Abraham and Townsend lived in an apartment on the south side of Colorado springs. Companionships were required to share bedrooms. Abraham slept on the bottom bunk. The modestly sized bedroom had one of those wide, shallow closets that encompassed most of the small, rearward wall. The closet doors were made of mirrored glass. But they were lined with laminate, perhaps for the purpose of preventing serious injury in case one missionary throws the other into the closet door.

In truth, threw is a bit of an embellishment. Towsnend pushed Abraham into the closet. Elder Thomas Jesse Abraham was about 6’2” and 240 pounds. And if you ask Townsend, Abe leaned into the fall, embellishing a bit. Neither were planning on the closet door shattering.

Prior to throwing Abe into the closet, Townsend was dubbed Anal Townsend by his fellow missionaries. This was because of his strict adherence to the rules. What the others didn’t know was that this was the first time Townsend strictly adhered to anything, for months-at-a-time anyway. Townsend was just being a missionary, as he was taught.

Townsend was Anal as in obedient. Anal as in wake up at 6:30 just as you were told you would when you were by the grown-ups as 5-year-old Sunbeam. Anal as in not calling home, not watching TV, not listening to Blink-182, not reading books. Townsend did all that- or didn’t do all that- he obeyed. And to his surprise, after a few transfers, he found he was one of the most obedient missionaries.
When he grew privy to this name, Townsend asked himself, why are these missionaries out here? Go back to college, go back to the girls, the freedom. Why are these fellas here if they don’t take it seriously? He didn’t get it. Anal Townsend. As if his apostate peers were outlaws. In his mind they were all Jesus Freaks. All of them in the monkey suits with the nametags. Any sort of punk display in this context was silly, he thought. That was when he was still trying to believe or whatever. He wasn’t anal before his mission. He was obedient now because all his life he was told this time would be wasted if he wasn’t obedient.

Towsend’s mission was his opportunity to perform for the first time in his life. After what he considered a failed high school experience- no girlfriend, no baseball team, no University, the mission was a fresh start. His chance to succeed at something. He eventually discovered that he did it more devoutly than anyone other than the vaunted Assistant the the President, Elder Astor. Elder Astor was rumored to have obsessive compulsive disorder. In addition to his obedience, his hands were always dry and flaky because apparently he washed them doozens of times a day. The fact that the only missionary in the mission whose level of obedience was satisfactory to the mission president gave Townsend pause.

When Townsend pushed Abraham into the door, the glass shattered, but it mostly stayed in-tact, remaining underneath the laminate. Except of course for the tiniest shard Abraham extracted from his big, white, pimpled back. After minutes of focused, strained searching, Abe shot out of the bathroom like a rod, exhibiting evidence high in the air. Proof of Townsend’s menace lied between Abraham’s thumb and forefinger, and he indeed had a tiny prick on his back. Blood.

No Time To Be Judgy

Who is the best? Who is The greatest? Who is the The Goat? What’s your top ten this? Who’s your top five that? What’s the greatest movie, song, basketball player? Goat Goat Goat. Here’s a goat there’s a goat, everywhere’s a goat goat.

I saw someone’s name on a shabby old cafe marquee. This person was The Greatest Of All Time at co-owning a restaurant, I presume. Somewhere else, a church had G.O.A.T incorporated into their marquee somehow. I don’t remember the exact context and I don’t have the energy to use my creative license to fake one.

Admittedly, I’m guilty of contemplating favorites, bests, and compiling lists- as much as anyone else. Lately I’m thinking we could take a step back from all this rating business though. We’re all one- all connected.

I watched the most recent James Bond movie with my little brother a week or so ago. He lives in Houston, I live in San Antonio. Nick told me he was going to visit me for my birthday. He asked me what I wanted to do. I’m not feeling very creative these days. It would have been nice to show him the Riverwalk, but it was dark out. The Alamo is a tiny thing one drives by and is underwhelmed. I was tired. We’re all tired.

Ultimately, We ate at Shake Shack and then we went to see No Time To Die, the latest Bond movie.

When I was young, I lived with my brothers and our parents in a rural desert-like place called Valley Center. I remember the night when my Dad showed me and the boys a computer screen with mostly black, grey, and blue colors as he explained that the computer was communicating with other computers- but effectively, we had no internet, or cable TV. We didn’t get a single channel over the airwaves and my parents didn’t seem to make any effort to receive one. The old TV just sat in the living room as a piece of decor, until Friday night when we’d rent movies and eat pizza.

I’d typically find a spot on the floor. Belly-down as my folks explained to me who James Bond was and what he did. He was basically in the British version of the CIA. He was cool, clever, and quite suave with the ladies.

Bond movies were among the good ones. They always delivered. Even the so-called campy, or cheesy Roger Moore versions. 007 films were entertaining, fast-moving, and exciting. Chase scenes, all that. I liked it. We liked it. Maybe you didn’t. That’s fine.

James Bond wasn’t studied in either of the film classes I took in Junior College. During my twenties, when I developed a more pretentious love of films, I didn’t view Bond movies for all their commentary. No special edition DVD’s. No hanging on every word of the director as he reminisces over the day a scene was shot.

I think you catch my drift.

But my brother was coming to town and I didn’t know what we were going to to. We weren’t going to a bar. I decided on Shake Shack because I knew exactly where it was and I trusted the execution of a chain restaurant.

