Secret Pop

Sep 29, 2005

Getting hip to the liveness

I'm home configuring my new PowerBook, and I've got NBC on. The Will and Grace season premiere is a special live episode. For the past few months, I suppose it's natural that my ears perk up a little whenever any noun is modified by that adjective. I'm working for a company with live entertainment on the brain and not much else, after all. So I asked the question, "Why do we like LIVE?"

Here are my thoughts:

1. Even though I find the writing on this show to be predictable and tired in its campiness, I also applaud it for making the mention of sexual behaviors acceptable in prime time. I also think Alec Baldwin is bomb ass. And seeing him give in to the swish a little is fun. No matter how much I fight it.

2. I just cut the fuck out of my finger a few minutes ago. See? I was on the phone with my mother trying to cut a piece of french bread into appropriate sandwich size, and the cerrated edge of my Cutco sandwich knife sawed vigorously into my left index finger. My mom got an earful of cursing. And then she gave me lots of advice about putting a bandage on the cut. And she made all the Chinese pain sounds in her vocabulary -- she seriously sounded like it was hurting her more than it hurt me. So we got off the phone, and I dripped blood all over the floor, and I won't be playing violin tonight.

3. "Live" is thrilling, I guess, because of the propensity for the unexpected to happen. The biggest laughs in the show and the most satisfying moments happened when the actors broke or when something didn't go as planned. It makes the audience feel like they're on the inside of something private and exclusive. Like when Tim Conway and Harvey Korman used to not be able to keep their shit together on The Carol Burnett Show. Even though uptight theatrical types will point out that this is just evidence of their unprofessionalism. Well, those two dudes tour around doing stage shows for $100 a seat, and you're still toting your little Ben Nye make-up kit to rehearsals for a community theater production of an Agatha Christie play that will be put up on a cleared-out portion of the dining room of an Acapulco Restuarant, bub. (Note: I do actually find it unprofessional when Horatio Sanz and Jimmy Fallon pull this same boner. But that's because they're not as funny. Nor as white.)

4. It's a shame Don Adams passed away. I enjoyed him very much. And it was in a discussion about how much I enjoyed Inspector Gadget that I was reminded of how I used to also like Danger Mouse.

5. I guess I'll go finish making that finger sandwich now. It was going to be a chicken cutlet (katsu, if you speak the language) sandwich. But I may not have it in me to fix that up anymore. Maybe I'll just have a Pop Tart.

This is the liveness that happens in my brain all day long. Seriously.

Sep 26, 2005

A sigh is just a sigh.

I don't know what I want to write about. I notice I don't have many funny stories to tell. I think that says something. Downcast eyes and a lot of breath-holding. I don't see or take note or make mention. It's like being dragged through something blue.

I watched The Shining in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Saturday night. And I worked on sketch stuff and performed improv today and tonight. And I am dreading the week. And I hate that feeling. I was dismal enough on Friday that I didn't go to the Found Footage Film Festival as planned. I hate that feeling, as well.

The kid who played Danny in The Shining apparently only made one other film. It was an autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy. And in it, he played Young Liddy. We were wondering what ever became of him after that movie. And how any kid's parents could let them act in a movie like that and not worry for their sanity. Apparently, he's a teacher now in Illinois. I wonder what that's like.

There is a long, long list. I may never get to the end of it.

A kiss is still a kiss.

Sep 21, 2005

Who writes these things?

I'm doing some research on the New York City Underground Comedy Festival, and the Web site excitedly announced that “Slava’s Snow Show" has just been added to the festival roster. "This multi-million dollar clowning spectacle was conceived and created by the world's most respected Clown, Slava Polunin."

Since when was "clown" a proper noun, and since when did anyone in the world respect one? I'm sure Slava Polunin is a jim-dandy clown. But I'm as enticed by this copy as I would be by a poster of Doug Henning in the centerfold of a Dynamite magazine.

