Saturday, March 31, 2007

Palmtree Panic

Thirty-six, thirty-seven, thirty-eight, thirty-nine, forty.


big tree at sunset


sideview mirror


junebug and ''citizen kane''


the backyard fence


the dragonfly

Thirty-six: The big tree on Pasado. Thirty-seven: The sideview mirror, in rain, on the driveway. Thirty-eight: Dead junebug at the Pasado House. Thirty-nine: Pasado House back fence. Forty: The Big Dragonfly at Coachella.

An Open Letter to Anonymous


Thank you for your interest in my work.

I assume you came to my blog through the link at the bottom of my Five-Dollar Words column, in which you noted some typos. The column, tragically, had been posted in its unedited version and not as the final draft it should have been. For that, I apologize. However, I really can’t apologize for the typos you caught on this blog. Aside from the fact that I consider this site "word play" and my efforts at the Independent "word work," I don't think anyone realistically expects a open-to-the-public blog for which I write for my personal benefit and no financial gain to be 100-percent typo-free.

I’m only recently a college graduate and therefore cannot afford a personal copy editor. Furthermore, though I enjoy writing and do indeed profess a love of words, I have a mental block when it comes to editing my own writing. If I pursue this line of work, it’s something I have to get over, even if doing so means slowing the process of publishing words in the effort to make sure they appear without any errors. But as it stands now, I mentally glaze over when re-reading something I just wrote — something, more often than not, that I spent a while working on — and don’t catch typos. My eyes see only the words I intended to write, and not the “the the” or the “teh.”

At work at the Independent, I have a sharp-eyed staff of copy folk and proofreaders backing me up and making sure that what gets printed looks polished. However, I also work as a news editor there and I’m usually the first person to read over a reporter’s article before it passes to the next level in the editorial hierarchy. I think I do a good job of reading my co-workers’ words and fixing the little mistakes — the kind the majority of writers make. But I can’t give my own work the same comprehensive once-over very well. Few can, really. Any news content that I write gets passed to another editor because their eyes can see the words more objectively than I can.

It’s fairly often that I have the people who read this blog — most of whom I know in real life — point out something that was written incorrectly. I appreciate it. The readers here are the second pair of eyes that I can’t afford. You made these kind of catches on several posts here, including "The Sacred Bumpkin,""Too Many Elenores" and "Gimmick Mountain." In the end, the errors are better off fixed.

However, I don’t understand why you felt such a compulsion to make the corrections in a mean-spirited tone. Why edit something to demean the author and not to improve the work? If you really lack any respect for an author, wouldn’t it be all the more insulting to leave the errors and let future readers notice them as well? You complained more than once that the presence of typos should indicate that I truly don’t appreciate words. I have to also object to that on grounds that typos don’t necessarily indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of language but rather the unchecked haste in which it was expressed.

This, I believe, is a major fault of writing in the online era: words being generated too quickly, too often and people reacting to them with a level of spite that only anonymity allows. I guess I will have to work on my end of it.

You got me, Anonymous. I make typos. (To this day, I can’t type the word “sworn” without accidentally typing “sword” first.) Because editing is an integral part of the writing process, however, I feel you made a mistake as well. A major responsibility of any editor is to respect the writer’s efforts. (Again, why bother to point out mistakes otherwise?) You were rude, either in an effort to make yourself seem better or to make me seem stupid. (Or both.) And while my mistakes might make me seem oblivious, yours make you seem malicious. I guess it’s a matter of opinion which of those qualities is worse.

By the way, in your haste to call me out on my incompetence, I think you may have actually made a mistake yourself.

In the post “Too Many Elenores,” you find fault with me typing “Elenore Gee, I think you’re swell” and then later “Elenore, can I take the time.” The point of the post was a little joke — downright tiny, some might argue — about how one can listen to the song and hear the various words following the name “Elenore” as odd surnames and still preserve the meaning of the sentences. (Elenore Gee, Elenore Nearme, etc.) The one exception, I felt, is the line “Elenore, can I take the time,” because hearing it as “Eleanor Can, I take the time” changes the sentence’s meaning too much.

But maybe you didn’t pick up on that because you were too busy scanning for typos.


