The debt that came to dinner

It’s hard to solve a problem when you’re thinking about it the wrong way. I love the TV news footage of Bachmann and her fellow Rs talking about how family’s can solve their spending problems like adults, around the dinner table. Only one problem…

The debt ceiling debate in Congress is not like having a family discussion around the dinner table about how to spend a strapped budget. It’s like a wealthy family talking about how to pay off a huge credit card bill. You see, someone in the family let a krazy uncle in Afghanistan have temporary charge authority. (And he still has it). The person was probably thinking “Oh what can he possibly spend it on, they don’t even have a Tiffany’s in Kabul.” To add insult to stupidity, the same person (it is strongly suspected) gave charge powers to acquaintances in Baghdad, met on a Persian Gulf cruise twenty years ago who telegrammed that the holidays were near and they just had a few “wants.”

Now, huge though it is, the family can well afford the bill. The discussion isn’t about whether to spend, or what to buy, because honey, that card has already been rung up.

The discussion is about where to get the money.

“How about we cut the pay of all our household staff for a few months and stop tipping the waiters at bars and restaurants? That will add up!”

“Yeah! They don’t get much anyway – maybe they’ll hardly notice! Nina’s illegal anyway, it’s not like she can complain.”

“Maybe we just write a check on the main account? It’s not like that’s going to break the bank. Even if it did, look what happened the last time we broke the bank, we got richer!”

“I know – let’s do both!”


Meditation on a molar

When I lost a quarter of a molar just before our Independence Day potluck party, I was driven to ruminate on a youth of sugary sodas, candies (and not just retail–my mother’s favorite food group to cook was candy) and cookies. I grew up in the sixties. We knew the food pyramid back then, but vegetables and fruits weren’t yet an important group, more like ingredients in the dessert group. I think that was a real group back then.

The quarter lost was an old filling that had become unmoored, then afloat in the chewy goodness of an Acme baguette. Given it was a holiday weekend, and a long one, I was fortunate that the loss caused only inconvenience and a sharp edge on the remaining tooth rather than incandescent pain of an exposed nerve. I think that must have been the third filling in that same spot, so the nerve is probably long gone (and good riddance).

I was able to get it repaired, refilled right after Independence Day. My dentist squeezed me in–I think she called in a colleague who had the day off. With a little novocaine, drilling and filling, ultra-violet hardening and polishing, I was on my way in less than an hour.

I really haven’t had a new cavity since the seventies, just many breakages and recurring repairs of old teeth where the fillings finally just gave out, or caused further cracking in weakened structures. Sort of an obvious metaphor for aging.

The living teeth seem to adapt and (I hope) thrive on their new less-sugary diet with calcium supplements and flouride toothpaste and mouth rinses; shaking off the dangerous decades where they were always threatened by decay. Its the static fillings themselves that eventually decay, not able to repair themselves or rejuvenate. Which I guess is just the way of everything, of life itself–we even have to keep repairing and rejuvenating ourselves mentally, not just physically, if we are to remain in good health. Anything that tries to stay the same is headed for extinction; anyone that expects things to remain the same is bound for disappointment.

Reading at Book Passage

I’ve been busy the past six weeks with a short story writing workshop led by Elizabeth Bernstein, acclaimed writer and editor of The Big Ugly Review. The workshop is part of the part of the Writers Program at The Grotto, and we’ll be joining writers from other workshops and classes this coming Friday at Book Passage for readings of original works – all in 3 minutes or less. And don’t worry, there will be wine!

Where: Book Passage – the Ferry Building

When: 6pm Friday, March 25th

All the deets.

What’s next?

Today is the sixth and last weekly session of the short story workshop series I have been participating in at the Writers Grotto, at 2nd and Bryant. Led by Elizabeth Bernstein – editor of The Big Ugly Review among many other literary accomplishments – this series has been a great kick-in-the-pants to continue working on some story ideas that I had allowed to languish. Getting the opportunity for expert critique has been helpful but more, it has somehow also provided both inspiration and confidence in my ability. The group has been great from another standpoint . Only two of us in the group are gay and it’s made me realize what a bubble I live in here in Queeristan. It doesn’t change what I’ll be writing about, in fact on the contrary it’s made me realize even more that every story has its interest, its importance, and its audience.

