Sunday, November 29, 2015

“As the parent of a gay person…”

I told my parents I was gay on St. Patrick’s Day in 2005, effectively ruining a pleasant corned beef dinner. I was three months away from graduating college, and I wanted to integrate the worlds I lived in. My college friends knew, but essentially no one from home did. I blame the closure of the bowling alley in my hometown; with no alternatives, the favored pastime there had become discussion of unplanned pregnancies, divorces and the various other ways young people had disgraced their good family names. In any case, I knew I had to tell my parents before someone else did.

More than ten years later, those worlds still aren’t integrated. Here in Los Angeles, I’ve constructed this Neverland of gay nerds with whom I can talk to about Chun Li and Barbara Gordon and Princess Zelda in the same sentence and not get looked at like I’m some kind of space alien. When I go home, I revert. I don’t pack the cutoffs. I leave behind the purple V-neck T-shirt and take the blue one. My life as I live it in Los Angeles does not get discussed unless I force it.

I went home earlier this year, and my mom asked how I was doing. “This guy I used to know in Santa Barbara passed away, and also I got dumped,” I said. Mom: “Oh, I’m sorry your friend passed away.” That bait dangled, untouched. I chose not to force it. Because the divide has remained over the past decade, it is hard for me to make that drive up Highway 5, knowing that I’m going to sit through days and days of questions about what’s growing in my garden, the activities of college friends I haven’t kept in touch with and the name of my apparently singular female friend — “Megan? Stephanie? Which is it? Wait, there are two?” — at the exclusion of anything more personal.

The single best example of this refusal to talk about the gay son’s stubborn gayness occurred while I was helping my mom clean out the liquor cabinet, which had been chiefly stocked over the years by visiting New Zealanders landing at SFO with duty-free offerings and the belief that my family drinks the hard stuff. I stood on a step ladder and handed bottles down one by one, and my mother, who often narrates what she’s doing, read the labels out loud as I passed them to her. “Smirnoff Vodka. Bombay Sapphire Gin. Beefeater Gin.” Then I passed her a bottle of Mount Gay rum. Mom: “Oh, it’s…. it’s rum.” The bottle later vanished.

As I do on most holidays at home, I spent this past Thanksgiving dutifully working — the big turkey dinner, raking leaves, getting ahead of freelance assignments — with the closest connection I have to any other world being Scruff, usually sitting unattended on the dresser in my childhood bedroom. Having come off from being the only gay at a wedding the previous weekend, I desperately felt like I needed something, even if that something wasn’t much of anything. At home, Scruff is mostly glimpses into the sad life I’d have led if I’d stayed in town: torsos that can’t host. I don’t really engage. It’s just a window on a world that reminds me that I’ve made good choices for myself. Well, that and an occasional invite to go up to San Francisco, unsolicited and politely declined. (Me: “I live in L.A. and I’m really only interested in dating,” and every time I say that I feel like I might as well be saying “I live in Chicago and I hate wind” or “I live in Maui and I’m allergic to sunsets.”)

With all that said, you can appreciate my surprise at what my mother said when she and I got into an argument about politics — why I can’t vote for a candidate running on a conservative social platform and why liberal politicians are apparently ruining the country with wasteful economic policy. I countered with all the examples of the good that liberal politicians have done in the face of conservative opposition, and the conversation eventually turned to the point that it was liberals, not conservatives, would made it possible for me to get married one day.

Mom: “Well, as the parent of a gay person, I understand that.”

It was followed by a “but” about taxes, of course. I was stunned that it happened at all. In the ten years since I told my parents I was gay, I’d never heard either of them ever refer to me as a gay person. (My grandmother referred to gays as “people who are that way,” and that euphemism has endured in the family long since.) I got hung up on that one sentence to the point that I think I lost the argument, just because my brain wouldn’t process anything aside from the fact that my mother acknowledged something that’s fairly important to how I live my life but which had gone unspoken, at least when I’m in the room.

I hugged my mom and told her it was good talking to her. It was the least acrimonious ending to a political argument in the history of my family.

It may not seem like much, especially to those weirdos with enthusiastically supportive families, but it was the single marker of progress I’ve had in a struggle that’s been going on for ten years. There’s still a lot to do yet — I recently mentioned that I was hoping to adopt a dog soon and was quickly cautioned against getting one that is too small — but it’s my single greatest takeaway from this Thanksgiving trip home.

(Yes, picture is unrelated. I needed a picture. It was this or a display shelf of Mount Gay rum.)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thirty Thanksgiving Questions for Which I Have No Answer

Excluded from the list: the traditional and constant “Why are you making that face?”

1. “Why aren’t you using a placemat?”

2. “But if you’re eating at the table, why aren’t you sliding the placemat over so your plate is on top of a placemat?”

3. “Well, what is a placemat for, then?”

4. “Why are you wearing a jacket and a sweater inside?”

5. “Also, why does everyone keep saying it’s cold in here when it’s clearly so hot?”

6. “Doesn’t it feel better to be eating dinner at a reasonable hour?”

7. “What made you decide to grow a mustache?”

8. “Did you have that at the wedding?”

9. “Did the groom say anything to you about it?”

10. “Did the bride say anything to you about it?”

11. “Did the bride’s parents say anything to you about it?”

12. “Well then how long are you keeping it for then?”

13. “Is this something all of your friends are doing?”

14. “Why are you using two kinds of mustard on your sandwich?”

15. “Why isn’t anybody eating the lemon pie that I bothered to go out and buy at the grocery store?”

16. “Why doesn’t your phone make the typing noise when you’re writing a text?”

17. “Why are you sitting in your bedroom watching your iPad rather than talking to your family?”

18. “Who is this Jessica Jones and is she your friend from L.A.?”

19. “Is she related to John Ritter?”

20. “Are you sure?”

21. “Didn’t they try that with Wonder Woman in the ’70s and no one watched it?”

22. “Why was that new James Bond so violent and also why were the women in it so unattractive?”

23. “Why don’t you see if any of your friends from high school are in town?”

24. “Do you use the placemats I sent you?”

25. “Do all your T-shirts have V-shaped necks now?”

26. “Isn’t that shirt too small for you?”

27. “If you get a dog, where is it going to sleep when you come home to visit?”

28. “Won’t that make the outside dogs jealous?”

29. “Who took the toaster out again after I put it away?”

30. “When are you coming home for Christmas?”

BTW, unsure but willing to guess that this is the “Why are you making that face?” face. It is actually just my face.

