Troy Kirby

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Experiencing Life to help your writing

Vacation is something you have to do sometimes. I never really get into the spirit of it, until I'm on the plane. It's weird, because I don't really think in advance that I am going. But I get fend up with things, need a break, and just go.

I did that last year when I went to New York. I had never been, and wasn't considering it until I decided to attend a conference. After I got on the plane and had a six hour ride with a connection to Minneapolis, I arrived in New York and just felt that it was best to look around. With seven days in The Big Apple, I saw just about everything. Went everywhere. Did a lot of things which ended up exploring myself, who I am as a person.

It's interesting to feel that your vacation has turned into an internal perspective.

I ended up going to Chicago on a whim a few weeks later for a shorter vacation. It was fun also, because it was something I had never considered before.

This year, Vegas is the plan. Yes, I've been before, but this should be fun. I don't think the wolf pack will be back (i.e. The Hangover) but at least, I should be able to commit 5 felonies and 13 misdemeanors. HA!

These experiences make my writing interesting, because I met so many characters, have incidences which change me, and are something that keeps everything fresh.

I would encourage it to any writer who wants to keep their writing fresh. Be something other than that person you are 51 weeks out of the year, do a week where you can be anyone and everyone.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When Players Decide To Get It Right

I was reading an article on the NBA. It had to do with the players filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board about the way that the NBA has treated its players, violating the CBA with its draconian methods of bypassing the player's organization. I find it interesting how the players only decide to go on strike before or after a season. But, if they were smart, wouldn't they decide to go on strike during the season?

Right now is the highest point of interest in the NBA. During the playoffs. There are currently four teams involved in the quest for a championship. In a week, there will be two. That means there are 30 total players that you would have to convince of what I am suggesting. It doesn't take much to get 30 total players to do the same thing, especially if the owners are going to do it to those 30 players, plus 400 more, in about 3 weeks after the NBA season is over.

My suggestion: Have those players from two teams, 30 total players, perform a walk-out during Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

That's right. If they don't show up, with fans in the seats, owners sitting back waiting to collect paychecks, it will have an immediate affect on the bottom line.

Imagine how effective that would be. The players would be in the driver's seat. If the NBA wants its Finals played, its games in which the championship is decided (and the most money is made via television and rights, etc), then they had better get in a room and negotiate a deal with the players.

Maybe I'm tipping my hand at my employment, but I see the bottom line here. The owners overspend, then expect the players to make up the difference. No one but the team decided that Kwame Brown was a good asset. Same with some of the bench guys earning $5 million cap exception deals.

That is the problem. The players are playing into the owners hands by playing. Just don't play, see how much money they make.

The NFL players had the same advantage. Just don't play the SuperBowl, see how long it takes the NFL to come back to the table. Instead, they played the game, expecting a different outcome from the owners. And that ain't happening, is it?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Way of the Gun

Americans love the way of the gun. I saw this website and thought I would share. I’ve never fired a gun myself, but I enjoy watching raw power explode. Some of this stuff is double-exciting because it shows how easy it is to destroy something with a firearm.

Of course, these are Russians firing weapons, which reminds me of the worries everyone had about the Soviets in the 1980s.
This is the raw power of a great shotgun.
 The explosion caused by an AK-47.

And the ACR assault rifle.

Sure, this is violent and loud. But as long as no one gets hurt, no reason you can't enjoy the ride.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The first battle with age

I've been considering shaving my head because my hair appears in full retreat. Yes, that is a comic bit from someone else (likely) but it is true, my hair is not what it used to be. I tried combing it every way but back today which was useless. My hair loves being combed back. I've done it since I was a kid. Mainly because it was easy to manage.

It's easy to manage now, since its starting to thin.

Part of age, I guess. But still, it reminds me of how short life has been from youth to adulthood to middle age.

It's also interesting how the women I am interested in change. While a 23-year-old girl may be what most men desire, frankly, every conversation I've had with one bores me. Look, I understand that with a 23-year-old woman, you are likely not to be talking a lot.

Maybe that's the sign of middle age. Where you look forward to learning about someone more than about their physical attributes.

