Monday, November 27, 2006

My Armpit, or Why I Owe Parker Posey An Apology

(in yesterday's blog, I promised to post the essay I wrote about my photo project)

(so here it is)

(oh, and to be honest, I haven't really done much with the photo project for several years--i used to take several photos a week, but now it's more like a couple a year)


My Armpit, or Why I Owe Parker Posey An Apology

Ewan MacGregor and I did it. We did it together way back in 1998. I've done it with Roberto Benigni, and with Vincent Gallo, and with the guy who played Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and then this one time, in a drunken stupor, I did it with both members of Tenacious D, at the same time, one of them on either side of me.

Occasionally, I do get turned down. This one time, I met Forrest Whitaker at the Dresden Room, and when I propositioned him, he almost spat his drink in my face and then he told me: "Not even if we were the last two people on earth, not even if I knew no one else was ever gonna find out about it, not even if there was never going to be another chance for either one of us to ever have any physical connection with another human being ever again, never-ever-never would I smell your armpit."

Let me explain.

About ten years ago, I went to Disneyland with a group of friends. We had breakfast with Mickey, we took pictures; we rode the teacups, we took pictures; we watched the parade, we took pictures. Your typical day at Disneyland. But then when I got my roll of photos developed, I noticed that in one of the group pictures, my friend John had his nose in my armpit. Apparently, just as the rest of us were saying "cheese," John was smelling some. He must have leaned into my armpit to see if the offending odor was coming from me, and that's when the picture was taken and The Armpit Project was born.

The first photo was an accident. But I thought it was funny, so I started staging the photos, collecting them. And then, bit by bit, it became an obsession.

Most of my friends and family have done it. It's like my armpit is this great equalizer. It's a place where my divorced parents can get along. A place where my radical lesbian cousin and my conservative Christian aunt can see eye to eye. A place where there is no war, pestilence, or disease--only love and, okay, body odor.

As far as strangers go, the general rule of thumb is, if they're drunk, they'll do it, and if they're not drunk, they'll do it. They just might need a little coaxing. There's this woman, Anita, who I met at Zuma beach about seven years ago, and ever since she posed for the project I've run into her, like, a dozen times. And she never remembers me. I'm always like, "Hey, Anita!" And she's like, "who are you?" And then I'm like, "I'm the guy whose armpit you smelled that one time." And then she instantly remembers me and we get on like gangbusters. All we really have in common is my armpit, but it's enough.

Now, before I go any further, I want to clarify: the Armpit Project is in no way sexual. It's not about sex at all--if that's what you're thinking. It's what Toni Collette was thinking when I asked her to do it. "Is this one of those things?" she asked me. "One of what things?" "You know," she said, but I honestly didn't. She looked me straight in the eye and finally said the word: "Is this a, you know--a fetish?" "Oh, no," I told her. "That's too bad," Toni told me, "because I have a fetish, and if I go in there, I might not ever come out." Toni Collette actually said this to me. And then she smelled my armpit more hardcore than anyone has ever smelled my armpit. It was awesome.

Then, the day after Toni Collette smelled my armpit so righteously, I got cocky.

I was in New York City. I'd been there for about a week, and during that week, I had seen Parker Posey, randomly, on the street, a couple of times. I knew she was in a Broadway show. I hadn't seen the show, but I'd seen the billboard, and I love Parker Posey, and since I'd seen her on the street, a couple of times, I figured that must mean something, because you don't ever randomly see people on the street in New York City, so I decided to take it as a sign that Parker Posey was supposed to pose for my Project. Yes, I stalked Parker Posey, and I owe her an apology.

Here's what happened: I had randomly seen her on the street a few days earlier arriving at the theater, so I knew she got there about an hour before curtain.

Now it was Saturday, and there was a two o'clock matinee, so I got to the theater at noon, just to be safe. As I stood there, waiting, I noticed a paparazzi guy also standing near the stage door, but I didn't say hello to him, because paparazzi guys are scumbags who ambush people with their cameras and I'm an artist who asks people to pose for a photo project. There's a difference.

I wait for awhile, in front of the stage door, and then, suddenly, I see this woman roller-blading down the street and I realize it's her. It's Parker Posey. Whom we'll refer to as the artist I'm pursuing rather than the woman I'm stalking. She's roller-blading right at me. Okay, I'm ready. She's getting closer, barely slowing down, reaching out for the door handle, so she can go inside, uninterrupted, and, I don't know, maybe mentally prepare for the performance she's gonna give in an hour. She's barreling forward. But I'm standing between her and the stage door. I'm blocking her way. She skids to a stop and then she looks at me, like, what? I don't have much time. I ask her if she'll pose for a photo. With me. She says, "sure." Very nice, but obviously in a hurry. Then I ask her if she wouldn't mind smelling my armpit in the photo. Just like that, I just put it out there. Figuring it wouldn't faze her. She's Parker Posey. And then she looks at me like she's not sure if she heard me right. So I say it again: "would you smell my armpit?" And then her face turns white and her body tightens and she says, "no, no, no," fervently, adamantly, "no." And then I say, "oh, okay," not sure how to react. And then she looks at me with these big, frightened eyes, and she says: "You do not understand the things that people ask me to do--no, I'm sorry, but no."

And then I feel terrible. Because she's Parker Posey. The Party Girl. Who I love. And I suppose, because of the fuck-it-all attitude that she conveys on the screen, people feel comfortable approaching her and asking her to do a lot of really crazy shit. Like smell their armpit for a photo project.

But, see, the Armpit Project is supposed to be this funny, weird, care-free thing. That's all it's supposed to be. I could try to explain the psychology of it. I could try to find some meaning in it. But the truth is: I went to Disneyland this one time, I got some photos back, and my friend John was smelling my armpit in one of them. And I thought that was funny. And then it just became this thing. And the more people do it, the funnier I think it gets. The one thing it's not supposed to be is malicious. It's not supposed to hurt anyone.

But suddenly, standing out on the sidewalk in front of a stage door in New York City, I realized that I had hurt Parker Posey. "You do not understand the things that people ask me to do." It's such a horrible sentence because it really gives you a lot of room to imagine a lot of really horrible things.

