Monday, April 30, 2012

"I was swimming in the Caribbean/ Animals were hiding behind the rocks/ Except the little fish/ But they told me he swears/ Trying to talk to me coy koi/ Where is my mind?"*

Coachella Part II
        This is a continuing story about my second time at Coachella. Read about the first part here, if you must.
        Scott had convinced/harassed me into stopping at Morongo Casino (“resort and spa”) and I had acquiesced because I was a) up for anything, b) a sucker and c) promised a drink. Indian gaming, he said, gave them license to serve drink for however long they saw fit.
        I’d never been in a casino before, and it was….what’s the word? Gross. Casinos are designed for sad people who’ve lost all other hope: fluorescent green lighting, terrible, repetitive clinking and banging noises, and you don’t get to sit down unless you’re gambling. I learned that right away: I remember watching Scott play a slot machine and the hostess made me stand up because I wasn’t playing. It didn’t matter that no one else in the entire place was playing slots: I could not sit. Assholes.
        Anyway, we walked in over dirty, argyle-patterned carpets and under green lighting and Scott guided me to the bar. I requested a vodka tonic and the bartender explained that last call had already happened, “hon.”. I looked at Scott, and Scott looked at the tables. I got a glass of water, sighing dramatically for his benefit, and we set about the room. I followed him around and checked out the people at the various tables on a Friday night/Saturday morning in the middle of nowhere. Everyone was shaky and green and desperate. It was very intimidating and incredibly depressing.
Inside of Morongo Casino. It does NOT look this good.
        I watched Scott play various games. I tried again to sit down and was asked again to get up off my ass, as the seats were only for players. I could feel my face burning, as I stood up and moved behind Scott. Assholes.
        Scott played multiple hands of black jack before I realized that black jack is the same thing as “21.” I got some bills from the ATM and started playing black jack with Scott. And I sort of started winning. After about an hour, I’d won $200 playing $5 black jack tables. I was feeling pretty good about myself. (And that, dear friends, is why people have gambling problems. Duh. Making money is how we measure success, and if we make money super easily: even better!)
        But I wanted to leave. I was nervous and tired and wanted to find a hotel room so Scott and I could rest up for the concert. But Scott wanted to keep playing. I said we should cut our losses and go home, and he finally agreed, despite being about $150 in the hole. We hit the “bank” and made our way out of the casino.
        We trudged down to the car. I had my winnings in my wallet and was fishing around for my keys. Scott was whining about how if we’d stay for one more hour he could get all his money back.
        I had a sudden jolt of uncertainty and panic. I couldn’t find my keys in my purse. I squatted on the side of the driveway and dumped my purse out on the ground. No keys. Lip gloss, checkbook, wallet, notebook, tampon, book, pen, Chapstick and sunglasses, but no keys.
        Scott was irritated. I’d like to think it had to do with his losses, but it seemed like he was just flat-out annoyed to death by me. He said we should go back into the casino and check all the tables we’d played and the bank.
        So we did: we went through the entire casino. We checked the bank, each table, and the lost-and-found. And the keys were still gone. We talked to security and I scoured the ladies’ restroom.
        Finally we met in the foyer and I said what I’d been dreading the whole 20 minutes.
        “Maybe they’re in the car.”
        “I guess we should go check,” a defeated/pissed off Scott replied.           
        So we walked apprehensively down the long, sloping driveway to my innocent, black Honda sitting in that enormous, hideous parking lot. Part of me never wanted to get there. I thought maybe if I could come up with some other part of the casino we hadn’t explored (the bar! The hotel lobby! the fountains!), we wouldn’t have to face what was starting to feel agonizingly inevitable.
        We approached the car slowly—Scott on the passenger side, me on the driver’s side—and bent over to peer in at the same time.
        There in the flashing neon lights of the Morongo Casino we saw the big, metal blob that was my keys: enough to look like I was some kind of janitor. The ridiculous key chains that featured Aladdin and Jasmine, a basketball, a “hang loose Breckenridge” sign and a USC bottle opener. There were my keys to my apartment, my mailbox, my back gate, my valet key, my parents’ house, my storage locker and my car.
        “Well, there you go,” breathed Scott, in his throaty, Jack Nicholson voice. “You got Triple A?”
        The rest will follow.(You can read parts three, four, and five here.)
*"Where Is My Mind" by The Pixies.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"I'm not crazy. My mother had me tested."*