Every women I've met, I ask myself what I can learn from this person. Whether or not she would bore me in two, maybe three months, let alone a year or two.

Some people don't look for that in person. But I'm one of those people who wants to know a person. Inside and out, because it's important for me to understand who they are. Especially after the physical attributes fail, and my hair is all gone.

The hair thing shouldn't be happening. Much like the gut that I do nothing about. It shouldn't be happening because when I was young, I could grow tons of hair and eat whatever I wanted. Now, I have to manage both as if they are a bunch of drunken 2-year-olds.

You don't know where they are going. Except that it doesn't appear good long term.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Noir and reality of detective commercials

I've been a playing a lot of L.A. Noire on XBOX 360.

It holds a lot of the images that people collectively have of the late 1940s, especially the L.A. Noir which was developed in pulp magazines, books and film. James Ellroy holds the key to this revival. And the video game actually plays homage to the author and the crime by creating the entire game around the 1947 death of Elizabeth Short murder (The Black Dahlia).

Regardless of how the history actually played out, this is the type of image we hold dear.

Which leads me to a question: Are we portraying history in actual terms or how we wished it would have played out?

You see tough cops in fedoras, marching with a keen sidearm, a notebook and the idea that every case is solvable. Every ethnic group has specifics to them, especially the Irish captain and the way the squint of a detective's eyes hones in on the truth.

But we know now there were a lot of people railroaded from that era. Suspects confessed or had it beaten out of them. Evidence was tampered with, misread or never found. And assumptions were made. Clearance rates were as important, but less publicized, during that era. Investigative skills, interview tactics and other scientific measures were not as good as they are now.

Does this mean that they were in the dark ages in terms of detective work?

Hardly. This stuff goes on to this day. In some ways, the cops of the 1940s may have developed a case more now with the advancements of blood, semen and D.N.A.

Our scientific advancements may have helped us. But it may have made us lazy as a society. Anything has the possibility of being fakes, misread, tampered (purposefully or not), and it all comes down to a confession, sometimes, anyway.

The detectives of that era are romanticized since they dealt with a short-term decay. The idea that there was one crazy out there, in a world that was being rebuild after World War II with the hopes and dreams of a utopian society which never existed (and could never exist). Now, people expect their scandals. The rarity of someone fighting the system, exposing corruption, within the police force or city hall, has been removed.

Every other day is a scandal of sometime. Communication is rampant. The criminals know the tactics of a police investigation. It's difficult to use the tactics of the 1940s police work now, as those who are guilty now know what every investigator is looking for.

Noir detective stories also play into our suggestion that something can be solved within a few days, hours, minutes. There are always clues around. There are people who are suspects, who give themselves away if you ask the tough questions. The evidence always leads to someone.

That's the farce of criminal detective work in a fictional story.

Sometimes, nothing adds up. The bad guys do get away with it. Those who are suspects can be made to be guilty, confess even if they didn't do it, and the crime can be unsolved forever.

Zodiac (2007) is a perfect film about obsession, how an investigation can stall, have few answers even with a suspect or two, how leads can go dead, be garbage from the start, and how everything might be a MacGuffin.

One of my favorite examples of this is Homicide: Life on the Street (1995-00) which was a television series on NBC. The murder of Adena Watson, a case which haunts Det. Tim Bayliss throughout the series. Risley Tucker, the main suspect, was once in the interview room for 12-hours, but never truly confessed. He appeared guilty as hell, but there wasn't enough evidence for a D.A. Not only that, but Tucker dies in the fourth season. The case continues on, Bayliss keeps it back of his mind, and learns of a 1932 child murder similar to his which was never solved. That gives perspective that sometimes, evil does exist and does get away with it. To my knowledge, the series, nor the TV film afterward, ever solved the murder.

It's funny, but I think of Adena Watson sometimes. In terms of wondering what exactly happened. I was a fan of the show, and it stayed with me. I've read articles which said that NBC executives wanted the murder solved and the show producers kept delaying, saying that they would in a few episodes and never did on purpose. That's really police work, to continue on long after the leads are cold, the story is no longer fresh, and the idea that sometimes, the murderer stays free because there wasn't enough of those damn clues that any good detective pulp novel leaves behind in order to keep the reader's interest.

