Secret Pop

Dec 22, 2008

Now in Vienna there's ten pretty women

It's cold, and the streets are wet. My winter coat had barely been worn, and it already looks like the weather has had its way with it. Few things manage to remain new. Even things that are black. Maybe especially such things.

Oh I want you, I want you, I want you on a chair with a dead magazine

I had plans of pressing down with greater force in these waning days at the year's end. These are always days I fill with examination and plans. Mostly with little outcome. When the mornings smell of recent fireplaces, and there is never a perfect temperature. If my hands aren't cold, the rest of me is too warm. If the rest of me is cold, my hands are useless. Every hour feels like something I've set free. And as soon as it's gone, I regret the release and weigh it all as waste. This is an apathetic passage in an otherwise apathetic season.

There's a concert hall in Vienna where your mouth had a thousand reviews

I don't go looking for memories so much as I go feeling around in the dark, hoping I won't happen upon something sharp. And I keep everything in such disarray that it's a wonder I manage to stumble on things that are relevant. And yet I do. My fingers are nearly blue, barely visible at the ends of my coat sleeves. It's much safer to listen to songs in French. I both love and loathe the smell of artificial heat.

The hyacinth wild on my shoulder, my mouth on the dew of your thighs

There's so seldom time to reminisce about all the out-of-doors kisses and projects with no purpose and moments of irresistible inspiration. Nor time to act on reminiscences and the inspiration you find in them. I can go back to those places again and again. But they've changed. And I've changed. And I can't just put those clothes back on and have it be the same. I can't even wear my hair that way. I've long since discarded those tresses. I long ago decided there was no beauty there.

And I'll bury my soul in a scrapbook, with the photographs there, and the moss

I was telling the story of how I slipped in my socks and fell down the stairs in our house in Japan and how the rest of the family heard me thudding, step after step, and laughed as soon as the falling stopped. They always had greater faith in my resilience than I did. But I managed to stand up and walk again, grudgingly proving them right. If I'd remained at the foot of the stairs, paralyzed forever, they'd eventually have come running to comfort me. Once the blame had been carefully placed.

And I'll yield to the flood of your beauty, my cheap violin and my cross

I prefer it to be cold and sunny if I have to be outside. I've never been to Vienna. But I've listened to Leonard Cohen. A pretty song with a real violin and a synthesized trumpet. It isn't Vienna that I go to when I hear it. But it's a place where you can order schnitzel.

Dec 16, 2008


When I hear dates, I put myself in them. Meaningless markers that are part of the legitimacy of a television script. There is no radius that reaches out to me. But when I hear, "December 2, 2004," I go back to that date in my brain. There is a vague haze of what was going on at that time. If I look it up in the blog archives, I can see that I wrote something about SpongeBob watches at Burger King. (I did end up getting two of them.) But it's nothing so specific. It's just a color code. A flavor of marshmallow that envelops the era. It's a circa.

Time and distance refract all of it, reducing it to the most obvious details. This is what I was wearing. This is what my hair looked like. This is what I wore. This is where I lived. This is what I did for a living. And in the vicinity of these larger points are the more hovery details. A broad brush that paints those eras in one opaque tint. I remember measuring things in moments. And every wall was painted a different color. I remember time seeming both immovable and uncatchable. But now it's all just a field of green. Or blue. Or pink. Or angry, suffocating red.

I hear a date on a TV show, and I react as if the universe is trying to send me a message. The universe is opening a time capsule for me. And I can't help but wish I'd put more things in it. I can't help but wish there were more details and less marshmallow.

Nov 3, 2008

A further criticism

What is it with all of these erectile dysfunction medication commercials using swing dancing as a metaphor for fucking? Guy gets urge, makes eyes at old lady, then the two of them suggestively engage in a lame living room tango. What's sexy about this? I know you can't show the actual act of coitus -- particularly because they're always old people -- but this just seems like a really archaic and uninspired way of saying, "These two geezers are about to get their bone on." And I frankly don't applaud the spontaneity that says the old lady should be up for it when grandpa comes over all hot and heavy while she's wearing her house sweater and lounge pants. If you're doing it that seldom, it seems like all the more reason to gussy up. Tell Daddy and his union suit to go make themselves comfortable while you put on something pretty. Seriously.

Sep 30, 2008

This took the language right out of my mouth.

I was looking for parking near my office today, and I saw a man hanging by the neck from a noose made of a green garden hose. He was moving. Flopping kind of like a fish, but not really moving his arms and legs. And his entire lower body, from the pelvis down, was on the ground. The noose was only a couple of feet above the ground, but his head was through the eye of it, and he was suspended by the neck to some degree. I could see him moving and twisting, and I couldn't really tell what I was looking it. When I see things I don't expect to see, especially here, it's my habit to look around and see if someone is filming or if it's part of some joke or perhaps some private activity that is none of my business. Because no one hangs themselves on a street corner at ten o'clock in the morning, right? I stopped my car and didn't know if I should call someone. I couldn't see the man's face. Only the back of his head. And because he was still moving around, I wondered if he was just trying something out. (I don't know what. There's no use asking me what I mean by that.) But it bothered me, and I felt like I should check and see if he was okay, and at the same time, I didn't want to embarrass him. And I was a little bit afraid. So I went into my office and told Jessie, and she called 911 for me and they said they would send officers to check it out.

The police called my office a short while later and spoke to me directly and asked me to tell them what I saw, and even at that point I wasn't sure if they had actually seen the man, or if they were just about to go over there or if they were documenting the report but maybe when they got to the scene there was no one there. That's what I was thinking. But the officer said, "Oh, no, no. We've already been over there. Another neighbor saw him and cut him down and he was taken to the hospital, but we don't know if he lived." And I was shocked and I felt sick. I still do. Mainly because I've never seen something like that. And I can't get that picture out of my head. Everything feels very delicate and brittle right now. Like if I move too quickly, it will all break apart. And my brain is stuck on it. I didn't make an affirming statement to myself or reconsider my own tenuous attachment to life. I don't even know what to say in the privacy of my own thoughts. I don't know who that man was, and I don't know what was happening in his life. But I felt very bad about it. And it really, really bothered me. Really. And other than being able to say that, I don't know what words to use.

Sep 23, 2008

Blood-Brain Barrier

There was an episode of House. A little girl was dying of a number of things. Mostly cancer. Dr. House posited that her bravery was not admirable but a symptom. A symptom that could lead them to an answer that could enable them to prolong her life. At one point, they even surmised that she might be mature and manipulative at the hands of molestation. But eventually, they found the blood clot. It wasn't in the amigdala, rather it was in the hippocampus. Ergo, her courage was not a symptom. They fixed her up. She walked out of the hospital, and everyone clapped and cheered for her. And she went and hugged Dr. House and said something brave. And he looked uncomfortable. And I realized that I was quietly rooting for it to turn out that there was something wrong with her. That she was broken in some way. Because who can face death with such aplomb. Who can be so selfless as to choose to go on suffering to spare her mother the loss of her for as long as possible. All the while wearing the signature kerchief of the cancer girl.

