Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Liminal Realty



I took the new digital camera to the environs of the lodge, a two-room structure at the edge of my development off Cienega Road. Since I was little, I always associated the lodge with the boundary between the human and natural worlds. Somehow, this little structure stood just at the point of where charted territory gave way to the wild, thistle-choked trails that could lead to the Yukon or even farther.





With age, I’ve learned the area is actually just pastureland for grazing cattle, only slightly more wild than my backyard. Beyond this, a tennis court, complete with regulation green and red demarcations, sits next to the lodge. So much for all the rustic. Nonetheless, this spot draws me back.

Walking around gives me with the same feeling I get when I walk on through a graveyard. Just as a tombstones mark that a certain plot of land belongs to the dead, I think the overgrown bushes and dilapidated human structures mark the lodge area as a small chunk of land nature itself is trying to reclaim.





So much there is odd. So much catches my eye. Decaying wooden planks. A plastic necklace lost by some careless little girl. A desiccated baseball, having rotted in the brush for God knows how long. In the bleak gray of late December, even the house on the hill overlooking the lodge looms with an eerie starkness like you might see in a Tim Burton film.





Nature hasn’t yet subjugated humans. It’s still a conflict in progress, or so I thought while I snapped a picture of an old fence running up a hill and alongside a giant oak. Surely, the oak will one day win.



I didn’t see another soul during the two hours I walked around taking pictures. When I was young, I used to think that some evil hobo lived in the lodge. I’ve never fully convinced myself that one doesn’t.





Some places are better of left alone.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Walk Away, Renee

Nobody likes rain more than I do, but today it's raining mean.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Susan Biddle Ross

She's not really gone if we find a way to remember her.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Said a Giant Clam

Jessica and I saw Rob Lowe at Borders.

[ eight days left ]

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Bacon and Potatoes, Baking in the Sun

Things I learned from movies yesterday.

1) I think "Harold and Maude" taught us all some valuable lessons on life — and living.

2) "Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman" taught me that Carrie Mae Weems is well-known enough to warrant mention in a superhero cartoon.

3) And "The Manchurian Candidate" taught me that Angela Lansbury can be so evil.

[ pipers piping. twelve days ]

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Searching for Even Steven

I killed a shrub monster today and got a shovel as a reward. Conversely, my alarm clock has taken a vacation. But I guess if I was a person's most hated possession, I'd need a holiday too.

[ sixteen days ]

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Questions in a World of Blue

"If I had a nickel for every cigarette your mother smoked, I'd be dead," said Donna Hayward somewhere in a time loop I can't figure out.

David Lynch nailed it. Life, like his visions, is really just a reel of ambiguous images jumbled together in a meaningless sequence. But stuff keeps coming up, and even though you question the director's plan — or even if he has a plan or even if the director exists — these weird recurrences beg you to interpolate a meaning.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Head Over Heels

Wilted plants make me happy.

I leave and the plants go droopy. Sure, they're week-old sproutlings that go droopy if you shoot them a nasty look, but it's oddly comforting to know that something suffers when I leave. I'm needed — by plants, of course, but needed nonetheless.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

The Show of Life

A short play by the little-known Billy Shakesbad.
Old Nick: Woe be woman, whose fate it is to serve.

Mephista: May thy tongue shrivel, that it spews such falsehoods.

Old Nick: Ah, but does not a man pull thy strings?

Mephista: We are all but puppets of greater powers.

Old Nick: Puppets? As in the show of life? Truly, birth doth draw wide the curtains. And woman, are thy lines scripted? In that I can be no one but myself, I can say only my lines. So sad, to be so constrained.

Mephista: It is I who feel for thee. Thine own role and fate has ever been written, while mine own changes with each breath. Yea, tho puppet I be, it is hope, faith, and love that pulls my strings.

Old Nick: Woman, mine ears do sting from thy tongue. I shall away in search of easier folly!
I have no idea what made me think of these devilish puppets after all these years. I wonder if I will think of them again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

S, I'm Late

I return from the smoggy snarl of highways called the Greater Los Angeles area, the land where Jake Gittes got his nose slashed and Betty Elms killed her dream. I hate LA. It's a nasty place where bad people come from, I think. Nonetheless, it's also where three things are presently situated:
  • Marisa, who's leaving soon
  • the Los Angeles Times, which is probably staying)
  • possibly, my future.
The Times newsroom is like the Nexus newsroom, if it grew out in every direction so far that I can't see the end of the hallways. I could have gotten lost in cubicles and paper stacks. People work, hunched at cluttered desks — just like the Nexus, only older and less attractive. The constrained glee I like about the Nexus is gone however.

That must be how grown-ups get work done: sans glee.

I would have to mail in an application for a summer internship by January 1. I think I will, even if the hiring editor Marisa introduced me to today is the very definition of a hardass, a guy I couldn't impress with a case of roid rage and a baseball bat. Returning to the LA Times newsroom would mean totally victory and utter defeat of everything I have ever worked for. Moving to LA would be triumph and anti-triumph — yes and no — all and nothing — cucumbers and pomegranates.

I dread ever going back to LA. Ever. There's so much opportunity, true. But I'm picky enough that digging through that dry scab of a city doesn't hold the appeal, especially when life in Saint Foreigner is easy, what with sprouts in the backyard and lightning over the ocean. Still, there's nothing for me here. And I got a little charge — the square root of lightning? — watching Marisa write a news story out of the Amber Alerts I saw on the drive down.

Figgidy figgidy figgidy. Think, man. Think.

Monday, November 10, 2003

For Esme, With Love and Squalor

Somehow, El Colegio Road reminded me that I miss this last summer. I haven't thought about places like London and Paris in weeks, but I realized on the drive home from work that I wished I could go back — right now — and then I could appreciate it all again, even though I wanted to leave so badly those last few days.

Maybe it's Isla Vista that's gotten old and maybe it's a good idea that I'm heading home this weekend, even it's to an empty house (plus a dog). I think I remembered Europe on the streets of I.V. because they're so empty and ugly and leading to nowhere I want to go. The Pasado House is different; it's my sanctuary against all the stuff I don't want to deal with. The Nexus office, too, I guess, even with it's high stone walls and drainy fluorescent lights — a womb if I was a stucco-and-wax robot. Like a movie set, kind of, but far from the train station in Florence, for sure.

No, I'm trapped on the set of some workplace sitcom...

[ a [[brackets]] break ]

[twyla cut ten inches off her hair and i think it looks awful but she donated the hair she cut to wigs for cancer children, so i think it actually looks very pretty on her.]


[bonnie is moving back to colorado, to solve the jon benet murder, i imagine. i feel bad that she's not happy enough to stay, because beyond a talent for words she has a quality about her that other people sorely lack, even if i can't put my finger on it. i guess she's a real person, after all, and i shouldn't keep her around to make me feel better. besides, kidnapping is illegal.]

I thought about Agnes and Kristen and Charlie today, too, and those three haven't been a unit in my mind since before school started. I wonder how they are now, in Paris, Capetown, and Berkeley, respectively. I finally triumphed over the Mystery Mono. I guess November must seem dull, especially in the wake of Halloween. It's been a while since they changed of scenery and I'm getting terribly bored.

Medication or not, I've been acting out lately. It's not like me to destroy a painting. To black it out then drown it in red and then let Nate take an axe to it.

Maybe I'm changing again.

f-a-c-u-l-t-i-e-s

Sunday, November 09, 2003

The End of the Mushroom Kingdom

(A weekend tally) Axe: One; Art: Zero. Realizing that my painting would never resolve itself and would therefore continue to dominate my mind like some evil taskmaster, I threw it into the rain. As the canvas glided over me, it clipped the back of my head. I now have a big lump at the site of impact.

Wait five minutes.

Damned if I didn't think the rain streaks somehow improved the painting. I tried to rescue it. I had actually brought it back inside when I realized my follow and handed the piece to Nate and told him to go to town with the axe.

It was for the better.

End intermission. Resume regular broadcast.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Old Me

Sick. Too sick to write.

The doctor said the steroids might make me confused and irritible, so basically I am an elderly person now.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

A Perfect Day for Bananafish

J.D. Salinger taught me something important.

Prof. Corum said in his lecture that the underlying message of Salinger's Nine Stories is that the only real form of happiness in the world hides in the world of children. The further into the adult world people slip, the less chance they have of ever achieving true happiness. Throughout the stories, which I think I'll like even more when I read them again, the characters try different methods of masking their dissatisfaction with life: alcohol, repression, and — most shockingly in the first story, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" — suicide. However, Salinger suggests one possible solution: to draw from another of his books, being the catcher in the rye — some wise adult who's there to help make the adult world seem just a bit less sinister to wide-eyed children. Boo Boo Tannenbaum does it in one story. She's the coolest mom ever. Boo Boo's brother, Seymore Glass, does it in "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," but he's the one who commits suicide immediately after when he realizes that the happiness he gives to kids is one he can't have.

I'm probably not a catcher in the rye for anyone. This is something I have to work on. But what did strike me is the notion of true happiness being the claim of children only. I agree.

Everything I've done to make myself a happy person has drawn me back to my childhood: my preoccupation with cartoons, my refusal to stop playing video games, the Walter Mitty daydreams, the movies I watch that have these boundlessly creative structures that defy traditional narrative conventions — more like a child's story than anything. Even my tendency to act like a selfish asshole — that's me as a kid, not considering other's feelings because I would rather I had been never taught to do that. It's funny to admit, but I honestly never want to grow up.

Ha. Look at me, typing away before I go to bed. I just realized I'm Doogie freaking Howser.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Say Yes — Say No

What turned out to be strep throat — not mono, thank God — kept me home all day. Jessica called and told me that Elliot Smith was dead. He stabbed himself in the heart.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Run Fay Run

Sitting in a dirty Mustang and listening to Isaac Hayes, I think the decades preceding the death of cool collapse and, truly, 2003 is 1975.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Queen of the Crime Council

As your leader, I encourage you from time to time (and always in a respectful manner) to question my logic. If you're unconviced a particular plan of action is the wisest, tell me so. But allow me to convince you and I promise, right here and now, no subject will ever be taboo — except, of course, the subject that was just under discussion. The price you pay for bringing up either my Chinese or American heritage as a negative is — I collect your fucking head.

