Thursday, November 30, 2006

Rock Star: Martin's Closet: Episode 3

After last month's episode we were contacted by the ACLU and notified that singling out particular shirts and noting their country of origin was in fact discrimination. We have sent our apologies to those that were sent home already but reminded them, "you didn't look good in the closet anyhow." With that little bit of nastiness behind us we move on to our 5 remaining contestants. Our contestants have been promised a second-chance photo shoot but the time in negotiations with the ACLU pushed that back until our next episode. When our contestants complained, we told them that two of them were leaving the closet this week... never to return. (We can be stern around here.) Now a reminder of our contestants:

Contestant 1: This is our only short sleeved contestant (we are not discriminating here so please no more lawsuits.) Might look good over a t-shirt.

Contestant 2: This one has been the most flashy even though the stripes might make Martin look wider than he is. Escaped a few vote offs so far.

Contestant 4: A little plain (even though it has that little emblem on the left chest) but hasn't been picking up many votes to go so far.

Contestant 5: This one's checkered past may be catching up with it. If only it matched with something.

Contestant 6: Still a little blue, no collar and a diagonal pocket.

Anyhow, as I said earlier, two of these contestants go home this week. So vote like normal (which one really doesn't deserve to be in the closet) and thank you for participating.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Definitive "Later"

I recently got a call from my friend Heidi. Essentially, she wanted the man's definition of the word "later." Although I think this falls into that Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus book, I tried to answer.

Unless it deals with business, men can be very vague. When someone says, "catch you later," it means that they will see you when they see you (with no time constraint.) That is quite different from "see you later" which can mean goodbye and good riddance or again an open time frame for when they will see you but they definitely will. Yes, we have phrases that mean entirely opposite things but aren't meant to be deceiving. Men just avoid the stress of "That's right, I promised Dan that I'd call him." Men don't promise to call each other and don't get upset if someone doesn't call unless it's Dominoes and their pizza is going over the 30 minute mark.

Does this mean all women are like this? No. It just means that jumping to conclusions doesn't help your case if you are waiting for a guy's call and he told you "I'll call you later." Anytime after that call is later. If he had something important to call you back about, he would have said, "I'll call you later tonight" or "I'll call you later tomorrow." Men don't offer those extra words if it's not urgent because the don't like wasting words or pinning themselves down to a time-frame where they may forget to make a call. What this generally messes up for women is when they are trying to figure out the depth and level of a relationship. How many days is waiting too long for later? This can drive a woman batty as they then wonder if they should call that man instead of waiting for 'later'. For some reason, it reminds me of Jon Favreau in Swingers.

I just think later without any dressing is a blanket word for sometime. Personally, I don't enjoy phone conversations all that much and would never pin myself to being near a phone or having to use one unless it was important. That usually is when I throw in the determiners like tomorrow, tonight, in the morning, on Tuesday and many more. Is it worth stressing out when someone doesn't determine the time-frame of their next conversation with you? Not really. What is more important is the quality of that single conversation if you paced the floor for a week waiting for it as it most likely won't meet expectations.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thoughts On Racism

I admit that I was pretty startled when I first heard about Michael Richards recent implosion on the Laugh Factory stage when reacting to hecklers. I've never been a big fan of Seinfeld but I had held Richards in high regard since the release of UHF. Anyhow, the whole issue reminded me of something and I thought that I'd share it.

I grew up with very little racial bias and I look at it as being colorblind. I still remember how I met John Moy while attending Las Vegas Day School. Another student was trying to throw rocks at him and my entering the area near the jungle gym ended the assault. Moy was of Asian-descent. I always looked up to him when it came to test scores and his ability to hit a 3-pointer. It was at the same school that I met Princess Kirkland. She was a beautiful black girl that hopefully went on to modeling later in her life. I think about her often when I drive by where her house was. I tie my memories of Taco's "Puttin' On The Ritz" and Asia's "Don't Cry" to a swimming pool birthday party at her house. Life was pretty simple, people were what I believed them to be... people.

Just a few years later, I had moved on to Hyde Park Jr. High. I still had one or two friends from L.V.D.S. going there but not that many. But, I'd made several others including Jonathan MacArthur - who was black. He was very energetic but just seemed to be a magnet for trouble. In retrospect, I think he had A.D.D. as he did have some manic episodes (one included turning on the hose in our front yard and spraying down the house because I told him he had to leave.) We had a common interest in cartoons (although, I couldn't get his interest in Inspector Gadget.) Jon wound up getting the nickname Dig 'Em from our science teacher. The same science teacher that would forever make me question my cultural sensitivity.

