I Have a Great Idea for a Movie…

5-handling-success

So this movie takes place in “West Heaven”, which is obviously the Theatre District in Heaven. (Think the bustling beauty of Times Square, and subtract the urine smell.And Disney for that matter.) All the greats, in their primes naturally, are performing night after night everywhere you might look. To your left, Judy Garland and gang gloriously performing “The Wizard of Oz”, to your right Marlon Brando and Lawrence Olivier teaming up for “Of Mice and Men” , Phil Hartman and Jack Benny are down the street doing a most hilarious version of “Waiting for Godot”, while you hear talk of 1980′s Michael Jackson jumping on stage with the Brat Pack at the Frank Sinatra’s club across the way.

Heavenly.

With all this booming wonder, it is curious then that down at the end sits a half empty theatre with the most lifeless production of “Timon of Athens” you have ever seen. What is even more curious is that its playwright, one William Shakespeare, is stretched out in the back row, snoring.

After spending hundreds of years in Heaven, William Shakespeare is burned out.

This is my idea for a movie. A burned out William Shakespeare is sent back to New York City to rediscover what it means to be William Shakespeare.

I have lots of wonderful scenes too.

He lives in a writers loft, with a lovably irritating and slightly Kramer-ish neighbor named George Bernard Shaw.

He has a Guardian Agent named Tony who pops in occasionally to muck things up and take his 10 percent.

He takes a subway train to earth, noticing the graffiti that says “Nietzsche is Dead-God”

He meets the Devil at the Disney store in Times Square. (I should get a lawyers advice on this scene right?)

To blend in with Earth people, Shakespeare loses his classic Elizabethan attire for  khakis and a short sleeved plaid shirt.

In fact, I feel pretty darn good about the first act of this script. Its full of fun and light Heavenly references, where you get to see all those people you dreamed of interacting with each other, including the sight of Kurt Cobain and Euripides hanging out together on the Art Council.

Heck, the pitch would seem to be fairly easy right?

“It’s Defending Your Life meets Shakespeare in Love, but with no sign of Gwyneth Paltrow anywhere.” (Although certainly an Anne Hathaway cameo would make Shakespearian nerds giggle..)

Its just that I don’t know what happens next, so I have kind of “shelved” this idea.

For approximately 11 years.

This happens to me a lot. Ideas that come to me in the middle of the night, which I feel strong enough about to scribble down so I can go back to sleep and within days begin to develop on a laptop, take me to a place where actual hard work and discipline would be required. It is at this point that I step away to chase another idea.

“Squirrel!”

So, what’s up with that? What is the trait that exists in me that causes me to step away? I hate to use the word “quit”, or that I am in fact an idea “quitter”, but it just seems that I have no other word to describe this.

I have certainly considered trying to find psychological excuses for why I shelve ideas. The one that I am currently thinking about using is that I am “afraid of success”.  And because everything needs to be labeled a syndrome, this is called “The Impostor Syndrome”.

“People who feel like impostors may fear success and the responsibility and visibility that come with it. Since being more successful will increase the tension between the inner feelings and the outside perceptions.”

That quote was taken from the Cal Tech Counseling Center website, which I guess would make it the first time that I ever thought I may have something in common with a Cal Tech student.

I don’t know if I am ready to go that deep with this. I think it may be that somewhere deep in my soul there must exist a fine line between this “afraid of success’ mumbo jumbo, and a customized adage that says “when the going gets tough, let’s take a nap and then see what Bono is up to.”

Is this is a line that I must break through? Who says? Is that greatness I see around the corner, or is it just one of those new Fro Yo places where I pay to do all the work and ultimately feel sick to my stomach? And what is “greatness” anyway? Maybe I am okay where I am at right?

Around and around I go…and then once again the Shakespeare idea is shelved.

Meanwhile, should anyone out there reading this care to help complete this movie idea, type it up, sell it, and give me most of the profits…I would surely be obliged…

61573-William+Shakespeare+Quotes+andMAD-Magazine-Alfred-Shakespeare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Battle to Win Monday

Mondays

I am not the most competitive Clancyvox in the world, but there are a few things in this world that I feel I must win.

Monday’s must be won.

Forget those weirdos that say Sunday is the start of the week. It aint, no matter how many “Puppy of the Month” calendars you may have. (And believe you me, I have plenty.) Monday is the day when the bell rings, and you either answer it, or you put it on snooze.

I am usually pretty excited to win Monday, because my weekends are full of what weekends should be full of: pretzels, IPA’s, naps, donuts and an overall downward trajectory of my fitness and nutrition goals.

The last time I saw a carrot over the weekend, I….(insert old timey comic joke here.)

