Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"And he's trading in his Chevy for a Cadillac-ac-ac-ac-ac!"*

Moving Day Part II          
       It’s my first night in my new apartment and I’m a little sad. Mostly I’m tired and overwhelmed from moving, but I’m also a little sad. Also I’m pissed off because I can’t find my TV cord, so I can’t watch anything and my internet isn’t set up yet, so this definitely won’t get posted until tomorrow. But still…I’m a little sad. So, I’m a mixed bag. I’m taking pictures as I make progress on what is currently a ferocious pigsty, so I will show you what’s up with my new crib as I progress.(Yeah, I really can't pull off "crib," can I?)

        The good news is there is a crap-load of hummingbirds outside my window and that seems like a good omen.

        Bad news is I don’t yet have screens on the window the hummingbirds enjoy, so part of me is terrified that one will fly in and be my “pet” until it dies because I can’t get it back outside.


        I’m back. More good news: my kitchen is pretty much ready to roll!

        See, look:

Kitchen before.

Kitchen after. I suck at photography. And so does my cell phone.

        And, yet more bad news: I forgot to talk to the gas company so I don’t have hot water yet. Oops.


        And yet more good news: I have the Interwebs in my apartment.

        But allow me to follow that up with more bad news: I don’t have a wireless router (despite having purchased at least 4 over the last 8 years) and now I have to do all web-related activity on the floor by my TV. Sigh. Gonna have to add "router" to the list of things I have to re-purchase.

        I’m clearly horrible at moving. I did cancel some old stuff and set up some new stuff, so things are getting in shape.

        I also asked the building manager, Sir Robert the Long-Winded (or, alternatively, Robert Runs at the Mouth, if we’re going Native American), to clean up the vomit in the parking space next to mine, and he did it! Of course, I’d rather live in a building where people don’t puke in the garage, but we can’t have everything.

        Also in the good news column: there was a guy in the elevator with me on Saturday who was dressed like a rabbit with sunglasses. He was nice and friendly (and who could wear a rabbit suit and not be friendly?) and explained that he was doing a music video. So I felt comforted to know that he didn’t dress like a bunny all the time, though that would have been kind of cool in a Donnie Darko sort of way. And I saw him in normal life yesterday and he’s kind of attractive. Bonus! He probably plays one of the lamer instruments, though, because it’d be hard to play anything cool with rabbit hands (paws?). But then again, at least we know he’s not the keyboardist! But maybe he plays the tambourine. Or the harmonica. (The harmonica is way worse, because people who play it are convinced it's a real instrument.) Ugh.

        And one last burst of good news: TV cord has been located, so my life on the couch can continue as planned.

        Alrighty, I should sign off since I should really spend some time enjoying what's left of Leap Day, 2012.

 *"Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" by Billy Joel.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

"You should never argue with a crazy mi-mi-mi-mi-mind."*

Moving Day Part I (Giving Thanks)
        I’m still awake! And still packing!
        Moving sucks in so many ways, but I was reminded today that I have some really amazing luck sometimes.
        The luckiest thing is that I have truly incredible friends. So thank you so much to my buddies Richie and Jerome and Jess and Tom for helping me move. I’m sorry I spent so much of the day pretending to lift things when in all actuality I was faking it. I think you would have found that if I’d suddenly let go of any given piece of furniture, your burden would have remained the same. What can I say? I’m all “woman power” until I’m required to lift something and then I go into “damsel in distress” mode or fake cramps. I suck, but you guys are rad.
        Thank you also to the powers that reign over us: karma or god or witches and warlocks or the Blarney Stone, etc, that I didn’t get a ticket for double-parking that U-Haul all day.  Or that I wasn’t arrested for sideswiping all those cars, people and dogs. Hallelujah! Or that it didn’t rain. (But a loud “Fuck You!” to that puddle at the bottom of the stairs. Not cool.)
There was an image not dissimilar to this on the side of my U-Haul.

        Thank you to Dave from whom I bought a refrigerator around 2:51 p.m. I’m so glad you lived on the first floor of your building, because it was one of the best things that happened all day.
        Thank you to Palermo for the sustenance: your pasta sucks, but your pizza and bruschetta are pretty rad. I think. I didn’t so much chew the food as inhale it, but my buddies tell me it tasted quite good.
        Thank you to Mother Nature for hooking me up with my period today. That was excellent timing. I’m just kidding: that sucked. And was made INFINITELY worse by having all my supplies at the wrong location at every moment. So this thank you is an extremely sarcastic one, just so you know.
        Thank you to new apartment manager Robert for making the signing of my lease last for a full hour this morning. That was time well spent! (Yes, this one is also sarcastic.) Here is a man who truly CANNOT multi-task.
        Thank you to the good people at Time Warner Cable who made my life extra, super difficult this morning by being completely incompetent. I look so forward to not having Internet for the first few days at my new apartment. It’ll be fun, I’m sure. I can just play tag in the courtyard with the little girls on the first floor. Or take long baths. Or learn how to meditate. No big deal. I don’t need the web. (Yep, this one is also sarcastic.)
        Okay, enough of my bitching. For now.
        Back to packing.
*More from "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" by Billy Joel. Which, coincidentally, came on the radio as I moved today.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