Friday, November 13, 2015

How to Buy Your First Suit When You’re an Idiot

You are thirty-three years old and don’t own a suit, not because you’ve been attending weddings and funerals in cutoffs and flip-flops but because you live in California, where rules about formal dress are bendy like yoga and palm trees. Should the need for formal dress arise, you have been cobbling together Frankenstein suits from old slacks and blazers you’ve accumulated over the years, from your dead grandfather and from the dead grandfathers of others, and so far this has been enough.

This, however, will not be enough for your college roommate’s wedding. Despite the fact that he wore cutoffs and flip-flops when you first met in the dorms, he has made the improbable decision to marry a woman of fashion, who actually even works in fashion and who has big ideas about clothes and the way we should wear them. As such, you have been told that you must acquire a suit — like, an actual suit, one that is comprised of especially garment-pieces that, when united, add up to more than the sum of their parts, and yes that’s a fantastic wedding metaphor.

In short, your college roommate’s bride will drag you kicking and screaming into a new phase of adulthood, the color scheme for which is apparently tonal gray — and yes, that’s another great metaphor.

This is how you get your first suit (by which I mean how I got my first suit, but I assume the process works identically for everyone).

One: Pout. The suit will cost money that you could spend on other things that would be more fun — for example, several T-shirt cannons with which you could enliven your college roommate’s wedding ceremony. “What, Nathan? You said she likes fashion,” is what you’d tell him after he wrestles you to the ground and while his family attempts to restore some semblance of order.

Two: Throw up your hands in despair. You are gay but not, like, suit gay, and the process of just going out and buying an appropriate suit is a task on the level of, say, building a working automobile out of sticks and tape. This is a subject to which you have literally given no thought over the course of your life, and your friends (who are also not suit guys but are closer to that than you are, perhaps) ask, “Well, what kind of suit do you want?” you can only say, “I don’t know. A wedding suit? A nice one that doesn’t cost that much money.”

Three: Get lost in all eleven pages of the bride’s PDFed suiting guide. (Yes, eleven. Yes PDFed.) This document lays out all suit-related possibilities. You are overwhelmed and cannot imagine how you could make tonal gray work for you without looking like a lower-tier member of the Power Rangers who specializes in legal affairs.

Four: Recall that you have friends who actually own a tailor shop specializing in bespoke suits. Recall that they live in New York. Recall that New York is not in California. Contemplate writing them a note in crayon that reads “U MAKE SUIT?” with a recent picture of yourself stapled to it. Decide against it.

Five: After much procrastination, go to Macy’s and find the men’s suit department to be a windblown shanty town without hope or light.

Six: During a visit home, you begrudgingly go to the Men’s Wearhouse, the place your parents recommended as having given your brother great deals on several suits that you imagine coming stuffed in some sort of KFC-style suit bucket. You regret being so judgmental when the salesclerk turns out to be well-versed in suitology and able to explain it to a dolt such as yourself. He measures you. He tells you that your shoulders are wider apart than they would normally be on a man of your height, and that your hips are unusually narrow. Even though this would be a compliment in a different context, it comes across as something you apologize for. You stand in front of the triple-mirror and compare your shoulders to your hips. “No, I think this is normal. This is okay, right?” you think. You decide to purchase a formal suit from a mall chain whose name is a pun.

Seven: You take the suit back to L.A. and find a tailor. He takes your measurements, checks your crannies. He gets all up in there like a T.S.A. agent trying to get a promotion. You wonder if the pants are being restitched based on a relief map of your balls. He asks what you want, and you say “It feels baggy. I’d like it a little more fitted.” He assures you this can be done, regardless of the spacious nature of Men’s Wearhouse garments. “We can do whatever you want,” he tells you. “I want T-shirt cannons,” you think but do not say aloud.

Eight: Days later, you try on the altered suit. “How do you like it?” the tailor asks eagerly. You can’t tell. It’s different, yes, but it’s nowhere near the fit to which you’re accustomed with jeans and T-shirts that have been tumbled and re-tumbled in the dryer over the span of years and maybe a decade. “Yeah, I’m not sure,” you say, remembering the comparison to the automobile made out of sticks and tape. You realize you have no idea what a properly fitted suit feels like. “It’s supposed to do this where my butt is?” you ask. The tailor seems annoyed. “It’s a suit. It’s not going to fit like jeans,” he explains. You can’t actually protest. You really couldn’t be any less out of your league here, and though you remember him saying that “whatever you want” part, you can’t think of a way to voice your concerns without implying that you understand suits — which, again, you do not.

Nine: You see the suit hanging in your closet every time you open it to retrieve one of the garments you do understand. You fear the suit. You may hate the suit. You think back to your brother’s wedding, when a tailor took your measurements for a rented suit and then delivered you a formless, baggy thing that you hated silently and then, after drinks, not so silently. It was chocolate brown. You looked like a zoot suiter in a Hershey’s commercial.

Ten: Finally, you try the suit on again. Your roommate is unable to advise if it’s doing what it’s supposed to do. You suppose that you just own this thing now. Maybe you should wear it to the grocery store and see what happens?

And this is how you’ve come to acquire your first suit.

Am I doing it right? Is this how tonal gray works? Am I an adult now? Is this what adulthood looks like?

Another take:

(And yes, by the way, this is in fact the same college roommate who declined my awesome suggestion for a song to walk down the aisle to.)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

With “It” Being Dated Businesswear

Sometimes you wake up in the morning with an epiphany that you must share with the world. Other times, you wake up realizing that Jill, the businesslady frog from The Muppets Take Manhattan, looks like Nasim Pedrad.

No, there’s nowhere to take this realization, really, aside from just leaving it here. But you must admit: Now we know what it would look like if an evil wizard transformed Nasim Pedrad into a Muppet frog, and for that we should be thankful.

Who Wore It Better? — previously:

Friday, November 06, 2015

All About Octopussy

Yes, this is another post about Bond girls. I had to write about them for work, and the research yielded a few surprises, and the best of these by far is an explanation for why the hell anyone ever thought “Octopussy” would be an appropriate name for any human character, to say nothing of Bond’s love interest.

In Octopussy, Maud Adams plays the character whose nickname is “Octopussy,” thereby making this one film the only in the entire series to be named for female lead. Even separate from that name, she’s a standout character: She’s a moderately villainous businesswoman and jewel-smuggler who also happens to own a circus and live on a floating palace in India. Hey, get stuck with a name like “Octopussy” and you have to compensate somehow.

The film is loosely inspired by an Ian Fleming short story titled “Octopussy,” in which the name refers not to a human character but to someone’s pet octopus. And doesn’t the name make a lot more sense in that context? The story actually begins with its antagonist addressing the octopus directly: “‘You know what?’ said Major Dexter Smythe to the octopus. ‘You’re going to have a real treat today if I can manage it.’” Smythe later goes on to call the octopus both “Pussy” and “Octopussy.”

