Thursday, February 28, 2013

"When you go into court you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty."*

   I’m at the Los Angeles Superior Courthouse in the jury assembly room and my computer is only at 31% battery. I've been here since 7:45 a.m. It is presently 9:32 a.m. This is going to be a very, very long day once my laptop dies. 
Downtown. Spoiler alert: I took this when I thought I'd be leaving before lunch.

   The sitting and doing nothing is truly awful. It gives me a low-grade panic attack. Or maybe I’m just really hungry. I was going to go downstairs to the cafeteria during our break, but there was such a stampede to get out of the assembly room that it didn’t seem worth it. Plus, riding an elevator with 16 other people is no fun. And it seems that only 1 of 12 elevators in the building is operating today. If there is an emergency, we’re fucked.

   At the moment we’re just sitting here. How can that be right? Aren’t there supposed to be numerous jury panels happening at the same time? Oh man, this isn’t how I’d hoped to spend the day. They had a judge come in during “orientation” and give us a really long, heartfelt speech about what an honor it is to serve on a jury and how it’s really no big deal when you compare it to waiting in line for drinking water in a third world country. And I guess that’s so. But that doesn’t make the time pass any faster.
   Here are some photos of one of the greater celebrities to have served on a Los Angeles County jury:
What? Who's it starring?!?
Weird Al Yankovic! (Seriously? I bet people in Des Moines don't have to put up with this.)

   They also gave out a brochure during "orientation" with a list of places nearby and things to see. Oh yeah, because lunch break is an hour-and-a-half, I'll go explore MOCA. Thanks, Los Angeles County! 

Wait, didn't I just park at The Disney Concert Hall? Why would I walk back there?

Oh sure, I'll go buy jewelry. Or go to a church...and pray that I don't have to sit on a jury.
  Also, it’s odd that some people are STILL so inconsiderate about their electronics. I’m sitting in a smallish alcove off the main assembly room and one woman was having a full-on phone conversation and only ended it because “reception was bad” not because 8 other people were in the room being forced to hear one half of her boring-ass, loud conversation. Another woman is currently watching a show on her phone without headphones. It’s really fun to listen to what sounds suspiciously like a home video of a bunch of people sitting around in a kitchen talking about the weather. If you’re going to make us all listen, at least watch something good.

   Oh crap. We’re at 28% now. They just called the second group. It’s nearly 11 a.m. and the latest they can keep us is around 5p.m. Which means once my laptop dies I will have to figure out how to entertain myself for a possible total of 6 hours. Yikes. I guess I may have to read a book or think a thought or write some stuff in my list notebook with a pen just like in olden times. Or I’ll waste the day staring at all the crazy people. Actually, there aren’t that many crazy-looking people here. I thought it would be much worse. I guess most of the crazies stay off the grid and don’t get called up for this shit. Crazy like foxes.

   I’m very hungry now. It’s been 4-and-a-half hours since I ate breakfast. I can survive this. I know I can! We get a lunch break, but I was sort of hoping they’d send me home before that. Wishful thinking.

   I’ll update this when I get home. For now I’m going to save what precious little battery life I have left for a true boredom meltdown around 2 p.m. this afternoon.
This is a drawing of me. Trapped inside the courthouse.

   I’m back. 

   I didn’t get out of the courthouse until 4:30 p.m., after pleading extreme poverty to the judge who took begrudging pity on me. I was LITERALLY the LAST person excused from his court (which was, coincidentally, right across the hallway from the court of a certain Judge Lance Ito. Cool! Celebrity judge!) My judge probably didn’t believe I was poor because I was dressed so fancy. Ha ha. No seriously, he let me out because it was a criminal case and it was set to last for a month. There’s no way I wouldn’t have ended up living on the sidewalk after missing a month of work. 

   This was, of course, only after I’d listened to two hours of “voir dire” from the panel that had been called in before mine. ("Voir dire," as I learned from my juror instruction manual, is that thing of where they ask you a bunch of questions about your views in order to suss out whether or not you’re a Nazi or a pothead or an electrical engineer. Seriously—they bagged the electrical engineer. I think it was because the defense found him too rational.) When they finally stopped arguing and chose a 12th juror, I gasped really loudly and everyone started laughing until the judge informed us that it didn't mean anything: we'd have to come back tomorrow to pick an alternate. Finally, my poverty worked in my favor!!

