Tuesday, January 31, 2006

New Thing #28: My new barber(s), Louie and Alex

I just realized that 5 of my 41 blog entries (if you count this one) have been devoted to hair. My hair. That's an eighth of the blog. An eighth of this blog has been about my hair (mostly my facial hair, actually) and its different permutations. (I’ve never had a perm. I’ve always kind of wanted one. You know, like a Greg Brady perm? My hair is pretty curly as it is, or as it was, before today, but now I’m getting ahead of myself. Still, I think a Greg Brady perm would be cool.) If all of this writing about my hair keeps up, I might have to change the name of this blog to Erik's Hair Blog--or My Year of New Hair.

Well, that's not gonna happen because this isn't gonna keep up. No. The madness is gonna stop and it's gonna stop now. It’s gonna stop here. I’m gonna get all of my writing about hair done in this post and then: No more blog entries about hair. After this one. (Probably not, at least.) I promise. (I think.)

I was born a blonde. My mom has a scrapbook somewhere with a lock of blonde hair in a little plastic baggie labeled “Erik’s First Haircut.” There’s something really sweet about this little plastic baggie in the scrapbook—it's like, look! we have this memento from a landmark moment in Erik’s childhood—his first haircut!—back when he had blonde hair!—but it’s also kinda weird because it’s a plastic bag with HAIR in it.

I remember we also used to have a jar with all of my baby teeth in it. (I’m not sure what happened to that jar. Maybe it’s in the garage somewhere?) And we also used to have an envelope labeled “Erik’s left eyebrow” that contained, yes, my left eyebrow.

What kind of sickos are we?

There’s a fairly reasonable explanation for the “left eyebrow” thing. When I was in fifth grade, this one time during recess, I was out in the field with a couple of kids. I think Brian Mann was one of them and I think the other one was Ryan Hoover, but I’m not sure. This was more than half of my life ago, so some of the details are fuzzy. But I think it was Brian and Ryan. Anyway, I was hanging out with Brian and Ryan, and we were out in the field watching some other kids play baseball. (As improbable as that sounds. Right now you're thinking Erik was watching baseball? But it happened.) And either Brian or Ryan—I can’t remember which one it was—or maybe it was a third kid, I can't remember--anyway, whoeveritwas picked up a baseball bat and a mitt and started tossing the mitt in the air and trying to hit it with the bat.

Now, I’m not much of a sport-o. I'm not a big jock. I don’t watch very many sports and I play even fewer. Still, I suppose that, logically, I should have known to create some distance between myself and the kid who was goofing off by tossing a mitt into the air and trying to hit it with a bat. But I wasn’t really paying too much attention to Brian or Ryan or whoeveritwas.

Anyway, Brian or Ryan or whoeveritwas threw his mitt into the air and then swung the bat and I guess he didn’t realize I was standing directly behind him (in the line of fire, if you will) because suddenly the baseball bat nailed me—BOOM!—smack dab in the skull.

I felt the bat make contact with my head and then I felt dazed for what felt like at least a minute but was probably two seconds and then I started to wobble a little bit and then Brian or Ryan or whoeveritwas said “fuck” because we were at that age where we were finally saying “fuck” when bad things happened— like when we accidentally hit people on the head with baseball bats—and then Brian or Ryan or whoeveritwas asked me if I was okay, and then I think I was about to fall down and Brian or Ryan or whoeveritwas grabbed hold of me and helped me walk to the nurse’s office. (Maybe I can't remember who did this to me because they literally hit me in the head with a baseball bat. Maybe they knocked that little bit of short term memory right out of my head.)

That’s when the bump started to form. It was just like you see in cartoons. A ginormous bump—about the size of a hardboiled egg—just to the left of my left eyebrow.

My mom came to school to pick me up and take me to the doctor to make sure I was all right. Before I left I had to go back to my classroom to pick up my backpack and all of the kids saw the massive cartoon-like bump on my forehead and there were ooohs and ahhhs and Brian or Ryan or whoeveritwas told me, again, how sorry he was, and I could tell from the way he looked at the ginormous bump on my forehead that he thought I was probably going to die from this head wound and he felt sorry for me. He didn't want to kill me, but I could tell from the look in his eyes, that it might already be too late.

We went to the doctor’s office and the doctor told me how lucky I was. If you’re gonna get hit in the head with a baseball bat, you should got hit in the exact spot I got hit. It's the sturdiest part of the skull. That jut of bone on either side of your forehead.

If the bat had hit me in the eye, that woulda been bad, and if it had hit me anywhere else, like if it had been a direct hit on my forehead, it mighta cracked my skull, which woulda been even badder. But the baseball bat didn’t hit me in any of those places, so fortunately I was going to live.

While the doctor explained all of this to me, I thought to myself: I’m one lucky little dude. I could have died today. This bump that’s on my head right now—and the black eye I’m going to get tomorrow—these things are all reminders that I lived through this thing. The baseball bat incident. As I was having my little epiphany, I peeled off the icepack I had been holding up to my forehead, and then I looked at that icepack and I noticed something stuck to that icepack:

It was my left eyebrow.

And since I was a weird kid, I thought that the eyebrow was a symbol of this thing I had gotten through—the baseball incident—and I also thought that it was really cool that my eyebrow had gotten stuck to the icepack, so I decided I had to keep it. I took my left eyebrow home, put it in an envelope, and labeled the envelope “Erik’s left eyebrow.”

I’m not sure what ever happened to that envelope. It got lost over the years. Maybe it’s in the garage somewhere.

We were talking about hair, right?

In college, I didn't experiment very much with drugs or sorority girls, but I did experiment with my hair quite heavily. My first week of school, I dyed my hair green. I went to a small school—Occidental College—the type of place where if you don’t know someone’s name, you at least know their face—and for the next four years, whenever I met someone new, they’d be like, “you’re the guy who had green hair during the first week of school, right?” Or “you’re the guy who had green hair and then blue hair, right?” Or “you’re the guy who had green hair and then shaved it all off, right?” I could answer yes to all of those questions, because yes, I was all of those guys.

For graduation, I gave myself the coolest haircut ever: a Mohawk. (Actually, Joe Chandler, one of my frequent blog commentators, was the one who “gave me” the hawk—he’s the one who shaved my hair into a hawk.) My hair was blonde at the time and it was really long, which meant that the hawk was really high—nothing “faux” about it—and I used Elmer’s Glue to keep it standing straight in the air because I read that’s what real punks use and I’ve always wanted to be a real punk even though there isn’t really a punk bone in my body, so my hawk was probably about as poser as a faux-hawk. Still, it was real enough for me, and it was so stiff with glue that when I went to bed and woke up in the morning it still stuck straight up in the air. When I put on my cap and gown for graduation, I realized that the cap wasn’t gonna fit over my hair, so I left it at home. I walked through my graduation processional with my tassle attached to my hawk hair. It fucking rawked.

That Mohawk was definitely my coolest haircut ever.

