Secret Pop

Mar 31, 2005

march marches on

i can't believe when i look at certain pictures that they were taken two years ago. i try to push the endpoints together like a squeezebox, compressing the accordion-like timeline, racing past faces that take on funhouse mirror form. remembering the temperature of certain days. spilled coffee. time killers. old movies in dank theaters. waiting. wanting. resisting. relenting. nightlight ghosts and shadows on the rumpled folds of sweaty sheets. patient wakefulness in an effort to stop time. like when maybe i used to believe that if you stayed awake all the way through, dawn would never come. pretending to have projects in separate rooms. being sensible and making excuses. cloudy. windy. grey. bare shoulders. steep slopes.

i can see my blank expression, and i know exactly what i meant.

april. come it will.

Mar 30, 2005

this shirt is dry clean only

I am very sad about Mitch Hedberg.

Mar 27, 2005

She smells like sunshine.

Beulah came and visited last weekend. She is a teacher, so "spring break" actually means something to her. It was the first instance in as long as I can remember that we got to spend that much time together, just the two of us. We did all sorts of things. Shopped*. Sang. Mixed cocktails**. Made paintings and collages. Ate a swanky dinner at The Dresden***. Cruised the rain-spattered streets of Los Angeles rocking the iPod in the wee hours, from Los Feliz to Santa Monica to Downtown and back home again****. Went on a picnic***** and took a bazillion pictures. It was on our picnic that Beulah and I made special note of our special brand of sisterhood. It's ours alone, and no one can touch it.

Hyperlinks and photos may mysteriously append this and other recent posts.

*It was raining at The Grove, and I forgot to bring an umbrella, so I bought us one. One of those push-button ones. And I nearly took Beulah's eye out a few times. But she was a good sport. They did not have my Fekkai texturizing balm at Nordstrom, so we were good little girls and did not buy a single pair of shoes. We shared a sandwich at the Farmer's Market and noticed a cute boy working at the toffee shop. We may have looked over in his direction a few too many times. Conspicuous. No game. But in the end, we had to face the fact that, as cute as he was, he works in a toffee shop. He was quickly forgotten.
**I made Beulah an apple martini. In a shaker and for real and everything. It was Jameson for me. A few of them. In a fancy crystal glass. Because I am pretty fancy when you come right down to it.
***Beulah doesn't like just standing in a crowded bar. Who does? I will do it, but I agree that a nice unjostled place to sit beats all. And I'd never eaten at the Dresden, so we decided to have dinner. A pair of fine steaks it was. And a good-looking Hispanic waiter whose name we never got. I defaulted to Jose. Beulah defaulted to Elian. And Tom showed up somewhere mid-steak, in time to help us with dessert and to say hello to a leaving Craig Anton. Beulah and I saw Jeff Small walking somewhere with what appeared to be take-away something or other. I didn't call out to him, but I mentioned it to him last night at the Bounty, and Brendon (his brother) made merciless fun of him. And I laughed and was grateful to have a sister of my own who would easily have made the same sort of fun of me, given half the chance.
****I can't tell you how much we laughed. But I can tell you about the time we were stopped at a traffic light and a bookish fellow to our right was making friendly eyes at us as Beulah jammed to Bitch Betta Have My Money. She encouraged me to wave at him. You know. Make his day. She then said he looked like an Ira. She was right. When we hit Downtown, I took us through that awesome 2nd Street tunnel and all over the place. Through Chinatown and Little Tokyo. We reminisced about visiting the New Otani Hotel on a Saturday many years ago, after driving up from San Diego to see a Francis Bacon/Helen Frankenthaler exhibit at LACMA. We had no idea back then. No idea whatever.
*****We packed lovely sandwiches and quesadillas and pickles and Pocky and soda pop and beer and potato chips and grape tomatoes, and we ate in the sunshine like kings. We were taking pictures of ourselves lying down on a straw mat when I felt a nuzzling in the back of my hair. It was a cute little four month-old corgi puppy named Buttercup. We made instant best friends and took her picture. And I'm sure we would have stolen her at gunpoint if (a) we had had a gun in our picnic duffel bag and (b) her mommy hadn't been so awfully nice, too. It was the best picnic in the history of picnics. And it could only have been made better if we had gone on a three-legged race with just the two of us. We ate so well there was certainly no room for the sundae and malted we had at Mel's later that night. But who's counting.

Dead Shot Dan

Carbon in Culver City is a nice little dive that plays movies without sound on screens that turn everything red. When I arrived there a couple of weeks ago, there was a tape of Buster Keaton movies playing. I wrote down the following lines.

Gentlemen, I have completed the clay model of my masterpiece.

Let's murder him first, and then kill him.

I took photographs of the screen. But dagblasted auto-focusing technology keeps you from ever taking a photo at the precise second you are hoping for. It's never more plain to me how valuable clairvoyance would be than when I miss a photograph. I don't need to see very far into the future. Two or three seconds is all I ask. And I promise I would never use it for gambling purposes.

"It's the way of the future."

The night of my accident, I was driving home from The Arclight, where I had gone to see The Aviator. I took copious, scribbly notes, but I never really did much with them.

Entering the cinema after drinks in the bar, I was displeased to only catch the tail end of the Sin City trailer. This won't be the first time I announced my looking-forwardness at the risk of one day sounding like a great fool. Especially with these much-anticipated, Comic-Con genre productions, it's so hard to not look a heel when the flickering begins for real. But I don't want to allow myself to be so lacking in courage as to not be willing to say I HOPE something will be good. That seems ridiculously cautious. I don't think anyone is investing on the basis of my movie whims, so I feel mostly safe in saying my fingers are crossed without fear of sending us into a recession.

I scribbled a note about the film being "so Scorsese sensualist." Firstly, I'm not a big Martin Scorsese fan. I actually consider him to be sort of a comic book filmmaker. Only, instead of taking on the superhero and science fiction genres, he prefers to tackle historical epics with the tools of the comic book trade. I remember a film writing teacher of mine pointing out the way, in The Color of Money, Scorsese manages to turn a billiards game into an action sequence, and that has always stuck with me. I suppose there's nothing wrong with this -- the assignment of overly inflated value to mundane moments. Spielberg was known for the manipulative emotional roller coaster he took his viewers on. To categorize these as criticisms implies that the only good film is a documentary. But then, when it comes to a biopic, I guess I just think that more documentarian sensibilities are called for.