I love the show. I relate to the character. I balance my judgmental dissatisfaction against the wry membrane of disinterest. I don't excuse it. Or me. I should be doing more. I should be more valuable. I should be mattering. I should be making the difference that supersedes my lack of interest in making a difference. I should be transmuting what I lack. Defying alchemic laws. I should be taking fearless journeys. Or cloaking my various fears with opaque bravado. Even though, if you ask me, I will say I detest being inspired.

I will say this. There's too much Dave Matthews Band in House.

Sep 12, 2008

It's not that I can't bear suspense.

But I'm on page 438 of Carter Beats the Devil, and it's a highly suspense-charged scene, and as I cross over the gutter, the syntax doesn't seem quite right. One minute, I'm in the middle of a sentence being spoken by a magician, and the next minute, there's something about what the newspaper reporters printed and the excitation of atoms. Three seconds and two glances later, I realize my softcover copy of this book (paid for at full retail price) skips from page 438 to page 455. Just like that. There is no poetry in how much dissatisfaction I feel tonight.

Sep 4, 2008

I may be a little late to the fundraising party.

But if you go here you can join me in supporting Barack Obama by putting your money where your mouth is. I just gave on my friend Adam's page. Please give on mine. Or create your own. This is no time to be shy. I'm buying ponies for all of you to celebrate the Obama-Biden victory. But if McCain and Palin win, I'll have all of these ponies and nowhere to put them. Please think of me for once in your life. And those precious, innocent ponies who never hurt anyone.

Sep 2, 2008

This began as a response to a comment thread on one of my friend Steve's Facebook notes.

I'm tired of all the talk about the importance of values as if they trump all other decision-making factors. Ultimately, the job of President is a job. And the qualifications and experience one has, including past job experience and past life experience, are relevant in the job interview process. You don't go to a job interview and expect to get hired just because you go to the same church as your boss or just because you both like the Mets. That might help pave the way to the conversation beginning, but eventually, you're going to be asked what you bring to the table. You'll be expected to have real accomplishments under your belt. And you'll also be expected to be able to balance whatever's going on in your life in such a way that nothing personal ever seeps into your job performance. That's what millions of working people contend with. Some of them even contend with drug tests and background checks and credit history reports. Because what you've done and where you've been matters in certain jobs. And here we are, examining applicants for the highest executive office in the country. And suddenly, we're not supposed to care what the candidate's actual skills and experience are? We're supposed to applaud her because she believes in this, but we're not supposed to care that she believes in that?

What I don't like about this discussion is that -- in my experience (and my parents watch nothing in their home but Fox News and Dancing with the Stars) -- many conservatives exhibit a sense of triumph when they can ferret out the personal failings and scandals of liberal candidates, but conservative candidates with the same personal failings and scandals are applauded. I suspect there are plenty of conservatives who share Sarah Palin's moral values but who are still disappointed to learn about her daughter's choices. The conservatives I know email me every time they find a blog that says Obama is a Muslim. But not a one of them has emailed me to talk about whether Sarah Palin is a good choice. It's like we're not allowed to openly discuss our opinions about these people despite the fact that one day, two of them are going to lead ALL OF US. I have just as much right to want John McCain to pick a qualified VP, because if he ends up President, I still have to live in the country the two of them run. It's relevant for us to talk about it. It's reasonable for us to ask questions. ALL OF US. Wouldn't it be beautiful if we could all actually talk about it without the iron curtain of partisanship dividing us? I would think every American would hope that both candidates would pick a great running mate, no matter who they personally support. We don't always get to choose our bosses at work, and when you find out your boss has hired some other person to exercise authority over you, it certainly helps the relationship if that person merits your respect and can wield your loyalty in a positive way. Why would this be any less true for the running of the country?

Sometimes, I think the values issue is exactly what gunks up the debate. I think it's possible for a person to be against abortion but to not actively try and legislate against it. In the same way that it is possible for a person to be against pre-marital sex without insisting that it be made illegal. Your personal values shouldn't influence every choice you make as a public servant. Our shared value -- the protection of the Constitution -- is the one value that should supersede all others. You may not like the idea of gays getting married. You might even believe it's morally wrong. But that doesn't mean the Constitution doesn't attempt to offer all Americans the same protections and the same rights. You may be someone who once believed that Blacks and Whites should not marry either. At this point, I hope you know you were wrong to believe that. And if you don't, I hope you aren't serving in public office. And if you are, I hope you at least realize that you are able to believe that your bathtub is the Oracle of Delphi as long as you don't bring it to work with you. I don't want to know about your religion. I don't want to know what brand of greeting card you buy. I don't want to know your favorite color or whether you like Thai food late at night. I don't care about that. At least not at the time of the job interview or at the periodic subsequent performance reviews. At the job interview, I just want to know what kind of worker you are and whether you are willing and able to do the job you are interviewing for. Once you're hired, we can go out to a micro-brewery and you can tell me all about what you believe and whether you own a cat and what your dining room window looks out on and whether you were able to get a Wii. There's always the risk at this point that you will refuse my invitation to go to a micro-brewery because you frown on the consumption of alcoholic beverages, at which time I will make a mental note to never invite you anywhere ever again. And that will significantly hamper our ability to be best friends. But we'll still work together fine. I mean, it's work, right?

And that is the most important lesson of all. We shouldn't be trying to elect the guy who is most like us or who shares our personal philosophies. We're not going to be best friends with him. If you want a best friend, sign up for a social network. Facebook is open to everyone now. Or join a community sports league. Or hang out at Borders and talk to strangers in the section of books that most interests you. This is the time you should be looking to hire the best man for the job. And, believe it or not, the job you are hiring for isn't "best friend." You're not hiring a guy to be your neighbor or to try new restaurants with you every Thursday. You'll probably never even see this guy once he gets started. What you should care about is whether he knows how to do what he needs to do. And whether he is resourceful enough to solve the problems you weren't able to anticipate in the interview process. And in the event he has to step down, you want to make sure that his understudy will be able to step in smoothly and finish the work he started. So the two of them should definitely have a lot of similar qualifications. You might even want to pick the runner-up for the job, since they were already almost good enough. Or you could focus on that guy's religious beliefs, get spooked by them, and pick someone by drawing up a game of M.A.S.H. Be careful, though. That's how you end up living in a shack, driving an ice cream truck to your job as a mailman. Also, you have eight kids and a pet hamster. Sorry.