So, it was with much dismay that this Monday morning, this first Monday after the Daylight Savings conspiracy to get us all out of bed an hour earlier, my so-called 24 Hour Fitness was not yet open.

I can only imagine that the 19 year old girl who “works” the front desk had not yet heard about this Daylight Savings thing on her Instagram, and thus thought it fine and dandy to keep sleeping as me and about 20 other early morning workout suckers patiently waited outside the door doing semi stretches, awkwardly not making eye contact with each other, and generally feeling proud of ourselves for overcoming the Daylight Savings challenge.

After about 22 minutes of  waiting in the dark however, I and a few others decided that life was too short, and certainly Monday mornings are too short to stand around any longer waiting for the poor girl who will no doubt be filled with misplaced rage at all of us for making her get up so damn early.

I got in my car and drove home.

So, can I still win Monday, even as I have suffered this early morning setback? Is the rest of the day, the week, the month, the year totally screwed now? Because of this, will I now become fat, lazy and stupid? Or worse yet, will my body be defined by a complete stranger at the beach as “somewhat doughy”?

A few years ago, I would have taken this setback as a sign that I should get back in bed and curse stupid 19 year old girls who don’t value having a job.

Today, thankfully I have changed. When the Monday demon throws one of these (admittedly white guy) hurdles at me, such as a sleepy 19 year old,I know that there still is a way to overcome.I don’t have to go home, climb in bed,admit defeat, open up a box of Ho Ho’s and say “oh well, I will get em next time”. There are still so many ways to beat Monday’s butt…

So I go home and write.

So I go home and try to figure out “Purple Rain” on the piano.

So I go home and read an interesting book for 20 minutes.

So I meditate, breathe and pray for 15 minutes.

So I drag Murphy Dog up on the bed and use him as a pillow while doing all the other previously listed things.

Yes, maybe the day didn’t start out as planned, and yes you may have had a goal already derailed for the week. But that is only because Monday is a fierce competitor. You have to be ready for anything with this Monday character…so be ready for anything.

And win.

 

 

 

 

 

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I Just Invented a New Game That Will Save Your Life

And by “life” I mean of course “the chore of folding your laundry”.

So…this game is simply called:

“Laundry British Empire”

Here is what you need:

One pile of “fresh out of the dryer” warm laundry.

One dog,

Directions:

Pour laundry onto couch. Prepare to fold.

Dog will then jump on your warm laundry, in his never ending quest to be snuggly, and sort of a jerk.

Murph Laundry Ruler

He is now the king of the Laundry British Empire.

Murph Laundry Ruler 1

Your role is to fold the laundry, piece by piece stripping him of his crown.

And then he is left with mostly nothing. (Or the Falkland Islands.)

Murph Laundry Endgame

Pro’s: Fun, life-saving way to do laundry.

Cons: Sad dog at the end of game. Newly washed clothes smell like dog.

But if you have a dog, that has already taken place with everything you own.

Yes, I am saying you smell like your dog.

Your welcome.

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A Lofty 2014 Mission for Clancyvox

Hey ho everyone…I am glad you have checked back into Clancyvox for the new year.

Yes, I am well aware I am talking to perhaps 5 people, but still, I think it helps to write with the thought that I am talking to oh….a thousand people?…or even 8?

In 2013, I have many entries that are meandering thoughts on life, dog walking, and everything in between. I am thinking of making it a bit more focused in 2014.

I have no idea what that will look like…but upon reflection, one passage from Tommy Merton’s “Thoughts in Solitude” helped me out:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”  

Its always been one of my favorite passages. The idea of doing your best to stay on the path, falling off from time to time, but trying to get back on it, is something that resonates with me, and I am sure with many. Becoming better…not just for the heck of it…but for something bigger than you.

But I think it can be a far funnier journey than how Tommy Boy Merton describes it.

The idea of “getting better” has many elements…Getting smarter, eating better, exercising more, working harder, judging less, accepting more….I have been on and off this path for sometime now…and have lots stored up in the old brain to share in this Clancyvox deal.

So my lofty goal in 2014 is to make this blog focused a bit more on this path…the path Thomas the Train Merton was talking about…but perhaps less “Goddy” and hopefully fun once in a while.

Stay tuned.

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Be Like Jake

After the service, back home from the most exhausting and draining week of any of our lives, there was finally a chance to capture what he meant to all of us and how we should all strive to be. We still miss you so much.

Thus I give you the 11 Commandments of Jake:

Jake Commandments

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Dude Prejudice

The Dude King

The Dude King

One thing that I like to pat myself on the back for is my love of diversity. Growing up in the Bay Area, living in New York City,  and now calling Belmont Shore my home, I am constantly pleased with myself for such an overall acceptance of humanity. Black, White, Gay, Straight, Hippy, Punk, Christian, Muslim, Short, Tall…you get the picture. I am just one big pasty mass of accepting wonderfulness.

