Secret Pop

Apr 29, 2006

Finger Foods

I accompanied Kevin to a screening of two shorts being hosted by the company he is about to begin working for. One was an animated Indiana Jones-y thing that was very cute and had no dialogue at all. The other was Most, a lovely and sad little film, mainly in Czech, written by two guys, one of whose names was immediately familiar to me. I told Kevin he's the guy who played Johnny Lawrence in The Karate Kid, the mean blond boy and star pupil of the Cobra Kai dojo. I don't think Kevin believed me. But it turns out I was right.

After the screening and a small reception, we went to the Cat and Fiddle where Jeff met up with us, and we gabbed and drank and avoided befriendment from the guy to our left who obviously wished his companion had as much to say about Star Trek and bathroom etiquette as we did. To be fair to Jeff, Kevin and I were the only ones talking about Star Trek. But we are defined by the company we keep.

I've had difficulty getting past the gloom. Seeing sad movies sometimes makes me think that it is necessary and appropriate. That things aren't as beautiful when they are perfect and pretty. I am more likely to take a picture of something broken or smashed or chipped than of something brand new and untouched. I like the desolation of abandoned buildings. I like to picture how things used to be or how they might have been.

My body is sore from many gymnasium visits. My teeth are tired from gritting. I think working in an office promotes nostalgic episodes in me, because I am more inclined to listen to music and be reminded of things. And yet, there is nearly no sensory input that doesn't have the potential to send me off into a reverie. I am so busy remembering I wonder if I'm ever really here.

Apr 28, 2006

Instant Rebus

My friend Adam has only recently begun allowing me IM access to his attention. He uses Trillian. I use Adium. And apparently Trillian has a function that turns certain words in parentheses into icons. This is annoying and weird. And useless when you consider that people not using Trillian will only see the word in parentheses and not the picture. In addition, what if you just want to type a noun in parentheses? Maybe you won't want it to suddenly turn into a picture. I take this same issue with IM clients (including Adium) that interpret certain sequences of punctuation to be emoticons. You can type http://, but if you type ftp://, part of that becomes an emoticon. The middle part. And it's the face that looks sort of nonplussed. The half-frownie. And there's nothing you can do to keep it from doing that. Even though ftp is a commonly known and used protocol and URLs can begin with those characters any old time. But this is a secondary gripe.

A gently edited version of an IM exchange between me and Adam follows. The editing was done to remove extraneous conversation parts and to make me and Adam both look like excellent spellers and typists. To put it in context, I was reassuring Adam that, though I nearly refuse to ever type "LOL," I still find his witty messages amusing and clever. I also nearly refuse to ever use emoticons or to abbreviate. I am an IM and text message snob.

adam: (toast)
adam: God, Trillian is weird.
me: I don't use Trillian.
adam: What do you see in the line directly above the phrase, "God, Trillian is weird?"
me: (toast)
adam: Wait, do you see parentheses with the word "toast" inside it, or do you see a picture of toast?
me: Parentheses and the word "toast." Does Trillian replace the word "toast" with an icon of toast? How lame.
adam: They have millions of these.
me: Well, I am seeing text. And I prefer it that way.
adam: (book)
adam: (sushi)
adam: (candycane)
adam: (dice)
adam: (duck)
adam: why would you need these?
me: (intestine)
me: (taun taun)
me: (spigot)
me: (funicular)
me: (glowworm)
me: (spaghetti phone)
me: (mitochondria)
adam: (xmas)
adam: (audiocd)
adam: All mine are real.
me: Oh, listen to you. Yours are REAL. I don't have that function. I'm testing it for you.
adam: I just wanted you to know that I was still picking the ones Trillian put in the system and not making them up.
me: I figured as much. I was trying at being funny and showing off my vocabulary. And insanity.
adam: (squirrel) not kidding
adam: (ps2)
adam: (water)
adam: (flag)
me: What a useless feature.
adam: i hate it.
adam: (book)(toilet)(eye)(food2)(food)(write)(dice)
me: I'm just trying to imagine the pictogram sentence that would make. If it were a rebus.
me: "Bookcommode I munch munch letter craps." Whatever could it mean?
adam: (cheese)
adam: (error)
adam: (frog)
adam: (ket) (pc) (flag) (info) (file) (write) (work) (home) (globe) (robot) (bug) (octopus) (bunny) (squirrel) (turkey) (cent) (ufo) (apple) (balloon) (icecream) (soda) (fish) (webcam) (search) (key) (lock) (cheese) (wine) (wine) (hotdog) (bttf) (rb) (vc) (hourglass) (beep) (!) (talk) (n/s) (ap) (0)

