Sunday, May 30, 2010

Post from the Past

"There's an aching in my brain, and it's acting like a black hole, slowly pulling my head inwards. I can actually feel my head getting smaller, I can no longer think clearly. Eventually my cranial supports will collapse from the stress, causing my head to effectively implode. All that will be left of me will be my glasses, and one, very long eyebrow." - 12/07/07

From my old LiveJournal account. Art by Caitlin Azzari.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Here's a short clip from Joe Totten's new short

Joe is shooting a short mockumentary of sorts chronicling both KUCR and The Highlander Newspaper. I was lucky enough to be part of it. Here's a short clip of my part in it:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Thomas Bremser: The Amazing Wonder-Bike

Thomas Bremser, early in his million-mile bike ride

Thomas Bremser is a good buddy of mine who also happens to be totally, and utterly, crazy. Last year he ran the LA Marathon. He's also a bicycle commuter who would regularly make the ride out from San Bernardino to hang out with us in Riverside. A little while back he decided he was going to ride his bike all the way up the West Coast (which, according to countless LA based rappers is quite easily considered the "best coast"). He started that journey down in San Diego on April 6th.

I sat down with him when he made it up to Newport Beach and recorded the following interview. That was on April 9th. It's now April 20th and last I heard, he was up in Los Osos by San Luis Obispo. That puts him about 375 miles into his approximately million-mile goal of making it to Canada. Anyhow, do listen to the following interview and if you'd like to check out his blog, do so by clicking here.

Stream the interview here (21 minutes):
Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Or download it from this site:

p.s. this is our 100th post!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

the lie and how we told it: Where Did It All Go Wrong? by Zuhair Abdulla

Where Did It All Go Wrong?
by Zuhair Abdulla

"It's not working out. I'm not in love with you, and to be honest I'm not sure I ever was or ever will be. I know this sounds rough, but I'm just trying to be honest with you. I can't pretend to love you, and even if I could you wouldn't want me to. Trust me." Julia took a step back from the mirror and smiled a little bit. She decided this is what she would say. "It's perfect," she thought. She smiled not because she enjoyed the idea of possibly hurting this boy, but instead because she felt it was honest. She believed that every word she was rehearsing over, and over again was true.

Julia pulled open her drawer and grabbed a cigarette she had stolen from her father's pack and lit it with one of them cheap, disposable, orange Bic lighters. She had found it in a field behind school and decided to keep it when she realized it still worked. Julia pulled her chair up to her open bedroom window as she smoked. Out of the window she could see little Bobby Miller pulling up in his father's Town & Country. She didn't realize that the words she chose would cause irreparable damages. She was, however, wondering whether it would be best to deliver the news before or after they had eaten dinner. Having had no previous experience with matters of the heart made this the only difficult decision she felt she had to make tonight.

As Bobby Miller got out of the passenger side of his dad's mini-van, he smiled a smile like never before. These are the things that excited him:

1) Avatar. He couldn't believe he was finally going to see Avatar! In 3D no less!

2) The implied possibility of holding Julia's hand. Perhaps a kiss? Maybe not tonight.

3) Mancat. This was a superhero he thought of earlier in the day. He figured this to be the perfect boyfriend for Catwoman. He never did understand the relationship a bat could have with a cat. I mean, sure, the animal names rhyme, but beyond that? To Bobby Miller there just wasn't a believable relationship there.

He walked the entire length of the long driveway with that goofy smile on his face, and kept it on as he took the short, concrete path across the lawn that connected the driveway to the front door. It did, however, fade as he knocked on the door, excitement instantly replaced with nervousness about going on his very first date.
Zuhair Abdulla is...well hey! That's me! I'm a Zuhair Abdulla!

To read the other stories in "the lie and how we told it," click here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

the lie and how we told it: Spring Time Bus Stop Bench by Kelly Mahoney

Spring Time Bus Stop Bench
by Kelly Mahoney

Liquid grey and let it pour. Clouds appear around noon and soon rain floods the streets of my city. Each drop mumbles a secret to me as one by one they crash down onto my bare, pale skin, giving my freckled shoulders goosebumps. "Calm down, love," says one. I do what I'm told. I twist my neck and face my left, touching my chin to my shoulder. Young, ill-prepared businessmen sprint down sidewalks to parking garages and I close my eyes. The air is warm and wet and sweet. "You don't always have to accept the things you're faced with," it drips down my eyelid to my lashes, "Sometimes things are unacceptable." My damp cotton shirt sticks to the front of me. Leaning forward from painted wood, I let them tickle my back. "You know the colors you see when you close your eyes? That is what's real. Nothing else." I smile. "The words you hear are just tiny hairs picking up vibrations." Bite my lip. "You're here. Don't get gone yet." I laugh and look up at that bright, cinder block grey. The grey that I crave when my blue fades away. All I can ever see are those Prunus dulcis eyes. My lids close as I tilt my head back and let their words wash over me.
Kelly Mahoney is a student in Riverside. Read her blog, I Am Watching Naomi, Full Bloom.

