Bring your own fork

February 29, 2004 - Sunday

 Happy Almost Birthday

At one point during Beth’s pregnancy with Zoe we thought the due date would be today, 2/29, Leap Year Day. But alas it was not; she was finally born on March 11.

We were really ohming for 2/29: we thought it would be cool for her to have an unusual birthday like that, and she would always look older than her age. She’s 7 now, but in Leap Years she’d be only 2 today. And I must confess, I was also thinking about birthday presents and how few I’d have to buy if 2/29 were her birthday. I can picture it now:

Zoe: Daddy, can I please have a present this year?

Me: No, sweetie, I’m sorry, but your birthday is February 29th and there just isn’t one this year. Maybe next year.

Sigh. When I think of the money we could have saved if Beth had only squeezed her out on time…

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February 27, 2004 - Friday


The Traffic Dept office is on the ground floor here in Santa Barbara, and the windows open to the street right outside. Two of the Traffic Managers here are Lupe and Clara. Several times a day, Lupe’s husband drives by in the course of his job and he always yells out the window:


It drives Lupe nuts. I think it’s funnier than hell.



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February 26, 2004 - Thursday

 Sleeping Cutie

One thing that sucks about all the traveling I do is the time spent away from my daughter. So I have a folder of pictures of her that I look at whenever I feel like being homesick. Here’s one of them, Zoe with her two cats March and Sparkle:

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February 25, 2004 - Wednesday

 Greetings from Santa Barbara

On the road again, to Santa Barbara this time. It’s only 80 miles north of home, so it barely qualifies as a “business trip.” I could have flown up but it was actually quicker to drive. Ha. There’s an outside chance I could swing it so I can go home every night, but long hours + minimum 2 hour commute each way + 101 rush hour traffic = Chuck got a hotel room.

MOtel room, actually, because The Company is too cheap-ass to pay the going Santa Barbara rate for business-class hotels. So it’s the Best Western for me this time around, and here’s the crowd pleasing favorite “The View From Here”:

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February 23, 2004 - Monday

 Anatomy of a Blow-off

Back in November, I gave one of my sitcom specs to an Executive Producer on Will & Grace. This was a re-write based on notes she had given me on an early draft, at which point she had said she’d “give it to the guys” after I punched it up. Well, I finally heard back from her, and the bottom line is that I ain’t quitting my day job.

Here’s a transcript of the voicemail she left me:

Chuck. It’s (Executive Producer). Sorry it took me a couple of days to get back to you. Umm… I read your script. And I think you did a GRRREAT job. Uh — It’s really funny. And really, uh… great. Um. So… You probably want to know what I think you should do next. Call me. And, uh, we’ll… talk.

She loved it, can’t you tell? Ha.

I “probably want to know what she thinks I should do next”? Uh, no, she was supposed to say “I’m giving it to the showrunner and we’ll see what he says.” It was pretty clear from the message and her tone of voice that this was a blow-off.

When I finally got her on the phone about a week later, that’s exactly what it was. Her big advice was to “Get an agent.” Duh. I was giving her the script to bypass the agent routine — and she knew it. And when I pointed out that at age 41 it was unlikely any sitcom would be interested in me even if I came in through an agent, she suggested that I ask the agent (that I don’t have) to look into getting me rewrite work for features. I didn’t bother pointing out that those assignments go to the David Koepp‘s of the world because very few film producers are going to be interested in having their multi-million dollar movies rewritten by an unproduced newbie writer. What would be the point? She was blowing me off as nicely as she could.

So that’s it, that’s the stake in the heart of my TV writing dreams — again. I had already killed them once a few years ago, but they reanimated and zombified themselves with this producer. Now they’re dead again, but it doesn’t hurt as much this time — I already said goodbye once.

This time around was more like the body twitching and you think for a second “Wait, it’s not dead yet!” — and then the corpse farts. It stinks, but it confirms what you already knew: it’s over.

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 Nader? Again?

I think Jeff sums it up beautifully:

Ralph Nader has decided to join the presidential race. He must be the kind of guy who in school told the absent-minded teacher not to forget to give out homework.

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February 22, 2004 - Sunday

 Any Given Saturday

This is how Beth and I spent our evening tonight. Beth bought the tickets a few months back and was very excited about it at the time, but I was less than enthusiastic (“What, I need to listen to a gang of screaming 16 year old girls all night?”), and by the time concert time rolled around tonight we were seriously considering bagging it and just going out to dinner. We didn’t, though, which was the right call.

This was a really good concert, better than I was expecting. We had the worst tickets in life — the absolute highest row in the venue; if I were a little bit taller I could have touched the ceiling — and even that was okay.


John Mayer is a clever, funny guy and he really engaged the audience. At one point he finally acknowledged the screaming 16 year-old girls down front by saying “… and I love you too, but I’m working! But I do love you — in all kinds of safe and legal ways,” which cracked me up. I also liked the way he didn’t just jump from song to song, reeling them off like items on a list. Instead he sort of loafed his way through the set, noodling around with guitar riffs between songs and meandering into the next, showing off what an excellent guitar player he is and weaving a bluesy, jazzy tapestry around the entire performance.

Interestingly, many of the songs I usually skip on his CDs were my favorites tonight as he performed them live, and many of my CD favorites didn’t translate as well. My only regret of the evening is that he didn’t do Something’s Missing, which is my favorite. But he made Neon work for me tonight, so it all evens out.