Just like this fucker here.

Now if any of you sons of bitches got anything else to say, NOW'S THE FUCKING TIME!

I didn't think so.

— O-ren Ishii

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Made in India

<.warner>

I don't care what Nate says. The purple, pig-faced frog of India is cute. This little guy and Shobhna — that's two Indian imports I find cute.



(Something else I thought was cute)

The mini-keg I picked up today. It's the same proportions as a normal keg, just a bit more squatty. Cute and filled with alcohol is the best kind of cute.

Friday, October 17, 2003

The Big One

There was a big earthquake fourteen years, three hours, and twenty-seven minutes ago.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Run, Sarah Connor, Run

I leave the Nexus office just as Tuesday becomes Wednesday, twelve chiming bells and all. I did the opinion page all by myself for the first time, yet I'm going to wake up with a new governor — one made of metal and circuits.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Fake Words TV Has Taught Me

  • opinionation
  • perpittity
  • bitzelcocker (disagreeable vagabond)
  • persefunctant
  • acribits (an action stock markets can take)
  • kwyjibo (a big, bald North American ape)
  • embiggen (to make bigger)
  • cromulent (valid)
  • pathetisad
  • sarcastabitch
  • vondruke
  • spooknife (spoon-knife)
  • kniffoon (knife-spoon)
  • comfortador (not a conquistador)
  • crelbow (the spot on your arm opposite your elbow)
And who says TV rots your brain?

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Centering

Govinda bowed low. Incontrollable tears trickled down his old face. He was overwhlemed by a feeling of great love, of the most humble veneration. He bowed low, right to the ground, in front of the man sitting there motionless, whose smile reminded him of everything that he had ever loved in his life, if everything that had ever been of value and holy in his life.
— Herman Hesse, Siddharta

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Pauline

Eventually, the pendulum must swing to the left. Tonight — struggling, consuming, drowning, masking, melting, and sipping when I should be chugging. I can't imagine what I did or who I wronged to suffer this voodoo curse: pins in my hands, my eyes, my balls. Why can't anyone see that i want the pins out and why won't anyone get inside?

A field at night with fog lying low (like me) and a woman gyrating about a six full feet off the ground, making love to the gators in the swamp and she knows the motives of my mood. There's a mirror under a table in the town by the water and you, Pauline, were the last high.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Words That Sound Dirty But Aren't

  • gesticulate
  • fallacious
  • hoary
  • pussy willow
  • muk-luk
  • penal
  • titmouse
  • clean and jerk
  • cumin
  • cumquat
  • frock
  • Beefeater
  • testy
  • highness
  • ungulate
  • anually
  • Uranus
  • cock-of-the-rock
  • masticate
  • matriculate
  • angina
  • corkscrew
  • testaceous
  • phalange
  • sextet
  • shebang
  • blowhole
  • Mulva
  • seamen
  • seersucker
  • gangbanger
  • debrief
  • uvula
  • dictate
  • rectory
  • Grand Tetons*
  • animal husbandry
  • bushwack
  • jackanape
  • sirloin
  • Dick Butkus
  • testatrix
  • bushtit
  • backhoe
  • Assowoman Bay
  • Lake Titicaca
  • crankshaft
  • cherry picker
  • butternut
  • nutjob
  • Bangkok
  • swallowtail
  • pusillanimous
  • Tony Danza
* We printed this in Friday's paper, but some guy actually left us a note explaining that the Grand Tetons rightfully are dirty, as the explorers first saw them and thought they looked like big breasts, hence the name.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Leave Tomorrow Behind

A summary: Hollister to Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara to Cayucos, Cayucos to Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara to Hollister, Hollister to Santa Barbara. Fuck. I found out my grandparents and mom met John Ritter twenty-some odd years ago, plus Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. Then I had lunch with Todd and April at a burger joint that used to be owned by Scott and Laci Peterson.

The past is not at rest.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Four Giants

"Sometimes the only thing worse than the weight of the world on your shoulders is the weight of the moon."

She's Not There

A list of the posters gracing my walls as of this early morning hour.
  • a Radiohead poster with Thom and the rest in Tokyo
  • a small poster I got at the the first "Lord of the Rings" at Premiere in Hollister
  • one for Hitchcock's "Vertigo" with the original orange pop art spyrograph design
  • a jumbo poster from "Pulp Fiction" that everybody bought at Just Play with Uma as Mia
  • Dali's "The Persistence of Memory"
  • another big one of Radiohead's Kid A album cover
  • a Mega Man II foldout that I rescued from an old Nintendo Power
  • the Happy Tree Friends autographed one Moe bought me for my birthday
  • the Italian "Psycho" poster I bought in London
  • a postcard I got along time ago with Pinky and the Brain on it
  • a mostly hidden "Army of Darkness"
  • a glossy black-and-white still from "Blue Velvet"
  • a pretty rare promotional poster for Mario Kart 64 with Jinglish sound effects like "clash!" instead of "crash!"
  • one for Radiohead's OK Computer
  • Lang's "Metropolis" with Futura totally looking like C-3PO
  • Munch's "The Scream"
  • the "Mulholland Drive" poster with Naomi Watts
  • a cover of Wrapped in Plastic with Coop and Laura Palmer in the Red Room from "Fire Walk With Me"
  • "Jaws" with the original artwork
  • one with Beck performing at some random concert
  • a Nike ad I tore out of an old Rolling Stone with a tennis player in a radiation suit on a smoldering, post-apocalyptic tennis court, inexplicably
  • the French ad for "Fire Walk With Me" with Laura in the front and a shadowy Coop behind red curtains
  • a way hot four-year-old Rolling Stone shot of Alicia Witt — billed as a "hot starlet" — with a whip
  • another Dali painting with creepy giraffe-elephants and a red sunset
  • the "Wild at Heart" with Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern
  • the cover of a San Jose Mercury Eye insert from when "Mars Attacks" came out full of the brainy martian noggins
  • a glossy photo of Rose MacGowan looking hot
  • a four-fifths obscured yellow poster from the Beastie Boys concert tour for Hello Nasty
  • a big black-and-white Just Play find for Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" with the first six lines
Because I'm obsessive. Why are you reading this?

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

I Survived the Blood Prom

"Don't make fun of the chick with the dirtypillows."
— Mo Rocca, media gadfly

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Plink

"Floccinaucinihilipilification," suggested the comfortador meekly.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Casey Becker

And then, out of the darkness, something whistled back. (Lock the doors) The middle of nowhere and thank god I'm not making Jiffy Pop right now.

Casey Becker, R.I.P.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Myra Monkhouse

One-man house party. My folks split to Las Vegas for the weekend, a Sin City excursion twice as sinful since they're going to see Celine Dion perform. Dad seemed surprisingly okay with it. It's sad that I'm so old that having the house to myself isn't a big deal anymore. I'm actually totally sober and watching "Family Matters" right now.

Honest-to-God instructions Mom gave me:
"If you see ants in the kitchen or the pantry, don't use bug spray because we keep food there."

"Go to the front gate to get the Sunday paper. If you can’t remember which box is ours, just take someone else's."

"If there's a message, push the 'play' button on the machine to hear it."
How I wish there were more than twenty-four hours in the day. Myra Monkhouse, R.I.P.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Highlights from My Online Interview With Meg Ryan

Meg says: I like babies

Meg says: Yes, well she's mormon, maybe she wants to have sex

Meg says: Except Splash Mountain and Space mountain and the haunted house will all be closed... I should let them know I am coming, maybe they'll open them for me

Drew says: oh, and what's your sister doing now?
Meg says: right now she's driving to my house
Meg says: she's going to school
Meg says: plays with horses a lot
Meg says: drinks a lot too
Drew says: like, little toy horses?
Meg says: no real ones, she even lived at the "horse unit" this summer
Meg says: basically a converted horse stable
Drew says: classy
Meg says: I think she's happy
Drew says: i guess it's not so bad -- i lived in a converted carport all last year
Meg says: Now she lives with a gay guy who has two chihuahua's and one of them has three legs

Meg says: When I look out the window in my bedroom I see a tall fence with the extra barbed wire slanted because it is the mental hospital's property

Meg says: you're not a slut are you?

Meg says: there are so many cheeses in this world

Meg says: i don't think I could ever make it in a sorority

Meg says: Drew, if I find out you are joking, I swear to god I will never speak to you again

Meg says: and I thought one day we would get married

Meg says: so, why'd you tell me that?

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Sunset Over Bird Creek

Recuperation = sleep and home-cooked food and paint and the swimming pool and the dog and Mario Golf. Waluigi rock and roll. As the red rock called Mars lurks closer to Earth for a once-in-59,609-years hi-def glimpse, the last two months sink in.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Sentimental Johnny

Goodbye, Juney spoony moon.

Friday, August 22, 2003

"I Guess I'm Alone..."

When Cate's train pulled out of Waterloo, London ended. Tomorrow's just filler and then I'm gone. I rank Cate above just about everybody else from that previous life I led in an alternate galaxy called high school, so I was glad to share my last memories of London with her: Tate Modern (again) and Richard III at the Globe (again), both experiences well-worth the déjà vu. Saw my old T.A. at the Globe, too. Steve, who I had for a Shakespeare class I took last summer. He remembered my name. Maybe he thought I was something special.

I keep thinking about Gigi and I feel bad for not having seen her when she wasn't well, even if she was a different person — skinny and confused — than the almost-grandma who babysat me sometimes a long time ago.