However, in reworking the story for the thirteenth James Bond film, the writers apparently thought, “No, this is a name that a human female should have. I see nothing wrong with that.” Dexter Smythe is already deceased at the outset of the film and seen only in photograph form. He’s mentioned as having been an octopus aficionado. Octopussy explains her name, kinda-sorta, with a single line that ties the film back to its source material: “My father became a leading authority on octopi. He loved them. His pet name for me was ‘Octopussy.’” Her actual name is never actually spoken within the film. (This Bond wiki page alleges that it’s Octavia Charlotte Smythe, but it’s apparently not her official real name.)

Awkward though it might be, that’s how Maud Adams ended up playing a character named “Octopussy.” The fact that she owns a circus might also be notable just in that the other Bond girl to have the word “pussy” in her name — Pussy Galore in Goldfinger — also leads a circus of sorts: Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus, a group of female aviators who may or may not all be lesbians.

Adams had already appeared as a secondary Bond girl in The Man With The Golden Gun: Andrea Anders, a character with a name so non-ridiculous that it’s shared by a sitcom actress. (She’s half of the trashy neighbor couple living next to Phil and Claire on Modern Family.) Adams also makes an uncredited appearance in A View to a Kill, which probably set s a record for any non-Moneypenny, non-Judi Dench Bond actress.

And that end note as as good as any to point out that Duran Duran’s theme song for A View to a Kill might just be the best Bond theme song of all — yes, even better than Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger”.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

I Am an Expert in Matilda

Hi. This is Matilda. She is a dog who has spent more time at my house than most of my human acquaintances have.

You may remember her as the dog who is an affront to my masculinity and who also was once the victim of a skunk attack. I am watching her for a week because her owner had to go to Venezuela for some weird operation, and I feel I am now an expert in all the facets of this dog’s personality.

You can be one too! Here are all the sides to Matilda.



Winking One Eye and Then the Other

Dozing in High-Foot-Traffic Areas of My Home

Sniffy Curiosity

Licky Curiosity

Rolling in Dirt

Having a Butterfly Land on Her Head and Completely Shutting Down Emotionally as a Result

Checking Hourly on the One Spot She Once Saw a Cat to See If the Cat Is in That Exact Spot Again

Making Concerned Whimpering Noises That Kind of Sound Like She’s Trying to Say Either Her Name or “Macaroni”

Arbitrarily Refusing to Walk Down Certain Blocks in My Neighborhood

Peeing on the Lawns of People Who Are Currently in Their Front Yards or Otherwise Able to Watch Her Pee on Their Property

“Wait, Is This Food or Not?”


Farts (or, If You Will, Butt-Sighs)

Thrusting Her Head Beneath Your Hands (or Sometimes Feet) in an Effort to Get Pets When You Are Not Actively Petting Her

Running Into the Room Seeming Alarmed, Then Looking Around and Returning From Whence She Came in a Vaguely Disappointed Fashion

Begrudgingly Consenting to Being Held Like a Baby

Leaving Blond Hairs on Black Floors

And that is everything Matilda is. You’re an expert too now.

In closing, a moment of classic Matilda:

Literally the first ten minutes of dog-sitting: Matilda finds an arch-nemesis. ATTN: @katherine_spiers

A video posted by Drew (@kidicarus222) on

Monday, November 02, 2015

Lesser Bond Girls

No one can hold a candle to Pussy Galore, of course. That seems dangerous, first of all, but in the history of James Bond women, no one has a name that is quite so on-the-nose perfect-awful.

However, I have learned that there exists a whole harem of Bond girls who only appear in the books written after the Ian Fleming era and who have ridiculous-amazing-exceedingly awkward that the world needs to know about.

Here is a list of them. No elaboration is needed, I feel, just the news that these characters exist.

Lavender Peacock

Persephone “Percy” Proud

Sukie Tempesta

Ebbie Heritage

Clover Pennington

Elizabeth “Easy” St. John

Hera Volopoulos

Heidi Taunt and her sister, Hedi Taunt

Felicity Willing

Ophelia “Philly” Maidenstone

Edua Blessing Ogilvy-Grant

Jeopardy Lane

Rosebud Spreadeagle

Okay, one of those I made up. But is it really that implausible? All these seem on par with the sex pun-laden Bond girl names from the actual movies. Also, once tried to Weird Al all the James Bond movie titles with limited success. I have no idea what work I was avoiding in doing this, but it must have been really heinous. I cannot think of a way to make a food pun for Spectre and feel like a failure.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Mystery of Adjective Noun Road

Among all the other problems I have with my family, I frequently feel like I’m the only one who remembers things. The rest of them might state the problem as “Drew doesn’t remember important things,” and that’s true — I don’t, resulting in awkward situations such as “No, I don’t recall the directions for how to get to this place I haven’t been to since I was a kid” and “What do you mean she died?” and “Louise who?” However, the one thing I have on the rest of my family is the ability to remember the weird stuff — stories about strange, unexplained happenings that I can relive vividly but which everyone seems to have pushed out of their minds.

For example, I have the clearest memory of playing on the lawn with my brother when I was maybe seven. It was late enough to be dark, and my parents were in the midst of a dinner party inside. I spotted the family dog hurrying off into the recesses of the property with something in his mouth. My brother and I chased after him, but the dog wasn’t having it; whatever he had he wanted to keep to himself. Eventually we cornered him and got a look at his prize: I said out loud, “I think he caught a bird,” then reaching down to pull it away from him. It wasn’t a bird. It was a deer’s head. And the head had been cleanly removed from the rest of the animal’s body. I remember dropping it. I remember the noise it made on the grass. My brother decided we should probably tell our dad, and I even remember standing on the edge of the dining room while my brother went over to my dad, at the head of the table, and discreetly told him what we’d found. I remember the look on my dad’s face.

But here’s the weird part (and no, in this version of the story, finding a deer’s head that had been cut off from its body, clearly by a human clearly using some kind of sharp instrument, is not the weird part): My brother has no recollection of this happening. My mom doesn’t either, though to be honest we may never have told her. “Don’t tell Mom” could have been stitched on a sampler and hung above our fireplace. Only my dad retains any memory of this incident — he thinks he tossed the head over the fence, washed his hands and then returned to dinner, but he’s not even sure — and to me, that seems so very strange, because the whole scene, start to finish, was surprising and horrifying and mysterious. It left a big impression on me.