I should have apologized right then and there. I should have just apologized to her and let her through the stage door. But I didn't want her to think I was some weirdo like the other people who've asked her to do creepy things. So I tried to salvage the situation. I kept going. I pushed. I persisted.

I suddenly remembered that Parker Posey was in a movie called Clockwatchers with Toni Collette, and just as Parker Posey was finally making her way past me, I blurt out: "Well, Toni Collette did it."

And she stops. And she looks at me like she has confirmation: I really am some weirdo freak. And then she says, as calmly as possible: "Well, I. Am not. Toni."

And I realize that there's no going back. I've made a mess of this moment. And then, maybe because I'm still standing in front of the door, blocking her way, Parker Posey asks me if I still want to take a picture with her, "but without the armpit smelling." I say yes. We take the photo. I step away from the door. She goes into the theater. And that's it. That was our whole encounter. But after she went inside, I realized that I never apologized to her, and I really should have.

So, if you're Parker Posey, and you're reading this, I want you to know that I may not understand the things that people ask you to do, but I do understand that I was one of those people asking you to do an un-understandable thing. And for that I truly am sorry.

Maybe if we'd had time to talk, I could have told you about that one time at Disneyland, or about how I now have more than 300 photos and I plan to exhibit them at a gallery when I'm 80, and about how I'm not really a stalker--I'm a man with a photo project. That involves armpits. And maybe you would have realized that even though I might be weird, I'm not a weirdo. There's a difference.


The photo we took:


Okay, so I had this *brilliant* idea that was going to be SO FUNNY.

After all of the comments in the previous post about the blue shirt that I used to wear almost every day in high school (I probably didn’t wear it quite as much as I’m making out like, but I certainly got my money’s worth with the shirt) (“as I’m making out like”??? is that phrase even English?) (I think I should have written "as I'm making it out like I did," but now everything looks like gibberish), I decided to find a bunch of old high school photos of me wearing the blue shirt. I thought it would be funny to be like, “look at me! I used to wear this shirt all the freaking time--and here's proof!” Also, I thought it might be a nice segue into a post about my high school reunion.

So then I started looking through my box of photos (I stopped putting photos into photo albums in 1991, so all of my photos from the last fifteen years are just in boxes) (lots and lots of boxes) (and there’s no rhyme or reason—pictures from junior high school are mixed in with pictures from college are mixed in with pictures from last week), but I couldn’t find a single picture of me wearing that blue shirt. Which is crazy because I seriously did wear it all the time. I must have avoided cameras when I was wearing the shirt, so that no one would be able to accuse me of wearing the shirt as often as I wore it. That’s bunk, I honestly don’t know what the deal is. It should be easy to find pictures of me wearing the shirt. But alas, I can’t.

Instead I found something better. A picture of me in pseudo-drag, wearing a red dress. Since I can’t find any of the blue shirt pictures, I figured I might as well post something, and it might as well be this because (a) it’s a funny photo, and (b) check out my legs.

Ooo la la, right?

This picture was taken in the upstairs bathroom at the Actors’ Gang’s old Santa Monica space, back in the summer of 2001. I haven’t actively been involved with the Gang for several years (because I stopped acting and the place is called the, um, Actors’ Gang), but there’s still a lot of great people at the Gang—lots of people I love. The summer of 2001 was the beginning of an intense, crazy-fun period with them. I had done a few “Style” workshops in their El Centro space and then I got a call out of the blue from Cynthia Ettinger asking me to participate in a three-week Style Workshop that was, like, every day from noon until midnight (maybe I’m remembering this wrong—maybe it didn’t start until later in the day—but for now I’m just going to say that it started at noon because it certainly felt like we were there all day, every day). The Gang’s “Style” workshops consisted of spending an hour creating a Commedia Del ‘Arte inspired character, getting into costume and make-up, and then a director would sit in the front row of the theater (they were “in the chair”) and they would guide small groups of us through improvised plays, essentially. I’m not describing this well at all. Basically, we’d get up onstage in groups of about eight (I think there were about forty of us in total) and we’d take turns making entrances and exits, and then we’d evolve into improvised scenes, and I know this is going to sound hokey, but some of the theater I witnessed during those three weeks of workshop was some of the best theater I’ve ever seen.

I usually played sorta dandified male lover characters, hence the costume. (I don’t think I was trying to be a “woman” in that outfit at all—I think my character’s name was Bruce.) (Or maybe it was Sandro.) (Whichever, I was supposed to be a dude who just happened to be wearing a dress, hence the lack of cleavage.)


Oh, and the reason the woman in the photo is smelling my armpit is that this photo was taken as part of a photo project that I used to do. (I still do the photo project, it’s just been very sporadic the last few years.) I wrote an essay about the photo project, which I was going to post on the blog about nine months ago, but then I submitted it to Fresh Yarn and decided not to post it on my blog in case Fresh Yarn wanted it, but I haven’t heard from them it's been a really long time, so I’ve decided I want to finally go ahead and post the danged armpit essay. So that’ll be coming soon.

Dance With Me

My dear old friend Lanie (and when I say "old," I don't mean that she's "old," because she's not--I just mean that we've known each other forever) (and when I say "forever," I mean that, like, okay: even though I've lived a life filled with questionable fashion choices and hairstyles--I suppose we all have our fair share of questionable fashion choices and hairstyles, but I like to think that I have more than my fair share--I've known Lanie long enough for her to remember some of my earliest sins) (and she has proof) (photographic proof) (because as I was saying, my dear old friend Lanie) just emailed me a photo she found from our high school days (my 10-year-reunion was fun, by the way, I'll write more about it later).

I think the photo is totally embarrassing, which is why I'm posting it here, because why have a blog if not to post your most embarrassing photos on it, right?

I assume that I'm dancing in the photo, but because I'm looking at the camera it almost looks as if I'm posing for the photo, and that's just weird, because if this photo wasn't taken mid-dance-crunch, then what the hell?