"I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting."*

       Good grief, moving is stressful, especially when you’re as lazy as I am and put everything off until the last possible minute. I reek of bleach (cleaning) and paint (finishing up my table project before I go. Progress report and pictures to follow). And compounding matters is the raucous pain in my calves from the thing I did on Sunday (that’s right: four days ago): The Santa Monica Stairs.

        So, Los Angeles is really a funny city sometimes, and I’m sure any visitor from another country would probably look at this city and say, “What the hell happened here?”

        For instance, before I moved to LA, I had no idea how fat I was. In Omaha, I’m rather fit. And that’s not to say Omaha’s a fat people city, but you can be over 110 lbs and still be considered attractive there.

        But people here take their exercise very seriously. Sure, people surf because it’s fun, but mostly they surf so they can look super hot when they go clubbing. And there are beautiful hiking trails in the mountains all over town, but do you think people are there to take in the views? Hell no! They’re running up the side of the mountain to stay fit so they can hit auditions in top form. (As far as "camping in the desert" is concerned, I'm 98% sure people just say they do that so they sound cool but never actually "camp" but rather hit up Coachella and call it a year.)
The view from Runyon Canyon.

        One time Ron (my roommate for two more days) took me hiking at Runyon Canyon—on the hard side where the serious hikers go to stay cut, not the side that hurts enough but not too much. Now, I exercise nearly every day and I’d say I’m in pretty decent cardiovascular shape, but I thought I was going to die in Runyon Canyon that day. I lay on a stump on the side of the mountain and tried to catch my breath and hold back waves of vomit while Ron sprinted up the next hill. Meanwhile women with waists the size of my thigh and men with pecs much larger than my breasts jogged past me and tried to hide their pity.

        Okay, so I’m never doing that again.

        But on Sunday I went to the Santa Monica Stairs. And it was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever experienced. Here we were, a bunch of grown-ass adults of all shapes and sizes (but mostly toned shapes and sizes) walking up this long, steep staircase on the right side and then coming down on the left. It was like the whole town was on one big stair-stepper together. If someone was breathing too close to my behind, I merely moved farther over so they could jog past as I hauled my booty up the stairs.
People hauling ass up the Santa Monica Stairs.

        It was so distinctly American, somehow. Can you imagine anyone behaving in such a manner in France or Japan? There was no view aside from whatever ass happened to be in your face. There was no cultural significance, just an opportunity to sweat your butt off in the great outdoors for all the other hard bodies to see. It was kind of strange and awful and awesomely Los Angeles at the same time.

        Needless to say, I didn’t make it up and down too many times. I managed two and a half before I thought I would die. And yeah, maybe I’m not in super great shape after all.

        But here I am, four days later with calves that still burn so bad it's hard to walk. It’s better than it was. The first few nights, whenever I woke up to pee, I would forget for a minute and nearly fall on my face because my legs weren’t working right.

        It’s too bad exercise isn’t accumulative, or I’d be super ripped by now.

        And as I sign off, I warn that I’ll most likely be incommunicado for a couple of days because I’m moving Saturday. I wish I hadn’t finished the last of Downton Abbey tonight, because now I have no idea how to entertain myself while packing…

*Mark Twain, that cheeky bastard.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"God, I wish I could get her back!"*

One of these just doesn't belong?

       Sometimes I like to write about movies that I enjoy or just have opinions about. I did this with the film Heathers a while back, and I’ll likely do it again. I like movies a lot, sometimes even movies that I know aren’t “good movies.” Of course, movies are a lot like wine: the kind you like is the good kind, right?**

        I had the opportunity to re-watch St. Elmo’s Fire (Joel Schumacher, 1985) the other night while I was stripping my dining room table (Ron and I got rid of cable, and now I watch Hulu shows on the TV through my laptop, with “limited commercial interruptions”).

        It might be a sign of my advancing age (maturity? Cool! I hope so!) that when I watch movies from my childhood, I take particular notice of everyone’s apartment/living scenario. In this case, I think it was directly tied to the fact that I’ve been looking at apartments for the last two months and will be moving shortly (as I've mentioned previously). 

