July 6, 2009
We had a next-door neighbor when I was young, an elderly man who smoked a pipe and always wore a hat. I don’t remember his first name. It was always just Mr D_____.
He would stop to visit and chat. Never planned, or for a meal, always unannounced and just for coffee. I remember my mother sometimes being annoyed to see him coming across the yard to knock on our back door, the last thing she needed, but she only ever told us to hide and be quiet once.
He was a hunter, which seems wholly at odds with the middle-class suburbia this was, and what I knew about it. He hunted pheasant. He brought one over once, holding its tail out to us so we could see the beauty of its feathers arrayed. He also fished, and he once gutted and cleaned a fish on our back steps, just so he could explain to me the steps in the process. It’s hard to convey how far outside the realm of my normal childhood experience this was. Slicing it up along its underside. Removing the organs and then squeezing his thumb along the vein to push out the last of the black red blood.
We didn’t know all of our neighbors, but we knew him.
The winter after he died, my mother would have to scream at my brother and I to stop complaining about having to shovel his widow’s driveway after we’d already shoveled our own.
I don’t remember his face, just the shape of him, how he looked at the round yellow table in our kitchen. I picture Roy Rogers. Someone from another age. Someone who owned a gun but was nice. Someone good.
December 17, 2008
Christmas is a good holiday because there are so many sexy outfits available for your (or in this case, Julia Robert’s) sexual fantasies. Not just the normal ones, like Winter Wind and Desperate Snowman. Hasn’t enough been written about them? Yes. But no: tonight is the night for Mrs Clause and her Strapping Elven Fuck Doll.
The idea behind this fantasy, if you haven’t heard it, is that there’s one night each year that Mrs Clause has to herself, because…well, here’s how Julia Roberts explains it:
“It’s very early morning, Christmas day. The sun has not yet risen o’er the Arctic tundra.” [Swear to God she said ‘o’er’.] “Santa still has a few more stops to make in some God-forsaken country on the far side of the world, and won’t be back for hours. The elves–so exhausted from crunch time these last few weeks and the revelry that commenced as soon as the sleigh lifted off–are all fast asleep. All except one. Mrs Clause has been anticipating this moment, all through the long year. She sits on her bed and waits, tender with desire, barely able to contain herself.”
Then Julia hands you your costume and a page-long outline, points you to a room at the end of a hall in her gracious mansion, and gives you 10 minutes to get ready. Easy enough! You glance over the script as you get undressed. Seems straight-forward. You pick apart the clothes she gave you and–OK. The only odd thing, it needs to be said, is why Julia Roberts wants you to play the part of Mrs Clause. Weird, right?
There’s a knock at the door as you slip the wig on and affix the beaded neck chain to the reading glasses.
I mean you would have assumed that she’d be Mrs Clause and you’d be the Strapping Elven Fuck Doll. Right?
“LINE!” Julia Roberts yells from outside the bedroom door.
“Um why who could that be?” you say in your best Mrs Clause voice. Which is similar to your best Tom Petty impersonation. “Come in!”
The doors opens and there is Julia Roberts dressed like Heinrich the Elf (curvy shoes, bells, whatever). She’s way too tall to be an elf, BTW, but since when has Julia Roberts been afraid to play against type?
“Oh my, Heinrich,” you say. “What are you doing here? I fear Santa has not yet returned from his travels.” You’ve got the script down on the bed, right next to you, just in case, but it looks like most of the scene is over at this point. Could have just improv’d it, right? I mean come on. You’re not going to impress Julia Roberts sticking to book.
Heinrich comes sauntering in. And yikes he’s got something stuffed down the front of his, what, jodhpurs? Codpiece? What do elves wear. Anyways there’s marked protuberance. Your mind fast-forwards to a place that was not previously agreed upon.
“Santa forgot to pack something,” Heinrich says.
“Oh dear me,” you say. “What could that be?”
Heinrich grabs your hand and puts it on his crotch, then throws you down on the bed, flips up your quilted skirt, etc etc. We won’t go into all the sordid details, which are definitely sordid. Heinrich keeps your mouth quite busy the entire time, so you don’t get many opportunities to ad-lib, but you throw out a couple lines like “Am I being good this year, Heinrich?” and something about him putting his candy cane deeper into your stocking. And then there’s one part where Heinrich says something about Santa possibly noticing that your blouse is torn, and you make a reference to the first time Mrs Clause and Heinrich did this, hinting at the back story, which suddenly opens up a bunch of directions for the scene to go. It’s all coming to you out of nowhere, from the ether. You feel electric.
