Seaside welcomes Natalia Molina (for her birthday)

SeaHorse-1 (2)I am Seaside, California
I’ve not always been the safest place
But you see my glowing potential
My sidewalks are seeped in the souls of the world
More than any other Peninsula city, I truly welcome all
And your soul makes me so much closer to perfection
Energy blows in the clouds that spin in from the bay
A sun belt spills warmth across Broadway and over Fremont
Just like your exuberance, your smile, your vision
I am reborn in the sun and the brightness you emit
Seaside is home to jejunity, young families, young ideas
May they prosper here
As you will blossom 
It’s you, a grateful resident, that tip the scales toward success
It’s you who bring Seaside eternal spring

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Epipen Noir

I couldn’t see the inanimate object, but I could hear it speak. The Epipen had a voice like an Italian mobster if you can believe that. The thing probably wore a sharkskin suit, something full of money and pizzazz. It told me who it was while parked outside the pharmacy.

My fingers hadn’t turned the key in the ignition yet. I was still in shock about the six hundred dollar Epipen cost and that I had to leave the pharmacy empty-handed. The bruises and tape marks from my hospital stay made it hurt to bend my elbows, but I gripped the steering wheel in shock nonetheless, thinking I was about to be robbed until the inanimate object clued me in to its identity. First the severe allergic reaction to some unknown crap, now this.

“I know you’ll find this hard to believe,” it said, regardless of who could hear it besides me. “But us Epipens, we’re lonely. We get around, we do, but not to everyone. You, my friend. You need me. It’s a matter of life and death with you. You don’t take my help; bad things might happen. You know what I’m saying?”

I whispered, ashamed and slightly terrified. “But I don’t have the money.”

“You hear me say anything about money? What I’m talking about is whether or not you see that beautiful son of yours again.”

I watched a line of cars waiting for a green light on Fremont. “It costs money. More money than I have. It’s hopeless.”

“Ain’t nothing in life free, my friend. You want to see your son graduate from college someday? You get protection. My protection.”

“How?”

“What do I look like, a fortune teller? That’s for you to figure out.”

There were so many nice cars out there on Fremont. Sunshine gleamed from them: jaguars, BMWs, a black Mercedes; so nice. “A side job? Beg someone for money? Start a Go Fund Me or something? The hospital said I need one right away. There’s just no way to do it. What if the same thing happens before I can afford one?”

“Boo hoo hoo. Stop acting like a baby and man up. You’re an American for God’s sake.”

I wanted to tell him I hated being an American. I hated rocks and hard places. And being American, more than anything else, often meant getting used to just that. Here’s a rock. Here’s a hard place. Here’s you. But he was right. I had no choice.

“I hate you, Epipen,” was all I could manage to say.

De Young Museum in curmudgeon: 10 things that didn’t help the experience

deyoung-2

Art Museums crack open young minds and pour in bravery. They make us think outside of our boxes (those selfish things that are covered this year in Bernie or Trump stickers) and look at them from new selfish boxes, maybe even from a perspective where the artist selfishly thinks they are outside of a box. The de Young Museum in San Francisco is no different. Famous paintings by artists like Diego Rivera, Salvador Dali, and Pablo Picasso titillate the imagination inside, as do other pieces of art, including Mayan artifacts and breathtaking Hawaiian feather work. It’s a beautiful place, first and foremost, and worth visiting, as are all Museums.

But the de Young left a lot to be desired in comparison to other museums when viewed through the lens of a first time visitor with no idea what to expect, or even how to get there. The following ten points are observed from that perspective.

  • Could not find parking. Are there signs anywhere? Is there really an underground parking area? Where is it? Do I need to know a guy who knows a guy to find it? On a Saturday, during an opening, seek parking in Golden Gate Park wherever you can find it and just hike in, even if it’s pouring rain. Parking should really be the first amenity.
  • Terrible signage in the park. Not until you’ve found a spot along the busy roadway do you see small “You Are Here” maps and only then do you know if you were luckily enough to park close to your destination. Usually you’re about a mile away. Consider some clearly visible signs. Please.
  • Signage on the de Young building’s exterior. Is it a myth? On March 12th, 2016, the only indicator the building was indeed the de Young Museum happened to be a giant, pinkish Oscar de le Renta banner. Maybe put the name outside in someplace clearly visible.
  • Long waits for tickets. With the de la Renta opening, lines were long and boring. There were three people operating ticket sales, one reserved for “will call” geniuses and two for the not-so-genius people that thought coming on a Saturday would be fun. One of the people operating ticket sales went on break, which leaves one to handle the long line, and leaves those standing in line wondering if the Museum has a staffing shortage. When it’s busy, see if there are extra bodies available.
  • Lunch at restaurant a confusing mess. You can simply grab items 7-11 style or you can get a menu, which you bring to the register (there may be two registers) and then order. From there you get a cafeteria style tray, your drinks and a number. Someone brings food to you later once you have found a place to sit amidst the throng. Luckily a meal for two is only about $50, which isn’t bad if you’re a Hilton. Order fast food style, order cafeteria style, or order menu style. Pick one.
  • They use the sticker system. Apparently, the two people operating the ticketing are supposed to tell visitors to peel a sticker off a portion of the ticket and affix it to their clothing. This gets you access to the galleries, as apparently just buying a ticket and wandering around just isn’t done there. Expect to be stopped if you haven’t put your sticker on. Consider making the sticker thing clear when the visitor pays.
  • No clear flow. If you use your intuition to wander the halls of larger museums, expect it to kick the bucket at the de Young. Is everything up the stairs, to the left as you leave the café, or what? Signage seemed lacking in this area as well. There was no rhyme or reason to finding it all and the little map, which most of us have folded up and put away by this point, do little to help. Consider directional arrows.
  • Truck stop bathrooms. The building has opted to herd the visitors into a single bathroom area, located not in the center of the building, but at one end. Should you have to go, hope that it isn’t a busy day and hope you’re not all the way at the other end of the Museum. Because that would suck. Consider more plumbing.
  • A minor point. Many museums offer books for bibliophiles to stick on their shelf. They’re all around the same size (art books) and give a little info on the galleries and their permanent collection. Not so with the de Young. Their art book, the one titled Inside and Out, is small enough to fit in the glove compartment and does not contain as much information. That and it doesn’t match on the shelf. Gift shop staffers, however, proved to be quite nice, which was a bonus. Consider a bigger, cooler book.
  • Stopped for suspicious purse. Expect a security person to stop you if you’re wearing a backpack or purse strapped to your back. Apparently this is also something those two people at the front desk are supposed to share with visitors but don’t. At least not every time. Consider making the rules clearer so not to disrupt someone’s museum experience by making them feel like they just got in trouble.

