Secret Pop

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

A response to Spider-Man 3

Jessie and I went to see Spider-Man 3 on a whim. From what I've heard, I was fully prepared to not like it. 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 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


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 standard schools and three from the school for special needs 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


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.