        I woke up from my nap this afternoon with the tune to Murder She Wrote in my head. That’s weird on a number of levels. For one, I didn’t realize I remembered the theme to Murder She Wrote. And even if I did, I would never tell anyone about it, except the four of you who read this. And two, I haven’t seen, watched or even heard a reference to that show in quite a serious number of years. Not because it wasn’t awesome. Who doesn’t love an elderly lady sleuth? But because WHO THE FUCK WATCHES MURDER SHE WROTE? (Wait, is there supposed to be a comma in there? Going to look it up…)
        Okay, I just imdb-ed Murder, She Wrote and yes, there is a comma. But who cares? Because get this: that show ran for 12 goddamn seasons!?! Wow. Angela Lansbury is set for life. (Wait. Is she still alive? Going to look it up…) Yes. She is, apparently. Even after completing 264 episodes of Murder, She Wrote.
Jessica Fletcher the spy.
        Sometimes I wish I were a detective. Only I’d call myself a gumshoe, because that sounds more conspiratorial. But let’s face it: not much ever happens to me because I’m constantly sitting around writing about Murder, She Wrote or other nonsensical and unimportant crap. Although, Jessica Fletcher was also a writer, so maybe this whole thing has some sort of symbolic significance. I woke up with the Murder, She Wrote theme in my head because I’m destined to be a spy who writes novels. Or a novelist who writes about spies? Is dream analysis still a thing? Because I could definitely get into that.
Jessica Fletcher the writer.

        I tried to study my GRE math today after coming to the conclusion that I had to start at the most basic level and read carefully and do the problems and pray to the gods of numbers that I would start remembering some fraction of something I learned in high school. I literally had to start at the very beginning in a chapter called “Basic Arithmetic.” So sad and dispiriting. What am I, Laura Ingalls Wilder? I only need to know reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic so I can measure how much cow's milk fits in a bucket or how many acres I can plow before sundown? (That's so mean to Laura. She was a great writer and farmers aren't dumb. Oh god! Digging a hole!) Good news is, I’m apparently very good at simplifying fractions. Bad news is, I can’t read directions. Or add. What if I fail the GRE? I’m really nervous/depressed/caught in a hole (another hole!) of my own making that I can’t seem to claw my way out of. Out of which I can’t seem to claw my way? Prepositions are stupid and they belong at the end of the sentence. (Whoa—there’s a game changer, for ya).
        Writing makes me happy, even if it is this sort of nonsensical bullshit. It feels sort of Virginia Woolf-ish in that stream-of-consciousness way. But she killed herself, so what’s the lesson there? Why is it that in order to feel like a writer one must necessarily also feel like a crazy person or a depressive? That seems awful, but somehow true. 
     If you've gotten this far, I appreciate your readership. This has been an exercise. Only an exercise.
DISCLAIMER: I am not crazy. 
*Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) on CBS's somehow underrated (despite being on CBS) Big Bang Theory.

Monday, April 23, 2012

"With your feet in the air and your head on the ground/ Try this trick and spin it, yeah/ Your head will collapse but there's nothing in it/ And you'll ask yourself/ Where is my mind?"

