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Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Louie" by Louis C.K.

Louie created by & starring Louis C.K.
I have been a fan of Louis C.K.'s comedy for a long time. His brand of humor suits me. It's honest, weird, and dark, but never mean-spirited, even at its most pointed. And it's most often pointed right at Louis himself.

This blend of confessional & observational comedy, where impolite truths are brought out in ways that make us laugh, is both intoxicating and cathartic for troubled souls like mine. And Louis C.K. is a master of skewering himself both hilariously & sympathetically. His rants about his aging body leave me breathless. (Yeah, they hit a little close to home.)

His comedy specials, like HilariousChewed Up, and Shameless, aren't just funny. They're deep in the way all the best comedy is, and they reward re-watching, which is a signal of their greatness as art. One of my favorite bits is when he tells about explaining mortality to his daughter for the first time -- and how she manages to digest the revelation by going outside to play. Another classic: when he takes both of his daughters to Italy, and his oldest encounters a group of wild ponies.

Louis C.K.'s personal life figures largely in his stand-up, and his sit-com, Louie, is no different. Its setup mirrors reality: it's about a single, middle-aged father who is a working comedian in New York City. Now in its second season on the FX network, Louie has actually avoided the sophomore slump. Indeed, as good as the first season was, the second season is even better.

The show even gets a little "meta" about comedy, as when the venerable Joan Rivers shows up for an episode to give Louis a little stern advice about their chosen profession. But don't worry about the sit-com veering off into preciousness. Just when you think the episode is getting a little too "inside baseball," it takes a turn back towards raucous hilarity (and it's great to see the old broad being such a sport).

I also enjoy the DIY nature of the show, with Louis himself handling all the writing, directing, and editing chores. There's a refreshing lack of slickness in the show's production, and its sets are always dingy and cramped, lending a kind of gritty realism to Louie, even during its most fantastical sequences, as when Louis daydreams about doing something heroic while riding the subway.

I hope Louie is around for a long time. You should check it out.

a comedy on the FX Network
written, directed, and starring Louis C.K.


Judge Not

Credit: Ken Smith
It's hard not to judge people, especially when they do the most ridiculous things right in front of you.

For instance, you're a passenger in a car on the highway when a truck suddenly changes lanes right  in front of you, and now the guy driving your vehicle goes berserk with road rage, honking his horn and flipping off the truck.

Or you're having a perfectly fine conversation with someone, and then they say something completely off-the-wall (usually about politics or, worse, religion), which is when you're faced with the impossible task of not judging them.

But I truly believe that judging people is wrong. And it warps you.

Walk around judging people, and, pretty soon, you become the most unattractive person in the room. I've seen it happen. I think this is why there are no pinup calendars of Supreme Court Justices.

I know this woman. She's my age, very attractive and smart. But all she ever does is run down the people around her. She is constantly firing off little anecdotes about how stupid other people are, not realizing how unpleasant this makes her. She comes off as constantly frustrated and judgmental and insensitive -- exactly the kind of person everyone wants to spend time with.

Now, it's true, we still have to react to our circumstances in order to survive. So, even though it's wrong to judge another person, it's still prudent to get out of the way if they start swinging an ax at your head.

What I'm saying is you don't have to naively embrace everyone who crosses your path. But just because someone turns out to be a violent lunatic doesn't mean they abdicate their intrinsic value as a human being.

After all, which of us hasn't made a lane change that came a little too close for comfort to another car?

Now, giving everyone (and I mean everyone) their due is not an easy way to move through the world. It requires energy and active engagement with every person you encounter. And, frankly, there are times when I just don't have the time.

There are times when I just don't have the time to be sympathetic to the overworked waiter who brings me the wrong drink. There are times when I just don't have the time to empathize with the worn-out woman who is screaming at her kids at the grocery store. And there are times when I can't be friendly to the stranger who ambles up and wants to waste my time with inane banter.

But I know better. I know that the person who made the dangerous lane change is probably not evil or idiotic. They just made a bad decision at a particular moment that could have caused an accident. I also know that the person spouting a racist & ill-informed political opinion is probably an upstanding member of the community who just happens to be completely wrong about one issue involving members of another ethnic group and their contributions to our culture and economy.

I also know that, in this world, people are what matter most. So I owe it to my principles to invest the time and energy into truly connecting with everyone around me, no matter how harried and tired I get.

But, wow, is it ever hard to not judge. I mean, someone holds forth an opinion that is ill-informed, unreconstructed, and downright dangerous, and I'm supposed to hold my tongue to give this person a chance?

