potential is a muscle

a blog about writing, shooting, climbing, eating, loving, cooking, cheese, money, teaching, my wife and kid, my dogs and being brave. And bacon.

Idea: it’s the 70s.

There are these 5 musiciuans in L.A. Talented as hell, had record contracts with a big company but their records didn’t do so well, so now they’re sessions guys filling in hwen some new flavor-of-the-month band needs them. They all have flaws, all too human.
They spend time together (of course) and one night, they play together for laughs (after one of their friends has died?). It’s amazing- they click. They start showing each other the songs they’ve kept private for themselves. They decide to start getting this stuff down on tape, just so they can someday remember how good they were. They start stealing studio time whenever they can, keeping it a secret. But it doesn’t stay a secret.

We’re in vermont

And it’s lovely as usual. Little rain, good light, nice people. Some stand-out memories:

The truck pull: Barre Heritage Festival was last weekend. I was on a team for the truck pull event. We were the slowest- againts a semi-pro football team, a bunch of guys who work in a stone quarry and some beefy boys from a church. It was a hoot. Got interviewed by the Times Argus reporter and got to correct a ton of jokes about me (no, I wasn’t a linebacker at UCLA, actually I ahve an MAin English). But it was fun. What wasn’t fun was the crowd. Cripes. Evereywherei turned, dull eyes and misshapen jaws, signs of fetal alcohol syndrome. Mom p;ushing a stroller and with another on the way- and ‘Daddy’ has a pot-leaf baseball hat, scars from meth-scratches all over his face and is f-ing twitching like a frog leg hooked to a battery.  Bearded speed freak decided it’d be funny to walk around in a woman’s corset. Serioulsy, you’re visiting, mayube you have a small manufactuiring company, you see all this and f that, I’ll take the jobs to Burlington.
Oh, and my sister in law posted pictures of me in the event. Everyone else was saying hey, looks like fun- and some guy I knew in Jakarta wrote ‘is that a picture of Micheal Moore? ANd I don’t mean that as a compliment!’ Hey, wow, three strikes and you’re out, please don’t try to explain the remark, unfriend and god bless.

Ahem. Moving on. Donna got a bit of a surprise dinner party for her birthday. WE put a blindfold on her and drove her to the restarurant where she and her mom and her sister used to work. She was very surprised.

Then to Burlington. Ah, Burlington. You could be the setting for the new ‘Portlandia'; you are so hipster. But I love you.
Bought shoes that fit (crap, I DO wear a size 13 shoe. SHit. 12.5 really and nobody makes 12.5. Shit), spent $120 on food in a day (did finally getr to see what good foie gras is like; not bad, not going to order it again) and had our dinner interrupted by a shirtless meth-head who came into a fine restaurant to stand next to me and talk to himself in the mirror I was facing.
(ANd you’re saying, well it’s not like you haven’t heard the chimes at midnight, buddy. You did a wide variety of substances and you’ve watched the sun come up from an astounding number of places. You’re no mormon missionary. Quite right- BUT I DIDN’T WANDER INTO A FRENCH RESTAURANT AND START EXAMINING THE WOUNDS ON MY FACE IN FRONT OF A FAMILY. When I was intoxicated, I had the good sense to stay off the street.)

ANd someone keeps popping up into our narrative. I am not going to complain, I’m cool about it, I’m nbot even going to type his hame and I am encouraging her to hang out with him- but things about the past are becoming clearer, let’s just put it that way…

Now, we’re in Bennington.

Saturday night at the air guitar championships

and yes, I do that kind of thing and no, I am not a normal man. Fun night: Rey was amazed and is thinking about competing. There was a mom and her son competing; how ’bout a dad and son next year? Hmmm. I have to think of a concept and a good song.

I was worried about money, but zoom to the bank and my money is in my account! Let’s not go crazy, but Daddy can relax.

The doctor said, yep, it’s probably a pinched nerve and we’ll keep looking at it. It DOES feel better, but i sure don’t want to be one of those guys who can’t do stuff. Also gained weight AND MY WIFE JUST MADE CHEX MIX, DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH I LOVE HOME-MADE CHEX MIX????