Monday, April 12, 2010

the lie and how we told it: The Flower Fields by John Kelly

The Flower Fields
by John Kelly

“Time to wake up, Kid!” my grandfather shouted, yanking the covers off me. “We got lots to do, and less time to do it.” Every day we worked together began in this abrupt fashion; and in moments I was in his truck, huddling near the heater for comfort while the engine warmed.

“Hold on to your socks, Squirt,” he’d say, and begin down our paved driveway, which gave way to a steep, dirt road. I remember watching him in awe as he held his full cup of coffee motionless, the truck shaking wildly down the hill, without spilling a drop.

Before work we often went to the airport for breakfast. He’d drive west on Palomar Airport Road, past the Carlsbad Race Track, until we crossed El Camino Real: here, he would tell stories of how, hundreds of years ago, the Spanish had traveled this very road along the length of California and established the missions, some of which still survived. And just beyond this sudden crossroads of past and present, we arrived at Palomar Airport.

The cafĂ© was located at the top of an old, remolded communications tower, where we usually sat in a booth with a panoramic view of the runway. As I watched the planes land and takeoff, he would order me pigs in a blanket, my favorite. I learned many things in that booth, like how he’d manned a bomber during the Korean War, the history of our side of the family and their emigration; and also practical things, such as table manners. “You see, Kiddo,” he’d explain, “manners aren’t just silly little rules, they’re a way of showing respect to those around you.”

After breakfast we would head west again, toward the flower fields. In the summer, the fragrance came first, and then they would come into view: rolling hills, stretching endlessly to the horizon, blanketed in patches of red, yellow, orange, and blue flowers. It reminded me of the patchwork my grandmother knitted me for Christmas, which kept me warm in the winter.

The work we did together varied greatly. I learned how to use tools properly, how to lift with my legs and not my back, and the gratification of physical labor. “Hard work is character.” he loved to say.

In the evening, when we arrived at the base of the hill, he’d sometimes put me in the drivers seat. “Now take her nice ‘n easy.” he’d warn. I’d drive up the hill slowly, completely focused on keeping the massive truck under control.

We’d spend the rest of the evening casually, and after dinner, he would see me to bed. “Good job today, Kiddo.” he’d whisper once I was comfortably in bed. ”Love you. Goodnight.” Then he would close the door and turn off the light.


My grandfather passed away a couple of years ago. Recently I was driving south on the 5 Freeway, and, seeing the exit for Palomar Airport Road, I decided to make a quick visit to the flower fields. I exited and headed east, towards the fields – and my heart sank: here, where the fields once began, I now found car dealerships, gas stations, strip malls, and industrial buildings; the landscape of my childhood had been swallowed by the inexorable march of progress.

When I was a child, I saw as a child, and now, years later, at this impasse between remembrance and presence, the things I saw were unfamiliar, and my memories gave no solace.

John Kelly lives in Costa Mesa and is a wonderful man.

To read the other stories in "the lie and how we told it," click here.

Friday, April 9, 2010

the lie and how we told it: Kat in Heat by Dayla Zdunich, Steven Xavier Torres Armas, Tracey Whitford, Kelly Mahoney, and Erin Mahoney

Kat in Heat
by Dayla Zdunich and Steven Xavier Torres Armas
Click on that guy to make it a readable size

This is normally where I would write a little bit about the authors, but I don't actually know them, so I can't. Instead, just make something up about where they're from and what they do while they're there.

To read the other stories in "the lie and how we told it," click here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

the lie and how we told it: Time Again by David Layden

Time Again
by David Layden

If I had a name tag (and I sometimes wish I did) it would say HENRY. I only know because that is what this girl hovering above me – not at all angel-like – keeps saying. “Henry, where were you last night?”…”Henry, why do you look and smell like toasted dog shit?”…”Henry, get in the fucking shower and think and clean and think real good because you have some explaining to do.”

Even with this hangover I remember that dad accidentally switched the hoses under the faucet in the bathroom sink. It has been years now and I have just never bothered to switch them back. The routine: Turn on the cold tap (which is really the hot), check! Sit down on the toilet for five minutes with head in hands and go over list. I was yelled at today, this is how I woke up. I smell, check! My back hurts so I must have either slept on the floor or started out on the bed and was pushed onto the floor, check! There is a woman in my house I barely know, check! I have both hands and both feet, check! My name is... shaking my head in disappointment doesn’t make the answer come any quicker. I keep telling myself “I need a damn name tag."

