Secret Pop

Oct 30, 2005

I think about this loveless fascination.

A tempest of driving and concertgoing. Beulah took me to see Beck on Thursday night. I drove down to San Diego and then, for a number of reasons, drove back up to L.A. later that night. This is an exhausting choice, for the record. Also for the record, Beck was wonderful. But I hate the crowds that Rimac draws. And I am beginning to hate concertgoers as a category. Perhaps even including me.

Saturday afternoon, after a long, long Friday and too little sleep and a nostalgic resurrection of Jane Fonda's Workout Challenge, I scrambled to get my Halloween gear a-bundled. I even made a trip to the wandering Halloween superstore down the street from where I live. But it was a disappointment. It's like a Party City outlet. With fewer costumes than a regular Party City. And fewer mylar balloons. A couple of years ago, on a very hot Saturday, I visited a Halloween superstore in City of Industry I think. It was not a super experience, but it was indeed a superstore. Those overheated, un-air-conditioned warehouses remind me of Guam. On the Navy bases, "Toyland" is a seasonal location. A place that is for some portion of the year and then is no more. Much like these Halloween superstores. And Brigadoon. Toyland would have its grand opening in the fall. And then it would stay open until Christmas. And then it would go away. The grand opening had balloons and hot dogs. And it was a hot, sweaty, complaint-inducing disaster. I remember waiting out in the hot sun for what seemed like weeks. I remember wanting a Lite Brite. And a pink Huffy bicycle. I got both. These warehouses would be hot with large industrial fans blowing. Cement floors and the smell of cardboard boxes. Pallet jacks and personnel wearing trusses.

Anyway, the Halloween store on South La Cienega was a complete waste of time. But it did sort of smell like the Toyland I remember. Only I got nothing that I wanted and someone glared at me in the parking lot.

Hell Bent for Leather

All that done, I packed up and drove down to San Diego again. Beulah took me to see Anthrax and Judas Priest. We encountered the enemy of a good time in the form of a blonde squirt in a Staff Pro jersey with a military haircut and an overexuberant love for the rules. But Rob Halford is indeed a Metal God. Still. He is also a man who owns a stunning number of coats.

When I arrived in San Diego, I realized that I had forgotten one of my bags. This happens to me frequently. It is maddening. The bag I left this time had all my shoes in it and a number of crucial cosmetic items if I am to wear any of the costumes I might be able to cobble together out of the portion of my wardrobe I brought down (all of it). When I did this in December with orchestra shows to play, I ended up having to do a number of shopping errands and spending hundreds of dollars trying to replace the items I already own but hadn't been smart enough to bring. This time, being between projects and just generally fearful about whether I will taste poverty again before we set the clocks forward, I didn't want to have to try and re-buy all these things I already own. So after the concert and after a brief visit to Brians', I left Beulah and sped up to L.A., grabbed my bag, changed into something warmer, and then sped back down. That's three trips in one day. And five trips in three days. That's nuts. On the way back down, Highway Patrol was running a traffic break to allow for time to clean up what looked like it had been a nasty smash-up. Once I got past it, I revved back up to nearly 100 mph, I being not one to believe in portents. I was tired, though. And I could completely imagine driving into a wall or another car. I'm just glad I didn't.

The Final Frontier

I brought my iPod with me on the trip back. The trip up had been somewhat lacking in entertaining songfare. I was glad I did. Having the right soundtrack makes all the difference. When I hit that no man's land stretch of the 5 between San Juan Capistrano and Oceanside, I was nearly alone on the road. The only thing to look at were the white reflectors (people in the industry call them "bot dots" -- and by "the industry," I mean the traffic safety industry, not the entertainment industry; I have no idea what James Cameron calls them) on the highway, speeding past me like in Night Driver, a game I always preferred to Pole Position. One of the (good) tracks from Star Trek First Contact came up in the shuffle, and I had a gruesomely geeky swell of elation and I could sort of pretend I was navigating my Honda through outer space, the reflectors looking much like the stars do when one pretends to travel faster than the speed of light. I dream of having that far to go.