So, when I get back, yoga and lifting (easy at first, of course) and keto until I am at 215. Sheesh, I weighed 215 in, what, sixth grade?

I miss my friends.

I haven’t written shit. A writer writes, doesn’t he? Nicholl, Nicholl, where are your results?

What I wish I could tweet:

Putin: seriously, dude. You’re like a guy who drives a Ford F350 but never uses it to pull a trailer…and we KNOW what that means. I think this is the thing that’s gonna make you swallow your pride and back the f down. It’s going to cost you.

Hamas: you’re just jealous because those folks over there have the part with roads and AC. Yes, it’s tragic, please, PLEASE get your kids and women away from the rocket launchers before you use them to attack Israel. But you know what happens when you launch those rockets? Guys  and girls who are really good at math and geometry figure out where they came from and they will want to say hello. And I know it’s a dispute going back thousands of years and you’ve got a point, yes, you should be able to live in peace. But I didn’t hear any Israelis saying that their goal was to wipe you off the face of the earth. I don’t see Israelis celebrating their kids strapping bombs to themselves. I see a people who were almost wiped off the planet, then given a refuge in an international agreement. A place where they could build a home and make a stand and if they had to build the walls high and strong, well, they’ve had experience with times when they didn’t. We helped them build those walls. Both sides should stay away from using kids in any way- get the kids out of the way! Give the people who don’t want to fight a way to get out of the way!

Boehner or however you spell your name: lawsuit. That’s hilarious, man. Some guy at work wanted to sue McDonalds because McDonald was his last name and he was embarrassed. You crazy. Good luck with that.


some posts got erased. odd. here’s what happened.

We went down to Carlsbad for a conference Donna had to attend. I would have to amuse myself near the beach, ah what a lovely challenge. Dropped her off, ate, drove around. Went to a vape shop that turned out to be a kiosk. The kid running the kiosk very politely ruined the shit out of a new Fogger that was probably a piece of garbage to begin with. Drove around a little and found another place. Gave the guy (what a nice couple) my Taifun to build. He’d never tried one but gave it a go. Perfect! (and as of now, no leaks, great flavor, I’m dumping all the other vapes I have and buying more of these) and celebrated with a nice stroll, a few used books (‘A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain’ and a collection of love stories), a margarita and some mediocre chips. Sitting in the sun, nothing i have to do…wonderful.

Picked her up, came back to the hotel for a nap, then off to a recommended place for our anniversary dinner 

(and before anything else, just lemme say this: after four years, I only wish I could do it all over again.)

(except maybe have her buy a wedding dress instead of making one. Also, I coulda lost the weight BEFORE the wedding photos, eh? And Donna says we shoulda hired a person instead of letting a kid with an ipod run the music)

(still: best day of my life.)

and we went to dinner and it was okay Mexican food. Good margaritas, decent salsa…but we were there for each other. Took a stroll down to the steps to the beach, listened to the waves. Looked at the stars and the planets. When you do this when someone you love, it means more than the words.

Back to the hotel and later, such pain in my legs and back! I took a half a Vicodin and then didn’t sleep all night. out on the couch, ugh. Took her in, got  a bit of sleep. Went to the Broken Yolk. $21 breakfast and if you’re gonna make pancakes, they should be perfectly light and not…not these. Ah, well. Beautiful day in Southern California. We are truly blessed, do you know that? Look at the news. we are so lucky. Blessed. 

Picked her up, back to LA as my back got stiffer and worse. My Mom and Dad brought Mike and all of a sudden, BAM- pain hit, not awful, maybe a 3 on the scale, but so sudden. I took a whole vike (almost never take them), begged off dinner and just….mentally played with my toes and fingers when they went out to eat. Okay, also did some half-stoned shoe shopping. I need shoes.

Now, it’s Saturday morning, my wife is hilarious and lovely and might make pancakes the right way. Tonight I am taking our kids to the air guitar semi-finals and probably some late night Thai food. Tomorrow, left-over Thai for breakfast. 

I love summer.