   It was kind of interesting but I didn’t like not being able to go to the bathroom when I wanted to and I’m really bad at entertaining myself when I’m anxious. And I was incredibly anxious that I would have to serve on a jury. I don’t care how important it is to the justice system: I have ADD. And my laptop and phone were both kaput so all I had left was the old iPad, so I drew a picture (see above). But I also have photographic hi-lights from my day (also see above, and below). But when you’re actually in the courtroom, you can’t play with your electronics at all, so I was forced to listen and draw in my notebook.
Musings from my notebook during jury selection.

   The justice system is flawed. It takes a lot of time and people watch a lot of crime dramas so they think they can weasel their way out of things by professing to be heinous bigots or complete morons (and sometimes they aren’t lying).  I listened to these people who could barely string a sentence together (English speakers, all) claim things like, “One time I saw a case like this on the news and ever since then I’ve been incredibly biased towards people who do whatever it is this case is about.” Or, “My mom’s house got broken into one time in the 80’s, so I can’t be an impartial juror when it comes to crimes involving money-laundering.” I would have used the term the judge used, “misappropriation of funds,” but there were maybe only 4 jurors from the entire afternoon who would’ve been able to use the word “misappropriation” in a sentence. One guy kept saying he’d seen this case on the news, even though there’d been no news coverage of the event. They kept him, though, so it backfired. Ah, justice. But now they’re stuck with a liar. Oh well. He’s probably a decent guy who just really wants to go back to work tomorrow.

   Anyway, it’s over for at least 12 more months. In that time I’m going to have to somehow become a doctor because I hear from several reliable sources that doctors are never wanted on juries.

Or maybe I’ll just move. 
*Kind of true, kind of not. This quote is from Norm Crosby, a popular 70's comedian.

Monday, February 25, 2013

"The morning sun when it's in your face really shows your age. But that don't worry me none. In my eyes you're everything."*

   It took me a while to notice, but a crap-ton of songs I've always considered “love” songs are just cleverly disguised insult songs.

   I’ve put a lot of thought into this.

   Take, for instance, the Billy Joel classic, “Just the Way You Are.”

   Here is a song that sounds really beautiful and seems to have the right sentiment: this guy likes his woman just the way she is. (Of course, this was written for his first wife, so obviously he didn’t really like her just the way she was or he wouldn't have divorced her ass. But the signs were right there from the start.)

   Look at the lyrics:

“Don’t go trying some new fashion

Don’t change the color of your hair.

You always have my unspoken passion

Although I might not seem to care.”

   What? Why doesn’t he “seem to care”? That’s not nice. And he's basically spelled out the fact that no matter what she wears or how she styles her hair, it isn't going to make a damn bit of difference, so she may as well quite trying.

And then later:

“I don’t want clever conversation

I never want to work that hard

I just want someone that I can talk to

I want you just the way you are.”

   So now she’s not clever enough? And not only is she not clever enough, she really should quit trying. Clever is for when he’s at work or talking to intelligent people. When he comes home, he’d just as soon she doesn’t say anything so he can focus on The Late Show.

   Another example of a fake love song is Prince’s "Raspberry Beret". I love this song. I love Prince. Prince, Prince, Prince. But check out the lyrics:

“Built like she was

She had the nerve to ask me

if I planned to do her any harm.

So I put her on the back of my bike

and we went riding

down by Old Man Johnson’s farm.

Overcast days never turned me on

But something about the clouds and her mixed

She wasn’t too bright

But I could tell when she kissed me

She knew how to get her kicks.”

   Wow. Um, first of all, Prince is a genius for rhyming "mixed" with "kicks." But that's beside the point. Next consider: “built like she was, she had the nerve to ask me if I planned to do her any harm.” Does this mean she was such a fatty-fatty-two-by-four that there was no possible way he could do her any harm? After all, Prince is a slight man. (I’ve also considered that this means that since her body was so banging, of course he planned to do her “harm,” i.e. bone her. But I like my version better. And it goes along with my theme.) 
Okay, you have no idea how hard it was for me to draw this. I know it's not good, but jeez, it took a ton of effort. I'm also aware that when Prince sang about putting her "on the back of my bike" he was probably talking about a motorcycle, but this is how I have always pictured it, so this is how it will be.

