Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Most Boring Post Ever From France It Comes

I have not actually left the house much in the past, oh, month or so. I have been reading novels of my own choice and flagrantly declining to write a 10-12 page paper on the theme, symbolism, allegory, etc. in any of them. This I have greatly enjoyed. I have enjoyed it so greatly in fact that I forbade myself to go to the library again until I finished the story I am writing, because novels distract me terribly. But then my story started to go awry (when you start making people pass out just to see what the other characters will do, you have a problem on your hands) and so I'm thinking a trip to the library is in order. Also, it's air-conditioned there.

Yesterday I had a grand old time reliving the making of Alice in Her Own Personal Literary Hell with Matt and Adam and Dan. Chiefly this consisted of remembering who got hit on the head a lot (me), who fell from great heights numerous times (Matt), who gave me the most persistent case of the giggles EVER (Adam), and who had red hair (Dan). He still does.

Then Justin graced us with his presence and we badgered him into singing the Dandelion Song that he made up during filming. Imagine a kid walking down the street in a ragged Where's Waldo costume strumming an out-of-tune three-string banjo, getting suspicious looks and frightening the small children (and their parents) at the nursery school. That would be Justin. Four years ago, he did this all the way through town from the creek to Matt's house. Then he sang the Dandelion Song, which goes:

Don-day-lyon from France they come.
They grow in a garden, they can't be . . . cultivated.
They're indigenous to-o-o France.
Pronounced don-day-lyon.

In typical Justin manner he changed it all around last night and wouldn't do the same thing twice, but it got stuck in everybody's head anyway. Those of you who don't know the tune, consider yourself spared.

Our unusual behavior may be explained by the fact that, in the course of the evening, we ate cookies made from pre-mixed batter from a freezer in an abandoned warehouse that Matt's brother found and stole and Matt's mother made. There is apparently some debate over whether the warehouse was actually abandoned or not, but I don't see how that makes a difference. Either way, Matt "forgot" to inform us of the origin of the cookies until Adam and I had each eaten about five. Then, when we didn't die, Matt tried them. It's good to have friends. Who will let you test their food for poison before they eat.

Anyway, I haven't laughed that hard in some time, so either the cookies or the company really had something going for them. Or the wine.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Blog Blues

I hate it when I check my own blog and realize it is I who have not updated.

Yeah. I hate that.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

"It's Venice, man. Ghetto by the sea."

so this post was originally about the "Venice League of Hobo Rollerskaters" a group of degenerates who get together and roller-dance to remixed usher songs, but they've been lazy lately and i don't think they deserve my blog attention. i'm here to tell you about the hot new venice attraction: the "Venice Mutant Seagull"- a breed of gull raised solely on boardwalk food and second hand marijuana smoke. these birds smell food from miles away and have frightening psychic abilities. i know this is true because they somehow manage to congregate en mass the moment the thought "what the hell am i going to do with all these chicken-cheese fries" forms in your brain.

now, this week's mutant gull encounter is brought to you by "big daddy's burgers and more" a fried food restaurant that boasts "free meal with any t-shirt purchase!". and we all know how excited i get whenever the words "free" and "t-shirt" are thrown into a sentence, so you know i inquired about the t-shirt/food combo plan. unfortunately the shirts only came in XXL and i refuse to pay $12 for something that will resemble a day-glo tent once i'm wearing it- but i wasn't ready to give up on the t-shirt dream. i measured the intern and it turns out he's tall enough to wear an XXL and not look like a circus-freak. it was decided he would buy the shirt and get the most expensive meal on the menu for free- the double fish and calamari combo, and i would buy some chicken-cheese fries and a beverage to supplement the meal.

and we discovered we're wimps. halfway through the calamari and fish i felt very full and slightly ill and i think the intern felt the same. i'm betting it had something to do with the fish looking more like a fried corn dogs than anything removed from the sea, but that's just a guess. so the game changed from eating food to throwing food. of course we already had a loyal following of mutant gulls so that was easy. for some reason when things are too easy, you feel the need to take them to the next level. we started throwing larger portions of food. whole potato fries, big calamari rings... and the mutant gulls just swallowed them. so it was decided we would throw the last piece of fish; a piece of fish about six inches long, two inches in diameter. i tossed the fish and a mutant gull that was OBVIOUSLY on steroids LAUNCHED himself at the fish, caught it, and SWALLOWED IT WHOLE. have you even seen a bird eat that much fish at once? i for one have not, and i'm not entirely sure the bird knew what it was doing because it looked panicked for a moment while it figured out exactly how it would move the six inch piece of fish lodged in his throat down to his stomach. his neck bulged like those snakes on wild america after they eat a whole raccoon. i wish i had a picture. it waddled around looking concerned (i can only assume because it couldn't move its head to the left or the right) and contemplated digestion. the other gulls were jealous so we threw them the remains of the cheese fries, but I don't think it gave them the same kind of satisfaction. when the food was gone there was nothing left to do but mock the rollerskaters and wonder if "The World's Greatest Wino" makes more money singing "jingle bells" on the beach than i do in the television industry. but that's venice for you... ghetto by the sea.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