The book ‘Deep Time’

“Deep time” was a termed coined by John McPhee in his book Basin and Range and was used to describe geological time scales. Gregory Benford uses it to describe time scales much longer than a human lifespan. Benford’s emphasis is on communication between humans separated by hundreds, thousands, and potentially millions of years. Most of the books reviewed here have been related to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) or the study of life in the Universe. Why consider this book? One reason for reviewing this book is that any transmissions from ETs may come to us from deep time. Another consideration is that, if we cannot decode the messages sent down to us by our deep ancestors or send down messages to our deep descendants, what hope to we have of decoding messages from another species entirely?

Deep Time consists of an Introduction and four nearly independent parts. Although this reviewer read the book in a linear fashion, he suspects that one could read the Introduction and then read the four parts in any order. For that reason this review will not proceed in a linear fashion through the book.

In the Introduction Benford both sets the stage of deep time and illustrates how difficult the problem of communicating through it is. Consider the simple act of making a time capsule (or as they were known initially “time bomb” :). First, what does one use to fill a time capsule? Will our grandchildren (or their grandchildren) be interested in a Wonderbra or a “Not Too Young to Polka” videocassette (both of which have been included in at least one time capsule)? If so, it will be presumably only because they view these articles as interesting relics of life for Everyman or Everywoman in the Twentieth Century. Second, having decided what to store, how is it stored safely away from the elements yet not forgotten? Benford cites a number of examples of time capsules prepared, buried, and then quickly forgotten—and then there are those capsules whose contents are stolen even before they are buried. Sending a message through time is difficult.

Part III of Deep Time considers the shortest expanse of time through which Benford suggests sending a message—roughly 100 years. Benford motivates Part III by likening the reader to a scribe in the Library of Alexandria as it began to burn. What to save? Benford’s proposal—which is essentially what Part III is—concerns not books but genetic codes. He argues that the human-induced extinction event underway constitutes one, possibly unintentional, deep-time message. He proposes that we should attempt to supplement our first deep-time message with a second one, a DNA library of species, so as to preserve a small record of the Earth’s disappearing biodiversity. He acknowledges that this may be viewed as a drastic step, hence his comparison to a scribe attempting to save manuscripts from the Library of Alexandria while it is burning. His hope is that, at best, improvements in biotechnology will enable the various species to be “resurrected” from the samples preserved; at worst, our descendants will at least have some specimens for their museums that would illustrate the former biodiversity of the planet. Clearly Benford has put a lot of thought into his proposal; he includes even an estimate of the cost of how little it would cost to deep-freeze specimens for a century. Of course having written the Introduction, Benford must also be sober as to the possibilities that this biological time capsule (or capsules) would not survive a century.

Neither Benford not the reviewer are experts in biotechnology, so the reviewer is unable to say much about the technical details of Benford’s proposal. In fairness, the reviewer expects that Benford does not know if what he proposes is possible but probably would argue that it is better than doing nothing. However, the reviewer is mindful of one of Stephen Jay Gould’s criticisms of the movie “Jurassic Park”: A animal is more than its DNA. Even with a large DNA library of extinct species (i.e., deep-frozen specimens), will the biotechnicians of the Twenty-Second Century be capable of restoring the species? If they are, of course, the DNA library should be named Benford’s Ark.

Part IV contains a deep-time message to an uncertain time in the future, but probably between a century and a millennium (though potentially much longer): In all likelihood, humans are at least partially responsible for altering the global climate. Benford is not unique in pointing out that we humans are conducting a global experiment (though he was writing at a time when the evidence was considerably less abundant than it is today). He is forceful and persuasive in arguing, however, that now is the time to begin conducting experiments that may allow us to slow or mitigate the effects of global climate change. This reviewer had been unpersuaded by arguments of others to conduct these experiments. Perhaps because Benford is a physicist, he described various mitigation schemes as experiments themselves, this reviewer is far more willing to consider them. Previously, this reviewer had considered such mitigation schemes as too risky to implement. If they are considered as experiments themselves, though, it is worth investigating them though. If that was Benford’s purpose in writing Part IV, then he has convinced at least one reader.

