Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The End of the World

 Had a dream the other night that the world was ending. Actually, there was some other, relatively regular dream-stuff going on before then, but the memory of it as funny, as most dreams are. What I do remember is walking outside, looking up, and seeing another planet filling the sky-view. It was pretty crazy, with asteroids and debris flying all over the place. I woke up soon after seeing it, and went on to wonder what would happen if such an event were ever to occur.

Of course, it would be the end of the world, but would both surfaces boil as they enter each other's atmospheres? Would the gravitational pull of each cancel out and cause everything to launch out in to space long before impact? At initial impact, would you be launched out into space?

Trippy scenario.

-Justin C. Key

Still here, still writing.

The job search sucks. As I was telling my friend, it's like playing one of those long RPGs (think Pokemon), putting in 40 or so hours, leveling up all your little furry friends, and then BAM! Save is deleted. Maybe you dropped it in the toilet or a lunchbox juice exploded in your pants pocket during flag football (actually happened to me some 10 years ago). Either way, now you have to start all over. The first time, it was fun, exciting, intriguing to see yourself progress and get that much closer to victory.

But the thought of starting from scratch and doing everything's too much. Especially if there's a good possibility that the save will just magically delete itself again.

That's how this job thing feels. In the beginning, you get out about 20 job apps a day. You're excited about your leads, feel good when you get called in for interviews, and at the end of the week you feel like you're that much closer to being employed. Then stuff starts to fall through, other candidates get picked, and people send you e-mails that start with 'Thank you for applying to...' Yeah, those can't end good. Before you know it, it's square one, and going through all those endless pages of job openings isn't as exciting anymore.

That's my short rant and basically where I am in life. But, the good news is that I'm still writing, in one form or the other. I'm still determined to be the next Stephen King, so watch out world! I'm now blogging for, basically doing opinion pieces about some of the television shows they feature. Anything to get my name out there, really. Still at and Still have my novels that I should go ahead and try to get published already. Once I have a job, though, it'll be a lot easier to justify spending time on these types of things.

On the bright side, things are going pretty well. My hope was to have a job before Christmas, but sometimes things just don't work out that way. But I do have a wonderfully supportive family and friend-base. And my typing fingers still work, so what's there to complain about?

-Justin C. Key

Monday, December 14, 2009

Job Search by Justin Key

I looked up from behind my computer--my computer which holds all the woes and sorrows from the past three months of job-hunting--because he had caught my eye. If it weren't for the smell, one would think he'd been born from a cloud of dust. Oblivious to the colorful life around him, he reached into the slit of the trashcan, and I winced. As he found his lunch as casually as teenagers find love, I tried to imagine what could possibly happen for my own life's path to swerve to match his, but it was about as futile as the deaf wondering what it's like to hear. He walked away, muttering incoherencies, off to fight the cold. As for me, I found it hard to look at my computer any more that day, but not so hard to live.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Under the Dome Review at

You can find it here: Under the Dome by Stephen King: A Review

I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and may write more about it here later. Next book: House of Leaves.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Weird Dream....But I Can't Remember It.

I just know that when I woke up, I didn't feel real. Part of it may be because I just started reading House of Leaves (Joey, if you're reading this, it's only because I finished the sample of the Languages book), I had gotten through the introduction, which was pretty creepy.

On top of that, my arm was asleep. So the first few minutes of waking up, I felt like I didn't exist. It was like what a robot that just gained self-awareness may feel like. Creepy.

The Ball

Never talk back
But I say a lot
In my eyes, my run, the sniff
Of my nose, rhyme-time-sublime with the wag of my...


Aw hell, there goes a ball,
Round as the world, but with so more
        (more joy than a boy with a toy,
             i can rhyme, too cus I feel the spark
         us dogs, we do, we do)
Cus that's what I know, a thing you may lack
Because you're mind...or brain, I never knew which was the
Works as good as a nuke, or a gun, or...what do they call it?
But there's my ball again, rolling and rolling like life rolls on.
I'm better than you, and you're sorrow, and cries
    Even your creation, who cares when soaked with lies
Yet best thing about the wag of the tail, the feel of the fur
Is I complete you. I can't heal the pain, the violence, the flaws
But I can catch the ball and replace the tears
With happiness slob.

Top 10 Lost Mysteries That Need Answering

Here's an article I wrote for I was just offered a 'gig' there as a regular blogger, so I'm excited about that. Please check it out, share it with others, and, most importantly, tell me what you think!

Top 10 Lost Mysteries That Need Answering by Justin Key

-Justin C. Key

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Movies to Look Forward to in 2010...And those to stray away from.

You can read the full story here: Blockbusters of 2010: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I wrote it myself and the list of movies (without descriptions) is below.

The Sequels:

Wall Street 2 'Money Never Sleeps': April 23. Movie Page

Iron Man 2: May 7. Toy Preview

Shrek Forever After: May 21. Movie Page

Sex and the City 2: May 28 Movie Page

Toy Story 3: June 18 Theatrical Trailer

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse: June 30 Movie Page

Under the Dome: A Writer's Analysis

Hey all. Wrote up a blog post for Under the Dome yesterday for I go in to how the book effected me as a writer and, more importantly, the types of things a writer can learn from reading it. I'm still brooding over my experience and how I feel about it and will write a review for later today.

Here's the link: Under the Dome: A Writer's Analysis.

-Justin Key

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Finished Under the Dome

Wow. it definitely went in a an unexpected direction. But it was satisfying (mostly). I'm working on an analysis for now and a review later for

-Justin Key

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The bodies are racking up in Under the Dome...

Amidst Thanksgiving, Internet-outage, and the never-ending job search, I haven't been able to read as much as I would have liked. Either way, I am up to about page 750 or so, so about 3/4 of the way through. And when I can read it, I can't put it down.

And the body-count! I guess I should have expected that this wouldn't be a comedic romp like The Simpsons' version, but dang! Murders left, right, suicides piling up, planes crashing. And all for because of a big ass dome!

It's only been 4 days and some change in the book, so King wasn't lying when he said it only takes up a week. Some things that progress don't seem like they would happen that fast (like the mini-global warming effect or how the town has become so quickly divided...also, there's a character in it that is sick and it seems like they go from relatively okay to terminal in just a couple days, whereas in real life it would take months).

Also, some of the things that are happening seem kind of ridiculous, but more in a way that says 'this could really happen if a town was put in this position and its kind of ridiculous that humans could stoop so low.'

Also, I know now the origin of the dome. Or, at least, what category it falls under. It was what I guessed from the beginning, as it seemed the only logical explanation. There's still a good amount of mystery about it and the person who discovered the source was just thrown in jail, so we'll see how that pans out.

Even though this book is long as life, it's getting to that point where I'm wondering how everything will work out only 300 pages. It feels like I'm more in the middle than rounding out to the end. But I have faith and  hopefully the ending isn't a 'hey, the beings responsible for the sudden application of the dome decided to suddenly take it away, problems solved!' It would be a lot more satisfying if the town fights for and earns its own escape.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Social Media and Writing.

I just put up a new post at about social media, the changing landscape of writing, and what it means for authors.

Find it here.

Lost: What's to Come.

I'm a big Lost fan. I've watched every episode and, once I get on my feet, plan to rewatch every one before the new season starts. I just wrote a feature article on it for

You can find it here:

Let me know what you guys think.