        I thought in honor of Coachella, the annual, epic music extravaganza in the California desert (Indio, if you want to get specific) just happening last weekend (and also, apparently, the weekend before that) I’d tell a little story about my time(s) at that whack-a-do place.
        The first time I went was the Spring of 2002, so I guess that was the fourth year of the festival (at one time a line-up of indie rock bands playing in side-show tents with an occasional big name thrown in as a headliner performing on one of the actual stages). It was fun and sweaty and tiresome in a good way, but nothing to write home about. There were lots of hippies (and people who just smelled bad for no good reason), expensive bottled water and mind-numbingly foul port-o-potties. Sigh. It’s an outdoor concert/all day event. What are you gonna do? But to quote a calendar I once had, “I love not camping.”**
Hot hot heat, a batrillion people and no bathrooms? Sounds awesome!
        But the second time I went is what I really wanted to write about. That happened in the Spring of 2004 and I was deeply into The Cure at that moment in time and so agreed to head into Indio yet again for the concert. But this time, I wasn’t going for one day. I was going for THE WHOLE WEEKEND. The Pixies were playing, along with The Cure, Radiohead, Blonde Redhead, and Belle and Sebastian. I think. I could have my years confused. But definitely The Cure, The Pixies and Radiohead. Come on. You gotta go, right?
Robert Smith of The Cure. Wore this man on a t-shirt. Truth.
        I want to address briefly the way I feel about concerts: not super stoked. I like music. Hell, I love music. But concerts make me feel anxious and annoyed and trapped; and like something is maybe really wrong with me. I don’t like to dance (where anyone can see me, anyway) and I can’t sit because usually the people in front of me stand up to dance and then I can’t see. I like to know the music before I go, and most of my favorite bands are comprised of people that are no longer with us or are too old to feel like jammin’. So I’m relegated to loving a new(ish) band and going to see only them(Belle and Sebastian), waiting for an old band to plan a reunion tour and sit with a bunch of middle-aged hippies (Loggins and Messina; Simon and Garfunkel; a group of people covering Joni Mitchell songs) or—horror of horrors—seeing a band I know nothing about. Shoot me now. I’d rather stay at home and watch Monk all night, truthfully.
        But my good buddy, Scott, and I decided that the line-up was too good to pass up, and we bought our tickets early in April (for a May concert). Our plan was to drive down to Indio Friday night, the day before the concert, check into a hotel and then hit the concert grounds running in the morning. This way, we figured, we’d beat traffic, be well rested, and get a relatively decent parking spot Saturday morning.
        I remember I went to his apartment that Friday night and he made me a “White Trash Burrito,” instructing me to try it before he would reveal his secret ingredient. The burrito was delicious and the secret turned out to be pork rinds, but he obviously didn’t know me very well if he thought that was going to be some kind of deterrent. Scott explained, mid burrito, that he was hoping we could stop at Morongo Casino on our way to Indio. A short stop, he said, just to play a couple rounds of black jack and hit the roulette tables and then we’d be on our way. I said I’d think about it. He said we were going. I said sure, I’d totally think about it. He said we were going. I asked if he wanted a ride. He said we were going. We were very accustomed to fighting (we were in a play together at the time).
        So we set out on the road sometime around 12 a.m. and began blasting The Cure as soon as we hit the freeway. We were young, excited, on our way to a musical extravaganza, like young people are supposed to want to be.
        Within 15 minutes, Scott was asleep in the passenger seat and I was so relieved. I actually felt a little crafty and clever. We’d just skip right past the casino and he wouldn’t know anything until he woke up. By then, it would be too late. He was 26 to my 21 and I figured the old man would sleep all the way to our hotel—wherever that might be.
        Unfortunately, as it sometimes does, the 10 Interstate East suddenly came to a standstill right around Cabazon, CA, an hour-and-a-half into our trip. At 1:45 in the morning. Apparently we weren’t the only yahoos that thought we would get to Indio a day early.  Guess what’s in Cabazon? Nothing at all except for one thing: Morongo Casino Resort and Spa. I have to say that they use the terms both “resort” and “spa” incredibly loosely out there in Cabazon. Because you can tell that joint’s a shit-hole all the way from the freeway. 
Morongo Casino. Blech. Trust me, it's worse in daylight.
         But Scott woke up and insisted that we stop. “Just for 30 minutes,” he kept saying. He also pointed out that I could get a cocktail, if I chose not to gamble.
        “It’s last call,” I said, pointing at the clock.
        “Not on an Indian Reservation.” He seemed so sure of himself.
        I pulled (very reluctantly) into the parking lot and we got out.
        I want you to know that the Indian Reservations stop serving drinks at 2 a.m., same as everywhere else. The rest can wait for next time.

Read parts two, three, four, and five.
*The Pixies "Where Is My Mind?"

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"We've become a race of Peeping Toms. What people ought to do is get outside their own house and look in for a change."*

