01.23.12

Dawn of a New Day

Posted in January 2012 at 7:52 pm by The Layman

The morning sun rises outside the window behind me while I toil at my desk.  The fresh light peeks through the window blinds and arrays itself in a jagged splash along the wall to my right, like the glow from a streetlamp on the wall of a dark office in a classic noir film.

Looking at the pattern on the wall, I cannot stop my mind from wandering.

I wonder what predicament befalls our hero.  Faced with a wheelbarrow full of rotten choices, which path will he choose? And when will our heroine reveal herself? Will she present our hero with a way out, or will she simply further complicate his plight?

Then I reach behind me and slam the blinds shut. Because the glare from the awakened sun on the computer monitor washes out my document, and really hurts my eyes.

01.20.12

So I Wanna Be a Screenwriter

Posted in January 2012 at 7:37 pm by The Layman

I am working on an original screenplay.  Although I must admit, I have been working on it more slowly, than surely.  Writer’s block never hits me as hard as it does when I attempt to move my script forward. Every time I pick up the script, I crash into an invisible barrier which makes the U.S. naval blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis seem like the finish line tape at the local 5K race.  Perhaps the movie gods have sent this immovable force to convey to me the message that my great movie idea needs more polishing, the same kind of polishing required to turn sand into the mirror used in the Hubble Space Telescope.

But I digress.  As I understand it, the movie industry would consider this a “spec” script; which, in plain English, means it will never see the light of day.  Actually, it means that the script is unsolicited, and no one has actually paid me to work on the project.  Common knowledge seems to suggest – if that community is the internet, that is; and really, does a bigger community exist? – that my efforts will never make it onto the Big Screen.

But I am okay with that. I have managed to convince myself to enjoy the journey, however painful it has seemed so far, and not focus on some distant theoretical destination.  After all, the salmon knows that it will die after spawning, yet it still fights its way upstream until it accomplishes its mission.  A shooting star knows it will burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere, yet it still arcs across the night sky in a flash of fiery glory, amazing all the terrestrial beings lucky enough to view it.

So I will continue to plow away, head down, one foot in front of the other.  If I ever finish this screenplay, perhaps I will post it here on The Perch.  In the meantime, if you ever dip your toes into the frigid, fast-moving waters of a Pacific Northwest stream one fine, fall day, please look for me.

01.19.12

Clash of the Culinary Titans

Posted in January 2012 at 9:03 pm by The Layman

The feud between celebrity chefs Paula Deen and Anthony Bourdain has been bubbling like a pot of chicken stock simmering under low heat.  As a foodie, I enjoy nothing more than plopping down on the couch with a big tub of popcorn (drenched with butter, of course) and following the knives flying back and forth between these cable television divas.  Recently, this culinary clash flared up like fat drippings from a bone-in ribeye steak on the grill hitting the white-hot charcoal, when Deen announced on NBC that she has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Now, here on The Perch, we normally frown upon taking a cheap shot at someone who is suffering from a disease.   But Deen’s plight is a bit different.  Wrapped in all those layers of hypocrisy that shield her, like the Teflon on my omelette skillet, none of the criticism would stick on her anyway.  The same cannot be said of Deen’s cooking and my ribs and dickie-doo (for those readers who have not had the pleasure of living in the South, a dickie-doo is when your gut is so big, it sticks out farther than your dickie-doo).

Deen was diagnosed three years ago, or twenty six thousand five hundred thirty five sticks of butter, depending on if one measures the duration while inside or outside of Deen’s kitchen, and has chosen to keep that information private until now – the occasional rumor notwithstanding.   Perhaps it would be unfair to state that Deen’s lifetime of preparing and consuming rich, mouth-watering southern classics caused her diabetes. According to a recent study by the International Diabetes Federation, one in ten adults will become afflicted with diabetes by the year 2030.   What is fair to state is that not only is Deen entering a new life stage in terms of living with and managing this disease, she is determined to profit from her affliction as well.

At the same time that she announced her disease, Deen also announced she has signed on as a paid spokesperson for drug company Novo Nordisk. Together, they will educate the public on healthier eating to help keep the disease in check.  If Bourdain thought several months before Deen’s announcement that her being in the pocket of “evil corporations” was despicable, what must he think now of Deen’s newest partnership with Big Pharma, the most evil of corporations? In fact, this little tidbit apparently penetrated Bourdain’s alcoholic haze with the clarity of a crystal decanter, because Bourdain managed to put down the shot glass long enough to tweet, “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.”  Of course, Bourdain taking shots at a fellow celebrity chef for drumming up business serves as a prime example of the proverbial pot calling the kettle black.  If Bourdain has stepped into a kitchen long enough in the last ten years to remember what a pot looks like, that is.

