Sunday, December 30, 2012

"Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination."*

   Good grief I’ve been lazy the last few weeks. I apologize. I’ve been in Omaha and you all know how that usually goes. See, in Omaha I have what is known by the general population as “A Social Life.” Since I don’t have much of one in Los Angeles, I have lots more time to write when I’m there. And since I don’t have much of one in Los Angeles, it is important to take full advantage of the one I have when I’m in Omaha. My life is really sad and pathetic. 
   Anyway, I’m going to ease back into blogging and not overwhelm your senses with my super insightful musings on life today. I have lots of pictures of stuff to show you from my last week in Omaha, but today I just want to share a couple from my bedroom.
   Here’s a book my parents bought me in junior high that makes me feel like laughing and sobbing at the same time. The title pretty much says it all:

   It's pretty clear that I wasn't feeling too happy in seventh grade and it's nice to know that my parents were doing what they could to cheer me up. Namely, buying me literature so I could read about how to get better. That's kind of the way we did things growing up at the Rouse House. You got a math problem? Here's a book about Algebra! You want to learn computer programming? I found a great book about DOS. You have a leg cramp? Here's a copy of Curing Your Leg Cramp for Dummies! I guess the theory is that most things can be fixed by doing the research. Thus the book on how to cure crippling sadness if seventh grade is sucking your will to live.
   But why was I so insecure? Because look: what's this bookmark?

 I'll show you what it is:

   It's my ribbon for First Honors. How could I have suffered from low self-esteem when my grades were so good? Could it have been the fact that my forehead, nose, and extremities were enormous and my hair was constantly greasy and I had gotten my period but not my boobs and there were constantly at least two zits on my chin and I could never be sure if my friends would still be my friends on any given day? I don't think that's enough to make a seventh grader sad: all junior high kids really care about is good grades, right?

   Still, it's nice to know that I read that book and all my problems were solved that very same year. (Coincidentally, this was also the year I began taking anti-depressants. But I'm pretty sure it was the book that turned things around.)
   Anyway, that's just one of the many treasures I've unearthed here in my parents' house in Omaha since I've been back. I will be updating on a more regular basis now that the holidays are essentially gone along with all my friends and my social life. 
   (Notice how much more cheerful a person I am nowadays?)

*The quote is from Mark Twain. I'm not sure what the implications are for my life...I guess I'm either insane and happy or sane and miserable? Most likely it's the former.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"How long do I have to stay here and hold her before I can get up and leave? Is 30 seconds enough? [...] See that's your problem. Somewhere between 30 seconds and all night is your problem."

   Attention, please: I may have found my perfect career! Check this out:

From this month's Marie Claire.

   Okay, come on: I would be so good at this job. I don't really like cuddling, but I LOVE sleeping, and if someone was paying money to cuddle with me, I could get behind (or in front of) it. And he or she could "stroke" my hair all he or she wanted. I truly enjoy the feeling of someone playing with my hair, as long as they aren't brushing it, because that hurts. I'm also really good at hugging, but the $125 fee per one-minute hug would make me even better at it, I bet you anything.

   Sometimes I think Japan is all fucked up, what with dudes marrying avatars and that whole karoshi thing where one quite literally works him- or herself to death; but then they go and figure out how to help a bunch of nerd-o gamers pay people for hugs. I want to be one of those people that gets paid. I actually can't think of a better day job, unless you happen to be an international travel writer/man of mystery...or the captain of a pirate ship.

   It occurs to me that maybe I wouldn't be a popular sell in Japan, what with being 5'7 and brunette. I think my height puts me on par with some of the tallest of Japanese men. And I heard that Asian men only want to cuddle with white women if they're blonde. But I could wear a wig or dye my hair. And presumably we'll be laying down, so I could easily look shorter. I'm willing to change! And maybe my height and hair color would make me seem exotic? These are all things to think about, but I don't have time right now because I'm super busy booking my flight to Tokyo.

   Yay! Career crisis solved. Happy Sunday!

*This quote is from When Harry Met Sally...(Rob Reiner, 1989), one of my all-time favorite movies written by the incredibly talented, late Nora Ephron. But what's funny (as in "odd" not "haha") here is that I always related more to Harry than Sally. I, too, find cuddling to be not only uncomfortable, but highly annoying. I think most women enjoy it. I don't. But, see, if I were getting paid, it'd be a totally different story.

Friday, December 14, 2012

"I do independent study with her. I catch her looking at me a lot. It's kinda cool the way she's always looking at me." "Maybe she's retarded."*

   I was watching Just One of the Guys the other night—an 80’s B classic that I’d forgotten existed until I was rifling through Amazon at 2 in the morning in search of amusement…like you do. It’s not amazing or anything, but it’s really very entertaining and reminds me of weekends in junior high when I would stay up late and watch USA Up All Night which was hosted by the lamentable Gilbert Godfrey and some blonde chick with really big boobs. They would always air movies from the 80’s and early 90’s with some sort of pseudo-adult content that was always mostly removed due to the need to censor kids my age from seeing sex or boobies or hearing the f-word. I have a very specific memory of one movie in particular about a perverted, miniature leprechaun that would grant perverted teenagers their perverted wishes. Anyone know that movie? Because I’d love to re-watch it and see if it’s as good as I remember it. Let me know. It's probably called "The Perverted Leprechaun" if that helps.

   But I digress…

   Anyway, Just One of the Guys features an 80’s-style bully (as they all do) and the bully was played by that same blonde-haired fellow that played the bully in The Karate Kid and The Karate Kid II. And I think he may have also been a bully in Back to School, but I’ve never made it all the way through that movie because I’m allergic to Rodney Dangerfield so I don’t know for sure. And I think the bully that Anthony Michael Hall played in Edward Scissorhands was inspired by Blonde-Haired Fellow’s many bully roles. I can’t say for certain, but I think he may have been the ultimate teenage bully.