The bizarre colorized look of the first half of the film seemed like such an unnecessary device. With sets and costumes and all manner of production design reminding us that this story takes place in the past, I think the unsaturated blues and jaundiced fleshtones are heavyhanded overkill. And they reminded me of the early days of colorization technology, when there was such a furor over Ted Turner's decision to colorize so many of the old black and white classics in his vault. That was back when Cheers was still on the air. Good golly.

I do not think Cate Blanchett deserved an Oscar for that performance. No, sir. I think Martin Short could have done as truthful a caricature, frankly. And perhaps with more feminine facial features. I like Cate Blanchett plenty, but this performance was no reason to throw a parade. I had just been watching Desk Set earlier that day while getting dressed, and I think it's a shame how overparodied Katharine Hepburn's legacy has become. She was a wonderful actress with distinct -- but not ridiculous -- elocution. Cate Blanchett reduced her to mannishness and unreliable diphthong play. It's a shame.

I really can't decipher much else of what I wrote. But my memory persists in certain areas. Like I thought that Leonardo di Caprio gave a remarkable performance. And I was surprised by it. Because the clips I had seen on various awards shows and television spots did not convince me that he deserved the nominations he got. But seeing the role in its entirety was another matter. He really did an outstanding job. I only wish the film had done him justice. Because in the end, you're still left with the exact same agenda as with nearly any other historically-based Scorsese film: now, you've got to go to the library or the Internet and find what happened. For a film that was intended to tell so much about the life of Howard Hughes, it really told surprisingly little. And there were far too many unanswered questions by the time the credits rolled. I would even have settled for a paragraph or two in epilogue, letting me know what happened to all the key characters. Like they did in Can't Hardly Wait.

"I can't go on denying the world my extra-greatness."
I have fallen extraordinarily behind in my written upkeep. Sure, I have excuses. Passable ones, even. But it occurs to me that just buckling down and writing something is better than all the notetaking in the world. And where notetaking is concerned, there has been a mountain of it lately.
My car is totaled. I will have to buy a new one. I'm not happy about it. I'm not sure how everything will resolve itself. This one drunk driver is costing me so much in money and time and effort and angst. Not to mention the persisting symptoms of nerve damage. I have not had to wear a neck brace or anything, but I have also not had my MRI yet. That should be an adventure. I don't think I'm claustrophobic, but when the orthopedic surgeon's nurse asked if I was, it gave me pause. I'm curious what it will be like to be conveyed into the belly of a big robot like that. I have a feeling it will be even more embarrassing than X-ray photography.
I was also asked if I have any metal in my body. And I was slightly disappointed to have to report that I do not.
I still think about headlights coming at me from time to time. Sometimes it makes me feel like I'm going to cry when I talk about it. And the occasional conversation with a friend will remind me that if I had eaten it that night, it's likely that many people would never have found out. They don't know enough of my close friends or family. It wouldn't make the news. There would be no blog updates. Just silence. I imagine a few people would assume I just turned into a rude bitch. All uppity and too good for them. Well, Los Angeles has a way.
I think I will be catching up in bursts rather than in one gigantic post. I have a lot of headline ideas to exploit.
This post began as a draft weeks ago. When I felt it necessary to note that "Move Along Home" is really one of the worst episodes of Deep Space Nine. It's a shame. I guess they can't all be gold. But still. And I don't know why, but Tri-Ominos is a funny reference. Without fail.
Like I said. They can't all be gold.

The eggs have it.

one short hour of sleep
nearly no voice for singing
the light is the same

Just give me one chance to feature you in sunshine.

Mar 18, 2005

Chord Theory
I instant message a lot these days.
I also send lengthy emails.
And I make a good part of my living writing.
I feel as if I'm starting to type like a jazz pianist. Sliding my fingers over the keys with some artsy flourishes. Finding the punctuation while slipping out of position. I don't always type perfectly. An extra key here and there. A missing character from time to time. That's what makes it seem like jazz. I am not that big a fan of jazz. And I am even smaller a fan of typographical errors.
The Wearing of the Green that I Did Not Do
I went to La Poubelle last night for Arthur's birthday. Jessie came and met me after dinner. We had a fine time. The Casting Office was far more crowded than it was the last time I was there, which was the night of the first of the 2004 presidential debates. I guess that's understandable. Saint Patrick's Day is a bit more of a draw in that respect.
Boys were very nice last night. And sometimes overly nice. And sometimes downright inappropriate. I can't think of a setting when reaching down a girl's skirt to see what sort of underthings she has on is acceptable. Nor can I think of a setting when one would expect that to happen. So when that happened to me last night, I was surprised.
And when I got stuck with the dinner tab, I was also surprised. That was my least favorite thing about the night.
What I did like, though, was meeting a lot of interesting people and spending time with Jessie and being treated nicely by nearly everyone. And when Jessie and I went to Pink's, Jessie made mention of the fact that I seem to get a special extra-nice brand of treatment there. That they are nicer to me than to other people apparently. And I don't know if it's true, but it's flattering if it is. Even if niceness comes in the form of hot dogs, it's welcome.
Beautiful on the Inside
Here's something. I was at the orthopedic surgeon's office yesterday, and they took some x-rays of my spine. When the doctor and I were looking at them, I noticed something peculiar: I was embarrassed and self-conscious. I was embarrassed to have someone look at my skeleton in front of me. My rather nice-looking young doctor said, "What do you think?" And I said, without making eye contact with him, "I don't know. I think I feel ashamed." He laughed. And so did I. But it was totally that nervous laughter that you hope will distract everyone from how stupid you feel. He assured me that my neck looked perfectly normal (And, yes, I did note that he did not say, "You have the neck of a supermodel.") and that I had nothing to worry about. When I told Martín about it over salads at California Pizza Kitchen (where we received the poorest service in the history of trendy pizza joints), he said -- in the voice I guess he uses to approximate me, "My skeleton is fat." And I said, "Exactly!" That's exactly how I felt. I felt like this doctor would surely look at these x-ray photographs and see something unappealing in them. That he would think I was unattractive or stupid or a jerk or a loser. Or fat. Where in the world would THAT come from*? I am -- at times -- more neurotic than even I like to admit.
*And, obviously, this comes from my mother.
I have to schedule an MRI to determine if the pain I am feeling in my neck and shoulders and arm is anything serious. I am in a bit more pain today than I was yesterday and a bit more than the day before. It especially hurts to turn my head left and right when I'm driving and am in need of visual reassurances. It seems to be progressively hurting more. And that's hardly a source of encouragement.
But I'm only listening to Duran Duran in my rental car, and that has made me feel like a million bucks so far.
Coincidentally, I ran into Alex, one of the other drivers whose car was smashed up by the drunk driver who hit us last weekend, at The Casting Office. The world is startlingly small. And disconcertingly frequented by auto smash-ups. When I told Beulah that I had spoken to an attorney, she started singing Easy Street to me (from the film Annie). And that led to her singing nearly every song in the soundtrack to me at different points in our conversation. I joined in on a few of them. We're perfect for each other, that Beulah and me. Scary and perfect.
Belly Button
I'm all over the place today. I have lost a little bit of my focus since the accident. And I've been having dreams with lots of blood in them. And not sleeping well in general. And it's raining out. And my limbs are cold. And Kiss Me, Stupid is on the television, and I hate Kim Novak. The accent she does in the movie reminds me of just so much community theater. Which reminds me that it's raining.