Efficiency Expert

I took something like 1300 photos at Lucha Va Voom on Wednesday. 728 of them are posted on my flickr account. Eventually, some portion of them will find their way onto the roundup page. But for now, if you were to want to see them, you could go here. This all reminds me of how much I continue to fall behind in the words I plan to write, the pictures I plan to post, and the promises I plan to make good on. Such reminders make me frown.

This is your eighth grade gym teacher Mr. Baumann.

I reset the clock in my car while I was driving and it became 2 a.m. for the second time. The other clocks are networked and reset themselves. I'm glad for the extra hour. Perhaps it will help me to not miss the four or five hours I wasted in unnecessary back and forth, or at least to miss them less.

Oct 24, 2005

Old Tricks

I bought McDonald's lunch for my dad. We ate hamburger sandwiches and french fries and shared the ketchup packets and swapped horror stories of our working lives. Audrey dozed on his lap. Sweet snuggly lump. She was a good girl. Then she and I drove back home. I took her walking, unloaded the car, applied the mascara I hadn't yet bothered with, and fussed with my hair a little before going to Room 5 with Martín. The show was much fun. I saw many people I like, and I showed them the face my mom made when she saw my hair color. I met Mindy and Tim at Swingers and dipped my french fries in fried eggs. Then I came home and caught up and began sorting through photographs and responding to IMs, and all of a sudden it was four o'clock in the morning. And then I read through old things I've written, and suddenly it was five. Technicolor five a.m.

Oct 23, 2005

Long Goodbye

Loren got it started. The festivities were beginning to break up at Jonah's goodbye party, and Loren told me that reading the thread of posts between me and Krissy on the comedy theater listserv was what finally made it kick in for him.

She's leaving.

Tears started welling up in my eyes immediately. I was saying goodbye to Krissy for the night. But in a week or two, I will be saying goodbye to her altogether. She and Dorian are moving away. Starting a new and different life. Preparing for Baby Zoe. And Jonah is leaving for his new job and his new town and his new everything that same week. Smiling and happy. Excited about what comes next. As well he should be. My Jonah Bear. Leaving.

It's like everything is turning upside down at once.

Krissy and Becky and I went shopping today for Halloween supplies and costume ideas. It was so dismal and grey out. The sun never emerged. There was this blanket of gloom. A misty veil of sad autumn weather. Autumn is where the ending begins.

And I had this continual feeling of déjà vu. Mid-october. Goodbyes. I realized I was being taken back to the autumn of 2001, when I was leaving San Diego for Los Angeles and whatever the calendar pages held. My leaving was abrupt. My job offer came just as September 11 was happening. I had to move and start work all at the same time. I never had a goodbye party. I remember my last practice at the comedy theater. People didn't even stay after to have a drink with me. I left feeling sad and jilted. I went over to The Living Room and wrote in my journal and made friends with someone who thought I looked interesting.

Everything was so uncertain then. And I felt more alone than I ever have. Striking out on my own. But also being abandoned to it. With nearly no support system. Nearly no well-wishing. A motel room and a job waiting for me. And a notebook to write in in tiny pencil print.

We drove down drizzle-spattered streets that might as well have been those same 2001 streets. To the foot of Mount Helix. Through Clairemont. Down Sixth Avenue. Past Balboa Park. It was nighttime all day today. It was bleak and cruel and colorless. And looking forward felt like paying lipservice. Everything is ending.

So there I was at Jonah's party, drinking punch and catching up. And Loren mentioned that reading what Krissy and I wrote to each other on the listserv made it all hit home. And the tears started to come. And each time I tried to deny them, they welled up more insistently.

I love her so much. Krissy. I love that girl so much. Krissy and Dorian are family to me. I love them the way you love the ones you have to love. Only I don't have to love them, and I do anyway. Effortlessly. They are so special to me. I can't write a sentence that would do them justice.

As I was driving home, Wake Me Up When September Ends was playing on the radio, and tears began to sprout from my eyes. Spilling out onto my cheeks, despite my attempts to brush them away. My poor eyes have suffered so much this weekend. There is no hope that they will look pretty again before the new week begins. I wonder if they will ever look pretty again. Asian girls are ugly when they cry. It's a fact.