I see steam rising from the sink, turn off the faucet and step into the shower. For two whole seconds my body is shocked by very cold water and then scalded as I fumble to turn the knob in the opposite direction, then I am shocked so I turn it again. It usually takes me a good minute to remember to turn by degrees, that small movements will yield pleasant results. I must be in here for a long time because every once in a while as the water beats down, as the toothpaste makes a trail out of my mouth, down my belly and collects for a few seconds moisture-like in my pubic hair then follows on to the floor, down the drain, as this happens I keep hearing through the soap and water in my ears, a dull pounding and that goddamned voice again. “Henryyyyy,” oh yeah, that’s my name... ”Henry you motherfucker you better not be avoiding meeee!!” And then the dissonance is gone and then it returns. The pounding gets louder, the words more cruel, the voice more sharp, then it retreats. What on earth could I have done to attract all of this anger? Thank God my house has good water pressure. Maybe it's strong enough to wash away all this dirt, this skin, these bones, that shrill cunt pounding on the door, this house, the block I am on, whatever it is I did wrong and the rest of my memory.

I grab my humongous salmon-pink towel and wrap myself, reach for the bathroom doorknob and hear a lot of quiet. I panic; she must be either distracted or waiting. My mind does not work in split seconds so I do my best. I unlock the bathroom door and hurry toward the bedroom. From somewhere not so distant I hear bare feet on wood floor heading toward me. Lock both bedroom doors, check! “Thump! Thump! Thump!”

“Why are you doing this to me?” With all the clarity I could muster I say in a very loud voice “May I please have some alone time, I have not had a good week and I need to sort things out and I cannot do it with you up my ass every waking moment!" And then there was a pause. I felt a fullness inside of me growing, an uncomfortableness. A quiet, then another quiet. And then, from behind the door, a muffled holocaust of words. “...shit...fuck you...son of you think you are talking to...I have been nothing but nice...fuck...” And then I open the door to see her wide-eyed, ugly. Anger made her not pretty at all. I started feeling a cramp and stopped. I looked her in the eye and said “We have only been dating for a goddamned month and already this is the grief I get? You act like a fucking wife!!” As the blur of her hand motioned towards my face I felt a cramp and then an easiness and then, sunshine. The look on her was absolute puzzlement. My face still stinging from her slap, I followed her gaze down past her breasts to her skirt, legs, socks, and shoes, which along with the floor were covered with lukewarm piss. I looked down at my cock which was halfway hard and dribbling urine now on my own foot. I paused then and heard rustling. When I looked up I saw half of her overcoat slip past the front door. I went over to the door quick and locked it, check!
David Layden can often be found in Santa Ana with a magical bag filled with magical whiskeys. This might just be a man who actually likes whiskey more than I do.

To read the other stories in "the lie and how we told it," click here.

Monday, April 5, 2010

the lie and how we told it: Musings of Monsters by Joe Zavella

Oh boy, it's been a while since we posted a story up here. Sorry for that. What with all the moving I've been doing and the sickness with the coughing and the spitting and the mucus and the headaches. Not to mention all the birthdays, oh! The birthdays! So many birthday's last week (and today)! Also, I didn't realize (quite stupidly) that my new apartment would not come with built-in interwebs. Anyhow. I will be posting when I can, hopefully everyday again. We still have quite a few stories left so I hope you're still reading! Anyhow, sorry for the interruption in service, please carry forward to read a new story by Joe Zavella.

Musings of Monsters
by Joe Zavella

My body jerks to the left and I am ripped out of a good dream, probably my last . My eyelids close tighter before opening into tiny slits. Blurs of color and shape begin to focus in front of me. I bend down to rub my eyes and let my head rest in my hands for just a moment. First I notice the chains that bind my wrists to my ankles. They jingle as they sway. I lift my head and I remember, sometimes it takes me a minute to remember. Orange jumpsuits. Another jerk to the left. This bus ain't made for four-wheeling like this. Only thing making this a road and not a trench is that we're driving in it. They welded a bird cage to the outside of this bus, s'pose they got hip to folks jumpin' out the window. Course the guards would just shoot you down, more bullets on this bus than there should be. All for us. On the other side of the glass the rain and dirt mix to blur my last glimpse of the outside world. They locked me next to some billy-goat punk kid. A degenerate and a thug. He belongs here. Most of them do. Mad and vicious, hooligans. Rapists and murderers. Hissing and spitting when they laugh. They better not spit on me, dammnit this dog's still got bite! They don't care what they leavin' behind, they dont think about it. Not me though, I think about it all the time. Playing with my kids, two girls, laughing and running, playing chase around an old stump we had in the yard. Every time I would catch them they would start screamin and laughin'. My wife, my beautiful wife. Sometimes I close my eyes and remember times when she would come from behind and wrap her arms around me, thin and delicate. Her hair laid gently against the top of my head, her warm breath on my neck, the feel of her cheek against mine. The smell of her lips. I like to think about the little things with my wife.

