Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I Stole the TV

If you would like to see the real-life inspiration for the woman who inspired Jerri Blank of "Strangers With Candy," click the link at the end of this post. I shit you not.
[ link: Meet Florrie Fischer ]

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Off She Went

Read the title. Note the sidebar.

Dim Lights, Small City

So Drew finally learned how to change how long the shutter on his camera stays open. This may not mean much to you. It wouldn't have to me, not long ago. But now I know, and I'll tell you. When the shutter opens for an especially long time — say, fifteen seconds instead of the usual one-hundredth of a second — more light gets into the camera. In normal lighting, this results in a nice, white rectangle. At night, however, this allows me to take photos in almost complete darkness. Whether the human eye sees it or not, there's still light there. Given enough time, even the smallest amount of light makes a picture.




Twyla's balcony. The crappiness of the adjoining condo complex looks almost good — colorful and resort-like.



The homestead, all bright and shiny. Me and the border collie are making a transparent cameo. And I like that.



More me and dog ghosts, complete with pretty blue cell phone trail. I believe this was taken during a phone call I took from Spencer.



The backyard. I like this because Hollister looks like it's on fire. It wasn't. But hey — there's me! All creepy and see-through! Ditto for the next two.





If I had planned this right, I could have made it look like I was kicking my own ass.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Miss Fresh Face Teen America

Because this blog double-functions as a means of updating readers to the doings of former roommates, this post will concern Brie, also known as Redhead Brie, France Brie or My-Stomach-I-Think-It's-Cancer Brie. Apparently impressed with the faux MySpace profile I made for Jill — add her if you haven't yet — Brie asked me to write her "About me" blurb. I made Jill a Tucson fishwife with an abnormal fixation on Shelley Long and trains. I took Brie in another direction.

Here's the first draft:
About me:

I really can't talk about myself without talking about MY WONDERFUL KIDS!!! I know a lot of people think it's not "cool" to be an unwed mother, but I couldn't be prouder of my six little pet-babies. I have Fifi and Francois and Sherbet and Tickle and Ping-Pong and Cody and they're just my whole life now. KIDS!!! I know, I know. Who would have thought that Brie would be a mom? But I've come a long way from the snaggle-toothed Brentwood girl with condoms in her hair and a dazed expression on her face who eventually became Miss Fresh Face Teen America!!! (Memories!) My cleaning lady Guadalupe and I sure have our hands full!!! Rest assured, I maintained my figure though. I have a way around the whole nine months thing. I mean, those schools barely flinched when I told them I was their aunt, picking them up for the dentist appoinment! Easy as that, and in a few weeks I filled my house with love. And by house, I mean basement. KIDS!!!

Who I'd like to meet:

Why, I really don't need anyone now that I have the love of my family. (Though, to be honest, I am looking for nice barren and/or queer couples looking for their own pet-babies, since Cody's been mouthy lately. He keeps saying "You're not my mama!" and I say "I am too" and he says "No, my mama ain't white!" and I just can't keep punishing him because I'm running out of paper clips. But really, the other five are angels.) KIDS!!!
I thought Brie would surely veto being characterized as a child-stealer, but no. She actually left it mostly intact, according to the newest version of her profile. No intent to sell babies to barren or queer couples, though. Too bad — something about that practice is just too funny to me.

Tough and Ruthless, Rough and Toothless

Weeks ago, I encouraged Dina — "Canklesaurus," to loyal readers — to start a blog. She has, and with this entry I realized I pushed her in the right direction.

A permalink has been added to the sidebar. You're family now, Dina.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Oh, Taryn

While rifling through my stuff at home, I found a card my old roommate Taryn gave me three years ago. When I say she gave me a card, I don't mean she sent it. She just saw it, thought I'd like it and bought it for me, telling me that she hoped I'd never send it to her.

I never sent it to anyone, honestly, because I liked it so much. And because no one had ever nailed my sense of humor as squarely as Taryn did when she gave me the card.



That's it. Simple. To the point. Mean-spirited. Hilarious. Sure, it's a "Far Side" rip-off, but Gary Larson never got this mean. And what do you get when you open the card up?



Nothing. No pick-me-up like "Just kidding, sport!" or "You're not that ugly" or anything. Just a blank card. I think if I ever sent the card — as I would to, say, someone I had just broken up with and hated or someone who really needed a kick in the teeth —I would just sign the inside. And then maybe draw a skull and crossbones or something.

In closing, best gift ever. Thank you, Taryn.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Drunken Holiday Phone Fumbling

No mask. No tights. No cape. And certainly no high-tech crime-fighting gadgets. Nonetheless, home makes me feel like a superhero. I don’t mean in any of the fun ways, either. No, just the one where I have a secret identity and I can’t tell anybody about it.

Whenever I talk with anybody I knew in high school — if I talk to them — I shut out the last five years and end up discussing the same boring people and remembering things that happened in high school that I wasn’t too crazy about when they were happening. “No, I don’t know what Jackoff McGee is doing now.” “Yes, I remember when that thing happened. What a riot!” I touch on what I’m doing now — where I’m living, what I did in college and if I’m feeling generous, what I’ve got planned for the next five minutes of my life — but I honestly feel like there’s no point in discussing anything that matters.