        In any event, St. Elmo’s Fire is an improbable movie about a very probable group of friends (except for one, which I will get to in a minute) who have just graduated from an EXTREMELY improbable alma mater: Georgetown University. They’re all trying to find themselves and figure out their places in the world. Of course, they all look to be in their early-to-mid-thirties, so it’s a touch unrealistic, but who cares? It’s mostly Brat-Packers, and we love them all. Or at least I do.

        The first time I saw this movie, I was probably 15 or 16-ish, and it seemed to me that it was a silly, stupid movie about silly, stupid people (how the hell did these characters get into Georgetown? I only know one person who went to Georgetown and she’s Mensa-candidate smart. And now you’re telling me a drugged-out saxophone player who can’t keep a job as an upholsterer went there? Seriously? Okay, whatever.). And while that original theory holds up for the most part, it seems like I may have short-changed this brilliant film its place in history.

        For instance, while garish and unreasonable, people in the eighties knew a great deal about style. Bold colors, large hair, entire walls of your home devoted to a photograph of someone with a Flock of Seagulls haircut, and lots and lots of un-ironic saxophone music abound in this film, and you know what? It is kind of amazing.
Billy/Rob wails on the sax. Without irony or a jazz context to support him.

        [A brief tangent: the 80’s used to be the decade we (and by “we” I mean my generation that came of age in the late 90’s but were born in the 80’s) were able to point to and say, “Can you believe things were ever that ridiculous?” But now, like everything else will eventually be, the 80’s are back in a big way. Leggings and skinny jeans and booties and wayfarers and baggy sweatshirts and leg warmers: it’s all back. I guess I should have known. Anything Michael J. Fox or Molly Ringwald did, said or wore will forever be cool in my book.]

        So, back to St. Elmo’s Fire. These people are out of college for all of four months and already their lives are falling apart. Alec (Judd Nelson) wants Leslie (Ally Sheedy) to marry him, but since she won’t, he regularly bangs a salesgirl at the lingerie shop where he buys Leslie gifts (although, let’s be honest: when a man buys lingerie for a gal, it’s not a gift for her). Alec and Leslie’s best friend, Kevin (Andrew McCarthy, one of my earliest and most enduring crushes) is in love with Leslie and knows about Alec’s cheating.

        Jules (Demi Moore) is a rich, coked-out slut who can’t control her spending and is stuck as executrix of her hated ex-stepmother’s will. But her real problem is her father doesn’t love her. (She also has a hot pink apartment. Not necessarily a problem, merely worth mentioning.)

        Billy (Rob Lowe) and Wendy (Mare Winningham) are an odd pair of best friends whose relationship exists solely because Wendy keeps giving the drunken, childish Billy (who has a wife and a child, by the way) money. Also, he’s intrigued by the fact that she’s still a virgin. At 22. What? Call Social Services! How dare this woman be a 22-year-old virgin in the 80’s!

        Kirby (Emilio Estevez) rounds out the group as the crazy person who’s so desperate to win over med student Dale (Andie McDowell) that he stalks her all over the city. Yeah, that plotline is kind of dull, so I most likely will not mention it again.

        Okay, so obviously, these people have “upper-middle class problems” and it’s not really that compelling to the world at large whether or not they’re able to work it out, but damned if I wasn’t glued to the screen the entire time.

        For one thing: Leslie and Alec have one of the coolest apartments I’ve ever seen. It’s a huge, wide-open loft space and they install this glass-tiled wall to separate the apartment into rooms. That blew my mind. And, honestly, it made me care less about Alec's cheating and more about keeping those two crazy kids together. For the sake of the apartment.

        Also, there are several lines in the movie where I thought to myself, “Is this where this saying came from, or did they just repeat a cliché?” For instance: 
        “I’m beginning to think there are no coincidences.” –Leslie

        Or this interchange between Kirby and Kevin:

        “I always thought we’d be friends forever.”

        “Yeah, well forever got a lot shorter, suddenly, didn’t it?”
        Then there's the line which Demi says to Rob, "You break my heart. But then, you break everybody's heart." Ouch.

        But perhaps my favorite line, spoken by Wendy just before she gives Billy her virginity:

        “Last night I woke up to make myself a peanut butter sandwich. And it was my kitchen, my apartment, and it was the best peanut butter sandwich of my entire life.”

        That quote I liked just because it seemed custom-made for me, since I’m moving into my first apartment by myself.