   Thirdly, it’s great that she was a good kisser, but did you have to point out what a dumbass she was?

   Also take into consideration the refrain:

“She wore a raspberry beret.
The kind you find at a second-hand store.
A raspberry beret

If it was warm, she wouldn’t wear much more.”

   So she shops at second-hand stores, so what? She's thrifty and likes vintage. And maybe she doesn't wear much clothing in warm weather. I guess now she’s a slut?

   There are many other examples of this kind of "just kidding" love song. Songs it took me years to realize were full of hurt feelings and malice and back-stabbery (not a word! dibs!).

   You know that great Mary Wells’ song “You Beat Me to the Punch”? I always thought that was such a sweet love song. Here’s this shy girl who wants to ask this guy out but she’s afraid to say anything and then he goes ahead and asks her out (thereby beating her to the punch, if you will). But wait! Then there’s that last verse:

“But I found out beyond a doubt
One day boy, you were a playboy
Who would go away
And leave me, blue

So, I ain't gonna wait around
For you to put me down
This time I'm gonna play my hunch
Then walk away this very day

And beat you to the punch.”
I always pictured the delicious kind of punch. But the song was really about the hurty kind of punch.

   Shit. She dumps him at the end of that “romantic” song because he’s a cheating dog. Who knew? I didn’t.

   I want to break down more of these songs, but this post is really long already, so I’ll just mention a couple other songs worth considering:

1. “Your Love” (The Outfield): girlfriend is on vacation, so you wanna keep me company tonight? I don’t mind that you’re an old hag, by the way. "You know I like my girls a little bit older."

2. “Maggie May”** (Rod Stewart): this song is straight up mean. It’s that catchy guitar riff that fooled me into thinking it was a love song. That, and he keeps sort of tacking on back handed compliments about how "great" she is, or at least that he doesn't really mind her mediocrity.

3. “Just What I Needed” (The Cars): you can’t always get what you want…but if you try sometimes, you'll find, you get just what you needed.

   Music is so mysterious and intricate. I should really pay more attention to the lyrics. But sometimes it’s just so hard to tell what the hell those singers are actually saying that even if they were saying, "You're a stupid piece of dog shit," these songs would sound so haunting and romantic. Have you ever listened to a Tori Amos song? They all sound so lovely and dark and beautiful, but most of them are about killing people or getting your period or getting raped or having your parents neglect you. Weird. And yes, I definitely had to look up the lyrics before I had any idea what she was singing about. 
   Happy Monday!
*Lyrics from Rod Stewart's "Maggie May". Wow, what a romantic sentiment!.....
**Addendum: Okay, so my friend Mike pointed out that I make Maggie seem like the victim in this song, and really she's not. Of course, art is open to interpretation, but in this case I think he's right. Maggie's a heinous beast who toys with a young man's future in order to turn him into her sexual plaything. BUT, I still always thought it was a love song and it's really a song about people treating each other like garbage. So it stays. Because I can't hear the lyrics over that catchy tune, I always thought it was so romantic. I'm a dumb-dumb.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

"I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food."*

   No man will ever want to marry me.

   There are, perhaps, many reasons for this, but the most important is my general ineptitude at all things house-keeping or craft related.

   Take for instance “The Curious Case of the Holes in All the T-Shirts.” I have a plethora of cotton t-shirts. Nearly every one has a mysterious hole in the same exact spot: lower, middle front.

   They all look something like this:

   What’s this about? How does it happen? Are my jeans attacking my shirts? Is it my seatbelt? Do I have a sharp bellybutton? I don’t understand, but it’s been going on for a good 4 years now, so I can’t blame it on any specific item of clothing. I’m truly stumped. And I’m really fucking annoyed.