That’s where the superhero part comes in. Superheroes do cool stuff. They meet interesting people, punch them, live to tell about it and learn some random, esoteric factoids in the process. I’m not comparing my tiny little life to anything cool, really. A part-time job as a book-hocker and a chance to write some article for the Independent that may or may not get published isn’t much. I’d like to meet the person who envies me. (No, I wouldn’t.) But I think I’ve gotten somewhere as a person. The last five years, during which I have done a few noteworthy things, have gotten me quite a distance from the person I was when I graduated high school. I learned a thing or two about myself, but I also got a better grasp on these little tidbits about culture and whatnot — books, movies, art, history, philosophy — that I genuinely value.

But there’s no way to talk about any of that.

If I did try to discuss it — and such an act would necessitate more than the five-minute conversation I usually limit myself to — I’d probably sound like more of an idiot than these people already think I am. Furthermore, they probably wouldn’t get it. (Let’s face it — they live in Hollister.) And even if they did get it, what would I seem like to someone who never got out of this horrible town? Hollister, the town that can’t muster the people power to keep a bookstore in business, or even a bowling alley. I’d seem like some asshole who wanted to lord all his hey-I-learned-something over the heads of people who presumably didn’t. (They didn’t, I’m sure.)

So instead, I pretend I’m getting some important call and split, leaving the conversation at the most superficial level possible. The other person, whoever they are, thinks I’m still the same smart-mouthed sack of shit I was in high school, still clinging to those memories, oblivious to the fact that I’ve managed to mentally get away. (Except, of course, when I’m physically there.) They don’t know that I’ve done more than I ever did or could have in Hollister. They don’t know I’m an adult now. They don’t know that I will do something phenomenal one day.

They don’t know and they don’t care.

What I wouldn’t give to airlift my parents’ house to some other part of the world. But that, I suppose, would necessitate super powers.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Super Marimba Bros.

Oh my god — coolest, lamest thing ever.

[ source: Canklesaurus ]

Monday, November 21, 2005

Stubborn Monkey

Working at the bookstore, I’ve learned quite a bit. (Lesson one: people suck and don’t deserve help finding products that want.) But one corner of the store that genuinely surprised me was the manga. Having played video games nearly all my life and occasionally letting weeknight Adult Swim past “Aqua Teen,”, I had some awareness of the culture surrounding these strange serial Japanese comics, but I had no idea that had become so popular.

People — kids, disaffected teens, oddly proportioned adults — buy these things but the armful. They’ve done so in Japan for a long time. There, it’s not considered socially wonky to read them in public, even when they contain gushing genitals. So, like sushi, Dance Dance Revolution and the guys who bombed Pearl Harbor, these things drifted across the Pacific and into the lives of Americans.

They’re thicker than I thought, much more so than American comic books. Also, the pages turn in reverse order to what they would with an American book, which I kind of like in that it preserves some of the charm of it being a foreign product. But most importantly, the titles are hilarious in that same kind of Jinglishy hey-chief-let’s-talk-why-not translated way that Babelfish turns English into something and then back into English.

Here’s a few of the ones that made me laugh:
  • 3x3 Eyes
  • All-Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku
  • Assemble Insert
  • Bluer Indigo
  • Boys Over Flowers
  • Candidate for Goddess
  • Cheese Family
  • Dirty Pair Flash
  • D.N.Angel
  • Fruits Basket
  • Goldfish Warning
  • Hell Teacher Nube
  • Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
  • Lady Oscar
  • Legend of Heavenly Sphere Shaluto
  • Little Snow Fairy Sugar
  • Mushrambo
  • Pet Shop of Horrors
  • Please Save My Earth
  • Poltergeist Report
  • Prince of Tennis
  • Riding Bean
  • Sorcerous Stabber Orphan
  • Supernatural Beast City
  • The Violinist of Hameln
  • Weather Report Girl
  • Xabungle
  • You’re Under Arrest!
And the high-and-above winner, “Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo.” Apparently repeating a nonsense syllable seven times makes a title now. I’m totally sure the names have symbolic relevance in the narratives themselves. They’re not just words picked willy-nilly by some Japanese hack and then assembled into something he thought sounded good.

Nonetheless, they are fun to say out loud. I actually can’t seem to do it without inflecting my voice to sound like a nonsense-spouting infomercial spokesperson.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Green Curtains Fade



Celadon, Chartreuse or Just Plain Gangrene?

As you may have noticed, I switched up my blog template a bit. Not sure how I feel about it, really, so I was hoping for some input from you folks. Regardless, it's the direction I was wanting to take the Cereal Box, since the old orange text-on-spooky house background looked way Halloweeny, as both Spence and Hilly pointed out. But know that I look at the redone background, it reminds me of the menu screens from my "Lost" DVD.

In case you're interested, I posted the original version of the picture I modified for the background here, on my Flickr account. It's the living room curtains, not bamboo. Sorry.

I've also added a few permanent links to the extended affiliation of Back of the Cereal Box recommendations on the right sidebar: Girls Are Pretty, Toothpaste for Dinner, AemonCannon and Black and White Animals.

Enjoy, and please share your thoughts.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Cream of Blue Raspberry

For reasons I cannot understand, I painted a picture. This is what I painted.


