Maybe I'm a little cranky today. Don't know why. Sleepy, I guess. Antsy. Need to drink more water. Need to put my head down and relax.
Chris Rock was great last night. Mucho hilarity. Stuff it, Sean Penn. Did all right on my Oscar picks, despite not having any faith in the Academy's ability to recognize good screenwriting. Eternal Sunshine winning was one of my favorite moments of the night.
Tonight, at least, there will be yoga and writing and peace. All of which are nice.
So, three years ago, I had some extraordinary luck with my Oscar picks, simply by assuming that the Academy hates me and would not do me the courtesy of agreeing with me. As the past few years have given me no reason to think otherwise, I'm once again using the Worst Case Scenario Oscar Pick Strategy, the theory being, of course, that if I'm wrong, I'm happy -- I win either way.
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE I want Cheadle to win, as I wasn't impressed by Ray and really just don't give a crap about Jamie Foxx. So, Foxx it is.
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE Oooh, who do I REALLY not want to win here? Hard to say. It'd make me happy if Alda or Church took it. So let's say Morgan Freeman. He was quite the curmudgeon.
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE Swank. Who was actually quite good, but I'm done with Hilary Swank winning Oscars. Especially when Winslet has naught.
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE Both frontrunners annoy me here -- but I'll give it to Blanchett, because I like Portman enough to be happy for her, and dislike Blanchett's performance parody of Katharine Hepburn enough to hope she doesn't win.
WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY) I want it to be Sideways. So very much. So, again, I'll go with Baby.
WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY) I may have liked The Aviator a great deal, but not because of its screenplay. And every other nominee in this category (with the exception of Vera Drake, which I haven't seen) would be preferable to me. So John Logan, my nemesis because of Star Trek: Nemesis, wins his second award.
BEST PICTURE I loved all of The Aviator and only two-thirds of Million Dollar Baby (damn, I hated the third act). Which means, per the rules, I'm picking Baby. But man, I'll totally be happy if I'm wrong.
DIRECTING See Best Picture. I've never been a huge Scorsese fan, but he really knocked my socks off with The Aviator. And Eastwood's certainly a great director, but the third act of Million Dollar Baby failed for me on a directing level primarily -- too long and too sappy.
I have to say, most of the nominees don't inspire great rage or adoration in me. It's a kinda dull year populated with many good, but not great, movies, and if it weren't for Chris Rock, I'd have little hope of this year's ceremony being at all interesting.
But there's always Chris Rock. And there's always the chance I'll be wrong.
Last night, as I was leaving Alan's house after a group viewing of Lost, Alan pulled away from his phone to inform me that Chris Webber had just been traded off the Kings.
Alan probably did not expect me to shriek "YES!"
King Kaufman's Sports Daily does a nice job of explaining why I'm happy about this news -- I've never really liked Webber and have seen too many playoff games blown in the last ten minutes by his choking. I've spent the past few months terrified that he was gonna chase away Peja, who's the real star of the team, to me anyways, and this just comes as the best sort of news.
Bought the new Birds of Prey and Astonishing X-Men last night (only a week after they'd been released! I'm almost on top of things!). As soon as I finish this second draft, man I'm gonna read some comics.
So I went to the Ostrich Ink staff meeting/kareoke night, which reminded me that I've been neglectful, dear readers, in mentioning that the new issue went up, and man, it's fantastic, recounting expeditions to a porn shoot, Mel Gibson's bunker church, a swingers party, and a screening of The Room. The thing I wrote about Mom and Dad, young in LA is a lot less porn-filled, in comparison.
Mentioned in passing last night: Super Mario Brothers Time Attack is a video clip of someone beating the original SMB in five minutes. I've watched it twice now. Truly awesome. (Muniz, you could probably get a column out of it.)
I think I found my perfect kareoke song, too. And that's good news.
I know, I know. It's Paris Hilton, the talking Barbie doll whose entire "career" is built upon the previous surrendering of privacy. But I can't help but feel there's a difference between being on a reality TV show and having personal photos and phone numbers scattered across the internet, as Defamer so elegantly puts it, "like blow on a compact mirror."
There's a lot I genuinely love about this town, but sometimes, the way people can glory in the embarrassment of others... Schadenfreude is a natural human impulse, I suppose. But there's something so inhuman about it.
In other news, I saw Hotel Rwanda this weekend. Holy shit. Now that was a helluva movie.
By which I mean, drinking two large cups of coffee yesterday afternoon.