Gimmick Mountain

Thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-three, thirty-four, thirty-five.




broken mary


grass and the sky


little friend and the hills


lauren and mike

Thirty-one: Just a month on my window screen. Thirty-two: Broken-faced Mary at the San Juan Bautista cemetery. Thirty-three: The view from beneath the weeds. Thirty-four: Little Friend. Thirty-five: Mike and Lauren at the Coachella Tesla coil.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Eight-Months-After Pill

The hits, as near as I can tell.

Sky Chase

Twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty.


donkey noses


donkey ears


the barn


dead gopher


train tracks

Twenty-six: Burro noses in a pen near Hollister. Twenty-seven: My award winning "King Midas" shot. Twenty-eight: The inside of an old barn at three o' clock. Twenty-nine: Dead gopher on my parents' lawn. Thirty: Train tracks at Gaviota Beach.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Sacred Bumpkin

Cheer for me: The second installment of Five-Dollar Words went up this afternoon. Yes, it's technically an expansion of an idea I originally put on this very blog, but I think it works better that its antecedent.

Feedback, please.

Too Many Elenores

The Turtles' "Elenore" — also known as, I suppose, "Eleanor" — is vastly improved by interpreting the various mentions of Elenore as different girls with odd last names.
You’ve got a thing about you
I just can’t live without you
I really want you, Elenore Nearme

Your looks intoxicate me
Even though your folks hate me
There’s no one like you, Elenore Really

Elenore Gee, I think you’re swell
And you really do me well
You’re my pride and joy et cetera

Elenore, can I take the time
To ask you to speak your mind
Tell me that you love me better}
I really think you’re groovy
Let’s go out to a movie
What do you say now, Elenore Canwe?

They’ll turn the lights way down low
Maybe we won’t watch the show
I think I love you, Elenore Loveme

Elenore Gee, I think you’re swell
And you really do me well
You’re my pride and joy etcetera
{chorus ad infinitum}
So that's Miss Elenore Nearme, Miss Elenore Really, Elenore Gee, Elenore Canwe and Elenore Loveme and a sixth Elenore lacking any last name.

I make my own fun. That's why.

Judy Tenuta Is Not Dead

I knew this, but that still didn't prepare me for how vocal she's being about this whole still being alive thing. (Have your sound on.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