Mar 16, 2005

on the road again

but not necessarily in just-can't-wait mode

Mar 15, 2005

Real niggas recognize the realness.

Gizoogle is a site that translates the text content of other sites into gangsta speak. Here, for instance, is a tranzliation of my blizzog.

My favorite line so far: "And sometizzles I cracka why all this practice has not mizzle me a betta typist."

"No time for worry 'cause we're on the roam again."

I did not mean to get the car I got. I tried to get them to give me a Camry or something. But car after car was already rented or had the engine check light on or was just plain not available. And I ended up driving off in a Jeep Laredo. Black with tinted windows. Like I'm a drug dealer. Or in the FBI. It's not the car I wanted, but it's better than no car at all. Better by far. and I drove it to Hollywood with the music playing good and loud, and I parallel parked it like a champ. A champ with the propensity to overcorrect.

I used to always notice when it was the Ides of March. I used to always think wryly to myself, "Yup. It figures." Even if nothing bad was happening. I buy calendars now, but only because I like what they're about. My current one is another Edward Gorey-themed desk diary. Just like last year's. But I don't really write in it very regularly. I don't sit at a desk much. I don't carry a briefcase. I don't keep track with the same fervor I used to. That's something I've noticed.

And I don't know if I will be bummed about it later. If I suddenly find myself back on the keeping-track kick. I used to keep a diary of a sordid sort. A tally book basically. And I was dedicated to keeping it up so that one day -- perhaps on my death bed -- I would be able to say, "The number is 'x,'" "x" being the number that it would be at that time. But then I was laid off from a job, and my routine was jangled. The routine of going into the office each day and penning a tally mark or two into that notebook. When I was unemployed and staying at home, I didn't keep up the practice. And all of a sudden, it was a few weeks later and there was no way to be certain that I would be able to recall the tally accurately. And a few months later, when I was in a frenzy of throwing things away to prepare for a changing-up of the living situation, I rashly tossed that spiral notebook into the makeshift dustbin, believing that it no longer served a purpose. And maybe believing that I was only ever going to be with the same one person, so what different did it make what our number was? We were way up there by that point. But now, years later, I occasionally remember that notebook and wonder what could have possessed me to throw it away. It was not important or lovely or useful, really, but it was something I'd had for so long, and it had years' worth of fingerprints and changed pens and fraying edges and bent spirals. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I believe that such time-tells eventually bring an inanimate object to life. And that makes me feel remorse for having chucked an object that had been with me for so much of my memory-making. It is not the only time a human being was likely sorry for having discarded something upon having misread its value. And perhaps not the only time that the act of discarding proved irrevocable.

I don't think I would even have noticed that it was March 15 if I hadn't seen it in the blog entry interface. I think when people tell you that time passes faster as you get older, they don't realize that it's because you slowly stop bothering to keep track of it. Movies seem short when you sleep through them, too.

I was surprised I was able to get it into my garage with such a big, black car. And I think it's time for a road trip.

