“Ewww, gross!” (Expected reaction from my grand-nieces when they’re old enough to read this)
I’ve got 2 quick things for you here…
… one of which I expect you to respond to.
You can choose which one, according to your whims.
But please do respond.
First of Two Items: Let’s get this short commercial announcement out of the way with two brief paragraphs.
There are still a couple of spots left in the last-ever full-weekend Hot Seat Seminar I’m hosting February 21-22 in San Francisco. Yes, I know this is astonishing, but it’s true. First time I haven’t instantly sold-out a Hot Seat event. One guy had to pull out cuz the economy ate his income stream the day after he grabbed a spot. Gruesome. Sign of the times?
Doesn’t matter. If this offer of intense marketing-intervention by a gang of experts — giving you a practical “action plan” to go get rich (after fixing all your problems) — is something you KNOW you should be jumping on… then go here now, read the details, and for God’s sake, grab one of the last spots (before someone less worthy than you does):
Second of Two Items: I just got “tagged” to write 25 Random Things About Myself.
My old pal Michel Fortin took this notorious Facebook tactic, modified it slightly for bloggers, and has sent the little bugger out into the blogosphere.
I just read an article in the New York Times about this “25 things” phenomenon (and how it’s energized the Facebook community)…
… but guess what?
It’s not new.
The tactic of using random, unrelated subjects to reveal something about someone is as old as “do it yourself biographies”. If you’re trying to get Grampa to write his memoirs, but he doesn’t know how to begin…
… then make up a list of random questions to get him started.
Rather than ask him “What was your childhood like?” (which will have him reaching for a slug of rheumatism medicine)…
… you ask him, instead, about the first time he had chocolate ice cream.
That will open a memory storage locker that includes shocking details about his life, which will require him to explain who Uncle Willie was, why they were all at the Grand Canyon in the 1930s, how tough it was driving a rattle-trap Ford across Arizona in June, how much gas cost in the Depression, how a kid experienced the world as it sped toward war, and on and on.
There really is no such thing as a random question. All things interact in the universe, and that intensifies when you add human memory into the mix.
Boy, does it ever intensify.
This particular concept — writing out 25 random things I believe most folks don’t know about me — could become the first chapter of a decent autobiography.
Of course, I’m a long-winded blabbermouth in love with my keyboard, so I could transform ANY subject into something that would fit into a biography. But there you have it.
Good thing I own this blog, and don’t have to please anyone else to keep my job here.
So, with apologies to the folks who thought they invented this process…
… and with a shrug of slight embarrassment because I know the concept is supposed to be full of short little tidbits and factoids (and I’ve gone off with half a novel here)…
… here is my contribution to this cultural sunami of too much information. About moi.
The rules are simple.
I quote Michel here:
Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a post with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you.
At the end, choose five more people to be tagged. You also have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you. To do this, you simply link to their blogs so that they know you responded to their tag. (That’s how I found out I was tagged by Fortin.)
You may include the above rules in your post so that the person being tagged knows them, too. You may also want to tweet your post to notify them on Twitter, too.
Got that? I name five folks at the end whom I have tagged.
However, I’d love to take it a step further:
I want to hear 2 (not 25) things about you in the comments section here. That’s harder — you gotta think “If these 2 things are all someone knows about me… what does that SAY about me?”
Oh, this should stir up some shit, all right.
This could really be fun, guys.
First, though, you gotta slog through MY 25 random things. It’s more than you ever need to know about me.
Let’s begin, shall we?
1. I was born at 4:44pm on a Saturday afternoon in Pomona, California. For some reason, this has seemed significant to me… and no, I haven’t looked into the numerology aspect, but I was interested to learn that Howlin’ Wolf’s “lucky” number was 444. (From the tune “Ain’t Got You”: I got the mojo, and a liquor store, I play the numbers, yeah, 444…) Please alert me if you have insight to this.
2. My father still lives in the same track house he bought in 1948, soon after returning from WWII. I know every square inch of that joint, though it used to be the size of a castle to me, and now the entire layout could fit into my current living and kitchen area. I visit often, and am consumed with memory while there.
3. In fact, every place I’ve lived seems haunted by ghostly images from when I walked the streets. I still have friends in the town where I attended college, and when I visit I can easily slip into a waking reverie rippling with replays of past events… right down to the emotional nuances. I feel like I’m in an ongoing movie 24/7. And this is true of every place I’ve lived (and I been around, let me tell ya).
