-Y. Seriously dude, R-O-N, like "ON," you know, the switch where when you put it up everything gets bright? Just throw an "R" in front and you're golden. No tricks here.

Of course, some people do spell it R-O-H-N. Which is stupid.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Retrospective

Happy New Year one and all. The past day and a half I have been huddled in my tiny apartment, recently re-united with my two cats in Seattle. In my two week absence the city got slammed with snowstorms unheard of in recent history. All the while I was in PA-OH-IN-WV where more often than not it was unseasonably warm. So it goes, fortunately I was able to sleep at night knowing that I was lucky enough to have the best cat-sitter(s) EVER taking care of the feline crew.

Anyway, the past two days have been filled with lots and lots of Football. It is bowl season, and it is a holiday. Pitt-Oregon State and Michigan State-Georgia turned out to be very heavily rooted in defense, both low-scoring, both forced teams to think outside the box to control the clock and rack up enough points on the board to pull out a win. Personally, I enjoyed the lop-sidedness of it all. I've never been one for shoot-outs, and being a life-long Steelers fan I have nothing but the utmost appreciation for good defense.

I have a gig during the BCS Bowl, I'm hoping to catch as much as I can as I'm expecting quite a game. Florida Gators have been an incredibly fun team to watch. As I couldn't care less who wins, I can watch for love of the game, as is the story most of the time when I watch college football. (I went to Indiana University--never had much to get excited about football wise).

I've been listening to lots and lots of Will Sheff, have been for a few years now, and thoroughly enjoy his song-writing. To all the critics out there--many of us Okkervil fans realize that the music is simple, we know the chord progressions are basic, and we don't care. Their lyrics are brilliant, they have great hooks with the slightest dash of folk that blends perfectly, and they're very tight live. Put that music degree to use and go teach some lessons instead of offering criticisms on pop music via YouTube comments. Sound good?

Back to Football. This could be a fun run for the NFL. Tennessee may be due for an upset, my Steelers could go anyway imaginable, Baltimore is going to be a strong six seat, and in the NFC Carolina is going to clean up, at least that's my prediction. New England is of the past for this year, yet sadly Indianapolis, in true serpent fashion have managed to slither their way into another playoff birth.

I dug 2008, hopefully 2009 keeps the same momentum. For those of us twenty-somethings that have just entered the "real world" this economic climate has been no picnic. But hell, I find the glory in it all. This is supposed to be a tough time regardless, so it's a little lousier, at least, my fellow peers, we're not close to retirement age. My true sympathies are for the baby-boomers, the early-sixty-somethings, and those struggling to support their families. As for the rest of us, those of us that don't have much to begin with, perhaps chasing dreams that may or may not ever come true but at the very least will give us a fuck of a fun ride, let's seize the year.

--Ron