Friday, December 25, 2009

Grand Canyon

When I visited the Grand Canyon, I found a quiet, unassuming spot to sit and stare at the earthly void. As I sat on a ledge under a tree, feet dangling over a cliff, I wrote down the following:

October 13, 2009

As I sit upon this rock a foot away from a long descent, tremors occur throughout my being.

The air is crisp, cool and nourishing. Clouds blot across the sky, unable to conceal the blue like a twin size blanket over a king size bed. The canyon itself is dangerously beautiful or beautifully dangerous depending on one's demeanor. The canyon's layers of red sand are fitting; displaying its age with a coat of rust or dried lifeblood of mother earth.

There is a quiet demand of respect gazing upon the ominous shadows of the clouds above onto the belly of the canyon. The trees are still until a whizzing car or cool breeze passes by causing the leaves to chatter. Birds enclosed in black float along the canyon like dark confetti in the wind. Truly, this indentation of the earth reminds man of how small he truly is in this mystic unforgiving world.

As the tremors ease in my body, I truly know what it means to gaze upon such beauty and respectfully fear it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Destination Discovery and Delusion: Erik's Road Trip to California Days 3-5

October 12, 2009

I awoke at 5:15 AM Oklahoma time and it was pitch black and 48 degrees outside. After taking a couple stale donuts and drinking even staler coffee for breakfast, I hit the road at 6:30AM. It was dark. Incredibly dark. No lights save for my headlights and lights emitting from the semis around me. It was as if God had abandoned Oklahoma.

I thought that day was approaching. I was wrong. It was fog. The fog was dense and my visibility was shot. It was like driving through vanilla cake frosting. The sun finally appeared at 9:40AM. I was never so happy to see Texas steer in my entire life. Fittingly, the song Illumination by Rollins Band played as the sun rose.

Texas was a long haul and I had a lot more to go. I wanted to take this opportunity to visit with my friend Matt in Arizona in the evening. He offered me free food and sleep. I had to take him up on it, but I was in for a long commute for the day. With the morning rise, I enjoyed the sounds of the One Ups with songs like this and this.

The mix got a little eclectic. Morning of Magicians by the Flaming Lips and Dirt Off Your Shoulder by Jay Z lead the way, opening the path to Barracuda by the 5,6,7,8's and Future Sound by Jurassic 5. It culminated with Liar by Rollins Band, a song that has much resonance with me and reminded me of some phonies I've encounter, that we have all encountered, in the past. Reminds me of Florida... a lot.

Last post, I mentioned on how songs can remind you of certain periods of your life. Well, there are songs that remind me of people. Fully Alive by Flyleaf reminds me of a good person, a great friend, I have back in Florida. While my friend has never had pain like the person sung about in the song, she has/had spiritual, personal, and emotional troubles within recent years, yet her outlook on life and hope in her heart inspires and motivates me.

Another song, is Crush by the Dave Matthews Band. In high school, all of my friends were into DMB therefore his music invaded by ears, but it was a welcomed invasion. I was seeing this girl and this song reminds me of her. Specifically, it reminds me of one night in the fall in which sat and watched the stars on my friend's trampoline in his backyard. I remember the smell and touch of her long hair and how she nestled against me to keep warm. Reflecting and evaluating this memory, I drove on.

New Mexico is beautiful with rusty red cliffs and desert far and wide with numerous signs warning for falling rocks. By mid afternoon, my windshield was a harsh, impromptu graveyard for bugs.

Dusk settled and I was in Arizona. It became black quite quickly and I was fatigued. I only stopped three times for gas and nothing more. The drive was literally a roller coaster with my engine roaring to climb the hills and letting go of the gas and gliding down the highway during descent.

I finally arrived in Tempe and saw Matt. It was great to see him, being it had been two years since we've seen each other. He treated me to a burger joint called Chuck Box and I had the best burger I've had in years. It truly brought me closer to a bypass and was worth the 16 hour drive I made that day. After some visiting and catching up, I laid on the couch. I had to get up early to fully enjoy the Grand Canyon the next day.

October 13, 2009

I woke up and showered. Matt cooked a mean, artery clogging breakfast and after a fond farewell, I was back on the road... to a Jiffy Lube. Yeah, I had my oil changed before the trip, but with the detour I was dangerously close to the 3,000 mile mark. After having the heavily tattooed crew change my oil and rotate my tires, I was off.

The mix continued with Devil is a Loser by Lordi, Burn by Alkaline Trio, Killing Me Softly by the Fugees. After a few hours and 25 bucks for entry, I made it to the Grand Canyon. I drove along, paused, and took photos like any other tourist. Then I found a spot.

