Friday, July 29, 2011

Harry Potter & Star Wars.

For your education and edification, our old friend King Heifer - occasional contributor-to and commenter-on this blog - has provided us a with an interesting and – I think you will agree – startling analysis of the similarities between The Harry Potter series and the Star Wars series. In doing so, he touches on something bigger and almost primal. The question becomes: are these archetypal elements? Are they integral to all stories of all heroes? Are these elements fundamental to the sorts of stories that move us? Are there lessons here? Do these things represent some profound roadmap on how to navigate life? Or does the commonality of these elements represent some secret history of how civilization has learned to survive and thrive and succeed? Or is there more to it? Is J.K. Rowling just a thieving-stealing-thiefy-pants?

*** Editor’s Note: There are some hints of spoilers mixed in below. ***

I really liked this last Harry Potter movie. In particular, Voldemort is a really excellent villain in it. All of that said, there is an awful lot of borrowing from Star Wars in the whole set of movies (and books). Now I know that Star Wars didn't invent a lot of the story pieces (George Lucas having read Joseph Campbell's books about mythology), but, in both series:

(1) there's the chosen one who learns from the master who dies, but then helps the chosen one from the great beyond (Luke, Obi-Wan & Yoda; Harry & Dumbledore);

(2) there's the guy you think is bad the whole time, but turns out to save the chosen one at the end (Darth Vader, Snape);

(3) the chosen one is accompanied by a male and a female friend who have a tense relationship that turns romantic (Han & Leia, Ron & Hermione);

(4) the chosen one is frequently accompanied and assisted by a small friend who is alternately comic relief and heroic (R2D2; Dobby);

(5) the chosen one's parents are dead;

(6) the chosen one's mentor frequently lies to the chosen one;

(7) the chosen one was raised by a grumpy uncle; and

(8) at the end, the chosen one destroys the super-power thing, rather than keeping it (no, wait, that's a Lord of the Rings ripoff).


My Band’s Next Album.

If you have read this blog before, then you probably already know that I am in a completely fake band. We are awesome. Kind of a mix of At the Drive In and John Tesh. Or that’s what we would sound like anyway except that most of us can’t actually play any instruments.

I keep a running list though of the titles of the songs that we will never write. Here is our next album that will never happen. Critics are already saying that it will be even more nonexistent than our last album!

Nefarious Raccoon

Just Say “Bundle of Sticks” Next Time

Wounded to Perfection

I Knocked Up a Ghost

This Tastes Like Markers

I Don’t Know Anything about That Bank Robbery

Cheney Sex Tape

I Just Want to Make More Money So I Can Eat More Sushi

It is the future now

Every Decision You Make Is Terrible

Fiesta, Over!

Sorry Your Mom is a Death Eater

Don’t Gerrymander My Heart


Your Interest in Zombies Annoys Me

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bumper Sticker

“Felonious” is Too Funny of a Word for Its Definition

The Pope Would Like a Toucan

I Will Raise Your Debt Ceiling, Baby


That One Song!

So I spent today trying to think of an excuse to post this picture of the freakishly beautiful Alison Sudol.

And then I was all like, “Wait! I know! That one song! Man, I love that one song!” Turns out the song is called “Almost Lover”. It’s one of those things that is so good I can’t listen to it very often because even when I’m in a good mood and not longing for anyone or anything, it makes me feel like I am.



by james bezerra

You know you’ve seen trouble
when your heart is worn smooth like a pebble.
Small and round,
it’s tossed around
by the unforgiving sea
until, after eons, it’s finally
abandoned on the shore.


The Things We Could Do!

Recently I wrote a post on this very blog about how I was paranoid about how good our culture is at marketing. Specifically I thought that this internet ad for a dating sight had figured out my taste in women based on my taste in music. Well … never mind.

I just got an email from Amazon about how much I want to buy some patio furniture.

Needless to say, I have no interest in buying patio furniture.

This raises an interesting thought though, we all act like marketing is bad, right? There is something very American about, “Hey leave me alone and don’t know anything about me! This is my log cabin/windowless van and it is no business of yours what goes on in here!”

And that’s all fine and good. I like privacy too. But as far as general advertising and marketing goes, don’t we want that industry to be better at what it does? I mean, if they could really zero us in using demographic databases and complex algorithms and super-intelligent, semi-autonomous computers and, like, a couple of Ouija boards, would that be such a bad thing? Would it mean that I would only get emails from Amazon about stuff that I want to buy? Or would like to buy?

Imagine one day in the near future when the cable companies finally partner with some huge marketing firm and come up with a way to select commercials for you based on your viewing habits and what the Ouija board/super computer tells them about your spending habits. Imagine! You would never have to see another commercial for a monster truck rally ever again! But I would see them all the time (because I love me a tractor pull! And that dinosaur robot that eats cars!). The Ouija computer would know if you watch a lot of outdoor shows and when it is time for commercials it decides to show you Sports Authority commercials!

Something about that is scary, but I think this is like being in a very tall building, it seems scary, but isn’t actually. I mean, what’s the harm in that?

But I do realize some people are more scared of this stuff than I am and some people are WAY more protective of their privacy/windowless van interiors than I am. For instance, I think that cars should have computers in them that report you if you are speeding dangerously. The little computer would just be all like, “120 miles an hour seems a little fast for this school zone” and then it narcs you out via some sort of On-star style satellite connection. Everybody I have ever shared this idea with just bristles at the very thought of it, but I have no problem with it.

Hey! Maybe in some dystopian future-America the Ouija computer will also have access to the computer in your car and it will know if you drive like an asshole and then every commercial you see on TV will be for a new BMW!


It’s So Obvious.

It’s So Obvious
by james bezerra

Can’t you see
how clearly
our destinies
are intertwined?
Because I love all sorts of different honeys
and you are an amateur keeper of bees.


How I Feel.

Man, today I am just filled with the futility of life.

Am I generally in a crappy mood anyway? Absolutely.

Am I a smidge hung over? Very much.

