Secret Pop

Nov 26, 2007

Overheard at A Very Forrest Thanksgiving

The following is my annual Thanksgiving email message, which I sent on Thanksgiving Day but which encountered so many server-based complications that I can't be sure if you received four copies of it or if you received it at all.

"I don't care if you have Down's Syndrome. If you're rude, you're rude." I'm not lying. Someone actually said this. And, yes, he was talking about Corky from Life Goes On.

Anyway.

Dear Ones,

I almost didn't manage to get a Thanksgiving message out this year, if that can be believed. I'm visiting in San Diego and staying in my parents' grandly-appointed guest house which is truly grandly-appointed except in the sense that the wireless internet connection is almost impossible for me to pick up. So for the past couple of days, I have been unable to check my mail, unable to make any moves on Scrabulous, and apparently unwilling to carry my Powerbook over to the main house and use the internet connection I am using now.

Don't worry. I don't think you spend the remaining 364 days each year waiting to hear what sarcastic gratitude I will offer you on this day (or technically the day before on most occasions). I don't have that kind of ego. I don't even think you're still reading now. I should have said more about how important you are to me in the first paragraph. Or maybe in the subject line.

In any case, I hope your Thanksgiving was gravy-laden and wonder-filled. And if you ate too much, I hope you didn't spend the rest of the day telling everyone that you did. It's not important. Give yourself a break.

Here is my traditional list of demands. This year's list may be slightly less thank-themed. Mainly because I've already eaten the bird.

1. Look sharp. It's worth it.

2. Give something a chance. Peace. A TV show. A nap. You might be surprised how things turn out.

3. Get over the early appearance of Christmas decorations. It is officially okay for there to be snowmen and Santas on drug store windows. Let it go.

4. Mind your manners. Even if you're with your family.

5. I'm not going to ask you to not get murdered this year. If you can't do this without my reminding you, maybe you just don't want it enough.

My family said grace while I was away from the table trying to catch my errant dog. And we didn't do the traditional "What I'm thankful for" confessional this year, for some reason. So in an attempt to salvage some of the solemnity of a huge meal for Pocahontas' birthday, let me just say that I am thankful for you. And I hope I'm reaching you at the correct address.

Mary Forrest, thanks you

Nov 19, 2007

Accidental Beer

I didn't mean to have a beer. I was getting Audrey's food out of the refrigerator, and I knocked over an Asahi, and it tumbled to the floor and began spitting out fizz. So I opened it and poured its remaining contents into a glass. And even though I was up working until 5:30 a.m., and I'm very tired and not in any way in need of a beer, I'm watching "By Any Other Name" and thinking about drinking anyway, and it's not as if I could WASTE it.

Nov 16, 2007

"Jam a bastard in it, you crap!"

Friday nights are bad for me and my serial crime dramas. USA is playing National Treasure. TNT is playing Titanic. I won't lie to you. I ended up watching National Treasure.

You know, I can't even get the vintage icebox door in my kitchen to close fully, it's been painted over so many times and has a crusty old gasket that no longer offers any give. Am I really meant to believe that all of these secret mechanisms built hundreds of years ago still work? You push a button and a secret stone door just pries itself free of the years of decrepit build-up. You stick a pipe in a hole and -- Bob's your uncle -- another stone door swings free. Plus, there's plenty of lamp oil.

One of the perks offered by this broadcast is an opportunity to view exclusive scenes from the soon-to-be-released sequel to this movie. Trust me. It's not as big a prize as you might hope. And Nicholas Cage's hair is really looking absurd. Weirdly overdark and no sideburns at all. Sort of floppy on top like an old-fashioned monk. But I guess there are only so many ways to dress a head.

This movie August Rush looks pretty stupid, too.

I used to detest the idea of weekend warriordom. So I shouldn't be upset when Friday isn't ever the end of my work week. I'd love a weekend to just fuck off and not do anything that was DUE. But I seldom get that. The worst part is how bad Friday night television is. Mainly television knows that only lame-o's and shut-ins are home on Fridays, so why program anything but garbage for them? They won't make a fuss. But now Garth Marenghi's "Darkplace" is on Adult Swim. I have nothing more to say in the voice of complaint.

Nov 15, 2007

Swell

The moon looks a lot like Mac Tonight tonight. I noticed it when I went out with Audrey. In the five o'clock hour, it's already night time, and I like that.

Last night, I went to see No Country for Old Men (loved it). Last week, I saw The Mist (hated it) and American Gangster (loved it). So far, I'm winning. I was supposed to go see Star Trek "The Menagerie" Parts 1 and 2 tonight in a fancy HD screening, but I've barely been off the phone or away from my computer today and couldn't get ready in time. Maybe it's a draw.

Do I dare to fry an egg?

I made a sandwich and grilled it in a pan. And now I smell like a sandwich. My aversion to smelling like food is largely responsible for my not cooking as much at home anymore. My kitchen has no real ventilation. I made lamb chops the other night, and the house smelled of lamb chops for two days. I sat in a Popeye's Chicken last night for a half hour or so and didn't actually touch any food, but I went home smelling of fried chicken. I walk into a diner where the grill is right out in the middle of the place, and I cringe knowing that I'm going to smell like breakfast until I scrub it from my skin and rinse it from my hair. I wonder if anyone else in the world is as sensitive to this as I am. And I wonder why I care about this so much. My family enjoys lavish meals prepared by my mother, and the house is deluged in delicious smells. And I love to cook. I even love to barbecue. But don't try and get me to go out after I've doused the coals or closed the gas valves. I can't go out into the world knowing someone might smell me passing and wrinkle their nose. I also don't like smelling like the beach. Or the outdoors in general. Maybe I'm afraid I will be mistaken for homeless.

Do I dare to eat a peach? Yes. As long as the peach isn't deep-fried, and as long as I can eat it in a venue where no cooking is being done. And if that means eating it al fresco, then I will have to eat it quickly enough to not end up smelling like the air in which I dine.

P.S. I'm not that big a fan of peaches, either.

Nov 11, 2007

Neverending Stories

I have kept my working self company these past few days with movie after movie after movie. A visit to the theater to be disappointed by Eric Idle's writing but impressed with his friends' performances. Then more movies. And then some syndicated crime dramas.

Marie Antoinette - I disliked it so much, I stopped watching a short time after the coronation. The storytelling is just so juvenile. And Jason Schwartzman's performance is absurd.

Glory Road - For a non-sports nut like myself, it's surprising how easily I get sucked in by these true-life stories of underdogs going the distance. But I still wonder why Jon Voight has turned into Lon Chaney like he has. He must really like having prosthetics made for his nose and ears. It's fascinating.

Blood Diamond - I didn't like it all that much. It wasn't TERRIBLE, but it wasn't all that great. And it definitely felt like a movie with all the conveniences of storytelling timing. Like the gun-toting boy soldiers arriving in truck caravans every single time Leonardo di Caprio and/or Djimon Hounsou are found standing on a road somewhere and shooting the town to bits.

The Last King of Scotland - I'm surprised how much I enjoyed this movie. I actually tend not to want to go to see movies where everyone looks sweaty and miserable or incredibly dirty. Hideous Kinky may be a fine performance from Kate Winslet, but there are few things less appealing to me than watching voluntarily dirty people get their freak on. That sex scene in Enemy at the Gates gets a pass from me, because I'm sure they would rather have been clean. And frankly that scene turns me on, despite my many unreasonable rules. So anyway movies set in Africa are a hard sell no matter what. But I really liked this one. And it looks like James McAvoy is on a roll, right? There's also a fairly hot sex scene in this one, but the aftermath is rather grisly.

Hideous Kinky - See above.

Because I Said So - Oh, my god, this movie is inexcusable. No one in it deserves to find love or happiness. It makes me wonder if aliens have infiltrated our world and are going to systematically kill off our species by crippling us completely in the rites of courtship. Sure, it's the long way round, but maybe turning us into red jelly is too messy for them.

The Shawshank Redemption - After spending the past few days gnashing my teeth about how bad The Mist was, I guess I had to remind myself why Frank Darabont ever got into my good books. I watch this movie a lot. And you know me. The more I look at something, the more justification I find for picking it apart. I've already become critical of the scene in the library when Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins talk to each other through the bookshelves in this plainly choreographed dance. This time, I got a little picky about the scene when Gil Bellows is telling Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman about his former cellmate, and he's straddling a chair backwards as Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman stand in front of him, arms folded, looking on. Fake fake fake. But whatever. It suspended my disbelief for many years. That's no small feat.

The Wizard of Oz - I used to wait for this to come on TV every year. And now you can see it four times a day on TNT. I was telling Rob the other day about the cinematic loss of innocence I experienced when -- finally able to watch The Wizard of Oz recorded on Betamax from its television broadcast -- I watched it over and over and over again one summer. And one day, all of a sudden, I noticed the seam of the backdrop that Dorothy and friends would obviously skip right into if the camera kept rolling. It was a watershed moment.

A Night at the Museum - I wasn't going to watch this movie. Ever. But when it started, the Alan Silvestri score was good. So I decided to leave it on. Movies are mostly for listening anyway, when I'm working. It's a pretty stupid movie. But I don't think anyone is surprised by that.

Midnight Run - For some reason, I have no problem watching this movie again and again. It's charming to me in some way. The nitpickier me would poke many a hole in the tactics used to keep the dramatic plates spinning, but I guess if you can get away with fashioning an entire score from riffing on a single Oingo Boingo song and still make it work, I have to tip my hat.

