Tuesday
Sep012015

25 Random Things About Me (Part 2)

As promised (threatened?), here are the additional items from my original list of 25 random personal facts.

 

13. My first celebrity crush was on Princess Diana, when I was ten.

14. I am obsessed with time and being punctual. But I have never worn a watch.

15. The sensation and smell of milk on my skin is one of the most repulsive things in the world to me. Whenever I handle the liquid, which isn’t often, I treat it like explosive nitroglycerin.

16. I am probably the only person in history to go to both a Sandinista rally and a meeting of the John Birch Society. They cover the extreme ends of the political spectrum, and in neither case was it my idea to attend.

17. The only time I have actually partied with rock stars was back in the 90s, when my wife (then-girlfriend) won front-row tickets and backstage passes to the Spin Doctors (!). Considering we were not huge Spin Doctors fans, it turned out to be fun, and the band was very approachable. And yes, they played “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong.”

18. I’ve been to about 200 major league baseball games, yet I have never caught a foul ball or homerun. This annoys me.

19. I got into a lot of fistfights when I was a kid, and I never lost one. My last fight was when I was twelve, so I would most likely get my ass kicked today.

20. If I had to choose a last meal, it would be a slice of pizza (the house special) from Imperial Pizza in NYC, accompanied by a glass of Krug champagne. 

[Addendum: Imperial Pizza has unfortunately closed. I have to think of a new last meal].

21. I’ve broken bones four times in my life, all while playing football.

22. No theory of the afterlife (heaven, hell, reincarnation, merging with the cosmos, never-ending sleep, etc.) seems entirely correct to me.

23. I have been known to judge people by their knowledge of proper grammar.

24. I cannot stand the taste, smell, or even the idea of vodka.

25. The people I admire most are my wife, my mom, the Dalai Lama, and John Lennon. 

[Addendum: I am adding my toddler son to this list].

Wednesday
Aug262015

25 Random Things About Me (Part 1)

A few years ago, I responded to one of those Facebook fads that stated “once you've been tagged, you are to write 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you.”

So I did it, and it was actually kind of fun. Since then, I have rejected just about every other Facebook request for games, lists, or petitions (and I haven’t regretted it). However, this original list is still pretty good.

I will post part 2 of the list next week. But here are the first dozen random facts about me, with addendums added to indicate new info since I first wrote the list.

 

1. On the morning of my 30th birthday, I left my apartment in Hollywood and impulsively drove to Venice Beach to get a tattoo. The only shop open that early was manned by a 300-lb guy who learned his craft in prison. He did a good job, and the tattoo looks great 

[Addendum: I have since added another tattoo].

2. If money were no object and I could live in any city in the world, I would move to London.

3. When people ask, “Do you have any siblings?” I still have to think about how best to phrase the complicated answer.

4. My wife and I met at a house party in college. I was there with my girlfriend at the time.

5. For a brief time in my late adolescence, I was fluent in Spanish. I am currently passable, at best.

6. I have no memory of ever believing in Santa Claus.

7. On two separate occasions, years apart, I tried to help a stranger who had just been hit by a car. I was of limited usefulness, but they both lived.

8. By my estimation, I have stayed up 24 hours straight about 100 times. Most of those occasions were in the first 25 years of my life.

9. I taught myself how to swim.

10. My first job out of college was in a New York publishing house. It paid $17,000 a year and required about 60 hours a week. And my boss was insane.

11. According to my wife, I have cried only once in the 19 years that she has known me. That was 7 years ago, when our cat died 

[Addendum: I have cried twice more since then, once when our other cat died, and once when our dog died].

12. I have four guitars of varying quality, but I have little time to play them. [Addendum: I am down to three guitars].

Wednesday
Aug122015

Sick Days

Yes, I’m as guilty as any other white-collar worker of bitching about office politics, inane corporate policies, and clueless colleagues who walked straight out of Dilbert.

But at least there is a pretty good likelihood that I will not get killed at my desk. Of course, my odds would be better if I weren’t Hispanic.

That’s because a recent study found that Latino workers are 18 percent more likely to be killed on the job than workers of any other racial/ethnic group.