There are larger implications to this incident. I, uniquely even in the context of my extended family, am the only one who seems to think that anything out of the ordinary is immediately more interesting and probably better than whatever standard-issue thing everyone else has. This has likely shaped my life to some degree. This has likely shaped my family’s opinion of me to some degree as well

I have written this lengthy preface just to get to a weird, vaguely Halloween-appropriate story I have that I, once again, am the only one of my (surviving) family members who remembers anything about. And while yes, that does seem like something an unreliable narrator might say, that’s the case and I blame this uneven distribution of memories on my family’s preoccupation with sports, dynastic families in my hometown, people whose relatives I apparently attended high school with and this Louise person, whom I’m not sure I’ve met.

As a kid, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents — that is, my American grandparents, my mother’s parents — and this is not strictly a result of the fact that they had a pool which I loved dearly and now miss dearly. On more than one occasion when I was at their house, I heard my grandmother answer the phone and speak something along the lines of the following: “Hello? Oh, hello, Sam. No, we don’t want any potatoes today. But you have a good day!” And the she’d hang up. Her response would vary from call to call. Sam would be George or Bob or Joe, and potatoes would be pineapples or rutabagas or cabbages. This happened a lot — like, over the span of several years — and every time I’d ask, my grandmother would dismiss my questions. The most I ever got was, “Oh, that’s just someone who calls a lot, and that’s how your grandfather told me to deal with him.” This quickly became a mystery I fixated on, Nancy Drew-style — and yes, I realize the implications of that phrase and shut up — but it was something my brother had literally never noticed. I’d point out to him, “That guy called again,” but he never seemed to retain any memory of it having happened before.

One day, I was swimming in the pool without my brother, and my grandmother, who was watching me swim (and covertly napping), had to attend to some friend who was delivering some parcel that apparently required the cooperation of two old ladies to bring inside. My grandmother told me, “Don’t use the diving board and just be safe,” and left me in the pool alone. For grandchildren-watching purposes specifically, my grandparents had had a telephone installed by the pool — like Hollywood movie stars or something — and while my grandmother was out on the street, helping her friend, the phone rang. It was in the same early afternoon span of time that the vegetable man would always call, and I realized that this provided me a unique opportunity.

I got out of the pool and answered the phone, and to this day, I can remember the conversation vividly.

“Is Ray there?” the man on the other end eventually responded when I picked up.

I lied. “He’s busy. Can I take a message?”

“Tell him that I have something for him, and he should come out to Old Stage Road.”

“Where on Old Stage Road do you want him to go?”

“There is only one house. He knows where.”


Then there was a pause. And then the man spoke again. “Which one of his grandsons is this?”

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Guys, It Has All Come to This

Those of you who know me well in real life understand that I’ve spent the last five years falling through the high-energy rabbit hole of Italo disco, the ’80s music genre that combines New Wave synth, disco beats and delightfully broken English. It’s not a phase. This is just who I am now, and I’ve spent more than a few quiet nights wandering around YouTube, clicking from one video to the next in hopes of finding some new (to me) track that I can like ironically and then not ironically and then force my friends to listen to.

Last night, I found something that made all that clicking worth it. No, it’s not a particularly memorable song, even.

It’s Nina Pee.

I know, I know — this is a lot to take in. Foremost, it doesn’t seem to be a joke. I have found very little about Nina Pee online, but nothing about her music seems to suggest that this name was intended as anything other than a legit, appealing name for Europe’s next big pop star. It’s like “Ding a Dong” all over again, only with the poorly chosen word being baked right into the artist’s name, inescapably.

An imagined origin:

Producer: Hey, Nina — what’s your last name?
Nina: Pentrandolfino.
Producer: Oy. That’s going to look like dogshit on an album cover. What if we abbreviate it?
Nina: Yeah, cool. Whatever you decide is fine with me.
Producer: BTW, I don’t understand American slang at all.
Nina: Who cares? I’m-a gunna be famous! [dances offstage]

Look at that pose. Notice how happy she is to be a person who sings. She’s practically bursting. Unfortunately for her, because her last name is Pee, it’s hard not to imagine her bursting with pee instead of bursting with happiness.

Consider that this, apparently, was the best photo they got from the shoot.

Consider bracelet placement.

Now look at those song titles. The first, “You’re the Sun of My Life,” could almost pass as something a native speaker would title a song, but that second one is just beyond even the most minimally fluent speaker could ever dream to come with. I think it’s the hyphenation of “fire-bell” that clinches it. Also? “Wait, why do you need to ring the fire-bell, Nina? What did you do? WHAT DID YOU DO, NINA PEE?!?!”

(I imagine that she burned down the home of however encouraged her to perform with a last name that means “urine.”)

This amuses me to no end. I shall hold Nina Pee in my heart always. Last night’s Italo disco adventures also turned up that video that your parents made, but it’s Nina Pee who has told me that I am, in fact, moving in the right direction.

(EDIT: A Soundcloud posting of “Now I Must Ring the Fire-Bell” indicates that Nina’s last name may have been Pée and not simply Pee. You can just barely see the accent mark in the album cover. I am unsure whether to shame or praise the graphic designer for not making that accent mark more prominent. In the end, I don’t care. This changes nothing.)

Italo disco, previously:

Sunday, September 20, 2015

This Is a Post About Undo Dog

Warning: This post is a fairly deep drill-down on a minor footnote in video game culture. If obscure Nintendo lore is not your thing, kindly move along and wait for a less niche post.

One of the most insignificant video game characters ever has recently returned to my life: Undo Dog. He’s technically a Mario character, though only in the loosest sense of the expanded Marioverse. He first appeared in 1992’s Mario Paint, a sort of Nintendo approximate of Photoshop that came packed with the Super NES Mouse and allowed players to draw and paint images and create crude animations that couldn’t be uploaded or transferred off the game pack in any way. Mario-branded but not really all that Mario-specific, the game came out when I was only ten, and I loved it. And one of the things I loved most about it was Undo Dog, the game’s equivalent of CTRL+Z.

Clicking him undoes whatever disastrous aesthetic decision you made, and he makes a crude bark noise when you click. If you let the mouse sit idle, he also dances about in the tool tray in the bottom of the screen, and if you opted to create your sixteen-bit masterpiece without background music, he’d occasionally sneeze. (He was allergic to silence, we gathered.)

Here, watch and listen.

Even at ten years old, I was a sucker for anything canine, and the fact that Nintendo chose to imbue one of the most functional aspects of Mario Paint with a dog personality is a great example of why I am a lifelong Nintendo loyalist. And the fact that the icon border around Undo Dog’s face was revealed in his “dancing in the tool tray” animations to be a weird, square collar? I was in love — with the character design but also with whatever clever person who implemented it.