But even the fact that someone brought donuts in to work this morning was not enough to part the clouds of this funk. And I am pretty sure that is a textbook sign of depression right there. I feel like the imaginary therapist in my head just sat bolt upright, suddenly shaken out of the mundane monotony of our session and asked, “Whoa there, not even donuts made you feel better? Yeah, we need to get you on some Zoloft STAT. ‘STAT’ by the way is a doctor word that I use because I went to medical school.”

I feel like a depressing indie movie that a TV star makes to buy some cred (yeah, I’m talking to you Rainn Wilson in “Hesher”).

I feel like the sales of Lady Gaga’s new album.

I feel like the only octopus at the Octopus High School prom who only has seven legs.

I feel like I brought a knife to a gunfight.

I feel like the very last cookie on a plate at the party that no one wants to eat. Even though the cookie is just as good as all the other cookies and the reason no one is eating it is because everybody is trying to be polite and not take the last cookie. But the cookie doesn’t know that. It just sits there and wonders why everyone thinks that it is not as tasty as all of the other cookies.

I feel like a wedding ring that doesn’t fit anymore.

I feel the way you would feel on a Friday if you know you’ll have to come in on Saturday.

I feel like I am, in fact, the last one of the Mohicans.

I feel like a Jenny Craig spokesperson who gets so fat that she losses her endorsement deal.

I feel like Tiger Woods’ reputation.

I feel like elementary school teachers on Pluto who have to explain why they’re not a planet anymore.

That is how I feel today.


The Humorfulness of Words.

So this is going to be stupid and pedantic, but I like to think about words and specifically what a mixed up melting pot of a mutt the English language is.

What is the opposite of humorless? Strictly speaking I think that it should be humormore. Or humor-more. Because the less suffix is what changes the word for humor to no humor. And the opposite of less is more. So the opposite of humorless should be humormore.

But I know that “humormore” isn’t a word. Initially I honestly thought that the opposite of humorless would be humorful, but Microsoft Word is giving me the red squiggles on that one. So I hopped on the google machine and discovered that the internet says that it is a word (and is even allowed in Scrabble).

But technically, shouldn’t the opposite of humorful be humorempty. Since humorful is a word constructed to mean “full of humor” the opposite should mean “empty of humor” because humorless is also constructed and would technically mean “having less humor” which is not the same as being empty of humor, because empty means that there is none inside, which is pretty absolute, but less is a comparison. It just means that there is not as much as there is someplace else. And that is not the same as being empty. But we all know that that is not how these words work.

A grain silo which is grain-less is understood to be empty of grain and it doesn’t need to be sitting right next to a grain silo which is full in order for us to know that.
I’m sure that I am probably understanding some of these words wrong, so if anybody knows more about these things, feel free to pipe up. Just don’t get me started on why flammable and inflammable mean the same thing.


My Vacuuming Baboon.

My Vacuuming Baboon, or: She Always Hated that Cat
by james bezerra

I have taught my baboon
to use the vacuum!
Sadly though, when she vacuumed my room
the vacuum consumed
my cat.


Ridiculous Submarine.

Clearly the Beatles were not thinking of the practicalities of covert warfare when they decided to paint their submarine yellow.

I mean, how are you supposed to do a swallow-water night insertion of special operations forces into hostile territory in a bright yellow submarine without getting seen? That’s just ridiculous.


Tree Poetry!

Tree Poetry!
by james bezerra

So these rhymes will be just too easy:
If you were a tree,
what kind would you be?
I know what I’d be!
I would be a giant willow tree.
My reedy branches would hang long and weepy
and people would lounge in the shade of me.
When the weather gets summery
lovers would sit below me
and share a day quite lovely.
When the weather turns wintery
I would be lonely.
People would look at me solemnly
while I stand there sullenly.
But such is life, to sometimes be lonely.
Especially if you’re a tree.


A Hangover Poem.

A Hangover Poem
by james bezerra

I hope that I can find a way
to work all the hours of my workday
even if this headache doesn’t go away.


No More Space Shuttle!?

No More Space Shuttle!?
by james bezerra

Who can I get angry at?
Now we have to use
a Russian Soyuz?
What kinda crap is that?

Our glorious space shuttle
was graceful and beautiful!
Like a soaring eagle!
The Soyuz looks like a deflated turtle!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fiesta Over!

Dear people with roommates,

Do not give your roommates a half a bottle of red wine and then allow them to alter the settings on your smart phone. They may reset your language to Spanish and change your very relaxing live wallpaper of savannah grass blowing in the digital breeze to some sort of weird tide pool and/or dreamy dandelions.

Fiesta over!



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

WIZARD! (Though Not Really).

UURGG! (That is a groaning noise that I make sometimes.)

Last week was so abysmal and busy that I did not have time nor energy to write anything for you dear blog. I would like to tell you that I was off in exotic lands, slaying dragons and battling demon enchanters, but the truth – sadly – is simply that work really kicked my flat, boney butt last week. But each day is a new day, right? So here now I have some new stuff for you, guaranteed to be of the same shoddy quality to which you have – by now certainly – come to expect!



Retractions, Apologies and Best Wishes.

I would like to say that my thoughts and best wishes are with the people of Norway, especially since their otherwise peaceful society really wasn’t prepared for the kind of awfulness that was unleashed on it last week. I would also like to offer my apologies for making fun of Norway on Facebook when I initially heard about the explosions, though in my defense, that was before we knew that anyone had been killed. Additionally, I would like to retract the jokes I made about how that’s what Norway gets for invading Denmark at the end of Hamlet, as that was not only not funny, given the circumstances, but also – apparently – made me look like a pretentious douche. Furthermore, I would like to apologize for mistakenly identifying the country of Finland on a map when one of my coworkers asked where Norway is. And while we are on the topic, I would like to apologize to my Norwegian coworker Svensen for berating him when he politely tried to correct me as to the location of his homeland; Svensen I am very sorry for the things that I said to you about Norwegian men’s well-known lack of sexual prowess and about your mother’s well-known lack of sexual morals. Obviously I was making those things up because I was embarrassed.

So anywhoo, sorry everybody. I will try to keep it together a little better next time.


The Storm Cloud and the Sea.

