Secret Pop

Jan 30, 2005

I love a fireplace. Even when it's hot.

Too much play time. If there is such a thing. Too much late-nighting it. Too much no-sleeping it. Too much buying coffee in the wee hours on my way home and reheating it later in the evening so it can maybe pep me up in time for the night I have planned. Too much bad pool-playing.

I had a pretty great few days. I did my reffing runthrough. I had a spirited political discussion. I ate eggs benedict. I asked myself if I am perhaps misremembering all I learned from Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land. I bought my little sister pretty green martinis. I made new friends. I was a good friend. I skipped a lot of meals. But not enough. I want to have skipped at least twice as many. And I saw the sun come up time after time after time. Which is something I don't always get to -- or want to -- do.

On Friday night, bartender Jeff announced that whoever had put that Gomez song on the jukebox was going to do a shot with him. I jumped up and exclaimed, "It was meeeeeee!" And there has never been a prouder spaz. I sing counterpoint to songs I know when no one is around to hear. And I often wish I wrote some of it down for later.

Jan 29, 2005

There's a rock in my pocket, and I am also happy to see you.

You can glory in days like today. Even if you make the mistake I did of trying to go swimming in a fifty-eight degree (Fahrenheit) pool. I felt as if I was being stabbed by a thousand icy daggers, and moving my limbs only made it worse. That whole Titanic disaster makes so much more sense to me now. For the longest time, I shook my head at all who died because I was certain they just didn't want it bad enough. "It" being survival. But, yeah, cold water is no picnic. And a picnic in cold water would also be much less a picnic, if you ask me.

I've been staying out too late. Night after night of coming home at seven a.m. is cranking up the volume on my mother's disapproval-colored concern. And I was sitting in the bath today and had the ironic thought, "I never sleep, AND YET I'm always tired." Existence is riddled with contrast. And some people don't know which conjunctions to use and when.

I went to Lou's today to pick up Mig's fancy schmancy Serge Gainsbourg boxed set. The dudes behind the counter clearly ascribed Mig's coolness to me, even when I let them know that I'm just the girl who is picking the thing up and then opening it and ripping all the tracks from it (with Mig's permission, of course). It's been a long time since I've shopped in a record store with people "cool" enough to take an interest in what I'm purchasing. I have unusual musical proclivities. If I had hung around and shopped any longer, I could very well have been asked out by one of those guys. Or at least offered a sedan chair ride around the store. I bought a way expensive Agnetha Faltskog boxed set on a whim, and that's one of those things that's so dangerously lame as to be cool. I have to be careful not to rack up too many of those points. Dangerously lame eventually tips the scales in its own favor.

I finally got to see Beulah and look at her pictures from her fabulous East Coast trip. I will put some of them up in my own photo pages, because I like them so much, and because she does not (yet) have a web site. And I am also possibly going to be visiting New York in early March for nine or ten days, in which case, I will take all the exact same pictures, only with me in them instead of her.

This is going to be the year I set something on fire and discover that, by doing so, I have released its secret magic. I can't be held responsible if a lot of unmagical burned things litter my wake in the meantime. I'm going to burn it all to the ground. I can feel it.

Jan 26, 2005

Home Stretch

When you've been running for a few miles, and all you can smell is the exhaust and the dirt and the sweat on your face, a breath of grass-scented sprinkler mist is like being smashed in the face with your favorite flavor of ice cream. Heaven. And if heaven is, in fact, your favorite flavor of ice cream, I mean to ask you what angels taste like. And if anyone could avoid getting tired of the taste of milk and honey after, oh, say, twelve or thirteen spoonfuls. I don't like milk and honey on a good day. An eternity of it seems excessive. If there is a heaven for me, and it is food-based, I will have prime rib for every meal. And if there is an ironic hell in which I am forced to eat prime rib at every meal, thereby destroying the joy I once got from it, I say bring it on. The devil himself has no idea how much prime rib it would take to make me tire of it.

I went running today on the stretch of Olympic that I always used to take. A five-mile round trip I measured with my car and confirmed with the assistance of Mapquest. It's been a long time since I've taken that route. I stopped running out of doors when it got too hot in mid-2003. I went and got myself a gym membership and never made enough use of it. It's just so much easier to throw on your shoes and support clothing and stumble out the door. I hate having to remember to get parking validation when I'm on the treadmill.

It was beginning to sprinkle when I was at my halfway mark, but I never got caught in any sort of downpour. Except for the risk to my iPod, I wouldn't have minded. A run in the rain sounds lovely. But a run past an array of sprinklers, showering a patch of green green grass, was sweet to say the least. If it had been hotter out, I might have stood there and let the shower get me. But it would only have refreshed me up to my knees. If it had been hotter, I would have wanted to run through a fountain in a city square. And not in that whimsical way the cast of Friends did. Just in an illegal and carefree way that leads to no actual municipal consequences. A good percentage of the joy in anything is not getting caught.

Giving it a rest

I haven't really gone anywhere. Some have asked. My absence went noticed. My silence did. I was missed. That's nice. There is a dance that is done. A tandem thing. The burden of meeting someone's expectation coupled with the reward of having met it. You must have it both ways. It does not exist otherwise. I'm speaking in some sort of broken verse. Small, unexplained pain in my sternum. It's late. I drank a bottle of Pellegrino and worried that -- it being made of glass -- my shaking hands might bobble it and cause it to crash to the floor and shatter into a million inconvenient pieces.

I haven't gone anywhere. I came home from San Diego on Sunday evening. Later than I had planned and with some work to do. I stayed up working until after seven a.m. I had a proposal to complete. And a portfolio to try and spruce up. At least a little. To make it less of the hodgepodge it was when I first threw it together. That throwing together happened in September of 2001. Right when this blog was being born. I created it on a promise, after my first interview at the company which eventually brought me to Los Angeles in the first place. And I have added to it occasionally, but I have never really given it the makeover it requires. That is still true today. I made some quick fixes. But the sloppiness shows. At least to me. I can see the directory structure, and I hate that it isn't what it would have been if I had created the whole thing today.

I did some shopping today, and I haven't even bothered to unwrap or try on any of the things I bought. And I came home hours and hours ago and only went out again for a bit. Where is my mind? Can I say that without hearing it in Frank Black's voice against Kim Deal's bass line? No. I don't think I can.

I also refitted the archive page that contains all of my blog posts save for this one. In doing so, I learned that I have written 654 pages and 323,954 words since beginning this three years ago. And that's just in this journal. That doesn't count my emails and other journals and scraps of paper I scribble on and then tuck under my watchband when I don't have any pockets. I do that. That's how much I don't want to forget when something seems worth remembering. I like that I take it seriously. Even if I shouldn't.

I have been asked a few times recently if I have -- or why I haven't -- written a book yet. The character count alone tells me I have no real excuse for not having done so. The only real hindrance is my overarching conviction that there could be nearly no merit in a book that was only ever about me. But the irony is not lost on me. That I chastise myself for not doing enough when I seem to be doing a great deal at every moment. I just haven't learned to count that way.

Tomorrow is already today. And I have some plans for it.

Jan 23, 2005

The Ol' Creak and Ache

I am happy with the shows from last night. I don't know what I did in the first show that was so noteworthy, but some guy in the audience actually yelled, "I love you, Mary," when we were wrapping up, and an unusual number of people leaving the theater after the show made a point of telling me I was extra-specially good. I can't say it was entirely justified, but I'll take it just the same. I got to play with people I like and run into people I like even more, and that amounts to a minuscule lessening of the volume in the cup of dissatisfaction that I carry with me at all times. Don't worry. As with all liquids, the evaporative process eventually leads to rain. And the next time it's raining disappointment, my cup will be out to catch it. Rest assured.

Also happy I went to The Casbah to find my friends, although it was too hot and sweaty there for me. Also happy I then went to the Ken Club with Yen and her friends, even though too much of our time was taken up by a guy named Sean, who wanted to tell us why the Chinese are so great. Also happy for junk food at Brians' and for drinking whiskey until dawn with John and his animatronic bull. Also happy that the staff at Ono Sushi were kind enough to save my camera for me. I left it there on Thursday night, but I didn't realize it was gone until yesterday. And when I called, they didn't think they had it. But they took my number and called me back and said they had it after all, and that is some good karma right there. For them. For me, it's just further proof that I might no longer be responsible enough to own a camera after all.

Beulah is nearly home. I will go fetch my camera, then drive up to meet her and hopefully fetch some affection from her. And then I will return home to my proper zip code, where I'm hoping a great big pile of money will be waiting for me. For those of you who are paying close attention, this is a foreshadowing of that precipitative disappointment that was promised earlier. Hey, I don't make the rules. It's just how nature works. And how clouds are made. And clouds are pretty, much of the time.