The Black Dahlia case had thousands of interviews. Hundreds of suspects. Fifty people confessed to the murder. The Black Dahlia prime suspect named in early 1980s was Jack Anderson Wilson, who was the prime suspect in the Cleveland Torso Murders in the mid-1940s. Wilson had never been a suspect until he was interviewed by a book author, John Gilmore, who wrote Severed. L.A.P.D. Detective John St. John told the newspapers that he was "closing in" on Wilson, who would die in an apartment fire in 1982.

The reason for expectations on The Black Dahlia case were the constant media sensation of the William Randolph Heart papers (trust me, they were worse than TruTv and make Nancy Grace look like a puppy). It was also the largest case since 1927.

All of these factors play into murder cases. And this is coming from a layman. I have no inside knowledge which would tell me otherwise. But still, sometimes we suggest how things were "different" back then. But that has more to do with the way we view history.

The younger we are, the less hardened we tend to be. And as we grow, we start to know more. Too much, in some sense.

I'm thirty-five and starting to think that the 1980s were an innocent time compared to now. But I have to catch myself. Because I used to hear how horrible the 1990s were by adults who remembered how cool the 1970s were. It's the 20-year itch. A lot of remembering the way we never were. Because fiction is a lot easier to deal with than the reality of the situation.

Ask those who expected The Black Dahlia murder to the be solved a week after it happened. Because if Sam Spade had been investigating it, the case would have been, right?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Conversations Conveying Information

Conversation is not an art. It is pieces of information segmented together, hopefully with a little more sense even though it does not have the benefit of being an edited sentences. Much like my blog posts. Huh? Ain't that a kick? Now, I'm making fun of myself which doing a blog about writing.

People who talk rarely make grammatical sentences. And as they speak, they develop a specific code that some can follow, others can't. That is the way of the world. That's why some have the gift of gab, while others just talk and never get to the point.

I had a brief conversation with two people that appeared as if it had a lot of information between the three of us which was conveyed, but it was hard to ascertain what the final outcome was.

Most of it was the environment. We were in a loud bar. There were things going on. Plus, it was hard to know whether each of us should share too much of what we said. It might gets us in a little trouble.

Not enough trouble to be career-threatening. But still, you don't hear every exact thing someone says, even when they say it in a quiet place.

Sometimes people talk very fast, or are boring enough that don't listen.

I hate going out to dinner with someone. Right when some important information is shared, some waiter comes up and interrupts the conversation. By the way, when did that become part of the American server model? Shouldn't you wait until the conversation is lighter between the two people at a table? I would think that would result in a larger tip.

I had a habit of talking over people. My friends hate it, but when you grow up with multiple family members all fighting to speak, you tend to do it.

Plus, some people keep talking and babble.

Yes, I'm talking about you. I write a lot of babble. So, there, it's both of us.

Funny story that happened recently regarding conversation.

At a all-night fast food drive-thru, talking into a speaker system to a faceless guy at a place that rhymes with Jack-In-The-Box, I tried to order extra cheese for my friend who wanted them on his curly fries. The guy on the PA didn't respond. I repeated the extra cheese order. Again, no response. I said it a third time, he said, "I can't put cheese in your drink, dude."

At this point, my friend didn't want his food. He figured it would be spit in. It's not my fault that this guy's G.E.D. was a photoshop fake print-out so he could fulfill a lifelong ambition of working a kitchen grill in the fast food arts. Yes, I was that pissed.

And my friend got soggy tacos that he refused to eat, fed to his dog. Yes, dogs eat anything.

The point is; regardless of what I said, or he heard, the communication breakdown that we had is common enough. Especially when you cannot see the other person to recognize their reactions.

If you look at films, or books, characters always get the correct amount of information from each other regardless if they see each other. I know several times in which I have conveyed an annoyed or tense reaction over the phone, but in reality, I was avoiding running into someone while I paced back and forth with a cell phone. By the way, I've found that I walk more while on the cell phone. Because the rest of my body needs something to do.