My God. I don’t know if anybody reading this blog even bothers with my gushing reviews of the TV shows I love, but I have to indulge myself. Tonight’s “Lost” kicked ass. It followed a previous episode that kicked even wider, more deserving ass — one specifically that involved an exploding submarine, a magic room and the story behind how John Locke wound up in a wheelchair. This week’s installment, “Exposé,” centered on Nikki (Kiele Sanchez) and Paolo (Rodrigo Santoro, who may be most familiar as the hunky guy in “Love, Actually” and the apparently hermaphroditic Persian emperor Xerxes in “300”). Most who follow “Lost” hate Nikki and Paolo. The rest don’t know who they are, as the two suddenly appeared this season as new survivors of Flight 815, forcing to viewers to buy the notion that the squabbling lovebirds had always been on the island, skipping off their own off-screen adventures while the rest — the “Losers,” the ones whose names actually appeared in the opening credits for seasons one and two — did the things that the camera followed. It sucked as a writing ploy. (When “Buffy” invented little sister Dawn in the fifth season, at least the writers copped to the implausibility by literally saying that magic brought her there.) Tonight, the writers did a good job explaining — or as “Lost” critics would put it, “digging out of their self-dug hole” — why Nikki and Paolo weren’t around. Short story: eight million dollars’ worth of diamonds that crashed with the plane. Most impressively, the show actually featured footage from old episodes with Nikki and Paolo seamlessly inserted — lurking in the background at pivotal moments, reacting to events viewers had seen before and popping in at the end of conversations spoken seasons earlier. (An added plus: flashback appearances by Iam Somerhalder and Maggie Grace, whose Boone and Shannon hold the record for being the longest-dead characters on the show. Good to see you, kids.) Finally, “Exposé” ended with a good twist — if not outright Hitchcockian, then at least Twilight Zonian. Not knowing that the apparently dead Nikki and Paolo are in short-term spider bit-induced comas, the regular Losers believe they have died dead lay the two to rest alongside Boone, Shannon, Ana-Lucia and Libby, under six feet of sand. So Nikki and Paolo get buried alive — along with their diamonds, now worthless among people who’ve probably resigned themselves to permanent castaway status. The Losers even mutter about how they didn’t know all that much about the two. We don’t either, I suppose, but at least two characters more or less shitweaseled onto the show got sent off with a bang. In all, people like to dump on “Lost.” I can’t stop watching it even when it’s floundering, as it was in earlier this season with five straight episodes of endless Jack-Sawyer-Kate melodrama. Lately, I think the show has taken steps to re-earn a title I would have easily awarded its first season: best show on TV. Yes, even better than recent “Veronica Mars,” on which the denouement of the “Who Killed Ed Begley Jr.?” arc was good but not great. (And I suppose I can’t blame “Veronica” for lacking direction, as I wouldn’t know how to write for a show that might not exist in few months either.) A small gripe: I can forgive adding characters just to kill them off. I can even overlook the fact that newcomers like Nikki and Paolo got a flashback episode when poor Libby’s backstory still has not been touched since the second season finale. However, I can’t understand why the “Lost” writers insist on kicking off characters in patterns that invite concerns of sexism and racism. First, it was equating sex with death, as both Shannon and Ana-Lucia died moments after boning with Sayid and Sawyer, respectively. (Libby came only as close to chaste hugs with Hurley. It HurleyWorld, that’s probably as close to home base as he’ll get.) Then it was shuffling away all the black characters. In half a season — stretching from the season two ender to two episodes ago — “Lost” promptly rid itself of Michael and Walt (who sailed away on a boat), Eko (who was beaten to death by the smoke monster) and Miss Klugh (whom Mr. Russian Eyepatch recently shot to death). By the time I post this on my blog, I’m sure I won’t be the first person to point out that Nikki and Paolo’s sand nap leaves Hurley the sole remaining Hispanic character on the show. Especially odd is the repetition of adding a vaguely villainous Latina — Michelle Rodridguez in season two, Kiele Sanchez in season three — and then killing them off before their debut season even wraps up. The good part of all this, I guess, is that very soon “Lost” will have no choice but to start killing whitey.

Where Does Mario Go When He Dies?

This mass grave makes me happier than any I've seen previously.

Oil Ocean

Twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five.


drunken merekat


your ideal girl


sticky rice


3/4 of brie's face


disco ball

Twenty-one: Merekat at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Twenty-two: Hilly behind a camera flash in my bedroom at the Pasado House. Twenty-three: Leftover sticky rice on the kitchen counter at the Pasado House. Twenty-four: Brie, in Storke Tower. Twenty-five: A disco ball, for some reason.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Why We Have Nicknames

Today I learned that Charo's full legal name is María del Rosario Pilar Martínez Molina Baeza de Rasten. I will continue to call her "Charo."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Crack Joke Goes Here

New wonderfulness from Threadless. Make it happen, people.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Aquatic Ruin

Sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty.


the crow tree from my bedroom window




two and a half loquats


poppy bud


cotton candy

Sixteen: Crows in the big tree, Isla Vista. Seventeen: Poppy in the Pasado House backyard. Eighteen: Three loquats, Pasado House backyard. Nineteen: Poppy bud. Twenty: Cotton candy smashed in a garbage bin at the Santa Barbara zoo.

Flaunt and Take to Dinner

And by all means, please check out the debut installment of my new column at the Independent, Five-Dollar Words. It's, um, about words. Expect etymology up the ass.

Or, Why I'll Be Taking All Next Week Off

Eleven years of Catholic education has taught me that this is Christianity's big week: Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday. In short, Holy Week. But a conversation this morning made me wonder about the rest of the week. Why should they be denied a fancy name. They do, after all, occur in the seven days leading up to the big Egg Festival Day. (And that's what we're celebrating, right?)