As you may have guessed, it's an elk vomiting squares of varying sizes. For some reason, this image lodged itself in my head back in May, on the way back from the Nexus trip to Las Vegas. I quickly drew it on a canvas then let it sit in the corner — mentally, literally — until two weeks ago. Upon finishing it, I decided to call it "Prance Closer," which might hint at where the image came from. I'm not really sure.

And no, Sanam, this isn't the canvas that Aemon gave me, though I have some idea what I'd like to paint on that.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Cheep-Cheep Gets the Chair

Carless for the second day in a row, I had lunch today at the Mexican place near work. (Good, not great — too much sour cream.) It was especially sunny, so I was eating outside. So was everyone else. And so were the birds, who despite being dumb enough to contract avian flu are smart enough to know where people congregate and eat and leave crumbs every day. Before I could start on my second quesadilla, however, I heard a metallic clang followed by a scream.

What apparently happened was that a woman eating outside had set a chair directly onto one of the birds, very nearly cutting him in half. Dead, of course. I’d wager instantly. If I had imagined what the scenario would have been like without having already seen it, I suppose I’d imagine that the bird would be flattened. The metal chairs at Camino Real are made from slender pipes that flow into these silver dollar-sized caps at the bottom, and I would have guessed that one of those circular caps would have pressed onto the birds head, shoved it into its chest cavity and then forced the whole mass down until its little legs snapped like twigs. But no — instead, I think the bird pitched forward and the cap crushed him at an angle, almost cleaving his head from his chest. (Those flight-enabling featherlight bones did you no good today, Mr. Cheep Cheep.) The mess was less than I would have guessed, too, though something — something — had gooshed from the beak, perhaps interrupting the bird’s final death-squawk.

Everyone stopped eating. The bird-killing woman had been seated at a table in the center of the outdoor eating area, and the noise drew everybody’s attention. She looked horrified. Some kids were a little upset, too. I think I heard somebody ask “Is it dead?” — duh — before some nice old man scraped the pieces off the ground with a plastic knife onto a serving tray. He dumped the whole package — bird, tray, knife — into the trash, which I find sad since I don’t think anybody — bird, human or otherwise — deserves to be laid to rest among Starbucks cups, partially drunk smoothies and unwanted receipts. By the time I was done eating — the incident didn’t affect my appetite — the wet spot had dried and the incident seemed largely forgotten.

Still, I was amused and told anybody who would listen. What still gets me is that the timing of this had to be so specific — for some clumsy woman to slam down a chair just as a bid flitted through. Remarkable.

The bird was probably going to give us all avian flu anyway.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Drew's Top Three Canine Internet Phenoms

  1. Snuppy, the cloned puppy.
  2. Sam, the ugliest dog in the world (who happens to live in Santa Barbara and I could break into his house and see him right now if I really wanted)
  3. A new contender: Wasabi, the golden retriever whose skin in mysteriously green

Friday, November 11, 2005

I Love Television, But Television Doesn't Love Me Back

When the TV goes off, the world ends. In a small way, I believe this is true. The characters I watch on my shows — however few I actually keep up with nowadays — engage me in a way that nearly lets me believe they’re real. I tend to care about them. I tend to feel sad when they go away. On that note, here are two musings on television and TV characters.
[ As If Shame Were Something to Be Proud of ]
Since people’s taste in television shows has swung away from sitcoms, a lot of hourlongs have sprung up. (A lot of reality shows have too, but I don’t care about those.) Things like “Desperate Housewives” and “24” and “Alias” and Nip/Tuck” and all those. And though I’ve heard good things about all of them, I’ve abstained from watching merely because I didn’t need some new fake universe to envelop my free time. Few readers will remember what happened during winter of 2003, when “Twin Peaks” swallowed me — as well as Jill, Nate and Moe, to varying extents — and we talked about Nadine and Bobby and the Log Lady like they were real people. I didn’t want to let that happen again.

Recently, however, I’ve become a big fan of “Lost.” I was willing to forgo my embargo on new hourlongs simply because “Lost” seemed too enticing. Helmed by J.J. Abrams, whose work I enjoy. Written by Paul Dini, who made the “Batman” cartoons I watched as a kid so engrossing. And ultimately structured along some very “Twin Peaks”-like lines. Similar to how every episode of “Twin Peaks” followed a consecutive day in the investigation into Laura Palmer’s murder, “Lost” follows the plane crash survivors’ investigation into why they crashed, where they are and just what the hell is up with the island. Like the town of Twin Peaks, the island is almost a character unto itself. More often than not, poking into one mystery merely yields another, more dangerous one. I like.

I was more than a little put off, however, when the most recent episode, “Abandoned,” ends with the apparent shooting death of Shannon Rutherford, a survivor played by Maggie Grace, who I’ve liked since I saw here as a Swedish exchange student on the short-lived “Oliver Beene” a few years ago. Shannon, as Spencer put it, never let the fact that she was on a desert island deter her from styling her hair in a sassy zigzag part. She also gleefully flirted and fucked her way to survival, both on the island and before the plane crash. Indeed, this character was created very much so in the Cordelia Chase vein — and that’s a stock personality type I can appreciate.