The haircut I got today? Not so much. There is nothing punk about the haircut I got today. It’s kinda George Clooney circa The Facts of Life. How’s that for a mental image? Do you know the haircut I’m talking about? Short on the sides and puffy on the top? That’s the haircut I got.

But even though the haircut kinda sucks, I’m still gonna go back to this barber because, well, he’s my new barber. That was the New Thing I did today. I got myself a new barber. Two new barbers, actually. Louie and Alex.

See, when I was a kid there was this barber I used to go to all the time. He was the greatest. I loved him. He was actually the man who performed “Erik’s First Haircut”—the one who clipped the hair that’s in the plastic baggie that’s in the scrap book I mentioned earlier—and I went to him through high school.

But then I went to college and I never really cared about having a good haircut, so I would just go to the nearest Fantastic Sam’s or Supercuts—whatever was convenient. Even though these places don’t really give the greatest haircuts, they’re cheap and fast and easy, so I’ve been going to Fantastic Sam’s and Supercuts to cut my hair ever since. But the thing that’s missing at these chain haircutting salons is heart. Fantastic Sam’s and Supercuts—they’re like the scarecrow of the haircutting industry: they got no heart.

So today, when I realized I needed to get a haircut (because my hair had gotten OUT. OF. CONTROL) (because I wanted to look good for Show and Tell tomorrow night) (because it looked like Chewbacca had birthed a child on my head), I decided I should do something new and get a haircut that had some heart in it.

I opened up the phone book to the letter “B” and looked up “barbers.” Scanned the names. Came across a phone number for Louie’s Barbershop. Sounds good, I thought to myself. Okay, I’m gonna give Louie’s Barbershop a call—see if they’re open.

I dial the phone. A man with a thick Brooklyn accent answers the phone “this is Louie’s Barbershop” and then I ask him a couple of questions about where he’s located and how to find him.

“How much do you charge for a cut?”

“I dunno, depends how much hair you got on your head. I could charge you twelve bucks—fifteen bucks—I dunno, depends. You come on over, I’ll see what we gotta do, then I’ll let you know how much I gotta charge you. Get ovah here.”

I follow his orders. I get in my car and head straight for Louie’s. His barbershop is in this tiny little strip mall. The storefront has a large glass window and it’s the only business establishment in this strip mall that’s still open. The lights inside the barbershop are bright and from the street I can clearly see two men sitting inside, waiting for me.

One of the men is in his sixties. He’s heavyset, with thin white hair, and coke bottle glasses. He wears an oversized blue Hawaiian shirt that goes down to the middle of his thighs. He sits in the chair closest to the window, reading the newspaper. When I walk in, he looks up and greets me with a friendly smile. This is Louie.

The other man is in his forties and not so easy with his smile. He smells like the Bazooka Gum he is chewing. If he were an actor and I were a regional theater director trying to cast a production of The Odd Couple, I would immediately cast this guy as one of Felix and Oscar’s poker buddies. If you know The Odd Couple, you should have a good mental image of this guy right now, and if you don’t know The Odd Couple, then tough titty.

The younger man introduces himself as Alex and asks me what my name is. I tell him I’m Erik, and then he asks me what kind of cut I want.

“You want a regular haircut or you want it styled?”

“What’s the difference?” I ask him.

“Regular’s twelve bucks and styled is fifteen.”

“No, I mean, what makes regular cut different from the styled cut?”

“The regular cut’s just regular. With the styled one, I do a little more. Your hair’s kinda wavy so I’d go with the styled.”

I pick the styled and then Alex proceeds to give me the most aggressive haircut I have ever received. He’s pulling my hair—yanking at it—to get a good cut. Turning my head left and right and up and down—yanking at it—and chopping away. There’s nothing pleasant about the cut, but Alex? He’s a nice guy. Not super talkative, but nice. I ask him some questions, and find out that the guy in the Hawaiian shirt—Louie, the owner—that’s Alex’s dad. Louie moved out here from New York forty years ago to start up his own barbershop. He’s been in this same tiny little storefront shop for the last forty years. Since Alex was a baby. Alex grew up here. He’s been cutting hair for going on twenty years now.

When he finishes cutting my hair, that’s when I look in the mirror and realize that I now have George Clooney’s circa-Facts of Life hair. In other words, not a very good haircut, and certainly no better than the haircuts I’ve been getting at Fantastic Sam’s and Supercuts.

But then Alex grabs my hand and shakes it and tells me how nice it is to meet me and he hopes I’ll come back next month (“you really should cut it every month so it doesn’t get as wild as it got”) and Louie starts sweeping the floor around my feet and thanking me for dropping by and wishing me a pleasant evening and asking me if I’m gonna go home and watch the President’s State of the Union address and the way he asks me I can tell he’s not really a fan of our current Mr. President and even though I don’t particularly like the haircut I’ve just gotten, there’s something about this place that makes me wanna call it My Barbershop. It’s these guys. They’ve got heart.

So that’s what I did today. I got myself a new barber. Two of them. Louie and Alex, father and son.

UPDATE: Gina requested a picture of my new haircut, and I aim to please, so here you go:

Future New Thing: Show and Tell this Wednesday night

Here's where we all take a small break from our regularly scheduled blog and I promote something I'm doing this Wednesday night. If you're interested in what I've got to sell, then sit back in your chair and read on. On the other hand, if you've already bought enough of what I've been selling and you don't want any more of it, thankyouverymuch, and you usually fast forward through commercial breaks anyway, then you can take this moment to step away from my blog and go to the bathroom and pee. Or you can go into the kitchen and pop yourself some popcorn.

I'm gonna be reading a personal (funny? scary?) essay at Show and Tell called "My Armpit, or Why I Owe Parker Posey An Apology." Several other very cool people will be reading essays too. (I've heard these other essays and I can promise you it's gonna be a good evening.)

Show and Tell is produced by Matt Price and Eric Friedman. (Very cool essayists themselves.)

Rock on with your cock on.

Here are the deets (cut and pasted from the Show and Tell website):

"The next Show & Tell is...
Wednesday, February 1st, 8 PM
featuring brand new stories from...
John Ross Bowie
Jeremy Deutchman
Jessica Kaminsky
Erik Patterson
Matt Price
and Elizabeth Warner
with magic from Derek Hughes

Come see the show at our new location...
The UCB Theatre
5919 Franklin Ave
(between Tamarind & North Bronson Ave - on that strip with Birds, Bourgeois Pig, etc.)
Los Angeles, CA 90028

tickets are now only $5

You can actually reserve seats through www.ucbtheatre.com
and guarantee your seat this time. Classy!

And there is street parking as well as valet parking in not one, but two locations on the block! Show & Tell will now be performed at the UCB Theatre on the first Wednesday of every month."

Okay, that's the end of my cut-and-paste job. This is me again. Welcoming you back to your regularly scheduled blog...

