Thursday, October 26, 2006

Rubik's Cube With a Mustache?

The older I get the less inclined I am to celebrate Halloween. I understand I should maybe a bit more "happy go lucky" or "devil may care," but I just don't really like getting dressed up. I am a fan of conceptual costumes (like the year I was "nice" for Halloween and went up to everyone I didn't like at Bennington and said things like "Wow, you look so pretty tonight").

Last night, Lesley told Chrissy and I that we needed to give her ideas for a Halloween costume, and so, after watching "America's Next Top Model" (interjection: Tyra, what were you wearing!?) we sat on Lesley's balcony and tried some brainstorming. I still think Lesley should go as Steve Irwin with a stingray attached to her chest, but I suspect that will be popular this year.
Then we alighted upon the Web site that shows tons of horrible '70s Halloween costumes. You know... the ones with masks and a big plastic bib that just says what the costume is, rather than actually being a costume. (See for yourself:

I had been particularly taken with the Rubik's Cube outfit, as well as the one depicting the Leatherman from the Village People, so I naturally voiced my thought that maybe I should go as a Rubik's Cube with a mustache.

Chrissy just looked at me like I was nuts. Lesley nodded like she knew that was both exactly what I was going to say and also totally natural (she's indulgent that way). But I kept thinking about it today and now I've latched on to the idea. I just, for some reason, would love to have people asking me with their brows furrowed, "'re a....Rubik's Cube...but why do you have a mustache?"

That's what I'll be for Halloween: deliberately confusing.

You'd think I'd have more to say from this busy week, but I don't have much. I got a promotion at work, so now I sound more exciting and authoritative than I actually feel, but I think that's often been the case, even when I was editor of a magazine.

I could go on about the whole drama with my brother's ex-girlfriend and how my sister and I are going to have to call her to let her know my brother turned up after going missing for 18 months. This ought to be fun. She wants child support. My brother is working hard to get his life back together. I am sure their priorities will be in sync, don't you think? Ah, former lovers...

Maybe I could go as her for Halloween.

Or maybe I should go as Vicki from "Small Wonder," with whom I was obsessed as an adolescent because I couldn't believe someone actually got PAID to make a sitcom about a father who creates a robot daughter and everyone seems OK with that. I think I was somehow fantasizing that my own home life should be so wacky, and yet totally functional. Maybe I can get some other people to dress up as the cast of "Ordinary People." Or better yet, we can go as the creepy suburban family from "Small Wonder" but change in the middle of the night to become "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" or, worse, "Full House."

Lesson learned: Plan now for Halloween 2007.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Did that happen?

I traded e-mails with Robin Leach yesterday.

No, really.

Mr. Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams himself.

I work with a new hotel in Vegas and he was on our press release list, and, well, the rest, as they say, is history. I don't think he likes me much, though. It's just a gut feeling. And what will become of me if Robin Leach doesn't like me? Quelle horreur.

I wonder if I can put him on my Xmas card list.

The weirdness of the day was topped off by having dinner with Rick in Silverlake at The Kitchen. We hadn't seen each other in forever, so it was great to catch up and eat mac and cheese and turkey burgers and just yammer on about everything, including our respective writing projects. Well, his. Mine is stuck in neutral.

After our meal, however, we noticed a woman go to the window and take down the "A" that was hanging there. She then folded it up and tucked it into her weird metal clipboard/briefcase. Next, an employee came and unplugged the neon "Open" sign. Hmmm... ok.... Rick and I looked at each other with a tiny bit of fear in our eyes. Were they closing the restaurant for some reason?

Next, the "A" thief went to the front door and taped something on it and the waitress in the front turned away potential diners. Rick asked our waitress as she returned with his receipt if the restaurant was being closed and she looked at us but declined to speak and walks away.

No one was being told to leave. The place was filled with diners chowing down, as The Kitchen has pretty good food. (I've always enjoyed it, at least). Suitably weirded out, Rick and I downed our wine and got up to leave and went to the front door, opened it, stepped outside, and turned around to see a Notice of Closure due to "rodent infestation."


What did we just eat? "Do you feel OK? I feel OK," I asked Rick, and we both couldn't form sentences for a second, trying to reason that it could mean anything. It's an old building, after all. This happens all the time.