This is not my first time in a bus like this. I been on the inside of a cell. I have even been in this very trench before, too many times, each time with a new lie for my girls. Daddy’s going on a business trip for a few months. Don’t worry girls, daddy is gonna go take care of a friend for a couple years. Daddy got a job for the summer. Don’t worry honey, daddy is just gonna be gone for the weekend. I s'pose I didn’t want my lil' girls to know the nature of their ol' man. But that’s just the thing about girls; The day comes when you don’t have to get down on one knee to talk to them. The day that they realize all the lies you told, all the holes in their lives that you've dug. That one more is coming, and this time I won’t be coming back to fill it. Everyone's crying while trying not to. Lil' Mary hugs me so hard I think she's gonna break her arms. Allie slaps me with all the hate her little heart can hold. My face stings as tears stain both our cheeks. And I know that at least one of them gave me what I deserved. My beautiful wife, she tells me they're moving, that they won't visit. She cries through her words. The tears stream down her face, aged with a lifetime of worry and struggle. I try to memorize every line.

They say I done terrible things. That I used up all my chances. It's true. I hurt too many people and now must spend my life in a barred cell. Finally going to put this old monster in his cage. Where he can sit and think bout what he's done, all the things he's destroyed. That billy-goat punk neighs another punch line and everyone is laughing and spitting. Fangs disguised as teeth, horns combed back like hair. Claws like fingers. A carriage of monsters who look like men, given only so many chances to hurt anyone who would love them before being sent away to howl and grunt and beat their chests. The bus comes to a stop and as I emerge I feel the rain on my face. It feels good. I wonder if this is what a man feels when the rain falls on his face. I s'pose there is no point on wonderin' how a man feels in the rain. This is not a place for men, only monsters who once were given the chance.
Joe Zavella lives and studies in Riverside, CA. In fact, I'm his new neighbor. Read his blog, it's wonderful: Joe Zavella, Man Shaped Gorilla.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

the lie and how we told it: Junk by Taylor Lewis

by Taylor Lewis

He stood in the doorway and stared inside, listening to the soft tapping of rain on the roof and remembering. In spite of what he was about to do, he still loved the smell of grease and oil. Loved the feeling of holding a wrench. Loved bringing broken objects back to life. He was good at what he did, or at least he thought so. Still, he had no other choice.

He would double-check to make sure he had set up everything correctly. It had to look believable or else they wouldn’t pay and that wouldn’t do. After all, he was now worth more dead than alive and they wouldn’t give his family a dime if it looked like suicide. He knew they would probably think that anyway, since everybody knew about his money troubles. They would know that hardly anybody ever came into his shop anymore. And with the bank getting ready to take his house, a business just about ready to go under, and his wife having already left him, suicide would be the first thing they suspected, which was the reason why he was being so careful. It has to look believable, he kept reminding himself. Besides, the equipment was old. Of course, even though it looked old and worn it was always expertly maintained, but they wouldn’t know that.

He walked slowly past all the machinery, running his callused and leathery hands lovingly over each one. He sighed, and felt bad that they would soon perish by his own hand when it was he who had cared for them for so long. Still, it was necessary.
Spending a few moments looking at each of his tools, with every step his chest slowly filled with both dread and excitement as he carved his way further inside. He felt guilty because of the excitement. Then again, he felt guilty about a lot of things.
At last he reached the back of the room and stopped next to where he kept the welding tanks. The cart that held the oxygen and acetylene used for welding had been sabotaged and if any traces of his handiwork were found, it would appear as though the tank had been dropped and developed a leak.

While the room filled with the highly flammable gas, the rain continued to pelt the roof overhead. Then, an air compressor nearby kicked on.
A violent explosion rocked the building.

Standing on a small rise half a mile away, he watched the explosion through a set of binoculars. Flames ate at the roof and snarled out of the shattered windows. He turned and took a step but looked back at the rising flames again. Then, with all the effort he could muster, he turned and began walking down the hill, toward the rail yard. Soon he would be just another vagrant riding the rails.

He had thought about actually going up in flames along with everything else, but he wasn’t ready to die yet, and he could still be useful. And he would find a way to keep an eye on his family somehow. Maybe someday he could return to them and offer an explanation for what he had done. Or maybe not. He still had to learn how to look at himself in the mirror.
Taylor Lewis lives in Orange County where he "accepts ridiculous amounts of money for toys." Check out his tumblng tumblr, Rust in Pieces