Sam the Sham is Happy that the World is in the Toilet [Fierce Anticipation]...

Well dear readers, it’s Sam the Sham again. Let’s not waste much time with me delving into an esoteric reason as to why I am disgruntled with stuff. Just know it involves summer camp, mononucleosis, Transformers 3, giant spiders, not going to Comic Con, and a can of black olives. There. Now that we got that out of the way… FIERCELY ANTICIPATING Within ten minutes of knowing me, you’ll find out that my birthday is (and has always been) on September 11th. I tell you this not for the pity party, but rather because it explains why I find humor in the absolute bleakest of moments, and it also comes with a good story. The short and sweet version is that a girl in college, on Sept. 11, 2002, asked me if my birthday had always been on 9/11. I said “Yes, since I was born,” which, remarkably, saddened her. When faced with tragedy, rather than weep and moan, I try and find a way to get those around me to laugh. Distract us from the obvious plight. I am the anti-Fox News. So what am I fiercely anticipating, you might ask? (I brought it back. Relax.) The rough road ahead! Some people turn to the bottle in time of trouble. I turn to comedians. With a new season of Louie, I am reminded about the struggle of the day to day minutiae, and how it can be soul-crushing… and yet hysterical from an outsider’s perspective. Patton Oswalt is coming out with a new album to take a few pop shots at the establishment. And a new season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (which I have, thankfully, finally come around to watching) is going to remind us all that we are inherently good...

FIERCE ANTICIPATION: Sam the Sham Edition

FOREWORD This week’s Fierce Anticipation blogumnist is an attempted screenwriter, noted hundred-aire (NOT SURE I GET THIS), and sandwichsmith, Sam the Sham. Sam is a regular in Single Serving Films’ weekly shorts (on Facebook and Youtube), his own blog (TooLong2Tweet), and is the subject of several instances of crude graffiti. FIERCELY ANTICIPATING Within approximately 3.4 seconds of meeting me, the one thing you will know is that I’m a music nut. I can effortlessly name any of the 7356 songs in my iTunes from hearing the opening notes (covers, live versions included). If you’re an LA denizen, it’s likely you have witnessed me singing, “air-guitaring,” “air-slap bassing,” or on occasion even playing the controversial air-harmonica (or real) while stuck in traffic (Yes, I realize that my factory-installed stereo is the razor-thin veil separating me from Hobo McBumstein, the lovable tramp on Sunset Blvd.). Lately, I’ve been entertaining the masses rocking out to Biz Markie’s “The Biz Never Sleeps,” Primus’ live New Year’s Eve run, and even Michael Giacchino’s score from UP. If I used Pandora more, it would have an identity crisis and run off to Burning Man. I tell you this not to impress you, dear readers (I am no longer on Jdate or OKCupid, ladies, so you can halt your search right now), but rather to set you up for what I am Fiercely Anticipating in 2011. 2010 was a year of unkept promises for me. Disappointments. And I am not just referring to the Taco Bell/three seashells-laden future promised by Demoliton Man (and surely you realize by now that I seldom joke about tacos). I am fiercely anticipating the music of 2011. Take for example, I have been promised a new album from Dr. Dre for almost a decade. He has...

Fierce Fiction: Fireflies

. a small MIranda story by Aimee Swartz Photo by Coso Blues The day my dad died was the longest day of the year. Usually, we counted down to this day all summer because the night seemed to last forever. On the day my dad died, Carla and I stayed inside. “Out of respect,” my mother said a bit too harshly, knowing neither of us would put up a fuss on this day. From the window next to my bed, I watched the night sky brighten and dim with more lightening bugs than I could count. I turned off the light so no one could see me watching, even though I know I was completely alone. After my dad died, the days got really long. Many people came to our house with food that no one ate. I watched them come and go, sometimes the same people day after day, some people I had never seen before or since. My whole life I had never seen my mom or dad have a single friend except for the families in our cul-de-sac, and even so I wouldn’t exactly call them friends, just neighbors. My blinds were covered in dust except for where my finger pressed against the one at eye level, peeking to see who would arrive next. I noticed I had bent the same bind in the same place so many times that I made a small crack. I remembered how my dad always said this family could not have anything nice because Carla and I did not understand the meaning of money. “Do you know how much these things cost? Do you know how hard I have to work?” He would ask to no one in particular, each time with a defeat in...