And now Neil Patrick Harris is on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, playing a guy who lobotomizes girls by drilling holes in their skulls and pouring hot water on their brains so he can cuddle with them. What a weekend! And I only wish "weekend" began with an "n," so I could say that line the way Ray Bolger says, "Beautiful! What a n-echo!" when he raps on the chest of the Tin Man.

I still have so much work to do. I have no business telling you any of this.

Nov 9, 2007

Do not go Elizabeth Taylor-ly into that good night.

Has Marlo Thomas had a stroke? She's on an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit at the moment, and her face looks a mess. Tom Skerritt and Barry Bostwick have aged remarkably well in comparison. (They're both in this episode, too. I'm not just pulling their faces out of my brain for no reason.) Oh, men. How easy you have it. With the exception perhaps of Peter O'Toole and Sylvester Stallone, I don't see all that many dudes trying to pull off the plastic nightmare. Men get to balden their pates and leather their faces, and unless they get terribly fat (and that's key), no one of either gender seems to mind. In Tom Skerritt's case, I think aging was the best choice he could have made. As a young man, he always looked like a greasy dirtbag to me. But by Picket Fences, he could have taken me to any prom of his choosing.

But women. Poor women.

Incidentally, if Marlo Thomas has in fact had a stroke, I am an ass.

Temple of the Bleeding Hands

I keep noticing cuts on my hands. Bloody fingers brushing up against light-colored clothing. Curses ensuing. I think it's happening because I broke a glass in my sink last week and it's possible some of the glass remained in the sink, and maybe when I cleaned the sink with the sponge I use to wash dishes, the little pieces of glass found their way into the sponge, so that when I washed dishes again, I would end up with sneaky little slices on my thumbs and fingers, only ever outing themselves sometime after I'd finished the washing up and couldn't distinguish the wet of water from the wet of blood. Since I don't plunge my hands into a vat of salt after I clean the kitchen, I had no way of knowing.

I don't like pain, but I'm not generally a baby about it. Sometimes I appreciate a good cut. It reminds me what's in my veins. And it reinforces how much I prefer the absence of hurting.

It's like being sad. The longer you're without it, the paler the contrast between a smile and a tear. Sometimes it feels like the only sadness left is the loss of all the sadness there once was. And its absence makes everything seem less meaningful. Now that it doesn't hurt, it doesn't exist. When I don't hurt, do I?

Oct 23, 2007

Time Travel

At 9 A.M., it looks like sunset. Heavy, orange light streaming in through curtains that seldom look that color. I remember the skies looking like this, the air feeling like this, four years ago. You can look on news station web sites and see specific addresses of homes that have been completely destroyed. I remember looking at those lists last time around. Most of the homes were in Scripps Ranch. The street names sounded like they were supposed to be estates in the French countryside. I remember thinking that you get less sympathy from people when your house burns down and it's built on Moneybags Lane or Millionaire Drive.

My family's home burned down in 1998. Not as part of a big county-wide disaster. Just a house fire. So the governor didn't come bring us blankets, but I do know what it's like to not be able to believe that everything's gone. And also to look back on that experience nearly ten years later and know that it didn't kill us. Maybe it even made us stronger.

So far, my sisters and my parents are all safe. My little sister's neighborhood was evacuated yesterday. She's at my parents' house taking it easy, because school is closed all week. We talked yesterday about how we take it for granted that we live in the part of the country where these things happen. I told her how I had just been talking with our friend Geoffrey and that his brother and sister-in-law had moved to Florida. And while they're not on the Atlantic coast, I was saying that I have difficulty imagining I could ever move to Florida knowing how hurricane-ridden the area has been. And my little sister said, "Yeah, I know we've got fires and earthquakes, but I still say, fuck hurricanes." And that made me laugh.

I realize that this entry was written specifically in reference to another similar event four years ago, but I just referred back to the entry I wrote about THAT occurrence, and I realize that nothing I'm saying today is new. And that I may have said all of it better before. I must just be getting out of practice. All I write these days? Emails about work. Typing my address into online orders, if that counts. Clipped conversations in IM windows. I push the buttons on my phone a lot to play Bejeweled. And if someone was keeping track, the keystrokes might spell something out. It's not that I have less to say. Or maybe it is.

This used to be where I would write what I was thinking, only skeletally interrupted by what I was actually doing. My activities provided the scaffolding for all of the other often unrelated things going on in my head. But now, more often than not, I realize that I'm only prompted to write because I've done something or gone somewhere. And all I say is where I went or what I did. And as I rarely go anywhere or do anything anymore, the entries grow fewer and fewer.

I have been suppressing sentiment for some time now. I learn this lesson over and over. I keep it to myself when something tugs at me. And then at some point, I don't keep it to myself. I utter it aloud. I type it. And the absence of being met halfway is more apparent than the sentiment itself. There is no satisfaction in playing patty cake with the air. All of the satisfaction rests in the two hands coming together and making a clapping sound. The canceling out of equal and opposite forces. Force only has value when resistance measures it. (Note to NASA scientists: That's not an actual physics theorem. Please don't use this "law" when trying to get us to Mars.)

What's this? What's this? What...IS...THIS?

Friday night, I went to see The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D at the El Capitan Theater. I didn't know until the movie started that the 11:30 screening was a singalong. I can think of few things more horrifying than being in a movie theater filled with people talking and singing and vocalizing and not being within my rights to tell them to put a sock in it. And the songs in this movie are not all that easy to sing. And I think many people don't realize how few of the lyrics they actually know. And the soliloquys are sometimes speak-sung, so they can't really be sung along with. So SHUT UP, YOU AWFUL AWFUL GOTH PEOPLE! was all I could think for much of the movie. Although it's definitely a film that lends itself to 3-D-ification. And all of this just makes me want to go back to Disneyland. Where I've not been at all this calendar year, despite my ownership of an expensive premium pass.

All Animals Are Audrey

I watched a good bit of Animal Planet over the weekend. There was a Meerkat Manor marathon, during which I saw Flower sustain a fatal cobra bite to the head, and I saw her mate Zaphod have to leave the security of his family to go out on the rove. When Flower died, I thought, "Singalong Nightmare Before Christmas, and now THIS?" It was very sad. And although I realize they are not really very similar at all, meerkats make me think of Audrey. It's in the eyes. And the look of uncertainty always on their faces. Frankly, all animals make me think of Audrey in one way or another. All breeds of dog, certainly. But most other animals, too. I watched a show about a couple who adopted a baby hippo named Jessica, and Jessica's big wet eyeballs were Audrey all over the place to me. And then there was a show called Papa Bear, in which a guy in New Hampshire took in bear cubs who had been abandoned by their mothers and developed these amazing relationships with them and was able to study their behavior in ways that no other researchers ever had. The one bear named Yoda was remarkably affectionate and gentle. She would literally sit down in front of him and flop back on him like they were competing in the luge together. And he would scratch her and let her play with his watch band. It was the most amazing thing. And all of the close-ups on the little bear cubs' faces and later on the faces of the mothers just looked like Audrey to me. Hunters who shouldn't have been hunting in that part of the forest later shot and killed Yoda, and I felt tears sprout out of both of my eyes and thought that I agreed with the man on the show about Jessica the hippo. Viewing a photo of another wild hippo they had called Charlie who had been shot by neighboring farmers, he said that man is the worst animal god made. And I was inclined to agree with him.







When Beulah and I were talking about our love of animals and these shows I had watched, she understood what I was saying. And I told her about some people in the Cedar Fire of four years ago dying in the fire because they couldn't get their horses out, and Beulah scoffed, "Duh. You RIDE them to safety." She's very smart.

Oct 9, 2007

Knowing Me, Knowing You

Audrey and I just got back in from a walk. There was a package at my door. Well, there were two. One was The Boatniks on DVD. The other was a black knit turtleneck sweater dress I ordered. I tried it on in the guest bedroom. It reminded me of a charcoal grey knit turtleneck sweater dress I bought and wore around this time of year eleven years ago. But the charcoal grey one fit better. The one that just arrived is probably going back.

Someone nearby is playing ABBA loud enough for me to recognize and sing along. Which reminds me that I just spent the weekend celebrating my older sister's nuptials to her lovely Swedish groom Paul. After the wedding, there were 15 or 20 Swedes (and two American crashers) in my hotel room, playing ABBA on my iTunes playlist and eventually getting security involved. And yesterday, there were as many Swedes lounging poolside at my parents' house, looking perfect in their bathing costumes and wondering if Encinitas is officially paradise.

I was so exhausted, I could barely keep my eyes open driving home from San Diego last night. Like I had to talk myself into not taking extra long blinks, even when I was only a mile or two away from my apartment. That fatigue has stretched on into today. I can barely tell what day of the week it is. Or what hour of the day. It's all chapped lips, sore neck, crooked posture, and indecisive eyeshadow today. I'm looking at this as the painful process required before renewal can begin. Digging in deep to peel off my dragon skin.

Oh. On Friday, I went to San Diego to change my hair again.



I let my stylist take pictures of my breasts for a collection of photographs he is going to be mounting in the salon to raise money for breast cancer research. At least I think that's what the story was. So if you walk into a hair salon in San Diego and see a bunch of boobs on the wall, two of them might be mine. Let's find a cure already. I'm eventually going to have too much self-respect and/or shame to continue this kind of activism.

Oct 5, 2007

Oh, my aching everything.