        But I want to underscore some of the significant things this movie has to offer. It talks about how hard it is to go from “student” to “working adult”: that is hard. There’s no road map, and at least these kids graduated in a booming economy. Hell, in the 80's people were wiping their butts with money. My generation graduated into horrible unemployment rates and a god-awful housing market while being told at the same time to wait to get married. Hell, at this point, marriage might be the only thing that keeps a person out of the poor house. At least you can split rent and utilities, not to mention the tax breaks.

        Also, just because you love someone doesn’t mean they’re the right person for you. This seems simple enough, but most of us still end up learning it the hard way.

        Another lesson: drugs are bad.

        And finally, and this one is difficult, just because you were best friends in high school or college doesn’t mean you’ll be best friends forever. People aren’t fully formed at 20, or maybe even at 30, so don’t beat yourself up if your gorgeous, wacky, witty gang of pals isn’t around forever.

        Before I sign off, I’d like to get to that friend that doesn’t quite belong. If you’ve seen the movie, I think you know whom I’m talking about: Mare Winningham. Why does she look, sound and act like a 45-year-old and how does she fit into this group of young people? Why is Billy so hot to sleep with her? Okay, so Mare was 26 when this movie was made, but so were half of those other “kids.” Why does she seem so old? And what’s more interesting: the rest of them have aged, but she hasn’t. She looks the same now as she did in 1985! Maybe she’s a vampire?
The only evidence she's older is that her hair is longer.

*Perhaps the best/dumbest quote from St. Elmo’s Fire, uttered by Alec (Judd Nelson) when he’s BY HIMSELF. A true testament to Judd's acting is that it isn't more ridiculous.
**Something my dad likes to say.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

"If that's what you have in mind, if that's what you're all about, good luck moving up 'cause I'm moving out."*

        Well….I got an apartment. Hooray! I will be living by myself finally!
        I’m just scooting in under the wire, too. I have always said I’d live alone before I turned 30, and since I’m turning 30 in August in 5 years, I’ve made it with time to spare.
        But I’m not going to lie like I usually do. I’m scared shitless. I’m 85% sure I’ve made the right decision and I’m just scared because it’s new and different. Not because it’s the wrong apartment and I should hold out and look at 25 more places before deciding. And anyway, there’s no going back because I put down the deposit today and I don’t exactly have tens-of-thousands of dollars to plop down deposits at every apartment in town out of panic.
        I did look at a lot of apartments, and met a lot of interesting people. Apartment managers seem, in general, to be an unappealing sort. Or maybe it’s just that they are in an unappealing position. They have to walk every dipshit off the street through the same apartment over and over again, usually to have that person (like me) show disdain and argue about décor. But since most of them are living next to rent-free, I don’t feel sorry for them one bit. My current apartment manager (a man with a gold medallion tangled in his copious and always exposed chest hair) spends his days driving to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf that is one block away, drinking tea and reading the newspaper, and then driving back home. At least, if I ever get locked out, I know I can walk over and find him. And maybe score a ride back home. (That is, if he recognizes me, which he never does even though he's known me for 8 years.)
My manager's chest hair is like this, without all the sex appeal.
        But here I’d like to share a taste of some of the other apartment managers I’ve met over the past month.
        Apartment Number One:
        After waiting in front of the building for 5 minutes, Ron (who graciously agreed to come with me) and I finally realized that the apartment manager was in the back of the building waiting for us. Why? Because she was a painfully shy woman in her early-thirties, who clearly didn’t want to have any interaction with human beings. She was practically hiding in the bushes when we finally found her. She cowered in the doorway while we “explored” the approximately 400-square-foot apartment. She pointed to the applications lying in a stack in the kitchen and tried to scurry away, but seemed torn knowing that she really wasn’t supposed to leave us alone in there. Things became clearer when she explained that her mom was actually the manager, but she was out at the moment. We thanked her and left her to run back into her own apartment and slam the door.
        Apartment Number Two:
        Sadly, I never met this apartment manager, because when I drove down the street I was so horrified that I immediately turned around and went home.
        Apartment Number Three:
        John was a Chinese man in what appeared to be late-middle age. He wore a Hawaiian shirt and had a truly offensive set of teeth. The first thing he said to me was, “Are you looking at this apartment for your son or brother?” What the hell is that supposed to mean? How old do I look? And who looks at apartments for her brother?
        He kindly offered to let me park in the garage, since it was street-cleaning day, but that was pretty much the last time he was pleasant. He proceeded to walk me through a building in which every hallway and the apartment itself was carpeted in blue pile. I think there must have been a sale on blue carpet (it’s probably an ongoing sale) when the building was erected because the whole place reeked of smoke and mildew. I was almost willing to overlook that, because the apartment was fairly sizable, and a one-bedroom rather than a studio. It also had a really big balcony, which I loved.
        But there were a few problems. There was no overhead lighting, the cabinetry was cheap, dark, hideous wood, and there was virtually no closet space unless you count the “hall closet” which, while being 3-feet wide, was about 8-inches deep, so I’m not sure what you could keep in there besides a broom. Or many brooms.
        I asked about the air conditioning (there was a wall unit in the living room but nothing in the bedroom), and he said I could get one of those “portable” air conditioners. Hmm, I’ve never heard of those. Do you think he was referring to fans? He also suggested that many people don't use the air conditioner because they're concerned about saving the planet. (Don't you guilt-trip me, guy!) Then I asked how old the carpet was and he said it was “only two years old.” I said I’d need new carpet and I’d need it not to be blue. He was surprised. “You don’t like blue?”
The portable air-conditioner is real! And it looks like a spaceship! And it costs as much as a spaceship!

