Armand… Is The Wind!

Watching “Mannequin” on A&E on a Sunday morning, after making a big healthy post-gym breakfast. Life is good. Oughtta slow down and recognize that a bit more often.

Today’s title is a quote from the movie, the scene where Roxy & Armand drive up to Jonathan & Emmy, who are sitting on Jonathan’s motorcycle. Jonathan tells Roxy to bugger off, and Armand suggests “distasteable” sex with him as a way to get the whole affair out of her mind. She agrees but tells him to hurry before she has second thoughts. His reply: “Armand… is the wind!”

Every once in a while you hear a line like that from a fantastically classic movie & you want to bring it back. The actor that says it, even the whole ensemble cast in the movie, is pretty forgettable – only James Spader carries much recognition any more – but when you get to deliver a line like this one in such a great character voice… well, it makes me want to be on stage & forget about the audience, forget about the success, forget about notoriety. I would just love to be an obnoxious character in a mediocre movie (or even a SHITTY movie) that gets to deliver some great humor.

The bug is getting larger, and sooner or later it’ll be too big to ignore. Pretty soon it’ll have an apple stuck in its exoskeleton. (I hate Kafka.)

Get out of The Regal Beagle

I FINALLY got back on the horse of a morning workout after six days of not going to the gym, not even running hills – I was basically keeping calories around like they’re my friends. Totally fine to do, every once in a while, especially if you’re body’s telling you to take it easy. Mine wasn’t so much saying “Take it easy” as it was saying “Stay in bed and you won’t regret it.” Six days later, I regret it a little bit.

While out on my little jaunt this morning (ran from here down to the PoFA along Marina Green, then up the Lyon Street stairs & back over here on Pacific), I came upon an interestingly dressed person. He was wearing one of those rough velvet shirts in the color of butternut squash (or squtternutbosh) and matching denim jeans. (Meaning the denim shared the vegetarian hue.) And the guy had a paunch that looked like he had strapped half of a hollowed out watermelon around his midsection.

As I passed him on the street, given the mode of fashion & physical stature, I couldn’t help but joke (did I mention I’m funny) to myself: “Boy, Jack Tripper‘s really spending too much time at the Regal Beagle and not enough time clumsily riding his bike along the Venice Beach promenade. “

Aside from being, in my opinion, a hilarious callback, it also kinda proves out (not that I need the proof) that choosing NOT to be active, NOT to be out of bed before the sun is if that’s the only time I can get into the gym, is like simultaneously choosing to look like I’ve got Jell-O poured down my shirt. R & I have been making that choice a little too often lately, especially after I had a SOLID YEAR of at least 4 days a week of running or gymming or both.

So we’ve come up with an action plan: because it costs $96/month for our two memberships to Crunch, that’s roughly $2/viable gym day/person. So for every WEEKDAY between now and some deadline yet to be firmed up, whenever one of us chooses not to go to the gym, they put $2 in a jar. If you go to the gym, do a yoga class, or go for a decent-length run (at least 30 minutes outside with hills), your money stays in your pocket. If you get hyper about it & hit two sessions of respectable physical activity, then you actually get to take two dollars OUT of the jar.

Then, whence the deadline be upon us, we will run a 5K together (or just an over-and-back run on the GGB) and try to set a previously-determined PR. The person who meets or beats their goal gets to spend the money in the jar, preferably on something completely selfish, irrational & with a high boasting quotient.

Not a bad idea, no? I realize that this is not the world’s most perfect incentive program, so we’re open to suggestions on how to make it more painful to lose or more rewarding to win, or even to make it better at inducing us to get off our a$$es. Let us know if you have thoughts.

This gets me thinking about the 5-Factor Fitness thing I started in, um, March? It REALLY helped me get from feeling good to feeling great in like 3 months, and now I’ve slipped out of it a bit. Check it out online (I hate that it’s being marketed as the DIET, because it’s more than a fucking diet), but I’ll write more about it at another time. For now it’s time to get out & enjoy the afternoon. Love Saturdays.

Happy 21st Postday, Blog!

Yeah, alright, I don’t have anything particularly deep (or ostentatious) to write about today, so I picked a title that’s self-promoting. (Surprise!) Here’s a little birthday card I’d write to my blog, now that it’s old enough to drink.

