Thursday, September 28, 2006

Off to the South of France

I've been too busy at work and at play to post much lately. And next week I'm going to France, so you won't be hearing much after this for a couple of week.

I know. Lucky me.

These pics will give you an idea of what I'm in for. With friends Wendy and Jennifer, I'm winging my way into Bordeaux, then it's off to the Dordogne area -- where castles lurk atop every hill and caves hold paintings made before the dawn of history.

I'll inflict my own photos on you when I get back.

After three nights near Sarlat in the Dordogne area (spent eating and drinking lots of great wine, I hope) we drive down to Provence and stay in Arles to see Roman ruins, more hilltop towns, and to pop a cork on some Chateauneuf de Pape.

After I get back, self-imposed writing deadlines loom, and this blog will again take a backseat. But at the very least I'll impose a few photos and impressions of the places I'm going, just in case you're ever of a mind to go there yourself.

A bientot...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Do Women Have An Expiration Date?

Horrors! A 29-year-old virgin!

That's right, chick magazine Jane has a new feature where you can help find the poor old virgin a nice man she can pop her cherry with. Check out the virgin's blog at


Sarah looks normal, but guess what? She isn't! She's a virgin! There's that horrible, shocking word again. What's wrong with this girl? There must be something. After all, we all had sex when we were fifteen in the back seat of our horny older boyfriend's car right? It was horrible, but we "got it out of the way" and "became a woman." That's what normal girls do. Heaven forbid we wait until we actually feel comfortable with ourselves and with the man we're with. Lord knows that if we wait until our twenties, thirties, or forties -- or forever! -- to have all-important intercourse, we must be fat, ugly, or seriously twisted inside.

Quoth the editor on the Jane website:

When Sarah first e-mailed me, I thought she'd be the type of girl whose voice is so hesitant, you have to read her lips to figure out what she's saying. What I didn't expect was a tall blond with a nice rack who performs stand-up comedy at open-mic nights.

You mean good looking girls with great senses of humor can be virgins? Virgins speak in normal tones, have boobs, and tell jokes in front of hostile crowds? What a revelation!

Remember when virginity was valued? Far be it from me to wax nostalgic for the "good old days," but at least back then, women weren't seen as warped for NOT having sex.

Now we have to hurry up and get women laid before they turn 30. And we can profit from it by featuring their freakishness in a magazine that's supposed to be advocating for women.

Hate to break it to you Jane -- women run the gamut from experienced to virginal at all sorts of ages, with no connection to their level of attractiveness, intelligence, or sense of humor. Some women wait for love, or for maturity, or for the just the right penis to give it up. More power to them.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Imagination = Power

Am toying with a book idea with a theme of "Imagination = Power." If only that were true in the real world. Herewith, a few quotes to keep inspiring me on that theme...

"Imagination is more important than knowledge." – Albert Einstein

"Imagination is the one weapon in the war against reality." - Jules de Gaultier

"Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere."- Carl Sagan

Friday, September 08, 2006

Where the Turf Meets the Surf

Welcome to Del Mar Race Track! This little slice of heavens sits not far from the ocean in San Diego County and was founded by Bing Crosby and others back in the thirties. No dirty racetrack full of desperate weirdos this! Mom and I went with our close family friends, Joe and Sharon, this Labor Day weekend, and the place was packed with young families, teens, babies, and grandparents.

These photos were taken with my phone, so please forgive the lousy quality. But I couldn't resist sharing one of my fave spots in Southern California. Above you can see the paddock area, where the jockeys receive last minute encouragement and instructions from the trainer and owners before mounting their charges to head out a brief, fast, dangerous, exciting contest. The grey you see here is one of the many fillies competing in this race, which was for mares and fillies only.

The first race that day took place on turf, the inner ring of grass inside the dirt track. Here you can see the horses approaching the starting gate. Del Mar has an Austrailian announcer, and every time he says in that sexy nasal tone: "The horses have reached the starting gate," I whisper a damned fine Aussie imitation like some sort of readheaded mynah bird.

Here are the horses as they passed us the first time. They'll go around the track once and hit the finish line just past this point.

Mom won the exacta on this first race with a horse named Sip One for Mom and another horse whose name escapes me, whom we shall call Winner. An exacta is a type of bet where you pick the hoses that will come in both first and second. Mom "boxed" this exacta, which means she bet it both ways - Sip One for Mom first, Winner second, and Winner first, Sip One for Mom second. Sip One for Mom was a bit of a longshot, but Mom just had to pick it in memory of her mother, my grandma, who passed away a few months ago, and who would've loved to bet on the horses -- and who didn't mind a little drink every now and then either.

Mom won about $83 on that exacta, which was the biggest single win for out little group that day. I lost every single time. All part of a vast losing streak I've been on for months in every sort of gambling endeavor I try. Poker at with the girls at work, smiling at cute guys, trying to get writing project off the ground, you name it. Zero. I'm overdue for a win here, Universe. Just a friendly reminder.

But it was great to see Mom win. And even in the humidity caused by nearby Hurricane John, Del Mar is beautiful. We Berry folks have a family tradition at this track - my Uncle Bruce was the attorney for the track for many years. I have fond memories of hanging with my cousins, wandering the grandstand, eating cotton candy, and having my Dad place bets for me. Now that Uncle Bruce is gone, the track is a wonderful reminder of him. I'll tell you a secret - his ashes were scattered on the far turn.

Friday, September 01, 2006

What to Watch This Fall

In this week's installment of Notes from the Wasteland on Monsters & Critics, I advise you on what to bother watching and what to avoid as the new fall season of TV begins.


This column only covers the network shows, so I want to put in a special shout out to HBO's fourth season of
The Wire, which may be the best show ever put on television, and which premieres September 10. The first three seasons (available on DVD - rent, buy, or steal them!) are some of the most absorbing, intelligent, funny, violent, real storytelling you will ever see. This is art, on par with the best literature and film, written and produced by a reporter for the Baltimore Sun and a former infantryman/cop/teacher (Dave Simon and Ed Burns) who know the world they're depicting intimately.

It's fun too. Don't get put off when I compare it to Shakespeare or Citizen Kane, thinking somehow that it's good for you but hard to swallow. Pop the first two episodes in of Season One, and you won't be able to stop. And don't be fooled into thinking this is just a cop show -- this show is about life in these United States, from the most intimate moments between human beings to the failings of our society. I get the chills just thinking about how good this show is. You. Must. Watch. It.