I felt catered to — and that rarely happened when I was younger.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Ten Things I Can Tell You About Los Angeles

As of this week, I have been living in L.A. for five years. I have learned next to nothing about the city and therefore have no business offering opinions about it one way or the other. Go ask someone else for practical advice. However, while this more knowledgable person is thinking, read these ten bits of non-advice and non-entertainment that don’t matter toward anything or anything else.

One: If you see Reese Witherspoon in a coffee shop, don’t make eye contact with her. She will slap you to the ground without hesitation and then force you to give her the names and address of your parents, whereupon she will threaten to find them and slap them to the ground should you ever dare to make eye contact with her again. Yes, this really happened. No, I am not joking. Witherspoon’s iron talons control this city. We must rise up.

Two: Sally Field, meanwhile, is a tiny little bird who shops for produce in a methodical, precise manner that only makes sense to her. You will conclude this exact thing when you see her in the produce aisle — and yes, this will eventually happen to you because it happens to all L.A. residents. The Sally Field Bird is your aunt, you will suspect, against all reason. You will grasp her hand tenderly as she picks through a stack of bananas, and without speaking a single word you gaze into her eyes and know that you should take her home, toss an afghan on her and bring her a piping hot mug of Constant Comment, at which point she will regale you with stories from the set of Beyond the Poseidon Adventure. Yes, this also really happened. It happens every time I go grocery shopping. Grocery shopping here is weird.

Three: There exists a series of “secret stairways” that connect much of residential Los Angeles. A holdover from the city's bygone streetcar transportation system, these stairways today allow residents in the know the opportunity to see a homeless man take a dump and then act like you’re the rude one for intruding on his personal space.

Four: The air quality is, in general, poor, but it’s at its worst at a Los Feliz brunch, where it will be just dripping with asshole. You will sit there, desperate for food and too hungry to speak, and eventually the conversations of nearby tables will ring in your ears — one woman with pendulous chandelier-earrings telling a story that has no beginning or end. It’s just the middle of a story that will be interrupted by another middle of a story told by another chandelier-earring. “Can you believe it? It was Kelly, and she was wearing a yellow hat,” says one, in reference to nothing. But then says another: “And then the door opened and I was like ‘I’m not sure you’re even really Persian.’” Says a third: “Pineapple preserves. Spackle. Grackle. Hinge joint.” Your brunch never actually comes and you die on the spot.

Five: People ask where I live, and when I tell them, some respond with “Atwater? I’ve never even heard of that.” This is the best possible hint that this person and I will probably not have much to talk about.

Six: The quickest way to elicit sympathy from your fellow Angelenos is to say, “I actually walked here.” They will immediately assume some sort of financial or legal calamity has rendered you a pedestrian, and nothing you can say to the contrary will relieve them of this suspicion. They may ask if you need a place to crash. This sort of misunderstanding is how I imagine the majority of the city’s guesthouses and poolhouses have come to be occupied.

Seven: The west side is a myth — a foggy limbo where the once-living shuffle about aimlessly in the service of malevolent entities known as children. They say it’s great, but their accounts are unverifiable: No one who’s been sent to investigate has actually gone and returned, and come on — if they live there, can we actually trust them? Affirmations about the west side from someone who lives there is like an eight-year-old who only eats bologna sandwiches saying that bologna sandwiches are the best food. You shouldn’t be questioning the taste of the bologna kid. You should be asking yourself why the hell you’re discussing food with someone who only east bologna.

Eight: Wherever you end up in the city, you will have arrived too late. Before you got there, the neighborhood was better — had nicer restaurants or cooler bars or attracted a different sort of person or offered more for less or had houses that could be bought more cheaply or had this awesome house with this big front yard that the owner filled with these, I guess, totem pole-like wooden carvings that everyone loved, but a few months ago one of the carvings toppled over and hit a pregnant lady and now they’ve all been taken down and really, the neighborhood lost a piece of its soul when that happened. Yeah, the sculpture should have been secured or something, but there are a lot of theories about what the fuck that pregnant lady was doing there in the first place, and it’s still a loss for the community. I think you can see some photos of it on Google Street View, but it still wouldn’t be the same, you know?

Nine: You will happen across houses and other buildings that you recognize from the movies you love. You will get excited about it. You will tell your friends about it. Even if they’re not half as impressed as you are, you never want that enthusiastically nerdy little kid inside you to go away, because how is it possible that you have come to live in the place that made all the stories that you loved so much?

Ten: You will happen across the Mulholland Drive house and face a moment of introspection over whether you've become a Betty or a Diane.

Full disclosure: Some of the stories described may not have played out precisely as I have written them here. However, each grew from a kernel of truth, and when those kernels generated corn plants, I took them and synthesized high-fructose corn syrup.

Here’s to another five years of ignorance and uselessness.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

The Bollywood Nightmare on Elm Street (Abbreviated)

When Wes Craven died, my first thoughts were of Scream and how much that movie had shaped my understanding of pop culture. However, the only piece I wrote about Craven this week focused on the outlier in his filmography: Music of the Heart, Craven’s single non-horror feature and the movie he made in the break between Scream 2 and Scream 3.

And now, along similar lines, another one of Craven’s most unusual legacies: 1993’s Mahakaal, also known as the Bollywood Nightmare on Elm Street.

I actually watched this a few nights ago. It’s something I’d only recommend for hardcore Bollywood fanatics and diehard Freddy Krueger fans. (These groups must share some overlap, and I’d guess that Mahakaal is a godsend for these people.) For me, the film was interesting when it chose to cleave especially close to the source material and when it chose to diverge drastically from it.

Mahakaal runs nearly two and a half hours long, and a lot of this time has the characters singing and dancing for no reason, even after they realized they’re being stalked by the monster. Bollywood movie rules trump slasher movie rules, I guess. As a result of the lengthy run time and the long, long spans when nothing particularly interesting happens, I did a quick and dirty recut of the film, in case you also are mildly curious what a Bollywood Nightmare on Elm Street might be like but don’t have two and a half hours to spend watching Indian youth sing about how great it is to be in love.

Here, then, is a eleven-minute version of the Bollywood Nightmare on Elm Street.

In making this, I tried to highlight the scenes that were most directly inspired by the original as well as the weirder additions — like the unsettling Michael Jackson impersonator, who may or may not be speaking English.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Best Entree-Ordering in a Lead Role

Early in the series run of Tiny Toons, there was an episode that took place in Hollywood. Just like the old Looney Tunes shorts once did, this episode features caricatures of the real-life celebrities. Also just like with the old Looney Tunes cameos, most of the references went over my head. I was eight. What can I say?