Also, I know I set up that this was going to be a photo showing off a questionable fashion choice and hairstyle, and at first I thought I was sporting a mullet in the photo, but on closer inspection I think that's actually patio furniture in the background that's tricking my eyes into seeing a mullet. If I'm not mistaken, this photo was taken a few months before My Big High School Mullet. And I suppose that the clothes are fine, except when you take into consideration the fact that I loved this shirt so much I wore it every single chance I could get. As in: I swear I wore this shirt, like, four times a week. (Jesse, back me up here--you totally recognize the shirt, right?)

Enough diddle-daddle. Here's the photo I just found in my inbox, curtesy of Lanie:

Don't you want to dance with me?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Me and My Snotty Nose (oh, and New Thing #180)

All of a sudden I have a cold and I’m super sneezy and snotty (it’s really gross) (I keep sneezing uncontrollably and blowing nose-gook all over the place). I’ve been trying to get rid of the cold pronto (like, now) because tonight’s my ten-year high school reunion.

So basically I’ve been drinking lots of water, eating chicken noodle soup, napping, and watching movies. Lots of movies. Four and a half, to be exact.

I woke up and watched The Perfect Man (starring Hilary Duff and Heather Locklear) on HBO (it was kinda creepy because there’s a long sequence where hilary is pretending to be her mother’s secret admirer, so that her mother will feel like she’s wanted, but it’s like: your mother is falling in love with YOU, hilary!) (and I’m like: grody!) (and there are all of these sequences that intercut between hilary writing love letters to her mom and then her mom reading them and falling more and more madly in love and, yeah, wow, just creepazoid) (when I was ten, I took this Acting For Commercials class, and the teacher had us standing in front of a camera and he would say things to get a reaction out of us, and I remember one of his directions to me was that “Heather Locklear just walked into the room” and I had no idea who Heather Locklear was [at the time] and so I was all “huh?” and then he said “she’s really hot” and I remember trying to act excited about a really hot woman named Heather Locklear walking into the room, but I don’t think my acting skills were that great at age ten) (anyway, I was really glad when hilary confessed to her heather that she was the secret admirer and the movie started acting like a real teenybopper romantic comedy instead of a mother-daughter love story)

And then I went out to the movies and saw Little Children (starring Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson) (I used my Writers’ Guild card to get in for free) (first time I’ve been able to do that) (hurray for awards season) (New Thing #180) (I thought Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson were both great, but the movie left me kinda cold) (and not just because I have a real, actual cold) (I thought that the use of narration had a distancing affect and it kept pulling me out of the story, instead of feeling for the characters, I was thinking about them, and I feel like the movie should have made me cry—because, hell, I am such a crybaby at the movies—but it didn’t make me cry, it just didn’t) (but I will say that Patrick Wilson deserves to be a major movie star) (and not just because he’s crazy sexy) (he’s crazy good, too)

And then I went to see For Your Consideration (um, I do not have words) (so many talented people, but the movie didn't click for me)

And then I came home and watched My Girl on HBO (you know, with Dan Akroyd, Anna Chlumsky, and Jamie Lee Curtis) and I sat here on the couch and cried and cried and cried. So good. When Macaulay Culkin dies—oh man, it just kills me.

Now I’m half-watching Roll Bounce as I type this, and I’m also sitting here hoping that I’ll run out of snot in the next hour before I have to go to my reunion, and that maybe I’ll somehow lose ten pounds, too, or maybe twenty, because I was hoping to have six-pack abs in time for the reunion, but I don't think I'm gonna be losing that much weight in snot (and if I do, I probably should go to the hospital, not the reunion, because ten to twenty pounds of snot would just be wrong)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

40 Things I'm Thankful For

(in no particular order)
(just thirty random things)

1. My friends. (I have great fucking friends) (I don’t see them nearly enough) (smart, funny, loving people)

2. My family. (as freaky as it sometimes gets, I have a great fucking family) (though sometimes I see them too much) (that’s a lie, I just said it because it juxtaposed with the “I don’t see them nearly enough” thing I said about my friends) (the truth is: I can’t get enough of my family) (it’s a good family) (in all of its weird-ass permutations)

3. Great teachers. (I’ve been immersed in the world of teaching lately and I have a newfound respect for all of the blood, sweat and tears that really good teachers put into it) (and I’ve been lucky to have had a lot of great teachers in my day) (“in my day” makes me sound like I’m dying)

4. 24 hour coffeeshops. (there should be one on every corner) (when I rule the world, there WILL be one on every corner)

5. Cheerleaders. (I’m not being ironic here.) (I like cheerleaders.) (Honestly, I don’t know any cheerleaders personally, but I like movie cheerleaders, and all of their bitchy, poppy glory.) (The other day at school, I was talking to this girl who was wearing what I thought was a cheerleader’s uniform, and I asked her, “are you a cheerleader?” And she totally blanched, then scoffed, then blanched again: “No, I’m on the dance squad.”) (I’m all for the dance squad, but come on, let’s hear it for cheerleaders.)

6. “Imagine” by John Lennon. (The only completely perfect song ever written.)

7. Tuna fish and sweet corn sandwiches at The Curly Dog CafĂ© in Camden Town, London. (I know it sounds gross, but it’s a good combo) (for real) (and besides, as far as the sandwich wars go, I’ll always be on Team Tuna, never on Team Peanut Butter)

8. Michael J. Fox. (my love for this man is well documented)

9. The peppermint hot chocolate at Starbucks. (is it wrong for me to be thankful for something from Starbucks?) (I can’t help it, though, because the peppermint hot chocolate ridiculous) (ridiculously good, that is)

10. Juke Boxes. (And I’m not talking about the fake little juke boxes they have at places like Johnnie Rocket’s, I’m talking about real honest-to-goodness Fonzie-type juke boxes, that have their own speakers and sometimes you have to hit ‘em to make ‘em work, and you’re filled with greasy food, but suddenly nothing ever sounded as good as Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and you can’t help but stand there and sway to the music.)