What keeps me straight (for the most part) is the realization that I, too, am imperfect. I know that I am not at my best at every moment of every day. I also realize that my own self-awareness is itself as much a product of lucky circumstance as it is the culmination of years of hard-won wisdom.

You know the verse: "There but for the grace of God, etc." -- which is just a fancy way of saying, "Wow, am I ever lucky I didn't end up like that schmuck!"

Still, every once in a while, I lose it. Who doesn't? When I realize that I am losing it, which is usually in the moments after I have said something that I will regret (like, "I had no idea you were this stupid"), I do my best to contain the damage.

Sincere apologies usually do the trick. At the very least, they give me time to flee & regroup, so that I can gather myself and go back to being the best person I can possibly be.

So, yeah, I spend a lot of my time apologizing. Which of us is perfect?

jjwylie@gmail.com
www.jjwylie.com

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hanging With My Princess

The Passion Fruit Jelly Ice & Peppermint Milk Tea with Boba from Tea Station.

Spent a rare, wonderful evening just hanging out with my beautiful Princess.

First, we met a group of old friends & acquaintances because my Brother Ray was in town. He & I went to college together, and several fellow alums of UNLV gathered at Metro Pizza to catch up with Ray and tell old war stories about each other.

The Princess, as usual, took all the revelations about my misspent youth in stride, and I'm happy to say we left the place with our relationship intact, despite all the horrible things she learned about me.

Everyone was, of course, both fun & gracious. One of the nice things about getting older & wiser is being able to get past all the petty tribulations that plagued our immature years -- the squabbles and jealousies -- so that we can just meet and have a little fellowship, food, and fun.

I'm just talking about me, of course. Everyone else has been mature & friendly for years. But I'm just now coming out of my brooding adolescence, emotionally speaking.

Next, the Princess & I headed over to Tea Station on Spring Mountain Road for her favorite late-night beverage: a "Passion Fruit Jelly Ice" that's cold, sweet, and refreshing.

I got a peppermint milk tea with boba, an old stand-by that cleansed the Metro Pizza Nuclear Fries from my palate. Honestly, I remember those fries being MUCH spicier when I used to get them years ago. Maybe it's just that my tolerance for spice has gotten stronger.

Or maybe it's just that my tastebuds are dying of old age.

In the meantime, the Princess munched her way through a plate of fried wontons and another plate of chicken wings. How she eats & eats and still looks so hot is beyond me.

Overall, it was a nice way to spend an evening, and I have to thank Brother Ray and all who came to meet him for making it possible.

Oh, and thanks to my Princess, too. Without her, my life would be a shambles. And a lot less fun.

jjwylie@gmail.com
www.jjwylie.com

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

UPDATE: Help Us Do Some Good! (Part 2)



FINAL RUNDOWN:

Well, our event was a resounding success!

We raised $836.17 in cash donations, as well as several boxes of school supplies for CCSD's School/Community Partnership Office. Beverly Mason, Assistant Director of the Program, told me that she spent a whole afternoon distributing these supplies to various classrooms.

What's more, our participating vendors did very well, and several of them even sold out!

We even received some local media coverage, although I couldn't find the video on any station's website. I did, however, get the following screener video sent to me. It shows the local FOX affiliate's coverage, featuring the Princess in her sexy apron, as well as some blowhard talking to the reporter. (Sorry for the quality of the video -- it was shot on an Iphone pointed at a TV.)

video

Finally, I want to personally thank everyone who was involved in this roundup. There's no way I can name all of you personally. Nor can I adequately express my gratitude. From our gracious host (Stu at Powder & Sun Board Shop & The Montage Shopping Center) to our participating vendors to our volunteers to everyone who came out to enjoy themselves, this was a true communal gathering.

Indeed, this event went so well that we are planning to do something like it again later this year.

Stay tuned!

OLDER ENTRIES:

On August 19th, 2011, from 5pm to 9pm, Grouchy Johns Coffee and Powder & Sun will be holding an event to help gather school supplies for the Clark County School District.

As of now, the food truck participants are:

Other participants include a DJ and face-painters. We hope to add more attractions soon, like balloon-twisters and maybe a bouncy house.

The event will be held in the parking lot of the Powder & Sun location at 4555 S. Fort Apache Road, and everyone will be donating a portion of their proceeds to the "School/Community Partnership Program" of the Clark County School District. This is a program that provides supplies to needy schoolchildren throughout Clark County, especially the large population of homeless students in our public schools.