How great am I? The answer is, humbly, “pretty darn great”.

But before you hang your head and bow down to my awesomeness, please know that believe it or not, I am not the hybrid of Gandhi, MLK and Bono that you think I am.

You see, for a long time now I have battled a deep prejudice in my heart.

Dudes.

Dudes are all around us, and I have never been good at feeling comfortable with that. I can walk up to Dogz Bar right now and instantly be surrounded with their kind…the backwards hats, the tank tops that say “Corona” on them, the flip flops. Who the hell do they think they…never mind…

I still vividly remember an ugly moment about 5 years ago, only weeks after I had moved to Belmont Shore, which crystallized my prejudice. It was shortly after 2am and I awoke to the sound of chanting and yelling outside my house. Not knowing the area very well, I thought it could very well be some sort of protest march making its way down 2nd street. I became thrilled at the thought of this amazing and bold display of 60′s style activism. Yes, it was loud, but just so exciting! Who knew that Belmont Shore was the new Berkeley? I pulled on my jammy jams and went out to the front of the house to see if I could see just what it was they were protesting.

It was then that I spied approximately 15 of these dudes, drunkenly fighting in the Taco Surf parking lot. As I battled to pick my jaw up off the floor, the dudes, many of them shirtless but still somehow keeping their baseball hats on, kept screaming and yelling at each other, holding each other back with no one actually being hit. This was a brawl not so much a scene from “The Outsiders” as it was a revival of “West Side Story” performed by a repertory of drunken overweight morons. For the next 20 minutes, I was treated to this sad and hilarious production, where the “f” words flowed, the flab shook, and thankfully no one was hurt at the scene. The most terrifying part of the night however, was when they all disbursed, piled into their cars and sped off.

Since then I have held the prejudice.

Of course, every prejudice holds a healthy dose of ignorance behind it, and I am sure this is no different. Maybe it is wrong to assume that all dudes are fat morons who spew the “f” word as a verb, noun or adjective. Maybe it is wrong to assume that all dudes get drunk and try to fight each other. Maybe it is wrong to assume that all dudes used to play high school football, and now find solace in whatever UFC fight is on Pay Per View.

Of course, every prejudice also holds a healthy dose of insecurity too. Maybe if I was tan enough, I too could wear tank tops. Maybe if my head wasn’t shaped like a quart of milk, I too could wear baseball hats backwards. Maybe if my toes looked like human toes, I too could wear flip flops.

I also could save a heck of a lot of money if I switched to their beer. Not sure if I have the math right on this, but I do believe one Pliny the Elder would buy a 48 pack of Coors Light at Rite Aid.

So, for now, the prejudice will be something I will struggle with. And who knows, maybe, just maybe one day, I will not cross the street to avoid them, or roll my eyes when I hear that they are allowed to vote.

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The Early Birds of 2nd Street

Good morning weirdo!

Last Sunday morning at approximately 5:47am, as Murph Doggy Dogg and I were about to make our first weekend expedition out into the wilds of 2nd Street, we were greeted with the sight of roughly a half bucket of popcorn dumped on the sidewalk in front of our house. Unusual to be sure, but certainly not the type of litter that makes one shake their heads and ponder the demise of civilization. (i.e. “rotten punk kids!”) I have done so often living near 2nd Street, where I have awoke to find half-finished Coors Light bottles, Jack in the Box bags, and even a set of Hyundai keys outside my house. On this day however, the sight of popcorn instantly put me and Murph into silly mood mode. (I can always tell he is in a silly mood, because as he walks he looks like he is singing that song from the “Kibbles and Bits” commercial) You see, popcorn littering, evokes fun, innocence and some poor closeted 16 year old yelling “oh God no!” before launching into a tickle fight with his friends. Whereas Jack in the Box littering evokes slobby drunkenness and someone blurting out “oh screw it”, dropping popcorn is almost akin to dropping ice cream; a pure Shakespearean tragedy, right up there with MacBeth, or Starship Troopers.

Since I am not even remotely to be considered a night person, much of my pleasure from living near 2nd Street derives from early morning dog walks. Other writers, such as my friend and fellow morning walker Tim Bulone, have written wonderful pieces about the beauty of Belmont Shore mornings. For me, walking on 2nd Street early on a weekend morning gives the feeling of walking into a house after the party has been cleared out. A bit messy of course, beautifully serene, and a nagging Morrissey-like feeling that wonders why I wasn’t invited. (Maybe because I fell asleep at 8:51 and own exactly zero pairs of skinny jeans?) As Murphy tries his very doggy best to determine where that glorious smell is coming from, (spoiler alert Murph: it’s a half-eaten Jumbo Jack with a hint of Axe Body Spray), I get to take in the scene. Characters with names like Johnny, Otis and “The Professor”, who look like they were lifted directly from Steinbeck novels (his early ones) hang out near the donut shop or Peets. Power walkers hurry through, being careful to avoid the gross evidence of a bar that over-served to a college student who over-drank. A surfer, already wearing half his wetsuit, runs out of his refurbished VW Bus across the street to get a Starbucks fix on his way to a beach that can claim to have actual waves. And to give the whole thing a surreal soundtrack, Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings” wafts out from near the photo lab.

