Friday, June 30, 2006


I didn't get to bed until about 2:30 last night. I woke just 4 hours later to the sound of heavy construction equipment outside. They were paving the road outside the house the noise literally shook the house I'm in. Tomorrow is sleep in day, no matter what.

But enough of this gay banter, on to tonight's films:

This Film is Not Yet Rated
A documentary/expose about the motion picture ratings board. Funny and thought provoking in spots. However, I was of two minds on the subject matter. I do agree that the current ratings system is a joke and there really should be something better. But hearing a director argue that a violent and profanity-laden documentary on the Iraq War should be rated PG-13 just rubbed me the wrong way. Do I think kids of a certain age (teenagers, really) should see gritty and realistic documentaries on war? Yes. The way things are going, too many of them may be required to fight in a war in the future. But if you're going to willingly expose kids to this material, why not let the parents be there too? Parents can take their 10-year-old to an "R" rated film if they want. (Its not a good idea, but the current rating system doesn't prohibit it.) Perhaps the most controversial part of the movie involved the director hiring a private investigator to track down members of the ratings board. Membership is a closely guarded secret of the MPAA. The director's point is that the secrecy means there is no accountability for the decisions they make. And he's right. The fact that their decisions seem inconsistent only underline this. The sequences of the PI tracking down the board members are very funny. But the director includes full names, license plate numbers, ages, and other personal details about the members as a part of the film. I only remember bits and pieces from my Broadcast Law class from school, but I'm pretty sure those people have decent grounds for an invasion of privacy lawsuit. Thought provoking film, however.

Kabul Transit
A stream of consciousness stroll through the neighborhoods of Kabul. Viewers are taken to open air currency markets, a hill where children participate in kite fighting, and the NATO army base on the outskirts of town. The documentary has a very organic feel to it, there's no narrator, and no sense of story or even agenda. It just is what it is. Pretty cool, actually. I came away with a sense of despair, however. Kabul comes off as a city teeming with trash, with no basic services, no sewers, and very little police protection. The city is home to millions, but appears to be un-developing before our eyes. Years of war have left the city in ruins. Once you see it, you get the sinking feeling it will never truly be rebuilt.

Famous Person I Saw
That one guy who played the gay friend in Sex and The City. I forget his name.

LA Food
Alaskan King Crab at Empire Seafood Company.

And What Does This Post's Title Mean?
I had planned to meet up with a friend at tonight's screening of "This Film..." He's an animator at Disney, and perhaps one of the nicest people I've ever met in my live. He once drove all the way from Burbank to Anaheim just let me and my family into Disneyland for free. Then he drove back to Burbank. That's about a 120 mile round trip on some of the nation's most congested hunks of freeway. So I had an extra ticket to this movie, and I thought I'd offer it to him, just to say "thanks." But an hour before the screening, he called and said he'd be in a work session and would arrive too late to see the film.

It was a high demand screening, so I went to the "will call" line filled with people hoping to snatch up unclaimed seats moments before the film started. I motioned to the guy who was first in line and said, "I've got an extra comp (in "the industry" we call them "comps"), you want it?" He said "yes" and I handed the ticket to him and motioned him towards the door, trying to pretend I was a big shot.

The screening started about 25 minutes late, so I had to sneak out the back door a minute or two before the film ended. I had another screening in Hollywood, and that can be tough in traffic. Just before, I walked into the theater, my phone rings, "Hey, this is Mark. Because the film started so late, they let me in and I watched it from the balcony! So I'm outside the theater in Westwood. Where are you?"

Oh well, we'll try it again on Saturday.

Now it's time to get some rest and prepare for Friday and the big event: Radiohead at the Greek Theater. I am a lucky man, indeed.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


The trip has started on a good note. The rental car people bumped me up to first class once learning about the "Victory Lap" theme of this week's visit.

But enough of this small talk, let's get down to movies. I said earlier this week that, if I could do anything, I would buy a round-the-world plane ticket. In the film world I did something pretty close to that.