        I know I’ve stressed on numerous occasions how much I love living alone. I can watch whatever I want, wear whatever I want, and there’s no one to answer to if I leave a mess in the sink, or on the counter, or on the couch, or on the floor. That sounds bad—I’m really not THAT messy—but truly the freedom is comforting and truly different than any I’ve ever known.
        I’m not a “naked person” but if I wanted to go into the kitchen and make breakfast in the buff, I could. But though I’m not a stickler for hygiene, that seems pretty unhygienic, not to mention cold, and my windows are at least cracked almost all of the time.
        That said, the other day I went into the kitchen in just the t-shirt and underpants I’d slept in, and poured myself a glass of water.
        Mid-pour, it occurred to me that the man smoking a cigarette on his back stairs might be able to see into my apartment. It was the middle of the day, so it’s hard to say how much of my kitchen was visible, but I immediately crouched behind the refrigerator door. Sure, I wasn’t naked or anything, but still: no one gets a free show from this gal.
        That got me to thinking about the movie Rear Window.
        For those of you who don’t know (a precious few, I’m sure: all of my readers are similar in their incredible taste and sophistication), Rear Window is a supremely awesome Alfred Hitchcock film about a professional photojournalist (Jimmy Stewart) who’s relegated to a wheelchair due to a broken leg sustained on the job. Because he’s bored and possesses several superb camera lenses--and because he lives in a unit that faces the courtyard of his large apartment complex—he spends his days spying on his neighbors. All of the spying is moderately amusing until he witnesses what he is convinced is a murder.
Rear Window, 1954.
        The rest you can figure out when you watch the movie.
        What I started wondering is what, if anything, would Smoking Man think of me in terms of Rear Window? The back of his building faces the back of mine and my kitchen window looks at his back stairs.
        Does he think I’m like Miss Lonely Hearts, the woman who entertains imaginary dates in her single apartment and then breaks down in heart-wrenching tears when she considers how she’s going to die alone and be eaten by rats?
Miss Lonely Hearts has an imaginary date for dinner.
        Maybe he thinks I’m like Miss Torso, the ballerina who has all kinds of men making passes but is clearly waiting for Mr. Right. I don’t imagine he thinks that seeing as how most of my male guests are my male friends—-all of who either have girlfriends or (in most cases) have boyfriends—-or exterminators/Robert T.L.W./installing blinds.
Miss Torso dances in her underpants. Don't we all?
        I’d like to think that Mr. Cigarette thinks that I might have murdered someone, if he sees me taking out the garbage late at night, but I’m pretty sure he’d need more evidence of foul play than the fact that I’m a night owl who likes to wait until two weeks have gone by to dispose of waste.
        There’s the pianist in Rear Window who’s constantly composing at his grand piano (once with Hitchcock in attendance, in one of his cameos). Sometimes he gets caught up and frustrated by his inability to achieve what he wants. That could be me. Maybe he sees me typing and thinks I’m writing my magnum opus and I’m constantly frustrated by not finding the mot juste! Ha ha, Smoker-man! I’m just writing this blog, dumb neighbor. 
The composer thinks best in his underpants. Don't we all?
        If I’m being perfectly honest, my biggest fear (at least within this particular realm) is that he doesn’t really think anything of my daily activities. He’s bored to death by my singularly mundane existence and watches not with pity or disdain but with complete indifference.
        “Well, there goes that chick making breakfast. There she goes washing dishes. There she goes folding laundry—wait! What’s on that suitcase? Is that blood? Where is she going with that down the back stairs? Holy crap! She’s killed someone!”
        That’s how he’ll narrate my life once I show him a thing or two.
        But if, on the off chance I decide against making it look like I’ve killed someone, I might bust out a fake party a la Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. That’ll shut him up thinking I’m boring.
*Thelma Ritter as Stella in Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"That's it! I've had it with this dump! We got no food, we got no jobs, our pets heads are falling off! What the hell are we doing here, Harry? We gotta get out of this town."*

        I know for sure that I will never murder anyone, because I’m quite confident that if I ever did murder someone, I would have a nonstop panic attack until I was found out. And I hate panicking.
        I wasn’t always this way.
        I have a distinct memory of driving to the Oak View Mall in Omaha with my dad and one of my sisters (I think it was Penelope) at some point during college. 
The Oak View Mall.
        My dad said something to the effect of, “You don’t worry about much, do you Lacey?”
        And then I felt proud. As though it were something my dad admired about me. “Lacey: My One Kid Who Doesn’t Worry.”
        At the time it was true: I didn’t worry too much about anything. For one thing, what’s the point? It’s a waste of energy to worry about the outcomes of events that we aren’t even sure will happen. And even if we did worry, it wouldn’t prevent anything from happening.
        When you’re in college, you sort of feel free from worry because you’re actively working towards a concrete goal: graduate from college. Also, you’re in a sort of in between stage: handling money and paying bills, but not actually earning much of anything. And in my case, spending money that you didn’t have to make yourself.
        Once you graduate, and especially if you graduate with a degree in the “Arts” and even more especially if you graduate with a degree in the “Performing Arts” you start to worry a little bit about what the goal is and how the hell you’re going to pay rent until you achieve it.
        In the last couple of years I’ve started to panic a bit. Not about anything substantial, just a sort of general panic that sets my heart racing and makes my hands shake. When I take a moment to center myself and try to figure out what’s causing the panic, I can rarely figure out the source.
        I will say that since I moved into my own apartment I feel less anxious, but the idea of panic always seems to be hiding around the corner. I keep waiting to feel anxious and the anxiety of waiting makes me anxious. Yikes.
        What’s worse is that I’ve taken to envisioning problems that don’t even exist. Upon exiting the shower today, I imagined I saw something coming out of the little side drain in my bathroom sink. It turned out to be a portion of my own reflection in the opposite mirror. But still. Then I thought, “What if something actually did come crawling out of there?” What if it were a worm or a snake or some sort of tiny mouse? Or a creature like that one in Ghost Busters II? (Okay, that might actually be kind of funny, after the initial shock wore off.)
Ghost Busters 2. Scary!
        What the hell could I do about that? Scream? Tape it up, like I did with the bees? Run away? I live alone now, and I’m the only one here that can kill the spiders or what-have-you that show up, uninvited, in my apartment.That's the stuff horror films are made of. Shudder.
        Yeah, sometimes being a grown-up really blows.
        I’m thinking more and more that I need a change of scenery or at least a change of focus. A thought that was driven home further by the presence of YET ANOTHER dead bee in my kitchen.
        In other news, I got a professional haircut today, so my bangs are under control yet again. Hooray!
*Lloyd Christmas, Dumb and Dumber (Peter and Bobby Farrelly, 1994).