As the show stands so far, Shannon is the second of the major characters to die. Late last season, her character’s stepbrother — and fuckbuddy — Boone bit the big one in a, well, plane crash. (Yes, there was a second one. Long story.) It’s really a pity that the show’s directors chose to bump off Shannon because this last episode consisted of flashbacks into her life pre-island. For the first time, she seemed like a genuinely sympathetic character. Now that that whore Ana-Lucia — whom online “Lost” fans abbreviate as “AnaL” — put a bullet in her chest, I feel like we’ve seen Shannon grow as much as she ever will. Worse yet, her flashbacks provided a way for Boone, played by Ian Somerhalder, to show up again. No more, I guess. The cast no longer skews quite so WB.

In the end, however, I’m okay with Shannon being dead. The show still has a large cast of characters I like — Sun, Jin, Sawyer, Charlie and Claire, to name some. But more importantly, I think killing off Shannon helps to remind people — both the remaining characters and the show’s viewers — that this island is a dangerous place. I’ll wager that Shannon won’t be the last “survivor’ the be picked off this season.

Still, it’s lamely sad to think about Shannon being dead.
[ Family Comes First ]
As if Shannon’s accidental death weren’t hard enough, the news that comforted me in my fictional character mourning was of the cancellation of “Arrested Development,” the best show on TV and the only hope for the sitcom as a genre. Even a guest star as high-profile as Charlize Theron couldn’t save “Arrested,” which people simply didn’t want to watch.

I was talking with Kristen and Betsy about this a few nights ago, and it seems so strange to us that such a great show could suffer from this problem. I seemed like most of our associates watched the show with some regularity. However, this bad news is a reminder that our friends generally are pulled from a very select group — college students and recent graduates living in California and with enough understanding of literary techniques to appreciate the show’s genius. The rest of America, it would seem, is more content watching unchallenging fare like “The King of Queens,” which airs on CBS in the same timeslot “Arrested” formerly occupied on FOX — 8 p.m., Monday night.

Still, I’m oddly not that upset about the cancellation. Sure, life seems just a little knowing that I may never hear another one of Lucille Bluth’s racist remarks or without ever seeing just what Steve Holt’s impression of a chicken might have been like. But I’m still hopeful. I’d wager that critical praise of “Arrested” might be enough to prompt another network to pick the show up. Say the ailing NBC or even HBO, whose looser standards could let the show truly flourish. Though the show’s fan base is small, it’s the kind that would be willing to follow it to another network and another time. They honestly care about these characters.

Friends who like the show will hate me for saying this, but I can honestly see why the network cancelled “Arrested.” I’m not too happy about it, but it all comes down to money. It’s unfortunate that TV networks and movie studies have to let money get involved with something a human as narrative. Whether it’s ending a narrative before its time — as happened with “Home Movies,” for example — or pumping one beyond its proper lifespan — as NBC’s doing with “ER,” for example, or as Miramax did with “Scream” — it happens. Realistically, “Arrested” shouldn’t have lasted as long as it did. It never got great ratings, and since FOX is notorious for prematurely yanking a show, fans of “Arrested” should be happy that they got as much as they did.

I’m hopeful for the future of the show. I honestly am. But I think the part that really gets me at the moment isn’t that a great show was cancelled for some silly, inconsequential reason. What really pisses me off right now is that a great show was cancelled for a very good reason.

Bleh.
[ And Then a Short Epilogue ]
Take this as evidence of the way TV-watching culture has changed, but I just realized that though I think “Lost” and “Arrested Development” are both great shows, my primary experience with them did not come through regular TV broadcasts. No, I bought the first season of “Lost” and have been catching up the new season through the episodes posted on iTunes. (Just $1.99 per installment — not a bad deal at all.) As for “Arrested,” I can remember watching it on FOX during the first season, but I had to fill in my little plotholes with the first and second season DVDs.

So, in effect, I wasn’t actually watching the show I was trying to get everyone to watch. Shit. Does this mean it’s all my fault?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Why the Hell Did David Lynch Make "Lost Highway"?

Last night, I made Spencer sit through “Lost Highway,” a 1997 David Lynch film starring Bill Pullman and Patricia Arquette. (As a note, I generally don’t care for either actor, but stick them in a Lynchian mess of sex, murder and jumbled chronology and I can deal.) Previously, I’ve shows Spence “Blue Velvet” and “Mulholland Drive” — which scored average and high, respectively — so this seems like the next logical stop in the Lynch filmography.

But whereas “Blue Velvet” has a fairly straight-forward plot and “Mulholland Drive” is wonderful mind fodder that can eventually yield plausible explanations, “Lost Highway” doesn’t make any sense. And not just in the Lynch sense of nonsense, either. The film drops clues to a mystery that’s never solved. It ends abruptly, seemingly starting the cycle of the plot again.

