Tuesday, May 31, 2011

About That Training Video.

About That Training Video.
by james bezerra

(The editors here at Standardkink realize that this is not technically a poem, but if we are going to start applying things like standards to this stuff, then nothing on this website is technically a poem.)

It turns out that
that video at work was
not a tutorial.

What it was,
was a sexual harassment

We all thought that
that video was
an instructional video.

So, for a day or two,
our office was
a much sexier place to work.


A PSA: The Jetboil Zip Cooking System.

This is a public service announcement that will be informative/useful for absolutely none of the regular visitors to this blog.

Since I’m starting to get into all of this backpacking type stuff, I bought (on sale at REI) a Jetboil Zip stove. If you’re a fancy-pants outdoorsy person, you will find yourself compelled to call it a “cooking system”.

Basically its this cool little thing that is half cup and half stove. All the pieces and parts and the little fuel canister fit into the cup part for storage. When you want to cook, it takes about a minute to put it together. It will make it super easy for me to reliably boil water (for coffee and dehydrated food) or to actually cook (it has a cool little attachment that allows you to cook with a pan instead of the special cup). Basically this is the thing that will keep me from starving while I am out in nature.

Anyway, here is the public service announcement part:


I read 4,000 websites about this thing before I bought it and not a single one of them said, “Oh by the way, when you open the valve so that you can ignite the burner it sounds like a banshee being stabbed by a howler monkey.”

I swear to god that the first time I opened the valve, I thought that I had somehow broken the thing and that my apartment was about to explode.

Well, turns out that that didn’t happen, because nothing was actually wrong. That noise is NORMAL.

So there you have it:
The Jetboil Zip cooking system, a great little backpacking device, but as LOUD AND TERRIFYING AS A SHRIEKING EEL!


Fair Warning.

Just fair warning, the following “poem” is probably the most ambitious “poem” I have ever undertaken. I would like you to read it and then get the entire text tattooed down your back. I already have!


The Amazing Arctic Expedition of Captain William Francis Perth, Wherein is Recollected His Tragic Encounter with the Strangest of Eskimos.

The Amazing Arctic Expedition of Captain William Francis Perth, Wherein is Recollected His Tragic Encounter with the Strangest of Eskimos.
by james bezerra

While exploring the frozen North
our esteemed hero,
Captain William Francis Perth,
met an Eskimo
whom he christened Nero.

Captain Perth had a query,
“Dearest Nero, please tell me
why you choose to live in a place so icy.”

But alas poor Nero,
he couldn’t reply
to our esteemed hero.
Quickly Perth realized why;
the Eskimo was but a giant fire fly.

The Captain was quick to apologize,
“Please forgive my untrained eyes,
I’m not so familiar with fireflies.”

Don’t think Perth a fool,
you see our hero
attended a very bad school,
so how was he to know
a firefly from an Eskimo?

Privately Captain Perth had to wonder
how a giant firefly managed to blunder
so far yonder.

Together they decided to roam
and their silent friendship grew
then finally Nero took Perth to his home.
The Captain never knew
how Nero had built that igloo.

Then they shared a meal
of Perth’s freeze-dried veal
and Nero’s fresh baby seal.

When it was time to depart
our hero began to feel
a tug on the strings of his heart,
and so he tried to steal
a kiss to seal the deal.

But Nero began to grow bright.
Perth realized he had caused a fight
and cowered from Nero’s bright might of light.

Quickly Nero’s light became heat
and the igloo started melting.
Perth realized that he might meet
his maker as the igloo commenced collapsing.
The Captain couldn’t believe what was happening!

So he dashed away
as the icy ceiling gave way.
The Captain exclaimed, “What a tragic day!”

And so it was to be
the fate of the firefly Nero.
Perish did he
because our hero
fell in love with an insect Eskimo.


Sexy American Apparel Ads.

Has anybody else been startled by how shockingly and surprisingly naked the American Apparel website is?

I mean, I read the LA WEEKLY, so I’m familiar with the purposefully provocative ads, but the website is like exactly what every 14-year-old boy always hoped a Victoria’s Secret catalog would turn into. The lighting is a little off, the models look a little too … something. It’s like that Fionna Apple video that she swears up and down she regrets making, or those Calvin Klein basement ads they had to stop running.

I’m not sure if I’m shocked or turned on. But I will keep you posted.


Who are we kidding, I'm not shocked at all ...


Songs for My Band’s Next Album.

I think that I may have mentioned previously that I am in a completely imaginary band. Or rather, it is a real band with real members; it’s just that almost none of us play what you might traditionally call “musical interments”. Also we never rehearse, or play at all really. Most of the band members don’t even know each other because I keep letting more and more people join. There’s really no screening process at all!

So while we don’t exactly have the trappings of a real band, we do have songs. Or rather, we have titles for as-yet-not-written songs. Please enjoy these new titles for the as-yet-not-written songs on my band’s next album.

Allegorical U-Turn

Lo-fi Pop Noise Invasion

It Sounds Better in German

The California Roll Ho

The Multitude of Meaningss of the Word “Jam”

Your Blood Tastes Weird

The Entirely Predictable Killing Spree

That Food Processor is Haunted!

I Hate Life More Than You Do

Endlessly Clever and Prolific

How to Summon Your Own Spirits

Fools Russian

Hipster Food Truck Armada

Just a Glorified Bear Trap

I’m a Whore for Whores

I’m a Whore for More Whores (Reprise)

Not Your Grandmother’s 4G Network


Something to Fear!

Something to Fear!
by james bezerra

If around my castle I had a moat
I would put in it only one goat.
A goat with a laser beam eye!
Which he would use to fry
any would-be invader
or any errant neighbor.
But near the moat
I would post a note
that says: “KEEP CLEAR!
in this moat
is something to fear:
a laser-beam goat!”


Just Peel Away the Layers of Funny.

If you’re like me, sometimes you’re reading The Onion and laughing and laughing, but then you pause for a moment of reflection and you ask, “Is there anything which could possibly be funnier than The Onion?”

And I bet that you always thought it was one of those unanswerable questions, like, “How many compulsive light bulb un-screwers does it take to screw in a light bulb?” or “What’s the difference between a duck?”

Well I am here to tell you that it is NOT an unanswerable question! Because there is something funnier than The Onion!

What is it?

This: Literally Unbelievable.org

People misunderstanding the very nature of The Onion and commenting on it as though its stories were real.

** Special thanks to the Standardkink reader who sent this site to me. You know who you are. **



by james bezerra

It seems like the only voicemail I ever get
comes from people who want my money.
And that is annoying to me
because I lost all my money at roulette.


My Flatmate.

My Flatmate
by james bezerra

My flatmate
used to be my stalker,
but when they raised my rent rate
I almost moved to the shelter!
So it was kinda great
when he made the offer
to help with the finance.
Though it totally killed the romance
and mystery
since all he does is watch me watch TV.


Occupational Hazard.

Occupational Hazard
by james bezerra

One problem with writing poetry
at work is that after some time
it is hard for me
not to make my work emails rhyme.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Goat I will be Getting.

If you have been reading this blog for awhile then you know that:

A) I had spent some time looking for a hobby other than writing, because I was going to go insane.

B) That I have recently (and only barely) tried out backpacking.

C) That I tend to get mildy obsessive about things from time to time.

Now I have thus far sheltered you, dear blog, from my growing onsession about backpacking stuff. Largely because this is first and foremost a blog about writing (however crappy) and only secondarily about me. You have no idea how many times I have wanted to tell you about my Alpine Design Ultralight 45 Terrain Mummy Bag or my Eureka Spitfire 1 tent or the Jetpoint Zip stove after which I lust, but I have decided that unless I can make that interesting to read about (and not just fetishistic) then I shall not bother you about those things.

Anywhoo, the point is that there IS a piece of equipment that I would like to get that will benefit my new found hobby AND also be interesting to read about.

You see, I would like a goat.

I recently read that the average-sized goat can haul up to 65 pounds over uneven terrain. Can you imagine that! I wouldn’t have to carry anything! And it’s not like I travel with 65 pounds of stuff anyway, so the goat will actually have a pretty light load!