On this day, in just a few hours, 2nd Street will once again be overflowing with life. The restaurants and bars will soon be packed, the clothing stores and the 431 nail salons will be humming, and several spandex laden visitors will be trying to negotiate our Sharrows. For now however, this street belongs to the early birds.

Sorry gotta run, apparently Murphy has found a half-eaten box of curly fries.

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The Middle Aged Man and the Sea

I had been whale watching before. In Maui no less. What I remembered from So Beautiful...that experience was spending 75 dollars to be jammed like a sardine in a boat that wandered around aimlessly for 2 hours and found exactly zero whales. At the start of the trip, the boat captain had haughtily stated that we would not “chase the whales” out of respect for their habitat. However after about 50 minutes of nothingness, she must have had a change of heart, because chase them is exactly what we did. Alas, we caught up to no whales. In fact, all I remember catching that day was sunburn on my right thigh, and a piercing headache from the screaming 4 year old German kid next to me. It took several umbrella-laden fruity drinks by the pool to forget the whole thing.

So it was with some trepidation that I clicked on a Groupon deal that offered whale watching out of the Long Beach harbor. I had never used Groupon before, but I was desperate to find one more birthday present for my friend, and thought this could be just the thing to propel my gift giving into “wow, you really care!” status.

After an excellent early lunch at the Auld Dubliner, we made our way down to Dock 2 at the harbor. As we stood in line with about 75 other people, I started to think maybe it wasn’t such a great culinary idea to experiment with something called “Pork Pudding” and Stone IPA right before a 3 hour trip out to sea. With no Dramamine in sight however, I knew I would just have to brave the elements and hope for the best. It was a cloudy, 68 degree day, freezing by Long Beach standards, so I was dressed like any other weather spoiled southern California resident should be. (Jeans, long sleeve shirt, sweater and jacket).

After finding some seats near the back of the boat, right next to some lovely missionaries from the Mormon Church, we were off on our adventure. I was still a bit skeptical that we would actually see anything, but I must say that Long Beach looked gorgeous from the water. For a city with a population just under a half a million, for some reason, it still seems like Southern California’s best kept secret.

After roughly 45 minutes of nothingness however, I was beginning to think that whale watching was some sort of grift on gullible tourists. When the marine biologist/tour guide pointed out some birds, my heart sank and I decided it was time for a beer.

Minutes later, something magical happened. Our boat came upon a pod of about 50 dolphins, leaping through the air with a choreographed precision that was not only breathtaking, but also made me think that there must be some sort of  aquatic version of “So You Think You Can Dance” episode being filmed. I had never seen anything like this in all of my life. Surely, numerous Flipper episodes had not prepared me for something so wondrous.

This amazing site turned out only to be the appetizer however, for just a few minutes later, straight ahead about 300 yards, we spotted a tail. A big, big tail. We were heading towards a Blue Whale, the biggest animal on the planet. As we approached, I gripped my Corona bottle tightly, as the boat turned off its engine. 75 people were a quiet as church mice and an eerie silence took over the sea. Then, just about 20 feet away, a Blue Whale, about 80 feet long, announced its presence with a huge burst of water from its spout. In just that moment, 75 strangers all became one happy family, sharing space with each other, in total celebration of this incredible creature. To add to the glory, 2 more whales decided to join in the fun, and now our boat was essentially surrounded by blue whales, coming as close as 3 feet to the boat. I decided to forgo using the line from Jaws “We’re gonna need a bigger boat,” and chose to just enjoy the awesome experience. Until this day, the largest wild animal I had ever seen had been a coyote casually strutting through the 4th hole during an early round of golf at Bixby Village. I knew this was truly special when I saw that even the marine biologist had taken out his iPhone to snap pictures.

Our boat sat for the next 45 minutes, as mammals with tongues the size of an elephant, circled us and gave us a show of a lifetime.

On the way back to the harbor, I couldn’t help but fall deeper in love with Long Beach. Rich in culture, diversity and craft beer, I continue to be amazed with what this city has to offer. And should you need a break, in just an hour or so, you can get to the snow, to the dessert, and even to the most amazing creatures on the planet.

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