Thursday, December 22, 2005

Building a better software muse?

I've long been interested in the notion of writing a software program that could, well... write! (Or, at least creatively translate). As philosophers and scientists have often said, there's little originality in most artwork nowadays, anyway. Not to mention Internet search engine Google's outstanding initiative that will digitize most of the world's great literature; they claim their worthy goal is information access for all- we'll see if that doesn't come with a price tag of some sort attached, be it "well-placed" ads or an eventual subscription price.

Imagine... a program skims the 'googlized' library, perhaps randomly selecting combinations of plots and subplots, narrative lines and differing points of view. The end result is mechanized creativity- digital insight into a multitude of possibilities.

What if Nancy Drew had agreed to paint the white picket fence? Or Owen Meaney- what if he'd been a pacifist? You take Carolyn Keane, add a dash of Mark Twain and a pinch of John Irving for spice. Isn't that what authors do, anyway?

As technology evolves at an ever-increasing pace, software companies continue to tout their wares as pivotal to the overall flexibility of a quality machine. A successful sales pitch always includes the words "all-in-one." It is in that spirit that some have wondered when 'human simulated' creativity will enter the OS mix. Can a machine learn original thought when we, ourselves, have essentially become parrots of earlier generations? Smack me if I am being too harsh here...

I've had my moments, after writing what I consider to be a beautiful passage, when I wonder if it was truly my handiwork. A subconscious theft? A barely audible case of deja vu? Whatever it was (even if it was just my muse shrieking by, on the lookout for someone with better hearing) I find it hard to believe the breathtaking pace of machine advancement can continue. Get ready for it- here comes the queen of all hackneyed expressions...

We've still so much to learn about the inner-workings of the human mind; how on earth will we explain it all to our machines?


So, for the busy professional, multi-tasking will continue. As for machinery, a tide of flexibility will surge across the landscape, no doubt improving everything in its path. But brief epiphanies will remain elusive. At least until Bill Gates digitizes my muse.

file it under: all booted up with no place to go.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Inconsistencies in intelligent design, as told by Bruce Wightman, Ph.D.

Evolution DOES NOT explain the creation of life on earth.

"When biologists talk about evolution, we are referring to mechanisms of genetic change over time to explain biological diversity. Prior to the first living thing existing, there can be no evolution since there can be no genetics without life. Evolution cannot be introduced to explain beginnings, only what happened after that."


notice Pauly Shore's t-shirt. it says 'That IS a banana in my pocket.' (click the image to check it out.)

Evolution DOES NOT negate the existence of God.

"It is unfortunate that atheists and materialists have used evolution as evidence that counts against the existence of God. This is not a logically defensible position. Simply because a natural process requires no supernatural intervention does not mean that no supernatural being exists. Evolution is no threat to God any more than gravity or electricity."



file it under: shoutout to Bruce: that IS a banana in my pocket ;P

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I think this deserved more media att'n than it got, amid the 3 ring execution @ San Quentin last night....

I know this is distasteful but it speaks to a lot of the back and forth in the media; people who "knew" Tookie yet spoke out against him, prison guards who said he was cold-blooded to the end- all of that. They said whatever they could to keep the spotlight on them.

One of Williams' victims was Albert Owens. In the days leading to the execution, Owens' stepmother Laura (the redhead with the glasses) made the talk show circuit repeatedly pleading for people to understand that she needed Tookie's death to have closure over the young man's early demise.

On Larry King late Monday night, King read a letter written by Owens' REAL mother and REAL sister. ACTUAL family.

The two stated unequivocally in their letter that not only did Laura Owens NOT speak for the family (they wanted Williams' granted clemency!) but she had barely even spent a measurable amount of time with Albert Owens during his short life.

file it under: forget redemption. 150 death row exonerations is enough evidence for me...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Everyone in favor of Tookie Williams' execution take one step forward.

Now that I have your attention...

What do you think our justice system is for? What should incarceration accomplish?

There are those who say Williams has not really changed. There are those who say "Twelve of his peers decided he deserved death." I say if that's your measuring stick, re-poll the jurors. Tell them what the founder of the Crips gang has done with his life in the years since they sentenced him to death.

One more question for those who are pro-death out there: Is there a "better" candidate for life imprisonment? No one in their right minds is suggesting that Williams go free- that the four murders he committed be forgotten. But allow him this small measure of grace- that he may spend his days helping others avoid his fate.

There is nothing on this Earth that is harder for a human being to do then to completely alter his seeming natural impulses. There is nothing harder and, at the same time, nothing more profound.

Through the horrific acts of his youth, Tookie Williams was granted access to a changed perspective, a brand new way to understand the world- and by extension, himself.

file it under: god help us...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

This is why I luv BBC radio:

You add the accents...

Commentator 1:Philadelphia is attempting to set-up a citywide online computer network. But some have security concerns that as they log on, the fellow next to them might somehow gain access to their personal information...
nuthin' like british radio

Commentator 2: (laughs) --Well, I have nothing to worry about, then. If anyone has a look at my bankbook, they'd get a chuckle out of it and nothing more!


have a listen, then file this under: an american would never admit say that...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Stand On Ceremony... after all, the machines are coming!

Joseph Campbell's "The Power of Myth" is a stunning treatise on the invaluable role these cultural 'bed-time' stories play. The author asserts that such fables are the glue that melds our societal consciousness into a cohesive framework.

More that religion in itself (though he explores so-called 'spiritual myth') Campbell claims such stories are the moral framework of generations. He seems to call on a largely unchurched yet spiritually crazed population's sometimes dense morality as proof.

That led me to wonder--what about the overall role that rituals play in our cultural awareness? To some extent, ritual and myth exist in a similar vein--largely to define the consciousness of the seer.

Think about it. The talking heads espouse liberality (I'm not talking politics here...) and enlightenment as the newest designer drugs. Meanwhile, people like Marshall McLuhan and movies like The Matrix crop up with full fledged communities and seek to redefine our world as the domain of the machines. But what defines you?

If I asked you to name the three greatest moments in your life, would it give you pause to consider the almost universal answers?
oh happy day
-My graduation
-My wedding
-My child's birth

filed under: AI? Fugeddaboutit. Machines have no sense of timing...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Trouble in Toyland

A report released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that in 2004, 16 children choked to death and about 210,000 spent their holidays in the ER, coughing up small items they had swallowed.

Shockingly, a government research group said it still finds small toy parts in games and dolls for the under three set- parts that violate a federal ban. In other instances, packaging either lacks or obfuscates the required warning labels.
things that make you go mmmm
Among the flood of "fix-its" resulting from these reports, one idea stands out above the rest:

Parents should use a choke testing tube or a cardboard toilet paper roll to test small toys and parts. If any toy or part fits in the tube, then it is too small for children under 3 or older children who still put things in their mouths.

For the age group in question, choking on small items is a leading cause of death and injury.

file this one under: melts in 'yer preschool age+ mouth.

Monday, November 21, 2005

You beautiful bastard- overqualified AND underpaid. But... paid!

Average Jane is slightly more than average. A mind for numbers, the logic of a born programmer, she brought the Internet and PC technology into mainstream America. Did her job so well, in fact, that she talked herself right out of employment! Buh-bye Silicon Valley, hel-lo Bom-bay.


Despite this fatal flaw in burgeoning Internet technologies -- that humans, of a particular sort, are a non-essential component -- it's impossible to escape the influence of the digital landscape.


Average Jane and others like her have a helluva fight on their hands. The one pleasing aspect of job outsourcing syndrome is the abundance of educative materials and opportunities on our shores. hard at work


As a conventional management structure disappears, as CEOs, shareholders, and mid-level managers are removed potentially further and further from their employees, boundaries dissapate at an ever increasing rate.


Average Jane and others like her must bring more to the table than mere job skills. Business savvy, industry awareness, and more abounding creativity (perhaps in the form of product innovations that go above and beyond customer contracts)- that's the only way to improve upon lower cost structures that can be found abroad. That's the way not to impinge upon the very capitalist ideals that built our country (forget about demanding employers not go overseas).


THAT is the way to keep your job.


file this one under: melts in 'yer mouth, not in 'yer India.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Digital piracy and DVD copy protections

Of all the pros and cons in the digital share or not to share debate, perhaps two of the best are Linus Torvalds and Dan Bricklin. Torvalds, of course, birthed the Linux operating system. Bricklin, on the other hand, may be slightly less well known. the REAL king of all media

The inventor of the first spreadsheet program, Dan Bricklin is a proponent of the share side of the debate. He has written extensively on his website about the dangers DVD copy protections pose to the future of computing.