This doesn't feel like it should have been a mistake. I mean, it's caffeine. I've been addicted to caffeine since high school. It's been there for me during the late nights and early mornings; the midnight screenings, the late-nite bar extravaganzas, the overdue papers, the screenplays that just won't finish themselves. I love caffeine and caffeine loves me, and anyone who says different can just stuff it.
I know people who've quit caffeine (I'll mention Alison, in particular, because she'll probably comment to remind me about how she quit and still kinda misses it *g*) and I've even taken the extended leave of absence from time to time, but I like the rhythm it gives my life, the way it makes me get out of bed, get out of the house, get to work. Writing is a hard, painful, messy business, but it's what I love, and so yes, I use whatever tools I can in order to get the work done.
But goddamn it. Two large cups of coffee over a three hour period, after a few days of nothing but a cup or two of strong, headache-averting tea, and I was so jittery all night that detangling a knitting project was soothing, that my fingers twitched, that I didn't fall asleep until dawn and only for an hour or two.
My alarm clocks just went off -- I have to be in Sherman Oaks in a hour. But I'm awake. And I'm STILL WIRED.
So after work, and after I'd acquired a pair of gold lame shoes, I went home to find Das Roomie there, a fairly rare occurance these days. Even more rare, Das Roomie asked if I wanted to watch a movie with her, as she'd been loaned a screener of Bad Education and needed to return it soon.
"I'm going out at 9:30, but I can do it if it's less than two hours."
"Well, how long is the movie?"
"Let me ask the Internet."
The Internet said it was 109 minutes. I had time for a quick run.
Bad Education was totally great -- film noir soaked in technicolor, visually stunning, incredibly well-acted. I'm always kinda wary about Almodovar, as I found All About My Mother (I'm not pretentious enough to go look up the Spanish-language title) a bit plodding, but this was tight and coherent and yeah, Gael Garcia Bernal is just eight kinds of hot. Fele Martinez was interesting, too. I didn't love him in Abre los ojos (hey, that one I don't need to look up) but here he did a great job of carrying the movie forward.
When the movie was over and I scrambled to get ready, Das Roomie asked what I was doing.
"A friend's birthday party."
"Jumbo's Clown Room."
"And that would be..."
"A tranny strip club and dive bar. You wanna come?"
Das Roomie chose wisely.
The stage of Jumbo's Clown Room has apparently been host to any number of notorious characters, up to and including Courtney Love. Sad clown paintings and statues decorate the walls and bar, and thick plastic doilies cover the tabletops -- the stage takes up nearly a third of the room, one panel of the mirrored ceiling dangling precariously by the sturdy brass pole. There were candy conversation hearts on the table, and press clippings framed by the entrance. We sat at the back, taking it all in, playing "Who's not a tranny?" and bopping along with the music. By far the strangest moment of the night came when we were mouthing along with Lo Fidelity Allstars' "Battleflag" and it turned out to be the radio edit. "Motherfucking knees" became "kkkkkkknees" as the Betty Page wannabe removed her bikini top. And we laughed.
The dancers, a mix of "real" and "fake," were pretty good, most of them seeming to really have fun up on stage, in that strange Suicide Girls sorta fashion. At least two of them were tattooed enough for Suicide Girls, in fact, and in Googling Jumbo's I found more than a few links between the two. Which just lead me to ponder what a great racket Suicide Girls is. "We'll totally post naked pictures of you on the internet! For free! It won't cost you a red cent! Won't that be fun?"
$60 at Jumbo's buys you a "Special Birthday Show," and we all chipped in so that the birthday girl, sitting in a chair on stage, could be surrounded by six girls, all shaking "like a Polaroid picture." It was possibly the most hilarious thing I'd ever seen. And afterwards the dancers bought the birthday girl a drink! Which was totally nice.
So as the evening wore down, we started playing "Who's not a tranny?" with a great deal more enthusiasm. All of the dancers looked real, looked great, at least to my untrained eyes. But we had our suspicions about one or two, debating whether the breasts were real, whether the hips were wide enough.
The last dancer of the night strutted on stage, working the pole, gyrating against the wall, butterflied by her reflection.
"What about her?"
"She could be-"
"I don't know-"
"Hey, was she always wearing that choker?"
We tripped lightly home, happy to have once again witnessed the ways in which gender can be overcome.
So, despite being single and lame this Valentine's Day, I've so far received a e-card, candy, and a single red rose. All before noon!
I think if you approach this day as a celebration of romance in general and those important to you in particular, it's not so bad. It's nice to reach out to the people in your life and let them know that they're special and lovable in their own ways.
Any other approach to the holiday, of course, is utter bullshit.