The Storm Cloud and the Sea
by james bezerra

If I were a storm cloud
and you were the sea,
I would give you all of me
until I ceased to be.
I wonder if you’d notice.


I Need a New TV!

I Need a New TV!
by james bezerra

I have been feeling
the need to buy a giant TV,
so if Congress would raise my debt ceiling
it would mean a lot to me!




I recently wrote my first ever review of a product on Amazon, and I cannot tell you why, but seeing it there has filled me with a strange sense of pride. This is what Narvin R. Johnson must have felt like when that new phone book came out!

I know that all of you have been reviewing things on Amazon for years, but despite having this here blog, I have decidedly not embraced the digital age in many ways (I use an abacus at work, for instance, and also churn my own butter), so for me this interaction with the internet behemoth Amazon was quite a thrilling adventure.

Also, my review has at least one egregious typo, if you can identify it you will win the first ever “STANDARD KINK: FIND A TYPO CONTSET!” and I will personally mail you something belonging to my roommate! (Just don’t tell her.)

Here is the review:
No Fly Zone Bivy

Happy hunting!


Mysterious Broccoli.

Mysterious Broccoli
by james bezerra

If broccoli could talk,
and had the ability to walk,
where would it go and
what would it demand?

Would it stand on the street corner
and shout, “Feed me Seymour!”
Or would it quietly run
the New York marathon?

I am the wrong person to ask, truly
because I know so little of broccoli,
but I thinks it’s something kids are forced to devour
when they have no choice in the matter.


Problems My Grandfather Never Had.

Problems My Grandfather Never Had
by james bezerra

You can always tell
when they sell
your email.

Suddenly my in-box
is full of stuff about penny stocks
and “Buy a pre-owned BMW!”
or “How to spice up your BBQ!”

Should I be worried
that so many people out there
are clearly very worried
about my sexual staying power?

But it’s not all annoyance,
I have met a rich Nigerian prince!
I’m going to help him move his money
here to our country!



by james bezerra

Ever since I spilled coffee creamer
on the space heater,
my little apartment
smells like hazelnut!


Evolution is a Funny, Disgusting Thing.

Evolution is a Funny, Disgusting Thing
by james bezerra

Did you know that the crabs you got
from having anonymous sex a lot
are technically of the same genus
as the crab you ate at that buffet in Vegas?
It’s not me saying this!
This is real hard science!


Wildlife I Have Met: #1.

Wildlife I Have Met: #1
by james bezerra

Last time I went camping
I was accosted by a grizzly bear.
He drank all of my beer
and then commenced to sobbing,
“No one loves me!” he was saying.
I knew I had a lot to fear
from this sloppy drunk bear
so when he pass out I started running.


Wildlife I Have Met: #2.

Wildlife I Have Met: #2
by james bezerra

Last time I went camping
I came across a half-robot raccoon.
I started to back away
then I heard him say,
“Leaving so soon?”
I tried to think of a way
to politely say,
“You’re freakin’ me out raccoon!”
but instead just took off running.


Wildlife I Have Met: #3.

Wildlife I Have Met: #3
by james bezerra

Last time I went camping
I found a totally stoned woodchuck.
He said, “Man, I’m so baked I thought you were a pheasant.”
He asked if I was a narc
or a ranger for the state park.
He didn’t believe I wasn’t
and yelled at me, “Man, you totally suck!”
and that’s when I took off running.


Waste of My Time.

Waste of My Time
by james bezerra

It is difficult to write a poem
about the California aqueduct
without using, “fucked”.
See, because “fucked”
rhymes with “aqueduct”.

But now it becomes a poem
about fucking an aqueduct.
And you’ll read it and say, “Well that sucked!
It was just a stupid poem that rhymes “fucked”
with “aqueduct”
and while that’s a fairly complex rhyme,
that poem was just a waste of my time.”


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Paranoid Dating Zoo.

I’m sure that I’m just being paranoid, but on my Pandora (which I listen to every single day at work) ads have started appearing for this dating website. It’s a pretty generic ad that mostly consists of pictures of women and the ad says, “Find a Date on Zoosk”. So it’s a pretty normal ad, right? Well I have noticed that over the last week or so the women in the pictures have been changing and it seems like they are becoming more and more attractive. Well, perhaps “attractive” isn’t the right word. Let’s say that they have been becoming more and more “my type”.

Is it possible that somehow the ad is dialing in my tastes based on the music I’m listening too? That would be crazy, right? But is it?

I mean how hard would it be to look at a person’s music tastes and start to triangulate their other tastes? Not that hard, me thinks. And anyway, isn’t that what marketing is all about in the first place?

Like I said, I’m probably just being paranoid, right? Because otherwise that would be a little crazy. Right?


Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Ghost Living in Us.

I am reading a book called Atmospheric Disturbances by a very talented writer named Rivka Galchen. Essentially it is the story of a man who believes that his wife has been replaced by an imposter (for all my fellow word fetishists out there, he calls her “a simulacrum”). On a deeper level, it is a story of how me understand and deal with love in our lives.

I just read this passage and liked it a lot:

It’s like a ghost living in us, our blood, that’s what I think it is like, having something within us – like our blood, like our livers, like our loves – that goes about it’s business without consulting us.


The Sedentary Life.

So how is this for an ironic turn or events: in an effort to not lead such a sedentary life I took up hiking and then running. In the process of running I hurt my ankle, which means that this weekend I am sitting around with a bag of ice.

In other words, attempting to lead a more active life has compelled me to lead a less active life.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Everything I Have to Say about Harry Potter.

Everything I Have to Say about Harry Potter
by james bezerra

Now that Harry Potter is ending
children everywhere can go back to not reading!

Did you know that the college I attended
offered a class in Mister Potter?
The English snob in me was a little offended,
but the egalitarian in me said, “The more the merrier!”

Did you know a Dumbledore is a kind of bee?
That was totally news to me!
I thought it meant: rip off of Obi-Wan Kenobi!

Did Alan Rickman
turn out to be a bad guy?
I have never trusted him,
you know why?
DIE HARD, that’s why.