Wrestling Grounds
A film from Senagal about the country's national sport. Fascinating, really. It's more than just beautiful men grappling in a dirt pit, there are shamans, rutual clensings, singing, and more dancers than you can shake a stick at. Perhaps they were just trying to pad things, because the film's climatic match lasts only 45 seconds, and that's with slow motion. Odd narrative structure, but I found myself enjoying it anyway. Beautifully shot scenes of a place I am utterly unfamiliar with.

The TV Set
A comedy about a writer/director trying to get a TV pilot off the ground. I wasn't going to see this one because it just seemed too easy. But my friend Rich said I would like it, and he was right. It helps if you've had some experience in the entertainment industry, and most people in this audience did. Only one complaint, the writers forgot to write an ending. The film should have been about 2 minutes longer. But it was still a pretty fun ride to that unsatasfying end.

The Aura
A thriller from Argentina from the same director who brought us Nine Queens. A man with a photographic memory and epilepsy finds himself in the middle of a heist during an ill-fated hunting trip. Stunning visual storytelling. There was a sequence of about 15 minutes where there were no words at all. My friend Hallie thought the film should have been about 20 minutes shorter. She may be on to something. But that didn't stop either of us from giving it the highest possible rating on our audience ballot.

Famous People Seen:
Dustin Hoffman shuffling down Broxton in Westwood.
Most of the cast of "The TV Set" was on hand, which including David Duchovny and Justine Bateman. Justine Bateman is notable for a few reasons. First, I had a crush on her when she was Mallory on Family ties some 20 years ago. I gotta say, she still looks like a million bucks. Bravo, Justine. Also, I once worked as a personal assistant for Marc Price, who played "Skippy" on family ties. (It was an odd job, it mostly involved picking trash up off the floor of the trailer he lived in... I'd rather not talk about it.) So now I've seen Skippy and Mallory. Oh yeah, I also saw a band called "Jaded" once. Tina Yothers is that bands lead singer. I don't know what it is with me and Family Ties.

LA Food Consumed:
Abbots Pizza, with the bagel crust. Yum.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I'm flying from Medford to LA on a crappy turbo prop plane of a size and age that would suggest it was once used to shuttle the Lollipop Kids to and from the set of the Wizzard of Oz. Whoever had the idea to put full grown adults in this plane should be shot. The guy next to me should probably be up against the wall with him. He seems to believe that his ticket entitles hin to his seat and mine. He's asleep and his cell phone keeps ringing. I want to answer the phone and scream, "Stop calling! You're going to kill us all!" (Note to self: The next city you live in must be served by full sized jets.)

We're essentially following the California coast south, but it's a little hard to tell. Morning clouds have obscured most any view from up here. But then the clouds clear and I can see Los Angeles below me. It's unmanaged urban sprawl shoots out in every direction (except west, of course, that's that ocean). As we desend, the small, ugly strip malls that dot the roadsides are easier to see. I notice the 405 as we get closer to landing. Looks like 20 mile long parking lot. There is a thick, brown, and clearly unhealthy haze of pollution over the city.

And as I take in the scene below, my heart leaps inside of me. I'm almost there. I'm almost home.

I'm still a little shocked I feel this way. I know it is most uncool to love LA. I was raised in upstate New York and was taught that Los Angeles was the very embodiment of all that is wrong with America. In 1995 I visited my friend Thomas in LA, and I hated it so much I vowed never to return again, not even to visit.

Nine months later, all my crap was in my car and I was driving towards LA. It was mostly an act of desperation. I was living in my Subaru, and Thomas had a wide couch, so I might as well move to LA. It was a place to crash, nothing more.

When I first arrived, the city seemed to swirl around me. It was big, it was loud, it was fast, and more than a little overwhelming.

But over time, the place grew on me. I met some friends, moved off the couch and into someone's garage, and slowly made a little life for myself. I began to notice that the city wasn't an sterile string of stucco laid out along a basin. Ok, some of it is--West Covina, anyone? But buried among the sprawl are some great neighborhoods, with a real personality and sense of place.