Mr. Smith was a big black gentleman that always wore his lab coat in class. During one of our tests he added an extra-credit question: What racial group has the highest percent of A.I.D.S. affliction? I knew the answer but didn't. You see, I'd never really described my friends at this point in my life as black, white, Asian, Hispanic, etc. Even the word "black" at that point in time for me seemed imposing and negative. I hadn't heard the phrase African-American yet and the word "colored" (which I'd heard on TV here and there) seemed less bold to me. Boy, was I wrong! It was the first time that I'd ever been lectured by someone on race as he personally took offense to the word and pointed out that anyone that wasn't white was colored.

Suddenly, I went from thinking everyone was the same to thinking that everyone had words they wanted used to be described. I questioned my overall approach to people in general. I became over-sensitive in what I say while knowing that my being unsure of what word to use made me choose something that I thought was sensitive. That moment hasn't stop me from gaining some great friendships as I still enjoy people for who they are and not what they are. I guess this could be why I was uneasy with the Michael Richards tirade but felt a little bit better after reading something reported at New York Daily News attributed to his friend and fellow comedian George Wallace - who is black - when asked about his reaction to the incident: "It's about time someone told those Negroes to shut up."

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving 2006

Here's wishing you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving.
You happen to be on my list of things that I'm thankful for.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Have to put something happier up here. On Sunday, I went with my father to see an early version of Clint Holmes' new musical Breathe! My father has been a friend of Holmes for awhile as the singer plays tennis and is involved in some of the same charity work. I went with my mind open as I really don't know much of his work (as his recording career skips the 1980s) but knew that he was making an abrupt detour from his performances on the Las Vegas Strip.

It was a small venue where the third and last preview of this musical was shown. There were few frills on the stage as we are told by a narrator of the stage setting during scene changes... pretty much it was about 6 chairs in an arc open toward the audience. I have to say that the music (especially the first 4 songs) was fantastic. All original tunes that hit heart strings and continued pushing the story about the life of this title character played by Mr. Holmes.

Essentially, a man grows up in a multi-racial family (much of this is true of Holmes' upbringing) unsure of which world he belonged in but found an escape in music. Racial issues play a big role in this film as his father mentions the three things that can't be changed: death, taxes and the color of your skin. Meanwhile, the family relationships take center stage as he deals with his inability to understand his father, mother, sister, wife and son. A lot of the wife and son issue is reminiscent of "Cats In The Cradle" as he has been so focused on his career and keeping money coming in that he hardly knows his family.

I'm not going to ruin too much of this show but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised as the performances were well above expectations. The woman playing his mother had an unbelievable voice. Yes, the story has some elements of "Comfortable Shoes" (a one-man play he also starred in) but the terrific casting, great music and a bold approach to telling many stories at once makes this a Broadway-hopeful worth taking the time to see. I actually had to pause, look over at my own father, see the connections on our relationship and consider the closeness I have with the rest of my family. I can only hope that the writing continues (as many scenes weren't finished yet) and this musical gets out there to affect the masses.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Being The Helping Hand

I've always believed that the best way to help someone out of a bad situation is to make myself available to assist them. Sure there are government agencies and other sources of help for people out there (that usually get paid with tax dollars) but I think showing how far you are willing to give with your friendship is important.

Last year around this same time, I had a co-worker living with me that was working on rebuilding his life after problems with gambling and drinking. That day-to-day contact is pretty important as you drive to work together and find time to communicate positive thoughts. He is doing great since last year as he has purchased his own house and found a purpose in life. To this day, when I see him (I have a totally different shift than him now) he smiles and points me out to his friends and family as the person that helped him turn his life around (which I deny.)

Several weeks ago, I received a call from a friend of mine (who will remain nameless and be here-to-fore called 'my friend') that had fallen on hard times. She told me that after a drug problem in the family (her daughter and soon-to-be son-in-law), having her car break down when her job depended on it (meaning she lost the job delivering newspapers) and several financial mishaps (including not paying auto insurance when you have an SR-22 even if you don't currently have a car which she didn't have the money to pay the fine... so she went to jail for a month) that she was just trying to stay in town long enough for her probation to end (which I found out later meant that she had a problem several years ago with prescription pain medication and lost her nursing job because of it) so she could leave Las Vegas and move back to New Mexico where her family is to start her life over in a new environment.

I thought long and hard about helping her out. Sure, things went great with my other friend and I would hate to see this person out on the street in a worse situation but didn't also want to impose on Kerry when she comes over. My friend was staying at the notorious Blue Angel Motel downtown (well-known retreat for the downtrodden and insects) and was alright for the moment. She then found a place to stay when she couldn't pay for the weekly rates there. She had stayed in contact with someone she met in jail and felt she was in a similar situation with. After calling her house a few times, her friend's husband had heard about her dilemma and offered her use of the converted garage. Well, it seems her jail-friend had been in mandatory rehab and left early because she missed her kids. This didn't make the situation good for my friend but she made do. That was until a new situation arose that made her immediate retreat eminent.