P.S. Realizing I don't apparently have enough synonyms for dissatisfaction and disappointment in my current word aresenal, I went to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary online and typed them both into the thesaurus engine. Disappointment apparently has no synonyms or antonyms (which is a lie). And dissatisfaction had the following words among it's synonymous options: dislike, aversion, bad books, disfavor, disinclination, displeasure, disrelish, distaste, and indisposition. I draw your attention particularly to disrelish, which I am curiously drawn to, and bad books, which sounds ridiculous and therefore must be used as often as possible. I was going to say that you learn something new every day, but that's not really true. You don't necesarily learn something new every day. But the opportunity for learning something relatively useless is apparently available on a near daily basis.

Jan 22, 2005

Sunshine on my shoulders

I went for a run today. I don't know my parents' new neighborhood all that well. My friend Rachel used to live around here with her husband, and I remember driving out to meet her one morning and having brekafast at the little coffee shop that is almost right across from my parents' house now. Afterwards, we went to a few thrift stores and to some sort of antique sale at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. I remember buying a green lamp. It is still in my bedroom.

Running along the streets and sidewalks is great for the get-to-know-you game. I now have a fairly complete inventory of the restaurants and shops nearby. I noticed that the Pannikin is very popular and that all taco shops smell the same. And I saw that Lou's Records has a Camper Van Beethoven CD for $13.49. It was gorgeous sunny out when I was getting dressed for my run, but by the time I laced up, stretched, and tried to figure out how to get out the security gate on my parents' property without the clicker, the marine layer had rolled back in, and I had to start out in the relative grey and cold. But by the time I had gone the first half mile or so, the sun seemed to be peeking out, and I was warm and conscious of the risk of more freckles. Something I have come to be reasonably at peace with.

I ran a few miles along the 101 and on the beach, where there were seagulls swarming over patches of kelp and kids toddling alongside their parents. Moms ineptly throwing footballs to their impatient pre-teen sons. Shapes drawn in the sand. Strange castle-like structures made of kelp and pieces of pallets and sticks and wire. Surfers and more surfers. Large rocks that are easy to turn your ankle on so you must step carefully, no matter the pace. Waves rolling in. Sunlight backlighting figures strolling towards me. Some amount of implied romance. My iPod didn't have enough juice, so I ran to the pace of my breathing. And in a way it was better. I was able to hear all the conversations I was running through. Little snippets of things that I could make my own sense of. Stories told out of context. Sort of like being in a Robert Altman film. I ran about a half mile on the beach. The tide was out, and the sand was vast and wet and hard-packed. And I mildly scolded myself for not having come sooner. For not having made a point of getting up early when I'm here and going down to the beach with a notebook or a sketchpad or a novel or a cup of coffee. I'm not a beach person. But I love the ocean. And being near it is a reminder of so many of the places I've lived and things that I've done and shoes that I've ruined by exploring tidepools. Beaches here on weekend days are interesting, too. They are expansive enough that you can be amongst hundreds of people, but you can have your privacy. And people walking past you don't bother you. They're not there for you. And it's nice that way.

I ran back up the hill and had to wait at the intersection for a while before I could cross. When that happens and I'm running, I just jog in place. I've gotten over wondering if I look foolish. I don't think anything of it. But while I was jogging in place, there were some guys in a truck in the left turn lane across from me, and from where I was, it looked as if the driver was moving his hands up and down to the rhythm of my bouncing. I don't know why. I suppose I can come up with a few scenarios. When the light changed and I ran across the street, they turned past me and said, "Bye!" I headed for the park, where children were making use of all the playground equipment (which includes a miniature rock-climbing wall), and parents were looking on with varying levels of interest. There is a sandy path that winds through the place, and I took it for as long as I could. Possibly because of the recent rains, a good stretch of the path was cordoned off, so I just moved to the grass when I had to. A birthday party was going on in one of the large pavilions. The bridge over the tiny man-made creek had a sign indicating that wheelchairs were not allowed. At least I assume that's what it meant. It was the handicap symbol (the guy in the wheelchair) with a circle around it and a line through it. I guess it could also have meant that no handicapped people are allowed to cross that bridge, but that seems too much geared towards my amusement and not at all in the interest of safety or convenience. And then I walked the last bit back to my parents' house. Cool down period, you know. And the cherry on top was the truck that pulled up behind me and idled on the two-lane road so that the driver could make that kiss sound out the window at me. He needed to do that so much, he didn't mind holding up the parade of cars behind him. Nor did he mind leaning across the woman in the passenger seat to get his puckering lips closer to the open window. Maybe it was his sister, and apparently he has some knowledge of outdoor acoustics. Anyway, I'm already not good at receiving compliments. Imagine how much more awkward I am when the compliment is actually sort of rude and inappropriate and when I have no real choice but to continue walking and hoping that it doesn't look like any extra bounce has been added to my step.

I was gone for an hour. Nearly on the nose. My internal clock is really quite impressive.

I took a shower and a bath (my parents have a luxurious abundance of hot water, and I often take advantage of that -- don't tell my mom), and that's that. I have shows to do tonight. Last night's shows went well. I was proud of some things and never terribly disappointed in anything. That's a victory of sorts. At one point, as the world's worst thing to say at a Wendy's protest, I said, "These hamburgers are made of Jesus." But I now wish I had said, "These hamburgers are made of stem cell research." In all things, my brain is always editing. Even improv. Which is cheating.

I don't like to be one of "those" people, but there really is something to be said for the value of vigorous exercise. It's a pain to plan for, and I can't say I really look forward to it or get excited about it or ever experience the mythical endorphin rush. I just know that I feel good when I'm done. Super good. And my face is all glowing and pink and my posture is better and I don't scowl so much when I pass the mirror on my way into the shower. I'm sure there must be some psychological method that could make it seem like less of a chore. But for the time being, the only thing that works is my dissatisfaction with how I look and feel when I'm not doing it. When I'm unhappy or dissatisfied or disquieted in some way, I do something. Not always the same thing. And not always the right thing. But I always do something in the hopes that it might be the thing that makes it all better for a moment. This protocol has led to the creation of a lot of miscellaneous junk over the years. It's like my brain says, If I'm going to be down, I might as well have something to show for it. And that's why I have this monumental fear of ever being content with everything. It's my displeasure with how things are that keeps me working and striving and thinking and reading and running and jumping and learning and hoping and reaching and bathing and grooming meticulously. It's a compromise.