I don't mind working all day and all night. But when I know I have to be up early, and when I know I will be packing in a frenzy, and when I know that I will forget something important...

This Sunday is my sister Sarah's wedding, and it's important that I shouldn't forget anything. And it's important that I shouldn't get stuck in L.A. later than planned. And it's important that I get to the other side, because somewhere over there is the hope of my finding myself again.

It's easy to put off everything you want to do in favor of everything you tell yourself you have to do. I just wish it was so easy to tell yourself you have to do the things you want to do. You have to do them, or when you're all finished you will have pleased everyone but you. Or even fewer people than that.

Anyway, I've been working a great deal this week. And I'm sore all over just from slouching before my two notebooks all day and from holding a phone to my ear for hours at a time. It would be nice if I was sore because of a long bike ride or an embarrassing game of softball.

Oct 4, 2007

Socialite

I work from home much of the time. And lately, I work so much that I feel as if I'm under house arrest. I nearly never get to go anywhere. I nearly never see anyone. My dog and I can't tell what time it is. I no longer have an array of different things I wore during the week by which to differentiate the days in my memory.

I watch a lot of TNT during the day. Law and Order and ER, I particularly enjoy. But I've noticed that whenever there's been an especially rough day or an especially great day, someone asks their co-workers if they want to go out for a drink. And they always say no. It drives me nuts. I remember when I was a regular office-goer, and I remember occasionally suggesting people go out after work for whatever reason. And when people shoot you down, you hate them for it. Oh, you have a wife? So what? I have a dog. Don't we both have responsibilities? I frown on the word "no."

This happens occasionally after a comedy show or after a rehearsal or after some sort of thing that brings me into the company of people I know and don't dislike so much I wouldn't be able to swallow alcohol in the same room with them. You put yourself out there. You say, "So. Anyone want to get a drink?" Or you say, "Anyone hungry?" Or you say, "Do you guys even like me at all?" And the awkward declinations resound. And you (I) get in your (my) car and lament having done your (my) hair and only seen four people. I guess I've said no to people in this situation before, but it's only ever if I have some place I'd actually rather be. Or if the person posing the invite is someone whom I dislike so much that it affects my ability to swallow. If I dislike you so much that my throat closes up, there's really nothing entertaining we can do together that doesn't involve me throwing a rock at you. And that's only entertaining for a few seconds. And it's nowhere nearly as refreshing as a cocktail.

Jessie called tonight right in the middle of the Top Chef finale. I can't believe that _________ won. I was so hoping it would be ________. Jessie is probably the person I turn down the most and also the person who turns me down the most. To be fair, I generally turn her down because she invites me to be somewhere without giving me time to shower and get dressed. And she generally turns me down because she has other friends she likes better than me. So at least we understand each other.

I used to have a lot of profoundish thoughts when I would take Audrey out for walks late at night. Something about the moon. Or the temperature. Or the smell of the street. I still think some of those things. But I'm beginning to realize that I'm just thinking things I've already thought before. Ad that's not worth writing about. Even writing about how I've already written about things is a tactic I've used up. Maybe it's time for a change. Lease is up in January. Who knows what awaits me.

I've got to get out of this place.

Comedy Central is unusually loud on my television.

But I'm still going to watch South Park now, and then the new Sarah Silverman Program, featuring my pal Steve Agee, whose web site I recently almost finished. You should watch, too. Because any time I finish watching The Daily Show and The Colbert Report and don't accidentally end up watching the cold opening of Mind of Mencia is a victory in my book.

Oct 3, 2007

Carbonara isn't just a bacon thing.

This Quizno's Chicken Carbonara Sub commercial is offensive to me. There is nothing carbonara about this sandwich. It even has mushrooms on it. Will people just eat anything if you give it a name that sounds like it comes from a restaurant you've never been to? And on the other side of that, will anyone ever really buy these Cafe Express Steamers and not be afraid to eat what's in them?

P.S. Yes. This is my first actual post in quite some time. I can only imagine your disappointment.

Aug 29, 2007

Oh! My God! I Miss You.

I have been away for so long. And I have so much to say! These two ends must meet eventually.

Jul 4, 2007

Frowning into the Dazzle

Begun at 4:16 P.M. Finished at 9:51 P.M. And not entirely typed in order.

What perfect pain. Reflected in a perfect white sky. A daytime sky without the glow of sun on it. Bright. Unbearably bright. But without warmth. Unpainted and unfulfilled.

I am reading a novel that has taken a turn into love story. Lying in bed with the window open and a breeze about. The sheets are cool, the covers light. I took off my clothes to shower, but I got distracted and ended up there in bed with a book. Undressed and unaffected. And all the while the day went on. On my street, one of the apartment buildings has no cars at all in its front parking lot. I don't know that that has ever happened. What merriment people must have planned.

The night sky here is too bright to see even the halo of a firework. I can hear them popping and cracking off in the distance, but I don't know where they are. And when I walk to the end of my street, they seem discernibly nearer. But that hardly seems possible, as I can see none of it. I remember going to a pool party at my friend Julie's home for the 4th of July in 2004. Matt and I went up to the roof of the building to look at fireworks with some of the other partygoers. You could see them off in the distance. Probably closer to Koreatown and Downtown. But we were in West Hollywood, and the appearance of those little amorphous blossoms, those sprinkles of colors of light off in the faraway lower right, with the surrounding sky so grey and undarkened -- well, it was an anticlimax of sorts. I have seldom gone anywhere to see the fireworks up close. I don't generally ooh and aah very much. But I do often catch myself wondering if the incendiary specialists who design the fireworks programs are happy with how things have gone. When you watch an ice skater, the commentators seem to know the planned routine and will tell you if the skater opted to skip a jump or to turn three lutzes into two. But with fireworks, there's no libretto to follow. You just look up and suddenly the sky blooms red. You don't know if this one happened when it was supposed to or if those two were supposed to be symmetrical. Fireworks don't generally follow any discernible theatrics. People are just so easily pleased.

I remember being restless. It's a faint trace now. Sleep comes easily much of the time. And even the fears that persist have revealed themselves to have bearable consequences. Everything happens as it happens. No matter how one clenches one's fists and sets one's teeth against it. And in realizing this -- the pointlessness of it -- I can't decide if the struggle loses its beauty altogether or becomes somehow more beautiful. Season after season and year after year. I can count back the days. Lay them over one another. Last year I was in San Diego and drank beers in the pool. We ate hot dogs and hamburgers, and my mom chastised me for liking them too much.

A jazz record is playing. Something with a trumpet. Muted. Muted trumpet always sounds to me like my imagination of the '60s. When everyone knew how to snap.

The thing I love about talking is that sometimes one of us might end up saying something beautiful or wise. And that never happens in an argument.

Los Angeles always smells the same.

Jun 26, 2007

"I came to believe in the existence of extraterrestrial life."

Dana Scully and I have the same middle name. Well, she spells it with a "C" and I with a "K." But who doesn't think homophones are fun?

I'm pulling another all-nighter, and Law and Order has become episodes of The X-Files, and I'm dismayed to be stuck with the series finale, which really ranks up there with series finales I despise. Not because the show was ending, but because the finale made the show look like it must have been a piece of crap made by people who are pieces of crap. And truthfully, it mostly wasn't. So that's a shame. And they made Spender look like Odo. With the hair and eyebrows of a Sears model. How do you burn your face beyond recognition and then have eyebrows bushier than when you began? This episode is about as skillfully made as a filmstrip. Remember filmstrips? Remember occasionally being the kid in the class who got to sit and advance the film strip along with the audio cues by turning that black ridged plastic knob? No? Are you sure? How old are you? Oh, that's why.

I really don't want to keep working, do I.

Jun 21, 2007

Anticipation in Disguise

I flipped off a poster of Optimus Prime the other day, and Rob wondered why. "Protect." "Destroy." I'm not sure the world is so binary. This comes from the Persians, you know. Ahura Mazda. Angra Mainyu. The Benevolent One. The Malevolent One. What about the other versions of the universe where bad guys and good guys coexist and are neither all good nor all evil. Where bad guys are sometimes good and good guys are sometimes bad, and there isn't one place that everyone of one kind goes. Like the Hindu gods. Or the Scandinavian gods. Or the Greeks and the Romans. The gods are just powerful. And sometimes they are reasonable. And sometimes they are right pricks. And sometimes they are playfully wicked. And sometimes they are deceptive and self-serving and cruel. Just like the rest of us. They just have the ability to appear to us as a bird and impregnate us if they want to.

This is one of the things that has often been unsatisfactory to me about comic book fiction and Star Wars and all of that. And maybe that's why most comic book heroes end up having an issue or two where they go bad. Maybe I'm not the only one who has trouble buying that the good guys are good because they have to be and therefore they can be nothing else. And maybe this is part of the reason I don't know whether I would be an Autobot or a Decepticon.

I haven't really been looking much forward to the new Transformers movie. I don't expect it to be any good, because of Michael Bay. And, also, I was never that much into Transformers, mostly because I was (and am) a girl. And I only really cared about a robot when at least part of it was being captained by a girl or -- even better -- a small child and when the girl or child and the robot all spoke Japanese. And even then, I only liked those shows because I lived in the Philippines, and we only got one English-speaking television station, and I would watch ANY cartoon that came on. Even Wait Till Your Father Gets Home.

So I haven't been counting down the days till transformation. Although, back in April, I was about to have dinner at Magnolia, and I took this picture of a Christo-esque wrap job promoting the Transformers movie on a building on Sunset.