I always say this is my favorite time of year. The spate of months whose names end in "ber." The smell of fireplace aftermath. The seasonal goodwill. The preparation of turkey feasts. Days that get shorter. Nights that come sooner. Turtleneck weather. Long sleeve weather. Socks weather. Scarf weather. This used to be my favorite time of year. But it's almost as if its former favored status is its worst enemy. All the things that once made it sweet threaten to turn it bitter now. Memories of how such things ever became favorite. Spoiled. It gets so that looking back is distasteful. And how I used to glory in my nostalgia and melancholy. How less glorious when it all turns wry.

I have lived in Los Angeles for four years now. How can that be? Shouldn't I be graduating from something? Matriculating in some fashion? Shouldn't I have more signatures in my yearbook? For all my diligence in saving everything, I don't seem to have been able to save anything at all. It all washes away. Ebbs into the distance. Pulls out beyond reach. There are all these stars in the sky, and you can't catch a single one. Not if your arms were as long as the street you live on. There are no stars on your street. No matter how far you drive.

I have been utterly ineffectual. The rainforests. The ozone layer. Israel. Blame it all on me. I haven't done a goddamned thing.

Everything is always ending. That's how it was made.

There's a reason I have to skip ahead when Saying Goodbye from The Muppets Take Manhattan comes up in the music mix.

Oct 22, 2005

Pretty Pink Rose

I realize it's harder to find inspiration now that I don't have as defined an audience. There was a time when I knew who was reading. Knew who I was writing for. There have been such times. My voice has taken on different casts. Now, I catch myself lapsing into silences. Falling into disuse. Wondering what the point is. My tongue hurts from being held.

I write poetry in the car. I speak it in my head. I don't bother to write it down anymore. Everything is so obvious. It obviates.

I can't even maintain the posture I'm accustomed to. The effort taxes me.

Phase shift. Fixative. I can't afford the aftermath of rubbing my eyes red.

Oct 19, 2005

Sometimes headaches aren't hangovers.

I put out a fire in my kitchen yesterday with a fire extinguisher. Such excitement. It started like this.

I wanted to scan some photos. And my scanner bed seemed a bit dusty and smudgy, so I went looking for my Windex, and in the process discovered that a bottle of Clorox in my utility closet was leaking. I had to clean that mess up and dispose of all of the bottles of cleansing products that had been corroded. And that got me on a clean-everything-up kick. So I was in the kitchen washing dishes, and I heard a loud bang and turned around to find that there were flames shooting out from under my stove. I cursed for a bit, and then realized there was no point in talking about it. I needed to put it out. I have a fire extinguisher that my landlord provided when I first moved in. But it's in a cardboard box, and when I went and opened that box, I realized I had to screw on the hose and release the valve lock, and all the while, my stove was on fire. With one little squirt from the fire extinguisher, the fire was out. But I had to put on a surgical mask to clean up the mess. The fumes and particulates in the air were acrid and sour.

I cleaned everything up and went to wash my hands. The bottle of antibacterial hand wash I squeezed cracked in half right in my hands and squirted all over the coffee maker and the counter. It's old. I had it when I moved here. The plastic is brittle. So that was another mess for me to clean up.

I had to do that script reading for Bryn, and when I came home, I could smell the funk of the fire and what smelled like gas, but I wasn't sure if that's what it was. I -- brilliantly -- went into the kitchen and lit things to see if there was a gas leak. I'm a genius.

This morning, when I woke up, the gas smell was very pronounced. So I called the gas company and had a technician come out. I guess the fire extinguisher had put out a couple of the pilots, and they were just leaking gas all night. He fixed everything up and put my mind at ease. And now at least I have an explanation for why I have such a lousy headache and sore, red eyes.

It's been cold and rainy these past few days. It reminds me of this time last year. It's hard to believe it's been a year. Hard to believe I've had Audrey this long. That I've begun jobs and ended them. That I've changed my hair so many times. That I've gotten a different car, another computer, another camera. I just feel like it all happens so fast, and I pay so little attention to any of it. And yet, look at me -- I pay more attention than anyone. What must it be like for other people? Do they even know it's 2005? And that it's almost over? What's the point anyway. I guess I could have been blown up last night. There was enough gas to be concerned. And then there would just be the shards of all these unfinished projects and all these unfleshed-out ideas. All these unscanned photographs.