Fierce Fiction: Aunt Ginny

. a small Miranda story by Aimee Swartz Aunt Ginny was the one who told us our dad was dead. Aunt Ginny was my dad’s older sister. She had no children, but she always had fruit chews that never went stale no matter how much time went by. Although Aunt Ginny smiled a lot and laughed at all the right things, I do not remember a time when I did not feel sorry for her. Aunt Ginny’s eyes, which were blue, seemed to have no color. Her make-up only made her seem even less remarkable, and sometimes I forgot she was in the room. Aunt Ginny worked at as operator at the phone company since the day after she graduated high school. On her first day on the job, she took a call from a lady about to have her first baby. This was before 911. Aunt Ginny stayed on the line, talking with the lady to keep her calm until the ambulance came, and the next day there was a story in the paper that called Ginny a local hero. The lady said she wanted to name her daughter after Ginny, but she and her husband settled on Jenny because it was close enough. That same night, Aunt Ginny went out for cherry pie with Bobby Valentino, a shift supervisor and, at the time, 4-H King of the Three County Fair. It was love right away, she said, but he would never marry her while his mother was alive because Ginny was not Catholic. Instead, they lived in a one bedroom, like sinners, my mom whispered more than once, going on 20 years. Carla and I decided long ago that we liked sinners, so we called him Uncle anyway. Same thing, Carla said,...

Fierce Fiction (Thanksgiving Edition): We Have Beauty On Our Side

. A short Miranda story written by Aimee Swartz We played football on Thanksgiving. Lucky for us, it was always sunny, except for the blizzard that cancelled everything. We hadn’t been to school in eight days, and Mom and Dad stayed home, too. They worked for the city and all offices were shut down, not just because of the snow, but because of the lines that fell and were buried with everything else. Usually they complained about their jobs, about punching in at the time clock, and about my dad’s foreman, who my dad said always had food caught in his mustache and smelled like erasers. But these days when you said you worked for the city instead of at the mill, it sounded like bragging. It was so cold that year we were only allowed outside to walk Rosie to the end of the driveway and back to do her business. I had never heard of this rule, but I didn’t protest. Carla was starting to say things that made me think I was too old to play in the snow, anyhow. I had outgrown my snowsuit and when I asked for a new one for Christmas, I heard her say something under her breath, too quiet for me to understand but loud enough that I knew it was about me. We did nothing childish that day and instead painted our nails with two layers of Silver City Pink and a no-chip top-coat so they would look especially nice when our hands were folded to say grace at dinner. Dad loved tradition, and our family didn’t have enough of them, he liked to remind my mom. Thanksgiving football would go on. The teams were the same as always – my dad, me, and...

Fierce Fiction: ole!

. A small Miranda story by Aimee Swartz Fridays were Fiesta Night at our house. Friday was my favorite day of the week because I also got to eat pizza for lunch at school; we never ordered pizza at home because my mom she didn’t trust people in uniform, except the clergy and that was more of an outfit. It was true, you never could tell about people these days, Carla agreed. On Fiesta Night, we ate what my mom called “Mexicali” – crumbled hamburger on corn chips, cheese, and maybe some side dishes, depending.  I loved Mexicali. My mom said I could invite Tammy for a sleepover but for some reason Fiesta Night seemed like a secret. At the store that week my mom had bought paper plates and napkins with little green cactuses on them. I set the table and before I started shredding the cheese, I put on my cowboy hat. For some reason I associated cowboys with Mexicans. I had already chopped the tomatoes and onions and emptied the can of black beans into the pot when my mom walked into the kitchen. The first thing I noticed was that her eyes were pink like she had been crying. The next thing I noticed was that she was wearing the red scarf that she had made me last Christmas. We had actually made the scarf together—that was the year when we did a lot of mother-daughter things, like knit and go to church. That was also the year my favorite color was red. My mom had found a red cowboy hat—the one I always wore to cook Mexicali—in the half-off bin. It was too big and since it was wool it itched my head even through my hair. But I...

Fierce Fiction: Kids Don’t Have To Wear Black At Funerals

/ A small Miranda story as written by Aimee Swartz The day we buried my father was the hottest day of the summer. I woke up with my head half wet and the covers in a ball on the floor. Carla refused to sleep with the fan because she liked either silence or love songs. She couldn’t fall asleep to anything else. On most summer nights we wore only underwear to bed and slept with icepacks under our neck that leaked through the night. When I woke up, my pillow was wet and smelled like sour apple, our favorite shampoo. I have to admit I liked the coolness of wet pillow, but when Carla suggested I just pour water on it before bed to get it over with, I just couldn’t, because it seemed like cheating. Carla liked to oversleep, so for Christmas one year I bought her a alarm clock that played “Here Comes the Sun,” but she says she likes it better when I wake her up myself. Every morning she was in the same position – on her back with her hands to her side. I wished I could sleep looking like this, but I could only stay still when I was sick. That morning, though, Carla was already up, showered, and getting dressed. She was humming a song they taught us in grade school; it was the one about a mule but it sounded like a lot of other songs. Carla had parted her hair on the side and covered her lips and eyelids with Vaseline, a tip from “Seventeen” for girls who were not allowed to wear make-up. Carla chose a white skirt with the blue ribbon around the bottom and a top that was the same color blue....