a rough wednesday for friday

i recently saw the movie "crash" and sat through an interesting opening scene where don cheadle tries to make a case for traffic accidents in los angeles. "It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In LA, nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something." yeah, that's great. wonderful. sentimental. thanks, don. but in this city of completely irrational traffic patterns, the real reason people crash is because when the opportunity to reach a speed above 7mph presents itself, you take it- because everyone in la knows that in five seconds a butterfly in the amazon could flap its wings and cause a five car pile up with a semi on the 405 south and when that happens, you might as well accept the fact that you're just going to spend the rest of your life on the freeway. pack a snack. so you have thousands of people speeding, trying to outrun a potential traffic accident so they can make it home in time to watch "house" next tuesday and it's stressful. and yesterday was no different. the 405 south was fine for the first 13 miles of my commute... decent speeds- 60-70mph. Friday, (my car) was really enjoying the freedom of the open road. and then the traffic stops. and it starts. and then it stops. and then it starts and we all move and then the person in front of my slams on the brakes a little faster than i would have liked, and i manage to stop with a good inch between our bumpers and i was in a process of self congratulation and breathing a sigh of relief, when i heard the car behind me screech to a halt... and slam into me. do you know how much i hate the sound of my car coming into contact with another car? a lot lot lot. so i weave across five lanes of bumper to bumper traffic and pull over. and i look at the car and it's fine, and the other car weaves across the traffic and gets out and her car is fine. and she's shaking and i'm shaking and we just give each other this look like "i'm so glad we didn't do any damage because i can't afford to pay my insurance deductible". and we shook hands and went home. i laughed for a long time... mainly because if there are any problems with my car, i haven't washed it since i bought it and her license plate number is probably stamped in the dirt on my back bumper. so there you go. my first la crash. and it had nothing to do with my latent desire for physical contact. suck on that, don cheadle.

Flashback Part 3: Oxford

It's a rainy day and although no one could possibly be as interested as I am, I'm posting my third and final flashback. I spent a few days with Liz at Oxford in the middle of June last year, and she got me into all the pretty colleges that you don't get to see unless you're a student. Such as Merton College:

Very nice, Oxford, very nice. We were there to see an outdoor student production of Macbeth which was memorable not only because it was extremely good, but because Macbeth somehow managed to be very sarcastic and I enjoyed it immensely.

Outside Merton, there had apparently been a bit of a party. The city of Oxford always makes a fuss about confetti and silly string and spraying champagne at the end of the year, but I did not see anyone paying any attention to the rules. I was there the weekend that the third-years were taking their huge final exams, for which they are required to wear academic dress. (Yes, it was just like Hogwarts.) Also, in that group of people standing by the car, there is a rather handsome young man in full Scottish dress. Maybe having a knife in your sock makes sitting an exam less stressful.

I hope Liz does not mind that I've posted a picture of her toes on the internet.

At some point that weekend we decided to go punting. Then, having watched a few people try it, we decided to rent a rowboat instead because at least one of us knew how to row, whereas neither of us had ever punted. Plus I felt I couldn't get into character without a punting hat. Anyway, it was really pretty and would have been quite relaxing had there not been so many other people who had no idea how to steer. This goes for ducks as well.

So that's Oxford. It was a very surreally lovely place.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Ode to Ivan

Yesterday I received in the mail a rather large package from LA. In it were many charming presents for my birthday, the actual date of which all parties have agreed not to discuss. If you receive a letter from me on exotic-looking paper, you can thank Lindsey for inspiring me to keep up with my correspondences. If I begin to incessantly quote Hitchhiker’s at you, Lindsey is the person you may blame. She has kindly rectified the fact that Fate has denied me a copy of the omnibus for far too long.

In order to thank her for these and other useful and amusing gifts, I have decided to attempt a poem in her honor. It shall be a haiku, because of earlier precedent. It shall be called, “To Ivan, on the Occasion of the Arrival of my Birthday Presents, which were Highly Enjoyable and Very Nicely Presented and in all ways Delightful and included also that Magic Substance called Chocolate for which we share a Great Fondness, in Particular when Frozen and Consumed alongside Fancy Cakes and Washed Down with Mulled Wine, the Heavy Alcoholic Fragrance of which, After Simmering, we had to Pretend Not to have Noticed when your Mom asked What It Was, and By the Way I Meant to Ask You, is that Bottle of Wine Still in your Kitchen Cabinet? Because She’s Going to Wonder About That”

You can’t be conservative with the title of a haiku because the poem itself is so limiting. Here is the Work of Art:

To Ivan, old friend,
(I mean longstanding, not old)
--shit, I wasted it.