Well, that's something I can correct.

Oct 17, 2005

Thunder. Fire. Rain.

This was my Saturday. Beulah and I went to the Sunset Marquis to collect Alex, who was flown in to interview HIM (His Infernal Majesty), who were to play at The Wiltern that night. We had beers and french fries at Mel's. Then we dropped Alex off to go meet up with his people. Beulah and I drove to La Luz de Jesus, where we desperately needed the bathroom, which smelled of b.o. We shopped for a while and then got in the car and saw banners for the Basquiat exhibit at MOCA, where we are members. We drove Downtown and parked near the museum only to find that the exhibit had closed the previous week and that the museum was closed altogether in preparation for its next show. It was very windy. We walked back to the car and drove to my apartment, passing The Wiltern, where youthful black t-shirt-wearers sat on the sidewalk, die-hard and lame. Beulah and I made some artwork with the Mulan DVD playing. Then we drove to Hurry Curry and ate the curry that they serve there. We drove to the UCB Theatre and watched ASSSCAT. The house was so full, Beulah and I had to sit right on the stage. John Krasinski was the monologist, and Beulah has a boner for him, so that was nice and all. But for most of the improv scenes, we could only see the backs of people. To the credit of their backs, we still laughed a great deal. We collected our car from the valet and then drove to meet Jeff at The Dresden, where we had a drink but found it to be noisy and crowded, so why not go get our own booze and tailgate? We were going to walk to a liquor store, but it started to rain. Hard. So we ran to my car, smoked the remainder of wet cigarettes, then drove to the liquor store and bought beer. It was raining so hard, my skirt was soaked from the wind. My broken umbrella provided some shelter. But still. We hung out at the Steve Allen Theater and drank our drinks. I had whiskey in my bag, so I drank that. Bobcat Goldthwaite was there. As well as a Japanese pop star who came to see Brendon and had the cutest accent. And then we watched the show. And then we hung out for a while and talked and laughed. And then Beulah and I went to Lucy's on the way home and bought food, but my burrito was just a bunch of onions wrapped in a tortilla. We watched episodes of the BBC version of The Office, and Beulah fell asleep at the most important parts. But can you blame her? We'd had a long day.

Thunder and lightning and giant raindrops. That was Sunday. And more of the same today. Someone who lives near me has their fireplace going. I envied them when I smelled it. But it's too late to put a fire on. I'd feel obligated to sit in front of it until it burned down a bit, and I should probably get some rest. Today, I had to go meet with a friend about a possible project, and in the evening I had to go to Bryn's, where we did a readthrough of his screenplay that we will be reading on stage tomorrow night. Ginger Lynn is the lead character in the film. I am a handful of not-lead characters. Most with trailer park dialects and character descriptions that fail to flatter. But I project very well.

Anyway, I feel tired. Drained dry. A flat little flap of Mylar that may once have been a cheerful balloon. Everything feels like nothing. Which is a poor description of numbness.

Sideways is on the television. I never saw it when it was in the cinema. I still haven't seen it technically. It's just on now. And I've looked at it between taps of the keys. The thing I keep paying attention to is how discolored everyone's teeth look when they're drinking red wine.I guess I don't know how to watch movies anymore.

I don't hate the use of wine as this metaphor for life and relationships. But I don't entirely believe in it. Of course, I've had my share of conversations which -- if overheard -- would make an intelligent pair of eyes roll right out of their sockets. Hoity-toity bullshit with overly florid lyrics. Everything unimportant made to sound the opposite. Sometimes even stumbling onto bits of accidental brilliance. Maybe people do talk that way. When they're trying. Or trying not to try. Maybe you can't ever not be trying. I admire those who seem not to. But then I also deplore their stasis. I shouldn't be the only one who always ends up talking too fast. It's so unfair.

I wonder what tomorrow will be like.