Jan 19, 2005

I was driving home this afternoon and heard excerpts from Condoleezza Rice's confirmation hearing, and it was one of those moments when I wanted to phone someone and yammer in their ear about how dumb the world is, but I also didn't want to stop listening to the broadcast. So I just ended up jotting down my little notes in my little notebook whenever I was stopped at a red light and occasionally while I was actually moving down the road. No one was injured, but if someone had been, I'd have blamed Condoleezza Rice. And I'd have been the only one in the world, apparently, who holds her accountable for anything she has ever done -- for any sort of wrongdoing. I and Barbara Boxer -- who, by the way, has much more chutzpah (or as my workshop instructor said when she was trying to think of the word chutzpah, "puznaz" or "shuznaz") than Dianne Feinstein, whose asskissing introduction did little to warm my downtrodden, Democrat heart.
Anyway, I was listening to the confirmation hearings, and I almost laughed out loud at how ridiculous that Rice woman sounded when she was essentially scolding Barbara Boxer by saying, Senator, can we please talk about my lies without impugning my integrity or character? That's what's so fucking mindboggling about this administration. It's like a Twilight Zone of reason, wherein someone murders your grandmother and then says, "Let's just agree to disagree." As if that makes any sense at all. Here is Condoleezza Rice, carefully choosing language that NEVER admits error. The language of marketing people. The language of automobile advertising. Some of our decisions were very good; some were maybe not as good. But never does she say the words "wrong" or "bad" or "mistake" or "I'm sorry." And no matter how many times you play her a tape of her saying something you can PROVE she knew was false at the time she said it, she will still look at you with that bitchy, mole-speckled expression and say, "Now, now. Let's not be rude and inappropriate. I would appreciate it if you would refrain from impugning my integrity." But that's STILL not an answer. That's what drives me batty about all of this political posturing. You can show a Bush offical a file or a video clip or a photograph empirically proving that what he or she said or did was wrong or even unlawful, and he or she will shrug and say something folksy like, "You can't always call a ladybug a hare," or, "Log cabins aren't made of molasses," and America will look at each other in bewilderment and say, "Well, I guess that's true." I just want to yell in the loudest voice possible: "WHY CAN'T YOU JUST ADMIT THAT YOU WERE WRONG?????"
What kind of example is this setting for our young people? This administration is one of second chances, of never holding people accountable. George W. Bush gets a DUI and there are essentially no consequences. He goes on to both lie about it and to become president. And to remain president for a second term. There are no consequences for Donald Rumsfeld, whose own rhetoric implies that he should be the one to take responsibity for military mistakes that were made, including the embarrassing proceedings at Abu Ghraib. Bush has been very clear in saying that he doesn't feel anyone should lose their job for whatever mistakes have been made, and I just don't understand that. Why is America okay with that? This is a country which -- almost to our discredit -- believes that an eye should be paid for with an eye. All these conservatives with their death penalty fervor and their frothing at the mouth at the prospect of crushing our various enemies, you'd think they would be the sort that demands that someone pays when a tab is run up. After all, these are the people at whose hand the Salem witch hunts commenced. These are the people who want CEOs to resign or be incarcerated when their pension plans get gobbled up in illicit corporate activities. These are the people who think that three strikes legislation that sends certain people to prison for life for the most minor of offenses is essentially a winning concept, since people who make mistakes are just going to make them again, and why should we as a society keep allowing them to make them on our dime? It's quite literally unfathomable to me that the rash rightmindedness of the Republican constituency hasn't demanded a fall guy. I mean, I know that Oliver North has his own show on Fox News now, but for a while there, he was the punch line of a lot of jokes. And what about the Watergate guys? Some of those guys even did prison time (although, of course, I admit they also largely ended up with their own shows). Reagan and Nixon -- as Republican as they come -- their administrations recognized the value of a scapegoat. Why has this administration stepped out of line on this topic? Why does George W. Bush believe that saying he's never wrong over and over again will make it so? I guess the only answer to that is: Because we let him. And, yes, I said "we." I did not vote for that jerk, but I also did not move to The Netherlands. And I clearly did not give enough money to the Democratic Party, and I did not go out and campaign enough, and I did not believe hard enough in fairies. So, yes, this is on me, too.
It's not that I believe a Republican government can't be a good government. I just can't put any amount of faith in a government that doesn't think I can tell when it's lying. When a child -- even the smallest child -- catches a grown-up in a lie, that child ceases to trust that grown-up. Plain and simple. A liar is a liar. And even if we don't call these guys LIARS, we apparently aren't even allowed to say they've ever chosen poorly. This is a president who has somehow gotten it into his head that admitting regret is political suicide. A hundred thousand people are dead and it's because of me? Do I regret that? Well, no, Sam Donaldson, I can't say I do. I CAN say that I wish their families the peace of God that passes all understanding, but everything is in His hands, so how can I second guess that? That would be blaspheming. And I wish you could hear that like I hear it in my head. Because the way he says blaspheming in my imagination is hilarious.
So, tonight, Julie took me to the opening party of the new Whiskey Bar at the W Hotel, and it just so happened that my beautiful friend Jessica was there working the bar. I wouldn't say the party was so grand, but I have difficulty saying no to an open bar. And if it hadn't been for Julie's growling tummy and her early morning obligations, I'm sure I'd have stayed and drunk the place dry. Instead, we had overpriced victuals at Kate Mantilini apparently in the middle of a party for the sound effects people of the film industry. I looked for him, but there was no sign of Ben Burtt. I don't know that he's up for anything this year, but he's the only sound effects celebrity I would recognize. Except for maybe Michael Winslow. And I think technically he's foley.

Jan 18, 2005

I always wanted to be a child prodigy.

It's talk of Neil Patrick Harris that brings such things to mind. Starship Troopers has been on the pay channels a bit this past week. I have caught parts of it. And I remember going to see it in the theater and being stunned by how violent it was but not feeling any rankling because of that. There's corny stuff in it, sure. Like when the Roughnecks win a big battle and the Lieutenant breaks out the beer and the "entertainment," which consisted of some futuristic nerf football and an electric violin, which Gary Busey's son picks up and starts playing while the rest of the squad dances. Ga-hay. But the music is super great, and the creature effects and macabre meat-rending rule. And it's so romantic and sad when Dizzy dies in Rico's arms and says, "It's okay. Because I got to have you." All the more reason for me to wish Denise Richards had gotten her brains sucked out in the end, too. Not just that Melrose Place guy. Although he totally had it coming.

I loved Doogie Howser, M.D. I wished I was Doogie Howser. I've seen Neil Patrick Harris around town before, but I've never like run up to him and told him how great he was or anything. I don't do that. Never would. And I'm sure it must be all the more annoying to have to carry your celebrity from childhood. I'm sure it must suck to have people say, "You were great in Clara's Heart." Or to ask what it was like working with Whoopi Goldberg. 'Cause you know that's the question on everyone's lips.

You like that? You like that? You like that? You want a little more? Come on! You like that? You like that? You like that? You want a little more?

This movie makes me want to go join the army. Or nuke me some bugs. Or spray ant poison on my window sill. Or just sit here and procrastinate more.

P.S. Jake Busey is a terrible actor.

Golden Hour

I might have gotten there later than I planned, but I did make it to the park at LACMA today. I took Audrey for a pleasant romp. Numerous people we passed admired her t-shirt and her gait. Little children cried out, "Doggie!" And the sun began to go down behind the buildings, and the lamps came on as we passed a pair of girls juggling pins just like in the circus. We also passed two very old ladies walking side by side, one of whom actually squeaked. I don't know if it was her body or some apparatus I could not see. But she was squeaking with each meager step. Then I heard her answer her cell phone with the oldest sounding "hello" ever uttered. I kind of wanted to hug her for it.

I came home and finished up some more thankless design work and the weight of night was heavy on me. I have been feeling that a lot. It has turned my skip to a trudge. The picture I have of myself in my brain is a disappointing one.

Jan 17, 2005

Random House

I don't like to watch award shows. But I often watch them anyway. I caught the last bit of the Golden Globes tonight. Just in time to see Diane Keaton wearing an outfit that really is only a parody of her look at this point, to see Jamie Foxx tear up at the podium and to hope that he was sincere -- a cynicism planted in my brain by Halle Berry and her ridiculousness, and to see Robin Williams receive his "special" award.

Okay. For the record. I can't stand Robin Williams. I'm not saying he was never funny or that he didn't make a proper name for himself or that he doesn't have a sprawling body of work. I just find him annoying and unsurprising and never ever ever never funny. Now.

I like Popeye. I'll go on record with that. But I like it because of its production design and because it's the first PG movie I ever went to see without my parents and I broke a filling on an ancient apple Now and Later I got at the concession stand while my friend Sharon's mom (who had brought us to the theater) was watching Raging Bull. I also like the music. And Shelley Duvall. And Burgess Meredith. And the idea that someone might be considered marriageable on account of being large.

But that's not enough for a special award. Even the movies of his that I've liked haven't rung true because of the fact that EVERY character eventually breaks down and does a few minutes of "material," and that's not what film acting is about. It happens in Dead Poets' Society, it happens in (fucking) Patch Adams, it even happens in Jack, and he's playing a kid in that. I think the only film I can think of where he doesn't do that (unless I just missed it) is Awakenings, which is still a pretty good flick. But again. No statue there.

His more recent dramatic roles have not had the funny man character in them, but that gives you cause to notice that -- when he's not pretending to be a sassy Black woman from Mississippi or a flaming queer or some other overused caricature -- he's really very, very creepy.

But this isn't about me or what I think of his work. I really just mean to comment on the fact that I think these award shows seem to be hard-pressed to find someone worthy to recognize. And that his acceptance speech was endemically insincere and performed and, frankly, impolite in its self-importance. Even his attempts to be magnanimous came across as braggart. And when they played a clip from Mork and Mindy, I really had to ask myself if that show was ever funny. Except for the parts with Jonathan Winters in them. And even that's a maybe.

Before the award was issued, a friend reminded me of the lawsuit that is Mr. Williams' reason for being so frequently cited on And then that's all I thought about while he gave his acceptance speech, which was little more than a pandering stand-up act to an entirely industry audience. Thank god he was followed by Orlando Bloom, who cleanses the palate so beautifully. Pretty pretty. I could look at him and listen to him talk for what would amount to a very long time.

I was IM'ing a friend about all this James Bond that I've been watching. I basically said that watching all this James Bond has changed my mind about the more recent issuances. They ALL sucked. They were ALL corny. So I no longer hold it against Pierce Brosnan that the gadgetry is outlandish, the puns are unbearable, and the martinis are still ordered shaken as if any bartended in the world STIRS them. EVER. And Die Another Day had a lot of much more gritty military type action in it. Real warfare-y looking. Far less murdering people with sharks. Or piranha. I think Halle Berry is a putz, but it wasn't a bad film I now conclude. I just take note of how brash and unreasonable and boob-like Americans tend to look in these films. I guess it must mean that that's the way we like to see ourselves. Because we're the ones these movies are being sold to, aren't we? Are we missing something here?

