Tuesday, January 31, 2012


February is always the shortest month––even when it's a Leap Year like 2012.

But not this year.  This year I promise to pack so much interesting, weird stuff into February that it will seem like the LONGEST month on the calendar!

I am putting together THREE CHALLENGES––one of them begins today––and at the end of the whole thing (you must complete ALL THREE) some lucky person is going to win something really unique and bizarre:


Now, I know that sounds kinda ho-hum, but believe me, it will be anything but.

Firstly, I will provide you with the lunch.  I will give you a bunch of options (I know there are Vegans, Veggies, Gluten Frees, Atkins, Low Carbs, Fruitarians, Pescetarians, Hardcore Carnivores) that you can choose from and that choice will be delivered to your door.

Secondly, I will eat something disgusting, something worthy of Andrew Zimmern - and there will be Chocolate Covered Ants for dessert!

Thirdly, we will toast to your CHALLENGE prowess and your health and to the health of all the people who tried and failed to win this special lunch.

Fourthly, we will video the Chocolate Covered Ant eating (you may choose not to be on camera for this) and post it to youtube so that everyone can make fun of me.

Not so ho hum now, is it?  Oh, you naysayers, be quiet!  (I'll deal with you later)


So let me lay out the design of the first Challenge and tell you what the MAGIC NUMBER and the MAGIC WORD is!



I am looking for at least 77 reviews of Serpent's Storm by 2/17/12 - each review must contain the word CHICKEN in it––now don't be cross, you guys gave me the MAGIC NUMBER and the MAGIC WORD––and it must contain a way to contact you: either your twitter ID, your email, your blog site or your FACEBOOK name.

If I get 77 reviews (distributed among the qualifying sites I will list below) then I will choose the review I think most creatively uses the MAGIC WORD (chicken) and that first challenge winner gets to pick (between two choices) the YOUTUBE video song I will embarrassingly sing for the world.

The two choices are: Wind Beneath My WingsI Love You Period

How does that sound?

Remember, this is only the FIRST CHALLENGE.  And you have to complete it if you want to be in the running to win the SKYPE DISGUSTING LUNCH!!

I will announce the SECOND CHALLENGE on 2/16/12 - be ready!

BELOW ARE THE QUALIFYING SITES & the review must be made between today and 2/17/11*: 







*if you already reviewed the book on any of these sites prior to 1/31 then email Benson Entertainment (bensonentertainment@hotmail.com) with the subject line "CHICKEN 77" - include proof of your review (a cut and past copy will suffice) and a paragraph explaining why you love, hate or feel mediocre toward CHICKEN & I will add you to the contest!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Scott Walker: 30 Century Man

Netflix recommended this documentary to me.  The algorithms tonight couldn't have been more prescient.

The idea that art is art, outside of self and taste and worth.  That is the question I am grappling with tonight.  Intellectually, I believe that it doesn't matter what anyone thinks of something I've created.  In practice, of course, that's not a truth.  I am just as human as anyone else, stymied by negativity.

Then I watch this goddamned documentary 'Scott Walker: 30 Century Man' and am confronted with a man who seems to walk the walk and not just talk the talk (like me).  To just create, to just wholly and utterly give birth to what is inside of you, and not disown it or vilify it or praise it, but let it go, unjudged.  To be pleased with the process, alone, and unfettered by what anyone thinks...this is the ultimate goal.

Like in Buddhism there is the notion of transcending self.

In art it is the notion of transcending judgement...your own or anyone else's.

Now go create and damn the consequences!

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I was introduced to something last night that, at first, I thought was a joke.  I was having dinner with my friends Colleen, Anton, and Maureen, and over the largest bowl of guacamole I'd ever encountered in all my thirty-five years, I was introduced to the romance sub-genre 'The Bonnet Ripper'.

This only came about because I was regaling them with the details of my bizarre train trip across America and how I had seen a number of Mennonite women on the train reading what looked like romance novels.

That's when someone, I forget who, chimed in: Bonnet Rippers!

It looks as if the 'Bodice Ripper' has been co-opted by the religious set.   I thought TWILIGHT was the penultimate of all the no kissing, no sex until marriage literature, but apparently I was wrong.  It seems that the Amish and Mennonite Bonnet Rippers have all the angst and overheated emotion of the Harlequin universe, but without any of the sex.  Totally trumping Twilight - cause they made with the disastrous sexy sex, ya know. 