No one was really around and there was no barricade. I walked cautiously to a partially wooded area and sat on a rock near the edge of the cliff. I closed my eyes, feeling humbled by the sight. I took out my notebook and wrote. When/if I feel it to be appropriate, I'll type out what I wrote in my notebook in a later post in this blog. I wrote my piece, I prayed, and by then it was time to go.

While lyrically it makes no difference, I thought it appropriate that Stairway to Heaven by Led Zepplin was the first song played when I left the canyon. It got mellow for a time with some Thelonious Monk and Cold, picked up with Jimmie's Chicken Shack and Outkast, slowing it back down with some Norah Jones, and ending with Johnny Cash's cover of Rusty Cage.

I checked into a motel off of Route 66. I was still fatigued from the previous day's marathon of travel on top getting used to the new time zone, so I decided to relax for the remainder of the day. While I was pumping at the gas station, I asked the attendant where I can find some good local pizza. She pointed me to a shop down the block.

I was able to get two pizzas with two toppings each. I stared at the list of possible toppings and did a double take. Tuna? Cashews? Hmm... why not? I ordered a tuna with green peppers along with a pepperoni and cashews. As I put in the order with the cashier, one of the pizza chefs walked up to the front with wide eyes in my direction.

"I've never done this before."
"Don't look at me, man, you're the guys that made it an option on your menu."

He shrugged, smiled, and made my pizzas. For the record, it was pretty good. Not a favorite, but I'd have it again. I went to my hotel room, pigged out, put myself in a Diet Dr. Pepper coma, and slept.

October 14, 2009

Fate decided that first song that popped up at the beginning of my final leg of drive would be We Will Rock You by the immortal Queen. Thanks, Fate. You are nothing if not motivating.

After the last few days, I became sick of the road. My legs were getting cramps from my constant seated crouch position while in the car. My left leg is still having trouble staying straight even as I write this. The tunes were good with Give Thanks and Praises by the Bad Brains, I Am A Grocery Bag by They Might Be Giants, Ain't Misbehavin' by Fats Waller, and Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me by the sometimes overly preachy but super talented U2.

After stopping to get blood back in my legs and a decent meal in my belly, I pressed on and counted down the miles. I finally arrived. After stopping for coffee, I arrived to Brent and Mindy's apartment. I was thoroughly welcomed.

Now, after this adventure, there is a new one: finding a job, pursue and continue comedy, and achieve the path that is set for me. I humbly ask for thoughts, assistance, support, and prayer on this journey as much as you have for this drive. This move to California was not possible because of anything I did or have earned. It was possible through God speaking and asking others to stick their necks out for me; the drive was possible due to good people believing in me, my motivation, my talent, and my drive. Those people know who they are and I thank them; knowing and praying their investment in me shall not be in vain. I also want to thank all who read this, because it tells me that you care and are curious. I hope that this move results in a testament to all to follow their passions, follow what drives them, and do whatever it is that God has built them to do and feel. Prayers are encouraged for the true adventure is beginning. God bless and good journey to you all.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Destination Discovery and Delusion: Erik's Road Trip to California Days 1 & 2

October 10, 2009

I awoke on the couch at Jenny and Jeff's apartment well rested for the first time in days. It's odd considering I was leaving everything I found familiar. But familiarity doesn't necessarily mean good. Orlando, with the exception of a few people, became familiar to me; I became adapted to it. However, just because a person becomes familiar and adaptable to arthritis doesn't mean they like it.

I loaded up the car and did some reading. Jenny wanted to send me off and I wanted to oblige her, so I waited for her to come back from her coaching session. She returned with a mini photo album with pictures of good people from a bad experience along with a card with a note inside. I told her that I would read the note at my first stop. I would later find that the words and encouragement were better fuel for my trip than any gasoline or food I would come across. We hugged, said goodbye, and I took off at 10:30 A.M.

I decided to listen to a Batman audio book that I hadn't listened to since my last big drive from Cincinnati to Orlando. I remembered why. The acting was terrible. The Joker, Riddler, and Mad Hatter had almost exactly the same kooky voice. Batman sounded like if Clint Eastwood was doing a bad impression of himself. Chagrined, I listened to the whole 3 plus hour performance. Then I listened to old podcasts of the Bryan and Vinny Show.

As I traveled along the coast, I felt like I was going nowhere being that I was technically still in Florida after a few hours but if I were to look to my right I could see Alabama. The coast wasn't kind weather wise with sporadic rain. On the plus side, I gained an hour due to switching time zones.

I parked it for the night at a Red Carpet Inn outside of New Orleans. They really did roll out the red carpet for me, but the problem was the red carpet had soda stains, skid marks from when the dog had worms, and cigarette burns. I stopped over at a Waffle House for dinner before bed. The waitresses fit every stereotypical greasy spoon waitresses. Two plump, older women with dry, damaged long hair scurried around the place refilling drinks for "shugah" or "dahrlin." I was served by a young teenage girl with a face devoured in freckles. Her name badge said her name was "Cornbread." I left her a good tip.
With a belly full of possible regret, I went back to the hotel to write emails and sleep.