A short list of things I've learned from the various James Bond marathons I've watched in the past month or so would be as follows:

Thunderball and Never Say Never Again (the only non-Albert Broccoli production) have the same plot and the same character names. They even have the same plot summary on But I've never heard Never Say Never Again referred to as a remake. I just remember going to see it in the theater with my mom and being uncomfortable and embarrassed when Barbara Carrera was water-skiing in a one-piece bathing suit with a thong back. How did I ever manage to cease being such a prude?

James Bond had a wife and she died. George Lazenby married Diana Rigg in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and then she gets shot by Blofeld at the very end of the movie. And it's the only time you ever see James Bond really seem to lose it over a chick. In a way, it's one of the best moments in the series. He turns into such a shadow of a person after that. Maybe because of that. Huh? Huh? How do you like that little twist there? Anyway, later, in The Spy Who Loved Me (I think -- or was it Octopussy? They all begin to run together.), Roger Moore prickles when he is reminded of it. When a female agent recites his dossier to him and says he was once married. It AFFECTS him. Again. Rare human moment for James.

And lastly, you nearly never see Dr. No anymore. And yet I really like it. In truth, the book is one of my favorites. And the movie was a smash disappointment for me, because of how much of the riveting action from the book was just not done at all. I guess I assumed it was because of the fact that cinema was still fairly primitive, but it sure would have been nice to see that book made into a proper flick. Maybe someday it will be remade again using all that modern cinematic technology has to offer. Although, by the time that happens, James Bond will probably be played by Seth Green or something. Surely, by then it will be his turn.

Okay, well, it's officially Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, so I suppose I should tell my one MLK anecdote, which goes like this:

When I was in high school in Japan, each year we would have a Black History Month speech contest, sponsored by some rotary-type club that was for the Black people. (I don't mean to sound ignorant or insensitive; I just don't remember what it was called.) Anyway, I used to enter this speech contest every year, and every year I won. I was sort of the speech and essay contest phenom in high school. I actually made more money winning speech and essay contests than I made in all of my summer jobs. So each year I would enter the Black History Month speech contest, and I would write a speech about Black history, and I would give the speech, and I would win. And then I would be invited to the dinner of this club with all the other winners, and we would sit at the honored table and have dinner before being invited to give our speeches to the club membership. We would sit there on the dais -- me and two or three Black kids. And I would get the biggest prize every year. Even I thought that was sort of weird and unfair. But that's the way it happened.

Gosh golly, it was gorgeous out today. I'm slightly furious with myself for not spending more time out in it. For not taking one of my straw mats over to LACMA and bivouacking out on the lawn with a book and a bottle of something cool to drink. I should have done that. Maybe I will do that tomorrow. If it's as sunny and warm as it was today, I surely should.

And it's been two nights in a row that I've taken Audrey out for one of our obscene late-night walks (yesterday it was at five a.m.) and noticed that the stars were out in force and that I could see Betelgeus, clear as a punch in the face. There are many nights when I can't see the stars at all on my block. Los Angeles with its street lighting and billboards and that persistent haze that makes even the darkness feel like just-after-dusk. If there's even a wisp of haze in the air, the night is cottony black and starless. Bleak and coldly unfamiliar. But these past few nights, as happens at this time of the year and whenever the rains come, the stars are like brilliant pinpricks in a big velvet sheet with a studio-quality lamp behind them. I've lived in Hollywood for long enough now that even the wonders of nature conjure analogies of cinema fakery.

This is the fourth January for me here in Los Angeles. And I have said many times that January and February in Los Angeles make for one of my favorite times of year. When it's cold and crisp but sunny. And the skies are clear. Not the muddy haze of the summertime. Not the humid swelter of an unwelcome Indian summer. Januaries and Februaries have been typically melancholy for me. For some reason. They have always been gloriously beautiful. But sad. If it's not one thing, it's everything. I am glad for a break in the rain. I want to sit on grass that is unmuddied. I look forward to picnicky afternoons. And ham sandwiches. I'm always ready with something excellent to read. And the straw mats are always in the trunk of my car. With a blanket I don't mind getting dirty. I've had too few daytime outings recently. I notice it in my picture-taking. There's nothing so bad about taking lots of pictures at night. But I need a little sunshine and cirrhus clouds in my eyes to mix it up.

Later this week, I'm heading for San Diego to ref a minor league runthrough and play a few shows at the comedy theater. I'm thinking it's going to be awesome. I've been wanting to ref for ages. And I get to have a whistle and a stopwatch and everything. Bomb ass. So I'll be in town (or out of town, depending on your zip code) for a few days, and I intend to make a scene. I left a bottle of Bushmill's at John Meeks' apartment as a "housewarming gift." But I hold my liquor a lot better than he does. It's a fine line between housewarming gift and safekeeping. Bottoms up.

Jan 16, 2005

Broadcasters in Need of a Diction Coach

I turned on my television a few moments ago, stumbling onto the NFL post-game show on CBS. A female reporter asked the losing coach, "Something something something, what went awry?" But she pronounced awry as if it rhymed with the word "sorry." Not as if it rhymed with "goodbye" or "the sky" or "a guy." I know it looks like it might be said that way. But gosh that's true of lots of words. Don't people in broadcasting have to try a little harder to at least not use words they don't know? I'm not saying you have to know every word, but she could easily have just said, "What went wrong?" Instead, she chose to say a word she thought would make her sound smarter, and I caught her at it. So there.

Dan Marino was having some argument with a very emphatic Black fellow whose name I don't know. They were disagreeing with each other about -- I think -- the performance of the quarterback of one of the teams, and they were interrupting each other and looking exasperated, the one guy wearing one of those false smiles that does little to hide the venom pulsing in his gums and tongue. And they were both having this argument into the camera, looking straight ahead. Never actually making eye contact with each other. I wonder if former football players have to avoid eye contact to keep their long-honed bloodthirsty instincts from getting the better of them. I wouldn't be surprised if, when they cut to commercial, Dan Marino and that other guy got into an embarrassing shoving match right there in the studio. I don't know that that's the case. But I wouldn't be surprised.

I would, however, be surprised if I woke up one day and found that I was really excited about watching football. I would have no idea what to do in that event.

Sunshine Go Away from Me

Among the things I didn't do is a list that would break a human heart. Among the things I did do are making an interim new main page for my web site, adding a few new pieces to my Expo page, finishing the image editing for the mail art pieces I have been planning to post (although they haven't yet been posted -- probably going to require a new page altogether), adding some more pictures to the Roundup* page, finishing the CD cover and web site I designed for Toni Childs (the site materials I created are not up yet, so please don't go looking for them), collecting materials for a much-needed portfolio update, updating my blog layout (which I technically did in the wee hours before going to bed last "night"), finishing a book, starting another, and spending a cumulative several hours in a state of abject self-loathing. So, I'd say today was actually achievement-rich, despite my overall sense of dissatisfaction at ever having woken up alive to begin with. Especially now that I am apparently the kind of girl who is still drinking scotch at five o'clock in the morning.

I would like to build a rocket ship in my backyard and fly to a faraway planet. A planet where no one pays rent.

Jan 15, 2005

Fooled Again

I absolutely told myself that I would get to bed at a reasonable hour tonight. And when two o'clock rolled around, and I figured I would just wrap up and turn in, instead I got caught up getting pictures off my camera and editing them and posting them and redoing the blog background and watching On Her Majesty's Secret Service, which I had never actually seen before and which is almost tastelessly packed with indiscreet innuendo. And they've got Kojak playing Blofeld. So it's kind of a rip-off all around. I guess there's another Bond marathon going on, but this time on a channel that doesn't plague one's attention with commercial interruptions for getting your high school diploma via correspondence course. At this rate, I might as well just make some breakfast and push on through. Except for the ugly face I will have all day if I do that.

Beulah is either in the sky or touched down on the other coast by now. I miss her already. And envy the time she will get to spend with several people I would like to see more than a Pink Floyd reunion. Shine on, diamond. You're crazy.

Jan 14, 2005

Why does the fat one always have to be so mean to the skinny one?

Martín and Francisca came over to borrow a space heater. Peter Pan was ending on the television. And the next thing we knew, there was a movie on with some sort of ancient Egyptian prologue. It was obivously about mummies, but it wasn't THE Mummy or its sequel. Clearly. I hit the info button on my remote and found that it was a film I never even knew got made. The All New Adventures of Laurel & Hardy: For Love or Mummy. And it was made in 1998. And Bronson Pinchot was playing Stan Laurel, and it only gets more abysmal from there.