P.S. If this blog entry had a blooper reel, the funniest moment would be when I kept spelling the word "popcorn" with an "m," so it read "popcorm." I guess it wouldn't be too funny, but lots of blooper reels aren't.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

#24, #25, #26: New Thing medley. Oh, and #27 too.

Okay, I've done a few New Things this week that don't really merit their own full posts, so I'm writing them all up together here. Consider it a New Thing Medley.

New Thing #24: I learned how to create inviso-text on my blog (thanks to my new BFF Bonnie). Now that I know this extra-special HTML trick, I can use it whenever I want to say something spoiler-ish--something that some people might want to know, but which other people would kill me for ruining for them. For example, I have lots of friends in high places and I just happen to know some major secrets about some major television shows. Which I am going to share with you right now. If you don't want to know these secrets, DO NOT HIGHLIGHT THEM by holding your left mousekey down and scrolling over the "invisible" words. However, if you think it's fun to know things before other people, have fun with these choice secrets...

The name of the winner of Survivor: Panama -- Exile Island is...

Oh my gosh, do you really think I know the winner of the next edition of Survivor??? And if I DID know, do you really think I would want to ruin things for you by letting the cat out of the bag??? And did you really want to spoil the whole show for yourself by reading this spoiler?!>?@?? What's wrong with you??? Why would you want to ruin everyone's fun??? I don't want to know the winner until Jeff Probst tallies the votes for me live before a studio audience (taped earlier that day). If you hate Survivor, please keep it to yourself. I will not stand for any Survivor hating in my comment section. When this show is good, it has me screaming at my television set, and when it's bad, it has me screaming at my television set. And when it's middle of the road, it has me ogling Jeff Probst and talking about how cute he is. Nothing wrong with that.

The secret twist we're going to find out at the end of this season of Lost is...

Again, do you really think I know this? I'm starting to feel like THE WRITERS of the show don't even know this, but I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt because Lost rocks, and besides, it's okay for them to figure things out story-wise as they move forward, as long as they have certain moments they're aiming for, and I presume they do. However, they did say in an interview recently that they're never going to reveal what the numbers mean, which worries and upsets me, but hopefully that's all smokescreen.

And, finally, the winner of this season's American Idol is...

Kelly Clarkson. (Okay, I had to come back and edit this, or comment on it, at least, because what was I even thinking when I wrote this? This isn't funny. Um, Kelly Clarkson is my punchline? What's up with that? There's nothing even remotely funny here. Kelly Clarkson is not a punchline--she's awesome. Maybe that's the joke? That I love her music so much? That "Since U Been Gone" is one of my favorite songs in a long time? I dunno. Anyway.)

That was fun! Thank for the HTML lesson, Bonnie!


Okay, moving on...

New Thing #25: I had the lamb at Indian Food. Now, I know you probably just read that and you were like, "there's something gramatically wrong with that sentence," but there's nothing gramatically wrong with that sentence thank-you-very-much because my favorite Indian food restaurant is this cheap, fast-food Indian joint in a non-descript strip mall and the restaurant is called, succinctly, Indian Food. No bells and whistles here. Just damn good food. Indian Food is a couple of blocks away from my writing partner's house and I eat there all the time. (Jessica is allergic to Indian food so when I eat at Indian Food she gets lunch somewhere else.)

The reason "I had lamb at Indian Food" is a New Thing is because I am a creature of habit. I have probably eaten at Indian Food at least 200 times. (Other things I have done at least 200 times include watching Back to the Future, cursing the gods for not helping me get cast on the latest edition of Survivor, and pooping.) And of those 200 times I have eaten Indian food at Indian Food, I have always had the Chicken Tikka Masala. Chicken Tikka Masala is my favorite Indian dish, and I've never deviated from ordering it when eating at Indian Food. However, the other day, in the spirit of My Year of New Things, I decided to order the lamb curry. And you know what? It was fucking good.


New Thing #26: I saw a play on South Coast Rep's new Argyros Stage. (The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler by Jeff Whitty.)

I used to see everything at SCR. My childhood home is a few blocks away and I practically grew up there. (At SCR, not at my childhood home.) (Well, I guess I actually grew up at my childhood home and I practically grew up at SCR.)

I started taking acting classes at SCR when I was ten, which got me out of my shell and led to me acting in high school, which helped me make friends at school after years of being that loner kid who had no one to play with and who walked from point A to point B during recess in an attempt to look like I was busy and was "going somewhere." I continued acting in plays at SCR through the end of high school. All of this acting in plays eventually led to me writing plays, and bada boom, bada bing, here I am. (Thank you, SCR.) I wonder if I had never taken that first acting class at SCR when I was ten-years-old if I would have still turned become a writer or if I would have become an accountant or a tax collector or an octegenarian or something like that.

Anyway, the point is, I used to see everything at SCR, and then they did this massive remodel a few years ago, adding a new theater space for workshops and revamping their Second Stage (thrust) into the Argyros Stage (proscenium), and I've seen several shows on the Mainstage since the remodel, but before Friday night, I hadn't seen anything on the Argyros Stage.

Maybe I had been avoiding the Argyros Stage because I am a creature of habit who hates change, especially change involving things from my childhood which I'm nostolgic about. When I was a kid, I acted on the Second Stage many many times and it's strange to go to SCR and see an entirely different stage sitting where the Second Stage used to be. Progress happens. But even though the Argyros Stage is a beautiful space, I still miss the stage I used to act on.

The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler featured my friend Kate Mulligan, which was a treat because I always love watching her onstage. I acted in a production of Mephisto at The Actors' Gang with Kate back in 2001 and there was this one scene in Mephisto that I will never forget. Kate stole the show in this scene. It started out very funny (Kate's character was performing in a clown show mocking Hitler and plotting a massive extermination of all telephones) (the scene was gobs funnier than that lame description I just gave it), but by the end of the scene Kate had achieved this level of pathos and sadness that was overwhelming and had you in tears.

Every night, all of the actors who were not in the scene would gather around in the wings (which, due to the configuration of the theater, were actually in the balcony) to watch. As the scene approached, you could feel this vibe in the dressing room...we all knew we were just a few minutes away from watching something great. Then we'd hear the cue and we'd all rush out to the balcony to witness Kate work her magic.

The play ran for three months and we all gathered around to watch her scene every single night. It was that good. She was that good.


On a side note, I have to take a moment to mourn a New Thing that I did not do. I'm really annoyed with myself for not doing this:

On my way to the theater on Friday night, I was talking to my friend Leo and he mentioned that he had tickets to see the same play on Saturday night. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to have an impromtu scavenger hunt. I told Leo that I was going to write him a note and tape it underneath a water fountain and he had to look underneath all of the water fountains in the theater and see if the note was still there the following night.

Then, at the theater, I wrote the note. It was quite simple:

"Leo! I can't believe you actually looked for this note and found it! You are too cool. By the way, if your name is not Leo, and you found this note and took it out from underneath the water fountain, PLEASE return this note to where you found it so that Leo can find it on Saturday night. Okay? Please? You don't want to ruin our fun, do you? Thanks."