I won’t need to bring any food for the goat because goats will eat positively fucking anything! And they already make special vests for dogs to wear while hiking, so I can probably just get one of those for my goat.

Also, if I ever choose to go backpacking solo, I will have the goat to keep me company and protect me from bears and bobcats and such. And I will train it to follow simple commands like, “Come this way Goat!” or “Stop trying to eat that rock, Goat!” or “Oh no! I’m trapped under a boulder, go get help, Goat!”

And while I am sleeping my goat can guard my campsite and if it gets cold, then my goat can sleep in the tent with me and we can keep each other warm, and if it gets REALLY cold … well did you ever see Empire Strikes Back? But let’s hope it never comes to that.

So – tell me honestly – is this not like the BEST idea that you have ever heard of? I mean, I can’t even imagine a single thing that could go wrong with this plan! NOT ONE SINGLE THING!

I am thinking of naming my goat Tinkerbell. After Paris Hilton’s Chihuahua.


Travels with My Goat.

Here is a poem that I wrote about my goat:

Travels with My Goat
by james bezerra

If I had a goat,
then she would be
my hiking buddy
and together
we would weather
every storm, scale every peak, climb every crag, hike every trail, mount every summit, spelunk every cave, sail every sea, raft every river, canoe every lake, fish every pond, cross every desert, eat every piece of garbage …
That’s the goat. The goat is doing that.
It has stopped again.
It is eating garbage again.
Who leaves garbage all the way out here?
Never mind. What was I saying?

… and together
we would weather
every storm, scale every peak, climb every crag, hike every trail, mount every summit, spelunk every cave …
Do not bite me goat! Stop it. Ouch!
Let go of my sleeping bag! Give that back …
Oh! Oh great! Look you have ripped it! You have ripped my sleeping ... stop eating it! I demand that you stop eating it right now!
Christ all mighty.
What was I saying?
Right …

If I had a goat,
then she would be
my hiking buddy
and together
we would weather
every storm …
Oh god do not do that right there! You cannot crap in the middle of the trail! This is NATURE! It is pristine and beautiful! You can’t crap on NATURE!
You know what? Forget it! Forget it goat. I am leaving you here! Have fun surviving in NATURE! Without a stove and sleeping bag! How do you like that goat!

If I had a goat,
then she would be
my hiking enemy
and a terrible trail partner
and we’d part ways forever.


The Ultimate Hamlet Cast List!

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, it is finally complete!

For years now I have been working on a hypothetical cast list for the version of Hamlet that I would like to direct. Obviously this cast is a fantasy as some of these actors are dead and/or far past their prime (in some cases I think they have even given up acting), so just close your eyes (not right now! You are READING right now! You can’t read with your eyes closed! Jesus Christ don’t be so literal!) and let yourself be swept away by this imagine-ization the phenomenal production of Hamlet that we could stage!


The Ultimate Hamlet Cast List:

Hamlet: Woody Harrelson

Ophelia: Bebe Neuwirth

Claudius: Ted Danson

Gertrude: Kirstie Alley

Polonius: Kelsey Grammer

Horatio: George Wendt

Leartes: John Ratzenberger

Fortinbras: Rhea Perlman

The Ghost: Ernie Pantusso


Arnold's Anchor Baby.

Dear Republicans,

You have convinced me; all these foreigners do is come to America, take drugs, take our jobs and have anchor babies.

Also, here are few headlines that I was expecting to see this morning but didn’t:

Schwarzenegger: having been born in foreign country now only the second biggest reason he can never be President.

Schwarzenegger’s popularity plummets to Last Action Hero low.

Former California Governor announces, “I no longer have to act like I’m a decent person. And BTW, fuck off.”

Schwarzenegger claims he did not father illegitimate child, but rather donated DNA to a secret government program to create a test tube super-soldier, but in reality created two test tube babies, one of which is comically large and the other of which is comically small.

Some poor child discovers Arnold Schwarzenegger is his father. Viewings of the Terminator series take on startling new dimensions.

Aging Action Star Magazine names someone other than Mel Gibson as “Douche Bag of the Year” for the first time ever.


Backpacking with an English Major.

So I had an interesting realization last night (about camping, but I think it is culturally interesting none the less). I don’t know if I had mentioned it to you or not, dear blog, but I have been having a surprisingly difficult time finding places nearby where I can go camping.

Although that’s not entirely true. I shall explain.

See, what I have been looking for – because it is what seems like the most fun – are places in the greater LA area that are relatively nearby where I can go park my car and then hike in for awhile and then pitch a tent to camp overnight and have a nice little camp fire. Sounds like everyone’s classic idea of camping, right?

Now I have read enough of the crazy outdoorsy websites to know that that is actually referred to as “backpacking” and not “camping”. I had originally assumed that the difference was semantic and that they were basically the same thing.

Well it turns out that there is a real difference and I couldn’t figure out why none of those crazy outdoorsy websites told me about it. I couldn’t figure out why there wasn’t a single website that said, “Oh yeah, and B to the W, Southern California is rubbish for backpacking.”

When I first started getting excited about this being-outside thing, I figured that it would be easy to find places to do it because I know that there are national forests and state parks all the hell over the place down here. Well, it turns out that what we seem to have in and around LA are a ton of small nature areas that offer short day hikes without any camping. That’s cool and might be fun, but not really what I am looking for.

And there is a fair amount of “camping” to be had, however almost without exception it is what’s called “car camping” which means that you pull your car up into a flat site and pitch your tent right next to it. In some places you even have to have a freestanding tent because the “campsite” is actually paved, or what I like to call a “parking lot”.

There is some “backpacking” in the Angeles National forest and in Topanga where you can only hike or bike in, but because of the tendency of all of So Cal to catch fire all the damn time, you are not allowed to have a camp fire. I understand that but I’m pretty sure that camping without a campfire is just called “being outside in the dark”.

So I really started to wonder why I was having such a hard time, given that I have been reading a thousand and one websites about EXACTLY what I want to do. So I tapped my head and said, “Think think think” and then I got it!

It’s LA!

LA - more than anyplace else in the world - is a city designed around on for the car. There have always been stories about Standard Oil and Firestone mucking around in city planning in the 1920s & 30s, we know now that those stories are true and that the plan of Los Angeles became a vision of the modern automobile city. So OF COURSE most of the camping would be car camping! Not just from a practical standpoint (as in, people have to drive to these places), but also because that is the culture that we have developed here. If the idea is that you are married and have 2.5 kids and a car designed to move all of you around and that that is a specific sort of lifestyle, then of course when you go out to experience nature, you need some nature that can accommodate your car! Hence, most of LA camping is car camping.

Then there are the day hike places. My sense of these places is that they exist almost as a reaction to the car culture. When I was looking at maps online, it seemed like most of those places are sandwiched in between developed areas. I think that as LA became more and more developed (and bigger – by LA I really mean the whole greater Los Angeles area), there grew this idea that we needed to preserve nature areas and so what you end up with are these places that are big enough to spend a couple of hours in, but not really big enough to accommodate all the things you would need to put in some good car camping. Also, I think that there is something to the idea that we here don’t so much want to go out into nature and experience it, as much as we want to just briefly visit it (the way that you visit your grandmother at the home). I think that also has a lot to do with why there are so many day hikes.

And now back to the websites: how come nobody told me it would be difficult to go “backpacking” in this part of Southern California? Well I tapped my head again, “Think think think.” And then I realized that all the websites that I have been reading are written by people back East or in the Pacific Northwest and that those are places that are culturally very different from LA and that those are the places with the space for “backpacking” and the history and the culture there accommodates it. For instance, everyone has heard of “hiking the Appalachian Trail” (and not just as a euphemism for jetting off to visit your Argentinean mistress), but did you know that the West has an Appalachian Trail of its own? It is called The Pacific Crest and it runs from Mexico into Canada and you can hike all 2,600 miles of it if you so choose, but again, I had never heard of the damn thing. It just doesn’t exist in the American zeitgeist (I NEVER get to use that word anymore!) the way that The Appalachian Trail does. And I think that’s because that sort of participation in the (natural) world just isn’t really part of the culture in southern California the way it is even in Oregon, much less out in the woods of Kentucky or Tennessee.