Now, let me begin by saying that the words "the all new adventures" are a terrible omen for me. Any time someone has decided that I needed to go along with some heroes of mine on an all-new set of adventures, there was usually bullshit afoot and disappointment on its way. But this particular revival made so little sense to me. Laurel and Hardy are not exactly part of the contemporary lexicon anymore. Francisca had never heard of them. And she's not alone. I know who they were, and not just because I'm old, thank you. My father is good and old and he introduced his daughters to a lot of truly old stuff. And I remember enjoying watching them as a little girl when their movies would come on television on Sunday afternoons. But even I know that the kind of humor they represent can only really be appreciated retrospectively.

Well, we stuck around through the ludicrous opening titles, depicting Stan and Ollie as hieroglyphs on the walls of some nicely-lit tomb. And the opening scene alone was enough to tell me all I needed to know. As I said, Stan is played by Bronson Pinchot, who isn't really physically right for the part, and Ollie is played by some fat guy, who is. They are presented to us in the same sort of costumes you would have seen them wearing in their films of the '30s. But the first scene of the film shows them working a copy machine in a library, and angering the librarian by leaving an I.O.U. in the cash box instead of properly paying. I don't even understand the anachronism. Why leave them in those outfits and set the film in present day? It's as if these remakes envision the characters as a cartoon strip rather than a whole performance. The CHARACTERS of Laurel and Hardy could easily be translated into a modern setting. Or the film could easily have been set in the '30s. But the anachronism makes no sense to me. And I really didn't stick around for much longer, as everything I was seeing was so painfully unfunny that I feared I might no longer want to own the Perfect Strangers DVD box set when it becomes available, and I didn't want to spoil that party for myself.

F. Murray Abraham is in it, too, but he didn't come on-screen early enough in the film for me to see him. I would much rather watch anything else. Even reruns of sports.

Sadly, I'm sort of drained today and can't even muster the creative juice to make this post entertainingly cranky.

On a few occasions, when kissing my dog's face, I have accidentally gotten some of her eyeball juice on my lips. And it has made me exclaim, "Ooh! -- I just got some of her eyeball juice in my mouth." I coined the phrase "eyeball juice," and Martín can't bear to hear it. Sometimes I say it just to see him gag a little. Don't get me wrong. I don't like it. I don't WANT that stuff on my face. I don't WANT to ingest it. I'm just saying, it's funny that he probably would have nearly no reaction at all if I would just say, "I just got one of her tears on my tongue." It might even sound sweet.

Martín was also grossed out when I kissed Audrey and said, "Oops. I just got her whisker in my mouth." He made a face and a sound that I have never seen him make before. And it was very amusing. I told him that I don't like whisker, either, and that one time, one of Audrey's whiskers was sitting, loose, on my forearm, and "--and you ate it!" he continued. But of course that's not true. Really. It's not. And I'm done talking about canine scatology.

The Rain in Spain

Martín and I went to The Improv tonight to catch Paul F. Tompkins and Andy Kindler and David Cross and surprising bits of coolness from Jonah Ray and Eddie Pepitone. Martín was under the weather, and I was sort of similarly, but when we commit to a night of comedy, it's written in stone.

Martín has finished moving in, and in case you didn't hear it from me personally, his new apartment is quite literally a block away from mine. Even on the same street, no less. It's the nearest we've ever lived to one another since the commencement of our friendship, more than eight years ago. I predict that we will be going to countless shows around town from now on. And that he will overprotectively demand to drive my car home while I pretend to be drunker than I actually am. Score. I also predict that we will grow to despise each other some time within the next three to six months. The price of proximity.

I have nothing important to say. Except that listening to movies in Japanese makes me feel closer to myself than listening to movies in any other language. I was watching that movie -- I think it's called Escaped Convict Baby -- with Skeet Ulrich and Gary Oldman in it before it was time to go out tonight, and I realized that the loop of The Sea Is Watching, even when I couldn't really look at the subtitles or remember how to translate the dialogue, was a much better film. If only because it reminded me what good nigiri tastes like and what wonderful liqueurs you can buy at Japanese 7-11s. How I do miss my Violet Fizz. And my Cobra- and News-brand whiskeys. Cheap cheap cheap and with a reasonable likeness of Dick Tracy on the label of at least one of those. Mild Seven cigarettes. Popeye magazine. Everything seems so ridiculous when you actually write it down. How I do reminisce about the year when I was fifteen. I guess I would rather hear people talking in Japanese through an accidental party line than watch a movie with lame American dialogue in it. Baby Boom was on the other night. I didn't watch it at all. But if I did, I would have scoffed at Diane Keaton's belted suits, and then I would have wished she was talking in Nihongo. I miss my sweet Yokosuka. I really do. Pay for me to spend an afternoon in the train station outside the Naval base, and I will be your friend for life. Seriously. I will provide a string quartet for your wedding. I will cook exotic meals for you. I will go to Melrose with you and truthfully tell you what you should and shouldn't buy. This is an investment in your future. Jessie went to Paul's web site recently and found her way to the links list, where she stumbled onto, an Internet destination that has been among my favorites since at least early 1998 or 1999. Just saying that makes me feel like an old woman in a wheelchair. The fact that I was using the Internet back when it was new and many people did not understand it is just further proof that I have no business buying the new Franz Ferdinand CD. I shouldn't be allowed to buy any music that postdates Linda Ronstadt (who is dead now, right?). It's not a question of age. It's a question of prolonged sentience. And I have been technologically aware for far too long. Anyway, that web site also makes me want to go back to that special place where everyone spits on the ground and an apple costs like ten bucks. Ah, me -- the magic of my youth.

There's a C2 (that's the new bullshit Coca-cola lower-carb soda) commercial with Queen's I Want to Break Free acting as soundtrack. This reminds me of Beulah's tutelage that Germany uses Queen songs as advertising soundtrack for everything. Apparently, the song needn't even have any narrative relationship to the commercial. Germans just feel like spending money when Queen songs are involved. I guess I feel the same way. But I won't spend any money on C2. I'd rather buy a fancy vodka.

Beulah leaves tomorrow for her expansive East Coast trip. She's all stressed out because she has to accompany a busload of eighth-graders to various important educational spots, including the presidental inauguration. I'm sure it will be awesome, and she will be awesome. And if you are a mutual friend of ours living in the D.C., New York City, Philadelphia, or other major historical U.S. city area and you know Beulah's cell phone number, by all means, start punching those numbers. She's coming to town, and there isn't a moment to lose! If you don't have her cell phone number, you probably feel like a huge jerk right now. And rightfully so. Hint: It's not (888) 2-GOOD-4U, but it might as well be.

I'm always hoping I'll be brilliant when I start writing. But I'm often disappointed. And tonight, I'm going to play a few PlayStation2 games to cleanse my palate of that sensation. You're already sleeping. So what difference does it make?

Jan 13, 2005

Fancy Cigarettes

I got dragged around all day, by work pressures and deadlines and errands and a dog. But, in what may have been the most frustrating in-town traffic I have recently experienced, I eventually made my way up to Hollywood for my long-form workshop. I'm enjoying the pants off it. And that is a mercy. Usually, when I sign up for things -- obligate myself to things -- I habitually dread them. Maybe some form of rebellion. Resistance to authority. Even if "the man" is really just my calendar, I shake my fist at him. I like to have plans. But I hate to HAVE to have them. Know what I mean?

Afterwards, I brought Jessie with me to Star Shoes to go to my friend Rick Royale's record release gig. We had a few free beers, made a few knowing faces, and whispered loudly in each other's ears a lot. I stopped in the w.c. (for girls) before we left, and I had to write down a conversation I was rudely overhearing. It went like this:

Girl: We should hang out with my Austrian intern. He's hot. His name is Dietmar.

Other Girl: His name is Dietmar?

Girl: Yeah. He's from Vienna. *beat* I like your hair.

Other Girl: Yeah, I was looking super Jew for a while, but I had them thin it out at the top. Now, I'm perpetuating the me-and-Elijah-Wood-only hair.

I was recounting this exchange to Jessie and Josh (whom we both know from San Diego and were stunned to find having a smoke on Hollywood Boulevard out front of Star Shoes as if he LIVED here or something -- which apparently he does now), when I noticed that Elijah Wood hair was standing right behind us. I pointed her out to Jessie and Josh, and they were like, "Yeah, that really is Elijah Wood hair. Or like Thriller-era Michael Jackson." And I hoped she hadn't overheard me reenacting her conversation. I would much rather she hear it and have a moment of scary deja vu when it happens in a movie I someday write. Let's hope she doesn't hit up Google with boolean searches of everything she talks about. Otherwise it will kill the surprise.

