Secret Pop

Nov 28, 2005

Shark Reef

Nov 26, 2005

"It's your human body!"

My mother always knows just what to say.

Nov 25, 2005

Thank Tank

It was a lovely dinner and a fine day. We watched movies and drank wine and drank bourbon and drank more wine and then dozed on the couch. And it was all very nice. My mother made the finest turkey you have ever seen. And I felt loutish for sitting still and watching her make it. I had Thanksgiving dinner at my home a few years ago. And back when my parents lived in Italy, I used to prepare Thanksgiving on my own nearly every year. I enjoyed it and hated it equally. I think the cleaning up was what I loathed. Especially when I was doing it on my own at 10 P.M. and everyone else was napping elsewhere. My mother managed to have everything cleaned up and leftovers in containers well before sundown, however. She is a miracle.

My mother found a method on the radio that seems to be working wonders in quelling Audrey's vicious outbursts. It involves putting twenty pennies in an empty soda pop can and taping the opening closed and then shaking that can whenever the doggie erupts into her barking cacophony. Amazingly, in just one day, Audrey is not barking at everyone who approaches me. Nor is she any longer puncturing parts of my family's hands and feet with sudden toothy lunges. My mother was ecstatic. She said, "I can't believe it. What good advice. It makes me think it's worth it to buy the radio." I love that. That is exactly how my mother's science works, and I love it.

We watched After the Fox, and Beulah and I probably annoyed everyone by saying every important line along in unison. Perhaps I should mount a stage production of that film with a Greek chorus made up of me and Beulah.

After people went home, my dad and I watched Farewell, My Concubine. It is one of his favorite movies. His favorite movies often seem to be epic Chinese tragedies. And I only think that is partly a ploy to charm my mother. He really gets down with the dark shit. I admire that about him. He is half slapstick and half Brecht. And he can watch movies that don't have a word of English in them and still enjoy them. Even when there aren't any subtitles. When we lived in Japan, he looked forward to the New Year's twenty-four-hour broadcast of samurai movies. We recorded them one year. Tape after tape after tape. And there wasn't any translation, nor were there subtitles. But he loved to watch those movies. And I love things that bring pleasure to those I love. It makes things easy for me.

My father has a problem with his eye. For the past few weeks, he has been wearing a black eye patch a la buccaneer. He was experiencing double vision and was only able to see clearly -- albeit without proper depth -- when he covered his left eye. We did not know what could cause such a thing. I shuddered when our amateur diagnostics turned up words like "stroke." But it doesn't appear to have been a stroke. They think it is ocular myasthenia. Not that autoimmune diseases are anything to feel particularly relieved about. The patch doesn't seem to be hindering him much. I sang in church last weekend, and it made my dad cry. Eye patch and all. And then a little old lady came up to me after the service to thank me for singing and she mentioned that she had told my dad the patch was sexy. Her words.

I felt good and tipsy by evening, this Thanksgiving. Beulah and I had just gotten back from a luxurious visit to Las Vegas where I never got a buzz on once. (A tragedy for me.) Nor did I do nearly as well in my gambling pursuits as I did the last time I visited. Nor did I have much in the way of cash to play with. There's always next time, I suppose.

We were about to go around the table and say something we were thankful for. My mother started by saying she was thankful for my dad. Everyone acted as if she was being sarcastic. And then somehow we got sidetracked. Because we never resumed the recitations. I don't even know what I would have said, had it ever come to my turn. This year has been extraordinarily challenging and disappointing for me. So much so that it's difficult to even rely on old adages about looking forward. Year after year, I keep finding myself wishing I had just not bothered. But I can find things to be thankful for if I just narrow the spread of my vision a little. It wasn't the best year ever. But there were nice things. New friends I adore. A lovely little dog who might not bite my friends anymore. Parties I will remember with great fondness. Performances I don't hate. My super family. And I am thankful for how good things are in the lives of others I love. And I am thankful that there is a James Bond marathon on. It's the little things in the end.

Nov 24, 2005

One day a year, wearing brown isn't just for the Gestapo.

reprinted from an actual e-mail

I don't know why everyone tries to wear brown on Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims didn't wear brown. I'm pretty sure they wore black. With white collars. And large hats. And great buckles on their shoes. Whereas the Indians sort of wore brown, but only if you consider their skin an outfit.