Well, sure. But have you ever had a restaurant close due to "rodent infestation" WHILE YOU WERE EATING THERE? Have you?!

And how do you go from an "A" to Closure in the matter of 15 seconds with weird inspectors sitting at a table wearing jeans and cheap tennis shoes who refuse to talk to anyone about what they're doing?

By the way, I feel fine today. I don't think I ingested anything I shouldn't have.

I don't want to hold it against The Kitchen, but I am not sure how much I want "rodent infestation" to be a part of my future dining experiences.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

'It's like being stalked by an army of Hummels'

So said I in response to an e-mail that was forwarded to me today that depicted "cute" kitties, puppies, and assorted snuggly-wuggly critters all reminding the viewer to, essentially just "hang in there." The bonus was the psalm at the end of the email. I forget that people still find these kinds of things inspirational. Me being cynical too much of the time, I tried at first to read this treacle with a clarity with which, I soon realized, I am not blessed. By the end of it, as I said to Lesley, I wanted to put my head through a plate-glass window. And then she referred to it as feeling like being shot in the face by a rainbow. I think that's how she phrased it.

What a long strange few days. Not bad ones, either... from watching Tim in a movie that premiered at a gallery in Chinatown to Jessica's bday in Hollywood to a housewarming in a small house in Culver City with a huge yard filled with every imaginable fruit tree (including persimmons)--I've been all over L.A. and have talked to more people I don't know than I think I have in the last month. I even got some time in to visit Hopper, my cat that still lives with Wayne even though I don't live there anymore. It sometimes feels like visitation rights with me as divorced dad, and, when I leave, I actually get choked up, but the cat still remembers me. I can tell because he actually lets me pet him and purrs before turning mischievous and biting me in playful mode. Sometimes bites are the best kind of love you can have.

I may just be in a sentimental stupor thanks to a non-cold that refuses to fully materialize, but I actually have been thinking of love a lot lately, prompted not by the email of kittens who keep reaching for the stars, but by my sister, who still, 4 weeks on, is coping with Bell's palsy and having half of her face paralyzed. We went to the gym over the weekend, and though we didn't talk much, there were small moments when watching her lift weights at a machine next to me, I realized how lucky I am to have had 8 years of living in L.A. near her.

She'll move to Oregon next year and these moments will be gone--for now. No more easily accessible holidays, barbecues, and excursions to Shoe Pavilion. Looking at her this weekend, in awe of how she copes with this temporary paralysis, I couldn't help but think of 16 years ago, when I first lived with her in L.A. When I went back to Portland later that summer--a summer in which her friend became my first boyfriend, I might add--I thought I'd snap in two. I didn't want to leave that special time and place, despite all the horrid heat and underemployment. Looking at her at the YMCA, I realized I never have to feel like that again. Some people never have anyone in their lives, let alone their families, with whom they actually connect. I get a funny, fiercely intelligent woman who not only has a PhD but manages to make an eye patch seem totally normal.

Maybe the kittens were trying to remind me of familial bonds today. Then again, maybe they really are just examples of the most cloying pop psychology. Nevertheless, if being stalked by an army of Hummels makes me feel a bit more appreciative of who I have in my life, I can endure it ... briefly.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Dizzy and Maddening

I shouldn't drink on an empty stomach--neither coffee nor martinis. I had a mid-afternoon meeting at a Starbucks near the airport today to talk about the fact that I am going to South Australia to lead a press trip down there, covering probably close to 2,000 km in 2 weeks. It's funny to think I am going back to the country only a year after I was there last as a writer. Who knew I would have a job where I was supposed to escort writers to a part of Australia that so few people actually visit--the purpose of which is to make them write about it? Of course, that's what makes it appeal to me. I get to do something very few people will do in their lifetime--namely fly across the Pacific Ocean and swim with sea lions, track wombats in the dark in a gorge in the Outback, and visit a place the name of which is actually Kangaroo Island. And I leave on Thanksgiving, of all days.