So it’s bad enough we Latinos have a tougher time getting a job in the first place. Now it looks like once we are gainfully employed, we have to punch in next to the Grim Reaper.

Why is this? Well, the chief reason is because Hispanics are heavily represented in the construction and landscape industries. And those are dangerous gigs.

It’s even more lethal if you are an immigrant worker, who experience the highest risk of death on the job. Those would be the same immigrant workers who are, you know, destroying America by stealing jobs and launching crime sprees and raping people nonstop (at least in Donald Trump’s world).

In any case, the report is even more troubling because it shows that the number of people who die while working continues to decline each year… but not if they’re Hispanic.

It makes you wonder about a system that exploits undocumented workers, puts them at an increased risk of death, and then, quite literally, adds insult to injury by blaming them for every possible social ill (even though there is rarely any data that validates this viewpoint).

I would go on about this grotesquery, but I’m getting a little nervous about working at my computer, being Latino and all.

So if you need to talk to me, I’ll be cowering under my desk.

Wednesday
Aug052015

Fear and Loathing at IHOP

I think we can all agree that stopping the growing Nazi scourge that is taking over pancake houses across America should be our nation’s top priority.

Wait… you don’t know what I’m taking about?

Then clearly you haven’t seen this video, in which a brave patriot stands up to a Latina who committed the grievous sin of speaking Spanish in public.

The woman, Norma Vazquez, was at an IHOP here in Los Angeles with her son, Carlos Steven. They were apparently letting all those trilled R’s and double L’s fly around the place during their private conversation. And hey, let’s face it, even whispering Spanish is a clear affront to God’s favorite language — English.

So a woman approached the Vazquezes, and in the spirit of neighborliness, promptly snapped, “We speak English in America.” She also offered the helpful suggestion that the mother and son should “go back to Spain,” even though Ms. Vasquez is from El Salvador.

Now, you might ask what all this has to do with Nazis. Well, that’s where things go from ignorant and hateful to completely weird.

The confrontational lady equated speaking English with freedom, telling the Vazquez family, "Do you want the Russians over here telling you what to do? Do you want the Nazis telling you what to do?"

Indeed, I’m sure all red-blooded Americans agree that saying anything in Spanish is the gateway to fascism. Perhaps the wrong combination of Spanish phrases — like el sombrero or la fiesta or sin verguenza — acts as some sort of incantation, causing Hitler and his minions to rise from the grave and feast upon the brains of English-speaking, freedom-loving Americans everywhere.

And yes, that does sound like a kick-ass sequel to Dead Snow.

In any case, it turns out that Norma Vazquez does speak English, but her preferred language is Spanish. It also turns out that her son, Carlos Steven, knows how to use a camera phone. He videotaped the English-only lady and her bizarre tirade, and he posted it to Facebook, where it has since garnered 15 million views and almost 500,000 shares.

So what do we make of this situation? Well, it’s clear that the fear of foreign languages and hatred of bilingualism — which are concepts fairly unique to America — aren’t fading away soon. It’s also clear that individuals who really, really hate Spanish will continue to insist that it is their right, even their duty, to accost people and let ‘em have it if so much as an hola slips out.

Remember, just a few months ago, another upstanding patriot screamed, “USA, English only,” at terrified schoolchildren.

As for the English-only woman prowling around IHOPs, ready to pounce on Spanish speakers at the first sign of trouble, well, I’m tempted to call her a xenophobe.

But she would probably just say that’s a made-up word and to speak English, damn it.

Wednesday
Jul292015

Toward Complete World Domination

My new novel has been out for about three months now, and it continues to provoke people to run shouting though the streets about its greatness.

OK, maybe that isn't happening everywhere, but I assure you that I exaggerate only very slightly.

In any case, I must inform you that my novel, Barrio Imbroglio, is now available on Smashwords (you can snag a copy here). Also, the book will soon appear on Barnes & Noble's site, as well as iTunes.

So clearly, you are out of excuses not to buy it. And don't forget to join my email list so that I can let you know when the inevitable sequel comes out.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the book.