I’m not making a value judgment, I’m not bitter or angry about it, I’m just kinda proud of myself for figuring it out. And yeah, it seems simple now and so you’re all like, “Well … duh” but that’s because I just explained it to you!

Now, that being said, this car culture does cut both ways. LA is lousy with freeways, which means that I can get out of it going in just about any direction, which then means that places like Joshua Tree and Yosemite and the Sequoias are readily accessible (though not super convenient). But I don’t yet have the skill level to tackle real “backpacking” in those places yet.

Anyway, I just thought that it was interesting the way that the geography and the history and the infrastructure and the culture all kind of came together to generate the world that exists now (and to screw me out of good backpacking). This is the sort of weird, unplanned, seldom-thought-about kind of stuff I love. I am a student of ramifications. It’s like I’m a low-rent Malcolm Gladwell up in here!

Oh! The other reason why – I think – that none of those websites told me any of this; none of the people writing them have English degrees. Not a single backpacking blog I have read has used the work “zeitgeist”. Probably because they aren’t as pretentious as I am. See if I let any of those people share my Grey Poupon on the trail!

P.S. “Backpacking with an English Major” is something Mike the Director thought would make a funny/annoying segment for an outdoor show. Also, he has experienced it firsthand.

Non-English Major: Which trail do you think we should take? That one goes up and that one goes down.

English Major: I’m not sure. It seems like a Faustian bargain.

Non-English Major: Well I don’t know what that means, but which trail do you want to take?

English Major: You know, Pablo Neruda wrote a really interesting poem about something like this! Most people would go to Robert Frost in a situation like this, but I go Neruda. I’m not big fan of Frost’s.

Non-English Major: Okay, but which trail should we take?

English Major: See, Frost is a little too structural for me. I think that his work borders on gimmickry; the tightness of his poems, that is. I like my white space to have a little ambiguity, you know?

Non-English Major: Sure, whatever. Can I see the map?

English Major: Oh, this? No, no. This isn’t a map, this is a book of essays by David Foster Wallace, you really should read him. You probably haven’t though, have you?

Non-English Major: Where’s the map?!

English Major: Oh, I had to leave it behind; otherwise I wouldn’t have had room for this book of David Foster Wallace essays.



by james bezerra

When you choose to date
any sort of primate
you should anticipate
that your mother might have an issue.

See, my mother had hopes for me
that didn’t involve a chimpanzee.
Though – I’ll admit – I now see
that it was rude not to warn her
before we showed up for dinner.

But it was unacceptable
that my mother only offered a bowl
on the kitchen floor for
Kimmy to eat her dinner!

“She is not my pet!”
I spit,
“She is my date!”
Then my mother got irate,
“No child of mine will date a primate!”

Needless to say,
my mother will not be attending the wedding day.


Odes to The Donald.

Odes to The Donald
by james bezerra

Writing a haiku
about Donald Trump is as
hard as is his hair.

Who is a classy
guy? Donald is! Yes he is!
Except not really.

Sorry I can not
run for President but it
turns out I’m a joke.


Almost a Poem.

Almost a Poem
by james bezerra

(A note from the editors here at Standardkink: while this is a very poorly written crime scene limerick, we contend that it is at least as well-written as every episode of CSI: Miami)

When they chalk outline a body
I always think it’s funny
that they seldom do the fingers,
as if the victim was gettin’
stabbed while wearing a mitten.


Pay Me!

Pay Me!
by james bezerra

Every month there is a mystery
called, “My Lack of Money.”
The circumstances vary each time,
but I have to scrounge for every dime
each time the landlord says, “Pay me!”



Since I am apparently a Third Grader or something, please enjoy this acrostic poem that I wrote today on my break.

by james bezerra

B eing at work is no fun!
O riginally my day looked busy,
R eally though it was pretty easy.
E ither I am awesome at my job or
D angerously bad at it.


Falafel is a Difficult Word to Rhyme.

Falafel is a Difficult Word to Rhyme
by james bezerra

This falafel is
just awful! It simply tastes
like an old waffle!



by james bezerra

Outside my window
there is a crow wearing shoes.
I think they’re Sketchers.


Wild Blue Yonder.

Wild Blue Yonder
by james bezerra

Let’s open a casino together!
Because we have been business partners forever
and we already share a financial ledger.
What’s the worst that could happen?

We’ll need to name the place!
And I already have a great space,
it’s an old Air Force base!
I don’t see how this plan can miss!

We will convert an empty hanger
into a sparkling casino floor
and when we need more space, we’ll convert some more.
I got it! We’ll call the place, “Wild Blue Yonder!”

So if you’ll just sign
on this bank document’s dotted line
then they’ll be fine
opening our line of credit.

Oh, well see, it has to be in your name.
Remember I was playing that tax evasion game?
I thought it was fun. The IRS didn’t feel the same.
Turns out they have no sense of humor.

No! Don’t worry, its fine!
IRS has already levied the fine.
I will pay it with the profits that are mine,
once we start this here casino.



by james bezerra

Ever since my surgery
there’s been a clicking emanating from me.
Doc says it’s the sound of my valve.
You don’t know annoyance until you’ve
been kept awake by a your own heart being noisy.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sometimes I am Ashamed of Us by james bezerra

Sometimes I am Ashamed of Us
by james bezerra

Hey, remember how we
all demanded to see
Bill Clinton’s birth certificate?

Remember the dearth
of people demanding proof-of-birth
from George W. Bush?

Remember the giant
grassroots push
to get proof from George Herbert Walker Bush?

How about Ronald Regan?
When we all went on TV and made him
produce his birth certificate?

Oh, that’s right,
those things never happened.

I wonder why
we suddenly suspect
that this President
is telling a lie.

I wonder …
wonder, wonder, wonder … why?
Is there something apparent to the naked eye
that’s different
about this President?

What could it be?
Is there something that you see
that makes him
not like the others?


Must be Nurtured.

Was that last post too obtuse?
Here, try this one:

Dear “Birther”
You’re just a racist.

If you don’t like it here,
feel free to go back to the northern European country that your ancestors left of their own free will.
And stay there.
Because we don’t need you here.

America has a complicated racial past
which we are all still trying to get past.
And just because you don’t call for lynching
and don’t use epithets,
doesn’t mean you aren’t a racist.

Assuming that the black guy isn’t as American as you
is racist; is not patriotic.

And vocally disliking the President doesn’t
somehow make Jefferson proud.
That tree of liberty, watered from time to time by the blood of patriots,
must be nurtured by them too.

And hiding behind the Constitution
doesn’t make it more yours than mine.
Doesn’t make this country more yours than mine.
Doesn’t make America more yours than anybody else’s.
And screaming loudest, just makes you loudest, not most virtuous.

This country is a project.
A massive, huge, too big, too bold, too ambitious project that we all undertake together every day.
And you are not helping. So go away.

Or, at least,
calm your bitter angels.
Read that Constitution that you wave so high.
Please quiet your impassioned pleas and think before you speak.
Or, at least, think about why you speak and what it means and what a wonderful right it is and how and why you abuse it so.

And please calm the hell down about the birth certificate (which has been on the internet for two years already).


Why I Don’t Go to the Zoo by james bezerra

Why I Don’t Go to the Zoo
by james bezerra

Do you know why elephants
have such long trunks?
Makes it easier to steal your wallet!

Know why gorillas
are behind such thick glass?
They have terrible gas.

Guess what anteaters
actually eat.
That’s right, infant meat.

Know why kangaroos choose
to live in so few places?
They’re terrible racists.

Why are chimpanzees kept
in such small cages?
Helps control their drunken rages.

Ever wonder why
we don’t just let the bald eagles freely fly?
They’re all on the terrorist watch list.

Know why bear enclosures
are always so low?
Keeps the syphilis under control.

Why do we force animals into the zoo?
Because they’re all awful and we hate them.
And don’t even get me started on the aquarium.