All donations are tax-deductible, of course. (If you have any questions regarding these donations, please contact Beverly Mason, Assistant Director of the School/Community Partnership Office, at 702-799-6560.)

If any of you would like to participate in this event, please contact me via email.

At the very least, please mark your calendars and attend the event. Enjoy some food, have some fun, and do some good for your community.

Finally, we are still looking for a name for this event -- you know, something catchy. Please contact me with any suggestions.

UPDATE (as of Thursday, July 28th): 

We have been joined by By The Inch Pizza Caffe, who will be celebrating their Grand Opening in the same week as this event. They're located in the Montage Shopping Center at the opposite end of the building from Powder & Sun. This presents a logistical complication, but, hey, they want to help -- and we need all the help we can get!

Also, DJ Zo has graciously accepted our invitation to provide music for our event. He's a great guy and a talented mixmaster who has performed at VegasStreats and The Griffin in downtown Las Vegas.

I have also gotten pledges of donations from 2 different local Costco locations.

AND we have an official Facebook Event Page. If there's even the remotest chance that you'll be attending this roundup, please let us know. It helps with planning, etc.

Stay tuned for more!

UPDATE (as of Tuesday, August 2nd):

I know it looks like a 2nd grader made it, but here's our flyer:


Feel free to download it, print it out, post it, email it to your friends & family. We need to get the word out!

UPDATE (as of Aug. 4th):

I finally have a good lead on a facepainter!

And we have sent out a press release and copies of our flyer to just about every media outlet in the Las Vegas valley. What's more, some of them have even responded! This bodes well for the profile of our event.
If you're interested in receiving our press release & flyer via email, just email me.

UPDATE (as of Aug. 8th):

I finally got a couple of good leads on locking down a facepainter & some bouncy-house-type entertainment for the event. Hopefully, by the end of the day today, I'll have more concrete news.

Also, I'll be following up with our participants to ensure that they're still on-board.

Now, I've got to hunt down some donation containers...

UPDATE (as of Aug. 12th):

Links to our "Help Us Do Some Good" Food Truck Roundup are proliferating!
Let's hope this translates into actual traffic at our event!

UPDATE (as of Aug. 14th):

The Las Vegas Weekly as posted a link on their calendar to our event, and we managed to give out a whole stack of flyers at Vegas Streats last night.

In fact, Grouchy John's Coffee would like to thank Oscar & Lubo for their generous donations last night during Vegas Streats. If everyone steps up the way these two concerned citizens did, we'll have loads of donations for the Clark County School District by the time we're done.

UPDATE (as of Aug. 15th):

Vegas Seven magazine has contacted me in order to include this event in their calendar.

And Roger, the Balloon Wizard, has generously agreed to participate in our event! This means we will have, in front of By The Inch Pizza Caffe, a facepainter, a tattooist, and Roger, the Balloon Wizard.

Also, we have our donation jars all set up for distribution to our participants. Grouchy John's Coffee will be putting theirs out all week to solicit donations, and Grouchy himself is donating 100% of the proceeds from every regular coffee purchased this entire week.

Pretty cool, huh?

jjwylie@gmail.com





Friday, July 22, 2011

How to Get a Free Drink at Grouchy John's Coffee

Want a free one? Read on!

The first 5 people who find me this Sunday (July 24th) at noon at the Galleria Mall on Sunset get a coupon for a free drink at Grouchy John's Coffee.

Exciting stuff, I know.

I'll be easy to recognize: I'll be wearing my original Grouchy John's Coffee shirt, with my name stitched above the pocket.

Come on! Doesn't this look like fun?
And I'll be easy to find: I'll be donating blood at the United Blood Services blood drive just outside Dick's Sporting Goods on the first floor.

All you have to do is walk up to me, introduce yourself, and tell me you want a free drink from Grouchy John's Coffee. I'll hand over a coupon (if I still have any), and then all you have to do is find the Grouchy John's Coffee trailer to get your drink.

BONUS: Want to turn your free drink into 2 free drinks? Donate blood (or prove to me you've donated blood in the last month), and I'll give you another free drink coupon!

So, come meet me, get a coupon, and maybe do some good for our community.

I think that's a great way to spend a Sunday.

jjwylie@gmail.com
www.jjwylie.com

Monday, July 18, 2011

Help Us Do Some Good!



(NOTE: For a more current post about this event, click here.)

On August 19th, 2011, Grouchy Johns Coffee and Powder & Sun are holding an event to help gather school supplies for the Clark County School District.

As of now, participants include SnowOno Shave Ice and Slider Truck (as well as Grouchy Johns Coffee) although we anticipate at least 2 more food trucks joining in the fun.