Born two hundred years too late and two hundred years too soon.
You know, I didn't want to be disappointed in Space Mountain when I rode it on Sunday, at long last. After two years of it being closed and promises of improvements and upgrades and returns to innocence being disseminated by polite cast members, patiently attending the disappointing sign at the mouth of the inert beast. It felt faster than before. And perhaps more turbulent than before. But I honestly don't remember in enough detail to measure. The one thing I did recognize was that the new soundtrack is lame as all get out. It's hard to fear for your safety when the disco's a-playin'. And it's even harder to remember what it felt like to wait in those lines -- before Fast Pass, before California Adventure -- back when you had to plan your day around the two-hour torments each of the mountains begot. Three and a half hours when Splash Mountain first opened. Today, if you're clever and not dead set on riding everything, you barely have to wait at all. You can even afford to sit out a turn because you are particular about which row you sit in. What luxury.
I am by turns haltingly nostalgic and dazzlingly cavalier. You never know which one you'll get. I hack away at the vines of memory because they slow me down. But then sometimes, it seems the world isn't moving so fast. And I don't need to be in such a rush. Sometimes, it seems like remembering things is just a way of not getting on with it. And then sometimes, it seems like remembering things is eclipsingly better than experiencing them. I've had this thought before.
I miss things about my various past lives. And I sometimes wonder how those lives ever happened. I look back fondly on certain episodes and then can't quite figure out how they turned into the years that followed. Sometimes it seems that life is just what happens when you're too lazy or inattentive to do something else. History is what you sit through. How did I sit at my dining room table in that other apartment I once lived in? Wasn't I needed elsewhere? How did I ever watch a show? How did I find hobbies? Or take up collecting doll collecting magazines (and, no, that is not a syntax error)? How did I ever get a lick of work done? And then it was all just a tangle of all that was. And no matter how much happened, and no matter how much was accomplished, nothing was able to matter for long enough for the use of the word "matter" to make sense.
"Cut to the Jurassic Period."
I did a character yesterday that was inspired by Brendon Small's Captain Mustache's version of Fat Albert. (Twice removed.) I became a fat kid who couldn't understand why his mom would urge the bus driver to make him run for it. "I tried to catch it, but I had to pull my lunch wagon." It was not a loud character, but it required massive aspiration. I was lightheaded in no time. And people seemed to like it. I'm always pleased when that is the case. But this time I was also pleased because I liked it myself. I spent most of my stage time committing to not caring how I looked or sounded. I am terribly self-conscious much of the time. Not being so is a bigger deal than might be apparent. But last night, despite my perilously low energy and my searing headache and stinging eyeballs and generally downtrodden spirit, I played with big energy. And I was glad of it.
Then I came home and worked until four a.m. And that is a festival of ball-sucking.
Pigtails. Pigtails is a winner.
I have a great many photos to sort through. Quite a few from Disneyland. Again. And since I wore my hair in pigtails again, many of them will look exactly like the ones I took the weekend before. Except that Mindy and Tim will be in them. Instead of Tom and Tom and Krissy and Jessie.
It was a very sweet moment when we were walking up to the castle, looking for swans, and Mindy had cause to exclaim, "Prince Charming wished me a happy birthday!" Dreams do come true.
a new route to the same place
Is it possible that I miss these things I think I miss? Do you ever come to terms with the inability to ever go back? Does forward turn into backward? And is that ever good? Will Serenity be as good as I'm hoping?
Did you forget this fucking singer so soon? And did you forget my song?

Sep 19, 2005

Secret Whiskey

I was at the office until almost eleven tonight. We were making sure the Bon Jovi concert went off all right. I was writing copy, watching video feeds, researching setlist entries. I was trying to keep Audrey from snarling at people. Taking cigarette breaks. Waiting around. I was wishing I was elsewhere. Wanting to listen to my own music. Wanting to be wearing something different. Tired of how long the days have gotten.

Yesterday, I went to Disneyland. AGAIN. This time with Mindy and Tim. It was Mindy's birthday last week, and we being annual passholders and all -- the timing seemed right. It was a lovely day for it. I came home and didn't bother to watch the Emmys. Instead, I watched Rome, whose opening titles I detest but whose story and subject matter are growing on me.

The night before, I went to the Edendale Grill for the birthday celebrations of Blaine Capatch and the lovely Poubelle Twins. Blaine and Vera also announced their recent Vegas wedding, and that was a grand and lovely surprise. I'm awfully happy for them.

And the night before was Mindy's proper birthday party, a karaoke extravaganza at the Orchid Lounge, where the drinks are too expensive and the playlist too light on my singalong favorites, but where the company was just super and my camera was put to great use.