I am uncomfortable when grown men
talk about a “hot” Emma Watson.

Ralph Fiennes is great as Lord Voldemort,
but what if, to play the part,
they had actually gotten Dick Cheney?!
How great would that be?!

Hey, remember those vibrating brooms
they had to stop selling?
Because girls were running off to their rooms?
Wow, that was uncomfortable and embarrassing!

And remember how strange it was for all of us
when Daniel Radcliffe bared his ass in the play Equus?

But I guess the biggest question
is whether Harry finally won
the war against evil
and made the world safe for us all.
(I bet he did!)


My Plan for Exercise.

My Plan for Exercise
by james bezerra

Today I will revise
my plan for exercise.
Instead of doing what I did yesterday,
I will do much less today.
In fact I think that I will do none.
That amount I’m certain to get done.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why I Can’t Outrun a Cheetah.

So I have been reading numerous articles online in an attempt to figure out why running makes me hurt SO MUCH. Well, it turns out that you are supposed to start slowly. Apparently you are NOT supposed go straight from walking (which I do every night) straight into RUNNING LIKE YOU’RE BEING CHASED BY DEBT COLLECTORS. Turns out that it takes the body months to adjust. I keep reading these conditioning schedules that say you’re not even supposed to actually run for the first five weeks. Five weeks? I have been doing this for three weeks and I feel like an old man because I have yet to outrun a cheetah (there’s one that lives in my neighborhood).

So the fact that I went running earlier and now I can’t leave my apartment (on account of the fact I’m on the second story and can’t walk, much less walk down stairs) is actually entirely normal and completely predictable.

Who knew?

So maybe I should dial it down to eleven. Although, what fun would that be?



How come when I’m at work, all I can think about are all the things I want to go do in the world, like run and write and cut my own hair, but then when I’m finally off of work all I want to do is sit?


New Pooh!

If you’re like me, you’re eagerly anticipating the new Winnie the Pooh movie.
Hey, even the hyper-ironic among us can have a warm, soft, gooey spot for Winnie the Pooh!
I will have you know that my first word was in fact “Pooh” and that to this day my family still makes fun of me because I used to run terrified out of the room when the Heffalumps and Woozles scene came on.

Here is a wonderful little article by a man named Dave White who feels exactly the way that I do, even while all the while understanding that he is being marketed to, but not really caring. 'Winnie the Pooh' aims straight at adult hearts.

And just for fun, here is the trailer for the new Pooh:



by james bezerra

Every once in a while,
you should smile
at strangers who walk by.
You needn’t say ‘hi’
just your pretty smile will do.
It’s simply a nice way
to brighten their day
and make them like you.


Celebrity Victimized by Own Celebrity, or: Save Your Money Russell Brand.

Celebrity Victimized by Own Celebrity, or: Save Your Money Russell Brand
by james bezerra

What do you think
Pauly Shore is up to?
How much money did he bank?
Is he skimming the Caribbean on a Sea-Doo?
Where does he rank
among the world’s richest celebrities?

Is he retired?
Or did he disappear?
Did we all just get tired
of films in which he would appear?
Did he get hopelessly mired
in his own constructed identity?

Stuck in his own celebrity,
did he got pigeonholed
and endlessly and hopelessly
confined by his own mold?
We – the viewing public – are finicky
about letting celebrities evolve.

Look at what happened to
Paul Rubens, or the dudes from CHiPs.
But what else would we let Pee Wee Herman do?
We demanded his creepy persona and quick quips;
we wouldn’t accept anything new
not even appearing in ‘Blow’ could save him.

True, talented Neil Patrick Harris found a way
to overcome this problem,
by re-earning cred with years on Broadway,
but at what cost? He’ll never get away from
the hilarious Barney. There’s just no way
he’ll ever get re-un-stuck.

So I ask, what of Pauly Shore?
Is he plotting a return?
Hoping that we can possibly want more?
Is he willing to burn
his own effigy in order to score
some new relevancy?


I’m not like that.

Do you ever get obsessed about wanting to buy something?

No, I mean like really obsessed.

Like unhealthily fixated?

I have known me for long enough that I know I go through periods of – let’s be polite and call them – ‘intense fixation’ about certain things. Sometimes this is a good thing. For instance, my job is very math and detail intensive, so it can actually be a good thing that I can throw on the blinders and just focus. This ability is also how I managed to go to school full-time and work full-time, I was able – and often required to – shift focus and intensely fixate on what I needed to get done at that moment.

Unfortunately, however, I also happen to know that my brain is bored with me lately. See, I think that about five or six years ago it got hooked on stress and I have been an addict ever since. Ironically that’s one of the other reasons I was able to go back to school and finish so fast, so I guess that worked out okay.

Over the last year or so though, I have been trying to de-stress and it has been really hard (I am so stressed out about this process!). I have been trying to teach myself to relax, to just chill the hell out. I have had mixed results, but I work at it every day. But my brain, it needs something to intensely fixate on. Right now it is stuck on this backpacking thing again.

Now I will tell you that I actually do enjoy all this outside stuff I have been doing lately; the running and hiking and camping and the like, but at the same time my brain is using it as an excuse to obsess. So I guess that in this – as in all things – balance and moderation must be key.

Well if we have ever met, then you probably know two things about me: The first is that I am better looking than I actually am (it’s weird, right? I’m not actually that physically great looking at all, but for some reason you can’t help but find me attractive. It’s true and you don’t need to feel bad about admitting it. You’re powerless over it.) The other thing that you know about me if we have ever met is that I’m not good at moderation. (I wish I could get my brain to obsess about moderation!)

Sorry, I know I’m rambling, but it’s not like anyone reads this blog anyway except for that dude in Korea (BTW, you rock Korea Dude!), so who cares if I ramble?

