Tag Archives: brian santa maria

The Book of Brian.

These are the things I would include in my book in the Bible.

1)    Miracles. They keep things interesting and exciting. And what’s more miraculous than a strapping character who can throw awesome knives or hear everything? Even if it’s really, really quiet.

2)    Rules. These are the parts that religious people pay very close attention to. It’ll assure that my book is referenced all the time. Suggested Rules: Hold the door for ladies; Keep it real; Brush before you shower (so if you want orange juice with breakfast, by the time you drink it, it won’t taste bad.)

3)    Predictions.

4)    Jesus. I haven’t read the whole bible. I’m only about a quarter of the way through it. But they don’t talk about Jesus nearly enough.

5)    No Chewing with Your Mouth Open. Technically, this is a rule and should probably be under item 2, but I wanted to outline it specifically. It’s an abomination of God.

6)    Riddles. Maybe at the bottom of every page? I don’t know. I have to work out the details.

7)    A Cliff-Hanger. Like when Murphy Brown got pregnant. We didn’t know if she was going to keep it and at the same time Eldon had finally finished painting the house.[1]

8)    Cameos by Other Prophets. Why can’t other prophets have missions that bring them into my book, too?! Crossover storylines are special edition material.

9)    A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Chapter. So the reader can feel connected to the text. Christianity is a living, breathing thing and we forget that.

10) A Lot of Begetting. Romance keeps women interested.

11) Pop-ups. And not just trees and a house. Pop-up plagues.

12) Plagues. New ones. Like a Pet Army or athlete’s foot.

13) Something About Jerusalem Belonging to Catholics. The Jews and Muslims are cutting up that sweet pie and before it’s all done I want a slice.

14) Brian. Duh.

[1] She did keep it and Eldon stayed on to paint the new nursery.

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The gift of foresight.

Do psychics read your future or do they just read you?

Sure, it’s an age-old question and one to which every logical response is “you” but I don’t want to believe that. I don’t know that I can. And what I want to believe is desperately what I want to believe.  (Regardless of the beliefs that are actually mine.) No more can my head command my heart.

Tiffany, the psychic on 6th and Spring (310.936.4671), started with, “do you want to ask me any questions?”

I didn’t. I just wanted to listen.

She started talking and touching on some points. She said writing will be a big part of my life. A big part of my future. “What do you do?”

“I’m a writer.”

“That makes sense,” she says.  Yes, it does. She didn’t say I should be one, only that I was. And that I was pretty all over the place with it. I wrote some of this and some of that. And that it was very unfocused. My head was gone all day and all over.

Yeah, that makes sense too.

Then she said I’ve got a health issue. Hm. “But…” she corrected herself, it’s under control. It’s serious. Though “wait” she said, it’s been in me 2 years and that I should make sure it’s checked out. I felt like I should get excited and tell her that I was diagnosed terminal two years ago. (Which I was.) Give her a high-five and let her know that it is checked out. It’s under control. But I didn’t.

I just waited and wondered. I stared at her. I probably scowled a little.

When she told me I’ll be making a move soon, I kept it to myself that that’s why I was downtown. That I had, one hour before, unloaded my bed and wanted to walk around my new neighborhood. I didn’t smile at her. I didn’t stop my brow from furling.

I just judged her. Like an asshole.

Until she asked me what happened. What happened? She stared through my mask and asked again what happened to me. “What do you mean?” She answered that I was on track. I was pretty straight and together. I was headed the right direction. Then 5 years ago: something happened.

I wasn’t judging her anymore.

“Or someone.”

And I cried a little bit.

So are you a psychic if all you can do is tell people what they already know? What I remember about Greek mythology was that the final chaos still trapped in Pandora’s box was the gift of foresight. Maybe that’s not true, but it’s what I remember. And it’s what I want to believe.

Now I don’t know if this is the part where she sensed I needed a carrot on that long swinging stick, but she mentioned I’d recently met a soulmate. Now soulmates are a hard thing to get behind. I stopped believing in them. (But I probably want to.) She said that soulmate doesn’t trust me. And that there’s a lot of distance between us. She stressed “a lot” but I don’t like italics and I’ve used them twice already, so know that she made sure I knew she was understating the truth. And so that’s what I’m doing with you now. She stressed “a lot.”

That space… what if it doesn’t change? What if her emphasis was just the soft crack of my home run pitch hitting the catcher’s mitt? And, here I am, knowing what I do believe, but utterly unsure of what I want to. Because what if there are no coincidences? I’m terrified. What if everything she said is true?

I took her business card.