4. I was stunned to learn, a few years ago, that not everyone has access to a running memory of their life like this. I guess I’ve been writing, in my head, my autobiography since becoming conscious in the crib (yes, I have a vivid memory of being a baby). I don’t see how this skill provides any evolutionary benefit… but I am that guy with near-total emotional/visual/sensory access to memory. Luckily, I’ve lived the kind of life worth reliving once in a while. Otherwise, this would totally suck.
5. I was a late bloomer. My parents wisely waited a year to put me into school — so rather than being the youngest (and most immature) in the class ahead, I was among the oldest in my class… which allowed me to mature at my natural pace, without pressure to start shaving before I actually grew facial hair. Lucky move. I would have been a nervous wreck being the youngest. (Plus, the class ahead of me was full of assholes.)
6. I have a number of attributes that are considered relatively rare: I’m red-green color deficient (not “color blind”, but definitely clueless about what color anything is), something affecting around 3 to 5% of the population. My fingers are double-jointed (I can do some really gross things, like locking my knuckles when giving someone the bird, which always startles them). My first toe is longer than my big toe on each foot. I can pick up stuff with my toes, too (though I think I developed this skill, rather than inherited any prehensile trait). I was born without wisdom teeth. I can curl my tongue. Impressed? You should be.
7. I absolutely stink at singing… but that hasn’t stopped me from doing it in bands from the time I was 15 years old. Mostly I sang back-up and the occasional solo… but for my second mid-life crisis (10 years ago) I formed a 3-piece power rock band, and had to sing around half the material. I did well enough to pack biker bars, and that’s all I cared about. But I still stink at it.
8. Part of the reason it took me so long to get my act together (I was 34 before I got serious about becoming a professional copywriter) is that I have multiple talents above mediocre levels, and pursuing them kept me distracted. I wrote my first novel in the sixth grade. (It was horrible, but a real story with plot, character development, and coherent ending.) By high school, my cartooning was so good I was forcibly given a weekly cartoon strip in the school newspaper (which lasted for two years). I was shy, and actually resented the celebrity that brought. Then the same thing happened in college, and for 2 years I was the staff cartoonist for the school daily. It was hard work. I also played guitar well enough to carry a band, and I’ve been writing pretty damned good pop songs since I was 17. I also played baseball deep into my teens, and thought I wanted to be a jock. (Really bad idea for a guy with my poor eyesight.) I’d be broke today if I had followed any of those professions. I miss cartooning, though.
9. I’m sort of a classic Baby Boomer. Growing up in Southern California, I experienced the best and newest television innovations — from “I Love Lucy” to the McCarthy hearings to American Bandstand to Ed Sullivan — and was in the audience for some Bozo shows. Went to Disneyland the week it opened, and had been there 9 times before it was 4 years old. Bodysurfed at the beaches the Beach Boys sang about, swam in Lake Arrowhead while Hollywood movies were shot there, went to Palm Springs just when Bob Hope discovered it. Lived near the first MacDonald’s and the first In-And-Out Burger. Entered high school during the Summer of Love, went to college during the best part of the Sexual Revolution, and the soundtrack of my youth is now what you’d call Classic Rock (I first made out to Louie, Louie, fell in love to Layla, had my first heartbreak to Fooled Around & Fell In Love). I was a folkie, a square jock, a hippie, a student revolutionary, and I hitchhiked up and down the west coast before horror movies put an end to all that. (I’ll stop — I know I’m boring you.)
10. I grew up less than a block from Route 66, where it ran along what used to be the Spanish Trail, in the oldest settled part of the San Gabriel Valley. In a town called Cucamonga (Shoshone for “running spring”), which was an hour out of Los Angeles, mostly orange groves and grape vineyards and the kind of drive-ins/car-clubs/surfer/rebel-without-a-cause youth culture best depicted in the film American Graffitti.
11. I was almost held back in the 2nd grade, because no one figured out I needed glasses and I never saw anything the teacher wrote on the blackboard. It took another 4 years for it to become obvious (my family all has perfect vision, except me, The Freak), and the evening I left the optomotrist wearing my first pair of glasses, I was literally dumbstruck at my first clear sighting of the full moon rising over the mountains. It is still the most beautiful visual moment of my life.
12. My high school was sexually retarded… and while much of the So Cal area dove into the wild erotic highjinks of the mid-sixties, we mostly bungled our way through fifties-era romantic adventures. Thus, I got very good at kissing and foreplay, while slowly going batshit trying to lose my virginity. However, I now see this was an advantage — easy sex teaches you few skills in creative pleasure. It may sound corny, but foreplay rocks.
