Secret Pop

May 31, 2006

For the record, I did not care for X-Men 3: The Last Stand.

But it has led to a number of amusing conversations with likeminded friends. Notwithstanding the complete forfeiture of the previously compelling (or compellingly previous) conflict, which made countless gradations in the shades between white and black hats, there are just so many laughable moments. And, setting aside comments about what stupid "powers" the "bad" mutants had, why did they all look they were on a smoke break from their jobs at Hot Topic? Jessie and I burst out laughing repeatedly. At the extras playing picketers outside the clinics where mutants were getting dosed. At Kelsey Grammer just in general, but especially when The Beast said, "Oh, my stars and garters!" And when Angel flew over the Golden Gate Bridge, I leaned over to Jessie and said, "I'm gaaaaaaaay!" And that made us laugh, too.

We did, however, pay the sum of more than twenty-seven of your United States dollars to see the film. So, you're welcome, record books, and you're welcome, Brett Ratner. I thought Prison Break was filled with potential, and that was a disappointment, too. Good work!

La Furiosa

I was in the car on my lunch break today, and I heard a piece on NPR about the investigation of the alleged massacre in Haditha. Apparently President Bush commented that he is disturbed by the allegations and that -- if wrongdoing was in fact afoot -- people will be punished. But wait. Doesn't this stray from the standard Bush-camp line about not commenting about matters related to an ongoing investigation? (This question is rhetorical and intended for ironic pointing-out purposes.)

And while I was online confirming that I was spelling Haditha correctly, I stumbled onto this awful news story:

Mistaken Identity Stuns Crash Victims' Kin

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By ASHLEY M. HEHER Associated Press Writer

May 31,2006 | INDIANAPOLIS -- A family sat by their daughter's hospital bedside for weeks after an auto accident before they realized that the blond-haired young woman was not their daughter after all, but another college student injured in the wreck.

Their own daughter, it turned out, was dead and buried.

In a tragic mix-up, one family was incorrectly told their daughter had died in the April 26 crash in Indiana, and another was erroneously informed their daughter was in a coma.

The two young women looked remarkably alike, and the one in a coma suffered facial swelling, broken bones and cuts and bruises, and was in a neck brace.

The family of Taylor University student Laura VanRyn, 22, disclosed the mix-up Wednesday on a Web log that they had used to record detailed updates on the young woman's recovery.

"Our hearts are aching as we have learned that the young woman we have been taking care of over the past five weeks has not been our dear Laura, but instead a fellow Taylor student of hers, Whitney Cerak," the VanRyns said on the blog.

The family said that as the young woman began regaining consciousness at a rehabilitation center in Grand Rapids, Mich., she said things that made them question her identity.

As recently as Monday, the VanRyns reported: "While certain things seem to be coming back to her, she still has times where she'll say things that don't make much sense."

Officials at Taylor University, an evangelical Christian college in Upland, Ind., about 60 miles from Indianapolis, confirmed the case of mistaken identity.

"We rejoice with the Ceraks. We grieve with the VanRyns," said Taylor spokesman Jim Garringer. He said the Grant County coroner notified the school of the error.

Four Taylor students and an employee were killed when their van was struck by a tractor-trailer that had drifted across a highway median. Those in the van worked for Taylor's dining services and were preparing for a banquet for the inauguration of a new president of the 1,850-student school.

It was not clear who mistakenly identified the victims or how the error happened. The coroner's office did not immediately return a call. But the VanRyns, who are from Caledonia, Mich., said their daughter and Cerak, 18, of Gaylord, Mich., bore an "uncanny resemblance."

Most of the crash victims had funerals with closed caskets. A month ago, an overflow crowd of more than 1,400 people turned out for what they thought was Cerak's funeral in Gaylord, Mich.

The VanRyn family used the blog to provide progress reports on the young woman, reporting, example, that her hair was in pigtails or braids, that she managed to feed herself some applesauce, that she played a game of "connect four" with one of the therapists and did quite well, and that she performed an exercise in which her therapist gave her a word and she had to supply the word's opposite.

A call to the VanRyns was not immediately returned. An attorney for the Cerak family did not return a call either.

Prosecutors are weighing criminal charges against the truck driver, saying he may having fallen asleep at the wheel.

The mention of Connect Four made me want to say, "Pretty sneaky, sis." But that would just be wrong, wouldn't it? (This question is rhetorical and a means of disclaiming the tasteless thing I just did.)

May 18, 2006

Bork Bork Bork

I don't think it's just that it's the voices of children or that it's from a musical or that I can't understand any of the words, but Präriens drottning from Kristina från Duvemåla makes me smile, no matter how much insomnia and disillusionment urge me to frown. Or at least to conserve my energy with bland expressionlessness.

My sister is dating a lovely Swedish fellow, and it wins me no end of points with him and his friends that I own the three-disc soundtrack to Kristina från Duvemåla. Or the pricey compilation De Första Åren Agnetha Fältskog 1967-1979. They don't seem to mind that my devotion is to Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus and to ABBA rather than to Sweden.