There’s an App for That by james bezerra

There’s an App for That
by james bezerra

Baby seal clubbing tutorials.
Land mine placing instructional.
Stealing-babies-from-hospitals planner.
Human flesh cooking thermometer (attachment required).
STD identifier.
STD detector.
STD transmitter.
Where-to-hide-a-bomb-on-a-school-bus wizard.
101 things you can do with a bunny.
Nazism 101.
Assassination helper.
Racial slur universal translator.
Seal Team 6 insulter.
Glen Beck-isms.
The Grave Robber 3000!
Emotional Development Stunter.
Child Pornography downloader.
Child Pornography joke glossary.
NORAD hacker.
Muammar Gaddafi fashion & style tips.
The Rebuplican National Committee (RNC) donator.
The MaBLA donator.
Home colonoscopy camera (attachment required).


Dancin’ Manson by james bezerra

Dancin’ Manson
by james bezerra

I had the misfortune
of being named Charles Manson.
Don’t blame my parents, it wasn’t their intention
to name me after a crazy felon.
They just didn’t watch a lot of news.

Now it would be hard to confuse
me with that other Charles Manson.
He is skinny and white, with hair like refuse.
I am tan and rotund and love dancin’
but my schoolmates still gave much abuse
callin’ me “Dancin’ Manson”
It gave me quite the blues.

But I learned to embrace my status.
If people wanted to defame me
by hollering names upon my egress,
then I would just let them see
what happens when I strap on these here dancin’ shoes.

I got so good I went on tour.
People drove for hour upon hour
just to see the power
unleashed by these here feet.

As time went on
people forgot that other Charles Manson,
so ensorcelled were they by my dancin’
and I became the most famous Manson they’d ever meet.


Gestation? by james bezerra

by james bezerra

I think that my scab has started to spread.
It looks rather like it has grown a head.
I had noticed that it was getting bigger,
But I didn’t expect it to grow a finger.

Yes, it seems that my scab is forming a body.
Has this ever happened to anybody?
It started as just a small cut that I got
while doing battle with an alien space robot.

You don’t think that I have been infected?
By some alien embryo that has perfected
some sort of growing-out-of-my-scab gestation!


Precognition by james bezerra

by james bezerra

It is probably possible
to predict with some precision
just when it will be possible
to perfect a program
that properly predicts
when probability-
predicting programs
will be perfected.


Ballad of the Lazy Narcissist by james bezerra

Ballad of the Lazy Narcissist
By james bezerra

It really bothers me
that women who
I see
on TV
never show up at my house to sleep with me.

It really bothers me
that when I watch
the news
on TV
there’s never anything about me.

It really bothers me
that when I sail
my ship upon the sea
there is never a giant whale
trying to murder me.

It really bothers me
that I sit here all day
waiting for life to
come my way,
but it never seems to stop for me.


Almost a Palindrome (Rhyme) by james bezerra

Almost a Palindrome (Rhyme)
by james bezerra

On my lunch break today
I went away
into a book
about a time traveler
with a hook
for a hand
who joined an interdimensional band.
They hunted the thief who took
the hand from out main character.
They tracked him to a smugglers nook
and then they made him pay;
they took his life away.
Then back to work I went.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Some Limericks about The X-Files.

All this time you have been longing for them, without ever really even realizing it.

Yes, that’s right, what the world really needed was limericks about The X-Files.

You’re welcome.

If you decide to try your hand at one, send me the result and I will post it!


Without Asking by james bezerra

Without Asking
By james bezerra

When Fox Mulder
grabbed a fresh manila folder
in which to start a new X-file,
it was often his style
to borrow Scully’s label maker!


Conflicting Allegiances by james bezerra

Conflicting Allegiances
By james bezerra

Remember that at first Dana Scully
was tasked with the duty
of spying on agent Mulder,
but sooner and not later
she relinquished that task fully!


9pm on Friday Nights by james bezerra

9pm on Friday Nights
By james bezerra

If you’re like me,
nothing was ever quite as scary
as the first five minutes
when there were no limits
on exactly how everything would get bloody.


The Weird, Hot Love by james bezerra

The Weird, Hot Love
by james bezerra

Hey, remember the one when
they almost kissed, but then
suddenly something scary prevented ‘em?
Oh, wait, that was all of them!
Man, the weird, hot love that coulda been …


Some Possibly True Facts!

Some of these things are true!

Osama bin Laden’s is believed to be the most recognizable face in the world!

Rob Lowe is a bestselling novelist!

Edgar Allan Poe bred cats in Baltimore with seven toes!

Recent poll finds that for the first time Astronomers now have high rates of suicide than dentists!

Lou Diamond Phillips is the godfather of Jennifer Grey’s son!

Marine biologists have discovered that cats cannot SCUBA dive!

In 1962 the Soviet space program launched an elephant named “Pasha” into space and that she made 26 orbits of the planet Earth!

All Canadians are afraid of the dark!

President James A. Garfield was the model for the famous cartoon cat in the comic strip “Garfield”!

President James Buchanan was the model for the cartoon character of “Jon” in the comic strip “Garfield”!

In parts of Amazonian Peru tarantula eggs are considered a delicacy and eaten on bread!

The band “The Decemberists” are named for a 19th Century Russian military uprising!

The nation of Azerbaijan was named for Dilpallan Azerbaijani, a fourth century Hindu explorer and religious leader!

Opium was discovered by the Mongolians, not the Chinese!

The Palestinian Authority is not allowed to enter teams in the Olympics!

The actual nationality of Christopher Columbus is unknown because as a boy he was orphaned in a shipwreck, of which he was the only survivor!

The 1990’s one-hit-wonder band “White Town” changed its name and became the band “Spoon”!

The band “The Presidents of the United States of America” are working with Sir Mix-A-Lot on a Broadway musical about the rise and fall of the band “The Presidents of the United States of America”!

Kurt Russell was nearly cast in the role of Han Solo in “Star Wars” instead of Harrison Ford!

Dennis Hopper was nearly cast in the role of Tom Hagen in “The Godfather” instead of Robert Duvall!

As a child actress, Calista Flockhart was an extra in one crowd scene the Harrison Ford film “Witness”. Now they are married!

More than 1,800 man-made objects fall out of space every year due to their deteriorating orbits! Most of them burn up on re-entry!

In the 1940s Army and Exxon scientists worked together on a secret project to chemically change water into oil and visa versa!

Historians and psychologists now believe that Civil War Union general William Tecumseh Sherman was actually a diagnosable pyromaniac!

Every year more than 40 people worldwide are killed by ants!


Alas, Crappy Watercolors by james bezerra

Alas, Crappy Watercolors
by james bezerrra

How different the
world would be if Hitler
had painted better.


Hiking Haiku by james bezerra

Hiking Haiku
by james bezerra

Turns out that hiking
is just uncomfortable
walking up a hill.


On Mother’s Day by james bezerra

On Mother’s Day
by james bezerra

If your Mom joined an ashram,
that didn’t have a phone,
it might be hard to call her
on Mother’s Day.

But what if the ashram was a scam?
And they made her take out a loan
against her will. You might need to save her
on Mother’s Day!

So you go to the ashram,
say that you will not leave alone.
So they give you back your mother
and together you fly away!


Sunday, May 8, 2011

And We're Back . . !

Well hello dear blog.

It has been awhile.

It has been over a month since I posted anything.

Yes, I am a very bad blogger.

I would like to say that I was reading “Finnegan’s Wake” or finishing the Great American Novel (GAN), but sadly those things are not true.

The truth is simpler and sadder. I just felt the need to turn inward for awhile. To do a lot of thinking and reflecting.

In the past you have been there for me – dear blog – when I did this. However, this time I felt the need to go it alone.
But now I’m back. Not quite done reflecting, or healing for that matter, still a work in progress, but back none the less.

It will probably be a little while before I get my blogger’s mojo back. Just a warning. But hey, what’s more schadenfreude fun for you than watching me squirm and wiggle while I try to get my game back?
THAT is good blogging, writing things that people want to read.



Recently I took a trip with my friend Mike the Director. We both needed to get the hell out of Dodge for a little while and we settled on a kayaking and camping trip to Catalina Island, which sits off the coast of Los Angeles (more or less.)