However, I came across one of them just recently, and it’s worth noting that it’s one of the few jokes in the episode that is not dated. Meryl Streep orders dinner in a restaurant, then promptly receives an award for ordering dinner in a restaurant. She yawns through a “thank you” and then stuffs the statuette into her purse, which is already full of awards.

I’m fairly certain that this would have been my introduction to Meryl Streep’s reputation as an award magnet. It may have been the first time I’d heard of her at all, really. (She-Devil came out in 1989, but I can’t remember if I saw it in theaters or not.)

The joke is that Meryl Streep is such a good actress that it’s nigh impossible for her not to collect awards left and right. When the episode aired in 1990, Meryl Streep was the best. Twenty-five years later, she still is. Yes, I heard you muttering about your Julianne Moores and your Cates Blanchett, but Meryl is just one Oscar away from tying Katharine Hepburn’s record for the most ever won by a single actor, and she’s already the most-nominated actor ever. Every other actress of a certain age starring in a somber film about people coming to terms with things is just lucky that Meryl is not springboarding off their corpses, squashed-Goomba-in-Super Mario Bros.-style, to reach even greater heights of success.


There’s no big take-away here, just a quick observation that in an industry defined by change and in which women especially cycle in and out of fashion with alarming speed, Meryl Streep is a constant.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Saved by the Bell: The Expanded Bayside Universe

If you know diddlypoop about Saved by the Bell, this image should strike you as very strange. Do you know why?

One of the more popular posts on my blog concerns Saved by the Bell and the Tori Paradox — the idea explained in Chuck Klosterman’s Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs about how final season of the show seemingly takes place in two realities. In one, Zach, Slater, Screech and Lisa are friends with Kelly and Jessie. In the second, the first four are friends with Tori, but Kelly and Jessie don’t exist and maybe never existed.

Of course, there’s a reason for those random final season episodes that feature Leanna Creel but not Tiffani Thiessen or Elizabeth Berkley — it’s all in the original post, if you haven’t had it explained for you — and Klosterman posits that this odd split is actually one of the more realistic things about Saved by the Bell: In his high school experience and mine is well, there were certain people who simply never overlapped. When I went to my ten-year reunion, I met a number of people for the first time. We’d graduated in the same class and had mutual friends but had simply made it through the end of senior year without having met each other. To this day I’ll have conversations with the four or five people from high school whom I still talk to where they’ll insist that I must have known one person or another and I’ll have to convince them that no, their fancy-ass friend simply never crossed into the circles that constituted my high school experience.

Today, my blog is now the No. 1 Google hit for “tori paradox,” and I get a considerable number of hits each month from people who want to know why the hell the last season played out the way it did. I also get hits from people trying to find the image I included in the post and the thing that made be write about it in the first place: a DVD boxed set for the fifth season of the show that seems to include all seven Bayside students — including Kelly, Jessie and Tori — in the cover art.

saved by the bell season 5 dvd cover tori paradox

Since posting it, I’ve gotten comments and emails from people telling me that the image is at least Photoshopped if not from a bootleg version of the boxed set, and that Leanna Creel would have never been in the same promo photo as Thiessen and Berkley.

Today, I stumbled upon what appears to be one of those promo photos.

That is most definitely Tori, with her curly hair and leather jacket, her hand being cupped in a creepy fashion by Mr. Belding’s.

For all I know, I might have scanned right over this image before and not noticed why it was unusual, but yeah — apparently Tori did meet Jessie and Kelly, at least offscreen. According to Google Image Search, this photo is attached to this Time story about the Saved by the Bell cast, but it doesn’t actually appear in the article itself.

I don’t think that DVD box art was faked. I mean, what are the odds that the entire cast was present for a group photo and then someone would digitally insert Leanna Creel into the one shot where everyone is positioned in almost the same arrangement, wearing the exact clothes? I just wonder how this shoot was proposed to Thiessen and Berkley: “Yeah, you’re not on the show anymore, but we need to take this photo so ten-year-old Drew Mackie will be able to rest his mind that the final half of the final season taking place in an alternate dimension where you never existed.”

That’s how I want it to have gone down, anyway.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

“Hey, What’s With You and Squirrels?” (or — Drew vs. Nature)

So I was looking at your Instagram feed. You’ve been posting a lot of photos of squirrels.

This is an accurate statement. Thank you for monitoring my online activities so closely.

Oh, I was just wondering if you, like, got a pet squirrel of something.

No, I am neither cool enough nor crazy enough to get a pet squirrel. Here’s the deal: I’ve been working a lot this summer. Like, a lot a lot — whole Friday morning-to-Sunday night spans of writing. And I either work at my kitchen table or in my garage, and both of those look out onto my backyard. That is where the squirrel lives.

And he is your friend!

Well, not exactly. I would say that he has boundary issues and an unhealthy interest in my activities. That said, he does seem a lot more invested in me than the neighborhood cats are — except in one specific way that I will get to in a moment.

peeping tom aquirrel

Didn’t you name him, though?

I did. His name is Phillip Alexander Phluffytail, but that was really more for convenience’s sake than for any other reason. Name aside, he has been aggressive on a few occasions. I’d been outside without shoes on and he was almost directly underfoot no matter how I tried to get away. I had serious concerns that he would bite off my toes. I had to run inside.

But he came inside, I thought…?

He did, just the one time. He walked in through the dining room door, completely uninvited. That was alarming enough, but it was even worse that he did so walking on his hind legs.

I didn’t know squirrels did that.

Me neither. I think he was trying to pass as people.

Did his ruse work?

No, I was aware that it was just a squirrel. God bless him for trying.

So those videos you keep posting on Instagram…

People seemed to think the “squirrels with soundtracks” videos were funny, so I keep making them, but the relationship between director and the talent is, at best, strained. He is not the most reliable actor I have worked with.

A video posted by Drew (@kidicarus222) on

A video posted by Drew (@kidicarus222) on

Ah. So weird that he keeps trying to get in, right?

Yes, weird, but not exactly uncharacteristic of how this summer has gone down, honestly. There’s been this feeling I haven’t experienced since I was last in Australia, when I stayed at my aunt’s house on the edge of town, and there were no real boundaries between her property and the wilderness beyond. It was great, but always a little threatening. Kangaroos would just roam by, and on every window screen there was some alien nightmare insect trying to get inside. Whenever you opened the sliding glass doors, frogs that had been hiding in the wheel wells would fall out. Even at night, in bed, I’d just lie there and hear scores of birds singing unfamiliar songs and think about how I was somewhere far from home, hiding in a tiny bubble of civilization that nature was constantly trying to break into.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

The Greater Pop Culture Context of Xanadu

I truly love Xanadu. I don’t ironically love it. I don’t love it because I laugh at it. I don’t even love it for its camp value. I love Xanadu because there’s something earnest in it.

