Monday, December 30, 2013


Well I'm back. I never bothered to mention it here, but our family was out camping all last week. We were staying at Agua Caliente, a little patch of desert nestled at the base of a hot spring near San Diego. It's a great, desolate environment that I hadn't had the chance to visit for several years. Besides the trees at the base of the hills, it's completely flat, with nothing but cacti and desert shrubs for miles around. The air was very clear, which let one see as far as the other side of the valley. If the hills weren't there, I'd imagine it would be possible to see all the way to the Salton Sea.

But more than anything, I was surprised by how quiet it was there. If one is standing on a hiking trail far from camp, it's completely dead silent. Several times when I was out walking, I would go a little off the trails, sit on a boulder and listen to the sound of blood in my own ears. I don't think I have ever encountered such perfect, deafening silence before.

I had a great time there; the silence, isolation, the sheer asceticism, it was all wonderful. It's why I've always liked the desert. It's such a strange, otherworldly place.

And speaking of strange, otherworldly places. Today is the Fourth Annual PARANOIA DAY!

Paranoia was released four years ago today and each year we have commemorated it with a special holiday that I hope will eventually replace Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and even Festivus as the holiday of the holiday season. Paranoia Day is a special time of year where your entire family forms elaborate, disturbing conspiracies against you. It's the time to quietly rearrange furniture and personal items, then pretend it's always been like that so your loved ones start to question their perception of reality. Paranoia Day is, of course, also a time to make cakes in the shape of doors.

Sadly, we didn't have anything planned for Paranoia Day this year. Everyone was too partied out already from camping, it seems. But next year! Ho boy. We'll have triangular cakes. And we'll build staircases that don't lead anywhere. And send each other vaguely threatening letters. And there will be cosmic despair and existential dread for everyone.

That's what the holidays are really about.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Thrash Jazz Assassin

Picture it: I'm sitting in my living room. I'm watching Star Trek, eating a sandwich. I think everything is fine and good when suddenly there's a knock on the door. My grandpa gets up to see who it is and we all stop what we're doing to listen in. Because, hey, it might be more relatives. And suddenly I hear the voice on the other side of the door:

"Hi, I was wondering if we could speak to Tyler." And suddenly, my blood runs cold.

"...Chapman." I mutter as I get up to go to the door. Everyone watches as I get up and start muttering some excuse for what's happening.. I suddenly remember, he was in town that day. He made the drive here, I should have expected this.

He's standing outside, talking to his friend and I realize I'm in for a terrible time. They notice me and start spouting gibberish but I don't have any of it. I go back inside and try to explain to my grandparents. But somehow, they accept what's happening. They're not outraged. They're not mortified. So, with nothing else to do to save myself, I get my car keys and head out.

Basically, Haydn drove down here from LA and demanded I co-star in a movie he was making. And really, I had no choice:

Keep in mind, I had no idea he was going to do this. I knew he would be in town, sure. But there was no script, no plan. I never even saw that violin until a few seconds before filming began. And everyone's lines were made up on the spot too. All in all, it was actually a really neat improve exercise.

But then again, I feel like I could have given a better performance if I had a script. Or, you know, if anyone bothered to tell me I was going to be in a movie that day. But no one ever tells me anything, so I guess that wasn't going to happen. What surprised me was how okay my grandparents were with it. I'm not sure I like the idea of people trusting me enough to run out of the house late in the day and filming avant-garde movies whenever I like.

This wasn't the first time I've been a part of one of his projects though. We filmed a tense police drama at the library once. But unfortunately, that plan fell through. I played a tough-as-nails police chief chewing out the main character, McLonewolf for botching a case. I feel like I did a better job that time because, let's face it, I just have the right face for a police chief.

Well, that's all for now. I'll be sure to write about it next time my acting career creeps up on me.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bunny Money Part II

I did it again! I almost forgot today was...


But seriously you guys, I'm going to try and get back to a more regular posting schedule; album covers, disgusting food, that sort of thing.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

No One Ever Tells Me Anything

Wow. It's taken me a long time to get around to writing this. I'm sorry about that, but I do have an excuse.

It starts Thursday, about two weeks ago. Thursday is laundry day, when I clean my collection of drab grey shirts. It was a rainy morning and I was angrily scribbling in one of my notebooks. I was watching an episode of The Prisoner at the same time, So I was already in a distrustful mood.

There was a knock on the door as my grandma sorted groceries in the kitchen since Thursday is also grocery day. At first I thought it was a salesman, but suddenly I heard her screaming. There was another scream and before I knew it the whole house is echoing with shrill voices.

