Last night, this was the way it was supposed to go: a nice walk over to the House Containing People Who Are My Friends, watch Desperate Housewives, walk home afterwards, take a nice long bubble bath in an effort to remove the sore stiffness from my muscles, and go to bed early, lulled into slumber by my lovely clean sheets.
Galaxy Quest on TBS ruined everything. Got a ride home at midnight and fell asleep at 1:30.
But Galaxy Quest is SO GOOD. So I forgive it a lot of things.
And everything leading up to last night? Marvelous. Ultimate Frisbee and Waiting for Godot and the co-creation of an honest-to-God souffle. Great to see family, great to loaf for a few days and drink lattes and watch West Wing and write paragraphs of prose.
A Very Long Engagement was dense and challenging and not nearly as transcendent as Amelie, but that was probably for the best. I want to see it again and make sense of it all. I also want to grow up to be a homicidal prostitute hell-bent on revenge.
Finding Neverland cloys a bit at first, the sudden bursts of fantasy rough, jarring and obvious. But when it finds its groove, it doesn't get off, and I'll be thinking about its discussion of mortality, the sadness and joy of the last few scenes, for a while.
And Depp, of course, is ten kinds of hot.
Kinsey is smart, witty, beautifully acted, and more than a little strange. Weak only when it delves into full-on bio-pic territory, I liked it much more as a discussion of the role sex plays in society, and how one of the most natural acts in nature is so twisted around by rules and morals, and whether or not those rules and morals are necessary. In the end, it's a sweet story about nerd love. But some interesting stuff happens along the way.
A Very Long Engagement comes out this Friday. THIS FRIDAY. I can't tell you how excited I am.
The past two days have been crazy sorts of busy at work -- many projects seem to have been put into my sphere, and I'm doing the best I can to keep up. With the one dead hour I had yesterday, I chose to play this web game that teaches you the state capitals -- I've now been asking everyone to quiz me, because I'm UNSTOPPABLE. All state capitals lie stretched out before me. No more secrets.
(We never learned them in grade school, is the thing. The other elementary school class did, but not mine. So a lifelong source of insecurity -- eliminated! Dover, Delaware! Helena, Montana!)
Still a bit in the post-screenplay haze, in which I'm indulging myself with prose. Sweet, luscious prose. Started working on my article for next month's Ostrich Ink last night, going to do some work on that and my Bookslut column tonight... If everything goes well, this weekend I might be able to work on this short story I started back in August. It's about telepathic synchronized divers, and fits somewhat into the strange futuristic universe that most of my short stories tend to reside in.
I kinda love setting stories in The Near Future. Writing about old men who remember their adolescence as scored by Nirvana gives me a strange sort of thrill; via fiction, I'm creating the world into which I'm growing up. I want to collect all these someday, make them into something resembling a book -- but that's a way off thing.
I am ready for Thanksgiving. I am so very ready for Thanksgiving. We get to leave the office at 2 tomorrow, and then it's Valley ho for family bonding and food consumption. Perhaps my cousins and I will sit around and watch TV. Perhaps I will knit an iPod cosy as we do so. Perhaps.
In the meantime, some linkage to compensate for my dullness:
Last night was nice. I was utterly fried after a long day of staring at my computer and answering phones, so afterwards I went to the gym for an extended period of time (weight machines!) and then I went home and I didn't leave it until the next morning.
Well, I did do my laundry. But that's just running down the stairs in my fuzzy pink slippers, four cold quarters tucked between the sole of my foot and the inner sole of the slipper.
Laundry and a little bit more of People's History (ooooh, next chapter's about oppressed women -- my favorite!) and, while I folded clothes, chunks of this silly little movie Nicky made me watch years ago. Cabin by the Lake is a serial killer movie starring Judd Nelson, who plays a screenwriter who goes on a serial killing spree to gain inspiration for his screenplay about a serial killer. With Hedy Buress as The Victim Who Gets Away and Michael Weatherly as the pretty boy deputy! Wacky fun.
What else is wacky fun? Ebaying for Acoustic Christmas Tickets. And by "wacky fun," I mean, "nailbiting fear."
Time to reload that page, and find out if I've successfully financially crippled myself for the chance to see Franz Ferdinand, Interpol, Jimmy Eat World, Keane, The Killers, Modest Mouse, Muse, The Shins and Snow Patrol.
EDITED TO ADD: No, Mom and Dad, this isn't a So Very Subtle Christmas Wish. Mainly because I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to acquire it and don't wish to inflict that confusion on anyone else. I think you have to buy a series of $200 books in order to get it, and I don't want it THAT badly.