I read this this morning in the New York Times. It really has us shaken up. It's only a 1/1000 chance that she'll be picked I copied and pasted:

As Families Re-Unite, Congress Calls For Interrogation Lottery

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted 71 to 28 Wednesday morning to initiate a lottery to randomly choose 100,000 Americans from the 150 million that disappeared last Friday for questioning and further research. The decision was made just under an hour ago, but there is already huge uproar from across the country.

Families woke up Monday morning to the return of their loved ones, a nation-wide phenomenon that is in many ways more baffling than the original disappearances. After shock came a relief that swept over the country as more and more reports came in, suggesting that all of the missing have returned.

Officials immediately attempted to get a hold of the situation, which left half of the country's population MIA for 72 hours, by requesting of anyone who remembers anything to come forth. The result has been more than disappointing, prompting Congress to consider a more involved approach.  The newly approved initiative will generate a lottery to choose 100,000 individuals to be called in for questioning and to possibly be kept for research. It is unknown when the lottery or subsequent activities will take place.

"America is healing right now," President Obama said in an official statement. "And we want families to have the time to heal, reconnect with their loved ones, and grieve over those who were lost. But eventually we need to assess the situation, discover the cause, and move towards ensuring that nothing of this magnitude ever happens again."

As part of the bill, Congress also pushed for heavy emphasis on Stanford University, where 90% of the student population went missing. It's reported that all 13,500 are set to be automatically included in research procedures. 

-Tom Friedman

Monday, November 30, 2009

She's back!!!

Everyone's back!! It's a little scary, but most of all I'm just so damn excited. I can't keep my hands from shaking. But she's back, sleeping in the bed right behind me.

How did it happen? Hell if I know. But I couldn't sleep last night either at first. I must have been drifting off around sun-rise because I felt like I was falling. And then I started to hear whispers, you know, the kind you hear when you're sleep-deprived but too tired to really sleep? I shook myself out of it and went to the bathroom. When I came back I almost pissed my pants even though I had just gone.

She was there.

Sleep in the bed.

I don't know why. Maybe I thought I was dreaming (it had all just been a dream), or maybe I thought that if I woke her she wouldn't be real, but I slipped into bed, wrapped my arms around her, and went to sleep. She was still there when I woke up.

The amazing thing is that she doesn't remember anything. She thought it was Friday morning. It was like 50 First Dates, kind of, where Drew Barrymore woke up every day not remembering anything that happened the day before. Soon the whole family--both families--were there and it was a little overwhelming for her, especially since she thought I was joking at first. I think her father's tears really got her into believing it all.

That and the news. The people who were missing are popping up in full force...and no one remembers ANYTHING. As you probably know, the day since has been pretty hectic. I saw on the news about how that unidentified flight was almost shot down but then they realized it was the whole flight that had disappeared. After it landed, the passengers were scared as shit...and didn't remember anything. Some (the ones who weren't sleeping) said they noticed a slight difference in the atmosphere but nothing else.

There are a lot of bizarre stories out there, more and more showing up on the news. I don't understand how no one remembers anything. I'm glad to have Kim back, but what could have caused something big? Internet buzz has theories, a lot of people thinking its an inside job, like 9/11. Some think its some type of time travel.

I'm just worried about what might have happened to her during those three days. What if she gets cancer from this? Or gets sick? We tried to take her to the hospital, but it seemed like everyone else in America (or at least in the Bay Area) had the same idea. She said she's fine, just tired.

I don't know what's going to come out of all this, but I'm just glad to have her back.

-Tom Friedman

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Stanford hit hard by the disappearances.

I didn't sleep any last night. Would you be able to? I tried, Lord knows I did, mostly because my mother made me promise I would try. I almost didn't because a part of me (a strong, vocal part) expected to see some relief behind those worried eyes of hers, relief that now I would be able to find someone 'suitable for me.' But all I saw was the tired soul of a mother. 

But I just lay there, in my bed, beside an empty slot that I had gotten used to being filled. I guess I stayed awake because every minute I could hope that this whole shit could pass, Kim would come home, and everything would be normal. To go to sleep would mean 8 hours going by like nothing....8 more hours that would just make all this too real.

But mostly I couldn't sleep because of what was on that note.

Kim's mom and dad offered to deal with all the cancellations. My guess is that they're calling them up now. Even though all hope for a ceremony died two mornings ago, they said they wouldn't cancel until it looked like they absolutely had to. Considering that we were supposed to get the show going  in just a couple hours, now would be a point of absolutely having to. Maybe the caterer and DJ Almond disappeared, too. Save them some trouble. Maybe they're all together, Kim and them with the Reverend, wherever they are, and I'm the one missing.

I thought about that. Maybe we're the ones who disappeared and went some place else. But it was hard for me to wrap my head around.

I heard something on the tv this morning as I was pretending to try and sleep. There's still no real progress. Some people have been found, but it's turning out that they were just regular missing people. Those who just so happened to pick November 27 as the day to run away from home or leave their husbands or wives. But that wasn't the interesting part.

It seems that Stanford University's been hit hard. 90% of their population disappeared, whereas everywhere else is pretty much even. The news hasn't down-right said it, but I wouldn't be surprised if the place is the main suspect now. Maybe some kind of experiment. It's just all so surreal now, it's hard to feel any anger, shock, or anything....I just hope they figure it out.

Uncle Junior, who's been in the hospital for the last six months for stomach cancer--disappeared. Mom told me yesterday. Janet Lyrington--she works at the grocery--her husband disappeared. Both our next-door neighbors--Lynn and John Dryden--disappeared. Beth Matthers--Kim's cousin on her dad's side--is gone, too, plus her three year old daughter. The streets feel so empty. Like a great ghost has fallen over the town.

Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, Cher, half of U2, Oprah, Michael J. Fox, Beyonce, Angelina Jolie, that dude from Spider-man, the guy from Transformers (I could never get his name), all gone. And the list goes on and on. I read that Stephen King is gone, too. I never could get in to his books--too long for me--but Kim loved him. That's why I remember. Maybe he can write something for her wherever they are.

I tried working on my vows around 2 am, but couldn't. I've eaten breakfast, but only a little. Around now is when I should be getting ready to walk down the isle, but instead I'm just looking at this note.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Biker in the road.

Today has been the worst day of my life. I thought yesterday was bad, but yesterday was coated in a fine layer of hope. Hope that kept the tears away.

The President spoke last night. I didn't vote for Obama. I didn't vote for anyone, actually. I was a republican, but didn't support Bush. McCain didn't represent the changes I wanted to see. I'm not ready to go democrat, so I just abstained from voting. But I support Obama, if that makes any sense. So, I took time to watch it. The whole family did. This thing has kind of brought us together, in a weird, mortifying way. I thought after Thanksgiving dinner, the wedding would be off for sure and the only way Kim and I could get married would be to elope in some country that has at least a thousand miles of ocean between this one. Funny how I was right about one part. Funny how the family could put that occurrence behind them, but I still won't be walking down the aisle.

His speech was good. His speech was comforting. His speech was everything you'd expect from a President, and that's why it didn't mean much to me. He did the best that he could, but it was obvious that our government is baffled. It's obvious that no one knows what the hell is going on. It's obvious that instead of a wedding I may be holding a funeral really soon. The whole world might. He did say that they were working around the clock to find the cause and, more importantly, find the people missing. WIth the Machens and the Friedmans crowded around one TV, we were all feeling a little shaken up after what happened at the police station. Freddy, who'd be uncharacteristically tranquil during all this, blurted out that it must be aliens doing this. A mass abduction. "Some trippy alien shit," he said. The funny thing was that no one said anything. Not in agreement or to suggest that the idea was ridiculous.