Catalina has two towns, Avalon which is the cute but tiny town where the cruise ships dock and where everyone drives golf carts. The other town is Two Harbors and it is so small that it doesn’t even necessitate the need for a golf cart. The camp site we picked was called Parson’s Landing and it sits at the top of the island.

In broad strokes, our plan was to arrive in Two Harbors, kayak up to Parson’s landing, camp, kayak back, then catch the “Safari Bus” down to Avalon and take showers.

Sounds fun and easy right?

I should mention here that neither Mike or I are what you might call “outdoorsy” and I had never been on a kayak in my life. Also, I have a general distrust of nature, wildlife, the ocean and rocks. I just try to stay inside most of the time.


Catalina #1

For this post, things to know:
- I am not a smarter person.
- Mike packs too heavy.

We left Friday afternoon. On the ferry ride from San Pedro to Two Harbors the water was very choppy. The ferry was smaller than any ferry I had been on before. Probably twenty-five feet across and maybe 100 feet long. The point is, it was pretty small, but fast, which meansthat as the water got choppy, the ferry would ride up the waves and then drop down the other side. It was like a roller coaster! You totally got that DROP feeling in your stomach when the front of the boat came down. People were rushing off to the bathroom with sea sickness. I - because I am awesome - was just having a great old time. Mike, on the other hand, was getting queasy and turning green. He didn’t throw up though, which clearly means he is a rockstar.

If I were a smarter person, two things would have come to mind to me at this point. The first would have been, “Gee, the ocean is kind of rough, I wonder if it will be like this all weekend?” and “Gee, I hope that this doesn’t mean that my first ever kayaking experience will be more potentially deadly than I had anticipated.”

I, however, am not a smarter person.

The ferry arrived in Two Harbors. When you step out onto the dock you are struck by what a tiny and primitive place it is. The water is super clear. Not crystal clear like a brochure of the Caribbean, but still clear enough to see down several feet. It would be generous to call Two Harbors a “harbor” at all. It is really just a large cove. The hills are high on either side but tapper down steeply to the “town” (which is also a generous word). When you’re standing on the dock, there is only a half a mile of land between you and the Pacific Ocean on the other side of the island. A good wave could take the whole place away.

So when you’re standing on the dock taking in Two Harbors in all of its Spartan glory, the beach looks nice and yellow-brown. If you look closely though, you see that the “beach” is mostly small rocks worn smooth by the water. There isn’t much sand. On the hills up to the right there are tired old houses where the locals live (virtually everyone in Two Harbors works in the tourist industry). Up to the left is a campsite. That’s about it.

Straight down the dock and on the left side is the Visitors’ Center. A small building with some windows on the side where we had to check in for our campsite, get the keys to our lockers (At the campsite there are metal lockers. Each one has inside a bundle of firewood and 2.5 gallons of water. I had purchased two.)

On the right side of the dock is the dive shop. It is a little white shack and next to it there are about two dozen kayaks stacked out on the sand. They are yellow and blue and orange and look pretty sitting on the rocky beach under the shade of some palm trees.

As you walk off the dock, straight ahead there is a little “restaurant” with a patio on the front. This is the only “restaurant” in Two Harbors. On the patio there is a little bar. To the right of the “restaurant” is a general store.

We arrived about 2pm and I knew that sunset would be about 7.30pm. I did not know how long it would take to kayak the 4.2 miles to camp, so I wanted to get moving. Instead of being prudent and hitting the water ASAP however, we decided to get some lunch.

Mike ordered a burger and I got fish and chips and both were quite good. As we sat there on the deck we took stock of our bag situation. I had spent the better part of a month packing and repacking my bag and tossing things out and getting it lighter and smaller. My bag has an internal frame and an internal volume of 40 liters (they measure these things in liters, apparently). Fully loaded my pack weighed about 30 pounds. I had been reading a lot of ultra light hiking websites and that compulsive/addictive thing in my brain started pulsating and saying, “Lighter. Pack lighter. Pack lighter.” Please understand that I didn’t pack light because it was smart to do so (I’m not trying to convince you that I make smart decisions or anything), I did it because it became a minor obsession in the weeks leading up to the trip. 30 pounds in not actually considered ultra light, but for my first ever outing, not too shabby.

Mike was in a very different situation. He went for an external frame backpack that was much larger than mine. It has an internal volume of about 50 or 60 liters and it was STUFFED FULL. Loaded up it probably weighed about 55 pounds. It would take Mike about thirty seconds to lift it, get his arms in it, adjust it and be ready to walk with it. Now I will say that he had a lot of equipment that I didn’t because he was essentially documenting the whole trip. He brought his good camera for video and pictures as well as a tiny camera (the sort that you clip to your body when you go skydiving), and remember that traveling with that kind of gear means that you’re also traveling with lenses and batteries and extra batteries and waterproof cases and Mike even had a battery pack for charging the extra batteries.

So that was our bag situation. We finished eating and reflecting and that ended up taking about an hour.

Around 3pm we walked over to the little dive shop to rent our kayaks and then they told us that there was a small craft advisory and they couldn’t rent us kayaks.


I tried explaining to the dive shop lady that I HAD A PLAN! I even offered to show her a copy of The Plan, but alas, it did was to no avail.

(The Plan)


Catalina #2

For this post, things to know:
- I had been checking the weather in Catalina constantly and the low was supposed to be 55 overnight for the nights we were there.
- I had been reading a lot (and becoming obsessed with) lightweight and ultra light camping.

So they could not rent us kayaks.

This was a huge disappointment but not a catastrophe. One of the reasons I had chosen the campsite I did at Parson’s Landing was because we could hike to it. I had originally figured that if we kayaked in and everything went all to hell, that we could always hike out to safety. The small craft warning just meant that we would have to hike in.

I asked the dive shop lady if there were any lockers in Two Harbors where we could leave some of our things (to lighten the load). She said there were and told us where to find them.

We went to the lockers and I opened up my bag. This is when I made a pretty big mistake.

You see, since I had been obsessing about ultralight backpacking I knew that one of the single biggest differences between ultra light and regular backpacking is that the ultra light people don’t take a tent. They take a tarp that can be fashioned into a small shelter to sleep under. I had watched (an embarrassingly large number of ) videos online about how to make such a shelter and was confident I could do it. So into the locker I put my tent and tent poles.

Ironically, THAT was not my big mistake. My big mistake was that I also left behind my base layer. Your base layer is supposed to be the stuff you put on first under your clothes. In warm weather you can just wear the fancy sweat-wicking boxers and shirt (which I was) but in colder wearer you are supposed to wear a pair weird synthetic long johns under your pants to keep you warm. That is what I left in the locker.

Also left behind: my second set of clothes and about half of my snacks and food and some other random things. It probably lightened my bag by about seven pounds. Mike decided that he really couldn’t leave behind anything except his extra set of clothes.

We went to the general store where I bought water to fill up the hydration bag inside my pack. The water added about another two pounds. So all of that took almost an hour. We walked to the edge of town where we had been told that the trail started.

Turned out that the trail actually started at the top of a steep hill on the edge of town, to get there we had to hike up the hill at about a 30 degree angle. At the top there was a bench. Mike wanted to stop at the bench to rest. This was about five minutes into the hike.

The lady at the dive shop said that the hike was about six miles. I doubted that and thought she was trimming some distance off. I had looked at the trail online previously. About three quarters of it ran along hills on the coast and the coastline had about a half dozen coves on it, which meant that to get around each cove you have to hike inland to the back of the cove and then back out to the coast. These are called “switchbacks” and there were a lot of them, some as long as about a half a mile. So even if a cove is narrow and only a quarter mile across, it could take a mile of hiking to get around it.

My feeling was that we would be lucky to make it to camp before sunset.