I will miss these Wednesday nights!

Feeling fringe-y tonight

We’ll be going down to the Exit Theater tonight for a showing of the GuyWriters playwright group entry to the 2010 SF Fringe Festival entitled “Eat Our Shorts: The Secret Lives of San Francisco.”

Cramming six or so scenes into 85 minutes this promises to be a great way to expose oneself to voices of the future.

GuyWriters (Alan Quismorio, facilitator) is a collective of playwrights, with the participation of local actors, directors, and technicians. It develops new plays mainly focusing on aspects of modern gay life.

Featured playwrights include Tom W. Kelly, Andrew Black, Edgar Poma, Rhoda, and Bob Hayden, directed by Mike Ward, Michael Pulizzano, and Alan Quismorio. (Cynthia Dear, Production Manager; Josh Hardwick, Stage manager)

GuyWriters also encompasses prose and poetry groups, and information about their activities, productions, and newsletter is on-line at

I’ve participated in the prose group – it’s a great way to get motivated and set goals to produce.

True fables of our time

Prayer crosses for sale at Walmart

I’m writing a fable. Well, I have as story in my head that may come out as a fable – I’m toying with it. The story kernel I have is that one day in the not too distant future, the world wakes up to find it has happened! The Rapture.

Come on, you’ve heard of it. At least from Tim LaHaye’s bestselling Left Behind novels and now his appearance on talk shows saying that President Obama’s socialist policies move us closer to Apocalypse. And that’s if you didn’t get lectured about it as a child getting brainwashed in Sunday school.

Of course, that story’s been written. But here’s the catch – it turns out there’s been a slight miscommunication. Whoever received the visions that inspired the Book of Revelations missed an important detail. It’s not about the Christians.

In my Rapture, the world wakes up one morning to gradually discover that China, and much of Southeast Asia, are virtually empty of people. Empty of honest, hardworking Buddhists. Ahem. Ahem. And my working title is The Day Walmart Died.

And having that in my head makes me see everything in that context. Weird, I know. But I’m going with it since news these days is a perfect fit for the genre. As they say, truth is stranger than fiction.

Why there’s no Super Being

I was watching one of TV’s intellectually stimulating reality shows when the Millionaire Matchmaker finally asked a client if he would marry an atheist. And the client (a professional volleyball player) said no, because he was very spiritual – although he doesn’t like organized religion.

And immediately I start thinking through the proposition that an atheist might still be spiritual. But maybe that’s more for the agnostics. And while I was thinking about that – bear with me here! – I considered whether atheism might apply to disbelief in a Super Being type deity but leave open the possibility or embrace belief in other supernatural forces.

And that made me think about what it would feel like to be a Super Being. And specifically to be a solitary Super Being. And that felt like a huge drag. I mean, it would be great for a few minutes – sure! But then, just in the few seconds between creating St. Barts in February so you can lie on a blue-and-white striped chaise lounge at a beautiful Michelin rated beachside restaurant / cocktail bar and the onset of the instinct to call your friends stuck back in Chicago freezing their ‘nads off – you slap your head and shout “Damn, right, I’m all-the-fuck alone here!” And that would suck because even though you created a bunch of people who look (sort of) like yourself all they want to do is either worship you or kill each other. And frankly, as a Super Being, that’s just boring.

And you can’t even turn on a comedy show on TV! I mean, f*ck – when you’re a Super Being, no punch-line is going to have that surprise ooomph that makes you snort the champers out your nose. No way! I mean, you’re gonna see that punch line coming a mile away.

Same for suspense movies. I mean – Geez! (no pun intended) – like you had “Memento” nailed at the opening credits.

Well, that’s as far as I got thinking about it. It got depressing to imagine what it would be like to be the Universe’s only Deity. It would be hell.