I started to think that maybe Freddy wasn't far off. Not aliens, but something not of this world. My mind went to the rapture and I could feel other people thinking the same. But that doesn't make much sense. Isn't that the whole world? Why would it just be the United States? Maybe it still is biblical and just different than our expectations/interpretations. I remember seeing on the discovery channel that Noah's flood was really just an isolated event. A grand flood alright, but not the whole world like we have been taught. Same with the ark and its size. A story that's evolved over the years. This could be like that. Something we've just been reading in to all wrong?

But where would that leave us?

We were glued to the television today all day today as well. Not much in official updates. It's like when 9/11 happened, or Michael Jackson died. A looot of speculation, a lot of aerial shots, and a lot of saying the same thing in different ways. At about 6, after a national moment of silence for both those missing and killed on Black Morning, mom and Mrs. Machen offered to cook. They had a little moment that was awkward, given what happened the other night, but I didn't stay to see how it played out. I slipped out the front and just told everyone I needed some time to myself. They let me go. I guess they know this is hard for me. It's a sympathy I don't know if I want. But I was grateful for the alone time.

I smoked for the first time in 2 years. I had stopped for Kim. She hated he habit, mostly because two of her uncles had died of lung cancer and her own father started smoking when he was seven. I promised her I never would, but part of that promise was that I'd get to keep a pack. I figured that I'd know I'd really kicked the habit when I could resist something that was within my reach. In some ways, I thought flushing them would be the easy way out. Knowing that they were under the gray socks in the 3rd drawer that I never wear and still being able to say no--that's an accomplishment to me.

I've had them in my pocket ever since after Obama's speech last night.

I was about to pop in my second cigarette when I saw him. He was coming over the hill, walking his bike. He looked exactly the same as when I stopped for him on the side of the road that day, except he was moving around, not without a limp tho.

At first I wasn't going to say anything to him. Why would I? Besides, it might not have even been him. But I knew it was. And, somehow, I knew he was there to see me. I knew before he even started to head my way.

We just stood there for a little while, me holding an unlit cigarette and him precariously balancing his bike and a bum leg. I thought we would just stand there for hours, but then he spoke. His voice sounded different then before. I don't remember how it sounded that day, but it wasn't this.

"I was one of those who disappeared," he said. At first I didn't think I heard right, and everything still felt too fuzzy, unreal, and dreamlike for me to reply. Then he thrust an envelope into my hand. He told me that she wanted me to have it.

By the time I looked up, he was already leaving. i thought of running after him, but for some reason I didn't. This was a couple hours ago. I haven't looked at the envelope yet. It's sitting right here, beside the computer. I might open it now, but I might not. I don't really know why.

Yes, I should open it. I may be a worrier, but it doesn't mean I have to be a dormant one.

Nothing still...

The wedding is tomorrow and I'm checking the news every minute like it's a dish on the verge of burning in the oven. The updates are slim. I guess I just hope that everything returns to normal. I wouldn't even ask any questions, as long as my baby would walk through the door in good health and ready to marry me.

It's starting to look like even if she did come back this minute, the wedding won't happen tomorrow. Not in all this chaos. Not to mention, Reverend Jackson is one of the ones gone missing. Or maybe he just left the country, which doesn't sound like a bad idea right about now.

Friday, November 27, 2009


The country's threat level is up to red for the first time in 8 years and all I can think about is damn sweet potatoes. It's the last thing I said to her: "Don't forget to put up the sweet potatoes, honey." What if this shit is permanent? What if she really is...gone? And instead of I love you or something special, my last words to her will be the equivalent of what you might say to a maid. I'll be glad if I never see another sweet potato again.

But...I worry, right? By the time I woke up most of the nation was already in panic. It was all over the news and I...I hadn't even noticed she was gone until I rolled over to comment about how bizarre it all was. I thought at first she had gone to the bathroom, although I knew then...I knew something was wrong. As it became clear she wasn't in the house, I hoped it could just be a coincidence. She went out early for a walk, or some pre-wedding jitters where she needed to be alone and just hadn't seen the news. If she had, she would have come back quickly, I'm sure of it, so she must just not know. And yet the hours ticked by.

I don't know what to do. My family--our families--don't know what to do. The news is calling it terrorism. For the first time in all my life, my mom is speechless. Bless her soul for that. No one else from my side or hers seem to be missing and we're all about to go down to the police station to file a report. Calling doesn't work.

If anyone has seen Kimberly Rae Machen, please contact us. And to all those who are looking for their loved ones this morning....let's keep

And if you don't know what I'm talking about, look at the pictures below. It's all over the news now, but this particular article I found earlier isn't up anymore. I think it's because they don't want people to know about the Vice President, because that info is left out of subsequent reports. Either way, I still have the page loaded, so I took pics (click to see them better).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving payback.

Naive, huh? If I'm so naive, how did I find this blog?

Yes, that's right. Kim, here. Excuse my future husband (if I decide to let him live). This Internet thing is a little new to him (even though he's been using it for years) and he didn't realize that a simple search of his name would bring up this blog. I google search my name sometimes (who doesn't) and had a hunch to search his last night before bed. You should have seen his face.

And I didn't know your mom calls me 'The Muslim' Tom! It's kind of funny, when you think about it. He'll probably call me naive again for saying this, but I think Tom's mom is really sweet way down's just going to take a while to get to it. He's sitting here as I write this (although we agreed no censoring) and he's rolling his eyes, but I have faith.

And a couple things.
  • New Moon was the shit and a half. Men just don't understand.
  • Tom does worry too much.
  • Last night wasn't as bad as you'd think. My parents are like me. In the end, the wedding will only be bigger and better.
  • Ok, so maybe I should have thought a little better about the family staying thing. But Thanksgiving dinner (which I have to return to in a bit, turkey's been in long enough, I think) is a good cover for everyone being here. 
  • My dress is fabulous.
Now some things about Tom. Call it a little Thanksgiving payback. If anything, it'll be useful info for anyone continuing to read this blog about him.

  • I came home late from work once--10 minutes late--and Tom has already called my friend, Pam, in a panic.
  • He wears to pairs of socks...always, no matter the weather.
  • He's groaning as I write this one, but he's read all of the Twilight series and the real reason he didn't like New Moon was because it didn't hold up to his 'standards.'
  • Bet 10 bucks he cries at the wedding more than I do.
I think that's enough for now. Today's been hectic and even I am skeptical about this dinner which is only about 2 hours away, but this was fun. You should let me on more often, babe!

-Kim 'Soon to be Friedman' Machen

PS: Isn't that turkey at the top the cutest thing?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

You know it's bad when you envy orphans...

Quick Updates: 
  • John found a DJ. DJ Almond, I think his name is. His last four gigs have all been 18 and up parties, he's more expensive than I'd like, and I may have to pay him extra not to let that name of his known, but who cares??! By the time he starts spinning, I'll be happily married. 
  • Kim's parents (she's from a small town in South Carolina...Charlottesville, it's called) got in last night, along with Freddy, and jumped right into the wedding planning. Thankfully, the Machen's are less die-hard judgmentals than my parents (read: my mom). They converted to the faith after the father came back from Vietnam and since follow the basic principles, but are open to letting Kim choose her own path. 
  • Sunday's forecast is looking better and better. 
  • The honeymoon plans are all set. Even though I'm fairly sure Kim doesn't read this blog, I want it to be a surprise, so not risking telling it here.
  • My parents got in on time, just three hours ago. Up until then everything was going well. Up until then...