So, in terms of dialogue, is it realistic to have two characters talk on a cell phone, send and receive the correct amount of information?

I screw up information all of the time. Screw up e-mail addresses (even when the person is talking right in front of me).

I don't even want to get into my ability to receive directions correctly. Had I not found map quest and internet, I would still be driving around Stevens County on abandon dirt roads with no telephone cable, tall evergreen trees and no sign that anyone had stepped foot in the area for thirty years.

Sports is where communication can be both intuitive and conveyed through verbal skills.

Phil Jackson knows what to say and what not to say. And he gets his point across.

That's why I'm unsure about Erik Spoelstra's coaching of the Miami Heat right now. He seems to convey some of the basketball plays and skills, but tends to overtalk in timeouts which may cause his players to stop listening.

I tend to listen to how people converse with each other. It allows me to hear how people REALLY talk. It doesn't show me where or not each party receives the information correctly, but gives me some detail on who the people are when they speak. And few, if any, speak grammatically. That includes English professors, who tend to butcher the English language when they speak worse than a eighth grade drop-out.

Person 1: "You work in accounting? In a cubicle? You're nuts."
Person 2: "Hey, living the dream, you know?"
Person 1: "Since high school? That's as far as you got?"
Person 2: "Didn't know there was a pop quiz at whose guidance counselor was drinking on the job."

This is a conversation I overhead tonight in the bar. Funny, but not something that you might see in a book. Why? Because writers tend to form grammatically correct sentences. Because it is what editors and readers expect of them.

I wonder if we have higher expectations for ourselves than the reality suggests.

The End of the World As We Guess It

This blog entry comes late with good reason.

I had a long time to contemplate something. If the end of the world happens tomorrow, I'm giving up my check for rent until Monday or later. Screw it, why should they get the cash if it ain't going to a good cause.

A lot of people hold the future as destructive. Few are lucky enough to guess that it will be utopian. It's a strange world we live in that you can never with happiness. Especially as a global issue.

The world is fine. I read it once in USA Today.

That's more of a joke than you think. Because as Homer Simpson says, "USA Today is the one paper not afraid to tell us that everything's okay."

And in a way, it's that a pessimism that we as humans have? That nothing can be alright?

What if that's the case? What if we are dooming ourselves into a misery that doesn't exist except that we keep advocating or expecting it?

We should be attempting to develop some type of happiness. Promoting that "everything is okay."

Instead everyone is giving credence to the prediction that the end of the world is happening quick. Apparently it is May 21 at noon, which means the Triple Crown in horse racing is lost and the Vancouver Canucks will not win a Stanley Cup... ever.

The Canucks maybe won't win a Stanley Cup, but assuming that anything short of a mass destruction of everything makes the quest impossible... I don't agree.

By the way, one of the frustrating things about The Terminator series is the future. Everyone lives in tunnels, there are machines hunting humans, and children are still being born? Really? Isn't it hard enough to hide out from killer robots sans children? And if there is little food, it would appear less likely that someone would want to bring children into this world. Forget the fact that you are bringing your children into robot death camps.

I doubt many children were born in such situations. The baby boom happened AFTER World War II, not during it.

See, I'm even guilty of a negative view of the future. Who knows, maybe it's the best way to raise children in the future: Without Baby Einstein tapes and with killer robots hunting them down like dogs.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Just Have Fun, Money Is Secondary

Thinking BIG is something that people don’t do enough of. They think small by thinking large (if that makes any sense at all). You can think BIG but you need the details of how to develop what it is you are going to do. Having a plan is a first step in that process and understand that most businesses do not make money their first few years.

That’s one of the things I’ve constantly been hearing from friends. There’s no money in it (whatever industry “it” is).

My response: There’s not INSTANT money in it.

Everything takes time.

Example: My friend in Seattle owns a bar. He put up $100k, his brother put up $100k, they borrowed $50k from the bank.

Because the bar is busy, everyone keeps telling him that he needs to franchise, expand. Open up another place. But here’s the skinny: He’s not making money on it yet. They’ve gotten about $200k out of the business in a year and a half, but still owe the bank the $50k from their loan.

