Thursday, July 28, 2005

All Things Go (plus Circular References to Names)

Today, a new blog name. This one, much like the juice of its namesake, might stick.

I’m happy to live in an age during which Sufjan Stevens is making music. His new Illinois album is incredible. It may even cause me to appreciate or at least feel nostalgic for the state it’s named for. And that would be a miracle. The above link contains a very fine bio and this related link contains a very precious "statement from Asthmatic Kitty and DC Comics." The seven preceding en-quoted words have likely never appeared together before in one sentence, at least until the recent incident.

Through a Googling escapade yesterday, I discovered I’m only three degrees removed from a screenwriter of major bio-pics, including one whose very title bears a resemblance to my first name, the three degrees being: 1) Ex-girlfriend; 2) Best friend of ex-girlfriend; and 3) Husband of best friend of ex-girlfriend. What do I plan to do with this information? Nothing, other than writing this paragraph. But…JR-nee-H, if you’re reading this, I say to you: Yo.

I promise the ellipses in the preceding sentence will not become a regular thing. I will store my dot-dot-dots in a safe place, only bringing them out for very special moments.

So, Larry “The Bladder” Brown, you’re now coaching the New York Knicks. Good for you. I suggest trading four of your six undersized power forwards to the Lakers for four of their six appropriately sized small forwards. If this happens, I can guarantee you at least a 43-39 season.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Shadow of the Light

I’m a screenwriter again. After a few months of resigning myself to writing nothing but short fiction and quarterly research reports, I’ve become sufficiently inspired to take on a feature length script. By myself. No “team” of 3, bouncing ideas off each other only to see them roll away under the couch, joining Seymour and Lily’s cat toys to collect dust and wait to be loved. I won’t isolate myself though. I will still accept feedback. I will ask others to read my work. I will incessantly bother Laurel with questions about structure.

This being the Internet, I won’t give away too many details about my idea though some of you (i.e., those who write comments) have heard this idea. I will divulge the following:

1. This is a period piece. I can’t believe I’m writing a period piece where the period is not mid-summer 1985.

2. The dialogue will be in a foreign language. That’s if you think British English circa-1923 is different from present-day American English. In this way, I’ll be a lot like Mel Gibson, who I have to actually praise for writing his new film in Mayan and his last one in Aramaic/Latin. It always bothers me to see things like the Germans in Hogan’s Heroes speaking English with a German accent. So Mel, even though I think you’re a crazy crazy man, I respect the language portion of your freaky-ass visions. Um, did I just reference Hogan's Heroes?

3. There will be no outlines, other than those in my head.

4. The story is based on a real event.

5. If the screenplay is actually sold and the vision isn’t diluted, I may have to disappear for a while like Salman Rushdie. So, to any potential edict issuers, I say this: It’s all in the court transcripts!

6. It will be disconcertingly dark and sweetly funny.

7. Hal Hartley, if he hasn’t otherwise turned things around by then, may want to adapt it. Maybe I’ll finally get to meet Adrienne Shelley.

But enough talk. I have to get to work. And for those who haven't heard, Mad Dog’s back!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Dead Mouse on Beaudry Street

On Monday, I saw you for the first time. Freshly killed, on the center of the sidewalk between the parking garage and the place where I work. You were on your side, more bulbous than one would expect, but fully formed. If you had started to move right then, I wouldn't have been shocked. But I peered more closely - yes, that's a dead mouse. Too small and lovely to be a rat.

By Tuesday, they had started to eat you. By "they," I mean the gallant pigeons of downtown L.A. or maybe the hill ants, moseying down the weedy cliff alongside the visitors' lot that's not meant for visitors. You were a little less fatty, but you still had a form and a face. And you were finally out of the way, pushed to the grass alongside the sidewalk. No risk in me, or any of the other servants of the people, stepping on you.

On Wednesday, I forgot to look for you. Perhaps this was for the best.

By Thursday, you were a figment of your former self. Reduced to a skinny husk, face down, your head no longer to the side. If there was anything left of you to eat, the eater would have to be very very hungry.

Today, I could barely look at you. But I forced myself. No more will I avoid facing the difficult or the ugly. I'm a new man, with a new striped shirt. This morning, you were just a tiny stump of flesh-backed mouse hair, devoid of all nourishment and life. In a better world, you would have made a good head of doll hair. A male doll, swarthy with brown hair, lightly salted from the sea. Or maybe a female doll, an elderly detective with a matronly graying mop.

I'll be passing you at around 4:47 today when I go back to my car for the final time this work week. I doubt I'll see you on Monday. If I do, I'll give you a proper burial. I'll cover you with dead leaves and stray towels discarded by the homeless. I'll cover you with yesterday's front page of the L.A. Daily News, emblazoned with a story I had a little bit to do with (but I'm just the messenger!). I'll say a eulogy. "You loved Los Angeles, born and raised and died here, with the roar of the 110 Freeway your principal soundtrack. You succumbed to the heat of the dusty spotty summer. But there are worse lives. I didn't know you by name. But I'll give you a name. I'll call you Cynthia."