My big social dilemna? Turns out it was pretty easy to solve -- I picked up care package supplies (so many little tubes of lotion) on Saturday, Asa was kind enough to bring them to the care package making party, and thus Cinderella got to go to the ball. I wore eye makeup and a pink skirt and watched drunk girls in prom dresses stagger around in the lobby of the Shrine Auditorium. It was pretty exciting.
Being at the American Music Awards is kinda like watching them at home, except more entertaining and fewer commericals. Bon Jovi was pretty great, Josh Grobin reduced my friend to a quivering mass of squealing, and I have to say that Alicia Keys and Usher impressed the hell out of me.
Bonus points to my companions, who did not make ruthless fun of me when SHATNER presented. (I bounced up and down and squealed "Shatner!" It was not a proud moment, but a glorious one nonetheless.)
The fun part was when, during the commercial breaks, the announcer guy would come on and say stuff like, "The American Music Awards celebrates the diversity of music. So if you don't recognize an artist performing, please applaud for him/her/them anyways." Or, "During the next performance, Rod Stewart will be joined by Dave Cos on saxophone. So when you see the man with the saxophone come on stage, please give him a big round of applause."
It was overall an extremely surreal experience, being forced to sit in a room and applaud for people that I actively don't care about. I mean, of everyone who performed, how many have produced albums I've purchased? 1, if you count Gwen Stefani and that copy of Tragic Kingdom I got in high school.
I don't hate pop music. It's fun stuff. But it was nice to go home and listen to some Nina Simone and Zero 7. Stuff I actually like.
Tiny babies are freakin' adorable. They're small and fuzzy-headed and make cute cooing noises when you pick them up and rock them. I mean, look:
Who WOULDN'T want one of these, no matter the circumstances? You'd have to be crazy! Right?
Everyone loves tiny babies, I know. But the Christian Right must love them MUCH MORE THAN EVERYONE ELSE. Why else would they put the rights of unborn fetuses above the women who just want to choose when they'll procreate?
So, the gamers I know are all amped up about the sequels to Halo and Half-Life, due out this week and next, and apparently yesterday was a $100 Million First Day for Halo 2. And that's cool and all. That really is super-impressive.
But here's my problem.
"In the first 24 hours we'll have an opening that's (more) popular than any motion picture has ever had in history," Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said at a shareholder's meeting on Tuesday.
I know that that's stockholder spin, Bill, not a sworn deposition (cheap shot!), but let's do some math.
The regular edition of Halo 2 cost $49.99. $100 million in sales yesterday. So, roughly 2 million units were sold (1.5 million of which were pre-sales, by the way).
But let's say that a movie was released into theaters, and 2 million people went to see it on opening night. With an average estimated ticket cost of $10, how much would that movie gross in its first day? $20 million.
Of course, this ignores the pre-sales issue -- if we were only to count the units actuallly physically sold on Tuesday (approximately 500,000) then we'd be looking at a comparable first day gross of $5 million, which means that even Alien vs. Predator outperformed it.
I don't mean to undercut the achievement, though -- I like video games fine, and I'm happy that I have friends who work in a booming industry. What am I trying to say here? That games make more money because they cost more money. That pre-sales screw up the equations. That the population of gamers is smaller than the population of movie-goers, and a more economically difficult subculture to participate in, due to the aforementioned pricing.
And that video games in general have a long way to go before they can really lay claim to being the most popular in the universe ever. Profitable, yes. But not popular.
So it comes as no shock to most of you that I am surfeit with projects and stories and Things To Be Done. I am also surfeit with Media I Want to Consume. What I am not surfeit with? Enough time to both do the things I need to do and consume the media I want to consume.
I take on too much. It is my great weakness. It is my albatross. But I find ways to deal with it.
Specifically, REWARDS. I reward myself for completing projects by consuming media -- but I punish myself until these projects are done. It's less effective than I'd like, but I haven't come up with a better system that solves both my problems. For example:
Finish reading People's History of United States CARROT: Upon completion, will move onto reading America: The Book; will feel intelligent, well-read, and fulfilled, having meant to read People's History since before Ben Affleck had his teeth capped. STICK: Will continue to feel dumb and poorly educated, and The Daily Show's nightly plugs for America will continue to taunt me.
HEARTtaker: Script for Issue #1 CARROT: Will get to see story in comic form, thus satisfying long-time ambitions; will indulge in entire day of tea and comics once done. STICK: Will feel guilty about buying the few comics I do read; will do silly things like carry around Birds of Prey in bag for days without allowing myself to read it.
High-Con Rom-Com: First Draft CARROT: Removal of the shrink-wrap from my West Wing Season 1 DVDs, and the ensuing orgy of watching. STICK: Lowered self-confidence in abilities as writer; decreased ability to be functioning human being.
Thriller Project: Final Outline CARROT: Once done, will be able to start writing the first draft of what promises to be a fun script; will also start shopping for a snazzy new coat (I haven't gotten a good new one since my junior year of college). STICK: Lowered self-confidence in abilities as writer; decreased ability to be functioning human being; cold winter nights.