This post is being churned out because I was in bed this morning thinking about the Aston Martin Daniel Craig drives in No Time to Die. Not the ten million dollar silver car from the early 60’s, but the black one from the mid 70’s- the one he drives toward the end. I’ve always liked that car. It looks a little like the original Ford Mustang while also resembling an Aston. In words, that sounds like it might be terrible but I think it’s not. I’ve always like this old, under-stated Aston.

IVER HEATH, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Britain's Prince Charles (R), Prince of Wales meets British actor Daniel Craig as he tours the set and of the 25th James Bond Film No Time To Die at Pinewood Studios on June 20, 2019 in Iver Heath, England.  The Prince of Wales, Patron, The British Film Institute and Royal Patron, the Intelligence Services toured the set of the 25th James Bond Film to celebrate the contribution the franchise has made to the British film industry. (Photo by Niklas Halle'n - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

My little brother whispered over to me in the theatre- which one is that? They’re both awesome, but the subject here is the one one the right.

Oh that’s a 70’s Aston, yeah I’ve always like that one. It’s like a fancy old Mustang.

Toward the end of Craig’s final Bond, there is an homage to the famed opening credits sequence where Bond quickly fires back at the camera followed by blood soaking the screen from top to Bottom. In No Time to Die, Craig (my favorite Bond), re-creates the shot. He’s positioned aesthetically in a cylindrical form in an old, abandoned, nuclear facility in the middle of the ocean when he turns and quickly vanquishes a foe with a single bullet from a small gun. We see it from the foe’s perspective, as we do in every opening sequence since the beginning of Bond.

The recreation of the iconic shot and simply the presence of the old, quieter Aston make this movie “good” to me. And they’re the kinds of details that are attended to during the process by people who love what they do, no matter how much they’re paid. And that’s why No Time To Die is a good movie deserving of a good review- to me, anyway.

The Garage

Two mornings ago Justin met me at the garage. It’s a little one-car thing but he never parks there. He pays his landlord an extra $200/month for a place to keep all the chainsaws, ropes, ladders, tools.

He’d already had about ten cups of coffee he said, and he told me we had an opportunity to make more money up north, where the fires were really bad this year. I heard the word “millions” at one point, which raised a cautious eyebrow. I’m supposed to be the one with my head in the clouds. Justin, he’s all practicality. Redundancy. No debt. Every time I come back to the garage, there’s a new saw or chain, or tool. He’s never watched Shark Tank, but I told him Mark Cuban would salivate over him.

Justin was my neighbor in the months before I moved to Dallas. Over a year ago. I would see him in the garage, plugging away. A worker, about my age. More skilled of course. I didn’t know much about what he was doing but at this point in my life, I know when someone does something well.

When I met Justin, I was working this ridiculous housekeeping job at an international hostel in Ocean Beach. I’ve had so many jobs that I can get a sense of when my time is coming to an end. The “walk-out” being an inevitability. It’s the moment
I run out of bullshit tolerance. The Hostel was some sort of pathetic last gasp. I had nothing left in the tank to deal with hospitality jobs. The hostel was another lateral move. Same crud as waiting tables. The clock was ticking. I don’t have control over the walk-out. My gut takes over and forces me out the door. No notice for the employer as well. They don’t deserve one. They never do.


When the Dodgers won the World Series I was croutched in the middle of the sailboat. In a yogic squat. Really high. Doing my evening thing with the stretching but also listening to the Dodgers broadcast from the distant LA radio station. Charlie Steiner and Rick Monday come through pretty scratchy at times, but I wouldn’t listen to anyone else.

That’s where it all began. Charlie and Rick on the way up the 101. On the way to Morro Bay. Escape.

“MAX MUNCY with a DEEP home run the other way!”

Three years ago. Driving through LA I was like “I’m gonna listen to the whole game.” Back then I didn’t know what Max Muncy looked like. My image of him was a 5’10 stocky black player, not unlike young Tony. Turns out he looks more like Paul Bunyan.

Maybe that was the day I let go of my childhood Padres team and embraced the Dodgers. First drive to Morro Bay? Sure, we’ll make that the day.

I’ve always had an affinity for the Sox, but they were second fiddle to the San Diego Padres growing up. Root for them in the regular season, root for the Sox in the playoffs, cuz the Padres ain’t making the playoffs.

In Boston, the Sox became my favorite baseball team, but I wasn’t rabid. I was working at the ravioli place and playing bass. The youngsters weren’t that into baseball. The 2013 Sox team won me over. It was a team of redemption. The year prior, supposedly they were drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games. They cut the worst offenders before the start of the 2013 year. Then the marathon bombing happened. Papi told the fans that this was our fucking city and the rest is history. I approved of that team.

I returned to my birthplace a year later to the lackluster Padres. I felt obligated to root for them. Why on Earth was Tony Gwynn Jr. not a lifetime Padre? Did they even give him a chance? I know he doesn’t hit like his old man but we need a Gwynn on the field in this broken-hearted town. Why did the fans boo the San Diego Gay Men’s choir when they sang the national anthem? Was that for real?

Meanwhile, the Dodgers. Who are these guys? They’re all good. Every one of them.