Let's give a big thank-you to the Wikipedia, for telling me what I should already know about my religion. In order, Holly Week goes as follows.
  • Palm Sunday.
  • Holy Monday and Holy Tuesday — about which Wikipedia has little to say, as links to either merely redirect to the page for Holy Week.
  • Spy Wednesday, named for the observance of Judas's treachery. It is known in other languages as Ugly Wednesday or Soot-Sweeping Wednesday.
  • Maundy Thursday, the name of which I had heard before but never really understood. It commemorates the Last Supper, but the "Maundy" part itself is a bit of a mystery. Historians aren't sure whether we got it from mandutum — the Latin for "commandment," spoken specifically in the context of "A new commandment I give unto you is that you love one another as I have loved you." The other camp suggests "Maundy" comes from the Latin mendicare, "to beg," as the well-to-do Christians back in the day were apparently especially generous three days before Easter.
  • Good Friday, when Jesus died and therefore would seem to be named ironically.
  • Holy Saturday, which by now sounds horribly unimpressive, given the preponderance of the word "Holy" so far. I would prefer calling any other of its names in other languages — Easter Even, Glorious Saturday, Low Saturday, Black Saturday or White Saturday.
  • Easter Sunday, of course.
  • And then Easter Monday, which Wikipedia claims is important to some people.
So can Catholics just be expected to be out until next Tuesday?

EDIT: Ha. That will teach me to think I know what date it is. Holy Week, after all, is next week. I guess this changed my plans for going home for Easter.

Friday, March 23, 2007


A neat segment on the torturous life of Nintend's Miis, from G4 — that weird channel that does video game stuff and "Arrested Development" reruns.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Scrap Brain

Eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen.


bigger blue


orange and first rain


thistle patch


mrs. samurai


jen's cactus

Eleven: Blue chew toy in the backyard in Hollister. Twelve: An orange in Dad's garden. Thirteen: Thistles, somewhere. Fourteen: A woman I call "Mrs. Samurai." Fifteen: A plastic cactus stolen from the Goldrush Hotel in Las Vegas.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sweetie, Take it Hot

It was found inadvertantly.

And then another was found.

And a third, easily the best of the bunch.

Spring Yard

Six, seven, eight, nine and ten.


bamboo lamp


kami's tinsel christmas decoration


the kit-cat clock




the landscape of a rolling bathmat

Six: Inside a bamboo lamp. Seven: Kami's Christmas decoration, in the corner of the big bedroom of the Pasado House. Eight: The Kit-Cat Clock, on the kitchen wall of the Pasado House. Nine: At the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens. Ten: Bathmat in the backyard of the Pasado House.

Nina Has a Gun

The problem with the internet, as near as I can see it, is that some youthful indulgence you thought would be contained to your high school years can end up leaked online. And then it's just a matter of one person seeing that posted one place and then re-posting it somewhere else — and then another and then another until Spencer's friend Nina can't go anywhere without meeting people who've seen what I assume is her high school drama class's re-enactment of the music video for Julie Brown's "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun."

Case in point:

Can anybody else help this reach viral status? Also: No, not that Julie Brown. It's this Julie Brown.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Green Hill

One, two, three, four and five.


house on the hill


bedroom reflection


george washgton carver


backyard branches


courthouse stairwell

One: The creepy house in Hidden Valley. Two: Reflection in the window of my old bedroom in the Pasado House Isla Vista. Three: Pasado House, George Washington Carver, shortly before he died. Four: Bare branches on a cold, cold day. Five: The stairwell in the Santa Barbara Courthouse.

Was Like Any Other

In the gray chair.

At my hilariously oversized CEO desk.

In the common space of the bedroom I share.

In my apartment.

In my section of the more-than-a-duplex, less-than-a-multiplex building I live in.

Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara County.

California, more or less on the line dividing the northern and southern sections.

Western edge of the North American continent.

Earth, between the red one and the pretty one.

In the particular solar system in which we call the sun "Sun" and not anything else.

Milky Way Galaxy.

The good dimension, as opposed one of the Bizarro or prawn dimensions.

(An update to an old post that I recently published, after writing it and accidentally letting it languish, unseen by the world, for nearly four years. )

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sex Flowers

Mostly at the suggestion of Ethan's cover story in this week's Independent, I dropped by Earl Warren for the Santa Barbara Orchid Show. The article actually made flowers I've otherwise associated with over-attendant housewives seem exciting. Besides, since I've lived here, I've let six previous ones go by, so I figured this Sunday would be the day where I would go look at the evolutionary freaks.

The evidence:







The grand-prize winner, which I found oddly turnip-like.



And the last one — the only photo that I felt had any artistic merit.


I liked it to much I was tempted to fiddle with it, hopefully for the better.