A dear friend threw a surprise birthday party for me at Pink's when I had been living in LA for about 8 months. As I saw this small gathering of people, all bearing good wishes and Hostess Twinkees, I realized I had found my home. This was the first place I had ever lived that truly felt like home. Not even my home town of Rochester felt this comfortable.

This was horrifying, in a way. Only bad people love LA, right? Doesn't something precious inside you have to die in order for you to enjoy this place? But the facts were there, and there was no denying it.

Over the next 8 years, I went back to school to finish up a long abandoned bachelors degree, began performing with a comedy troupe, and met and married a wonderful woman. Life was good.

But we eventually left. I had a journalism degree and LA is no place to start a career. So we moved to Texarkana, one of the most nasty places in the US (sorry Winter, but you understand). We got out of there and now live in a beautiful little corner of Oregon. I love Medford, but l miss Los Angeles every day. Every single day.

I'm on the ground now, waiting for my rental car shuttle. The air is warm and moist, with just a little hint of salt from the ocean. It tastes good. Tastes like home.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I’m told by people smarter than me that women go through a crisis in the weeks and months before they get married. Something about mourning the loss of their own identity, I think. I wasn’t paying very close attention, but I really should have because those same people talk about men having the same identity crisis before the birth if their first child.

I must admit that I’ve been looking at life like a man who has been given short time to live, trying to get the last of everything he loves in before it all ends. And that’s what this week is all about.

Now, if I was really dying, I would buy a round-the-world plane ticket and see as much of the planet earth as possible before checking out. But I’m not dying, so I can’t blow the whole family fortune this week. There are two pretend babies and one very real wife who would be very displeased with me if I did such a thing. Instead, I’m heading to LA to visit some friends, listen to some live music, and attend the LA Film Festival.

So it’s a week to soak in as much fun before life as I know it ends… and adulthood begins.

I’ll start off bright and early tomorrow morning, watch 2-4 movies a day, then catch Radiohead before returning. It should be really fun. I’m trying not to look at this week as a dying wish, but as a victory lap. This is one last round of the things I loved as Single Matt and Childless Matt.

A friend more articulate than me said that a new life and new happiness would arise like a Phoenix from the ashes of the old life these babies destroy. I have no reason to disbelieve him. But this week, it’s time to celebrate the outgoing, carefree, childless (and somewhat childlike) Matt.

I’m taking my laptop with me, and I’ll be checking in from the road. Until then…

Sunday, June 25, 2006


I was going to wait to see if any mainstream media would make something of this, but there doesn’t seem to be much brewing out there. I’ve trolled the net and found a small town editorial on the subject, and NPR had an excellent story and commentary about it, but I really can’t let this go without mention.

So, at the risk of sounding like an actual blogger, let’s talk about President Bush’s trip to Hungary last week.

The President traveled to the central European nation last week to commemorate the 50th anniversary (a few months early, but we’ll let that go) of the Hungarian anti-communist revolt in 1956. White House spokesman Tony Snow said the president would be delivering what was essentially, “a tone poem” honoring uprising.

That’s one of the silliest things I’ve ever heard about a presidential speech, but we’ll let that go.

So Bush stood on a hill overlooking the Danube, and delivered a speech drawing parallels between Hungary’s fight for freedom, and the current problems in Iraq. The hill where Bush stood was the scene of protests in 1956. About a hundred thousand people came out to protest the Soviet occupation. The uprising was eventually crushed by Soviet tanks. Thousands were killed. Hungary threw off the shackles of Soviet oppression about 35 years later.

In his speech, he hoped the Iraqis would “draw hope” from Hungary’s story. There are so many things wrong with this, I don’t know even where to start.

It is hard to know what lessons the Iraqis should take from Hungary’s experience. The Hungarians were fighting against occupation from one of the most powerful nations on earth. That sounds a lot like the current situation the Iraqi insurgency is in. So was Bush telling the insurgents to “draw hope” and take the long view? That seems highly unlikely.

