Friday, July 27, 2007

Wild About K-Ville

Well, I just caught 2 trailers of "K-Ville", the new cop-drama set in New Orleans coming this fall on Fox.

Here's a sneak peek.

K-Ville Sneak Preview

K-Ville Sneak Preview 2 (with Tawny Cypress)

Anthony Anderson stars as Marlin Boulet. I actually am familiar with Anthony Anderson, and I like his work (yes, even in "My Baby's Daddy") . I'm far more familiar with him in comedic roles, but I thought he did an excellent job both times I've seen him play police officers: "The Departed" and "Law and Order : SVU".

Cole Hauser stars as Trevor Cobb.

Maximiliano Hernández stars as Billy “K-9” Faust

Blake Shields stars as Jeff “Glue Boy” Gooden

Last, but certainly not least, the exquisite Tawny Cypress stars as Ginger “Love Tap” LeBeau. She's definitely stolen every scene in which I've seen her. No surprise there.

Actually, the previews look pretty good, and even if they didn't, I'd still plan on watching K-Ville. I sincerely hope that a "'Love Tap' LeBeau" spin-off is in the works.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Peacocks' Muster

(Another short-story.)

The monastery had a wonderful library. There were six ceiling fans, two couches, and more chairs than he cared to count. There was a cross, naturally. It bore three nails and a crown of thorns. A dove was perched atop the crown, which he thought was a nice touch.

He was sitting in a brown recliner, reading a biography of Sir Thomas More. He’d never been a big fan, although he preferred More to Becket (I like More more) if given a choice between English saints named Thomas killed by order of English kings named Henry. He was here for peace, quiet, and the most important coin flip of his life. It was certainly peaceful. Something about the surroundings, a wooded area in SE Louisiana made even the most ignorant loudmouth speak softer and listen harder. There were ponds and paths and peacocks, though they, like him, weren’t native to the area. The whole atmosphere simply screamed out “Abandon drama, ye who enter here.”

He’d gone on this type of retreat once before, as part of a group of married couples. He suspected it had done his own marriage more harm than good. He and his wife had nothing but time to discover just how little they actually had in common. He’d heard stories of people waking up next to strangers after a hard night of partying. That had to be far less terrifying than waking up next to a stranger and realizing you’d been married to them for over 10 years. He didn’t know when this occurred to her, but he’d realized it when they were touring the various buildings.

The church itself was cruciform. The mural above the exit had sparked a fight between him and Connie. The figures depicted to the right of Christ represented society’s best and brightest. Those on the left represented the poor and downtrodden. With the group on the left stood the only non-white person in the bunch. He was dark chocolate, shirtless, and barefoot. Connie tried pointing out that none of the other poor, huddled masses was wearing shoes, either, but he was already on a roll. This guy held a shovel in one hand and a sledgehammer slung over one shoulder. The look on his face spoke of recognition that the rest of his party: a cripple; a blind man; and a mother holding an infant in her arms weren’t going to be of much assistance. He told Connie that was a pretty clear message. “Come all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. . . . Most of you will rest right away, but some of you still have work to do.” He wondered if they’d still be married today had he kept that observation to himself. Consuela, I love you dearly, but you have no sense of humor.

He hadn’t been surprised when he learned Connie was having an affair. He was only disappointed that she’d picked a guy who wasn’t even worth resenting. It had touched briefly on his pride, but she’d seemed genuinely hurt by his muted reaction. If he could do it all over again, he’d probably fake a temper tantrum or threaten violence. It was sad when you had to calm your wife down after she revealed to you that she’d been cheating. He put the book back on the shelf, promising himself he’d read more More later. After breakfast (the food was every bit as wonderful as he remembered) he took a stroll to the gift shop. He bought two cards, or rather donated a “suggested” sum of money in exchange for specified items. He lit a six-day candle when he entered the chapel, knowing there was a 50/50 chance it would stay lit longer than he stayed alive.

The chapel seated 57, but was only seating one when he walked in. He chose a seat as far from Jerry as he could. He liked Jerry, in the sense that he didn’t wish him any specific ill-will, but the other man was under the mistaken impression that the two of them were friends. Jerry went on these retreats frequently. He knew this because Jerry never missed an opportunity to mention it. He was sure that if the Benedictine Order ever authorized the creation of a Monastic Reserve Corps, Jerry would be the first to sign up. He shut his eyes and started praying. He was thinking about Thomas More, naturally, but it was Saint Thomas Aquinas who sat down next to him.

“What’s going on?” He asked.

“I might ask you the same thing.” Saint Thomas said.

“I’m enjoying a time of peace, tranquility, and quiet reflection.” He told Saint Thomas, who simply shook his head. “What? I thought you’d be happy. I’m very close to joining the Church.”