I was deep in a yogic squat, eyes closed in the middle of the tiny boat. I was in the entry way to the bed area. Two little beds behind me, one on either side of the hardwood I was crouched on. Charlie Steiner told me to remember where I was. As if he needed to tell me.

The volume was low. The radio five feet up, to the left, felt distant. What was I thinking about? I was half-focusing. I was nervous. My team. And this was MY TEAM. Clayton, Joc, Mookie, Walker- this was my kinda team. My team was about to win the World Series.

I grew up here in San Diego a Padre fan. I was born in the fall of 81, and Tony Gwynn was pretty much playing full-time from that point until I was a missionary for my church in Colorado.

For those of you who don’t know, Tony is one of the best baseball players ever. People like to call him “one of the greatest hitters of all time” or they say he is a great “pure” hitter. I like to draw attention to Tony’s all-around athleticism. His outfield defense was superb and he was a star point guard at San Diego State. (Basketball)

CALLED STRIKE THREE on the outside corner! Charlie bursted. And I, in my squat, eyes closed- I let out a giggle. Then I cried. You probably think I cry about baseball all the time but no, not really. I cried when Tony died of course and I cried when the Dodgers won the World Series.

Left Field

YO, Air-Head!




Uh Oh, We’ve lost him!


Maverick’s disengaged!


Not again!


He’s waaaaaay out.


talk to me goose


What was it he said he needed last night?


He needed a row.


Waaaaaaay out in left field.


Right, he needed a row.


A row for the boat.


Talk to me goose


Not a paddle, not an oar.


You know, a ROW, he said.


He ran up the hill, pissed off.


Don’t say that word.


-Is he even in there? My goodness!




Holy Mackerel, he really is on another planet this time!


What was he saying the other night?


talk to me Goose


He wanted to live in the country, on a farm.


Right! But the next minute he wanted the city.


Yeah, he wanted to live downtown.


The plaque for the alternates is in the ladies room

I keep forgetting to tell you.

I saw my old missionary companion a few weeks ago- Oh, right, he was never my companion. Over the years, the companion distinction fades and it’s just missionaries you remember.

Elder Oak as he’s called. My zone leader. A stout 5’9 or 10.” Built like General Ulysses S. Grant, whom I’m reading about! By happenstance, the first area of my mission was in the pop. 5000 town of Ulysses, in the heart of Grant County.

Anyhow, Oak was just tall enough to not be short and he had that tree-trunk thickness. Elder Marshall said Oak’d get a waiver from the army when Oak observed that he was to “fat” according to the height weight metric. Marshall’s dad was a Colonal in the army reserves and a director at a Frito-Lay.

Marhall and I were quite the duo, but I noticed he pushed the army stuff more on Oak. Late one night, when I expressed some insecurity and doubt about my future, Marshall just laughed, crying out my name- “Litchfield! …Litchfield- you’re killing me!”

Oak called Marshall Aaron and he called me Litchfield. Marshall and I were Aarons. I only know Oak as Oak, or Elder Oak- not Adam, like I weirdly called him when I saw him and his family a few weeks ago. Adam is my brother’s name…

Interesting how we obeyed certain rules. We rarely sweared, “Damn and hell are fine” Oak would profess. Nothing worse.

We went haywire with the fake swears. We said shiz of course, all the effing time. Fricken and freaken, naturally. I’m pretty certain members of the faith coined the term “F-Bomb.”

Once when (Marshall and I) were with (Oak and Monday) for dinner at a member’s house, we were escorted through a dark cavernous entry way as Sister Smith apologized repeatedly for all the “S.H.” Initially I was confused. The other guys had to inform me she was just spelling half of the word shit. “Sorry about all the S.H. boys. HONEY, you need to get rid of this S.H.!” In the following weeks we got weird and shouted “S.H.I.S!” My guess as to why we ended with the S. and not a T. or a Z. is as good as yours.

Oak was our leader. Sure he wasn’t an Assistant to the President (Not yet- he’d later he would defy the “aspirers” and nerds and head to the office.) But when I knew and loved Oak, he was my Zone Leader in Pueblo.

Fish Day


You gotta do certain things on Saturdays, like put the sausages in the freezer.

Delington, is that a euphemism?

My last day was a Saturday. The big day! The biggest day of the week. Sunday off, thank goodness! Saturdays are real busy with all the Tufts kids and everything.

So, Saturday. My last day. I walked over to The Deli. Davy was long gone. It was dusk, summer in beautiful Somerville. Closed for an hour or so. Davy had cleaned up real good. The slicers were clean, the knives were clean. The counters, everything was nice and clean. I opened the fridges and looked at the stacks of turkey and capicola and I thought that perhaps it was the last time I was gonna be doing this.

I was so charged up, but it was this quiet moment and I remember thinking that this was a big deal. Not that I had really lost my temper this time. I kind of knew that was a big deal, the temper thing, but I was going to have to process that later. There were going to be a lot of changes. What was really on my mind though, as I looked at the provolone and manchego, was that I would not be opening the fridge doors anymore. No more fish days, I knew that was big.

Fish Day, Delington!

