Secret Pop

Apr 29, 2005

boy girl boy girl

Here's how much of a conundrum I am. I said I think romance is overrated. But what I forgot to say is that it's overrated BY ME. Ha ha ha. Mary Forrest. Smartest pants in town.

Apr 28, 2005

I think my father was planning to name me Daniel Patrick. Or Matthew something.

I sometimes feel like I am more of a boy than a girl. I don't mean physically. No. Physically, I am soft and girly with an impressive hip-to-waist ratio. I was never good at sports. My voice is high-pitched and thin. I have very little body hair. Don't have to shave my legs as often as magazines would make you think a girl should. My skin is smooth, and I don't really have to put lotion on it with any regularity. Physically, I'm as girly as they come. Except in the sense that I am much stronger than I look, and I don't like to ask for help, so I've moved an entire chest of drawers down a flight of stairs by myself when there were four other people in the house. I'm a girl with something to prove. And I never complain about pain that comes from vanity. I wear excellent shoes, and I will not disparage them by saying how much my feet hurt. I wear high heels to Comic-Con. I am vain and impractical (girl) but occasionally very stoic and tough as nails (boy?). And I go to Comic-Con (dork).

I am tender and sensitive. Very sentimental. I cry easily, but I try to keep it quiet. I am nervous and shy sometimes. I get embarrassed constantly. I buy everything I like. I like to spoil people. I am thoughtful and considerate. I pay very close attention. I believe in please and thank you. I can sew a little bit. I can cook just about anything. I remember things in absurd detail. I like to look pretty all the time. And I believe it's possible to do so. I like to pretend that bodily functions are unnecessary and never take place. I love to be clean, and I shower or bathe every day. Sometimes more than once. I always remember what I was wearing.

But there are many ways I am like a boy. I think about having sex with every man I meet. Correction. Every man I see. Even the gross ones. Even if only in passing. I'm not saying I want to have sex with all of them or that I will. I'm just saying I think about it. I think about it as casually as I sometimes think, "I wonder what it would feel like to get hit in the face with a brick." I don't get offended by things or grossed out or indignant. I don't think there are things you shouldn't say. I am totally cool with pornography, and I miss the days when it was secret and forbidden and rare enough that it was actually thrilling to find it. I stayed awake in church by thinking about sex the entire time. I am not exaggerating. I usually don't exaggerate. Nor do I generalize. I try to solve people's problems. I am an excellent driver. I give (and prefer to receive) compass directions. I am attracted to things that challenge me. This includes people. I don't care that much about variety. I don't prefer symmetry. I'm not fond of cats. I grow tired of children. I like to have a lot of time to myself. I like action figures more than Barbie dolls, and I like vehicles more than action figures. I don't mind if people want to eat in front of the television. I am assertive in customer service situations. I am an extravagant tipper. I prefer to be the one who drives. I am impatient and can't tolerate being driven by people who aren't in a terrible hurry. I check out women's breasts. I like hard liquor and hot dogs and not washing dishes right away. And I can drink more than most of the people I know without really letting on. I keep my feelings to myself much of the time. I like to be calm and rational when I'm talking about important things. I curse extravagantly and appreciate others who subscribe to this art. I like to say incredibly inappropriate things. I am merciless and competitive and not interested in looking at wedding dresses. I love science fiction. I would rather be Han Solo than Princess Leia.

I can read a map. I can change my own oil (though I always pay someone else to do it for me). I don't make chit chat. I don't like people making a big fuss over me. I punch people too hard when I'm trying to be playful. I don't like magazines for women. I don't like gossip. I don't like Valentine's Day. I think romance is overrated. No one has ever written me a poem I liked. Unless it was funny. And I make friends with boys much more easily than with girls. Most girls try my patience. Most girls don't want to be friends with me, and this has been true my entire life. I am funny. Most girls are not. And the ones who are are often a lot like me. Funny has a gender-bending quality, I guess.

There is no science to this. I'm not saying there's anything wrong or that I need to consider going in for some sort of pre-operative consultation. I'm fine being the kind of guy I am. I just realize that it keeps me out of certain cliques and gets me into others. I am terribly clumsy, but I can walk in higher heels than you can imagine. I will sit on the ground in a skirt. And I'll bet I would look awesome smoking a cigar. Maybe I'm a conundrum.

And I realize that I started this as an inane exercise, and I'm sure someone will think I'm subscribing to stereotypes. And I totally don't care. I am excited about The Hitchhiker's Guide, and that has rekindled my love of the instruction that certain people should go stick their heads in a pig. Maybe this is all just something to say.

I ended up Mary Katherine. And that's neither here nor there.

Apr 25, 2005

a reaction to some soft skin

I don't think I am here right now. I don't even know what that means. I wish there were treasure maps hidden behind old paintings and secret doors behind bookcases. I wish there were places to go when wherever you are starts to feel like the only place you've ever been. I wish I had more to offer and less to gain. I wish I had an answer for every question. I like the idea of finding things of value in boxes of breakfast cereal. And winning something at the carnival that's worth having. Not a stuffed Noid for instance.

My birthday approaches. I'm short for ideas. Last year was the best and the worst birthday ever. This year, I wouldn't be surprised if it's just middling. Better than a bran muffin. Not quite as good as peanut butter. I've just been to Disneyland. Maybe that's why everything seems so pale.

Martín (who was kind enough to want to better my evening) and I went to Al Gelato last night, and I had a capuccino and once again wondered why I have never had any actual food there. It always smells really good. But I've only ever had gelato. Or coffee. When we got out of the car, it smelled of fireplaces on Robertson. "It's April and it smells like October." I started a post a few weeks ago that had the phrase "joyless autumn days" in it, but it was not seasonally appropriate. I love the smell of autumn. And I already have an idea for a Halloween costume.

I get goosebumps when it's cold. No surprise there.

Grand Illusion

Look at how much fun I am! A lollipop AND three-D glasses -- I am not uptight or angst-ridden at all!

Man versus Monkey. Who will win?

I received an email with the subject line: "Man vs Monkey, who will win MARY." And inside, there is an illustration that looks like this:

I really have no idea what this email is selling, but I find the artwork and the messaging just appallingly, hilariously awful. The monkey's head is clearly just clip-art, and the "man" looks like Michael Jackson in the Dirty Diana days with some weird deltoid deformation happening. But I'm glad the monkey is properly attired in his karate robe. At least he's respectful enough to play along.


I liked my hair today. But I didn't like any of the pictures I took of it.

Apr 24, 2005

Big Pour

Jessie and I went to Birds after workshop yesterday again. It was the last of our Saturday classes, and we get done early enough that we find excellent parking easily in that very popular Franklin hive. We have made friends with the bar staff there, and that pays off like you wouldn't believe. I was drinking Jameson on the rocks, and I'm sure by the time we left, I'd had half a bottle of it. What a man I am.

Yesterday was not my favorite day. On my way to Hollywood in the afternoon, a phone conversation left me with tears streaming down my face and no tissues in my car or handbag. There's me, walking quickly to class and wiping tears away and hoping I'm not also wiping blue eyeshadow all over my face, and it's a good thing it's Hollywood, because no one takes an interest when scenes of sorrow and anguish play themselves out on the sidewalks here. I did not look as much a mess as I felt. And class went all right. And when we went to Birds, this fellow called Peter invited us out for a smoke and told us that some other guy he had just met at the bar told him that I had "caught his eye." And I guess that was by way of warning us that a chat-up was imminent. That guy did then suddenly join us outside and tried to make conversation with me. But I have to say, he didn't give it much juice. I'm not a snob. I will talk to a guy. Even if I have no agenda. I try to be a friendly conversationalist. But this was just one of those interludes that wanted for more effort on his part. He accused us of not being regulars, because I guess he's there all the time and has never seen us. So I explained that we take a class and we sometimes drop by afterwards, and he took immediate interest in the comedy tip, and made that one demand that cannot be tolerated. He asked me what my "style" is, and I couldn't really answer that, as I do improv and that's just whatever. But I said that I talk about my mother a lot and that I've been known to use a lot of smart words. And he said, "Like Dennis Miller?" And I said, "Well, I'm not a fan." And he said, "Really? I think he's really good." And I said," I don't care for his politics." And then I added, "And I find his rants to be sort of masturbatory." And he said, "Masturbatory? You mean he's doing it to amuse himself and it's not intended to inform people?" And I said, "Right. He's beating off." And he laughed. And I added that I suppose my style is also sort of vulgar. And then he said, "Can I hear a sample?" And this is the death knell for a conversation of this sort. Invariably, if someone finds out I do comedy and they say, "Say something funny," whatever I say next will fall flat. I'm always hoping that they're paying enough attention while talking to me that they might find me funny just sort of organically and on the sly. But if that isn't the case, and someone asks me to amuse them, I usually just say, "No." I didn't shut this guy down so abruptly, but I did sort of find a way to work myself back into the conversation Jessie and Peter were having, and the other guy pretty quickly excused himself and went back inside. Peter later relayed to us that he asked the fellow how it had gone, and he had said, "Not well. I don't think we hit it off." And then Peter tried to invite himself back to my place.