   I looked into him and he’s still working and he has a name: William Zabka. And according to his page, he’s also fluent in Czech and has a black belt in Tang Soo Do, whatever that may be. Okay!
William (center) mid-bullying as the ultimate bully, Billy. The Karate Kid. (Photo)

   It's really lame (I've never professed to be cool), but I spend a lot of time wondering about what happened to famous actors from the 80’s movies I so love (as mentioned at least here and here). Where do they go and why do their careers end?

   Remember Michael Schoeffling? He played Jake Ryan in Sixteen Candles. The last movie he made was the AMAZING Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken in 1991. Now he owns his own handcrafted furniture business in northern Pennsylvania. He's just not acting at all ever. I mean, I’m not saying he was Marlon Brando or anything, but he definitely had a good thing going. And now he's a master carpenter. Okay!
Michael as Jake Ryan. (Photo)

   Most of all I wonder about Jonathan Crombie who played Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea. Those movies were insanely wonderful and my sisters and I still watch them every year or so and we watch them mainly so we can watch Gilbert. I looked into him as well, and he’s had a lot of voiceover work, so that’s good. He also has a number of stalkers besides my sisters and me. Check this out. Yikes. (And no, this isn't my website. Like I'd know how to design a website with music playing and neat wallpaper.)
Jonathan then. As Gilbert. (Photo)
And now. (Photo)

   Of course I know it’s difficult to sustain an acting career under any circumstances, but maybe it was and is especially hard if you were a heartthrob in the 80’s. Things were weird and wonderful in that decade in a way that they weren’t at any other time. Maybe I just think so because I grew up in that decade, but maybe also that time was just supremely bizarre.

   And, obviously, I just really like 80’s movies. But I really loved the leading men. I miss Andrew McCarthy and it’s depressing to see Judd Nelson’s face on a bus advertisement for a play at Santa Monica Community College. It feels wrong to me that Charlie Sheen is a massive celebrity and Emilio Estevez isn’t. Why was Keanu Reeves a massive success and Christian Slater is an afterthought?** And how come Sean Penn has two Oscars and Judge Reinhold doesn’t do much of anything? Judge was THE LEAD in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Sean Penn was...Spicoli. He had, like, 4 lines and he's on the cover of the DVD. And Judge was so adorable. (And how great was his Arrested Development episode?)
Judge in Fast Times. (Photo)

   There’s no accounting for acting careers. Or taste in movies. But I wanted to give these gentlemen a shout out, because they’ll always be celebrities to me. And if Jonathan Crombie ever wanted to go on a date, I would be totally okay with that.

*Quote is from Sixteen Candles (John Hughes, 1984).  
**Side note about Christian Slater: it turns out the most popular post on my blog is the post about Heathers and I always found that weird. But it turns out people only read it because they’re looking up Christian Slater and get directed here. Haha! That’s amazing. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"I'll be seeing you, in every lovely summer's day; in everything that's bright and gay; I'll always think of you that way; I'll find you in the morning sun and when the night is new; I'll be looking at the moon, but I'll be seeing you."*

   Grandma was angry at the state of Colorado.

   Aunt Dudie had gone to reheat Grandma’s soup so we were alone for a minute at our little booth inside Panera.

   “People are uncouth here,” she said. She was mad. “When I was trying to fill my drink, those people acted like I was invisible.”

   “Well, if it makes you feel any better, they didn’t let me in there, either,” I offered. “Even those big, burly men pretended I wasn’t there so they could refill their Mountain Dews. Not very chivalrous!”

   “That’s the word! They aren’t chivalrous! I think it’s just the way people are in Denver,” Grandma decided.

   Now, Grandma and I both spent a fair number of years living in Omaha, Nebraska, a smallish city, where people will regularly turn themselves into human doormats before they offend or inconvenience someone, so I don’t know that our perspectives are very accurate as a basis of comparison to the fine people of Denver.

   “You seem pissed off,” I suggested.

   “I am pissed off!”

   My Grandma is so funny.

   “Don’t get too mad, Grandma! People are much more polite here than they are in Los Angeles.”

   “Well, I’m sure that’s true,” she harrumphed.

   “Maybe it’s a big city thing? The bigger the city, the less patience and manners people have?”

   “Oh, poor Julie,” Grandma sighed, referring to Aunt Dudie, my Grandma’s fourth of five daughters, my Godmother, and my hostess for the weekend. “She must get so tired of taking care of me.”

   “She does not! She likes it. And Julie’s boys are chivalrous, so it can’t be Colorado that’s doing it. It’s not where you are, it’s who you are, and some people are just nicer and better bred than others.”

   “Well, none of my grandchildren are uncouth, that’s for sure.” She was very proud of this fact and, as a way of proving it, took a huge bite out of her roll.

I wrote this nearly a year ago. Apparently Grandma and I had all our conversations in exclamation points!!!!

   I’d just spent a weekend in Parker, CO, with my family: Aunt Julie and Uncle Rick, my cousins, Connor and Trevor, and my Grandma. Grandma had just moved out there from Omaha and I was lonesome for her, as I was used to seeing her every day growing up and, later, every time I was home to visit. And this year she wasn’t in town for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

   But by January she was fully ensconced in the Leahy’s ENORMOUS basement, and it was as though her entire house had been replicated into an apartment in the suburbs of Denver. All her pictures and tchotchkes were there, along with her voluptuous cat Lucy/Alice, and the best of her beautiful furniture. She was super excited about all the deer she could see in her backyard (and spying on deer seemed to be almost as interesting as her old hobby, which was spying on the neighbors). We spent two days talking and watching movies and running errands all over town.