Anyway, as a woman, I wish I could be encouraged by the selection of a woman on the GOP ticket. But the fact that Sarah Palin is a woman who doesn't support my reproductive rights is a problem for me. I don't mind that she doesn't believe I should have them. But I do mind that she would actively seek to take them away. That makes it hard for me to think of her as "one of us." I would never blindly vote for a woman just because of her gender. That's as foolish as not voting for one just because of her gender. I'm also bemused by the double standard. Conservatives who disliked Hillary Clinton were often unable to simply not like her politics. Some of them shouted things out like "make me a sandwich," and pundits in the media even offered that one of her barriers to acceptance might be that the shrillness of her voice would remind men of the nagging wives they'd sooner forget. Are we meant to believe that these gender-specific barriers wouldn't apply to Sarah Palin just because she's prettier* than Hillary Clinton? That's about the most sexist and ignorant possibility of all. Are we really suggesting that the glass ceiling is being broken by John McCain? If there are truly millions of cracks in the glass ceiling, I suspect it's because the fat cats dancing on it have been eating more fried foods.

Incidentally, I'm voting for Obama and Biden.

*Prettier? Maybe. But does anyone dislike polar fleece as much as I do?

Jun 29, 2008

Cry Baby

I was on the treadmill at the gym yesterday, and CNN was playing a story about the gorillas murdered in the Congo. I had heard the story on NPR last week, but I saw the pictures of the gorillas with the leaves and grass stuffed in their mouths and noses to suffocate them and the murderers triumphantly carrying a dead gorilla on a stretcher, and I just started crying. Right there on the treadmill. Tears sprouting out of my stupid eyes while I ran to George Michael singing Freedom! '90. That story just breaks my heart and infuriates me.

Later on, I was watching The Paradine Case, and a commercial for the ASPCA came on. It's that one with Sarah McLachlan singing Angel and showing all those cute, needy pets, and I totally started crying again. Later in the night, I signed up to donate to the ASPCA. And you should, too.

Jun 20, 2008

Last night, the moon was full and low.

It was hot all day and warm all night. Tepid and still. Frustratingly still. In the absence of a breeze, everything feels like waiting.

I have gotten used to nighttime walks on my street. Maybe even bored of them. When I first got Audrey, every walk was an adventure. Another door I'd not really looked at. Another sound or smell coming from a building I'd driven past but not really noticed. Indian pop music or the TiVo prompt. Garlic or onions or both. An interesting light fixture. A curious mirror on the ceiling. A boy washing dishes. There was no end of things to notice and no end of my wanting to catalog them. Now, I make the rounds perfunctorily. Confident that nothing will have changed. Occasionally noticing when a For Rent sign goes up. A tiny part of me envying those who are moving. If only for the change of scenery.

Everything I throw away leaves room for everything I'd forgotten I have. Discovering. Rediscovering. Putting everything away. Spreading order with an iron fist. An iron fist clenched around a paper towel damp with Windex.

I've never given points for sitting still. Especially not to myself. Once I've done with cleaning it all up and putting it all away, I fully expect the onslaught of the old wanderlust. It's just that there are so few places with garages these days.


I keep singing "Why Bother" by Weezer to myself. But it's not about relationship angst. It's about the election. I'm an avid and outspoken Democrat, but something happened to me in the 2000 elections. Recently watching Recount brought it all flooding back. That sickening sense of helpless frustration. It's funny. When you watch a movie about the election debacle, you know how it all turned out and you know it isn't going to turn out differently, but for a spell, you can allow yourself to get caught up in the drama of the story and hope that things won't go awry, as you know them historically to have gone awry. It's peculiar and irrational. And it's how my mother watches movies. Movies about Dillinger or Bonnie and Clyde make her so angry. She just wants the protagonists to get away. And history be damned. When I was watching Recount the other day, that habit of hers suddenly made so much sense.

I was rooting for John Edwards. And then he dropped out. So I was rooting for Hillary Clinton, and now that's over. I completely support Barack Obama and will vote for him come November, and I'm not at all unhappy that he is going to be the candidate. But for some reason I don't have the stomach for any of the debate. I'm even reluctant to write about it here, because I know if someone posts a comment that rubs my Democrat nose in anything, I'll probably burst into tears.

Why so fragile? I have no idea. I was almost disenfranchised when I went to vote a few weeks ago. My polling station had changed, and I didn't realize it. So I strode into the old folks home around the corner and presented my drivers license and was promptly turned away. I asked the volunteers if they knew where I was supposed to go, and they pointed to a number on a map, but didn't know the actual street address. And they were very pissy about it. In the end, I had to walk back to my car, drive home and get my voter's pamphlet, drive to another location (which I would never have found just based on the area they were pointing at on the map), park, wander around looking for a sign that would indicate where I should go, and then wait several minutes while a volunteer with absurdly long and curved fingernails tried time and time again to prize a single ballot from the stack. In the end, I got my "I Voted" sticker. But it just didn't feel like it mattered anymore. And that saddens me. I have many impassioned opinions about the electoral process, but I no longer have the fortitude to assemble them and say them aloud. This seems like something to be ashamed of. The up side is that I no longer have to vote at that old folks home. It's much closer to my apartment, but it always smells like a roast beef dinner in there. Causing me to note that old folks homes always smell like roast beef dinner. No matter what time of the day you go and no matter what anyone is actually eating. And if you know me and food smells, you know I am willing to go a few extra blocks to not smell like anyone's dinner. Ever.

Jun 8, 2008

"A body has to move gentle and speak low when wild things is about."

My upstairs neighbor seems to be listening to a Barry Manilow greatest hits album. There's something oddly nice about that to me. At very least, there's one person in this town who won't try and outband you when you tell them what the last concert you saw was. One person, at least, who doesn't only know a song after it's been covered by the Walkmen or the Wrens. Or Scarlett Johansson.

I turned on HDNet and watched The Searchers and then The Bridge on the River Kwai and then The Outlaw Josey Wales and then Dirty Harry. I guess I'm officially a man, now.

This hardly seems worth having written it.

May 23, 2008


The weather sure has been apocalyptic-seeming. Two days ago, it was hot out but windy. I could taste Hollywood in my grit-filled mouth. And it tasted like something I should spit out. Little eddies of filth and debris swirled up above gutters running alongside my route home. What would have been a welcome breeze filled my eyes and mouth and imagination with the soot of Sunset Boulevard and the indigents who shit there.

Yesterday I heard there was hail. And a tornado.

This morning, it's plaster grey out. And cold. If there were withered wintry trees on the horizon, I would call it a fitting tableau for burying our old friend Indiana Jones, who died last night. At least for me. And not just because he said the word "nucular."

I'm not sure if I'm going to actually spoil anything for you with what I'm about to say about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but if you're worried that I will, consider yourself forewarned and by all means look away. And if you feel that knowing that Indiana Jones says the word "nucular" was already too much unannounced spoilage for your standards, I apologize and accept that we may never be the friends I once hoped we'd be.