October 11, 2009

I woke up, had a cold shower due to no hot water, crappy continental breakfast and I was back on the road at 7:30 A.M. My goal was to drive 1,000 miles before I stopped for the day. To spoil the ending, I was 150 miles short.

I put the iPod on shuffle and Paranoid Android by Radiohead was the first song. It was fitting due to the mellow start crescendo-ing into loud riffs and electric overload. It was like my demeanor, calm yet ready to blow into action. Can't Buy Me Love by the Beatles came on as the rain started to pour. The tunes started to fit the weather when Sober by Tool came on.

A couple songs later, King Without a Crown by Matisyahu popped on. I've listened to that song at least twice a month since 2005 and it still raises the hairs on my arms and neck. My skin shivers and my throat chokes. Everyone has at least one song that they not only never get sick of, but turns into an anthem for their life. This song is mine. I replayed it twice.

While there are songs that become anthems for life, other songs jump start memories and feelings during periods in your life. The Suffering by Coheed and Cambria played and is one of those songs. It reminds me of my struggles within the past two years in Orlando, in my personal and professional life. It was during that time that I heard that song and it will always remind me of that time in my life. That's when I decided to take heed to the Beatles' advice and Let It Be.

Going from 94 degrees yesterday to 51 degrees today, along with sunny to pitch black evening, took a lot out of me so I stopped at Norman, OK. Fortunately, Norman is the home of J.R.'s Family BBQ. Jim Ross or "Good Ol' J.R." has been the voice of professional wrestling as an announcer for over 20 years and is widely respected among fans and wrestlers alike. He also happens to be a BBQ guru. After trying his brisket and pulled pork, he is as good at cooking as he is at calling matches. After a few photos of memorabilia and buying some of his patented BBQ Sauce and Chipotle Ketchup, I crashed at a Super 8 for the night.

Next is Arizona and a reunion with an old friend.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

If I Made These Comic Book Movies

Comic book based films are becoming the norm in Hollywood and as a fan of movies and comics, I have (like every one who has a throat) have my opinions. Ryan Reynolds has been cast as Hal Jordan for the soon to be filmed Green Lantern motion picture. I am biased in that I am not a fan of Reynolds, but even if I was I would not cast him in this role. Hal is determined, fearless, thirsts for justice, and has a little swagger. Reynolds has only displayed a "what would happen if Van Wilder was a _____" in terms of acting. I don't know if he could pull off a non-wise cracking character since that is all he has played (typecasting maybe?). However, it got me to think who I would pick for Green Lantern and other comic book films. I'm focusing on DC comics since Marvel movies are pretty much decided on most of their casting. Here's who I'd pick to portray certain heroes in either the character's title movie, side superhero characters, or a Justice League type film. I'm focusing on the "heroes" so no side characters (i.e. Jimmy Olsen) or love interests (i.e. Lois Lane) and characters that haven't been on film recently (so no Batman or Superman re-casting):

Green Lantern
Hal Jordan- Guy Pearce
Kilowog- Michael Clarke Duncan (voice)
John Stewart- Terrence Howard
Guy Gardner- Jason Statham
Kyle Rayner- Zachary Levi
Guardians- Anthony Hopkins in multiple roles
G'nort- Zach Galifianakis
Arisa- Elizabeth Banks
Boodikka- Liv Tyler
Sinestro- Zachary Quinto

Barry Allen- Matt Damon
Wally West- Michael Rosenbaum (hey, it worked in the cartoon)
Bart Allen- Unknown kid actor

Plastic Man
Eel O'Brien- Jim Carrey

Batman Villains
Catwoman- Kate Beckinsale
Harley Quinn- Isla Fisher
Riddler- Johnny Depp
Bane- Vin Diesel
Poison Ivy- Laura Prepon
Penguin- Phillip Seymour Hoffman
The Mad Hatter- Paul Giamatti
Mr. Freeze- Crispin Glover

Ray Palmer- Adrian Pasdar

Martian Manhunter
Jonn Jonzz- Edward Norton

Ron Perlman

Arthur Curry- Chris Pine

Blue Beetle
Ted Kord- Ed Helms

Booster Gold
Michael Jon Carter- Bradley Cooper

Wonder Woman
Diana Prince- Anne Hathaway

Power Girl
Karen Starr- Charlize Theron

Green Arrow
Oliver Queen- Ewan McGregor

Black Canary
Dinah Lance- Jessica Biel

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Watchmen Documentary

Hello all. I helped my buddy make a documentary on the Watchmen graphic novel. He did a great job, so if you have some time to kill (each part, except for part six is almost 20 minutes long) check it out:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