Afterwards, lying on the bed, both catching your breath, Julia says “Whew! And…scene!” and laughs. That unashamed, open-mouthed laugh she has.
You thank her for the opportunity–you were really connecting with this character–and ask if she has any notes. It’s really about the process for you. She says No, thanks, everything was fine, and see you around.
So, great! This all worked out great. You feel pretty good about your day. Next time, if she asks you back, you feel like you’ll be able to make an opening to tell her about your script. So that’s positive. Things are definitely moving forward. Another year.
December 24, 2007
I spend a lot of time thinking about Liv Tyler and the guy who is her husband and the father of her child. I don’t know his name, he’s just The Singer From Spacehog. He was the guy from Spacehog, and then he was the guy with Liv Tyler, and that’s pretty much all he’s known for. He is a person who basically wrote one good song and magically parlayed it into this incredibly lucky relationship. Launched from a catapult and stuck the landing, miles away.
I mean OK maybe every night he pours his heart out to her on his acoustic guitar, and each song is just too heartbreaking and fleetingly lovely to ever put down on mp3. But I don’t know about that, I can only surmise and draw conclusions based on the information available to me in the public sphere. Call it judging, which is what this is all about, anyway.
So he writes this one song and ends up with Liv Tyler? Is that fair? I mean to call the guy a one-hit wonder would imply that the song was more widely popular than it ended up being, right? So not even a one-hit wonder, just a guy who wrote a good song. Except he didn’t even write a good song: he wrote a good chorus and duct-taped it into a song. The verses are a joke and the bridge is complete shit. And actually even the chorus isn’t that great: it’s just a good chord progression. The lyrics are—I’m being gentle if I say retarded.
A guy puts a couple of decent chords together, sprinkles them in vintage Bowie fairy dust, and gets to be in a what as far as we can tell is a lasting, loving relationship with Liv Tyler. Who, if you look at her in magazines, holy lovely; but she always struck me as the kind of woman who is probably emotionally fragile in real life. Like her face gets really mottled when she cries, and there’s just snot everywhere.
To sum up: a guy does the bare minimum to launch himself into the public consciousness, and ends up in a relationship with a possibly flawed but overall lovely woman.
Not bad, is it. Enough to hang a dream on.
Thanks for a good year.
December 13, 2007
Kim Kardashian keeps wanting you to take your shirt off in public. What is the deal. It’s like a constant thing with her. Granted after two people have been dating for some time, a person is granted certain liberties within the parameters of the relationship. The person gets a drawer at your condo, you get bedsheets so infused with her scent that you never want to wash them again, not ever. The person reserves the right to call you after midnight and demand that you come over immediately with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food because she is depressed about something the bloggers were saying about her that day, you get to, whatever, feel useful. There’s give and take. The point is why does she want you to take your shirt off in public.
Like the other day, she wanted one of those coffee drinks with the complicated names and all the caveats. You can never remember it exactly, which you worry annoys her, but you’re trying. It’s like a triple non-fat something with a shot of something and two something somethings and no something? So you both walk down to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in your neighborhood and she orders her coffee (which looks a lot like just an actual coffee) and you sit outside and people watch and chat and drink your coffees and GOD YOU JUST LOVE HER SO MUCH. Every second with her is AMAZING. She is easily the best girlfriend you’ve ever had and did you seriously catch yourself daydreaming the other day about what the perfect way to propose to her would be? You can’t…who is this person in the mirror? Who is this person so helplessly in love, so wholly fulfilled in a relationship? You. It’s you. It’s you.
So you finish your coffees and start heading home. She wraps her arm around yours. It’ll be a leisurely stroll: you’ll take the long way. When you get home, who knows? Perhaps if the mood is right—
Then she turns to you: “Hey, take your shirt off!”
You give her a look. Oh, you.
She says: “It’s such a nice day! Take your shirt off!”