I thought we were being robbed.

I remember peaking out of the hallway and watching my grandma jumping up and down, unable to process what I was seeing. There were two other people with her, a blur of color from where I was standing. But slowly I started to piece together the familiar shapes. And almost immediately I found myself thinking "Oh my god, what is Mom doing here?" Mom and Lou were standing in the doorway. And suddenly, everything started to make sense. My sister staying home that day. My grandpa insisting on vacuuming the house without any explanation. The evasive glances. The phony headache used as an excuse to stay home. It all made sense.

They knew. They knew this would happen and they kept this secret from me for weeks. Months even.

I spent the next several minutes in a daze as everyone greeted each other. Apparently, they had been planning this surprise visit for three months and had driven all the way here from Texas. Only my sister and grandpa knew and had been instrumental in making sure no one found out. Luggage was already making it's way through the door as I slowly started to grasp the sheer scale of what was happening here. My mind was already running through all the things they successfully kept secret from me.

What else were people not tell me about? Suddenly I became very aware of how easy it would be for my family to poison food I was about to eat.

But I started to get over it when I realized, 'Hey, Mom and Lou are here'. They started telling us about what a huge ordeal it was planning this trip and the difficulty of keeping it secret. My sister was gloating, because she was able to keep this information from me for so long. More luggage made it's way inside. Lou's collection of remote-controlled helicopters passes by me. But suddenly, everyone's ushered outside to see an "early graduation present" for my sister.

I was already stunned by this point and thought I couldn't be surprised by anything else. I go out into the rain and see a large, silvery grey shape waiting in the driveway.

A 2001 Jeep Cherokee. They bought her an entire car.

The smug expression left her face and she immediately ran inside the car to cry. It turns out they didn't tell her that little part of their plan, so she was surprised by at least one thing that day.

Almost immediately after that, they piled into the Jeep and sped away to the mall, leaving Lou, my grandpa and myself to try and make sense of what had just happened. We talked about antique trucks to try and lull ourselves back into a sense of normalcy and my thoughts drifted back to my laundry.

When everyone came back in the Jeep we spent the rest of the day exchanging news and recovering from the shock. But mostly, we all trying to wrap our heads around the fact that oh man, my sister suddenly has a car.

Mom and Lou spent a week here, which we used to go shopping and driving around town. Part of the reason why they kept their trip a secret was because they didn't want it dragged down by overly-ambitious plans like going to Disneyland. By surprising us, they ensured we had nothing planned to keep them occupied, which means most of their time was spent here at home. This is good, because we all had a considerably better time going out to breakfast and coming home to watch movies than we would making huge plans.

This brings me back to why I haven't written in so long; practically 83% of my family was staying here last week and that's practically my entire readership. I figured if I wanted to tell them about rabbits or foreign cuisine it would be easier to just walk into the other room and tell them. So that's why there haven't been any posts lately.

But anyway, by the end of the week my sister had amassed a huge collection of tapes for her car. It doesn't have a CD player you see. And that's just fine because we were able to find some of The Cure, Depeche Mode, Love and Rockets and even The Art of Noise. True, we had to scour every local antique store to find even these, but that doesn't make it any less impressive. Mom was especially pleased by what we were able to find, because it's exactly the sort of thing she would listen to in high school (with the exception of The Art of Noise). So of course she started having flash backs to when she first started driving, realizing it's now my sister's turn to face that part of her life.

Later that week, my aunt came to visit. Like my grandma and myself, she had no idea Mom or Lou was here, so she was surprised too. She was only able to stay for the afternoon though, so the full brunt of this conspiracy probably didn't hit her. Although she was here long enough to give her own seal of approval to my sister's growing tape collection.

All in all, it was a nice, unexpected visit and I was happy to see them again after so much time away.

And yet, I'm still very upset.

This is because 2013 has seen a huge dip in the number of blog posts I've made, a measly 30 entries as of this writing. I have no idea why this has happened. I still like blogging. I think the quality of my writing has greatly benefited from it. And yet there it is, a huge gap where there normally wouldn't be. Is it because I'm not writing about maps anymore? Is it because Lost Highways has been so obviously postponed and I'm avoiding writing about it?

That might be it. There's a void that map-related posts have left behind that no amount of nasty exotic delicacies will be able to fill, which means I need to find more subjects to write about before I start losing readers.

Things like celebrity gossip.