The point of this originally was that I had too much coffee at said meeting and was like a hummingbird drunk on nectar, buzzing around, singing in my car at top volume--making myself hoarse--as I drove back to Hollywood in the crush of rush hour traffic. Then, later, I went to a friend's house for dinner and was given a martini and felt like my bones had collapsed in a heap--worthless and heavy. Somehow I managed to make conversation and keep it afloat, but the words seemed to wrap around me and hang like chains. I think it's simply exhaustion. I have not slept much this week and, when I do, I have had stupid dreams about a stupid movie I watched last weekend with Lesley.

Granted, stupid movies with Lesley and I are ubiquitous, but for some reason "The Maddening" got to me. I can't tell if it's the inexplicable casting of Burt Reynolds and Angie Dickinson as swamp trash crazies who trap an unsuspecting young mother (Mia Sara, long past her prime) and daughter in their backwater house, or if somehow the movie managed to actually touch a nerve in me. Either that or we finally watched something so bad that it just stayed with me like food poisoning. Either way, I have literally had 3 Angie Dickinson dreams this week, with her yammering at me while holding a tray of food--like she does to poor, poor Mia in her locked bedroom in le film. But, unlike Mia's character in "Da Maddening," as I took to calling it, I do not have to pee on the bedroom floor in my dreams. Thank god. No one wants to wake up like that.

Hopefully the rest of the week will clear my head as I wrap up a hellishly busy 5 days and go catch a Kristin Hersh concert on Friday the 13th. I've been listening to Throwing Muses all day, which is adding to the dizziness. Try keeping up with these lyrics: "I have two heads / Where's the man? He's late / One burns one's sky / Where's the man? He's late / I'm two headed ... one free, one sticky."

Maybe the wrong choice for an hour-long car ride from El Segundo to Hollywood.

And before bed, the bon mots of the day, overheard on the elevator, as I rode with two psychics up to the fifth floor of my building (yes, I work next to an office housing consultants on the Psychic Hotline): "Well, I was going to call her, but I already knew she didn't want to talk to me."

All I could think was, "Gee, if only all interpersonal communication was always that cut and dried."

Monday, October 09, 2006

Word of the Day: Necropolis

Was this story timed for maximum Halloween exposure?

Today, the AP ran a story on the Vatican "unveiling" (strange choice of words if you ask me) the burial place this week, which was discovered when someone was trying to build a parking lot--like so many important archeological sites. Maybe there's a joint necropolis/parking lot venture in the works? Ah, marketing...

My favorite passage, though, is this:

"The remains of the child, whose gender wasn't determined, were discovered during the construction of the walkways, after the main excavation had finished, said Daniele Battistoni, a Vatican archaeologist.

Buried there were upper-class Romans as well as simple artisans, with symbols of their trade, offering what archaeologists called rare insights into middle and lower-middle class life."

Considering we have no current cultural insights into lower- and middle-class life (unless "According to Jim" counts), and that we really didn't need to know about the mummified, gender-questioned baby, I am not sure any of this qualifies as important.

Then this:

"The burial sites help 'document the middle class, which usually escapes us,' said consultant Paolo Liverani, an archaeologist and former Museums official. 'You don't construct history with only generals and kings.'"

Really? I thought history was all about the rich. Oh, wait, I meant "pious."

Not that I am knocking the necropolis. Far from it. If I could afford the plane ticket, I'd be there in line waving my necropolis penant and snatching up plaster replicas of the alleged hermaphrodite child.

Oh, and you have to write the Vatican for permission to enter the tombs. Get out your best Laura Ashley stationery!

Read for yourself:

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Moon Hangover

Not that I give too much credence to the full moon making people feel nuts, but as I slowly evolve into a stereotypical Californian, I do have to admit that when the full moon rolls around, I often feel a bit like a manic-depressive. And let's not get started on the fact that I'm a Cancer, so if you believe anything about astrology, then you know I am ruled by this celestial object, which essentially means I am some kind of cosmic ventriloquist dummy.

Yesterday I couldn't figure out what the hell my problem was--which, granted, is not an uncommon dilemma. And then a glance at the oh-so-informative Yahoo News page informed me that Oct. 6th was, indeed, the night of the Harvest Moon. The moon was 12% fuller and closer to Earth last night. The "news" piece dutifully informed me that there was no evidence the moon makes people go crazy (thanks, Yahoo! thanks, Moon!), but damn if I didn't feel like I had bees buzzing in my head and that every conversation was like wading through a pool of tar.