Here’s a quick plot summary for the uninitiated:
“Dick Laurent is dead.” Fred Madison (Pullman), a sax player, hears these world being spoken on his in-house intercom one morning. Fred believes his wife Renee (Arquette) is cheating on him. They leave a party after Fred is confronted by a creepy man (Robert Blake) who claims to simultaneously be at the party and at Fred’s house. Back at home, Renee is murdered — seemingly by Fred, though he can’t remember. In jail, Fred turns into Pete Dayton, a young mechanic who has been missing for a few days. Apparently not being Fred, Pete is released from jail and returns to work, where he meets Alice Wakefield (also Arquette). They have an affair, enrage her lover, an aging mobster and pornographer called Mr. Edde (Robert Loggie), and try to escape. Instead, Alice takes Pete to a shack in the desert. Pete becomes Fred again, kills Mr. Eddie — who, we learn, is the same person as Dick Laurent — and returns back to his home. At the end of the movie, Fred returns to the gate of his house, presses the intercom button and says “Dick Laurent is dead.” The movie ends.
The movie never attempts to answer the questions most viewers would ask: How did Fred become Pete? Are they the same person? Are Alice and Renee the same person? Why is Dick Laurent also called “:Mr. Eddie”? Instead, it just returns to where it started, in a frustrating Möbius stip of a plot. Even Lynch fans familiar with red drapes, the blonde-brunette contrast and the awful feeling sparked by the flashing of electric blue lights will come up empty-handed when the offer a justification for “Lost Highway.”

The way I see it, a person has two options for wrapping their head around “Lost Highway” — trying just to understand why Lynch would have even made a move like this. Importantly, both of these explanations necessitate abandoning the mindset a person uses to approach a typical narrative.

The easiest way to “get” the film is to simply accept it as face value. In its own little crazy universe, “Lost Highway” makes sense. Fred became Pete, just like that. That’s what happened. That sort of thing can happen in this universe. Along the same lines, Robert Blake’s character can be in two places at once. And Renee and Alice, though they appear to be two people, are actually just manifestations of the same person. Granted, these are not things that readily happen in life or most examples of art imitating life. But that’s what Lynch is offering here, and the viewers must decide for themselves whether they can accept it.

It’s interesting, really, that most movies and TV shows we watch are fairly unrealistic. Time is skewed more often that we usually process, and characters to incredible things. I’m glancing at my DVD shelf and seeing the box for “Scream” as we speak. That movie isn’t especially plausible, and if you watch closely there are tons of continuity errors. Things happen too quickly, even when the characters are supposedly timing them — the thirty-second delay on Gale Weather’s spy camera, for instance, or the order and pace in which the scenes from “Halloween” are playing at the party in the last scene. But because we’re accustomed to these kind of unbelievable occurrences, we don’t think twice.

Furthermore, unlike life, film and TV — and literature too — often offer neatly tied-up endings. Events from the beginning of the work dovetail into the falling action. There’s foreshadowing and resolution. None of that necessarily happens in life — and when it does, it’s the exception. In Lynch’s work, the out-of-the-blue weirdness that happens without any explanation is, in a strange way, more life-like that the excessively staged and even-flowing events from other works.

So there’s that. I think that should work well enough, but I think that this is not what Lynch actually wants us to make of “Lost Highway.” Instead of being satisfied with the face value interpretations, I think Lynch wants us instead to just think about what we saw. Recently, Lynch has spoken publicly about transcendental mediation. He’s even established the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and Peace. He thinks the way to better society is to get people to delve inside their own minds, concentrate and learn to think in deeper, more profound ways.

I agree.

I also, however, this his been discreetly promoting this through his films. “Lost Highway” is a perfect example. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t work out neatly. If you’re a moderately intelligent person, you realize this. You watch this movie, then walk away with it rolling around all dark and chaotic in your head. You take what you remember and realize that little points don’t make sense.

You realize that perhaps the entire plot spawned from Fred’s misplaced desire to find out if Renee is cheating on him — that the creepy man with the video camera and poor Pete all work to solve this question. It doesn’t explain everything, but it’s plausible — if only in the implausible way Lynch films work. Eventually, I feel like if you think about it enough, you realize that you’re not going to explain everything, but that’s okay. The effort you put into trying to solve the problem taught you about thinking in a different way. You strengthened an under-utilized part of your brain — mental push-ups, if you will.

And who knows — maybe this little will broaden your outlook on life just enough to help you solve a approach a problem in a new way that wouldn’t have occurred to you before. Or maybe you’ll just be a little more content with what would otherwise have been a frustrating situation.

I like “Lost Highway,” Patricia Arquette’s crooked teeth be damned. And I really like David Lynch. He’s one director who I honestly believe creates in order to help the world, if only in some convoluted and nearly invisible way that a lot of people would dismiss. If his bios for film releases, the standard info Lynch posts is limied to "Eagle scout. Missoula, Montana." That's it. The Boy Scouts of America pledge to help people however they can, and despite the dark nightmares that may plague his mind, I think David Lynch is just doing that. He's helping people the best way he knows how. He's the world's scariest boy scout and wouldn't want him to ever change.

Oh, and the movie has a bitching soundtrack, too.

EDIT: For those of you bored, brave or dedicated enough to make it to the end of this post, should I dare include a link to the Netflix page for "Lost Highway," so as to facilitate the add-to-queue action?

Known in Japan as "Catherine"

Springboarding off a conversation with Sanam regarding her numerous virtues, I realized that Birdo has s been mentioned a hell of a lot on this blog.

The evidence:
As a counter-example, Sanam is a real person who I've known since for quite a while. This is how many posts mention her:
Sanam has more, but considering I've actually met her, you'd think she'd proportionally blow Birdo out of the water. All in all, I'm okay with it, especially since this post now inextricably links Sanam and Birdo. Forever.


Who the Hell Owns That Dog?