Mar 13, 2005

Powder Burns and Ballistics Expertise
They say there is no catching up. Not on sleep. And maybe not on anything else. The further you get from the point of entry, the more sketchy the details become. So there's no hope for recapturing any of it. Sometimes this is the best you can do. And the "you" in that sentence is me.
Jessie is doing the Lottery shows at Improv Olympic. I went with Stacey to see her perform. Afterwards, we had a few drinks, stopped in at the Velvet Margarita, then went to the 101 Coffee Shop for whatever it was we had. For me, it was onion rings. They're great there. But I seldom hate myself more than when I eat anything. This is something that has become plain to me over time. There is never anything I eat that I don't end up thinking, "I didn't need that," about, once eaten. I think I'm convinced, in much the same way that I sometimes think you can live forever if you just decide to and really try, that eating is something we do out of weakness. I guess I secretly believe that you don't have to eat. Ever. Because whenever I do, I am disappointed in myself. It's weird.
We ran into Neil Flynn at the I.O., and I said hello and reminded him that he read a spec script for me last year, and he was very nice. Ewan MacIntosh (Keith from The Office) was in the house. Either to see the Armando show or Adsit and Pasquesi. I didn't say anything to him. Mostly because I would just end up telling him that he is sitting there in the scene when my favorite line is said, but it isn't him saying it, even though it's to have been his character who wrote it at first. It's the bit that ends in, "And under weaknesses, you've put 'eczema.'" Top notch. I love that scene. But telling him so would have done neither of us any good. Anyway, he's not as tall as I thought, which leads me to believe that everyone else in that show is terribly short.
I also ran into Jon Huck at the I.O. that night. Which was coincidental, as I had received his announcement about a party he was throwing on Thursday, and I had just emailed him to ask him if it would be weird for me to come, since we haven't yet met in person. And no sooner had he assured me that no such weirdness would be possible than we nearly collided with each other in the foyer of the I.O. Perfect.
Martín and I went to see the Doug Benson Interruption at M Bar. I enjoyed that. And we ran into Wayne Federman there, and that's always pleasing. I accused Wayne later that night of having left without saying goodbye, and he proved me wrong. And that led to a long chat about all sorts of things including a great joke of Milton Berle's at the expense of Fred Waring and a joke I inadvertently made up, inspired by mention of The Ray Conniff Singers. I know. That all sounds terribly old.
Tom and I went to see The Idiots, which I've been meaning to do for a while now. Brendon Small sat next to us for the first part of the show in order to do a bit from the audience that was funny and good. (Penn and) Teller was in the audience, too. But he was just there to watch. Tom introduced me to Kristen Herman. She is pretty, and she liked my shoes.
Tom and I had a few drinks at Good Luck Bar, which smelled shockingly of beer in the entrance area. And Tom hypothesized about what it would be like if Prince's Cream was my theme song, playing every time I entered a room, as it did at one point when I was returning from the bathroom.
A woman came over and asked each of us if we wanted to dance. She seemed to ask everyone in the room. And the one guy who accepted her offer looked like Heinrich Himmler in a baggy suit, and he started dancing it up crazy-like. His dance style was sort of rave-inspired. A sort of James Brown-ian footwork thing combined with arms straight at his sides the entire time. You just have no idea how weird it looked. And the girl who had wanted to dance just stood back and watched for a while.
I went to Jon Huck's party at Casita del Campo in Silverlake. What a turnout. Tom met me there. And later Dean joined us. And Michelle tried to make it but got lost. So after everything, Dean and I met her at the 101 Coffee Shop, where I had onion rings again, and I think I've decided I no longer need to have them ever again. I am like that with my passions sometimes. Don't be thrown by it. I am fickle after a fashion.
They were giving away free quesadillas at the Casita. We enjoyed them. And I really wanted to bum a cigarette off of Jerry Minor, but I was concerned that it might look as if I was hitting on him. And this entire transaction in my brain made me take note that Los Angeles is apparently turning me into a smoker. And made me resolve to put my cigarettes in my handbag before leaving the house next time.
Tom and I went to see Wayne Federman in this Un-Cabaret "Say the Word" thing at the Skirball Center. An icky place to have to go at 8 P.M. on a Friday night, to be sure. But it was worth the schlep.
I think I would have wanted to go out and have a grand time afterwards, but I was so drained from the week -- the days of which had consisted of me getting a lot of work done and completing (at long last) my submission for Nickelodeon, something I had been sort of dreading for weeks and which I was nearly set to just completely fuck off about. But I didn't fuck off. I got it done and in and over with. And I was amazed that I managed to, all things considered.
I was also submitting writing samples for a radio sketch show that I might like to write for, so it's hardly surprising that I was bled dry like only certain turnips can be by the time Friday night was coming to a close. Tom and I stopped off in West L.A. and got Chinese food, and he was pleased to learn he's been wrong all along about which year of the whatever he was. Those January and February birthdays have to be careful -- the lunar calendar is all complicated and shit.
I had workshop at 3. I parked in Hollywood at a meter with an L.A. D.O.T. hood over it and a sign reading that it was a temporary tow away, except for Saturday and Sunday. And I couldn't understand why no one was parking at these temporarily FREE meters. I was positive that I wouldn't get towed, given the signage, but I still hesitated. Such creatures of pack behavior are we. As much of an elitist as I often am, it did take me a few seconds to convince myself that, just because no one else in Los Angeles had yet figured out that it was safe to park here, that doesn't mean it isn't. Sure enough, when I returned to my car at 6, it was just where I left it. And I was sort of sorry I didn't have some big night of pub crawling planned. It's always slightly a shame to have to pull out of a sweet spot.
Dean and I had already had plans to see a movie, so I called him and we met up at the Arclight. And we saw The Aviator, and after that I had the car accident, which I wrote about in the previous post.
Once I got home, I was never really able to settle down. I thought about taking an Ambien, but I worried that it was already too late. I ended up not going into my bedroom until about 5 a.m. And I was awake until about 8:30 and then up at 10:18. So not much rest so far. And no naps either. I've been frazzled and shaky all day. Sort of like being high on something. Not quite in my skin.
And I woke up with some pain in my neck and back. And that has only gotten progressively worse. It's not excruciating or anything. Dull and nagging. And progressively worse, is the only part I worry about. I am tempted to roll my neck and crack it all back into place, but I'm also worried about doing that. I don't want to be found dead and paralyzed before I've had a chance to tidy up a bit.
I had a weird spate of dreaming in what little time I slept. I told a few people the details. Beulah wanted me to write it all down. She laughed at a lot of it. Maybe because she was featured. She laughed the hardest when I told her that this guy broke her little finger clean off. I was surprised by her reaction. I am even writing jokes in my dreams. And I'm sleeping shallowly enough to wake and write them down. It's a strange feeling. Sometimes I feel as if I am just always, always awake.
And sometimes I wonder why all this practice has not made me a better typist.
Sunday (That's today!)
I received many, many phone calls from concerned friends and family and offers for help if I should need it. And that was all very comforting. Even though I did eventually reach a point of not wanting to answer the phone, because the story is not interesting to tell for me anymore. I will need to do some embellishing the next time if I'm to enjoy it at all.
And in keeping with the theme of the importance of appreciating and preserving life, I watched Short Circuit. And it reminded me of a time a couple of years ago when I was on a date with a guy, and I had cause to say, "No disassemble!" and he had no idea what I meant. Even after I told him it was a reference to Short Circuit. And that was one on a long list of reasons by which I knew I should never go out with that guy again. Although I did. Like two more times, I think. But that's just because I am totally undedicated to the pursuit of happiness.
I peeled a pomelo this afternoon. It was delicious and sweet and so juicy as to make a drippy mess of my hands and wrists and early forearms. And it was not so luxurious and decadent as you might think, having watched movies such as The Blue Lagoon. It was a sticky mess, and I resented it. And there was too much of it, so I left a lot just sitting in the kitchen, drying out. The practicalities of living in nature are not welcoming to me. When I see someone in a movie like The Swiss Family Robinson greedily tearing their choppers into the flesh of, say, a mango, all I can think is how much of that mango fur would get stuck between their teeth and how I hope they have some facsimile of dental floss on hand. I also do not really like the idea of having sex on the beach, no matter how many times From Here to Eternity airs.
It would have been nice to not have had so much to worry about today. And that is one item on another sizeable list.

Do not go gently. And do not take Melrose.

So, I almost died is the thing.

I was driving home from the Arclight, where I was seeing The Aviator with my friend Dean, and I took Melrose further west than I normally would. I don't know why. It looked clear enough. And it was late. And I hate waiting for that turn on La Brea. But my second-guessing gene will remind me of this fateful decision for some time to come, I'm sure. Because I was hit by a guy driving head-on into my lane at high speed. I swerved to get out of his way, but I wasn't able to avoid a collision. He then hit two other cars, stopping his car by driving it head-on into a parked car on the opposite side of the street. After two hours of waiting for the police to arrive in the misty rain and then talking to them once they got there, I watched the driver of the Cadillac that hit me get arrested for driving under the influence. And I drove home, with my wheel well dragging against my tire, to let poor little Audrey out for her first pee in eleven hours.