Let's backtrack a little. You know how I said Kim's parents are cool about stuff? Well, the plan was for them to stay with us in our apartment with everyone participating in Operation Keep Shit From the Friedman's. Once my family came to until after the wedding, we would have to all pretend that Kim and I don't live together...while having Kim's family stay in our apartment. Why can't they stay at Kim's? The place has been emptied out for weeks so we wouldn't have to worry about too much moving after the honeymoon. And what do we tell my people once they see 11 Machen's staying with me? Part lie, part truth: Kim's apartment is hollowed out and there's only enough there for Kim to stay comforably.

You can imagine my nerves.

Right after they got in, Kim and her mom went to look at the garden and the church to go over where everything would be (why they couldn't wait until daylight is beyond me), with Kim's dad trailing along to sign his checkbook if needed. Kim's parents have been taking care of Freddy ever since his mom's been in rehab, hence him coming early with them while everyone else arrives tonight/early tomorrow. Ten minutes after everyone else left, I went into the guestroom to ask Freddy if he wanted to watch a movie--you know, try to connect with the kid--and he was already stealing! A painting of one of those amazonian tree frogs on a leaf that had been hanging over the bed...he was stuff it into his suitcase! He froze when he saw me and uttered, "I didn't do it."

I had a heart-to-heart talk with him after that. The basics about decisions in life, the choices we make, respnsibility, and of course a promise that I'd kick his ass if I found him stealing again. I said it in a joking way and it got a laugh, but I felt a small part of him thought I was serious. Which I can live with. I can live with just fine.

Besides that, everything's been fine. But it was like a ticking time bomb that started when my parents' flight took off from LAX at 12:36 pm. I went to pick them up with Kim and her parents (her idea). I insisted that Freddy come to 'take part in the family festivities' but he said he wanted to get some rest. I just wish I would have put up cameras before we left. Or at least taken inventory. Kim can be naive sometimes, bless her soul, and one of the topics she's good at being naive at is my parents. My mother gave me a hug and started talking about all that we had to do for the wedding without even looking at Kim. My father is not much of a villain, but he doesn't do anything to help either. He just stands there and let's mom do her thing. It took me three tries at interrupting before I got mom to acknowledge Kim and introduce her to her parents. Think of one of those awkward moments in a movie...yea, like that.

Kim also thought it would be a good idea to invite mom and dad to wedding planning stuff with them. The Machen's had already gone back to the church and garden (going at night wasn't exactly the most productive, after all), stopped by the florists to look over the flowers, and taken Kim's dress for what her mother called some 'last-minute trimmings. But Joe's Fish N' Chips Catering (trust me, they're better than they sound) still needed a round and also the logistics for Saturday night's rehearsal needed to be fleshed out, so, after clearing it with her parents, Kim thought mom and dad would like to be a part of these errands.

It was like watching a car crash in slow motion. Mom took this gesture as one of belittlement and looked at Kim as if she were goose shit. Then she reclaimed her overbearing self and announced that she had already taken care of all the arrangements, from flowers, to DJ, to catering. 'For a nice Christian wedding' she said.


Long story short, mom sweared down that she wasn't aware other arrangements had been made and, of course, my father just picked at his fingernails on the side. Livid, I demanded that mom cancel everything she had done, but the Machen's, in the spirit of that oh-so-foreign trait called kindness, insisted that they could work out some balance. Mom agreed. Everyone thought the storm had been averted.

Naive, naive, naive.

But I was my hands of it. I pulled Kim to the side and tried to explain how this could not end up good, but she wanted to 'keep positive.' Yep, I wash my hands of it. I just got home. The Machen's and the Friedman's are off working it out. I'll send up a prayer for them, but mostly I'm about to take a much-needed nap.

...Right after I go hide all our valuables.

-Tom Friedman

And they lived happily ever after...

Just put up my latest post over at It's about how to reach a good ending.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I saw a homeless guy today....

I saw a homeless guy eating out of the traschcan today. It was the first time I've ever seen something so extreme. Of course, I knew things like that happen. You hear about it, see it portrayed in movies, but to actually see it, right in front of my eyes. It brought a new reality to things.

The man was your prototypical homeless guy. I really don't know how else to put it. His whole body, from his skin to his hair, his coat, shirt, pants, shoes, everything, was a dusty tan, like he'd been living in a a dirt storm for the last two years. His hair was long and as ragged as his gait. He mumbled to himself constantly. I was too far away to hear, but I'd be willing to bet I wouldn't have understood it anyway. I was sitting at Starbucks, working overtime on a project for work, when he crab-legged by. At first I only glanced but then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw him stop at the trashcan. And then reach in. By this time I was fixed, not really able to believe that this was happening in front of me. He felt around in there for a few seconds, pulled out a discarded coffee, wiped another piece of garbage from the lid, and drank the remains.

Then he crossed the street to the other trashcan, reached in, and took out a sandwich. Two things stuck out to me the most: 1) The lack of hesitation. This man had come to accept something as part of his everyday life that I could never imagine myself doing it. 2) Like a single blooming flower in the middle of a bloody battlefield, the most contrasting image walked past as homeless guy bit into his dinner: a lady with her baby. It made me think how one day he had been a baby in someone's arms as they walked down the street. I wondered what kind of paths have to open to bring a life to such a point. I thought if I could ever be in that position. It was hard to imagine because I knew my friends and family would never let me be without a place to stay. Then I wondered if he had any family or friends. He couldn't, could he? Who could be a true friend of someone they know gets his meals from trashcans?

I packed up my work then and left. Others at the cafe left, too, no doubt sooner than they were originally planning, but I don't think for the same reason. I left because I was disturbed and couldn't focus anymore. Others...they probably just wanted to get away from the smell.

Wedding things are coming together. My mom and dad fly in tomorrow at about 2 pm, Terry (my cousin), her husband and kids at about 4 the next day and then everyone else is driving, so they'll be trickling in, I suppose. The plan was to get everyone (both families) in on time to have a big Thanksgiving dinner, but Mom insisted on arriving earlier to help, even though I told her that Kim's parents were already on it, as per tradition. My mom is the overbearing type, the kind who thinks of her way the best. Oh, she won't blatantly shit on your method of doing things, just she likes to involve herself in any and everything because otherwise she thinks it won't be done right. That and she said she wasn't about to follow any 'muslim' traditions. I tried to tell her that I didn't think the bride's family taking care of the wedding was attached to any religion other than that of the United States of America but, of course, when my mom has her mind made up on something its like trying to convince a dog to piss without lifting its leg.

But we'll deal with that storm when we come to it. The days before the wedding are surprisingly....happy. I didn't expect that and I know most of hat I've been writing is complaints, but we, me and Kim, both have this glow about us. We're about to be married. The nervousness, the worry (whenever I think about that off-white dress...), the foreshadowing of family drama weighing down on us, all of that is overshadowed by how happy we are.

I'm excited about the future. I hope the wedding and everything goes off without a hitch, but I know life doesn't always work out like that. Either way, as long as Kim and I are together, I know, as the song goes....evry lil' thing....gon be all right!

PS: Checked the weather forecast again today. More and more it's looking like Sunday will be clear skies. Rain on Saturday and Monday, but some serious hope for a sunny wedding. Maybe they'll even be a rainbow?

-Tom Friedman

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thou shalt not....

