June 14th, 2008

iAm iSaid

From the early stages of my pervert training

My DVD collection now includes The Kentucky Fried Movie.

That film, which I saw on video in the mid-Eighties (at age 12 or maybe even 11), was an early step in what I call my "pervert training." Ahhhhh, yay for sex that's both sexy and funny: "Eyewitness News" may have warped me for life. (Genuine question: How close did the guy and the girl get to actually having sex?) My heterosexuality had definitely been evident for a while before that -- honestly? The video for the Go-Go's "Our Lips Are Sealed" seemed to be pressing my right buttons all the way back at age 8, and I moved on soon after that to the "women look niiiiice with their clothes off" stage -- but The Kentucky Fried Movie may have had the first fairly explicit sex scenes I ever watched.

I saw the DVD at a low price at Circuit City today and impulsed-bought it, but I also still have my mid-Eighties tape dub of the VHS version from Media Home Entertainment. And that has a little extra the DVD doesn't: the trailer for Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! "No time to make a fuss/ We gotta get those tomatoes before they get us..."
Me 1

Truck Stop Time

Truck stop food is a very special kind of comfort food.

I lunched today at Jubitz's Portlander Inn Cascade Grill, after once again getting on a "let's drive!" tear and hitting the road in my Civic Coupe. I took the freeway up to the Marine Drive exit, wound around to the Jubitz parking lot, wandered the main building (the center of a huge truck stop complex, one of the largest and best-regarded truck stops in the country), noted the huge truck cab somehow parked in the lobby (did a full wall get taken down to drive it in?), appreciated that one of the two movie theaters is showing Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, and then sat down in the restaurant.

It's a big space, with a kind of cabin-on-steroids design. It has a fake peaked roof; beneath the peaks are huge triangular photos taken on Mt. Hood in full-on winter. The place should have a fireplace; it does have a nice large clock on a part of the wall where I could at least imagine a fireplace. A gift shop lines one outer wall, with tchotchkes aplenty. But I was in the mood for treats to eat. Meaty treats. Yep, I ordered an 8-ounce flat-iron steak.

I had two Stephen King paperbacks, Night Shift, which I finished (whoa; "The Woman in the Room" is beautiful, difficult and sad) and the first-published 800-page edition of The Stand, which I then started. The placemats*, I was happy to see, were Rick Steber anecdotes about the 19th-century West; I met and enjoyed meeting Steber back in Hermiston in 1997, when I profiled him for the Hermiston Herald. (A detail from then: the photo I took for the article was of Steber admiring the Davy Crockett coonskin cap a kid was wearing. In my draft of the story I called Steber "a member of the Davy Crockett generation." My editor thought I meant that he was as old as Crockett, and knowing that that clearly was not true he edited out that line. No, I meant that Steber had been smack-dab in the target audience for Disney's Davy Crockett TV films! Small-town newspapers: not the place for flowery, or even attempted-flowery, prose...)

I ate steak, fries, split pea soup with ham, V8 juice (with a lemon wedge; new one on me), and baby carrots cooked until sweet. Comforting stuff, which of course was the point. One of the grill's workers noted that I was skinny enough to safely enjoy the steak, and that he was fat (no, he wasn't, not really) so he couldn't have one. I thought to myself I've lost some weight recently; I can afford to eat this, but didn't tell him that. He probably didn't want even a page of my life story; that's for bartenders to hear (too bad I don't go to bars, huh?). Still, we were friendly, which is something else truck stops should be. And the grill felt friendly.

It was worth the trip. I've wanted to go there for awhile: the No. 8 TriMet bus route runs from OHSU to Jubitz, so for at least two years I've been telling myself Hey, one night leave work and ride the bus to Jubitz. It'll be a treat. Now that I'm not working on the hill, that would be a less convenient way to get there. So I drove. So it was another kind of treat.

* Heh. I first wrote "placemeats." Edible placemats! Wave of the future! If someone makes them, I want a cut.**

** But then I'd have liability if people got sick from eating them. Placemeats: probably not a good idea.

Travels With Charley, I mean Civic (more driving)

It feels good, after being car-less for months, to indulge in driving again. I did so last night and then again today. After stopping at Jubitz, I headed slightly farther north to the Jantzen Beach SuperCenter, which I only visit every few years, and wandered around (gotta work off that steak, get exercise, exert, all that...). I visited the large antique carousel inside the Supercenter, seeing the write-up about that merry-go-round (it was at Venice Beach in the early 20th century, and people have claimed to see two ghost children playing on it) and pondering riding on it. I do that sometimes. Not this time; I was more in the mood to walk.