But I had to ask her for it.

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Pens and Needles.

Record Store Day

In our lifetimes music has been played by computers, lasers and thin black tape. Information stored; Information relayed. But for many of us, our first dance started with the drop a needle. And though audio technology has long since passed the record player by, there’s still a magic in the crackle of vinyl. A story.

Is it the up and down curve of a warped disc spinning that mesmerizes us? Maybe the Doppler-like scratch that starts every play while the needle finds the groove.

Now we’re a technology company here at my company so we don’t only geek out about the audio. We could point out how over compression in modern mixing is limiting the dynamic range of a song’s composition. If you don’t believe us, download a remastered version of Van Morrison’s ‘Sweet Thing.’ Notice how you hear every note, beginning to end, and you never touch the volume. It’s a great mix for the car or the kitchen. It rises above the background noise. But, humor us. Slide an Astral Weeks 33 out of the sleeve and spin it.

Turn it up.

Hear the moments when the rhythm guitar whispers. Notice the recording room echo when the vocals swell at the chorus, and then drop to a distant holler as he turns his head from the mic.

Modern remixes condense that. There’s not a note missed, but it’s hard not to feel like maybe we’re missing something else.

We deal with science everyday here. So we could tell you how digital copies of music are flawless. They last longer. It’s just ones and zeros; information that can’t be affected by wear and tear.

There’s no skips. No scratches. Nothing to remind us of the time we bumped the record player. There’s no jumps to startle us during that first kiss. No imperfections to remind us of that perfect moment.

So, yes, digital music is wonderful. It’s audio science at work. But records are something else.

Whatever they are, we know that perfecting audio reproduction to its cleanest, studio-quality state can’t mean removing its soul.

And vinyl has soul.

Or course, internet music stores serve us well. For convenience and selection, they’re certainly unrivaled. But we miss, just a little, the search. The time when music wasn’t just an acoustic experience. It was tactile. It was olfactory. There’s a delicacy trained to fingers that softly roll records from their cardboard slip. An intimacy in undressing. There’s a scent inside the plastic. It’s molded with more than just the dips and dots of the analog signal; It’s molded with the heartbeat of the rhythm.

The exploration of sound was immersive. When you walked into a record store you were met with rows, of boxes, of envelopes, of tracks. You unwrapped music. It was Christmas morning. It was the joy of discovery. Music was revelation.

Now we filter “similar artists.” We slide our cursor across a 30 second sound bite and make a snap decision on its value.

“Eh… I like my tempo more upbeat.”

But what about tempos we haven’t heard?

Let’s try and remember what it meant to let the sound surprise us. To the music lovers like us, we invite you to celebrate Record Store Day on April 21st. Slide your fingers through the files of bands you’ve never heard of. Walk to the player with a stack of mysteries and give them a listen. For more than 30 seconds. Hear how the phonograph sings.

No matter how old you are.

Here’s a story. It’s about child of the 1980’s. It was the era of tape decks and boomboxes. His first record player was built by Playskool and the only thing it knew was the dialogue from E.T. on 45. Until the boy, 5 or so, found his parents box of records. He pulled out a big one, black and green with purple writing.

And for the first time, he heard Van Morrison.

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America’s oldest teenager.

I just had to write another obituary. I won’t say they’re fun. They’re not. There’s truth in everything you write, right? That’s why you do it. And the truth of someone dying is awful. But it is easy.

And maybe satisfying?

It’s not hard to honor someone with a few short words. In Dick Clark’s case, he’d done it already. For decades he signed off with “For now, Dick Clark… so long.” And by tweeting, blogging, posting his own six words, every mourning music lover remembers the sad 60 minute mark of their favorite episode of American Bandstand. For me, it’s James Taylor performing Fire & Rain. Won’t you look down on me, Jesus.

It’s also direct. I know how to write an obituary. I know what needs to be said. I know what I’m feeling and I know what I want you to feel. Even at this moment, the truthful end of a man I’ve never met has left a slight swell right behind the wall of my eyes. And I guess that’s what words were designed for. Verbalizing clear thoughts.

It’s a lot harder when you don’t know what you’re thinking. When someone dies, I hear people speak things like “I’m at a loss for words,” but are you? Maybe there’s just not that much to say. Maybe 140 characters is all you need. It’s an awful thing and you’re very sad. Say that and you’ve said it all. 

But on a day-to-day basis I have much more to say. Why else would I have started a blog that no one reads? To be acknowledged? In the hopes that one day someone will pull six words they read on a viral posting board and mark my own truthful end? 