And then we discussed the proper onomatopoietic representation of an archetypal porn soundtrack.


This past week, my iTunes Party Shuffle fortune has been nigh onto magic.

Apr 25, 2006

Caution: Bees!

When I was leaving work yesterday, there was caution tape cordoning off the pedestrian bridge between my office building and the parking garage. Apparently it was there because of a rash of bees that had been seen or reported. And I guess this is a fairly common occurrence at this address. To prove I really don't pay much attention to the world around me, I honestly can't tell you if the pedestrian bridge is lined with flowers or not. I think it is. But I may just be adding a fanciful skin to the monochromatic trek between parking space and cubicle. I can see rainbows in my head if I want to, too. I am very imaginative.

I was tempted to just walk under the caution tape and take the most efficient route to my car. I'm not afraid of bees. And from where I was standing, I couldn't see any bees. And I rationalize that the caution tape doesn't actually confine the bees to that space, so if there are a bunch of bloodthirsty, perhaps Africanized bees out there, they can sting me just as easily if I take the elevator down to the street and walk under the pedestrian bridge. Even moreso if I take the stairs. But I didn't want the lobby attendant to think I was being willful and obstinate, so I followed the extempore rules and secretly chided myself for having that momentary flash of panic when I first saw the caution tape and thought, "If I can't walk across that bridge, how will I get home. Or to the mall, for that matter." I wouldn't say I'm NOT strategically minded, but even I'm ashamed that my survival instincts didn't immediately remap the path across the street. It's not like I'm allergic to asphalt or anything.

Back when I was in high school and my mom didn't want to be asked to pay for my college education, she suggested that I join the Reserve Officers Training Corps. Now, that you have heard this story and can add to it the knowledge that I have never successfully done a pull-up nor scaled a wall with the aid of a rope, you will surely think me justified in having glared at her, turned away, and never revisited the topic again, except in storytelling in which the suggestion was positioned as absurd.

Photo courtesy of The Internet.

A little chin music.

Why don't I write about The Paul F. Tompkins Show as much as I used to? I'm lazy and a jerk. Those are the only acceptable explanations. But tonight, I attended the show, as I nearly always do, and I feel the (tipsy) impetus to remark on how great the show always is and how disappointed in it I never am. Maybe I write less because I've run out of synonyms for extolling Paul F. Tompkins' genius. That's just embarrassing. I own a thesaurus. Surely I can find ways to praise Paul without constantly repeating myself. Or not. If history is any witness, I've taken all manner of notes at show after show, but I've just seldom managed to retype them into a journal entry. Obviously rendering my note-taking worthless.

For the record, I have looked up the chin music issue, and it turns out that Dave "Gruber" Allen has nothing for which to answer to me. I guess "chin music" -- while it does also mean punching someone in the face or pitching a baseball a little too close to the batter's face -- made its debut in The Red Badge of Courage and meant an excess of jibber jabber. When I'm wrong, I say so. And then I move to another state and pretend we never met.

Kristin Herman is my favorite thing in the world. Samm Levine is my hero of aerial acrobatics. And AC/DC is good no matter who sings it.

Apr 21, 2006

Mutual Admiration Society

I have friends whose praises I do not sing often enough. I will try to rectify this in installments.