I would track back through all the days of the preceding week, but I am beginning to forget the things I did and the places I went. I know I went to dinner at Katana with Sarah and her charming new beau. And I know I made small talk with a guy at the bar at the Sunset Marquis and wondered why people ever make small talk. In my case, it was because I accidentally left my phone in my car when I delivered it into the care of the valet, and that meant I couldn't sit there and play Bejeweled. Much of the rest is a swimming mess of work malaise. The kind that bealeaguers the spirit and causes one to take stock of all the deadlines one has let slip past.

Tonight, driving home, rain sprinkled against my windshield, and when I took Audrey out, there was that smell of asphalt just barely wet. I wondered momentarily if any of this will persist in my memory. Or if any of it will matter.

And then I walked inside and wanted to write.

Sep 15, 2005

Only angels know unrelieved joy -- or are able to stand it.

I needed a headshot. Jessie rallied. Then we went to Disneyland. I should always remember that I would rather have the turkey leg than the corndog. I only ever seem to remember this after having had the corndog.

These are my temporary solution, until such time as I can be lovely again and can afford to pay someone to document it for the split second that it is true.

Sep 14, 2005

Commitment. Martyrdom. Using people.
I got home from work only a short while ago. A seventeener (my new word for a seventeen-hour work day). The day before was an elevenner (my new word for a...well, you get the idea). And I'm aiming to be in the office by 7:30. Which makes my night of sleep potentially just shy of a threer. I had to skip my workshop tonight. And I was gravely unhappy about that. Things are rough. And demanding. And not terribly rewarding. At the moment. Can only speak in short bursts. Apparently.
In the notes after the harold I was in on Sunday evening, a character I created was referred to as the "minority lover." I suggested we use that as the name for the team we are forming for a competition at the I.O. My compatriots nodded in agreement. So now we are Minority Lover. And I was tasked to write a blurb for us. The suggestions I submitted were:
Teaching men to fish for three full decades. Jerking off on speakerphone since the late '80s. Enjoying a greater right to life since 1993. Commitment. Martyrdom. Using people. Revenge is a dish. Three women will understand that. Narcolepsy is not a superpower. Refrigeration is the secret to our freshness. Don't shoot yourself in the soft palate. That's one you won't come back from. 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. Beef tenderloin: The "little black dress" of meats What kind of scandalous technique is that? Such tasteless vulgarity will never defeat me! I am far above it! Watch how a real ninja defeats an upstart. He's combined shadow cloning with his own invention: the sexy jutsu. What a foolish ninja technique.
Those last three were transcribed directly from the episode of Naruto that was on when I was writing the others. And several others have appeared in my blog in one form or another. And the one Steve picked to submit was the title of this entry, which was jotted down with the expectation of being turned into a fully written piece at some point. It was something I was thinking about while running. And I never got around to writing it. In a way, I prefer it. Nothing I was going to say was especially insightful or revelatory. Only if I allow myself to make such pronouncements, I could conceivably stop writing altogether. I miss writing for the sake of the song in it. I miss stumbling onto ideas whose progenitors were less than obvious to me. I miss having the time to justify the squandering of that time. I miss being important enough in the grand scheme of things to want to indulge myself in the forming of a sentence. Today, I am somewhat less.
Friday night, after a long-ass day at work, I went to the grand opening of the UCB Theatre and stayed out late, audiencing and then celebrating. Saturday morning, Jessie and I took interim headshots for our audition on Sunday. Then we went to Disneyland and stayed for the duration. Sunday, we auditioned and then performed and then ate Chinese food while talking about the preceding two activities. And Monday was another long-ass day, at the end of which was a wood-fired pizza from Trader Joe's that made all other frozen pizzas seem like pancakes dressed with horsemeat. And then it was today. And both yesterday and today, I wore things to work which -- once I got to work -- caused me to rethink their wearing. Whether because of the looks I get from certain people or just the reality check of walking into the bathroom and catching my reflection, yesterday I realized my skirt was too short and today I realized my blouse was too low-cut. And I miss the days when nothing I wore mattered because no one who saw it would have anything to say about the progression of my career. I had no idea how easy and good I had it.
I also miss writing in my journal with a pencil while sitting on a bench beside the La Brea Tarpits. I miss my black bowling bag-style handbag that the journal could fit in, back before I had a digital camera to always be carrying. I miss that golden hour of pre-dusk sunlight in the west-facing offices of the building I worked in. I miss shortlived confidence and eager adventurousness. I miss playing hooky when it was hot out. I miss pissing the day away on behalf of the sensual pleasures. I miss drawing on placemats with crayons.
And I am missing out on what little sleep I will be afforded. And that is a fucking foolish thing to do.