A note here about Mike the Director. As a film school graduate, he is incapable of doing anything without somehow trying to make it a film school project. He had previously decided that he would make a “show” out of the trip. So While I was hiking, we was filming plants and dirt and talking to his camera a lot. This slowed us down considerably, however I think that some of the footage is going to look marvelous. The basic idea for the show is that we would take these interesting and short and relatively inexpensive trips that anyone would be able to do if they applied themselves. We’re not climbing K2 or anything, and that’s the point. Sure, it is fun to watch Bear Grylls leap out of a helicopter and bite the head off of a terrified tarantula, but is that something that you want to do? Probably not. The same for watching Rachel Ray try to spend ONLY $40 a day in a Tuscan village. It is $40 a day on food alone, not to mention airfare to Italy. I think that it might be fun to watch a couple of people who are totally unprepared and under-qualified, try to take on some nominally difficult adventures. Maybe that’s what we should call it: “Nominally Difficult Adventures”! You can come on the show if you want, just let me know and you can come with us. The only stipulation is that you aren’t allowed to be any good at this stuff. If you know how to SCUBA dive, then you have to go rock climbing. If you know how to rock climb, then you have to go hang gliding. You get the idea.

So we are hiking! The first couple of switchbacks were fun and really pretty. You could look down into the coves and see all the pretty little sail boats moored in them. Some of the coves had small buildings, some of them were private. Catalina is known for its kelp forests and from up on the hills we could see them waving in the water down below.

About an hour in, Mike started to get blisters. Remember that we hadn’t planned don hiking. If he’d known then he probably would have packed differently. As it was, he had a lot of weight to shoulder.

But onward we hiked. And hiked and hiked and hiked and hiked. It started to get darker and darker and I was starting to get frustrated because we weren’t making very good time.

After about three hours we got to the North end of the island. This is where our trail cut in for the last half mile or so to the campsite. This was a strange stretch of land that was very different than the scrub brush and cactus that we had been hiking with. It was a different environment entirely. All tall grass like a savannah and rolling hills rather than stark, high cliffs. The sun was just about setting when we came over the top and finally we were able to look down to our campsite a quarter mile off. So we excited and scrambled down pretty fast. The sun had set by the time we actually got down there and I have to tell you, it was already getting pretty cold and with a breeze in off the ocean.

There were two other sets of campers on the beach. We found our specific site and went about getting wood and water out of the lockers.

I should mention here, we did not bring stoves of any kind, because Mike had been confident that we could do all our cooking on the fire. I had told him that all I needed was the ability to boil water for my dehydrated food and my coffee. He said that would not be a problem.

Well, it turns out that was a problem.

The wood in our locker was damp. Probably condensation inside the metal locker had been marinating it for a couple of days. Mike was only able to ever get a fire going for a few minutes using some industrious fire-starters that he had made out of cotton balls and Vaseline. So while he tried and tried to start a fire, it got darker and colder.

I set up his tent and then went about creating for myself a shelter from tarps. It was actually pretty easy. You lay down one tarp on the ground and stake it down. Then lay another tarp on top. You stake down the back end and then (using a walking stick or, in this case, Mike’s monopod) you pitch a little opening in the front about a foot high and with cord you tie the front corners down (I tied the corners to rocks of which there were many to chose from because our beach campsite was all rocks). Inside my little tarp home went my foam pad and sleeping bag.

A note here about how bad I am at stuff. It was a good thing that I had two flashlights because I would keep turning off the first one and setting it down, then I wouldn’t be able to find it in the dark and so I would have to use the second flashlight to find the first one. I’m totally the best camper in the world!

Eventually Mike had enough of a fire going that we were able to (almost) boil water to pour into the dehydrated food bags. It was so cold by this point that I had on my jacket and even put my food bag inside the jacket just for a little extra heat.

We ate quickly without saying much and then I slipped into the awesome tarp tent thing that I had made. It was okay at first, not a lot of space, but there isn’t supposed to be. Someone who gets claustrifobic might not have liked it, but I was okay. At first.

As the night got colder and colder, I realized that it was way below 55 degrees. Eventually it occurred to me that all those times I had checked the weather, I had probably been checking the weather in Avalon, not the weather at our campsite, which was twenty-some miles away from Avalon, on the other side of some mountains, facing a different direction and right on the beach and exposed to the wind from the ocean. So it was much colder than I had expected. I kept waking up every few hours because I was shivering. My sleeping bag is rated down to 45 degrees and I was wearing pants, socks, a shirt, an over-shirt, a Northface soft shell jacket, a hat and a scarf over my face. And I was still freezing my ass off. I don’t think that I was dangerously cold or I would have retreated to Mike’s tent, but I was very cold. Since (obviously) a shelter made of tarps isn’t sealed or windproof, the breeze from the ocean would slip right inside. And I would lay awake thinking about my base layer. That nice warm, tight black base layer that I had left in a locker in Two Harbors. I decided right then that I would never ever ever never ever again leave it behind. Ever. I don’t remember that last time I was that cold.

But it was not all awful. if I poked my head out of the shelter,I could see across to the mainland. it was clear enough that I could see all the way across to the lights of San Pedro and Long beach. For some reason that made it very lonely though.

So that first night was very cold and lonely.


Catalina #3

For this post, things to know:
- Girl Scouts are rugged.
- The ocean is scary.


So I had a very cold night that first night, but when I work up about 7am it was sunny on the beach and even a little warm. It was nice.

The beach was wide and rocky and surrounded by hills and the view was pretty.

Mike tried to make a fire again, but couldn’t, so we just ate powerbars.

The previous day the lady at the dive shop had said that the small craft advisory would lift about 3am that morning, so our plan was to hike back and get our kayaks. I emptied out my backpack so that I could bring my tent (and base layer) back with me.

About 9am we started hiking back. I was not looking forward to it. About fifteen minutes into the hike we stopped to hydrate (that just means drink water, but doesn’t it sound cooler if I say “hydrate”?). As we were standing there in the shade of a tree hydrating, a gaggle of little Girl Scouts passed us going the other direction. Some of them were wearing flip flops and singing and – in my memory atleast - they were dressed in tutus, waiving princess wands at us. So, as you might imagine, Mike and I totally felt like big tough strong awesome hiker men right about then.

That hike was pretty much the same story, but it was nice to be outside, but it took about three hours and we were covering the same ground as the day before, so it did start to get annoying because it just felt like backtracking. And I hate backtracking.

As we crested the last hill over Two Harbors, we could see kayaks putting out from the dive shop! I was so happy! It meant that we would be able to rent our kayaks and would not have to do the hike again!

We made our way down into town. Mike wanted to eat again, so for two days in a row on our camping trip he had cooked food. Because that’s how I camp.

Turned out that the small craft warning had only been extended from 3am to 11am, but about1pm we were able to rent our kayaks. I put my tent in my pack and put my pack inside a trash compactor bag and put it inside the drywell of my pretty blue kayak (a drywell is basically the trunk of a kayak).

Before we left, I walked over to the general store and bought a Durflame log and bought two more lockers of wood and water at Parson’s Landing. Mike said we didn’t need a Duraflame log, that he just needed some lighter fluid, but I bought the log anyway. I’m not sure if it was entirely legal to take a Duraflame log to our campsite because Catalina has some weird fire restrictions, but let’s just go ahead and assume that I broke no laws.

A note here about kayaks: These were the sit on top kind, not the sit inside kind, so they are much easier to use if you have no clue what you’re doing (its like they invented these things for me).To launch a kayak you get about 90% of it in the water, with just the tail on the beach. Then you hop on and use your paddle to push off. There are virtually no waves in Two Harbors, so this was pretty easy. But then you’re floating and your brain goes all “WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING! THIS IS SO NOT RIGHT!”

Because there are boats moored at Two Harbors, I only had about fifty feet to learn how to steer the damn thing or I would have collided with some very expensive sail boats. But luckily it was not all that hard to learn.

After a few minutes the initial terror of being on a tiny boat goes away and it gets to be kind of fun. It is not as hard to paddle as I had feared, but it isn’t terribly easy either. It goes pretty smoothly, but a kayak doesn’t glide on its own, paddling doesn’t create a lot of momentum. Once you can get a nice rhythm down, it gets easier. You have seen it one TV I’m sure: you dip the paddle on the right side and push forward with your left arm, then slide the paddle up and out on the right and dip the left end into the water and push forward with your right arm. It is kind of a windmill motion and once you get going and learn how to let the fins of the paddle glide in and out of the water, it even becomes fun.