More troubling is the story behind the story of the 1956 Hungarian revolt. Many of the revolt’s leaders were led to believe by US officials and Voice of America broadcasts that, if they challenged the Soviets, the US would back them up with military power.

I’d be lying if I said I knew just how firm those promises were, but the story is deeply engrained in the Hungarian psyche. I spent several days in Hungary a few years ago, and this incident was all the old-timers wanted to talk about. “Why did the US abandon us when we were fighting for freedom?” Decades later, I could still see the anger and hurt in the eyes of the people who were asking. All I could do is look at the ground and mutter, “I don’t know.”

The president failed to mention this detail during his Thursday speech. He didn’t offer a “sorry.” Didn’t mention that, maybe, Hungary could have achieved freedom 30 years earlier if we had helped out.

So what hope should the Iraqis, or any of us, draw from the president’s remarks? It’s hard to know. Are the Iraqis fighting against oppressors, and would we let them down (like we let the Hungarians down) if we withdraw? Do we have to be there until 2040? Are we now like the Soviets? After all, the Soviets freed the Hungarians from the Nazis, and I think we can all agree that the Nazis were very bad people. But then they imposed their own intolerable rule. Is that what we’ve done in Iraq?

I don’t know. All I can really say is that the president poorly chose his words and his venue in his attempts to sell an unpopular war to the folks back home.

Friday, June 23, 2006


We got back from the show about two hours ago. Julie has gone to bed, but I’m still a bit wired.

I’ve seen Elvis Costello in concert about 6 times now. I’ve seen him with Burt Bacharach and a full orchestra. I’ve seen him a few times with just his keyboard player Steve Nieve. I’ve seen him perform with a jazz orchestra. Each time I have left the venue walking on air, and tonight was no exception.

Elvis performed with R&B legend Allen Toussaint and the Crescent City Horns. The show featured Elvis songs souped up with a nifty horn section, Toussaint songs souped up with Elvis vocals, and songs the two wrote together. The show was at an outdoor venue, with the sun setting in the background. Julie was sitting next to me, and two babies were buried somewhere inside her. The four of us had a grand time.

Some previous shows have been under somewhat less auspicious circumstances. I attended my first Elvis Costello with a woman who just dumped me. This was a curious development, because we weren’t really going out when she dumped me. But I had already invited her to the show, and even lied about how much the tickets cost to avoid making it look like a date. (they were $75 a pop… I told her I got them through a mysterious “industry connection”) Despite this, she was perfect company for the show. As Elvis sung, “God, wipe that girl from my memory,” I felt I could really understand where he was coming from.

Another time, I attended an Elvis Costello show with my boss, who was a film producer. We fought like an old married couple at work. His point was that I was incompetent. My point was that, indeed, I was incompetent, but not nearly as much as he thought. But he had good taste in music, and Elvis was certainly one thing we could agree on.

But for the last several shows, it’s been Julie in the next seat. And that’s been an arrangement that has worked well for me. This time out, she was able to tell me which pretend child liked what song. The lower twin really liked Toussaint’s original work. The upper twin seemed pretty moved by the Latin-twinged version of “Clubland.” Both seemed to like “Working in a Coalmine.”

I’ve got to agree with the twins on all counts. I must admit ignorance of Toussaint’s work previous to this show. But his songs were great, and his arrangements of Elvis’ material were also excellent. And the songs they wrote together would make you believe they had been a songwriting duo for decades.

Costello and Toussaint’s collaboration was borne of the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and the anger at the government’s bungled response. But despite the biting lyrics of a song like “Broken Promise Land,” the whole evening had a joyous feel to it. I know they’re in the middle of an extensive tour, but after the end of their 2 ½ hour set, the whole band looked like they would have played all night if the zoning laws would allow it.

And speaking of the band, they shouldn’t be overlooked. I had never seen Elvis perform with The Impostors (basically The Attractions with a different, non-back-stabbing bass player) before, but they were ever bit as good as I had been led to believe. My friend Pat told me Pete Thomas is one of the best drummers performing today. After seeing him, I agree. As a matter of fact, he reminded me a lot of Pat, both with his onstage demeanor and mad skills.