“You’re just as close to committing a sin for which there can be no repentance.” Saint Thomas pointed out.

“Yes, if the coin toss goes that way. What could be clearer evidence of God’s will?”

“You don’t even accept Church doctrine!”

“I’m no more or less skeptical of Catholicism than I am of any other religious credo.” He continued before Saint Thomas could interrupt. Summa contra Gentiles, remember? It’s all interchangeable as long as I acknowledge I’m not God.”

“What I said was a bit more nuanced than that.” Saint Thomas said with a bit more than a hint of reproach.

“Close enough. And if it breaks that way, I won’t even be a Catholic at that point. I won’t have accepted the validity of the concept of a mortal sin, so how could it apply?”

“Flipping a coin, though?” Saint Thomas shook his head.

“Hey, Caesar rolled dice to decide the fate of the world.”

“That was a metaphor, and not even a fatalistic one.”

“Same basic idea. My life is a coin in the hands of a Power greater than myself.”

“That’s more of an ancient Greek attitude.” Saint Thomas said.

“Touché. Still, my mind’s made up.” He heard a sigh, but when he turned his head to look, Saint Thomas Aquinas was gone.

He filled out the two cards shortly after lunch. One was to his mother, with instructions for his funeral. The other was to pastor Father Michael McDermott. He’d never been formally introduced to the man, but he’d been attending Mass at St. Francis every Sunday morning for the last 7 months. He mentioned this in the card, and added his interest in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. He’d actually discussed this with one of the monks last night. He was embarrassed that he’d been referring to it as “conversion” for all these years. He’d gone to Mass that morning. The processional, complete with Jerusalem incense, was a beautiful thing. He was bothered by the thought that he might never have the opportunity to attend a Latin Mass. He flipped the coin in the library. It came up Tails.

“Huh.” He said. One of the other “retreaters” lifted his head at the sound. The man had been thumbing through the very biography he’d been reading earlier. One more More reader. He made eye contact with the man, and raised his hand in the same gesture of apology that tennis players use when they win a point via a net cord. He walked down the hall to his room and shut the door behind him. It was the same room he'd stayed in with Connie.

Life sure took some strange turns.

A Bad Case of Pellagra

(Something new. I do a lot of creative writing, and thought I'd share some of it here.)

I really hate it when people don’t take me seriously. To not be taken seriously by a born Floridian just added insult to injury. That was last night, and this particular Floridian was a police officer in Lake Worth, the city in which I’ve been living for the last 9 months. I have not been to the lake (Lake Worth, presumably) during this time period. The whole “lake” thing sounds like a tourist trap, and 3 years spent living in Orlando has made me wary of those.

My ex-wife was the one who called the cops. It was right after she hung up on me. She told them that something needed to be done before I harmed myself. Thanks to the Baker Act, she can’t just have me thrown in jail. She can, however, start the process by which a law enforcement officer can haul me off to a medical facility for psychiatric evaluation.

As usual, Amy’s gotten everything ass-backwards. She told them I was suicidal. I let slip that I was in the process of killing myself, but she really didn’t let me complete the thought. That’s the story of our relationship, when you get right down to it. She knew I was winning the argument, and calling “911” was her way of making sure she had the last word. I am planning on killing myself, but I’ve still got another 4-5 years before this course of action will be the cause of my death.

I’d decided, earlier this week, to contract pellagra. At first, I wanted to go with scurvy. I thought posterity would appreciate the irony of an otherwise-healthy adult male dying of a vitamin-C deficiency in the wealthiest county in the nation’s largest orange-producing state. Anyway, I was eating a bag of potato chips, when something I’ll call divine providence prompted me to read the nutrition facts on the back of the package. Those chips were loaded with vitamin C! I realized that it would be far too easy to eat the wrong thing and have to start all over. So, I settled on pellagra, a disease caused by a dietary lack of niacin. Pellagra isn’t as “sexy” as scurvy, I suppose, but I think it represents the more realistic choice. I’m nothing, if not a pragmatist.

I walked out of Publix yesterday afternoon with a shopping cart full of food . . . food lacking in vitamin B3, though I also need to steer clear of foods containing tryptophan. As I tried to explain to Amy, this is not a slap in the face to those who unwillingly or unwittingly suffer from vitamin-deficient illnesses. I’d obviously trade places with them if I could. I’m not starving myself to death. I’m not protesting anything. I’m not supporting any cause (at least, not that I know of). It’s not a case of a vegan diet gone wrong. It is what it is.