Part I is perhaps the most fun in the entire book. Benford was part of a panel assembled to recommend ways to keep the Waste Isolation Pilot Project from causing any fatalities. The WIPP is a project testing how to store radiative waste. One of the mandates placed on it by the US Congress was that it should cause no fatalities from the radioactive materials stored within it for as long as those materials are potentially hazardous. In practice this means that once the WIPP is filled and sealed, there must be no unauthorized or unintentional intrusion into it for 10,000 years. In order to place this 10-millennia duration in context, remember that the US Congress itself is only 0.2 millennia old. Ten thousand years ago humanity consisted of little more than small tribes of hunters and gathers. Predicting human technological capabilities over the next ten millennia is impossible, and the US Congressional mandate is unlikely to be met. That did not prevent Benford and his fellow panel members from considering possible ways in which the WIPP might be violated and ways to try to prevent this from happening. It is considering these various possibilities that make this portion of the book so much fun. One of the reviewers few criticisms of this book is that Part I perhaps should been placed later in the book. the other three parts of the book consider fairly sober subjects. A bit of lighter reading in their midst could have been welcome.


and I worked out. It’s called ‘Rachel’, for now.

Prologue: trucks bringing in nuclear waste drums as President watches
he asks about when the families move in, about the conditioning they’re going through, (wryly) how this will all continue for centuries after all of them are dead and gone- scientist assures him that it will work
Statues of the president and scientist are erected at the entrance and then everyone leaves- the roads allowing access are dynamited to prevent easy access

500 years later: shot from the surface
the statues are worn down, the faces are gone
long, long shaft down to the well
below: huge caverns of greenhouses, schools, hospital, playing field
bright lights everywhere
activity everywhere, everyone busy and happy and working, something a little brainwashed about them (‘1984′)
and overseeing everything: Rachel, the leader, the hero, subordinate only to the ‘priests’ and the head priest, Otto.

Rachel meets with the department heads and priests
m: security patrols on the surface haven’t seen any return of the ‘Others’ who attacked months ago
m: food, water, materials production is good
Otto mentions that one worker was found in the morning sleeping in a hallway; they discuss discipline but Rachel counsels just checking on him and seeing if it happens again (i: not sleeping at night = MAJOR TABOO)

Rachel eating dinner with husband Ned and kids Shelly and Penny- they discuss the worker’s case
Ned looks at Rachel and says that the worker should be punished, forced to stand patrol ON THE SURFACE
Rachel: well we don’t want to kill him, do we?
Ned: well, you have people wandering around in the dark, what good will come of that? It’s a danger, the priests can tell you that-
there is a low hum coming through the speakers- the family puts everything away and gets into bed.

the hum changes, everyone falls asleep-

The lights turn off…and voices can be heard behind the hum, hypnosis, audioconditioning playing all night

In the dark, Rachel opens her eyes. She gets out of bed and silently walks…through the tunnels…to a ladder behind a bloked door. She climbs the ladder a long way, opens a series of hatches- and she’s on the surface. She’s in the bottom of a huge crater. The statues are there. She looks out into the dark- the glow of distant fires beyond the rim. It’s too far to walk there, she just looks out into the night and breathes the air, then goes down.

Morning. Otto pulls her aside to talk, but she’s grabbed by other priests and taken away. Otto confronts her: they left dust on the floor to see who might be walking around at night and her footprints were found, and the dust goes to the ‘secret’ ladder she used. Otto stands behind Rachel and tells her to speak to him: she doesn’t, she can’t hear him, she’s deaf. Otto tells her that she can’t be allowed to stay. He knocks her out with an injection-

-and she wakes up, on the surface, at night. She panics, she screams, she bangs on the door- nothing.

She cries and begins to walk to the rim.

That’s what I do.

John and Craig were talking about procrastination last night and I heard it and thought, yes, that’s what i do. i accuse others of wasting time, but am I not the freaking master of it? Of just that problem? I’ll post the transcript when it’s up, but wow- I wait until it’s too late to do anything productive. 


Got me.

Went to a Black List event on Melrose tonight. Emily was going and it’s always good to see Emily, her energy is good for me. As usual, I hate shmoozing (and the way it looks when it’s spelled that way), but, luckily, I am good at happening to strike up a conversation with the person I am SUPPOSED to find. In this case, Gina, the contact person at the Black List. She offered an extra month of script hosting for free (I offered to perform a wedding for her, so I think she’ll remember me). She loved the idea of ‘Higher’, Emily’s friend loved the first and dirtier title of ‘Genetti’, so those are good signs, right?