   I was feeling crafty the other night and decided to re-hem one of my favorite t-shirts in order to cover up the telltale holes on the front. It’s a sweet t-shirt that my Aunt Kris brought back from Korea after she and her family spent two years on the Army base in Seoul. It’s not exactly replaceable, if you get my drift. And it’s super cool because it has dolphins and Korean letters on it that probably spell out something really neat. (I actually think it was a t-shirt from the school my cousins attended there and it was supposed to be for Penelope, but I stole it before I moved to LA. Sorry, P. But once you’ve seen how I “fixed” it, you won’t want it back.)

   Here are a couple of photos of the finished product.

   Good lord, it looks like the dolphins themselves hemmed this shirt. And they were blind dolphins. On strong doses of PCP.

   I have plans to get this problem resolved. This shirt is too special to look this bad. But I’m ashamed. Ashamed that I mention sewing so much and act like I know how to do it. I don’t. And I should never be allowed to touch a real garment again for the rest of my life. I’ll just keep trying out stitches on pieces of cardstock like I did before. Sigh out loud.

   Segue to today when I attempted to make gluten-free peanut butter cookies. The recipe is very simple: take some peanut butter and add sugar, an egg, some vanilla and baking soda and bake it.

   But I am much too clever to follow a recipe. I decided to make mine with chocolate almond butter and since it was already really sweet, I decided to leave out the sugar. Here is what I ended up with:
I thought it might be good anyway, once I let it cool. 
But here's what happened when I tried to cut it. Cookie scale soup, anyone?

   Never make up baking recipes as you go. Or “eyeball” your measurements. Okay, maybe it’s fine if you’re good at culinary stuff and know what you’re doing, but don’t start getting a big ego just because you once made a yellow cake out of box. This doesn’t mean you’re a baker. It just means you can read. I went back and did it right the second time and they turned out pretty good. (I think. I mean they look like cookies. And what's that famous saying, "Get it right the second time"?) Lesson learned. (Dang, I’m just learning lessons all over the place this year!)
Totally passable. Fingers crossed.

   I am comforted by the fact that men still sometimes marry women who can’t do anything useful in the home. Thank goodness it’s 2013 and not 1953. But what can I possibly bring to the table besides my incredible body and delightful personality? It seems unfair to enter into a marriage with only the abilities to sleep for twelve hours at a time and recite lines from movies. On the other hand, no one is actively trying to marry me right now, so I guess I shouldn’t worry about it. And I suppose I can always keep hoping for a rich dude with lots of servants that know how to cook and sew. And I’m not entirely sure I want to get married anytime soon anyway, so I can probably relax about the whole thing. Phew. Yet another crisis diverted. Like my buddy Rebecca always says, "Life is a game of Whack-a-Mole." True, so true.

   I will, however, say a few prayers for my friends. They’re the ones that are going to have to try to eat these cookies tomorrow.
*A quote from W.C. Fields. I swear to god, I made those cookies sober. Maybe I shouldn't brag about it, though.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"Don't focus on the past. Try to focus on making the future less disastrous."*

   Community college is kind of strange.

   I’m just saying that to be nice.

   It totally blows. 

   I’m currently enrolled at Los Angeles City College and nearly every moment spent there is an exercise in frustration and futility. I literally start getting a headache when I’m within five blocks of campus. It’s sort of like the entire series of three, hideous city blocks that makes up this campus is encased in nuclear holocaust aftershock waves. Or like there is that weird energy that the Tommyknockers put on the city of Derry in that Stephen King book that ate up a full week-and-a-half of my Winter. (Thanks a lot, Stephen King. But, eh, we can’t win ‘em all, right?)

   It all started when I realized that I have to complete two prerequisites to start grad school: basic marketing and basic statistics.

   I thought that would be no big whoop, and it kind of wasn’t: I easily signed up for The Principles of Marketing in December and emailed all the professors of the already-full statistics classes to see if I could be on their waiting lists. It was relatively simple. I showed up the first day of Professor Kendis’ statistics class and got an add slip.

   Here’s what LACC failed to mention: statistics requires its own prerequisite. (And it truly sucks typing the word "prerequisite.")

I felt sure this would be no big deal: I took math as far as AP Calculus in high school and I took Physics in college.  Plus, as you all know, I took the GRE (twice) and scored (reasonably) high on the math portion.