I suppose there's kindling for the self-esteem fire in there. This happens to me from time to time. And at bars -- and when I'm with Jessie -- more often than in other scenarios. It's flattering to have someone take an interest in me, but so often I really just want to be left to talk to the person I'm with, and all that attention is just an intrusion. Again, I'm not stuck-up. I just really like my friends, and I never feel as if I get enough of them. And when I'm out in the world, like on Friday night -- when I stopped in at a liquor store to buy some purse-sized whiskey to take over to Cranes because Kevin had mentioned that they don't have a full bar there and I'm certainly not going to spent the night trying to get hopped up on soju -- the guy buffing the floors said, "You look sexy tonight." And I said, "Thank you," but I didn't really go away feeling awesome because of it. That guy has never seen me before, so the comparative nature of his compliment was suspect. And he was the guy buffing the floors. The Korean guy behind the counter was not terribly flirtatious at all. He was friendly, but he wasn't trying to take me home or anything. And I wondered if it's because I can only catch the eye of the ones who aren't management material. Later, when I was walking up El Centro to the bar, a guy pulled over and asked me if I needed a ride. I declined politely. But that's an odd thing. It wasn't like I looked as if I was limping back to civilization after a harrowing brush with crime. I was walking with a great sense of purpose from my parking spot to a bar. And he was driving in the opposite direction. I suppose I could have gotten him to drive me the block and a half to the bar, but that might have turned out to be a block and a half of saved walking in exchange for being chopped up with an axe in the trunk of his Altima. I'm doing the scales with my hands right now.

On Friday night, I wasn't going to go to the Comedy District, but Mindy gave me a little push, and I relented. I have seen a few shows at that room in the back of San Gennaro, and it's really far less of an epiphany than, say, seeing the blood of San Gennaro recoagulate every year at that festival in Naples. It's a miserable room, and the last time I saw a show there, I was surprised that they weren't also selling timeshares. Jason Nash was hosting the show, and I leaned over to Paul (F. Tompkins) and said that Jason's hair is so long now that he looks like Dragonball Z. (And, of course, by that I meant Goku when he is in the Super Saiyan level and goes blonde. But no one would have found that funny. Too much detail. Too much geek truth. I'm not even a fan of Dragonball Z. I just know these things.) Jason didn't even know what Dragonball Z is, so no connection there. But other people did, so when Paul mentioned it during his set, it wasn't a dud and I was relieved and flattered. Howard Kremer was so great, and his coining of the term "cram hole" was my favorite thing in some time. Paul was also super awesome. There was a lot of gold in both his and Howard's sets that was specific to the odd awkwardness of that room. In a way, it's a shame, because that alone can't be reason enough to see or do a show there. And if you're ever able to get someone to bring you a drink in that room, you must be sitting under the halo of heaven and appear to be very special and important.

Two last things. If you happen to get seated next to a parent with a small child on a ride like Soaring Over California the next time you're at one of the Disney theme parks, you might notice as I did that the world is suddenly reduced down to a Richard Scarry book. The lady to my right spent the entire ride just captioning every object she saw for her youngster. And I distinctly noticed the absence of rat families, cat policemen, and whatever the foxes generally were. And here's a bit of conversation Jessie and I had last night that I thought was perfect.

Mary: You've got to see this outfit behind you.

Jessie: I saw it. It doesn't make sense.

Apr 22, 2005

Blondes Have More Fun with Decrepit Old Men

Last Thursday, I was having lunch with my friend Mark at The Farmer's Market before we went to see Kung Fu Hustle. We ate at the Mexican place with the loteria cards motif. But I went over to Bennett's to buy a soda, because I prefer a fountain drink to a can. So I was buying myself a big cola, and as I turned to leave, an old fellow in a wool cap gestured and called me over to his table, where he was seated with another old fellow and two Hispanic women who were either their wives or their assistants. I was going that way anyway, so I walked over. He said something I didn't quite understand, so I asked, "What?" And he said, "Don't go away." And I asked, "Why?" And he said, "Because I want to look at you." And I said, "Oh, you're very nice." And he said, "Not nice --" and then sort of wise and on the inside "-- selfish." And I laughed. "You flatter me." He invited me to sit down and stay a while, and I thanked him but said that I was having lunch with a friend. He invited me to forget my friend and extended his hand and told me his name was Louie. I took his hand and told him my name is Mary. "Mary? That's a whore-y name, isn't it?" Now, I know "whore-y" isn't actually a word, and at first I thought perhaps he meant "hoary," but here's what happened after that. He said, "Like in the Bible, right?" And the two ladies at the table nodded in agreement. And I said, "I guess so." And he was still holding my hand in his slightly palsied grasp when he smiled and said, "So? How about it?" I laughed and snatched my hand back as if suddenly grasping something very hot. And then I excused myself and went to have lunch with Mark. I always walk away from an experience like that with a mixture of horror and whimsy. Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, right? So that's what he meant -- are you up for it? What must that dude have been like as a young man? I guess I take for granted that old men were once young men, and that certain young men are polite and charming and certain of them moan at you from out of their car windows as they drive past your décolletage. It takes all sorts.

I have always been received well at The Farmer's Market. If it isn't some guy telling me I've made his day, it's some guy telling my boobs I've made his day. Maybe it's something about the light there. Apparently it makes me a sight for old, sore eyes. And I don't knock it. No one has actually harmed me so far. It's all just something to write down and retell. When I reached Mark, I told him the story, and it occurred to me that maybe nothing that happens to me is really all that interesting. I just bother to make sentences out of it all, thereby pulling ahead of the rest of the pack who politely and humbly keep everything to themselves.

Kung Fu Hustle had its moments. For one thing, they actually do the hustle in it. Which was a surprise to me. They do it with axes and extraordinary cases of gum disease, but it's still the hustle, a dance I've not yet mastered as I did not begin going to a lot of weddings until the mid-'90s. There are some funny things in it. "Who threw this handle?" was my favorite line of the film. And some of the fight action was brilliant and beautiful and fun to watch. But there was a great lot of not being able to figure out who was the white hat and who was the villain. And there was a bit of inexplicable metemorphosis that left me with what Jessie calls my squishy face. And I was amused -- in the sort of sympathetic way that one is amused by a child who doesn't know any better -- by the movie's idea of what behavior typifies a fairy. I'm not saying it was horrible. But it really wasn't spectacularly better than any other Hong Kong fight movie. And I thought it should have ended about four times before it did. Maybe it's because I don't really go in for the mystical shit where kung fu movies are concerned. When I say I am faithless, I check all the columns. I know lots of people who were looking forward to this movie, so I'm not going to call them all fools. But I sure am glad I got to see it for the bargain matinee price of nine dollars. What a waste it might have been otherwise.

When the credits were rolling, I said to Mark, "Why do they even bother with these? All the names look the same." And he said, "I guess you're allowed to say that. Half-allowed anyway." I like to think I'm allowed to say a lot of things. I have noted that I belong to enough minority categories that I am probably allowed to say the word "nigger" and not raise any eyebrows. But it doesn't come in handy as often as you might think. Most of my jokes prey on the unfortunate and the infirm moreso than on racial distinctions alone. I've only got a handful of racist zingers in my bag, but show me a fatso or a baldy or someone with visible body acne and watch me go to town. And my years of friendship with Martín have spawned a wealth of diabetic, IT, and homebody jokes. If there was any market for a published treasury of those, I'd be in business.

Martín did not have any desire to see Kung Fu Hustle. In fact, when I left him a phone message that I was going and that he could come along if he wanted to, he thought I must be pulling his leg. He's right to think that. I guess it didn't seem like the sort of movie I would rush out to see. But I figure I might take my mom to see it, because she would delight in leaning over to tell me what was being said, never mind the fact that I can read the subtitles for myself. I just like to show her films that she is likely to stay awake for. And that is a short list. She likes Italian slapstick, Baby's Day Out, Da Ali G Show, and American Idol. Everything else is a lullaby. At least this one promises violence that will provoke a cry of "ai ya!" from her and a few opportunities for her to say that a girl on screen looks like a maid. Those are the gems I live for.