I also maybe love it because the first time I saw it I had taken codeine cough syrup — for medical reasons, I should point out, but thank you nonetheless, UCSB student health services! And although every subsequent viewing has been comparatively less twinkly, even the most sober viewing makes me think of that first time, in all its hazy, grape-flavored glory.

Codeine or no codeine, I’ve seen the movie many times, but it wasn’t until I had to write about it for People that I realized it’s not just a weirdo roller-disco fantasy existing out its own, as a vestige of the ’70s that somehow squeaked into the ’80s. It’s a movie that has a lot of connections to classic movie musicals, and I felt like other pop culture nerds who love Xanadu would be interested to know how it fits in.

(BTW, the majority of all this information is in the People piece as well, but I felt that it was all weird and surprising enough that I merited posting twice.)

Foremost, while it’s not a remake of the 1947 musical Down to Earth, exactly, it’s heavily inspired by it. Down to Earth has Rita Hayworth playing Terpischore, the muse of dance, who descends to the world of mortals, falls in love with a Broadway producer and helps make his new musical a success. (Xanadu, meanwhile, has Olivia Newton-John playing Terpischore, arriving on Earth to inspire the guy from The Warriors to start a roller-disco, and I guess that was the early 1980s equivalent of putting on a popular stage musical?)

Down to Earth is kinda-sorta a sequel to the 1941 film Here Comes Mr. Jordan.

Down to Earth isn’t a continuation of the story, but it does feature three characters from Here Comes Mr. Jordan, two of them being played by the same actors from the first film. Here Comes Mr. Jordan also features a plot about otherworldly beings meddling in the lives of mortals, but in this case, it’s angels.

Here Comes Mr. Jordan was based on Harry Segall’s play Heaven Can Wait, which was later remade as the 1978 film Heaven Can Wait, starring Warren Beatty.

The play was adapted into a movie a second time in 2001 with Chris Rock, though confusingly it used the title of the semi-sequel, Down to Earth.

Outside of that chain, it gets more complicated. Xanadu stars Gene Kelly in his final role as Danny Maguire, a former band leader who has lost his muse. In the 1944 movie Cover Girl, Kelly plays a character by the same name, who works in a nightclub — you know, like an aspiring bandleader might. Also, the film has Kelly romancing Rita Hayworth, who would go on to play the muse in Down to Earth.

It’s just a coincidence, but it’s a happy one, in that it allows both Xanadu and Cover Girl to project onto each other a little, and make the former seem like another spiritual successor to the latter. When Kelly’s character dances with Kira, you can imagine that he’s thinking of Rita Hayworth, and in a way, Kira is that character.

Furthermore, the big Xanadu scene that Kelly shares with Newton-John has them dancing together in a way that’s remarkably similar to how Kelly danced with Judy Garland in the 1942 film For Me and My Gal. Check the two sequences out, back-to-back.

Kelly himself choreographed the scene, and to me, it makes Xanadu a more of a reflection on his long show business career than I realized before. And that’s sweet, in a way, because that makes me feel less bad about Kelly’s final film being labeled a commercial flop, even if it was a flop that eventually found a cult following of codeine-addled weirdos.

And there’s one more: The dance sequence for “Don’t Walk Away” transforms into a cartoon. This animation was one of the first projects done by Don Bluth, who had only recently left Disney at the time when Xanadu came along.

From here on, Bluth went on to do The Secret of NIMH, An American Tail and The Land Before Time. You could make the argument that Xanadu therefore provided a first stepping stone for Bluth on the road to becoming a successful animator independent of Disney. You could even make a Xanadu-Arrested Development connection, since the latter’s Bluth family got its name from Don Bluth, but they wouldn’t have had Bluth not become a famous, recognized name. Xanadu helped make that happen. Thanks, roller-disco movie!

In the end, of course, Xanadu became a Broadway hit that received all the praise that Xanadu the movie didn’t get. (Below, you can watch the stage version of Xanadu in its entirety, if that’s something you feel like doing on a Saturday.)

And that’s cool, but to me not quite as cool as the fact that it’s a Broadway musical adaptation of a roller-disco classic that was a remake of a sequel to a film that had already been adapted into a movie and which had been a Broadway play in the first place.

Dem muses, I tell you.

Thursday, August 06, 2015


I could do what you’re suggesting. I could. I mean, it’s definitely a possibility.

But I’m going to suggest a sort of Plan B for what I can do, and I’m asterisking it with the note that it’s an equally appealing option to me, and that’s this: I, instead of what you’re suggesting, could also just eat poison.

So let’s think about it like this: Here in one hand is your suggestion, which could totally happen and I want you to understand that I’m acknowledging the likelihood of this particular eventuality. And over here, in the other hand, is me eating a heaping handful of poison and dying on the spot — just ingesting these kill pills like they were M&Ms and then shitting myself and dropping dead. Now do you see where my hands are? Neither option is tipping the scales here — neither your suggestion, which is totally an idea, nor mine of taking an action that will result in my immediate and painful death.

Now it’s also important to consider that there’s a third option, which I feel merits equal consideration. In lieu of the first two suggestions, I could also fill my bed with venomous snakes and then go take a nap in it — just, like, curl up with these angry vipers and let them do what they will with me and let their deadly venom course through my veins and then die in my writhing snake bed knowing that this is what I chose in lieu of what you wanted me to do.

Hey, now — wait a minute. I gave your suggestion all the consideration it deserved, and now I feel like you’re not really hearing me on my counter-proposals. But I get you. Maybe these don’t seem like the way to go to you — and believe me, I’m very clear that you have some strong ideas on how I should spent my time — so maybe I need a fourth option that’s less extreme.

So how about this? I take this lamp right here, and I break the lightbulb but don’t remove the shattered glass stub from the socket. And then I take the lamp and fuck myself with it right now. I think it’s the quickest of the possible solutions, mostly because I don’t have poison pills or snakes immediately handy. (And come on — I think that was probably your first quibble with the previous options.) But the lamp is right here, and we could just take care of this now. It’s quick. It’s immediate. You’d get to watch, of course. And afterwards someone can call janitorial services to deal with an aftermath that will surely be grisly on a nightmarish level.

So this is me, batting the ball back to you and saying, “Hey there, person who likes ideas. Which of these seems like the best to you?

Where are you going?

Fine, shut the door. Leave me to make the big decision on my own.

[pulls out phone]

Hi, is there some kind of waiting period for buying your most poisonous snakes? Yes, I can hold.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Talking Heads’ “Popsicle” Should Be Your Omnisexual Summer Pop Anthem

Hey, did you hear about summer? It’s the thing that is happening now! You’re already standing in the middle of it! For the remaining two months, summer is the most likely cause of dampened creases.