   But I was rebuffed at every turn.

   First: They wouldn’t accept AP Calculus scores: that was no proof that I could master Intermediate Algebra (not that I scored well on the AP Calc exam, just as long as we’re being honest).

   Second: USC fucked me over because I was in their weird honors program which lists every math class on my transcript as Core-103, Core-104 etc, and not as Math-344 and so on. I knew that Western Civilization-based-let’s-care-about-knowledge-old-professors-in-tweed-caring-about-literature-and-history-and-Stephen-Hawking program would come back to bite me in the ass. I just thought, at the time, that it didn’t matter. I planned on being an actor.

   So my transcripts were a no-go so far as skirting the INTERMEDIATE ALGEBRA prerequisite went.

   Third: Then they refused to let my GRE scores stand in as proof of my mastery of INTERMEDIATE ALGEBRA. And the counselor told me to study hard. Excuse me? Are you saying the LACC math placement exam is harder than the GRE? I didn’t realize I was applying to take statistics at Cal Tech.

   Fourth: As a last resort, I tried to sign up for the math assessment exam. The asshole running the “ticket booth” acted like I’d ruined his day by existing and warned me that if I didn’t show up, I’d be screwing up someone else’s day/chances at life. The worst part was the test was after the last day to add classes, so it didn’t do me any damn good. (Though I’m still planning ways to hurt that man.)

   So after days of struggle and multiple emails to the dean of the LACC math department (the last 6-8 of which went ignored) I decided to give up. I’ll figure it out another day.

   It’s sad to me that getting help from anyone at LACC is a lot like calling AT&T: you wait on hold for 2 hours and then give up in tears of frustration. What’s even sadder? I actually pay full tuition there because I already have a BA and can’t go to school for free like the majority of the other students. You’d think they’d want my business. But in all actuality they probably spend their days doing circle-jerks around a bonfire of unopened transcripts. Nice.
   Oh yeah, and: the first day I was in the statistics class that I was not permitted to join I got a parking ticket. My license place stickers were expired. Never mind the fact that you're supposed to get 2-month leeway: the fuckers at LACC were on the case! Screw you, Los Angeles City College.

   I am in a marketing class and it’s kind of nice. The students aren’t exactly like the ones I encountered in undergrad. There’s this puny, Serbian, punk kid who likes to be an asshole to our (adorable) professor. When Professor S. coughs, the kid coughs right after him and giggles and looks over his shoulder to see if his buddy/lover notices how clever he’s being. There’s a tiny, transgendered Black gal who wears animal print everything and eats chicken wings and candy hamburgers outside class and lets her phone ring (a custom ring tone that’s some sort of terrible hip-hop song) all the way through without silencing or answering it. There’s a middle-aged, left-handed (read: evil) Latina that talks to her seatmates throughout the lecture as though she’s at a PTA meeting and not IN THE MIDDLE OF CLASS. They add color to my Tuesday evenings.

   But I’m pretty sure they all know I’m wicked hip and most likely better than them because Michelle and Danny sent me a sweet notebook that proves how cool I am:
I learned a new skill: making drawings on a picture. Don't worry, the real Justin notebook is in perfect condition.

   I kind of think this notebook will show these other posers what a sweet, chic, modern-type student I am. Justin Bieber is so hot right now. I think.
   In the meantime I'm focusing on how to sell the idea of this class to a person that wants to learn.
*Dr. Jeremy Reed on The Mindy Project.

Monday, February 18, 2013

"A man can be short, dumpy and getting bald, but if he has fire, women will like him."*

   This post is simple:
   Let's have a celebration of sexy, bald men, shall we?

   I was watching Live Free or Die Hard for the third or fourth time the other night when it struck me for the millionth time that Bruce Willis is a sexy beast. Here’s a man who acknowledged early on that he was balding and just went for it: he shaved that amazing skull and he looks wicked hot. I actually think he gets hotter with time. I think it's because he's been bald so long that we just focus on his amazing body and flawless skin. Just saying.