Two days. No regrets. No time for regrets.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Lightning

When I called home and my mom told me she had bad news, I instantly assumed the cat had died. Far from that, my grandmother's sister Gigi died. Last Monday, meaning I’m probably the last family member to find out. I knew Gigi better than most people know their great aunts, I'd wager. Now I’ve got her funeral as soon as I get back to the states.

The fog I woke up to this morning turned into wind and the beginnings of rain. Mom said she saw some lightning amid the freak summer shower presently raining over Hollister. Somehow, that makes me feel closer to home, this ridiculous pathetic fallacy.

I think I'll appreciate seeing Cait tomorrow morning at Waterloo even more now than I would have. I'm glad she's making the trek from Essex or Sussex or whatever sexy place she's living now.

The Mushroom Kingdom and the United Kingdom

An excerpt from the second Bret Easton Ellis book I’m reading on this vacation, Glamorama:
"Shh, I'm playing," I tell her. "Yoshi's eaten four gold coins and he’s trying to find the fifth. I need to concentrate."

"Oh my god, who gives a shit," Alison sighs. "We're dealing with a fat midget who rides a dinosaur and saves his girlfriend from a pissed-off gorilla? Victor, get serious."

"It's not his girlfriend. It's Princess Toadstool. And it's not a gorilla," I stress. "It's Lemmy Koopa of the evil Koopa clan. And baby, as usual, you're missing the point."

"Please enlighten me."

"The whole point of Super Mario Bros. is that it mirrors life."

"I'm following." She checks her nails. "God knows why."

"Kill or be killed."

"Uh-huh."

"Time is running out."

"Gotcha."

"And in the end, baby, you …are …alone."

Sure, Ellis mistook Bowser Koopa for Lemmy, his weakling son, but he redeems himself in the next chapter by both mentioning Dana Ashbook and Kyle MacLachlan. I'm so owned.

London fog. Three days.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Parsnip Chips and Other Peculiarities

I wandered into familiar territory and ate a Waitrose lunch — kiwifruit, maple yogurt, parsnip chips, and a hummus sandwich — on the steps of Foundation House. Being alone hurt a bit. It seems like a year ago when I would have been surrounded by all those people who I suddenly miss. People would walk by I my kneejerk reaction would be to look them in the face, like they might be someone I knew. They weren't.

Wonderwall

My feet rest again on British soil. That statement is a lie, in the strictest sense of language. An entire story of apartment building — a story, notably, inhabited by Rammstein-loving Poles — separates me from the ground. Nonetheless, I feel happy to be once again in London, a few steps closer to home and rest and sanity and cleanliness. Uncle Andy’s a great guy for letting me stay here free of charge, but oh how I loathe his apartment, the walk to which allowed me two glimpses into London’s seedy streetlife. One: I saw what I believe to be a drug deal. I quickened my step. Two: I was propositioned by a prostitute. Other than that, I arrived safely at the front door of an apartment that twice now the London police have declared a crime scene. Free internet. n8rs81: hey everyone n8rs81: look its really him n8rs81: thats Drew n8rs81: I met him once n8rs81: no you didn't n8rs81: thats kind of how i picture your return from Europe Last night I stood on the Eiffel Tower and looked over a sparkling Paris. This morning I walked through the catacombs, touching skulls that once belonged to victims of the French Revolution. Quite a juxtaposition, and the perfect way to bid farewell to Paris — save the drop of catacomb water I got in my eye… I’ll probably get cholera. I finshed Alan Moore's Watchmen on the Chunnel. Good book. Great, actually. I gave it to Charlie and I wonder how it might find me again. I remember my anthro teacher sophomore year thought it was funny how the phallic, intrusive Chunnel poked England in an area called Kent. Ha. D.A.C.K. has now completely disbanded. Charlie split from me at Waterloo Station and took a train to meet his English uncle in Redding, Agnes’s Paris program begins tomorrow, and Kristen is somewhere in Sweden. It was the best foursome since the Beatles. I’ll miss it, even if right now I’m loving the non-socializing I’m doing. In my heart and in my car. We can't rewind we've gone too far. I plan to enjoy these last few days in London, even if every article of clothing I have is filthy. I miss pornography and sorely need a shave. I’m starting to look more like the bum who looked like me. Even though I saw only a smallish chunk of the world, I am pleased with myself. I saw the other side and I came back.
Today is gonna be the day That they’re gonna throw it back to you By now you should've somehow Realised what you gotta do I don’t believe that anybody Feels the way I do about you now Backbeat the word was on the street That the fire in your heart is out I’m sure you've heard it all before But you never really had a doubt I don’t believe that anybody feels The way I do about you now And all the roads we have to walk are winding And all the lights that lead us there are blinding There are many things that I would Like to say to you But I don’t know how Because maybe You’re gonna be the one that saves me And after all You’re my wonderwall
Four days.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Vol-San, the Sagacious Lightbulb

The French pronunciation of the letter "r" is nearly enough to keep me here, but tomorrow I'm taking the Chunnel back to London, hopefully to see Caitlyn and surely to complete the last leg of my little adventure. I like Paris a lot. Contrary to the American stereotype, the French are a warm, happy people, but I guess anybody living in such a beautiful city couldn't help but feel happy.

I went the Louvre and met the Mona Lisa (if only as briefly as a herd of cows meets the machine that rams the bolt into their heads). The French supplement the painting’s title with the parenthesized apposition "La Jocande." I don't know what that means. I saw the Arc d'Triumphe. I saw Notre Dame. I saw a poodle, whom I named Linda Cardinelli in Kristen and my game of naming dogs we meet. I saw Versailles, which I found somewhat lackluster with its browning lawns and dry fountains. I saw the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night and drank wine within its view. Our hostel, the Three Ducks, is my favorite of all the hostels so far, even if the crew that accompanies us last night reminded me of some horrible all-Canuck Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue. They made a joke about freedom fries. How timely!

Kristen has left us to spend her last week in Sweden with Jono. Kinda sucks — she was the glue, and in her absence those who do not clean their toenails now outnumber me. But we're doing fine, nonetheless. Besides, we have Vol-san, the sagacious lightbulb of Japanese origin.

No matter what my outside appearance may indicate, I'm honestly as happy as I am tired.

Bittersweetly, six days.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

What Samara Said

The countdown continues.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Saint Couchette

sooner than scheduled and then we didn't go see the sistine chapel because we decided they wouldn't have us and besides i felt too dirty and tired and sore (and not in the good way) and charlie and i went straight for the train station to meet up with kristen and agnes in barcelona which meant a long train ride only i didn't mind and i wrote (transcribed directly from the blank back page of Charlie's copy of William Lycon's The Philosophy of Language

I decided Rome is a lot like a bunch of hyperactive children with no concept of foresight or planning who nonetheless build their own city... on the sun. As beautiful and grand as I found Rome, I've got no idea how these lunatics got more than two thousand years of history under their belts. Aeneas would not be proud. During the ride from Rome to Genoa we passed a waterslide park. I contemplated saying "Fuck Agnes and Kristen and the good nation of Spain" and spending the remainder of my vacation as a slide guinea pig. Neither Charlie nor I have a clock and we are not far enough on this trip to worry about time yet — Pisa stands between us and Genoa yet. It's like timeless like a rolling casino... on the sun. By the heat I know it’s day but no real time... The woman sitting next to me appeared to be reading some script for an Italian TV show. She was making marks here and there, so I suppose she might be somebody important. Evidence that, rather, she was crazy, like many people I have ridden public transportation beside: she had stuffed the script, a low-quality photocopy, in a Popo Gigio notebook with dozens of other papers. She did not speak a lick of English and neither did the script (I peeked). I'd like to think it was a family-oriented one-hour police drama about a recovering alcoholic cop divorcé who marries his partner, a sexy teenage witch superhero who hears prophetic messages from her talking log, then raises an eclectic assortment of international ghost children (one of whom struggles with his or her sexuality) and together they all form a rock band that travels the country, uncovering arcane governmental conspiracies regarding the existence of stop motion-animated aliens. Oh, and they have a dog named Tiger. (and a second passage) Everything was different after I left my shoes at the Hotel Stromboli. I did it on purpose, of course. These shoes I've had for more than a year and I still liked them, but foot odor demons possessed them long ago. Plus they had holes in their soles. Perhaps that's how the demons got in there in the first place. Their heaviness outweighed their usefulness. On a similar note, I decided against returning to the Sistine Chapel this morning. I opted to get to Genoa earlier and Charlie didn’t fight it. I'll probably regret this decision later, just like the shoes, which really weren't in such bad condition, now that I think about it. Maybe it’s the way my stomach flipped when I saw the Vatican — stunning, beautiful, damn close to perfect, but it made me feel sad. All that money donated over the years by hardworking Catholics over the years built a palace of marble and gold fancy enough to trap God inside. Glorious and gluttonous, it’s everything that’s right and wrong with Catholicism, my religion, stamped in my brain forever. And the maid at the Stromboli probably just threw my shoes away. Next stop: Livorno. How many to Genoa? Nice? Barcelona? London? Hollister? I’m wearing a t-shirt advertising a Joy Division album I'm not sure I've heard. As beaches blur by in my window, Italians cluster against the water like mussels on a rock, sleek and shiny. I wonder what Justin is doing. How do you say goodbye to an answering machine? 