Something to think about:

Does John August/Craig Mazin/Charlie Kaufman/any great screenwriter take days off?

Probably not.

Know what happens to writers who do just sit around?

NOTHING. Nothing good.

Same thing with athletes. They’re called rest days, not rest MONTHS.

Get with it, Pulice.

My vacation continues unabated.

the plaque on the tower over the Bridge of World Peace. i love that thing.

the plaque on the tower over the Bridge of World Peace. i love that thing.

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Chimney, maybe 5.4, squueze up, out left, reach high to crack and then friction to mantle.

Chimney, maybe 5.4, squueze up, out left, reach high to crack and then friction to mantle.

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a little face problem I used to love. Look close and you'll see the chalk marks from others. I'm going back.

a little face problem I used to love. Look close and you’ll see the chalk marks from others. I’m going back.

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Center crack at the bridge

Center crack at the bridge

The Bridge of World Peace, the tower.

The Bridge of World Peace, the tower.

My favorite plaque in the whole park. How cool.

My favorite plaque in the whole park. How cool.

Very nice to sleep late and have very little to do. What is my job again?
Today, I…gee, do I even remember? Oh, yeah.
Let’s start with last week. I went to Mt Rubidoux, the place where I started climbing 32 YEARS AGO. LOOK AT THAT NUMBER. The hike up was a good warm-up, but i wish I had peed before leaving home. At the top, there must’ve been a hundred people, I’ve never seen so many people up there. i guess it’s become the cool thing to do, walk up to the cross to watch the sunset. Many fit ladies in yoga pants and a lotta moms with strollers. As I remembered: Riverside girls = rather heavy jaws and great bums (must be hiking to the top of Rubidoux!)
I got to the crack at the Bridge of World Peace, shoed up, chalked up, stepped up to the center crack. Grabbed the undercling, highstep, just as it ever was-
then got my wedding ring stuck in the jam above.
Okay, start over. I grabbed the top holds, looked at the possible fall, decided to come back with a rope and such and came down.
Wow, what memories. I stood at the base of the chimney and the jam crack…God, how many times had I soloed each of them? I think my record to the top of the chimney was under thirty seconds and i’d do it again and again. It was like going back to the classroom where you had attended kindergarten, ‘yes, I used to fit in that desk, yes, that’s where we would line up for lunch…’ That place…and me with long hair and ridiculous shoulders and those shorts, driving up that road in a series of lousy but loved cars, meeting people, taking Sandra and other girls up there- and I was as poor as a church mouse, happy if i had $5 in my pocket and knowing that I could turn that five into a fun night if I just just get a girl to laugh and kiss me. Geoff used to call me a ‘sexual pirate’ and that’s, well, not far from the truth. I would grab a sword, swing across on a rope and ‘hello, darling, lovely night isn’t it? Yes, it IS a sword…’
And if the old me met the young me, would I tell him to be any different? That’s a question for a long night.
I met a young climber, Edson. We chatted and it’s good to see a new generation still doing the same things I did. Nice kid. His friend happened by and they mentioned climbing at the nearby quarry- The Quarry!- oh, God, the time I reached into a crack and pulled out a sleeping baby bat, or the time I fell and landed on top of my belayer, the rope catching me just in time. I’ll go back. To Rubidoux, I am not going back to the quarry. Probably not.

Oh, then the 4th. We stayed at home, walked down the street and watched our neighbors spend whole paychecks on drunken displays. Saturday: Time and I went to Langers, then the range on skid row (why is my Kimber such a jam-o-matic? gunsmith time), then home for pizza and Breaking Bad until he fell asleep.
Yesterday: got some things straightened out, CLEANED UP THE GARAGE SO I CAN WORK OUT, PUT UP A PULL UP BAR AND A PULL-DOWN RIG (must get in shape, Rubidoux!)

Today at the barn. Didn’t get the horse peeing, but trust me: it was a lot.

She loves that chicken!image

Why can’t we all be friends? All it takes is beer.image

Mary Pickford with dork…and yet…image






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