They called my stacks of meat Delington Stacks. I was proud of them. They were nice and tight. I’d try to stack slices like salami, that came in a tube, back into the cylindrical form they arrived in. Chris and Davy did a fine enough job. It didn’t really matter, but their stacks were easily distinguished from mine. Their salami slices hung out a centimeter or so. No big deal. But I thought I did it well and I was proud of it because I didn’t feel like I did a lot of things very well. I knew it was a silly thing but what can you do?

Sam named me Delington. Aaron Delington. Chris was named Chris Delis. Delis plural. Davy was The Duke of the Deli, or Deli Duke. We listened to Bruce Springsteen, Rancid, Goo Goo Dolls, and a lot of other bands that are too cool for you.

The Improv

Circa 2004. GWAR and TYSON are two fellows in their mid-twenties. Both are a little overweight and exactly six feet tall. Both have served full-time missions for their Church. GWAR’s mission was cut short after about sixteen months while TYSON completed the two years.

This film begins as they attempt to re-live their pre-mission days of waterballooning. TYSON is in the front seat of GWAR’s 1987 Honda Prelude. They developed this practice of targeting both pedestrians and other cars on the streets of Poway, California around 1998-1999. Back then, there were more participants in the suspect car- typically three or four. Notably absent on this day is DAN, who was The Driver. DAN could drive and toss balloons with remarkable accuracy. TYSON’s marksmanship from the passenger seat was also legendary. At this point in their lives DAN, who has also served a mission, is married to a woman who is expecting their first child. As a result, GWAR defaults to the driver position on this day. GWAR is not a good water balloon driver. He was never even a great tosser of balloons. At best he got the Spirit Award. He once hit the inside of DAN’s car in a spasmodic thrust toward the window.

It might be obvious, but it should be noted that GWAR and THOMAS are the same person in this story.


By Aaron Kingsbury Litchfield


Dude, What are you doing!? What in the world are you doing!? Why do you slow down? Every time, Thomas! You don’t need to slow down! It messes up my timing!

Sorry! I’m not used to driving.

Dan could really drive. He never slowed down. You DON’T slow down.

I know. Shut up. We shouldn’t be doing this anyway. We can’t get arrested for throwing water balloons. What if we get caught doing this? We can’t get caught doing this. We’re too old.

TYSON (nefariously)
We never got caught before, Thomas S Preston Esquire S Gwar.

That’s cuz Dan used to drive.

Dan could drive that car like a champ Thomas!

Yeah, and he’s married now. With child.

Later on GWAR and TYSON are driving down Garnett Ave in Pacific Beach. They have quit throwing water balloons at cars and pedestrians. Garnett Avenue is where MTV used to go to cast lotharios in their shows The Real World and MTV’s Beach House. TYSON and GWAR’s drive down Garnett Avenue, with its myriad bars that specialize in Birthday Cake shots and Irish Car Bombs, is very observational in nature.

Thomas, it’s your turn now.


TYSON (building enthusiasm, in a devious manner)
C’mooooooon, Thomas!

No, It’s not funny. I don’t know why it’s funny.


(rolling down the window) I hate you.


GWAR leans his head out the window as they pass a group of popped-collard, puka-shelled-necklace-wearing brutes with a couple of thin, loud-talking females. He yells out a startlingly loud and abrupt- HEY! This results in a young mini-skirted girl nearly falling to the ground. The group mostly laughs, though a couple of the big males affect an angry disposition.

Good job Thomas!

GWAR (excitedly)
Oh Oh Oh Oh, get that group right there!

TYSON rolls down his window and yells with a remarkable amount of mocked vigor-


The crowd hollers back uproariously. If they are aware of the irony, they aren’t offended. Though it’s safe to say they aren’t aware.


That’s the most fun I’ve ever had on Garnett Avenue.

Whaaaat? Better than all the bars? The beers? Thomassssss? Thomas S?

Yeah I guess. I mean, the beers helped me in the beginning. I don’t think I would ever have gotten Emi fall in love with me if I never had a drink. She would have dismissed me as awkward and intense like all the girls before her.

TYSON(with caricatured zeal)
You didn’t need beer to talk to ME, I love you for who you are Thomas!

Alcohol lowers inhibitions, and you never had any. You don’t need it. It’s weird to think what you’d be like drunk. Don’t ever drink.

TYSON(still with the exaggerated zeal)
I wouldn’t be your guiding light if I did, now would I Thomas?


A few days later GWAR walks into TYSON’s house. TYSON’s mother, in the kitchen to the left, sees Gwar walk in without knocking. He immediately turns right and walks toward Tyson’s room.  When he gets there, he finds that the door is locked. He leans in and hears that TYSON is in the shower. Through the door GWAR also hears Weezer’s Green album playing. He smiles at this. He knocks, knowing Tyson won’t hear, and knowing that even if he did hear, he wouldn’t end his shower early. GWAR curses himself. He turns around to look down the hall. He can see TYSON’s mom, wearing an apron in the kitchen. GWAR paces in the hall awkwardly before walking to the foyer to sit in a chair by the front door. After less than a minute, he gets up and walks back toward TYSON’s room. He leans in and hears TYSON still in the shower. He tries knocking again to no avail. He walks out to the foyer and stalls a bit trying to decide what to do.  Finally he walks to the kitchen.


Hi Sister Young.

Hello Gwar.

THOMAS(reaching into a cabinet for a glass)
What’s happening?

