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Friday, August 01, 2003
Mo' Omar for yo ass
I almost forgot!
Here's a short thing I did on Gigli (more about on-screen couples than the movie itself, which you'll notice I didn't pile on to like some folks I work with who've developed some serious Schadenfreude about the film).
Also, I reviewed the absolutely heeeeeiiinous Scorched. I can still taste it in my throat.
My floating head
My disembodied head and its XL Blog are back for an impromptu jam blogging. I don't know if I have another one coming, but this one's a bit out of the rotation schedule.
In it I pimp Polly Esther's very cool Rabbit Blog (also reachable at tinylittlepenis.com, which deserves some kind of URL award in and of itself). I would have given up on her completely if Monty hadn't poked me with a reminder that yes, she's still out there.
Thursday, July 31, 2003
It's very easy to be silly and blithe on this little speeding grocery cart we call the Internet, but sooner or later, real life is going to come and shake you out of your reverie.
Like a lot of readers, I've followed the ups and downs of Rob and his family's search for an answer to his daughter's inability to speak. Now, he's got news about his daughter.
Rob, our thoughts and our prayers are with you, your wife and your beautiful daughter, for whatever it's worth.
Movies this week:
Sorry I missed last week, but there really wasn't much nice to say about any of those movies anyway. Onward!
American Wedding: As my betters at Fametracker have called it, it's the last of Piefucker: The Trilogy. Is it completely wrong of me that I actually have some interest in seeing this? I've seen none of the Pastry Violator films in the theater -- these are strictly home video affairs for me, where I can privately giggle at someone pissing in someone else's beer [Note: I edited this to fix "pissing in someone else's bear," but that situation would be more or equally funny than the beer] without fear of public recrimination. Mostly I just think Alyson Hannigan has a nice comic touch and my admiration of Seann William Scott has grown since his balls-out (literally) appearance on the most recent MTV Movie Awards. The guy knows that mullets are powerful comedic tools. Incidentally, the love affair with Eugene Levy is officially over. I was not at all impressed with him in A Mighty Wind.
Gigli: This movie has gotten so much bad press that I'm inclined to defend it a little, even if it looks like a trashy, crappy, big-Hollywood Chasing Amy 2: The Re-De-Lesbianizing. It's just become public practice to bag on this film to the point where I'm sick of hearing completely uninformed people talk about how bad it is when they not only haven't seen it, but don't even know what it's about. I'm sure it's completely awful, but shut up already, you know?
Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns: They Might Be Giants are one of those bands that I admire from afar. Very afar. I just don't think I "get" them. Maybe I'm not smart or ironic enough, but I do appreciate that they have cute, clever, nay brilliant songs, I'm just... not... that... into them. I would watch it just to see people like Andy Richter read their lyrics, though.
Scorched: My review of this will be in tomorrow's paper. I don't want to give too much away, but I will say that this movie made me wish that a killer rage virus really would decimate the world's population, if only to keep films like this from reaching theaters. More on this later.
Washington Heights: I wrote a short capsule review of this for the paper when it showed during South by Southwest, but damned if I can find it in our archives. I think what I said was that it was a perfectly decent, if not completely extraordinary story about a Latino comic book artist who has to take over his dad's convenience bodega when somebody pops a cap in pops. I remember getting a little thrill that Judy Reyes (Scrubs) has a small part in it, but it was one of those movies where the main character is a young Latino dude who's so full of whatever that he has to cheat on his girlfriend and then beg her forgiveness for being, well, all Macho and Shit. I did like the comic book angle, though.
And that's it. I am still sadly without benefit of having seen Pirates. But I did finally watch The Good Girl on DVD, which I really, really liked. Go rent it.
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
The thing about being a writer is that you could have your heart irretrievably broken and the end result is at least useful.
Fear of the day
I think the lefternmost molar on the bottom of my mouth may be rotting. Every time I eat or drink something cold or hot, I get a rush of OWW! as if something was directly connecting to my brain. I already have a filling on it, but it's never done that before.
I'm going to the dentist tomorrow and fear that whatever they do will require explosives and hydraulics.
Please pray for my poor, hollow molar.
Disturbing warning (plus: Why Dreams Are Weird)
On the back cover of the new Tetris Worlds game for Xbox, this description is emblazoned:
Hours will seem like minutes as you try to surpass your (or your friend's) best score.