The crux of Bricklin's argument is that casual computer users- those who lack an illicit agenda- are the record keepers of a generation. Copy a disk, store it in a desk somewhere for the day when a backup may become necessary. The best way to learn where we're going is to know where we've been. It's said often enough. But how true that the litigious nature of society is lending itself to so many protections... we will protect ourselves right out of a history!

Case in point: In 1999, a longtime inventor named Ziarno decided to sue the Red Cross over what he saw as patent infringements. The idea was his, Ziarno said, to collect money via a particular online donation process. Much to the chagrin of the inventor, two programmers named Eastburn and Trevor had made it a hobby to collect outdated software. Sort of a technological 'walk down memory lane.' In court, they recreated an early Compuserve site- a site that proved despite Ziarno's patent, the idea was not originally his [BBC News].

Though it is unlikely one will ever be prevented from copying or saving websites to their home computer, it is a relatively small leap to say that such a situation could pertain to software and hardware itself, in the coming years. Where will we be, if the casual user is left out of the loop? It is to this same end that DVD protections prohibit the film buff from adding copied movies to his home library. The film buff copies his DVDs, perhaps only for the purposes of backup, perhaps for sharing within a small network of friends. But there is no commercial profit acquired out ofm&m quotables said copying-- thus, prohibiting such things because of what a small group of people "could" do with the technology is a perversion of our legal system.

It is easy to see why actors and producers of movies might associate piracy of their art with mounting negative social consequences. They believe, as reasonable people do, that their efforts should not go uncompensated or unrecognized. Even more than that, they may fear their work will be corrupted or used outside of its intent (witness the associations made between Michael Moore's documentaries and campaigning politicians last election season; locally, this was the RNC's primary tactic for attacking the character of Democratic candidate Virginia Schrader.)

The fault in this instance lies again with presumed mal intent. Why even release movies on video at all? People could invite 40 friends over to watch, while just one person has paid the my little brother- wearing the family shame for all to see :Prental fee. After all, movies grant entrance on a per person fee. More likely, it is the newness of the medium that scares the stakeholders involved. Betamax was a fearful entity in the early eighties; and in the years since, though piracy has been a persistent problem, it never reared its ugly head in the way it was expected to. The same will eventually be proven of the Internet and DvD movie/file downloading, the piracy that makes its way from the theater to online communities. Good conscience still guides most people- and where it doesn't, criminals should be prosecuted after the fact, not before.

As for the legalities of the issue, lawyers will always fall on the moneyed side of the piracy debate. (Depending on the client, they may be pro or con; but, in this modern age, lawyers tend to side with the deep pocketed business interests.) In their eyes, anyone who even thinks of infringing on a copyright is guilty. In any event, logic tells us that no matter where the legislators land on the issue, people will continue to test loopholes, thus supplying lawyers with a steady stream of clients.

Optimism of a strange sort may provide a helpful outlook for the lawyer's future, but what of the digital pirate? He, who makes his living plugging away at the keyboard day in and out, never creating, but merely trafficking in the work of others. As Assistant Attorney General John Richter said in May, 'They won't be able to hide in anonymity much longer' [BBC News]. Here, implied, is the fear that keeps many legislators and politicians in a cold sweat at night. As per their habit of presuming guilt, governmental leaders also tend to think society will degenerate and implode upon itself if left unsupervised for even a moment; and in many ways, that fear makes some sense. However, an irrational component of that fear is the D.C. mindset that says there is only one way to do things.

Imagine...they think the human consciousness is so static that it does not shift over time. The technological landscape is our final frontier. We're watching Gates and his fellow pioneers as they attempt to forge nation states all over again.


To expand some more on the Richter quote, especially in the light of the Microsoft initiative announced in early November- a move that aims to push the software giant almost wholly i wonder what kind of property taxes they pay there... online- we're seeing a face emerge on the World Wide Web. Like Hollywood consultants of old- those who took a Norma Jean and made her into a Marilyn, or a Robert Zimmerman into a Bob Dylan- the Internet is being given a personality. A face-lift. As the anonymity fades away, as new laws continue to emerge, the positives trickling out of the process may prove to be worth the trouble. Technology no longer makes people afraid- their perceptions are clearing. And by the same token, perhaps digital pirates will- if not cease and desist- then become a whole lot more careful!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Trustigious journalism, nightly, on The Colbert Report


I just hafta know if this guy is doing a send up of himself. Whether he is or not, he's the best thing on TV.

As The Man himself would probably be quick to add- that's not saying much! :P

"In the last week, there's been a lot of talk about whether the CIA has secret prisons in Eastern Europe. Well, they don't. They have 'prisons,' but not 'secret prisons' -- thanks to the blabbermouths at the Washington Post." The secret's out, Post -- you're on notice!"

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Broadband pirates, beware!

"In truth, literature, in science and in art, there are, and can be, few, if any things, which in an abstract sense are strictly new and original throughout. Every book in literature, science, and art borrows, and must necessarily borrow, and use much which was well known and used before."
-- Supreme Court Justice David Souter

For many years, the copyright law of note has remained the so-called "fair use" clause of the all-encompassing 1976 act. Its original intent pertained to written and other works of academia. In more recent times, however, its sphere of influence has expanded into music. Artists "sampling" a lyric or a phrase- or even entire sections of works- are then legally reviewed under the following criteria:

  • does it comment on the original work? (by expanding the artist's meaning)
  • does it criticize the original work? (by revaling inherent flaws in perhaps logic and/or overall meaning)

Supreme Court Justice David Souter has rather poetically expressed his viewpoint on "original" art. 'It all borrows on that which has gone before,' Souter said, effectually paraphrasing King Solomon ("There is nothing new under the sun.") But facilitator methods- methods that assist in forms of piracy and infringement- are indeed very new.


In June of this year, Justice Souter delivered the unanimous opinion of the court in the landmark file sharing case "MGM v. Grokster." Grokster was one of many companies that disseminated free software meant to assist users in file sharing across P2P networks. According to U.S Supreme Court multimedia website Oyez, the software companies knew users were utilizing the software to download copyrighted materials. Though this leap in logic seems probable, it does appear outside the scope of the court--of any court, really--to legislate matters of thought. However, for any technology pirate who is sued by a corporation in the future, it could serve as a stunning defense strategy. At the very least, it's the newest incarnation of an age-old legal trick- the 'deflect the blame' game.


To expand briefly: rather than prosecute those who use the software maliciously, the U.S legal system is prosecuting inventors and producers in much the same fashion that courts are beginning to say to gun manufacturers "Yes, guns can be used only for hunting or other conditionally legal endeavors, but people still get killed some of the time. That makes you wrong." And people say copyright laws are a kick in the pants to innovation- yet, legislators are beginning to write legalities into existence that say any innovators must fully envision the scope of the future, as well as how their creations could potentially be used!


In the Grokster ruling, the Court reversed two lower court decisions that found for the software maker. Souter and the other justices argued that inferring into the intent of the 1976 Copyright Act was fully within their rights- the earlier legislation had made no mention of parties being liable in the instance of infringement by another. So called "secondary liability" doctrines were called into play. Because of the immense popularity of Grokster's software, it would have been too costly and too time consuming for the courts to prosecute actual criminals. Grokster was found liable for profiting from copyright infringement perpetrated by others.

====How perceptive of you!=====

"...America's laws regarding artists continue to reflect our national attitude toward artists: These are weird, potentially dangerous people who often care less about money than is acceptable. That's true whether you're a painter, writer, cartoonist, songwriter, director, dancer, or anyone else who's trying to create something you want other people to see or hear. Business is our national art form, and business is deeply suspicious of art. So is our court system."
--Nancy Updike

=========================

Many might view Grokster's actions in a post-Napster world as asking for trouble. But 2 out of 3 courts agreed with the software manufacturer. Therefore, it is not unrealistic to assume the contradictions running rampant through the technology sector are due to a disjointed perception of software and the online world. There is no structure and because of that, a "see how far you can get" mentality exists. Bill Gates, however, is about to change that with an Internet face lift - one that inherently brands the World Wide Web with Microsoft's goliath handprint.


Said handprint will be step one in eliminating the anonymity of the 'net (perhaps the prevailing misperception people have when committing crimes online). Eleven months ago, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) announced plans to prosecute those who download pirated versions of movies onto their hard drives. They cited user's perceived anonymity as their greatest asset in the new initiative. In May, the MPAA was overjoyed at a crackdown on the BitTorrent network- a website that had been disseminating Star Wars, Revenge of the Sith. John C. Richter, Asst. Attorney General, hailed the arrests, saying they "[sent] a clear and unmistakable message" that internet pirates "cannot hide behind new technology."