Dear Wyltie,

Happy frikkin‘ 21st dude. Know it felt like a long time coming, but I hope it’s worth it. Remember when you turned 18 and you thought it was gonna be SO GREAT to be able to buy porn & cigarettes? Then you realized the Internet doesn’t check ID, and buying cigarettes is like lighting perfectly good money (for porn) on fire, then swallowing the ashes so that your lungs still get that tar-coated freshness & youth-destroying cancer. Well, turning 21 and being able to legally buy alcohol (and ALMOST rent a car! can you believe you’re almost old enough to be able to RENT a CAR!?) will be a let-down too. It’s the same scenario really, except wasting money (for porn) by swallowing it (on fire or not) & getting a little tipsy may actually get you laid, which means it wasn’t wasting porn money at all – it may actually be a smart investment.

Here’s a little tip your Great Uncle Roger passed along: buy alcohol for your friends, especially the female ones – assuming you’re not going free-agent over to the other team – because buying alcohol for just yourself is like buying yourself TWO plane tickets to Paradise just for a little extra leg & elbow room. You’ve got your ticket, you’re in your seat just waiting to, er, lift off, but you need a companion for the flight if you really wanna explore the destination. And who makes the best travel companion? A drunk chick.

So Happy 21st Postday, Wyltie. It’s been great watching you become the blog that you are, and I know that you’ll do great things. You’ve got pithiness, verbosity, AND hesitant self-promotional tendencies laced with codependent guilt complexes. A chip off the old writer’s block. (rimshot)

Take ‘er Easy From Behind,

N. Bitouine-Herrbreasts

If Everyone Did What They Loved…

I’ve got like ten (!) things competing for my time at any one time: R, other friends, the blog, the job, physical activity, mental activity, de-stressing, future planning, financial decisions, and my share (small may it be) of doing wedding stuff. And that’s just the stuff I “have” to do. What about all the things I WANT to do? Learn to sail, ride a motorcycle, get a pilot’s license, skydiver’s license, be around dogs, help people in a meaningful way, entertain people, bring new things into the world and make it a more interesting place.

Am I the only one in this situation? EFF-EWE-SEE-KAY no I’m not. In fact, we’re (mostly) all in this situation because we’ve created all these different things that we can do, that interest us, that get us going, that make us whole. Why? BECAUSE WE ALL SPEND 40 HOURS (more than a third of our waking life) DOING SH!T THAT BORES US TO TEARS. Some are more bored than others, but there’s degrees to everything.

Because we’re so bored, we look for other avenues of getting excited, getting passionate, attaining some sense of fulfillment. And because we only have ~80 hours of “free time” left when we’re not getting beauty sleep, we feel the need to be on all the avenues as much as possible, as quickly as possible, and usually even be on more than one avenue at the same time. Think about it: we add functionality to technology so we can be less connected to our desks, but we end up standing in line at the coffee shop or riding the bus while thumbing some wallet-sized device into oblivion because we’re “wasting” time if we’re not multi-tasking.

I’m not arguing the impulse to be productive. That’s great, and that’s a wonderful input into this capitalistic machine that’s proven itself as the (mainly) self-sustaining model of an economy. But my question is this: would we all be JUST as productive, and perhaps even more so, if we JUST chose, for those 40 hours, to do the ONE thing that would fulfill us? We wouldn’t expend nearly as much energy trying to put ourselves into multiple efforts, and therefore we can be more productive at the singular effort.

So here’s the vicious part of the cycle. We get BORED doing the same thing (unless it’s THE thing, the one thing that Curly bestows upon Mitch during their cattle drive) BECAUSE there are so many options out there. AND because there are so many options out there (including new ones that we create everyday), we tend to think that spending most or all of our time doing any ONE thing is wasteful because WHAT IF we’ve chosen wrongly? What if the thing that we think will fulfill us DOESN’T? There’s no dress rehearsal to this life, so we’ve gotta make this one count, so dammit we have to make sure we find the right roles for us. In order to do so, we attempt to try them all & then pick one.

This kinda ties into an earlier post from this month about the fear of dying and the fear of being “not right.” After all, why else would we care about whether or not the one thing that we’ve chosen to do is the ‘best’ option?

But for shit’s sake, if you look at the rates at which we are DYING from stress-related diseases (indeed, I believe the vast majority of diseases are induced via some sort of stress), cancer, smoking, obesity… we’re so worried about finding the right thing that we’re not even paying attention to where we are right now. We are rowing faster and faster over that waterfall, trying to make sure we see every postcard-perfect snapshot along the way (so that people will see them and remember them & us fondly), and we rarely stop off to check one out or (heaven forbid) pick one spot, moor the canoe, and pop the cooler open.