   My grandmother was born Mildred Rose Wilson in 1925 in Washington, Indiana (pronounced “Warshington,” which, as my cousin Connor pointed out, is the only thing Hoosiers pronounce funny. I’m not entirely sure that’s true). And when she was growing up in Washington, she was so beautiful it makes my face ache to look at pictures of her. It makes me proud that her DNA is floating around in me. She had brown, wavy hair and high cheekbones, big eyes, big boobs, narrow hips, and long, long legs. What’s even more interesting about Millie Wilson is that she was an amazing dancer, something that seems to have eluded most of her progeny. She used to go out jitterbugging with her friends every day after school, taking breaks only for a soda (pop) or a hamburger. And then they’d all run home for dinner and homework. Ah, the “good old days”. It all sounds like a scene from Back To The Future to me (funny...'cuz that movie was made in the 80's).

   Sadly, her kids are helpless fools when it comes to dancing: her daughters do lots of weird disco-era thumbing and pathetic gyrations along with the occasional Prince in “Dirty Mind” imitations (picture middle-aged women doing the splits and bouncing off a mock-velveteen couch. Yeah, that’s what I grew up watching. It's one of my earliest memories of Aunt Krissy who, for some reason, I always thought was "the cool one." Kids are stupid. And it’s a miracle I didn’t run away from home. Or stab my own eyes out).

   Her grandkids, of which I am the oldest (sigh), are a mixed bag. My youngest sister, Penelope, is a very gifted dancer, as are my cousins Ellie and Kate. Hell, Ellie and Kate are acrobats—they can do flips and Russians and all that crazy stuff. Connor and Trevor are natural athletes, but I doubt they’re dancers. Elizabeth, my other sister, could easily twirl her way through ballet lessons, but when is that appropriate at a club or school dance? I’m not sure how she handled it, but given her era in high school, there was no way it made her popular.

   I’m a total lost cause. My generation grew up in the Nirvana/Pearl Jam/Offspring era with flannel shirts and greasy hair and “dance” started to take on a sort of quality that made it look as though one were a drunk puppet randomly swinging his or her arms and pelvis around to no particular beat. I took classical ballet for a couple of years as a young child and it left me feeling as though I couldn’t get my rear end in the right position. It turns out, I just have a really sizable backseat and there was no way it was ever going to stop sticking out, no matter how many times my teacher told me to reign it in.            

   While I was in Denver, Grandma told me that Grandpa Charlie (who I’ve mentioned here and also here) once took Arthur Murray dance lessons, so he could take Grandma out stepping. This was around 1960, and my grandparents already had three of their eventual five children (Mom, Aunt Mel, and Aunt Mary). He went to the studio, without my grandma’s knowledge, and tried to learn to dance so he could keep up with her and take her to, as my grandma and her generation called it, “trip the light fantastic.” But, according to Grandma, he had no rhythm. I guess the majority of us must have inherited his dance moves.

   But when I was a tiny child, she used to pull up her skirts when no one else was looking and dance a little jig for me, and she still had a pair of the most beautiful Ginger Rogers-style legs. And the fact that Grandpa tried to fight his natural inability to dance so he could take my grandma dancing makes my heart heavy and happy all at once.

   Millie Wilson was a carefree dancing queen, but Millie Lett was a mother and a wife and a homemaker. Her husband, my Grandpa Charlie, tried to let her be all four. And that’s kind of what love is all about, right?

   My Grammy died yesterday at home, in Denver, with all her daughters around her. I think she would’ve liked that they were all there and I hope she knew they were. When I think of her, I think of good smells and stylish clothes and The BeeGees. And I think of gardens and picture frames and mac and cheese and small animals. But most of all, I think of dancing.


Mildred (right) with her friend Betty, 1946.
Mildred Rose Wilson Lett
February 20th, 1925 - December 10th, 2012

*I initially had a quote here from "Moon River," but Grandma really loved "I'll Be Seeing You" by Irving Kahal and Sammy Fain, because it was a song that reminded her of the 40's, when all her friends (and her brother) were off in WWII and all the kids would hear this song and think about the people they were missing. Seems more appropriate, somehow.