For much of my judgmental adolescence, I felt that brown had gone out of fashion after the original airings of The Brady Bunch. Wearing a pair of brown slacks and an autumn-hued blouse made one look -- to me -- like a Burger King employee.

My dad used to wear brown slacks pretty frequently. And often with a green shirt. We used to say he dressed like a tree. But even that isn't really appropriate for Thanksgiving, when apparently we are expected to dress as if everything in us is dead. Or at least parched. Green just won't do. Unless perhaps it's meant to be the color of an infection.

I once had a pair of brown corduroy Dittos. They were extraordinarily tight.

I never really liked wearing brown. And then somewhere along the way, I decided I liked brown again. And orange, too. Orange quite a bit as a matter of fact. So I no longer dread getting dressed for Thanksgiving. But I still don't understand why it makes any difference. Even if we were trying to celebrate by looking like the early American settlers, we'd probably have to work in more of a malnourished cast. Maybe manicures that look like frostbite. And what about me personally? There were no Chinamen at the first Thanksgiving. Brown outfits or no.

I'm going to wear a dress that's brown and pink for Thanksgiving. It's more of an ice cream theme than a harvest one. But I just want you to know that I wouldn't give you a hard time if you came to Thanksgiving dinner in whatever color you like. Last year I wore black and green. And three years in a row before that, I wore all black. Anyway, why do you care so much what I wear?

Maybe you haven't guessed this yet, but this is my annual Thanksgiving message. It's not that I don't want to take the time to write an ACTUAL Thanksgiving message this year. It's just that I used up much of my well-wishing in years past, (see for yourself) and I don't want to bore you.

So in the interest of non-redundant sincerity, I'll just wish you all the things that I wish Thanksgiving could be for me, despite the reality of what it is going to be for us both. I hope your Thanksgiving is not overcomplicated by frustrations with your wardrobe. I hope that you do not find yourself traveling to a faraway place only to learn that you forgot to pack something you need for what you were planning to wear. I hope that you don't think about carbohydrate content at all. I hope that you don't feel guilty that your mother is doing all the work. I hope you don't feel secretly sorry that you can't just have your Thanksgiving in Los Angeles for Pete's sake. I hope that you're not saddled with deadlines all weekend. And I hope that you remember not to take too many leftovers home with you. Turkey goes south fast, and if you don't eat it right away, you'll never believe how awful your refrigerator will smell. Of course, I would rather have prime rib, but Thanksgiving isn't a time for selfish demands. Unless you're one of the people in the family who insists that we have to have turkey every year.

Lastly, I hope that you will forgive me if I have been anything less than a jim dandy friend to you this year. And I hope that you won't gnash your teeth when it appears that this mass e-mail is intended to somehow smooth over my lengthy bouts of incommunicado. I am thankful for you. And if you are at all thankful for me and the verbose e-mails you periodically get from me, then turkeys the world over will go to their deaths with pride, knowing their expiration will not have been in vain.

I apologize for the length of this message.

Mary Forrest, thankful as the day is long

Nov 23, 2005


I enjoy the accidental pressure of a mouth that is telling a secret.

There was a haze to the right shaped like my memory of Two Lovers' Leap.

Sometimes it seems like the roads never change. Every trip is the same.

I'm living my life in circles.

Everything has gone flat.

What am I waiting for?

(absence of poetry)

Highs that seem common

Lows that lack poignance

No wonder I can't find poetry in my circumstances

Nov 15, 2005

Item 2: Rosy Cheeks. Obviously.

I've been working for twenty hours straight now. Well, I took a 45-minute nap at 3 A.M., but I've been going the rest of the time. So it's no surprise that I just hit my head on the door of my freezer so hard that my jaw was rattled by it. Nor will it be surprising tomorrow, when I can't remember or figure out why there is a sore spot on the top of my head. I am a disaster.

I gave up on televised happenstance at about 5 A.M., and I finally put some of my DVDs to use. A Guide for the Married Man. Tommy Boy (the Holy Schnike Edition). Mary Poppins (the 40th Anniversary Edition). And then I watched something else I can't remember. And then it was time for the Star Trek rounds. Pretty soon, the James Bond marathons will be running their circuit. I don't like being reminded how many hours on end I spend at my computer with my television chattering in the background, but then, I can't get enough of James Bond.

If only I could be sleeping right now. What wonders that might do for my occasionally cheery disposition. It's so easy to forget myself otherwise.

And now my finger hurts. The finger I cut like a sandwich a month or two ago. Maybe it's going to rain.