Mary Loves Krissy


Boris Hamilton Comes Through

Boris is the one person who (a) loves to have his picture taken by me, (b) complains about every photo I take of him, and (c) always makes a point of asking if I want my picture taken, too. He clearly understands the woes of the shutterbug. The undocumented life. The amount of my self I can't photograph on account of the unsatisfactory length of my arms.

So I ran into Boris the other night at The Tomorrow Show, and he went to his car and fetched a little present for me. See below.

Thank you, kind sir, for caring enough to capture my enjoyment of the nightlife.

Oct 14, 2005

Your Day of Days

On this day, you will find the sky the perfect blue, the air the perfect sweet. Your hair will have that little swoop in it and effortlessly. Your shoes will fit better than they have ever fit. You will want to run in them. Your toothbrush will taste like candy. You will not require a decongestant. You will find a tender note from a former love in a book you had never intended to read. You will get a phone call from someone who just wants you to know that you're great. Your favorite Star Trek episode will be airing as you get dressed, and it it will end just as you are walking out the door. You will discover an action figure that looks very much like you. And is not one of the ones kids hate. You will suddenly have need of your blender and be glad you've had one all this time. Your cellular telephone will work perfectly. You will find an article of clothing you once adored but had since forgotten you owned. It will take you back. You will be delighted by the newspaper headlines. You will be pleased with other people's driving. Your skin will be perfect. You will have lobster sandwiches for lunch and prime rib for dinner. And you will get just enough of both but not so much that you feel bad about it. You will walk in to a mirrored elevator car and love the way you look. Bypassers will stop you on the street to pay you a compliment. You will enjoy something at the movies. You will find joy in the simplest of things. You will hear that something terrible happened to someone who wronged you. You will realize that you are so over it that you are able to feel bad for them. You will not accidentally watch anything bad on television. Each drag of your cigarette will taste like your favorite food. Something precious you lost will be found and returned to you. You will laugh for all the right reasons. You will revel unselfconsciously. Everyone in the room will wish to know you. That poem you wrote will be published in The New Yorker. You will be busy with important and fulfilling things. You will remember your favorite days, and they will pale in comparison.

Oct 12, 2005

Secondary Colors

Now I'll have to be a Harajuku girl for Halloween. Wait. Now I'll have to be a Harajuku girl for Thursday.

Oct 11, 2005

bite lip. close eyes.
My beloved Krissy is the most unconditionally dedicated Green Day fan I know. (And when I said that over the weekend, Dorian was offended. For the record, he is the second biggest Green Day fan I know. He may be more enthusiastic about it than she is, but she married him because he looks kinda like Billie Joe. I think she wins. They both have Green Day tattoos. Their baby is destined to be either a total punk rocker or the world's biggest Republican.) She and Dorian have seen five Green Day shows in the past week or so. San Diego, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. I work for the company producing the extra-special Green Day show at The Wiltern tonight, so they're going to that, too. And I got Krissy to blog their concert road trip and to blog the show tonight. The Network is opening for the band, which I hope by now at least one or two people realize is Green Day in masks. When an opening act was being mentioned here in the office, the production people didn't know anything of the sort. Which is depressing. I like knowing secret things. But I also like working with people who know their shit. And know the shit out of it.
I'm listening to American Idiot right now, doing my track research and preparing the copy I have to write for the on-demand version of the show we will make available after the live stream is completed. Going from web site to web site, confirming discography information and band history. Encountering the boys and their eyeliner and their triptych style of studio pose. I remember when I first heard When I Come Around on 91-X. I remember wondering if Billie Joe was British. And I think I remember thinking that he would be cute if it weren't for his jacked up teeth. I bought Dookie and then the next four albums. But I buy albums like many people breathe air. And I get hooked into thinking I need the omnibus, so I buy everything a band releases and then never bother to listen to the songs. Explaining why so many of my thousands of CDs are still comfortably packaged in their native cellophane.
When I met Krissy and Dorian -- when they started playing with me at the comedy theater in San Diego -- that was who they were to me. That cute punk rock couple who loves Green Day. The young marrieds who change their hair color all the time and will love you for buying them many things you can find at Hot Topic. Today, of course, they are much more to me. But the Green Day part of that portrait never fades much.
So I'm listening to Green Day music and looking at Green Day pictures and sometimes getting a little misty over how much they mean to people who mean so much to me. And then going, "Why are there synthesized hand claps in She's a Rebel?" And then getting over that and getting misty again.
Punk breeds pop punk breeds pop punk rip-offs. Even if you hate Sum 41 and Good Charlotte (and you should), you should be able to give credit where credit was once due. I just love that there are still people whose passions are so pure they can experience uninterrupted joy at a rock concert. I applaud the uncomplicatedness of loving one thing completely. And I think they should name their baby Gunther.
take me away. paradise.