Okay, well. Like I said, limiting. But um, really, thanks, Linds. You are a wonderful friend and also, it’s true, the only person I can talk to about how Richard Taylor just burns me up inside.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Full of Errors andn PAthos

My kybard has not been working properly for some timme now. A fewe day ago, I took about 65% of th keys off and cleaned undr rthem. There was an incredibl amount of dust. And hair. And crummbs. It was disgusting. I cleand it all out. For the rest of that day, even my delete key and down-arrow key weere fully operational. The next day,, it was alll back to itis usual tricks. Doubling ltters. Skipping letters. Inserting a ltter five seconds after I type it into sosmething three words down. I cannot express the evl of aggravation i a feelling. I wonder if Ombelin is getting revengefor that llong period in which I calld her "it" becaus i didn't know if she was th samme computer (see earlir post on Ombeline). Or maybe she is slowly killing herself so that sh can join my xternal hard drive in lectronic heaeven. At the end of school, th hard driv started mmaking wookiee sounds. It was funny, but not really. Or maybe it is th haet. It was 97 in the sun at tn o'clock this mmorning. That's ridicuous.

The point isi, I rersent the fact that my keyboard is making me look like I amm not the quality English ajor that I lik to pretendn I am. Ombeline, whatver I did, I a sorry. Pleas stop boycottingn mm.

P.S. I wouldlik to add: typing in passwords is hell. Please excuse mme if I don't read/respond to your -mail. It's bcaus I ca't gt into th dammn account.

Friday, June 10, 2005

because simon and i are really good at both these things

i am currently doing random assistant editor, bitchwork things for someone's non-profit documentary. i've worked on a couple of these and they're usually about kids in the inner city trying not to get gang-raped and mourning the loss of multiple immediate family members. they're depressing. but the today's documentary is a ray of hope in the gray inner city skies. to keep kids off the street, build self esteem, and promote academics, this program combines (drumroll please) MATH and (i can't believe i'm typing this) BASKET WEAVING. now simon and i happen excel in both these subjects. there's not much to do in the deep suburban wilderness we call home, so one dull vacation day we cleaned under the bunkbeds and lo and behold, found a basket weaving kit! it was perfect. very genesee country museum meets anne of green gables. it practically screamed "weave me"... and we all know, if you weave it they will come... so we wove it. damn fine basket. we filled it with something basket-worthy... like cookies... or peanut butter cups. and as soon as we finished it i can remember sitting down and saying "lets do math, because after i make a basket, that's all i can wrap my brain around". those were the finest quadratic equations i've ever completed. it makes sense for kids in rural america to combine basket weaving and arithmetic. our parents like things like that- decorate the house AND ensure ivy-league acceptance. win win. but really, i can't see why your average inner-city child needs a set of wicker... well... anything. i'm sitting here listening to them sing "i believe i can weave" to the tune of r. kelly's "i believe i can fly". i can just see these children being held at gunpoint in a 7-11 crying and mumbling the only comforting song they know-- and it's about basket weaving-- and it's smarmy. only in la.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

This kind of weather is why The Great Gatsby ended in disillusionment and bloodshed.

It has been said by SOMEONE (hey Becky, sup yo?) that I "barely" post. Since she took time out from her European cruise to pass that along, I feel I cannot really deny it. But to be quite honest I really have not done anything of interest lately. It is very, very hot. My main pastimes have been sitting at my desk writing and (usually simultaneously) trying not to pass out. I think my blood pressure goes down six points for every degree the temperature goes up. I would never make it living in the South.

Yesterday I went over to Matt's and talked to him and Adam about our upcoming film. In the course of the evening, we thoroughly explored the grocery store, visited the spy warehouse, ate pudding, watched the evening primroses pop open and spread their petals, and then finally got around to doing pre-production work.

From filming and writing research in the past three days, I have learned about shoe polish, turpentine, clowns, how to care for a string of pearls, the history of the word "halcyon," the packaging and promotional offers associated with both Cheez Whiz and Easy Cheese, what "nihil desperandum" means (it means maybe), spitzes (in dog form and hat form), and I believe that's it. Oh, and twenties-style headgear.