Nothing earth-shattering. The fun was going to be had in hiding the note and then in Leo finding the note. But the problem was...I didn't have any tape. And I could not find any tape. How lame is that? And lamer still, I couldn't figure out another way to secure the note to the underside of the water fountain, so I put the note back in my pocket and forgot about it.

But do you know who didn't forget about it? Leo. Of course. He was expecting me to be cooler than I actually am and to have figured out a way to secure the note to the bottom of the water fountain even without scotch tape. To have secured the note with my own personal willpower.

He called me from the theater--I missed the call, he left a message--and he was like, "Dude? What's up? You didn't leave the note? You're lame."

He didn't actually call me lame, but he should have. Because I am.

I'm sorry to have dissapointed you, Leo. Did you at least find any gum underneath any of the fountains? I hope so.


Oh my god, one last thing, and I suppose this is New Thing #27. But first, a warning: this is the grossest thing ever (well, maybe not ever) and it involves poop--MY poop--and if you don't want to read a (somewhat) gross story involving my poop, then don't highlight this inviso-text:

This just happened a few minutes ago. I had to poop, so I stepped away from the computer and went into the bathroom to do my business. Then, as soon as I sat down on the toilet, I suddenly had a sneezing fit. Like, an out of control, I-must-be-allergic-to-something-in-the-air, dear-god-let-me-stop-sneezing, full-on sneezing fit. And then, perfectly timed with my sneezing, my body started to poop. It was like, "Ahhhchooo!" Plop. "Ahhhchooo!" Plop. Each sneeze pushed out more poo. It was like each forceful exclamation from my mouth was creating another forceful exclamation from you-know-where. And then I started laughing because my sneezing poop medley was becoming absurd. So then I was like, "Ahhhchooo!" Plop. GUFFAW. "Ahhhchooo!" Plop. GUFFAW. It was all timed so perfectly. Who knew that your body could be so beautiful and funny? You might think I'm weird for thinking this is beautiful and funny, but MY SNEEZES AND MY POOPS WERE WORKING TOGETHER. In unison. Like two geniuses of comic timing, like workhorses from the old days of vaudeville. Laurel and Hardy...Hope and Crosby...Cheech and Chong...I'd like to introduce you to Sneeze and Poop, together again, One Night Only! In my bathroom.

Gross, right?

Friday, January 27, 2006

New Thing #23, China Olive: Supreme Buffet

I eat out a lot. Which is one of the reasons why I’d like to learn how to cook—so I don’t have to eat out so much. But, as things stand now, I’m still eating out on a regular basis. And there are basically, like, ten restaurants I go to, which rotate depending on my mood—healthy, junky, burgery, foreign, cheap, shi shi, whatever.

But today I decided: I’m gonna find a new place to eat lunch. I’m just gonna get in my car and drive around until I’ve found myself a new eating establishment.

So that’s what I did. I drove and I drove and I drove…(do you remember when you had to write essays in elementary school and the essays were supposed to be a certain length, like they were specified that they had to be “500 words” or something like that, and “500 words” seemed really really daunting, so you would cheat by writing things like “my summer vacation was very very very very very very very very very very very good. I really really really really really really liked it. We went to Big Bear and we drove and we drove and we drove and we drove until we were there.” Do you remember that trick?)…until I spotted a restaurant called China Olive: Supreme Buffet.

That’s it. That’s my new lunch eatery.

Now I know that the name of the restaurant sounds kinda shady. And it the name is kinda shady--so was the restaurant--but I didn't realize it was gonna be as shady as it turned out to be. I mean, come on--a restaurant called China Olive: Supreme Buffet? I shoulda stayed miles away.

What does “China Olive” even mean? And if you’re not in Las Vegas, are buffets ever a good idea? Probably not. Which means that “supreme” buffets that aren’t in Las Vegas are probably even more very much not a good idea. (Did I just lose my grasp of the English language? Did we all just witness it, right then and there? The end. Of my grasp. Of the English language?) (Wouldn’t that be crazy? If this really was it? The end? If something just *snapped* and I wasn’t able to formulate a sentence correctly anymore? Do you ever think about things like that? Sometimes I see crazy-ish people on the street and I wonder, was that something that happened gradually? Or was that person completely sane and able to formulate brilliant sentences until one day they just *snapped* and boom, crazyland?) (I’m all crazyland just thinking about it.)

So, today I had lunch at China Olive: Supreme Buffet. That was my new thing. And unfortunately, I don’t think I’m ever gonna be going back. The food wasn’t awful, it just…it wasn’t very good, either. (Which, I suppose, is how one would describe most buffets—except, well, now I sound like a snob who hates buffets, and that isn’t true at all. I love food + I love food in mass quantities = I love a good buffet. But that’s the thing. China Olive: Supreme Buffet was not a good buffet.)

Dear China Olive: Supreme Buffet, I’m sorry but I’m not going to recommend you to any of my friends. I’m sure you’re not losing sleep over my renunciation of you—after all, you were fairly busy this afternoon, so I’m sure you’re doing fine without me. Anyway, have a nice summer, and thanks for being my New Thing #23. Keep in touch (KIT!) and keep it real.

I was willing to give China Olive: Supreme Buffet the benefit of the doubt and assume that today was just a bad day for them, but then I got my fortune cookie and China Olive: Supreme Buffet was given a permanent seat in the dog house. Because, see, the fortune cookie was cheap. Do you know what I mean? Like, it was kind of yellowed and oldish and was probably a nickel cheaper than regular fortune cookies. And that made me mad because fortune cookies are supposed to be these groovy little tasteless-yet-yummy things that cleanse your palate after you’ve had a meal filled with strong tastes, you know? They are not supposed to add a new strong (bad) taste to your mouth. A fortune cookie that does that is effed up.

I had to eat half of the bad fortune cookie before I could read my fortune because that’s one of my superstitious rules involving fortune cookies.

Rule #1 of Fortune Cookie Reading: If you want your fortune to come true, you must eat half of your fortune cookie before reading your fortune. This, in effect, activates your fortune. Now, once you have read your fortune, we move on to:

Rule #2 of Fortune Cookie Reading: If you do not want your fortune—if you don’t like it and you want to reject it—then please, please, heed my advice and do not eat the second half of the fortune cookie. The first half of the cookie makes your fortune active, while the second half of the cookie makes your fortune real. Therefore, if you DO want your fortune to come true, then eat away.

(Have you seen that M. Night movie Signs? Remember how the whole finale hinged on the phrase “swing away,” which Mel’s wife had said to him after the car accident? Wouldn’t it be funny if she had said “eat away” instead? And then Mel had to eat the aliens?)

Anyway, today’s fortune is apparently gonna come true because I finished eating the whole cookie. I have never listened to the advice of Rule #2 and not eaten a fortune cookie if I didn’t want the fortune. After all, a cookie is a cookie. Even a bad cookie is still a cookie. Therefore, I eat.