There is no glass, so he walks across to another cabinet where he finds one. He opens the fridge and pours himself lemonade.

Still don’t know where the glasses are?

Sure I do. How are things?

Oh, busy. Denise and Darren are coming in a couple of weeks and I’m trying to clean up before they get here.

Well that’s cool.

How are things with you?

Oh, fine I guess. Up to no good, you know. Same old.

That’s nice Gwar.


So what are you two up to today?

Tyson and I are carpooling to college.

No kidding? Well that’s wonderful.

Sure is. Tyson didn’t tell you?

He never tells me anything… you know, I saw your mother at Costco yesterday.

Oh really? How is Meg Ryan?

She seemed fine. We talked about you boys…

Yeah? What about?

TYSON’S MOM(sheepishly)
Well…I don’t think I should say.

I’m sure it was about just how proud of us you are and how great we are for each other. Tyson and I. Yeah, no need to tell me! Speaking of, I need to get that guy going. We’re gonna be late!

Bye Gwar.

TYSON (wearing a towel, at the entrance to his room)
Well if it isn’t a Thomas S Preston Esquire S Gwar!

GWAR (hushed)
That’s me. Hey man, I wish you wouldn’t lock the door. I walked into the house without knocking, thinking I’d just slide to your room but of course you have to lock your bedroom door. Why? I’m not gonna go into your bathroom and interrupt your shower routine. I know you lock that door too, you weirdo. Anyway, I bumped into your mom and I know she’s mad that I didn’t knock. We had a little chat.

TYSON (loudly, across the house)
Mom, have a nice talk with Thomas?

TYSON’S MOM (from the kitchen)
Yes Tyson- you know, Gwar doesn’t mind me.

THOMAS (still at the doorway)
Just let me in man. What does she mean? She doesn’t mind me?  Like I don’t have a problem with her?

No like, you don’t mind her, like acknowledge her, or respect her, by just walking through the door of her house without knocking. Gwar the genius writer over here. A regular Bill Shakespeare.

Well, shucks. I don’t mean anything. I love your fam. You know I always wanted to be a Young.

TYSON (with an exaggerated smile, pats GWAR on the shoulder)
I know you do Tom.

GWAR (entering the room and closing the door)
Do you have a shirt I can wear? (tugs his belly) I hate this one.

TYSON holds the towel with one hand on his hip and opens his sliding glass closet door with the other. He stares into a vast, colorful closet.

Ahhhhhh, what can I get for a Thomas S Preston Esquire S Gwar? (resting his now free hand on his other hip)

GWAR(grabbing a t-shirt that says THE FIRM)
Remember when I wore this to your old man’s office? When we visited him at the firm?

Sure do Tom.

That was somethin’ else. I wrote about it. Anyway, I got us an appointment to tryout for an improv place in Los Angeles.

What? Are you serious? When?

Thursday. We’ll leave at noon, right after your oceanography class. We don’t have to be there until four.

TYSON (sighing again)
I don’t know if my liege will be OK with it Gwar.

She’s fine with it dude.

TYSON(sighs again)
You asked her? Oh Tommy. Tommy Tommy Tommy. What are we gonna do with you?



GWAR walks toward TYSON’s boxy new Scion. Someone is playing an electric guitar plugged into a miniature amplifier. GWAR knocks on the car window.  TYSON is disgustedly clearing the passenger seat for Gwar.  Without looking up, he unlocks the door and GWAR enters the car.

What do you think about that guy over there, playing guitar?

TYSON still hasn’t made eye contact with GWAR. he’s picking up half-full water bottles and throwing them into the back seat

I think it’s the gayest thing in the world and you do too. So don’t ask me.

Are you excited?

TYSON(He still hasn’t looked at Gwar)
Sure Tom. (picks up a water bottle and holds it in front of Gwar’s face) How many millilitres did she drink out of this one? Riddle me that, Tom.

I don’t have an answer for you man.


Hey, you know how the Terminator asks little John Connor why he cries? (in a very mediocre Arnold Schwarzenegger accent GWAR utters) Why do you cry?

Yeah, sure.

Well, what if he was like Why do you fart? and Why do you laugh, when you fart?

TYSON (not missing a beat, in a perfect 13-yr-old Edward Furlong voice)
You know, cuz it’s funny.

Yeah, Yeah, exactly. That would be a funny skit or whatever, like on Saturday Night Live.

Sure it would Tom.

Hey, also, when we’re up on stage, you gotta do Chris Farley auditioning for the part of Sam from Lord of the Rings. You know “Master Frodo…”

Whatever you say Gwar.

Anyway, that guitar player’s shirt told me to listen to Bob Marley and his hat told me to party naked.

I told you I don’t want to talk about him.

Alright alright, you know how to get there? Just drive up The Five for like an hour then I’ll tell you where to go from there.

With resonant disgust for the fellow in the parking lot, TYSON intently scrolls through his Ipod looking for a more obscure Talking Heads song. After his selection, GWAR picks up the Ipod and changes it to Road to Nowhere. Tyson’s look implies that GWAR needs to move on past Talking Heads’s radio songs.  If GWAR was directing this film he might show TYSON and GWAR eating at In & Out burger as Road To Nowhere plays. TYSON is truly happy as he takes his first bite into a Double Double. Under GWAR’s direction, he’d perhaps show TYSON’s road rage. He’d show some exteriors of the drive from San Diego to LA. The ocean. The immigration check-point. The signs that caution families crossing the freeway. He’d show Gwar opening TYSON’s glove compartment, show a bunch of things falling out of the glove compartment and show TYSON’s irritation of the whole thing.