Happily, interested spectators do not have to pick sides in this ongoing clash of culinary titans.  Picking sides in a made-for-television drama is as futile as keeping our kitchen at The Perch as spotless as the typical kitchen on the set of a Food Network cooking show.  So here at The Perch, we hope that Deen successfully manages her diabetes and continues to live a healthy life, and Bourdain continues to tell us exactly how he feels.

The Copy Room

Posted in January 2012 at 6:47 pm by The Layman

The green glow skimmed across her face like the shadow of a puffy cloud sweeping over an undulating field. She silently hummed to herself the melody of The Song to the beat of the rhythmic whirring and clicking of the copier.

Lately, she had been thinking often of that period in her life, and The Song brought her back to that space and time as if the events had unfolded yesterday. The power of music effortlessly pierced the reservoir hidden deep within her memory, and the liberated emotions washed over her like the waves shaping the contours of a sandy beach, un-muted by the passage of time. The well-worn feelings comforted her.

She glanced up as he walked into the room and placed a sheaf of papers in the facsimile machine. He looked vaguely familiar, and she recalled that they had met before. But she had not cared to remember his name. As he punched the keys on the machine to dial a number, he began to softly sing the chorus of The Song. The same one that was playing in her head on an infinite loop. And over and over again on her iPod. She looked at him again, this time with a swirling mix of surprise and curiosity. Her eyes unblinking.

He stopped singing when he looked up from the fax machine and noticed her stare. “Sorry,” he said sheepishly as his cheeks reddened. “That song has been stuck in my mind all day. It’s called . . .”

“I’m familiar . . .” she replied softly, interrupting him in mid-sentence.

He nodded, then started to say something, but suddenly decided not to. Instead, he pursed his lips and grabbed his documents from the fax machine. Her confused gaze followed him as he briskly left the room.

01.17.12

Burger King Delivers

Posted in January 2012 at 8:08 pm by The Layman

From Burger King, the fast food company that promises the discerning gourmand that she or he can “have it your way” comes the news that in a limited number of markets, “hav[ing] it your way” means you can have “it” delivered to your doorstep.

My first reaction upon hearing the news was that this is what happens when you let a bunch of investment bankers, and Brazilian bankers at that, run a food business. All those Ivy League M.B.A. degrees, all that Wall Street experience in the business of money, all the expensive and exhaustive strategic, market and operational analysis, and this is their revolutionary idea?

As an American who has eaten a fast food burger or three, I find it hard to wrap my mind around this novel approach, much less wrap my fingers around the greasy burger wrappers after handing over my money while standing at the open front door of my home. Fast food burgers are meant to be eaten in the car, with one hand holding the neatly-wrapped burger, and the other hand on the steering wheel. If one must sit on a stationary chair, then it should be a hard, slippery, plastic chair securely bolted to a similarly hard, slippery, plastic table, all preferably painted in a palette of bright, happy colors.

But the more I thought about it, the more I began to believe that Burger King may be on to something. After all, these bankers possess some modicum of business savvy and experience. And Burger King is the first to roll out this risky, albeit novel strategy on a wide scale.

But some questions remain stubbornly unanswered. Will the delivery person be draped in royal regalia, with a fake orange beard, topped off by a shiny, faux-gold crown? Instead of a brightly-lit, plastic billboard on the roof of the delivery vehicle, will the delivery drivers prowl the residential streets in a car topped by a big plastic crown with tiny points of lights? I am not sure I would like my neighbors to note the alarming frequency with which the car with the funny, giant crown on the roof pulls into my driveway.

I will have to set aside some time to ponder these and other questions. But first, I must log on and find out if my home falls within the current delivery areas.

The Eternal Wait

Posted in January 2012 at 6:45 pm by The Layman

His gaze fixates on the horizon.

When his eyes tire, he looks down and wonders, “For how long should one wait for a sure thing?”

Paralyzed by the prospect of an unfathomable fantastic, reluctant to embrace the mundane reality of a quotidian life, he sets aside any thoughts of action for another day. And returns his eyes to the distance. Unblinking.

Zero Dark Thirty at the Airport Terminal

Posted in January 2012 at 6:39 pm by The Layman

The accordion player cranks out a constant, upbeat polka. He sits on a tattered suitcase and stares straight ahead, only occasionally glancing at the harried passengers walking briskly by while pulling their oversized steamer trunks on wheels masquerading as carry-on luggage. He shyly makes eye contact with the rare person who stops and listens appreciatively, and smiles.

Bleary-eyed, it is easy to imagine that I am sitting in a busy Central European train terminal. But then the aroma of warm tortilla and pork from the Chipotle hits my nose, the holiday muzak from the overhead speakers drowns out the resolute accordion player, and I realize I am just sitting in the waiting area of Gate 63 in the B terminal of Dulles International Airport at 5:30 AM.

It is way too early in the morning for this assault on my senses.