At first we stayed relatively close to shore, following the coastline in and out of the coves. The water was blessedly calm. Soon we started gliding over the thick kelp forests. I did not like these one little bit because you could only see a few feet down into the water, so it meant that we were constantly gliding over these dark, massive shapes and only when right above them could you see what they were. And it was really scary to look down into them, because the blurry dark masses would materialize suddenly into fish or rocks. Suddenly all of those jokes I had been making about sharks were not funny anymore. I had these images in my head of a giant mouth full of teeth appearing out of the dark kelp shadows.

Since Mike was filming while we kayaked along, I had to keep stopping so that he could keep up, which would have been fine, but when you stop kayaking, the waves try to turn it around and push it into shore. And each time you have to start kayaking again, it takes forever to get back into a rhythm. Or perhaps it just takes me forever since I have no actual physical coordination.

But none the less, we made our way up the coastline. Moving in and out of the coves and having a good time. The weather was good and the water was smooth and the views were great. We passed over schools of slim silvery fish and even some small jelly fish. Those look like little ocean ghosts. Probably the stranded souls of kayakers who got eaten by Great White sharks.

We had to kayak 4.2 miles and the first four miles of that was along the eastern side of the island. Then we had to round a point and at that point we would be in a different current coming in off the Pacific Ocean as we headed more North West to Parson’s Landing. I had had some concerns about rounding that point because I am smart enough to know that two different currents would be coming together right there. So I didn’t think anything of it when the water started to get more rough and choppy as we approached that point. It got windy and I even turned my hat around so that it wouldn’t blow off. But I consoled myself, telling myself it was just because of the point.

Then I got around the point and I could see for miles out into the ocean and it was completely different.

I realize now where the term “sea change” came from. It was a completely different ocean that I was looking at.


Catalina #4

For this post, things to know:
- The ocean is dangerous.

For the first four miles of the kayak trip the water had mostly been nice and smooth. The little waves we went over were small and round and pleasant enough.

When we came around the point and turned left the ocean ahead of us was terrifying. We were heading into the current, so the waves were coming toward us. What I saw was a jagged field of waves several feet high. These were real waves. When they crested they pointed forward sharply and then collapsed down heavy. There was so much wind that water blew off the crests of the waves straight ahead – straight into my face – so there was a misty layer like rain above the waves. And the current was fast – in the wrong direction – so it was pushing us back and sideways. On this side of the point there were no coves to pull into for safety or rest, just cliffs with rocks at the bottom.

The graceful windmill motion of paddling didn’t work anymore. I had to stick the full paddle straight down into the water and push hard, levering myself forward. And then had to do the same on the other side, and fast, otherwise I wouldn’t be pointing into the waves anymore. If I wasn’t pointed into the waves, they would push the kayak sideways and the water would crash over the top of me and if the length of the kayak got hit with a wave it would nearly flip over. This came close to happening more times than I care to admit.

After about ten minutes of difficult progress, it got to the point where I couldn’t even move forward anymore. All my paddling did was keep me in place against the current. The waves were so high that when I was down between them and looked back, I couldn’t see Mike anymore.

I considered turning around, thinking that we could pull in to a cove on the safe side of the island and just hike to camp, but the problem was that I could SEE our camp from where I was. I could SEE IT! And I would have had a problem with turning back at that point.

So we kept on going. It was scary and probably the only time I can think of as an adult when I felt that I was in real, physical danger. Like actual peril. If I had been knocked off the kayak, if it had flipped over, I don’t think I would have been able to flip it back over and get back on. I’m not sure what would have happened at that point.

So I just paddled and paddled and paddled my little heart out. As I got inches and inches closer to the camp, I saw that it was rockier than I had previously realized. There were formations of rocks that had been under the water, but the waves were so high now that they first engulfed the rocks, then withdrew, leaving the rocks above water and totally exposed and dangerous.

I was able to kind of aim the kayak in between some of the rocks and then a wave scooped me up and pushed me in, but it turned me sideways as it did and so I hit the beach with my kayak turned sideways, I hopped out and tried to drag it up the beach but by then another wave came in and pushed the kayak into me, knocking me down. I scrambled up and dragged the kayak up out of the water and then promptly collapsed on the beach, exhausted and still a little scared.

Mike came in a couple minutes later and made just as graceful of a landing as I did.

It had taken two hours to go the first four miles and it took a full hour to go the last 0.2 miles.

Also, I was now completely terrified of the ocean, and not just because of the sharks.

(Our kayaks on the beach the next day)


Catalina #5

For this post, things to know:
- Durflame Logs are fiery awesome!
- I am not graceful at all.

Remember how there had been a small craft advisory? And that it was lifted shortly before we got the kayaks? Well about an hour after we took the kayaks out onto the water and paddled away from Two Harbors, another small craft advisory was called. Which means that most of the time we were on the water that day, we were innocently and naively scooting along on water that we shouldn’t actually have been on. So that explains why some of it was so bad. Only we didn’t know any of that at the time.

Once we made it to camp we spent awhile just doing nothing. Just trying to catch our breath and repair our spirits. I have to be honest with you, I was a little shocked by what had just happened.

But as the sun got nearer to the horizon, we decided to get set up for dinner. I got out my Duraflame log and Mike built some sort of wood tripod around it. We lit the thing up and suddenly there was fire! Hooray! It was a nice big hot happy awesome fire.

I set up my tent. I was very happy to have a tent. The wind started to pick up and it started to get dark. We boiled water and made dinner and actually had a nice time. It is amazing how much a nice warm fire will do to pick up your spirits. Mike had some hot chocolate and it seemed like the greatest thing in the world.

Eventually we each crawled into our own tents to sleep. With the rain fly on my tent, I couldn’t see out, but I could hear how loud the waves were when they broke on the beach and it scared me a little to think about while I drifted off.

We woke up about 6am the next day. We needed to get an early start because we had to catch a bus in Two Harbors at Noon. So I got up and broke down my tent and packed everything up and loaded it into the kayak. It took Mike a little longer to get packed but that was okay because I was drinking some coffee and staring unhappily at the ocean (It was a very cinematic moment! I felt like I was in a movie about someone who hates the ocean!).

It looked like the sea had calmed down some, but the waves were still breaking really hard on the beach. Remember, this was only the second time that I had ever put a kayak out into water.

But finally it was time. Mike went out first and he managed to time it just right so that the suck-back from a wave pulled him out.

I went next, but didn’t time it right. I tried to ride a wave out, but a bigger one came in a second later and pushed the kayak sideways and back up the beach. It knocked me over onto my back and the kayak rolled over the top of me in the water. I jumped up, completely soaked and rolled the kayak right side up. I pulled it back out into the water and tried to line it up into the waves, I went a little further out, so the kayak was completely in the water. Another big wave came and went over my head, so both the kayak and I were pushed back into the beach.

At this point I must have looked like such a pitiful drowning rat that a guy ran out from one of the neighboring campsites to help. I remember he shouted to me, “I’m glad I’m not putting out in this!”

We only had a second before the waves came in again. He held the kayak pointed straight out and when the wave came in I jumped up onto it and paddled like crazy. I hollered back at the guy, “THANK YOU!”

That dude was awesome, whoever he was. The patron saint of under-skilled outdoorsman, that guy was.

Once I got out past the rocks and into the ocean, I took inventory. I was completely soaked all over with sea water. I had lost my bottle of water when the kayak rolled and I could tell from the way the boat moved that I had a lot of water in my drywell (the trunk) which was also where all my stuff was.

Luckily the current was pushing us back to the point. The waves were still rough, but nothing like they had been the day before.

As we neared the point, seals started popping out of the water. At first they were far away, but then they started to come in closer to bark at us. I think that they wanted to play. Or maybe they were like, “What the hell are YOU doing out here? Don’t you know there’s a small craft advisory right now?”

For my part, I was not happy about the seals because sharks eat seals and I was convinced that the seals were bringing the sharks closer, so I would yell at them, “Seals! Go Away! I do not like wildlife!”