        Then he started acting like I might not even get approved. He started saying things like, “We accept, at the very least, a score of 650, which is average. You’d have to have good credit.”
        I started to get offended and a little mad. Why is the guy with the unfortunate teeth and the Hawaiian shirt who lives in the smelly building talking down to me? Do I not look like a person with a respectable credit score?
        I have to admit that the balcony kept me in that apartment longer than I should’ve been there. I’m a sucker for sitting outside in the California sun. But as soon as I got out of that building, I felt nothing but relief. 
The view from the balcony of my current apartment. Sigh. I'll miss this.**

        Apartment Number Four:
        Jocelyn kept rescheduling me for one reason or another, but that was okay, because I was kind of sick of looking at apartments, and this one was affordable enough to make me suspicious.
        While I was waiting for her on the day of our actual appointment, I looked at the list of names by the intercom. I knew my friend Justin lived on that street, so when I saw his rather uncommon last name on the call box, I was excited. Oh, Justin lives here!
        When I told Jocelyn about Justin, she said he was her “favorite tenant” but that, if I mentioned her, I should refer to her as “Seda” because she’d recently changed her name. Okay.
        Jocelyn showed me all around the building and in the apartment. The apartment was listed as a single, which I’ve since realized is a euphemism for “studio.” I had thought it meant “one bedroom” but it doesn’t. So when I walked down the hallway to see the bedroom, I was bummed to find only a bathroom.
        And it was a nice enough place, and I liked it a lot. I considered applying and even took an application with me.
        But when I sent Justin a text telling him that we might potentially be living across the way from one another, he seemed a little upset. “Wow, that is so weird.” Thanks, Justin!
        But it wasn’t meant to be anyway. I just couldn’t picture myself there.
        My Apartment:
        Robert, my new apartment manager, is a story for another day (perhaps many stories, as time will tell). He’s a very friendly man from Hungary (which is, coincidentally, one of the few places I’ve visited in Europe), and boy, oh boy, can that man talk. In four languages, as it happens.
        But my apartment is quite lovely, has hardwood floors, tons of storage, and lots of western exposure. I will go into more detail on it as I live in it.
        And in the meantime, I’ve finally found a place to hang my “L.” (And lounge around naked, if I ever decide to. But I probably won’t, because I get cold really easily.)
*Lyrics from "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" from Billy Joel's super awesome album/magnum opus The Stranger
**Photo courtesy of Emily Sommer.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"There is nothing that a flower could say that your lips can't prove with a kiss."*

The greatest love of all: that between a woman and her gay best friend.

An Ode to Valentine’s Day           
         Ah, Valentine’s Day. The holiday that celebrates love in all of its forms: between couples, between friends, between a girl and her laptop, etc. All love, all around.
         I used to think VD was venereal disease a holiday designed to make the single person feel awkward. Case in point: this morning when I bought my latte, the barista informed me that it was buy-one-get-one-free in honor of Valentine’s Day. I was forced to explain that I couldn’t possibly drink 8 shots of espresso (I've learned that lesson), nor had I anyone to give my second latte to, and he said, “Oh, that’s too bad.” Thanks a bunch, guy.
         Yet I know it’s hard for those who have sweethearts, as well. You have to buy something special and do it up fancy as though it were Christmas or New Year’s Eve or your honey’s birthday or your anniversary.