TYSON and GWAR pull up to a tiny, street-front improv place.

We have almost an hour. Lets walk around for a while.

TYSON and GWAR walk down the street and quickly enter a typical LA vintage/ironic t-shirt store.


Hey this is where that guy at college gets his shirts and hats that tell us what to do.

That’s right Tommy Tom.

A very young blonde who most likely works at the store absently walks past them. GWAR catches her attention.

Excuse me, have you heard of the improv place a few doors down?


Really? (pointing) It’s just a couple of doors down that way.

Nope. (she moves along)

GWAR looks at Tyson apologetically.

They walk to the Imrov place. They go through the door and enter a very small lobby. There is a woman sitting behind a box office.


Are you here for the tryout?


Go ahead through those doors and have a seat.

They enter a tiny theater with maybe twenty chairs. There are a handful of improv actors already seated. One looks about 30 years old and is wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles jacket. In fact, they all look about 30 years old- with the exception of a 45 yr old man who is outfitted in Sam Kinison’s hair and wardrobe.

NINJA TURTLE(to a cute 30-year-old woman)
Where do I know you from?

I Don’t know.

Was it a movie?

30 YEAR OLD WOMAN (sighing)

It was! It was 13 Conversations about One Thing!

You’re right. I was en extra in that.

Nice! Me too!

GWAR picks up a brochure from the seat back in front of him.  He points to Chris Kattan’s name on the program and promisingly shows it to TYSON. TYSON nods.

A 50-year-old man with the world’s worst haircut enters the room. Think Javier Bardem in No country For Old Men, except this man’s hair is thinner. The following doesn’t really need to be scripted: The Improv owner shows them around the small studio. There are pictures of famous alums like Chris Kattan and Tim Meadows. Pictures of Jr. Varsity casts, Varsity casts, and Wednesday Night casts.  He explains that only the top one or two levels get paid.  Most do it for free and the rookies pay to perform.  He sits them down and tells them about himself.  He’s been in a few episodes of Three’s Company. With a smile, he says the residual checks are nice. He nods silently, giving this cast of hopefuls time to soak in the glorious residual money that he’s earning, suggesting they could be so lucky. So now it’s time to perform.

Ok, we’re just gonna do some things to get you loosened up here. First, I want you to swim around like fish.

Everyone does their interpretation of a fish.  TYSON is visibly annoyed at this stupid exercise as he just pretends to swim like a human, using his arms to backstroke. GWAR is more pathetically attempting to appease the improv man than TYSON. Initially, GWAR uses his arms like a human, then self-consciously pulls them back toward his body and attempts to show swimming without arms.  This results in a pathetic upright serpentine movement. As GWAR swims past TYSON, he gives a look of confusion, TYSON in return, silently expresses his annoyance for the whole thing. The other six hopefuls are generally desperate and over-zealous in their fish impressions.

What follows is a series of cuts that displays a typical bottom-level Los Angeles improv store: A good-looking Asian-American man does an excellent Arnold Schwarzenegger impression. TYSON and GWAR do some heavy, bookish British accents. The Ninja Turtle finds a way to work a make-out session in with the woman he met on the set of 13 Conversations About One Thing. The Sam Kinison man doesn’t do much at all.

At the end, the Improv owner lines everyone up onstage and tells them he wants each of them to do whatever they want, anything they want. They take turns doing freestyle improv. The Asian American man does some more excellent Arnold. There are a few other random things. Some funny, some not. Then we get to Tyson.

TYSON (very loudly)

When it is time for GWAR’s freestyle moment, he is extremely nervous. He’s silent for a few awkward seconds. Finally, he utters, in a horrible Arnold Schwarzenegger accent that nobody in the room can decipher-

GWAR (softly)
…why do you fart?

There is deadly silence from the Improv leader and the other actors. Tyson looks down the line at Gwar with astonishment and horror.

Cut to the car. It is quiet for a few moments as Tyson drives. Finally-

Why do you fart?

(uproarious laughter from the two of them)


BONUS! An early short: The Firm



I decided that I’m gonna blog. I’m gonna blog cuz I don’t know what else to do.

There’s that memory of my mom. She must have been my age now- maybe two years older. She’s in Dr. Stevenson’s office and they’re just talking about Tyler’s future appointments and then conversation ventures off into non-medical, life stuff. Not too personal or anything. I’m not going to make anything up, like: She had to go to the post office before 4 pm to drop off a credit card bill that she UGHHHHH, didn’t want to get into right now and that she HATES credit card companies and whatnot and she doesn’t have time to deal with any of this right now.

Cuz I wasn’t really paying attention, I was maybe 6 years old.

Everyone is quiet for a second, then she begins to cry. She doesn’t wail. And she doesn’t cry for too long. Dr. Stevenson does the best he can and of course her crying isn’t a surprise, nor is it out of line. She stops. He tells her that he couldn’t possibly understand. He says that they’re all doing the best they can.

He was a good-looking guy. He wore a plaid shirt. Not too old. He didn’t get out of his chair and come around and physically comfort her.