John Mayer or dinner…? Advantage: Mayer.

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February 19, 2004 - Thursday

 Six Wheel Drive

Yay, I got my motorcycle back. Oh, did I forget to mention that it was gone? Oopsie.

Background: Right about the time I was getting ready to leave for Chicago, at about the same time I was putting the Land Cruiser (no name for it yet — I’m thinking of calling it The Chuckwagon) in the shop for revivoratory surgery, I learned that Yamaha was issuing a huge recall on my model of motorcycle, one that included me. Seems there was a little problem with the transmission that could cause it to sort of break while you were riding it and kinda lock up the rear wheel and maybe make you fall down and go boom-slide- ow-bleed-ow-crunch- ow-die.

Not good.

I immediately took my bike to the shop the next day and dropped it off for repair … and there it sat. For. Ever. Yamaha issued the recall, but didn’t quite get around to issuing parts to fix it. So my bike sat in the shop for nearly a month and my truck sat in the shop for nearly a month and I sat in my home in Van Nuys and wondered how the fuck I was going to get to my job 65 miles away in Aliso Viejo.

Enterprise Car Rental loves me now; I’m their neighborhood frequent flier. I rented a car for a few days before going to Chicago, then rented another one for a few more days when I got back. It kind of sucks to be a 2-car, 2-motorcycle family when you can’t use 75% of your rolling stock and you have to pay to use someone else’s micro-mini econo-beer can car.

But you already knew I got my truck back, and now I’ve got my bike back too. I’m back on 6 wheels again and it’s nice to have a choice when leaving for work in the morning. Because, you know, it’s been cold and rainy here lately. That’s truck weather — when you’ve got a truck. And the sunny weekends are motorcycle weather — when you’ve got a motorcycle.

Now I have both. Yay.

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February 14, 2004 - Saturday

 Ten Years Plus

After you’ve been together for something like 10 years, Valentine’s Day begins to lose its romance. And that’s okay, because the romance has to be in there somewhere for you to hit ten years in the first place — you just don’t necessarily have to cue it up on pre-packaged holiday demand. It’s an undercurrent, not a tide.

For Beth and I, Valentine’s Day has moved beyond the dozen roses and and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and romantic dinners. We’ve streamlined it: now we’re down to just the gifts. In fact, we exchanged gifts at 12:02 last night because it was technically Valentine’s Day and we each knew what the other was giving and we didn’t want to have to wait any longer.

I gave Beth a black cashmere pashmina. If you’re anything like me, you just said “Pash-whatta?” That’s what I said when she told me she wanted one for Valentine’s Day. (And there’s a tip for you from inside a 10-year+ relationship: Ask what she wants. It’s the only way to be sure, and you’ll fuck it up if you try to wing it.)

So, yeah: Pashmina. You can’t even find a definition for it online. Trust me, I tried; I was going to provide a link. So let me give you the Chuck definition: A pashmina is a big-ass scarf. Or maybe a small-ass shawl. Picture a normal scarf, then dope it up on steroids so it’s two or three times as wide and half again as long. Now give it stupid little fringy ball thingies on the end. Now put traces of wool in it and charge an outrageous price. That’s a pashmina. And now Beth has one and is very happy. (10 years plus. I’m telling you, guys: ask.)

Beth’s gift to me was a wristwatch. It was the perfect gift because it’s what I told her I wanted. I even sent her the link. (10 year tip again: Tell her what you want. It’s the only way to be sure, and she’ll fuck it up if you don’t.) I’m wearing it now, and Beth has been very diligent in following my instructions to ask me throughout the day “What time is it?” so I can whip my wrist around and show her the fabulous face of my fabulous new watch. (We also spent a bit of time in bed last night huddled deep under the covers. No, not for that, you pervs! It was so we could admire the fabulous luminous hands and markers on the fabulous new watch in pitch darkness.)

So those are the romantic gifts we exchanged to demonstrate our love. And tonight we fulfilled the dinner requirement of the holiday by taking Zoe and her friend Katie out for barbeque. It was just what we wanted.

Ten years plus. It’s not about greeting card romance, it’s about just … being. Together. That’s what makes your Valentine last longer than a day … and happy.

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 Uncle Chuck Redux

I don’t talk much about my extended family here, but I will today because I’m an uncle again. My sister had her 4th child — a boy — Thursday, making me the afore-mentioned uncle x 4, and also making Zoe a cousin x 4. She’s very excited by that.

We went to the hospital today to see the new addition to the brood. They don’t have a name for him yet; they’ve pretty much settled on Will for the first name but the middle name is up for grabs. Much hilarity ensued as everyone threw out suggestions: Knot, Won’t, Call, Burr, Son, Derness, Kommen… The new dad commented on the increasing laxity in naming as they have more and more kids. With the first one, naming it was a solemn affair, heavy with import and tradition, and the name had to be perfect. Now he’s down to Will Knot — and liking it.

Young Will * himself didn’t provide much in the way of entertainment — he mainly just laid there like a lump and snoozed. It was his 2-year-old big sister who filled the cute baby requirement. Zoe brought her a toy duck with a spring-loaded head that wobbles when you shake it, which prompted my brother and I to start shaking it madly while singing Outkast’s Hey Ya: “Shake it, shake it, shake, shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture!”

This did not amuse baby Kay, who got very upset and stomped her feet and declared, “No! Shake it like a DUCK!”

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Poisoning minds since 1962.

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One Year Ago Today (ish)



February 2004
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