I was hit by a drunk driver. My first Los Angeles driving cliché.

One of the guys at the scene (the brother of one of the drivers) said I looked familiar, and we decided it might be because we are both on MySpace. And he is a musician. And I am a musician. And the girl whose Subaru was creamed was coming back from a gig at the Sunset Room, and she's a musician, too. We should totally start a band.

I was planning to come home tonight and catch up on all the things I haven't written about. But I feel my heart pounding in my head, and I want to plunge it into water. Or stuff it full of cotton. Or just turn the music up really loud. I am dizzy and fidgety and nervous and wide-awake. And I am fully aware of -- and completely not being overdramatic about -- the fact that I could easily have been killed -- to death -- just a couple of hours ago.

When I went to see Ira Glass in San Diego a few weeks ago, he referenced a story he did where he interviewed a bunch of people who had all been struck by lightning. And he said that they all had the exact same story to tell. They all described the sensation the same way, and they all believed that it was a sign that God had a purpose for them or was trying to send them a message.

I do not think that any message was being sent to me. But I do get what it's like to suddenly go, "Oh, shit. Life is short as fuck."

The night is pressing in on the sides of my head like a warm vise. Like a great hand that was recently inside a glove that was on fire. I want to go sit in my closet and smoke a hundred cigarettes. I want to sit in a tub full of hot marmalade. I want to have all of my senses shut down or distracted or somehow repurposed.

I want to go for a long drive. But my car is all fucked.

Mar 8, 2005

into the groovy

I went for a run at high noon, and it was a difficult one this time. I never felt the wind in my sails. I just felt my feet burning in my shoes and my brain finding reasons why I might want to shave a bit off my usual five miles.

The wind seems to blow so vigorously from west to east. The first half of my run is always slowed by it. Slighty uphill and into the wind. I dance across mashed berries fallen from overburdened trees. And I try not to get so caught up in my solitude that I find myself accidentally singing aloud.

There is a flower shop I run past with a statue of a jockey standing out in front holding a ring. I always want to snatch it. I have not been on so very many carousels in my lifetime, but I don't know that any of them actually had a brass ring for getting. Or maybe it's just that no one told me to look for one. I've always felt I missed out on something there.

There is a carousel in a shopping center in Encino that has the most appalling animals for riding. Dull-eyed monkeys in sports jerseys. Angry giraffes. Zebras. Cheetahs. Hippos with their weird teeth bared. Maybe a space ship. I was interviewing a woman there last spring, and I photographed it, though I don't know that I ever did anything with the pictures. It appealed to me for some reason. When I was a little girl in Virginia, my parents took me to Ocean View Amusement Park for my birthday, and there was a carousel there where we could ride motorcycles. And that was my favorite. I would much rather sit on a machine with buttons to push than on a fiberglass horse with the paint of its mane worn away from so many hands and pants and embraces. I don't know why that is. Years later, they made a movie called The Death of Ocean View Park and actually blew the place up. I sighed a little watching it.

I did have a fake horse of my own back then. She was called "Wonder Horse" according to the cursive script on her side, and she was mounted in a frame and suspended on big metal springs. I would bounce up and down on her a lot, I recall. I think we kept her out on the back porch, which was enclosed. It's funny, I was so young in that house, I can barely remember enough of it to know what the rooms looked like. I just have specific remembrances of being in the hallway trying to get Slinky to go down the stairs or of being in the living room falling asleep on the blue carpet while my parents watched Jimmy Carter win the presidential election. I remember that we had a playset in the back yard, but that the slide and swings were always spotted with bird shit, so I hated to use them. And there were cherry trees I think...? I think my parents tried to make their own wine...? Maybe I'm imagining that part. I can remember which side of my room the window was on and what part of the floor I used to sit on when playing with Lego bricks or the Fisher-Price farmhouse or school bus or the box I used to keep assorted crap in. Bank forms. Paper clips. Empty pantyhose eggs. I collected all manner of nonsense that I would amuse myself with for hours. I was "imaginative" as a child. But not imaginative enough to think to look for a brass ring on a carousel with motorcycles on it.

I am wearing clothes for summer. That's how imaginative I am.

"And don't start with oysters!"

I went to the beauty supply on my way home and the nice Persian lady behid the counter said to me the following:

"You are so beautiful. With the dimples and the hair and the sexy."

Then she went back to what she was doing as I said, "Thank you," and felt my face flush and got all embarrassed. I guess it's uncomfortable having your day made.

Mar 6, 2005

Coffee Shop Advances

Martín and I walked over to Nick's for breakfast, dodging marathoners as we crossed La Cienega. It wasn't as busy as usual on account of the marathon and the streets being closed. We still managed to take an hour to get seated and served and out of there, but Sunday mornings aren't meant for hustle. Even church is mostly just sitting still.

The guy who sat at the counter next to us was very chatty. One of those guys. The ones who make "friends" with all the wait staff and like to pretend they are in tight with everyone. One of the regulars. The owner, Alan (and I'm not saying his name because I'm a regular -- I just heard other people call him that and I don't want my pronouns to become confusing), was encouraging some customers to watch the marathon on the television, and the guy I'm talking about piped up in a plenty loud voice, "The guy who won this year is an African. Go figure." Then, after a beat, he added, "They should have a race just for Africans. Give everyone else a chance." He went on for a bit and was clearly looking for a response, eventually turning to me. And I said, "A segregated marathon? That will probably go over well." And the guy was like, "Well, they win a Honda car. It's not like it's some Los Angeles thing. It's a Japanese car." I didn't understand this premise, but I decided that the winners of the African part of the marathon should maybe get something different. "A slave ship?" Martín added, "And a bus pass." "Right. A Spanish galleon and a bus pass." But I think we'd already lost the guy's attention. He was still going on about how women get a fifteen minute handicap. I took out my little notebook to jot down the framework of this conversation, and he leaned in, "You're writing down my idea, aren't you?" And I admitted that I was. And I think he really began to wonder if it was an idea that had legs. And I was reluctant to type "that had legs" just there, because I didn't want to tempt anyone to think to themselves, "No pun intended." If you know me, you know how much I despise "no pun intended." If I intend a pun, you will know it, and I won't have to point it out to you. And for the record, this seldom happens, as I do not generally care for puns. In all other cases, I won't have intended it, so it will defy the boundaries of necessity to have you remind me that I didn't.