There is Yen. She is gifted and a genius and a soft-spoken angel with great taste in music and a fabulous sense of style. She took me and my mom to dinner in Monterey Park on Thursday night. We ordered beef tendons and goose intestines and other less gross-sounding things. I stole a menu because the pictures of things one could get were so appalling as to not be believed. She comes to my aid in a pinch. She brings sunshine with her, no matter how persistent my murk. She lives too far away from me, but that is her only flaw.

There is Jeff. He is also gifted and a genius. After having dinner and drinks at The Arsenal with Ryan and Kadie, we all went to see Drawing Restraint 9 on Friday night, because Jeff worked on it and his name is in the credits and everything. He even knows the way to the Nu-Art, which I apparently do not. Jeff is smart and subtle and supportive and generally down for the good times. He is too good at everything. It makes me ashamed to try things. That is his only flaw.

There is Jessie. My creative partner and a source of sane ballast in my often angst-ridden turbulence. Sometimes Jessie holds my hand when we walk places. I remember when I stopped letting my mother and father do that. And then when I started letting them again. Jessie has never not been allowed. Thursday night, Jessie and I almost went to a birthday party but ended up at the Coach and Horses instead. I took photographs of her on Saturday and ended up with what I feel is an excellent headshot. Then we went to Luna Park, and Jessie took pictures of me. There are so very few people in the world who I allow to see me as I really am. Whether it is a blessing or a curse to be so privileged, she is one of them. We go to the gym together a lot. And she makes fun of the faces I make when I'm on the stair-climbing machine. That is her only flaw.

The rest of you who may have hoped or expected to see a paragraph about you here, don't lose hope. I'll get to you. And you will love it when I do. I promise.

Apr 19, 2006

This it is everything perfect to my like.

Adam showed me this little film called The Forest in Winter. It is amazing and wonderful on many levels. He showed it to me on, but I will post a link to YouTube, as you may not be a premium Salon accountholder, in which case, how not the best for you.

This film has affected my syntax.

Apr 17, 2006

Fits and Starts

Make a decision. Commit to something. Exercise some discipline. Follow through for once. Remember all those times you waited? Remember where that got you? Remember all those times you gave up? Remember?

There's a line that Orson Welles says in The Lady from Shanghai. "When I start out to make a fool of myself, there's very little can stop me."

Remember when you weren't afraid to look a fool?

Apr 15, 2006

I'll admit, I make rash decisions.

Not as a rule. And not as they pertain to important matters affecting my loved ones and mankind in general. But I get all het up about things and am inspired easily. And all it takes is a little snippet of sensible-sounding rhetoric, and I get pitched into activism lickety split.

I heard Michael Pollan on NPR's Science Friday tonight, after doing some stand-up, and in the time it took me to drive home, I had already decided to try and never eat corn or its byproducts again. I'll never succeed. I won't even stick with it for very long. It's one of those battles that would require me to move to France. Which I would happily do if there weren't these ugly matters of citizenship and animal quarantine.

I've been doing a great deal of study in recent months about food and biology and epidemiology. My mother lauds my recent healthy eating. Almost enviously. Which makes no sense. She says so herself. She wants what I'm eating, but she would die without rice. It's a fact. But I don't know what's so great about eating healthfully. Just having to stop and read the labels on things is enough of a pain to make grocery shopping less of a joy. In comparison to the carefree manner in which I once restocked my pantry, it's like going off to pick wildflowers but having to stop and look each petal-laden stem up in a book of ancient runes before putting it in your basket. And I should add that once found in the book of ancient runes, the description will be dishearteningly bland. And if it isn't, you will have to put the flower back. If I can feel a mixture of excitement and relief when I read the label on a can of lentil soup and find that it was made without potatoes, I may as well go stick my head in a pig. Being careful of course not to get any of the pig in my mouth.