But I digress, and that will happen at 2 AM. The point is I saw Elvis tonight and, in some small way, my life is richer for it. Thank you, Elvis.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


I fear stories like this will be a part of my future... soon...

Twins Pulled From River

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


There’s an advertisement from many years ago that has the tagline, “When you find something that makes you happy, the first thing you want to do is share it.”

The ad was encouraging people to investigate the Mormon Church, and if you’re so inclined, do check it out. But that “sharing” concept translates to other areas as well. In that spirit, I offer this:

A couple of months ago, a good friend (who’s Mormon… coincidence? I think not) tipped me off to something called the Ouch podcast. It’s probably the funniest thing I’ve heard in years.

The Ouch podcast is a monthly discussion on disability issues, but that’s grossly unfair description of the show. It’s like saying a Richard Pryor routine is a discussion of issues of interest to black Americans. Stick with me on the Richard Pryor thing, there are plenty of parallels.

The first time I heard this podcast, I didn’t know quite what to make of it… at least for a few moments. The first edition starts with hosts Mat Fraser and Liz Carr introducing themselves and declaring, “we never let our disabilities get us down.” Then the theme song starts, sung by a very excited studio musician…

You’re so special, we’ve made a podcast for you!
Disabled people can have fun, too!
They can do anything we can do!
Say “Thank You” to the BBC!

So dry your eyes and listen in!
To people just like you!
Confined to a website, the Ouch podcast!

Within minutes, Mat and Liz are bagging on the Special Olympics, gagging over sugary-sweet hospital radio broadcasts, and saying naughty words. The podcast is littered with words that we’ve all been taught not to say.

They use terms like “crip” and “spazz” like Richard Pryor used the “n” word. They treat with distain the politically correct world that labels disabled people as “heroes,” “brave,” and “special.” They use a man with a severe speech impediment to do their voice over work. A popular feature of the podcast is a contest called “Vegetable, Vegetable, or Vegetable” where the hosts try to guess a caller’s disability by asking a series of “yes” or “no” questions.

This is some of the most in-your-face humor I’ve heard in years… well, as in-your-face as you can get if you’re in a wheelchair. Perhaps it’s more in-your-navel, but the effect is still the same. It is sly, wickedly funny, and deeply subversive.

It’s subversive mostly because of its sponsor, the BBC. It’s hard to imagine “Auntie Beeb” had this in mind when they sponsored a disability podcast. Of course, it is positively unimaginable that any mainstream news organization in America would have let this podcast ever see the light of day. That it has survived three episodes is a testament to BBC’s commitment to quality programming, or perhaps they’re just not paying attention.

The podcast sheds light on a world most non-disabled people don't think much about. But like all great humor, it also teaches us something about ourselves, and not always positive things. (Didn’t I just write a story about a disabled boy that used the term “special”? Rats!)

In the most recent podcast, Mat Fraser (who lost the second “t” in his name due to his mother’s Thalidomide use) said he’s not worried about offending people with his politically incorrect talk. He says the dark humor employed on the show is an example of the conversations disabled people have with each other.

There’s always a chance that the humor will be misunderstood by a wider audience, ala Dave Chappelle. But after listening to three episodes of this podcast, I really am struck by the fact that both Fraser and Carr are both extremely… well… brave.

Note: The Ouch website has a similar edgy feel to it, and is quite fun to read even if you're not disabled. You can burn an entire afternoon reading their Top Ten lists.

Friday, June 16, 2006


(Note: Ran out of time during my days off, but here's a little something from the archives)

First printed in the Daily Sundial, February 2004...

So did you know I’ve had lunch with Sam Donaldson? Really! I’m not joking this time. It’s not like I showed up to a restaurant and he was already there or that I had lunch with a plumber named Sam Donaldson. Legendary Newsman Sam Donaldson took Dopey Journalism Student Matthew Workman out to lunch. How did such a thing happen? I’m glad you asked.