The big deal here is this: we should all try to figure out one thing and make that our purpose, our goal. Capitalist or not, productive or destructive, trash or treasure, I really think we would all benefit from pulling out of the current, tying the boat up at a cozy spot, and having a beverage. And to Hades with dystopians who think we’d all choose to be loafers, that we’d all choose to be bacchanalian freaks. (These people know crap – they spend their time saying “Everyone, we’re going to hell in a handbasket, but if we did anything differently, it could get worse, so this is our best-case miserable scenario.” How’s that for a mindset?) I firmly believe we’d all be more EFFICIENT (meaning less effort for the same amount of productivity) if we all specialized in our thing. Competitive advantage or some other economic term applies.

And no, I haven’t figured out my one thing yet. For your sake, I hope it’s not this blog. “You are entering a world of pain, son.”


So last night at improv class (#5 of 6 in the Foundation 2 round, but really it’s #11 in total) I played a character at a bus stop who, whenever talking to the person on his left, would place his hand on the knee of the person to his right, and vicey-versy.

I also helped to prepare a championship pony for a race, and queried my fellow stall-mucker as to what they did with all those flowers after the race was over, and we decided they must put them on horse graves.

Then David (a fellow student) & I were attached at the hip, rowing towards a large tentacled beast who was trying to murder our mothers. We rowed backwards toward it, flipped around with lightning speed, drew our lances, and severed the tentacles. We then tossed said tentacles at our mothers and demanded that they find a way to cook them.

I got lots of laughs, a few compliments, and the question “Do you study this stuff or does it just come naturally to you?” So, much to Shorty’s delight I’m sure, I am in fact tearing up Foundation 2. I love it, it loves me, and I’m desperately waiting on Foundation 3. Won’t be able to start that one until after the wedding (and then only if I won’t miss the last class for the honeymoon; otherwise it’s a January start). I’ve essentially been in classes for 3 months… last night made a total of 33 hours in this. I’ve spent another 3 hours or so since then watching live improv. Next week then would pretty much round it out to 40 hours. Best. Work-Week. Ever.

As you can tell, I really can’t say enough about how much fun I have doing this. With my blog as my witness, I WILL find a way to make this an even bigger part of my life. Maybe I can even make a living at it. (Though I’ve mentioned that as a possibility in the past, R will still have heart palpitations when she reads that.)

And YOU are coming to see me on stage. Stay tuned for details.

Brian the Incredible Shrinking Violet

WARNING: the below is an insight into my admitted weakness involving confrontation, set in the context of a discussion on the merits & risks of financial advisory services. After reading, do not operate heavy machinery (including an “adding machine”). Please call for a fund prospectus. FDIC insured up to 10,000 blog posts.

So R and I have had an official relationship (read: contracted, paid for) with a financial advisor for the last year. Our contract is up. This wonderfully jovial, line-backer-looking, former debt collector/bail bondsman waits until we have about 10 days left on this contract to call and “remind” us that it’s coming due and that he’d like to renew us for another year, yadda yadda. I guess it creates a lot of back-office hullabaloo for him if we lapse in services – meaning, if he doesn’t have us signed up for a new contract by Wednesday, and we sign up in, say, a month, it means more work for him, so he’s reminding me every few days, the latest one being last night.

What a poor, unfortunate soul. For the last year, we’ve met with him probably 5 or 6 times, and have significantly added to the dollar value under his control. Each time we’ve met with him, it’s been him and me and R. But whenever there’s any transaction, such as a contract renewal or a form to sign or a check to fork over, I’m the guy he calls. Why, you ask, in this modern age does the financial guy come to the (soon-to-be!) husband to manage the portfolio? Because R is allergic to the idea of risk when it comes to dollars, and because they both intimidate each other. (Without deflating my ego too much, I’ll go ahead and observe that neither of them are intimidated by me. Pause. I’ll chalk that up to the fact that I’m such a funny/nice guy.) So he calls me to get renewed because he thinks that I’ll keep the pants on and just sign right up and tell my pretty wife not to worry her pretty little head. This is why he’s a poor soul. And I’m being hyperbolic – I’m sure that’s not REALLY how this guy thinks, though he repeatedly admits to being Cro-Magnon about life. If this IS how he thinks, he’s much poorer than I thought.

R wants us to have officially combed through his activities and his performance over the last year to prove that the “nominal” fee that he’s earned from us over the last year has done something for us; that is to say that she needs to know she couldn’t have done almost as good with our money by shoveling out of one CD and right into another one. This poor guy thinks he can call us 10 days before the contract expires (and three weeks before our wedding) and get us signed up for another fee, I mean, year. And when I say “call us”, I mean, “call me.”