At the moment I am constantly adding and subtracting backpacking weights in the back of my head. So we might be having a conversation - and I promise I am listening to you - but I am also thinking: well the rainfly on my tent weighs 19 ounces, so if the temperature is warm and the wind is not too bad, I could leave that at home, which brings the shelter weight down to 2 pounds 4 ounces, which brings my base pack weight down to 10 pounds 9 ounces, but that’s still too heavy! If I bought a better sleeping bag I could probably cut 8 ounces, my sleeping bag weighs 25 ounces, so I could probably get it down to 17 ounces, so if I leave the rainfly at home and buy a better sleeping bag, my base pack weight is 10 pounds 1 ounce, but that’s still too heavy …

That’s what it’s like up in my head a lot lately. Though – blessedly – not every single minute of every single day.

If I had a therapist, this is when she would lean in and ask me if perhaps I am obsessing about backpacking weights because I am actually deeply unsatisfied with other aspects of my life, to which I would respond, “How much am I paying for this 45-minute session? Sixty bucks? A down sleeping bag that weighs 17 ounces costs $250, so if I skipped five sessions I could buy that …”

So yeah, there’s that.

Right now I am thinking constantly about this very lightweight backpack that I want to buy (it only weighs 1 pound 13 ounces and has a 47 liter capacity!), it would be exactly what I want for a trip I’m taking to the Grand Canyon in September, but it costs almost three 45-minute therapy sessions!

I am thinking about it so much that I think it might be getting unhealthy. Do other people do this? Not obsess about backpacks and weight, but about other stuff? Is this how you feel about your crystal meth hobby? Is this something that we can blame on the tyrannosaurus-sized, consumerism of our culture that says: buy things buy things buy things buy things buy things buy things? Or would that be a cop out? Is this more of a personal thing?

See, I have been writing my whole life and that requires its own kind of obsessiveness (ie: if I say this character is from Nepal, then I need to know about Nepal! What is Nepal like? Better get out the N encyclopedia … what’s the weather like there? What town is this guy from? What are the religions of Nepal? What was his childhood like? What did his father do for a living? Did he have a pet goat? What was its name? Crap, what are common goat names in Nepal? What did they feed it? What kind of goat was it? Oh god, are there different kinds of goats? Better get the G encyclopedia out …), so I’m not sure if the way I’m feeling about buying a backpack is what a hobby feels like, or what anorexia feels like.

Now I will admit that I am being a smidge hyperbolic about how bad it is because this is after all a blog and it is supposed to be a form of entertainment, but some of this stuff is actually an accurate depiction of my mental state.

Probably this is also why I find the show ‘Monk’ so hilarious. At least I’m not that guy, you know? That guy is nuts! But not me. I’m not like that.


I’m Deeply Ashamed of Having Written This.

I’m Deeply Ashamed of Having Written This
by james bezerra

Why shop at Salvation Army?
Because being thrifty
can be quite nifty!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Nancy Reagan Hikes Good.

Last night I had a dream that I was hiking with Nancy Reagan. I have nothing funny to say about it. She was a pretty good hiking companion considering that she’s like ninety years old. Not surprisingly we didn’t have a lot to talk about, but sometimes you don’t really want to talk a lot while you’re out there in nature.

I was a little upset though because she had gotten a job as a gear-tester for Backpacker Magazine and I was jealous that she had scored such a sweet gig. She had all this cool new stuff and she was using a GoLite Jam pack (which I TOTALLY WANT but can’t justify spending the $150 bucks on). Stupid Nancy Reagan.

At one point she wanted to give me a trail name and she wanted it to be “Dandelion” and I had to ask her exactly what kind of dirty hippie she took me for. Otherwise we managed to avoid talking about politics, which is good because it means I didn’t have to scream at an old lady, which – despite appearances – I do not actually enjoy diong that much.


Workday Mystery Haiku.

Workday Mystery Haiku
by james bezerra

Why does my workday
always last longer than my
desire to work?


Some Tips on Running.

I have some hard-won tips for you should you ever choose to take up running. These are things that I wish someone had told me:

First, it’s true that it does make you feel good, but only after you start to push through how bad it makes you feel at first, and then after feeling kinda good, it makes you feel awful again. It is like dating a really hot bipolar girl (only far less sexy).

Second, if you suspect that you are old, be forewarned! It will make you feel old (never before in my life have I ever complained about my “aching joints”. It’s like I’m suddenly somebody’s Appalachian grandfather, “Gonna be weather later, my bum knee is a’achin’ a bit”).

Third, if you’re like me and don’t think about shoes much, you might want to start. I have been running in a pair of those creepy neoprene alien shoes that have separate toes and, just to try it, I went running the other day in a pair of cheap cross-trainers that I use for hiking, IT WAS AWFUL! Maybe one day I will invest in a really good pair of running shoes, but probably not until they lower the cost of really good running shoes to five bucks and a smack on the ass.

Forth, (THIS ONE IS VERY IMPORTANT) if you’re too lazy to learn how to properly ice/heat your muscles after running and just decide to buy some Icy Hot (as I did) and if you happen to be completely unfamiliar with Icy Hot, then DO NOT CONTINUE APPLYING IT UNTIL IT STARTS TO TINGLE! There is a delay between when you put it on and when it starts to work! I am not ashamed to admit it, but I cried a little.

Fifth, do not write endlessly about running on your blog, all four of your readers just get annoyed as all hell. Unless you have some amusing and/or embarrassing stories about how you nearly killed yourself with Icy Hot.

And finally, here is a lame haiku about it:

Icy Hot is great
if you know how to use it,
but not if you don’t

Republicans' No-Tax Purity Problem.

In case you haven’t been keeping up on this whole “raising the debt ceiling” thing, here is a CNN article that I think does a decent job explaining the issue, but a very good job of explaining why the hell the Republicans are behaving like ill-tempered children: Republicans' no-tax purity problem.


Deep Thoughts About Walruskind.