In addition, we plan to include live music and attractions for kids (like bouncy houses & face-painting).

A portion of all proceeds from this event will be donated to a fund used by the Clark County School District to purchase & distribute school supplies to schools, classes & students throughout the Las Vegas Valley.

Donations of money & supplies will, of course, be welcomed with gratitude.

If any of you would like to participate in this event, please contact me via email.

At the very least, please mark your calendars and attend the event. Enjoy some food, have some fun, and do some good for your community.

UPDATE: While Slider Truck has pulled out of the event due to scheduling conflicts, TastyBunz has graciously elected to participate. We are still looking for one other truck to join in.

Also, our donations (of money & supplies) will be going to the School/Community Partnership Office of the CCSD. Assistant Director Beverly Mason is our contact in this office, and she can be reached at (702) 799-6560 if you have any questions or comments.

Finally, I'm still looking for charitably-inclined face-painters and balloon twisters.

jjwylie@gmail.com
www.jjwylie.com

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Robert Reich Explains It All For You

(Robert Reich nails the economy in 2 minutes and 15 seconds)

In case you're wondering, I agree with all of his points.

I'll also agree that this summation of our nation's current economic & political situation is incomplete.

Life is always more complex than we generally imagine.

Still, Reich boils it down beautifully.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Today's Portrait of Grouchy John's Coffee

Kinda cute, ain't it?

I shot this pic on my Iphone, then edited it using the Camera+ app.

This stylistically portrays where the GJ himself creates caffeinated magic.

Right now, it's parked in front of a business called Property Line. They've graciously allowed us to park in their lot for the morning.

It's a nice way to spend a Monday morning.

jjwylie@gmail.com
www.jjwylie.com

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Voice in My Head



My conscience is persistent, if not strong. It's a constant voice in my head that criticizes everything I do.

I'm sure you have the same voice in your head -- you know, the one that's always saying, "Wow, did you really just say that? What did that guy ever do to you?" Or, more frequently, "What did you just eat? You weren't even hungry!"

To be honest, I hardly ever listen to it. At my age, I rarely need it, since I've reduced the circumstances of my life to the point of utter triviality. Almost nothing I engage in is important and/or complex enough to require a moral compass for guidance. Issues of state never hang in the balance of my choices.

Still, my conscience persists, unerringly diagnosing all the wrong things I do, usually before I actually do them.

"You should be writing," it will say to me. "But all you're going to do today is watch TV or re-read a book you've already memorized."

I've gotten used to it.

"Try to summon the strength to do some house-cleaning," it will say as I get out of bed. "Before you waste a whole afternoon browsing the internet."

This is usually when I give myself the finger in the bathroom mirror. The most pathetic runt in a litter still has the right to stick up for itself, does it not?

Still, I know my conscience is absolutely right about me.

Indeed, this is why I'm so uncomfortable with compliments. Someone will say something nice to me about something I may have done, and my conscience will retort with a crack along the lines of "If they only knew about..."

Luckily, I still possess enough self-control to thank the complimenter and be as gracious as possible, even as my own brain begins reciting a litany of my failings.

I may be a loser, but I still know how to mind my manners.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing my conscience does is sum up my life. Several times a day, or even several times an hour, the voice in my head will blurt out a biting snippet of judgement that sends a pang all the way through me.

"You've wasted your life," it will say. "And nobody really loves you."

The conviction with which these words roll through my brain is stunning. No matter how many times these phrases pop up, they carry a sting that I just can't get used to.

I can't help believing that it's in these moments that I'm being the most honest and the most insightful about myself.

It seems ridiculous that a man my age has such thoughts. (At some point, we should make ourselves comfortable in the beds we've made, yes?) And it's certainly ludicrous that these thoughts occur with such frequency and force.

But they do. They honestly do. So, I must surmise, they must be true.

I am ridiculous. I am frequently wrong. And I have wasted the potential of my life.

Still, I cling to the virtue of honesty. In the broadest measure of things, I may be a failure, but at least I'm forthright about it.

I'm just not sure what all this truthfulness is good for. What could anyone possibly gain by reading about it?

After all, I'm a man plagued with voices in his head.

jjwylie@gmail.com
www.jjwylie.com

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Basic Menu From Grouchy John's Coffee


This menu doesn't reflect our daily specials, of course.

For more info, visit www.grouchyjohns.com to view our weekly schedule or read Grouchy's wide-ranging coffee blog. Or just stop by the trailer at your convenience.

jjwylie@gmail.com
www.jjwylie.com