Sep 8, 2005

Feckless Praise

I have a habit. A programming glitch. I'm well aware of it. I can only process kind words from specific sources. Coming from anyone else, it falls on deaf ears, leaves no mark, makes no waves. It has always been this way. I choose the voices in which I am able to hear encouragement. As a result, very few compliments make any difference to me. The message doesn't matter if the envelope it comes in isn't right. I'm picky and difficult in a thoroughly self-defeating way.

Last night, I was walking back to my car after watching a late show at the Improv Olympic West, and two guys in a beemer pulled up beside my car with the windows rolled down and greeted me all friendly-like. I said hello and assumed they were anxious for my parking space. They didn't need to butter me up with those sundry pronouncements about how sexy I look tonight or how pretty I am. I assure you. I was going to vacate the space anyway. But then the driver asked my name and asked if he could call me. And -- in an uncustomary show of cleverness and resolve -- I said, "No, thank you. I don't think so." He told me they were from New York, and I said, "Welcome to L.A.," and continued getting into my car. I was wearing what I might describe as a flirty little skirt, so maybe that's not so surprising. It's late at night in Hollywood, and people can't help but get their friendly on. But then this morning, I was driving to work, and the City of Beverly Hills truck in front of me seemed to contain a driver who wanted to communicate with me. At first I thought it was just him talking to his passenger, but eventually, he pulled over so that I would pass him, and when I did, he waved at me and made kissy lips. Why? I thought. He can only see my head, really. My head and my necklace and that I'm wearing a white sweater. But not much else. I assume even the sorts of guys who make kissy lips at random ladies passing by only do so when they can see whether a girl is able to stand. What if I was in a Honda that accomodates a wheelchair? I remember thinking something similar last December when I was in Vegas. I was plugging a slot machine in the Mandalay Bay Casino, and a guy sat down next to me. He was the third guy in a short span of time to accost me that night. And they all turned out to be from Hermosa Beach. So this guy started chatting me up. Asking if the machine was paying out. I didn't even look at him. Never made eye contact. I just responded -- somewhat curtly -- that I had only just sat down, so I didn't know. Question two was, Where are you from? and question three was, Can I take you to dinner? And I thought to myself, this guy hasn't even made eye contact with me, and he wants to take me out. He hasn't even seen the right side of my face yet. What if I were to turn slowly towards him to reveal that that entire side of my face was covered in burns? Would he still want my number? I realize people go to Vegas to gamble. Gambling Las Vegas gambling (see Lost in America). But does anyone ever roll the dice that blindly? Even in Hermosa Beach?

Anyway, my point in all of this is just that none of these incidents made me feel especially pretty or especially good about myself. Hang around me much and you'll learn that I get my share (and then some) of love from the homeless and the indigent. But you'll also learn that it never makes my day. I wish it could.

Things would be so easy if I would just let them be.

Sep 3, 2005

"Narcolepsy is not a superpower."

I was watching CNN's Katrina coverage on the TV in the gym this morning. I remember watching the tsunami coverage there, too. Today, I felt so sad and tired of looking at all the devastation that I found myself watching The Surreal Life on the adjacent monitor. There isn't even closed captioning. But it was easier to watch than all that suffering.

I've been to New Orleans a few times. The first time I visited, it was in the springtime, and it was beautiful. And I shopped like mad in the French Quarter, and foolishly brought back all sorts of New Orleans foodstuffs that you can readily buy locally. I ate very well. Tried all the things that are famous. Beignets. Bananas foster. Coffee with chicory. Bread pudding. Gumbo. Jambalaya. Red beans and rice. Muffalattas. Alligator sausage. Even a Lucky Dog. You name it. I was there for a conference, and my boss was a foodie of grand proportions. So we didn't waste any meals. The next time I visited, it was nearly Christmas, and the city was cold, and my work was tiring, and I didn't make nearly as much of my stay. The next two times were right at the holidays. Once, passing through on my way to Italy to spend time with my family, I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning there. That was the time Richard Simmons called me "pretty hair." The last time was in late 1996. I stayed for a week, from Christmas Eve until New Year's Day, visiting with the family of my sister's then-boyfriend. And although it was winter, it was muggy and warm most of the time. And I regretted all the wool I had packed. During that visit, I did all sorts of fun things. And all sorts of cliché things. At Tipitina's one night, a local band was playing a song whose subject was New Orleans and whose unsurprising lyrics kept repeating the phrase, "Big Easy. Big Easy." And a guy in the crowd next to me called out, "More clichés! More clichés! Sing about Bourbon Street. And jazz. And red beans and rice." Later that night, I wrote it down in my notebook.