         But really, it’s not like any of those things. It used to be a Catholic holiday honoring the one-or-more martyrs named Valentinus and then that crazy Geoffrey Chaucer turned it into a romantic holiday during the times of courtly love in the Middle Ages. Nowadays, if we’re to go based on the cute-but-inconvenient facts that Vatican II (1969) ix-nayed it’s status as a Catholic feast day and no one (not even postal workers) gets the day off from work, I think it’s safe to take the super-cynical stance that it truly is a greeting card holiday.
         That’s not to say that it isn’t a sweet idea. Why not take a day and make the people you love feel special (especially if you’re not planning on doing it year-round)?
         So in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’d like to make a list of the things I love, in no particular order:
1.  Sunny days. Luckily, I get lots of them where I live, and I may be afflicted with SAD** if I ever move. But in the meantime, thank you, Southern California, for being sunny about 98% of the time.
2.  To-do lists. I like making them. I like crossing things off them. I like looking at the old ones. They sometimes make me stress out even more, but usually, they make me feel like I’ve already accomplished something (I've made a list!).
3.  Writing. Oh, it’s such a nice thing to be able to write no matter where I am (except while I’m driving—I rarely write while I’m driving). It’s a gift to be literate, and a gift to have a love that doesn’t cost more than the price of paper and a pen. (Or the price of the really nice laptop my parents bought me for my 28th birthday.)
4.  My parents. Yesterday my parents called me many times, mostly because they’d called me the day before and I didn’t notice and so did not call them back and so they thought I was dead. I have the best parents in the world, and not just because they will actually find out if I’m dead before the rats find me. They are really wonderful and supportive and decent people. I love you, Amy and Jonathan Rouse.
5.  My friends. I have some of the most tremendously amazing friends in the world, and I’m not even bragging, though they do make me look awesome and popular.  I am lucky to have the smartest, funniest, most talented friends I could ever hope for. Unless I become really famous and have to replace them with more internationally renowned friends. In which case, I will say: I love you guys! It’s been really fun!***
6.  My sisters. They’ve both been flaky about returning phone calls this week, but that’s okay, Elizabeth and Penelope. I know you both have boyfriends, so it's cool and I still love you.
7.  DVDs of now-defunct television shows. Mary Tyler Moore, The Bob Newhart Show, Arrested Development, Jeeves and Wooster. What’s so great about the DVDs is that you can watch and watch and never stop unless you really want to, or you have to take a shower and go to work, already. (Thank you, Captain Obvious, Lacey, for pointing out that DVDs don't have commercials.)
8. Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.
9. Bright copper kettles and warm, woolen mittens (I especially like the warm, woolen mittens. Not so much into the chilly, woolen mittens).
10.Brown paper packages tied up with strings.****
11.Checking out what the people in front of me in line at the grocery store are getting. I really hate the grocery store, but I LOVE watching other people buy stuff. It's like a character study.
12.Being able to live in a time and place that allows me to contemplate doing just about anything I want with my life and gives me the potential to make it a reality.
         This is a super cheesy entry coming from me (or anyone, maybe), but I don’t want to come down against a day about love, even if part of me knows that it’s designed to rob us of our dignity and hard-earned dollars. It’s nice to have love in your heart, no matter where or to whom it’s directed.  Flowers and candy never hurt anyone, either. (Unless you someday have a boyfriend like this one guy I dated who showed up all the time with flowers, even though I wasn’t that into it. But I think I wasn’t into it because he wasn’t very nice, aside from the bouquets, so the two are probably unrelated.)
*Lyrics from "Send Me No Flowers" (Frank DeVol), the title song of Send Me No Flowers (Norman Jewison, 1964). This is one of my family's all-time favorite movies. Sooooo gooood. It's also the source of the Rock and Doris photo above.

**Coincidentally SAD (which I meant to connote (denote? Goddamn you, English language!) "Seasonal Affective Disorder" is also my friend Mike's term for Valentine's Day: Singles Awareness Day. Feel free to read about Mike here and also here. He's wacky, but also right on the money sometimes.
***I'm just kidding to all my friends. I love you guys so so much and would never survive a minute without you.
****Okay, I didn't give any credit up there, but I'm sure you know numbers 8-10 on my list were lyrics from The Sound of Music (Robert Wise, 1965; music and lyrics to "A Few of My Favorite Things" by Richard Rogers. Weird. I always thought that was Rogers AND Hammerstein. Hmmm...)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

"Sometimes I think I'd like to boldly go where no man has gone before. But I'll probably just stay in Aurora."*

       I had it in my head to write THE BEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME. I worked it out and talked about it a lot (a sure sign you’re not writing anything is to talk about it a lot). It would be an action-adventure/sci-fi/romantic comedy (all my favorite genres in one, if you will) and it would by turns leave people writhing in fear, mind-boggled by scientific innovations the like of which they’d never seen and chuckling about how women and men just don’t GET each other.