Essentially, an ex-boyfriend came to visit her at her friend's house and the two got intimate [granted, this is what I'm hearing from my friend.] Coitus interruptus occured when her jail-friend entered the room. My friend followed her out of the room (with a robe on, I suppose) to talk to her. Anyhow, the night ended with not much more sensation. I wind up getting a call from my friend that she needed to get out of the house at that time. Not knowing much of the situation but wanting to help, went and picked her up. She proceeds to tell me that her jail-friend (who has a probation officer searching for her) had been going next door to get Meth. I also find out that her jail-friend has been obtaining things illegally online. This just so happens to come into play a few days later when the ex-boyfriend tells her that his credit card has been used to purchase some things on-line (coming to about $2,000 or so) and that he was missing $150 from his wallet. My friend claimed that it had to happen when her jail-friend entered the room and their clothes were on the floor. He blamed her and had threatened to turn her in to her probation officer over the ordeal. This would later get dropped as the next few days passed. Anyhow, for a person trying to keep out of trouble, I knew that wasn't the place for her to be.

Anyhow, my friend had planned to meet with her probation officer (either him coming by the house or her going to his office) and then leaving town on a bus on Wednesday night. During her stay, I picked up some food and other items she'd need and gave her some money just incase she needed anything. She decides to pay me back by cleaning the house (the second bedroom, second bath, kitchen and my bathroom) at which she did an amazing job. I then took her to the probation officer's office on Wednesday and killed time nearby at a store and Mexican restaurant until she was finished. The car was packed with her stuff for the train ride. She was upset when she came back as he still wanted to see where she was living. This meant a delay in her move (as she planned to come back if he called.) I told her that it was only time and that it didn't matter. An issue with her cellphone bill had come up and I told her that if she wanted to, she could paint my front door (which is a task that I've put off forever) and maybe come up with a few other little things for her to do with the money going to her phone bill. The phone got canceled anyhow but she did paint the door, then another door, another door, the walls around the door...

On Tuesday morning, I was awoken with a phone call. It was my credit card company asking me if I'd made some big purchases in the last few days. That was when deja vu hit me. It seems that the card in my wallet expired and the new card may have been amongst the many pieces of mail that were strewn across my kitchen counter. I received several calls that day. Many of them were asking about purchases that I made. It seems that after the card was registered on Saturday someone tried to open accounts with Discover and Dell as well as send thousands of dollars via Western Union, purchase tickets for Justin Timberlake and Queensryche, purchase shoes, buy gas... pretty much spend on anything possible. I've been reassured by my creditors that they are looking into the purchases and that I'm not liable for them. As I left the house that day, I was wary of leaving her there alone so I talked to my neighbors who kept an eye on the house.

I received a call that night at work that my friend had left the house (she didn't have a key so that meant she left the house unlocked) to walk down the block. My neighbor's brother hopped in his car and followed her. He saw her hop in someone's car for a few moments, hop back out and return to the house... expecting it was a drug deal. So... having more time to mull this over, I was pretty calm about it. I went to sleep knowing that I had to send her packing yesterday morning.

She was doing a final coat of paint on the front door when I talked to her. My friend had no shock in her eyes but denied she had anything to do with it. I didn't mention to her the $20 that I thought was missing from my wallet during the first few days of her stay (I tend to put everything on that kitchen counter) and I didn't tell her that I knew she'd been in my room on my computer (the printer was left on one day with a CD cover printed... it wasn't there the next day.) I packed her things and took her back to her jail-friend's house a few hours later. I slept well last night until the first of the new calls came in about new charges on new accounts.

So, is there a moral to this long tedious story? Yes, I'm only out some money that I spent to help her out and the time involved to clean up the credit problems. Had I had small expensive items like jewelry... I may not have been so lucky. I believe that I'd do it again if a friend was in need but I think that I'd want to sit down and learn everything about what got them to where they are now. I see life in the glass half-empty/half-full scenario and know there are times when you are standing in shallow water at the bottom of the glass. There is always water in the glass if you are still alive and a little more if you aren't in jail or on the streets. I will always hope to add water to your glass as I've been in shallow water before and am thankful now for being closer to the rim. Here's hoping the helping hand in your next act of kindness isn't bitten.