Monday, December 10, 2012

"It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen."*

   Hello, gentle reader. Things are dicey in these parts of the world. Having just narrowly escaped with my life from the virus that attacked first my bowels and then my chest, esophagus, throat, nose, ears and brain (in ascending order), I am happy to report that things are creeping their way back to normal. I woke up this morning with the sensation that air was squeezing its way up into my nostrils. Which is sort of the opposite of a sensation and more of a return to normalcy. Sweet, sweet nose-breathing!
   It’s unfortunate that my body decided to attack me just before Mike arrived in town for a fun visit and catch-up. Drinking alcohol and staying up until three in the morning do not make for a swift recovery, it turns out. Who’d have thunk it?
   So, because I’ve been M.I.A. for the past few days, I’ve decided to do a recap post, as opposed to waxing philosophical about any one point, because, quite simply, my brain has been hibernating for a good 5 days.
1. Mike and I went Friday to the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at LACMA. It was pretty expansive and both amazing and intense. I like most of Kubrick’s films, but some of them make me squeamish just by remembering mere snippets from them and others (Eyes Wide Shut comes to mind immediately) I cannot manage to watch for more than 4 minutes. But nobody's got a perfect track record, right? And this guy not only directed but actually filmed huge chunks of his movies.
When you first enter the exhibit, they have a 15-minute montage of clips of all his films. I’m a huge fan of 2001: A Space Odyssey (which I’ve mentioned both here and here) and also of Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. But this reel gave a bit of everything, including some of the most cringe-inducing moments of A Clockwork Orange and some of the most gut-wrenchingly scary moments of The Shining: neither of which I had ever planned to view again. Thank you, LACMA for showing me Malcolm McDowell’s eyes clamped open and the part in The Shining where Danny goes to Room 217 (oddly room 237 in the movie). Oh yeah and Private Pyle blowing his brains out in Full Metal Jacket. No warnings here: they just threw it right at our faces. And that’s fine. You know how it is with art exhibits. As a cineast, I found the exhibit magnificent. As a person, I found it scary and disturbing. But in a good way. 
Some of the more harrowing nights of my life happened whilst reading The Shining. It was nice to have all the lights on while I perused items from the movie.
[Cool side note: my dear friend Judie is the widow of Leonard Rosenman who won an Academy Award for the adapted score of Kubrick’s nod to Napoleon: Barry Lyndon. Leonard is more famous for his original composing for Rebel Without a Cause and East of Eden, among others. Barry Lyndon is more famous for being lit entirely with natural light and/or candles, and for having Ryan O’Neal move really slowly everywhere he goes for no apparent reason.]
And the Kubrick exhibit wasn’t nearly as disturbing as the tiny Robert Maplethorpe exhibit they had going on in the main building. If I were a more mature person, I would’ve tried to find the “art” in all the images of anuses accepting objects they were most likely never meant to accept (I won’t tell you what, but if you use your imagination, no matter what you think of is probably right). But since I’m not very mature, and since I’ve seen most of his stuff before (in books! Not in person), I just giggled a bunch. That prompted a docent to ask us if we had tickets (we did), but made us also feel like naughty schoolchildren who'd snuck into a dirty picture(/mutliple pictures).
2. I stayed in last night to drink soup while Mike went to visit some friends in Santa Monica. It was a good choice, as I’m pretty sure it’s responsible for the fact that I felt somewhat human today. In the course of said soup drinking, I watched a couple of Barbara Stanwyck movies that I’d never seen before: No Man of Her Own (Mitchell Leisen, 1950) and Crime of Passion (Gerd Oswald, 1957). I’ve always loved Barbara Stanwyk as I feel that she’s the sane person’s version of Bette Davis, i.e. she’s no Ginger Rogers-looking broad but she’s sexy; and she gets into a ton a of trouble but she doesn’t seem to be intentionally causing it all the time. It was wonderful. And while I watched her do that, I drew you a picture that has nothing to do with anything. I was just really sick and had nothing better to do.
I drew a peacock! Neat-o!
3. Mike and I walked to brunch in Los Feliz village today. On our way home we saw a guy in a white BMW stop his car a block ahead of us an then proceed to speed down four blocks in reverse going close to 60 miles-per-hour. He finished by rear-ending up onto a curb and into someone’s side yard. Then he put the car back into drive and tore up the street in front of us. I couldn’t help but think of the shenanigans I got into when I reversed in the Runza parking lot…but this guy had no license plates, so I couldn’t really do anything about it. Even if I could've wrapped my mind around it. Which I couldn't. I actually thought for a moment that Mike and I oughta get off the sidewalk in case he was planning to back up again. What a shit.
   Um…so it kind of seems like all of this stuff is incredibly boring. That happens, you know. Just know this: if you start getting gastrointestinal disturbances in the next couple of weeks, start taking your Zicam right away, even though it sounds counter-intuitive (how can cold medicine stop diarrhea?!?). This disease will creep up your bowels (not literally, of course) into your chest and nose and throat and give you heinous reflux and a nose that just won’t operate. It’s not kidding around. It’s disgusting and virulent and foul.
   I will try to write a better post tomorrow, but my life has sort of spiraled into a shit-show and I can’t guarantee anything. Stay healthy, gentle reader.
*Quote is from the absurdly creepy A Clockwork Orange, which I attempted to revisit the other night but could only stand for about 30 minutes. But isn't Malcolm McDowell** a wonderful actor then and forever? (Stanley Kubrick, 1971).  
**I did a bunch of research on A Clockwork Orange and per I learned this: Malcolm did, in fact, have to have his eyes wrenched open for that scene and his corneas were anesthetized so he could film for longer chunks of time, but that didn't prevent near-constant cornea scratches. Also, the man putting drops in his eyes to keep them lubricated was a real M.D. Good lord that's disgusting.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

"I always thought the saddest feeling in life is when you're dancing in a really joyful way and then you hit your head on something."*

   I know what makes being a stripper so hard: it’s the dancing.

   Every time I see a scene in a movie or television series that takes place in a strip joint, I start watching the dancers' moves to determine what the budget was on said movie or TV show.

   If the budget is low, or it’s a half-hour comedy, the strippers will be terrible dancers. That’s because they aren’t really strippers, they’re extras who’ve agreed to get semi-nude in the hopes of one day getting their S.A.G. card.

   If the budget is high, the dancers will probably get naked and the dancing will be phenomenal because they’ve either hired real strippers for the scene and maybe shot on location in a strip club or they hired a stripper to train a famous actress to dance convincingly: Demi Moore in Striptease or Natalie Portman in Closer are good examples. Or Jessie Spano a.k.a. Elizabeth Berkeley in Showgirls, if you like (and I know I do).

   But if you watch an actual stripper dance, you can see that they are quite good at what they do and very unselfconscious about their movements and the exposure of their body parts. Especially if there’s a stripper pole involved because good lord, that looks tough (but I heard that their shoes are magnetic, so that probably helps a little bit).