   On the other hand, you have those dudes that try to pretend they’re not balding by growing a ponytail with what little hair they have left on the back of their craniums. Gross. Or the Hollywood actors who like to believe we don’t know they’re sporting fake hair: David Spade, John Travolta, Nicolas Cage and Jeremy Piven immediately come to mind. Not only are their hair pieces unconvincing, they seem vain and petty for not accepting the inevitable. Dude: you’re bald!

   I don’t fully understand the trauma that a man goes through when his hair starts falling out. Is it anything like when women get PMS or cramps or wrinkles or stretch marks or bloating or cankles or pregnancy? Is it like wearing stockings to work, shaving your legs, armpits, mustache and vagina? Is it similar to having a period or having your boobs start sinking down to your waist? I want to know. Because I feel really bad for dudes. Seriously.

   Anywho, here’s a list of sexy, bald types. Men, pay attention! You don’t have to have hair on your head to be attractive (though a little less hair in the back/butt/ear regions would be nice. Just saying.).

1. Bruce Willis. Duh.++

2. Patrick Stewart (I feel like this man never ages because he’s been bald and beautiful in the public eye for over 30 years).

3. Mr. Clean. (He’s hot. Let’s not pretend otherwise.)

4. Yul Brynner (I kind of feel like Mr. Clean was based on him).

6. Stanley Tucci (who recently married Emily Blunt’s sister, thereby reinforcing my whole point).

7. Danny DeVito

8. Ben Kingsley

9. Sean Connery

10. Lex Luther

11. Mr. Potato Head

12. Rob Corddry

13. Taye Diggs

14. The Commish (okay, fine…Michael Chicklis)

15. Common

16. Mr. Peanut

17. Wallace Shawn (I find him sexy in his own, weird way.)

18. Ed Asner (so, so attractive as Mr. Grant).
19. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (they're all hot, but I'm especially drawn to Raphael).***
Watermelons are beautiful. So are Smiley Faces. And of course the Misters Potato Head and Peanut.**

   I think it would behoove the men of the world to let their hair do what it wants to do. It’s kind of like that same thing of how women want to straighten their hair or bleach it: usually you look best the way you were made. But I suppose it’s a kick to the old ego to have your hair fall out. But I’m guessing it’s not quite as bad as feeling compelled to get perkier boobs or a vaginal rejuvenation.  So, yeah, I still don’t feel sorry for men that are balding. 
*The quote is from Mae West. And I think it's pretty dang true.
**Emily said I should include Humpty-Dumpty in my list, but I said I didn't find him attractive. She said that it was kind of ridiculous that I find Mr. Potato Head attractive but not Humpty-Dumpty. According to her, Mr. Potato head doesn't even necessarily have to have arms or legs unless you want him to, and Humpty-Dumpty does. Fair point, but I'm still not including Humpty. 
***Also suggested by E. 
++Just saw that A Good Day to Die Hard is number one at the box office. Game. Set. Match. Also read this quote from Mr. Willis in the news US Weekly: "You don't get an Oscar for comedy. And you don't get it for shooting people.(On why he hasn't been nominated in his 33-year career)." It's a downright, dirty shame. Comedy and action should be rewarded.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

"Oh, I love any book about vampires, werewolves, monsters, zombies, sorcerers, beasties, or time-traveling romances. And if I had an hour alone with Robert Pattinson, he would forget all about Skinnylegs McGee. I'll tell you that much."*

   I’ve been really off my game lately. I apologize for not updating you on the mundane bullshit that happens to me on a pretty much incessant basis, but I’ve been suffering from weird bursts of craziness lately. For instance, today I was dizzy all day for no apparent reason. And also, sometimes I will wake up in the middle of the night and think for 15 minutes about why I’m awake before I realize that I have to pee. Then after I pee, I can’t go back to sleep because I’m convinced that I woke up to remember something important. But it was just because of the pee. I guess that’s better than waking up after I’ve peed. I’m also having trouble differentiating between what I’ve dreamt and what actually happened. None of it’s interesting, so I’m not sure why I care, but it seems to contribute to my self-diagnosis: I am a crazy bitch. Even my insanity pills don’t seem to help anymore. Maybe I’ve built up a tolerance.
   Anyway, I have a good post planned for tomorrow, but I wanted to write a little something here tonight so y’all don’t think I don’t care about your entertainment. Is that super conceited? I’ll probably over-think this one sometime around 5:45 a.m. and get back to you with my conclusions. Be forewarned.
   So, do y’all watch Parks and Recreation? It’s one of my favorite shows and I found this little “article” in the news US Weekly and thought I’d pass it along. As I did with Ice-T back in the day, I’ve hi-lighted all the sentiments I share with Retta. She’s a hoot. I'm also working out "25 Things You Don't Know About Me" like they have in US Weekly for a future post because it's so entertaining to spend a lot of time saying interesting things about yourself. Most of which make other people mad at you for wasting their lives with your inane garbage. It's probably especially awful when you're not a celebrity. But then, all of my posts are about me, so I guess I should probably not fill you in on how much you're going to hate a post I haven't even written yet.