What do you think could change in less than 12 hours? A note was posted on my door stating that: "Mr. Night UPS driver. Please leave the items under the bench. Please do not knock." Essentially... my friend planned to come back for an item that must be special. I wasn't expected to see it as I usually leave through the garage and hardly use the front door. Well, two items charged on one of my cards from an adult Web site showed up. I placed them aside in my bedroom, notified my neighbor as well as the company and drove to work. I returned home to find my door to the garage was dead-bolted from the inside... which I couldn't have done. I then headed to the front door. The bottom knob was unlocked but the deadbolt was on. I cautiously entered the house and put my work items aside. The back door was unlocked (which I double-checked with the front door before leaving) and the screen door was open. I was now a bit jittery (I drank a RockStar energy drink with a late dinner which doesn't help) as I returned to the bedroom. One of the two items was missing as was the letter that was on the door earlier that morning. Needless to say home security has moved up on my priorities. The police were called and they did all that they can do for now but it does amaze me what people might do for sex toys.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

How Many Of Me?

Decided to post a bit more useless fluff today as there is a bigger post on the horizon. So, I recently stumbled upon this:
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

I've always had name issues but over the last decade I've become more and more happy with being who I am. I remember my worry that there was a composer out there with my name (even though my dad shares my name also) so I rushed out and registered it as a domain to assert my authority. Hence, was created. Now, I find out that I kept it from a total of 7 people.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Classically Martin: Guadalcanal Diary's Always Saturday

It looks like this will be a monthly feature as well as our current reality-blog series Rock Star: Martin's Closet. My quest to bring you some of my favorite songs (no more than one by each artist) hits the beautiful "Always Saturday" by Guadalcanal Diary. I actually remember seeing the video for this one on MTV as I had taped an episode of 120 Minutes which also had videos for The Proclaimer's "I'm On My Way" and The Outfield's "Voices Of Babylon."

It could be that the video had a major effect on me as it showed a man going out to water his lawn on a sunny day (probably a Saturday) while the band sit back on their lawn watching. Slowly the ground begins to crack where he is watering... and out pops a smiling woman. She joins the man (having cleaned up) in watering the lawn as a young boy and little girl slowly grow from the ground. As the day comes to a close, the wife and kids suddenly have dirt on them again and return to the ground smiling. A lot can be read into this but I found it profound, painful and pretty.

Here's the song. Just click the play button on the player. You'll see it when you put your mouse over the icon. (Trying something different than CastPost this time.)

P.S. - These songs will be removed shortly as I in no way wish to infringe on the rights of the artist.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

This Election Was A Referendum... On Something

In the wake of the 2006 election, one thing is clear... everyone wants to go home a winner. The most common response as to why the Democrats picked up so many seats has been that it was a referendum on the war in Iraq although it seems that everyone else is jumping in with perceived notions that the election results were voters lashing out at: the Bush presidency, GOP culture of corruption, Wal-Mart's political agenda, national character, those unfriendly to the 2nd amendment, those against civil liberties/freedom, anti-gay candidates, Donald Rumsfeld, non-comprehensive immigration reform and many many more. I guess when something is lying dead in the middle of the road and more than one person ran over it with their car... conjecture will happen over which vehicle 'really' killed it. Heck, some people even note an election trend in abandoning the political party of the sitting President during their sixth year in office.

I don't find the results astounding as neither party holds a 'supermajority' and they will have to pass legislation that only Democrats, Republicans and a few Independents can swallow. This is a good thing. What I did find amazing about the 2006 mid-term election: voter turn-out was over 40% with more than 79 million people voting. If true, this would be the first non-presidential election with a showing of over 40% since 1970.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Halloween 2006

I think that I needed to refuel my imagination this year. Sure, I had some grisly ideas of what kind of dead body to leave on the porch but something didn't feel right about it. So, I took Kerry, Dave (Obi-wan Kenobi) and his cousins Jacob (football player with basket on his head) and Mackenzie (Dora The Explorer without the wig) out for a round of trick-or-treating. Here's a picture of them in front of their grandmother's house.

During the rounds, we stopped by my friends Mike and Kim's (also a great excuse to see their daughter Alyssa Rose.) Amazing how big she's getting and yes, that is really really red hair. There is a reason why they call her the redhead tornado around their house.

Prior to going out with the kids, Kerry and I stopped in to see Teri and give you a better understanding of why she hasn't posted in a very long time. She has her own Jacob and he is a very calm baby. You can't see it too clearly but Teri also has a little Halloween decoration on her shirt as she was silently getting ready for the holiday (I guess he was just 10 days old at this time.)

Overall, I had a great time and saw a few houses that gave me ideas for next year as it will be scarier than anything I've ever done. I just need to purchase and dye a bunch of bedsheets.