Consider The Portland Art Museum, The San Diego Museum of Art, and the Saint Louis Art Museum, even the Phoenix Art Museum, and their layouts. Most have these matters hammered out in an easy to comprehend way, even for introverted, anxious bibliophiles. Especially those who are visiting for the very first time.

Hey caveperson, where’s your ghost?

So why are there no prehistoric ghosts? People report ghosts of family pets every now and again, so why are there no ephemeral T-Rex sightings on Fremont in Seaside, California? Some say there are caveman ghosts, of course, but any discourse on them seems rare. Some say prehistoric ghosts are around, but that spirits “dissolve” after a time, so this is why there aren’t many left. Others say guardian spirits (ghosts in charge of helping other ghosts) guide spirits to their final rest. As this would have happened a long time ago, the ghosts of cavemen have long since been put to rest, hence no restless missing link ghosts for instance. If only there were one. Just one would be enough to answer that simple damn question.

The absence of prehistoric ghosts throws a huge monkey wrench into the theory of ghosts for me. I always thought of ghosts as eternal beings. But to read they can dissolve or be set to rest by other spirits puts a Gothic, old English question mark over the whole thing.  It’s similar to why people fear ghosts… as we are all ghosts when you think about it. Only some of us still have our skin. So why should we be afraid of the ones who don’t have their skin? Let’s all act like millennials in this regard, show an insane amount of self-confidence, and believe we are better than older ghosts. So many of them died before the Internet for God’s sake. We’re talking about a segment of once-alive humanity that didn’t know it was okay to say “you’re welcome” without being thanked first. How can they be scary?

I can be an “entity” if I want to be. Kind of like how depression is only a state of mind, right? My telekinesis damn well better kick in if I become a ghost, because it’s been a disappointment so far. I can barely put one foot in front of the other before 9 a.m.

Not to get too weird, but the idea of phantasmagorical goo makes it quite easy to imagine the idea of time travel as well. With the belief in one should come belief in the other, or any number of things. If a soul can live hundreds of years in anguish, making pots of Hamburger Helper fly off a stove top at dinner because they’re pissed about something, then surely it’s possible to bend time and space. I’m pouring a ton of science, without explaining a lick of it, into the ghost theory. But if they are real, there would be real science to explain it, right? Only no one knows what that science looks like yet. Someone has to write the book before we can read it.

I just hope that book is available on my Kindle. The ghost of the Nook may need to read it.

BOOK REVIEW: The Hunted by Kristy Berridge

Vampires drain a new vein

OR

Don’t judge a blood sucker by its coffin


Vampires are not uncommon in the realm of fiction. They’re not uncommon in the realm of reality either, in a way. Lots of people douse themselves in the lifestyle. Fang implants are a thing. Vampire fiction, therefore, is a genre all its own.

In vampire fiction, dark beings sparkle, they become rock gods, they attend special academies, and so on. Some are monsters, creepy things to be feared and hunted, while others just want to find their one true love and live happily forever after. There’s private eye vamps, doctor vamps, southern vamps, queen vamps and everything in between. You’d think it would get old, but it doesn’t. Even the old Marvel Comics series, Tomb of Dracula, is fun to read.

And some vampire stories suck you in better than others, while others just plain suck.

In Kristy Berridge’s pleasurable novel “The Hunted,” vampires aren’t the only creatures around. There’s the Vanators (werewolves) and a fair share of magic. Not only that, but the novel’s Australian setting and first-person narrative, while not unheard of in vampire fiction, creates a sense of rich creativity that other vampire books lack. Add a flair for sarcasm and you’ve got a damn peppy story.

Here’s a personal aside; I could tell the author had a fun time writing Elena’s story, as that sense of energy and excitement is obvious to the reader. This is never a bad thing.

And like any thrilling tale of vampiric prowess, Berrdige’s novel is the first in a series of stories. If a strong mix of violence and humor sound too good to be true, then you haven’t sampled this mix. Fun, easy, and creative, The Hunted would be a good addition to any blood sucking freak’s gory red library.