Secret Pop

Mar 31, 2006

I've been saying "ish" for years.

If anyone ever accuses me of soaring on David Spade's coattails, let the record reflect that no such flight was ever taken. The chicken. The egg. In this analogy, I think I am both of them.

Mar 29, 2006

The Word

I love that Stephen Colbert is steadfastly etching "jizz" into the censor-sanctioned lexicon of late-night cable programming. It's about time.

Even if you have joined a religion that doesn't agree with podcasting

I hope that will not deter you from listening to The Ricky Gervais Show. You can get it at the iTunes Music Store or at Or you can just sit there and wonder how long it would take you to die if you immersed yourself in organic ketchup, nose, mouth, and all.

Mar 26, 2006


Perhaps it's just me, but I am experiencing no enthusiasm at all about Robert Wuhl's new project on HBO. And I think the lack of looking forward to it is mostly caused by the teasers they are running in which Robert Wuhl deconstructs the show and talks about why it works. Or maybe I'm just still experiencing too much aftertaste of Arliss. HBO has money and influence and a wealth of quality programming and the resources to create even more of the same. It's a mystery.

Oh, and Dane Cook's Tourgasm promo makes him look fat. I wonder if that bothers him.

As Good As It Was

I drove to San Diego yesterday to perform in some comedy shows. I also stopped over at Sarah's for Paul's birthday party, where some fun was had. We even went to The Lamplighter because Sarah wanted me and Beulah to sing karaoke. And I ended up on the stage alone. I sang "Rosanna." Then I left. And I really think The Lamplighter is a shitty bar. I always have. I always will.

I had to rush over to the comedy theater to play the late show and our monthly midnight show, in which I am allowed to say words more representative of the words that actually come out of my mouth when talking than one might be able to tell from watching the regular PG-13 show. The midnight show is a fun excursion. We don't do the short-form games of which I grow so bored. We do long-formy stuff, and we get to be more creative with edits. And none of this is entertaining to talk about. I had a fun enough time, despite some disappointments. And I drove home in the rain in the wee hours, listening to a very old playlist on my iPod that sent me into a strange reverie. Strange and painless. I was almost trying to force myself to feel nostalgic and wistful. It's like I miss all that heartache. Like I don't know how to want things in the absence of being denied them. This all ended in getting into bed at the hateful hour of five a.m., where I was neither sad nor happy and where I was so tired I couldn't sleep. So I read a Star Trek novel for a while and then forced myself to turn off the light and be quiet and still.

Who cares.

Now, I'm working again. And As Good As It Gets is on the television, and Audrey is my little Verdell, and I can't believe Helen Hunt won an Oscar for this movie. The movie itself is still reasonably enjoyable to watch, but Helen Hunt's performance didn't wow me the first time I saw it, and none of the letters in "wow" are in my feelings about her performance today. I much prefer her in that educational film where she takes PCP and jumps out a window.

Mar 24, 2006

John Cleese was not wearing socks.

I don't know why I notice these things. But I do. He was wearing a nice enough pair of tan loafers, but that bare ankle skin kept glinting at me from between the hem of his jeans and the top of the shoe. I remember noticing his upturned polo collars in that show about the human face. I wonder why I feel so compelled to be critical of John Cleese's fashion choices. Why should I criticize him? I adore him.

I took Martín to see John Cleese's one-man show at Cal State Long Beach tonight. I don't wish to write a review. But I will note that I clapped my hands together when learning that he shares my love for Phil Silvers. I wrote down the joke about Norwegians. And I remember going to see Fierce Creatures in the theater the weekend that it came out. I also went to see the re-release of Star Wars. It was possible to do both, for the record.

I haven't been to Long Beach much. Only to visit Martín back when he lived there. To pick him up on the way to Disneyland or to stop off and have a meal with him when I had a lot on my mind and a long drive ahead. He wasn't terribly nostalgic about visiting his alma mater (which it is). I am always interested to see how much less susceptible to fits of grotesque sentiment others are than I. How freeing that must be.

I hate how much work I still have to do.

Mar 21, 2006

I was hoping for Kermit.

You Are Scooter

Brainy and knowledgable, you are the perfect sidekick.

You're always willing to lend a helping hand.

In any big event or party, you're the one who keeps things going.

"15 seconds to showtime!"