Martín and I walked home past big signs encouraging particular groups of runners. "Go Cleveland Marathoners!" "Go L.A.P.D. Explorers!" And I wondered how well it would go over if there were signs encouraging just the African runners to really buckle down. Mightn't the appearance of a big banner reading "Go Africans!" or "Run, Africans, Run!" have the risk of connoting an invitation to return to the Dark Continent or to dance while bullets are being fired at one's feet? They also apparently have premade signs that you can fill out or add a photo to so that you can hold them up to encourage the specific runner you are there to cheer for. These have a way of looking like milk carton photos to me. Martín noticed one where the person who filled out the sign, wanting to encourage a Vera, had used a marker to write Vera with big quotation marks around it, but they were placed so high that they looked to have been written around the word "Go." As in "'Go,' Vera." As in a sarcastic sign implying that Vera is not likely to be going anywhere. It's possible that I drank too much coffee.

Anyway, the point is, if you're going to sit at a coffee shop counter, bring a paper or pretend to be deaf. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a conversation with a racist.

Race to the Finish

I was having a very realistic dream. It involved The Pixies playing live and they were friends of mine, and they were all on fly tracks, and I thought they should have set up their stage differently. And Mary Louise Parker was about to have a baby. And her husband was trying to give me the cell phone number so I could keep in touch with them. She was my cousin or something. And then I was in bed with two women, and I was going to be a movie director, and you don't need to know the rest of that part. But I awoke thinking, "Is that Bad Religion?" and then "Is that Tears for Fears?" I don't know who the band is, but they're right outside my door. And it's because of the Los Angeles Marathon. And in some fashion, I guess that's cool.

in order to prevent the passions from showing

These are harmless excerpts from emails to friends. I find I write more that is worth saving these days when I am writing to someone actual and not just to the fish in the sea or to the back of my hand. I have written a great deal in the past few days, but not all of it has found its way onto anyone's eyeballs. This is my way of making that not be true.

Of course I missed hearing from you. Sometimes my life is like a prison -- self-imposed though my consecration to it may be. And the voices from the outside that find their way to me are glimpses of freedom. All the better if they have interesting and eloquent things to say. Most of them just want computer help.

I have been writing lengthy letters when it was called for. And it reminded me of how much I missed our early correspondence. People like you bring out the try in me. And it leads to more of the do. And sometimes some of the sentences are worth saving. Especially the ones with clumsy
Star Wars and Star Trek references in them.

The stirring is just to occupy the silences. The contemplative, suggestive, downcast-eyes, French-movie silences. I will buy you an espresso and a coffee. One to drink. One to stir. Or it can be a glass of water, if you like. With a spoon in it.

Recently it does seem that I catch myself watching from outside my head and I feel as if I am careening out of control. Babbling on when I should just breathe deeply and be serene and mysterious. When I hear myself thinking, "I have only myself to blame," I also realize that maybe I prefer it that way. I'm Encyclopedia Brown over here, twenty-four seven. My brain never shuts up. And I'm always frustrated that the answers aren't in the back of the book.

And whenever I try to be less than a hopeless romantic, I find that I don't know how to handle myself. I can feign callousness in certain venues. I can pretend to be above it. And I can move on and get past things. But the failures live on in the museum of my mind, and I am never able to close the door on them, because closure is not a real part of human existence, and that is a cruel fucking truth.

So when things don't keep to that pattern, I get confused. And I worry that the noodles will not come out right in the end. And I should be more flexible, because I know more than anyone that you can skip the package directions and still come up with something edible. I do it all the time. Because I am lazy when it comes to reading in general, and I eschew reading directions in particular because I am arrogant and certain that I have no need of them. And because I rebel against authority. Even in written form. I would put postage stamps on the wrong parts of letters if I didn't believe it would hamper the delivery of my very important correspondence and payments.

I'm drifting out here. And I don't know if I even truly want to correct that. I almost think that the drifting is fine. And maybe even better. Maybe the point is that I can't keep wasting so much effort and energy and emotion and analysis. I wonder how productive I might be if I wasn't so busy trying to steer ships at the bottom of the ocean. For someone who is tempted to eat food out of the trashcan rather than see it go to waste, I sure do throw away a lot of perfectly good time.

And if I were to tell you all these things in my real voice with my hands tugging at the longest parts of my hair and my feet fidgeting under a bar table, you'd probably notice that I'm smiling when I say it, and that even my most abysmal moments are usually assessed wryly and with whatever humor I can muster, however sardonic. I laugh a lot when I talk. I really do. And it isn't always a sham when I do it. Sometimes, surely. But not always.

I'm fairly certain that, given the right circumstances my previous boyfriends would describe me as someone good and kind and generous and worthy. As long as it didn't make them look bad to admit those things. I'm pretty sure that's how they see me. I was a good egg. But it's the fact that those assessments are paramount that is so flawed. I am living my life for the report card I generate. And then all I want to do is sit and stare at the grades. Moving forward is difficult for me. I ruminate like crazy.

When things are obvious, they are exactly that.

That Churchill fellow was on
Real Time with Bill Maher tonight, and he really did not get his point across at all. He did however mention Hannah Arendt once. And I felt slightly pleased that I know who she is and what he was referring to. But, shit, he could have gotten what he was saying from the first three pages of the book. What a cheater. It wasn't really a very good episode of the show, frankly. Even though Dave Foley was a guest and Janet Reno. They were both good, but Bernadine Healy makes me want to see how long she can stay underwater with my hands around her throat. She's just one of those simpering false ones who wants to kindly disagree, and because she's being nice, you feel bad about having to say, "Woman, you're full of shit." But she's totally full of shit. And someone should say so. Dave Foley's mention of our nation's clandestine policy of extraordinary rendition prompted me to finish reading an article in The New Yorker about it that I had recently begun. I liked him for having done his homework. And for doing a great take when Bill asked if he believes in reincarnation.

I'm competitive when I shouldn't be. Like, ever since the first time I saw Marion Ravenwood outdrink that fellow in
Raiders of the Lost Ark (I want to call him a sherpa because of the setting, but he was clearly like Yugoslavian or something), I've thought to myself, "I could do that."

To Catch a Thief is on. I suppose it's a Cary Grant week or something. And, yes, I adore Charade. As much for Walter Matthau as for Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. She's wonderful to me. Even when she's not great. I just find her so lovely and naive and girlish. Paris When It Sizzles makes me want to write. And Sabrina makes me want to have my heart broken in New York.

