The Galileo Papers


cover-galileo
“I howl at the moon in these papers.

I howl at the moon in my head.”
— Galileo

The Galileo Papers is a slim volume I wrote a lifetime ago, now available HERE .

It’s a short read that will stay with you a long time.

(And it’s not about the Galileo you know.)

$1.29 Kindle Edition, $3.95 Paperback– All proceeds go toward food and cigarettes.


My Guest Spot on the “Beyond the 140” Podcast

BeyondThe140In November of 2012, I was privileged to appear on the popular podcast, “Beyond the 140 (http://www.bt140.com),” hosted by Joey C. and Del Freaky (Twitter handles @JCWisdomNuggets and @MrDelFreaky, respectively. Follow them!). They do original humor on Twitter and interview others who do so.

I had a blast doing that show.

In January of 2015, they rebroadcast my appearance as part of a compilation episode featuring me, along with Angie Davis (@adar79angie), and Brian Hope (@Brianhopecomedy), two of the funniest people on Twitter.

The broadcast is available here.

A Walk to the Corner and Back

mailbox

I noticed the mailbox at the end of the block when we bought the house. That will be handy, I thought, picturing myself strolling to the corner, letters in hand, smiling and nodding at neighbors as they sat on their porch swings enjoying a cool evening breeze.

Four years later, I had yet to use it, partly because I got in the habit of mailing things from work, but mostly because “strolling to the corner” was just another way to say “walking,” an activity that is dangerously close to “jogging,” which we now know can cause brain damage.

Then, one Saturday, my wife said, “That electric bill really needs to get in the mail today or the lights are going to go out.”

“No problem,” I replied, remembering the handy mailbox on the corner. So out the door I went, electric bill in hand.

That’s odd. Why can’t I see the mailbox? I’m a huge fan of the doctrine of object permanence. I learned it as a toddler and embraced it. Things don’t just disappear because you stop looking at them or leave the area. They’ll still be there when you return. So I know the mailbox is there. The fact that I can’t see it, however, is troubling.

A trick of the light, I tell myself. An optical illusion. It’ll come into view any second now. At this point, I’m 15 feet away from the seemingly invisible mailbox.  A few more steps and I’m at the corner. I’m two feet from where the mailbox is supposed to be, staring like people stare at the empty parking space where their stolen car is supposed to be.  In cases like this, we, for some reason, think tilting our head will help.

I tilt my head, first to the left and then to the right. Still no mailbox. Hindsight being 20/20, I realized that anyone else would have walked out their door, looked toward the corner, noticed there was no longer a mailbox there, and gone back inside, but not me. I walked to a non-existent mailbox, because my brain is wired to favor a scenario where the post office is field testing new, transparent, mailboxes.

I considered turning around and going back home, but was still trying to focus my eyes on the air-where-I-knew-there-should-be-a-mailbox when the low rumble of a truck interrupted my concentration. I turned to look at it as I heard it brake, come to a stop, and idle, diesel exhaust filling my nose.

Why can’t I see this truck?

I hear a sliding door open, footsteps in sync with jingling keys, and the mailbox being opened, followed by the rustling of letters being thrust into a sack.

I feel an odd sensation in my fingers holding the electric bill.

Mailbox closes. Retreating footsteps. Truck put in gear and speeds off.

I turned around and walked home
empty-handed.

“You were gone a long time,” said my wife.

“Yeah, they moved that mailbox that used to be on the corner. I had to walk around the neighborhood and find another one.”

Epilogue:
The lights
stayed
on.

Cash for Gold: My Long Review of A Short Film

Full Disclosure: I contributed $10 to the Kickstarter that funded this film, written and produced by Deborah Puette and co-starring Puette and Navid Negahban (“Homeland’). I met Deborah on Twitter (@deborahpuette) when I tweeted a joke wondering where the producers of “True Blood” found actors that could move so fast, and Deborah, who had recently filmed a role in that series, responded to it with a funny reply. We followed each other, which is when I started paying attention to her career and how I came to know about the Kickstarter.

I am in no way qualified to review a movie, but I am fascinated by this small film which, like the Tardis on “Doctor Who,” is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. There is a lot packed into these few minutes.

Random thoughts:

The thing “works” even with the sound turned off. (I accidentally discovered this while viewing it at the office with my speakers muted.) Puette didn’t write a short story and then film it. She wrote a film. I don’t know if she did that consciously or if, because she’s an actor, when she writes she’s thinking more about how she will use her body to portray what’s happening in the scene and the necessary emotions than she’s thinking about how the words will sound. I don’t say this to take away from the importance of the dialogue, but to point out how it is but a part of the tapestry that is this film.

These Kickstarter things can so easily become “vanity projects.” Cash for Gold has not a trace of that. While it is, of course, primarily designed to showcase Puette’s many talents (it’s her “baby”), a less secure actor would never have asked someone of Negahban’s stature to co-star. She’s smart enough to know the whole thing is elevated when two good actors are standing toe-to-toe. They make each other better. I’m not sure a good actor can make a bad actor better. And how did she resist the temptation to direct? If I were to write a short film, I’d want to direct it, so I’d have complete control over the thing, but, of course, “that way madness lies.” Turning her “baby” over to director Robert Enriquez was a smart thing to do. His direction was seamless, deftly serving the story without drawing attention to itself. I wish all directors understood that that is really what the job is supposed to be.

I don’t usually like things that are “uplifting” and “inspirational,” because they’re so often sappy. There’s nothing sappy about this film.