11. Really Good Bowel Movements. (Had one this morning.) (Enough said.)

12. Double features. (They don't do official "double features" at the movie theaters anymore [remember when they did???], but I love going to the movies on a lazy Saturday afternoon and then sneaking into a second film that isn't something I would ever normally see--i.e. it's nothing I'd ever pay to see, but since it's a lazy Saturday afternoon I might as well sneak into the new Rob Schneider movie, you know?) (The last time I tried to sneak into a second movie to make the afternoon's cinema experience a double feature was a couple of years ago. I was with Urp. We had just seen the remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and I forget what we were trying to sneak into, but apparently they had a really good surveillance system at this movie theater because security followed us in. When they asked us to show them our tickets, Urp pretended that she didn't speak English. She just sat there with this look on her face, like, "huh?" while I tried to talk my way through the moment. It was classic Urp. We totally got kicked out of the movie theater.)

13. Google.

14. John Hughes. (I watched Sixteen Candles on HBO this morning. Such a great movie. I remember the first time I ever saw Sixteen Candles—it was when I was in the 6th grade, I was over at my friend Katies’s house down the street when Katie’s older sister Kristen [who was already in high school and way cool] turned the TV on to HBO and told us “You have to watch this. It’s educational.”) (I remember feeling like I’d just been handed keys to the castle, like I had to watch this movie for dear life if I wanted to survive high school.) (Like, this movie was imperative.) (And it was.) (And any movie with the line “I bet you a dozen floppy disks that you don’t even get tit” is a great movie.) (Also, a couple of days ago, I was watching a Scissor Sisters concert on Logo, and Ana Matronic quoted Lea Thompson's character from Some Kind of Wonderful--which is, hello, also a such a great Hughes movie--that moment at the end of the movie when Lea Thompson tells Eric Stoltz: "I'd rather be alone for the right reasons than with someone for the wrong ones." That line of dialogue totally influenced my high school dating life, i.e. even though I wasn't ready to date dudes, a part of me knew that the only reason I was dating girls was that I wanted to fit in, and that was kinda the wrong reason to date girls, and so, after Shirley and Gina, I stopped.) (What I'm saying is, John Hughes: hugely influential.)

15. The struggle. (A lot of the people I’m closest to have been dealing with a lot of heavy shit lately, and struggling—a lot. And I have to believe that the struggle is worth it and it makes us stronger and the evolution is necessary, and we’ll get through these moments that feel, right now, so hard.)

16. Penises and Vaginas. (I swear that the last phrase of the above thankful statement did not make me think of this thankful statement, but it is a nice transition.) (I'm more thankful for penises that I am for vaginas, in all honesty, but we wouldn't have penises if it weren’t for vaginas, so let's just say that I’m thankful for all genitalia.)

17. Q-Tips. (My ears produce so much wax that if it weren’t for Q-Tips I would definitely be deaf right now.)

18. Jake Gyllenhaal’s abs. (no explanation necessary)

19. Photo Booths. (I fantasize about owning my own photo booth.) (How cool would that me?) (My house would totally be the party house if I had my own photo booth.)

20. The Beatles. (so much goodness) (especially The White Album--my favorite)

21. The little old Armenian lady in Glendale who tipped me a dollar that one time. (This was years ago, when I was a senior in college, I was working as a host at Louise's Trattoria in Glendale. One of the Delivery guys called in sick and we were slammed with all of these deliveries, so they needed me to take some of the food out. I had to deliver a meal to this little old lady on the third floor of one of the apartment buildings on Jackson. I remember taking the elevator up, finding her apartment, knocking on the door. She opened the door and let me in, all smiles. I gave her the bag of food and told her what the total was and her face fell. She had cash for me, but she'd miscalculated what the total was going to be and she didn't have enough money to tip me. She was obviously upset and embarrassed and I told her not to worry about it and have a nice day, it honestly wasn't a big deal. This wasn't even my real job, I was happy to have a break from hosting in the actual restaurant. So I left her apartment and she apologized again, I got in the elevator, went down three floors, and then, as I was walking down the sidewalk back to my car, I heard someone yell out "hey!" from above. I looked back at the apartment building and this little old lady was standing at one of the third floor windows. We had eye contact, she stuck her hand out the window, and a dollar bill started floating down to me. It was like a feather, just whisp whisp whisp fluttering down. I caught it and smiled up at the woman and she smiled back down at me and then disappeared from the window. I don't even know why I just thought of that woman just now, but I always thought she was sweet for finding that dollar and not letting me get away without a tip.

22. Anderson Cooper’s smirk. (whatever you think of the guy, you have to admit that he has a really sexy smirk)

23. Rainy Days. (I hate the rain when I have a lot to do and a lot of places to be, because I hate to drive in the rain--I'm one of those people that other people are always complaining about when they say "people in Los Angeles don't know how to drive in the rain"--but when I don't have anywhere to be, I love the rain) (it's fun to stand in the rain and catch water in your mouth and just get soaking wet)

24. Regina Spektor. (Where has this woman and her music been all of my life?) (Her songs rattle around my head all the time.)

25. Tivo. (Even though I don't actually have Tivo, I have the cable company's knock-off version, but it's practically the same and it allows me to be a complete couch potatoe on my own terms, i.e. at one in the morning, and still have a life during "primetime hours") (I don't watch anything live)

26. John Irving. (Hello, A Prayer for Owen Meany)

27. Graham Greene. (if you haven't read The End of the Affair, you must)

28. Fyodor Dostoyevsky. (I had a debate about Dostoyevsky the other day with this student who was arguing that Raskolnikov should have just turned himself in and gotten it over with instead of going on and on, and I was like: "you are so dumb." Okay, I didn't really call her dumb, but I totally wanted to.)

29. The fact that I have a car that doesn't break down every day (knock on wood)

30. T.J. Wilk (too sexy for words)

31. The Real World/Road Rules Challenge (I wish this show was on every night of the week) (I forgot to watch it last week and I was so upset) (like, when I realized I'd forgotten to watch it, I literally gasped for air and cried out "no!")