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"One day I'll land in a nut house with all the nuts and the squirrels. There I'll stay tucked away 'til the prohibition of little girls."*

        I don’t care what anyone says, Annie rocks and I’m never going to get over it.
        Before I get ahead of myself, I’d like to say that this has (next to) nothing to do with the summer of 1992, when my mom dropped my sister Lizzy and I off at the Emmy Gifford Children’s Theater in Omaha, NE, and told us we were going to be in a play. (It was one of those wondrous plays where every kid that shows up gets a role for the bargain price of a years’ wages. Just kidding. I’m sure it was cheaper than that. It was theater, after all. Times haven’t changed that drastically.)
        What followed were three weeks of acting and vocal exercises and elaborate stretching rituals that culminated in the worst audition I’d given up to that point. Since then, I’ve given much worse auditions, but this one was particularly bad. Despite having rocked the shit out of my audition song (“Maybe”) I proceeded to chicken out when it came time for my Miss Hannigan cold read. I was too insecure and too chicken shit to give a decent holler. I guess I was afraid they’d judge me if I hollered too screechily** or too weakly. So I gave a pathetic little squeak and looked around like an idiot to make sure everyone knew how dumb I thought my screaming was. And I lost the role I was born to play (had in fact been rehearsing for years) and wound up as a goddamn Boylan Sister. (It could've been worse: I think Lizzy wound up playing a member of FDR's cabinet.) It was my fault I had such a shit part, but it taught me a valuable lesson early on: when it comes to auditioning, it’s best to go balls to the wall, come what may. Fail gloriously, right?
Miss Hannigan and Daddy Warbucks negotiate.
        Anyway, about a week ago my friend Chad said he’d trade me his copy of Annie for my copy of The Iron Lady. And it was the best trade I’ve ever made. (Largely because I thought The Iron Lady kind of blew.) I’ve since watched Annie an indecent number of times and often skip through the talking parts so I can listen to the songs on the DVD while I’m cleaning ("It's a Hard Knock Life" is particularly effective and puts me in mind of when I used to reenact it in the course of my half-hour long showers as a child, scrubbing the bathtub with a washcloth and belting my heart out).
        You want to mock me, and I'm prepared for that. So here are some reasons Annie rocks, despite any argument anyone will every make throughout the course of time from now until forever:
1.     It was directed by John Huston. Say what, now? Yes, John Huston of The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and Chinatown. The man who was besties with Humphrey Bogart (of course they probably didn't call it "besties" but something more rugged like "man buddies" or "dude pals"). What? Okay, so we immediately have to respect the movie because the manliest of all manly men directed it. So it’s not a "girly" movie. Okay?
2.     Mike Nichols directed the original stage play. Pow! Take that!
3.     It’s sort of a history lesson, if you want to get technical about The Great Depression. (Which I don’t, because I think that scene with FDR and Eleanor belonged on the cutting room floor.) But I think it's safe to say that Carol Burnett taught us a good deal about Prohibition and the making of bathtub gin. (Actually, I'm confused on that score: didn't they overturn Prohibition once the Depression began so people had some way of dealing with the shit that life had become? I suck at history.)
4.     The music is INCREDIBLE (thank you to Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin). I’ve been singing it pretty much nonstop for two weeks, which is a good sign because I have amazing taste. Think "Little Girls," "I Don't Need Anything But You" and "I Think I'm Gonna Like it Here." Now try not to think about them.
5.     Albert Finney shaved his head bald, sang, and tap danced in this movie. This is a man who has been nominated for 5 Academy Awards and once made love on a semi-regular basis to Audrey Hepburn. Point being: this is a good film, or he wouldn't be in it. Right?
6.     Finally: Tim Curry is in this film. Need I say more? (Answer: No. I needn't.)
And as a final fun thing: I found a little info about Aileen Quinn, who played Annie in Annie 30 years ago. She’s cute as a button.
Aileen Quinn today. I guess she shaved off her red 'fro.
 *Lyrics from "Little Girls" (Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin). I didn't realize Miss Hannigan was making booze in the tub until (perhaps) this year, but I DID know she was drunk. 
**Another word that I've apparently invented and/or misspelled.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"She has danced into the danger zone, where a dancer becomes a dance."*