My fortune today was so sucky, though. This is what the fortune was:

“You can do everything you ought to do.”

Now, on the surface this sounds okay. I can do everything I ought to do! Great—cool—rock on, right?

Except, no. No rock on. This is a lame-ass fortune. “Ought to” implies that you’re doing something you’re supposed to do, not something you feel passionate about, not something you feel in your bones. “Ought to” implies something you don’t “want to” do.

Like, for example, I ought to clean my room today. I don’t really want to, but lucky me: according to my fortune, I can clean my room. Oh, and I also ought to get the oil in my car changed. It’s not really very convenient, but hey—guess what? According to my fortune, I can get my oil changed if I really try. Oh, and another thing—

I was going to list more examples of things I ought to do now that I know I definitively can do, but I got tired of that game. Too often, fortunes in fortune cookies are lame. Fortune cookies ought to actually have fortunes printed on them. Fortunes that speak to a wish or a hope or a fear or a dream.

Like, this one: (wish fulfillment)

“Someone with blue eyes admires you.” (I actually got this fortune once and I think it’s a pretty good one.) (Who is this person with blue eyes?) (The tragic thing is that I’m color blind and I’m never quite sure what color peoples’ eyes are.)

Or another good fortune: (a warning)

“Be careful when you go to the bank tomorrow—there are going to be bank robbers there.” (Thank you, fortune! Now I know to wear my bullet proof vest.)

Or this one: (speaking to a fear)

“You will never be alone again.”

How does one get a job as a writer of fortunes for fortune cookies? Because, hey, the three I just listed above may not be perfect fortunes, but they’re sure as hell better than “you can do everything you ought to do” and I think I can write fortunes for fortune cookies, therefore I ought to. Do you hear me, fortune cookie manufacturers? You ought to give me a job, therefore you can. It was destined by the cookie.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

New Thing #22: My night of evesdropping on Michael Patrick King

I'm almost done reading Evan Handler's book Time on Fire. (If the name doesn't ring a bell, maybe the face will; Evan Handler played Harry Goldenblatt, the bald Jewish lawyer who married Charlotte, on Sex and the City.) I've been reading the book one chapter at a time because I'm a hypochondriac and there's only so much I can read about someone's harrowing bout with cancer before I start to freak out.

(I can hear you now: why's it always gotta be about you, Erik? Just read the man's damn book and let it be about him fer cryin' out loud.)

Anyway, to go back to making it about me for a minute, reading this book makes me thank my lucky stars I do not have a-certain-thing-that-I-won't-even-name-because-I-don't-want-to-jinx-myself. It also makes me question the whole hypochondria thing. Why do I put myself through all of this worry? Honestly. Why does every headache--every toothache--every muscle spasm--have to portend something else?

Why can't a pimple just be a pimple?

It's pointless to worry about all of the bad things that I (probably, most likely) don't have. Instead, I should just focus on enjoying all of the wonderful things I do have. Like my family. And my friends. And my Garbage Pail Kids collection. (Which is 100 percent complete--I still have all 1,240 of them--in mint condition, thank you very much! And I do not care that after all of these years, they have zero monetary value. They are the last remaining vestiges of my childhood and I will never sell them. All I have to do is look at one of the cards and suddenly I am a twelve-year-old again, sitting at the back of the bus on the way to school, trading "Tooth Les" for "Greta Garbage," and feeling so much cooler than all of the kids on the bus because I understand all of the titular Garbage Pail Kid puns and they probably only understand some of them.) You know, I should be happy for things like that.

Queen Latifah knows a thing or two about appreciating your blessings, at least she does in her new movie Last Holiday, in which she plays a woman named Georgia Byrd who spends her whole life waiting for something good to happen and then finds out she only has three weeks to live and then finally decides to have some frigging fun.

I like movies where the moral of the story is to buck up and have some frigging fun. These movies make me think about my hypochondria and how frigging stupid it is. I mean, frig.

So, last night, while having dinner with my friend Jesse, I decided I wanted to go see this new Queen Latifah flick. When I told Jesse of my desire, he quickly jumped on board the "let's see a movie" train, but he poo-pooed the Last Holiday suggestion. He wanted to see something else. And then we spent literally an hour trying to decide what movie to see. (I swear to God.) (We fought over what movie to see for an hour.) (An hour!) (Yeah, I know.)

The problem was that Jesse had already seen all of the "good" movies I wanted to see. Good Night and Good Luck? Jesse had already seen it. Syriana? Jesse had already seen that one, too. Walk the Line? Jesse thinks I should see it, but he won't go again. Squid and the Whale? Jesse thinks I should see that one too, and he would probably see it again, but not tonight.

Okay, fine, if we can't see a "good" movie, then I want to see a "bad" movie. You know, trash. Last Holiday.

No, says Jesse. Nuh-uh. Not gonna do it.

But you've seen everything else, I try to tell him. Let's see Last Holiday.

No way.

Give me five valid reasons you don't want to see it.

And on and on and on, etc., etc., etc.

This argument then went on for practically literally another three hours.

(I know, Jesse, you think I'm taking this too far, but it's MY blog for crying out loud, let me wax rhapsodic if I want to.)

(I accidentally typed "rhypsodic" and then I had to mention it because doesn't the word "rhypsodic" look cool? I mean, look at it. Really look at it. There's something psychadellically dyslexic about it. Like the word itself is on shrooms or something.)

Anyway, blah blah blah, the point is, Jesse totally under-no-circumstances-ever, completely and utterly did not want to see Last Holiday. No matter how much I tried to convince him it would be mindless fun. No matter that he was not suggesting any alternatives. No matter that we were running out of time to see a movie before the night ended. No matter nothing.

So I pulled out the big guns. I told Jesse he was ruining my fun. No, worse than that: he was being a cockblock. Wait, no, even worse: HE WAS DESTROYING MY LIFE.

(Which is maybe an eensy bit melodramatic, but Jesse is one of my oldest, dearest friends--we've known each other since the onset of puberty, or thereabouts--and even when I'm a complete and total drama queen, I know that, no matter what, he will take my call the next day.)

Finally, he agreed to go to the movie, but only if I bought him a coke. Done. Deal.

So then we went to the Grove. Now, I totally have a hate/love relationship with the Grove. (Notice how I put the word "hate" before the word "love"?)

Let me break it down:

I hate the Grove because it's annoying, but I love the Grove because it feels like "magic" (and I put the word "magic" in quotes because it feels like manufactured magic, like the back lot of Universal Studios or Main Street at Disneyland).

I hate the Grove because there are always so many people there, but I love the Grove because every time I go there I see someone from The Real World. (Cast in point: last night I saw Norman from season one! O.G. in the house!)

I hate the Grove because there's never any parking, but I love the Grove because...