You are wearing only a t-shirt on top, so taking it off will leave you with basically nothing. Are you a person who can just walk around in public with no shirt on?
Last week, same thing. You were taking— God, it was just the most romantic walk on the beach. Like in a movie. And suddenly she was giving you those eyes and asking you to take your shirt off. And yes, you were at the beach, people do take their shirts off the beach, but you weren’t going swimming. Plus it was overcast. What’s that about?
I mean you’re not fat. God no! Seriously, you’re not. But you’re not Mister Tight Abs either. You know this. It’s fine. You’re average. You get by. But you’re not worth parading around or anything. You had this verified by multiple disinterested third parties after the beach incident. (Your sister and her husband and their son Arlo, who is 8.) You wish you had some other friends you could talk with about this, but your male friends have all fallen by the wayside since you started dating Kim. It wasn’t one of those things where you finally have a girlfriend so you start blowing off everyone to be with her. Not at all. They just started being weird about you dating her, and you couldn’t figure out what the deal was. Like making strange comments about parts of her body. And one of them asked if she let you hit it from the back, and it just…the idea that you would ever hit her is so beyond out of the question. How could someone even ask something like that. How could you hit her? You love her.
You love her and she wants you to take off your shirt in public. So fine. You take your shirt off and she wraps her arm tightly around yours again and her hand is in your hand. You walk and the afternoon unfurls around you.
And maybe this is what love is: the sensation of the sun traveling all that distance to gently warm your bare skin, but also the looks from people on the street who think (suddenly) that your nipples are maybe a bit too sticky-outie.
December 4, 2007
Sorry posts have been sporadic lately, but as you’ll see, there was a reason. The exciting news is that I finally sold my first TV pilot to YouTube. It’s a reality-based competition called Infrastructure. (I like the name, but am prepared for it to get mutilated in committee.) The basic idea is that, obviously, being on any TV show like this will provide the participants with a certain level of celebrity. But as we’ve seen time and time again from pretty much every reality/game show/competition/whatever, the famousness doesn’t last (I was going to mention something about Kelly Clarkson, but I don’t want to date myself!).
So the hook for Infrastructure is that we guarantee the winner the tools, support and resources to keep them famous indefinitely. We can do the usual stuff like talk show appearances, movie premieres, and fashion mag spreads, but also dedicated paparazzi coverage (think “accidental” upskirts or unfortunate bikini pictures), viral stuff online from the celebloggers we have on staff, and even some of the more invisible stuff like “projects” getting canceled, leading to inevitable stay in rehab (actually just a hotel) (which leads to more magazine articles) and then rebirth, lesson learned (news show/MSM features), and then new movie roles, etc. We think we can keep a person famous pretty much forever if we do it right.
If I’ve lost you: this is before just about everyone’s time, but a long time ago you’d have movie stars who were famous for 10, 20 years, even longer. Like, the same person, famous all through that time. Kind of hard to wrap your head around now, but it was actually pretty common.
I’ve already had to make some compromises, which sucks, but whatever. I figure once this goes well I’ll have more leverage on my next project. My original thing was that this was going to help unknowns get and stay famous, since the 15 minutes of online meme fame thing is so done and lame that no one’s even trying anymore. But once we started lining up sponsorship and support from the media congloms, it turned into a thing to rejuvenate the Hollywood studios/old movie system with people they already had on file. Like people who have already been in movies and TV, but you don’t hear about them anymore. Think like Reese Witherspoon and that guy from Donnie Darko, or the singer who had the kids with that guy. People who aren’t famous in the traditional sense, but were at one point. So they’ll be competing on the show (just doing stupid embarrassing shit, doesn’t really matter, haven’t worked out the details) and whoever wins will get famous. The real kind. Anyways, pretty exciting. My mom’s freaking out, already telling me to get autographs of whoever ends up on the show (not sure why, must be another old thing.)
Anyways I should have time here and there to update the site, but it’ll be spotty for a while. I hope everyone has a happy holidays and all that, if I forget to mention it later.
November 29, 2007
Josh came over the other day to help you move some sheetrock. You’re redoing part of the basement, and it’s turned out to be a much bigger job than you were expecting. You probably should have just paid someone to do it, but whatever, it’s do-able, just kind of a pain. Josh is good like that, willing to help out. He’s done this stuff before and it didn’t take the promise of very much beer to get him to come over and—
“Hey what the hell is this?”