I won't be able to read the temperamental phrases I scrawled while inside the darkened, goon-filled theater. I only had a red pen, and the light from the screen didn't do much to illuminate my rantings. But, if memory serves, it seems the once limitless expanses of the mind and its inventions are now only able to live in front of a green screen. And not like a fancy one where things look super real. But a crap one where everything looks fake and the only thing you can fixate on is everyone's flaws.

I only remember feeling like anything was kind of awesome at two points in the movie. And I'm not talking about seeing the little corner of the Ark of the Covenant, because that was a totally lame throwaway, despite the thrill it provided to the mouth-breather sitting behind me. The only rewarding moments for me were these two: When Indy mentioned Quechua, I thought, "That's what Greedo's speech was," and I felt self-importantly victorious for getting a reference that was clearly meant for me to get, albeit what seemed like hours into the film. And when Indy sees Marion and he seems boyishly delighted, I was tickled. But it faded immediately when it became clear that the previous chemistry born of her girlish-boyish disappointment and longing would now be replaced by the archetypal barbs of a radio age fishwife.

The chemistry is out the window. For everyone. For Indy and Marion, it might just be that we're looking at a guy we hoped wouldn't look too old for this role but clearly does planting kisses on the mouth of a woman who was never conventionally pretty but now looks pretty solidly daft. You know, I never thought Harrison Ford was all that handsome, but there was a knowledge in his eyes. An impatience. A demanding intensity. He was the perfect gentleman scoundrel. Now all I can see is hos old his teeth look.

The vast majority of the movie, I was so bored and so confused and so not at all interested in what happened to anyone or why. National Treasure shamelessly co-opts the style of caper that made the old Indy films fun by shamefully having Nicholas Cage pretend to not be bald and also be able to solve centuries-unsolved riddles by simply talking the problems through and then confidently arriving at a hypothesis that always turns out to be correct. I remember laughing at its buffoonery and thinking that all the production value in the world can't make an Indiana Jones movie unless you've got the key ingredients, the first of which being Indiana Jones.

But Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, even armed with Indy himself actually in the film and wearing the hat and everything, couldn't hide from its key weakness: a really stupid script. But I am incredulous that the film had no qualms at all about posing as National Treasure. And The Fountain. And The Mummy. And The Mummy Returns. And the X-Files movie. And a Thomas Kinkade painting. And various episodes of the Keystone Cops. And a Barbara Walters special. But with none of the artful choreography, whip-smart banter, or quotability of the previous films. And Sallah has been replaced by the far less adorable Mac, who calls Indy "Jonesey" instead of "Indy" and refers to adventures I have difficulty believing they ever had together.

If you loved Raiders of the Lost Ark -- and I did -- you should just watch Raiders of the Lost Ark. This latest installment cribs from its progenitor so blatantly at times that I expected Indy to say, "Don't look at it!" And I expected Cate Blanchett to say, "It's beautiful!" And they basically did. Just not exactly in those words. But the visual effects might as well have been exactly the same. So much so that it makes me wonder if the field of visual effects actually just involves a lot of cut and paste. I always thought it was really complicated, but what do I know.

I don't think Indiana Jones ever was, nor should it have become, a science fiction franchise. There was plenty of mystical hooey, sure, but it was largely mystical hooey that traded on mythology that was familiar to the audience on some level. I recently half watched a show on The History Channel about crystal skulls, but if I hadn't seen it, I don't think I would have had any reference base for crystal skulls or what they're supposed to be able to do. I don't really feel any better-informed now, but that's mainly because this movie had no idea what it wanted me to know about crystal skulls, except that (a) they are highly magnetic and (b) their powerful magnetic field can be interrupted by placing a Mexican blanket over them.

I wasn't even thrilled with the music, and that's usually a given. In each of the other three Indy features, you've got the Raiders March, you've got the love theme, but you've also got a few themes that really capture the specific story in the film. It's Hindi Indy. Or it's Camelot Indy. But this one. I think they should have been talking about Incans instead of Mayans, for one thing, unless I'm misremembering that. El Dorado. Peru. That's Inca territory, right? Well, whichever, I don't remember any sweeping musical references to ancient civilizations. Even when the indigenous peoples who apparently cocoon themselves in the walls of their various pyramids and cliffs in case a trespasser dares show his face pop out and wave their spears around. I don't remember any particularly Peruvian sounding music at that point. But I do remember thinking, "When do those guys eat and go to the bathroom and stuff?"

Martín didn't hate it, but I told him to sleep on it. He didn't think The Phantom Menace was a tragic disappointment at first either. And I distinctly recall him thinking I was an asshole for saying that it wasn't any good. But I can confidently say that -- while I don't really care if it's WORSE than The Phantom Menace -- I can say that it's terrible for many of the same reasons that The Phantom Menace was terrible. And with just about the same amount of Burger King.

May 7, 2008

I was dreaming about dog catchers.

I was a bit out of sorts today. Angry and hurt, a little bit heartsick over things that aren't actually beyond my control. But that's kind of the devil's bargain for today. I once told my mother I had been horrifically mistreated by someone, and, while she agreed that I had been done a very bad turn, she then said, "You know, the important thing is to put up with it." Oh, you women of the second half of last century. How wise you are. How unironically, abysmally wise.

I went to the gym. I didn't, like, hit a heavy bag or anything. It wasn't some cliché fitness montage from an '80s movie about sisters doing it for themselves. I just went to the gym. Because I feel better about myself when I go to the gym. And because I would rather run for a long time than hit something. I have a bad elbow and can't risk losing my trackball hand. I bought a new pair of Nike+ Shox, and I was ever-so-pleased to wear them today. The other pair of Nike+ shoes I have been wearing have been giving me blisters. This pair was heaven. But I forgot to put the Nike+ sensor in the insole, so when I got on the treadmill, I realized I was going to run these four miles and not get any credit for them. I don't publicize my Nike+ profile, and no one buys me a pie when I run a certain number of miles at a certain pace. But once I started using the device, I immediately became obsessive about getting credit for all the running I do and not accidentally recording my pace when I'm just slowly walking around. I don't know why I care. I was so sorry about missing this day's run (and the run I did the first time I used the device when I just plain used it wrong) that I started devising a plan to make Jessie wear it for me for two workouts, so I could just take credit for her exercise, even though she doesn't do the same exercise routine that I do. Because I can't ever make up the difference. Any exercise I do from now on needs to be tracked as its actual self. I realized as I was planning this caper that this must be the Mary Forrest version of an endorphin high. Which makes sense. Other people feel euphoria. I experience a temporary personality disorder.