And then, a day or two later, when it was windier than Los Angeles has any right to be, the entire business was in shreds, as documented by Rob's phone.





Special commendation for having a windshield that clean, Rob. My mom would be proud of you.

Anyway, I was in the gymnasium today, and I saw a commercial for the new Transformers movie, and I have to admit, a tiny, bitter, reluctant, unyielding part of me is mortified that I'm about to tell you that the commercial looked cool. But it did. And I am hopeful that it will be fun to look at it when I can hear people talking in the movie, too. Although I'm almost certain that will be the ruination part. Exciting visual effects shouldn't be enough to get people out of their houses. That shit is run of the mill at this point. You can see fabulous CGI in commercials for soft drinks these days. And wanting to recapture a piece of your youth shouldn't be reason enough, either. Because to be perfectly honest, with very few exceptions I prefer the cartoons I loved as cartoons. Even feature-length animated versions of those stories with the exact same character design and voice acting usually disappointed me. Can't we just love what we loved as it was and stop trying to put it on Burger King cups of the future?

That being said, I am about to embark on an attempt to adapt a novel (or two) from my adolescence into screen fodder. I never said I wasn't a hypocrite. I just said I don't like Michael Bay. And I stand by that.

Time Waits for No Man

A few weekends ago, I missed the Star Wars birthday. But I thought about it and watched a lot of zombies instead. And I began proving my hypothesis that bloody marys make time dilate on the weekends. As long as you drink them in the daytime, and as long as I'm the one who makes them.

I should have gone and bought those American flag cupcakes. They're always a hit.

The Jacaranda trees are in bloom, scattering their lavender blossoms over everything that lines the streets, leaving outlines where parked cars were, like crime scene chalk drawings. The value of negative space.

My father told me about how my mom used to admire our neighbor Pete's Jacaranda trees, and that Pete confided in him that they may be pretty, but they are a pain in the ass. We sold that house. And Pete moved back to the Midwest. And I notice that when you move away from a place, it disappears from the map for you. A great void where once a house was. Or a street. Or a town. That was the house I parked in front of when some kids went along smashing car windows (including mine) on prom night. And the house I parked in front of when I came back from failing my driving test and angrily yanked my hand brake so hard that my mom had to use a hammer to get it to release. I go back to the surrounding neighborhood because Beulah still lives around there, but I've stopped looking off in the direction of that house. The end of the earth drops off where my memories end.

That same weekend, I carried a camera the whole time, but never had much cause to use it. Except for the hours I spent at Tom Bergin's celebrating Tricia's birthday, half of which I spent wondering why my camera kept alerting me that my card was locked. And then I noticed that the card was in fact locked.

Jessie and I stopped for Damiano's after the party. Got the worst table service I've had in some time. But that didn't have the same quality of "it's so bad it's great" as the Taco Bell run we made the following weekend. When the drive-thru attendant handed me our food, the smell in the car was so atrocious, I asked whether one of us had accidentally ordered a Diaper Supreme. That didn't stop us from eating what we ordered. It just made us laugh a lot while we were doing it.

This went over well the other day.

IMG_3626.JPG

May 18, 2007

I'm a pepper.

My friend Steve sent me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers for my birthday. It's sitting on my coffee table, and I was just sitting on my couch wondering why I could almost taste Dr. Pepper and really, REALLY wanted one. And then I realized it was the flowers. I guess one of the flowers in the arrangement is a Dr. Pepper blossom. My new favorite. Edging out the tulip.

May 14, 2007

O Birthday, How Annually You Befall Me!

It's my birthday, and I already got to park at a failed meter. Hooray!

May 11, 2007

Nerds won't stand for it.

The only notes I took at my first Saturn Awards were about Jon Ottman giving his acceptance speech and being corrected on his pronunciation of George Takei's name by someone yelling out from the audience.

At some point, an "R" Rating is going to mean that the movie was made by Jews or Atheists.

I was driving to work and listening to Air Talk's coverage of this new MPAA rating proposal which will assign an "R" Rating to films with people smoking in them. It's still okay to show people drinking alcohol, going to war, falling in love, reading, driving a car, driving a motorcycle, spraying hairspray behind a lighter thereby creating a makeshift blowtorch, becoming a cop, breakdancing, drinking from glass stemware, boarding an airplane, singing showtunes, eating red meat, applying for loans, believing in Santa Claus, writing with indelible markers, petting a horse, eating an apple, befriending a tiger, playing an electrified guitar, swimming in icy waters, hitchhiking, opening jars, eating with a knife and fork, reciting poetry, shucking oysters, flipping the bird, having unprotected sex, experiencing rage, opening for a country and western band, wearing a Mets cap in Brooklyn, and shopping at Dean & DeLuca's.

I'm glad the movies care about me and my children.

May 10, 2007

"This is some gay shit right here." A response to Spider-Man 3

Jessie and I went to see Spider-Man 3 on a whim. I was fully prepared to not like it. I'm not a big fan of the franchise in the first place. I don't care for Kirsten Dunst at all. My sister Sarah makes a face if you mention her and says, "You can tell she smells bad." I guess that sums it up. I do, however, like the music in all three movies, if that counts for anything.

So, I wasn't expecting to love the movie, but I was also not expecting it to be so inexcusably bad. Sam Raimi's at the helm, and it's the most expensive movie ever made. Shouldn't it not suck? Well, clearly, there's no science to these things. Because it suh-ucked. And the places where Sam Raimi might have been attempting to make it funny seemed absurd. And the places where he wanted us to listen to Kirsten Dunst sing were like being made to pay for crimes against humanity we didn't commit. When we see her singing for the third time at the end of the film, I muttered, "Oh, great. Bonus." And I didn't mean that I thought it was a bonus. In addition, nearly every time an older person spoke, the acting was so poor, I wondered if Sam Raimi was just trying to get SAG cards for every one of his relatives. Stan Lee falls outside this theory, but his acting was no less notably bad.

And then Tobey Maguire started dancing.

This film's take on the legacy of Venom is that it is the mysterious alien substance that turned Garth Brooks into Chris Gaines. Flubber pops out of meteorite whose arrival has been noticed by no one and attaches itself to motor scooter, later to give Peter Parker an emo hairdo and black eyeliner. Also, when one's darkside is being stoked, disco takes a hold of you and you can't not dance. And the ladies love you, because you are in the city and you are dancing. Ladies always love that. Some of them even faint, don't they? But this causes any potentially suspended disbelief you are experiencing to snap right back. Because Tobey Maguire is not hot. Not in the face anyway. Boyish? Okay. Homely? For sure. But not hot. And no amount of hair product will change that.

I am notoriously nitpicky about things that don't matter to anyone but me, but I also made a note about it when James Franco's butter starts burning, and then he just throws the eggs in and makes a pretty yellow omelet. No way. That omelet would have been brown. Period. And did you notice that whenever a piano player was accompanying a singer and someone walked in, requiring a melodramatic cessation of the song, the piano player stopped playing before the singer stopped singing? Who knew the band was full of psychics and/or drama queens. When my hair caught fire in the orchestra pit for Guys and Dolls, we all kept playing, and the singers kept singing. I put out the flames, brushed the fried crumbs of my once-lovely hair from the body of my violin and went right back to it. You don't halt that manhole dance just because someone put a citronella candle where they shouldn't.

And the action looked about as convincing as a video game. Did they really spend the most money ever spent on a movie just to make a "live action" film that looks like a cartoon? I melodramatically checked my ticket to see if I hadn't actually come to see Shrek.

I am very tired of that trademark carousel shot, too.

So the black gunk turns Tobey Maguire into Chris Gaines and it turns Topher Grace into Adam Carolla. Weird. And I used to think Thomas Haden Church was cute. What a fish mouth he's turned into.

And if you're going to spend THAT MUCH money, shouldn't the scar on James Franco's face look like it wasn't made with Sculpy?

I really did still enjoy the score, though. Really.

And at the gym, I saw the local news covering the fires in Los Feliz and doing a little human interest piece on gas masks for pets. Apparently, you can just stick the gas masks on dogs, and they're cool with it. But cats -- being mistrustful and ungrateful -- have to be immobilized in a little cat duffel bag and then thrown in the river. Oh, wait. I mean and then fitted with a gas mask and carried lovingly to safety.

May 3, 2007

Moonandback

When I was in the fourth grade and a student at Mountain View Elementary School in Concord, California, I entered an essay and drawing contest with the theme "How a Moon House Would Be Different from an Earth House." The winners of the contest were awarded a $25 U.S. savings bond and got to meet Astronaut Wally Schirra. I was one of those winners. My two drawings on construction paper depicting a normal house on Earth and a house on the Moon, with its Airstream-like solar panel exterior, accompanied a handwritten essay whose contents I no longer recall and apparently wowed the judges enough to earn me a spot in the photo opportunity. When my mom brought me to the place where the newspaper photographer was going to capture our honor on film, I learned that there were a total of six winners of the contest: three from regular schools and three from the school for mentally retarded kids. So my photo in the paper was of me and five other kids and Astronaut Wally Schirra. And three of the kids had Down's syndrome, and I am half Chinese, and I can't remember which of the women in my family has this on her birth certificate, but one of our birth certificates has "Mongolian" in the field marked "Race." And even in the fourth grade, I recognized this to be a situation of some irony. I remember Astronaut Wally Schirra as having a ready smile and a friendly demeanor. I remember him being very tall. But then, I was eight.