Deprivation Addiction

Do I really like Guster as much as I think I do, or am I just upset that I waited until today to check their web site and learn that they're playing tomorrow night in San Diego and the following two nights here in Los Angeles? I think I really like them that much. But that the romantic loss is heightened by the almost of it. I don't think I could make it to the San Diego show tomorrow night. And the Roxy shows are both sold out. And if I hadn't gone to their web site today, I would just keep listening to them occasionally on my iPod and not give it another thought. Why get yourself all worked up, Mary? Oh, it's just like everything else. They say that silver medalists are more prone to depression than bronze medalists. I guess the bronzies are just happy they got anything. And the silvers will only ever feel they got awfully close but failed. I guess that's why I don't play any competitive sports.

How many times can you rediscover Pearl Jam?

I'm so immersed in comedy these days, I feel occasionally tugged to return to my previous passions. I once had a reputation for having awesome taste in music and for knowing about bands no one else knew about. That is a difficult reputation to carry or to sustain. At least for me. I'm too keen to be expert in all the categories. Ask me about books! Ask me about gastronomy! Ask me about the ancient art of warfare! Don't bother to ask me about celebrities and stuff, though. I just get my information from Defamer and The Superficial just like you do. I used to see a lot of live music. Now, I see a lot of live comedy. I don't necessarily not want to be able to do both. I feel the onslaught of metanoia. At least a temporary brand of it.

So last summer, Brad introduced to me this awesome and ingenious thing that was then called Music Plasma. It's basically just a relational database, but it creates a visual map of your preferences and uses them to suggest other things you are likely to enjoy. It is now called liveplasma, and it now includes movie preferences, too. You can easily waste three days building your preference map, and why shouldn't you? With this and out there, you'll never have to listen to a song you actually directly like again! And I used to let and my Real One Player tell me what I might like. The very idea.

Mar 17, 2006

I'm glad Jay won.

I just watched a fat guy stumble off stage like he had the vapors on Project Runway. It's a rerun. But still.

I had never watched Project Runway before yesterday. Now I have watched all of it, it seems.

Mar 16, 2006

This is what diaries are like when kept by dying wretches on desert islands.

I drove past that accident in Culver City. Saw a body under a tarp.

I worked a 21 hour day.

I can barely stand up.

The concept of "bonus" is sacred.

Therefore selling a Rascal-like motorized chair and then offering a free "bonus" of a grabber (like the kind the community service servers use to pick up trash on the side of the road), which you can use to reach a box of high-fiber cereal on a shelf well out of reach of your unextended human arm when seated and let's face it disabled, if you order now with this exclusive television offer seems disingenuous and erodes the value of the word.

Mar 15, 2006

The Power of One Eye

My dad's vision is getting better. Prednisone is working on his condition, which was confirmed to be ocular myasthenia after months of Kaiser not scheduling him to see the various physicians he needed to see. I know people say socialized medicine doesn't work. But other than having a staff physician living on site at your family's compound, what does? I was furious every time I learned that my dad was being made to wait months at a time to see someone when one of his eyes wouldn't focus and eventually the other eye's lid began spontaneously shutting. Apparently, things are going so well that he doesn't even have to wear the eye patch anymore. Yeh um wo ha me. That's my homage to little P.K. The Power of One was on while I was getting dressed this morning, and that movie makes me think of my dad and the day we watched it in the living room of the house on Freeport Road while I baked homemade bread from a Paul Prudhomme recipe. I don't think he liked the bread I made, but he liked the movie plenty. And later that night we went to a show that I was playing violin in. I don't remember which one. Probably Crazy for You or The Fiddler on the Roof.

I should note that extended use of prednisone can have unpleasant adverse effects. The two conditions I will never forget the names of since hearing them relayed by a co-worker many years ago are Moon Face and Buffalo Hump. They are real medical conditions, and they are exactly what they sound like. Sometimes I think all maladies should be named in this fashion. Except when I have one of them, in which case the conditions should be named in unintelligible Greek and Latin terms or after flowers.

I've had to work the night through several times this week. So I'm allowing myself a later start than usual. Walking Audrey so close to noon is extra nice. It's gorgeous sunny out. A breeze that smells like the right time of year. Memories of cell phone pictures and unclaimed time stretching out ahead and not minding the sun in my eyes or the smell of the outdoors in my hair. It wasn't so long ago, but it feels so far away that I can't believe it ever happened. Only the pictures prove any of it. And these days, I've been taking so few pictures that there is no promise of future proof. I lack inspiration. And I am brutally aware of it.