Last week, I was in the restroom at Canter's, and I overheard two South Asian women talking about when a girl can get pregnant. It was both informative and disconcertingly frank. And I was surprised that one of the girls knew so little about the mechanism of the period. I didn't write that one down, but I'm beginning to think I should start planting recording devices in bathrooms around town. You really hear the darnedest things. But then, Krissy and I were stunned and delighted to hear the lovely Mishna Wolff saying the following the other night at Tom's party: "How much would a fat suit cost if I wanted to buy one?" And that wasn't in a bathroom at all.

I carry a notebook and a pen with me everywhere, and I love the shit people say.

Jan 12, 2005

Fragile I am not. Affection is a pressure I can bear.

This morning, I got up very early and took Audrey for a walk in some welcome sunshine. When we got back inside, I plopped her back on the bed and went to my computer for a while. Maybe an hour or so. When I got up to return to the living room, I noticed it was unusually bright. Not just for a sunny morning, but for any morning. Upon closer inspection, I realized the front door was wide open. When the weather is wet like this, the wood in the door swells and makes it hard to close properly. Even harder to open with a key. But I thought I had been careful about closing it. Apparently I hadn't been. So I went through a flash of panic. What if Audrey had left me alone for all this time because she trotted out the front door an hour ago? What if she was long gone? I walked into the bedroom to find her perched, sphinx-like, on top of the comforter, just looking at me. And I loved her so much and was so grateful that she wasn't gone again. The other night, I was walking her late and talking on the phone with a pal, and I accidentally lost hold of her leash. And the more I tried to catch up to her, the further ahead of me she got. But finally, when I knelt down and called to her, she pranced back to me, and I picked up the leash, and nothing more was said on the topic. She loves me. At last.

Don't misunderstand. She's still a complete pain in the ass whenever people come over. But when it's just the two of us, she's an angel. And she never tires of my company. Even when I wish she would.

I'm working on a couple of new spec scripts. One with my friend Zach. We got together again tonight to sift through our brainstorm notes and get down to brass tacks, brass tacks being what outlines are chiefly made of. I'm tempted to sign up for a workshop again. The deadlines really forced me along last year, when I was writing my first. But I'm wary of creating too many obligations for myself. I've so much to do right now. So many things I want to follow through with. So many expectations to fulfill. And also bills to pay. Many, many bills. A friend gave me a generous and hefty tuition to a course I will eventually take, but -- even that -- not now.

I've been having a series of involved and thoughtful discussions with a captivatingly and dauntingly brainy friend, and it has been responsible for the composition of a number of paragraphs I'm tempted to cut and paste onto these pages. I'm slightly discouraged by how opportunistic that will seem to my friend, but I know he reads this, and I also know he is fully aware of how limited my actual inspiration is. So, perhaps he will understand. Mostly, we've been talking about human nature and the dread of mortality and occasionally movies. So, if I suddenly tip into wordy assessments of the desire to live forever or the plague of the fear of failure or a story about my mother and Mount Fuji, you'll know you're getting the afterbirth of another discourse. Apologies in advance.

If you stay up late enough, you can watch The Kids in the Hall on Comedy Central like me. And if you stay up even later than that, you can find yourself -- like me -- angrily turning off the television because a Tempur-Pedic infomercial came on. I had intended to go to sleep hours ago. I'm disappointed that I failed to.

Jan 10, 2005

Swift Water

I overheard a news item on the television today while I was combing my hair. A man in Cerritos was swept away by rushing floodwaters and was rescued by a team of emergency personnel. From the hallway, I heard one of the saviors yell, "Hold on, dude!" And I had to sort of laugh at the Southern California-ness of it all. Homes in Ventura just slide right off the hillside and land in a smash heap. I was driving up Fairfax on Friday night, and the east side of the road was just a lake. Cars ploughed on through, creating that fanning wave of water as they went. I remember a flood at the intersection of Sorrento Valley Road and whatever that other Sorrento something road was near my office in San Diego. Some lady decided to try to drive through it and got stranded. Firemen came and rescued her. I wondered if she got a scolding once she was finally back on high ground. When I was a little girl, my mother took me and my sister Sarah to Taiwan for a summer holiday to visit the siblings of hers that were still living there. We were in a department store one night, and Sarah and I -- bored -- were playing. We were standing at the top of the down escalator and pushing on the black rubber handrail and pretending we were sailors lowering rope down onto the deck of a ship. Somehow, I got caught on something and started to be carried down with the handrail, head first, feet flailing. I guess it was the store manager who ran up and fetched me off the thing, headed as I was towards certain doom at the bottom, and when he set me back on my feet, he took extra care to strike me on the head with some amount of force. I went back to my mother, more embarrassed than anything, until I realized that I had managed to cut my foot pretty seriously in the ordeal. The back part of my heel had sort of been sliced off and was just hanging there by skin. Icky, I know. But it didn't start to hurt until I saw it. And then I let loose with banshee-like wailing. It healed up fine, but the scar is plainly visible, as long as I explain the story to you when you look at it. Anyway, I only recall this episode because I wonder if emergency crews who rescue people from their own stupid lack of judgment ever just haul off and give them what for.

The plaster in my apartment shows wet seams in certain places. Water actually dripping down the walls. Not enough to really worry, but enough to notice. And all this rain draws my attention to useless information, like being able to tell that the side of the street that I live on is slightly higher above sea level than the side opposite. And all the umbrellas I own have embarrassing animal prints on them. I didn't notice it until yesterday, but the shoes I wore to Tom's party were covered in mud. Every inch of the four inches of heel was just encrusted with it. It's not like I would have actually worn them into my bed for any reason, but I sort of felt glad that nothing like that had happened. My sheets are white and somewhat extravagant. And mud is just plain no good.

I usually love the rain. It makes me sad that people are dying from it.

Jan 9, 2005

Wet Weather

Last night, I went to my friend Tom's birthday party in the torrential downpour that was Los Feliz. My shoes were so wet by the time I got there that I had to go into the restroom and dry my shoes and feet with paper towels so as not to be squishing all night. But for a rainy night, there was certainly a nice turnout. The Los Angeles comedy scene rallies for aging, apparently. And I'm glad of it. Krissy and I had a grand time, drinking our drinks and being surprised by how late it suddenly was and huddling under our umbrellas and trying to not step in puddles that were so deep they might have swallowed us. We made it home all right, junk food in hand. But I got nearly no sleep on account of wretched sinus pain and a hangover. So I just spent a lot of time laying still in my bed, thinking through the events of the night before and wondering if I made too magnificent a fool of myself. Fortunately, I don't think such things really matter for very long. Even when you're being unforgettable, there's an expiration date on it. Right?

I was so distracted and good-time-having that I nearly lost my camera. I left it on a chair on the smoking patio for who knows how long. And it wasn't till I wanted to take a picture that I noticed it was gone. So I went outside and found it. Still sitting on the chair, surrounded by lots of people and none the worse for wear. I'm fortunate that my absentmindedness hasn't yet perfectly coincided with anyone else's urge to petty larceny. I guess I'm lucky in lots of ways.

Jan 7, 2005

Up the Lazy, Stupid, Masturbatory, Self-Aggrandizing, Badly-Made River

A friend and I went to see Beyond the Sea last night. We knew we were going to dislike it, but that was maybe the point. We brought flasks of whiskey and drained them and just hated the movie frame for frame, which was great fun. Certainly more fun than ever could have been had by just plain watching it.

I really can't understand why actors like Brenda Blethyn ever get cast to play Americans. She's a wonderful British actor, and I admire her very much. But she cannot pretend to be from New York to save her life. It makes me wonder how it was that people in Europe snuck across borders during World War II by pretending to be of different nationalities. The vast majority of people seem to have no ear for dialect at all. I mean, there's Johnny Depp. And then there's everyone else. As far as I'm concerned.

So, yeah. Kevin Spacey has eclipsed himself with his disgusting self-importance. And it's a shame. Because I used to like both him and Bobby Darin, and now I sort of don't ever want to see or hear from either of them again.

There's more to say on this topic. But I am pressed for time.

Jan 6, 2005

You see a doll on a music box that's wound by a key.