Apr 21, 2005

A Dame Makes an Assertion

People who use archaic phrases that sound like they copied them from their fathers or from old Humphrey Bogart movies -- serious as a heart attack, I kid you not, you can take that to the bank -- use those phrases all the time. Which makes you think they use those phrases because they consciously think that using them says something important about them. There is a punchline here, but I haven't found it yet.

A Close Call
Martín and I went to Disneyland yesterday. I bought us annual passes when we went for his birthday last November, and we haven't made use of them at all, which is a travesty in terms of value. So, I suggested we go on April 20th, and not just because it's Hitler's birthday. Also, because of Columbine.
That's not true.
Anyway, we went to Disneyland, and I took a customary lot of pictures, and as I was sorting through them late last night, I found this one that appears below, which I took while waiting for Martín to purchase a beverage. They were painting the Mark Twain riverboat to my right. Just a bunch of guys in painting attire painting the boat. I entitled that tableau "Cessation of the Suspension of Disbelief." It was one of quite a few incidents that befell us that made Martín cringe. They're supposed to paint the boats at night, according to Martín. And if they're going to do that sort of maintenance work out in the opening, shouldn't the painters all be dressed like Mark Twain or something?

Comic Book Genre

My friend Rob is in Sydney working on the new Superman movie. The video blogs on are of his doing. You should watch them. They are fascinating and thrill-inducing and will awaken the dormant sense of superhero anticipation you may have long since given up on. He is also the progenitor of the Brooks Hatlen Game, a drinking game you can really only play with him or someone like him. What's surprising is how many friends of mine I actually could play this game with. And I wonder if that is just because of this being Los Angeles and all. You can read about the game on Rob's blog. I'm sure he would want you to.

I am also keyed up and excited to see Christian Bale be Batman. But I don't know anyone making blogs about it.

And I already have my tickets purchased for Episode III. I'm not going opening night or anything. But I'm going. And I'm not so fed up with all of it that I'd be disappointed if it actually turned out to not be a disappointment. I'm rooting for it to be awesome. But I'm bringing spirits with me either way. And I hope there will be Stormtroopers in the audience, because those costumes always impress me. I also think it would be funny if people in the audience came dressed as crew members from the Satellite of Love or Federation officers. I think it would be amusing to see how many in attendance would actually be offended by that.

And all of this talk just makes me anxious for Comic-Con. I'm staying in a hotel this time. And I'm planning to be drunk for the entire four days.

Apr 20, 2005

Please, let me keep this memory. Just this one.

I have been away for a while.

What I write and what I post and how often are a gauge of a great many things. Is it always that I can't be troubled to set the type? Is it always that I am so busy or that things are so wonderful that I can't be bothered to tell a tale about it? Is it always that I am so sad or so overwhelmed that I fear the making of a sentence will tip the scales in some disastrous way?

Sometimes it's just technical difficulties. I began this post, and my computer froze, with the first few paragraphs hidden from me on the screen. I had to recreate them from memory. And I wasn't really paying much attention when I started. I know it wasn't what you have just read. It probably wasn't anything like that. And not knowing what I have lost pains me. I embellish it in my unmemory, sure that it was precious and priceless and that it would have distinguished me if it had only lived. It's beginning to sound like to intellectual abortion. And if that is the metaphor, I guess I'm pro-life after all.

And then there's irony as a barrier.

I went and recreated this post again on my PowerBook, since my frozen G4 was still letting me see some portion of what I'd written. So I transcribed it anew into a Blogger post, and then I wrote more of what you have since read, and then I went to save it as a draft, and Blogger returned an error message. And when I went to reload, of course the post content was gone. And there was a notice that Blogger is unavailable due to planned maintenance. No one put it on my calendar, of course. And I get very cranky about things like this. But much of the time, when I'm writing anything longer than a sentence or two, I'm careful to copy the content to the clipboard before posting. It's a lesson hard-learned. And a conveniently un-numbered reason on a very long list of reasons why I shouldn't rely on Blogger to host my daily bullshit. Maybe one of these days I'll switch. I have nearly set myself up on several other services over the years. But these things are headache-ridden by nature. And I think my dance card is full up where headaches are concerned.


I was writing about why I write and about why I have not been. I think I started talking about how -- once I begin -- my brain enacts a digging process that unearths objects that I am not always in the mood to play with. Inevitably, even if I am just writing down something that struck me as funny, it stretches out its referential tentacles and grabs hold of memories I haven't replayed in a while, and the room fills with dust, and you sneeze and you cough, and that's a handy excuse for why there are tears in your eyes. You big stupid crybaby.

Is there any way to work a hedge maze metaphor into this?

So, I write about what I've done and where I've been. I keep track of unusual things that happen to me. It seems there is never a shortage of stories to tell. Ask anyone who ever talks to me. I'm so far behind even in that vein now. I went to Disneyland. I saw some movies. I went to some shows. I made some promises. I had conversations with strangers that needed to be written down. I overheard people saying things that made me cluck in my head. But I haven't been sitting down to the computer as much. I haven't been doing so many things that are part of my routine. And there is a list of things to do so long that it should have been started on trackfeed paper. Because everyone knows the list items on the back side never get gotten to. "Above the fold" is serious business. And you can't make a "welcome home" or "happy retirement" banner out of standard letter stock.

It is not just sentiment or sadness. I don't think it's those things. I don't think it's only those things. Things are unruly for me at the moment. I sleep strangely. Dream often. Remember much of it. Populate my dreaming with enough real people and places that I begin to get confused about what did and didn't happen. I need input but am lazy about it. I play a record and listen to side A. Over and over and over. There may as well not be a side B. I can't be troubled to find out. I need context, but the last time I drew myself a map, I was playing an Infocom game, and you had to do that if you were going to have any idea where you were.

I feel stuck, in a way. Repeating things. Unable to believe so much of this calendar year has already inched past me. It seemed as if I was holding my breath all the while. Sure that everything was going to be different or better or more. Mindful of patterns. Scornful of them.

But the wireframe inside the model is not these things. The story in my gut is not the list of places I've been. It's just that sometimes it's too gloopy and roiling and visceral to be shared with the casual passerby. It would be like holding your hand out to a stranger on the street and saying, "Look. I'm bleeding." In what universe would that stranger do anything but grimace and hurry past you. It's polite to keep the blood and guts to yourself. It's also easier to take less notice of them if you aren't constantly showing them off. I can hide them away. Tidy them up. Put a nice wide belt over them. They're coming back, you know. Wide belts. Diane Keaton might have managed to wait out fashion for one full iteration. She's a patient lady.

I, by contrast, am not a patient lady. I am impatient. To a fault. I am eager and urgent and frustrated and flailing. I am stumbling over one hurdle with my eye on the next one and the next one and the next one. Which is partly why I knock so many of them over or trip and end up needing a bandage. I'm always looking so far ahead, I can't see the sidewalk buckling upward at my feet. I eat it a good lot of the time. And I worry about how many people saw me fall and whether they are laughing about it.

But when I allow myself to live in memories, I get soaked. And I'm far less aerodynamic. I get a lot less done.

That being said, I live in my memories a lot. Or at least lately I get caught by them. Caught off-guard. Caught up. Caught adverb of choice. I post pictures because they take the place of telling the truth about anything. And because it keeps things moving and marks my progress and lets me believe that I'm still doing things even when I feel as if I'm not. And I post anecdotes when I think of them and when there's nothing else to say.

The other things -- the secrets, the shameful admissions, the ouchy -- I try not to speak of them at all. And when I do, I try to dress them up pretty. And I try to disclaim them by being self-aware and judgmental about them. But the truth is, I'm not always better than the thing I claim to hate. And I'm nearly never proud or pretty or perfect. I'm more often amazed at the end of a night when I have managed to smile and be smiled at and to have then gotten home without having embarrassed or condemned myself in some fatal fashion. Every day is an obstacle course. And I hate those. Even back in summer camp or P.E. What a stupid waste of time. Running through tires. Swinging over puddles. Climbing walls that don't bar anything from anything. These are not the obstacles I ever face. These are not the challenges I need to best. These are not skills I need.

I keep a lot to myself. I know that sounds like lying. Given how much I don't keep to myself. But I do. I tuck a lot away. And I let a lot go. And I wonder what people think when they read what I write. And I am surprised by how many of them mistakenly think I am writing about them. And I am always at least minimally aware of the possibility that I am writing about them after all.