I think my old college friend Brian Housh may still live in New Orleans. We've fallen out of touch. I hope he's all right. The people I was visiting in that last trip no longer live there. I am so sad for the people who are going through this nightmare. And I am glad that at least some journalists are making a point of calling attention to the molasses-like response of the federal government. Adam sent me this link to Ted Koppel's interview of Mike Brown, director of FEMA. It's encouraging to see some courage and incisiveness return to the news. At the same time, even as these questions are being asked, help is only just getting to New Orleans. And still so little attention is being paid to the rest of the gulf coast, where entire towns have been wiped out. Entire towns. Gone. It's hard to imagine. Hard to believe. And this is just me as a far-off observer. I can't even begin to think what it would feel like to return to your neighborhood and see nothing left standing. I remember the shock of seeing my parents' house after the fire that engulfed it in 1998. I remember just walking through like a zombie saying. "Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god." And eventually beginning to cry.

Walking through the parking lot at Trader Joe's today, I thought to myself how fortunate I am. And I hate corny sentiment. But I saw a father and his young daughter trying to decide what kinds of flowers to buy, and I thought that we really are lucky to be out here right now where the sun is shining and the breeze is blowing and the temperatures are mild and lovely. Of course our own local news media wants us to be afraid, too, as usual. There was a segment yesterday evening on disaster preparedness. What if an earthquake hits us? Or some other catastrophic event? A reporter went door to door checking to see how much bottled water and canned food people had. Whether they had flashlights and batteries. Anyone worried about me should relax, knowing that I have enough non-perishable food to last me well into the next decade. And a goodly amount of bottled water. Of course, I also live in a very old building and would probably be crushed by debris and my jerk upstairs neighbors, if the earth were to quake with any great force. And so would all my valuable supplies. So there.

At the gas station, on my way home, where I paid $3.12 per gallon to fill up my tank, a guy with a giant boat of a vintage Cadillac was making conversation with a bum trying to wash his windshield for him. I overheard him say that it costs him seventy dollars to fill up his tank at this price. And then he laughed and said, "It's just a weekend thing." It seemed crass to me. But I was also filled with relief that the freelance windshield washer was too engrossed in his conversation with that freewheeling gas-guzzler to hit me up for any money. We're all jerks on some level, I suppose.

I went to see my friend Ben's show The Thrilling Adventure and Supernatural Suspense Hour at M Bar on Thursday night. I hadn't been able to make it to the past few shows, and I was glad to be catching it again. It was a fine production and I laughed many times. During the Beyond Belief segment, Paul (F. Tompkins) actually had to shush a table to the left of the stage. And later, when they apparently continued to not shut up, he glared at them. I found that awesome. After the show, in the ladies' room, I heard another in a series of mindnumbing conversations I have heard in ladies' restrooms between girlfriends who stun me with the lack of interesting subject matter that infuses their discourse. This one went a bit like this.

Girl 1: I like your hair.
Girl 2: Do you? I think it's getting too long.
Girl 1: Oh, no. I like it long.
Girl 2: Really? Because everyone tells me they like it better short.
Girl 1: I like it long.
Girl 2: How long?
Girl 2: Like long long?
Girl 1: Yes. Long long long. I like long long hair.
Girl 2: I like your earrings.
Girl 1: Oh, they're like doorknockers.
Girl 2: I want to be a more daring earring person.

I saw them outside later on. I didn't care much for Girl 1's earrings or for Girl 2's hair. Paget Brewster clued me in that they were the ones who were making all the noise during the show. It figures. Boy, does it figure.

So, it's Labor Day Weekend. And I guess I'm glad to see summer coming to a close. But I'm not sure that I continue to be grateful for the demarcation. It seems that I am able to access too many of my disappointments when I place them in these seasonal categories. I have had happy summers and horrific summers and summers that passed without much mention. But it seems like the happy times end up getting tainted. Inevitably. Even the good times eventually get hidden behind a feeling of, "Oh, but then THAT happened." I once wrote, "Sometimes when you think you're on top of the world, the world turns over." And I guess that's just the way it goes.