I usually enjoy watching CNN while I'm on the treadmill at my gym. I crank up the iPod and read the closed captioning and shake my head at the typographical errors. Today, all CNN was talking about was the tsunami. Or I suppose it can rightly be called The Tsunami now. Proper name. No mistaking it. It made me feel bad. Running in place in my expensive gym with my expensive MP3 player and my expensive shoes. And watching that horrific footage of all that brown water sweeping over a bridge, swarmed over with people running like ants. Ants who were suddenly not there anymore. But just as I felt my humanity catch in my throat, I was brought back to my crabby senses. The monitor with CNN on it did not have closed captioning, so I could only read the ticker and the main captions, which were for some reason all alliterative. "Turning the Tide." "Walking the Walk." I was becoming annoyed. Who is writing these? And why do they think a catastrophic international natural disaster is the time to break out the Hallmark card-writing skills? Ooh, and that first one has a bit of a pun in it, too. How cleverly inappropriate. What cheek. I started making up my own in my head. "Harbingers of Hope." "Doctors of Disaster." "Healing the Heartbroken." "Mopping Up the Mess." Well, those writers at CNN get my goat, but they are clearly better at this than I am.

My mom told me that my aunt, who is from Taiwan, once gave this advice: If you see the tide draw out very far -- much further than it normally does -- and you see the fish jumping on the sand, this means something is wrong. Don't go and pick up all the fish. Run. I guess this is some longstanding Taiwanese wisdom about knowing when a tidal wave is approaching. And I guess there is some risk that Chinese people will always choose poorly and opt to get all the free fish.

On another monitor, Jane Pauley's show was featuring a family whose toddler daughter had fallen in the swimming pool when unsupervised. And everyone panicked in the saving effort. The 7-month pregnant mother went into early labor. The grandfather had a heart attack. They must have been monopolizing every EMT vehicle in their county. And I was really upset that this was going to be my running fare. A bunch of images and sentiments to choke me up and make me feel grateful to be alive. But then it turned out that everyone was okay. The fat parents were seated on the stage, and the grandpa came out carrying the two young children, the near-drowned girl being very healthy and normal except for the fact that she doesn't speak yet. Once I knew they were all okay, I felt free to resent them again.

I should also note that the president of Doctors without Borders, a Rowan Somebody-or-Other, was being interviewed on CNN, and I couldn't help but notice how handsome he was. Also, the doctor the CNN cameras were trailing in Indonesia was in admirably good shape and rather handsome. And I wondered if it helps to be cute when you're a doctor. I suppose it does. It seems to help in virtually every other profession. Except maybe begging. I guess I'd be less likely to go under the knife of some Quasimodo-ish fellow. Much as his Harvard diploma might look authentic. And I wonder if that's smart. I think, in general, ugly people have a rougher time of it. Whereas good-looking people get cut a great deal of slack. Slack that may mean your cute doctor might not have really done so well on his medical boards. He just dazzled the proctor with his all-American smile and thick head of hair. Your ugly doctor, on the other hand, well, he probably had to work extra hard. He probably got picked on in class. If there was a John Houseman-esque instructor in his college, he probably got called out all the time and had to be extra prepared, because no one really wanted him to succeed, least of all the former ugly duckling professor who saw too much of himself in the uncomely lad. Anyway, I think some research should be done into this. I'm not planning any major medical procedures, but when I'm due for one, I'd like to know if I should sign up with Doctor Kildare or Doctor Moonface.

I sound glib, but the tragedy in South and Southeast Asia really breaks my heart. I get upset that U.S. news agencies are telling so little of the local story. I talked with Adam last night and agreed that the coverage was slow to make it to air because of how far down the pigment ladder those brown-skinned people are. And that's really shameful. My mother is Chinese and my father is Russian Jewish, and if something happened to me, I'd like for it to have been newsworthy BEFORE the wires picked up that my dad is from Philadelphia and therefore a bona fide American. And if nothing newsworthy ever happens to me, I'd like to be summarily executed and buried at sea. Preferably while I'm still somewhere in the neighborhood of my prime.

Beulah called me early this morning -- early like seven a.m. early -- to ask me questions about debate format. (I was once on my way to becoming CEDA royalty.) I told her what I remembered and then tried to go back to sleep, as I had been up reading until nearly four. But shortly after I walked my dog and got back under the covers, I heard the smack of auto on auto followed by a very long and uninterrupted horn honk. Another accident on La Cienega. There was no chance I would be getting back to sleep. So I snuck out of bed with Audrey uninformed and under the covers, and I got into my gym outfit and headed out. I saw the mess of the accident right up my street. There was an ambulance there. And police officers. And a lot of traffic bottlenecked around the scene. But it wasn't in my path, so I resolved not to be a lookieloo, because people who delay me with their curiosity when passing roadside atrocities make me wish I had Plasticman's arms and the ability to reach into their vehicles and just snap their necks. It was unusually early for me to be out. For some reason, I'm always extra proud of myself when I'm up early. It might be a sign that there's far too little to be proud of in my actual life. But I'm going to see about making today more productive than it might otherwise be. I'm preemptively certain that I will find myself, six or seven hours from now, shaking my head and wishing I hadn't set myself up for failure. But goalsetting is the first step towards not rotting away in your chair.

P.S. I burned nearly a thousand calories on that treadmill. Isn't that just tits?

Yearning. Yearning. While I'm turning around and around.

Jan 4, 2005

Consistently Good

Jon Stewart continues to be my hero. The Daily Show tonight was fucking spot on. Everything I thought to myself while watching the coverage of the tsunami this past weekend -- and I was at my parents' house, so we were watching Fox News -- was properly voiced in his top segment. And thank god. I was feeling very oppressed in my lonely assertion that Jeb Bush had no business being sent to observe the situation. But I haven't been entirely alone. My compatriot Krissy made a canny observation about the jawdropping priority malfunction happening in the news. Her blog on Monday read, "I'm sure you heard that there was a giant tidal wave 50 feet high. The headline on Netscape is 'GIANT WAVE KILLS HUNDREDS OF TOURISTS.' But I might like to point out that it killed 23,000 Indian and Asian people, too. That's twenty-three THOUSAND. Way to keep your priorities straight, Netscape."

Of course, at this point, that number has cranked itself up to a stunning 160,000. And still, Fox News paid special attention -- in the form of an entire news segment -- to how "supermodel" Petra Nemcova is faring, with her injuries and the apparent loss of her boyfriend. Greta Van Susteren actually interviewed Petra's agent. Her agent. I'm sure that's an important insight into this harrowing situation. Not what the local people are experiencing. People who in some cases have lost their entire (and, let's face it, huge) families and their homes and their futures and don't have a supermodel's bankroll to start building new ones. But then, South and Southeast Asia are crammed full of people that speak English horribly if at all. So you can see the logic. Petra Nemcova may not speak English well, either. I have no idea. She didn't say anything. But her agent, who I'm sure has gotten a keen portrait of the corridor via telephone, was tres articulate. And that's what matters.

Jon Stewart's opening lines tonight also reminded me of a question that's been forming in my head recently: What's with all the talk in comedy circles about murdering hobos? It's like the new vogue. I'm not against it. It's very amusing. I'm just wondering if suspicious hobo deaths are up statistically these days. Or something.

Anyway, I wish Jon Stewart belonged to me. I'm not talking about marriage or some stupid relationship. I've realized that my wants are far more childish. I just want to own him and sit him on my bookshelf so that he makes that cute little smirky face only for me.

This I Have Observed

Last night, Angie and I went to St. Nick's for a drink and were accosted by two fellows who never ever took the hint that we weren't interested in going back to their hotel suite with them. They stuck by us, breathing their stale beer in our faces for well over an hour, despite my repeated intimations that I would have liked to spend some quality time with my friend, whom I had not seen in some time. One of them wooed us with the appealing story of how he has five children and an eighth grade education and spent ten years in the penitentiary. The other wooed us by being embarrassed by him. In an attempt to avoid being walked out to our cars -- and to what would have been certain death or at the very least a very inconvenient rape -- by them, we walked past a short British fellow who also had a hot tub to invite us to. And all of these guys, and another guy who was supposedly trying to protect us from them, found reasons to touch my bare midriff. One of the first pair of jerks actually just reached down for no reason and caressed my exposed hip when I was talking to the bartender. Like I was some sort of tactile exhibit at the natural history museum. I scolded him, and he apologized by saying, "I like it when a woman is very feminine." Lord, I pitied him.

Tonight, I went with Martín and Francisca to Versailles for dinner, and a guy at an adjacent table handed his business card to our waiter and asked him to give it to me. From the art on the card, I gather that he is a hip hop producer or something. No one you would know. But there was really nothing for me to do but shrug and put the card in my handbag. Is this even done anymore? People sending messages to other people's tables via waiter? He didn't write anything on the card. And when I looked at him, he didn't even do that lame "call me" pantomime gesture. He just sort of looked at me, and it made me uncomfortable.