I’ve had that memory for a few days. Hanging around.

I remember playing outside the hospital with Tyler.

I went to the hospital with Nick right before I moved here to Boston. I was 26, Nick was 16. We drove down there late at night thinking we’d take a look at Tyler’s old 8th-floor stomping grounds. We found out that the 8th-floor was no longer the pediatric floor. In fact there wasn’t a pediatric floor in the hospital at all. Everything had moved to Children’s hospital.

As a 15 year-old I remember swinging the bat in the parking lot of the hospital and asking Pop if I swung as fast as they did in the majors. He wasn’t too thrilled with the question.

As a 17 year-old, in the elevator with Nick, someone asked if he was my son.

Tyler never spent a Christmas in there.

I’m 29 now and I’m doing the same thing. How am I any different from who I was? What am I going to do to “grow up?” Will I ever be less emotional? Will I ever calm down? Can I go back to school? Can I relax? Can I change things? Can I be happy for a while? I’m kind of happy now. I am so weird.

And then there’s the elevator memory. Another early one. I always wondered why I remembered a moment like that. I asked myself what made it stick. My mom told me once that Dad’s role was The Rock. He never showed emotion. It wasn’t his job. It worked even better that they divorced so young. We had two worlds. The one where we emoted, and the one where we didn’t.

In the Hospital Memory my brain likes to picture the three boys together- Adam, Tyler, and me- the youngest. I’m about six. But if we were leaving the hospital, Tyler wouldn’t have been there with us, waiting for the elevator.

There were six elevators that led to the 8th floor and we’d stand there and wait for a ping. It’s just a memory of my Dad asking which elevator door was going to open up. Just a trivial little thing.

Hello everyone, 2014 Aaron talking here. I know I said I was done with SFSF after the Ultimate Post, but this belongs here. It’s old. Plus, who actually believed I’d stick with closing out the blog? Anyway, the above was written four years ago, just days before I began SFSF. It began as a sort of manifesto, but then it quickly turned into a journal entry, with the weak segue being “I decided I’m going to blog.” That decision was a product of the manifesto, a baby step that I’d decided must be done. (I deleted the bullitt-pointed, actual manifesto portion that included topics like More Grocery Shopping and Less Eating Out.)

At the time, I never would have posted it. The blog was my first public writing venue. The early entries were vague. Prior to that, I kept everything locked up and unfinished.

While going through it, I remembered that I’d written about the elevator before so I looked in an even older online collection of my journals in Hotmail Documents and found the following:


…and then there’s Tyler. Tyler. Am I a writer because Tyler had cancer and died? Did he die to enlighten me and you all? “You all” being really only a small segment of the population? A few hundred thousand or so young kids that will read this and relate to it and love it and clutch it and make them want to tell people to fuck off when they’re told dinner is ready while they’re sitting in their rooms thinking about it? Did Tyler have those 30 operations and spinal taps for YOU? Did Tyler have all this happen to him so I would be extra submissive and self-conscious for waaaay too long in order for me to better question and observe everything? So I could always think about that time in the hospital when we were leaving and my Dad was like “Which one do you think it’ll be? Which fucking elevator will be the one to take us out of this hospital, the hospital Tyler’s in cuz he has cancer and he won’t ever kiss a girl or get married or hit a home run or drive a car? Which one? No, Aaron, that one’s going up.”


“Ahh, there we go.”

When I Went To Lunch With Blaze And He Got Two Sides Of Fries

He told me that I was serious and that I used to be all about having fun. Interesting, because I don’t think of that pre-Boston year (post Amy break-up) as fun. But now my life was about growing up. He was damn perceptive, this Blaze. We went into a book store where a lady told him to keep writing. We were walking back to the car after lunch (two sides of fries) and I pointed to a bookstore across the street. I told him I should try to buy his book, EPISODES: My Life as I See It. That was no problem for him, his mom’s friend worked there. Inside, this friend urged him to keep writing as a young girl searched the store for EPISODES. I echoed that shit and said that he was like more important that 99.9 percent of the writers who get paid regularly to write. Fuck it, he’s better that 100%. Who the hell is more important a writer than Blaze Ginsberg? I have no clue.

I was a bit protective of him when I went to his house, at the start of our day. His mom was a writer too. She waitressed into her thirties but now made $ as a full-time writer which is the dream. The protective part came when I asked Blaze about his book at her house and she hissed “Don’t just grab the book off the shelf, Blaze.” I wanted to kinda say to her Hmmm, maybe it’s not a big deal, maybe I really wanted to see Blaze’s EPISODES, Relax lady. Sure it was my fault that I never got around to purchasing it online when I was in Boston because I was an extraordinarily flakey pothead, but that book was important shit and I wanted to see it.  A little intimidated by the son, hey lady? Blaze was the shit. I still haven’t read his book because I’m a fucking loser even though I know it’s probably the best thing on the planet. It’s his life in episodes, as in TV episodes, based on sitcoms, loosely- or based on the sitcom format. I don’t know, I’m not even going to begin wondering how brilliant it is, I just have to read it.