Kim loved New Moon. I hated it. Thought it was slow, borderline boring and waaaaayyyy too cheesy. "You just don't understand their love!" Kim said after her initial shock that I hadn't, too, thought it was fantastic. Ok, I'll give her that. I don't understand their love. And that was the problem.

Anyway, it was a small price to pay to get to see 2012. We snuck into it right after New Moon. Kim had tried to pull the 'tired' card along with "we have so much to do for the wedding!" but after sitting through that movie, I wasn't letting her backdown. It rocked. 'Nuff said. Even Kim liked it, and she usually doesn't like big, loud, 'explody movies,' as she calls them.

Things are coming together. Or, at least, they seem to be for the moment. Finally got in touch with the florists. Just like I thought, except they didn't admit to ever messing it up in the first place. Either way, they have the order right now. "Lily of the valley, lilacs, anemones, tulips, stock, and pots of wheat grass and lettuce scattered on the buffet tables." I quote it because I don't really know what any of those are, but those are what Kim and her mother came up with. Just as long as the flowers are open and colorful, that's fine with me.

It's a decidedly small wedding: family plus our closest friends. But still, we may have bitten off more than we can chew. Kim and I didn't really...what's the word I'm looking for...communicate that well when it came to family arrangements. We've been living together for the last month (I know, I close to marriage, why not wait? From seeing our friends, we figured that the whole adapting to living with someone can be stressful, so might as well get those kinks out before calling it official), but Kim has kept her old apartment. Until after the wedding.

I guess it's partly my fault for assuming but...she knows my parents wouldn't go for us living together as an unmarried couple. It's like the 11th commandment to them. I figured that we would both have our families stay in hotels, but I figured wrong. She invited her family--all 11 of them--to stay with us. It wouldn't be a problem if I didn't worry about weird things and Kim said her family is more laid back...but I'm willing to bet that this whole living situation will get back to my side. Someway. Somehow. My mom and dad are already not thrilled about me marrying 'the muslim,' as they call her, and will probably have their own opinions on her people not caring about our 'life of sin.'


On top of that, one of the 11 is Kim's younger cousin, Freddy. I think he steals. No, I know he steals. And the whole family is in denial, despite his three--count em, THREE--trips to juvy in his short 17 years. I don't like the kid. If that's wrong, shoot me.'s family. I guess.

Stress. Stress. Stress.

At least the flowers are in order.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

400 pages into Under the Dome...

Ok, maybe 395. But who's counting?

Anyway, I've been reading a lot of it lately. Things are starting to get complicated under the dome, and rather bloody, too. It's only been about 3 days since the dome dropped and there have already been rapes, murders, fights, you name it. As expected, the dome has not only cut the people off socially, but democratically as well. The police force is made up of a new recruitment of rapist and killers, all of which hardly old enough to drink. Of course, it makes for some interesting happenings.

I'm starting to think that the source of this is supernatural, after all. I won't go too much into it for sake of spoilers, but I will say that King (and fiction in general) likes to use children as a vessel for connecting with the spiritual/supernatural realms.

There are a lot of disturbing characters in this book, but I'm wondering if I am desensitized from it. I say this because I think if this were the first King book I'd ever read, I'd be fairly surprised at some of the things these characters do/think. But I'm not. Not after the disfigured man who practised necrophilia and cannibalism in Gerald's Game, not after the boy who killed his father in IT, and definitely not after the father who chained his son to a pole like a dog in the cellar to get rid of the 'bad gunky' in Lisey's Story. I'm wondering if there will be a new level of disturbia and one of these characters will surprise me down the line. I actually king of hope not. I'm fine with it right where it's at.

But I do like how even the most disturbing characters have other sides. For example, I had to check to make sure I was still reading from the same character's perpective after one of the more twisted ones showed compassion to a stranded pair of kids. I wholly expected him to just kill them or something.

I like surprises. And, so far, I'm digging this book.

Biker in the road.


Shit. Shit. Shit.

Okay, this may be okay. Off-white--cream, some people call it--that could work. It's not white, so technically we aren't lying (does the Lord work on technicalities?). But it looks white, so people may not question the whole virginity thing. They'll just think we're stupid.

I can live with stupid.

Kim's happy, at least. She said the dress 'called to her' as soon as she walked into Eugene's Bridals, whatever that means. Never had anything 'call to me' that didn't have a pulse, but hey, I'm just a man. What do I know? It is beautiful, though. I feel kind of bad that all I can think of is how mom and dad will react. I feel kind of bad that when I think of Monday, November 30 I think relief that this will be over rather than excitement for the first full day of married life. I am excited--more than I've ever been. It's just...I worry weird.

I wish I could stop worrying about it.

Something interesting happened to me today. Flower shop's still been giving me the run around. Drove all the way out to Palo Alto (40 miles!) to speak to them in person while Kim was out having her heart to heart with the dress store. Like I said, I'm pretty sure they have it under wraps, but thought the errand would at least take my mind off the dress. Should have called first. They're closed on Sundays.

On the way back I decided to take the 'scenic route.' Don't ask me, but it's some kind of option on my GPS. Never really noticed it before, but it was only ten minutes longer and after the Closed sign at Sidestreet Florists, I thought 'why the hell not?'

For about 15 minutes it was nothing but this two-lane road bordered by an endless wall of trees, like in one of those car commercials. As long as the 'miles left' on my GPS kept going down, I was fine with it. More than fine, really. It was a nice change from 580.

I saw him right as I was finishing a bend. At first I only glanced, like you would when you see anyone walking or biking on the side of the road, but the thing is he wasn't doing either. I suppose if the bend had kept going I would have just kept on, but the road was straight. In the rearview it became clear that he was hurt.

I pulled over and sat there for a while. I'd like to say that my concerns were for another's well-being, but a lot of selfish thoughts went through my head. All I had left to do, how long this would hold me up, the fact that someone--someone less busy--would surely come along after a while. In the end, I got out.

His bike was all right but he wasn't. I could tell that even as he tried to put on his macho persona. His left leg looked badly hurt. A lot of blood at the ankle. He was holding it there, but it was...peculiar. Almost like he was protecting it from me rather than out of pain.  He didn't really look at me either, or give me much to work with. He kept saying that he was fine, yet he didn't have a phone. When I offered to call the ambulance you'd think I had suggested euthanasia. He didn't have insurance, he said. He didn't look homeless, or crazy or anything. Actually, you'd probably say he looked a lot like me, just your average city cog out for an evening cycle.

That's what made it so weird, though. He didn't seem like the type of guy who would be acting like this. Almost like he was running from something. Against my best judgment, I offered him a ride. It was more out of my want to breach that strange defense of his. He said he didn't want to leave his bike. I stayed for a little while longer, hoping another car would come, maybe a truck or something big enough to hold his bike. But no luck. And the man (he wouldn't give me his name) kept urging me to leave. Not in a rude way, but adamant nonetheless.

So, in the end, I left. What more can I do?

I didn't notice it at the time, but I thought about it the way back. He didn't look me in the eyes. Not once.

Told you it was weird. But I guess shit like that happens everyday. Anyway, Kim wants to go see 'New Moon' tonight. I want to see the meteor shower that's supposed to be happening all weekend, but I should have known that wouldn't hold up as a good enough excuse. I guess we'll do both, even though I think we're too old for vampires, werewolves, and teenage love.

I'm coming to find out that soon-to-be-brides always get what they want. Can't wait until she's pregnant.

-Tom Friedman

"Here comes the bride...all dressed in..."

Some people would say I worry about things in a weird way, others would say I worry about weird things. I still don't know which fits more, just that I worry a, a whole lot.