Shortly after that several dolphins popped up between Mike and I. I barely saw them, but Mike said that there were a bunch. Several seals continued to follow my kayak while I yelled insults at them.

To save time we stayed further out to sea than the day before and made more of a straight line down the coast. With the current at our backs, we made it in about an hour and a half. By the time I pulled up onto the beach in Two Harbors, my clothes had dried, but I was covered in a thick layer of dried salt. It was pretty weird. I pulled my stuff out of the kayak and everything was soaked (even though it had been inside of a trash compactor bag).

We had enough time before the bus that I unpacked everything onto a picnic table so that it could dry.

We also got lunch (Mike’s third hamburger during out camping trip. I had a corndog. That’s how we camp, you got a problem with that?) Also, and quite happily, I had a Jack and Coke at the bar.

The “Safari Bus” we took from Two Harbors to Avalon was basically an old Blue Bird school bus. It was hot and dusty, but we kept the windows open for the breeze. It was a bumpy ride (imagine going off-road in a school bus and that’s about it), but the roads out of town led up along the high ridgelines, so the views were beautiful.

(View from the bus window)

It took about an hour to get to the little Catalina airport, where we switched buses and rode down (another hour) into Avalon.

Arriving in Avalon was like rolling into the big city! Multi-story buildings! Golf Carts! More than one restaurant!

The bus let us off basically around the corner from our hotel.

(Your humble author after surviving two days of hiking, camping and kayaking)


Catalina #6

For this post, things to know:
- Avalon is not a good place for two straight guys to hang out.
- Not everything is a submarine.

The last part of the trip was blessedly calm and easy.

We checked into our hotel, The Glenmore Plaza. It is a cute old building but by no means is it luxurious. It is apparently the second oldest, continuously operating hotel in California, who knew?

But it had beds and a shower. The shower was one of the longest and most refreshing I have ever taken in my life. Not to mention that the hotel’s free body wash was some sort of spa-quality, vitamin enriched lemon zest thing that made me smell awesome (What? Stop being so metro Jamie? Okay, fine.)

Then we wandered around town. Avalon is cute, but terribly boring. The “Casino” (the big round building which was never actually a casino) is big and all Art Deco beautiful.

We ended up eating dinner at a place that looked like a total dive but had the best blackened salmon that I’ve ever eaten and our waitress was awesome.

I was really struck by how many happy couples there were wandering around Avalon and I realized what a nice little weekend getaway it would be. I was left to wonder then how many people looking at Mike and I assumed that we were on a romantic weekend getaway. I wanted to yell at people, “Our hotel room has TWO beds!” or “I just kayaked through a fricken’ hurricane!”

Right before we went out to dinner the news about Osama bin Laden broke. So we watched the press conference in the room. When we headed out to get dinner everybody was all abuzz about it. I saw more than one person running around wearing an American flag like a cape.

We wandered around some more after dinner and got a drink at a weird bar and listened to the Osama conspiracy theories begin. Then went back to the hotel. It was very nice to sleep in a bed.

The next day we went and had a very heavy, very greasy breakfast. Then we took a ride on one of those “undersea” tour boats. The boat was all made up to look like a submarine, but really the whole thing was just like the “submarine” ride at Disneyland. The boat doesn’t actually go under water, it just has a deep hull with windows so that you can look out. Mike and I were the only passengers on the thing, so the tour guide guy just sat with us rather than using the speaker system. It was very cool to be able to see the fish and kelp up close and I got a better idea of what I had been seeing under my kayak. When the boat stopped the fish would swim right up to the windows. See, the boat shoots out fish food and the fish know it, so they just wait there like hungry cats.

Then took place a lengthy semantic argument about what exactly constitutes a “submarine”. I was trying to make the point that the boat we were on was not actually a submarine because it did not have the ability to submerge and then come back up again. I also made the point that ALL boats are capable of submerging, and that that is called “sinking” and that it didn’t matter how much a boat looks like a submarine, because that does not make it a submarine.

Then we wandered around Avalon some more. To kill time we took a long walk out to the Catalina Botanical Gardens (because I love Botanical Gardens!) about two miles outside of town, but they were closed. So we just turned around and walked back.

Then we packed up and boarded the ferry back to San Pedro. As we left the island we could see the plume of smoke from a fire that broke out earlier that day on the backside of the island (I swear we had nothing to do with it). Up on the open deck of the ferry a huge wave blew over the side and hit me, completely soaking me. I think it was the ocean’s way of trying to kill me one last time.

And that, pretty much, was our trip and my first brush with outdoorsyness.

I have to say, there is a reason why our ancient ancestors invented the Hyatt. I’m just saying.

However, no I have all this awesome backpacking gear! So stay tuned for more adventures that I am shamefully under-prepared for.

And seriously, if you want to come next time, just shoot me an email. We would love guests on the show!


Parson's Landing Catalia, 2011

Some cool long exposure night shots Mike the Director did at our campsite.

Technical Perfection by james bezerra

Technical Perfection
by james bezerra

A poem: Haiku.
Haiku. Haiku. Haiku. Hai-
ku. Haiku. Haiku.


Countrymen by james bezerra

by james bezerra

I wish,
oh I wish
that Alfred Hitchcock
had made a movie about Winston Churchill.
And that in that Winston Churchill Movie -
made by Alfred Hitchcock -
Alfred Hitchcock would’ve
played Winston Churchill.

Because while I love Winston Churchill,
and movies made by Alfred Hitchcock,
when I try to imagine either man -
in my head -
I fear that I confuse them.

Both are black & white.
Both have English accents.
Both are rolli-polli round and pale.

And I know that I do them each a disrespect
by not remembering them better.
So if only Alfred Hitchcock had made
The Winston Churchill Movie, then perhaps
you would forgive me,
for confusing them so.

Or perhaps, if Winston Churchill had led
a nation comprised of only Aldred Hitchcocks,
then surely my confusion could be excused.

But what a strange history that would be.
Winston saying to his people, “We
will fight them on the beaches, we will fight them on the landing grounds …”
and when he says “we” what he means is Alfred Hitchcock.
Alfred Hitchcock in a Spitfire over London. Alfred Hitchcock evacuating from Dunkirk. Alfred Hitchcock doing battle in the desert with Rommel. Alfred Hitchcock breaking Enigma. Alfred Hitchcock rationing gas. Alfred Hitchcock keeping calm and carrying on. Alfred Hitchcocks pulling, from the buzz bomb rubble of London, the bodies of other Alfred Hitchcocks.

What an odd world it would have been, if every Briton had been an Alfred Hitchcock.
Every Briton, of course, but Winston Churchill, who looks pretty much that way anyway.

So if only either of those scenarios had been true,
then I might have a good excuse
for confusing these men in
the way that I do.


The Ocean is Trying to Kill Me by james bezerra

The Ocean is Trying to Kill Me
by james bezerra

The Ocean is trying to kill me.
Surely it put a price on my head.

Crabs laid siege to my sand castles.
Seals stole my swim trunks.
Sharks took chunks out of my canoe.
Lobsters pinched my blisters.
Starfish hurt my feelings.
Otters tried to poison my pasta.
Jellyfish tried to burn down my house.
A bunch of kelp tried to frame me for tax evasion.
A school of Tuna mailed me a bomb.

I’m not kidding.

Sperm whales got nabbed by the FBI while trying to hire a hit man.
Swordfish blew out the pilot light in my kitchen.
Mackerel cut by brake lines.
I caught an orca digging a pit in my yard. Pointy sticks lay by his side.

It was getting out of control.

So I moved to Arizona, but
then it began to rain krill.
Prawns crawled up my plumbing.
Sea bass tried to kick my ass.
Sea cucumbers filled up my tub with hairdryers. How did they get so many hairdryers?
Sea Lions fired mortars at my home.

I don’t know why this is happening!
Could it be that albatross I ate?


The Eternal Mysteries of the Ways in which we choose to Name Things by james bezerra

The Eternal Mysteries of the Ways in which we choose to Name Things
by james bezerra

Cheesecake; not really
cake nor cheese. But still quite good-
tasting in my mouth.