        It was going to be called Shiders in Space and it was going to blow America’s mind. And then it would go on to blow all the minds in Europe and Asia. And then South America. Africa? Probably not. They have bigger fish to fry (pun intended, as you will soon see). And, oh shit, Australia. I didn't even think of them. Oh well, it probably doesn't matter.

        My movie was about a combination of my three biggest fears in life: sharks, spiders and space. The three “S's”, if you will.  (But if I were to describe my biggest fears in order from most fearsome to least it would be: sharks, space and then spiders. But it doesn’t sound as good written out that way.)

        So here’s the story: it’s NASA’s last space mission, the summer of 2011. A bunch of sexy, quirky, funny and lovably neurotic astronauts head into the Final Frontier to see if they can’t rehabilitate a space station built in the 60’s. Problem is, the space station is haunted. BY SHIDERS!!!!!!!!

        I drew a picture so you could see what a Shider looks like:

Okay, I'm not an artist, but you get the gist.

        It’s essentially a shark with spider legs and the spider legs ALSO have spider legs, so it’s extra gross. Aside from the spider’s nasty, bulbous backside, the most heinous thing about a spider is its eight hairy legs. And the way it just falls down from the ceiling when you’re trying to kill it.

        But here are the main reasons a Shider would be the worst nemesis of anyone on the face of Planet Earth, or in the Galaxy, for that matter.

1.     Shiders can live in the ocean, on land or IN SPACE. There’s nowhere you can go to be rid of them. Think about how "evolution" (still don't buy it, so let's just say, alternatively, GOD) has provided us with the Kangaroo, the Tasmanian Devil and the Lemur: all species that evolved (were created by our Lord) when left on islands and unable to reproduce with other, normal animals. But then multiply it by a trillion, add gills AND lungs AND space helmets. There’s no stopping these beasts!

2.     A shider has the skills of the spider and the bite of the shark. Maybe it’s fair to say that not everyone is afraid of spiders. But a lot of us are, and it’s not just because they look disgusting and bite you when you’re sleeping. A lot of it has to do with the way they seem to be able to leap from tall places and virtually disappear from view the second they see you coming with, ironically, your rolled up issue of The National Geographic. (Just because you read The National Geographic does not mean you want nature and anthropological specimens invading your home! And, if we're being super honest, we should probably admit that we only subscribe to The National Geographic to seem literate, but really we like it because usually there are chicks with weird piercings and bare breasts featured.)

            But then add the fact that even if you jumped in the  pool or THE OCEAN, a shider  would still be able to find you and it has horrendous, monster teeth and a (nearly) blind stare. It can smell your fear, it can out swim you, and it will eat your legs off while thinking about what to buy its wife for Valentine’s Day.
And even if you make it out of the water and onto the beach or poolside, etc, it can still follow you because it has LEGS! Anywhere from 8 to 64 of them! (Actually, I think it's 64 plus 8, because each leg has eight legs, but then you have to count the original legs...)

3.     Shiders also live in space. I don’t know how much you’ve thought about it, but space is terrible. There’s no oxygen, no gravity, and no one can hear you scream (mostly because there’s no oxygen or gravity). There are black holes all around and there’s a good chance that if you go up there, you won’t be coming back. Or if you do make it back, it will be one of the most heroic things you or I or the United States or the WORLD will have ever seen. But there still will have been that moment (or those days, weeks, months, years) when you were drinking Tang and peeing into a bag and you wondered what it was all about. Some people want to boldly go where no man has gone before, but I’m definitely not one of those people. (It also occurs to me that you might come back from space and it will be like The Flight of the Navigator: your parents will be old and totally freaked out that you’re still 10, and completely unwilling to accept the fact that you fell into a time warp. But hell, you can't control that kind of shit!)

4.     Shiders are clearly adaptable, and what does that say about our (human beings, that is) future as the self-appointed manipulators of the universe? If something can incorporate gills, eight legs (or in this case, 64 legs--maybe 72 legs?), and the ability to survive in space, we’re clearly doomed as a species. I don’t really want to think about the implications. I’m still crying about Joey in The Flight of the Navigator. That dude missed everything.

       Okay, that’s all I’m going to say for now about Shiders in Space. I thought it would make a great screenplay, but then I saw Sharktopus, Two-Headed Shark, and even Mega-Shark Vs. Giant Octopus (though I didn't watch the sequel, Mega Shark Vs. Crocosaurus because, seriously? I have a life, here.) and I think the genre of weird shark-hybrid is a little played-out.