   But I don’t think the nudity is really what keeps the majority of women (or men) away from stripping. I think it’s the dancing. Taking off your clothes is easy: we all do it every day. But dancing around while you’re taking off your clothes is hard: it probably feels silly and forced. And more than that, if you’re a bad dancer, you probably worry that everyone is judging your moves rather than focusing on your exposed vagina/penis. (Though I’m pretty sure they’re doing both.)

   I would like to see a stripper that is not a dancer. And I’m not talking Gypsy Rose Lee: she had a burlesque routine going on and while it wasn’t quite dancing, it was pretty darn choreographed. But what about a stripper who just comes out onto the stage, sits on a chair, and takes her (or his) clothes off? There could still be loud music playing so it’s not totally dead in the room, but no dancing or crawling around like a tiger. Just walk in, take your clothes off, and take a bow. Maybe stand there for a minute so the crowd can soak it all in like a solemn moment at a memorial service. Then flash some jazz hands as though to say, “Ta-da” and pick up your clothes and saunter back out. Or put your clothes back on and saunter out. A reverse strip tease! Wouldn’t that be something? It could be “performed” to the song “Eye of the Tiger” or “Working for the Weekend”** to give it some real oomph.

   In other (unrelated) news, my parents both called me in regards to my previous post. I felt guilty because I thought they were worried that I was sad and that they were calling to make sure I wasn’t in need of some professional psychiatric help. Or calling to make sure I wasn’t so crazy depressed as to run out and start stripping and crying at the same time (like Coco in Fame).

   Well, they were, in fact, worried but they were only worried about my battle with the diarrhea. Ah, they know me so well. Because, you see, I’m a product of their collective gene pools and they know how I feel about regularity because they feel the exact same way. And in an odd sense, that cheered me up much more than anything else has in the last few days. You will also be relieved to know that things have cleared up in my intestines. But now I have a cold.

Here's how much my Momma loves me: she sent me a huge supply of facial tissues. To use whenever I want! Like a rich person! Unfortunately, they're currently being put to use on this cold. But look at all the extras I'll have when I'm well!

   And when I was putting away my groceries this afternoon, I dropped the grocery bag with only one item remaining in it: a bottle of red wine. It shattered into a quadrillion pieces and bled through the bag and all over the floor and crept behind the fridge to get at the power cord. And when I moved the bag to the sink, it splashed all over the counter and the cabinets. It looked like a goddamn murder scene. When I started cleaning it, I ran out of paper towels and started using kitchen towels. I decided to just throw the kitchen towels away because I have nowhere to put them until I next do laundry and I’ll be damned if my clothes hamper is going to smell like a distillery the way my kitchen does. Also my floors are incredibly sticky. But good news: I did not electrocute myself while cleaning the wine away from the refrigerator cord. AND it’s much, much cleaner under my refrigerator. It was gnarly under there, I’m not gonna lie.

   The best part: the wine was shattered inside a bag, so I didn’t end up stomping through glass and adding real, live human blood to the crime scene. The worst part: none of the wine was salvageable. 
The remains of the wine. It would've been weird if I'd taken a picture DURING the catastrophe, no matter how artistic.

   I’d like to philosophize about the wine debacle moment. I think that when I’m feeling blue I create more drama for myself through the sheer powers of negative thought. I’ve heard people say that the opposite is possible as well, but how do I begin to dig myself out of this trench of self-inflicted poopiness?

   Which leads me, albeit sloppily, back to my initial thought: I would love to see someone stripping without dancing. I think that would really make me chuckle and put my life problems into some legitimate perspective (hey, at least I'm not a stripper!). And yeah, that’s probably not going to happen, so I just gotta ride this out like the Great Shit Storm of 2006-2007,*** and know that things will eventually get better.
*The quote is Lena Dunham, my imaginary BFF. 

**Lover Boy's classic "Working for the Weekend" is also the song in a great stripping scene from S.N.L. featuring the late Chris Farley and the late Patrick Swayze. Such a good sketch. Such great actors. For serious.

***I may talk about the Great Shit Storm at some point, but suffice it to say I had a run of really bad luck during this time that lasted about 6 months. It was so bad, I almost joined the Church of Scientology.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

"He's just acting depressed because he thinks it's cool."*

   I'm kind of (a lot) depressed lately.

   Here is a picture of how I feel:

This is a sad unicorn pooping a rainbow. (Lacey 2012)

   I'm so down in the dumps (no pun intended: that's clever as you will see in the second half of this sentence) that I'm not even going to sugar-coat it: I have had di-di for the past two days. I don't care what you think of me. It makes my stomach feel really bad and it makes trips to the bathroom feel like they don't even matter anymore. Nothing productive happens in there and my guts still feel angry.

   And on Hulu Plus I keep seeing ads for "The Signs of Suicide" which feature a paunchy man at a barbeque with his friends and the slogan, "Surrounded by friends: never felt so alone." Really? Why would that ad play every commercial break during The Mindy Project and New Girl? These are half-hour situation comedies! Why would we want suicide ads when we're trying to feel happy? And why would a suicidal person feel hopeful after seeing that ad?

   And why am I talking in the "Royal 'We'"?

   Probably because I'm full to the brim with self-pity.

   And I'm spending my time drawing sad clowns and nuns and trying to make the drawings look like sad mugshots or grainy photos from Coney Island during the Depression. It's more artistic that way.

Two of my worst fears. Sad. And scary.
   Sure, it "never rains in southern California" of course, but it sometimes does. It's actually rained in LA for the past 5 days, and I'm sure that's making me have S.A.D. In every way imaginable.

   Here are some more drawings I did and then tried to turn into old-school photos (I also bought a collage app that I suck at but will be busting out all the time in the future):

Terpsichore and Melpomene: the Muses of "The Drama". Also, happy and sad emoticons.
   I'm going to dump out my change jar tonight and feel really sad about things. And maybe take a rape shower. Don't worry about me...I'll be fine. I just want to wallow in it for the moment. Or three weeks.