Last night at the Grove I got to evesdrop on Michael Patrick King, Executive Producer (and God) of Sex and the City. True story. Now, if you didn't already know, I love Sex and the City. One of the best shows ever. And seeing Michael Patrick King at the Grove was like seeing Santa Clause--someone who is responsible for bringing you so many great gifts that he's too good to be true and you're certain the naysayers must be right--he can't really exist--but you still believe, and then, when you see him, it's like magic without the quotation marks.

This was my second encounter with someone from the Sex and the City universe. The first one was with the aforementioned Evan Handler, who played Harry Goldenblatt, the bald Jewish lawyer who married Charlotte, and who wrote Time on Fire, the book I'm reading right now. (Evan Handler, not Harry Goldenblatt.) I have this writing group that I go to on Tuesday nights, which Evan Handler also sometimes goes to. The first time he was there, I totally flipped out. I had a new scene that was being read, but instead of paying attention to my scene, all I could think while they read it was: "Oh my god, Harry, the fictional love of my life, is here. He's really here. He's here--right there. Look at him! That's him. And he's listening to my scene. Right now. Oh my god, Harry, the bald Jewish man that I love, is listening to something I wrote, holy crap I can't breathe."

Afterwards, as I was leaving, I walked past Evan Handler, and he nodded in my direction and said, "nice scene."

My reply? "I'm in love with you and I want to have your Chinese baby."

Okay, actually, no--I wish I said that--but my real reply was something along the lines of "thanks" or gurgle.

Maybe I like him so much because I'm a Charlotte. Do you know what I mean? Do you play that game? Where you decide which character you and your friends are on your favorite shows? It's super easy to do with Sex and the City because the four main characters are so easily broken down into types--you're either a Charlotte (a romantic), a Samantha (a slut), a Miranda (a cynic), or a Carrie (a realist, romantic, cynical slut). The one unifying trait of all four types is that everyone is searching for love. That's the thing that ties us all together.

You can play this game with other shows, too. (For example, I'm also a Phoebe, a Brian Krakow, a Sam Weir, and a Kramer/Jerry.) But Sex and the City is the best, and in the Sex and the City scenario, I'm a Charlotte.

But that's not the point. (What is the point?) Ah, yes, the point is that last night at the Grove, Michael Patrick King, Executive Producer (and God) of Sex and the City, sat right in front of us at Last Holiday, and I got to evesdrop on him.

I have to admit, I didn't really hear much, but here are the highlights:

During the preview for Failure to Launch starring Sarah Jessica Parker, he said "That's my girl!" (This is a lie, he didn't actually say anything during the preview, but he did smile and nod his head several times, and I know that because my head was about to explode when I realized I was sitting behind the creator of Sex and the City while he watched a preview of a movie starring the star of Sex and the City. My head was like, too...much...sugar.)

About ten minutes into the movie, he leaned over to one of his friends and said, incredulously: "A department store with a cat scan machine?" (He actually did say this, and Jesse and I were both like, our thoughts exactly!)

And then, then he said...um, okay, that's actually the only thing I heard him say with any clarity.

But he seemed to enjoy the movie, and after about twenty minutes I forgot he was even there because I enjoyed the movie as well. I learned that it's never too late to count your blessings. It's never too late to make your life good. It's never too late to stop worrying about things like whether or not a bloody nose means you have brain cancer and to start having fun.

I also learned that if you're ever told you only have three weeks to live, then you should liquidate all of your assets and get as far away from your real life as possible and eat deliciously-filmed food with Gerard Depardieu. Unfortunately, if I liquidated all of my assets, I think I'd only be able to get as far as the Beverly Center, but I hear there are a lot of nice Jewish men in that neighborhood, and maybe I'd find my own Harry Goldenblatt, a nice Jewish lawyer who's proud of his back hair and who wants to make Chinese babies with me until the day that I die.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

New Thing #21: I'm a new member.

I don't realize it will be such a meaningful moment. I mean, yes, I do, of course I know it is going to be somewhat meaningful, you know, as a milestone of sorts, not only as a New Thing, but, well, hopefully a harbinger of more New Things to come. But I don't anticipate the reaction I am going to have. The rush of emotion that will run through me as soon as this is done. The complete elation. The excitement. I do not realize that any of these things are coming at all.

No, right now I'm just trying to make sure I have all of the paperwork I'm supposed to have. There's a lot of paperwork in this folder I've put together in an attempt to be organized and I keep thumbing through my documents to make sure that everything is here.

Looks good, I guess. Okay. I walk inside.

The man at the reception desk looks at me like he knows me. "Are you going to Registration?"

"No," I tell him, "I'm going to Membership."

"You need to go around the corner to the right."

I do as I'm told. I find a long empty room. A man at a desk. A sign that says "Registration."

"Is this Membership?" I ask him.

"No, it's Registration. You're looking for Membership? Then you wanna go up to the third floor."

I thank the man at the desk, I leave the long empty room, I go back around the corner to the left. As I pass the man at the reception desk, I explain, again, why I'm here.

"Oh, you're looking for Membership?" he asks me. "That's on the third floor."

As I step onto the elevator, I notice a simple computer print-out taped to the wall reminding people to "Register Your Scripts!" Well, now I know where to do that, I think to myself.

As I ride up to the third floor, all I can think about is how old and rickety this elevator is. It feels like it's held together with glue. I am afraid that if I breathe too hard, the whole thing will fall apart, and then I will plummet back down to the first floor, not to my death, but more likely to many broken bones.

I consider for a moment that this might not be such a bad thing because I have never broken a bone before and at least I could write about it in my blog. A bunch of broken bones from an elevator accident has gotta be worth at least three blog entries.

Then the elevator door opens, I forget about the elevator, and I step out into the third floor:


This is it. I'm here.

I sit down with a very nice man named Patrick, he goes through all of my paperwork--yes, it looks like things are in order, he tells me--and then he stands and extends his hand out for me to shake and says the following words:

"Congratulations, you are now a member of the Writer's Guild of America."

And this is when I start feeling that elation that I didn't realize I was going to feel. It's a big moment. I shake Patrick's hand a little more firmly than I probably should and I make my way back to the elevator.

The doors close and I start dancing. I cannot help it. I do a little jig.

And then it starts to feel as if the elevator is going to crumble and suddenly I really do not want to break any bones, so I wait until I've gotten back down to the first floor, until my feet are once again planted firmly on the ground, and I dance some more.

The man at the reception desk smiles but doesn't say anything. I smile back at him, then head back to my car.

I'm a fuckin' member of the WGA, y'all!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Are you gonna go into the Gauntlet with me?

Speaking of the Gauntlet II. Ohmygod. Are you watching this shit? It's the best.

Seriously. It’s so good. And again, I have to ask: are you watching this shit? If you aren’t, you can stop reading right now, because the rest of this post really isn’t going to mean anything to you. But if you ARE watching, I gotta ask:

What is up with Beth? She is crazy--I mean, she’s CRAZY--but I never want her to go home because she's so fricken kuh-razy. That showdown between her and Ruthie was the best. Have I mentioned that Beth don't know kuh-rah-tee, but she do know kuh-razy? Yeah. She do. I love that she's like fifty years older than everyone else on the show, but somehow she’s the youngest and drunkest one of them all. Oh, and she’s crazy. And drunk.