What I often learn when I do go back and find and reread old books I used to read is that they are shockingly smaller and shorter than I recall. Pamphlets, really. Barely worth dog-earing if you don't finish them in one sitting. The Mary Poppins books had this effect on me. I was like, "That's it? Crap." But I'm still glad to have them. Just disappointed in their girth. Maybe the Disney people added all those songs just to fill the thing out a bit, huh?

Mary, what a jerk

Today is my mother's birthday. I will drive down to San Diego and celebrate it with her, and then I will return to see what manner of cake I can bake. I feel as if I have been swimming in sameness. Organ-grinding. Pushing buttons on an old defunct console. It will get better. It will get glorious. And then it will get back to whatever it was. I can't complain too mightily about the baseline. It is never as bad as it could be and seldom as bad as it seems. I'm not saying that I'm all sunshine and paper hats. I'm just saying that I'm still able to feel it when my teeth have been pressing too hard against each other, and that means I am still capable of telling when to stop biting down.

Mar 4, 2005

"I do not attempt to explore the depths of the oriental mind."

Well, that's not true, actually. That's a quotation from a John Wayne movie. I, in fact, do attempt to explore the depths of the oriental mind and often. Seriously. And I have no problem with people saying "oriental."

I forgot to cover some things. Wednesday night, Jesse and I went to The Hotel Cafe to see my lovely friend Anya. That part I covered. It was raining out, and I was in a blue mood, so Jessie brought me flowers, and I took a picture of them next to my leg. After our visit to The Velvet Margarita, we were walking back across wet streets to Jessie's car, and a cab with Tom Green in the front passenger seat nearly ran us down. Tom Green looked at us and said, "Hi." But that was hardly an apology.

It's brilliant sunny out, but the skies are black. It's raining in places but not everywhere and not all the time.

Last Friday night was the Duran Duran concert. I have finally posted the pictures of the band (and it should come as no surprise that this is really just more than two hundred photos of mostly only John Taylor) and of Beulah and me.

Saturday night, Yen and I shared a cherry after my show at the comedy theater.

Monday night, I realized how long my hair has gotten. The answer? Too long.

I guess that's the whole story up until this point.

The Thrilling Adventure and Supernatural Suspense Hour

I was going to try and find some oblique reference to use as a title, but why bother? This is about the show, and that is the show's title.

I went to M Bar last night to see the show of the aforementioned name. My friend Ben Acker (whose show it was, as he is the "Acker" of "Acker and Blacker," who are the "Acker and Blacker" of "Acker and Blacker's WorkJuice Theatre Presents" fame) was all ants-in-the-pants about it and invited me some weeks back, so it was on my calendar, and I am ruled by my promises. While there, I finally met Murphy Gilson, whom I've known for some time but have never managed to actually meet, which is a shame in retrospect, as it turns out he's pretty rad. Ben and I have a number of mutual friends, among whom are David Hill, who was woefully absent and for whom Ben and I once did a script-reading together for a Curb Your Enthusiasm spec he wrote, and Matt Frederick, who everyone agrees has long since overstayed his sojourn in Costa Rica. The world is a mess of tangled threads at times, and no one is fonder of that than I.

Anyway, Murphy and his friend Craig kept me company while I was waiting for my friend Tom, who was late and perhaps secretly punishing me for having been late to meet him last night at my friend Anya's CD release party at The Hotel Cafe. But honestly, that was Jessie's fault. And all was forgiven after Anya's show, when we went to The Velvet Margarita, which I promptly fell in love with. It's still a too-expensive, bullshit Hollywood type place, but the décor is too perfect. Velvet paintings of luchadoras and Elvis and dia de los muertos skeletons and skeleton Elvises. And animatronic Mexican marionettes performing their repetitive little dances in inset little stages high up on the wall and Spanish language movies from the 60s playing on big screens with subtitles in full effect. We drank, took pictures, and went on an errand to Pink's before the night was through, at which time I had no continuing ire over how late we were to the show. But maybe Tom was still holding a grudge. He didn't accompany us on any of the post-show fun-having, so it figures.

I'm just now realizing that perhaps I shouldn't have called this journal entry what I called it, as it hasn't been about the show at all. So far. But I will correct that. Now.

So, the show.

The show was presented like an old-fashioned radio play, with actors holding binders and speaking into microphones, but it also made clever use of the visual component of us actually being able to see them. And it seemed that the audience laughed in nearly all of the right places and that Ben was pleased. I was a bit thrown that the musical guest, whose name was Shawn Pander, was not funny. I suppose it doesn't take so keen a sophisticated comic mind to assume that a person with the surname of "Pander" might be using a funny pseudonym and that the musical interlude itself might be intended to be a joke. But, no. He was a musician, and he played music. And it sounded good. And it wasn't funny at all.

I remember leaning in -- and let's face it, standing on tippytoes, because that Ben is one tall fellow -- and telling Ben what I thought from time to time. "Thumbs up for liberal use of the word 'onus' and for the phrase 'bad books,'" for instance, I recall saying to him at one point. And I hoped that he heard my laughter where he might have wanted to hear it. I may not have told him how much I liked many other things. It's mostly just me realizing that leaning over and yakking into the writer's ear for the whole show might be the rudest possible thing I could do. But I was fond of the smushing agenda and the caroms and ricochets of bullets of sound. And I also loved how simple it was to modify a woman's voice to sound like that of a demon by just having a guy talk at the same time. I'm obviously no sound design genius, but I'm sometimes embarrassed by how easy it is to impress me with problem-solving techniques that are not so very complex to begin with.

Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster played a perfect war-era couple of paranormalist mystery-solvers. That might have been my favorite thing. There were many other things worth noting, but I did not take notes at all, and I am afraid I can't give proper credit on a case by case basis. But just in case the rest of the cast Googles themselves, they were Dave "Gruber" Allen, Mark Gagliardi, Marc Evan Jackson, Derek Hughes, Amy Seeley, and Stephen Taylor, and I wouldn't want them to feel like their efforts went unnoticed.

And for Ben in particular: Well done, you. The intonation of even the most complex syllabic concoctions occurred brilliantly. I am fond of the words you use.

After the show, I joined friends and cast members at The White Horse, where I had a few drinks. Enough so that I apparently repeated myself and was embarrassed by it. Sometimes the drink is not my friend. But if you know anything about me and how patient I am with my friends, it won't surprise you to learn that I'm not entertaining any plans of ditching it. But holy cow, the past few times I've had a drink or two, I've been overwhelmed by persistent fears that I made a grotesque and obnoxious fool of myself. I would prefer it if it turned out that I was actually charming and wonderful. But I have no way of knowing. And I'm also glad that there is no crew of video documentarians following me around. A hidden camera show about my actual life would ruin my chances for a great many things, despite how incredibly popular it would be.