I circled the parking lot, around which big-box stores have sprouted over the last couple of decades. One corner of the lot has three mattress stores (Mattress World, BedMart, and Sleep Country USA) all in a row, and I wonder how well that works. I next stopped at Circuit City, where the movies showing on the big TVs were Invincible (the Mark Wahlberg football movie that Portland's Mike Rich ghostwrote), the second Pirates of the Caribbean, Batman Begins, and A Night at the Museum. I bought DVDs of The Kentucky Fried Movie and The Shawshank Redemption, the 10th anniversary edition where Frank Darabont did his first director's commentary. I next wandered through the Jantzen Beach Barnes & Noble (noting where the Caitlin R. Kiernan, Peter David and Poppy Z. Brite books were, as is my habit) and returned to my car. I'm liking this car. I'll make sure to treat it well.

Getting away from Jantzen Beach, which is on an island with one road exit (via I-5), can be an exercise in patience and careful driving. It went fine, if slowly -- there was a slowdown in Delta Park -- and I had the chance to look around and see the three nearest volcanoes. Mt. Hood's easy to see; Mt. St. Helens is a little harder to see; and Mt. Adams (north of the first and east of the second) is the hardest of the three to spot from Portland, but all three were visible and brilliant white from that vantage point on this almost-totally-clear day. I did more indulgence driving after that, crossing the Fremont Bridge and detouring to near the Oregon Zoo before running errands in downtown and heading home. Oh, I also passed the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Outside the museum is a full-size long-necked dinosaur model. Very cool. But gee, Chris, in the Eighties you could've said which species it was...
Good Omens

Writing advice from Caitlin R. Kiernan (http://greygirlbeast.livejournal.com)!

Gleefully stealing words!: Author Caitlin R. Kiernan (LJ's greygirlbeast, and a writer I'm very fond of) gives advice to wannabe writers:
Well, it's not something that I make a habit of, dispensing advice, but...try these:

1) Read. Read everything, especially non-fiction.
2) Write. Publishing will or won't happen, but if you are a writer, you will write, regardless.
3) Do not quit (or fail to acquire) a day job, as you will likely never make a living off your fiction.
4) Do not self publish (and no, Sirenia Digest [her monthly erotic vignette-writing exercise] is not the same thing). Most emphatically, do not self-publish hoping it will bring you to the attention of Big Publishers. It will only make them shun you.
5) Floss, because writers don't get dental plans.
6) If possible, get a college education, and (see #3), if possible, in something that will yield a decent income. This does not include English lit (unless you intend to teach, and to acquire a Ph.D.), and it most definitely does not include "Creative Writing" degrees.
7) Grammar matters. Punctuation, spelling, capitalization, sentence structure, all that stuff. It matters A LOT.
8) Exercise, take a good multi-Vitamin, don't smoke, and get laid regularly. Drink only in moderation. Writers do not get health insurance.
9) Forget retirement. Writers rarely get such a thing.
10) Travel! While regionalism is important in fiction, one often only comes to appreciate his or her corner of the world by seeing other parts of it.
11) Don't waste your life on video games, Second Life, mmorgs, and television. This rule may be ignored if you are over 40 and already an established author.
12) Use psychotherapy as a tool, not an excuse, and beware the drugs dispensed by psychiatrists.
14) Expect to fail.
15) Don't waste money you could use paying rent, going to school, traveling, or getting laid on "writing workshops." They are a waste of time, and while they might help you make friends with other would-be writers, they will neither make you a better writer nor a more successful one. They'll only tell you that they will.
16) The more languages you know, the better.
17) Write what you know, and be versatile. Setting out to be a mystery or "horror" or fantasy or military suspense or romance writer is all well and good, but be able to write a range of styles and (urgh) genres.
18) Trust that no one can tell you how to become a writer. That includes me.

Hope that helps.

Note: #13? Writers should be superstitious, so there is no #13.