"Please, let me keep this memory. Just this one." That was said by Joel in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It really meant something to me. I know that feeling.

Fucking Blogger. Fucking Mac. Fucking everything. If you are reading this, it is a miracle. And you should check and see if there is a likeness of Jesus burned onto your bed sheets.

Apr 18, 2005

Regardless of its relative worth...

...a picture is easier to post.

Eight Days a Week

Well, five to start.

So, yeah. I got a haircut. A long-awaited haircut. And you might notice that my hair is blonde. Very, very blonde. There are pictures from each day. Want proof?


This is day one of the latest version of me. I went to The Improv that night. And then to Jerry's. And then to a parking spot on Melrose where politics were discussed at length.


I met my friend Mark for lunch at the Farmer's Market, and then we went to see Kung Fu Hustle (I don't recommend it, but I will go into further detail later). I went to The Improv Thursday night, too. And that's plenty.


I met my friend Steve for coffee before he headed back home to San Diego. We worked together in biotech ages ago. I sucked down an iced coffee and felt my head swimming over the fact that we've known each other for thirteen years. I find it hard to believe I've known anything for thirteen years.

Later, after a drink at H.M.S. Bounty, I went to The Wiltern to see the live staged reading of an episode of The Family Guy. I have some complaints about that experience.


After workshop, Jessie and I went to Birds and had a few drinks and a few onion rings, and we made a few friends whose names we will surely never recall.


Alex is in town. I picked him up at his hotel, and we had a coffee that I wish could have lasted forever. But he has a busy rock and roll life to live. And I don't. After I dropped him off, I went for a walk with Martín that ended in a visit to 7-11. Then I went for a run. Then I went and visited Bryn. Then we went to Fred 62. Then I came home. And I can hear that it's late enough to be the beginning of someone's day. And I sort of feel sorry for that someone.

Apr 17, 2005

for the curious

for the workers

I think I just bought some books at a communist yard sale.

also from the vault

My dad is working on the papers for the close of the purchase of their new house. When he was telling me about all the details involved, I said, "Wow. Buying a house is a full-time job." He said, "I didn't work this hard on the paperwork after the fire." And I said, "Well, burning a house down is a full-time job, too." And he said, "It doesn't take very long to do it, though." And we laughed.

Yerba Maté tastes like a lawn. I know it's good for you, but it tastes like drinking the bottom of someone's shoe.

Beulah answers the phone when Justin calls her. Then she yells, "Is this George Bush again? *groans* He called yesterday!" Then Beulah explains to me: "It's this recording, and it goes, 'Hi. This is George W. Bush.' Last time he called, I handed the phone to Dad and said, 'Dad, it's for you. It's the President.'" He listened for a while and then hung up.

Beulah's wish: "There are times when I'm driving down the freeway and I think, 'I wish I could just get hit by a semi, and as long as it didn't fuck up my face, I could totally be lying in a hospital for a year watching TV!'"

Adam's wisdom: The rule in Internet dating is round down. And if you can't see his arms in the picture, he doesn't have any.

I'm reading about the Ents in Two Towers. And there is discussion of a younger Ent called Bregalad, or Quickbeam. The Hobbits notice how he laughs at things. "He laughed if the sun came out from behind a cloud, he laughed if they came upon a stream or spring: then he stooped and splashed his feet and head with water; he laughed sometimes at some sound or whisper in the trees." I started to think that when you use very grand language, as Tolkien does, you can describe someone in this manner and he sounds jolly and perhaps endearingly peculiar. But in reality, these are the symptoms of a crackpot.

Sarah and I were discussing what makes a wigger. I maintain that, just because a guy has soul when he sings, that doesn't automatically make him a wigger. Eminem? Wigger. Daryl Hall? Not a wigger. There are a number of criteria that must be satisfied, but the guy definitely has to talk like a black guy -- and I don't mean Frederick Douglass.

When I look some sort of arcane word up in the dictionary and it has a simple one-word definition, I sort of get cranky and wonder why even have that other word. "Fructuous" was the Merriam-Webster word of the day. And I opened the email to find it defined as "fruitful." It didn't make my day.

Beulah is getting her music news from a ringtones web site. Times have changed.

New Year's Day 2003

After the movie today (Antwone Fisher), Gary was in the bathroom and said the population at the urinals was prevailingly black, but a lone white guy was standing there wearing a shirt that said "Flags of the Confederacy." And Gary was just waiting for mayhem to break loose. I said, "It's a good thing they don't know what 'confederacy' means." Everyone laughed. In horror. Racism is funny.

Apr 13, 2005


Everything is beginning to smell like airplanes to me. I want to go somewhere. More than ever.

I live in the movies.

I'm no big fan of Vanessa Paradis. Not just because she landed Johnny Depp. But sure that's part of it. However, I am a fan of French cinema. Because I am a pretentious jerk. And because much of the time it is good. And also because you can't always tell that a movie isn't good when you're hearing the acting in another language. Especially a language as lovely as French. Which I studied for a number of years but never had much cause to use.

I recently saw The Girl on the Bridge, and I scribbled down a little bit of dialogue from it. Because I loved the sound of it.

Adèle (Vanessa Paradis): I'm not used to it yet.
Gabor (Daniel Auteuil): To what?
Adèle: Saying no. I'll have to control myself. It's like quitting smoking. The first week is the toughest. Then you get over it.
Gabor: Try chewing gum.
Adèle: Somehow I can't stop. Boys attract me like beautiful clothes. I always want to try them on. Am I abnormal?
Gabor: Not especially. You just need some guidance.
Adèle: Where to? Wherever I go, I seem to take the wrong road.
Gabor: There's no wrong road. Only bad company. I'll make you into somebody. Do you know what that means? Somebody who laughs and takes life with ease. You'll be Cinderella, Farrah, Diba, Queen of the Night.
Adèle: What'll I do in the day?
[he smiles]

Gabor is a knife-thrower who needs a human target for his show. Adèle is a girl he finds on a bridge contemplating suicide. Why can't more movies be about such things and fewer of them have Sandra Bullock in them?

Apr 12, 2005

I'm just here to observe.

This Adrien Brody Diet Coke commercial is a mystery to me. We see Adrien Brody sitting on the front steps of a New York apartment building, opening a can of Diet Coke and letting a series of weird pearly bubbles out into the atmosphere. Offscreen, we hear a youthful voice call out, "Brody!" Then, post-sip, we see him stepping large down the sidewalk in a throwback suit with a questionably exposed chest, drinking his coke and apparently lighting the town on fire. But wait. Since when did Oscar®-winning actor Adrien Brody (in shiny white sneakers, no less -- not cool) become a symbol of the funk lifestyle? And are we meant to believe he drives a hydraulic-enhanced sedan? Or that anyone he knows does? The theme of the advert is "Bounce." But I'm lost. Thirsty. And maybe I'll drink a Diet Coke because of that. But lost just the same.

And what's going on with the Internet these days? Have you noticed how it keeps not working?


I was watching The Daily Show coverage of Prince Charles' latest wedding, and they played a clip of the Archbishop of Canterbury leading the congregation in a penitent prayer that included these phrases: "We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness. We do earnestly repent and are utterly sorry for these our misdoings. The remembrance of them is grievous unto us. The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us." And it reminded me so much of that scene in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life when Michael Palin leads the school in the prayer that goes: "O Lord. Ooh, You are so big. So absolutely huge. Gosh, we're all really impressed down here, I can tell You. Forgive us, O Lord, for this, our dreadful toadying and barefaced flattery. But You are so strong and, well, just so super. Amen." The intersection of these moments makes me want to do two things. (1) Join the Church of England. (2) Marry Michael Palin in it.

Apr 11, 2005

Cherry Blossom Girl

Sunday afternoon, I drove down to San Diego to celebrate Beulah's birthday (which is officially April the twelfth) with my family. We had dinner at Rei do Gado, and I ate very little, which angered my mom, who doesn't believe in paying for all-you-can-eat meals when you don't intend to eat all you can. I gave Beulah a Louis Vuitton handbag. The style with the Murakami cherry blossoms in the print. She was in love with me. Which was my plan.

I also took some pictures before I got there. No one is surprised by this, I am assuming.

Apr 10, 2005

The weight of days is dreadful.

I made a collage. I like it. That is usually a sign of something. In this case, restlessness and disappointment. In many cases, the cocktail is the same.

