Secret Pop

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.


Jan 15, 2007

"Save a Life -- Yours." 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 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."


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.






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.