The big day is a week away and still so much to do! Here's a (small) sample:
  • Sidestreet Florists' been giving me the run-around. I think they messed up the order of flowers and are bustling to get it fixed before we talk again. As long as they get it done, but I'll call again in the morning. 
  • The DJ for the reception's been arrested. ARRESTED! John had said, Tom, as your best man, it's my job to throw you the best fucking bachelor's party and get you the best fucking DJ. I guess all the good DJ's ride around at 1 in the morning, stoned out of their minds, trying to pick up female cops as hookers? 
  • It's an outside wedding and the forecast just came out today. Wanna guess what it says for Sunday, November 29? Yep. Rain, my friend. Lots and lots of rain. So I have to get another venue. I was trying to avoid the inside. Because inside means a church (atleast, for my family it does). And a church means complications, considering Pam's muslim and I--my family--is Christian.
  • Half of our invitations came back. Apparently they just upped the postage price. So I have to get some 1 cent stamps...50 of 'em. But I might just chuck 'em and then email. Kim'll never know.
And I still need to get rings.

But none of these things really worry me. You want to know what does worry me? What Kim's going to wear. I know, I know...silly right? But my family is very traditional...very traditional. As in my mother never worked a day in her life and the only man she ever dated was my father--planned, coordinated, and ordained by the church. That kind of traditional.

But of course me and Kim--she'll kill me if she ever knows I posted this--of course we've had...well, you know. We don't think of it as a big deal. And as for her parents, they seem cool with it. Dad even jokes about it sometimes, which gets a little awkward. But my parents...they just wouldn't accept it. But the worst part is they haven't asked about it, hinted at it, nothing. And I was just sure mom would in one of her round-about, I'm-not-really-asking-this ways. Makes me think they expect something and are too shamed of the inevitable answer to ever ask the question.

White is for virgins. Simple, safe choice, right? But what if my parents know, in some bizarre way just know. The only thing worst for them than pre-marital sex would be lying during such a holy ceremony.

But if she doesn't wear white? Then we might as well paste a sign on her back that says "No flowers here!" (Honey, if you're reading this, Rob told me I could make this blog thing private, so blame him.)

We've been through four dresses. Two white, one blue, one red, all beautiful. All sent back because of me...and my worry. Kim's been patient, as always, but she said she's going once and for all tomorrow and making a decision.

White...or no? White is the least risky. They could really just be that naive and everything go without a hitch. I hope she picks white. Everything else, it'll fall into place, but I've got this tingly feeling, and it tells me this color thing'll be the shit hitting the fan.

It's so clear outside. I can see each and every star. It hasn't rained for a month. I guess its overdue and needed but...on our wedding? But, like I said, not really worried about it. All I can think about are white, blues, and a flag.

So these are the things I worry about. Welcome to my world. Only 7 more days.

-Tom Friedman

Saturday, November 21, 2009

'New Moon' needs a 'New Cast'

So, as you know, I'm working for as an intern. For about 3 weeks I've been doing 15-20 short, entertainment news articles a week (10 hours) and recently the editor (John Neal) said that I should brainstorm some features. I came up with a few ideas that he liked, one of which was pretty urgent: a movie review for 'New Moon.'

His reply came early yesterday morning:

"If you can get in to see New Moon and put a review up asap, do it."

The earliest showing for Friday was 12:45 at the Grand Lake Theatre, just a mile or so away from where I live. As you also may know, money's been a little tight (maybe I've never outright said that, but I'm still unemployed, for goodness sake, of course money is tight!), tight enough that I had to seriously consider whether the $6.50 for admission would be worth it. At about 12:25, I decided to stay in and work on some of the other features that wouldn't cost a penny to do. I set out to make some oatmeal and then remembered that Grand Lake Theatre gives free popcorn with each movie ticket. In my sometimes weirdly-functioning brain, I figured that the free popcorn could balance out the cost of eating and justify a ticket.

So, at 12:44, I put on some sweats and a hoodie and ran to Grand Lake Theatre.

It was cold. It was raining. I had my notebook tucked into the small-ass pocket of my hoodie and ran the whole way. By the time I got there, I was basically drenched from head to chest. I stopped running about a block before the theatre so I could catch my breath. I'm new around here and may be living in the area for a while, so the last thing I want people to remember me as is the grown-ass man who came into the theatre soaking and out of breath to see Twilight...alone.

"One for New Moon, 12:45," I said with as much cool as I could muster. It was 12:53. No biggie. Previews always offer a CPT-cushion. As I passed the lady taking ticket stubs, I tried not to look her in the eye.

When I went before to see 2012, the free popcorn was a nice surprise. The lady behind the counter had them ready and waiting as we approached the concession stand. This time, though, I knew something was different. When the lady saw me coming, she made no moves to get a fresh bag. She looked like she was ready to take my order.

Son of a bitch!

" you still do the free popcorn thing?" I asked with my best apparition of a smile. I waved the ticket stub weakly, but I already knew I should have called before hand.

"Sorry," she said. "That's only for Monday-Thursday."

Part of me thought of buying some popcorn right then and there, maybe as a pride thing. But that part died as quickly as Glitter did at the box-office. I slumped away to the cold, dark theatre.

I watched the movie. I took notes. In the end, it's not something I would see again, but exactly what I expected based off the first book (yes, I read it, but for research purposes only...Stephenie Meyer is a best-selling author, so it only makes sense for me to read her shit if I want to be in the same (read: better) shoes one day) and movie. The title of this post just about sums up how I felt about it.

Luckily, the sun was out when I left. When I got back to the apartment, I sat down, thought about it some more, and got to writing.

And golly-gee, it actually got posted! Maybe they'll put me on the payroll eventually? Either way, I'm enjoying the experience.

Without further ado: New Moon: JKey's Review

And don't forget to VOTE! Some of the other competitors already have a great following and although it's hard to compete with that, I think I have a killer video and if I can show the judges that I can still stay in the rankings from scratch, maybe that will earn me some points. Remember, you can vote DAILY!

Third Day Under the Dome

The beginning is officially over. The whole town knows the basics of the situation: there's a huge forcefield around the town. The initial chaos has finlly settled down but some interesting things are starting to take place. Of course, the law and social order of the town will change now that they're cut off and that's already starting to happen. There are clear underlying ulterior motives in the people who are bringing themselves in to ultimate power and I foresee a division. Also, characteristic of King, there are some religious zealots in the town that will surely shape up to have interesting roles.

It is still unclear whether there are supernatural happenings going on here. There are some hints of such, but it could just be a coincidence/insanity of certain characters. People have therories of what the dome is so far, but I'd guess the real cause wouldn't be given (even if just a little bit) this early on.

Upon starting this book, I was wondering how King would do with the vast amount of characters he has. As he introduces more and more, I still find some of them hard to keep up with (especially with the nicknames), but a vast majority are surprisingly memorable. King seems to have found a balance between backstory and moving along what's in the present. I was initially worried that a lot of the book would delve too much into each character's past and not enough of the present and while there are still times when I'm rushing through a character's memories to get back to the story at hand, King supplies enough to make these characters feel real without hurting the overall flow.

Another thing I notice about Kin and his progression from his initial novels like Carrie and Salem's Lot to Under the Dome is the use of vocabulary. Two summers ago, while in Ecuador, I read a lot of books and kept a pen to underline the words I didn't know. When reading an early King novel, I could expect almost an unknown word per page. Now, I hardly have any problems with any of the vocabulary. I've noticed this difference widely in his earlier versus later books. I have no preference either way and the writing is definitely not 'simple,' just an observation I made.