Mar 10, 2006

Unacceptable! (Mea culpa.)
It's not that I haven't had anything to say.
I did not watch even a second of the Oscars. I regret this in a way, as it is usually a fertile field for my exclamations and complaints. I did watch Jon Stewart the next time he was on his show, and he said words that sounded flip, but he seemed cranky about the fickle reviews he received. I guess he is allowed that. But it mars the image that I think previously made him so appealing: that of a very smart dude who can civilly commune with opposing intellects while keeping his justifiably smug superiority a complete secret. In the past few weeks, it's Stephen Colbert who has most thrilled and charmed me. I think the smugness suits him. The irony is subtle enough to be lost. And his delivery has gotten to be leagues better. Although that remote about the women's prison in Shakopee that Dan Bakkedahl did this week is among my favorites.
I was in San Diego over the weekend. That's part of the problem. I did a couple of shows at the comedy theater. Got to play Five Things both times. And then afterwards, I went and met John Meeks at Nunu's only minutes before last call. Then he and I sat and drank whiskey in my car with the iPod playing and me eventually singing along like the dorkiest nitwit ever until my battery died. I had to call a tow truck and everything. When my mom called at 6 a.m., I felt guilty. And when I got into bed at 7:30, I felt guilty and terrified of having to be up in only a few hours and still pretty drunk. But I was able to get up in time to get my errands done and to celebrate my mom's birthday (which was on Monday) with the rest of the family at Jasmine. For dessert, we were served those peach-shaped buns with the sweet bean inside. Somehow, and at the urging of one or both of my sisters, I ended up doing something to that bun with my tongue that fetched the interest of a host at the restaurant, who knows me and Sarah from the days long ago when we used to go to Jasmine for dim sum at least once weekly. He looked over Beulah's shoulder as she reviewed the pictures she was taking and said, "I want to see those pictures." Randy. I got very red in the face and wanted to leave immediately.
I drove back to L.A., having not watched the Oscars, and was mortified to hear Steve-O hosting Loveline with Dr. Drew. Good god. Not only can I not stand his bong-soaked voice with the audible fluttering tendrils of mucus in his throat, but he NEVER SHUTS UP. A girl called in to talk about her heroin addiction and how she is living in a tent, and he interrupted her at every chance, plugging his web site, inviting her to log on to his message boards and receive encouragement from him. I guess her tent is in an area with good wireless signal. And he interrupted Dr. Drew incessantly, too. And never for any amusing or informative reason. It was the worst. Really. Intolerable. I had to turn it off.
And since I have returned, I have had so much work to do and so little time to do it in that I've barely bothered to make notes about the things I wanted to write about later.
Wednesday night, Jeff came over and broke my PlayStation 2. But we fixed it. Like screwdriver-wielding surgeons. I wonder if surgeons save people's lives by just sticking their fingers in wherever they can and jiggling things around.
And I reconnected with an old friend from college this week and have been pitched into that dizzying pace of email exchange that leaves little time for public speaking. Whenever I am immersed in a scintillating exchange, I channel all the good stuff into that private dialogue and my public performance suffers. One day, I will learn to balance this.
I can't remember a single other thing.

Mar 2, 2006

Economy of Language

I've noticed something about President Bush's syntax. Beyond the peppering of malaprops and the frequent use of incorrect grammar. There is this thing. This thing he does. This thing he does where he states something. This thing he does where he states something and then states it again, adding on a phrase at a time, until you've heard the first part of the sentence twelve times over. Perhaps you've heard it. I heard him speaking in a clip on the news and he said something similar to this, which I place in quotations to indicate that he is the one speaking, but I disclaim by offering that I can't guarantee these were his exact words. Truthfully, I don't even know if he was talking about Istanbul. "This trip to Istanbul. This trip to Istanbul is an important trip. It's an important trip because it is the beginning of a critical relationship. The relationship that is beginning is critical."

I only point this out because it reminds me of my grade school days when assignments were given with a word count or a page length, and we would struggle to fill our paragraphs with empty phrases to meet the minimum requirements. Well, most of us would struggle. I freely admit that most of the time, I had to pare down in rewrites. But no one is saying that's better.

I'm just surprised and dismayed to see so much of the rest of the listening world not mind the vacancy of the rhetoric we are offered. I have been surprised all along to see journalists and pundits sort of shrug and compliment Bush's addresses, in their own way saying, "Cut the guy some slack. Atleast he got through it." But what promise does that hold for future occupants of the office oval? I suspect that, for at least the very next guy, the audience will expect so little that a gifted and effective speaker will be maligned in the press as a show-off and a know-it-all, while a clumsy one will be accused of biting Bush's style. I didn't know it then, but it has been proven over and over since the election of 2000 that you just can't win. "You" being me or anyone who wants what I want.

And a partridge in a pear tree.