 i think i thought nice was nice, even if i only saw the nice outside the train station and i think nice is where lucy is from and i thought about how great lucy is and how she's only in san luis now and i could go say hi some day if i only had here number but the train didn't board until way late at night and our car was full of backpackers desperate to get to barcelona and i swear the french punished us by not starting the air conditioning until way late and we were wet with sweat and thirsty and hungry from not eating all day but it did eventually pull out of the station and charlie and i shared our car with all these girls from california including this one named ashley who i found attractive in a rose mcgowan way and she went to the same high school in lafayette as shannon and we saw valeria again and i thought maybe valeria boded well for the rest of the journey since i felt so bad about stranding her back in interlaken and these horrible frenchwomen with sour faces like vinegar got in our car too and gave ashley and i dirty looks for talking and i don't think charlie liked ashley all that much but we had to leave anyway because we were in someone else's seats but charlie found an open, empty couchette and we crashed there and Ah, the couchette. I think I have never have felt such a wonderful embrace as that of the leather bench-bed of that vacant couchette car. I only gained three hours sleep, but the alternative was total zombie status in Barcelona. If I ever become fantastically wealthy and build my dream mansion, I will include a couchette room, in which the couchette experience will be perfectly simulated, rocking and creaking and flashing lights passing through the edges of the window drapes and everything. No sweeter word exists in the French language before "couchette." Saint Couchette, the patroness of the travel-weary. the ride through the spanish countryside to barcelona made me feel homesick because i thought it looked a lot like california, what with the golden hills and agriculture and all and even the people speaking spanish made me wish the train could have just kept going across the atlantic and all the way home only it didn't because that would be silly and instead it took us to the barcelona train station where we saw valeria a third time and i'm totally convinced that little ecuadorian woman is an angel because she serendipitously stopped us directly in front of the internet station where we could check our mail only the news wasn't as good as i had hoped Excerpts from Kristen's bad news epistles, the first of which bore the subject "Big Problem":
ag and i just got to barcelona and the journey went fine, just took a while. on the metro on our way to go find a hostel, ag's money belt was stolen out of her little backpack. no cash was in it but both her passports, her american green card, her student visa for paris, her expired ATM, her eurail pass, and her social security card were in there. we went to the police station and reported it and it seems that she might need to go to paris ASAP because there is an actual canadian embassy there and here... i saw two guys get on, one had an accordion and the other stepped between me and ag. while one was playing the accordion to distract us apparently, the other unzipped ags little back pack that she was holding in front of her and pulled the money belt out we think. ag also saw a third guy that was making eye contact with the other two that may have been involved. ag noticed it was unzipped a little when we got off and the metro was just leaving. if you want to meet us in barcelona or paris, we'll work it out when we find out info from the embassy. but if you don't want to wait to find out or travel that far, thats ok too. i'll be emailing you asap about the next results.
mostly at charlie's urging, he and i went to paris, but not before i cursed both agnes for allowing some swarthy accordion man charm her into dancing away all her valuable documents and the six or so hours we hung out in barcelona, which passed like a kidney stone, although we did meet this cute viennese girl named mary/marie who knew more about swedish rock and david lynch than hot girls usually do and she reminded me of someone i can't quite place in my mind and she said i reminded her of thom yorke (which i kind of have trouble taking as a compliment) and also the lead singer of coldplay (which i guess i take as slightly more of a compliment) and we stayed with her until she went her own way and left us with the stereotype of the american nuclear family where the dad was in the navy and i suspect didn't like me and the mom was a dead ringer for peggy hill from king of the hill and they told us some stories about how they used to be wild before the wed and bred but i suspect their wild was on the wild side of mild I arrived in Paris after two straight days of travailing travel and I arrived in Paris after two straight days of travailing travel and instantly wanted to escape to home by moving my flight up a few days. Upon the advice of the A, C, and K or D.A.C.K., however, I took a hot shower, brushed my teeth, exchanged the brown pants and Joy Division shirt I had been wearing for the last two days and allowed myself time to reconsider. One afternoon on the streets of Paris and I submitted to the city's allure. And now here I write. As it should be, nine days.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Plan B

Too much to write. A promise: the whole story once I get to London. Spain? No. France instead. Not a bad deal. Brass Monkey.

Ten days.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Paper Pants

The Vatican made us wear black paper trousers before Charlie and I could get into the pope's house. Stupid pope. I wish I hadn't given my new pants to a pretty Italian girl, because then I'd make the pope wear them when he came to my house.

What's that on the horizon? Could it be Spain after all?!

Thirteen days. American keyboard.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

excuse the lack of punctuation (stop)

the arabic keyboard i am using makes it unnecessarily difficult and i will therefore avoid contractions and improvise question marks and such (stop)

just when the heat relented and sleeping without a puddle of perspiration became possible, the church bells rang and rang and rang

sunday morning in rome

i guess i forgot how overwhelmingly catholic this city is (stop) most of the shops shut down today save the most touristy (stop) church and whatnot (stop) i have seen more nuns since charlie and i got here than i did in elementary school (stop) it is a freaking penguin party here and anyone in a habit is invited (stop) accordions too (stop) there has been a plenitude of braying squeezeboxes (stop) if i saw a nun playing an accordion i think i would jizz my pants (stop) no (stop) that is not true (stop)

chucko and i saw the spanish steps last night (stop) i think they should remove them and install the spanish escalator (stop) (insert laughs here) i saw a priest speaking with a couple in a small chapel at the top of the steps and i realized that he was giving them mass (stop) i miss mass (stop) i should go while i am here in the catholic mecca (stop) no wait (stop) maybe that is an unfit comparison (stop) we also checked out the trevi fountain (comma) which was as impressive as i imagined it would be (stop) i took pictures but i doubt it could do the structure justice (stop) beautiful (stop) the sight of it both made me thirst and want to pee (stop) i filled my water bottle from what i think was a drinking fountain (stop) no sign of cholera yet (stop) i am like ninety percent sure it was potable (stop)

we left the hotel stromboli (comma) (which i liked a lot) and went in search of a cheaper place (stop) the man at the temini sent us to a hostel called the pink floyd (stop) one might think the pink floyd was an exceptionally cool hostel (stop) it was not (stop) if the think layer of graffiti had not been indication enough that the pink floyd was perhaps not the most respectable establishment this side of the tiber, the way creepy addams family elevator clinched it (stop) plus all the guys in the rooms looked like they were strung out (stop) i think i saw too many flies buzzing around too (stop) not wanting to wake up in an ice bath with a jagged (comma) stitched wound where our kidneys had been (comma) charlie and i left making sure to not touch the walls on the ways out

yuck

we are staying at a different place in a somewhat less graffiti ridden area now (stop) however (comma) it seems it is owned by the same people (stop) i hope my stuff is still there when i get back (stop) for a people heir to so much culture and art and history (comma) you would think the romans would no how to not act all creepy (stop) i suspect the entire city of rome is waiting to rip me off (stop)

we are off to the vatican today (stop) if i see any souvenir pope hats on sale (comma) i am buying one

fourteen days (stop) two weeks (stop) a fortnight (stop) half a month (stop)

it is such a paradox (stop) fourteen days is not long enough to do everything i want to do (comma) yet i cannot believe i have to wait that long to see home again (stop)

(stop)

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Meg Ryan Breaks the Fourth Wall

Roman holiday.

I’m glad Rome is hot. That’s how I imagined it, reeking of baked asphalt. The sun is presently baking all of Europe, in fact, but it looks like I might not suffer in the Spanish heat, as the train from Milan to Barcelona is booked through August 16. Beyond that, me and Charles-in-Charge split from the girls temporarily so they could go see Barcelona early. No we have to negotiate new plans from opposite ends of Italy.

And now, in true Faulknerian style, a host of surprise guest narrators. First, a note from mom reminding me that, yes, it really is as hot as I think and, yes, Jim Vanderszwann has not also died in my absence:
Hello again Drew,

Just want to let you know that your tube with the posters has arrived and is waiting for you in your room. If you mailed the box with the clothes at the same time I guess it will be not far behind. I was listening to the news tonight and Jim Vanderszwann said it has been unusually hot in Europe this summer. Even London has been hot . . . so hot that they shut down the Millennium wheel because it was too hot inside the capsule that people were getting sick...like being in a giant terrarium for a whole hour! I am supposing you got a chance to go on the Wheel? Anyway, keep us up to date on your travels, have fun, stay safe. Love you, MOM
And that's not all:
Drew--

Okay, so I got my pictures back from London already, and — oh, man — there are some real winners of you. It's great, you amuse me even a zillion miles away. Let me know how your travels go and where they take you. I'm really jealous. Bastard. Lafayette is super boring; I can't wait to start work. Good to hear from you. . .

*Shannon

p.s. "I hope they don't procreate in there" -- Colin, in frustration about the noise level of our fellow students.

An email hilariously sent to me by Kristen — the same Kristen with whom I am travelling — updating me as to what I have done on my vacation:
hey y'all,

Leaving Interlaken today for florence. it was amazing. we got advice about a cool hike to take in the alps in this town called grindelwald or something and it was even prettier than interlaken. drew likened it to a model train town and it was so true, it was the most picturesque perfect little swiss town. and we hiked up to this glacier and it was way way pretty. and in switzerland, they're really into kids and novelty, i have decided. they're just everywhere. on the mountain we hiked, there were these toboggan rides for 4 francs. everybody comes to interlaken for the extreme sports like hang gliding and bungee jumping but those are expensive! so we took the little toboggans instead and it was awesome. the whole town is pretty expensive so the first night, we ended up eating at hooters because it was the cheapest place in town. hooters. hope you all are having a great summer.

love,
kristen
Good to know I'm having such a great time. But Kristen's right about what i said about the model train-like appearance of Switzerland. The whole countryside has, to steal the coinage of Agnes, a "manicuredness" to it that it is nearly too perfect. Italy, with its cracked sidewalks, and overgrown, weedy gardens seems more realistic.

And finally, an email titled "I am addicted" from a newly reintroduced character:
Your "online journal" is like a bad reality show. I just can't stop reading it. You have changed so much, but it's still you. Maybe it's just that I haven't seen you for so long, it's kinda like getting back to old time. Either way, I don't what I'll do once you stop writing.