Oct 10, 2005

I'm not what I appear to be.

John Lennon would have been 65 this weekend. When I was leaving the I.O. tonight, I heard his voice on NPR. It was him talking and then bits of music and then more of him talking. Tragic prescience. Tragic candle-snuffing. Tragic something.

I was feeling good and tragic when I heard it. Sadder and more distraught than I have felt in as long as I can remember. Exhausted by it. Tired of feeling it. Brittle and barklike. Made of stone and yet extraordinarily fragile. Overly sensitive. Unwisely hopeful. Typically reticent. Angst-ridden. I'm surprised I didn't burst into tears right there in my car. I almost did.

I've never had skin thick enough for the beating it takes. Nor has there been enough down on my back.

I finally unpacked some of my purchases from Comic-Con. They've been sitting in shopping bags for months now. Everything has been coursing by at such a rate that I haven't had a chance to just sit down and sift through my treasures. A thing I used to love to do after a Con or a shopping trip. Or whatever. Now I just acquire. And then the acquisitions sit. And eventually they become an eyesore. And I am tempted to chuck them. And it all amounts to a great lot of waste. Wasted time. Wasted money. Wasted space. Wasted plans and ideas on which nothing substantive was ever built.

My life has been reduced to pile-making.

Dorian and Krissy are watching my Firefly DVDs. I wish I could just sit at home and watch them with them and not ever have to be anywhere else again. Sometimes even the blasted sunshine is too much to bear.

Although I laugh and I act like a clown
Beneath this mask I am wearing a frown

No big surprises here.

Every Beatles song is sad to me now. And not just because of John Lennon.

I know what it is to be sad. And it's making me feel like I've never been born.

Oct 2, 2005

Lady Labor

A commercial told me that critics are saying of North Country that it is a film in the tradition of Silkwood, Norma Rae, and Erin Brockovich. No duh. It is those three films. All rolled up into one. I guess we have to have one of these every decade or so. To remind us how much prettier certain actresses look when they're not punching a make-believe time clock.

Wait. Why did those other movies all win Oscars? Hollywood sure is nursing its guilt over the inequitable treatment of working women with bad haircuts.

Leather Anniversary

Last night, I worked for more than thirteen hours, standing for nearly the whole time in high Fornarina heels, producing my company's coverage of the Comedy Death Ray 3rd Anniversary Show at the UCB Theatre. And as much as I was there to advocate for and promote an event I support and want to help to make super famous, being part of a production crew like that feels a smidge like being a leper. Asking people to sign releases and trying not to be in the way of the actual show doesn't feel fancy or exclusive. And I'm not the sort of peacock that wants anyone to be inconvenienced, so mostly I just kept trying to make my physical self smaller and more invisible.

The show itself went from ten p.m. until long after six a.m., and the crowd was unbelievably stalwart. By the time Hard n' Phirm closed the show, nearly none of the house seats had been abandoned. Which is part of the reason I had to stand for so long. Here's why people stayed:

Doug Benson
Matt Besser
Blaine Capatch
David Cross
The Fun Bunch
Zach Galifianakis
Janeane Garofalo
Todd Glass
Hard 'n' Phirm
The Idiots
Andy Kindler
Howard Kremer
Jerry Minor
Bob Odenkirk
Patton Oswalt
Brian Posehn
Paul Rudd
Sarah Silverman
Brendon Small
Nick Swardson
Paul F. Tompkins
James Adomian
Michelle Biloon
Susan Burke
Neil Campbell
Pete Carboni
Sean Conroy
Andrew Donnelly
Bil Dwyer
Graham Elwood
Chris Fairbanks
Wayne Federman
Jarrett Grode
Boris Hamilton
Sari Karplus
Martha Kelly
Jen Kirkman
Aaron Lee
Natasha Leggero
Dan Mintz
Eric Moneypenny
Morgan Murphy
Jason Nash
BJ Novak
Jimmy Pardo
Melissa Paull
Eddie Pepitone
Chip Pope
Jonah Ray
Moses Robinson
Kevin Seccia
Mike Schmidt
Tom Sharpe
David Taylor
Joe Wagner
Mishna Wolff