Why? Intimidations aside, because this guy knows I’m WAY less worried than R is about the basis points he’s earning for managing our money. Why? Because I’ve had an advisor for the last six years, I’ve drawn off the interest and done lots of great things with it. AND I don’t really pay a lot of attention to the reports we get.

R, on the other hand, looked at last month’s report, saw a negative dollar figure that would’ve kept us in expensive shoes for 6 months, and is now doubting that risk in our money can EVER be positive. So she’s operating under the distinct impression that our advisor has officially cost us more money over the last year than he’s brought in. I told her I’d cut a big slit in a secret corner of the mattress this weekend & we’d buy an extra fire extinguisher, a gun, and a large dog. (Ironically, over the course of a year, however, those three things would cost a fair chunk more than our advisor’s fee.)

In my opinion, without knowing the numbers for sure, he HAS made more for us than he’s cost us, and even after costs his return, I think, will prove greater than the 5-6% we would’ve gotten from CDs. Also in my opinion, this guy is trustworthy enough, and his advice/experience he brings to the table is well worth the fee, even though we may not be fully utilizing it yet (he’s good at the tax breaks, and he knows when things are selling at a discount, and he’s only asked for referrals once or twice). AND finally, my opinion says that we can’t freak out over one month, one quarter, or even one year of results – we’re both Finance people and we both have to recognize that measured risk (which is what I believe our advisor is taking on our behalf) will pay off over time.

So in any case, mattress comments aside, R’s main request, and damned if it isn’t a reasonable one, is that we get as much information as possible out of him, and prove whether or not he’s been worth his salt, before we sign up for another year/fee. AND that we be a little more hands-on about his hands being all over our investments. That’s all.

But, once again I’m playing intermediary between two personalities that, in circumstances like these, are fairly stronger than mine but are diametrically opposed to each other. (Believe me, I know there’s some literary/Greek/Laguna Beach reference I could make here to look REALLY erudite, but I’ll just settle for using the word “erudite.”) So what do I do? I call our advisor, leave him a voice mail at 7:30 in the morning, and hope that he’s being lazy for the next 24 hours and won’t call me back. And even if he does, there’s a chance I won’t answer the phone.

AH-HA! You’re saying, “Dude, what’s your deal? You’re here venting about stronger personalities being intimidated by each other – but do you really think being non-confrontational with this advisor guy is the right way to go? Until you deal with him, he’s got your money. Don’t you think dealing with him appropriately, as it sounds like R wants to, should be a priority? And don’t you think she’s busy enough with wedding stuff that she should be able to lean on you a bit to do this?” Yes, yes I do. And I did make it clear in the voicemail that we aren’t prepared to sign up for a new contract. And I acknowledge that I avoid conflict between people I like; I want everyone that I like to just get along and not doubt each other, not feel cheated, not feel disappointed… and boy I really don’t want them expressing their discontent while I’m around, because shucks, that’s not fun.

Yes, dear reader, you are absolutely correct. Dealing with him appropriately, and taking a more protective stance over our investment, is certainly the right thing to do. Ain’t gonna be comfortable for me, and R would do a much better job at it, but she’s delightfully busy, y’know, planning our wedding, so how ’bout I just sack up and make the quite reasonable demands we need to make. Fine, consider it done.

Sometimes all you need to do is write it out.


Good thing it was a good weekend, because it looks like it will be a BAD Monday. ANOTHER fire drill project, gotta be done today, CEO review tomorrow, blah blah blah… it’s frikkin’ ice cream.

Sorry for not writing over the weekend, and I’ll apologize in advance if this is the only post I get to write today, but mayhaps over the course of the week I’ll get back into the bloggy groove.

Before I go though, quick anecdote from Sunday: we’re walking back from the movies at like 7pm, it’s about 65 degrees out. We’re a block away from our place, and one of our locals (the 50ish-year-old Asian man with constantly spray-painted hair, as in he HAS hair but chooses to spray-paint it odd colors of green and or yellow) comes out of his apartment TOTALLY SNOWSUITED UP. Face mask, huge puffy coat, big orange hunting hat, only the unmasked part of his face revealing that he’s not a well-insulated automaton.

We both see this at about the same time, coming at us like a half a block away, and R totally observes “Ooh, it’s cold outside.”

Timing & delivery both dead-on-balls accurate. Had to bite back my guffaws until after Poofy-san had passed us. Laughed the whole way home.

We’re getting married.

I Almost Forgot!