32. People who give the "thank you" wave after you've let them into your lane (it's just the nice thing to do)

33. All You Can Eat Salad Bars (I love Soup Plantation) (but I go overboard)

34. Road Trips (It's been too long since I've been on one) (the last road trip I took was with Jessica, we drove from one side of the country to the other, dipping our toes in the pacific ocean at the beginning of the trip and the atlantic ocean in the middle of the trip, and then back in the pacific when we returned home) (I wish it was possible to drive to London)

35. London.

36. The fact that i'm not as much of a hypochondriac as i used to be.

37. Geniuses named David (as in Lynch and Milch)

38. Both of the awesome writing groups I'm a member of (i pinch myself, i feel so lucky to be involved with so many talented writers)

39. Having the freedom to say whatever I damn well want to.

40. And, of course, my blog readers. (love y'all)

Monday, November 20, 2006


I've had a major Tivo backlog for the last few weeks and the shows just keep piling up, but tonight I made a little dent: I watched two episodes of Dexter (I'm not quite caught up, I still haven't seen last night's episode) and I cannot get over how good this show is. It's crazy good. And who knew Michael C. Hall was one of the best actors currently working in television? I mean, I knew he was good and I always loved him on Six Feet Under, but I had no idea he was great. He's so completely different and compelling as Dexter (and charming--which is a weird adjective to use when describing a serial killer, but he is--he's utterly charming) that I can suddenly picture him playing the role of Nate on Six Feet Under and I think that he would have been just as good in the role as Peter Krause (who I love, but who I cannot imagine being able to play David). I also never realized how hot Michael C. Hall is (I never really thought he was "hot" as David), but he's really freaking handsome.


New Thing #178: I went to California Adventure for the first time. For Jesse's birthday. The Tower of Terror should be illegal. If the ride had gone on for even one more second longer, I think it might have literally driven me crazy. Because I don't think that crazy and me are that far from each other, and that ride was scary. Then we went to Disneyland and stupidly went on Splash Mountain at 9pm in the evening and by the time the ride was over I was literally drenched. And when I say "drenched" I don't use the word hyperbolically even one iota. I was literally you-can-wring-me-out soaked from freaking head to toe. And it was late and cold and I had to go home early because I was too wet to walk around the park. Sorry I had to leave early, Jesse.

New Thing #179: I was awake for 24 hours straight. I'm going to go ahead and say that's a New Thing because I honestly don't think I've ever been awake for 24 hours straight before. I woke up on Friday morning at 6am and didn't go to bed again until Saturday at 6am. On the button. There were meetings and there was hours spent in traffic and there was getting lost for hours with a dog and there were birthday parties and there was drinking and there was lots of eating and then there was more driving and it was just a really long busy (very fun) day. But by hour 23, my brain was like "what on earth are you still awake for?" And I went to sleep and sleep seriously never felt so good.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

In Which I Attempt To Give A Blog Tutorial About Proper Usage of the Word "Natch," But Then Get Tired of Said Tutorial and Forgoe It Entirely, Natch

Someone found my blog today by googling the phrase “use natch in a sentence,” and I’m more than happy to oblige. Since I started teaching, I’ve been dealing with questions like that a lot lately. Like, for instance, just today I was asked to define the words “devoid,” “significantly,” and “morose.” I was happy to supply those definitions, but I’m even more happy to help out someone who’s trying to incorporate the word “natch” into their daily vocabulary because come-the-freak-on: “natch” is a great fucking word, natch.

(Wait, before I get to the meat of this blog entry, which is to supply some natchless soul with examples of “how to use natch in a sentence,” I need to go on a quick diversion, natch, and say that I recently had an email exchange with my friend Lara and I was asking her about her young daughter, the sweetest little girl you’ll ever meet, and Lara mentioned that her daughter’s “favorite words are everything, adorable, poop, and totally, and she peppers all thoughts with them.” How totally adorable is that? I mean, poop—right? Isn’t she your favorite child in the world? Because two of MY favorite words just happen to be “poop” and “totally” and I could definitely see how “everything” and “adorable” are pretty great words in and of themselves, and Lara’s email got me thinking about what my favorite words are.) (And I’m not talking about favorite words in a general James Lipton sense, i.e. words that you like but don’t necessarily say all that often. I’m talking about favorite words that you use constantly. Like, you might not necessarily even know they’re your favorite words but if someone made an audiotape of all of your conversations for a week and then tallied how often each word in your vocabulary came up, you would have to concede that something like “totally” is obviously your favorite damn word because you use it so pooping much.) (Like, I might say to James Lipton that “natch” was one of my favorite words, except if I said that then it would be a lie because even though I enjoy typing the word, I don’t actually ever really use it in actual spoken conversation. Just blog conversation.) (And also I wouldn’t tell James Lipton that “natch” was my favorite word because it would be a pretty lame answer.) (People would be, like, “natch? Really?”) (I enjoy watching The Actors Studio, despite the whole he’s-full-of-hot-air thing, and the one moment from The Actors Studio that I’ve always remembered as a kind of sucker-punch to the gut was when James Lipton asked Gene Wilder what his “least favorite word” was and Gene Wilder answered: “cancer.”) (I miss Gilda Radner.) (But back to my point—actually, not back to my original point but back to my second original point—I would have to say that the words I use most often in actual speech, i.e. my default favorite words, would definitely have to be: “dude,” “really,” “right,” and “poop.”)

Um, okay, this blog entry was going to be a whole tutorial on how to correctly use the word “natch,” but then I got tired of writing this blog entry and was like “I’ll finish it later,” but then I was like “do you think, realistically, that you’ll finish this blog entry later?” And the answer was no, natch. So I’m just gonna go ahead and post what I wrote without the whole natch tutorial because no one really cares about the whole natch tutorial anyway, natch, and I haven’t posted much of anything in over a week and it’s time to feed the blog beast, natch.


I had a lunch meeting yesterday, and as we were leaving the restaurant we noticed lonelygirl15 also having a lunch meeting. How random is that? I saw lonelygirl15! (If you have no idea who lonelygirl15 is, then this doesn't mean anything to you, but if you DO know who lonelygirl15 is, then, well, right about now you're totally like I can't believe Erik saw lonelygirl15.) (On a scale of how big it is, it's bigger than seeing Britney Spears but it's not as big as seeing Jake Gyllenhaal.) (Obviously.)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Book Club: Sophie's Choice (new thing #177)

I know I said I wouldn't be blogging this week, and that's still true (this isn't a real post).

Several people (Lindsay, Aimie, Michal, Rabbit, PAM, Christy, communicatrix, Mrs. Kickass) expressed interest in reading Sophie's Choice with me and I set up a New Blog where we could all share our thoughts. (Even if you haven't expressed interest in reading the book, you can still participate!)