I don’t know. The cyclical structure of essays says that I started with that thought, and so I have to bring it back. You can’t introduce something without it eventually effecting the crux of the story. The end is in the beginning. Chekov’s gun.

But the last line of The Seagull is “Konstantin has shot himself.”

I’m told the Russian text is slightly more ambiguous. “Konstantin has fired a gun at himself.” Which in the play he’s already done without much success. There’s no clear implication that Konstantin has died. 

Either way, I’m not going to shoot myself. I’m just trying to use a keyboard to let out all that junk inside my head without the use of a bullet. 

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Raw deal.

Freecell game 11982 is unwinnable. And now my world is upside down.

I, like many clear-thinking, normal, obsessive-compulsive people, trust that the inconsequential actions I take on a cyclical daily basis directly effect the consequential ones. It’s easier that way. And so when I’m confronted with a game of solitaire that I can’t solve, I panic. Because how many problems in my real life will now go unsolved? How many redraws and undos will I click on the effectual issues that I can’t overcome?

If I could just win, it’ll be fine. There will be order. Aces aligned. Queen of hearts, king of hearts, done.

And Microsoft promised me. They told me that every deal of Freecell is winnable. And there’s 52 factorial deals of Freecell, right?

Wrong. There’s 32,000 (way less than 52 x 51 x 50 … x 1). See Microsoft has already taken out the losing hands. Billionaire Bill Gates, because he can, has destroyed the walls of fruitless effort before we get there. To trick us? To plug us into our own Matrix of augmented reality where the all the cards literally fall our way? Or is it more sinister? Is it to pit our pride against our potential, so as we fail (and we’ll all fail) we’re left with the clawing belief that we could have done better.

The only deals I’m ever given are the few hand-selected winners, after all. They’ve stacked the deck.

But I can’t stack the deck. I can’t only have my car break down when I can afford it. Or decide which of my talents are marketable. Or, what I’m actually worried about, only fall for people who fall for me. Microsoft can’t break that wall down for me.

Except they can’t really break any walls down, because game 11,982 is unwinnable. Even with a computer stacked deck, the dealer wins.

I used to just brush my teeth when I got stressed out. 

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The 11th hour.

I walked to my truck at 11 pm. It was the only parking space that wasn’t empty on the metered run. From my cabin I saw, two spaces away, a hooded fellow. He was plugging a meter. He was plugging the meter on an empty space. And I’ve never seen that.

I’ve seen a lot of stuff.

When I was just a little guy canoeing with my dad I used to see stick bugs mating. Two breathing twigs, screwing each other mid-air. That’s natural. That’s God’s law. Makes sense, right? I’ve seen house dogs greet me with a cheerleading pyramid. One on top of the other. Their owner was an animal trainer and it was how they were taught to show excitement. They were just passing down the custom. It was cultural. I’ve seen air, spin and pick up houses. It’s science.

But there’s no science to feeding an empty meter. It’s not cultural. And there’s absolutely nothing natural in it. It’s an unexplainable phenomenon. The same enigmatic energies that cause Auraura Borrielles going hog wild in a concrete world, that’s what it is.

I think the most unsettling part for me was that I couldn’t make sense of it. It’s nuts.

First of all, a penny saved is a penny earned. And the best way to save 25 pennies is to not buy those next 30 minutes of space for a car you don’t have. If you’re plugging an empty meter you’re just being irresponsible with your finances. And during a recession no less. Think better.

Second: the meters stop at nine.

There’s no logical explanation for it. And I’m already terrified. I’m afraid my 30 year old life is like bangs on the pipes. The ones that come from the floor below and swear in your ear that they’re the footsteps of lost souls. My world has felt like plasma in the stratosphere. The stuff that discs and refracts the light until you’d swear you’re being watched by something more intelligent than you’ll ever be. That’s what I feel like. Confused and overwhelmed, but cradled by an out-clause of logic. At least this life can be explained. I can tolerate a sad reality over a terrifying surreal one.

But I could be wrong. That might not be me. My life, maybe, is just a lonely man.

Standing under a broken street light and plugging an empty meter. I can’t explain that. And I’ve called on everything I’ve known and seen. And I’ve seen a lot. I’ve seen crazy things. I’ve seen Pee Wee Herman’s bedroom. I’ve seen Lane Frost bleed on the horns of a bull; I was there when Cheyenne died. And I’ve seen double rainbows, bald eagles, James Brown and flaming rocks falling from the clear night sky. But seeing a man plug an empty meter? That’s the craziest fucking thing I’ve ever seen.

But it was 11 o’clock. So I just drove home.

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