This evening, I’d like to recommend one more thing that should be dampening your creases: “Popsicle” by Talking Heads. Yes, you’ve probably heard it before, but have you heard it today? This hour? What other song can transform something as specific as an airport popsicle into a metaphor for the kind of last-minute deviant sex you engage in before you return home to the milky blandness of your wife and children? Here, just listen to it now and think about what sexual act you’d be performing if you knew no one would ever find out.

Fun topics of conversation: How much of this song do you think is about semen? How many other substances would you describe as both “sweet and sticky, running down my hand” and “coconut delight”? What do you think the lyrics are getting at with this “Tootsie roll, hide-y hole” business? Exactly who is wearing those pantyhose, do you suppose? Do you feel differently now about popsicles?

Have a sweet and sticky summer!


Thursday, July 30, 2015

A List of Words That Can Be Rendered Hilarious With One Errant Keystroke

I’m talking beyond public, whose comedic possibilities have already been thoroughly explored.

And yes, for most of these, I learned the hard way, and yes, the first one just yesterday.
  • faces
  • genial
  • trust
  • tuckered
  • named
  • Scotch tape
  • exotic
  • wore
  • ditties
  • wonton
  • hose
  • curt
  • shot
  • shirt
  • snitty
  • shift
  • trump, as a verb or a proper noun
  • discount, which can be tragically but wonderfully turned into discocunt
  • and of course, superheroes, which becomes the obscure but nonetheless evocative word superherpes when you type just one letter incorrectly

On a related note, the adjectival form of the word pus must be avoided in written form at all costs. Also, true story: Once I typed Josie and the Pussycars in a headline. It wasn’t more obscene, strictly speaking, just more surreal in a way that made me wish pussycars were a thing.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Re: Anyone Who Announces on Facebook That They’re Culling Their Friend List

A: Oh my god, did you hear about Tracy?

B: No, what happened?

A: She posted on Facebook that she was going through her friend list and getting rid of people that weren’t real friends and that you should say something if you still wanted to be friends with her.

B: Oh. My. God.

A: I know.

B: I had no idea her Facebook had gotten so bad. Poor Tracy.

A: And this after that thing on Instagram last month too.

B: What happened on Instagram?

A: She posted a photo of her waving goodbye and saying that she had to unfollow a bunch of people because there was just too much in her feed and she couldn’t keep up.

B: Damn, I feel so bad for Tracy. First those felony fraud charges and now this.

A: She’s just having a rough year.

B: But you have to delete people sometimes. My mom posted something a few weeks ago and I was like, “Mom, everyone already saw that last year. You need to stop.” And she was all, “Well, my friends liked it.” And I had to say “Mom, your friends are idiots.”

A: Your mom’s friends are super dumb.

B: So I deleted her, and so now I had to ask my brother to just tag me if Mom posts anything about her diagnosis and it seems important.

A: That’s really smart.

B: Yeah, I also bought this app that automatically unfollows people on Twitter if they haven’t starred or replied to your tweets in the past week, and then it sends a guy to their house to rough them up.

A: Oh my god, I’ve heard of Smackr!

B: So are you going to send Tracy a Facebook message asking to stay on?

A: No, I actually hate her.

B: Yeah, she’s the worst. Let’s never talk about her again.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Why My House Wasn’t in a Movie About Fresno

Here is a phone conversation, re-created some artistic license, that happened about a year ago.

Location scout: Do you want your house to be in a movie?

Me: Not really.

Location scout: We’ll pay you!

Me: How m—

Location scout: Not very much though.

Me: Well, no, then. That sounds like a hassle.

Location scout: We’d need you out of there for, like, two days.

Me: But I just moved in.

Location scout: So you’re not used to it yet!

Me: I need to go.

Location scout: But Hollywood magic!

Me: What’s this movie?

Location scout: It’s called Fresno!

Me: Bye.

Shortly after I moved last year, I got a note tacked to my door from a location scout asking if I’d be interested in allowing a crew to film a movie in my house. This was one of the most Los Angeles things that had ever happened to me, and I was tempted. But when I called for details, I said no, ultimately for two reasons. First, just having newly moved in, I wasn’t eager to get displaced from my home. Second, the film was called Fresno and something about the thought of my home being one that could exist in Fresno didn’t sit well. I like my home. I strive for a non-Fresno aesthetic. Being told “Your home could be a place in Fresno” is kind of like being approached about being the subject of a makeover show — “You’re a ‘before,’ and we want to make you an ‘after,’ you shapeless, sad glob.” Only they weren’t actually promising to “after” my house — just highlight its “before”-ness.

Last weekend, nearly a year later, I watched the Outfest screening of the new movie by Jamie Babbit, who directed But I’m a Cheerleader. The film featured Natasha Lyonne, who also starred in Cheerleader, alongside Judy Greer, who starred in every other movie this summer. (Seriously, she’s been in Tomorrowland, Jurassic World and Ant-Man. Can’t help feeling proud for little ol’ Fern Mayo.) It’s a solid indie comedy, and the title is Addicted to Fresno.

The working title, I learned, was Fresno.

In retrospect, I missed out.

Having watched the film, I’d guess that the location scout was looking for one of two homes featured in it: the one that Lyonne and Greer’s characters share or a second where Greer’s character meets one played my Molly Shannon. Greer and Shannon meet up again on the street, in a spot in Atwater Village that’s literally a five-minute walk from where I live. I cross by it everyday, and consequently I get to think about how I missed my chance to experience Hollywood magic in the form of having my walls repainted, having my furniture rearranged and my floors scratched up, to say nothing of having to camp out at a friend’s while a film crew looked at the art on my walls and saying, “Nah, this sucks. Move it out of the shot.”

Good movie, though.

Of course, that title Fresno can and should only belong to one thing: the 1986 Carol Burnett miniseries that made fun of night-time soaps like Dallas, Dynasty and Falcon Crest, that focused on Fresno’s glamorous-but-cutthroat raisin industry and that hinged around the idea that setting a story about glamorous people in Fresno is inherently ridiculous.

The entire four hours of Fresno, I have learned, are available on YouTube, and I’d like to suggest a Fresno-themed movie night if anyone else is down.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


You work for two weeks straight without a day off and this is how you take a break. I apologize in advance. And yes, I realize it looks like a fridge magnet that would be owned by some girl you went to high school with and who still lives in your hometown. (That was kind of the point.)

BBHMM stands for

Made all the stranger because I actually know the guy who art directed the video for the actual “BBHMM.” I hope he appreciates my having improved upon it.