Only a month before these arrests, President Bush signed into law The Family Entertainment and Copyright Act; essentially, song and film pirates who place their wares on the 'net for download may face up to three years in jail- in addition to hefty fines. Interestingly, the new bill targets only those file-sharers who swap unreleased items.


==Isn't it Ironic?==

The act also allows parents to "edit out" sex, violence and bad language from DVDs. Furthermore, it protects companies that provide filters to skip entire portions of films. Manufacturers and producers had objected, saying that any such alterations infringed on their copyrights. However, the law has exempted these companies from facing prosecution [BBC news].

########


Sunday, October 30, 2005

"I can deal with it. It's not like they stole my dog"

-so said the 3rd baseman for the Astros, after losing the World Series.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Vainquer in The Straits Times, 2005-- print launch

Copyright 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Limited The Straits Times (Singapore)

October 23, 2005

SundaySECTION: Gen Y

LENGTH: 901 words

HEADLINE: A publisher - at age 14; Kristiano Ang's teen entertainment mag, Vainquer Teens, will debut tomorrow

BYLINE: Melissa Sim

BODY:... page Vainquer Teens features Avril Lavigne on the cover and an interview with the Canadian rock chick inside.The publisher - Kristiano Ang - is all of 14 years old.He and his friend Benjamin Lau, also 14, started Vainquer, pronounced 'wane-cur' and meaning victor ...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

the ruler of all ironies

It was a running joke, when I was a teenager, that an English teacher at the high-school had actually written an entire novel with no plot. i look a lot like this picture

For a time, this was a strange idea to me. All throughout one's formative years, at least in theory (if not in fact) life is all about the next thing. How do I get there from here?

Ironically, sometime later I realized I had become that selfsame writer with no narrative. Literary magazine editors said I was "full of stops and starts." They scoffed that my forerunner was Eudora Welty. (My face lit up). Then... the next sentence...

Eudora Welty would not- could not- get published
today, were she just starting out like you.

But narrative is one thing (as Lorrie Moore said, "Plots are for dead people.") LIFE is something completely different and perhaps more rare. Do we have some ancient spiritual duty to honor life in a certain way?

So, in the years between high-school graduation and where I sit now (at 25) I must admit that I've become the quintessential static character- unchanged, though life around me keeps spinning. I'd like to think there must have been emotional growth of some kind, something transformative that I experienced in my early 20s-- though for right now, I don't know what that is.

another photo of meWork for me, my personal relationships, where I live-- it's all been steady. Re: BORING. I do detest change, and yet I envy excitement. Is that the ruler of all ironies?

Eudora Welty captured an important facet of life in her literature. Healthy or not, there are many people out there just like me. People who love the sound of crickets (even though they miss real noise just a little bit on any given Sunday).

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

teach for africa: educate-- illuminate-- alleviate

strange bedfellows?? (i've used that caption an amazing amount of times now...)According to the world's most liberal economists the inspiring goals behind Tony Blair's African poverty pledge are unrealistic. Aid to corrupt governments is the same as throwing money into the Atlantic.

At the same time, Geldof's - though awesome- sent hungry Africans to bed with a big bowl of awareness. Mmmmm...

If I understand my Thomas Friedman correctly, the 1st step for Africa is full & fair democratization. That can only be accomplished by educating citizens more widely & on more diverse topics than just AIDS. Then the globalization tide can surge in & alter the landscape.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Alcoholic play

copyright 2005-2015

The Alcoholic 



CAST OF CHARACTERS

DAVID- Male

STEVE- Male

BARTENDER- Female















A Single Act Play











1

David Leto is a tall, angular man with a shock of graying hair that cannot be tamed. Drunk as he is, the elbow-patched brown blazer that he always wears this night has become an encumbrance, and so he decides to hang it atop the boar’s head mounted at the far end of Casey’s Bar, in outlying Miami. That he is able to drag a table, climb onto it and successfully drape the jacket upon the animal, then make it back down in one piece prompts a round of one-part laughter and three-parts applause from the other patrons. Loping back to his stool, he hollers for more scotch. As he waits, David rattles his keys in the palm of his sweaty left hand, an old nervous habit compounded by the alcohol. Within moments, a short, curly-haired man-in-glasses approaches.

STEVE
(claps DAVID on shoulder)
Everything okay?
(DAVID just looks at him blankly)
I was sitting there, staring up at that boar, wishing that some screw would work itself loose, and the whole thing would fall, and break into a million pieces.
(begins to pull a selection of items from his pocket..)
Do you think it died in a volleyball accident?
(a lollipop, a pen, a USB drive, a paper clip; a large napkin, which he picks up absentmindedly and inspects)


2
DAVID
I’m not sure it would shatter if it fell.

STEVE
Anyway, the jacket helped. Steve Adler. I’m a sportswriter. Just moved here from PA.

DAVID
I’m the guy in this bar who doesn’t give a damn about sports.

STEVE
Writers are the ones who traffic in stereotypes. For people in other professions, it’s probably a bad habit to get into.

DAVID
(mutters)
Isn’t it a bad habit for a writer?



3
STEVE
I don’t think anybody in Miami gives a damn about sports-- unless you’re talking women’s volleyball.

DAVID
Ah.
(BARTENDER silently delivers another drink to DAVID,
which the alcoholic dives for. He hesitates a moment,
then raises his glass in the writer’s direction)

To courage.
(within seconds, DAVID downs the drink, orders another, and starts in on a nearby bowl of peanuts)

STEVE
(makes a strangled sound of disgust at the idea of communal food; then, he motions with two of his fingers up and down the length of DAVID’s person)
What’s the deal?
(now doodling on the back of a napkin that says Hook a deal at Barnacle Bill’s!)
4
DAVID
(pounds his hand on the bar)
Let me tell you a story. It’s far more interesting your dog, or the boar’s head wearing my coat, or even women’s volleyball. See, I have these crazy dreams. One of them takes place in a future of indeterminate… of the indeterminate. There is this guy, his name is Mark, and he looks something like me. Mark came from a small town near the Keys and on his arrival in the St. Augustine bus terminal—he was here for a job interview—he met a beautiful brown-haired girl who worked in the ticket office. During her breaks, she liked to roam the platforms at the train station, cigarette, coffee in hand, guiding misdirected travelers toward their appropriate destinations. Mark’s initial encounter with her concerned a query as to the best dinner spot in town and she smiled, agreeing to accompany him. By the time they arrived at the little bistro above a bowling alley, Mark already knew he wanted to see her again. And even though Claire seemed perfect in every way, her habit of nervousness bothered him. He questioned her about it in the intervening weeks. Her apartment was unspeakably clean- practically unlived in- and she ate and spent all the time she could at work, roaming, studying the travelers. The poor sucker would realize years later that she had been looking for a particular person- not just people watching. Why had he not seen that? Eventually, following the requisite number of dates, Mark proposed and Claire eagerly accepted. This fellow stupidly thought he could gloss over the things she had not told him by putting a diamond on her finger. And in the days that led up to their wedding, the couple attended party after party. She grew more distant. On the eve of her birthday, a few weeks before they were to be wed, she told him she was very sick. She needed a new heart.
(starts to sob)


5
STEVE
(shorthand on the napkin, getting smaller and smaller with each line…)

BARTENDER
(drops fist of napkins in front of the writer)
Knock yourself out.

DAVID
They both held each other that night, all night long, until Mark got into his head this insane idea. It’s the distant future, you will remember. Mark took her to a doctor he had been reading about in The New Yorker. This man invented an artificial heart. I mean to say he created it. Mark wanted desperately to save her. All he could talk about to anyone who would listen was how her smile was better than… daylight.In the doctor’s office, Mark pelted the lab-coated academic with questions about his invention, electric impulses, the human heart itself. Mark also wanted to know what had caused her condition in the first place. And in my dream-
(leans forward on his barstool, pokes the writer in the chest)

STEVE
(interjects)
You might want to lower your voice.
(makes a mental note of the handful of other bar patrons now throwing the two men dirty looks)
6
DAVID
Let them overhear…In my dream the doctor said he knew of a way Mark could keep her alive. They would each utilize the same heart- his. Only one condition applied to the procedure. As all Mark could think of was his inability to cope without her, he agreed, although it would weaken him tremendously. Possibly kill him.

STEVE
So what happened?

BARTENDER
(passing by, rolls eyes with entire body)
Get this guy out of here.