But I do know that this mechanism is effective with me. Now that I'm getting this fictitious credit for my running, I am anxious to go in and get what's coming to me. It's crazy that this would have any impact on my behavior. I make a sport of finding ways to disassemble persuasive tactics being used on me by people and marketing campaigns. Ho ho, you're not going to get one past me, buddy. But then all of a sudden, I'm looking forward to running. That's just absurd. I hate running. Everyone does. I only do it because it's one of the few fitness activities I know how to do and which doesn't require a partner. Because I'm also largely anti-social when it comes to fitness. I'm too self-conscious to take a class, because I can't help but look like a fool. And I also don't like to be "motivated" by the shame I feel when someone is better at something than I am. Sucking at tennis won't make me want to learn to play tennis better. Sucking at tennis will make me want to do something else. Like go for a gelato. I really (and sort of uncannily) enjoy movies about sports, but I would make a terrible sports movie. Unless you like the idea of a sports movie about an unsuccessful would-be athlete who just gives up. I know you're thinking this story was already told in the film Ice Castles, but in that movie, that girl was actually a good skater at first, and then she went blind. So it's not just your typical tale of a quitter. Plus, I think in the end, she skates again. Which makes no sense at all. As she is blind at that point. And there's nothing better to do when blind than high-speed dance maneuvers on a surface with dramatically reduced friction.

To refer back to my earlier comment about being anti-social when it comes to fitness, I should clarify. I'm largely anti-social when it comes to everything. I know it doesn't seem like it. But I told Rob today that I watch a movie like I Am Legend and a part of me goes, "Yeah! Finally! They're all gone!" Because much of the time, I don't like people. I like specific people, sure. I mean, I'd like the earth to be emptied of its denizens except for the fifty or sixty -- wait, let's up that to eighty or a hundred, my birthday is coming up and I want there to be more than fifty people there, so my math must be off -- ones I love. I'm even willing to throw in a handful of people I don't like, because there's nothing terribly entertaining about spending eternity with a bunch of people you like. There has to be some drama to keep things interesting. And a good portion of my friends like me specifically for my aptitude for pointing out what should be disliked about other people. It's a gift.

The only sad part about this admission is that it's probably not really true. I am good at pointing out what should be frowned upon in other people. But I think for the most part, I'm pretty generally nice to nearly everyone. I even give money to homeless people. And not just because they have "insulted" me with a lewd overture. And I feel bad when I hear that something unpleasant has happened to someone. Even if it's an awful person. Because I am detrimentally empathetic, and I always imagine what it would feel like to be in someone else's shoes. And sometimes that means wondering what it feels like to wear a very old pair of Sperry Top-Siders that should obviously have been discarded years ago. The one exception to the empathy thing is Howard Glenn, my former Farmers Insurance agent. About whom I have repeatedly said I think he may be dead now and I hope that he is. I guess if I actually learned he was dead or if a member of his family who had not been mistreated by him the way I was read this, it would make me feel bad, but in terms of my own personal experience with him, I hope he is dead, and I hope it was not a clean exit. I'm sorry to have to say that, but he really was horrible. I insure with State Farm now. And even though my first agent Kimyee Ross was a horrible human being (who I also hope is dead now), my current agent (whose name I forget) is actually a lovely person, and I welcome his computer-generated birthday and holiday cards each time they arrive.

I have a big glass of whiskey sitting to my left. The heat from the computer will probably help the ice to melt. I need the ice to melt a little before I can truly enjoy it. I have been suffering from a half-cold the past week or so. It's mostly a very constricted throat, swollen glands, and an occasional cough. And the throat constriction seems to limit itself to mornings and nighttime. So you wake up feeling like utter crap and you stay home from work, but then by mid-day you think, what a waste, I'm actually okay. And then by evening, when you're thinking you deserve a night out, your throat starts to swell up again. Perhaps this is a new strain of virus intended to get you fired and end your relationship. P.S. There's no need to post a bunch of comments telling me to take this or that or to look up the symptoms of strep throat or what-have-you. I'm one of those people who likes to list all of her problems but has no real interest in actually solving them. You would hate me if you knew me.

It's been gloomy and all-of-a-sudden cold these past few days. The weekend before last was hot enough to provoke news stories about it. And two weekends before that, we celebrated Beulah's birthday with a bang-up weekend at Disneyland and the Disneyland Hotel, and it was literally over one hundred degrees. I don't know why I feel the need to say "literally." I guess I assume you will think I'm lying. I'm not prone to exaggerate, though. You should give me the benefit of the doubt. My point is just that only a week or so ago, I was wearing summer clothes to work because it was unbearably hot. And people noticed I'd gotten sun over the weekend, because my shoulders were completely bare. Which wouldn't happen in an office setting with me, except that the office where I work is not outfitted with any modern temperature control system, and sometimes Hollywood is about as hot as a motherfucker. Anyway, it's been a lot of up and down. And it's been hard to be prudent about what to wear and how many covers to throw off when sleeping. And the result is what seems like a summer cold but whose symptoms seem to linger in the throat part more than usual. I'm supposed to sing in church for Mother's Day, and I think I might legitimately have an out this time. I will not, however, be making any excuses to get out of the pricey brunch I've planned for my family. Swanky living does not prerequire health. Plenty of swanky people are about to keel over dead. Healthy living, by contrast, is generally not swanky at all. On account of the wheat grass juice and kinesis classes.

At the end of April, I was beginning to feel that rush to post something. To make the month less bare. I obviously place too much stock in keeping things even. The older I get, the more I wish I had started watching Monk when it first aired.

But I missed the rush. And suddenly it was May. And May carries birthdays and holidays and excuses for raising a glass. I don't hate May. I would say May is generally kind to me. November has long been my favorite, but it has no business to be. November has frequently been peppered with tragedy for me, but somehow the smell of fireplaces trumps that. I don't pretend to make sense. I just know I pay for web hosting, so I am allowed to say all of this here.

May 5, 2008

Absence of Altitude

I didn't do anything for St. Patrick's Day this year. I was working. I planned to go to San Diego for Cinco de Mayo today. But work interfered again. I had a nice enough time. But it wasn't any of the traditional merrymaking. And I think what I notice I miss the most is the unfailing sense of expectation that these various co-opted celebrations would hold some amount of epiphany for me. It's the equation that enables one to look forward. Maybe something will happen. Maybe I will experience something new. Maybe I will re-experience something I once thought wonderful. Trite as it seems, some of the time it's as basic as thinking, maybe this time I'll get a really good drunk on. It's been a long time since I've had one of those.

Tonight, Stacey asked me if I like poetry. I made light of it. But inside, I was thinking, I remember when I felt like I was made of poetry. Now, I'm just made of sentences. Many of which have been said before.

Apr 6, 2008

Rabbit's Foot

It's hard to be impressed with the acting of someone you know. You've seen them making fun of other people. You know what foods they like and whether they eat popcorn in a theater like a decent civilized person or like a starving fiend with a vacuum throat. You know they would make fun of you if you were trying to recite Shakespeare in front of them and take it all seriously, and you would return the favor. That's what friends do. Not respect one another's creative efforts. Right?