In Boston, I asked him to write something for my blog. Later, I went to edit it, “chop it up,” you know, play editor like a big boy, cuz Blaze was the only writer I could edit. I was about to chop certain words and things that I didn’t think worked but sure enough they did because he used like the 2nd and 3rd dictionary definitions of words, words whose first definition’s I was unaware of. And I’m not talking refrain and refrain. He was a brilliant writer, probably the most brilliant little modern piece I’ve seen and when people nudge him to write he just insists he wants a more normal, steady job. Something regular. I asked him if he knows anything about the finances of his book. Maybe he has enough in the bank from EPISODES that he doesn’t need a normal job. He could write, you know, what he was born to do. Do this world a service Blaze! Show ’em who’s boss. Who’s really mentally challenged or whatever? He knew nothing of his finances. I was suspicious about his mother and the rest of his family. Protective over Blaze. But everyone is protective. It’s easy to be protective. His mom was protective of him when I went to pick him up. She didn’t have to meet and chat with me, but she did.

The original plan was to go to the beach. We went looking for a spot and while we were driving around the lot I observed a supremely hairy man getting in or out of his truck. He was a stocky, hairy fella. I laughed a bit. Told Blaze that perhaps a man like that should trim himself or cover up if he plans on parading the coast. I was stretching for conversation, one of those things I knew was stupid as it was coming out of my mouth. What an asshole I am. We kept driving around the parking lot. I was in my mom’s hideous huge white Dodge Durango. I expressed disdain for this sort of activity, driving around, looking for a fucking space in a busy parking lot. I didn’t even have a license at the time. Blaze’s mom would have been furious had she known I had no license. I hated the DMV. I was home six weeks or so before I got my license.

Eventually Blaze suggested that maybe the beach wasn’t gonna happen. I was cool with not going. I looked at his arms an noticed they were pretty damn hairy. The striking difference between Blaze pre and post-Boston was his look. He definitely looked like a skinny boy when I left for New England. He was 20. He worked at the grocery store in the same shopping center as my Starbucks. He wore his pants really high and of course his name was Blaze. I chatted him up when he came in. He entered the coffee shop mostly bored, looking to satisfy something- hard to do in a Starbucks when you don’t drink coffee. But there aren’t too many options in grocery store shopping centers. He usually settled on one of the stupid over-priced fruity sodas. His disdain for his bagging job was far more articulate than my disdain for my job. I thought he was so cool and he acted nonplussed, which of course made me pursue the friendship more. I  put in the effort to be sincere. He doesn’t give a shit that I have an autistic cousin. I’m sure everyone has an autistic something or other. He’s probably sick of people wanting to believe THEY are the insider, THEY can relate. He’s probably sick of the patronization. I kept at it and eventually we were pals. Pals enough that I talked to him a handful of times during the six years I lived in Boston.

Upon my return a few months ago, I noticed that his hairline had receded quite a bit and he’d gained weight. His stubble was thicker and, like I said, his forearms were pretty damn Hairy. Again, I’m an asshole.

When we left the parking lot, we decided to go to lunch. A girl he had a crush on worked at a mediocre Mexican restaurant on La Jolla Village Drive. Blaze always had crushes. We ain’t much different. Maybe I’m fuckin autistic. He told me once that he didn’t wanna date an autistic girl or special needs girl and he hated it when people suggested otherwise. Made sense to me.

Sadly, his crush wasn’t present at the Mexican restaurant. He never gave up hope though. He was looking pretty much the whole time. His gaze was always above the table, out toward the front of the restaurant, around toward the server’s station. Ultimately I realized that his crush wasn’t only the reason for our lunch venue, but perhaps the whole day. I don’t remember how this crush began. I think he had simply fallen for the waitress a couple of months prior while eating there. He ordered two sides of fries. Chips and salsa were free. I had eaten and was broke so all I ordered was a coke. We were our waitress’s nightmare. The table was full of free chips and cheap fries. Whatever. This was Blaze, he was cool as fuck. Autistic. Our bill was like 12 bucks.

I asked Blaze if I was different from before I left and he said with a lot of expression that I sure was. Oh man was I. He told me that before, I was all about having fun but now it was all about growing up. Everything was so serious now. He was good. Blaze was good. It was all perception, mood, body language and he was dead-on. Most other people would have said the opposite because their analysis of me would have been based on what my current plans were. Upon coming home it wasn’t about going back to school or what I was going to do for a real job, but I talked about my “writing partner” and writing screenplays. Silliness. I was still frustratingly silly. The opposite of getting serious. Before I moved to Boston, it was all about “getting away.” I was still in my twenties. To me, at the time, it felt serious. Or in retrospect, I like to remember it as serious. My break-up with Amy sent me into a depression and life was all about picking myself up and getting things in order to move to Boston. I think of it as a serious time. But Blaze said back then I was all about fun. Having fun. Now I was so serious. For me, life was now all about GO GO GO and growing up, he told me.

They made a banner for me. My Starbucks coworkers. A Goodbye Aaron banner. I already felt old then, at 26. They were like 20. A couple of them were still in high school. But I drove around with them, a Honda CRV, where you can put the back seat all the way down so that you’re just looking up at the sky as you cruise around. Clouds jerk right and left and the tops of trees pop in and out of view. I enjoyed that. Damn. Why so serious? Shit got real I guess. Blaze knows. Blaze knows.

Read The Holy Cinemas of California and the other one about Blaze. Also, his website.