STEVE
(shrugs, tosses his dog a look)

DAVID
(frantically tapping something against the railing)
After all his effort, after the frantic calls, the nights of research reading medical
(cont’d)
7
DAVID (cont’d)
dictionaries, after their love… She looked at him and just said, ‘Stop.’ The light had gone out of her face. She was already dead.

BARTENDER
(nudges writer)
Don’t you think it’s time to go now?

DAVID
(to BARTENDER)
What have I done here, tonight, but given the place a little ambience?

BARTENDER
(mutters)
Circus, more like.

STEVE
Let’s take a walk.

8
DAVID
(jumps backward off his stool, both he and stool teeter)
No. I want to know!

BARTENDER
Rich guys…over privileged guys…writers- life “happens” to you.

DAVID
If I’m a spectator then what the hell are you?

BARTENDER
Not with my own life! You come in here and you whine about how your father set this path down in front of you--how following it, how trying to make him happy- has basically destroyed your own prospects for happiness. Stand up for yourself. Take ownership of your own life and admit that maybe YOU made the mistake all those years ago when you didn’t have the balls to tell your father to fuck off. Maybe that’s what dad wanted. Maybe he was saying to himself if junior shows me he’s his own man now, then if he wants it, I’ll bless his wish to go join the Peace Corps and teach English in the Sudan for the next ten years. Whatever. I get it. You’ve seen the light now. Whatever. Just be grateful, instead of sitting here shitting over the fact that you wasted all this time. Some people waste their whole lives… and they never get the joke. You do.

9
(STEVE is inching slowly away from other two. At one point during the above exchange, in the midst of his backward inching, STEVE realizes that the pile of written-on napkins is still on the bar, and so he sidles quickly back--comically, as though a totally different character, as though, through his different walk, the other two will fail to recognize him)

DAVID
(smirks)
So ‘bartending’ is the end result of your having exerted careful and
thoughtful control over your life?

BARTENDER
(mocking)
I had a dream that the college offered a bartending certificate, and it pays the bills, and I deal with mostly interesting people on a nightly basis, and my boyfriend is perfectly content not to go looking for anyone else, but me.

DAVID
(just smiles sadly at this)


10
BARTENDER
(feeling bad, she quickly makes new drinks for the boys.)
I was at this lecture the other day. The professor asked us to imagine this painting… and it’s the most beautiful painting the world has ever seen. People lose themselves in it. They’re like…enraptured by it or something. Lives are lost. No more books are written. No more sermons preached. No more songs are sung. It’s just that. The end of man immortalized on a flat canvas. Would you do it-- destroy and remove this thing of supreme beauty from the world?
STEVE
(squinting, shaking head)
Are there things of lesser beauty in the world? Or things of equal beauty, though not as entrancing, for whatever reason?

DAVID
So no one can explain the hold that this thing has got over everyone--but maybe that’s because they haven’t had adequate time to reflect on it-- away from it. The world is constantly turned toward it.

STEVE
Sounds like voodoo, or something. Not beauty.


11
BARTENDER
Maybe voodoo is a good word. Still--would you do it? Remember, people are like desperate for a chance just to be near this thing.

DAVID
If-
(smirks)
When I destroy this thing, are you talking that people will still remember it? Or was it like it never existed? I mean, in our made-up world?

STEVE
But it’s a philosophical question. People having no memory makes no sense. Of course they remember.

BARTENDER
Right, I’m with you. So you take the time to destroy this painting that has cost lives-- now everyone who’s left knows you’ve taken away this superb thing. Whatever reasoning they have left, I should say. They hate you. They probably want you dead.


12
DAVID
(quietly)
Even though I finally get the joke.

BARTENDER
You’re the only one in on it.

(Next three lines, next three speakers, all at once)

STEVE
The people we start out trying to save-

DAVID
Aren’t there anymore.

BARTENDER
And still, you expect your reward.


13
STEVE
So this post-beauty world, where we’ve had massive bloodshed-- to clean up the after-effects? No thanks.

BARTENDER
(thoughtful, then, with resolve)
Lazy. Imagine if the allies had said that in WWII.

STEVE
Okay, well I may not have the energy or the optimism that I once did, but I hardly think you make a fair comparison.

DAVID
What’s fair? The painting isn’t real. Countless lives are at stake… Would you feel better if we were talking about only ONE life? Or just a handful?

STEVE
But back to before. You never said if there was other beauty in the world. Also, what’s deemed an appropriate amount of suffering? What’s the mourning time for post-art destruction? For that matter, how are you gauging “lives ruined”?

14
DAVID
(laughs-signals for more drinks)
You need to catch up.

BARTENDER
Yeah. You’re the guy who thinks about all the variables IN ADDITION TO look both ways before crossing. But I’d really like to know. See, there was a time when I would have said that the whole purpose of life is to seek beauty, and when it’s found, to worship it.

DAVID
Are you talking about the painting itself, or how people feel when they look at it?

STEVE
I don’t think you’re THAT drunk… Didn’t somebody write a book about this, once?

BARTENDER
I think every book is about this.

15
DAVID
At what point is it okay, on a personal level, to let this thing--whatever you choose to worship--overtake your other aspirations?

BARTENDER
Wait a sec. I thought I was watching two men have a philosophical discussion. Now you’re talking about setting priorities?

DAVID
I’m asking when it’s okay to overthrow them…rearrange them… whatever. You organize your life around this worldview that someone helps you set up when you’re a kid- or practically a kid. You make these decisions. Then, like we said, you wake up one day, and you’re totally different. The result of making those decisions, according to that belief, has left you… unrecognizable. Isn’t the only RIGHT thing to try and find a new way to order your world?

STEVE
Figure out how you went wrong.

DAVID
See I thought that, too. And there is a moment, for me, when I think everything went off track. But it’s because of that belief system. I FOLLOWED that belief system.
16
STEVE
Then you went wrong before that.

BARTENDER
Cause and effect. Chicken and egg. You guys aren’t letting me down.
(leans on bar to continue listening)

STEVE
Belief systems are tried and true. Tested throughout the centuries. That’s why certain ideas persist and others fall away. Proven systems can guide us when WE as fallible and/or untested human beings, need direction. Life doesn’t guarantee you anything but death. If you don’t measure your actions, and others, against some standard, where does the meaning arise from?

BARTENDER
Sanctimonious bastards in bars, apparently.

DAVID
(to STEVE)
You’re devout, then?

17
STEVE
I’m not. But I see the value in it. For me, on a day to day basis, I think religion has gifted us a non-theistic code in terms of ethics and morals. That RELIGION guided MAN in terms of civilizing-- and now, in many ways, we’ve moved past some of the more infantile aspects.

BARTENDER
God with the flowing white hair.

DAVID
Staff, sandals, white robe.

STEVE
Exactly. But the TEN COMMANDMENTS and the ideas that they birthed are the keys to any working society. Do unto others. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness… And so on.

DAVID
Others have done the thinking, so we don’t have to?
(cont’d)

18
DAVID (cont’d)
(pokes STEVE in the chest)
I would argue that there’s always a point when you would overthrow your set beliefs--when it conflicts too much with perhaps a strong desire. I think that takes away from your moralistic stance-- what it really becomes is-

BARTENDER
This is acceptable, until something better comes along.

DAVID
Exactly. It’s convenience. Not…devout-ness.

BARTENDER
Where does that leave all your other decisions? It kind of invalidates them, doesn’t it?

STEVE
“Mark”-- the guy in your first story: are you talking about him? He was so blinded by Claire? Or was that you? Or me?


19
DAVID
What does it matter?

BARTENDER
I would like to know, too.

DAVID
(smiles)
I’ve got your attention, haven’t I?

BARTENDER
For the moment.

DAVID
How about another? Hair of the dog? On the house?

BARTENDER
Why not? Your wallet’s hanging from that boar’s head, isn’t it? I’ll tell you what. Say something else that impresses me, first, and you’ll get your drink.

20
STEVE
You’re the entertainment. We both are, I guess.
(puts the lollipop in his mouth)

DAVID
I guess I WAS just wondering when it’s okay to back down. How can you tell if the cost is worth the reward?

BARTENDER
Why is the sky blue?

STEVE
That’s not really a philosophical question. That’s science. Is BLUE BLUE? Is my blue, the same as your blue….?

DAVID
The only thing I could come up with-
(breathes deeply)
is when you can’t stand the alternative. When the other set of circumstances just
(cont’d)
21
DAVID (cont’d)
won’t allow you to breathe. You two must think that because I am in a story-telling mood that I know how these stories end. I don’t. I’m looking for pointers. I’m stuck in the denouement.