I was very eager to play the game given my past public proclamations RE: my desire to play some version of Tetris on the robust Xbox Live network. But what's this "Hours will seem like minutes" shit? I don't have hours. And if I did, I certainly wouldn't want to convert them to minutes as if through some shady, back-alley-near-the-airport currency exchange where you turn in your dollars for Drachmas at miles below market value. That's some bullshit right there. Man. Now I'm all tense.
And I don't even want to talk about what happens to your dreams when you've been playing the game a lot. That's even more hours you're converting.
Even more bonus: Just found this! I miss Polly Esther.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
I've been to Los Angeles maybe four or five times now (I've sincerely lost track; they blend together in a wash of breezy weather and visits with friends), and each time I go I find something I really like about the city.
The first time I visited, I hated it. Absolutely hated it. I only had three friends who lived in the area and they were far flung from where I was staying, a seedy place near Beverly Hills with a bunch of posh restaurants and nightspots with Beautiful People driving expensive cars and wearing all black. It felt like nothing but surfaces and make-up, gloss and money.
The next few times, I spent more time with people who could explain Hollywood and the city to me. I went to a wedding. I drove up to Newport Beach. I had Coffee Bean and went to the (wildly overpriced) Universal Studios. More friends moved there and by last year, I was beginning to feel an inexorable pull toward the West Coast that hasn't completely abated.
This time, I went with the LCP, and though we sometimes bitch about the group, the rehearsals, our own idiocyncrasies as a functioning collection of very different personality types, our touring seems to be an unavoidably large amount of fun. San Francisco, Vancouver, Seattle, McAllen. Now L.A. Every trip we've gone has has been what you'd call a "Success." Laughing audiences, great memories, group bonding (punctuated by crappy flight behavior, wheedling about room arrangements and sometimes a lot of drinking) and shared discovery.
Now that Erica and Victor live in L.A., we had people who could drive us around, eat with us, give the city some context. We missed Pamie by a day (she was, by coincidence, in Austin for a book signing while we were in L.A. -- Mical and I got to visit with her briefly before our trip), and my friend Heather has been backpacking through Europe.
I don't know what I learned on this trip, but I do know that it was the most intense of our trips, the most compressed period of activity, I think. We were performing at a "showcase" at the Improv Olympic theater for a gig put together by producers at Mad TV. A friend of ours, Melissa, is now an agent's assistant at William Morris, so the first night we were there, we saw the hilarious Freddy Soto at a comedy club, and met a bunch of other William Morris people, including an agent who is one of two people handling comedy for the agency. We shook the hands, talked up our group, invited everybody to see us the following night.
Our friends from Troop and Totally False People were there on Wednesday. Each comedy group (we found out that day there were 12 sets of performers for one evening show; we'd be going second) did their tech run-through. Then we went back to the hotel, the lovely and tiny Hollywood Downtowner (I dubbed it "The Downtroddener") where we chilled out and ran through our 20-minute set.
Back at the theater later, people were getting valet parking and the lobby started to fill up. I met Seth Meyers backstage, who was performing with a friend of his. We found out a little late that the producers were looking for female performers, so many of the groups were tailoring their showcase to spotlight their ladies. We hadn't been given any kind of direction like that, so we stuck with a set that pretty evenly distributed the spotlight among our eight members. (The largest of the night.)
We went up. A lot of Latinos had filled up the front section, and we got huge laughs and applause. When we went back stage some of the other groups congratulated us and seemed curious about what we did on stage to get that kind of reaction. I mean, what, it's just a little full-frontal nudity, people.
We spent the rest of the evening hanging out in the lobby, having drinks, popping in and out of the audience (the place was packed beyond capacity. You had to wait for people to clear out in order to get back in to watch other performances), and watching nervously as two guys in expensive suits strided in and out of the theater every five minutes, carried around yellow legal pads and chatted up girls at the bar.
At the beach...
We didn't really know what to do afterward. Joaquin and Patty went off with L.A. friends they were meeting. Mical, Nick, Adrian and I found the Cat and the Fiddle, a mostly outdoor bar where some of the other troupe members were to meet. We got there and immediately saw Kevin from Troop, a guy who has been beyond cool to us at each of the festivals we've seen him. Almost as soon as we got there, Kevin whispered to us, "Hey. That's Fred Willard over there."
