Monday, November 17, 2014

November PSA: Who are you, and who are they?

It's funny, because I had planned to write something about what we dread, and why we shouldn't. I mean, we're all prepared for what we dread. We get out the catcher's mitt, strap on the vest, and crouch there, eyes trained on the pitcher's mound or third base.

But that which hits the noggin always sails from right field.

So, someone, somewhere along the line -- between the Altadena post office and its ultimate destination -- stole my check to a credit card company, and changed the name from XXX Credit Card company, to a Gertie N-something, and cashed it. Which at first I thought highly unlikely. I wrote the credit card company name in the Pay-to line, and the account number in the memo section.

But it turns out, it's relatively easy for someone to hijack your check and "wash" everything you wrote on the check except the date and your sig. Did you know that? I didn't.

The good news is, if your account has been robbed in such a way, you are not liable, and the bank's fraud division will pretty much handle the whole mess. The bad news is, restitution won't happen overnight.

Should check fraud happen to you, here's what I have to offer:

1. Call the bank. You'll be talking to someone off-shore. It'll be kind of awful, and you'll be left thinking -oh fuck, I'm stuck with the loss and have to lodge some lame claim at the local Sheriff's Department. Not true. Call. Get it on your file. Over and out.

2. Visit a living, breathing bank branch manager. Trust me on this -- whoever you meet will practically hold your hand and guide you through the whole process.

3. You probably won't see the $$'s returned for another month. And you'll have to cover the money in question during the interim.

4. There will be paperwork; you'll have to sign stuff. Time. It'll take time. And much as banks want us to do everything online, when it comes to anything they deem important, information must travel, back and forth, via US mail. Go figure.

PS: If you live in Altadena, apparently there's active theft going on in the mailboxes outside the Altadena Post Office on Lake Street. Don't know why the Sheriff's Dept hasn't addressed this issue. In any case, beware.

Additional PS: If you still write paper checks, gel pens are your best bet to fight the "wash." In Altadena, Hoopla! on Fair Oaks has them in stock, and owner Lori Webster specifically recommends the brand Signo. For more info on gel pens, check out the comments.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Butting in on the ass meme

Pound for pound, these are my favorite asses:

Friday, November 7, 2014

The horror, the horror

A few of you know, and the fewer the better, I'm going to give an ever so brief public reading next week. There will be seven of us who take the stage, and I'm not the main event, not by a long shot. If we were to compare this to a dinner party, I'd not be the Beef Wellington or even the mashed potatoes. Think celery sticks, olives on toothpicks, something like that.

So, intellectually I should realize, there's no pressure on me. And intellectually, I do. But try telling that to my the medulla & cerebellum, my lizard brain, my sympathetic nervous system which has always behaved way too sympathetically for my taste. Fight or flight -- that's what will be on my emotional menu come Wednesday.

I don't suffer stage fright, I have a raging case of stage horror. You know, slasher stuff -- audience in leather masks, chain saws, blood everywhere. Not sure why; I studied (let's make that "studied") theater for two years in college. And then one day it hit. Hit so bad, I'd walk on stage with a stone in my shoe so the pain of the stone would take my mind off the pain of performing.

It's senseless, ridiculous, I know that. My cerebral cortex knows that. But if you look at a map of the brain, the cerebral cortex, in relative terms, if laid end-to-end, is the size of a lesser Hawaiian Island, while the cerebellum, in direct contact with every moving part of the human body, could swallow the continents of South America and Africa and still hunger for a heaping helping of Antarctica.

But I'm going to do this. Partly because the sponsors were so nice to invite me, and swat aside my initial No's. And also, I'm doing this for others. Not for you, who think my fear is ever so silly and unreasonable and totally out of proportion. But for the few like me -- because, those who are like me and attend this reading, will never be afraid to read, act, or give a speech again. Those like me will always be able to recall my performance, hike up their big-boy and big-girl pants, and proclaim "I won't be the best, but, by god, I can do better than that."

(By the way, this flyer will be reconfigured to include the writer Kelly Russell. A friend of mine said today, "I can't wait to come because Kelly is reading. Ever since I heard Kelly read an essay, I can barely approach her -- she was just that good." Oh, fine, I thought, have a damn olive.)

Monday, November 3, 2014


"In writing, you must kill all your darlings."

Faulkner said that, and he knew a thing or two.

My book is taking so long to write because I kill everything except my darlings. When I unearth a darling in a chapter -- something that seems quite lovely but unattached, apart from the topic or subject matter at hand -- I train my rifle on all the words that have come before.

When I finish this book, I figure what we'll have are eight darlings and 30,000 corpses.