When I was in high school in Japan, the Home Economics teacher Mrs. Sattre (whose first name was Solveig) was famous for two things. One, she had driven her car into the side of the school one day. And, two, she had once dated Astronaut Buzz Aldrin. I heard they were both known to be hotsy-totsy on the social scene at one point. But I don't know whether that means she ever met Astronaut Wally Schirra. This anecdote is less important to the story than the one that preceded it.

I heard on the radio this morning that Astronaut Wally Schirra died today of a heart attack at Scripps Green Hospital of La Jolla. That's the hospital I went to when a wood plank flew off a moving truck and into my windshield on the 805, spraying my retina with glass. It's considered one of the finest hospitals in San Diego, and it's in a lovely location. I'm glad Astronaut Wally Schirra was being well cared for, and I'm glad that our paths crossed back when I was eight years-old. And I remember being thrilled by the idea of going into space, and that is thanks to astronauts like Wally Schirra. In doing some cursory research today, I learned that he snuck a corned beef sandwich onto a space mission, was the first person to perform music in space, was the first astronaut to swear over an open microphone, and was (according to his offical web site) a 33 Mason. Our worlds were always converging, it seems.

May 2, 2007

Incubatrix



A month ago today, I took a bite of a nicely packaged blueberry nutrition bar my mom gave me, and I had to take a second look at it to make sure I hadn't actually bitten into a piece of shit. Looking at it wasn't all that convincing, either. It was a Blueberry Noni Think Green bar. I don't know what "noni" is, but in this bar's enthusiasm to deliver to me all the nutrition in my recommended daily serving of vegetables, it really missed the boat on being delicious or even palatable. I said to several people that day, "I'm pretty sure this bar has been digested at least once."

The up side is that my mom gets these things for free. So if you don't like something you found in her kitchen, you can probably just let it fall out of your mouth and into the trash can without even offending her. My mother represents gourmet food companies and has a handsome selection of wonderful -- and often dismayingly healthful -- products that she enthusiastically markets to upscale supermarkets all over the place. But she also goes to a lot of food-related trade shows, where she gets remarkable amounts of things for free which she then brings home and stores in the kitchen and the front bar area of her home, fully intending guests and family to help themselves to whatever random bounty is on the top of the pile. I ate something over there a few weeks ago, and I told her it was really gross, and she shrugged and said, "I don't care. It's not my line."

Of course, if she'd paid for the thing you just ate and didn't like, she would probably try to offer you a fix. A condiment or a stint in a fry pan -- whatever might make it suddenly delicious to you. Because it's only ever okay to spit something out if it was free.

"We're done."

The other night, I had a dream that began in Disneyland. Or a less engaging version of it, with some kind of bumper car flume ride where half the gondolas were stuck facing sideways, and the people aboard them didn't realize until the ride got going that they were only going to watch everyone else having the time of their lives. I remember walking in the roundabout at the end of Main Street and noticing that there weren't very many people. It was night, and the walkways were wet. It was cold. Dewy. I think I had an argument with someone under a lamppost.

At some point in the dream, I was then on a plane flying back from San Francisco over the water at night. Something was wrong. I could see the people around me beginning to panic. When I looked out the window, I could see the ocean and a few far-off lights. And I could tell with suddenness that the plane was beginning to go into a nosedive. There was less noise than I expected. One of the people on the plane was talking, and he said with a calm that surprised me: "We're done." And I knew he was right as we hit the water. I expected to watch myself die. I even wondered if I would be able to see the moment of impact or if it would be so powerful that this moment of conscious thought would just fold seamlessly into the blackness. But when we hit the water, the fuselage didn't buckle, and none of us were thrown from our seats. I knew we we were going to go down into the water, and I reached for my phone and began sending a text message with the flight number and the fact that we had crashed into the sea to several people in my phone book. I wondered if they would know what to do.

Last night, I was awake all night. Tired and listless but unable to sleep. I'd spent the day shooting behind the scenes video and stills on two different productions, and the day was long as a result. I made very few notes. I remember wanting to write down that an SUV in front of me had a mason's bumper sticker on it, and I wondered what masons are really like and if I might actually know one but just not be aware of it. But most of the day was waiting. And waiting really takes it out of me.

I didn't fall asleep until well after 6 a.m. And the dream I recall took place in something like a large hotel, where there were a lot of people that I knew doing the things that people do in hotels, and I was trying to look like I was doing them, too, even though I was preoccupied with one person and whether we were going to run into each other or find ourselves in a situation that made having a conversation not seem like a surrender. I saw him eating in a restaurant, and I was trying to finish breaking the pieces of flatbread in front of me in time to run into him before he left without looking like I was in a hurry. He was wearing a blue shirt, and I didn't like having to rush.

While trying to sleep, I made a lot of effort to comfort my dog. She was fast asleep, and I realize it was projection.

Apr 24, 2007

ad astra per aspera

I fell into a pit of distraction. And then I stayed in it. Because getting out of it required an explanation, and I was very, very busy.

More 3rd Street than Hollywood.

The day I took Kerstin to the airport to return her to England, we were on our way to lunch and we crossed Robertson and 3rd right in front of Samuel L. Jackson in a slick Mercedes . I later joked that I should have taken his license plate number and accused him of having hit us. Soon after, we lamented not having pitched him the idea we had about a remake of Scarface starring him.

Last week, Jessie and I went to Canter's late in the night, and Fairuza Balk strode in. And last night at the Arclight, Everybody Loves Raymond's mother was having dinner a table or two away. Samuel L. Jackson wins this round.

"I'm gonna eat your brains and gain your knowledge."

I saw the Grindhouse double feature a couple of weeks ago. I didn't think Death Proof was very good. Planet Terror was pretty entertaining, but -- having just seen Hot Fuzz last night -- I conclude that if you're going to effect a genre homage, Hot Fuzz is the way to do it. Grindhouse is not. Add to that how ineffectually Grindhouse was marketed and I'm not terribly surprised it's been doing so poorly. Although you should see it just for the parody trailers. Especially the one by the guys who made Hot Fuzz.

I really need an Aeron chair.

Work has been pulling all-nighters out of me multiple times a week for weeks on end. I take secret pleasure in the fact that I can still do it. But that doesn't ameliorate the actual stressful effects. Knowing you have to be up for one night is one thing. Knowing you have to be up for three nights straight is somewhat more defeating. But a paycheck is a paycheck, and it's welcome, and it has made a number of new outfits possible. So I shake hands with the devil and agree to his terms, knowing full well he doesn't exist. I win!

You can't out-Forrest the Forrest.

I take notes when I'm at the movies. I take notes when I'm at comedy shows. I take notes when I'm in the middle of an actual conversation with a live person and I'm the one talking. I write a lot of shit down, but I don't do as much with it as I plan to. And I dont' always remember what I meant by what I wrote down in reading it later. I also write in the dark a lot and am often unable to decipher my penmanship. Moleskine notebooks are expensive. I waste them a lot.

I know the little jingles to certain commercials, because I watch the same network nearly all the time, and I hear the same commercials again and again. Activia. Caduet. 21st Century Insurance. Some commercial for gastric bypass surgery. Some commercial for anti-depressants. The NBA. I wonder sometimes about all that brain space and what other things it could be used for. And I just learned that Connecticut is the nutmeg state. I wonder when that will come in handy, knowing full well that it eventually will.

There is a lot of art I'm not making.

ad astra per alia porci

Feb 28, 2007

Oh, you and your ever-present camera.

Yes, I always have my camera with me, and I should have insisted we stop the other day when driving past the Wilshire Theatre, where the marquee read, "JAMES TAYLOR SOLD OUT." I read it out loud and laughed. But I missed the photo opportunity. And then, at the Oscar party on Sunday, when James Taylor and Randy Newman were playing Randy Newman's song, I said, "James Taylor sold out!" And Valerie said indignantly, "How did he sell out?" And I told them all about the sign, and everyone laughed. I love The Oscars.

2007. It's all about me.

It's the Year of the Pig. Let's hope I get what's coming to me.

Sarah and I were watching The Night We Never Met the other night, and she said, "Hey. There's that fat, angry comic." And sure enough, it was Lewis Black.

Rob and I watched Little Miss Sunshine last night. I hated it. I wasn't entertained once that I can remember. It was National Lampoon's Vacation being retold by a guy pretending to be Wes Anderson, and I didn't buy it for a second. What did everyone love so much about this movie? The big yellow poster?

Which reminds me that I was recently talking about Morgan Freeman and thought, when's the Easy Reader movie coming out? It's time.

Don't read Henry Miller. And if you do, have someone tell you the page numbers of the dirty passages. He talks about his prick so much that even when he uses the word erection to mean a building, you immediately assume you're reading something you shouldn't. Now, I say this, because I assume you -- like most people -- think that Henry Miller books are full of sex and smut. Which is why you shouldn't waste your time, unless you get someone to make up a little crib sheet for you so you don't get bogged down in all of the other things he has to say while you're trying to romance your lap.

I learn from Henry Miller that employability may be inversely correlated to a sense of being better than everyone around you. If this applies to me at all, this is probably my biggest failing and also my greatest triumph. (I'm not better than everyone, but I've worked for a few superlatively unfortunate douchebags.) Miller couldn't keep a job. Bukowski kept a post office position for years and years. Interesting juxtaposition.

I don't know why I wrote down the phrase "porkchops of marriage."