I think that we all reach a point when we ask ourselves, what if walruses had become the dominant mammal on Earth instead of people? Would the buildings in their sprawling ocean metropolises have elevators? Would they have developed some sort of submarine motorcar? Would they send explores up onto land to climb mountains in the same way that we send explorers down into the sea to map trenches? How would their computers differ from ours? Obviously their mouse would have to be completely different so as to be operated by either a flipper or a tusk. Would their internet be different than ours? Or what if our two races existed side by side? With ours controlling the land and theirs controlling the sea? Would we have a long history of wars? A nuclear cold war of some kind? Or would be leave with some sort of separate peace? And would our internets overlap? Would they overlap but seem separate and foreign? Like when you stumble onto a website that’s written in Arabic? Would they have their own version of Google? Or would they use ours? And what about the times when they come up on shore to mate or just to lay around? Would be consider that a trespassing? Or would places like beaches be apolitical neutral zones, like Spain during World War II? All very important, eternal and inevitable questions.


Effervescent Moment of Enlightenment!

If we have never met then you might not know, but I keep my hair cut pretty short. I do this mainly because it is the only dignified way for a man to go through life when his bald spot is as globularly asymmetrical as mine. Well it costs me twenty bucks to get my hair cut. All they do is use the clipper things with a length attachment and buzz off all my hair. It takes all of five minutes. Well yesterday I was thinking that I needed to go get my hair cut again, but in an effervescent moment of enlightenment I realized that for twenty bucks I could probably just go by a clipper thing and do it myself! Yay!

So I went over to Target and picked up my own set of clippers and tonight I will cut my own hair! I do not see what could possibly go wrong.* Will be awesome.


*This is not completely true. I once lived in a two bedroom house with four (sometimes five) roommates. One of them was my girlfriend at the time and she would use one of the other roomate’s clippers to cut my hair. Once – hours before leaving to attend a wedding – she forgot to put on the attachment (which sets the length), so when she made the first pass the noisy little clipper blades were unrestrained and took a four inch long strip of hair clean off the top of my head. I suddenly had a reverse Mohawk. Well, after some bitching and moaning on my part, we realized that the only thing to do was to take off all of the rest of it. Which is why there are a few pictures of me with a completely shaved head. These pics are made even funnier by the fact that I had a moustache at the time, don’t ask me why, men tend to go through an early-twenties moustache phase and I was not immune. Anyway, I’m sure that nothing like that will happen this time … .

W. on My Mind.

W. on My Mind
by james bezerra

When you’re dead and gone
I wonder if you’ll wonder
if we thought that you got anything done.
Well you need not ponder:
your legacy will be one of tragically massive blunder.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Continental Collision!

This is a complete non sequitur, but one of the reasons that I enjoy watching television shows like “How the Earth was Made” or “Prehistoric: New York City” or whatever, is because sometimes the voice-over tries to make something like plate tectonics exciting for the kids and says things like, “… and the collision last for seventy million years!”

I swear to god, they actually just said that. I know that they are probably using the word “collision” in a way that is technically correct, but if they keep this up, we are going to have to start using a different word for when one car hits another car at 80 mph.


by james bezerra

When I look at my car
I realize how far
my life has strayed from my dreams.
My old aspiration now seems
like simple folly;
clearly I was naïve.
Who did I think that I could be?
That I would ever own a car that’s pretty?
The reality however
is that if I do need to leave
this place and go to another
the car I have always starts reliably.


Know Your Bars.

Know Your Bars
by james bezerra

Do not underestimate
the difference between a wine bar
and a whine bar.
The distinction isn’t semantic;
one can be quite romantic
and the other can be a place quite tragic
for a first date.
So if your girl likes merlot,
take her to a wine bar that’s mellow.
But if she likes to complain a lot,
well, don’t show up at all and just say you forgot!


The Weather Man.

The Weather Man
by james bezerra

If you could control the weather
how would you use that power?
Would you reverse global warming?
Or selfishly use it for personal money earning?
I would rent sunshine to the highest bidder!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Thoughts on Sex Scenes.

Things that fell through this weekend: having a dinner party, going camping, going hiking. So I decided to commit myself to writing (since I clearly had the time). I have been trying to re-inject some electricity into my long-suffering “novel”. I was emboldened to do this when, at the Goodwill Saturday morning I found and purchased what has to be the one remaining dictionary of classical mythology that I didn’t already own. It was providence! A harbinger of fate! Or something!

After a lot of thinking and yes, even some actually writing I discovered that I have to completely disassemble one of my storylines and start over from scratch. Very sad face. This was upsetting and so I put it off by reading about Hermes in my new dictionary, but then, this happened:

Yes, I think that by choosing to lounge inconveniently there on my books the cat was actually trying to make me realize that while all writers must do research, at a certain point the research just becomes a crutch, something that allows us to further delay the act of writing by telling ourselves that we are better preparing for that writing. It was as if The Kitten squeaked, “Eventually preparation becomes over-preparation. Remember what Billy Joel said, ‘Too many choices make you change your mind’.”

Who knew my cat was a Billy Joel fan. That’s kinda weird, right?

Anyway, so I sat down and wrote.

I have knocked out nearly 26 pages so far this weekend and am currently trying to rewrite that disassembled storyline. Also, this weekend I wrote the first sex scene that I have written in a very long time. I actually wrestled with it some (not in the way that you are thinking, you filthy and pruriently-minded person you) because I hate the way that most writing deals with sex. Unless you are specifically reading erotica (come on, you know you do) most novels have a very PG-13 attitude when it comes to sex. The author leads you right up to the bedroom door and then closes it on you, breaks for white space and then opens the next morning. I recently read “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson (on a recommendation from King Heifer a reader of, and occasional contributor to, this blog) and I quiet enjoyed it. The protagonist has a pretty liberal sexual attitude (he is European after all) and has the sex with three different ladies throughout the course of the book. What’s interesting though is that some of the sexual crimes in the book are described in awful and gut-wrenching detail, but the enjoyable, consensual sex (of which there is a pretty good amount) is almost completely omitted. Had this been an American writer I would just blame it on that Puritan sensibility that we still all seem to have when it comes to sex, but this was a Swedish author. The nation that gave us the Swedish Bikini Team, Victoria Silvstedt and … that’s really all that comes to mind. Anyway, what gives?