BARTENDER
The what?
(same time as-)

STEVE
Pulls out the one dollar words.
( to BARTENDER)
The climax has already happened. The end is rapidly approaching. The only question that remains in the readers’ eyes is ‘what will the hero do?’

BARTENDER
So you’re soliciting advice.



22
STEVE
He’s asking our opinions. And I would say that even drunk, he strikes me as pretty insightful.

BARTENDER
And I’m supposed to be the advice giver.

STEVE
Stereotype.

DAVID
(smirks)
So help me with the ending. Do you destroy the painting? How long should Mark
wait before he starts dating again?

STEVE
I think you know that I’ll never say it’s okay to throw away your moral code-- especially for something you refer to as a ‘strong desire.’


23
BARTENDER
(to STEVE)
Maybe you haven’t experienced the right things, yet.

DAVID
Am I that transparent?

STEVE
So he’s just undergone some profound life event.

BARTENDER
Either that, or he’s upset at how easily he crumbled.

STEVE
Doesn’t look upset.

BARTENDER
Looks almost… happy.


24
STEVE
Almost…relieved.

DAVID
How is it everyone’s so sure they picked the right painting to worship, anyway?

BARTENDER
Lots of people are making mistakes that they don’t advertise. Lots of people are caving in.

DAVID
How are all these churches being built, books being written?

STEVE
Penance… Don’t forget about wars being fought, people being murdered, parents getting divorced. They’re shedding one skin to don another.

DAVID
You’re the writer. The absolutist. Stories must have endings. Questions require answers.
25
BARTENDER
If there wasn’t a moral code people at least aspired to, then chaos would reign. Anarchy.

STEVE
(points)
That’s true!

DAVID
Well if 99% of respondents agree to back away from the magic painting, but only one guy doesn’t, will you agree to let guy one take the painting and go off into his isolated corner somewhere?

BARTENDER
You’re calling that one guy, the guy who refuses to break free, you’re calling HIM the strong one?

STEVE
Did 99% of people just back down on the argument that their productivity was being threatened?

26
BARTENDER
Rand, nice.

DAVID
I’m just saying that if 99 follow blindly, what good are they?

BARTENDER
(shakes her head)
No, you’re not. Before, you said that that thing just wasn’t important enough to fight for.

DAVID
I just don’t think it’s right to criticize someone for casting aside their “beliefs”-- which I’m finding, anymore, is code for “pacify others” when someone is so tested that what’s at stake is a matter of profound importance. Their own happiness, or that of someone they love.

STEVE
This is totally Randian. You’re calling me an egoist. Try to extricate emotion from your argument and deal just with reason.

27
DAVID
Who says reason is anything more than just another fallible system?

BARTENDER
Joseph Campbell.

STEVE
Joseph Campbell said that?
(same time as-)

DAVID
The myth guy?

BARTENDER
I think one of his books was the first place I remember hearing the idea that those belief systems were a key facet of our evolution. That MAN was MAN--but MAN became CIVILIZED when belief systems cohered more.

STEVE
I will say that I agree with the argument, in theory… free will. If ‘Adam’ the art
(cont’d)
28
STEVE (cont’d)
admirer wants to spend his life absorbed in a painting, then so be it. But I would go to my grave thinking he was brought up with a screwed set of priorities. I would go to my grave thinking that he didn’t really know what he could have been-- mind, body, soul, legacy, whatever.

DAVID
He had a profound appreciation of art.

BARTENDER
(scoffs)

STEVE
(looks at her, nods)
I know, right? I’m so tired of this modern mindset that, like, Montessori or whatever. We can’t give our kids boundaries because it will somehow stunt their growth as individuals. Now it isn’t PC anymore to even question someone’s choices. Live and let live. I thought the 60s were gone, but the embodiment lives on.

BARTENDER
The guy with the painting is just lazy.
(walks away from them)
29
STEVE
To stop striving is lazy, she says.

DAVID
I think she said a lot of different things. In that conversation, she was exploring, just like you and me.

STEVE
Hmm

DAVID
(changes position on stool)
What have you been writing all this time?

STEVE
Notes. A good writer always takes notes.

DAVID
Are these notes objective or subjective?


30
STEVE
Did I mention I was freelance? What do you think?

DAVID
Then I’m interested!

STEVE
(starts out reading, but after awhile, is summarizing from memory)
-A tall, angular man, with a shock of graying hair that would not be tamed.

DAVID
Like Leno.

STEVE
George McFly.
(continues)
He likes to distract people from the fact that he is sitting right in front of them. He needs company, but he is resentful of that fact. His claim of being ready to embrace life reminds this writer of his own apartment, still full, after 8 months, of unpacked boxes.

31
DAVID
I always remember seeing this photograph—but I forget where—“this is everything in the world that Ghandi owns.” Two pairs of sandals, eyeglasses, a book.

STEVE
(writing—speaks)
He aspires to seeming tritisms. How will his story end?

DAVID
Trite? I thought you were a fan of absolutism. In terms of morality, conviction, whatnot.

STEVE
What religion was Ghandi? What ideas did he teach? When did he live? Where? If all we’re talking about is a photo of a few possessions laid out on a step, then that is trite.

DAVID
It’s simple. Why cloud relevant facts with extraneous details?

32
STEVE
(writes-speaks, carefully)
Id-ee-ut.

BARTENDER
(re-enters)
Geez. This is the longest pickup scene in history.

STEVE
(puts down notes. softly--pronounces carefully)
I am out of money.
(stands next to stool, leans across bar rail)
You wouldn’t happen to sell any free cigarettes in this establishment, would you? And matches?

BARTENDER
I’ll see what I can rustle up.
(walks off)

33
DAVID
Don’t look at me. I quit smoking when it cut into my drinking time.

BARTENDER
(returns)
A gift from the noble spirit of Casey the Boar.

DAVID
(softly)
Casey…a chainsmoker?

BARTENDER
(starts to hand it to STEVE but pulls back just as he reaches for it)
In accepting this, you agree to abide by the law of cigarette karma. The next time someone asks you for one, you cannot refuse.

STEVE
(laughs)
You got it… I was just sharing some of my notes.
(continue—freestyle, ad-lib)
The writer left the cold Northeast in search of sunny adventures in F-L-A. So far, all he’s discovered about Miami in these many months is a strong desire NOT to unpack—and that Florida bars serve weak-ass alcohol.


34
BARTENDER
(bored--interrupts)
So what was Philly like, what brought you here? Lemme guess… she got the friends in the divorce?

STEVE
Act One: Little Stevie shows promise in grade school. Wears his yarmulke sharply and impresses everyone: girls to teachers to parents to rabbis. Shortly, plans are being made for his creative writing MFA and eventual college professorship.

BARTENDER
Religion. Domineering family. Stacked deck.

STEVE
Act Two: high-school and college proceed accordingly. He shocks and awes the concerned parties, by turns drinking too much and sleeping with too many bodies he cannot attach names to. Through it all, he manages a 4.0 with honors.


35
DAVID
And then…

STEVE
And then, I’m living in Philadelphia, great job as a sports-writer for a syndicate—sidelines ghost-writing and teaching at a community college. And the perfect fiancĂ©e. Until one day she breaks it off.
(glances sidelong at DAVID)
No medical problems. No infidelity. She just says it’s over, we’ve grown apart…
(makes yadda-yadda-yadda gesture with hands)
And it throws me for a loop…

BARTENDER
Sure.

DAVID
I bet.

36
STEVE
Because I don’t really care, all that much. I mean, I’m sorry to see her go, and everything, but my sorrow pretty much revolves around the fact that now I have to pay all the bills myself.

BARTENDER
Hypocrite

STEVE
How am I a hypocrite? I think I said that I make a commitment and stick to it.

BARTENDER
(eyeroll)
A man makes a commitment. And he treats her like shit. But he stands by her. That’s the important thing.

STEVE
I like to drink. I take pleasure in other people’s pain, at times, if I think it will make a good story. I enjoy sex. It doesn’t matter with whom, so long as its good. When I was 20, first starting out in the business, I had an affair with my editor’s
(cont’d)
37
STEVE (cont’d)
wife. So much for your moral absolutism. The day she came to me and said she was leaving her husband was the day I quit my job and moved on. I can’t cook. I can sing. The only thing people even remember about me is that I once helped Andy Roddick spell disseminate during a press conference. That’s my claim to fame.