*Murray talking about Jemaine in The Flight of the Conchords.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Certainly Edith was no Gertrude Stein. [...] Still, she was quite funny and in my experience funny people are seldom stupid."*

   Well it should come as no surprise that Lindsay Lohan’s most recent foray into film, Lifetime Original’s Liz and Dick, was truly terrible. And I loved every heinous minute of it. It was so cringe-inducing that I had to pause on occasion to take deep breaths and remind myself that no one was forcing me to watch it (I've only had to take deep breaths on these films in the past: American History X, The Exorcist, and The Haunting, which should give you a good idea of how truly wretched Liz and Dick was. These other films were either gratuitously violent and/or horror films. yep). I could’ve turned it off at any moment, but it was the proverbial train wreck: super awful but so utterly impossible to look away. I mean, seriously, it was soooooo bad. And so good, you know?
   But I won’t spend any more time on the issue. It’s tedious and lame and not too many people care about it besides me.
   Let’s talk about someone EVEN YOUNGER than Lindsay Lohan who has is all going on.
   I’m in love (in a mostly non-sexual way) with a woman. Her name is Lena Dunham and I'm pretty sure everyone knows who she is and what she does and please, can someone figure out how she and I can be friends?

From Vanity Fair. An imaginary interchange between Paul Ryan and Lena, which I chose to cut out because it was weird and not in the good way.
   Here’s the thing about Lena: she writes/directs/stars in the show (Girls, on HBO) that I should’ve written/directed/starred in. You know why she’s writing it and I’m not? Because she’s a) the genetic product of two artists from New York; b) she’s brave and completely willing to make a fool of herself/plumb the depths of her real-life for comedy; and c) way more talented and funny than I could ever hope to be.
   I love dark comedy and I love painfully awkward moments (just this evening, Gabe described my life as a "Comedy of Errors" true). I love watching pseudo-intellectual people sitting around having conversations about seemingly unsolvable first-world problems that don’t actually matter in the grand scheme of life. And Lena Dunham's show revels in these things.
From the news. A.K.A. Us Weekly.
   Why, why, why isn’t she my best friend? I’m probably too old to be her best friend, but she’s not too young to be mine. And even if she never wants to be friends, I would be more than willing to get her coffee and rub her feet on set between takes. Seriously.
From Marie Claire.
   And they say the Millennials have nothing to offer. They've got it all going on over the previous generations: they know everything about social media and new technology and how to build an "internet presence." What do I know? How to type in the fashion that has been taught to secretaries since the invention of the typewriter? (It's true: my class in high school was the last to take a semester in "keyboarding": in this class we LITERALLY learned how to TYPE. The year after that our high school got computers that were made post-1983 and then they taught all the subsequent students computer programming and how to use the goddamn Internet.) They say the Millennials don't know how to focus, that they think in text format and therefore can't comprehend long sentence structure or fathom how to read a book. I say: does it matter? No one's ever wanted to offer me money for my thoughts on an 1100-page novel. And seriously, I read long books all the time. NO ONE CARES. Because knowing how to read is the modern day equivalent of knowing how to poop: everyone can do it, and you should probably keep it to yourself.
   Anyway, Lena is willing to be ugly and gross along side being cute and adorable and brilliant and I think that takes some massive ovaries. She's my idol and if anyone knows her, please ask her to be my friend. Even if it's just on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or whatever else is going on that I'm too old to know about.
*From Snobs, a novel by Julian Fellowes. He's the bloke responsible for the writing of Gosford Park and the creation of Downtown Abbey.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"What the hell are you driving here?" "We had a small fire last night, but we caught it in the nick of time." "Do you have any idea how fast you were going?" "Funny enough, I was just talking to my friend about that. Our speedometer has melted and as a result it's very hard to see with any degree of accuracy exactly how fast we were going."*