A girl. I kind of know her. She seems nice. She is my MySpace friend. Today, she posted this bulletin. I didn't know what to make of it.
for all of you who know me and have been to my apartment you will all be greatly saddened to hear that bulldozers knocked down my beloved neighbor, the bayou house. earlier today i saw some heavy machinery and i thought they were just working on the yard... when i got home later i saw that THE BAYOU HOUSE WAS DESTROYED. it is now a pile of rubble in the middle of a lot. there will be no dueling banjos or mysterious hippies to look at from 6621 abrego any more. THIS IS A SAD DAY!!!!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

My Problems, Listed

Initially, I thought my problems would look more manageable if I made a list of them. Instead they just look more numerous.
  1. My present lease ends around Christmas and I don’t know where I’m living after that.
  2. Though I would want to move into Kristen’s house, her exiting roommate won’t be fully moved out until late January.
  3. No matter where I live, I may only be living there for a short time, both because I am tired of living in Santa Barbara and because I want to travel to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji this winter.
  4. I have not set a departure date.
  5. I have not set a return date.
  6. I don’t know how long I will be traveling, if I go.
  7. Currently, I have no one to travel with in these locations.
  8. Excluding Hollister, I will have nowhere to move back to when I return to the United States.
  9. I’d like to move to a different city on my own, but the thought of that is very intimidating.
  10. If I move back to Santa Barbara, I will be wishing I had moved anywhere else. However, this scenario solves one problem — easily the biggest: no matter how and when I leave Santa Barbara, I will be ending the best relationship I’ve ever been in.
Anyone? Anyone?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Orange and Black and Drunk

Proof the Halloween happened. It may have happened in a five-day blur of drunkeness, but it did happen. Here a few photos, better late than never.



Me, as Cowboy Drew. You can't tell from the photo, but I'm even wearing cowboy boots at great risk to my verticality in my drunken state. Photo courtesy of Kristen-Mike.



Spencer and I made a jack-o'-latern in the image of the scariest thing we could think of: Quincy Jones, the chow with a heart as poisonous as candy corn.



And here's the Quincy-o'-lantern, looking just a little scarier. And as a bonus, here's Quincy looking uncharacteristically pleasant.



Just trust me that he's plotting something awful. He's tasted blood. And he likes it.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

When I Couldn't Get Anything Done

Here's a photo of my desktop, taken sometime Thursday afternoon.

Main shelf, left to right: red wine bottle (empty), "Fierce" cologne, Vitamin Water bottle (empty, filled with cigarette butts), green Sharpie marker, Marlboro cigarette box (empty), box of personal checks, baggy containing packaged generic aspirin, bottle of nasal spray, nail clippers, hair goop in red tube, deodorant, generic aspirin package (open, empty), Free Lance newspaper mug, flask (empty), bottle of Centrum vitamins, spool of blank CDs, book of matches (containing no matches), Escher mug, graduation mug, Queen of Hearts mug.
Back shelf: book on Flash belonging to Dr. Sorapure, Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, The Complete Guide to Digital Photography, letter from Grandma, monitor, right speaker with blue sweatband, miscellaneous papers and photos, Toad doll.

Left shelf: CDs for reviewing, bamboo lamp, box of thank you notes from Spencer, unwatched Netflix arrivals, left speaker.

Right shelf: novelty martini glass, echinacea supplements, box of collar stays, sun block, bottle Oxy pads, "Glory Hole Sports" beer cozy, 2006 Hokusai calendar.
Or, if you will, what keeps me from doing anything. Or, if you will, me.

Is That Counting the Chip on Her Shoulder?

Interesting ways people have been arriving at this blog lately.

My Secret Diary, by Steve Martin

“Shopgirl” could have been two movies — the kind of light-hearted comic romance as you’d expect from Steve Martin, or the kind of angsty drama, as you’d expect from Claire Danes. It’s neither. Instead, “Shopgirl” attempts to tread down the line separating these two possible outcomes, creating a noticeably bifurcated movie that still manages to be entertaining enough that you don’t regret paying to see it.

It’s weird, really, the way the movie yo-yos back and forth. It has a scene of Jason Schwartzman being all goofball and Jimmy Fallon-like — and please, Jason, cut your hair — then goes straight into another of Danes weeping. It would feel forced if Schwartzman wasn’t such a good goofball and Danes wasn’t such a good weeper, so I guess I have to credit the actors with holding the movie together. Steve Martin hold up well too, even when he’s delivering some clunker lines — ones, admittedly, that he wrote himself. In this one scene, he and Danes’ character are having dinner and he asks to see her wristwatch. Then he coils his old man fingers around her naked wrist — no slashing scars, I was happy to see — and tells her “I’m your watch now.”

The fuck?

But he wrote it and he apparently understands the genuine sentiment he was trying to express in that terrible, terrible line, so it ends up sounding not as bad as it would if it came from, say, Bill Murray.

Why Bill Murray, you ask?