DAVID
That was you? It was you! That was funny…

STEVE
It was actually kind of sad. I spent my childhood worshipping athletes. Believing they were somehow better than the rest of us. I used to watch interview shows and write down lines of dialogue because I thought it was good training. When I got into the field professionally, I saw the personas for what they were. A cap in a chair. A baseball bat slung across the shoulder. Colored wristbands that stood in for personality.

BARTENDER
Life lets everyone down. What now?



38
STEVE
I started inflating articles. Not only did I think I was improving the piece in terms of style, but I thought I made my subjects look better.

BARTENDER
(starts to laugh. DAVID puts his hand on her arm)
What-
STEVE
(pauses)
I told myself I was doing the readers a service, you know? I never made anything up out of whole cloth, but if something stupid came out of their mouth, I praised their sincerity. I never included the quote. Something mean—I talked about how they were maturing as athletes—as people. I thought that was my job—but it turns out that’s what a PR guy does. And he gets paid a lot more than I do. I thought I was supposed to make these people look like gods. That’s how I remembered all the athletes from when I was a kid. Even in a few years, though, things have changed. Kids have more access to celebrities now. Social media. Venue ticket prices are more affordable.

DAVID
Too many chances to be let down.


39
BARTENDER
Thrown down.

DAVID
And you’re setting those kids up.

STEVE
(nods)
And that is the truest explanation of how I arrived at what you think of as my ignorant absolutism. The truth is an impeachable standard that, for better or worse, it makes no sense to run away from. You can’t forget something like that. That’s my third act. Enlightenment.

BARTENDER
You catch that? How he buried the lead? It’s always about a romance gone wrong.
STEVE
(shakes head)
No. His…eyes. He just…reminds me of her. I remember that night so clearly. She came to me.
(cont’d)

40
STEVE (cont’d)
(ever so slightly, moves head from side-to-side, as if surveying the past scene)
Sitting on the floor in front of me. I remember her chin, her arms resting on my thighs.
(lightly brushes trousers above the knee)
She told me she was leaving him. And… in that second, she’s looking up at me, I felt how much she’d thought I had wanted to hear those words.
(swallows)
And I…I…I could see our first touch in her eyes.
(half-smirk, sad)
It kind of amazes me…

BARTENDAR
(whisper, loud)
What?
STEVE
(looks far away, or down)
The difference between using a body and possessing a soul, even…accidentally.
41
BARTENDAR
So you’re a writer—and you’ve never told a love story. You don’t know how.

STEVE
(at this point, he looks as close to genuine emotion as at any point during the play. Near tears.)
I’m afraid something is wrong with me…
(whispers)
If I daydream, I’m never me. I’m not better looking, I’m never more fit. I’m someone else, entirely. I don’t know what that means…

BARTENDER
I don’t think it does any of us good to ascribe profound meaning to our fantasy lives.

STEVE
What if I don’t have a kind heart? If I couldn’t feel anything in that moment, looking at her, then what does that make me?


42
DAVID
Maybe honest.

STEVE
Maybe.

BARTENDER
You sound depressed.. My father was a psychiatrist and I tend bar. Mom was a housewife. All of us, problem-solvers. But I always say to myself it’s lucky because I am the least constrained. Everyone had methods. Dad studied behavior modification for thirty years. Mom turned on Strauss and danced around the kitchen at night. If any of us kids were sad, she started talking in a sing-songy voice. Seriously, you know what? My father died of cancer two years ago and you know what he told me one day, toward the end of his illness? He was bedridden, reminiscing, even doing a rendition of ’don’t fence me in’ that Mom recorded on tape. At one point, he motions to me-
(mimics gesture with her hands)
‘Ange, screw therapists and thousand dollar bills. You’re feeling bad about something, you go to the park and people watch. For some reason, it’s only the very old and the very young that “GET” parks. And then, you go to the supermarket. Look for the old guys wearing wrinkled shirts, with facial stubble, and stooped postures. Maybe they have the wedding ring on because they couldn’t bear to take it off yet. Maybe they aren’t wearing it anymore. Whatever else you do, just smile at them and say ’hello.’ Warmly. Trust me.

43
STEVE
(Mulls this. To BARTENDER-)
He reminds me so much of her. Expectant, hopeful.

BARTENDER
‘Headed for heartbreak?’

STEVE
(Pause)
I wish it was possible to hit rewind on a relationship. ‘Tis better to have loved and lost… I don’t think there’s any way in which I believe that to be true. If it’s the simple act of loving another living thing- adopt a cat, or a grandparent! What does a romantic relationship get you but a few fleeting moments of pleasure, anywhere from a few weeks to a few years of mundaneities and somewhat pleasant memories, then a lifetime after spent recollecting the laundry lists of how they did you wrong, what a saint you were, how you gave so much more than you got.

DAVID
What about when it works? It may not happen as often as people say, but I’m quite sure it has happened!
44
STEVE
Evolution. Those people are settling into the roles evolution prescribed them. They just rationalize a twenty-first century romantic spin on it.

BARTENDER
So that makes the loners the revolutionaries? Those who refuse to be pigeon- holed? Those swathed in self-awareness? How come the loners were always jilted in the past, and refused to recover, but your so-called “army” of coupled homo erecti are, for all intents and purposes, well-adjusted, shiny/happy people. Furthermore, I don’t suppose you could be convinced of the argument that every relationship, no matter how long it lasts, either teaches you something or helps you grow.

STEVE
Teachers teach.

BARTENDER
(looking at both men)
Said the know-it-all… So your math teacher teaches you geometric proofs. Your girlfriend might “teach” you how to be more compassionate—less rigid, less judgmental. Her “hook” was not GPA-related, but you found cause to make and hold her acquaintance nonetheless. With your rhetoric, I’m sure you’re about to
(cont’d)
45
BARTENDER (cont’d)
say that the greeting card industry is the enemy of sociologists everywhere—because it has camouflaged what is natural and dressed it up as something else. Then all the cynics in the world get to stand back and laugh as misunderstandings and hijinx ensue. But you’re just as guilty of flawed and formulaic thinking as those whom you rail against. What had you said, before? “Relationships” are nothing but the lust of a few weeks, afterward, evolution takes hold. The people who stay together are drones. You’ve had relationships that ended badly. We all have. More importantly, we’ve all had relationships that ENDED. Just because something ceases to exist, that doesn’t mean it never should have started. From age one, we’re taught to think in terms of fairy tale, once upon a time, the end. Neat little hooks, and clean plots, and obvious endings where the hero gets the girl and the good guy always wins. That’s not life. It’s wishful thinking. And when we step away from the rhetoric in order to see that, yes, life looks more messy, we’re not as prone to being shocked and surprised—or worse—when it lets us down. A relationship ends. That doesn’t make IT or YOU a failure. It just makes it a situation that has outlived its time. Something we learn from and move on from. There’s no real need to hit rewind, as you said. Just hit pause, for a minute or two, and then go on from there.

DAVID
(shakes head subtly, defiantly)
That dream I was telling you about… that dream I keep having… The girl, Claire…whatever… sometimes, she’s just sitting on the green shag rug, on the floor, legs crossed, in our bathroom. Sometimes in the kitchen. Sometimes in the
(cont’d)
46
DAVID (cont’d)
bedroom. I ask her what she’s doing, and she looks up at me and says “Saying goodbye.” And it’s a dream, you know, so I don’t ask her where she’s going or why she needs to say goodbye to our house. I just sit down next to her and she starts listing all the things that’ve happened in that room. Things I’ve forgotten, things I wanted to forget, things I know never happened. She says the rooms keep whispering to her at night and that’s why she can never sleep.
(long pause, voice lowers to a loud whisper)
Did I remember being hung over, stuck to the bathroom tile, the night we met? How she held a damp cloth to my forehead? How, later, the cat used to zip around the bathroom—he loved hiding in the shower stall.

STEVE
(uncomfortable with DAVID’S increased emotionality)
In my house, the walls didn’t talk, but the doors sure slammed!
(smiles widely-- looks from DAVID to BARTENDER)

BARTENDER
(to DAVID)
What do you—what does Mark do in the dream?


47
DAVID
(tapping a gold wedding band on the bar rail)
Shares in the memories as best he can. He doesn’t really remember. Then, she starts to talk not just about the first night, about the sight of me hanging over the toilet.
(laughs)
Why in god’s name I got a second date out of her, I’ll never know. But it’s more.
(he makes hand motions, as though to speed the scene replaying in his mind)
She’s talking about how I sound. Vomiting. Slurred speech. She said I kept exhaling loudly, even when I finally fell asleep. Later, rain rattling the windowpane. The cat zooming, sliding across the tile, later still. Electric toothbrushes. Persistent sink drip. How, standing at the sink, brushing your teeth, with the bathroom door open, a downstairs television program even at a low volume still sounds like a stranger having a conversation in the house. She related all these sounds. Like a laundry list or something.