I, for one, am very curious to read one of these books because there is only so much 'throbbing member' action a person can take before they start to feel kind of pervy.  I know this for fact because when I was thirteen years old I read one hundred Harlequin Romance books in two very short weeks.

This was the summer my family moved from Orlando, FL to Los Angeles, CA.  It took my sister, mother and me two weeks to do it.  (We took our time, stopping at all the roadside attractions like we were - unintentionally - retracing Lolita and Humbert Humbert's path across America.)  Along the way, we made a pit stop in Huntsville, AL to see my grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins.

That's when I discovered my Aunt Carolyn belonged to the Harlequin Romance Book of The Month Club.   Always a voracious reader (of anything I could get my hands on) and my Aunt Carolyn knew this, giving me a black garbage bag full of Harlequin romances to read along the trip.  There had to have been over a hundred of those suckers straining to get out of their plastic bag prison and I obliged them all by reading every one of'em.

As we drove across the country, I would read two or three of the books in a sitting, depositing them in the drawers of the motels we stayed in at night - kinda like soft core pornographic Gideon Bibles.  It was a strange time in my life...REM's Out Of Time playing through the headphones of the boom box I'd brought with me, the words 'throbbing manhood' swimming on the pages of the books in front of me. 

A very odd time, indeed.

I don't know how all of this really ties into Bonnet Ripping, I guess it does somehow because it definitely got the synapses in my brain all fired up.

Heck, the next time you see me I may be wearing a bonnet.  I hear those Amish men are pretty amazing at 'driving the buggy'. 

Wink, wink.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Triangle Tara Thanks You: Addendum

Triangle Tara wanted to take a moment to send a special thanks to Theresa Grammer who has built the beautiful fundraiser site for her every year and personally puts in a lot of time and effort to help Tara spread the word!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


You guys are amazing!  You helped Triangle Tara raise $1000 for the Los Angeles Food Bank - plus that's not even counting the donations some of you made to the food bank in order to be registered for the Doll and Surprise Gift drawing!*

Triangle Tara and I send you big love and hugs for making this happen.  You rawk!

  • Los Angeles Regional Foodbank Customer Receipt/Purchase Confirmation‏

To Amber Benson
Thank you for your order!
Order Information
Merchant:Los Angeles Regional Foodbank
Description:Donation to LAFoodBank.org
Invoice Number:67602

Billing Information
Amber Benson
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

Shipping Information

Total: US $1000.00


 *PS: The Surprise Gift was the actual Justin Bieber T-Shirt (signed) I wore and took about a million pictures in for that Scavenger Hunt Misha Collins put on!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Solitary vs Interconnected

Wow, that last post really seemed to have touched a nerve - my own included. 

Why are relationships so hard to make work?  Just look at the comments section in that last post and you will see why.  So many varied reasons, so many individual stories of heartache and triumph...it blew my mind.

Of course, how can that question not touch a raw nerve?  Relationships are what define us. Without the input of other people we have very little framework outside of ourselves to figure out who we are.  For example, I spend a lot of time creating things, but without other people to read and see what I make, the effort of creating falls a little flat. 

Yes, even if I lived in a vacuum, I would still be moved to write and make stuff, but the thrill of having someone else experience my creation is like nothing else out there...okay, it's probably on par with falling in love, but that happens so, so, so infrequently (like once every trillion years) that I gotta rely on creating stuff to get my jollies off.

But whether it's being creative or falling in love, the common denominator is 'being experienced'.  When someone experiences us through our work or through falling in love with us, it's like we become immortal for that moment.  We don't just exist in our own heads, we exist in the minds of the people we have touched. 

It's like being on your computer vs. being on your computer that's connected to the Internet.

I like the idea of being connected, of knowing that as I write this, there will be people out there who will read my words and be affected by them.   Negatively or positively, I can't control...just that the act of 'being experienced' is enough.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Why Are Relationships So Hard?

Why are relationships so hard? You like someone, they like you...so why doesn't it work. The whole thing should be easy - what with biological imperatives and the like - but instead this is one of the most complicated and prescient questions out there. It crosses gender, social, economic, religious lines and is applicable to pretty much everyone on the planet. Sure there are still arranged marriages and other situations where people are forced to be together, where they have no say in whether they work as a couple or not, but those examples are getting to be few and far between as the Western notion of picking your own partner becomes standard practice all over the world.