List of Random Stuff I Like That Others Might Like But Don't Put On A List Entitled "Things I Like"

I gotta ride through a fat tsunami wave of frustration and depression and since I don't have any friends here to provide a distraction, I thought I'd make a list of random stuff/activities/attributes that I enjoy/like:
- Hard rock adaptations of video game music like this or this.
- The rush and relief that comes to your feet when you take off your shoes after a long day.
- The grittiness of "old fashioned" styled peanut butter.
- Humming, imitating guitar riffs with your mouth, or drumming a desk with a pen to a song in your head and someone else recognizing the tune and joining in. The original "Rock Band."
- Instruction manuals that have pictures of every single step, everything clearly labeled, leaving nothing to assumption.
- Kissing a loved one on the forehead.
- Prompt responses, even when the answer is "no."
- Dusty Rhodes talking.
- Smell of women's hair.
- The soreness after a good workout.
- The instant rush of cold from throat to fingers that you get when chugging a beer after being out in the hot sun for hours.
- The sterility of my mouth after using Listerine.
- HBO miniseries based on history (Band of Brothers, John Adams, etc.)
- Random Transformers or He-Man references in any conversation.
- All State Insurance commercials featuring Dennis Haysbert.
- The touch of a lady caressing my back with her fingernails.
- Pretending to be a ninja with little kids.
- Smell of old leather.
- The touch of fleece.
- Listening to a song on the radio that you know but have never heard being played on the radio before.
- The saxophone solo of a jazz or bebop song.
- Getting licked on the face by a dog.
- People who snort when they laugh.
- Having exact change.
- Praying while walking in the park.
- People watch and write at a busy restaurant or park.
- Inventing new pizzas (Chili Dog Pizza and the upcoming experiments Mini-Corndog Pizza and Pizza Roll Pizza or as I like to call it "The Redundancy").
- Writing pointless lists like this one.
- Having someone share their secret with you.
- Shaking hands of men who have awesome mustaches. Yes, I've actually done it.
- Listening, watching, and smelling a bonfire in pitch black night.
- The sound of sizzling meat on the grill.
- Reading philosophy.
- Studying the history of wrestling both regular and "professional."
- The way my mouth waters when I taste a great BBQ sauce.
- The way some MMA fighters walk up to each other after a fight for a post-match "man-hug."
- Thinking of Muppet versions of movies they have no business being in (Scarface, The Graduate, etc.).
- Killing time on Facebook or
- Finding a grocery cart that has four fully functioning wheels.
- Sharing and talking about comics with total strangers at a bookstore.
- The rush to the head after a big sneeze.
- Inserting sound effects into everyday life.
- Dancing at a wedding reception with an open bar.
- Watching movies with subtitles even though the spoken language is still English.
- Picking up a bad movie, gather some friends, and do our own Mystery Science Theater 3000 with it.
- Episodes of any TV show that feature alternate universe or "Bizarro" versions of the regular characters.

I guess that's all I can think of for now. I'll share/think of more when I get steamed up again. Hopefully, I won't have to make another one for a while.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Word of the Month

So... this month:
1. My car was given 6 months to live just two weeks after paying over $800 to get a part replaced. Thanks, rusted frame.
2. My professional contacts in Los Angeles haven't returned my emails and phone calls, not even to say "sorry kid, I can't." If you don't want to help, then don't offer it. Just give me an eff you email and I'll stop wasting your time and mine.
3. In order to purchase another car (not even a decent one), I have to sell most of my stuff, including important stuff like things I sleep on and things I use to connect with the world around me.
4. Two more people quit their jobs at work without notice leaving the rest of us to carry an even bigger load.
5. My work schedule has been altered yet again, fluxing my sleep schedule yet again. I just want six months of a sleep routine so my body can handle it.
6. I am 26 years old and the only friends here I have are from work, with only one really close one. I don't hang out with anybody due to time, money, and odd schedule.
7. I got offers for the things I've sold, but EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM either a) backed out less than a hour before we were scheduled to meet for business or b) tried to screw me with an obviously see-through internet scheme.
8. I still haven't found great fellowship; the pastor at the church I go to can sympathize with struggle but clearly doesn't know from experience. When you talk about how the economy is forcing the church to cut important staff on an elaborately decorated stage with lighting equipment and sound equipment that could generate enough cash to pay off my student loans, you really need to check your priorities.
9. I've had stomach issues for over a week, mild insomnia, and have a haphazard diet/eating schedule ranging from a meal a day to three meals a day to two meals to forgetting to eat period.

I know everyone now has troubles, many worse than mine. It's just that personally, professionally, socially, and physically I have been... what's the right word? Ah! I know the word! Take it way, Ray Romano and Grover!

Side note: If you are bored and like Spiderman, check out this blog. The guy wants to read every Spiderman comic ever and write an essay about each one. Noble effort.