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Open Letters, Part Two

To friend in South Pasadena whose stoner screenplay I've been reading:
Um, I lost it. Somewhere, in the transfer of boxes from apartment to storage space, or perhaps in the transfer of office papers from desk to recycling bin, I inadvertantly threw it out. Can you e-mail me a new one? Or drop it off the next time we play Crap on Your Amigo? But the first 25 pages were great. I'll do one more thorough search tonight. I lost my cell phone charger too, so don't feel bad.

To friend in Mendota Heights whose zombie screenplay I've been reading:
Great first two pages. I'll keep reading. Zombies notwithstanding, there's got to be a way to fit in a Jimmy Buffet-type character - perhaps a man with zombies in his past, who swore he'd stop waking the dead and all he wanted was a life of leisure in the tropics with booze cruises and swim up-bars and an early retirement. But then his illegitimate son enlisted Jimmy's help in fighting the Ultimate Zombie. And he couldn't say no to One Last Fight.

To DJ on internet radio station I'm listening to now:
Good choice.

To editors of online literary journals who keep rejecting Applehead Man:
You don't know what you're missing! It's not allegory. It's not metaphor. It's just life, dude.

To co-worker who received my first open letter yesterday:
You came through. I'm so proud of you.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Open Letters

To co-worker guy on a floor that's lower than mine:
It's one thing to withhold information to make your job seem more vital. But dude, you're union! You're not going anywhere. Give me the data! I need it. Sure, I can go back to step one and get it myself. But to quote the woman who fired me from my last job, why invent the wheel? Remember - your office has a view and mine doesn't. This means you make more money. Earn it.

To a subset of the population of bicycle riders:
Why is that when any adult male - and there are no exceptions to this - puts on one of those professional-cyclist-looking lycra bicycle outfits, he turns into a complete (and sweaty) asshole? No, Guy I Saw This Morning, it's not okay for your sweat to seep through your logowear and onto the counter where they keep the half-and-half.

To the writers of a long-running HBO series:
A little levity wouldn't hurt. At least the mopefests of seasons past were instilled with humor and humility. This year, the show is more painful than life itself. It's getting ugly.

To Minnesota Timberwolves management:
Don't sign Marko Jaric. He'll only disappoint. Sign Earl Watson. He's gritty and we need a healthy point guard. And don't forget about Mad Dog. You don't want him going to Utah. Sign him. He's Mad Dog!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


I’m trying to get the energy required to write a long detailed entry about an incident in 2000 involving French fries and a pop star/librarian. I thought today would be the day. But my storytelling reserves have been adulterated with menial work tasks and the hottest day of the year.

The Tut exhibit was nice – not as crass as I feared, more voluminous than I expected. The mask and coffin were missing. I guess Egypt needs the tourists. But there was plenty of interest to see. Let’s hope LACMA uses its profits to build a new infrastructure.

The new apartment is ever slowly taking shape. The Misfortune book continues to be gripping. My writer’s block of ice seems to be melting. But that could just be the heat.

Friday, July 08, 2005

I Am the Orange Boy-King

Today, in between meetings, I discovered the truth of the universe. But the air conditioning is chilly in the office. Even my shivers don't warm me. Thus, this truth can't be expounded upon at the moment. My energy is dissipated. I'm wearing orange again. I wear orange too often.

My recycling box is overflowing. As is my brain. But my (fiction) writer's block has been getting to me. I'm submitting two-year-old stories for publication because the new ones don't have coherent narrative structures. Not that the old ones did but they deserve to be printed on paper. Anyway, I should empty out the recycling box. After I shred the confidential documents.

It was clear that I wasn't drinking enough water. That's what made me dizzy yesterday, after I climbed the stairs for exercise. Today, I'm drinking too much water. Tomorrow, just enough.

Tomorrow is King Tut day. Me, Laurel, the in-laws, the mother, others - we're all going to LACMA to see the remains of the boy king's empire. They say he was a minor god. He's got a good marketing scheme going on. I may be overwhelmed by the crowds. If so, I'll go outside, wander around the tar pits, sit on a bench and read brochures. Tomorrow is Saturday.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Windows, Tap, Swingtown

The new apartment is very nice. Call me shallow and ill-mannered but my favorite thing about the new place is that the morning paper gets delivered right to my door, rather than thrown over a fence and into a pit of mud. My least favorite thing about the new place would have to be the windows. Screens on the inside. Glass on the outside. Strange.

And here’s a list:

My Top 7 Encounters With This Is Spinal Tap Cast Members, Using The Names of the Characters They Played

1. Christmas party at Jeanine Pettibone’s house, Encino, 2003
2. Standing next to Nigel Tufnel, waiting for our coffee drinks, Peet’s Coffee, Santa Monica, 2005
3. Standing behind Derek Smalls, waiting for our coffee drinks, Peet’s Coffee, Santa Monica (different location), 2004
4. Sitting two rows behind John “Stumpy” Pepys, watching Forrest Gump at the Beverly Center movie theater, 1994
5. Passing Derek Smalls on Main Street, Santa Monica, 2004
6. Walking past Derek Smalls as he sat on the patio of the Rockenwagner restaurant, Santa Monica, 2004
7. Listening to Jeanine’s Pettibone’s brief but moving tribute to graduating Alexander Technique students, Santa Monica, 2005

Some day (not today) I will write about the guitar/synth solo in the song Swingtown by the Steve Miller Band. I will discuss its unappreciated influence, specifically how the solo (in its brief iterative stages) changed the history of music.