No one sees that. They see INSTANT success. Either yes or no. Either you made it or you didn’t.

Maybe it takes 5-10 years to be successful at something. Why not just try it, continue to work at it.

Here’s a quick story about a woman I know. I think the world of her. I always will. But she had a habit of quitting things, not doing things, because she wasn’t INSTANTLY making cash at it. Even though making money at something wasn’t the point. Even though she didn’t need the money anyway in order to exist. But she figured the only way to develop any idea that what she was doing was worth anything was to generate capital for it.

My thought: You should do it if you have time, you want to make the time, it hurts no one, and it makes you happy.

Worrying about anything else is ridiculous.

Besides, what are you doing with your time anyway if not doing something that you love?

I would hate to think that aside from food, sleep and shelter there is anything stopping you for having fun with your life.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Characters, both badass and mute

I got this character in mind, but no story to put him in. It's frustrating to see what I believe is a great character go to waste, but I understand the alternative.

Writers sometimes place characters in stories that don't fit, and I wonder if its because the character was so damn remarkable that they just had to use it somewhere. The film Hesher comes to mind. As if the Heavy Metal jerk was dropped from space on a whim, with no understand or reasoning for why he was there. That's the moral of the story when it comes to writing. Sometimes, those great characters have no walls to surround them, no universe to exist in.

There must be people in real life who feel that way. As if they were written into a story, but really, they are afterthoughts in character development. You see people who question why they are here. What they are doing. Well, that goes without saying that if you exist without a reason, without a function, it can probably be very boring for you.

I call this my "John Doe' theory of real life people.

Sure, these people exist, but even they don't know as to why. Those people who don't have any interest in knowledge, feeling, purpose, being. They merely go through the plot of the story and aren't even curious as to what the ending might be. In some cases, you meet these people and you can't begin to understand how they lasted that long.

Ask them about their interests. It's always vague, to the moment, nothing which holds more than a few thoughts.

Ask about their goals. Again, vague and elusive.

While I understand that everyone doesn't have the answers in life, I would hope that some of the people would attempt to discover a few of them before their lives are over. A lot of people have become characters that resemble Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt. It's only after they've done exactly what they were told through the years do they sit back and ask what the hell they did.

Apparently, people can and do function that way. I have no idea how. Life would appear pretty boring. And most of the people who the above statement mentions are just that. Boring.

The last thing that I ever want to be is completely boring to another person. I mean that. It holds that I don't have enough thought to contain or entertain this person for less than a few moments before they tire of me. And really, what is that?

This guy walks up to me this afternoon. He doesn't really say much, but mentions in vague terms everything he does. But it appears less interesting than it should be. Especially when I find out he works in New Mexico with tribal childhood development. But the way he gave off information made me feel as if I had lost interest in the conversation shortly after it began.

I wished I could stop, turn back to my computer, and keep typing this blog post out, but that would be rude. But I'm sure it's easier to do when you're reading something from a point of boredom in a book or ebook. You can put it down without any regrets.

Then, I had another person who used sexual innuendo with every sentence. Not to be disgusting, but to be fun. And it told me a lot about a person that he wanted to have fun at his job while speaking frank about stupid sexual things. This wasn't at my work, but still, where have we gotten in society where you can't have any fun? Because it might hurt someone's "feelings."

Have people in office's become more like the first example of the man so vague that he barely says anything in order to avoid becoming the guy who says too much?

That brings up the character "talking killer" which is more of a film thing, but still happens sometimes in novels.

Really? Do you have to explain everything before you kill someone? I don't know.

Here's the alternative, the "mute killer" who just points the gun, shoots and looks like a badass.

But that is problematic. Now you have an impersonal character creating a personal act.

Doesn't appear that forceful of an antagonist.

So giving enough of both the features of "talking" and "mute" in the antagonist where they say enough without talking too much may be the answer. Otherwise, your character doesn't feel real at all.

Besides, I would like to believe that a real character, even someone evil, would say something to me before they would attempt to harm me. And if they do, they can't be boring. That would make me angrier than just being killed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Climate Change

Well, that was odd.