So, Michael Pollan was talking about his new book, and none of what he talked about is intended to inspire asceticism. It's more anthropological and agropolitical than recipe-oriented. But he is a right smart dude, and everything he says makes you want to hear more. I want to believe that sustainable agribusiness can be attained. And I want to believe I can help with that by buying all the organic food that I've been buying. Just like I wanted to believe that I could make The Corporation an internationally-adopted manifesto by hyperlinking it on my blog and my MySpace profile. It costs a fortune to be conscientious, unfortunately. I'm committed for now. But I have several slow- and non-paying clients, and that will put a strain on my ability to buy organic blueberries. Even when they're in season, berries are not cheap.

Buy one or all of these provocative and socially-conscious items, won't you?


Apr 14, 2006

Aim High

When I was driving up the 405 today, I found myself alongside a big flatbed truck, toting one of those man-made rock-climbing walls, strapped down on its back or side, depending on how you define things. I love fake mountains at Disneyland. But fake mountains in gyms look dumb to me. Especially when the handholds are sort of designed into the faux rock surface. I don't know why climbers want to try and believe they are actually outside when they're working out on one of these things at some trendy fitness center. And the wall is not believable-looking at all. Not believable enough that you might forget and put sunscreen on before you gear up. Not believable enough that a well-composed photograph could be sent to your family as evidence that you've been to Yosemite. To me, they look like crumply mounds of papier mache with those little lick'em and stick'em rings all over them. The kind used to reinforce ring-binder holes. I just think a serious rock-climber might be just as inclined to scale the surface of a structure that is clearly man-made and not attempting to evoke one's inner granola-eater. Granola is terrible for you anyway.

According to Mel Gibson, it rained on Jesus, too.

I'm wearing a groove into the 5 and 405. I haven't been working on it as much these past few months, but every now and then, I get back to it. I had another quickie trip to San Diego yesterday and drove up this morning, straight to the office. Something I haven't had to do in ages. It brought back memories of doing it for the very first time. A trip that started with a goodbye. A week that ended with a good cry. A move that made little difference. A season in my life that was costly and curdled. A season far too lengthy to be called a season. Unless you divide your life into quarters. In which case, it was not nearly a season at all.

I spare myself a lot of the pondering that used to act as ready pastime. I no longer have a go to game to play when I am bored and must sit still and be quiet. When I must look attentive and engaged. I have no excuse.

I'm doing stand-up tonight and photographing and possibly appearing in a friend's film tomorrow and whatever happens Saturday night and going to San Diego again on Sunday.

I like the rain. It reminds me of every other day it rained. And it unearths greedy hopes of curling up in the safe dry indoors. There is something so very civilized about being able to close a door and lock it.

I miss the naivete in you that made it possible for you to say those things to me. I miss the naivete in me that made it possible for me to clutch them so tightly. They meant everything.

Apr 12, 2006

Why is this night the same as every other night?

I didn't leave the door open for Elijah. I have a small dog who can't be trusted

Apr 11, 2006

Photo Set

I have been uncharacteristically slow about editing and posting photos to my web site for most of this year. It's a sign of many things. But out of love for the people whose pictures I take, and out of pride for having taken them, I am offering the interim solution of my Flickr sets.

Here are some of the events you may have attended/heard about/missed/wished you hadn't gone to:

Disneyland with Michelle and Martín 04.09.2006

Happy Birthday, Tammy Golden! 04.06.2006

The Night We Almost Fought at M Bar 04.01.2006

St. Patrick's Day 03.17.2006

Garage Comedy 03.06.2006

L.A. Zoo 02.19.2006

Liquid Kitty 02.04.2006

Evan Moore's Housewarming/Cooling Party 02.03.2006

Disneyland with Kevin Kelly 02.01.2006

Chip Pope's M Bar Dance Party 01.27.2006

At the Movies with Kevin Tavolaro 01.18.2006

Apr 10, 2006

It's a Moist World

Change "moist" to "damp." I dislike the word "moist." I guess everyone does. Except cake-bakers.