I think tonight I'm gonna stop by Shoe Mecca on the way home and buy myself a cheap, yet totally cute, pair of shoes. I will then wear these cute shoes Out. And that's all I need from today.
I was just thinking of movies that most people probably didn't realize were based on comics. Is Road to Perdition the only comic book-based Oscar winner?
I'm struggling with this cold that everyone else seems to have; I'm also trying to write a couple of pages before being released to my bed, Before Sunrise and soup. So maybe someone else can answer Jeff's question? Because I'm drawing a blank.
I went into last night's free screening knowing full well that I would react differently than the vast majority of fanboys and fangirls, due to two strange conditions I suffer from:
I have yet to get into the Hellblazer comics, and thus only have a passing familiarity with the character of John Constantine.
I like Keanu Reeves.
I know that second item makes my judgment suspect, but it's just a quirk I've never really kicked; even at his most wooden, I still find him strangely likable. Sure, I haven't put this to the Much Ado About Nothing test, but the fact remains that I have a strange weakness for Ted/Neo/Det. Jack. It's not even crush-based. He's just... cool.
But I know that's not conventional wisdom, and I know that his casting has been more than a little controversial (it's like the punchline to a bad joke come to life: "...and then they cast Keanu Reeves"). So I walked in knowing that me and fandom would probably disagree on this one, and thus I was feeling a little insecure about my geek cred (which is really something I have to get over; most people spend their lives wanting to shake their nerdier attributes; I worry that I'm not nerdy enough).
And then I heard the girl in front of me lean over to her boyfriend and ask: "This isn't some sort of Shakespeare thing, is it?"
I felt a lot better after that.
Anyways. The movie. I'm certain that it isn't as good as the comics, but it was pretty damn fun. Perhaps my expectations were low because of the director's previous credits, but rather than being all effects and incoherent editing and bad pop songs, Francis Lawrence managed to make himself a real movie. Some pacing/intercutting problems right at the beginning ("meanwhile, in Mexico..."), but the irreverent tone was really well-maintained, the oddities of the universe scattered throughout. It felt like a world unique, which was kinda cool given that I recognized half the locations ("I've been to that bowling alley!" "Hey, the USC Religious Studies library! Complete with library books!"). Heavy on the exposition at times, but not at others; I really liked the way a lot of things were left unexplained. Little things, like a cell phone ringing in the middle of a conversation, not at an appropriately timed pause, really worked for me. "It felt like an actual movie," Brian said afterwards, still a bit scarred by comic book movies past. And I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Sure, the tinges of studio-ization lurk (I mean, this is Warner Bros) but it's no goddamn Catwoman, dull-edged and dead-eyed. It helped that this was geared to be a R-rated horror movie -- easier to make something cool and unpredictable when you're not trying to make it popcorn-appropriate. I'd guessed a certain outcome halfway through the movie, regarding who would live and who would die. I was TOTALLY WRONG. And that was kinda great.
Moment of Unintentional Hilarity: the Spear of Destiny figures heavily in the storyline, and when first mentioned in the opening chyron I couldn't help but laugh. After all, I thought Noah Wyle had already found it.
I have the suspicion that every single thing I liked about the movie can be found in the comics -- the dark humor, the wry grin, the strange and mystical. But the comics aren't acted out in front of me by Tilda Swinton. And that's a crying shame because Tilda Swinton is eight kinds of genius. I keep forgetting how good she is, but after seeing her as Gabriel I imagine I'll remember for quite some time. Her and Shia LaBeouf and Djimon Hounsou and Rachel Weitz and all those other people with hard-to-spell names.
And yes, even Keanu was good. He was chock full o' sass, able to make ashen and dying look lovely, and hell, did some actual acting. I know. It surprises me as much as you.
So the last beat made me laugh (even though I know it'll piss people off). I walked out happy. My expectations had been exceeded. I'd had fun. And I really wanted to read the comics.
In this world of piss-poor comics adaptations, that's more than enough for me.
So I usually commute via Santa Monica, but last night I finished listening to this audiobook, and the library wanted it back, so I figured I'd stop by the Durant branch on Sunset right before work.
So that was why I was on Sunset this morning, and that was why I saw the accident.
You know Cafe Mingo, that hot dog/burger stand at the top of Fuller, a couple of blocks west of La Brea? With the red roof and the green iron-fenced patio? Well, a corner of the metal fencework has now been crunched in. Because a BMW right in front of me tried to cut off a Volvo in the third lane, and the two cars skid against each other. This caused the Volvo to veer off, run into this old Russian lady and her grocery cart, and then collide with the burger stand.