I knew there would not be much sleeping in this weekend. Out-of-town visitors. Plans. Concert tickets. In being social, I sat down to more meals than I would have preferred. I wish the ritual was less filling. I don't really enjoy eating the way I pretend I used to. It's not that I don't like it. It's that I am not willing to look forward to it. Or to look back on it with any sense of congratulation. I am doing my best to not always be talking about this when I'm sharing a meal with someone. Because it is decidedly a drag.

Krissy and Pamela and I went to the Bounty on Friday night. There was a carnival looming on the other side of the street. It made parking such a game of cat and mouse. I remember going to a carnival last year with Kevin and being talked into getting on the Zipper and only wanting to die for several hours afterwards. I just wanted to go in and take pictures with my Lomo. Instead, I told myself that a ride wouldn't hurt. But then after being shaken around like so many dry beans inside a rattle -- having the contents of my handbag rained down on me as our doomed cage spun and rotated on far too many geometric axes -- we came to a stop, and I have never wanted more fervently to throw up. Coins and salt packets littered the inside of our gondola (I don't know what else to call it, but that's not what it was), and my mother, in the retelling, was angry at me for not having picked them all up.

We did not go to the carnival on Friday night.

After the bar closed, we went back to my place and had more drinks. The whiskeys I drank didn't seem particularly stiff to me. These days, I only seem to notice their potency when I have a cut on my lip or something that will alert me that that stinging sensation is because I am drinking something that has disinfectant properties. Krissy did not finish the martini I made her. Pamela did not finish her beer. But I drank two whiskeys and stayed up several hours past them. And when I was sitting in bed, finishing a chapter of my latest book challenge, I noticed that the vitamins I had just taken -- in an effort to stave off a relapse of under the weather -- seemed to still be lodged in my throat. And it was when I was washing them down with the last few sips of my whiskey that I wondered if this might be a portrait of "a problem." But since I talk about it, I assume that makes it okay. People who have a problem keep it under wraps. At least that's the rule I made up to keep me in the safe column.

I only slept for a couple of hours -- and by "couple" I mean two -- before getting up and showering and taking my guests to Nick's for the earliest weekend breakfast I have ever had there. The owner was awfully nice to me for some reason. He told me I was his favorite girl that day. I told him I would write that in my diary. He asked if I still keep one of those. I said, "Of course." And I refrained from adding that, these days, it's called a "blog." Because that would have been obnoxious. The use of punctuation and emphatic typeface on the Nick's menu leads me to believe that no one who works there is on the Internet. This is not based on science. But I have a hunch.

After breakfast, we went back to my place and watched Fathom and made fun of it, and then I had to go to workshop, which was godawful too warm and not as beneficial as in previous sessions. Then I changed out of my jeans and into a skirt (in my car) and met Dean at The Echo, for he had bought tickets for us to see Deerhoof there weeks and weeks ago. Which is a mercy, because the line of hopeful last-minute ticket purchasers was daunting, and we had the luxury of not having to wait in it.

We walked over to The Brite Spot to have eggs and coffee, ran into a friend of Dean's whom I met at that pirate-themed birthday party of a few months back but who was apparently too far gone on that night to have remembered me, then we walked to a gas station, because I was out of gum and also Red Bull. And I was glad it was finally dark, as we walked back to the club. Though it was windy and a bit too cool out, and the several suggestive entrées made from passing cars and trucks only made me more aware of the length of my skirt. I was surprised by the turnout at the show. Bands have a way of blowing up these days. I wish them well and am happy for their success, but I can't help but feel resentful of all the trendy fashion plates, skulking around in their miasma of unconcern. This is particularly the case at an all ages show in Echo Park. What a study in hairdos and cropped denim. It was like high school dances at the teen center when I lived in Japan. Only back then, we were dressing like it was the '80s because it actually was the '80s, albeit the very last part of them. And we had much more access to booze.

Dean was ever so gracious, given the dampening of my mood that happened by way of my friends. There are certain friends of mine -- I wonder why they would ever want to spend time with me when it seems that so many of our outings involve me not being myself. Or me apologizing for how tired I am or for how unenthusiastic I seem. There are certainly the Martíns of the world, who have seen me at every point on the spectrum and can be expected to remember that I am not always morose or exhausted or underwhelming. But the friends who see so much less of me -- well, I worry that I provide them with much less statistical proof that I am any fun at all. I have been called "intriguing" three or four times in recent weeks. I'm beginning to wonder if it means what I think it means.

I was so frustrated on my drive home that I was sure I was about to cry. And I wanted to slap myself in the face and scold myself for being so stupid and fragile. But it all felt a bit too Catherine Deneuve. Or Annette Bening in American Beauty. I have my excuses. I've been working so hard. And the aftermath of my car accident is perpetually stressful. And my father found a lump on his collarbone a couple of weeks ago, and how can I not be thinking about that and how it felt to be in junior high school and finding out my dad had cancer and that they did not expect him to live to see me graduate. Of course, he did live to see me graduate. And well on into excess of the five years they had projected his remaining lifespan to be. But I think I am always thinking about that feeling I had when we went to kiss my dad goodnight before his surgery and my mom reminded us that people don't always wake up from surgery. Even minor surgery. (Thanks, mom.) And my dad laughed like we were silly when he saw all his girls were crying.

Jessie called me while I was driving. The plans we had made had fallen through, too. And by "fallen through," I mean that she never called me. And when I called her, she was already on her way to calling it a night. Maybe she felt bad about that. I don't know. She called me back and suggested we go to a dive bar. But the songs in my head made me sad. And that is reason enough for me to have returned home and pitched myself headlong into an art project. Yet another instance when my life looks to have been written for the Scholastic Book Order.

I've come to learn that the only way to avoid disappointment is to purge yourself of expectation. But it's really hard to set your clock by that. Only angels know unrelieved joy -- or are able to stand it. And my belief in angels is specious, at best.

Apr 7, 2005

Something Fishy

I think I may be off seafood. I used to really love it. I was raised to believe it is a bigger treat than other things. There is a funny story about my mom going shopping with one of her Chinese friends (an eccentric lady who treated her dog like a person and who wore white kid gloves while driving -- and was also terrified of ever driving on the freeway and would only ever be able to get on and stay in the lane she had entered until it inevitably forced her to exit again), and her friend came bounding over with cans in hand saying, "Lili! Lili! Seafood Banquet! Seafood Banquet!" Apparently, there was a sale on cans of Seafood Banquet, and it was my mom's unfortunate task to have to break it to her friend that Seafood Banquet was cat food.

So I suppose it is a cliché part of being Chinese, but my family has a vast appreciation for seafood. Particularly shellfish. Particularly anything that requires a lot of work to get at and may possibly squirt fishy-smelling liquid all over your new green dress. I guess I used to be on board with this. But as I've gotten older, I've chewed enough aquatic things and had to buckle down to swallow them that I wonder if it's worth all the hype. I bought some baby octopus salad at Whole Foods on Tuesday, and I was really looking forward to eating it. It reminded me of restaurants in Naples where I would see people eating that dish, leisurely on their lengthy Italian lunch breaks, and I would want to go pick off their plates. I love tentacles and squiddy stuff. I really do. But for some reason, this particular batch was just fishy-tasting enough and the texture was mushy enough in places that I started thinking about bulging head globs and brain matter and gushy guts, and I could barely swallow what was in my mouth. I ended up shoving a good portion of it down the drain. And I had to wash twice to get the fish smell off my hands. I'll still eat sushi any day of the week. But I feel as if the field is narrowing. And it concerns me, because that used to be the opposite trend in my maturation. My tastes have only broadened as I've gotten older. To include spicy foods that were once not tolerable to me and cheesy things whose stink once put me off and meat so rare you wouldn't be remiss in telling it a bedtime story. I would be ashamed to tell my mother that I'm beginning to lose my affection for les fruits de mer. But I suppose it's possible she'll shrug and say, "More for me." Nothing will put a restaurant out of business faster than serving all-you-can-eat shellfish in a town where my mother lives or works. She is unstoppable. She will be responsible for the extinction of shrimp one day. Mark my words.