Some of the use of technology seems forced/out of place. Maybe its because a lot of the books I read I'm not used to seeing mention of main gadgets that have evolved over the past ten years, but at times it feels like King wrote the first draft without them and then when he went back through he just plopped them in. Either that or it feels satiric. Which is fine, but it would seem that in any time period you write a book in, there would have been something new (the television, the microwave, cell phones, the Internet) and I don't remember these 'new' things standing out so much in old books. Maybe it's that now-a-days the popular things have more of a name brand than before. Instead of 'smart phone' it's iPhone or instead of mp3 player it's iPod. And then there are the well known internet names like Facebook, Twitter, and Google. When I see these mentioned in books, it feels like a certain statement is being made.

Well, those are my thoughts so far. It really is a great read. I had to stop myself from reading last time instead of wondering when the next chapter would end so I could finally go and do something else. I just wish it didn't have to end.

That being said, it would be col if King did a web-series that he wrote on everyday/weekly that went on indefinitely. Kind of like a tv show....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Twitter Horror Story

If I get 1000 votes in the next 24 hours, I will rite a short story that involves Twitter and post it here on my blog.

Here's the link: Vote. For. ME!

Ok, let's make it happen!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Second day Under the Dome

People are starting to realize that there's a serious problem. The initial chaos of the first few hours is settling as Day 1 comes to a close. Now we can expect the real conflict to begin, and for the different reactions of all the characters to start to collide and bump heads.

And there are a lot of characters! There's actually a list of residents for the small town at the beginning of the book. As of right now, it's easy to get them mixed up, especially since King likes to give all of his characters nicknames that he uses as reference on and off. I expect that as I read more and am introduced to each character's unique quirks, telling them apart will be easier.

Under the Dome offered a great beginning. Now, let's see if it will keep it up.

And yes, I do realize that maybe I am a little too excited about this book. But hey, I'm a reader. I'm a writer. I love this shit.

Video for Good Mood Blogger goes live!


Hey all! I made it to the next round for the Sam-E Gig which, of course, means that you get to see a video of me acting foolish! Well, not quite (for that, search through my blog for my australia vid!), but I can be a little silly at times.

This round is more based on the judges than the actual voting, but voting is still a part of the final tally! Besides, if the judges like someone but they fail to get people to come and support then they'll think that candidate won't be the best to bring new traffic to their site.

Shout out to my Stanford friend Austin Henderson for editing the video. He did a great job in just a short amount of time. Even the little things, like on the cafe part when I look out the window and then it cuts to me looking out the window in the other angle. Stuff you proooobably don't notice, but I definitely didn't shoot it with that in mind. But he did a great job, even when the clock was ticking down, the camera kept dying, or the computer kept freezing up.

And, of course, shout out to my girlfrind Johanna for doing the shooting! She seemed more excited about the quality of her shooting abilities than the upcoming contest tho, haha. If you're reading this, Jo, I'm kidding.

I would post the video here, but you can't vote from here. And I know how laziness works, so for now, I'll keep the video on the site.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The dome drops. Experiencing the Dome, Day 1

This book definitely starts off with a bang…or, rather, a dome. King puts us right into the action with all of the initial chaos ensuing from the invisible barrier that all of a sudden falls over the town. It’s gorier than I expected. This is nothing like The Simpsons. Since the dome is invisible and no one knew it was coming, cars, planes, and trucks smash into the barrier full speed. One woman is unlucky enough to have her house right on the barrier and gets her hand clean sliced off while tending to her garden. People who are racing to the scene of one crash end up just creating another, but this time the white outline on the pavement will be their own.

But the dome isn’t the only thing going on in town. A grisly murder happens silently as the booms and sirens associated with the dome rock the town.  There’s a lot of potential set up here, especially after hearing that the whole story takes place in the span of one week.

I wonder what route King will take with this. Will he go the spiritual way, like in The Stand and Insomnia, or pure horror like IT and The Shining. Or maybe it will be one of his more straight-forward books, like Misery. I would say ‘who knows,’ but, of course, all those fast readers out there know!

Well, either way, I’m going to get back to reading!

Thursday, November 12, 2009,, and articles on the side...

What's up, everybody. Part of the reason that I have not been writing in this blog is because I've been writing so much for other things.

Scribophile is an online writing community and its owner, Alex Cabal, recently took me on as one of three blog writers. I write for them every Wednesday. Generally I put up writing advice, especially since this is NaNoWriMo, but I want to try out book reviews/analyses and more conversational topics in the future.

TheCelebrityCafe is the Internet's oldest entertainment news site. I currently intern with them, writing 20 articles a week (10 hours) in their entertainment features section. The internship is for 3 months and hopefully it will lead to something bigger...?

Suite101 is an online magazine with regular people like you and me as writers. I've been slacking on this the most because, like this blog, it isn't a committment but rather something I do out of enjoyment. I want to start writing there again, maybe a post per day.

I've managed to get 'feeds' of my writings for all of these sites on to the side bar of this here blog. Peruse if you will and always feel free to comment however you may like.

Man, this blog is becoming like one big 'ole resume. I can dig it.

The Return of J.Key, With Under the Dome Impressions

It's been a while since I posted, amidst job search, car crash (!!!), and...well, mainly job search. But I want to return to my blog. Here are a few quick updates that I hope to return to in more detail later:

  • I write for I write 20 entertainment articles weekly. Anyone know how I can get a side-bar on this blog that displays links to the articles I've written? That would be awesome.
  • I still write for My latest post: Weird As Fiction
  • I'm moving on to the next round of the Sam-E Good Mood Gig! Woo!! Now I just have to make a hot-fire video in the next few days.
  • I'm broke.
  • I got a parking ticket the other day. Damn street sweepers and their 'don't park here for 3 hours out of this random weekday' rule. 
  • I moved to Oakland. Got an apartment and everything.

Now that that's out of the way, I want to get to the meat of it. I was pondering on whether or not to buy Stephen King's Under the Dome. It's the latest, hottest thing in the book-world, but it's 22 bucks at my local target (and this is discounted from its list price of 35!). I stood in Target for no less than 10 minutes, looking at the monster of a novel, and then put it back. Just don't have the money. But through some self-convincing, I decided to go back and get it, read about 50-100 pages a day, and write about my experience with it each day. I figure this would not only be a cool thing to do, but may attract readership to the blog while the book is still hot. And then, once done, I want to post reviews on here (of course), on (before they kick me off for lack of activity), maybe TheCelebrityCafe (if I get the green light) and an analysis on

Also, look forward to me finishing my cross-country roadtrip stories and starting the 'Employment Chronicles" (Title Pending) in the near future.

-Justin C. Key

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Breached 1000 votes!

Vote! Vote! Vote Again!

As many of you know, I am applying for the Sam-E blogging position and the first round is based off votes. At the end of voting (which I believe is either at the end of this month or one week after that), the 20 people with the most votes will move on to the next round. Currently I think I am about 3-400 behind the bottom person of the top 20, but they already had a good amount of votes when I signed up, so I'm catching up to them for sure. The 'vote daily' has been both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you can vote daily!  On the other hand, so can everyone else's supporters, and I can get a lot of people to vote for me, but the question is, can I get a lot of people to continue voting? It feels like everyday I'm starting fresh. For example, I might get 500 people to vote for me today, but then I need to re-convince them to vote for me tomorrow.