Now you see why I blog-dodge like I do.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

why i am not cooking ever again... or at least for the next two weeks

i am in love with a nepalese sandwich artist. his zest for bread, meat and vegetables, the joy he gets when i say "sure, i'd like it toasted", the smile he has when i agree to pop and chips for only two dollars more-- it's irresistible. i've diverted my entire weekly food budget to one subway meal a day. this is convenient because the stove in my apartment has started to lurk. its been lurking ever since the forces that control the universe sent me a strong "please don't ever cook again because you are very bad at it" message. i was making grits. i took off the cover to make sure they weren't burning or turning green or doing anything else grits shouldn't do. they exploded in my face. the grits exploded. grits should not explode. they are a bland, passive food... bland foods don't explode. it's a rule. i hate grits. i love the new subway "chicken bacon ranch" sandwich. sadly, as fate would have it, this will be a brief affair. my sandwich artist is returning to nepal in two weeks and the subway on sepulveda and victory just won't be the same. no one adds cheese like he does. ::sigh:: maybe the stove will stop lurking by then.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Flashback Part 2: Scotland

On this day a year ago, I arrived in Stirling with my friend Mike. Guidebooks call Stirling the "gateway to the highlands" which is, despite being a seventh-grade-textbook description, apparently true. The Ochil Hills, as in this picture, positively leap out of the flat ground a bit north of Stirling Castle. You can see them from basically anywhere.

Ochil Hills; Stirling

I took this picture on the way to the Wallace Monument (yes, that's William Wallace of Braveheart fame) which you can't see here, but which is right in front of the line of these hills. Mike and I didn't actually have a map, as I recall. We just walked out of the hostel, got the Monument in sight, and started toward it in as straight a line as possible, telling ourselves, "If we can see it, it can't be that far." And after making a trek so extraordinarily beautiful that it quite surpassed the surreal--and took about two hours--we arrived in time for the sunset.

The next day we set off for St. Andrews, which is probably an hour away by bus. On this bus we met the Minnesotan Pete, with whom we spent that day and the next. Besides being good company, Pete had the brilliant idea that we should stop at Tesco and buy a gallon of ice cream and since we couldn't find spoons, we should just get a bag of cookies and scoop with those. Mike and Pete between them finished most of the gallon. I myself had an egg mayonnaise sandwich and tried not to look. Anyway, St. Andrews is quite charming. This was taken at the ruined cathedral:

St. Andrews Cathedral; St. Andrews

I'm pretty sure a real Scotsman wears a kilt, not plaid golf pants, but I'll forgive him since I guess golf was invented there or something. And the music was nice. (Sorry, Ivan.)

Mike had class and had to go back to school, but I elected to skip a lecture and stay another two days. I had gotten back into the Lymond Chronicles and rather desperately wanted to go back Lymondville, otherwise known as Edinburgh. There was a Dorothy Dunnett exhibit at the Writers' Museum in Edinburgh that I wanted to see (again), which I thoroughly enjoyed (again) and took illegal pictures of (dude, I didn't realize they were illegal at the time and then it isn't like I could have deleted them off Anyway, it turned into a rather pleasant day and I took many many pictures of various portions of the Royal Mile, of which this is one:

Down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh

Shortly after this I made the mistake of going into the Children's Museum by myself right before it closed. If you ever go to Edinburgh be sure to avoid being alone in a room on the third floor of a silent museum with really old, yellowing dolls whose owners have long since grown up and probably been dead for a hundred years already staring at you with their creepy beady little eyes. I was not surprised when, two days later in my Modern British Drama class, the Edinburgh Museum of Childhood was brought up in connection with a play about a serial killer.

But um, Scotland is lots of fun. To illustrate this I will tell you the following joke in Scots:

Whit has fower legs, a big bahoochie, an mair tales than it can coont?

An itchy coo.

I really don't know how I was able to leave.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Library renovation destroys soul of town See page C6 for details

Yesterday I went to the library nearby that I haven't been to in about four years, in which time they've done massive renovations. It looks really nice and has a huge chess set for kids and much more space, but it doesn't smell the same and doesn't have the same charm. I miss the little wire chairs at the little kids' table that had padding on the seats in eighties-style shades of orange and yellow. I miss knowing exactly where the Peanuts comic books and Baby-Sitter's Club books are. I loved Ghost at Dawn's House. It had a secret passage in it. I always wanted a secret passage. Anyway, I also miss the high ceilings and mismatched furniture and generally shoddy feel. Now it's clean and streamlined and heartless. The same thing happened when they renovated the library downtown, only worse: they took the ACTUAL SECRET ROOM out. I mean, how COULD you? It was the coolest thing in the world and now it's like the map room or some foolishness. People just don't know how to treat libraries. You have to withhold their money. That's how they retain their old-fashioned charm. It's a good thing, a very good thing. I'm switching my voter registration to Republican as we speak.