This post will be entirely about Paul F. Tompkins.
So I've missed a few opportunities to sing praises and register grievances as they pertain to the career of Paul F. Tompkins, the object of my (at times creepy) affection. And I am in the business of making good. This is for you, Paul. As promised.
The Paul F. Tompkins Show
This most recent Largo show was the three-year anniversary of The Paul F. Tompkins Show. Well-attended, as usual. Surprising and pleasing. I'm remiss in not having written about it sooner, as my ability to recount all of the glorious details seems to grow more and more brittle in direct proportion to the number of Ketel One sodas I've had. And this week, I've had a few of them. Fortunately I have a notebook. My notes included the following:
Paul -- cute. Colin Hay -- also cute, but in a different way.
Derek Hughes did a magic act with needles coming out of his mouth. And at the end of it, instead of the fourteen needles that should have come out, he counted eleven. And when Paul came back out on stage, he said, "He's got four needles in his mouth!" And someone in the audience said, "Three!" And I wanted to find them and smack them. Hard. I hate the devotion to correctness. Much as I am a slave to it myself. When it comes to comedy, I just wish people would get over the idea that paying close attention and being right about things matter when they just don't hold a candle to being smart and funny. And Paul is extraordinarily smart and funny. And that boob in the audience clearly is neither. So they should shut up. And that's my point.
The big gang's-all-here number was Donovan's Atlantis, which delighted me all to crazy. Although I have to admit that when it pops up in my iPod mix, I tend to skip through the spoken-word preamble. Beulah once played this song for her English class, but I can't remember the circumstances. Was she teaching them about preambles? I don't remember. Anyway, it's a good and groovy song. And there were humorous addenda that made it all the more enjoyable. The surprise "I am the god of hell fire!" ending wasn't included. But I'm glad. That part always scares me. And anyway I have since learned that that isn't even part of the Donovan song and is my just desserts for downloading files illegally, even though I own a best of Donovan CD and am apparently just too lazy to find it and rip its contents to my computer. But the real point is, why would they have sung that at the show, since it would have been completely misplaced and inaccurate, unless they had gotten all their rehearsal cues from listening to Atlantis on my iPod, and -- really -- how dare they.
I was talking to Wayne Federman after the show, and Ileanna Douglas came over and began talking to him, too. And I think I offended her with my snipey assertion that Quentin Tarantino is unfortunately bottom-heavy for a dude. She said that the cocktail I was holding was to be my last. But fortunately, she doesn't actually have any authority at Largo. Because it was not my last at all. I was afraid that I had offended Ileanna with my assessment of Tarantino's thickness in the thighs, but in the end, I feel protected by the truth in my opinion. I'm not saying he's not talented or anything. I'm just saying he should walk it off a little. You know?
Sam Levine was a perfect creepy nightgown girl from The Ring. And Ben Acker was wearing a very festive sweater. Paul called it "Christmas." I said "après ski." You say tomato...
This Business of Kelsey Grammer presents "The Sketch Show"
So Paul has been appearing on Fox on Sunday nights on this show. And I don't think it's a very good show, and I usually find myself laughing at the parts I feel were probably the most painful and humiliating to Paul, and that's not nice of me, and I know it. But there are also sketches that have had their moments, and I have laughed at them. So there's that. But I will say to the world what I have said more privately to others: Kelsey Grammer has no business even being on television. Unless it's in the role that America most loves him in -- that of Sideshow Bob. He is absolutely terrible. And I can't understand the marketing message in saying that ONLY Kelsey Grammer could have brought sketch comedy to America's Sunday nights like this. What is his claim on sketch comedy in the first place? What character has he ever created that wasn't Frasier? It's nearly as bad as watching Drew Carey when he actually participates in the improv games on Whose Line. He is horrible. And the most painful part of it is that he apparently has no idea about it. And I feel the same way about Kelsey Grammer, who is perhaps so cushioned in the bosom of fawning hangers-on and porn spouses that he doesn't realize how embarrassing he is. The first week the show aired, Kelsey was in a sketch where he was singing. And the fact that he didn't realize that his horrifically poor singing skills were the joke is what is saddest of all. Pee yew. His singing leaves much to be desired.
So the show is sort of like Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Just a series of very obvious punchlines, strung together with jaunty interstitials of cast members mugging on a colorful sound stage. I think that's what would prevent me from ever being on a show. I could never do those interstitials. If they said, "Okay, Mary, now just dance around a little," I would have to say, "I'm sorry but you're going to have to fuck off now," because I really can't do that. Maybe my self-consciousness is unmerited. Maybe it implies a dignity that I have not actually earned. But I just can't imagine being able to do it, and that's why I'm no actor. Even those bits in That '70s Show with the cast members bouncing on trampolines feel impossible to me, who could never ever be so free. To Paul's credit, he never seems to do anything terribly goony. Martín applauded how well Paul made the "C" look heavy when the cast members are moving the letters in the show's title around. And I'll second that. The most important thing you can take from watching the show is that Paul's gift is in maintaining so much of his dignity, even when they're making him dress like a transient. Which, for the record, was actually really enjoyable to watch.
My mother watched the show this past weekend, and she recounted to me a scene where Paul plays a director on a porno set, and Lee Mack (the British dude) is an actor who keeps harshing the vibe. She described it to me like this: "He was the director and the other one kept RUINING it. He would say, 'Action!' and the guy was so STUPID! He did it wrong every time! Why was he even in the movie?" She was clearly ruffled by it. Never really understanding that that was the idea. I think my mom is the sort of person who will watch a historical film and be angry when the protagonist dies, even if that's the way it occurred historically. She always reasons that it's someone's fault and that the ending could be prevented. But who am I kidding -- she can't stay awake for a historical film in its entirety. The fact that she was able to watch a single forty-five second sketch from end to end is an accomplishment in itself.
Paul really needs to have his own show. A real show where he gets to be in charge and stuff. Think of the joy it would bring to people's lives. Think of the number of sickly and ailing children who would suddenly find new color in their cheeks. Think of the number of televised hours we would be spared having to see Kelsey Grammer in something. Development executives of the world, get it together, will you?
Oh, and Kelsey Grammer's head is shaped like a bean.
The M Spot
Monday night, Paul did stand-up in Jason Nash's Monday night M Bar show, and it was the superlativest. First rate and all that. When he mentioned his affection for blooper shows, I fondly recalled how my family used to record Life's Most Embarrassing Moments -- the progenitor to TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes and any number of other blooper shows -- and replay the tapes for everyone who ever came over to our house for dinner. That's right. My parents would invite some couple from work or church or the principal of our school and his wife over for dinner, and my mom would cook some amazing dinner, and after the meal, everyone would retire to the living room with coffee and dessert, and someone would inevitably cue up the Betamax with Life's Most Embarrassing Moments, commercial interruptions and all. I don't remember anyone making faces that would imply they thought it was gauche of us. But who says they would have known better. We didn't really mingle with a very sophisticated set in my recollection. We recorded all of those shows when they came on the television. I think there was Life's Most Embarrassing Moments I, II, III, and IV. But the first one was the best. Just like Faces of Death.
Paul was also my hero for wanting to be played on with only the coolest of music. "Do you have any Bowie? How about Blondie? Pixies? How about some Wave of Mutilation?" What a dreamboat, huh? In a recent Largo show, he said that he does not care for Pink Floyd, and I felt a bit sad about that. But then I remembered: Who cares? It's fun to argue with people about what is and isn't good, but in the end, what difference does it make? After the show, Michelle Biloon and Wayne Federman and I were talking, and somehow Wayne tried to say that The Shawshank Redemption isn't a good film. And -- much as I adore Wayne -- this is just poppycock. But it's poppycock that in no way impacts my affection for him, so no harm done. I was very flattered when Wayne let me look through his book of notes. I would never let anyone look in my stupid notebook with its many pages of nearly illegible and always embarrassing drivel. He must be very secure. And well he should be. He has wonderful penmanship.
I guess I feel I haven't said enough about Paul, so I will refer you to a Channel 101 pilot he was in that is one of my favorite things ever. It's here.
Tomorrow night, I will be seeing Paul again in Ben Acker's program. But I will speak of that separately so that Ben can feel huge and important.

Everybody Loves Lipitor

Tuesday night, Jessie went with me to the Comedy Death Ray at M Bar. While we were driving over, my mom called me and laid on me the most amazing, outlandish, cocakamamy anti-smoking rap I have ever heard. I'm pretty sure it's going in my stand-up act. If only I had it on tape.

Jessie and I had some time to kill before the show, and I suggested a few places we could go to get something to eat. For some reason, it was Winchell's that lit Jessie's fire. So we walked over, and -- because you really can't go to a doughnut joint and buy just one doughnut apparently -- Jessie ended up buying a dozen. This was the inventory:

4 glazed raised
2 cinnamon rolls (twenty-five cents extra)
1 glazed with sprinkles
1 crumb
1 old-fashioned
1 chocolate raised
1 chocolate bar
2 chocolate frosted cake with sprinkles
1 glazed twist

I only ate one doughnut. And even that was more than I wanted. Jessie felt buyer's remorse almost immediately. There's something embarrassing about carrying around a box of doughnuts. There's no arguing that.