Bookmark it, favorite it, whatever it: just read Sophie's Choice and share your thoughts there!

(New Thing #177: I started an online book club.)

Monday, November 06, 2006

I'll be back next week.

This is going to be a pretty sparse week when it comings to blogging (i.e. there might not be any new posts until next week). Sorry, blog readers! I will be back with a vengeance next week, I promise. I have to finish writing a play for a retreat this weekend, and I'm teaching every day, so all of my spare time's going to be spent working on the play.

In the meantime, here's a photo of Scott Caan I recently found:

Notice how his hands are wrapped? I'm just sayin'.

(And if you have no idea what I'm talking about when I say "I'm just sayin'," well, that means you've missed the previous Scott Caan hand posts, and I would link them right now to make them, ahem, handy for you, but I don't have the time or patience to find the old posts right now, but if you googled "My Year of New Things" and "Scott Caan" I'm sure you could catch up on all of the Scott Caan backstory.) (It's funny how the Scott Caan hand saga started out as the Jennifer Aniston hand saga, and then evolved.) (Or maybe it's not, but I'd rather post shirtless photos of Scott Caan than shirtless photos of Jennifer Aniston.) (But that's just my perogative.)

Friday, November 03, 2006

November 3rd...


(I haven't been near my scanner all day, so I'll post some birthday photos for you in the morning...)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I Saw The Sign

Kids are so clever. They really are. I'm impressed. They want to be social and they will find ways to be social through hell or high water, dammit.

Case in point:

These kids are supposed to be reading silently right now, no talking. And I just looked up and caught several kids signing to each other with their hands. Apparently sign language is now being taught in the school, as a foreign language option, and these kids are now using their hands to talk without really "talking," i.e. to communicate with each other silently while pulling the wool over my eyes.

(I just re-read the above paragraph. Wow. That is the most badly written, repetitive paragraph. I'm not going to rewrite it, though, because [1] I don't feel like it and [2] I'd rather leave it there as an example of "how not to write a persuasive paragraph." Call it the teacher in me.)

I barely have the heart to tell them to "stop talking" and do their reading because I'm impressed by their ingenuity. I mean, hell: we definitely didn't talk via sign language in class way back in my day.

William Styron, RIP (1925-2006)

Who wants to be in an online virtual book club with me and read Sophie's Choice this month. I have a big writing deadline on November 11th, so I don't think I should start the book until then, but the author of Sophie's Choice, William Styron, just passed away, and it's so sad, and now I want to read Sophie's Choice again. It's an amazing book, and the less you know about it, the better. When I read it, years and years ago, I knew nothing, nothing, NOTHING, and the book just floored me. Killed me. Even knowing EVERYTHING that's going to happen, I'm sure it would still floor you, though, because it's really well written.

So...Any takers? Anyone wanna read it with me? We can have little online talkbacks at the end of each chapter? Something like that? I've never been in a book club. (That's technically not true, Aimie started a book club years ago and we read Michael Cunningham's The Hours, but I think I only went to the first meeting.) (I did, however, finish the book.) (Which was gads better than the movie.) (Whereas the movie of Sophie's Choice, on the other hand, is terrific, and we could all get together and have a viewing of it after we've all finished reading the book.) (I just now realized that Meryl Streep was in both movie adaptations that I've been referencing. That's funny. Anyway, she's WAY better in Sophie's Choice.) (Not that she's bad in The Hours, but I could have done without her storyline in the movie version--that scene with Ed Harris at the end? Ug, I wanted to push him out the window.) (Talk about schmacting.)

Anyway, R.I.P. Mr. Styron. Thanks for the words.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Answers to the quiz

1. Erik has never broken a limb. THIS IS TRUE. KNOCK ON WOOD. (Though, I’ll admit, when I was a kid, I used to wish that I would break my arm—not only so that I could get everyone to sign my cast and feel popular, but also so that I’d have an excuse to sit out of P.E.) (But now I’m not so worried about being popular and I don’t have anything I want to get out of, so a broken arm would suck.)

2. Erik has read Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment three times in his life. THIS IS TRUE. (Crime and Punishment is my favorite book ever. I love it. It’s so good. I need to read it again soon.) (You should read it if you haven’t.) (It looks daunting, but it is so juicy.) (And you get used to the funny Russian names, believe me.) (It will make you want to call all of your friends by their last and middle names, then by their middle names only, then by their last names, then by their first and middle names, and then by their last and first names, all in the same conversation.)

3. Erik once performed a monologue on the Globe stage in London. THIS IS TRUE. (I was studying at the British American Drama Academy in London and our Shakespeare class was taught by Michael Maloney) (who just happens to be the coolest person in the world) (we all had crushes on him) (even the straight boys had crushes on him) (because he was just too cool)

4. Erik once threw up on the ceiling of my kitchen. (I think it’s funny how so much of the grammar in this post doesn’t match. It’s all hinky because I originally wrote the quiz in the first person, but then I went back and put it in the third person because it felt more like a quiz that way, but I missed a bunch of random possessives.) (So you get statements like “Erik once threw up on the ceiling of my kitchen.” Whose kitchen exactly is that???) (Well, as it turns out, THIS IS TRUE, and it was my mother’s kitchen and after I threw up all over the kitchen and the cupboards and the ceiling, I went to Magic Mountain for a school field trip and my mom had to clean up the mess.) (Sorry, mom.) (The vomit was so vociferous because I’d just had a bowl of cereal with bad milk and your body lets you know when you’ve had bad milk, and it lets you know fast.) (I was so Linda Blair from The Exorcist.)

5. Ian McKellen once told Erik he looks scandanavian. (THIS IS TRUE.) (This was in 1999, it was the last year my Step-Grandmother and I crashed the Golden Globes, we ended up standing next to Ian McKellen at the valet line waiting for our cars together. I told Ian that I was in rehearsals for a college production of Ibsen’s Enemy of the People and that I was playing the same role he had recently finished playing at the Ahmanson and his face lit up and he said “That’s perfect! You look so Scandanavian!” And then we proceeded to talk about the play for fifteen minutes and he could not have been a nicer person.)