I didn't get home until well after eight a.m. But even that felt like a cop-out. I'm sure other people were out doing things I would have wanted to be doing. Even if I would have required the assistance of a wheelchair.

I wasn't sure what to call this entry, so I went and looked up the traditional materials that the various anniversaries are supposed to be celebrated with. So this gets me to thinking. Why would the third anniversary be leather?

The first and second are obvious. Paper for the first because there is very little chance you'll make it, so don't invest in anything substantial. If the union fails, you'll be glad your gifts are water-soluble. And it's also an opportunity to hand your spouse a document. A photograph of the two of you. A coupon for a free backrub. A no-fault divorce kit.

The second being cotton is equally understandable. Why not celebrate two statistics-defying years together with a fun t-shirt. Maybe one that says, "In it to win it." Or if things aren't actually defying statistics so much, a jumbo bag of cotton balls is a thoughtful acknowledgement of the frequent need to absorb mouth blood.

But why leather for number three? Does it really take three years together to get comfortable and honest enough to let your BDSM interests see light? Does the third annum necessitate a lot of motorcycle jockeying? Does this come from a period in history when leather was the only material used in clothing and year three was about the time a couple could finally have done with being perpetually nude? I'm just wondering.

And because I'm thorough, I may as well explain the rest of the traditional gifts. Using Occam's razor, of course.

4th - Fourth - Fruit/Flowers
By year four, constipation has set in. A gift of fruit and/or flowers -- properly ingested -- will help smooth the journey into year five.

5th - Fifth - Wood
This is symbolic of the fact that you've managed to keep the thing afloat for five impossible years. Also, wooden gifts make for good kindling.

6th - Sixth - Candy/Iron
This is the all-important Flintstones Vitamin anniversary.

7th - Seventh - Wool/Copper
Wool is a great insulator. Copper has powerful conductive properties. Both come in handy, as this year is going to be a cold one.

8th - Eighth - Bronze/Pottery
Bronze and ceramics are representative of the fact that your love life has taken on the appearance of a sculpture garden.

9th - Ninth - Pottery/Willow
Recycle the ceramic gift you bought last year, or get something made of willow, the most emotionally distraught and tormented of trees.

10th - Tenth - Tin/Aluminum
Canned goods contribute nicely to the "fallout shelter" cast your relationship has taken on.

11th - Eleventh - Steel
You live in a cage. Celebrate!

12th - Twelfth - Silk/Linen
The Mongols wore their silk underclothes until they literally rotted off their bodies. That was on or about year twelve.

13th - Thirteenth - Lace
Your marriage is beginning to feel like your grandmother's house. Therefore doilies -- not lingerie -- would make the most appropriate gift for this doomed year.

14th - Fourteenth - Ivory
With longevity like this, you are part of a legitimately endangered species. Murder an elephant.

15th - Fifteenth - Crystal
Fifteen years in, it's not Swarovski you're shopping for. Tweaker.

20th - Twentieth - China
Apparently at this point, anniversaries are only celebrated every five years. Also, apparently you've finally been together long enough to sit down to a meal in your formal dining room. And microwaveable plastic plates would just seem gauche in there.

25th - Twenty-Fifth - Silver
Time to plug the parking meter of connubial bliss! Although the true progenitor of this gift-giving tradition is that photo of a dead Abraham Lincoln with two coins over his eyes. I might have seen that in a scary movie as part of a dream sequence. But apparently, so has everyone else.

30th - Thirtieth - Pearl
Pearls are very rare. You get the analogy. They are also found in seafood. For some reason.