I started a blog a while ago about how hard it is to believe in the performances of people you know when you see them on television or in movies. Now that I live in the fictitious city of Hollywood (and technically I live a smidge outside of Hollywood proper, so even here I'm being fraudulent), I know all sorts of people who act for a living. And I see them in movies and in commercials and in television shows. And as generous as I try to be, I often find myself looking at my friends and thinking I can see through them in some way. Not all of them. But some of them. Particularly those who are called upon to convince me that they are eating something really delicious or that they are surprised by something.

I met Tom Cruise last weekend. (P.S. He's as nice as you like and not at all crazy-seeming. And Katie Holmes and little Suri are also delightful and lovely) And maybe it's because I've never hung out with him properly -- because I haven't seen him get super REAL on me -- but I'm watching Mission Impossible III now and I have to say, the rule doesn't really apply to him. I believe he's Ethan Hunt, and I believe he's very upset all the time. And I'll bet if he was trying to convince me that a sandwich was really good, I'd think about buying it. As long as it didn't have a lot of onions on it.

Caveat: I've neither met nor hung out with Ving Rhames, but I can totally tell he's faking.

Apr 3, 2008

Redefining Edible

Jessie told me about a class she took where she and her fellow students would try and come up with the grossest possible combinations of food only to have their instructor taste their concoctions and say, "Ooh, I really like this." I asked Jessie for an example of "gross." She said they made, for instance, a "dessert soup" that was mostly melted orange sherbet. I said, "That doesn't sound GOOD, but it doesn't sound gross." And it made me realize that whenever someone starts telling a story involving purportedly gross food, I feel as if I'm being challenged. What will they think if they learn that I eat animal innards all the time. That I have sweetbreads and pork brains in my freezer AT THIS VERY MOMENT. I'm not trying to win a trophy. But I have very few powers left, and this is one I feel I will carry with me to my grave.

Apr 2, 2008

This time it was a song on t.v., and I couldn't make out the words.

It's almost always going to be a music cue or a scent or a particular appearance of the moon that makes me decide I have to hurry up and write what I'm thinking. But more often than not recently, I convince myself before even approaching the page that whatever I'm about to write I've already written. I'm losing confidence that I'm capable of original thought. If only because I've plumbed the depths so thoroughly in past compositions.

Speaking of plumbing, perhaps I can answer a question publicly that I was asked privately. My friend Kristen Herman, upon the decision to get married recently, was Googling images with the terms "60s wedding hair," and the very first image to pop up was one of me. A photo called wedding_hair.jpg that I took before my sister's wedding last October, because I had just gotten a haircut and desired to show it off. Weird, yes. And only one of many cases where someone writes to me and says something like, "I was googling plumb bobs for my old cast iron tub and you were one of the sites that returned." That's a real one. See for yourself.

05.18.2007 Michael N.
I was googling plumb bobs for my old cast iron tub and you were one of
the sites that returned. Plumb bobs. Now I'm reading your archive
about Disneyland after the election, the fragility of life and fruity
pebbles. Go figure.

7.5.2007 Mark S.
This is to let you know that I landed on your archive page via a Google search for something entirely unrelated, and hung around enough to find
I enjoy the hell out of your writing. I was all disappointed that it
ended in early 2005, then followed the URL back to its root and found
you were still around. Yay!

05.31.2007 Jon T.
I ran across your home page while googling stuff for
work... its very interesting... not a big photography
buff, but I enjoy it from time to time....

My question is, how come you have a few of those
picture sites blocked?

04.11.2007 John
Stumbled onto your "double bird at disneyland" photo after a google
search for something waaay different. Sweet! That's the standard
greeting at *************.net. People with attitude are more
interesting! Anyway, nice photo!

02.01.2007 Ray A.
Obviously you don't know me, but I was originally going to try and sign your
guest book after I accidentally ran into your web page- I was doing a search
on Ketel One images and your picture was in the bunch so I looked- and I
just wanted to compliment you on your page and how fascinating are.
I don't know how up-to-date it is, but regardless, you seem like a very
interesting and colorful you needed a stranger to tell you
that. Thanks for taking the time to read this and again, very nice
webpage...and you're pretty cute too. Take care.

01.17.2007 Megan E.
More! I want more True Life Adventures. Your writing seems to have
changed a little since you last wrote in that link, (have you become
more melancholy because of the season or maturity?) but I'd still like
to read them and laugh.

Your fan,
A girl/woman/lady?/person in Nashville who happened upon your page when
Googling for quotable lines from Audrey Hepburn

06.30.2006 Jerry D.
Hi Mary:
I'm a new fan of Mary Forrest. I'm not generally an internet time wasting kind of guy. I don't seek out blogs, I don't "IM" unless it's business. I did all that back in '96 when I worked for an Internet start-up (that never did). I am a professional cartoonist (5 strips), illustrator, commercial artist type guy and father of I don't have lots of time to spend online doing diversionary stuff. Heck, I don't even have time to write this letter! But I wanted to write and say thanks. I was searching for an architect font (sure you're not surprised) and accidentally fell into a nice comfy limbo called for the past forty five minutes reading and getting to know (in a very shallow sense) you from what you've written. What I got from it is that you're a funny, talented, insightful, caring, cultured, real kind of person...if someone who I didn't know thought nice stuff like that about me I'd like to hear there you are. Thanks!

02.28.2006 An Amazon Marketplace Purchase
Hi Mary, Thanks for reponding so quickly. After sending the previous email, I noticed that you have a website, so I checked it out for the hell of it. Not at all what I expected. Very cool. For the record, Don Knotts was one of my favs as well, bless his heart. Perhaps we can contact him via Count Von Delecky. Easily my favorite Andy Griffith episode of all time. Anyway, thanks, Keith

04.26.2005 Will S.
Hello Mary Forrest!
I decided to update my fonts when I came across your website and haven't
been able to leave. I should be working, but I just had to drop you a line
or 2.

First of all, I'm very impressed with your writing skills, do you write
for a living or just for whacky entertainment?

Secondly, your eloquence of the written word is surpassed only by your
beauty. I don't think I've met your parents, but they should get some kind
of trophy or something for having such a good-looking daughter. I once had
a pet rabbit that was cute, but not really good- looking and I have a
stapler that's good-looking, but certainly not cute. Yet, you have
accomplished both!

Thirdly, well I'm not sure if you can even have a thirdly, let alone a
fourthly or fifthly.

Wow, a bird just flew over my head and bonked into the window...and I'm
indoors! Good thing I have a hat on.

05.11.2005 Sean S.
Hi. I just stumbled onto your blog via a vaguely embarrassing Google
search. I haven't had the chance to delve deeply, but the blog is full
of interesting keywords. Plus you're not too hard to look at,
especially with the new do. So I thought I'd say hi.


06.19.2007 Richard T.
Just wanted to say that I "stumbled" across your site whilst looking for
something else - as things happen web-wise - there's something very
fascinating and compelling about you. Currently enjoying my way through
your pictures and "what we can do for you". Wash your car ? Why not.
Thanks, Richard.