Last winter, I was in Washington DC on a journalism program that my editor says takes too long to explain in detail. At the end of the semester, you get to have lunch with someone more important than you are. In my case, it was Sam Donaldson.

I get a call from Sam’s (I like to call him Sam) appointment secretary, and a few days later I show up to his office.

When I arrive at Sam’s office, he doesn’t seem to know why I’m there.


Sam’s voice is loud. I’m a little flustered by his question. After all, it was his office that initiated contact with me. I mutter something about a lunchtime mentor program.


He sticks his head out of the door.


He turns back to me.




We head out of the office as his secretary asks, “Should we call ahead?”


We walk across the street and enter the ultra-swank Mayflower Hotel. Upon entering the restaurant, we cause a minor stir. Now when I say “we,” I really mean, “he.” It is unlikely anyone in the place was saying, “Hey, there’s Matthew Workman with that guy from ABC.” The waiters snap to attention and we are immediately seated.


It’s important to read that line with the intensity you’d expect if someone were announcing the resignation of the president while standing on the South Lawn of the White House with a helicopter taking off. Sam’s voice is still loud. The couple at the table next to us asks to be reseated after a few minutes.

I fumble through the menu and order a sandwich with an ingredient that started with a “T” that I had never heard of. I figure ordering something with an unknown object on it will make me seem more sophisticated to Sam.


I ask about his time as a White House correspondent and the rigors of life in broadcast journalism.


We talk more about current events (the Iraq invasion was in full swing at the time) and some judgment calls CNN made (I was interning there). We gossip about whether Colin Powell will stay on if Bush is reelected. At one point, a woman approaches the table and asks Sam for his autograph.

“My son really wants your job”


“Great, I’ll…”


“Will that be within the next six months?”


“Oh, come on.”


We finish off our meal and make our way back to ABC. Sam stops outside of the bureau to offer me a few last pieces of advice.


As he’s speaking, he’s standing behind a parking meter. He’s clutching the top of it, like he’s choking it. It’s a rather odd image.

Finally, he has to leave and I thank him for his time.


Since we lunched last spring, the NASDAQ has finally bounced back, so perhaps Sam will be getting out of the journalism racket soon. But if a lifetime spent as a journalist makes a person as funny and engaging as Sam Donaldson was over lunch, maybe there’s something to this profession. I’ll let you know in 40 years.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


First off, some red meat for the family. They’ve been wanting more pictures of Julie pregnant, so here you go:

She still looks great and, when you consider that she’s almost 8 months pregnant with twins, that’s nothing short of a miracle. People now stop her and say, “when’s the due date?” When she answers, they look concerned and say, “I don’t think you’re going to make it that long.” They calm down a bit when she says there are two babies in there, but talk like that does me no good.

Now I don’t want Julie to spend a whole summer miserable and pregnant, and I don’t mind if these twins come a little early (they’re considered full term after 36 weeks), but these babies need to understand that I have Radiohead tickets.

They’re playing in two weeks… in LA… and I’ve got tickets. This show is almost too good to happen, so now I’m paranoid that it’s not going to happen for me.

Every night, I put my face right up to Julie’s belly and explain to the twins just how good this show is going to be, and how much I’d really like to see it, and how disappointed I’d be if I couldn’t go. I use very stern language to express this. (I may have threatened to ground them if they come too early, but I’m not ready to admit to that yet.)

It’s a bit disturbing because I keep hearing things about how pregnant women are on a hair-trigger and could just decide to go into labor at any time. And things like a foot massage or firm handshake can set it off. That’s just nuts.

Needless to say, I’m not touching Julie’s hands or feet for the next six weeks. I’m sure she’ll understand.

(Later this week, a post that has nothing to do with babies, really)

Monday, June 12, 2006


So I'm at work and I'm looking for information on the International Trouter's Society. I do a quick search, and Yahoo asks me, "Did you mean, 'International Trousers Society?'"