So you think you can love me and leave me to die.

It's midnight and there is a fog on my street that makes it look like my imagined version of Merry Old England. I've been working from the moment I woke up. I haven't even had time to have a shower. Or to go running as I'd planned. I took a short break to make some chicken curry and some peas. And then I got back to work. And I ignored the phone calls from Jessie that would have told me she was coming over to check on me because she was worried about me. Lord love her for caring enough about me to not allow me to self-destruct the way I am prone to. She knocked on my door, and I momentarily considered not answering it. But that's only because I didn't know it was her and didn't fancy a visit from the creepy guy across the street who intends to marry me despite the fact that he will have to kill me first. Fortunately, I took a chance and opened the door, and Jessie came in and sat with me for a while, and listened to me talk (and cry just a little bit) and blow things out of proportion and trivialize them in the same breath. And never once did she let on that she is tired of me or my mountain range of bullshit. And then I heated up a bite-size portion of chicken curry and rice for her, and she said "yum."

So Jessie just left, and I took Audrey out for a walk, and that's when I noticed the fog. It's nearly white outside. And bright. It's the middle of the night, but it looks like early morning. It looks like daytime. Everything is wrong about it.

Yesterday, Sarah and Paul took me to see Robert Wells at the Civic Theatre in San Diego. I would have stayed in San Diego a smidge longer, but I had so much work to do, and switching computers has left me occasionally up the storied waters of Shit Creek. I end up far from home realizing I don't have the software I need or the files I thought were on the hard drive. Without fail. It's hard to plan for things. It's hard to pack for trips. It's hard to be prepared for everything that happens. I, for one, nearly never feel prepared, though I'm certain I give the impression that I've always got it together. And I certainly carry most of the right things in my handbag. But to be truthful, much of the time -- most of the time -- I am at a loss. I feel out of place and uncertain. Nervous, awkward. When Martín and I were at Disneyland last week, I heard it in my voice. The sound of that silly little girl in my voice. The one with nerves all a-jangle. Maybe I don't let my voice take on that cast as often anymore. Maybe it's because I am so seldom in the comfortable bosom of enduring friendship. Instead, I'm so often playing at being this version of me that even I've gotten used to. And I detest playing the role so much that I think I've shut down. And maybe that's why I never want to answer my phone anymore. Maybe that's why I don't know what to say.

In addition to a fine rendition of the beloved Bohemian Rhapsody, the musicians at the Robert Wells concert (who included Ruben Studdard, and he didn't appear to have lost any weight, but he sang like an angel -- a big fat angel) also came out for an encore that was a medley of ABBA hits. Of course, I sang along. The man to my left was wearing a tuxedo. He did not sing along. And he also did not seem to be able to remember to clap on the twos and fours.

I worked all day, through episode after episode of Little House on the Prairie and then Star Treks Deep Space Nine and The Next Generation. They were all episodes I remembered. Even the Little House ones. And I haven't watched that show since childhood. It was the two episodes with Jason Bateman when he and his sister lose their parents and then end up being adopted by the Ingalls family after being temporarily adopted by a really mean family and then by a bear trap. Deep Space Nine is in the season seven portion of its rotation. One of the episodes today was the one where Sobor is disgusted by Kai Winn's carrying on with Anjohl (who is actually Dukat in disguise). Kai Winn sends him away one morning, and he asks what she will be doing, and she says something that isn't "making out with Anjohl," and then Anjohl comes in, ever the lothario, and Sobor says wryly, "I see." I remember how much it made me laugh when I first saw this episode back in its original airing. I laughed again today. And then I thought (wryly) how disappointing it is to have to find all of my pleasure in the memory of it. Among the three Next Generation episodes today was The Inner Light, one of my favorites and the origin of that pretty pretty flute melody that I used to listen to on this CD when I worked at Protein Polymer Technologies. I listened to it over and over. Mostly to that flute theme and then to the music from The Trouble with Tribbles. The days seemed endless back then. I listened to this CD a lot during those days, too. So pretty. All those variations on La Folia. Something I like to play on my violin a lot. I played one of Corelli's variations at the Governor's Mansion in Guam. Later, that governor killed himself. Like a few years later. Not "later that night." I don't think it was my fault, but you never know. Everything seems to find its way back to everything else. At one point I eventually started listening to this CD. Which serves to remind me that there was once a time when I only had a CD player that could play a single disc at a time. And now I have in iPod. And my control of the music I listen to is much more masterful, but all the music I listen to still seems to mean the same thing it used to.