I remember the days when the anger hadn't yet turned to sadness. But I can't tell if I miss them.

Feb 16, 2007

Bone Sincere

Sally Field is pimping Boniva, an osteoporosis-prevention medicine that positions itself as being better than other similar medicines because you only have to take it once a month. Sally was just saying that her girlfriend told her that she has to set aside time once every day to take her osteoporosis medication, so when she learned about the once-monthly regimen of Boniva, she was like, "I can handle that."

I hate being lied to. Especially by people who are being paid to try and trick me into thinking they're sincere and real. Nothing about Sally's story rings true. Her "friend" never seems to have a name. And frankly, how does Sally tolerate a whiner who thinks taking a pill once a day is too time-consuming to be endured? How about the time this friend wastes talking about how much time it takes? It's not a very powerful marketing message. Not being a hunchback is much more compelling than having thirty extra seconds every day. And I'm also assuming that if you're old enough to be worried about being a hunchback, you're probably taking other pills every day, too. You know, the pills that keep your heart from stopping willy nilly. And the pills to keep your sciatica from flaring up. And the pills to keep your trick knee from going tricky. So just throw your osteoporosis pill in with all the others. Amortizing the pill-taking time across all of these other medications makes it virtually negligible. Unless osteoporosis medication comes in a really complicated bottle. In which case, I suggest to the makers of Boniva that designing a bottle that's more like a Zip-Loc bag might also be a nice way to go, product development-wise.

Sally Field, don't drink coffee into the camera and tell me you care about your friends and their bones. I don't buy it for a minute. And I'm pretty sure that's not your kitchen either.

Feb 13, 2007

You and Your Water

Dexatrim Max2O


Dexatrim Max2O (that 2 should be subscripted, but go jump in a lake, will you?) runs these spots on television encouraging you to sprinkle this stuff in your drinking water and thereby become thin and energetic and wonderful all around. "Gives me and my water a boost!" says one chipper young fellow before taking an enthusiastic draught from his water bottle. And the voiceover instructs you to "max out your water" with Dexatrim Max2O. It may be inappropriately old world of me, but this only makes me think of urine.

I vaguely remember an interview on, I think, This American Life but certainly an NPR program. It was a Jewish fellow who is famous for something now. I don't remember what. He may be a musician. He and his sister visited Israel when he was a boy, and their knowledge of Hebrew was sometimes jeered at because of how formal their diction was. He gave an example of excusing himself to use the restroom and saying something essentially to the effect of begging someone's leave so that he might go make water. I think. I really don't remember this memory well enough to recount it, I'm realizing.

Anyway, so I know of this phrase "to make water," and I know that it was once said to mean "to go pee pee." And as a result, hearing about your water or my water or even someone being described as "a comedienne of the first water" (as was just done on a page of Henry Miller I read last night) generally makes me cringe. I'm evolved enough to know that this is my problem and not Dexatrim's or Henry Miller's for that matter. But I'm self-centered enough to complain about it publicly. So there you go.

You and your water go do what you need to, but please don't do it near me. I have a thing about other people's pee.

Dog-Eared Pages and Missing Zeroes

When I first moved out on my own at the unfortunate age of 19, I was poor. I didn't live like I was especially poor, but that's what helped make me really poor. When I finally ran out of cash and ran out of credit and never managed to scare up the ingenuity to pull off a major heist, I often spent time flipping through pages of catalogs and marking the things I would in theory buy. For some reason, the mere act of choosing partially sated my desire to actually have. And in a way I could go around feeling as if I already owned these things. I had pointed at them. Circled them with a pen. They were mine.

I am downright grateful I didn't actually acquire the majority of things I once thought I wanted. I no longer have the mountains of mail-order literature stashed away, but I carried a lot of those rags around with me for years mostly as a result of bad filing. They would end up in a box that was filled primarily with magazines with some amount of keepsake value, and I would run into them some amount of time later and think, "Poo. Why would you want to wear that thing?" or "What an absurd upholstery choice." So allowing some time for incubation is probably the most critical factor in staving off bankruptcy for me even now.

Cut to yesterday afternoon when I received Anthropologie's new catalog in the post. It's called print, and it is now my nemesis. With the exception of a few of the furniture pieces and a dumb handbag, I literally want every single thing in this catalog. Maybe I'll outgrow the want. Maybe the colors will grow garish. Or the platform wedge sandals will seem clunky and dated*. Maybe I will join a militant political group and never wear anything but camouflage. But at this very moment, with my current opinions and my current tastes, this catalog is a lesson in the things I don't have. Happily, this retailer isn't a purveyor of more metaphysical items. Or I'd be able to carrot that sentence with the word "all."

This will be the death of me.

Anthropologie Print Volume 1 Issue 1


*No way. That shit never goes out of style.

Syntax Error

I was sorting through my email inbox. There's mail in there from 2004 gunking the place up. It's hopeless. But I found this, and it made me want to show it off:

im the guy who from malaysia want to know u..i like style of take photo.. hope to see ur picture as long as i still alive...

Feb 12, 2007

Philately

Sugar Ray Robinson Stamp


I gave my mom a sheet of Sugar Ray Robinson stamps to give to my father. At first, she was livid. She thought I had made the stamps myself. The Christmas before last, I had some custom stamps made at Zazzle.com with a photograph of me and my two sisters, and I gave the stamps to my family members, and my mom was both grateful and angry, because it costs more than twice the face value of the stamp to have them made. And apparently, that's not worth it. So, she looked at this sheet of Sugar Ray Robinson stamps and was all prepared to disown me, until I explained that I bought these stamps at the U.S. Post Office and paid exactly what they say they cost. Then she was pretty nice about it. What's most amusing to me is the idea that I would have spent money to design and print a Sugar Ray Robinson stamp.

My father emailed me a couple of days ago thanking me for the stamps, and also said the following:

Ray Robinson was one of the greatest boxers and champions at a time when you had to be great to be a champion. I was watching ESPN's Sports Classic Channel last night and they showed a short clip of a knockout when Ray took back the championship from another classy champ who was more like Joe Frazer in his style. ESPN had interviewed him recently and he said after Sugar Ray knocked him down and he was counted out they carried him back to his corner. When he came to he heard everyone screaming and asked his trainer what round it was. He didn't even know he had been knocked out. My memory is bad so I can't remember his name but he was from Utah.

We also discussed the Mosley-Collazzo fight, which we both watched. My dad said, "Sugar Shane gave him a 'whoopin' as Mohammed Ali would describe it."

"Another classy champ." How great is that. My dad couldn't not be awesome if it was required by law. To not be awesome. Admittedly, this statement lacks clarity.

I've never liked the word "morsel."

This man and I were on a bridge
He told me he'd never been to Rome
We both jumped
But the ocean was never the ocean
And we landed instead in a field
There were flowers everywhere
And children with kites
And I wondered how one ever gets a kite to go
As I have never managed to

Is it wrong to want what dreams promise?

Feb 5, 2007

Wraith Pinned to Commercial Success

I am a fan of Of Montreal, but I was so disappointed when -- a few months back -- I heard their song Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games in an Outback Steakhouse commercial. Not only did they license the song to that awful restaurant, they even recorded an original version of the song with new Outback Steakhouse lyrics. Leaving me to seethe. The only positive spin I can put on it is that in the original song, the lyrics "Let's go Outback tonight" are supplanted by the lyrics "Let's pretend we don't exist," which may be a comment of its own.

Obviously, I've forgiven them. I went to see them last week, and I didn't boo or anything. They're still one of the feel-goodiest bands there is, and their outfits rule. I just hate that hearing that groovy little bass line should ever make me think of a Bloomin' Onion instead of an acid trip.

Feb 4, 2007

"Usted nunca encontrará una colmena más desgraciada de la espuma y de la villanía."

I turned on the TV this morning, like you do. And I flipped to the programming guide and saw that Star Wars was on again. So I tuned to that. It was the cantina scene. I was about five minutes in when I realized I was watching the Spanish language broadcast. Like I had the movie playing for a good three or four minutes with Han and Luke and Obiwan dubbed in Spanish, and I didn't notice it at all. Weird.

Mayo la fuerza esté con usted.

Feb 2, 2007

Dakota Fanning is the creepiest thing ever born from a human womb.

My friend Michael forwarded me a link last week wherein Dakota Fanning said that she hoped people weren't let down by her rape scene in Hounddog, which was apparently less bombastic than fans of childhood rape might have been hoping. She told EW the day after the Sundance premiere, ''I think people were expecting something more controversial, and it's like, 'Oh, that's it?'''

Judging from the reviews and the lack of announcement of a distribution deal, I guess it's possible I will have to rely on my imagination to inform my fantasies as to how big of a deal Dakota's non-consensual debut might have been. And that's not all bad. Because in my imagination, she endures a modest raping, delivers an unbearably precocious monologue through her mostly missing baby teeth, and then Tom Cruise throws peanut butter sandwiches against the kitchen window. And how can you blame him. Baby teeth are hideous to look at. Jagged calcium deposits in a field of misshapen gum matter. Gross. If rape is the only way to prevent a follow-up monologue, I say rape on, independent film world. Rape on.

I'll be goddamned if I know.

I love Walter Matthau so much that watching Plaza Suite is too painful and disappointing to bear. While he's Sam, anyway. And then when he becomes Mr. Kiplinger and he says "9" in that duosyllabic way, I guess I can bear it after all.

Jan 29, 2007

In the tiniest of nutshells

I have been sick since Wednesday.