- Meg
Meg Ryan goes through the fourth wall. I like guest narrators. Fifteen days.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Fire Spots

Mom was right. LISBON (Reuters) - Europe's searing heat wave was forecast to continue into the weekend, after killing at least 36 people and fanning wildfires across the continent.Apparently, it's not been so hot in decades — London especially. Drought, wildfire, heat stroke... Can't say I won't have to work for this summer vacation, but that explains the eerie fire spots on the hillside in Florence. I saw Boticelli's Birth of Venus at the Uffizzi. And Medusa again, too. Agnes said she looked like Johnny Depp. The Uffizzi is full of art, most of it depicting the minutia of the life of Christ: the Annunciation, the Presentation of the Magi, the Baptism in the River Jordan, the Crucifixion, the Deposition, the Resurrection. I hate to say the stale motifs bored me, but they did. I can only praise certain artists for utilizing creative techniques while staying within the confines of the different stages. I would have loved to see the Regurgitation of Christ, the Imbibition of Christ, Sporty Christ, Posh Christ.

Fiorenze Henderson

Florence. Fiorenze. Florence. Fiorenze. Florence and/or Fiorenze. I don't know where the hell I am. Fiorenze Henderson?

The Florence train station looked like how I expected it to, like a movie. A huge slatted dome like an airplane hanger with light coming through in shafts. Spinning signs and changing lights. Loud, gesticulating people. Stray pigeons. And an instant enclosure of body moisture when we stepped off the train. I think I liked it even better than Waterloo.

I feel farther from home than I ever have in my life.

The Duomo was... cute. Like a half-assed version of St. Paul's and the color of mint chip ice cream. But the city itself is beautiful. The River Arno is also soft and green, but more pleasing and not brown and sick-looking like the Thames. We saw an statue garden outside the Uffizzi that I liked a lot. Mostly men statues. Kristen pointed out that the only female statues were either being raped or the decapitated Medusa. I thought Perseus and Medusa was the best one there — a beautiful and horrible form in green stone on a white marble pedestal adorned with grotesque human forms and skulls. Seems like I've seen Medusa a lot since I got to this side of the world.

I had some good lasagne and we met a girl from Alabama named Nicolette. I would have expected to hate the Alabama accent, but on her it was actually charming. I think I get to see some genuine Renaissance art today, a few more good shots of culture with Agnes and Charlie at the Uffizzi while Kristen's beaching because she spent a month in Florence with Hillary O last year. I saw Michelangelo's grave and Macchiavelli's and Enrico Fermi's. And also the inventor of the radio. They're all in Sante Croce, where the great men of Italy apparently spend their afterlives. Charlie correctly pointed out the oddness of Galileo's presence in the church as well, seeing as how — great as ol's Galileo was — the church condemned his theory of the heliocentric universe up until about a few years ago. Crazy Italians.

When it rained yesterday, the city changed — wet for a few hours and therefore bearable. The veranda at the hostel overlooks the entire city and we could see a wildfire burning in an irregular, red semicircle all night. I think the smoke may have helped block out the sun a bit. The hostel here is odd, but way cooler than Balmer's in Interlaken. We stay in tents that have padlocks on the zippers but can be entered just as easily by lifting up the corners and sliding right in. Next Rome and then Barcelona and then Paris on the night of the nineteenth. I might get to see Caitlyn in London before I fly home.

Something funny: with an pitiful honesty, Charlie said he's never understood why boxer briefs are called boxer briefs. Gelato rocks my face. Sixteen days.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

The Further Adventures of D.A.C.K.

and then we left munich and the train ride to interlaken was cool even though we accidentally forgot to get a pass for austria which we ended up seeing anyway through the window after we paid extra money. interlaken is nice but kind of pokey and our hostel was like an american expatriate frat house and i liked grindelwald a lot better because we hiked part way up the alps (or actually just one alp) but not the monsterhorn which is a mountain and not an actual monster horn. fictional.

glaciers are hardy old fucks and all four of us lost our hooters virginity.

three friends we made:

this girl from the ukraine but really washington d.c. who still had an accent and we suspect wanted to bone charlie and her name was alina or irina or sandy.

this girl named valeria (malaria) who we kind of left at the train station and i kind of felt bad and i got scared when she said barcelona and nice and roma were gonna be way hot because she’s from ecuador and anyone who grew up in a country named after the equator must know what heat really is.

this guy named vaughn or von or van or something who i hated initially because he talked about aikido a lot and tried to say madison was the berkeley of the midwest but then he corrected my posture and he told kristen she tries too hard.

we decided against mystery park and teddyland, because they frighten me. teddyland declares its sovereignty next thursday.

but most importantly, i must download “tarzan boy” as soon as i get back. eighteen days.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Baby You're No Good

and then i picked up kristen at heathrow and she told me that our flight was leaving in two hours when i thought i had until the next day so we had to tube back to brixton at the last minute and i got my stuff but we missed the flight anyway and lost our money but we got new tickets on a later flight but the airport was stanstead and not heathrow and a nice cabbie who sang camptown races drove us there and kristen got to see buckingham palace and parliament and big ben and the tate modern and the eye but only from the window of the cab and we get there earlier than we thought (because we thought we were going to be late) and give the nice but slightly off cabbie and extra twenty quid because he got us there on time and he didn't charge us a hundred quid like the first cabbie said he would and the flight was okay and linda ronstadt really made it a lot better and you're no good you're no good you're no good baby you're no good and i couldn't tell if the two ladies next to me were lesbians or just really european and then munich isn't really munich but munchen which confused me a lot and we found agnes and charlie okay and it's way hot here in germany even hotter than it was in london but the germans really like running all their words into these huge compound things that are hard to read because i guess they aren't hip to the space or the comma or even the hyphen and they put and s and an s together and it looks like a beta and german people are way nice and not shitty like kaspar was and i saw a brauhaus (beer house but more like an auditorium or meeting hall than the little pubs in london) where hitler held one of his first big nazi rallies and i guess this used to be hitler's place and the glockenspiel was amazing but it was only built in like 1900 or 1985 or something like that and i realize now i suck for not having gone seen soft cell in hyde park when i had the chance and so we leave in a few hours for interlaken but it's a seven hour train ride and apparently i get to be cameron diaz if we play charlie's angels or three engels für charlie and i'm in an internet cafe and i think if there's one person i would be missing most

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Farewell, Aubergine

July's nearly done and — for me, anyway — so is London. I have only one day left with the people in my program, one day in the fanciest places I have ever lived, one day with free internet access, one day in the country that gave the world Jack the Ripper, Johnny Rotten, and Camilla Parker-Bowles. Then Kristen and I leave England, leave Uncle Andy, leave the beaten prostitute district and see the other side of the water. London’s nearly done and I think I’ll miss it.

I will miss Hyde Park Gate despite its dated plumbing fixtures. No, more than dated: radiocarbon-dated. I will miss its proximity to Hyde Park, an expanse of green and brown and blue that the residents of London and their dogs enjoy proudly and every day. I will miss the creaking floors. I will the Dutch embassy and the neverending line of people in the visa application line. (Do that many people want to smoke hash?) I will miss our group’s shared delusion that nasty lurksex toxified the couch in the living room.

I will miss the group.

I will miss Ben’s disinterested stoicism. But I will miss the harem, too. I will miss Chelese and Megan and Apryll-with-a-“y” and Lily whose last name was Field which made her a compound noun. I will miss Melinda/Matilda’s conviction that despite her tiny stature, she can still fit a soul in there. I will miss Tracy’s iconic double ponytail — surely not pigtails. I will miss Shannon’s indomitable optimism I will miss Jihan’s dedicated liberalism. I will miss Kristy’s ready-to-explode nymphomania and Molly’s inky blackness — an entity which only Shannon’s cheerfulness could survive — and Shawna’s drunken inability to hold her loosemeat sandwich. I’ll miss the whole group, excluding the bleeding red thing.

I’ll miss Airplane Window.

Farewell Waitrose. Farewell maple yogurt — no, yoghurt. Farewell lamb and mint-flavored potato chips and physalis and locally brewed Guinness and Tango and — fucking hell! — Cadbury’s creme eggs 365 days a year!

I’ll miss frontal nudity on basic cable after midnight.

Riding subways in other cities won’t have the same Canterbury Tales-like procession that I watched everyday. Chasing pigeons won’t be the same. I can go to other Italian restaurants. Shit — I can go to Italy! But never again will Princess Diana’s favorite one be around the corner. I know I'm never going to be able to bidet my troubles away. Besides, I’m just getting used to colour and honour and programme and those fucking two pence-pieces.

I’m honestly going to miss London. Farewell, aubergine.

It’s the end of July — only two months of summer left. Happily, I can answer the question that has dogged me since college started: where do I go from here? Easy. Munich.

ADDENDUM: I have an unanswered question after all: Who the fuck is Armitage Shanks and why is his name on my toilet?

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

T

Letter of the week: "T." If Mrs. Dalloway has taught me nothing else, Fortnum and Mason are gods among men, and my homeland should promptly adopt the sugar-coated extra meal known as "tea." Nine cups without a psychotic episode: the Royal Blend.

No longer shooting merely myself in the foot without any foresight, I'm kicking the Koopa shell without heed of what unseen, reflective blocks and pipes await it in the screens beyond.

A doubly perplexing email from Jill:
Hey - I just found out there is a gay bar in the Castro call the "Twin Peaks Tavern." No info yet whether or not it is based on the show.

Jill

Cloud Nine

"I am being perfectly calm. I am just outspoken. If it comes to being killed, I will take it as calmly as anyone."
— Caryl Churchill, Cloud Nine

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Hell's Bells and All's Well

A conclusion worthy of ending on:
Do not despair — many are happy much of the time; more eat than starve, more are healthy than sick, more curable than dying; not so many dying as dead; and one of the thieves was saved. Hell's bells and all's well — half the world is at peace with itself, and so is the other half. Vast areas are unpolluted; millions of children grow up without suffering deprivation, and millions, while deprived, grow up without suffering cruelties, and millions, while deprived and cruelly treated, nonetheless grow up. No laughter is sad and many tears are joyful. At the graveside the undertaker doffs his top hat and impregnated the prettiest mourner.
— Tom Stoppard, Jumpers

Monday, July 28, 2003

Lyle and Linda Lurker

So I have this idea for a new sitcom. It's called "Meet the Lurkers." It's about Lyle and Linda Lurker, the creepy couple I now live with. Living with Lyle, an inconsiderate, hairy, and apparently hemophiliac hobbit of a roommate was bad enough. In fact, it was worse than Greg, Kaspar, or Drunko. But now the missus is here too. For an extended visit. In my room. Replete with kissing.