   I regret the decision to write about Planes, Trains and Automobiles in my last post. For those who haven’t seen it because they care nothing about culture or the world in which they live, it is a movie about a man (Neal/Steve Martin) who is attempting to get home to Chicago from a work trip in New York in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family. In New York he stumbles upon Del (John Candy) a shower ring salesman who inadvertently poops all over every attempt Neal makes to get home. The two wind up traveling together on planes, trains (though I honestly don’t remember a train part—but I’m sure it’s in there) and also in automobiles. And it’s rough. It takes days. And Del is a slobbish buffoon who makes life hell for Neal, who doesn’t really have the holiday spirit (Thanksgiving holiday spirit, not Christmas) in his heart to begin with. But then it stops being funny and gets sad and I can’t stand it. Intrigued? Because you probably should be.
Neal and Del have an accident. (Photo)
   I regret my decision to bring this movie up because I’m pretty sure I planes, trains and automobiles-ed myself by even mentioning it. It’s like saying Candy Man three times or mentioning the name Macbeth in a theatre. It’s bad luck and/or certain death. I’m Irish, was raised Catholic, and spent the first 28 years of my life in theatres so it’s okay for me to be superstitious to a decidedly ridiculous degree. I have no choice in the matter and can't do anything about it, anyway. Just ask my Tarot deck and my Ouija Board.
   The shit started with a phone call around 12:30 on the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving. It was Primetime Shuttle calling to inform me that my shuttle would be arriving at 1:05 pm instead of 1:20. That was surprising in and of itself because I’d scheduled the ride for 1:50. So despite being butt-naked and just out of the shower (you're welcome for that imagery) I had to bust ass to get ready on time and having done that, I sat on the couch and turned on My Best Friend’s Wedding to pass the 5 minutes until the shuttle arrived. At 1:25, I called Primetime Shuttle and said, “Hey, not to be a pest, but where the fuck are you? I’m already to the part where Cameron Diaz sings karaoke.” And they said don’t worry, the driver will be there at 1:35. Then the driver called at 1:45 and said he was 5 minutes away. So I went outside and waited and he showed up at 2:10. (He also took a truly asinine way to the airport and had trouble realizing he was driving a conversion van and not a Camaro and nearly killed us about 8 times. Whatever.)
Traveling image: Best part of Thanksgiving. I walked with my family at Neale Woods. Omaha skyline in the background. Traveling on foot seems to be the best mode of transit for me, across-the-board.
   So then I got on a plane to Las Vegas and sat there for four hours due to circumstances beyond everyone’s control. I really don’t know why the flight was delayed so long. They never told me. But the Las Vegas airport is an especially depressing place and flights never leave on time from there, so I don’t know why I keep going back. Oh yeah, and I had to spend my eating money on tampons because…well, for obvious reasons, and the tampons cost way more than normal tampons and they were embarrassing to buy in a way they never are when I buy them at Target.
   When I arrived in Omaha, it was 1:40 in the morning. Normally Omaha's Epply Airfield stops receiving flights around 11:30. It's two terminals and 2 random dudes running baggage to the carousels. Seriously. So I called my Mom figuring she’d be glad that I’d gotten in 20 minutes earlier than expected, but she didn’t answer the phone. Because she was asleep. Which is totally fair because it was 2 in the goddamn morning. But she kept not answering her cell, so I finally called the home phone and no one answered that either. When she called me back at 2:06 a.m. I was relieved because most of the people were gone…and so were all of the (3) cabs. It wasn’t that big of a deal—she’d set her alarm for another day. And my mom doesn’t regularly keep finding projects to work on til 2 in the morning like I do. I blame it on Las Vegas, but more than that I blame it on the fact that I wrote about Planes, Trains and Automobiles right before I flew home for Thanksgiving. 
An Omaha gas station. Also loosely related to travel.
   Then on Saturday I ate lunch at Runza. If you’re not from Nebraska, there’s a good chance you don’t know what Runza is. Don’t worry about it. It’s kind of embarrassing, but all you need to know is it’s a fast-food place and my best friend Michelle wanted her boyfriend, Danny, to try it since he’s not from Nebraska, god love him. So I met them and ate Runza and then left and promptly backed into a car. Now, I didn’t back into the car going very fast. In fact I was going about .25 miles per hour. But I backed into a parked, empty car and then parked and got out to survey the damage. I circled the damn car and inspected it’s rear-end and saw no damage. While I was doing this, a family inside was watching me and laughing. I thought that was mean. But I saw no damage to the car so I left.
   Well, the highly-amused family of four must’ve been madder than they looked, because I guess they took down my license plate number and four hours later the cops showed up at my parents house looking for my mom.  I asked what they were there for and they said it was for a hit-and-run. And I said, “Oh, that wasn’t my mom. I guess you’re here for me.” And then they said they weren’t going to take me to jail (perhaps only because my mom said, "You officers aren't going to take my little girl to jail, are you?"**), but that they probably should and they gave me a citation and now I have a lawyer and I’m a big-time criminal. IT IS ILLEGAL TO HIT A PARKED CAR AND NOT CALL THE POLICE, REGARDLESS OF DAMAGE. Lesson learned. I’m an idiot. Again. Still?
   Did I mention we were on our way out the door for my dad’s birthday dinner? Happy Birthday, Dad! Guess what? I’m still a fuck-up at 30. Thanks for working hard every day so I can go out and raise your insurance rates during one of the 20 days you see me each year. Let's go eat fancy dinner!**
   My lawyer (that feels kind of grown-up to write…in a sad sort of way) says that it’s good that it was 1 in the afternoon at a Runza and not 1 in the morning at a Taco Bell, because the cops had/have no reason to think I was boozing it up and then running away. He says lots of people in Nebraska get drunk and hit cars and then go home and by the time the cops catch up with them they can say they got drunk at home. I was not drunk or drinking, but the whole event made me want to start drinking. And it cast a dark shadow on my favorite week of the year and I still feel really bad all-around. And I didn’t have the heart to write about it until now. I’m remorseful and, as is so often the case with me, full of self-pity.
   And I can’t help but think about scenes in movies like the one in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles where Del falls asleep in the rental car and somehow simultaneously starts a fire and ends up driving into oncoming traffic and they barely escape with their lives. Where’s the gruesome, icky and yet somehow also monotonous aftermath scene in the police station and the follow up scene in the lawyer's office? These events seem funny in the movies, but they really suck a whole lot in real life. And you know what else, they’re embarrassing moments that stick in your brain and run like reel-to-reels for days and days on end.
   Today I flew home to Los Angeles. It was uneventful, thank Shiva. I did however see the following text exchange on the phone of the woman seated next to me:
Incoming: I need drugs. And help.
My seatmate’s reply: Drugs I got. I don’t know about any help.
   Needless to say, I think I’m pretty much traveled out for this year. Since January I’ve been to Denver, Phoenix, Omaha, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Omaha again, Chicago and now Omaha. It’s a miracle I didn’t relive that entire movie. My luck has officially run out. I’m a grounded eagle. I may never fly again.
   P.S. Sorry for being such a Debbie Downer.
*An interchange between a State Trooper and Del in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (John Hughes, 1987). 
**Despite my failings as their daughter, my parents are truly amazing, supportive, incredible people who keep loving me and being nice to me anyway. Which I don't think they are legally obliged to do at this point, seeing as I'm well over the age of 18. So my Negative Nancy attitude aside, I think I have to acknowledge that I'm VERY LUCKY INDEED. 
***As a tie on to this more-sane (saner?) train of thought, I'd like to tack on this link to Gabe's recent blog post, which put things Thanksgiving- and other-related into a bit of perspective.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