Like I said. Not the healthiest of methods, and not inexpensive, either. But learning how to motivate myself? Priceless. *g*
Books: I am finally, finally done with The Amber Spyglass, and thus Philip Pullman's reign of terror over my reading ends. His Dark Materials is quite the accomplishment, and the more I think about the ideas it contains, the way it deconstructs original sin and rebuilds the loss of innocence as something positive, life-affirming, beautiful... I like it the more I think about it. Execution-wise, I'm not bowled over, but the three books were a lovely retreat into the fantasy I read as a kid; the images of armored bears and llamas on wheels will linger for some time. I've now moved onto a horror anthology I got months ago on the cheap; I also want to make some real progress on People's History of the United States. Because as soon as I finish that, I get to read America: The Book.
Music: In a total regression to those three months of sophomore year when Nicky introduced me to David Lynch and the Evil Dead movies, I got the Marilyn Manson greatest hits collection off iTunes. Much like Nine Inch Nails, I can always rely on Manson to set a mood; the past few moody days have been underscored by the rough guitars of "Personal Jesus." Definitely a guilty pleasure, and an odd compliment to the George Benson compliation I found unfairly buried in my CD collection, unheard for years; Benson's incredible work with the jazz guitar was fresh and invigorating during those parts of last week I didn't want to murder people.
But if jazz ain't your scene, baby, then maybe you should check out The Wimbledoms. They're Wilco-esque country-rock gold. And someday they'll play a gig that doesn't coincide with ten others.
Comics: If you're not reading We3, you're a damn fool. I'll let my friend Jeff tell you why.
However, Jeff's powerful hatred of J. Michael Strascyznski may mean that he and I disagree about the first trade of Supreme Power. Which is to say, Jeff probably doesn't like it, and Jeff is thus WRONG.
Supreme Power is ostensibly a reboot of the early 1980s series Squadron Supreme, but really it's a chance for JMS to do what he wanted to do with Rising Stars -- without making the same massive mistakes. (Rising Stars was a great series for about eight issues, an incisive commentary on what being "super" means for those who thought themselves ordinary, but due to a preponderance of characters and a lack of thorough outlining, the second TP descended into a random, incoherent killing spree and the series to date remains unfinished.) Alison told me that Supreme Power was unbelievable, and she was right. Imagine a baby boy crashing to Earth in a spaceship, discovered by a kindly childless couple driving by in a pick-up truck... and then imagine the US Goverment taking the boy into custody and raising him in a secret Norman Rockwell brainwashing program approved by President Carter. It's unbelievable stuff. It's a must-read.
Movies: In brief, because I don't have a lot to say -- The Incredibles is a nearly perfect action movie, a nearly perfect superhero movie, and a nearly perfect classic. I'm still giggling over it, and loving Edna Mode (voiced by Brad Bird, of all things), and oh such sweet bliss. It was a much better filmgoing experience than Stage Beauty, which was certainly intriguing, but in the end a poor adaptation of what sounds like a brilliant play. (My roommate was with me, and having read the play she was able to fill me in on what worked much better there.)
TV: The more I watch Veronica Mars, the better it gets. I've actually given it priority over Scrubs on the TiVo list -- after all, I can miss an episode of Scrubs and not miss out on major plot developments. But the Mars mystery is really well-paced and plotted, and I'm way more intrigued by who killed Lilly Kane than why Mary Alice killed herself on Desperate Housewives. Though in the interest of fairness, I will say that's because I've had one theory about Mary Alice for weeks now, and last night pretty much confirmed it for me. So now I'm just hoping there's more to it --but not with a lot of optimism.
The Daily Show continues to rock and roll. I'm glad it's there for us. And by us, I mean me.
Everyone have a nice break? Catch up on their reading, ignore NPR, ram headfirst into a nasty case of writer's block, continue running headfirst into said writer's block until collapsing into teary laughter at a Johnny Rockets in the Burbank mall?
Just me then?
The screenplay is not going well. The plot thread driving forward these last few pages -- and I'm serious about these being the last few pages, it'll only be ten or so more until the end -- is no longer working. It's unclear if it ever worked. So there needs to be some rethinking before I can move forward and at this point I'm so goddamn eager to move forward it kills me. Really, I'm just ready to be done with this so I can move onto other things. Many, many other things.
I'm trying to decide if I should stop and take a break, or if I should plow forward as best I can. The screenplay is important, but it's not under deadline and my ability to write it decreases as my frustration increases. However, Halloween and the election have already thrown me off my rhythm too much -- I stand a better chance of making something out of the story if I stay on it for the full crappy first draft.