35th - Thirty-Fifth - Coral
This is the year your spouse buys you a scuba-diving vacation in shark-infested waters. As a means of recapturing "the spark."

40th - Fortieth - Ruby
I'm pretty sure this is just a marketing idea from the Wizard of Oz franchise.

45th - Forty-Fifth - Sapphire
By necessity these days, you drink a lot of gin. Now everyone can buy it for you. In quantity.

50th - Fiftieth - Gold
Only Jews manage to stay together this long.

55th - Fifty-fifth - Emerald
Another ingenious ploy of the Wizard of Oz people, all the more appropriate as this anniversary is as rarely arrived at (and as fictitious) as that storied green city. Your eyes are so milk-colored and cloudy with age, you wouldn't know if you were getting a gemstone or a Skittle anyway.

60th - Sixtieth - Diamond
By the time you make it to this fabled milestone, one of your mothers is probably dead. That's when the woman in the couple gets the heirloom wedding ring. And victory.

Performance Puke

I went to Baseline Project at Hangar 1018 on Friday night, a night of comedy, music and art things. Ryan, who was promoting the event, asked me to come and take pictures. I guess that's what I'm good for. I was tired and didn't really want to go out, and nearly everyone I know seemed to have something else going on, so I couldn't secure a friend to stick in the comfortable "in tow" position. Even Kevin, who said he was going to meet me there, apparently fell asleep instead. The result was that I felt a little awkward. Even when I was talking with people I know.

Alex Ebert from Ima Robot was supposed to do an art installation. When I asked Ryan where it was, she said he was still setting it up. And that he was puking on the floor. Later, when I was trying to decide whether to leave, I wandered over to the installation and saw people standing with surgical masks on (not always covering their mouths and noses, but on and visible) in front of a brightly lit light-box with an applause sign and a video camera above it. There was something wet and particulate-rich on the floor. Puke I assume. I saw Alex walking around. He was dolled up in a white sequined blouse of sorts and white pants and white ahtletic shoes that weren't fully on his feet. He was wearing a great deal of pretty pretty make-up. And he was taller than I expected. The following night, standing backstage at the UCB, a fellow named Andrew who remembered me from having seen me at Baseline, talked to me about Alex Ebert's installation, saying that he spent a good part of the evening trying to puke. As part of a performance piece, I guess. I'm not really strict about art and what qualifies as it, but that sounds a bit like phoning it in idea-wise. The Ima Robot web site doesn't work for me on any of my Mac browsers. Photos don't want to launch. It's a shame. But Beulah and I could listen to Let's Talk Turkey a thousand times in a row and still reach for the button on whatever device it's playing that makes it play again.

I took 300 photos. I never aim for round numbers. That's just how many were on my camera when I got home. I haven't sorted through them yet. Many of them will be blurry and unintelligible. And the vast majority of them will not have me in them. That's usually a reflection of how comfortable I feel when I'm out in the world. If I'm with the right friends, taking picture of myself and of myself with my friends provides me with endless entertainment. Other times, taking pictures of myself makes me feel like a weirdo, and I know everyone in the world is looking at me with unfriendly, judging eyes. Anyway, I will post the pictures shortly.

For a roll of the credits, this is what the flyer said:

Comedic Performances By:
- jonah ray
- kristen herman
- jarrett grode (undeclared)
- morgan murphy (late night with jimmy kimmel)
- brendon small (adult swim's home movies and dethclock)
- zach galifianakis (late world with zach)

Musical Performances By:
- appogee
- elephonic
- ringer
- peachcake
- test shot starfish
- little plastic pilots

Featured Artists:
- patrick haemmerlein
- val nunez
- kio griffith
- doug kim
- alina

Live Painting By:
- steven lopez
- tazrock

Installations By:
- alex ebert (ima robot)
- kenneth fenstein (parsons, SVA, University of Wallis Leuk-stadt, Switzerland)

Video Art:
- d-fuse (
- takagi masakatsu (
- hi-res (
- test shot starfish (

Film & Music Video Screenings:
- the directors bureau
- partizan
- palm pictures
- onedotzero

DJs: ian r., nosna, surprise special guest