I went to Disneyland yesterday and got splashed more thoroughly on Splash Mountain than ever in recent trips. And when I went to Room 5 in the evening, I went to write something down and found that my notebook was all squishy. That's a disappointment. Not even half full and rooooned. Wanting to copy everything over neatly into a second identical notebook is a hallmark of my desire to have things neatly written down and preserved. I used to play with Spirograph and Fashion Plates, both of which are prone to slips of the pen or the crayon, and it would drive me mad trying to get something to come out without any flubs. It took a lot to get me to rejoice in errors, and even now I do it only selectively. If I'm making an art project and I screw it up, sometimes that's for the best. And if a photo comes out with the exposed flare of the leader visible within the print, I almost like it more. But I will throw away an envelope if I write the address incorrectly, and I won't eat burnt popcorn unless it's to spare someone else's feelings.

Apr 7, 2006

A Crinkle in Time

I stayed home from work today. Woke up with a piercingly painful sore throat. So I decided to work from my couch. Out of concern for my co-workers. With the consumption of copious amounts of water and tea, I actually feel fine now. Fine enough to watch my pair of Deep Space Nine episodes, which happened to be the final episode of the series. It still makes something in me flutter. It still makes me tear up a little. It still makes me yearn for the lingering tendrils of nostalgia that once made remembering both wonderful and horrible. That final shot of Jake and the station is so lonely. The theme music, too. I long for a world of wide open spaces.

The future is a place you go by yourself. What you find there; there are no guarantees.

And the further you get from the origins of nostalgia, the more varied strata of other things stack up between you and the thing, and suddenly your memory isn't of the thing anymore but of your last memory of remembering the thing. I've talked about this before. Even this is an observation once removed.

I used to make popcorn and chicken sandwiches late at night. I never liked the scent they left on me. But it mattered less then.

Apr 5, 2006

Wilfred Wong tastes 8,000 wines annually.

Wilfred Wong tastes 8,000 wines annually. He is America's most prolific wine judge. When I read this, I thought two things: (1) Is that his real name? Because the alliteration is all too convenient, and if you were an Asian person picking a Western name for yourself, why would you choose one with so many unpronounceable consonants in it? And, (2) Am I a small-minded racist? Because I would be so much more likely to trust his point assignations if his name sounded French.

I don't think of myself as a racist, but maybe that's just because I'm too polite to be dangerous. When Jessie and I took a hip hop class at the gym last week (an experience more embarrassing than can be described), I was humiliated and frustrated to see how much better most of the people were getting the steps than Jessie and I. Except the Asian guy. I totally expected the Asians to get it. And then I corrected by pointing out one Asian woman with a cartoon-like overbite and saying, "Except her."

Apr 1, 2006

He was an idiot, but I loved him.

Love and Death is on now. I think Turner Classic Movies is doing an AFI Funniest Movies playlist. And god bless them for it. It's like a dream afternoon for an old person. Or me.

My dog will be the judge of your foley art.

Certain films and certain commercials have the sounds of doorbells ringing and people knocking on doors, and only certain ones fool Audrey into barking. I assume those are the ones that sound the realest. It usually startles me when it happens, and I end up resenting the program that started the ruckus. One of them is the Domino's ding dong audio logo, which plays repeatedly in every one of their commercials. It's easy to be angry with Domino's. Just now it was The Bank Dick on Turner Classic Movies. Duck Soup was on before that, and all that gunfire and shenanigans didn't rouse Audrey a smidge. But W.C. Fields knocking on a door sends her into hysterics. She has little to no opinion about science fiction sound effects or the sounds of someone being murdered. But if someone's at the door and politely notifying you of that fact, look out.

Curiously, both of these movies were playing in a multi-feature over at the New Beverly a year and a half or so ago only a week or two after I first adopted Audrey. Time is marked in mysterious and varied ways.