If I had an answer for this question - even a semi-plausible one that sounded kinda good - I would share it with you. But I am as in the dark about this as everyone else.

What do you think? It's not an essay question. No one is being graded. I'm just curious.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Great Expectations

I have romanticized this journey.

Nothing can survive the wrath of great expectations. I think it was the sitting up sleeping that finally broke me. I can handle babies and their poo, a lack of functioning electrical outlets so I can't work on my computer, even paying 2.50 for a tiny pack o'peanuts.

But the sit up sleeping...now that was a killer. That and the stinky feet, farting and snoring that goes along with sleeping in a train car with about eighty or so other people.

I am not a super whiny person, but when I don't get enough sleep and going to the bathroom is a quasi-spectator sport, well, I'm not at my best.

I'm now on the second leg of my journey and there's another whole twenty hours to go. One more night of sit up sleep.

I romanticized this trip - I thought it would be chill and fun. That it was not. It felt like work.

Monday, January 2, 2012

On The Train

There is a little girl in the seat behind me, singing. The songs are all nonsense with a few cannibalized bits of real song repurposed into her own. She has a high, clear little kid voice as she stands at the window looking out at the New Mexican landscape.

There's snow on the ground, something I haven't seen in a long time. It coats the desert floor, the scrub brown and dead underneath its wintery coat.

A guy keeps coming over and telling me that 'he's been noticing me'. It's a train. Not too many places you can disappear to. I just smile and nod, slide my headphones on. He seems harmless, but there's something about traveling alone, the vulnerability I guess, that makes me regard him nervously.

I am on the train with a group of Mennonites. You would think that they would be the ones with Bibles out, but it's really the older Hispanic women and the young charismatic Christian women littered throughout the train that are on Bible watch. The Mennonites are too busy playing with their kids and reading fiction to commune with God.

Writing this, I wonder if my expectations about the Mennonites are solely informed by my lack of any kind of interaction with them. They seem very nice and very self-contained and really only can be marked out as 'religious' because of their dress.

I think there's just something inherently fascinating to me about devout people (of all religions - I am not singling out the nice Mennonites with any of the below). Their adherence to another way of life, another way of interacting and dressing, it's impressive - especially to someone like me who lives a very ambivalent and rootless (as far as religion) life.

I admire their determination. When that determination is applied in a positive way, a lot of good is done - but the reverse is also true. So much suffering has been meted out in the name of God.

Poor God, always the scapegoat. Even on a train, barreling through New Mexico.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year's To Me

I am not making any New Year's resolutions this year. 

Why, you ask me - why am I not participating in the New Year's spirit like everyone else?  Because I know that I'm incapable of holding to any resolutions I might make. 

I could resolve to blog everyday...but I know I'll fail to do it one day and that'll blow the whole thing.

I could resolve not to bite my nails...but I know that the first time I'm really stressed out or upset my nails will be back in mouth, drenched in Amber slobber.

I could resolve not to eat gluten (my mom is gluten intolerant)...but invariably I will break down at dinner somewhere and end up stuffing a roll in my mouth.

I appreciate the concept of making resolutions, of wanting to break bad habits and start good ones, but I am also realistic about who I am and what I'm capable of.  I don't want to rain on anyone else's parade.  If you're a good resolution keeper then by all means do it...but I'm just tired of feeling guilty about the things I can't control.

So I eat my fingers, so I don't exercise as much as I should or eat as well as I ought to...that doesn't mean I should kick the crap outta myself.  We are just as much our failures and flaws as we are our successes...and, frankly, I don't think there's anything wrong with celebrating our mess-ups a little bit.

This year I am not resolving to do anything.  Instead I am going to celebrate my failures and screw ups.  I'm gonna try and learn from them, appreciate them for what they are and study them so I can have a little better insight into myself.

On that note:

Here's to the six Rum and Pineapple drinks I had last night.

Here's to the two hours of hardcore vomiting I did last night.

Here's to the insight I had into myself because of the drinking and vomiting.

And, finally...

Here's to what I learned from the whole lovely experience: Don't f*cking drink so much, idiot.