As I was writing this sex scene (the first in the story so far) I was trying to just write it and not think about it. I will say though that I am calling it a “sex scene” but in reality even I stopped the scene right as the actual sex starts. So why did I do that? For me, I guess that I didn’t want to over-do it … what came before was pretty graphic. The point of the scene is to see the way that these two characters interacted in that situation. I think that in fiction (as in life) the way one conducts one’s sex life is a kind of mirror or metaphor for the way that they conduct themselves in life. And that is the thing that I find kind of uselessly PG-13 about the omission of the actual sex part in most books. How these people fuck one another could actually tell you something about them. I may have ended the scene as the sex was starting, but believe you me, That is because I am a very “experimental” writer and I will be returning to it in flashbacks throughout the next couple chapters.

But I will say that I understand the caution most writers choose to exercise. It can be very difficult to tell when exactly you cross the various lines from titillating to erotic to pornographic. Since those lines are a little (or a lot) different from one person to the next, it is probably just better to avoid the whole thing entirely and just skip ahead to the next morning.

Well I say no bueno to that!

Over the course of several months the walls of my bed room have been filling up with 3x5 cards and post-it notes.

(This picture makes it look far less erratic than it looks in real life)

No doubt this makes me look like a crazy person, but one of those cards says on it, “WRITE HOW YOU WANT” and god damn it, since it doesn’t actually matter to anyone (it’s not like I have an agent, an editor, or a book deal) I am going to do just that. So that means that sometimes I will write, and you – the reader - will have to read, some actual sex. Any reader who gets alienated by that would probably have already given up on this book anyway (on the second page of the first chapter there is a conversation between a character’s hypothalamus and his lungs, yeah, it’s one of those kind of books).

Anyway, this blog post was just an excuse to take a break and think out loud a little, but that said, my broken storyline is not going to rebuild itself, so back to the salt mines I go. The dirty, dirty, sexy salt mines.


Friday, July 8, 2011

It Hurts. So Much.

All four of you who read this blog are probably already familiar with the fact that I have been doing some outdoorsy things as of late. Weird, I know. It is like I have developed some tumor inside of my brain and the tumor really likes the outside. It is the only tumor in the history of Western medicine that has ever made someone healthier. Although who are we kidding, I’m not doing any of this to be healthy, I just want to look better naked. But even that is not the full extent of it. There is a part of me (the tumor part) that is lately very interested in just doing things. Wanta camp? Done. Wanta hike? Done. Wanta kayak? Done. Wanta run? Done.

Yes, that’s right, I have started running.

I have only been out a few times (because my body takes a while to recover, as you might imagine).

I have been as mystified as anyone by this recent shift from non-physical activity to physical activity,. So, much like a Sherlock Holmes-ian detective, I took a step back and logically (though not really) retraced the series of thoughts and events that ended up with me – yesterday - huffing and puffing as I ran down a paseo by my apartment, while sobbing and screaming, “IT HURTS SO MUCH!”

Okay, here is what my completely scientific (though not really) investigation revealed:

1) I have always liked camping stuff, just not the outside. Show me a tiny multi-tool with pliers, 17 kinds of screwdrivers AND a bottle opener and I am all over it. I just never bought one because I never needed one because I never went outside.

2) Recently my friend Mike the Director and I wanted to get out of town and have adventures (without spending a ton of money) and we randomly settled on Catalina: kayaking and camping. Because it sounded like an adventure (and proved to be because of how bad we are at adventures).

3) Since I have skinny little chicken legs and arms, I started trying to get in slightly better shape so that I would not die on Catalina. This mostly involved walking around my neighborhood every night.

4) Which turned out to be a good thing because we did a lot of unexpected hiking on Catalina, which – despite expectations – I kind of enjoyed. I also liked the camping and wanted to do more.

5) Since camping alone is something I’m not skilled enough to do yet (and since almost nobody wants to go with me!) I started hiking so as to still have some of the outdoorsy thing going on.

6) In this process, I discovered the concept of “trail-running” which just seems (to me, for some reason) like the most badass thing that a mere mortal can do on a regular basis.

7) However I’m not in good enough shape for that yet, so …

8) In preparation for that awesomeness, I have started jogging.

As part of this whole process, I have done some fun hiking and some camping and some general exploring. I have read lots on the internet (which is a series of tunes) and now know even more about backpacks (which I have always loved) than I did before! And can tell you about them for hours on end if you would like to spend a few hours of your life listening to me talk about them (I do birthday parties! Book now!).

Also, did I mention that I am hiking the Grand Canyon in September? Yeah, that’s happening.

When next you see my facebook status and it says that I am going jogging, if you open the window of the room that you’re in and quiet your breathing so that t is almost silent, and turn your ear toward the wind, you might just hear the sound of me out there running. I will be the one screaming, “IT HURTS SO MUCH!”


The Courage.

Like most things, it turns out that running is a mental process as much as a physical one, so to get my head in the right place, I reached out to my sister who has run marathons. She told me about a book called, “The Courage to Start” by John “The Penguin” Bingham.

This is not a technical manual for running, but rather it is a sort of runner’s memoir about how and why this overweight man in his forties decided to start running. His writing is funny, quick & easy, and self-deprecating, so it is an enjoyable read. More than that though, he makes you feel okay about starting out, but he does it in a pretty unsentimental way, which is nice. It very easily could have become a Chicken-Soup-for-the-Soul type of thing (gag me with a spoon), but didn’t.

I’m not proselytizing or anything, but it is a useful resource that’s out there if you too would like to subject yourself to new sorts of painful physical abuse:

The Courage to Start.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

I Need Your Help!

I have been working on a story wherein all of the various gods of all of the various religions exist when, if, and because we believe in them. They have corporeal form and you can interact with them the same way you would if your met Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. I have gotten to the point where I need to start explaining that.

Below is my first crack at explaining how and why such a world came into existence. I know that this passage sounds a little college-paper-y, but that’s okay because I ‘m not writing it, this character within the larger story is. Isn’t multi-frame fiction awesome?!

Anyway, does this work? Like, does it make sense enough? Obviously this wil get expanded on as the story goes on, but I feel like I really have to make this point work so that the whole rest of this storyline can function. Also, this passage comes in the middle of some softer stuff, so that it doesn’t feel like I am just yelling at you.