I can’t help but feel like this movie would have never been made if it hadn’t been for “Lost in Translation.” It’s easy to draw the parallels. Danes — an actress who falls into the category of “thinking man’s hottie,” like Scarlett Johansson — is lonely and unfulfilled until she meets this wealthy older guy — Martin, a comic colleague of Murray’s. They romance with some difficulty. Twirling around in the background are Schwartzman, a hipster doofus mildly reminiscent of Giovanni Ribisi in “Translation” and a blonde, dippy sexpot — Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, more contained than Anna Faris in “Translation” and a little less affable. (Wilson-Sampras, once the muse of middle school boners nation-wide as Veronica Vaughn, has put on a lot of weight. And her gumminess is making her look more and more like Missi Pyle. I’d guess Pete Sampras should run her around the court a little more.) Even the look of “Shopgirl” owes a lot to “Lost in Translation.” There’s a pronounced emptiness in every shot. The color seems a little drained, but when it’s there it’s especially bright — Danes’ lips or the knowingly funky sea green her character has painted her apartment.

Add to that the movie’s tendency to introduce plot points that quickly vanish — Danes stops taking anti-depressants, freaks, goes to the doctor off-screen, then never mentions it again — and you have a movie that has just enough problems to prevent it from being a genuinely good movie.

I like Steve Martin a lot, but I’d rather see him being funny than being old and heart-breaking and narrating it all as if Martin himself — not his character, but the actor — were reminding you “Hey! I wrote this!” I especially think he should get a second opinion before naming his characters. The film’s lead, the titular shopgirl, is named Mirabelle Buttersfield, which is a mouthful. Of vomit. And butter. Really, did he think Bianca Steeplechase and Fernanda Grunnigle-Goatsworth were taken?

Perhaps the one point of this movie that I find most interesting is wondering how much of it is autobiographical. Steve Martin has written before, notably the film “Bowfinger” with Eddie Murphy. I liked this movie, too, despite its flaws. And I remember reading that Heather Graham’s character in the movie — an up-and-coming actress who eventually takes up with a famous lesbian to further her career — is based on Anne Heche, with whom Martin had a fling years ago. He’s dated other younger women as well — Bernadette Peters, Helena Bonham Carter — and I’d like to think that part of his strong performance came from this story being based on something that actually happened to him. In this uneven movie, there’s a spark in his eye that made me feel like he really believed in the story and the characters. And if “Shopgirl” came from some private emotion that he decided to vent through art, then I think I like it even more.

[ elsa shivers lives ]

On Fucks

In this world of strife and woe, I have encountered many types of fucks. Pity fucks, hate fucks, sensual fucks, drunken fucks, non-standard fucks, make-up fucks, cozy fucks. You name it, you can fuck that way. But we often “fuck” in a quite another way altogether — and I’d wager more often. For various reasons, we suddenly just erupt with a “fuck” to describe the immediate state of life. It’s this, the drier, more verbal fuck that I’m concerned with in this post.

There’s the exasperated, emotional “fuck” that usual results from interpersonal trauma. As in, “You left me at the ball with that stain on my suit while you were off with Pamela, when you knew that the only reason I went to the ball was to be with Pamela in the first place. Fuck!”

And there’s the awed fuck, like when you come across something astonishing — or, often, astonishing it its grisliness — like a car accident or a raging house fire, when the sheer grandeur of the event wells into an emotion that bubbles forth from your lips with a simple, declarative “fuck.”

And there’s even a disdainful “fuck,” spoken under your breath to an understanding bystander when the single last person you felt like seeing that day walks into a room. “Oh, fuck.”

We use it a lot, you and I. (And I say that knowing that anyone who reads this journal on a regular basis would be the kind of person who would let the word fly as freely as they would shed skin cells.) At the moment, however, one version of “fuck” stands out among all others. That’s the self-defeated “fuck” — the one you use when you realize that you can’t go out on Saturday night because you have to be at a mandatory 7 a.m. meeting at work the next day. And there’s nothing you can do about it. And you know you’re gonna be a wreck. So you resign yourself to a night of sobriety, slippers, tea and overdue bloggery. On a Saturday. Fuck.

Go shed some skin cells, you.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Another Strike Against Geena Davis

I'm not one to give a link to the Daily Nexus weather, but Wednesday's seemed particularly interesting. I quote:
Apparently UCSB got a shout out on ABC’s new show “Commander in Chief.” The press secretary was accused of being a UCSB sorority girl who spent most of her college years “on her knees.” Then, the press secretary retorts “I grew up in Santa Barbara. I went to school at Princeton.” The ‘human thinks it’s repulsive we were mentioned in the same sentence as those slimy Princeton fucks.

Wednesday’s forecast: Princeton’s student newspaper to begin a Missionary Monday column.
Amen, weatherhuman. Amen. Also: we're that (in)famous?