BARTENDER
A soundtrack. What happened then?

DAVID
I watched her leave.
48
(uncomfortable extended silence as DAVID continues tapping, Steve looks perplexed, and the BARTENDER wipes down the bar, whilst gazing at the other “patrons” in the audience.)

STEVE
(an inappropriate, awkward transition)
So give me something real here, something I can take hold of. Are you crazy, drunk, dramatic, what?

BARTENDAR
(mutters-to DAVID)
You should write!

DAVID
What are you looking for from me? I thought we were just talking.

STEVE
My job is to discern motivation. What’s yours? You lost your great love. But I’m trying to figure out if you’re married to her and she’s just changed, or if she’s out there somewhere, and you’re looking for the blessing of two strangers in a bar, as you set out to leave your wife.
49
DAVID
(smiles sadly)
I was 26 when I met Rita in a bar a lot like this. We both loved music. She sang and I played what I thought was a pretty good guitar. We joked about starting a band. I was… flailing.
(eyes red)
My father had only days before chosen to tell me that I would soon become the president of one of his companies. He bought and sold these business with nothing names like International FastTrade and Global Financial Pursuits. But he told me he wanted to start holding onto some investments, so he was giving me a profitable import-export business.
(laughs)
My life was about to become all about toothpicks… On paper, Rita looked like my total opposite. She was housing projects, had friends that dealt drugs. People made their own choices, she would say. It’s important to take responsibility. Right or wrong, she would say. She moved into my house, the very first night. It started as some sort of gag. She was staying for a few days, looking for a place in a better neighborhood. And… she just never left. For the most part, I protected her from my family. My friends slowly started to accept her. At night, sometimes, we would go to these karaoke places and sing together. We always went somewhere no one knew us, and we never went back to the same place twice.
(staring past both his companions, into nothing)
Our band idea stayed a dream, and I sold toothpicks during the day while I thought she was taking classes at a community college.
50
STEVE
What happened?

DAVID
When she told me she was pregnant, I was actually relieved. I finally thought she would marry me. I planned this elaborate proposal at a big party on her birthday, which was February. Now, I’m talking ten years ago.
(long pause, looks at watch)
In twelve hours and twenty-three minutes, Jennifer and I are supposed to renew our vows on a beach in Santa Monica. Three-hundred and fifty of our closest friends are probably dreading tomorrow, as we speak.

BARTENDER
What about the baby?

DAVID
Rita miscarried in the second trimester. We were asleep in our bed. You wake up in this pool of blood and you don’t know what happened. She swears to me she felt nothing during the night, but now she’s just screaming and crying call 911, call 911, call 911.

51
STEVE
(stands, arms hanging at sides, staring at DAVID)

DAVID
(swallows)
After we got home from the hospital, she told me she needed to be alone. I don’t know if I was stupid, or blind, or what, but I left her alone, somehow thinking things would be all right. I’m still sort of looking at her and just seeing all this blood, too, so I’m okay with giving her space. That’s it. A half day passes and I see her the next morning at the breakfast table. She’s waiting for me. She tells me how she’d started using again, about a month before. Five months pregnant. I hear this, and I’m hearing, like, that she wanted to abort the baby. Something. I just started yelling. I can’t even tell you now what happened. She… she had a reason. Something happened. Her mother called her out of the blue about something and Rita just couldn’t take it, she said. I don’t remember. I don’t know. But we were together all the time and what I know now is that she felt her stronger option was to kill herself or the baby, maybe herself and the baby, rather than talk to me. But that day in the kitchen… I can’t… I just remember feeling like my heart was beating so furiously that I thought it would smash through my chest. She sat there the whole time, listening.

BARTENDER
What happened?

52
DAVID
When I was too tired to yell anymore, she got her things and left.

STEVE
Good.
(nods)
I can’t believe you’re regretting this.

DAVID
I guess I didn’t for a long time. Or maybe I pretended not to. She’s become something else over the years--I’ve chosen to think of her as she was at her worst possible moment. It made it easier to sell myself out.
(rubs eyes for a long time)
And now--now it’s my fault, the way our lives have all gone.

STEVE
(mocking)
I have crazy dreams, too. One of them is about this old-timer who drives the really old-timers around town on the senior citizen bus. The wild adventures he
(cont’d)
53
has taking people to their chiropodist or hair-dresser, or dropping them at the three-million dollar homes of their children who can’t be bothered to pick them up. Another is about this half-delusional guy who leaves his group home everyday to go and teach at a university on the other end of the county. When he gets on that bus, he becomes another person.

DAVID
Buses are like a recurring theme.

STEVE
(agitation--growing)
I may write about inconceivable situations. I may have weird ideas, but the bus driver and the university professor and all my other leads are making the most of their situations. Following a human propensity to maximize self-benefit. A return to self equals a return to everyone else.

DAVID
As one man improves, so does the lot of us all?

STEVE
(raises voice)
An example meant to encourage. To give hope. As all great art does.
54
BARTENDER
You just said it was inconceivable.

STEVE
(gesticulates fast)
Can you blame me, with the world the way it is?!

DAVID
Is anyone happy, in these stories? Are you at least happy? Look at me. I was weak for ten years I did what other people wanted. Why did I care what they thought? They were all unhappy too.
(stands)

STEVE
(hits DAVID heavily on the shoulder)
You’re here for her. Are you serious? Another question. Are you serious?

DAVID
I don’t know what’s happened to her. I sure as hell don’t know what happened to
(cont’d)
55
DAVID (cont’d)
me. I am going to her, though
(Pause)
What should I say? I’ll tell her about the nightmares I keep having... Beg her to forgive me.
(DAVID is gathering momentum to leave. STEVE takes him by the shoulders)

STEVE
You cannot be serious.

DAVID
It’s almost like… at the end of the day, all that really matters is--
(deep breath)
choosing a comfortable place to stand.

STEVE
(shakes head. Lightly pushes DAVID backwards)
You can’t!

56
DAVID
(unfazed. Shakes it off.)
I… I already have, Steve. You and I… we’ve just been sitting here arguing about the wording on the invitation.

STEVE
(yelling)
This is crazy!
(DAVID brushes past STEVE roughly, fast, in the direction of the door. STEVE bites lip--sits down again.)

BARTENDER
It would be, for you.

STEVE
Anyone.

DAVID
Why don’t you-
(cont’d)
57
DAVID (cont’d)
live?
(joyous, tearful)
Pros and cons. Black and white. Right or wrong morality. It’s ‘once upon a time’ and ‘the end’, that everybody remembers. But all that matters is what happens in the space between.
(walks to where his coat is still hanging from the boar’s head. Within a few seconds, he is able to catch a sleeve and pull it down. Subsequently, he pays his bar bill. Then, without another word or look to either, he EXITS.)

STEVE
(exhales loudly, stares after).

BARTENDER
(starts wiping down the bar rail. Softly, then -)
That’s it, everybody. You know the drill. Like the song says. “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”

FADE TO BLACK

Saturday, July 02, 2005

here are the early picks for fall... it's t-strap all the way!

Bronx 'Kate'All available here.

Giuseppe Zanotti Oh. Hell. Yes.

Charles David 'Fuss'

Bronx 'Flo'Fall's T-Trend is... the new Ugg!

N.Y.L.A 'Midori'

Thursday, June 30, 2005

why it's hip to be bare

click on imageTrust Mark Lotto, of the NYO, to be hip to the current fashion trends.


"Ass cleavage is really in right now," said Antonio Jeffery, a national denim specialist at Diesel Jeans in Union Square. Ass cleavage, like regular cleavage, used to be strictly for women.


Indeed, my friend, indeed...

click on image

Sunday, June 26, 2005

not a democrat- what the hell am I??

I've always admired Dean's passion. Half of me wanted to see him win the Democratic nod last election purely because of his passion. It's what's totally lacking in politics nowadays and it's what sets McCain & Dean apart from the rest of the pack.

If only, if only sincerity could be the new third party in American politics (thy name is NOT libertarian. ;)

click here to follow the lead...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

poor old, EVIL man...

signe wilkinson partial from the philadelphia daily news I feel really bad for Edgar Ray Killen, too.But not because, in Anderson Cooper's words, "the ages of all his victims combined didn't equal his age now."