And Derrick. How gangsta is Derrick? Really. He’s like a drunk superhero pitbull who’s always drunk. And then he gets drunk, and I'm like day-um. And he's hot too, in a drunk-superhero-pitbull-who's-always-drunk kinda way.

And Mark, the lothario with the fauxhawk? Every time he gets drunk, he falls in love with a new girl. (Jodi, you deserve better.) (So do you Robin.) And he’s always drunk. And he's kinda hot (but not as hot as Derrick), but he's also kinda skeezy too, and oh my god how did he did he get so drunk? (Oh my god, reread that sentence. I can't type. Am I drunk right now?) And have I mentioned how drunk Mark always is?

I am. I am drunk right now. Just thinking about how drunk all of these people always are. I am SUCH a lightweight. Oh my god.

I never watched Road Rules, but I used to love The Real World, back when it was good. Back when it was like Degrassi High for adults who say "about" instead of "aboot." Back when they dealt with issues in italics. Issues other than alcohol poisoning.

Remember the time David tried to rip the blanket off of Tami’s bed and they took the joke too far?

Or the time Puck spat in someone’s face? (Whose face did he spit in? I’m blanking right now.)

Or the time that little girl in daycare said that she didn’t like gay people and then Genesis sat there crying while Kameelah talked to the girl about accepting people who are different than you?

Or the time Neal’s girlfriend sent him a pig’s heart for Valentine’s Day? And then someone almost bit his tongue off at a nightclub!?!

Remember Pedro’s gay wedding? And the time Jay did his one-man show for the whole house in London? And the time the whole cast in Los Angeles sat around asking each other questions provided to them by the producers to prod them into talking about their sex lives? Back when Real Worlders actually needed some prodding before they would talk about their sex lives? Do you remember that?

Oh, halcyon days.

Anyway, the Gauntlet has everything in it that used to make The Real World good, and it also has all of the alcohol that makes the most recent seasons bad, but mix both of those elements with crazy physical challenges and--boom--somehow, suddenly you have THE BEST SHOW ON TELEVISION EVER.

True story.

Why I love blogging

So it’s been a couple of days since I’ve posted anything (aside from comments) and that’s because I’ve been really busy working. (I know, I know—you’re thinking excuses, excuses, but it’s true.) However, whenever I haven’t been thinking about work, I swear to you, my blog readers, I’ve thinking about the fact that it’s been a couple of days since I’ve posted anything on this here blog. True story.

Now, when I started this blog, Colleen warned me about “becoming one of us,” or something along those lines. I am obsessive compulsive about keeping old emails and I just looked for the email in question for the exact quote—unfortunately, I cannot find it, so Colleen, my apologies if I’m quoting you wrong. But I remember that the implication was that there is a whole subspecies of people who go about their daily lives doing the things they do but underneath these facades—these farces—what they’re really thinking about, what they’re really consumed by—all the time—is the fact that they haven’t posted anything on their blog in the last 24 hours and they’d damn well better post something soon.

Seriously, my blog is threatening to take over my life. It’s an obsession.

I’ll be talking to someone and I’ll hear myself say, “well in my blog this—,” and then a few minutes later I’ll be like, “well in my blog that—,” and then that little voice in my head will be like, “Erik, shut up.” And then another little voice in my head will be like, “remember that for the blog.”

Anyway, I haven’t really done anything New for the last couple of days, which sounds like I’ve already failed at my goal for this year, the whole “I’m going to do one new thing every day for 365 days” thing, but about a week ago I silently amended the goal ever so slightly (don’t hate me) and now I think it’s time to fess up:

Instead of being so rigid and doing one new thing every single day, I am going to allow for an occasional lapse. I am also going to allow for an occasional day where I do more than one New Thing. Therefore, my goal has been amended to: “I will do 365 new things this year,” as in, by the time we’re all singing Auld Lang Syne to rock in 2007, I will have done a whole year’s worth of new things and the specific days I do ‘em on is of no import.

It’s essentially the same thing, I’m just not gonna get all Gestapo on my ass if I miss a day. I’m going to allow for flexibility. And I’m not going to feel guilty about it. I was, however, starting to feel guilty about trying to sneak this amendment by you, my blog readers, so here I am ‘splaining the whole thing.

Speaking of people ‘splaining things, doesn’t it make you sad that Desi Arnaz wasn’t exactly like Ricky Ricardo in real life? Not that Ricky was perfect, but at least he wasn’t ever a complete and total asshole to Lucy on the show, as opposed to in real life. (I suppose this is debatable, but you could always tell that Ricky loved Lucy.)

I love television. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m never going to be one of those people who says things like “I don’t own a television.” (Unless I’m homeless—that’s the only situation I can see myself in where I don’t have a TV.) Anyway, the point is, I love television, and I love my television characters, and I feel like some of them are part of my family. Lucy Ricardo is totally, like, a cousin of mine. Like, she’s that real to me. And it makes me sad that in real real life, Lucy and Desi weren’t as perfect as Lucy and Ricky.

I remember when Lucy died, there was a weekend-long marathon of I Love Lucy episodes on Fox 11 and I watched the entire marathon. I think it started on Friday while I was at school, but I had my mom tape all of what I missed so I could watch it later. I also used to have this “Definitive Guide to I Love Lucy” and when I bought the book I realized that there were a few episodes I hadn’t seen, so I highlighted all of the episodes that I had seen, and then I kept the book and the highlighter by the TV so that I could update the book with my highlighter whenever I saw those episodes. I wanted to see every single episode because, like I said, Lucy was like my cousin and I wanted to know everything about her.

Because family is important to me. Even more important than my TV family, obviously, is my real family. Which leads me to my dad. I want to spend a moment giving him props.

A couple of days ago I got a letter in the mail. A real, live, handwritten, snail-mail letter. From my dad. He had read been reading my blog and had taken note when I mentioned that I think real, live, handwritten, snail-mail letters are infinitely more satisfying than emails—

Now don’t get me wrong, I love emails. But don’t you love that feeling of going to your mailbox and discovering that you have something in there besides bills and junk mail? Don’t you love it when you open the box and there’s a letter from someone you love? When you realize that someone has taken the time to put something in an envelope and stamp it and take it to the post office and drop it in the slot, and…and…and…they’ve done all of this just for you? Real, live, handwritten, snail-mail letters…they just don’t happen as much as they used to, and so when I get one nowadays it’s that much more exciting.

So my dad sent me this real, live snail mail letter to tell me how much he liked my blog, and to say a few nice things about me, his son, too.

Now, one thing that I’ve noticed since joining this here blogosphere is how happy people get when they receive comments in their blog. (When I say “people,” I mean me.) It’s instant validation. These people think, “Yes, I have written something that someone deems worthy of commenting on.” And it’s a nice feeling. (I know this sounds like I’m fishing for comments, but I promise you, I’m not--I’m getting to a point.)