This morning I woke up about 4 a.m. and couldn't sleep, but I still don't feel worn down as I did when I got a full 8 hours of sleep yesterday. It must be the weather change.

Everything is being blamed on weather change. But here's my question; what if this is the weather of the 1600s and we don't know it because no one was around?

I am not debating weather change in the sense of the world coming to a great climate departure due to our involvement. If you're an idiot, you're still believing the Rush Limbaugh theory that the North Pole is like ice cubes that melt in a glass (except that the north pole has land underneath).

I started writing something good last night. It was really weird how it started. Everything was going pretty slow, I was chugging out my 5,000 words. And then I started cooking at something. Which was weird on how fast it was coming out of me.

I had a settling and a bunch of character arcs about halfway through the story. Some of the issues came up which I knew I would have to go back and revisit.

I love when my brain works that way. It starts churning, going through the motions, then charging as if its on the time trials at the Utah Salt Flats.

And thus, I am back to pounding out more words...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rolling Those 5,000

Ok, now that was weird.

This morning, I felt horrible. I mean that I was so lethargic and barely functional. Of course, that's no excuse when you need to get things done. When those 5,000 words need to be finished by a certain time. There is no playoff hockey tonight, and I got enough sleep, but still, something was wrong.

Took me a while to get back to form. I felt like the main character from Kingpin. ("These kids were almost Munson'd, but they're back now.")

But I pounded through it. Got my words done. Was it easy? Hell no. But I feel better about myself that I didn't let it stop me from writing.

You have to do that sometimes. Fight the urge to drop it because there are other, more important things which are challenging you. My head was full of clouds, as it were, but I still accomplished something.

Poor Roy Munson, it took him a right hand and most of his hair to realize that none of the stuff he was worried about mattered. All that mattered was that he needed to keep rolling, keep trying, to get it done right.

My theory is that he needed to meet The Dude from the Big Lebowski. Or Walter, who was volcanic.

Except that Walter refused to roll on Rosh Hashanha.


I feel sluggish today and I have no attempt to account for it. One of those things which happens even when you are sure you received a good amount of sleep, but alas, you feel tired.

Caffeine doesn’t help. Neither does a good slap across the face (I’ve tried this before and it just hurts your jaw).

I started in one a component of a novella which may become a novel. It’s gotta good hook and its starting to grow on me. It’s about evil, the germination of it, the gestation of continual evil. And it’s angers me that I feel so sluggish that working through the second draft isn’t happening.

I will cross my 5,000 word finish line for the day. But barely, I am guessing.

Aw, the harsh mistress of writing. The muses comes, goes and sometimes vanquishes your hopes by laughing at your bleak performance.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Trimming the fat

The complexities of a story are in how much detail you can offer without making it long and boring. I guess that's my version of story complexity. Maybe it is really how long, boring and dense the characters or situation are that makes complexity. But if the reader doesn't keep following it, why keep telling them? If no one is listening, what is the point? I guess I just threw The World According To Garp under the bus, even though I didn't intend to.

I am settling on a story complexity, but it may take too long to tell. And I don't want to the middle section to go off the rails and bore the reader before the big finish. Yes, that happens. You can be so invested in your characters, your situation of storyline that you can kill the actual fun or pleasure of reading the story. Characters make choices. The storyline is a reflection of those choices. If not, if the choices aren't made or invested, what exactly is the point?

The follow-up to Crunk has a lot of complexity.

But I'm going to shave it down, let a few of things blend down until they are good enough for the readers.

You have to come to terms with the fact that story is not absolute. You can cut the fat. Even the stuff that you liked which made you want to write the damn story in the first place, maybe that needs to go to improve the overall storyline function.

Hard choices.

There are characters who make choices which seem write in draft two, that maybe should be written out of the story by draft seven.

Tough, ain't it? At least, that's my take.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Battling Over-Confidence

I've been thinking about the term "over-confident" lately. I believe it protects people from reality. It allows them to believe they are on the right track, when there is every indication of what they are doing being completely wrong. Psychosis is something that people are fascinated with, but few see it introspectively.

