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.


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


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?