Sorry for all the ink smudges. 

*Retta as Donna Meagle on Parks and Recreation (Greg Daniels & Michael Schur, 2009).

Friday, February 15, 2013

"Show a lot of things happening at once, remind everyone of what's going on. With every shot, show a little improvement: to show it all would take too long. That's called a montage. Even Rocky had a montage."*

   What up, bitches soul siblings?

   Sorry for the radio silence on my end this week. I’ve been vacationing in San Diego with my mom (more on that later). I'd like to get right to it because time is of the essence and all that.

   What I’d really like to talk about today is my deep and abiding love of the movie montage.

   I had an opportunity to watch Overboard for the 18th time (okay, actually I was forcing the kids I nanny to watch it, so it was more of an opportunity that I created and then forced on other people. Semantics.) and it sparked the same great sense of joy I had the first, eighth and twelfth times I watched it. And while the movie has many redeeming values (huge Goldie Hawn fan. Huge. And I love Kurt Russell. And Edward Herrman. And Katherine Helmond and Roddy McDowell. And that kid from Honey I Shrunk the Kids.) this movie scratches a particular cinematic itch of mine. See, I’ve always been a sucker for a movie with a montage. Especially a cleaning montage where a room goes from disgusting to tidy (or vice versa) or a montage that turns an “ugly” person into a “beautiful” person.

   Montages are entertaining and practical: they cut out a lot of actual movie time (and I can’t stand movies that are longer than and hour-and-a-half) but they also ADD fake movie time. They add days and weeks or even years to a movie while still getting you through the movie in a seemly amount of time. They are a win-win. Also, they usually incorporate some wonderful (or good enough) song that you sing in your head all day. (In the case of Overboard, that song is “Jim Dandy to the Rescue” and it is played not only over the cleaning montage, but again later at the bar where Annie and Dean have her birthday celebration and he romantically informs her that she’s just turned 29. There may only be that one song on the soundtrack to Overboard, come to think of it.)

   I sometimes wish my life had a montage or two instead of always taking place in real time. Like, oh, Lacey was a super unsuccessful, fat slob at the beginning of this montage, but a mere two minutes later she’d lost 14 lbs and established herself as a major executive at a Fortune 500 company. That would be neat and also really convenient.

   Here are some movies I love that contain EXCELLENT montage sequences. I will definitely be forgetting many, so I’ll update this list in the future. And your input is, as always, welcome so long as I find it useful!

1. Overboard (not just the cleaning montage, but also the mini-golf course design montage).

2. Sound of Music (when she teaches the kids to sing/like her while they traipse about Vienna in curtain clothes).

3. Karate Kid (I think that whole movie is a montage…).

4. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.

5. Big Business (it has several but I especially like the one where Rose—the  Jupiter Hollow Rose—goes on her guerrilla mission to disseminate information about Morimax, and she dresses like a southern belle from 1865 and orders mint juleps and secretly stamps all the napkins in every restaurant with "Axe Morimax").