And yet it doesn't. Driving home from San Diego, I played songs that mean certain things to me. Songs that have meant 2002 or that trip to San Francisco or updating my web site in the winter. And I could barely pay attention to them long enough to remember how they used to make me feel. I remember what they used to remind me of. I remember being made to feel things by listening to them. But now, for some reason...well, it all just seems blank now. I seem to have cauterized all of my nerve-endings. I just can't feel a thing.

Cold and hot. Something tingly? Everything is...strange. My measurement devices don't seem to work. I'm even tired of taking pictures.

Nothing really matters. Nothing really matters to me.

Nov 12, 2005


"It's taken me a long time to understand how you use the word 'lame.' This book is lame."

- Samuel Forrest to Beulah Forrest, 2005

Nov 4, 2005

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds

When I was in high school in Japan, there were two girls who became inseparable best friends. Jo Ann and Natalie. They were a year behind me. I knew both of their sisters better than I knew them. They were pretty and popular and all the boys wished they could get as close to either of them as they were to each other. I envied them.

I remember towards the end of my junior year, Natalie was moving with her family. Back to the States I think (that's what you call America when you are in a military family overseas). They were in drama together. Either in a class or in the extracurricular activity. I can't remember. They were performing Paul Zindel's play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. I don't know if it was the whole play or just a scene from it. I assume they were playing Ruth and Matilda, but I never saw the performance. What I remember is hearing that they had a very emotional scene together and the reality of Natalie moving away and of this being their last performance together and perhaps one of the last times they would spend together reduced them both to very real tears on the stage, and everyone in the place was moved.

Krissy and Dorian are moving away next week. I am going to perform with them on Saturday night at the comedy theater. It will be their last show in San Diego and our last show together for what will certainly be a long time if not the longest of times. I've thought about this story of Jo Ann and Natalie a lot recently, wondering if I will find myself in a scene with Krissy and just not be able to handle it. Of course, doing improv is hardly the same as a play about adolescent angst. I'm less likely to have an emotional breakdown in a game of Forward Reverse. But still. I haven't been able to think of much else for the past few weeks. I don't know what it will be like. It isn't the same as when you live on separate continents. I said a great many of those sorts of goodbyes growing up. Everyone was always leaving. Someone was always moving away. And someone was always showing up in their place. And very few people kept in touch. We'll be better about that. We'll call and write. We'll instant message and e-mail. We will do better. But we won't be able to do many of the things we used to. And we won't be able to do anything at the drop of a hat. Anyway who wears hats anymore.

Gotta Get Up and Be Somebody

I went for a run this morning. I did some editing work. I met my friend Michael for lunch. I did not get a parking ticket. I dropped off some film. It hasn't been a bad day. But it hasn't felt like anything at all.

Titanic is on the television. It's been on a lot recently. Someone's residuals checks will get a nice bump this season. I remember going to watch this movie in the theater and crying like a total wiener. I took the day off work to see the movie, and then I went shopping at Tower Records and bought things I didn't need. And when I got home, Beulah was making fried chicken, and the whole place smelled like it. I went upstairs and took a nap and dreamed about Titanic and knew my eyes would be puffy on waking after all the crying I'd done. What a ninny I was. So crippled by delusions of romance. So jelly-like inside. So manipulable. I can understand being sad about all those people dying. It's awful awful awful. Especially because it's true. But it's still such a clunky movie. Heavyhanded and obvious. All that treacle and vinegar. Subtlety is a lost art, isn't it? People don't seem to like things unless they're easy. Especially people who think looking for fifteen minutes at one of those Magic Eye posters is a sign of deep intellectual exertion. Of course, those Magic Eye posters have gone away, too. Too many brain injuries, I'm sure.

Anyway, I have wasted a lot of time feeling bad about all the time I've wasted. I've wasted a lot of time feeling bad about a lot of things. I don't know how one gets wired that way. Damned Chinese ciruitry.

Love Dot Com-Style

I hate it when an old guy describes himself as "playful."

Nov 3, 2005

I went to a Halloween party.

I (largely) recycled a previous costume. I took hundreds of pictures. See? Well, only the first 320 are from the Halloween party. But if you get through all of those, you deserve to see the rest of them. Or not to. Whichever you prefer. There is a picture of a guy turning his nutsack into a pair of wings. Congratulations!