6. Erik (still) owns every Garbage Pail Kid ever made. (THIS IS TRUE.) (I was obsessed.) (I have them in plastic sheafs and binders.) (I remember the first time I saw a Garbage Pail Kid, this kid showed me some in the back row of the school bus on the way to 2nd grade and I remember the cards felt simultaneously dirty and sacred. I knew they would have a profound influence on my life.) (I spent the next several years searching out every single individual card at garage sales and swap-meets until the cards were discontinued, as if God was saying, “enough already, Erik needs to move on with his life.”)

7. Erik looks like Jeff Goldblum. (THIS IS AN OPINION.) (And I have nothing else to say about it that hasn’t been said already.) (Except that I like to refer to him as Jeff Bloomberg.)

8. Erik had three pet rabbits as a child. Each one was named Blackie. (THIS IS TRUE.) (All three of the rabbits were black, hence their names.) (Blackie #1 ran away, Blackie #2 ran away, and Blackie #3 was abandoned in a park after we got a dog and no longer needed a rabbit to make up for the fact that we didn’t have a dog.) (We were horrible people for abandoning Blackie #3 in the park, but still we did it.)

9. Erik had three pet goldfish as a child. Each one was named Freddie. (THIS IS ALSO TRUE.) (I was a really unoriginal namer of pets.)

10. Susan Sarandon once told Erik he was "sweet" and that she was "a tart." (THIS IS TRUE.) (It was a 4th of July party, we were standing at the desert table, I had served myself a piece of chocolate pie and she had served herself a piece of apple tart. We both eyed each other’s deserts and she asked me, “are you thinking what I’m thinking?” And then I said, “what are you thinking?” And then she said, “maybe I’d rather have what you’re having?” And I said “yeah, that’s what I was thinking,” even though I was really thinking “Susan Sarandon is talking to me about desert, oh my god Susan Sarandon is talking to me,” and then she said, “wanna share?” And I said, “sure,” and we each had a bite of each other’s deserts and she said “I’m happier with my pie” and I said “me too” and then she said “you know what that means, don’t you?” And I said, “what?” And then she said, “it means that you’re sweeter than I am and that I’m more of a tart than you are.”) (True story.)

11. Erik got hit in the head with a baseball bat when he was twelve. (THIS IS TRUE.) (Afterwards, I had a bump the size of a golf ball and my eyebrow got stuck to an icepack and peeled off of my face.)

12. Two years ago, Erik sold his entire comic book collection (over 2,000 comic books) for 300 buckaroonies. (Sadly, THIS IS TRUE.) (I rented a booth at a comic book convention and only sold about 50 comic books all day. At the end of the day, someone from another booth offered to buy my whole lot. I was desperate for cash at the time and my comic books had received very little interest all day, so I sold them.) (All in all I made a total of 300 bucks.)

13. Erik once inadvertantly started a mini fued between Amy Irving and Kate Capshaw (Mrs. Speilberg #1 and Mrs. Speilberg #2, respectively). (This is a really long story, a story for another day, but it is TRUE, TRUE, TRUE.)

14. Erik has been to a straight porno movie theater in Venice, Italy. (WAY TRUE.) (Major vagina.)

15. Erik played a paramedic on ER. His scene was with Dr. Greene. (I suppose you could argue that this isn’t totally true, since I didn’t actually have any lines of dialogue, but I was in the scene with Dr. Greene and I was wearing a paramedic’s uniform and I improvised a little bit of action involving me and a telephone and I was clearly visible in the final cut, so, yeah, even though I was an extra, THIS IS TRUE.)

16. Erik applied to Barnum and Bailey's Clown College, but was not accepted. (THIS IS TRUE.) (I had big dreams.) (I still have big dreams, they just don't include cramming into little cars anymore.)

17. The first concert Erik ever went to was Weird Al Yankovic. (SO, SO TRUE.) (He was AMAZING in concert.)

18. The second concert Erik ever went to was Elvira. (Also SO, SO TRUE, and also AMAZING.) (Have you seen that movie she made in the early 90's? Elvira Mistress of the Dark? My childhood friend Katie and I once rented that movie and kept it for so long [watching it over and over and over] that when we finally returned it, about a month late, we were in big trouble with Katie's mom, who had been the original renter.) (We would watch that movie and howl.) (I cannot bear to watch it as an adult, though, because I'm sure it will prove to be awful and then all of my memories of watching it over and over will be tainted.)

19. The Real World/Road Rules Challenge TV shows are the best shows to have ever been on television ever. (You might argue that this is an OPINION, and I’ll give you credit if you said this was an opinion, so as not to inspire any wrath, but in reality, THIS IS TRUE.)

20. Erik has gotten two parking tickets this month. (Sadly, oh too TRUE.)

21. Erik can sing every lyric to every song in Into the Woods. (I didn’t know that this was still TRUE until a few weeks ago when I was eating dinner at Mi Casa with Jesse and we were talking about beans and suddenly the Witch’s bean song started to rumble around my head and I started singing it and the whole musical just came rushing back to me.) (“Beans, beans, the magic beans! I let him go, I didn’t know he’d stolen my beans. I was watching him crawl back over the wall and then bang! Crash! The lightning flashed! And, well, that’s another story nevermind anyway…”) (I could go on, but I won’t.) (I am a dork.)

22. When Erik was a kid, he had a copy of The Complete Guide to I Love Lucy sitting next to his television set, as well as a highlighter, and every time he saw a new episode of I Love Lucy he would highlight the episode in the book so that he would know when he had seen every single episode. (THIS IS TRUE.) (How could this NOT be true?) (I want to have an I Love Lucy marathon one of these days soon. I haven’t sat down and watched a block of I Love Lucy in years.) (Years!)

23. This one time, Erik broke into the Psycho house on the Universal backlot and he stood in the Janet Leigh shower. Naked. (THIS IS TRUE, too.) (Aimie, you thought this was a trick question, BUT I WAS NAKED.)