12.16.2007 Nathan D.
You don't know me, but I wanted to say hi. The internet search engine is a strange and wondrous tool, it can bring you the most relevant information to your fingertips, or it can lead you down a twisty, curvy path to things you never expected. Earlier today I was googling for information on old 1950s Air Force fighter jets (that's my current research project) and for some inexplicable reason it popped up a picture of some woman giving the double-bird to the camera. For some equally unexplainable reason, I clicked on that picture and it eventually led me to

Now, you'd think that as soon as I realized that your website did not, in fact, contain any references to the Republic F-84F Thunderstreak all-weather interceptor fighter jet, I would have clicked off and gone about my merry way. But, instead, I started looking around your site, and before long, an hour had passed...
(a lot more stuff was said, but there's no need to reprint all of it)

PS. You don't happen to have a list of serial numbers for F-84F ADC units serving with the 116th Fighter Squadron based at Larson AFB between 1952 and 1958, do you? :)

02.22.2008 Anders P.
My name is Anders and I live in Norway. It's 8 am and I've been awake all night and thought about why I don't always get the most out of life and why I have trouble doing things. I am lazy. I googled this. I googled "I am lazy". Your blog post on laziness came up on the google results so I clicked it. Now, I don't have a full time job as of now, I am currently unemployed at the old old age of 23, but I have an obligation in my capoeira group. It's a brazilian martial art. They seem to dump more and more responsibility on me that I'm not supposed to take on and I feel bad if I say no. I'm going to try that next time. Say no instead of having to teach five 2 hour long capoeira classes a week because I don't want to. Thank you for opening my eyes. I've been aware of it for a while, but this time I've pretty much had it.

I tried to be short and to the point because this might not be the most interesting thing you'll read this week. I just wanted you to know that your bhlawging has been read and appreciated.

03.15.2008 Mark B.
not long ago i had a dream and the only part of it that stuck with me was the phrase "a lonely refrigerator in winter". anyway for what ever reason (perhaps hoping that i had found the key to a societal subconscious) i google imaged the phrase.... and stumbled onto your photo thus discovering your blog. at a glance i noticed that it went back many moons, at which point i decided to see the rest of what proved to be a very interesting web site. so i started to peruse and then i felt.... i dunno, i cant find the word for it.

There are lots of others. Over the years, it's mostly been, "I was looking for fonts, and then I found you." Or something to that effect. When I cruise my site analytics, I see unusual search terms from time to time. I wrote about some of them in a previous blog. Those included:

"pork mary forrest"
"36-25-36 filipino"
"red light district"
"eternal punishment"
"a poem of the mahabharata"

I guess the answer is there's no real science or logic to it. Every now and then, someone will get an inexplicable urge to Google "a sort of buttery beige" or "Tri-Ominos is a funny reference," and Google will return links to old blogs of mine. And that person may or may not read what I wrote. And they may or may not scratch their head over the number of photos there are of me to look at. And they may or may not write to me and tell me about it. And the fact that any of it happens is a curious wonder to me, and I have no feelings of shame. Even when the people who do write to me offer diagnoses about what's wrong with me or what causes me to expose my brain (and occasionally other parts of me) like so many breasts and buttocks immortalized in marble in the fountains of the Roman piazzas. Piazza Navona is my favorite, but I only saw it at night. We were on our way to eat at the one Chinese restaurant we could find. It was owned and operated by native Chinese people who had immigrated from China, so we were dismayed to find that all the food still tasted like cacciatore. And what's weird -- and perhaps a tidy way of getting back to what I was saying in paragraph one -- is that I'm pretty certain I've already written about that event. If I didn't already write about it, I must have talked about it so much that it feels like old news. I don't even have ideas anymore. And I'm pretty sure I've written that sentence before, too.

Later that night, we went back to our hotel room, where my parents and Beulah each slept in tiny twin beds, and I slept on an arm chair that folded out into a very uncomfortable cot. The walls had plush paper on them. The bathroom had a showerhead right above the toilet and a drain in the floor beneath. After everyone had bathed, the entire room was dripping wet. So when I woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, my socks met with a cold puddle and it couldn't have been more than a fraction of a second later that my face squinched up the way it does when something is awful or unpleasant.

I guess the trick is to just sit down and write something. Even if I'm just writing about how I have nothing to write about. I'm not saying this is a great blog. I'm just saying it's not the same as a blank page.

Feb 6, 2008

O dreaded expectoration

I came back from Seattle with a bit of a sore throat. It started in the airport where Rob and I almost casually missed our flight home because the time on his iPhone was wrong. By the time I went to sleep last night, cold medicine coursing through my body in whatever way cold medicine does that, my throat felt like it had closed up completely, and the discomfort of feeling gunk in it caused me to spend the better part of the night making sounds that might mean something in Kinitawowi. I am not a fan of mouth noises. Nor throat noises. Nor nose noises. Even -- or perhaps especially -- when they are coming from me. I beg the universe's forgiveness, in case it was listening.

Jan 29, 2008


Something about that night made me think of you. Of me thinking of you on some other similar night. A similar amount of rain and cold and wind in the seams of a house not built to keep things like wind out. I thought I should go get my notebook and write down a reminder that I had thought that very thing. But I had just gotten back from Hawaii, and my notebook was still packed in a suitcase, and I trusted myself to remember. Typically, when I trust myself to remember a thing I meant to write down, I lose it almost immediately. But not so completely as to not be plagued periodically with that nagging sense that there's something I can't quite remember and I will never be able to get it right. For some reason, this time, that sentence kept reappearing in my mind. Enough times to even survive the spell when I convinced myself it was no longer worth writing. Surviving into the gentler welcome of my recommitment to its truth. "Something about that night made me think of you." Even remembering the sentence reminded me of the cold and the rain and the absence of the nightlight.

I always had a nightlight on back then. The bulbs all seem to burn out now, though. Even when I replace them. None of it works anymore. So the room is dark. Instead of murky with shadows. Light and shadow pointing up the places where the plaster has been patched. Parts of the ceiling I once planned to dress up with fancy fabrics and unusual light fixtures. But I was never able to buy a step ladder that was tall enough to help me reach the ceiling but not so tall that I couldn't fit it in my car. I guess I've since gotten one. But I no longer have that red fabric inspiration. Or the certainty that I will be here for very long. I bought moisturizer on eBay because it's no longer available retail. A specific moisturizer that I used a while ago. A smell I liked right off. A smell that makes memories of mornings and making up. The face. Not the other kind. I used it sparingly. I have so many choices on my dressing table that I seldom use anything up very quickly. And by the time it was all gone, they didn't make it anymore. And I was sad about it and kept the bottle because there were dregs in it, and it still smelled the way it smells. Now I buy it discontinued on the internet, but I can't make new memories with it. I can only remember thinking how nice it smelled when everything else was different. Sometimes I can remember some of what happened around that thought. "Oh, what a lovely scent. Is it really St. Patrick's Day already?" "Mm, I like the way my face smells. Two tickets for Minority Report, please." It's like a mild cohesive force. The thing that makes the meniscus in a graduated cylinder. This memory stuck to this other one. Just when I was pulling away. Just a bit of it.