At that moment, I realize that I really do wish I was looking for the International Trousers Society. That would be a very cool thing to look for.

I am upset to learn that there is no International Trousers Society. Not on the internet, anyway. Perhaps I should start one. I've got a very smart pair of trousers on right now.

Friday, June 09, 2006


Just a few short weeks remain in my prolonged adolescence. The twins will be here no later than August 4th, and they could be here a month earlier. Lately a hunk of music has been stuck in my head. It’s an old song by the Beach Boys my mom used to play for me.

I didn’t have the kind of mom who used TV as a babysitter, but I did have the kind of mom who used the stereo as a babysitter. When she needed to distract me, she would put a big stack of vinyl on the record player and (depending on how many records she stacked) she could buy herself an hour or two of peace.

The good news for me was that my mother’s taste in music was excellent. She had stacks of Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Stevie Wonder albums. She also had the soundtracks from just about every musical produced from 1950 to 1975. And, of course, she had almost the entire Beach Boys catalog.

My favorite song was a 1965 single called, “When I Grow Up (To Be a Man).” I was obsessed with it for a while.

Because it has been running through my head for the past few weeks, I nabbed it off iTunes (God bless iTunes) and listened to it for the first time in probably about 30 years. My first reaction upon hearing it is that I had pretty sophisticated tastes for a 5 year old. It’s a really great song and deals with adulthood with a touch of excitement and fear.

(I should note that my tastes are not nearly as sophisticated as a film producer I used to work for, who was obsessed with the Eydie Gorme song, “Yesterday, When I Was Young” when he was in the 2nd grade.)

But back to the Beach Boys… “When I Grow Up…” basically asks a series of questions about adulthood. When I was 5, they were troubling questions. Adulthood seemed like a worthy goal, but it also seemed like it wasn’t very much fun… lots of working and paying bills and stuff like that.

While listening to this song from a new perspective, I realize that I am now living in that mythical adulthood I puzzled over as a child. A part of me wishes I could sit down with 5-year-old me and just have a short chat about what lies in store. Perhaps I could calm his concerns a bit and allow him to enjoy his childhood a little more.

Now I’m standing on the brink of parenthood, another event that I view with equal portions of anticipation and dread. Quite frankly, a little more dread than anticipation. I’m not really proud to admit that. But I really do feel much like that 5-year-old sitting in the family room, fretting about what comes next. Now would be a nice time for “Parenthood Matt” to beam back from 20 years in the future and set me straight.

That appears very unlikely to actually happen, but at least I can go back to the old family room and answer some questions for 5-year-old me…

When I Grown Up (To Be A Man)
By the Beach Boys

When I grow up to be a man
Will I dig the same things that turn me on as a kid?
Yes. Definitely yes.
Will I look back and say that I wish I hadn't done what I did?
More often than you might imagine.
Will I joke around and still dig those sounds
When I grow up to be a man?
You’ll get to joke around for hundreds of people in Los Angeles, it’ll be really cool. They’ll even pay you a little money for it. And you’ll still love music. You’ll attend hundreds of concerts. You’ll even get to interview some of your heroes for a newspaper. You can’t imagine how fun it will be. As it turns out, our mom putting you in the family room with all these records will have more influence on your future happiness than your or our mom can ever imagine.

Will I look for the same things in a woman that I dig in a girl?
You’ll still melt for soulful eyes and nice smile. But you’ll wind up wanting much, much more. Hint: starting making friends with the smart girls. The smart girls are where it’s at.
Will I settle down fast or will I first wanna travel the world?
You’ll want to see the world. See as much of it as you can.
Now I'm young and free, but how will it be
When I grow up to be a man?
It will be ok, really.

Will my kids be proud or think their old man is really a square?
The jury is out on this one, but the smart money is on “square.”
When they're out having fun yeah, will I still wanna have my share?
You’ll still want to have your share. Perhaps even more than your share.
Will I love my wife for the rest of my life
When I grow up to be a man?
This is probably the best news, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Just you wait.