Josh is holding a picture frame he picked up off the mantel. It’s a picture of you with an attractive woman, your arms wrapped around each other.
“Is…what’s going on in this picture?” he says.
You take the picture from him and do that thing where you hold it down and look at it with your head tilted up. You’ve been wondering lately if you need bifocals or something. It’s kind of hard to focus on things in certain lights.
“This was from last summer, I guess?” you say. “There was a concert at the beach or something.”
You hold the picture out to him. He just stares at you, doesn’t move to take it.
“So anyways, yeah.” The plan was just to have Josh help you move the sheetrock, but now that he’s here, maybe you can get him to just help you put it up. Two people could probably bang through the job by lunch.
“That’s Eva Mendes,” Josh says.
You give him a look and then look at the picture again.
“You know her?” you say.
He’s still just staring at you. “Everyone knows her. She’s famous. She’s been in a ton of movies.”
“Yeah? Cool. So I was thinking that we just bring all the sheetrock down, then you can maybe help me figure out what other stuff I need to do next.” Right? Kept him talking about the project, and then he’ll just be involved and pitching in without even realizing it.
Now Josh is looking around at the other pictures on the wall. “Wait. These are all of you and Eva Mendes. You’re dating Eva Mendes. You’re dating Eva Mendes? The actress?”
Wow, Josh really seems to want to talk about this. She could definitely be an actress, that sounds vaguely familiar. You remember meeting her at a movie premiere? Maybe? Or a party at some director’s house? Something?
“Yeah we’ve been together for a while.”
“For how long?”
“I don’t know, just a little while. Since New Year’s.”
“That’s almost a year.”
Whatever! God. “So you’ve seen all her movies?” you say.
“Yes! Well, yeah, I think so. I don’t know. Maybe. I think.”
Silence. Josh doesn’t seem to be able to remember whether or not he’s actually seen any of this person’s movies.
“She’s been in a lot of magazines, too,” he says, finally.
“Oh,” you say. There is really so much work to do, even after you get the sheetrock up. You have to put something else up over it before you start painting, right? Josh would probably know. He’s still staring off into the middle distance, lost in thought. “So…you read a lot of magazines?”
“How can you be dating Eva Mendes? Why didn’t you tell me about this? This is huge. Eva Mendes?”
Fuck, fine. Better just go along with this and get through the conversation, or else you’ll be here talking about it all day, and not putting up the sheetrock.
“I just don’t like to make a big deal out of it. I don’t want people to treat me differently just because I’m dating Eva fucking Menendez, you know?”
He’s still staring at you. The sheet rock is still lying there, and it’s just this big weight, crushing your chest and making it hard to breathe. The basement will never ever get finished. The morning is like half over.
November 15, 2007
The other day I was thinking of that line from MSCL where Angela’s mom is like “And I bet the karma at Amber’s house is through the damn roof!” or whatever. And then I was like Oh yeah, Rayanne’s mom, what was the deal with her, was she a hottie? And then I was like Oh yeah, she totally was. EXCEPT. Except, you guys. I was not picturing Rayanne’s mom, I was picture Rose Tyler’s mom! Rose Tyler. Yes you do, from Doctor Who. (Pictured, right.) And then of course I had my usual moment of OMG they were played by the same actress oh wait no actually they probably were not.
It’s like I’m so desperate to discover an uncharted pop culture moment.
So I have been like wracking my brain but I can only ever picture Rayanne in the warm embrace of Rose Tyler’s mom. And I kind of want to go on thinking that, because of course Rayanne’s life would have turned out better if her mom had been Jackie Tyler. I mean how could it not have been. But fuck it, I’m going to go imdb that shit and reconnect some neural pathways. Buckle in brain, here we go.
Patti D’Arbanville! OK I don’t remember her at all. Sorry, lady.
In closing: I used to think that A.J. Langer didn’t get enough work (she was pretty good on It’s Like, You Know…) but eventually I made a conscious decision to not have it be my job to worry about her career. And the character on MSCL that I always related to the most was…wait for it…you think I’m going to say Brian Krakow but no…Sharon Cherski. I guess because of the boobs. But no I’m serious.