Here’s a brief current events test you can take to see how much you know, compared against the rest of the population. To my own surprise, I scored 100%. (It was surprising because someone I know, who seems to read and know everything, somehow missed two of these. I think I did even better because I read business newspapers too.) Here you go.
Here’s what happens when you deny some people their Chicken McNuggets — at 6:30 a.m., when they aren’t ever available. What you get instead is a pretty big unhappy meal: 60 days in a Toledo jail (where they don’t serve Chicken McNuggets).
Here’s a petition I fully endorse, partly because it links two sorts of disasters in exactly the way they should be linked.
On behalf of my theatre company, Moving Arts, I just called our insurance broker for some information. Here’s the actual conversation I had with some phone-answering woman:
Me: Hi. Is Bobbie there? This is Lee Wochner, from Moving Arts.
Her: No, sorry. She’s on the phone. Do you want to hold, or can I take your information?
Me: How long will she be?
Her: I don’t know.
Me: Then I’ll leave my information. It’s Lee Wochner, from Moving Arts, and my number is (xxx-xxx-xxxx). [Those "x's" are, obviously, where I gave her my real phone number.]
Her: OK. You said Mike?
Me: No, I said Lee. Lee Wochner. W-o-c-h-n-e-r.
Her: OK. Lee Walker.
Me: No, Wochner. That’s why I spelled it.
Me: Wochner. Lee Wochner. W-o-c-h-n-e-r.
Her: OK. Where are you calling from?
Me: Moving Arts. She can call me at (xxx-xxx-xxxx).
Her: OK. And you’re calling from Moving Arts.
Her: And what’s your number?
It went on this way for at least another minute. Remember the guy who would slap his hand over his own face in exasperation? That was me.
By the way, it’s hours later, and Bobbie hasn’t called me back. My theory: She didn’t get the message.
Looks like San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is going to step down.
There’s not much that’s funny about this: Dick van Dyke’s car caught on fire today on the 101 freeway, with him in it. If not for the assistance of a passing motorist who rescued him, you’d be reading his obit right now.
Here’s a Vine video van Dyke’s wife posted. You know it’s real, ’cause there’s Dick van Dyke talking highway patrol.
Val Kilmer’s one-man show about Twain is now playing at the Pasadena Playhouse, and I’ve been thinking about seeing it. Check out his transformation into Mark Twain.
It’s not like the old days — as when, at the curtain call for “Tru,” Robert Morse would rip off his false face, eviscerating the illusion that he had been Truman Capote.
As C. Northcote Parkinson noted last century, expenditures rise to meet income. Today, I’m wondering if the same could be said about advancements that theoretically free us up to do more of what we’d like to, but that wind up encumbering us.
Here’s the context of this question: I just spend six hours clearing out my email.
It was like a digital Bataan Death March. Six hours later, I’m down from 110 “real” emails to 29. That’s progress, but it was hard-fought. I definitely have a small, slight feeling of satisfaction — of being a little less burdened. But am I evaluating what I really accomplished in those six hours, and asking why, at 9:22 on a Saturday night, I’m still at my office? (Other than because I don’t want to take this work home with me?) You bet.
This afternoon while driving over here from my workshop — many hours and many deleted emails ago — I heard someone on the radio proclaiming that our electronic devices own us. That’s true. It’s hard to pull yourself away from your iPhone when you have the nagging suspicion that someone is on there trying to reach you — via text or email or Facebook message or Skype or push message.
It’s not like I haven’t been aware of this situation for some time. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of unsubscribing. I’ve also been responding to some emails in an efficient but rude-sounding way. Here’s one of my responses of that type: “Yes.” Another one is: “No.” I’ve even taken to this stratagem, picked up at a conference: a subject line that says everything. (Example of one I sent: “confirming lunch today at noon at Octopus EOM.”) In response to a three-paragraph email, “no” really says a lot, especially compared against too much time indulging in email niceties versus working on my play. Now that I’m down to 29 emails (and who knows how or when — or if! — I’ll ever get to zero), my plan is to keep that number low. If I have to behave like a Visigoth, maybe that’s just what it takes.
If you email me, and you get one of those terse replies, it is personal. But it’s not personal against you — it’s me taking better personal command of my time.
I just responded to a business email. Dammit. Couldn’t help myself!
It’s Thursday, and I have big plans for today.
First — and I’ve already done this — just sleep until I wake up. Set the mental alarm for “I don’t care.” Which worked terrifically until the upstairs phone rang with someone leaving a message about a doctor’s appointment for “Dye-treesh.” (I’m thinking that would be my son Dietrich, pronounced “Dee-trick.”) I don’t know when I last heard this particular phone ring, but I can say that when it awoke me I was in a confused state and scrambled all around for whichever of my portable electronic devices was making that sound.
Second — have whatever I want for breakfast. Those toxic GMO chemically premade frozen “pancakes” with chocolate bits welded into them? Sure. With three heart-clogging sausages on the side, please. And in my coffee, which I drink black these days, some chemicalized coffee-enhancing “creamer” from the refrigerator. Bye bye for today, Mediterranean-style breakfast.
Third — post on this blog. Done.
Fourth — take my family to the beach. I have big doings planned for that beach. They include: reading, building a sand castle, jumping into and out of the water, horsing around with my kids, allowing my wife’s Goldilocks-type comments about the beach to go unremarked upon (“It’s too hot” or “It’s too cold” or “It’s too bright” or “It’s overcast” or “It’s so crowded” or “Why is there nobody else here?” etc.), and more reading. Not on the list: checking email. Making notes (about ANYTHING, especially tasks that must be accomplished). I had offered to take my family to a water park today, but found out that precisely none of my family wants to go to a water park. Not the 48-year-old wife, not the 22-year-old, not the 15-year-old, and not the still-10-year-old. The latter in particular astonished me. “You don’t want to go to a water park? Ride those big long water slides at high speeds???? Plunge down dark tubes into deep pools of water? Really?” No, they all wanted to go to the beach.
Now, I really have nothing against the beach except this: I don’t like it. I don’t know what the big thrill is. There’s nothing to do there. Around where I grew up, in New Jersey, you can get gobbled alive by greenhead flies, which are the flying armored tank of the human-eating insect world. If we’d had these things under our command during World War II, millions of lives could have been spared, because no one — no one — wants to go up against greenhead flies. So we had those in New Jersey, but they don’t exist around here. If you’re not battling greenheads, then really there’s nothing to do at the beach. Well, except note all the things that you should’ve brought to the beach that you didn’t. And if you really needed those things, you should’ve just stayed where they are — i.e., at home. The reason you feel you need those things while you’re at the beach is simple: because there’s nothing to do at the beach. There’s only one thing you need for a water park: your wallet.
But, the beach is where my family wanted to go, so that’s where I’m taking them. And because there’s nothing to do at the beach, that’s essentially what I’m going to be doing: nothing. Which is a marked change from my usual schedule, so I’m grateful for the big plan of doing pretty much nothing.
Here they come. Time to pack up all the things we “need” for the beach.