Before the show, I performed a surgically precise parallel parking job with the owners of the vehicle to the rear of me actually sitting in their car, watching my every girlish correction. I took extra care to not bump them, obviously, and couldn't help wondering why they didn't ever pull their car back a bit, as there was plenty of room behind them but not enough for a car to fit in, and here was I trying to wiggle into a space that looked as if it was carved out JUST to fit my car with nearly no room to the fore or aft. They did not help me. And they did not applaud me when I completed my acrobatics. They might have been having a "talk" there in the car, though I never saw their lips move. Maybe they were psychics having an unpleasant relationship discussion. I don't know. I am a good driver.

Mar 2, 2005

Space Age Love Song

Fresh-cut grass and misty rain
Bits of clipped hedge flying over on a gust of leafblower
Approving (read: leering) fellows in service industry trucks
Signposts are dirty; don't touch them
I claim more power than I have
I pretend that each step I take is pulling the earth past me
When I'm going faster, I think condescending thoughts
And the ground is vanquished

I would always prefer the sweaty over the sweet. As long as we're talking dirty.

"Saying goodbye. Why is it sad?"

The final episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine aired today on SpikeTV. I watch the two episodes of DS9, and sometimes the subsequent two episodes of STTNG, when I'm at home working. I often opt to have things on the television that are familiar enough that I don't feel tempted to pay too much attention to them but also pleasing to me in some way. Star Trek is perfect for this.

The season 7 episodes of DS9 have been airing in order, and that has created the mounting sense of everything coming to an end for weeks now. I watched these episodes in their original airing in 2000, keeping my Sunday nights free or setting my VCR accordingly. And I remember watching this episode -- this ending -- and feeling my eyes well up and my skin tingle. Just like now. Even the memory of endings is painful. The absence of hope that things will continue. Being left to create your own imaginary narrative. If you believe the characters live on somewhere. If you want to believe that.

I'm always saying goodbye. Always leaving. Always having to let go of everything familiar. Even if we're just talking about skin cells. This whole (accursed) existence is just a series of short bursts of connection that eventually come to an end. Paths cross and uncross. Jobs end. Students matriculate. I even feel sad when I get to the last page of a book. I don't tell myself that I would like for anything to last forever, but I secretly wish for the possibility that anything might. And living in the absence of all that I would want to pull in close and embrace is exactly what I like the least about growing up. How does everyone maintain such an unstooped posture in the face of all that draws you back. I feel it so mightily, I can barely stand up at times.

What a liar the passage of time makes of me. All the promises I've made. I will always this. I will never that. This will be true forever. My track record is spotty with such offerings. They were not all pie-crust promises. But they were all eventually broken. Or will be. I don't know how such things came so easily.

I have this episode on a VHS tape somewhere. It aired just a couple of months before I invested in a TiVo. But I don't watch it. And, though I have the entire series on DVD, I have shied away from watching season 7. Because I was sure that it would be too vigorous a tugging on those old dumb strings. But I'm glad to have seen it today. Even today.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Laughter. Like Medicine.

Last night at Largo, Paul F. Tompkins had a bit to say about the Oscars and about Sean Penn and his apparent humorlessness in taking offense on Jude Law's behalf to what Chris Rock said about how many movies he was in last year. I was sorry I hadn't actually gotten to watch the show, because some amount of the jokes may have been lost on me, and that is a grave concern of mine. My powers of inference and extrapolation are considerable, thankfully. So I doubt I was ever entirely left in the dust, but there's really no way of knowing at this point. Tonight I watched The Daily Show and heard Jon Stewart lampooning the same incident, and I got to see Sean Penn's actual "performance," followed by Jon Stewart's epilogue to the incident, which went something like this: "Penn added, 'And while we're at it, Mr. Youngman, I would not like to take your wife, as I already have one. And, Mr. Seinfeld, regarding your query, in re: The Deal with Airplane Peanuts, the answer is economies of scale render it fiscally imprudent to distribute them in larger packaging. Let's get to the nominees.'" And that amused me greatly and also made me think that, despite his acting talents and impressive head of hair, Sean Penn must just be no fun at all to live with. I wonder what would happen if he ever happened on to a televisation of a celebrity roast. I'll bet there would be tears and broken things very soon after.

My friend Adam sent me a very well-written and thoughtfully-reasoned assessment of the show, too. And all of this just compounds in force and focuses like a laser on my sense of inadequacy at having not bothered to watch or form any opinions of my own. Sometimes I miss things. And, yet, I managed to watch Equilibrium in its entirety. Yes, I was working the whole time, but it's not like I didn't look up ever. Christian Bale is awfully distracting. Even when he's fulfilling the gargantuan cliché of experiencing an enormous welling-up of emotion at the first hearing of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. I mean, yeah, it was the Fourth Movement, but it was right at the beginning of it. Not anywhere near the Ode to Joy. No one cries at that opening part.

Anyway, at least I managed to not see The Counting Crows at all. You have no idea how much I go out of my way to not be exposed to them.

So, yeah, the PFT Show was awesome as usual. I wonder what I would say in the event that it ever wasn't any good, but my imagination just isn't that keen. My friend Tom and I were talking today and couldn't remember how it was that Paul got off on an interesting tangent regarding skeletons just before the show wrapped up -- right before Danny Boy and the excellent reference to 1995's Se7en, a.k.a. Seven (alternative spelling). But Tom felt that the declaration, "Skeletons, you take the cake," was the topper.

And before we left, I gave Martín an opportunity to defend his assertion that Star Wars: Return of the Jedi is the best of the original trilogy to Wayne Federman, as Wayne and I had just been discussing the comparative superiority of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back (the Star Wars: prefixes are implied) a couple of nights before. But it was just as I suspected. Even Martín is enough of a grown-up now to admit that Return of the Jedi can be his favorite without actually being the best. Everyone knows the death of the franchise started with that movie. I invite your dissension on this topic, should you find that it inexplicably exists.

Coincidentally, while we were driving to Largo, I asked Martín if he ever feels like a grown-up these days, and we had a short chat about that phenomenon. As I often feel as clueless and flailing as I did in high school, and, aside from having my own bank account and a private residence and stuff, it amazes me on a daily basis that I'm allowed to do anything unsupervised. I'm better today in many ways than I was when I was a youngster, but in many ways I am shockingly the same. And I wish every meal came with a toy.