6. Pollyanna (the part where she tries on new clothes).

7. Clueless (when they give Tai a makeover. The only problem with this montage is that it’s too short).

8. A League of Their Own (when they do all the baseball stunts so people will start coming to their games).

9. Easter Parade (where Hannah goes from being a bad version of Nadine to rocking things out in her own, beautiful way and thereby making Don and the world fall in love with her).
10. Wet, Hot, American Summer (when Gene leads Coop through a totally indecipherable series of exercises aimed at an unclear goal while "Higher and Higher" plays over it).
11. Arrested Development (when Michael and Steve Holt train for a triathlon over an original composition called "Keep Those Balls in the Air."). 
12. Prancer (when that homely little girl that's obsessed with the reindeer cleans that scary old woman's upstairs room. I can't tell you what a huge sense of satisfaction that scene always gives me). 

   Hmmm…I’m coming up short already. But I did draw you a picture:

This is my interpretation of a classic "makeover" montage. The best kind of montage there is.**

   I’ll think of more later.

   In the meantime: it is very important to live each moment of your life to the fullest and be present in the now, etc, etc…and so on and so forth.
*From South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. (Trey Parker and Matt Stone, 1999).
**Another drawing inspired by the indomitable Sammy Resnick. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

"Like the fool I am and I'll always be, I've got a dream. I've got a dream. I know I could share it if you want me too. If you're going my way, I'll go with you. Moving me down the highway, moving me down the highway. Moving ahead so life won't pass me by."*

   A week ago I saw Django Unchained with my buddy, Joslyn. 

   I wasn't expecting to like it. 

   Quentin Tarantino usually manages to annoy the shit out of me somewhere between minute 113 and minute 157 (why, why do his movies have to be so long?) or anytime he chooses to "act" in one of his films (which is ALL THE TIME). And it's a shame, too, because usually those first 106 minutes are EXCELLENT. I enjoy the shoot-outs, and I've come to expect the blood and guts so it's not really about violence at this point, it's more about getting to the gist, if you know what I mean. By minute 113, (I'm speaking for the world at large, now) we're all ready to leave the theatre (you hear me, Scorsese?) because our butts are achy and we just really don't know how to climb over 6 people elegantly in order to use the can and then repeat the action in 4 more minutes. And so it's hard to concentrate on the point the director seems to feel he or she still hasn't made. And if you can't make a point in 120 minutes, you're a fucking idiot. To filmmakers everywhere I say: keep it under 2 hours. For the love of god, keep it under two hours! 

   But this wasn't supposed to be what this post was about. So I'm guilty of Tarantino-ing this blog post and I apologize.

   Bang-bang (picture a huge spray of blood and guts all over the page). 

   I want to talk about Jim Croce.

   So, Django was a pretty fucking great movie, in my opinion (despite the scenes I would have cut out in the last half-hour). But the moment that really did it for me was somewhere in the first half-hour. 

   Without (I hope) giving anything away, let me say that there is one of the world's best montage sequences in this movie. And it's played out over the song "I Got a Name."

   I was so moved by this montage sequence (and I am a sucker for a montage--a theme that will most certainly come up in another blog post this week), that I immediately ran home to look up this song. I'd heard the song before but forgotten it somehow...I don't know. But when I went on iTunes to find it I realized that I LOVE JIM CROCE. I just didn't know it. "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," "I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song," "You Don't Mess Around with Jim"...this man has been the love of my life for years and I had no idea. I'm such a bone-head. 

   And he had one of the greatest mustaches of all time.

Jim Croce pictured with guitar and 'stache. (Photo.)
   So I've been playing "I Got a Name" pretty much incessantly as I drive, clean, think,'s just so great.

   So, thank you Quentin Tarantino for putting random, anachronistic songs in your movies and, you know what else? Thank you for letting people laugh even while they're watching stuff from history that doesn't feel so good. I'd way rather watch your Holocaust movie 6 times in a row than ever see Schindler's List EVER AGAIN. Cuz, see, when it's funny, we don't feel like dying the whole time. And when we don't feel like dying, we can really pay attention. Brilliant, yes?

   And thank you Jim Croce for rocking so hard. I'm really sad that you died when you were 30**, since that seems INCREDIBLY YOUNG, but way to make it happen while you were with us. Well done, sir.

   "And I'm gonna go there free..."

*Jim Croce's "I Got a Name" written by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox (1973).

**I just discovered via my usual source--and yours, too!-- the Interwebs, that Jim Croce died in a plane crash in 1973 alongside his songwriting partner Maury Muehleisen. Dang.