At least I know what the problems are and what I can do to fix them. In my own way, of course.
Last night, after my near-breakdown at the Johnny Rockets, I took the pink pseudo-ceramic doll that was in my bag for reasons that are a bit too complicated to go into. "And [I] piled upon the [doll], the sum of all the rage and hate felt by [my] whole race. If [my] chest had been a cannon, [I] would have shot [my] heart upon it."
Since my chest is not a cannon, I instead tossed the doll from the third floor of the mall, watching with glee as it smashed onto the tile two floors below. I have no idea what the doll symbolized, but it felt good to watch it break.
And then I saw The Incredibles. And it lived up to its name. Full media round-up later, I think. There are sidebar additions to make, even!
In times of crisis and concern, we all turn to symbols constant and reaffirming in an effort to distract ourselves. Yesterday, I got so nervous, so full of jittery jangle, over this whole election thing that I decided I needed some help to get through today. As I'm sadly out of crack cocaine, I turned to a much more reliable source of comfort.
This is Mr. Bear, who I believe just turned legal this year (unless Mom and Dad recall differently). He likes The Simpsons, sunny afternoons in the park, and being drooled on. Although currently involved in a long-term relationship with Sydney the Elephant (they've been living together for the past ten years), he will admit to having a major crush on Rocky the Raccoon.
Mr. Bear will be helping me out today.
In fact, we got an early start this morning.
Before we leave for the polls, Mr. Bear goes over the sample ballot we printed out last night with all my proposition decisions on it. Make sure we wrote down yes on 60A, Mr. Bear!
Ths year, we had a long walk to the polling place. So Mr. Bear hitched a ride in my bag.
Mr. Bear takes a moment to rest after our walk to City Hall.
Mr. Bear checks out one of my neighbors as we wait in a hella long line. Mr. Bear loves the ladies -- almost as much as he loves electoral college reform!
We decided that between us we had enough experience with the InkaVote Voting System, so we skipped right to the fun stuff. Here's Mr. Bear, committing voter fraud!
The result of our hard work.
West Hollywood is very supportive of alternative species. Mr. Bear is pleased to report a minimum of voter discrimination.
Coming up later today -- Mr. Bear watches the results! Mr. Bear waits for the recount!
After going through all the propositions tonight, I feel very educated. But I have to admit that a big help in my decision-making? The voter information guide's pro/con info. Not because political spiel helps me make up my mind. But because I could look at any given proposition and figure out instantly where the Governor stood.
The Governor, you see, LOVES TO SPEAK IN ALL CAPS. Every proposition he supports uses ALL-CAPS TO MAKE ITS MAIN POINTS. And NOT JUST A LITTLE BIT. Every OTHER word IS capitalized, IT seems.
I agree with Schwartzenegger on some issues, to be fair. Stem cell research, at the very least. But we disagree more than we agree, so all I had to do is open the pro/con page and WHAT SCHWARTZENEGGER SUPPORTED WOULD BE PRETTY CLEAR.
It still took me close to an hour, though.
And now, Daily Show and bed. Hopefully with minimal teeth-grinding.
My feet hurt, my concentration is shot, and the only way I was able to get out of bed this morning was by inches. I inched my way to the end of the bed until I could not inch no more. It was all very dignified.
On the plus side, I had a really good weekend. Bowling with work people on Friday, where I managed three -- count 'em, THREE -- strikes. A groovy, college-esque house party on Saturday night after an afternoon spent running errands of a highly enjoyable nature.
Oooh, and softball on Sunday, where I CAUGHT A DEEP FLY BALL. Caught it. With my glove. And my bosom. (To specify -- I brought my glove up to my chest after the ball had landed in it.) Fortunately, there wasn't anyone on base, because I proceeded to jump up and down with giddy delight. Not exactly World Series behavior.
Then I held a WeHo Carnaval pre-party -- pretty much the first party I've ever thrown on my own. (There was a party in college I co-organized, but I wasn't hosting and all I did was decorate.) It seemed to go well. People drank punch and mingled and talked and watched Scream on mute while Marilyn Manson played. At one point, I went outside to make a phone call and listened to the sounds coming out of my apartment. Sounds like a party, I thought.
And the Carnaval was fun, though the knee-high high-heeled boots? Not the most practical for a three mile walk. Saw great costumes and did some excellent campaigning for Sexy President, though. There might be a picture later, I think. *g*
In the meantime, though, man am I done. All I want to do for the next week is read, write, go to the gym, watch TV, and knit.
Oh, and vote. Mypollingplace.com is down, but if you're in LA County you can confirm your destination here.
Which reminds me. Still have to read the election book and make decisions about propositions. Maybe I'll do that tonight, after going to the gym. I'll sit on the couch with my highlighter and a cup of tea... in my pajamas... with an afghan on my lap...