Beulah, Yen, Laura, and I went to see Of Montreal on Saturday night at the Avalon. David Bowie was there. They covered a song of his in honor of that fact. It was too hot on the balcony. But downstairs was sublime. I wish I hadn't been so sick.

After the concert, we went to the Cat and the Fiddle. Everyone loved their dinners. I had a snakebite for dinner.

Before Beulah went home on Sunday, I made her a pasta sampler featuring four of my sauces and four different varieties of pasta. She entertained me with her food orgasm. (Simon, I'm sorry if the use of the word "orgasm" gets my site banned from your workplace network again. I don't think I've said "jihad," "sniper," or "how to make bombs from simple household supplies" in this entry, so hopefully "orgasm" will slip by.)

In discussing my eating disorder, Beulah said, "For a genius, you sure are stupid."

Beulah looks super pretty in my pictures from the concert.

I told Rob that The Dresden Files is just Charmed without the Brass Plum fashion sensibility. This made Rob laugh.

I had every intention of writing about the President's State of the Union address. The closest I got was to type snarky remarks about it over IM. I guess I could still write about it. I might.

I was too sick to go to an audition today.

Pat Healy is in every episode of every show I watch. Every single one. So is David Starzyk. Those two dudes should totally arm wrestle.

I went to CVS today to buy more cold medicine. Many brands are on sale. Many of the chutes were empty, and the line at the pharmacy was long. I have a feeling I'm not the only one coughing my eyeballs out and going about all feverish.

I would like a high-paying job, please.

The parking at my post office is all marked 20 minutes. But I don't think I've ever gone into that station and waited in line for less than 30. It occurred to me today that if I had a certain kind of autism, this might send me into an episode.

I don't have autism.

I had a dream this morning that Paget Brewster cast me in a play, but on opening night I was totally unprepared and realized we hadn't blocked my scene, I didn't have a costume, I wasn't off book, and my scene partner and I had never been to a dress rehearsal.

Maybe I do have autism.

I just saw a Hallmark commercial that said, "Love happens with the music of Josh Groban." I'm surprised that Hallmark's legal department didn't require some evidence supporting this claim. Also on the subject of commercials, have you seen this one? It actually increases my respect for Kevin Federline a weensy bit.

I just gave Audrey a bath. I'm going to put on a Josh Groban CD and see what happens. Oh, wait. I don't own a Josh Groban CD.

I've made a lot of progress in sorting out my office and its avalanche of paperwork. This is something to crow about.

I'm flat broke, but I don't care. I strut right by with my tail in the air.

Jan 24, 2007

Y'aren't ever going to get out of that tub, Blanche.

I like a bath so hot that it makes you curse as you force yourself into it. I like it scalding and steamy and on the verge of unbearable. I take a book into the bath with me, but it's usually so hot that I can only stand to stay in for a chapter or two.

I like it cold, too. I like the water in general. I envied Johnny's healing tank in Starship Troopers. And I've jumped into swimming pools that were unadvisably chilly because I guess I think it's better to be cold and wet than to be dry and dull.

I think I feel a sick coming on. That's why the bath. Now I'm for tea and down and flannel pajama pants. And hopefully that's all it will take.

My target demographic

I've always done well with the homeless. Travel back in time and ask me in any year you like. I'll always say this is true. Sometimes I've thought it's because I have a friendly face. Sometimes I've thought it's because homeless people must dig Asian chicks. But who am I kidding. Most of the homeless people I meet are men, and men like what Playtex strives to hide.

As I was walking to my show at I.O. West on Monday night, I got a particularly positive response from the various urban outdoorsmen whose paths I crossed. Further proving my hypothesis that the homeless are the only people left who aren't swayed by the Hollywood ideal. Even on Hollywood Boulevard, the fatter I am, the more those dudes appreciate the at-times bulging appearance of my curvaceous fecundity. If the species is going to be perpetuated on the basis of rote instinct, there's a good chance future generations will only be parented by derelicts and fat chicks.

"You gave Jenny the huggies?"

I just saw a heartbreaking commercial for Pedigree dog food. The visual is of dogs behind fences in a shelter. The voiceover is in the first person. A dog saying, "I know how to sit, how to fetch, and how to roll over. What I don't know is how I ended up in here. But I know that I am a good dog. And I just want to go home." These sweet dog faces with their big wet eyes. Of course I just want to bring them all home and put them in my bed. Then what was the dog's voice says, "When you buy Pedigree we make a donation to help shelter dogs find loving homes. The Pedigree adoption drive. Help us help dogs." And there's this bleak, one-note-at-a-time guitar music being plucked in the background. It sure made me want to run out the door with paper currency fanned out of my fist and find all of those dogs and put shirts on them and hug them and hug them and hug them. I can picture myself slow dancing with one of the bigger ones. You know how you can put their paws on your shoulders and...well, I'm getting ahead of myself. I don't have a fistful of money. I don't have a yard. And I haven't done my hair yet. How could I possibly leave the house.

And then Jenny from The Muppets Take Manhattan was playing a bitchy mom in a courtroom scene on Judging Amy. Long gone are the baseball t-shirts and the early '80s running shorts. Replaced by a smart bobbed hairdo and what looks like pink bouclé. Long gone. I know that I am a good dog. And I just want to go home.

La la la la la. Without a shirt. Without a shirt.

I didn't feel much like sleep the other night. I worked for a while, didn't work for a while, read for a while, poked around on the Internet, thought about burning my apartment to the ground, annoyed my dog. And then I watched The Great Gatsby until five a.m. I didn't really mean to. I put the sleep timer on, but -- as happens with certain films and television programs -- it didn't have the effect of lulling me to sleep, because I kept watching it. I haven't seen it in a long time. And I noticed that I watch it differently now. George Wilson now looks to me like a guy I used to work with. I notice Tom Buchanan's oafishness even more. Daisy seems more annoyingly affected than dreamy. Nick is more Jack McCoy than he could have been when I first saw the film, as he hadn't yet been Jack McCoy back then. I noticed the dancing lesbians more specifically. I paid closer attention to what the caterers were bringing in. I thought how much I almost never feel like champagne is a celebration. And I wondered what that poor dead gull must have smelled like. And I felt sad for it and didn't bother myself with any possible symbolism. Sometimes I watch a movie once and love it and then watch it later and despise it. Sometimes I watch a movie once and decry it to the masses and then watch it later and find myself carried away by it. And I think that every day that goes by I'm seeing things and meeting people and filing things into parts of my brain, and it changes me. And I am not the same person today that I would have been yesterday and certainly not the same person I must have been years ago. And it changes what I like and what I despise. So how can they award these Oscars when everyone watching every movie is seeing it from this very personal place? What about the guy who can't stop thinking how much Jack Nicholson looks like his dad? Or the girl who used to date a guy who used to smile just like Leonardo di Caprio? How do you not pay a different sort of attention when a film is set in your home town but is clearly shot in Vancouver?

And wonder seems to fade with stasis, I noticed. I walked my dog this morning. And that yellow apartment building with the red door didn't do anything for me. And I remember when I first started walking Audrey -- often in the middle of the night -- and I would pass that apartment building and look at that red door, and it would make me think of buildings in Italy, and I could see up into the big portrait window upstairs and the people who lived there had such a lot of empty space. Every time I would go for a walk, I would look at the apartments and think about the lives being lived in them and I would wonder and fascinate and wiggle my toes in my shoes. And I would get back home and want to write it down. But today, I noticed there was nothing. I was walking half-asleep, squinting even behind my sunglasses, waiting for Audrey to get her fill of the various lawns so I could go back home and get on with whatever it is I think I'm missing out on when I'm out walking her. I go out, and I come back in. And I go out and come back in. And nothing much changes. And few of the things I want to do get done. It's hard not to get sad about it. Or to at least not get embarrassed. I am so unproductive and lazy, I doubt I could mow a lawn. Even a small one. I dread appointments, but I also cherish them. For making me have to be somewhere. I hate having to be somewhere, but I can't bear having nowhere to be.

When my dog kisses me, she tilts her head to the side and gets all romantic.

Jan 21, 2007

A phase is a phase is a phase.

I don't cook as often as I used to. Sometimes I even convince myself that I don't really enjoy it as much as I used to. I've gotten lazy. My kitchen isn't very modern. I want for counter space. But this past week, I caught the bug.

I had chicken that had to be cooked to make room in my freezer. So I made this casserole that my mom used to make. A chicken and rice thing with cream of mushroom soup and Lipton Onion Soup Mix sprinkled on top. The other half of the chicken I fried in a pan. Both turned out great. I didn't really eat much of either. They are in my refrigerator.

Yesterday, I made linguine carbonara. A specialty of mine that really shouldn't be made very often as it is the most fattening possible dish one could hope to eat, short of a bowl of solid fat. And then today, I made meat sauce like my mother taught me, only I don't substitute turkey for the beef and pork (and veal when I can get it). And I had enough meat to also make a bolognese sauce that I haven't made in years. And that sauce calls for a Sicilian tomato sauce recipe that I also had to make. So that's three sauces simmering on my stove all day today. And then I made a tonnato sauce, because I saw the recipe, had all the ingredients, and managed to drop and break a jar of Italian tuna in olive oil -- enough so that it needed to be used but not so much that I'm worried about accidentally eating shards of glass.