Maybe I'm just trying to see how many special characters I know the HTML for.

May 15, 2006

"It Ain't Love Until It's Over"

These days, when my belly is full of pepper, when my fingertips ache for expressing -- I can't paint regret or want or relief. I can't sit still. I can't stand. I can't stand it. I ask so many stupid questions.

I feel benign. And satellite-like.

Maybe this will have been a turning point on which to one day look back knowingly.

I think of you much more than I'd ever be willing to say.

May 10, 2006

Full Circle

Yen and I went to see the Starlight Mints on Sunday night. It was more than two years ago that we first went to see them, and that was the first thing we ever did together. Commemorative value.

I wasn't feeling very well, and it was stuffy and sweltering at The Troubadour at first. But we eventually found our spot and took pictures and enjoyed the show. The heavyset lead singer of Dios Malos walked past us, smelling bad and bumping into my drink and spilling a lot of it. But that was the only bad thing that happened. Until we left and went to find my car. And couldn't. We walked for blocks, laughing and talking, and at one point thinking that two gentlemen were getting into my car and stealing it. I noticed that -- for the moments I thought my car was being stolen -- I didn't run over to try and intervene. I actually slowed my pace. Yen was apparently trying to figure out how to best use her shoe as a weapon. When we got closer and were certain that it wasn't my car after all, we laughed about it. I pictured myself hanging on to the hood of the car MacGyver-style. My violin was in the trunk and my iPod in the dash. Could I really let them get away? It's a relief my resolve wasn't tested. I had very little energy and would probably have fallen off right away and been run over.

After that, we walked for even more blocks, strolling past quiet little houses I will never have enough money to own, including one where a shirtless dude was sitting at his computer, his well-muscled back to his floor-to-ceiling windows which were only covered in the most transparent of gauze. I felt uncomfortable seeing him there. He has a hedge row in front, so there is some privacy from passing cars and neighbors directly across the street, but to strolling passersby...well, I'm glad he hadn't found anything on the computer that prompted him to sin openly. Because we would have had no choice but to stand there and watch. All of it.

We passed a house whose red-lit kitchen looked like the abattoir on a creepy whaling ship. We passed houses with moodily lit fountains and flashy little sportscars parked in the driveways. We passed houses I was sure we had already passed before. And I was so grateful it was Yen there with me. Because many other friends would have been angry with me for continually choosing to walk for blocks in the totally wrong direction. But with Yen, I could just be grateful for the extra time to laugh and smoke and whatever. She's one of those people you can have fun doing anything with. She is the easiest person to be around in all the world. And perhaps in juxtaposition to that, I decided to admit to myself -- and to the world at long last -- that I am high-maintenance.

I am high-maintenance.

I really, really try not to be. And I don't like to think anyone finds me so. It has taken me a lifetime to admit it. I have railed against the label since girls became old enough to be labeled in that fashion. I am accommodating and forgiving and generous and eager to help. Even more eager to please. But it's plain to me that I also have all of these expectations. And I wonder why I minded being told so before. I don't need to be brought flowers. I don't need to have the door opened for me. I don't need a great many things. But I'm also the furthest thing from a free spirit you ever did see. I hate that this is true. And then I wonder why I hate it. I guess when a fellow called me high-maintenance in the past, I prickled because I feared that meant I was more trouble than I am worth. But I am clearly more demanding than some people, though far more understanding than others. One of the people in that comparison is a heroin addict and the other is a quadruplegic. You decide which is which. One of them can be unconscious if it makes it easier.

The Starlight Mints had a violinist, a violist (with cute hair), and a cellist on stage with them. I thrilled to that. Mary misses going through the vibrato motions.

In other music news, I saw Grand Ole Party in San Diego on Saturday night with John Meeks, and that was all right. I don't like the acoustics at San Diego Sports Club, but the San Diego indie music faithfuls sure love that band. I need to hear their recordings. Or to hear them in a better venue before I can make up my mind. Great stage presence, but the vocals sounded like they were being sung through one of those old-timey megaphones. The Starlight Mints use one of those in a few of their songs, but they do it on purpose, so it's cool. Maybe I just reward points for deliberation. Accidental awesome is rare. And nearly impossible to recreate.

I also swam in my parents' pool on Saturday, and that was glorious. It reminded me that it is possible to feel good.

And I sang in church on Sunday morning, and I had my dad come up and read something before I sang, and he got so choked up he could barely speak. He's a big baby where biblical things are concerned. It's super cute. We make a great team.

So I missed out on all of my Cinco de Mayo fun plans, but the world kept turning. And as bad a birthday month as this has been so far, it's still my birthday month. And that's not for nothing.