I pulled over and got out of the car, because I'd only seen the lady for a second before she got hit and I thought I might have been seeing things. I wasn't. A nasty gash on her forehead, her legs bent wrong. One eye half-shut, the other open, thickly glazed with tears. She gurgled. We didn't move her.
Two people -- the Beemer driver, and another witness -- were already calling 911. Mr. BMW handed me his cell phone, asked me to talk to the dispatcher. I answered his questions, clarified the address, asked what else we could do.
The other witness had a clean towel in her car, for the gym. I started using that to try and stop the bleeding on her forehead. Twelve years of Girl Scout training. I don't know how much good it did, but the paramedics got there quick, cutting away the clothes that were in the way while I kept pressing the towel to her forehead. They cut away her blue cardigan, revealing the touristy Capri t-shirt she was wearing, a faded sailboat against yellow and blue horizontal lines.
I feel so morbid, writing this.
The cops asked us to move our cars into the nearby parking lot and wait to give our statements, and so I hung out with the other witness while she smoked a cigarette, the wind blowing the ashes into my face. She'd started smoking when she was a NFL cheerleader in Ohio -- the team was strict about their weight and the other girls all smoked in order to skip meals. Now she works on the show Girlfriends, acts. We talked a bit about sitcom life, and dieting.
"I was going to Burger King," she told me, "but I was going to be cheating, because I'm on this special diet. The gods are tryin' to tell us something, huh?"
"Yeah. The gods are trying to tell me that I shouldn't return things to the library."
We laughed. Our hands shaking.
There's a box on the witness information card for the officer to jot down "Personal Oddities." I saw my witness information card, and I was kinda gratified to see that that box was blank.
When I talked to the traffic investigator, he asked me if I'd seen the drivers get out of their cars. When I said that I wasn't sure, he wasn't pleased. "You should be sure to pay attention, next time you witness an accident, to who comes out of which car. It's real important for us to know who was driving."
"That's good to know, sir, but I'm really hoping there's not a next time."
"Well, you do live in LA."
The woman was in critical but stable condition, last I heard. The cops were very interested in her condition. Whole different ballgame if she doesn't make it.
The other witness saw the Volvo hit the lady, but I was the only one to see the cars actually collide. I've got the traffic officer's business card, and I'm going to call later, to find out if I'm the main witness to a manslaughter case.
All because some asshole wasn't paying attention, and tried to swerve into an occupied lane.
Please don't drive like assholes, folks. It's just not worth it.
Teen magazines keep writing that my eyes 'twinkle' when I talk. Look, I'm a guy. I don't twinkle, you know! You can say that my eyes 'sparkle' maybe, but not 'twinkle' alright? Got that teen magazine writers?! -- Jonathan Brandis
It's research, okay? Research.
Valentine's Day is coming up. Maybe I should start dating again. New Beverly is playing Sunset Blvd and All About Eve that Saturday. Couldn't be any worse as date movies than Closer.
I also really want to see Inside Deep Throat, too.
This is all presuming that there are individuals to potentially date. Presumptuous. That's a fun word. It speaks of falsehoods and pints of ice cream and sleep.
This shirt I'm wearing today is a little slutty, but only because it fits kinda big and keeps falling off one shoulder or the other.
I want to go for a run tonight. I want that guy on Digital Webbing to mail me back. I want a casting coup.
So I don't know if I'm going to watch the State of the Union tonight. I'm not big on speechimafying replete with applause, I'm not our President's biggest fan, and if I'm gonna stare at the TV for three hours I'd rather watch the Galactica or Before Sunrise and read the transcript later.
I forget when I read this or if I read this or if someone just told me or if I took something entirely unrelated and transformed it to fit my own warped psyche. But there's this notion, this precept that's been driving me forward the past few months: specifically, just because I accomplished something yesterday doesn't mean that I'm off the hook today.
The "What's next?" theory of life, I suppose. It's a little bit tiring, though.
This is what they don't tell you about "write every day" -- not only does your work suffer if you fail to write every day, but you suffer, especially if you let your sense of self-worth get a little too tied to the fact that occasionally, you can string words together in a manner which has the potential to please others. On days when I can't seem to manage that, I get frustrated and angry. I skip the gym. I drink tequila. I watch bad TV. I mope.
Lately, though, things have been going pretty well. Last night and yesterday I finished writing some things, prose no less, and they were emailed away and that's a load off my mind. But now it's today, and I'm starting from scratch again. Projects to start, projects to finish. Today, I'm outlining, and revising outlines, and that's just as exciting as it sounds.
But once I get it done, then I'll be ready to have fun tonight. And I'll be ready for tomorrow. For the next thing.
Now, to continue learning about how to rob a bank.