I shudder.

"Fuck God and all his shitty little angels!" — a quote from tonight’s play that I’m too Catholic to say myself. You’d think a play about he court politics of Louis XIV would be high drama enough, but those fucking lurkers have driven the entire group to gossip like bored housewives. Call me fucking Mabel. Apricots, oranges, and cauliflower.

I thought of a name for my column for next year: "Artful Dodging." It's from Oliver Twist. The Artful Dodger is the boy who seduces Oliver into a life of crime and dresses like a grown man — ostensibly, someone whose premature maturity generates comical situations. He's bad but lovably funny, so he gets away with stuff. Maybe it smacks of literary snobbishness, but it’s not like that wouldn’t be entirely inaccurate either. I considered playing on the word "dodgy," but I think "Artful Dodging" sounds better. And of all places, I got this epiphany not from reading Oliver Twist itself, which I didn't like, but from reading a biography on Alan Moore.

The Changing of the Guard kind of blew. I'm all for ritual and ceremony. Fuck, like I said, I've Catholic. But it's not so cool when you gotta stand alongside representatives of every nation on unforgiving cement for more than an hour. "Girl in pink! Please get off the fence!... Girl in red! Could you please get off the fence!... Girl in mauve...." The marching band was pretty good. Is it me, or did they play "Sound of the Swinging Symbol"?

If I had the offer to live at Buckingham Palace, I think I'd pass.

Speaking of old things, Bob Hope died today at the age of 400. Now who shall regale the nation with golf jokes at the president’s expense? In fact, a lot of people have died since I went all British. Barry White, Drewfish, ol' Bobby Hope, and those incorrigible Hussein brothers. Some good, some bad.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Hex Me, Vex Me

I'm not as smart as I thought I was.

See, there's this commercial for Axe Body Deodorant. The first one — not the one with the hot Axe Body Deodorant girl, the one with the guy who puts Axe on in the elevator, only to have the subsequent guy — who's far dorkier — get mauled by some babe who mistakes the lingering, atmospheric musk for the dork's. Anyway, the whole ad — the type of film, the oddly grainy color, the clothes, the outta-the-80s background music — all smack of a European production, much like the way Mentos ads do. Or so I thought.

I get to England and find that Axe doesn't exist here. Instead, they call the same product, but called "Lynx Body Deodorant." (Apparently, words with an "x" in them are cool. . . Rex, vex, hex, fox, lox, Courtney Cox, x-ray, axis, Matix, Matrix, Hexas. Maybe there's something to that. Xanax and Xerox must be the coolest brand names in existence.) But the commercial I saw very clearly shows the bottle with the Axe label I have come to know and love — present variety of choice: Voodoo. Thus, the ad is far from European. Instead, it's just American and lame.

So what must I learn from this little exercise? Aside from deduction that Axe, in its early state, had way low production values, I know now that I should not convince myself of things I am not sure to be true.

And I have too much idle braintime. Call me Mr. X.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Roberta Flack

Meg's response to my email, in which I explained how weird it is that we were thinking about each other during roughly the same period.
It is weird, I guess we just have a "special" connection. That's a joke, I'm not trying to get weird. Anyway, your online journal is kinda neat. Weird, but neat. You're a good writer, funny. Um, I am good. Still with the guy, still working-same ol' same ol'. My life is pretty damn boring right now. Sounds like you are having a good time. This is off the subject, but did you ever get your wisdom teeth out? I really don't know what else to write, so instead of making you read words that don't matter...

Keep in touch
- Meg

Stay tuned for Part Three.

Big Noisy Caterpillar

Things that are on the tube:
  • Absolutely no garbage cans
  • Loud Americans
  • Locals giving dirty looks to loud Americans
  • A very particular smell of combined B.O. I have dubbed "the Euro cologne"
  • A random shoe
  • A boyfriend and girlfriend making out even though they totally look like brother and sister from the same freaky albino family
  • A man who looked like BOB
  • Hairy moles (not the burrowing kind)
  • Hispanic people with British accents (weird!)
  • Germs, I’d imagine
  • Abundant bad haircuts
  • Posters advertising the seventh season of “Buffy” on DVD
  • A single exposed breast
  • Somebody with an accordion
  • The aforementioned man who looked like a male Mimi Bobek
  • Thankfully, no ghosts
Odd how some of my clearest London memories are set in the tube.

A Thought on the Sidewalk

Best name for a Sudanese restaurant: Suddenly Sudan

Camden

Camden rocked thirty years ago, when it was the center of the astral plane of cool, and it rocks today, mostly, if not with a lot more people trying to steal my valuable money through trinkets and t-shirts. I bought the t-shirts anyway. Now I can proudly wear the White Stripes, Joy Division, or the frontmost alien from Space Invaders proudly. I can't express how glad I am for passing up the Stonehenge/Bath/Oxford all-day, wake up-at-five-in-the-morning supertour. Camden made me just as happy, only without buses. The trek beyond the comfy confines of Zone One was well worth it and replete with pink and blue mohawked heads. Enough of this faux-hawk shit.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Neon Yellow Journalism

Reminding me of the world of difference between British, one-step-above-Weekly World News tabloid journalism and its American counterpart, the headline for the story containing the photos of the assuredly dead Uday and Qudsay Hussein: "REST IN PIECES"

Sometimes You Get What You Need

So freaking weird. Not a day after I post that entry in which I talked about missing Meg, she emailed me.
I don't know if you even check this mail, but...I just wanted to send you a belated birthday wish. I hope you had a good one and I hope you are having fun abroad. London, right? Anyway -- just wanted to say happy birthday, ol' pal.

- Meg
Nice, but so freaking weird.
[ link: the foreshadowing ]

Sweet Home Stratford-Upon-Avon

While reading the plaque next to a particularly ugly Roy Lichtenstein sculpture during my six hour stay at the modern art holy of holies, the Tate Modern, I finally learned the difference between Benday dots and bindi dots. Benday dots are the little dots of color used in print, like in the newspaper or comic books. I kind of don’t think they use them anymore, but they’re the little specks of red and yellow that they’d use to make really garish oranges. Bindi dots, however, are the third eye symbols that Hindu women wear on their foreheads.

And that’s not the only gift the Tate Modern bestowed upon me. I picked up a pocket-sized book detailing the career of David Lynch. Aside from joyously drawing long forgotten friends like Maddy Ferguson, the Lady in the Radiator, and mean Mr. Eddie to the forefront of my mind. I learned that Lynch himself didn’t start into art until his twenties. He did painting, then some moving mechanical sculpture, and then got into animation and film from there. This means that with hard work, dedication, and development of what raw skill I think I might have, I could actually have a chance at this shit. If Jessica can hold Conan O’Brien up as her career template and Debbie Salt can hold up Gale Weathers, then I could use David Lynch for mine. Maybe. Or him and Conan.

It turns out that I probably don’t have jaundice.

Breaking all rules of the strict code of conduct to which I hold myself, I went out last night to a club. I hate clubs. I hate dancing. And I genuinely loathe dancing to shitty club music. Nonetheless, I had a good time without getting all that wasted. Granted, I ingested two substances that the United States government would have forbidden — (one) guarana, which wired me like a Double Shot Extra Tall Super Espresso Hyperspasm, and (two) absinthe, which didn’t make me see green fairies but did make the night a good one. But I actually enjoyed the clubbing experience. I think the company was good. Shannon and Tracy are good dancers, or at least Ben says they are. Personally, I can’t tell. It looks like everybody’s making it up to me. But when we weren’t protecting the girls from the pouncing cocks of sweaty Anglotrash, we had fun. They played “Sweet Home Alabama.” Do the Britons even know what Alabama is?

I’ve got to say goodbye to all these people in one week. I’ll be leaving them for touring the continent with Kristen and company — including Spain, where the BBC says they’ve been having terrorist bombings in touristy areas. But it will be a sad end to my little "Real World"-esque vacation. Of course, that’s not to say that college life up until this point has ever lacked the qualities of the "Real World." Or even the real world, for that matter.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

But Not Schwinn

While I was walking to class this morning, my mind spinning with Meg and Tom Stoppard, I realized a lot of words for bad things begin with the letters s-c-h: schmuck, schpilkis, schlong… Kristi said there’s this German word schatz that means “dear,” so maybe this is just me.

The keyboards here blow. Where the @ should be, there’s a £ and the $ is moved one over and where the “ is there’s the @. There now, that seems suitably British.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

To the Honorable Mr. Tate

Graham Sutherland's art inspires me; Francis Bacon's drives me to seek counseling.

Elbow Celebration

Insults I have endured thus far:
  • “Eat cunt!” (yelled at me by a young British lad from the window of a white limousine near Picadilly Circus)
  • “Wait in line like the rest of us, you tossers!” (or something thereabouts, yelled at me and Ben by some British douche bag who thought Ben and I were cutting in line when we weren’t, the douche bag)
  • “Boisterous, loud Americans” (a label we unjustly earned on the tube from some German-speaking douche bags who didn’t realize our program’s mole, the German-born Antonia/Tracy could understand everything they said)
“Oh, we’re from California.” — a rejection to the guy at the info desk of the museum of natural history in response to his offer of an earthquake simulator. He understood.

“Elbows are so bomb!” — something somebody actually said.

“Regina,” the Latin for queen, pronounced by our British tour guide to rhyme with “vagina.” I noticed. I laughed. No one else did.