        Well, I’m in recovery mode from the major holiday that went down all across the world Sunday: Easter. FUCK. YEAH. You know how hard Easter rocks, and how you usually end up nursing a three-day hangover from all the shit that went down? Well, that was me (I). I Eastered the fuck out of Easter Sunday.
        And by that I mean: I went to Phoenix to visit my bff Michelle and we attempted to worship at the altar of many an outlet mall in her fair city and found that the whole goddamn place was shut down in honor of our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s racist. Or something equally bad.
        And then we decided that we were sick of trying and went to see The Hunger Games. Then we went on a jog that ended in frozen yogurt. We did hit a bar after that (the really loveable Bikini Bar in Downtown Phoenix) so it was mildly hardcore (an oxymoron? I don’t think so).
        So in yet another game of let us find a non sequitur, I would like to talk about something totally unrelated to any of the above-mentioned activities.
        I have a great idea for a new business venture: Dance Dance Karaoke (working title).
        I got the idea while listening to “She’s A Maniac” on the way to visit my friends Tom and Jess last Friday. If you’ve ever seen Flashdance, you’re probably already picturing the scene: Jennifer Beals, sporting her sexiest legwarmers, dancing like she’s mid-seizure (or like “a maniac,” if you prefer) in her loft. She’s also sweating like a pig, if my memory is as good as I think it is.
Flashdance. (Adrian Lyne, 1983).
        Here’s how DDK works: you get up in front of a room full of drunkards (you know, like karaoke) and you have a screen in front of you. But instead of lyrics, the screen shows a famous dance scene from a movie or music video and you have to mimic the steps as best you can. It could be something from Girls Just Want to Have Fun or Footloose or Prince’s “Diamonds and Pearls” video where he does the splits while bouncing off a couch. It could be the dance at the gym from West Side Story or “The Hand Jive” from Grease. It could be the “Time Warp” and you could get six-to-ten friends to do it with you. 
Here's a good dance to rehearse with friends before a night out at DDK. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.                         (Stanley Donen, 1954).

A dance you could do after several shots of rumplemintz.  From Mary Poppins. (Robert Stevenson, 1964).
        Behind you, on a larger screen, the same dance is projected for the drunken bar patrons to watch, so they can compare your moves to the actual moves and judge you accordingly.
        Is this already a thing? Because I think I’m kind of brilliant. I know there’s a game for the Wii or the Connect that has you dance and judges you on accuracy, but this is more about blitzed bar patrons judging you against their memories (and the solid evidence on the big screen).
        Here are some potential setbacks:
1.     Will the bar be responsible for injuries incurred in the execution of an advanced dance move by an intoxicated amateur?
2.     What if, as in the case of “Diamonds and Pearls” or “Holding Out for a Hero” (the song to which Kevin Bacon tumbles sensually in Footloose), one needs a large prop (a couch or a hay loft, as the case may be) in order to mimic the dance? The dance routines might have to be pared down, as they are in the case of someone who decides they want to sing “Do You Feel Like We Do” by Peter Frampton (which clocks in at approximately 13 minutes) on Karaoke night.
3.     Group dances that aren’t choreographed tend to look a little awful. It’s not like musicals where everyone just so happens to be a professional dancer and a performer in the Spring Recital that happened two weeks ago. Bummer.
        Otherwise, I think the idea is solid. Most scathingly brilliant ideas have hiccups in the beginning, so I’m confident that with the correct support and funding, this could be up and running in the next year or so. And unlike singing Karaoke, it’s not super annoying when someone is trying really hard to be good. Watching someone dance well is actually pleasurable. And watching someone dance terribly is incredibly awesome. Listening to someone sing out of tune is the opposite of fun. And those people who sing Karaoke like they’re trying to impress the shit out of all the other losers at the bar are the most annoying of all.
        Dang, this is long. You know where to find me if you want to invest in DDK. Or suggest a better name for it.
*”She’s a Maniac” by Michael Sembello.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"And the only reason for making a buzzing noise that I know of is because you're a bee...And the only reason for being a bee that I know of is for making honey...And the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it."*

              So, about those bees.
        The exterminator came on Monday afternoon and had a good look at them. I could hear Sir Robert T.L.W. talking to him downstairs so I hurried all the way around the building to the back to listen in on what was going on. Robert didn’t recognize me because my hair was down and I was wearing a different shirt (this seems to happen to me a lot with apartment managers), so I had to introduce myself, which was awkward, since I spent a good ten minutes screaming to him on the phone on Sunday. And we'd spent a good half-hour together earlier that day. But I guess I'm utterly forgettable in every way.
        The exterminator explained that his ladder wasn’t tall enough to reach the hive. It would have been tall enough if my downstairs neighbor didn't have a serious hoarding problem and state regulations hadn't forbidden us from moving some of his "things" (read: garbage) out of the way. I found it all dumbly ironic, since Robert has no problem popping into my apartment whenever he feels like it, despite the lease (and the state) specifically stating that he can't.)