24. Erik subscribes to Entertainment Weekly, US Weekly, and The Week. (THIS IS TRUE.)

25. Erik knows the root of pi to the twentieth decimal. (THIS IS FALSE.) (Our first false statement!) (Urp, do you know the root of pi to the twentieth decimal? Because if I know anyone who does, it would be you.)

26. Erik saw Dude, Where's My Car in the movie theater SEVEN TIMES. (I love this movie.) (It’s so bad but so, so good.) (Love it.) (TRUE.)

27. Erik did not learn how to swim until he was ten. (THIS IS TRUE.)

28. Erik was born eight weeks premature. (THIS IS TRUE.) (I was supposed to be born in October, I wonder how that would have made me different?) (Because I bet I would have grown up to be a very different person.)

29. Erik celebrated his third birthday at McDonald's. (I have pictures, proof, TRUE.)

30. During elementary school, Erik had braced for two years, then he wore a retainer for two years, and then he had to wear braces AGAIN for two fucking more years. (The typo “Erik had braced” was merely a typo and not intended to throw anyone off.) (One of the most horrible moments of my childhood was when I went to the dentist to hand in my retainer, thinking I was done with ortodonty, and the doctor said that it was “time for phase two” and they were going to put the braces back on.) (Fuck you, Mr. Dentist.) (TRUE.)

31. Michael J. Fox is a hunk. (I will not give you credit if you said this was an OPINION. This is not an opinion. This is gospel. THIS IS TRUE.)

32. Lindsay and Bonnie, Erik received your prize Cambodian shirts in the mail (thank you Adam!) and he needs to make plans with you so that he can give them to you! (this is true) (I already said THIS IS TRUE and I wasn’t lying.)

33. Erik once pretended to be a bird with Will Ferrell. (We were in a play together a couple of years before he got the SNL gig and THIS IS TRUE, we played a large bird in one of the scenes. I was the bird’s head and Will was my right wing.)

34. Erik's favorite restaurant in the whole entire world is Wagamama's in London. (Holy fuck, I’m salivating right now just thinking about Wagamama’s. This is so TRUE.)

35. Erik thought he was allergic to chalk until he was fourteen, but in reality touching chalk just kinda gives him the chills (but chills do not an allergy make). (Yeah, I guess I’m a freak, this is TRUE.)

36. Chocolate chip omelettes are good. (Not an opinion. Fact. TRUE.)

37. Erik love The View. (I do love The View and I’m not afraid to admit it.) (I also love the missing “s” in this statement.) (“Erik love The View” is very poetic in a Rosie way.) (TRUE.)

38. Erik have a secret tattoo that he hasn't told anyone about. On his left hipbone. (I suppose this was a trick question, but it is FALSE. My tattoo is not secret, and I’ve told lots of people about it, and it’s on my right hipbone.)

39. Erik has never been to Mexico. (THIS IS TRUE, how weird is that?) (Even though Mexico’s only a couple of hours away.) (I never even went to Tijuana in high school to get drunk or cheap hookers or anything.)

40. This one time, Erik met Matthew Perry at a bar and told him he thought Perry was funny on Friends and Perry gave him a quick look and said "and I think you've got a great shirt" and then walked away from Erik. And Erik's shirt totally was not great. So Erik thinks Perry was being ironic. (THIS IS TRUE and I don’t really have anything to add to this story other than what I already said.)

41. Erik can juggle. (Well, I’m not good enough to juggle knives and bowling balls, but I’m good enough to say THIS IS TRUE.)

42. Erik can bowl a 150 game. (This is beyond FALSE. Oh my god, I am the worst bowler. I love bowling and I’ve got style on the lanes, but I’m lucky if I get over 50 points.)

43. Erik was once in a minor fender bender with Lara Flynn Boyle on Hollywood Blvd. (just past Tamarind) (Totally FALSE.) (However I did meet her once and our conversation was akin to a car crash.)

44. Erik has had sex at Disneyland. (Unfortunately, as much as I wish I had a great story here, this is FALSE.)

45. Erik is legally blind. (My vision is 20/400, which means that if you have perfect vision and you can see something 400 feet away, then I have to be twenty feet away to see it.) (Or something like that.) (It also means that my vision is really bad, bad in fact that it qualifies as legally blind.) (Therefore, THIS IS TRUE.) (Hence my glasses.)

46. Erik knows how to surf. (I wish.) (FALSE.)

47. Erik only does crossword puzzles in ink. (THIS IS TRUE.) (I used to do crossword puzzles all the time with my step-grandmother on my step-mom’s side.) (This isn’t the step-grandmother who I used to crash the Golden Globes with, this is the other one.) (And she taught me to only use ink, a practice I’ve never strayed from.)

48. Erik owns a unicycle. (THIS IS TRUE.) (My dad gave it to me for my birthday back when I was trying to get into Barnum and Bailey’s clown college.) (However, I’ve never been able to ride it.) (It’s reeeeeeally difficult.)

49. Eric Dane (McSteamy) is really freaking hot. (I know some people assumed this was an OPINION, and I’ll give you credit if that’s the answer you gave, but it’s wrong.) (THIS IS TRUE.)

50. Erik once slow danced with a nun. (This one time I slow danced to Radiohead’s Creep with a lesbian punk, but alas, I’ve never danced with a nun, slow or otherwise.) (So, THIS IS FALSE.)


Yesterday, I was talking to some students about The Scarlet Letter--we were talking about Point of View, and the difference between third person and first person--and I actually asked the students: "How do you think the book would have been different if Nathaniel Hawthorne had written it in the first person? From Scarlet's point of view?"

And then there was a pause and these students looked at me like I was crazy and then I suddenly heard what I had said.

"Uh, wait, I meant...uh, Hester. How would the book have been different if it had been written from Hester's point of view? Hester Prynne."

But by then I had lost them. By then I was the dumb substitute teacher who thought the heroine of The Scarlet Letter was actually named Scarlet.

(I was about to make a joke about how "that's when my cheeks went red, or, uh, scarlet," but the truth is I wasn't really embarrassed--I thought it was funny too.)

In my defense, it's been fifteen years since I've read The Scarlet Letter and I was teaching the book cold. When I started making fun of the fact that I thought her name was Scarlet, I won the kids over again--so in the end it was all good.