"I've got eyes to see with, ears to hear with (or fly with), arms to hug with, lips to kiss with, someone to adore. How could anybody ask for more? My needs are small, I buy them all at the 5 and 10 cent store. Oh, I've got plenty to be thankful for."*

   You know what the world really needs? More movies about Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving could also use some more songs. I’m really trying to think of songs about Thanksgiving, but aside from “Plenty to Be Thankful For” from Holiday Inn and the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, I’m coming up empty. And it sucks because all the radio stations and department stores stomp right over Thanksgiving and start acting like its Christmas the day after Halloween.
Post-Halloween, pre-Thanksgiving: see? At Em's in Chicago.

   And oh Christmas with it’s terrible songs. (I wrote about that last year so I won’t go into it again.) It’s a travesty because Thanksgiving is AMAZING. It truly is AMAZING. It’s an entire holiday devoted to eating wonderful food and begrudgingly acknowledging your blessings between bites of turkey and pie. All kinds of pie! (Seriously: apple, pumpkin, rhubarb, chocolate, pecan: whatever kind of pie you want, Thanksgiving’s probably got it! Pie!) And after that you take a nap and maybe you wake up and watch football, or maybe you go meet up for drinks with friends who are in town for the holidays just like you. And you don't have to go to Church!

I made these out of pumpkin! Why is it only available for 2 months of the year?
   I did a little research on the Interwebs and came up with a few familiar movie titles, and some not-so-familiar movie titles that will allow me to start celebrating Thanksgiving really hard now that we’re in the final stretch to my favorite holiday of the year. (This is, of course, not including the much-anticipated post-Thanksgiving premiere of Liz and Dick starring my arch-rival Lindsay Lohan.)
   Here’s a familiar one: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (John Hughes, 1987). I’m really fond of this movie, even though it kind of tugs at my heartstrings towards the end, and I don’t like movies that try to make me feel stuff. But I love me some John Hughes, so this gets re-watched every now and then. And now the time is just right. Plus, I love just about every movie John Candy ever made. Steve Martin’s all right in my book, too.
   Here’s a not-so-familiar one: ThanksKilling (Jordan Downey, 2009). Now this movie sounds fascinating. It is described on as follows: “A homicidal turkey axes off college kids during Thanksgiving break.” What’s not to like about that premise? It’s high time the turkeys of America got their revenge. And college kids suck, everyone knows that.
   Familiar: Holiday Inn (Mark Sandrich, 1942). Granted, the focus ultimately ends up being on Christmas (largely due to the musical finagling of the decidedly Jewish Irving Berlin: goddamn that song “White Christmas”!), but it is a musical about EVERY holiday and there is that whole delightful musical number where sad, lonely Bing Crosby talks about all the things he has going for him.
   Not-so: Son in Law (Steve Rash, 1993). Remember when Pauly Shore was a movie star? I do, because Encino Man was one of my favorite movies at that time (and I was planning to marry or seriously befriend Brendan Fraser), and also I thought he (Pauly) was wildly talented and seemed very sweet deep, down inside. But this isn't about how I have terrible, near-constantly bad judgment about men. Anyway, this truly raucous, awful film came out during those few short "Pauly Years," and it is vaguely tied to Thanksgiving. So…there’s that.
   Familiar: Hannah and Her Sisters (Woody Allen, 1986). This is one of those really awesome Woody Allen movies from the eighties that doesn’t seem to be about anything, and maybe isn’t, but still somehow keeps coming back to the same Thanksgiving celebration at the same house each year and somehow winds up seeming really good and fulfilling. Like turkey and potatoes and PIE! Plus, Dianne Wiest is always amazing. 
   Not so: Boogeyman (Ulli Lommel, 1980) is vaguely centered around the Thanksgiving holiday. Without watching this movie again, I can’t tell you much. I think that perhaps the 1980 version that I saw is not the one that takes place at Thanksgiving, and maybe that’s the remake that happened in 2005. I will tell you this: the Boogeyman haunted my childhood. I slept with the closet door firmly closed until 2011, and I will NEVER WATCH THAT MOVIE AGAIN, despite not truly knowing to this day what the fuck a boogeyman even is. But do you want to know the best part about the Boogeyman? It's the definition: “An amorphous, imaginary being used by adults to frighten children into compliant behavior.” And what more is there to be thankful for than the power we adults wield over unsuspecting, ignorant children? Mwah ha ha ha ha! That’s really what Thanksgiving is all about. I guess. What was I even talking about? I think I’ve gotten away from my point…
I made this from pumpkin, too. It's pumpkin soup. So good. Pumpkins for the whole year! Thanksgiving keeps pumpkins alive past Halloween! Thanksgiving is the vegetable's answer to the no-kill animal shelter.
   Some of the Internets tried to say that Pocahontas was a Thanksgiving movie. Yeah, maybe if you love bad music and you really want to feel remorseful about all the shit that went down in the 17th Century that you can't control and had nothing to do with. I say: move forward. Let’s not remember too hard about the shenanigans that went down at Plymouth Rock and try to focus a bit more on being grateful that we have so much pie to eat. 
*This song is from Holiday Inn and written by Irving Berlin. It's kind of cheeky and not altogether sincere, but it is one of the only Thanksgiving songs that exists. And I'm super grateful for it.  And for Holiday Inn (the movie, not the hotel chain...okay I'm grateful for both. It's Thanksgiving, for chrissakes).