Anyway, I am genuinely asking for your thoughts. Post here or on FB or email me or swing by the apartment and we will talk it out over a drink.


Gimme Fiction (Feedback).

... Every known human culture has a version of the Afterlife. Some religions teach that it can either be a place of reward or of punishment. Other religions teach that it is simply a place where the dead go, but most seem to agree that it is a place.

The earliest known references to this place date back to the Tigris-Euphrates Valley, where human civilization began. Those early Mesopotamians had already cleft the world in two: their Sky God inhabited the Great Above, while the dead went to the Great Below. That term “Great Below” is, of course, a translation. Most scholars now agree that the ancient Sumerian word should actually have been translated as “the Land of No Return”.

Those Mesopotamians clearly lacked imagination.
Half a world away and centuries later, the Mayans believed that the afterlife existed at the bottom of a spirally labyrinth of caves called Xibalba. Modern explorers, archeologists and rich, yuppie spelunkers have gone down into the caves and frequently found the remains – just skeletons really, curled into cowering, fetal balls – of people who braved those depths. Sometimes these were sacrificial offerings, but down in the lower reaches of the cave system, down where even the Mayan priests had feared to go, were the bodies of those who made the descent with the hope of rescuing a dead loved one from the Underworld. Without exception - starved and dehydrated, with no torch fire left to light the way - they each died alone in the sort of darkness that cannot be imagined.

This sort of evolution in thought which moved the afterlife from the purely abstract to the simply physically remote came with specific and gigantic implications for the human race. Without knowing it, or intending to, or even understanding the very real cosmic processes involved, humanity had given birth to the divine. The Universe, it seemed, was fueled by forces far more mysterious than gravity or dark matter. As civilizations emerged for the first time and societies formed and populations grew exponentially – fed by the refinements of agriculture and irrigation and the birth of pre-modern social organization – the combined, congealing weight of belief tore some rift in the very dimensional reality of existence and for the first time, gods happened.

Without meaning to, people developed religion because after answering the most fundamental questions of, “Where can I sleep?’, ‘How do I stop this hungry feeling?’ and ‘Can I fuck that?’ they asked themselves, ‘Why is this person who was walking around yesterday no longer walking around? Why have they been asleep so long? Why don’t they want to fuck anymore? Why aren’t they moving or breathing? What happened?’

What happened?

What happened, of course, was that the biological processes which maintained the life of that organism had ceased. Whether caused by infection or exhaustion or damage or predation, the end result was always the same and always will be. And so the question of ‘What happened?’ became the question of ‘Why?’

At a time when placing seeds in rows in the dirt and watering them regularly represented the height of human intellectual achievement, concepts like Cancer, germs, and extracellular bacterial toxin would have been far more exotic and incredible than the idea that giant, invisible people lived in the sky and had the power to hurl lightning down at the Earth when they got angry. That, at least, made sense to us. So, long before the time we thought to develop Oncology, we had already developed religion, and the Universe, thrown off its metaphysical balance by the weight of all of that sudden, psychic belief reacted in a very natural way that is as old and venerable as time itself; the Universe adapted by counterbalancing and in doing so, a direct link was formed between all of that belief – all of that psychic energy – and the physical world which created it.

That old Sky God existed. He was birthed out - messy and half-formed - by the Universe. He stood on the crest of the Great Above and looked down into the barren, parched bowl of the Earth below him and wondered how the fuck he had gotten there and what the fuck he was supposed to do now.

That poor, perplexed Sky God didn’t last long however. He was a prototype, an Urtext of what a god should be. Quickly we replaced him with far more interesting gods who had better names and more exciting personalities and plans for us. Gods named El and Chaos and Gaia and Ginnungagap and Yahweh. Gods who cared about us; even gods who cared specifically about our crops or our procreation or whether or not the river flooded that year and, of course, some gods who didn’t like us. We needed them so we could explain the terrible things that we didn’t want to blame on our benevolent deities. These were gods who wanted to make our biological processes cease.

These were gods we feared and so we made them fearsome: we gave them jackal heads or talons, hooves and horns and we made them responsible for death itself. In them we found the answer to that old question of ‘Why?’ and in doing so, we efficiently also made them the administrators of the Afterlife. And because the Universe tilted and whirled and adapted to accommodate, all of this belief in them made them all quite physically real.


Extreme Vacation: Iraq.

For reasons passing understanding, my brother the Texas Diplomat is in Iraq right now as part of a sort of exchange program through his grad school (they exchanged him for some printer toner or something). Check out the blog he is keeping while he is there: iraqdotorg.


Dear the Population of Greece.

Dear the Population of Greece
by james bezerra

Holy shit you guys sure know
how to throw a fit.
Your economy went to shit
and the EU wants to bail you out of it …
so in Athens you riot?
Just so you know,
that’s rather inelegant.
We all understand that you want
to keep your early retirement
but maybe find a better way to vent,
that doesn’t kill your tourism-based economy.
Oh, and maybe don’t be so flippant
about paying your taxes.


I Can Hear the Future.

I Can Hear the Future
by james bezerra

If anybody knows Wes Anderson
and wants to be my hero,
please introduce him to Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros.

Whenever I hear “Home” I see
a slow-mo scene in a Wes Anderson movie
which he will make in the future.

Shot like the walk in “Reservoir Dogs” but maybe
with characters more quirky
and - of course - with at least one Wilson brother.


Token of Affection.

Token of Affection
by james bezerra

Your heart is like a
diamond: cold and hard and sharp
and too expensive.


How I got Rabies.

How I got Rabies
by james bezerra

This morning I saw a fuzzy rabbit
and I ran over to grab it!
I just wanted to hug and squeeze it,
but I ended up getting bit.



by james bezerra

Summer feels free
because residual childhood glee
leaks its way into me
in the form of hot, lazy memory.


Kenny Loggins.

Kenny Loggins
by james bezerra

Wouldn’t it be weird,
if while I’m working,
Kenny Loggins stopped by my office?

In awe, I would compliment his beard
and ask, “Is there some help you’re needing?”
And he’d reply, “Do you know a word that rhymes with office?”