We briefly consulted -- were we willing to go bother the man whom we all admired so much? It wasn't much of a decision. We could at least say we'd performed on the same bill with him before and it wouldn't even be a lie or a stretch. So Adrian led the way and a few seconds later, we were jogging Fred's memory about the San Francisco sketch fest. He didn't seem to remember us at first, but then he warmed up and recounted what he thought of the weekend. As all eyes were focused on Fred Willard, who was holding court on the opposite side of a set of tables propped together on the far end of the bar, I noticed a young woman sitting right next to where I was standing, looking up at me. The dialogue in my head:
"That looks just like Paget Brewster."
"But Paget Brewster couldn't be that young. She's gotta be at least in her mid-30s."
"This woman looks about 27. Yowza."
"Yeah. Oh. Hey. You're staring."
"Hey, don't apologize to me. I'm just your inner monologue."
This finally came out of my mouth: "Are you Paget Brewster?"
It was Paget Brewster, the brilliant comedic actress who made me a fan when she played Jessica on Andy Richter Controls the Universe. I told her as much and she actually sounded glad to hear it. She said she loved the show but that, sadly for everyone, it's cancelled. I asked what she's up to know and she said she's looking for a new gig. Paget Brewster! Somebody hire this woman! And yes, she is even prettier in real life than she was on the show. Yow.
We finally left Fred Willard alone and went to get drinks. When we came back outside, he was gone, and Paget Brewster was getting up to leave. She came up to me on her way out and said goodbye and my stomach did loop-de-loops.
A little while later, Adrian spotted Jay Johnston of Mr. Show. We gushed directly to him about the genius of the "Story of Mt. Everest" skit (he was very cool about it even though I'm sure he gets Mr. Show fans up in his face all the time) and just when we thought the night was complete, we saw that the guy he was with was Dino Stamatopoulos. Adrian regaled him with a shoutout of "Hey, kid -- you got the goods!" to which Dino seemed very uninterested. But hey, it's Hollywood. I would think we were dumb, too.
Then we sat around a table and had beers. That was great and wonderful until two women came and sat with us. No joke. One of them was an Indian woman from Liverpool who claimed she was with the spy outfit "MI-5." (The agency, not the TV show.) Her put-upon friend was very normal and nice, but MI-5 was determined to make a drunken impression. She informed us that our table was in need of estrogen and then proceeded to talk to us about everything from sex to sex to... well, sex. She seemed very incapable of talking about anything that didn't lead back to sex. Luckily, the bar was closing and we were able to wish them goodnight by not at all going back to the hotel with them. Instead, we hunted for a cab and had late-night chili burgers (not knowing that the chili comes on the burger whether you ask for it or not) and had late night heart-burning sleep.
More pics from L.A. over the LCP Web site...
The next day, we went to Venice Beach, which was beautiful and restful. We had a great meal at the Sidewalk Cafe and I got a Henna tattoo and bought some T-shirts. We flew back on a direct flight home late in the afternoon and returned late at night. My bags arrived perfectly (I was flying American, not the crapulent Continental) and at home, a comfy bed was waiting.
Monday, July 28, 2003
I will, I will, I will write about the L.A. trip. But for right now, here are two things that you should take with a shot of tequila:
Hestia did what I should have tuned into sooner: helping raise funds for Austin's libraries. I can think of no worthier cause, except maybe for my own sexual well-being, but failing that, you could definitely raise the flag for books. Visit her atThe Hestia Chronicles and get your ass donating.
Also, today's XL Blog entry that I wrote. They had to check to make sure it was okay for me to post a link to a google search that might bring up a mildly dirty joke about pirates. Such is blogging for corporate America.
My friend Martin sent an eloquent e-mail about this story (Shooting death ends neighbors' yearlong dispute) -- the man who was shot was a co-worker of Martin's, and by all accounts a very smart, useful guy.
It's jarring to think this could happen in your town, on a pretty day, in someone's own backyard. It's even more jarring when you have even a slight connection to the person that turns the name in a news lead into a flesh-and-blood person whose intelligence and sense of humor affected all those around him.
Sunday, July 27, 2003
Dim bulbs and desk changes
My former desk neighbor (I just switched desks today at work, yes, on a Sunday) is on the XL Blog roster too and in this edition, Chris Garcia talks about dim projection lighting at theaters and a bit about going to a David Lee Roth concert.
I know I've been pimping that new blog a lot, but it tickles me to see people I've known and whose writing I've read only in one context in the past doing something a little looser and more about their own experiences outside of the job. Michael Corcoran, in particular, is even funnier in person than he is in some of his more cheeky reviews and essays and it's going to be a treat seeing him do more of that online.
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