Friday, July 18, 2003

London Calling

I just realized the Clash t-shirt Jill and Monique got me when they were in London has made a return trip to its motherland.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Breath of the Marbol

I know it’s high culture and historically significant and all that, but walking through gallery after gallery of nobility portraits is like flipping through some yearbook from London Aristocrat High, circa the sixteenth century. How can I expected to feign interest when even the portraits look bored? Then again, any museum that houses the likenesses of Samuel Pepys and David Bowie or Queen Elizabeth and Twiggy can’t be all that bad.

Everything in England smells like grandpa breath.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Gloucester Station

We stand without speaking, just like the locals, just like good Americans. Clacking and roaring like a roller coaster.

Bump. Sway. Fluorescent flickering.

The whizzing black interrupted by the occasional beer-yellow safety light slows to a halt, and the scenery changes to the station: more fluorescent lights, flooding the sterile tile platform like the set of some urban movie.

Stand up. Sit down. Shuffle around.

Now we’ve got a new group of friends on the journey home, but God forbid we try to talk to them. A youngish mother has youngish daughters — not twins, but dressed identically like she wishes they were. An old man stares at those girls and I don’t like the way he’s looking at him. In the car behind us, a man who looks like Mimi Bobeck reads the newest Harry Potter and occupies his seat like an overripe pear squished into a shotglass. The station starts inching away again, then runs, then blurs into that blackness that I don’t like.

No one’s sitting directly across from me, and I can see my reflection in the window, shadowed by the whole lot of nothing behind it. I would have never imagined Gloucester Station — one of those overlit tile platforms without garbage bins that I only began frequenting a week ago — would make feel like I was home, but it does. My feet hurt and I wish I was there now.

Friday, July 11, 2003

That Don't Impress Me Much, Either

Good God. This is the longest I've gone without seeing "The Simpsons" in my life. Shania Twain has a concert in Hyde Park tomorrow. Somehow, that doesn't impress me much as the Cindy Sherman exhibit at the adjacent Serpentine Galley.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Armitage Shanks

Just when I think it’s sunk in, I realize it hasn’t and I’m a stranger again.

The novelty of living in this old city never struck my mind more sensationally than when the spit flew from the mouth of an Shakespearean actress on landed on my forehead. The construction of the Globe affords me the privilege of groundlinghood — I’m standing with my stomach pressed against the stage, the cast of an all-female production of Richard III screaming, crying, and dueling no more than six inched from my awe-stricken face. The actress playing Richard defies the confines of gender with a malicious grin; the actress playing Anne, who would be pretty if she didn’t have the nose of the pigfaces from that “Eye of the Beholder” episode of the Twilight Zone, is the one whose saliva has splashed on my head. Her Anne is both dignified and pathetic. It was the second performance of a Shakespeare play at the reconstructed Globe within twenty-four hours, the previous being an all-male Richard II. I never thought I could like the history plays like this.

I live among the unnervingly wealthy here. The bitchy, British judge from American Idol shops at the grocery store we went to the first day. We saw him. The Dutch embassy is our next door neighbors. They’re nice people, I’m sure. Our front window looks out onto Hyde Park, a sprawling green better than any strip of brush we call a park in the States. Aside from the palace within the park, there’s a golden statue of Prince Albert — ahem — and the Serpentine Galley, which is presently featuring a show by Cindy Sherman.

The flatmates are good, certainly better than I expected from a school that admits cows into its undergraduate program. Some of them suck beyond the telling of it, but mostly I’m happy.

In the interest of conserving the flat’s most prized resource — toilet paper — I braved the bidet today. Webster defines “bidet” in a way that makes me smile: “a bathroom fixture used especially for bathing the external genitals and the posterior parts of the body.” Truthfully, I think the toilet’s little sister is a fixture made only for women. The male genitals hang in such a way as to be teased annoying by the bidet’s stream of water. While the stream does clean the desired parts, it strikes the seldom-stuck region to the rear of the nut sack in the process, causing an unpleasant slap-slap-slap that does not make me smile. I think Bidet Town is an area of the European lifestyle I will leave uncharted after all.

And most impressive above all these things: I learned how to use the tube without getting lost.

Where do I go from here?

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Somewhere Over Moose Jaw

Holy shit. “My plane just landed in LONDON.” “I’m going through customs in LONDON.” “Uncle Andy’s picking me up in from Heathrow Airport in LONDON.” “I’m taking a bath in LONDON.” “I’m getting drunk with Kiwis at the decidedly American-Ozzie Outback Steakhouse… in LONDON!” I’m fucking here. On a new continent, on a new country, in a new city, on my uncle’s laptop while he and his Polish girlfriend share his bedroom. Holy shit. I have to repeat it. I made it here on my own. I didn’t accidentally board a flight to Libya. I wasn’t deterred by being situated between a monolingual German frau and a narcoleptic British dowager on the flight. And I didn’t get spurned by the hateful customs agent at the airport. Somewhere over Moose Jaw, it hit me: I am making the biggest step forward of my life. A lingering question: why did Uncle Andy’s flatmate Barry ask me what the age of consent for homosexual sex was in the United States?

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Trapped in Rosemary Woodhouse's Kitchen

12:21 p.m.

Waiting for Godot. Go-dough. Go-DOUGH. Go go. Gogo. He’s a mimic. Estragon is Gogo too. Vivi? Dodo. They’re extinct. Go dot. God ot. God ought. God dot. Goad ought. Goat odd. An odd goat.

Turnips. (And sprouts.) Talking around something. Talking in circles. What is a turnip? Turn up? Tur-NIP? Like pars-NIP? Language can’t define anything. Language just talks around something, without getting you there. Like this play. Circular. Repetitive. Boring. Cory says funny. Sigrid says funny too. Why is her name Sigrid? An odd name. An odd goat. Is Sigrid God? No, that would be lame.

Für Elise. Fur Elise. Not “for” — Für. With an umlaut. A bagatelle by any other name. Again! Für Elise again? I wonder what the person who keeps butchering Für Elise looks like. She should practice more. Just not now. Where is Elise today?

I am trapped in Rosemary Woodhouse’s kitchen and I have less than twelve hours until I am an adult.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Campfire Style

There’s this skillfully written article in the new Rolling Stone about this guy, Jonah Falcon, whose life sucks because he has a giant dick. Odd, yes. It’s 9.5 inches flaccid, 13.5 inches erect. The guy who wrote it, Robert Kurson, sure knows how to write about giant dicks.
Tense your forearm. Now wrap your hand around the middle of the muscle. That is the girth of the erection. Those who have witnessed it describe it as ‘grotesque,’ ‘gorgeous,’ ‘hideous,’ and ‘stunning’ … His balls are proportionately huge, each the size of a grade-A jumbo egg. When erect, Falcon’s penis generates enough heat to warm hands — campfire style — from a distance of six inches...

Along the route to the subway station this late Saturday afternoon, Falcon will need to pause every few blocks for an ‘adjustment’ — a reconciliation of penis and pants to facilitate comfortable locomotion. The move, performed over twenty years, is Houdini seamless; if you don’t know what to look for, you never see it.

As he walks, Falcon shifts his baseball glove from his left hand to under his right armpit, pivots so that he is facing a store window, pulls out the elastic waistband of his skintight baseball pants with his right hand, then uses his left to lift the penis back into its sideways position — it had drifted down his leg and was pointing earthward. Once his organ is securely wedged to the left, he releases his pants with a thwap, flips his glove back onto his catching hand and resumes his stride up New York’s Eight Avenue.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Rocks

Better times. Lizard's Mouth exists! It hides at the end of twisting trails of pot smoke. Not Spectacle Rock or Gaia's Navel, but the existence of Secret of Mana was recalled nonetheless.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Hamologist

Even though a man might have more hairs on his head than stars in the sky, that doesn't mean he can plan a party movie stars will attend and enjoy responsibly.

Friday, April 18, 2003

When Ariel Just Don’t Cut it No Mo’

When Ariel Just Don’t Cut it No Mo’
Academy Award winner “Spirited Away” doesn’t require an anime club card

Nerds with hyperactive sebaceous glands and “Dragon Ball Z” T-shirts who secretly fantasize about sexual encounters between Lara Croft and Princess Zelda.

Permanently prepubescent manga-addled she-geeks with Sailor Moon lunchboxes.

These are the two most widely dispersed stereotypes of the American fan of Japanese animation. But enjoying “Spirited Away,” which recently won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, does not require membership in Japanomaniacs Anonymous. Quite the contrary, “Spirited Away” entertains, mystifies and - at least for the duration of the film - allows the viewer to recall how the world looked through a child’s eyes.

Hayao Miyazaki, whose Studio Ghibli-produced films like “Princess Mononoke” and “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” glow with a near-perfection Disney could only dream of, offers the viewer Chihiro, a 10-year-old girl separated from her parents and lost in a world of spirits. It’s a stranger-in-a-strange land motif in the tradition of Alice, Dorothy and Little Nemo, only here with a socially relevant twist: because the laws of this fantastic realm force residents to either work or vanish, Chihiro gets a job working at a bathhouse that pampers the spirits that roam invisibly in her home world. Aside from struggling with the pains of child labor, Chihiro clashes with Yubaba, the witchy mistress of the bathhouse, befriends various quirky denizens and at one point runs from a giant puke monster.

Odd, yes, but still masterfully beautiful filmmaking.

Giant radish spirits and non-homosexual bathhouses may not enter the realm of American cinema often, but these elements of Japanese culture actually enhance the effect of wonder permeating “Spirited Away.” Culturally savvy viewers will dig the cultural significance, but most Americans will simply feel further dazzled by the world Miyazaki has created. Just as a child views the human world, Chihiro approaches her new home with caution, amazement, curiosity and fright.

Admittedly, the storyline is somewhat confusing. Whether this is a result of the intentionally surreal dreaminess or just a muddled translation is ultimately irrelevant. The protagonist often seems just as lost, only she relishes it. So should you.