You should DEFINITELY check out the new flavor of Haagen-Dazs launched today. Caramelized Pear & Toasted Pecan. Not being much of an ice cream fan to begin with, I had a spoonful as a mid-morning snack just to try it… and man, it’s good. Of course they don’t put the nutritional info anywhere near the bunker of free ice cream, but I’d almost be prepared to say however bad this stuff is for you, the way it tastes is worth it. Give ‘er a try. (BTW, it was announced as the contest winner today on GMA.) And no, I can’t get you free samples. Unless you come visit me in Oakland.


Not gonna spend a lot of time here today, because I’ve got lots to do and want to have a productive end to a relatively productive week. Some interesting things I’m doing:

1) scheduling (FINALLY) a dinner cruise that my parents got me for my birthday;
2) thinking about buying a condo (check it out) for a cool $975K – 3BR right on California street with a shared roof deck from which you can probably see the GGBridge.
3) wishing I had really rich relatives who would see “contributing” to our purchase of said condo as an “investment in our future” and would let us “pay them back” over our lifetime and then for our first wedding anniversary they’d just wipe the debt away & say “L’chaim!”
4) reading Impro by Keith Johnstone – if you’re at all into theater, drama, acting, teaching, improv or creative writing, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you check out this 40 year old piece of mastery;
5) trying to get back on & stay on the fitness train – I was dead asleep when the 5:25 alarm went off this morning, so I ended up putting on the gym garb and crawling right back into bed.

Fridays can be productive too, especially when you view them as the lead-in to your weekend instead of the last barrier keeping you from it. (It also helps when you have next to nothing planned for the weekend – you don’t have the pressure of trying to get everything done before some official type of fun begins, you just know that the weekend will be fun simply by virtue of being the weekend.)

More later, and yes, I do intend to continue to blog over the weekends. The traffic is starting to pick up a bit (at least since I started tracking it with that counter), so even though no one is COMMENTING (!) on anything, I know it’s getting read. Now if I could just stop obsessing about checking that little counter thing, my therapist would take me down in dosage.

Calculators are for &^ssies

What if, in spite of my proclivity for numbers & math, I’m not really supposed to make that my life? I have always liked using that part of my brain, mainly because I’ve always been good at it; I’m way more comfortable in an equation with a right or wrong answer. But more & more I’m thinking maybe I’m not so bad at using the creative portion of my brain either.

I’m intrigued by lots of different sh!t, and if I had the time or the capacity to explore more of it, I might be the next Tay Zonday (sp?) or even the next Josh Blue (minus the palsy). Hell, even bloggers have the ability to generate some cash flow – though they’re either way more into tech than I am or they seem to be able to devote their lives to their blogs. But NOOOO… I spend my time trying not to get ulcers about whether or not I’ve used/produced/made up the right numbers on a spreadsheet. Why? Because maybe we make the wrong decision about the price of ice cream in Anchorage, and then some idiot Inuit ends up writing a letter about how he didn’t get his monthly fix of super-premium chocolate marshmallow banana leche mint chip at $3.89 on special at Safeway. Hey INUIT, you live in -10 degree temperatures! Why the F are you eating ICE CREAM, fattie? You need MORE insulation on your frame? Feel like the door to the igloo is just not cramped enough when you squeeze through it?

But seriously, what Eskimo is going to write a letter about the price of ice cream? Back up even further: what possible decision are we gonna make based on the right or wrong number in a spreadsheet? And whatever number I might have doesn’t mean Safeway’s going to listen to us about it – they’ll bleed the Blubber Huggers dry whether we want them to or not.

I suppose the same thing could be said about comedy or creative ventures as well. However funny my posts are or whatever jokes I might say on some stage, how’s that helping the world? It may not be, but dammit, at least I know that whatever I put out there in the world is making someone laugh (or not laugh, or cry or not cry) and hopefully I’m around to see it/hear it/read about it in a very nice comment post or (gasp!) feedback email. Immediacy of action and results, my friends.

Plus, I like to think laughter’s the best and most universal medicine. There’s a great part of … shit, I can’t remember if it’s Tim Allen’s book, Drew Carey’s book, or something from ‘Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates’ by Tom Robbins, so just read all of them and let me know. Anyway, it’s about how that moment of “getting” the joke, that split second between the punchline’s delivery and your reaction (hopefully laughter) that’s as close as you can get to Nirvana or enlightenment or whatever. (The more I think about it, the more I think it’s Tim Allen’s “I’m Not Really Here”, and I think I might be the only person that read it.) So that’s kind of a powerful notion, whether it’s true or not. Just thinking about that split second… well, no matter how many times I put my numbers & formulas together and come out with the right price on ice cream, it’ll never feel as good as putting a whole audience into that moment.

Learn anything yet?