May 3, 2006

Master at Arms

I'll say one thing for Jean-Luc Picard. He doesn't have to be physically held back by his crew as frequently as James T. Kirk. What a hothead that guy is. At least once per film, he's being restrained by two or more crew members, lest he do the thing that will jeopardize the safety of himself, his crew, his ship, or the universe. You'd think a guy who made it to admiral would have begun learning to suss things out when emotions run high. But then, I guess that's maybe why he lost his admiralship and ended up a mere captain again. Even though that's what he actually wanted. Maybe he just likes having his crew manhandle him. After all, it never takes that much effort to hold him back. And I've seen people who are making a fuss and have to be restrained. They may not break free, but they usually manage to mess their own hair up a little at least. In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, McCoy and Spock hold him back as the Decker Unit gives himself up to V'ger for the sake of Earth, but he's really just standing there protesting verbally. I suspect posturing. He never liked the Decker Unit anyway.

I often revert to my Star Trek vexations after coming across suspiciously human. It's my way of reminding you that I'm really just a cartoon character. Or it's how I throw you off the scent. I expect pursuit to be greatly depressed by a whiff of my Federation-issue pheromones. Back off, curious. It takes effort to make it to the grave alone.

Wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door. Who is it for?

I have this faint memory of a phone call and a sinking feeling. Of suspicion and fear. And impatience and resentment. I remember arguing about bottles of wine and who they belonged to. I remember not really being angry about the wine. The wine was a scapegoat. It lives out in the desert now. Never to return.

You come into a person's life where you come in. There's no changing it. You know them when you know them, where they are and when they are. You know what there is. And when more is added, and when more is stripped away, you continue to know the shadow of what was there. Paper doll fashions leave their silhouettes. You learn the absence of the image better than the presence of it. The absence persists.

Even longing begets focus. Even the kind that promotes flailing and frenzy. But this other thing. It's like a problem with my eyes. I can't seem to just look at one thing for even a second. I am everywhere and all over the place. And all the while, I'm nowhere. I ceased to exist some time ago. No matter how much space I take up.

Died in the church and was buried along with her name. Nobody came.

May 2, 2006

You think you only know me when you turn on the light, now the room is lit with danger.

Thursday night, I went to the UCB to see the Doug Benson Interruption with my favorite Boris, Boris Hamilton. We stopped by Birds before the show, and I left my tab open, because it was so crowded I couldn't get the bartender's attention with any efficiency and the show was about to start. We went back to Birds after the show to collect my card, and there was a tipsy and jovial Asian guy sitting at the bar who immediately wanted to make friends. He extended a hand without first offering a hello or a name. I shook his hand. And he said, "You're so beautiful." He said these words to my boobs. There was no mistaking that. I excused it at first. He was drunk. Maybe he was not making eye contact with me because he was shy. Or drunk. He started reading the slogan on my shirt and said that my shirt must have been given to me by Tom Hanks. I don't have any idea why that would be. A few seconds later, another young lady found herself standing near this same fellow and within earshot of me, and I heard him take up with her right away. He said she looked like someone. She said, "I get Amanda Peet a lot." And he said, "No, you look like someone in a Tom Hanks movie." I guess that's his entire rap. Finding ways to compliment women and also work in mentions of Tom Hanks. The suspicious consumer in me wonders if this is a guerilla marketing tactic I've not yet heard about. Plant boozers in local watering holes and have them mention celebrities for no good reason. I guess Tom Hanks has got his publicity staff working overtime. With his big Mona Lisa movie coming out this summer, I don't think he really needs the upkeep. That money would be better spent by Ted Danson's people, if you ask me.

A practiced conceit.

I speak words of despair with a big smile on my face. A big, crazy smile. It scares Jessie.

Re-emergence of that La Folia theme in pieces of the Restoration soundtrack has been playing into my melancholy. Baroque music makes my head swim. When violinists play and they sway around with the bow strokes, it looks like an affect, but I know where it comes from, and it isn't always a place of performance or pretense. Of course, it sometimes is. But sometimes when you play a violin, you feel like a string yourself, vibrating and resonating with all the noise you're making -- as stuffed as that shirt sounds. I miss playing in orchestras. I especially miss playing chamber music. I miss feeling my part of a complicated harmony. It's like that thing you do with your fingers and yarn, and when you pull your hands apart, there's some lovely web you've made, blooming from your fingertips. I'm mixing my metaphors.

I love the baroque music on Restoration. Even James Newton Howard's renditions of baroque music, so much of it having its genesis in variations on La Folia. Only a few months ago, I wrote about listening to the CD at a previous place of employment, and I also referenced having played the Corelli version of the piece at the Governor's Mansion on Guam. And when I go back and read things I wrote -- even things I wrote just a few months ago -- I find myself wondering if it was in fact better back then. It always seems as if it must have been. These days, as much as my spirits flag, I haven't even been writing anything especially poignant. Oh, I want to. But myabe I feel I've shown too many of my cards already. I don't need everyone to know who the culprits are when I'm speaking of disappointment and heartbreak. It takes the beauty out of it.