Besides, the film’s other technical aspects also merit most of the praise. The animation - aided only occasionally by computers - flows marvelously. Those responsible for the translation from Japanese to English took great pains to preserve this achievement by selecting dialogue that would match the character’s mouth movements, thus eliminating the “I’m saying this even though my mouth could never produce this sound in this position” tendency that often plagues such Americanizations.

The translation’s other virtue is the suck-free English cast. Chihiro’s American incarnation is voiced by Daveigh Chase, the coolest 13-year-old in movies today. Chase previously terrified as bad seed Samara in this year’s other successful Japan-to-America translation, “The Ring.” In “Spirited Away,” her voice nicely intones Chihiro’s innocence without ever sounding saccharinely whiny. Suzanne Pleshette, Lauren Holly (“Dumb and Dumber”) and John Ratzenberger (“Cheers”) memorably voice their characters as well.

“Spirited Away” is good. It’s also been granted a limited theater re-release. Too lazy to go out? It’s on DVD — or hey, it's even on VHS, too, if you're feeling especially nostagolic for your younger years. Indulge your inner child or go watch a puke monster. Whatever gets you to watch.

Life Is Hard But So Am I

So last night I'm burning CDs for the trip home and I see that there's these ants all over. Rude ants, no less. I cleaned the little monsters up and that seemed to solve the problem. But then I got up this morning and cleaned up the room before I left for home. As I was emptying my change dish out, I see two Advil I forgot to take. Since Advil is the candy-coated pain medication, the ants went after them. What's funny is that they had completely eaten through the candy, all the way down to the medication beneath. And they were all stuck there, dead, because they overdosed on painkillers.

Death by overdose via sweet tooth.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Tumtaks

So it turns out Elise is in my discussion for Anglo-Irish Lit. I see her yesterday and I ask her what she's doing for housing next year, and she says her and Jenn and Jess are all gonna live together with a new roommate. Apparently, Darcy's got somewhere better to be. So I ask who the new girl is, and Elise says it's her twin sister. I say, "Wow. I had no idea you were a twin." And later I think it's odd that such an unexpected revelation would come on April Fool's Day. She's probably fooling me, right? Nope. I verified it with Darcy. I had to — you can't trust people on a day like yesterday.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Just Lost Peoria

Perplexing slogan on a jar of huckleberry jam in my fridge: "Huckleberry Delights: Everything huckleberry... and more!"

The Far Side of the Creative Subconscious

So I have a dream in which I had this weird epiphany: the force we call creativity is the ability certain people have to see parallel dimension, some of which are pretty abstract and resemble ours in no apparent way, and some of which are much like ours with silght variations. When people create anything, they're merely recycling what they see when their minds drift into other dimensions.

And then I woke up.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Bleep Blorp

A musing on the significance of sound in video games:

Sound plays a great deal more into video games than a lot of people realize, I think. Unlike the cinematic score in movies — music that punctuates the mood and tells the viewer how to feel — the music in video games is usually inconsequential to gameplay. That is, it just loops with the same melody onward to infinity, providing of course your character stays in the same area and there's no time limit. In spite of — or because of — this tendency, you hear the same music over and over again. I’d wager just about anybody kid under 25 and over 15 could hum the original Super Mario Bros. tune in an instance if you asked them to. But while the music and memory of it is just kind of a by-product of playing video games, the sound effects are very crucial, necessitating the player’s memorization and instant recognition of a whole vocabulary of sound effects to succeed in the game.

For instance, going back to Super Mario Bros., every noise has a distinct meaning: one for when Mario snags a coin, one for when he slides down a pipe, and one for when a Koopa shell ricochets off something, whether that be Mario’s foot or a wall or a warp pipe or whatever. Thus, in order to do well, the player would have to hear the noise of a recently-kicked shell bouncing off an upcoming obstacle and then prepare to have Mario jump over it as it comes sliding back. Or take a hit. Whatever.

And Super Mario Bros. is just a simple game, too. Newer games that have for complex sonic capabilities have hundreds of sound effects that people still learn to translate instantly. Funny that.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Creature From the San Andreas Fault

I finally got the pictures from my "Creature from the San Andreas Fault" packet on my computer. These accompanied some text I put together for the final project in Dr. Loftus' Writing 109VA class: "mix text and image and make it not suck." That may or may not have been the assignment per se, but that was the basic idea, for sure. What appears below depict scenes from the fictional low-budget slasher movie, "Creature from the San Andreas Fault."



Here's Kristen as Vivian Lynn Pfefferman, the actress playing the film's main, Patsy Pickett, as she's being stalked in the backyard by Nate, as the Creature.



Patsy's chesty and newly dead best friend Ginny, as played by Jill.



Me, as the director Simon Diamond, trying to teach Kristen to scream.

.

Kristen doing her best Marion Crane. Also, Kristen holding her chest in such a way so as to make her boobs appear smashed.



Patsy's impending death by chopping.


You wouldn't think you'd try to avoid an axe-wielding maniac by climbing a tree, but nonetheless...



I was so happy the way Brent, who took all these pictures, totally got this to look like the scene from Scream with Neve Campbell and Rose MacGowan. Fucking awesome.



Scary window. I like to call this one "Mommy, When Will I Die?"

EDIT 6.5.2006: I later added some of the text from the packet in "The Mysterious Death of Vivian Pfefferman," a post that went up a few days later. My Flickr gallery ended up hosting all the photos I could find.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Presenting Ducto, the Chair of Tomorrow!

The Mysterious Death of Vivian Pfefferman

That last post made me entirely depressed, so I'm going to post some of the best parts of my project for Loftus' class. I had to combine images and text in an interesting way, so I decided to do a press packet for a fictional movie called "Creature from the San Andreas Fault." The pictures are the funniest part, but the writing, which I aimed to make a D-grade straight-to-video movie sound desperately salvageable, had some funny parts, too. On why "Creature" is straight-to-video:
“In fact, Sunrise Studios is so excited to present 'Creature from the San Andreas Fault' to audiences that the film is skipping a release in cold, impersonal theaters and going straight to the VCRs in the home of every movie fan in America.”
On on-set murders:
“Things took an unexpected turn on June 4, 2002, when the body of the film’s star, Vivian Pfefferman, was found in her trailer, fatally bludgeoned with her hairdryer… By mid-August, the Vancouver police Department allowed director Simon Diamond to resume filming although now with the considerable task of rewriting the last third of the movie. The revised script had Pfefferman’s character taking an unexpected trip to her Aunt Martha’s in Maine, never to be seen again.”
On Vivian’s previous work:
“Under the pseudonym Roxxxie Swallows, Pfefferman appeared in nearly thirty adult film titles, including "Nurse Nancy," "Nurse Nancy’s Nasty Neighbors," "Horny Lesbian Flight Attendants 2: Naked Boogaloo" and other titles.”
On Christine Perkins, former Valtrex girl:
“Perkins had to work twice as hard to shine as brightly as her costars, but any actress known for endorsing a popular brand of herpes suppressants knows how to tackle a difficult role… Because her dual roles were the result of the constant script rewrites throughout the film, Perkins did not realize she’d be playing both snobby head cheerleader Laura as well as Louise, her twin sister who expressed herself though dancing.”
On Peach LaGrange, former sitcom mom:
"LaGrange is presently appearing in the off-Broadway play Frottage, which was written by her companion Eve Vanderhorn."

Thursday, March 20, 2003

The Kevin Williamson High School Yearbook

Feeling to sick to leave the couch and, consequently, watching "She's All That" on cable for no defensible reason, I was struck by the sheer amount of actors and actresses in it who previously starred in works penned by Kevin Williamson, the guy who wrote "Scream."

Freddie Prinze Jr. was previously in "I Know What You Did Last Summer," the screenplay of which Williamson wrote. Rachel Leigh Cook previously appeared on "Dawson's Creek," which Williamson created, even if he may not have written the episodes her character appeared in. Matthew Lillard appeared in "Scream." Jodi Lyn O'Keefe appeared in "Halloween H20," or however you're supposed to represented the "twenty years after" sequel to "Halloween," which Williamson wrote. Usher and Clea DuVall both appeared in "The Faculty," which Williams also wrote. And that's ignoring the non-speaking cameo by Sarah Michelle Gellar, who appeared alongside Prinze in "I Know What You Did Last Summer."

Either this speaks to incestuous casting practices in mid-nineties teen entertainment or that Williamson — who's really not doing much of anything notable these days — had his had in a lot of successful, generative projects at the time.

These are things you think about when you are sick.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Chut Up!

Still movie-addled for so many reasons. While I'm on the subject: a thought on "Donnie Darko," which I just recently watched again and which has enough loose ends to keep my head busy. I have a small theory. Really, it's nothing, but it's a fun way to look at the movie. I think Cherita Chen could be important, more so than a casual viewer might think. In short, Cherita seems like a fairly minor character, but she happens to be present for a lot of key moments throughout the film. Sometimes she has lines, sometimes she's in the background, being all sad and dumpy. In one of the more interesting scenes — and one of the ones where she actually gets to do something — she drops the book that has the title character's name written on it. And though that might seem like the kind of thing a high school girl might do when she's suffering from the terrors of an unrequited crush, I can't help myself from wondering if it represents something more. Think about it: Cherita's shining moment is the odd abstract dance routine she performs late in the movie. It's bizarre. No one gets it. But it's creative in a way that a thoughtful first-time viewer might not have thought Cherita would have been capable of. My theory is that the book Cherita drops isn't just a stupid book: It's the movie itself, the movie "Donnie Darko." She's this strange, creative type who happens to be around to witness bits of a story here and there. She doesn't understand what she saw — or, especially, what caused Donnie to die — but she took the pieces she knew and used them as the foundation upon which she built a creative, bizarre story that not a lot of people initially got. I mean, what better way to describe the movie, right? Like I said, it's actually nothing, but it's nonetheless an interesting way to make Cherita Chen feel better about themselves.