You can convince yourself of anything if you think about it long enough. If you say it enough. If you attempt every conversation which focuses on how you are correct in your belief in something. That explains the Christian Rock phenomena. Where they cannot be Christians, believe in God, and play rock n roll without invoking Jesus, love or crucifixion in their lyrics. That may be harsh, but think about it? Is it the only way that someone who wants to believe they are doing "God's work" while playing the "devil's music?"

I'm a dime store psychologist. Too many people attempt to showcase their skill for talking a lot, saying nothing, but somehow issuing the belief that because they've read a few books on psychology makes them an expert. In fact, without proper schooling where you are challenged with books that assault your point of view, I have the believe that you are an amateur at any field.

Being challenged does not mean only schooling. But also in the industry. I wouldn't expect a taxidermist to be a person who hasn't taken classes in zoology. Maybe that happens, but knowing the internal functions of an animal should be something that a good taxidermist would want to strive for. At least, that's my hope.

Comedy calls it stage-time. You get up with about five minutes of material and you use it on stage. No matter how many times you practice, nothing compares to stage time. You can say it throughout, repeat, repeat, repeat and it is not at all similar to what it appears like on stage.

You either write, or you don't. And if you get up in front of the lights and you don't have your material down pat, it doesn't matter how many times you practiced it. Things don't always go according to Hoyle.

So, let's get back to the matter at hand. Over-confidence. It tends to blind people to the reality of what they are experiencing. Because they believe in their truths no matter what the facts are.

This can be as little as who ate the last piece of pizza to who shot Kennedy. Which Kennedy, right? Seriously, how is it that Ted Kennedy was the only one of the three brothers not to die mysteriously? Although his girlfriends should have taken swimming lessons (rim shot, please).

This type of over-confidence leads to "isms" which harm our thoughts, poison our points of view.

Some people that believe that by standing still, they are moving ahead. That if you move too fast, you harm your ability to grow.

I believe the exact opposition.

What if you standing still, wait, and that opportunity to go forward never comes. Too many people have watched others breeze by out of fear. You've heard the warnings before. You'll flop or do something which won't allow you to succeed.

A friend told me that if you want to be a doctor, you listen to doctors. Med students don't know what the hell they are talking about.

Good advice for blog readers.

That's why I wrote it down.

My Friday the 13th

People are funny when you get the rawness of them. That pain. That oddity. Those things which make us whole or nearly rip us apart.

Friday the 13th is something I would have never considered as bizarre as it ended up being yesterday. Everything coming together, tearing open, or just at a stand-still where you stand by and shake your head.

It was like The Hangover but hopefully without the greedy attempt at a sequel.

I've never been one for superstition. The idea that something happens because you do a specific thing or avoid another never has spoken to me. I didn't shave and kept a beard from September, 2010 to January, 2011 in order to help a football team win (which they did with an incredible 11 game win streak and got a ring out of the deal). But as far as anything else, I can't believe that certain things make strange stuff happening.

But after yesterday, I am beginning to believe otherwise.

Friday the 13th, baby, it's scary.

I ate a good Bison ribeye steak at the casino, using a fifty dollar gift card. The spoils of war after finishing second in the casino's trivia contest on Taco Tuesday. I was the only entrant with one person who finished in the top 3. Everyone else had 4-6 team members. Yes, my team name of Slippery Pickles rides onto glory next week for another chance at another gift certificate.

While eating the fine steak, I had a crazy person sit down, drink 3 shots and a beer in 10 minutes, then accuse me of being a republican who hated unions. I was shocked by this, and then the guy called me a 'dick' and wished cancer on me. After the bartender 86'd him, the guy stood outside the bar and eyed me. Security sent him up to his hotel room. He came down a few minutes later with nothing on but his boxer shorts.

Yes, Friday the 13th was getting started.

I spent some time with friends, got to meet some new people, and everything seemed to calm down.

I took a friend home after his show, listening to him lay out the entire comic book universe in terms of what it means. That still doesn't make Thor a good movie, although my friend liked the message that 'all you want to do is go home.' He broke down different scenarios what Captain America and Spiderman meant as we ate Jack-In-The-Box (no one ordered extra cheese so they didn't screw up our order or spit in our food, which may have happened last week).