I feel bad because he's a murderer! Why should his age mean a damn thing?!

click on the cartoon partial for talented cartoonist signe wilkinson's work (from the philadelphia daily news)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

viral criminal behavior

2 crime-free Philadelphia suburbs (just minutes apart) experienced horrific tragedies this week. In both cases husband turned against wife, committing murder.the crime view from center city And in both cases the husband also died. (one suicide, one retributive murder by a child ).

Many people say viral behavior is a non-existent consideration in the criminal arena. After the last several days, it seems clear that media attention surrounding an extraordinary crime (re: in one's own backyard) may send an already fragile person over the edge.

Lou Sessinger read my mind. Two days ago! (he's just that good...)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

scientology recruiting techniques

Sorry freekatie.net, t-shirts just won't do the trick!

I hear Tom installed GPS in the rock he gave Katie...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

naked zorro sketch released

what will our kids look like?
Rob, I didn't think you'd take our breakup this hard!
mwahahaha!!!

*said Skye: This wasn't the sketch I was expecting to be made public, especially if he is the NAKED Zorro...

Saturday, June 11, 2005

run katie run !

As if Scientology wasn't enough, now Tom Cruise has pulled a Demi. Check out his deathlock on Holmes in this Oprah freeze frame.Deathlock

Cruise's Katie-related, couch jumping behavior is beyond bizarre. Pay a visit to this worthy website petitioning to free Katie from her father fixation.

Also, be on the lookout for the newest clip making the rounds- it's from Aussie TV show "The Insider." Cruise dresses down a reporter for... ohmigosh! asking questions about him!

Main Entry: in·ter·view

a meeting at which information is obtained (as by a reporter, television commentator, or pollster) from a person

Tom Cruise. Australian for weird.

there's a party at neverland tonite...

all the kids are invited!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

he called it "an orgy of self-congratulation"

New York Observer partial- Woodward mining the Deep Throat money pit.

Ron Rosenbaum writes that Woodward & Bernstein ( & Mark Felt ) never SOLVED anything. They failed to pin the ordering of the Watergate break-in on Nixon.


Terry Golway:"...All of which reminds us that one person's whistleblower is another person's rat fink."

Thursday, June 02, 2005

yes virginia, there is a 'deep throat!!'

Now the great journalism mystery is solved & Deep Throat has moved from center stage. Woodward & Bernstein are free to concentrate on other things. They look like mob guys. I'm just sayin!good fellas?

Is there a loch ness monster? Where is Jimmy Hoffa buried? Is Prince Charles a real person or a composite character? I digress. Lookee here...

Born well after Watergate, Culeman-Beckman was 8 when, he says, Post reporter Carl Bernstein's son Jacob revealed the identity of Deep Throat to him at a summer day camp in 1988. Except for telling his mother, Culeman-Beckman would keep the secret for nearly 10 years - until spilling the beans in a high school research paper. In a 1999 Hartford Courant article about Culeman Beckman's disclosure, Felt denied that he was "Deep Throat." Bernstein said in an interview that neither he nor reporting partner Bob Woodward had ever told their wives or children their source's identity. In fact, Woodward and Bernstein had agreed not to divulge his identity until after his death...

the first man named after a porno? surely not the last...Felt was seen as the most likely suspect in The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI, a book by former Washington Post reporter Kessler; in "Deep Throat: An Institutional Analysis," a 1992 Atlantic Monthly article by James Mann, a former Woodward colleague; and in articles in Washingtonian magazine by its editor, Jack Limpert. Felt was even suspected by Nixon, according to the White House tapes...


Nixon: Well, if they've got a leak down at the FBI, why the hell can't Gray tell us what the hell is left? You know what I mean?...

Haldeman: We know what's left, and we know who leaked it.

Nixon: Somebody in the FBI?

Haldeman: Yes, sir. Mark Felt ... If we move on him, he'll go out and unload everything. He knows everything that's to be known in the FBI. He has access to absolutely everything ...THE must-have gift for father's day!

Nixon: What would you do with Felt? ... You know what I'd do with him, the bastard? Well, that's all I want to hear about it.

Haldeman: I think he wants to be in the top spot.

Nixon: That's a hell of a way for him to get to the top.

the uncorrupted file

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

news trifecta

(links require registration) a second part of the casino's weirdo advertising program has a woman in the south- her name legally changed to 'goldencasino.com'


Good news always comes in threes!


Philly gets a Live8 concert & we find out the true identity of Deep Throat. All in one day! I guess I was wrong, after all ;P My apologies to elder President Bush for accusing you of Deep Throating it afore the press. But the title of Anti-Christ is still up for grabs, lol!


How's this for a news trifecta?


Woman sells adspace on her baby to a casino.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

thank you

this is NOT the picture in question.

Months back, my friend gathered her Girl Scout Troop to send care packages to a young marine.

The marine's uncle- a local icon of sorts- had been insisting he spotted the young man in a frantic AP photo.

The picture did look like Brandon- slim features, heavy rimmed glasses.

When Brandon returned home on layover, he greeted his uncle.

Looking at the AP photo, he said, "I hate to tell you this, but that isn't me."

"It doesn't matter," the old man said. "That picture got us all through some tough times."

Saturday, May 28, 2005

amazing nature photography at earlylightphoto.com

photo by carolyn cowgill, rasterized in adobe photoshop
Let me tell a story about a brilliant guy (trained at Annapolis) who worked for the NRC until his early retirement, when he discovered his... artistic side??! I once wrote that Curtis Cowgill can see heaven through the lens of his camera. He's gifted beyond belief & most amazingly lacks the pretension to match his talent!

His wonderful wife Carolyn is much the same. She's mentioned wanting to try her hand at a children's book. A former teacher, she would be a perfect addition to Kay Winters' local writing community.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

murder solved thanks to victim's blog

Here's the Google connection. His final entry follows.

Thursday, May 12, 2005-- Today I missed my Japanese class again, since I have gotten a bad throat. I only went to the class once this week, so I am probably so far behind now. I will catch up in the summer tho so no worries hehe. Anyway today has been weird, at 3 some guy ringed the bell. I went down and recognized it was my sister's former boyfriend. He told me he wants to get his fishing poles back. I told him to wait downstair while I get them for him. While I was searching them, he is already in the house. He is still here right now, smoking, walking all around the house with his shoes on which btw I just washed the floor 2 days ago! Hopefully he will leave soon, oh yeah working on the jap report as we speak!

*hat tip, www.paradox1x.org - (can't seem to direct link to it- blogger is acting up today.)*

Sunday, May 22, 2005

for a legal analyst, nancy grace is ass-backwards

hartlaub calls her 'worse than bill o'reilly'

Peter Hartlaub writes in the San Francisco Chronicle:

"From the beginning, [CNN's] Nancy Grace has run her show like she's the most popular girl on the junior high playground, often picking on the least affluent or weirdest-looking subjects in the news cycle. ...Grace has created her own parallel universe in which guests are berated for advocating due process, panelists are
invited back frequently if they make ad hominem attacks and suspects are seemingly guilty until proven innocent."


*Update- CNN's Nancy Grace: Keeper of Justice or Ass-Clown Extraordinaire??

Thursday, May 19, 2005

is he or isn't he a split personality?

In a debut worthy of chris gaines (just kidding!) Chicago's greatest living performer andy martellowhy, garth, why?? should've called yourself 'jeff gannon.' you would've sold a few more records... has unveiled his blog split persona.

On the anniversary of Mt. St. Helens' eruption, no less! Quite the birthday for nicky vegas.

(note to bill gates: my msn spell checker still refuses
b-l-o-g). doh!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

make your blog pay??

J. Ryan has written an interesting story ("Blogging for Dollars") on new hidden forms of advertising that might make their way into the blogging scene. [follow the lead...]

I said it awhile ago and you laughed all evil-like. Regulation is coming.

Friday, May 13, 2005

under the heading 'our courts are loaded with crap'...

Woman gets $45K for dead cat the new marlboro man

Retired teacher Paula Roemer sued her neighbor Wallace Gray after his dog mauled her cat to death. Roemer claimed the cat's death caused her to become a chain smoker, and the courts awarded her more than $45,000. There ya go. Forget about Joe Camel... this is the new mascot for the tobacco industry.

Priest pleads guilty to molestation charges

A retired Roman Catholic priest who molested 18 altar boys 20 years ago was sentenced to 1 1/2 years in prison.

That's right, just 18 mos, folks. Who says our priorities are outta whack?

Thanks O.Media.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

unreported runaways

A study at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children conducted by Scripps Howard News Service found that police departments around the country did not report nearly 5000 runaway, lost & abducted children in violation of the National Child Search Assistance Act Congress passed in 1990.