        Anyway, the exTerminator was looking at my kitchen window and wondering aloud if he could get at the bees from there (an unappetizing proposition).
         I tried to explain to both Robert and the exterminator, whom I'll call Julian for reasons that remain inexplicable even to me, that they’d never be able to reach the bees from my window because of the side the screen is on: if they removed the screen, they’d be too far away to reach the vent. The vent is on the side where the immovable glass part of the window is anchored.
         Both being men and middle aged and one being Hungarian and the other Armenian, they completely ignored me. I am female, after all, and not yet old enough to slap them around like their mothers or wives would. So we trudged up to my apartment and looked at the window. And guess what? Julian couldn’t reach the hive because of the way the window panes and screens are positioned. Really? No kidding!
        Julian said he’d come back with a taller ladder. I asked when. He said, “Not today.” Awesome!
        By way of comforting me, he said, “The bees don’t want to be inside. They get stupid when they come inside and die within 20 minutes.”
        I said, “Well, don’t think I’m ridiculous, but I taped up the vent above the stove, just to be safe.”
        And I did right!! Normally, I feel like I’ve got some sort of twisted, moronic concept of how things actually work, but Julian said my instincts were spot on and pointed out a few other places I could tape as well. He said the scout bees sometimes get lost and then they head towards the light and wind up inside. That’s when they head for the windows (just like the Interweb told me!). So there aren’t holes in my walls: they were getting in through the stove vent. Excellent.
Duct tape. Not just for wallets anymore! Also good for ducts.
        So I was gone all day Tuesday and all day Wednesday, and sometime mid-afternoon Wednesday (yesterday), Sir Robert called to ask if I was okay, because he hadn’t heard from me in a while and wanted to tell me the hive had been removed and to make sure I wasn’t dead. I appreciated the gesture.
        And today, there were three more dead bees in my apartment. I guess they were stragglers from the now-defunct hive. Sad.
        Bee one is dead between the screen and glass pane of the living room window. Bee two was circling the drain (metaphorically) on the stovetop. He was under the burner grate in the midst of death throes, and I felt cruel spraying him with Raid, so I decided to quickly smash him and give him a quick death. But I couldn’t get the magazine into the depression of the burner just right, so I ended up needlessly torturing him for about 30 seconds while slamming my current issue of Vanity Fair on him from every possible angle and yelling, “I’m sorry, bee! I’m really sorry!” Julia Roberts’ face is covered in bits of bee corpse. And I certainly didn’t do that bee any favors. It was the equivalent of leaving it in a bear trap to gnaw off its own leg. I felt pretty bummed about that.
        Bee three was just dead on the kitchen floor. Sigh.
        And so it’s over, I guess. Or I hope so, anyway. My dad said I should keep an EpiPen handy, just in cases, so I guess if I ever do get stung, I probably won’t die a hideous death. Not this time.
Lacey: 11, Bees: 0
*A.A. Milne: Winnie the Pooh.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Babies have big heads and big eyes, and tiny little bodies with tiny little hands. So did the aliens at Roswell! I rest my case."

       The other day in the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf parking lot I saw this:

        What does it mean?
        Are they saying not to put babies in the dumpster? It seems fairly obvious that you aren’t allowed to put babies in dumpsters.
        {You aren’t even allowed to leave them at fire stations anymore, right? Or maybe you can as long as they’re really little. Remember when Nebraska finally passed a Safe Haven Law in 2008 (the last state to do so, I believe) and forgot to specify an age limit for the kids you could abandon at hospitals and Fire stations? That was HILARIOUS. And kind of pathetic, too.}
        Is the sign telling babies to stay out of the dumpster? Because babies can’t read. And even if they could read, it would be almost impossible for them to climb up high enough to get into the dumpster. And if they could read really well and climb really high, they’d be smart enough to know that it’s no fun to play in garbage.
            I’m going to look into this. Maybe it's some creepy secret gang symbol between babies. Baby gangs. But probably not, so I'll do a little research. More on this later.

            An additional theory is that someone started a club in the dumpster and doesn't want babies to join. You know, like instead of "No girls allowed!" it's "NO BABIES." Only big kids and grown-ups. Eh? Eh?

*William Shatner. I know it doesn't have much to do with anything I wrote here, but I think it's funny and so there you go.