The clientele in the Winchell's all had some form of dried paint on them. And a rag of some sort tucked into their utility belts or waistbands. One big guy saw us sitting down and said, "Are you guys going to eat all those?" Defiantly, I said, "Maybe." And he smilingly said, "That's not very healthy." And I placed a hash mark in my mental tally of incidents that prove how absolutely devoid of game most dudes are. I guess I can't have expected more. We were in a Winchell's after all.

I ran into plenty of friends at the show. And because it was about to be Tammy's birthday, I invited her and Jeff to go to Canter's with me so I could buy her something. Which turned out to be carrot cake. Jessie had to go home, so I drove her back to her car before meeting Tammy and Jeff. And I was not terribly surprised when I got home and went to walk Audrey to find that Jessie had left a naked glazed raised doughnut (pretty much the only kind I eat) sitting on top of the empty Arrowhead bottle at my front door. What's even more amazing is that I ate it. In my defense, I knew how long it had been sitting there (not very), and it wasn't visibly marked with any sort of fecal matter, but still. What state of mind could I have possibly been in? Mary Forrest does not eat food found on the street. I didn't eat the whole thing. But if you ever wanted to poison me, apparently all you'd have to do is leave something I like on my doorstep and make sure I find it when I've still got a little bit of a buzz on.

Guerilla Marketing

There is a restaurant on Westwood Boulevard called Matteo's "A little taste of Hoboken." What?

I only thought a little about this, driving past, because my focus was quickly shifted to the girl and boy dressed as Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam, respectively, trying to draw passersby's attention to the tax preparer's office they were standing in front of. They both looked miserable. It was a warm day. But I was also stumped by the illogic of the scale of them. They were approximately the same height. And I don't know in what universe that would ever be true. Wasn't Uncle Sam designed to be un ordinary-sized guy who just happens to have a very menacing finger to point? Whereas Lady Liberty is this huge statue and you can climb inside her head, and she won't feel it or nothing. I would have stopped to take a picture, but I had places to be. And they really did look embarrassed and unhappy, and I felt sorry for them. I hope they weren't doing it for free. Like if the tax preparer's office is owned by their parents or something. How much would that suck.

I'm not really a fan of this method of advertising. Getting a guy to dress up as a sandwich to dance around and wave me in to the Subway. I can't think of anything I have ever not wanted that -- when faced with a gigantic anthropomorphized human-filled version of it -- I suddenly found myself irresistibly drawn to purchase. Not sandwiches. Not cell phones. Not diamonds. Not real estate. But then I did buy a vacuum-sealed bag of clams at Von's on Sunday night on an impulse. Never underestimate the value of a smartly-placed endcap.

Street Approval

The other night, I was leaving 7-11 with some beer and a couple of guys in an SUV pulled up beside me at the light and gave me the thumbs up. I returned it. I'm friendly. But I didn't know what it meant. Did they see me buying Guinness and think that was awesome of me? Are they applauding our mutual disregard for our national dependence on Mid-East petroleum resources? Is it my tank top again? Los Angeles friendships are easily made, but why can't they be infused with more meaning?


On Sunday night, I wasn't feeling so hot, and Martín called because he was on his way to Von's and wanted to know if I needed anything. That's a sweetheart if I ever knew of one. I actually did have a short list, but a few of the items were embarrassing enough that I didn't feel I could ask him to pick them up on my behalf. I'm squeamish. I'm embarrassed to talk about toilet paper, for instance. So, I suggested that I go with him. And I threw on a pair of jeans and scrambled out to meet him, and we trawled the aisles of the supermarket, cracking wise and loading up. And it was fun in the way that the most ordinary and uninteresting things can be when you're with someone awesome. Martín and I are thick as thieves. Best pals. History-bound. I can say more to him than to nearly anyone else in the world. And he cheers me on in ways that nearly no one else bothers to. Being able to hit the piggly wiggly (and, yes, I am arbitrarily genericizing the term) with him at the drop of a sickly hat is part of the heaven of having him live right down the block from me. Not since childhood have I had close friends living so nearby. It's the best thing.

I spent much of the past few days gathering photography quotes for the bid I had to submit. I was on the phone a lot. I was canvassing e-mails. I felt like an office worm all over again. And I grew weary of it almost immediately. I guess I'm spoiled. It doesn't take much in the way of obligation for me to start feeling cagey and overwhelmed. This morning, I had to meet with my attorney in Pacific Palisades, and that required getting up early and accounting for traffic and being prepared with my paperwork and everything. All of the sticky tendrils of responsible living. It's the same feeling of the willies I get when wading in the ocean and feeling the kelp crawling all over my submerged parts. I'd rather be eaten by a shark.

The drive to the Palisades did school me on how short a drive it actually is. I've lived here for a few years now, and I've still never been to Malibu, for instance. And if I hadn't been so sorry and tired and overburdened, I might have pulled over on the beach somewhere and sat and tried to write. There were people out jogging and doing things. And the Santa Monica pier was busy existing to the south. I felt like I was a tourist for a minute or so. And then I started wondering about real estate prices, and the magical spell was broken.

Sleepless sleeping. That's mostly all I've gotten. The sort of sleeping that ends in wakeful restlessness. The sort of waking that reminds you that you may live the rest of your life feeling taxed and bent. The sort of getting up that makes you wonder why you waste the time laying down at all. I see it in my face. And no amount of sparkling conversation will mask it, as far as I'm concerned. Days like these make me want to go shopping for eye shadow in bright colors.

Apr 6, 2005

It was a very good year.

Tonight, Tammy had her birthday party at El Conquistador in Silverlake. I showed up late and apologetic, but dinner hadn't even been ordered yet, so I suppose no harm was done. Jeff, whose finger was injured yesterday in an incident whose description is impossible not to grimace through, was not complaining at all, which is amazing. I remember getting stitches in my fingers a few years back, and I was leveled by it. I don't think he was even on painkillers. What a stud.

Blaine and Vera were fine company. We talked about Bukowski and Carrot Top and reggae music and how fat Robert Smith didn't used to be and how Vera is in an Ima Robot video and how I'm a gigantic fan of Ima Robot.

Tammy was green and glistening in a fancy sequined top. Fancy like mermaid scales. And if she hadn't had to work in the morning, I suppose she'd have been amenable to having more drinks bought for her. But weekend birthdays only happen every seven or so years. In my favor is the fact that, this year, I'm having one. Happy birthday, Tammy. When it's my birthday, you will have no excuse not to get plastered. And as we were born in the same year, I suggest that Tammy continues to celebrate her birthday until mine comes around. I am an avid supporter of the birthday s-t-r-e-t-c-h.

Lives getting lived on the four oh five

When I was driving down to San Diego on Easter Sunday on an hour's sleep with a constant cough drop in my mouth and a constant churchly song in my throat, I observed a car in the high-occupancy vehicle lane with a lady in coke-can rollers and bathrobe in the passenger seat doing her make-up while the gent I assumed to be her husband drove them both on to Easter. She was applying an eyelash curler to her lashes and making that stretched down face that ladies make when such things are in the works. I just recently watched How to Murder Your Wife -- a DVD selection I made when working on my latest bid because I like Jack Lemmon and Terry-Thomas and the woman in that movie (Virna Lisi) is very pretty -- and there is the archetypal representation of the disillusionment that sets in when a man sees the disparity between the sexpot he fell in love with and the houseclothed frump sleeping in his post-matrimonial bed. Anyway, I thought of the guy driving that car in the H.O.V. lane when I was watching the movie. I figured he might have had a touch of that same disillusionment when his wife shuffled into the car with her big pink bathrobe on and her make-up bag in her lap. This is a role I have never ever played. I have never left the house in that state. And I can't imagine a scenario in which I would. It is my hope that I will keep the world fooled at all times. And all of it. Those who ever see me in my most natural state are generally part of a unique inner circle. It takes some doing to get in. And it's really no prize to do so. I encourage you to remain on the periphery, from whose vantagepoint my lipstick is nearly always perfect. I believe in the illusion. I serve it. And if you are none the wiser, I have earned my keep.

things fade

Apr 4, 2005

things which are not yet and things which are no more

The music in The Shawshank Redemption makes me want to cry. Make an ill-advised phone call. Travel back in time. Sit somewhere in the past for longer than time ever took. I am vulnerable to reminders. I am an easy lock for picking.