What will I be when I grow up to be a man?
A small-market newscaster in Southern Oregon. I know, I wouldn’t have guessed that, either.
Won't last forever
That’s right.
It's kind of sad
Perhaps, but as our dad used to say, “it beats the alternative.”

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Travel writers can prattle on endlessly saying things like, "Travel can profoundly change a person."

From what I gather, these writers believe that traveling expands a person's horizons by putting him/her in contact with other people and cultures. And when your horizons are expanded, you are a very nice person. Extremely nice.

How nice? Well, an uncouth un-traveled person might look down on certain activities like public urination or driving on the sidewalk. But a world traveler knows that these activities are perfectly acceptable in other, exotic lands. That traveler may even bring some of these customs back to his home after a particularly satisfying trip.

But I'm not so sure travel really does all those magical things. I've been doing a lot of travel lately and it's turning me into a complete prick.

I've been described as a bleeding heart by many. I'm all into saving the whales and feeding the children, and feeding the whales to the saved children.... all that kind of stuff. I'm the kind of guy who can't pass a homeless guy without showering him with money and morsels of gourmet food.

All of this changes the moment I step foot on a plane. From then on, the people around me are no longer my fellow travelers on the journey of life. They are no longer brothers and sisters in the human race. They're not even creatures deserving common courtesy.

Nope, every man, woman, and child on that plane is a foe... a rival for scarce resources. If they are not stopped, they will take all the overhead bin space and eat all the peanuts. They will viciously take the armrest that is rightfully yours. They must be destroyed.

And then there's the idea that contact with foreign cultures will magically make a person more loving and tolerant of others. Don’t believe it.

Have you flown Korean Air? I have. It brought me into close contact with a non-American culture. To put it mildly, it was not a positive experience.

The flight started with a Korean woman sitting in front of me putting her carry on luggage under her seat... where my feet were supposed to go! With a large, insincere smile that only an American can truly pull off, I removed her luggage from my space and handed it back to her. Using helpful hand gestures, I show her how she could, if she wanted to, place the luggage in her OWN foot room, not mine. She glared at me and called a flight attendant. The flight attendant glared at me, then took the bag away to what I can only assume is some sort of Koreans-only luggage storage area.

For the rest of the flight, the woman tossed all of her trash over her chair and into my lap. By the end of the 14 hour flight, I was swimming in a sea of discarded candy wrappers, plastic cups, and used Kleenex

The flight attendant made sure I was having a rotten time, too. While I was sleeping, she would hit the button on my chair to place it in the “full upright and locked position.” When I gave her an expression that is the international sign for, “why the hell did you just do that,” she said, “The woman behind you wants to use her tray table.” Then she beat another American passenger with a tire iron.

I may have made that last part up, but I think my point is clear. Before this experience, my narrow-minded, un-traveled self believed that people of different cultures could become friends if only they could spend some time together and understand each other. I spent 14 hours together on a plane with another culture. We’re not friends now.

The whole “put ‘em in a room and they’ll be friends” theory is the whole idea behind the United Nations, and we can all see how well that went. As a matter of fact, I was once on a British Airways flight from LA to London that was very much like the United Nations. There were people from every nation on earth, the Americans and Brits had more power than the others, and everyone hated each other when it was done.

A French kid kept kicking the back of my chair as I tried to sleep. A Lebanese family of five was completely out of control for the duration of the flight. At one point, the father gave his 2 year old a metal box full of wood pieces to play with. When a German man who was trying to sleep shouted an objection across the plan, the Lebanese man shouted back, “This is an airplane, not a hotel!” They nearly came to blows.

I would have joined in the scrum, but I was so tired, all I could do is glare and drool in a threatening manner.

Needless to say, international relations were substantially set back by that flight. Everyone on that plane entered Heathrow committed to despising and shunning people from other nations.

Except Norwegians. I think we all agreed that Norwegians were ok.

Monday, June 05, 2006


It really is looking more and more like the Carter Administration days. First the high gas prices and low poll numbers, then this.

Stagflation anyone?

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