At the end of the day, I think I'm doing well and I can only continue to do well with you alls' help. The good news is that the next round is a combination of votes and editor's pick. ANNND it's a video comp, which should be fun. You get to see me act a fool on camera for a job and if that's not incentive to vote, I don't know what is.

Clicking this link will help cure world hunger. writer.

Hey guys. Some of you might have heard of, or maybe have read an article or two on there unknowingly. Either way, it's a site where people write articles under just about any category. You have to apply to be a writer and--while I'm not sure how tight their screening process is--I applied and was allowed to join. Now, these articles are different than what I'm used to writing. Here, I can be free-flowing, off the top of the dome, just tell it like it is. But there, these are actual, legit, articles with editors and people that seem to take it seriously. You can't just post things reflecting your own thoughts. They actually have to hold weight and be credible and all that jazz. Found, right?

Either way, Suite101 gets much more traffic than this blog does and people seem to be making money off it, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. My plan right now is to post movie, books, and television show reviews. Maybe as time goes on I'll start posting more news-ish articles, or maybe even informative ones on a topic I like, but right now I'm sticking to something safe and that continually gives me something to write about without having to search for it (the TV is right in my room and the movie theatre is right down the street).

Without further ado, here are the two articles I've written so far. One is a review on Law Abiding Citizen and the other is a review on Fox's new show, Modern Family. Let me know what you think, any advice you may have to be successful at Suite101, and look out for another blog post at Scribophile tomorrow.

-Justin C. Key

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dream Journal: 9/11 part 2

I had a pretty vivid/coherent dream last night. By this, I mean it actually made sense. There weren't too many trippy dream elements.

I was in Washington, DC, walking home with one of my friends. I forget what we were out doing, but it was early in the morning. Anyway, we passed by a view of the capitol (which isn't hard to do, you can see see it from almost anywhere) and it was blown to shit! No, more accurately, it was stills standing but it looked like someone had put a big diagonal scar through it, similar to the Twin Towers before they fell.

We rushed home and, of course, it was all over the news. Apparently a terrorist had sent a scud missle all the way from over seas and hit the capitol overnight. They had videos of the impact and I remember that they kept showing it again and again and again (ok, so here's the trippy dream part, I just remembered: on the news report it said that when they found the terrorist he was being rescued by his 15-pound daughter...then later I thought maybe it was 15-pound cat...?).

I think that was about it. I remember asking if this means that they could sent a nuclear weapon over here and one of my knowledgeable friends said no for some reason that I believed. Nonetheless it's been a while since 9/11 (weird how the time has gone by and weird that there are a generation of people now how can talk and walk and think and do math problems who did not exist yet on that fateful day) and if people out there still hate America (which I'm sure they do), it's just a matter of time....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Blogging gig at Scribophile.

I recently applied for and nabbed a blogging gig at, a growing site about writing and literature where you can go to talk about your favorite books, your life as a writer, or to get peer feedback on your works. The site recently (to my understanding) had one main blogger and the owner (Alex) just hired two newbies, me being one of them of course. The great thing (besides getting a little piece of change for what I do anyway) is that the owner wants the posts to be informal, fun pieces and I'm definitely down for that. Also, I started a blog to start getting my name out there so that I can better sell myself when I finally do seek publication (time should be coming around soon, cross your fingers) and this allows me to tap in an already established (and still growing) audience.

My first post there is about combating writer's block and my next post will be about the importance of reading and how to fit it into your busy schedule. I'll be posting weekly, every Wednesday.

You can check the first post here (and feel free to comment. oh, and check out the site, too. definitely worth it):

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cross-Country Trip: Day 2: The Long Road

Day 2 was all about driving. The open road. Putting the pedal to the medal. Getting from point A to B and whatever other phrases you can think of. I think Day 2 was when I drove the whole day. I opted to do it, and at first Johanna laughed at my request, but I figured I needed driving practice time in and I was starting to enjoy going 90 on those long stretches of nothing-road.

The plan was to drive all day to the Mt. Rushmore area and find a hotel there so we could go and visit first thing in the morning. So far, so good. Only thing was we slept til about 10 a.m. and were lethargic in getting our day started. But we finally got a move on, packed up, and checked out.

Remember I mentioned the toll charges? Well, my Tom-Tom has a feature to avoid the toll lanes so we decided to try it out. It made for an interesting morning. About 30 minutes into the trip we realized that the roads we were on all looked like they hadn't been paved since afros were in style. We were officially in the backroads of America and I started thinking stuff like 'hmm, we could probably find a little farm that sells bunny rabbits on this road.' I was a little worried about the wear and tear on my car (consistently, about every 30 or so miles there was a sign that said 'bump' which should have said 'HOLY SHIT, SLOW DOWN!'), but the change in scenery was worth it. It was the kind of setting you think of when you hear of Little House on the Prairie (minus the racism) or what you see in those cheesy commercials where people are running through meadows.

Nevertheless, it was agreed that from now on we'd just pay the damn toll. But, luckily, all the tolls were behind us anyway.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. We listened to The Shack by William P. Young (first time author, but doesn't he just sound like he should be famous?) on audiotape along the way. I had already listened to it (which reminds me, I should post a review of it...also a post about audiotapes...ding ding ding, ideas!), but it was Johanna's first time. Without going much into it, it's basically the story of a father who loses his daughter to a serial killer and a struggling faith in God. Interesting, to say the least. But, again, we'll return to that later.

Another notable thing is that we stopped at a shop in Minnesota. It was a colorful store with quilts and dolls and hats and all kinds of other randoms. I didn't see this myself, but Johanna told me inside that she ran across an Omish man and they continued to stare eachother like they couldn't believe what they were seeing. I guess he'd never seen a real life black person and Johanna a real life Omish (or maybe she'd never seen an Omish intrigued by a black person). either way, I immediately remembered that M&M commercial where they meet Santa:

We got into Rushmore territory pretty late and discovered that we should have booked a hotel ahead of time: all of them seemed to be full for the weekend. We finally found this place with a room for 49 bucks. The cheapness was kind of scary, but it was a room and the Yelp comments weren't too bad. Either way, we had a place to rest our heads. And we'd need it, because the next day we were Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone bound.

-Justin C. Key

Dream Journal #2

Just napped--hard--for about an hour. The main dream I can't really remember, but I think it was some kind of nightmare. Then there was this weird period of trying to get up and had 3 rapid succession dreams.

First I remember being in the bed and seeing ants crawling down the walls in waves. I remember when I would turn on the light (from the bed--how, I don't know), they'd kind of thin out, but when I turned the light back off, they just swarmed harder.

Then I thought I was getting up. This consisted of me thinking I was sliding my legs off the bed, slowly, and trying to push myself up. I felt like my body was very heavy and hard to move, which I thought was just a result of heavy sleep. I even remember checking my computer.

Then I was back in dreamworld just like that and for some reason I was driving to the edge of a dock and almost forgot to break and slid to a stop right before going over the edge.

It was weird how the dreams came so close to eachother. It was like treading water, only badly, and my head kept dipping beneath the surface. I wish I could remember that original dream. I also slept for a lot less time than it felt like.

Good Mood Gig Talent Search

Hello all. So, in my search for opportunities to get my writing out there, I ran into this little gem.

Basically, it's a job that has you posting one post per day about how you sustain your good mood. The first round is based solely off of votes and I think they want to see who is good at utilizing social media. So, please, vote for me. And you can vote once per day, so keep returning!

Also, this explains that good mood sticker on the side, just in case anyone was wondering.

-Justin C. Key