Both nights, I was wearing stripes of some kind. I wonder if that has anything to do with it.

I was finishing up some work this evening, and 50 First Dates was on the television. I had no desire to see it when it was in the theater, but that's why I pay for movie channels. So I can lackadaisically listen to movies I know I won't like while I'm working. And boy am I glad I didn't pay to see this. All the actors look like they're about to break with every line. And none of the lines they're saying are funny so the breaking is wholly inexcusable. Then there was a Callahan Auto reference. Callahan Auto in Sandusky, Ohio. I suppose that's an homage to Chris Farley. And that's nice, but I don't like having Tommy Boy associated with this crap on wheels. Tommy Boy is a bit of genius. Genius needs to be kept separate from crap. At all costs.

And speaking of bad comedy, every time I see a trailer for Racing Stripes, I ask myself how it is that David Spade hasn't just killed himself by now. He must really be dying to.

Jan 3, 2005

You can carry me home now.

Last night, I was driving back to Los Angeles at four in the morning, and my iPod stumbled onto a Lisa Germano song I used to love. Christmas is already behind me. And so are all the memories and feelings dredged up by this song. I listened to it more in the spring and summer the year that it was in its heaviest rotation for me, but I knew that I might one day hear it somewhere near the colder holiday and find it to be -- at last -- temporally a propos.

Sometimes I wish my memory wasn't so fine. And recently, perhaps from nights that last far longer than is humanly possible and drinks that seem to have no bottom and maybe just plain getting older and having less room in my brain for a portrait of everything I have ever done, I've noticed that it isn't. I forget all sorts of things now. And I get confused about them. I can't remember if I really wrote that email or if I just thought about it. Or dreamed it. I can't always remember what's true and what's musing. And maybe that's a mercy. But the older stock -- the deeds and details from some time ago -- they persist. They linger. Whole and unfaded. I can step back into that other skin with nearly no effort at all. Moreso with the assistance of a song or a scent or an accident. But it happens less for me these days. Enough that I am almost nostalgic over the function of nostalgia. I almost miss being made to feel sad and lost because everything was so important and impossible and out of my reach. As much as I am nearly faint with shame over how important I ever let anything be. As my life fans out over the span of more years and months and afternoons, it seems that nothing is really very important at all. You can do a perfect dive. You can be perfect for one beautiful moment. Weightless. Graceful. And you can enter the water at just the right angle. No splash at all. And then you're in the water, and the dive is gone and perfect is past tense. But that's not anything to be sorry for. Now you're in the water, and it's lovely there. It's the only way to ever feel as if every part of you is being touched at once. It's my favorite embrace. And it seems now that leaving the water to try for another bit of perfection is a trick. It's all just a way of getting back to where you already were. It's displacing comfort to find something brilliant and trying to bring it back with you. And very few bathing costumes have pockets to keep such things in.

I think we all search for meaning. We race our mortality. Jetting forward on little gusts of accomplishment. Carving our initials in the cosmic stone. It's nothing to look down on. Wanting to mean something to the timeline. Wanting to be important to someone. Wanting to have done something of value. It's what makes us real. Wanting to be alive is what keeps us so. I struggle with it as anyone does who wastes a great deal of time thinking about the notion of a bigger picture. Maybe one day, just before I die, I'll find myself trapped in an elevator with a woman giving birth and I will save the day and be so very important to that woman and her family. And then I'll breathe a sigh of relief and expire right in front of her, scarring her forever with guilt and remorse. The trouble with irony -- however beautiful, however cruel -- is that you have to be around to see it. It's the only thing in all the world that makes me hold out a sliver of hope that there is any sort of afterlife.

Anyway, it was about the song, this. When it began. I still love the song. I am certain that I always will. As certain as I am that I will always love a great many things.

You can carry me home now
You can carry me home
I'm drunk and you're tired
We haven't talked for a while

You can carry a lie
'Till it makes you fall down
You can't help me
Be quiet
I couldn't touch you right now

You couldn't care if I died
But I haven't finished quite yet
Couldn't you give me a moment
Let me catch my breath

Lies, liar, lies, liar, lies, liar

You can carry me home now
You can carry me home
I'm drunk and it's Christmas
We haven't talked for a while
You can carry me home now
Would you just carry me home

Jan 2, 2005

What's a little dawn between friends?

I went to see Finding Neverland. And I was really moved and inspired by it. Reminded of love and loss and the desire to be naive as a child but not necessarily innocent. To have done things without having done them. To be wise without being weary. When J.M. Barrie described the word "just" as "a terrible, candle-snuffing word," I scrambled for my little notebook. It meant a great deal to me to be reminded of the promise of belief. I'm sure -- under other circumstances -- I, too, could fly. I'm waiting for an opportunity to test it. And I do believe in fairies. I do. I do.

The crowd in the theater was remarkably lowbrow. Amidst the crinkling of plastic wrappers and shopping bags and the incessant stage whispers of curious children to their inattentive chaperones, I actually heard soda cans being opened. Who goes to the theater with a sack lunch? Honestly. It must have been poor day. That and the sounds of varying stages of oldness made the experience less transcendant than it might have been. But I still felt sweet and sad and appreciative. I still adored both Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet and that darling little boy. And I made distinct plans to purchase the score, because it was ever so lovely.

Afterwards, we went to The Cheesecake Factory for cocktails and dessert for those among us who wanted it. Then John Meeks and I went off on our own to the Red Fox and then Nunu's and eventually to his chilly new dwelling, where we sipped whiskey and talked about a bevy of unimportant things until it was long past the possibility of getting home undetected.

I got off the 5 early and drove along the Cardiff coast on a whim. And I sort of admired the handful of early risers who were standing out in the dew, appreciating the sunrise and the incoming waves. I thought to myself that we are often up at the same time, these people and I, only I am on my way to bed and they are on their way to a day of some kind. These surfers and worshipers and businessmen and mothers of school age children. These busy doers of all that gets done. Bakers. Bankers. Maybe even a few dancers. They're all up and at 'em. And for some reason, I envy them. For some reason, I wish I could be more disciplined about sleeping when others do. I so often find myself sleeping when everyone else gets everything important done. And that begins to feel like hospitalization. I've had no recent surgeries or illnesses, so there's really no call for all this daylight recuperation. I just need to buckle down and be awake earlier. J.M. Barrie also said, "Young boys should never be sent to bed. They always wake up a day older." And it made me wish that I might find a way to never have to go to bed again. If I could just stay awake longer, the rest of my life could be just one very, very long day. And that seems like a glorious idea at the moment.

I did not bother trying to enter the house with any amount of stealth. My father was awake, preparing for church. My mother was watching television in her nightgown. She scolded me for the sake of my health and then left me to find whatever sleep I might while they set off for church town. I don't think she was really angry at me. But I know I'll get no sympathy if this cough of mine persists. I was asking for it, wasn't I?

Jan 1, 2005

Ring in the New

I have been writing in this blog for a number of years now. Well over three, if you're counting. And I'm plainly running out of lines to crib from Auld Lang Syne. So when it comes to the contemplation of all the themes that the ending of one year and the beginning of another conjure, I suppose I am left to make it all up from scratch.

Holiday seasons are prone to leaving me in a contemplative state. But this year, the thing I feel most pointedly is a sense of relief that -- come tomorrow -- stores will return to their normal business hours. I do so long for everything to just be normal again. That may sound unusually coarse for me. And I'm not trying to be obtuse. I just notice -- quite honestly -- that I'm not feeling terribly sentimental. And I'm grandly inconvenienced by holiday hours. Soon, it will be a normal working week, and shops won't lock themselves up early and restaurants won't decide to not serve and holiday lights will only persist in the most gauche of settings. Soon, everything will be as it was. And we will be well on our way to warmer weather and a whole new slew of top 40 hits. I don't always want to urge things forward in this way. I'd like for time to pace itself. I'd like for the days to roll on at precisely the rate that days should roll. I don't want it to go by any faster than usual. Nor any slower. I just want it to be a day again. And I want to be able to face it without worrying that something significant did or didn't happen.

I am home now from my New Year's Eve festivities. It was a fun time, and drinking was my strong suit. But the weather was not friendly to my hairdo. I have bookended this post in phone photos of the coiffured Mary before the veil of mist and rain robbed me of my look. It was nice while it lasted.

I do hope that you had a fine evening. I hope that your celebrations were memorable and not held at The Olive Garden. I hope that you enjoyed your party favors and that you looked your best. I hope that you made the most of your night and that you are looking forward to tomorrow. And I hope that 2005 is the start of a great many wonderful things. For you and for me.