Pellagra’s primary symptoms are pretty easy to remember: diarrhea; dementia; dermatitis; and death. I figure that bad skin and irregular bowel movements are inevitable by-products of a fatally unhealthy diet. “The price of doing business” is how I described it to Amy. Death, of course, goes without saying. Dementia is the only one I’m worried about. I’m concerned that the onset of dementia (and I’m thinking years down the road, here) might cause me to reconsider. Just like that, I could flush all my hard work down the drain.
I admit, I really didn’t consider the reaction others might have to my decision. This has changed since my conversations with Amy. She started crying when I told her. When I asked her what was wrong, she shouted obscenities at me. (I mean really hurtful stuff.) And that was a good 10 minutes before she hung up the phone! What this tells me is that I should make a list of who does and does not need to know.

I told all of this to the police officers last night. One of them asked me if I’d been drinking. I told him yes, but that this was okay. In fact, alcoholics frequently suffer from pellagra. I even pointed to the case of vodka on top of the refrigerator (the highest off the floor you’ll ever be likely to see that particular brand, by the way). When he asked if I was taking any medication, I told him I’d certainly been prescribed plenty, but that “taking it” was no longer high on my list of priorities. His partner asked me, again, if I wanted to kill myself. I again answered yes.

They took my belt and my shoelaces, but the facility can’t hold me longer than 72 hours without giving me a psych exam. They tried making me take vitamins, but I hid them under my tongue. One of the nurses is now claiming that I’ve refused nourishment. I’ve told anyone who’ll listen (which is very few people, I might add) that this is not the case. I simply want a guarantee that nothing on the menu will offset my nascent niacin deficiency. It gets worse. Although I haven’t worked for the guy in months, Amy took it upon herself to call my old boss. Now, how could he see “something like this coming” when I only learned about pellagra a few days ago? I spoke to Amy this morning, and she still won’t stop crying. She said she couldn’t sit back and watch me “destroy myself” (her words). I said that I wasn’t asking her to put her life on hold. Apparently, this was the wrong thing to say, because she hung up on me again.

If that wasn’t enough, I looked at the menu, and tonight they’re serving us roast turkey and processed corn.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Venus Victorious! Five-Peat for Federer!

Wimbledon 2007 is in the books, and what a long, strange, trip it was. The retractable roof can't come too soon for this tennis fan. Second round matches shouldn't be played in the middle of the second week!

First off, congratulations to Venus Williams. In winning her 4th Wimbledon crown (6th slam overall), Ms. Williams put on a devastating display of power, touch, and skill. She dismantled Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Anna Ivanovic before soundly defeating a game but overmatched Marion Bartoli in the final. Mary Carillo summed up one of the reasons people have a problem with the Williams sisters. Namely, both seem capable of winning every match and tournament to which they set their minds and their considerable talents. Of course, the fact that they're confident and outspoken African-American women has nothing to do with it. Ahem.

Some other random thoughts on the women's draw:

Justine Henin: Wimbledon seems to bring out some strange weaknesses in her game and her psyche.

Maria Sharapova: I've now seen her get destroyed in three straight slams, managing to win a total of only 10 games.

Serena Williams: I felt bad for Serena losing to the one player (Henin) to whom she really didn't want to lose. Still, I like the fact that, win or lose, she speaks her mind. Some call it arrogance, I call it refreshing honesty.

Anna Ivanovic: This year's "It" girl actually has some game. Still, the only way she was going to beat Venus Williams in the semis was with a sledgehammer.

I did not want to see Roger Federer win. Pete Sampras was always my favorite player, and it's been real tough watching Fed march inexorably toward slam #15. Still, Rafael Nadal made him earn this one, and both players deserve props for showing why they're head and shoulders above everyone else in men's tennis.

Nadal had his chances. He lost both tiebreakers. He had double break points against Federer in the third and fifth games of the final set. At that point, I really thought he had the championship. Federer showed me a lot, though. No one had ever questioned his talent, but many sportswriters and fans (myself included) had wondered how he'd respond when truly tested. He responded with his 5th consecutive Wimbledon title. I thought I saw Bjorn Borg wince, but they may have just been a figment of my imagination.

Thoughts on the men's draw:

Novak Djokovic: Won a lot of fans with his hard-fought win against Marcos Baghdatis in the quarters. He then lost some fans when he retired in the third set (trailing 1-4) against Nadal. I'm actually predicting a Djokovic win at the U.S. Open.

Richard Gasquet: Has the best backhand in the business. He showed why some think he's every bit as talented as Federer. Coming back against Roddick in the quarters should be a sign of things to come. Allez, Richard!

Andy Roddick: Sigh. I felt bad for Roddick. I'd actually predicted a Gasquet win, but I didn't expect Andy to go out like that. He led 2 sets to 0 and was up a break in the third before it all fell apart for him. Gasquet didn't expose his weaknesses. He simply exploited the "gaps" in Roddick's game (backhand, deficiencies at net) that everyone already knew.

So, now it's on to the hardcourt season.