13. I grew up without much money… but so did everyone else in my group, so it didn’t impact our ecstacy over living in such abundant times. Even through college, it was unusual for anyone in my generation to own more than a couple dozen records (or a decent stereo). So we learned every note of every song by memory (including the skips, cuz none of us took good care of the vinyl) and obsessed over the scant info available on the album covers. You really could tell a LOT about someone with a quick glance through their record collection — stoner, hip cat, clueless pop geek, mainstream Top 40 fan, folkie, Frank Zappa weirdo, etc.
14. I developed my love of all things rock before I knew I was doing it. My sister is 8 years older than I am, and every afternoon we’d fight over who got to watch TV. I wanted to tune into Engineer Bill’s cartoon show, and sis craved American Bandstand. So we alternated days… and I became an 8-year-old anthropologist gorging on doo-wop and Chuck Berry and Elvis, not quite clear on why it was so enjoyable. (I still have a thang for poodle skirts.)
15. My childhood obsessions went through fairly normal-for-the-times stages: Dinosaurs, the Civil War, science fiction, horror and fantasy-adventure comics (huge Frank Frazetta fan), Mad magazine, surf guitar, the Monkees, cars, girls, bodysurfing and finally, long hair.
16. I entered my senior year of high school as a “good boy” and ended the year getting suspended for refusing to cut my hair, challenging authority at every turn. It was 1970, the height of the anti-war movement.
17. In college, my hair nearly reached my belt. This was a big deal back then, because no one would hire me for anything, cops pulled me over without reason, and the risk of being assaulted by pissed-off social conservatives (which included bikers, frat boys and construction workers) was very, very real. But the chicks dug it, and it meant instant acceptance into the counter-culture. God, we were shallow back then.
18. My favorite color is deep blue… but for some reason, light blue kinda ticks me off. (And I can’t “see” purple, which is Michele’s favorite color, and that pisses her off.)
19. I smoked cigarettes for a decade. Started at 19, trying to cop some of Humphrey Bogart’s mojo, and ended with successive bouts of severe bronchitis that convinced me to stop at 30. I still miss it. But I refuse to get involved with cigars. It’s good to miss vices — it reminds you that you chose living over dying slowly.
20. I am still relatively close to several friends I’ve known since I was 5 years old.
21. I’ve always had close friends, but I’ve also moved around a lot which put some of those friendships on hold. I find it interesting that several people who consider me their best friend live near other people who also consider me their best friend… and they’ve never met. Or, when they do meet, they don’t feel they have anything in common except me. I think, long ago, I developed some kind of ability to be a chameleon, so I could hang out with a vast variety of folks and develop deep friendships.
22. In fact, I’ve often thought of writing an info book on how to be a good friend. There are, it turns out, some good rules for doing this. Most folks are incapable of being a “best” friend with anyone, because of childhood baggage (or narcisism). I know people who I’ll get together with after not seeing or speaking to for a couple of years, and we’ll just pick up where we left off without a hitch. You know you’re with a good friend when the silences are comfortable and enjoyable even when they’re long. (First requirement for a good road dog, by the way.)
23. I have 3 novels in my drawer that just might be kick-ass when I get around to the final edits. I’m in no rush, though. My goal was to write one before I turned 40, and I did. Even had a NY agent shop it for a month, but I pulled it. The joy comes from writing them, not in getting recognition from a publisher or audience. (Yes, I’m weird.)
24. Right now, I own around a dozen electric guitars (including the first one I ever bought), one lap steel, two Martin acoustics (one of them a cool “traveler”), one bass, and four keyboards. Five amps. One PA. A big pile of wah-wah’s and stomp boxes. My favorites: The digital Hammond with virtual Leslie, and the Japanese reissue of the ’62 Telecaster I hot-rodded with a Seymour Duncan Hot Rail bridge pickup and black pickguard. (Rosewood fretboard, standard Tele neck p/u, separate switch for the Hot Rail, Slinky’s, Tweed amp. Yum, yum, yum…)
25. I went a year, in college, without wearing shoes. My feet got so tough, I could walk through snow without problem. Didn’t do it on purpose — I just got used to it, preferred it, and did it. Not sure what this says about me.
There. That wasn’t so hard.
That’s all for now, folks.
P.S. Remember to post your comment with 2 random things about you.