Reviews of My Most Recent Netflix Conquests, Expressed in Haiku

The films I've 'flixed between now and the end of May. Recommended titles are given links. Those not linked you're better off not knowing about.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
The whole thing seemed as
Bad as the plays from "Rushmore."
Cool red knit caps, though.
Winsor McCay: The Master Edition
Little Nemo looked
Better when he was running
Down Tom Petty's dream
Terror Train
Screw Jamie Lee. The
Best part is seeing David
Copperfield get stabbed.
The Hours
The avalanche of
Estrogen can't distract
From Nicole Kidman's nose.
Latter Days
Apparently, the
Quick way to chase off Mormons
Is sodomy. Ha.
Band of Outsiders
Black and white crime seems
Very much darker when the
Criminals are French
Following
Heard this was supposed
To be good, but ended up
Checking my email
Man on the Moon
If you think really
Hard, you can remember when
Jim Carey was great.
Speedway Junky
Jonathan Taylor
Thomas deserves hatred, but
Haikus are too short.
Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero
Call it good writing
Or geek sympathy: I feel
Bad for Mr. Freeze.
Touch of Evil
Is Charleton Heston
Playing a Mexican? I
Think I’ll blame West Nile.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Our alien friends
Fly in Christmas ornaments.
Bum-bum-bum-bum-bum.
The Order: From Cremaster 3
Clean your mouth, kilt man.
Cow ears flop in kickline synch.
Dazzling confusion.
The Baby*
Dress and act like a
Baby, but still fuck Mommy.
”Baby doesn’t talk!”
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
Me, moved to tears by
“What the World Needs Now Is Love.”
Hot Dyan Cannon.
My Own Private Idaho
Impressed by River
Phoenix as a hustler and
Keanu as wood.
Prozac Nation
Two hours I won’t get
Back. Now I wish I had a
Prozac for myself.
Cry-Baby
Doo wop black rebel
Fifties flick with Johnny Depp.
I like Hatchet Face.
The City of Lost Children
Glad the director
Of “Amelie” vented his
Dark side with this dreck.
High Fidelity
Catherine Zeta, Lili
Taylor, Lisa Bonet
And one sassy swede.
In the Realms of the Unreal
The Vivian girls
May have penises, but I
Like them anyway.
Lady Snowblood
Girl power comes with
A sword in hand and pure rage.
O-ren? Is that you?
Graduation Day
I’ll spoil it for you:
They’re hiding the heads under
The bleachers. The end.
Reservoir Dogs
Every time, I put
My hand on my ear. Stuck in
The middle, indeed.
What's Up, Tiger Lily?
Woody Allen is
Never funnier than when
I can’t see his face.
Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance
Hey — kimono girl!
Why did you forget how to
Be kick ass? Ai-yah!
Dance with the Devil
Rosie Perez, you’re
Surely no Isabella
Rossellini. Yuck.
I Don't Know Jack
When Jack Nance died so
Mysteriously, did he
Go to the Red Room?
The Last of Sheila
Smoke, schemes and suntans
Don’t yet realize that “Sheila”
Is an acronym.
Jungle Holocaust
No blood or gore or
Any holocaust. Just some
Jungle titties.
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Ray di Tutti's name
Means “king of everything.” All
Else was lost on me.
Punch-Drunk Love
Was my DVD
Missing the concluding scene?
Resolution, please!
The Secret of N-I-M-H
More adult than the
Cartoons I watch today. Great
Rediscovery.
Swimming Pool
Look into the pool.
See the all leaves and plotholes?
Worthy nonetheless.
Spider Baby
Degenerative
Psychotics should produce more
Blood than what I saw.
Death on the Nile
Now Olivia
Hussey is my new girlfriend.
All-around charming.
Cat and the Canary
What’s creepier than
An escaped metal patient?
Mad cousin incest.
Strait Jacket
Nice and tense, but how
‘Bout an alternate title:
“Denogginator”?
Gilda
Drat. I only saw
This because of “Mulholland
Drive.” Noir fades to gray.
D.E.B.S.
Lesbo undertones
Like “Lassie” has canine themes.
Devon Aoki.
*I'm linking to the IMDb site because the film is apparently no longer available on Netflix. Pity.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

This Is Kids' Stuff

I'm always surprised at what this blog can be. To me, it's generally a forum for the voices in my head — something funny or trivial or the latest cinematic production from Lier X. Aggregate. Since I decided to approve comments, it's become a way for my friends to share this, to some extent, or to call me on my bullshit. And for the creepos with nothing in their lives besides a keyboard, a monitor and a cable modem, this blog serves as a way for them to peer into the life of a total stranger.

Just this week, however, the Cereal Box helped someone I admire contact me. That's never happened before. I checked my email on the morning of Halloween and found a notice of a comment being posted. The comment was purportedly from Mike Lebovitz, the man behind a neat little band called Father Bingo. I’ve mentioned Father Bingo before — in the tracklists of CDs I’ve burned for friends and also in the lengthy post entitled “Ginger Prince Is Not Shirley Temple.” This is also the post that Mike Lebovitz’s comment is attached to. Go ahead. Read it.

I initially thought the comment was a prank. It was Halloween, after all, though I suppose the late October pranks are more in the style of car-egging. Besides, who besides Spencer and me would even know who Mike Lebovitz was?

Despite the fact that his comment ends in “You’re wasting your time. You’re wasting your time” — the last lyrics of the song — I feel that this little, wonderful thing is validating. It’s exactly the reason why I would continue to write this blog. Mike Lebovitz made a song and I appreciate it enough to look into what it could have been about. I wrote that, and now he’s read it. It’s remarkable that it happened, and not just because I accidentally referred to him as “Mark” in the initial posting. (This has been fixed.)

I still like the song. It’s entirely worth the ninety-nine cents it costs to download on iTunes. I like that the first stranger who stumbled upon what I wrote about them was flattered. (Julia Roberts, I’m guessing, would not be.) And I still like this blog. Nearly four years old and still surprising me.

Mike Lebovitz of Father Bingo, please don’t egg my car.