I cannot watch anything that takes place in a little shop without having it evoke at least 12 episodes of “The Twilight Zone.” I’m sure Puette wasn’t going for any kind of a sci-fi vibe, but the fact is something unexpected and magical happens here. At first I found it somewhat jarring that there was not a wide shot of her when she entered the shop, showing both the door and the counter, maybe through a black-and-white surveillance cam. The lack of this shot tells me that, perhaps for practical purposes, the scenes of her at the iron grate door were filmed at a different location. (We like the door on this shop and we like the interior of this other shop. Let’s use them both.) Then I decided it works better this way. When she enters that door, she is, indeed, metaphysically “jumping” to a different place in space and time. The hubbub and harshness of the street is gone. Anything could happen in this place, in this different world. Negahban greets her like he has been there eternally, perhaps waiting for her.

I love the duality of the “two windows.” I don’t know if she wrote it that way or, when scouting locations found a shop with two windows at the counter and decided to use both of them, but OMG, for me that just put this film on a whole ‘nother level. There’s an old story about, when you die, you’ll be escorted to two doors. One marked “Heaven” and one marked “Hell,” and you have to choose which to enter. This evoked that.

It’s tempting to believe that he gave her something at the end. That it was an act of charity on his part. I’ve come to believe, after repeated viewings, that she gave him something: an opportunity to break free of his father, a chance to act on his own, and a chance to connect, on a non-business level, with another human being. She gave him life, and it shocked him. He seems surprised at what he’s doing. I don’t believe all the ranting he does was for his father’s benefit. I think it was for his own. “The ring is worth nothing.” One hundred…two hundred…three hundred…”Go!”  In the opening scene, we see a picture of a child hanging from the rear view mirror of Puette’s car. We assume she’s hocking valuables to support him. Negahban didn’t see that. He doesn’t know WHAT she needs the money for. Maybe drugs, maybe booze. He has no clue, and yet he is able to step out of himself, see himself as her, and give her some help. Notice he does not smile when he’s handing her the hundred dollar bills AND returning the ring to her, nor does he smile afterward, because, at this point, he is her, humbly receiving the help of another human being, a being so different from himself and yet so much the same.

Give Me the Night, Any Day

moonI do not wake up “happy.” I do not greet the dawn with “a smile on my face and a song in my heart.” In fact, my first thought when I awaken is usually, “Oh, crap. I didn’t die in my sleep again last night.”

The older I get, the more I see the daylight hours as something to “get through” in order to reach the night’s quiet solitude.

During the day, I am constrained – by obligations, expectations, and people who have put me in a tidy little box. “We know who you are. Please be that.” Come the night, that all falls away. Alone, in solitude, I can just be me, instead of that.

It is in the lack of light that I truly see. The daylight blinds. It is the night’s darkness that opens wide the eyes. Oh, look at that. How beautiful.

think better at night, or maybe just more. The days are filled with reacting, to people, situations, and an endless stimulus of sights accompanied by a cacophony of sounds. The night quells those things, leaving only me and my thoughts.

It is in the night that I know who I am and sometimes glimpse what I am to be.

It is in the night that I come to know the
endless
possibilities.

And it is in the night that I have come to know what Paul Simon meant when he wrote,

“Hello, Darkness, my old friend.”

It is in the night.

Did you hear a duck?

duck_17203Last summer, I was in my backyard when the neighbor lady came out, and we started chatting over the fence.

It was not the best time for this, because I really, really had to fart, and neighbor lady is known to go on and on and on. (We used to have a beagle that would actually roll his eyes at her.)

So I’m smiling and nodding at her while simultaneously trying to ascertain if this impending fart would be a silent one or one that could knock a squirrel out of a tree.

It was a hot day, so the air conditioner was running, and the outside compressor is noisy, so I’m thinking that between its noise, a brisk breeze rustling through the trees, and the chattering of the birds, I’ve got some sonic cover.

So I let it rip.

Of course, that’s exactly when the AC kicked off, the wind died down, and the birds went mute.

“Did you hear a duck?” asks the neighbor lady, incredulously. There was excitement in her voice, because we don’t have ducks. We’re in the middle of a duckless city. “That sounded like a duck,” she says, as she’s looking around.

I should have said, “No, I didn’t hear anything at all.” Instead I said, “Huh. That’s weird.”

Now I can’t just stand there while she’s searching her yard like she’s hot on the trail of Bigfoot, so I have to start looking around my yard for a duck I know doesn’t exist, and there is no search more thorough than a fake search.  The person at the office who accidentally shredded the Higgins file yesterday will be the person pulling the filing cabinets away from the wall today because “It has to be here somewhere.”

So I’m peering behind the AC unit, moving the ivy around with my foot, and looking up in the trees (and I don’t think ducks perch in trees, but the fake search knows no boundaries).

I then make the mistake of bending over to check behind the hydrangea bush.

“There it goes again!” she exclaimed as, just out of her line of sight, a squirrel tumbled from a tree.

I rolled my eyes.

“Well, I have to go inside now,” I say, “but let me know if you find it.”

“I’m going to check the yard on the other side of me,” she says. “I’ll be sure to let you know.”

As I enter my kitchen, I say to my wife, “We have to buy a duck for the backyard.” When she asks why, I explain to her what had just happened.

“Then you may want to pick one up for the bedroom, too,” she responds.

Note: A slightly different version of this tale appeared on my blogspot blog a few years ago, but if you can’t steal from yourself, who can you steal from?