Monday, April 2, 2012

"What's the buzz? Tell me what's a-happening!"*

            I walked into my apartment on Friday afternoon and went to the kitchen to make a snack. There was a dead bee on the windowsill, so I freaked out (just a little) and went to grab a paper towel to clean it up. That’s when I saw bee number two, dead on the other windowsill. Number three was in the sink. I’ll fast-forward to the total body count: eight. Slightly unsettling if you’re a normal human being. Mind-numbingly terrifying if you’re afraid of bees (or spiders, cucarachas, beetles, bed bugs or those fake ladybug-looking things that are yellow or orange instead of red). Also, I’m a little bit allergic to stingy things. Not die-of-anaphylactic-shock allergic, but swell up like the Elephant Man allergic. (Just to be clear, the story of Joseph Merrick kills me, and I don't mean to denigrate him or anything. It's just that I look a bit like him when I swell. Also we share an astrological sign. Leo, in case you're interested.) 
        So I started crying, like a normal, grown-ass adult does, and called my friends Richie and Jerome, who were on their way to pick me up for a movie, and asked them to help me clean up the carcasses, as I’m a big, fat weenie burger who isn’t fit to live on her own or have a letter on her wall.
        Then I went to work online trying to figure out what the hell was going on. The answers ranged from informative to outright horrifying. One lady said they don’t come in through the windows, but through holes in the wall or air ducts, and then they head for the windows because they see the light. (Yay! My screens aren’t broken. But, boo! My walls are?) One guy said he found bunches of dead bees in his house each day and when the exterminator finally arrived, he unearthed a hive that was five layers deep and twelve feet high. (Can’t think about that today or I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.)

One of the many images that underplays the danger of both bears and bees.
        The most comforting thing I learned is that bees bed down when the sun sets, so I didn’t need to worry needlessly while I was sleeping (or trying to sit in my living room or pee or eat or drink water)—as long as I was ready to roll as soon as the sun came up, or, at the very latest, 10 o’clock, which is when the bees go to work for real. (Think of it as the post-coffee break, pre-lunch period, when everyone is really alert.)
        Richie and Jerome helped me by cleaning up the dead bees (Jerome even heroically killed one that was on death's door in the sink) and forced me to buy some Raid (more so I wouldn't be so nervous rather than because they expected me to unleash my wrath on the bees. I don't hate bees, I'm just a little jumpy around them.).
        I called my apartment manager, Sir Robert the Long Winded, on Saturday morning and explained the situation. I was headed to work (one of the few times I felt supremely grateful to be working on a weekend). He said that he’d try to call an exterminator and/or pest control, but that they don’t usually work on the weekends. Really? Don’t they? What if I had a family of tarantulas in my apartment (oh please dear lord never let that happen to me!)? Or a nest of scorpions? That would have to wait until Monday?
        I explained that I’m allergic to bees, though I may have exaggerated the extent of the allergy a bit, and told him that this was a seriously exigent matter.
        And guess what? He took care of it!
        Just kidding, he totally didn’t. And when I called him on Sunday morning, he said that he hadn’t seen any bees in my apartment, so he didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. So I reiterated how serious the situation was: that I was afraid to go home and I didn’t want the owner to have to pay for a hotel room for me to stay in while I waited out the hellacious bees (Richie recommended The is close by). Robert T.L.W. said he’d call some more exterminators.
            Well, he did or he didn’t, but anyway no one came and I was super nervous when I woke up this morning. I could hear the hive buzzing in my kitchen—I just didn’t know where they were.
        Fortuitously, I ran into Robert on my way downstairs and he took me on a bee tour. And I took some pictures, which, like most of my pictures, are pretty bad. I don't have any fancy 18x zoom, so just know that the black dots are bees and the window in question is my kitchen.

Those blurry black dots are BEES.

        They’re in the air duct connecting my stove vent to the outside. And they’re having a blast.
        I will end this post now, as it’s far too long, but know this: I do not want to be responsible for the decimation of a beehive.
        I was super nervous putting honey on my yogurt this morning for fear they’d see me through the window and exact their revenge. And what if these bees are Africanized? What if they know that the exterminator is on his way and they come for me like they did for Winnie the Pooh? I cherish nature and all that, but I don’t want to die alone in this apartment covered in pustules and swollen up like an unrecognizable blimp. Aside from hoping to be an attractive corpse and, more generally, not die alone in my apartment, I’m still young and I have a lot of dreams for the future.
Africanized bee, raping a stick?
Honey Bee. Sweet and innocent and gathering nectar.

        More later.

*Jesus Christ Superstar (Norman Jewison, 1973). I’m sorry, I know it’s cheesy, but Easter is just around the corner, after all.