       I still think my villain is the scariest, because it plays on all MY worst fears, but I have too much pride to sell it as a screenplay. But if I did ever make the movie, here are some potential taglines:

“Houston, we’ve got a shider.”


“In space, no one can hear you scream.”

And my favorite:

“Just when you thought it was safe to return to the abandoned space station...”

 *Quote from Wayne's World (Penelope Spheeris, 1992). Oh, man, I've never changed my title quote after publishing, but Emily reminded me that Wayne's World generally has the best quotes about everything. (For example, this.)

Friday, February 10, 2012

"Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!"*

             What's going on with The Girl Scouts of The United States of America? How come, whenever they're depicted in a movie their name is changed? It'll be Wilderness Girls, or Girl Campers or Female Firestarters or Adolescent Hunter-Gatherer Dames of The Country in the Middle of North America. But they're never called Girl Scouts on TV or in the movies. Never. And I got to thinking that was kind of suspicious and so I started doing a little Girl Scout reconnaissance. (Alright, the term "reconnaissance" is misleading. I didn't send a satellite to hover over a well-known Girl Scout campground. I didn't even hide in some bushes and take notes while they sang "Kumbayah" and grilled up some hobo sandwiches. Are they still calling them hobo sandwiches or is that P.I. (politically incorrect)? All I really did was look online at their website.)

             March 12th is the Girl Scouts hundred year anniversary, it turns out. And the gal who started the scouts, Juliette Gordon Low, taught that first troop of gals how navigate by the stars, camp, hike, identify poison ivy, do first aid and play basketball. (I thought it was weird that she taught them to play basketball since, in my mind, basketball's only been around since about 1940. So I had to research basketball, too, just to see if the Girl Scouts were lying to me. But yeah, basketball's been around since 1891, officially. And before that since the time people began throwing things into or through other things. So forever, really.)

             Okay, I had a point, I swear, but it escapes me at the moment. I think it had something to do with how shady the Girl Scouts are about never letting anyone use their name for the sake of entertainment. Are they afraid their pristine reputation will be sullied? And why are the cookies called different things in different states? Caramel deLites are Samosas. Peanut Butter Patties are Tagalongs. Shortbread is called Trefoils? What? Why all the intentional confusion? They aren't so great! I should know. I was a Girl Scout for about two whole years. Those cookies don't sell themselves, you know. And we didn't get to go on a field trip or camping trip unless we sold enough to cover the cost. And my dad was so worried about us going door-to-door selling stuff (not to mention keenly empathetic to those who feel compelled to buy crap from school children) that my parents usually ended up buying my cookies. And then sticking them in the freezer. And I always felt kind of bad because not only did I not actually, physically sell any cookies, my parents were essentially just handing me a check and begging for it to be over. (If I were a parent, I would do precisely this same thing. Who wants their pre-adolescent child ringing the doorbells of the sad and lonely?)

            And those badges were hard to earn and then you had to spend hours sewing them onto your sash, only to find that when you progressed into a different level of Girl Scout (Daisy, Brownie, Junior, etc.) you got a new sash and effectively lost all those badges you'd worked so hard to get. 

Phyllis and Hannah Nefler "Do the Freddie" in Troop Beverly Hills.

            And one time, I peed my brown Brownie uniform (clever color choice, that) at the Girl Scout Jamboree. It was quite ironic, actually, because I was partnered up and holding hands with a girl who wet her pants every day at school until fourth grade, and I finally had an inkling of her ongoing humiliation. And she was perhaps the most understanding person in the world to pee your pants in front of, if you had to pee your pants. And I did, because I couldn't find the stupid bathroom.

             I'm sure this makes it seem like I've had a lifelong vendetta against the Girl Scouts and that I've been plotting a way to get back at them for years, and I haven't, I promise! Unless it turns out somewhere down the line that they're some sort of front for a sex-slave ring (which, okay, they probably aren't), I will maintain that they're doing their best to make little girls plucky and resourceful. Making them work their heinies off for the opportunity to sleep on dirt with spiders. But I am dying to know why they can't allow their precious name to be used for entertainment value. It's just a little bit suspicious. That's all I'm saying.
             And don't be surprised if this post gets taken down because the Girl Scouts won't allow me to write their name in this blog.

*This quote from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (John Huston, 1948) makes me especially happy because in Troop Beverly Hills (Jeff Kanew, 1989) they copy this same line. BUT, because the Girl Scouts of The United States of America clearly won't allow the use of their name or anything about them, Troop Beverly Hills had to call themselves "The Wilderness Girls" and the badges "patches." So the line is, "Patches? We don't need no stinking patches!"