I said to him, "If you're going to have cross-over Avengers stuff, then make the characters you cross over interesting or make them have a point in film that I am watching now. Not just twelve movies down the line."

The Friday the 13th adventure only gets weirder from there.

I was heading back to town when I had a gold car whip around me, race up to the stop light. I stopped behind the car, I saw that the trunk was wide open, bouncing up and down. I looked closer, I noticed that there was a hole through the back seat, large enough for someone to crawl through.

I stopped by one of the bars on Division while the gold car kept riding on and saw two bicycle cops, told them what I had witnessed, and tried to give them the license plate because the vehicle was heading down Division in Spokane (longest straight street there is, goes for a few miles).

One of the cops leaned into me, interested, asked "was he black?"

My response: "I didn't see."

The cops shrugged it off, barely took the license plate, said there was nothing they could do until it was reported stolen.

My response: "But he's going down the longest street in Spokane. You could use a radio, call another patrol car a few blocks down, stop him and check. There has to be SOME reason why the trunk door is wide open and there is a hole PUNCHED through it."

The cops told me to calm down before I got myself in trouble.

Yes, welcome to Spokane, city where it's only important if the cops can shoot you or you happen to be black.

Racism is interesting, because it is one of the few things in which if you experience first hand, you deny. Much like a UFO sighting.

Because you can't believe that something that blatant can happen.

With the city of Spokane, everything is alleged. Because the city is similar to Scientology. The facts are what they allegedly make them out to be.

The alleged city of Spokane has a ton of alleged cops who allegedly like to use their weapons.

Last week, they shot a pig running loose in the Spokane Valley.

I guess they only get half a donut for that, instead of the preacher Creach who they allegedly shot last summer while they sat in an unmarked police car in his private parking lot. Because, I guess, when you're allegedly doing paperwork there is no need to allegedly find out why a person is coming up to your car.

Spokane has the incident with Shonto Pete, who allegedly was blasted by a cop outside of a gay bar in town, allegedly for walking up to the patrol car.

There are allegedly a bunch of other innocent victims who have been gunned down by the cops, allegedly.

This allegedly includes a retarded man who wasn't do anything wrong, who bought a Snickers bar and a Sprite. Two girls decided the retarded man was dangerous, and called the police. The cop allegedly walked up behind the retarded man and blasted him.

Welcome to Spokane. And I didn't want to be next on a slab so I left the cops and continued my Friday the 13th without taking two to the chest.

After that, I saw a friend working the door at a bar that I've been to a 1,000 times in the last year, but I've never seen him there.

I hadn't seem him since I left college in 2005. He had dropped off the face of the planet in terms of no internet, no phone, no electricity. He lives in a cabin somewhere that he accesses by mountain bike, hiding from child support enforcement and a witch of an ex-wife who would scream at me when I would answer our shared phone in our dorm room.

It was a good time seeing him, but interesting how you can have such separation of time between two people but act as if nothing has changed.

The key is that you are growing as a person.

Doesn't matter if you are 15, 25, 30, 35 or 93. The moment you start growing, you begin to die.

I had a friend who passed away who was 87 on Thursday the 12th. But I was informed of his death on Friday the 13th. He was a funny guy who I knew from my work, would always talk to me about life and what was going on. He knew himself above all else and was one of those people who made me want to improve myself as a person. I will always remember his laugh which seems to carry on in my mind. Good stuff from a good man.

I had talked to him last week and thought he was just getting old. The moments between us on the phone were shorter. When he and I saw each other last fall, the closer we got to winter, his memory got dimmer, his speech slower. You don't realize how much time you have with a person until they are gone. Everything fades quick at the final moment, unless you are around them 24/7.

It was sad in some respects, but the man appeared to accomplish every goal he had. I remember him telling me last summer that 'if I don't do things when I have the chance, I worry I'll be too old by the time I get around to wanting to do them again.'

Damn good advice. Even for the people who don't like it when I refer to them in the blog.