I don't know what it is that's so appealing about looking back. Ruminations on the loss of innocence. A desire for a simpler time. A simpler self. It all sounds like so much chit chat in a retirement home. I never called it a "horseless carriage." There isn't so much of my history to miss. But then my card catalog seems larger because I file things without abbreviating. I hang onto stunning amounts of detail. I record to stultifying levels. People pretend to admire it. But I'm sure -- when they go off and have their day -- they shake their heads and wonder how a girl manages to have so much time on her hands and motor in her fingers. I am not like other people. In certain very specific ways. My teeth are buzzing with meaning.

I made excuses for my dramatic entrance. And my lateness. I put a smile on it. I was nervous. Not myself. I wanted these secrets and kept them close. Even now, I stop myself from speaking them. As long as I'm not speaking, I can hear my footsteps. I can hear the grit in the sidewalk. I can keep from stammering out of breath and feeling suddenly foolish. I can save myself the memory of shame.

When I go places we've gone together, I kiss the ghosts of kisses there.

Apr 3, 2005

have a cheery disposition

if you want this choice position

Robot Innards

I had to wake up early this morning for my MRI appointment. I have this weird thing now that -- when I have to wake up at any time at all -- I am usually overcome by sleepless anxiety and am unable to really fall into any sort of restful slumber until it's an hour or so before I have to be up. This is only exacerbated by the terrible pain in my throat and soft palate. So again I got nearly no sleep, and I awakened hours earlier than I had to, and the pain was nearly unbearable, and there was nothing to do but to wait for it to be time for me to go to Beverly Hills and get my insides photographed.

The technician, Leonard, was terribly nice. He guessed at my lineage. Wondered if I was half-Japanese. I said half-Chinese. He thought that made sense. And he said, "And you're not married?" And I said, "No." And he said, "Well, someone out there is crazy." And I know he meant it as a compliment, but I didn't really know what to say. Sometimes, this compliment gets paid me -- this sort of idea that my not having yet been snatched up by some matrimonial assailant is a breach of all the universal laws -- and I fidget a bit and wonder what the right thing to say might be. I can say, "Well, I bet on a few bad horses." Or I can say, "I enjoy being single." Or I can say, "I've murdered a number of potential candidates. Shh! -- don't tell, right?" It doesn't really matter what I say. In the end, I'm just left to wonder if that guy is right -- if I somehow missed the window and slammed smack into a wall instead. I'm not thinking about marriage at all at the moment. I'm not thinking about serious relationships or ring sizes or tropical honeymoons or even weekend getaways for that matter. And I suppose there's a risk that I'll suddenly perk up at age fifty and go, "Oops. Maybe it's too late for all this." But I can't see so far ahead. I'm the sort of driver that pays a great deal of attention to the car or two right in front of her, making quick decisions about when to back off, when to gun it, and when to change lanes entirely. Looking too far ahead is a good way to rear-end the car in front of you. And bumpers these days aren't what they used to be. Nor are metaphors. Sure, I like the idea of being somebody's honeybun. I like the idea of handholding and sweet nothings and buying a lamp or an area rug. But I'm also fine with these things happening to the girl in the movie I'm watching at any given time.

It turns out that Leonard also went to high school in Yokosuka years and years before I did. And that he lived in Uraga, just like I did. Coincidences abound. But that was not sufficient distraction from the ordeal of being scooted into that big coffin tube for a half hour while a hideous symphony of grinding noises made relaxation impossible. I'm not claustrophobic, but once you get in that little cylinder and you know that you're not SUPPOSED to move, all of a sudden your nose itches or your shoulders ache or you feel like yawning. My body rebels against such restraints. It was all I could do to remain still and quiet for that whole time. I really just wanted to yell and kick and fuss. But I didn't. And that's how I know I'm at least partly a grown-up.

I was in enough pain that I skipped my workshop this afternoon. But Tom had already bought my ticket to Sin City, so I went with him and Tammy and Jeff to see the much-awaited cinematization. I really liked it, but I was also drinking whiskey most of the time. Of course, I was sober enough to tsk tsk Brittany Murphy's very noticeable pimple and also her groanworthy dialogue. But I really did not require any shushing. I only laughed where I was supposed to. And I write very quietly when I am taking notes. Maybe I'll write something more cogent later. Maybe not. A lot gets away from me these days. But not the fact that so many men in Hollywood look like K.D. Lang. First, I pointed out Jake Gyllenhaal. Years ago. He was the first. And everyone I pointed it out to could never not see him intoning their favorite hit from the Absolute Torch and Twang album. And let's be honest: it's always Constant Craving. But now, I've got to add Clive Owen to the roster. I saw a photo of him in a recent Entertainment Weekly, and I thought, "Lord. Him, too." And it's only further confirmed in Sin City, as is his lack of affinity for the American dialect. But he's terribly attractive and everything. So I guess it's no big deal. It's apparently a cinch to forgive a great many faults when a person is pretty as a picture. Even if the picture they are as pretty as happens to be of K.D. Lang. But seriously, I'm not trying to date K.D. Lang or anything. Seriously. I'm not. Really. Let it go already.

After the flick, we went to Good Luck Bar and had a few drinks, and I drove home with music I am fond of buzzing in my ears. I intend to spend the bulk of my Sunday in some recuperative state. But I fail at this more often than anyone could imagine.

Ye Olde Rustic Pick-Up Joint

Last night, I caught my pal Eddie Pepitone's one man show at the Fake Gallery and then went over to the Rustic with J. Keith Van Straaten to have drinks and, in his case, a quesadilla. I got there before he did, and I bought myself a drink. I don't usually walk into bars by myself. I'm not afraid to. But there is a barrage of approach I am often looking to avoid. And there, right before my eyes, I saw two dudes gesturing towards me explicitly as if to say, "Are you going after that one? Oh, it's me? Okay. I'm on it." So the one comes over and says, "Are you here alone?" And I said, "I'm waiting for a friend." And he said, "Your boyfriend?" And I said, "A friend." And he says, "So is it okay if I hit on you then?" And I said, "Wow. That's the most directly I've ever heard that put." And then he told me his name was Joshua, and he asked where I live. Eventually J. Keith walked in, and I was relieved to be able to excuse myself. When we walked into the dining room, another fellow grabbed my hand and told me I had beautiful ankles. But he was distinctly looking at my tank top. And I figured maybe I'd better put my jacket on. It was oddly warm yesterday, but apparently a gal like me can't just enjoy the cool reprieve of a wifebeater without having a lot of beer breath aspirated in her face in the form of a how-do-you-do. Later, waiting for the restroom, another fellow asked if he could go before me. And I was thrown, wondering if the men's room could possibly be more crowded than the ladies' room. He made more chitchat and then plainly said, "I was just looking for an excuse to talk to you." And then it was my turn for the restroom. And I wondered if this section of Hillhurst is really just a strange pocket of foreign in an otherwise too-good-for-me landscape of L.A. poseurs and ladies with parts much lovelier than mine.

I drove home too early for my tastes. But there was only pain and the absence of sleep for me, so what difference does it make.

Apr 1, 2005

the price of a dream

I submitted another bid. I've been working on it off and on for a couple of weeks. But, as usual, the bulk of the work gets done between moon and morning. I sent it off just a handful of minutes ago. I'm not unproud of what I came up with. But I'm also resigned. I don't know if I'll get the work. I don't know what I'm worth. I don't know if they will look at my estimate and laugh or ball it up angrily and throw it on the floor. And then pour something insulting on it. I really don't want to think about it. I'm just glad to be done. And in a way I feel cheated. Because I really had it in me -- in the past twenty-four hours especially -- to be terrribly self-indulgent creatively. I wanted to write and write and write. I had ideas all over the place. And my dining table is still cluttered with the art supplies Beulah and I were using when she came to visit. I'm sure I would have had a painting or two in me yesterday. But if I had let myself lean into that urge, all of my paintings would have been about guilt and procrastination. And I much prefer them when they are about my more girlish anxieties. It's just a shame I couldn't have spent the day spilling my guts somehow. I know I had a lot of product in me. And now, I can barely complete a sentence without being convinced it wasn't worth typing.

My teeth all feel sore. And there has been a persistent and unholy pain in my soft palate for several days now. It started as a sore throat, but then it completely changed its mind. If it's another sinus infection, I may just off myself. That last one was a study in torment. I'm not so terribly stoic, but I like to give the appearance of steely resolve and stalwart unflappability on most days. And, well, I failed at it.

I've canceled an appointment for this morning so that I can maybe get some sleep. I'll bet I will dream of hurting.