Then again, I probably just worked too late all week.

For the rest of the night, though, I suspiciously watched the giant moon and felt like it was tapping me on the shoulder. It was like having someone at a party keep talking to you even though you were long past the point of being able to maintain a plastic smile and nod your head in feigned interest.

What's the point of this? I am not sure I know. I just woke up this morning feeling hung over, which I am going to blame on the moon. It's the one night of the month where I feel OK about side stepping any deeper probing of my own emotions.

Now I can also listen to Lesley all day exclaiming "MOON!" to me with a smile on her face. She really can say so much with so little.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Buh-Bye, Holy Roller

Thank god (lowercase "g"). The only times I can really applaud "America's Next Top Model" is when someone cries when having her hair cut or when the requisite holy roller has to pack her bible and go home. And Monique totally deserved it. I mean, last season (or "cycle," as ANTM likes to call it), Danielle had goddamned IVs in her arm and then climbed atop an elephant in Thailand and, to quote Tyra, "rocked it." So if you ask me, Monique having the flu hardly justified her going home in the stretch Escalade from a photo shoot since she was "tired." (Yeah, tired in more ways than one)

But at least we got the best shot of the show: Monique in a straw hat reading the bible with tears streaming down her face.

It's nice to have Lesley back from merry ol' England to howl at this crap with me. Correction: this deliciously entertaining crap. Even if she did fall asleep at 9:15 due to so-called jet lag.

Plus, at the commercial break we learned all about Tampax Sport tampons and how, even though you're a girl, you can still play tennis, swim, and do gymnastics, despite your period. It doesn't mean you will have a box of tampons in any color other than pink, but it must be such a boost of self-esteem to wannabe models glued to their TVs.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Showtime on 7th Avenue

Sometimes it only takes a few words from someone to transport you back in time. I got an email from Nicole earlier today in which she said she was fondly remembering how she used to scour the TV listings to find out which horrible movie would be on later that night.

We were living together in Brooklyn in the spring and summer of 1998. I was hating work, sinking deep into a miserable depression, living in a room the size of my current bathroom, smoking too much, and grieving the loss of my stepsister whom I never really felt I got to know.

And yet, during the miserably hot months that gripped the city and made us want to cry (and I think prompted both of us to move to L.A., truth be told), the late nights brought their respite in the form of so-bad-they-were-genius movies. I closed my eyes today after getting that email and suddenly I was in that brick-red living room, curled up on the beige loveseat in shorts and a tank top while Nicole reclined across the room from me on the couch, artfully dressed in a slip, a sandal, mule, or flip-flop dangling from one foot, bouncing as she absently jiggled her foot.

It would always be too late. We'd already spent too much time staring out our windows across 7th Avenue at our neighbors who would do all manner of things in plain view. There was the hot Puerto Rican guy who would just come to the window naked and stand there while we (I in particular) tried to appreciate it, despite his being backlit. Then there was the couple in the next building over. The female half of said couple apparently took belly dancing lessons and practiced her routine one night for her boyfriend, perhaps unaware that Nicole and I were screaming with delight as we watched her shimmy and otherwise try to enchant her man with somewhat awkward maneuverings that looked more like an uncontrollable twitch than seductive gestures.

These moments were the pre-show, of course. The escapist joy really came from watching Meredith Baxter (or was it still Baxter Birney then?), Connie Selleca, Melissa Gilbert, and many other actresses who generally specialized in all things Woeful scream, yell, and cry their way through films the plots of which usually included stolen babies, bad marriages, and glycerin tears--lots of them.

And there we sat, cigarettes in and out of our mouths, street noise permeating the apartment, sweat refusing to dry on our skin, the faint smell of trash sitting on the sidewalk in front of the deli downstairs wafting in. And for those 2 hours, the disappointment of relationships gone sour, the horror of premature death, and the uncertainty of what we might do next with our lives just melted away.

The movies didn't always entertain. We were not always treated to the antics of our neighbors across the street. And sometimes one or both of us couldn't muster the energy to make it to 2 a.m., but there's something to be said for having a partner in crime.

I didn't feel like I had much else at that point, but this was more than enough.