I kept a bar of soap that smelled perfectly like chamomile tea. It was long since discontinued when I realized how much I liked it. And then I spent years -- literally, years -- buying every kind of chamomile-scented soap hoping to find that scent again. I never have. I did the same thing with my memory of the scent of the shampoo we got when we stayed at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo. I loved the way that shampoo smelled. And I loved the time I had when its smell was in my hair.

I still have the mostly-melted bar of soap. I don't know why I keep it. It's part of how I catch threads of things and hope to keep them going for longer than they can. Trying to sustain things. Wishing things would never end. Wishing the sun wouldn't come up or go down. Wishing for long stretches of uninterruptedness wherein there is something worth keeping alive afoot. I take pictures as a means of being able to go back. Writing things down is the same. Buying extra copies of things just in case one runs out. Stocking up for the day when my memory starts to go.

The things that used to be automatically precious don't seem to be anymore. My standards have changed. I don't even feel guilt about not helping prepare Thanksgiving dinner. I sit still and let someone else do things sometimes. I sit very still sometimes. And not just when someone comes to the door.

I'm weary of always saying the same things.

Jan 27, 2008

Hangover F. Tompkins

I don't actually have a hangover. But I probably should. I sure drank a lot last night at the renaissance of The Paul F. Tompkins Show at Largo. It was cold and wet outside, so it was easy to seek comfort in glass after glass of Irish whiskey. I don't need excuses. I don't know why I should pretend to operate within the coolness of the shade they provide.

I was so (selfishly) glad to hear that Paul was bringing the show back. It was Martín's and my standing date the last Monday of every month for years. And then it ended in late 2006. After a period during which I had had to miss many of the shows anyway. So there has been a dearth of this tradition, and I'm terribly pleased to revive it. I've gotten to know so many people who work on and come to the show that it's like a reunion every time. And this one was all the more rewarding, as I've not seen many of these people since October of 2006. The most missed of which was Paul himself.

Have you ever had that feeling when you can't laugh hard enough? There is that scene in Scarface when the guy is about to get chopped up with a chainsaw, and his mouth is taped up, and you can see that behind the duct-taped silence, he's screaming as loud as he can. I don't know where that instinct comes from, but I do think that horrible things are altogether more horrible if you are robbed of your ability to let everyone nearby know it. That happens to me in dreams sometime. Also the thing where you can't run fast enough and you actually try and make yourself go faster by pulling on the edges of buildings. Like swimming. Anyway, my point is, sometimes I feel that way when something is so very funny, that I can't seem to get the relief(?) that laughing typically provides by merely laughing. This happens a lot at The Paul F. Tompkins Show.

Oh, my god. I almost accidentally watched Norbit. Crisis averted. Relief. Empire Strikes Back is halfway over but still. How are the whites of Yoda's eyes so white? No amount of Visine affords me that luxury for very long. It's dusk in Cloud City. What was I saying? Oh, right.

Sometimes Paul is so funny that I'm appalled at my inadequate ability to express amusement. Having expelled all the air in my lungs and heartily slapped my knees, having made eye contact with friends and established visually that we both think that was a good one -- it almost seems cruel for someone to be so funny that I'm left to evaluate my own impotence. But maybe this is more my problem than his.

Sometimes I think I like traditions. And sometimes I think I don't. Sometimes having a standing appointment with a good time feels like an oppressive obligation. And sometimes, saying such things makes a person sound like a sociopath. I remember having a standing appointment with The Paul F. Tompkins Show. And I'm glad it's back on the calendar. No matter how many Largo entrées I have to pretend I've eaten.

Jan 10, 2008

Hello. I'm going to bed now.

This may seem luxurious, but it's actually not. I've been working for twenty-four hours straight. And, yes, it's part of my Navy Seals training.

For the World Is Hollow, and I Have Touched the Sky.

Another night when I'm up for the duration. Last night, I was working until 7:30 in the morning. It was in the wee hours of that stretch that I watched the Star Trek episode whose title I have poached.

I'm up all night tonight again. And I'm even further behind than I was last night. The price of leaving town and never being willing to say, "That deadline is impossible, sir. How dare you."

A year came and went. I had far less to say about it than in previous years. I did much more of my talking out loud. Or in my head. And less with my fingers. But it's not like I don't think things when I'm not typing them. For instance, I wonder if we can credit the writers' strike with the end of Stephen Colbert's bid for the presidency. And how will it eventually effect the elections to not have had live and/or timely satire on television every night reminding us not to let politicians get away with things they shouldn't get away with and hopefully shaming us into not doing anything stupid. I don't care much for awards shows, but I suppose we'll be missing out on at least a few celebrity social admonitions. I also wonder about how much chlorine there is in my tap water, because it sure smells of it. And I wonder what the value of a DVD collection is when all I do is watch whatever is on. And at these shoulder-stooping hours, there's very little on that's worth the electricity. Or that I haven't already seen.

I kept hearing a few people say they couldn't believe that it was 2008. And I have to categorically disagree. Because 2007 felt like a very long year. Not necessarily full. But long. And I hope it isn't a trend that my age will perpetuate. Because I would like 2008 to be somewhat less of a grind. But I'm very willing to admit that I'm no little ray of sunshine. And I seldom look back on a year and think, "Hey, wow! Now, that was something, wasn't it?" Mostly, I just look forward to the new stamps.

I never got a chance to send out holiday cards this season. And I bought some really nice ones, too. I guess you shouldn't be surprised if you end up getting a nice holiday card sometime in March. I'm not strict about things like that.

I like the winter months in Los Angeles. My first year in Los Angeles began in the fall. And it was in the early months after the calendar had turned when I finally realized I lived here and that it was okay to put nails in the walls. In the winter months, you can walk down a city street for lunch or coffee and not feel the grit accumulating on your ever-moistening brow. In the winter months, there's probably still plenty of grit, but you can't really feel it as much.

The rains have come, and the skies are clear. And you can see forever if you want to. Or you can close your eyes and see everything else.

Jan 9, 2008

From the annals of bad product naming

I just heard a commercial for an acid reflux medication called AcipHex. I realize it contains part of the word "acid" and all of the initials "pH," but basically, in the human ear, it sounds like "ass effects." And the commercial ends with a web address and the exhortation to find out if "ass effects is right for you." Notwithstanding the inappropriate singular predicate one must excuse in order to join me in my juvenile tittering, I was amused.

And, yes, I used "annals" in the title and "tittering" in the previous sentence. But that's just coincidence. I don't make puns. I just make fun of homophones. And, yes, I know I just said "homophones"...