I was on my feet in the kitchen all day. I used and washed numerous appliances and pots and pans and then reused and rewashed them. I kept very busy. The Incredible Mr. Limpet was playing on the television for some of the time. My upstairs neighbors were arguing up a storm. And then they weren't. And then they were again. I have a little kitchen timer in the shape of a pear. It was ticking all day. And then it would buzz like crazy. And then I would wind it up and it would begin ticking again. I picture the day going by like in those time lapse films where the sun rises and sets and rises and sets in a matter of seconds. Civilizations came and went. Wars were fought and won. Fashions were established, discarded, and then revived triumphantly. Music stayed mostly the same.

By the time eight o'clock came around, I had finished cooking everything but had no real interest in eating any of it. I didn't even boil any noodles. I just made all the sauces and put them away. And then I cleaned up and went to a party where Ryan and James made me laugh and laugh. It was cold outside. But it was too warm inside to stay in. There was a ham rotting on the mantel. Festively. I photographed it. I didn't photograph much of anything else. Maybe I'm turning over a new leaf. A temporary one. Well, leaves are largely temporary anyway.

IMG_0820.JPG

Jan 15, 2007

"Save a Life -- Yours."



Amazon.com suggested that I get myself a Life Hammer with the following approach:

"Don't be trapped in your vehicle in case of accident--the Life Hammer is designed to help you escape by easily smashing your window and cutting your seatbelt."

Despite my upbringing, I'm not really the sort of person who expects misfortune to find me. But this is precisely the sort of marketing that ignites fantasies in my brain in which I have just driven off a bridge into an ice cold lake which also happens to be teeming with water spiders, anthropomorphized fecal matter, and murderers in diving gear.

The Life Hammer comes in several colors.

Wrongful Deaths

I was working pretty much all day yesterday, and Turner Classic Movies kept me company for much of the time. The pay channels for some of the time. I watched The Dirty Dozen, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Player, The Aviator, Quiz Show, and I eventually watched Diva in bed in the wee hours before finally going to sleep. These are all movies I've seen before. And I watched them in the way that I often do -- not necessarily looking at the screen the whole time but hearing every bit. And I remember thinking at one point that it sure makes for compelling drama when someone kills the wrong man or when the bad guy gets his comeuppance but not from the guy he did wrong or when the adulterers don't get caught or when the cuckolded spouse gets yelled at for no reason or when the murderer gets away with it or when hardened criminals become heroes or when heroes become criminals or when French people bootleg opera music but purely for the love of the art. I remember thinking that real drama is fueled by a sense of injustice. Or by the certainty of preventable tragedy. That you can't hang on the edge of your seat if you know not to worry about anyone not wearing a red tunic. That your heart beats less quickly when everything wraps up nicely in the end. Which explains so much about my feelings about Hollywood filmmaking.

Randomly? I used to think Lee Marvin was scary. And that he had a pig nose. Nik Kershaw helped me love Humphrey Bogart. There was a time when I couldn't watch Hannah and Her Sisters because it hurt too much. Watching The Player now that I live in Los Angeles is really, really different. I read Diva before I watched the movie. Sarah and I were in high school, and I got it from the public library's paperback trade-in on the Naval base on Guam. I loved it. And when we rented the movie, I was slightly disappointed. No one was as beautiful as I had imagined them to be. Well, Jules maybe. But I was glad to finally hear La Wally and not have to make it up in my head. Years later, when I made mix tapes of soundtrack music, La Wally was on my downbeat mix. I would like to recreate that mix. If only to recapture the feeling of driving around in a car I no longer have in a city I no longer live in with ideas in my head that have long since come to seem foolheaded. La Wally was one of only three tracks with lyrics. The other two being When You're Alone from Hook, and Victory Celebration/End Titles from The Return of the Jedi Special Edition. Yeah, that last one only goes, "Ya ya ya ya ya." But I guess I think of those as words. And it still used to make me feel my heart in my throat some of the time.

To sum up: I am kind of a nerd.

Jan 14, 2007

Record Lows

It was so cold and dry this morning that I had a nosebleed. First one in at least ten years. I think the last time I had one, I was sitting at my desk at Protein Polymer Technologies, and I saw drops of blood splashing onto my computer keyboard. I was wearing a lavender silk blazer, and I was dismayed that I got blood on it. Before that, the last real memory I had of a surprise public nosebleed was in fourth grade. I wrote about it already, so I won't belabor the point. As a little girl, I used to get nosebleeds with some frequency. I would have to climb out of the top bunk of the bunkbed I shared with my sister Sarah and go trouble my parents with my hand to my nose and a bloodstained nightgown. Many of my pillowcases had blood stains on them, now that I think of it. I had a fish pillowcase I liked very much. And a very soft blanket with pale green teddy bears on it. The fish pillowcase definitely had blood on it. I think the teddy bear blanket survived unmarred. Though I don't know what's become of either of them. And it's occasionally a source of dismay. If only I could recapture all of my childhood fancies by way of Amazon.com Marketplace.

So it was a recordbreaking cold day. Lows have been in the 30s. I heard on NPR this morning that today's low broke a record set in the 1930s. There were sheets of ice on the 405. I had a fire in the fireplace and soaked my ice cold feet in scalding bathwater at least five times today to restore some amount of circulation to them. It was cold enough to make my nose bleed and cold enough to keep the blood from ever reaching my extremities. Cold enough to wear mittens and stamp one's feet when standing still outside. Cold enough to make the obligatory conversations about how cold it is seem slightly less jejune. Just last week, it was hot as summertime. I only narrowly escaped falling prey to seasonal illness. It's the ups and downs that get you. The getting caught out after nightfall in a t-shirt and jeans when suddenly you could keep meat and dairy products on your doorstep with no fear of them going to spoil.

It is going to continue to be cold for the next few days, according to the weather services. I don't like to turn the heat on in my apartment. It smells a certain way. Dries my whole head out in a certain way. But when it's 55 degrees inside, I sometimes give in. And when I do, I'm reminded of all of my previous winters in this place. That smell. That nauseating cushion of artificial coziness that is so much more present in my bedroom than anywhere else in the place. I don't like the way it feels. But I like remembering how it felt before. If that makes any sense.

"A real squared-away guy."

slf.jpg


My dad and I spent a few days hanging out after the new year began. I cooked dinner a few times, and we would watch movies. The Maltese Falcon. High Anxiety. His company delights me. It wasn't hard for me to stretch my misplaced Christmas out for days and days. And on the day I was finally determined to load my car up and head back to Los Angeles, we had a conversation that somehow led him to show me the CDs he had bought, which were essentially cruise books from when he was a Seabee in Vietnam that someone had scanned and packaged for sale.

My dad paged through the PDF and made comments as they occurred to him. This commanding officer was a real squared-away guy. This one...well, he wasn't one. This guy really had a tough job, because his men were the worst slackers and layabouts in the bunch. Look, the Seabees had a pet bear.

Well, I copied those PDFs and clipped out the images I found with my dad in them. This is him as a guy in his thirties. He sure was handsome and great.


gun.jpg


decisions.jpg


china_beach.jpg


cake.jpg


retired.jpg


I was going to crop out these images and write this post more than a week ago, but it -- like everything -- wriggled free of my volition for a while. And then I was watching a vintage featurette about The Dirty Dozen today, and the narrator kept referring to Lee Marvin and the other stars of the film as "action men." And I loved it. And decided to pay some small homage to a time when men were men of action, and Tim Allen was nowhere to be found.

Jan 4, 2007

Having a Crush and More

Having a Crush and More

Jan 3, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot less like Christmas.

Well, if you asked Santa for less of my prattling on and on, I hope you've taken a moment to thank him. It's not that I haven't been up to anything or that I haven't been noticing the same frequency of bullshit and/or bliss-inducing goings on. I've jotted plenty in my notebook. But for some reason, the longer I stay away, the easier it becomes to stay away. The harder it seems to approach the task of catching up. It happens with friends sometimes. You wait so long to say hello that you almost feel ashamed to try and say it at all. But when the friendships are real, you can always just pick right back up. That's been my experience. You have to ask if you've told this one before. And you have to give a little backstory before getting into the meat of things, but your voices don't change that much. And you probably laugh at the same things you used to. And at some point, you have a sigh and say aloud that it's good to be back in touch. And you mean it.

This is not me trying to personify my blog. This is just me using another ragged metaphor to offset my delinquency. Maybe you've missed me. Maybe you haven't. I can forgive either case.

I spent my Christmas in Hawaii and my New Year's Eve in Christmas. And all of a sudden it's 2007, and I don't entirely buy it. I never really ran through the Christmas gauntlet. Although I did manage to feel my share of shopping pressures and the unmatched anxiety that comes from having to pack up all my gifts and their wrappings and then go about the actual wrapping of the gifts. I felt all of that. And I did leave the A Christmas Story marathon on in the hotel room all night long on Christmas Eve, so there were some traditions left un-upended. But I noticed that I didn't feel so irrevocably attached to my traditions. Surprisingly. It was sort of freeing. To be away from home and unable to fulfill expectations and out of touch with all of the things left incomplete. Surprisingly freeing.

Well, I'm sorry I missed the things I missed. I'm sorry I didn't get to ring in the New Year with my many festive friends. I'm sorry I didn't get to eat my mother's Christmas prime rib. I'm sorry I didn't sing in church on Christmas Eve. I'm sorry I still haven't had ice cream at Disneyland. But being sorry is its own tradition. And some things never change.

I bought my parents a firepit, but I haven't put it together yet. In my own way, I'm just making Christmas last.