But receiving this letter from my dad in the mail, it was like the best comment ever because he took this little bit of information, this new bit of knowledge he had learned about his son, and he put it into action. He went to the store and bought some stationary and wrote me this incredibly thoughtful comment and then put it in the mail, knowing full well that I would not receive this comment until at least the next day, but that it would be worth the wait.

And it was. We had dinner last night, and don’t take this the wrong way, but it was like I was on a first date with my dad. Like, throughout the years, my dad and I haven’t always been as close as I think both of us would like to be, and now we’ve both reached this point in our lives where we’re both at the same place and we’re both trying with the same amount of effort to forge a relationship, and at this dinner last night, I felt like we were getting to know each other in a new way. I don’t know how else to describe it. But it was very good.

And I think that this blog opened some of those doors of communication, so, even though this blog might be considered an obsession, I think it’s at least a healthy obsession (unlike, say, my obsession with The Real World/Road Rules: Gauntlet II). This is an obsession I can be okay with.

So, Colleen, I did hear your warning, but I’m afraid I didn’t heed it. I think I have become one of you, and I think I like it.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


“Wherever you go, whatever you do
I will be right here, waiting for you.
Whatever it takes, or how my heart breaks
I will be right here waiting for you.”

--Richard Marx, “I Will Be Right Here Waiting For You,” later covered by Bryan Adams

I’m sitting in a tiny little coffee shop right now. There are eight other people here (including the baristas). Some of us drink coffee, some of us drink hot chocolate (me). Three of us type on laptops.

In the corner, there is a man playing guitar and singing songs by Bryan Adams. (Honestly, that’s all he sings. Songs written by, or once covered by, Bryan Adams.) He’s probably somewhere in his ‘50s. Slightly over-weight. Red hair. Grizzled face.

This man in the corner playing guitar and singing songs written by (or once covered by) Bryan Adams—he’s not very good. His guitar playing is okay at best. (It’s better than mine, but that’s not saying much, seeing as I’ve never played a lick in my life.) And his voice is, well, not very good at all. (It’s better than Tom Waits’ voice, but that’s not saying much because, well, the reason Tom Waits’ voice is so good is because it’s not good. Hm. So maybe me saying this guy in the corner’s voice is “not very good at all” is actually a compliment.)

There is a woman sitting across from me. She’s probably somewhere in her ‘50s too, but I’ll say she’s somewhere in her ‘40s in case she reads my blog. She’s thin. Asian. Professional looking. (She wears a pants suit.)

This professional looking, thin, Asian woman sitting across from me—she’s in a sexual relationship with the man in the corner playing guitar and singing songs by Bryan Adams (if not written by him, then once covered by him, and I'm gonna stop mentioning that because I think you get the picture). I don’t know if they’re married, or if they’re dating, or if they’re only lovers—but they were holding hands when they came into the coffeeshop. (That’s how I know they’re together.)

Whatever they are to each other, she definitely loves him. I can tell this because she’s singing along with him to every Bryan Adams song he sings. (Which, in and of itself, is obviously love. If I wanted to sit in the corner of a coffeeshop and sing Bryan Adams songs and you wanted to sing along with me, I would know we were in love.) This woman, she's not singing along with him in a loud obnoxious way. She's not even singing in a remotely obvious way. She’s just sitting there, quietly singing to herself. (Actually, I don’t think there’s even any breath coming out of her mouth, I don’t think she’s making a sound—she’s just mouthing the words. Mouthing the words along with him and smiling.)

She doesn’t look at him. The way she’s sitting, she’s not even facing him, she’s facing me.

So this man in the corner playing guitar and singing songs by Bryan Adams—he’s singing his Bryan Adams songs to the back of her head. You can see that he’s sending them in her direction--but she doesn’t want to take them. Not right now, anyway. Right now, she wants him to have this moment with his public, with his people, his audience. (All eight of us.) She doesn’t want to take anything away from this moment, which she knows he needs.

A few moments ago, he launched into “I Will Be Right Here Waiting For You,” and this woman sitting across from me…she smiled a big smile. She started nodding her head. She mouthed the words with even more conviction than she had before.

This is their song.

“Wherever you go, whatever you do
I will be right here, waiting for you.
Whatever it takes, or how my heart breaks
I will be right here waiting for you.”

She knows he is not a great singer. She knows he is not a great guitar player. But she also knows how much he loves this, his rock star moment. So she will let him have it.

She will let him have this moment with the rest of us, his audience.

And then she will go home with him, and she will be his, and he will be hers, and there will be no more waiting.

Theatre of NOTE's performance marathon

I'm going to Theatre of NOTE's performance marathon tonight. If you're in LA and wanna check it out, I'd love to see you. The marathon never fails to deliver some pretty fantastic stuff. Even the non-fantastic stuff is usually worth watching. I remember a few years ago, one of non-fantastic pieces was by this group of half-naked people covered in mud who played with sticks for ten minutes. That's all they did, and I remember most of the audience was looking around, like, what the fuck is this crap? But as it went on and on and on and people in the audience got more and more tense and frustrated and bored, I realized that these half-naked mud-covered stick players were really kind of brilliantly playing with the audience's emotions and expectations. In my eyes, they were a group of social anthropologists mixed with Andy Kauffman and a sprinkle of Neil Hamburger (if you don't know who Neil Hamburger is, you should) and a dash of mud and sticks, natch. Anyway, once I was in on the joke (and maybe there was no joke, maybe they were completely serious in their stick play, but then, if that's the case, there was something funny about that, too; either way, it was a good joke), I found it incredibly funny, and by the end of the ten minutes, as some people in the audience were ready to tear their hair out, the whole performance had reached this beautiful crescendo (actually, the audience had reached the crescendo, because they were the ones who were changing, who were gradually getting more and more perturbed--the performers remained predictably stickish). Anyway, the whole thing was brilliant. Maybe my definition of brilliant is different than yours, but that's okay too, because there's plenty of variety at the marathon, and whatever your tastes are, they will be covered.

(Some other unquestionably wonderful things I've seen at the marathon include pieces by Luis Alfaro, John Fleck, Rebecca Gray, and the marathon's founder Richie Werner--my apologies to Luis, John, Rebecca, and Richie for going on and on about those dumb mud-covered stick people before even mentioning these legitimately cool people. People like these four are where it's really at, and why the marathon sometimes floors me. I'm sure that at least a few of these four are performing tonight ((maybe all four are performing? could we be so lucky?)) and I promise you any of these four would be worth the price of admission alone.)

I know I sound like I'm pimping the marathon, but that's because I am--I'm pimpin' it cuz I'm gonna be there, yo, and wouldn't it be fun to be there together? In between acts, we can find New Things to do for My Year of New Things.

The marathon started at 2pm today. It goes until 4am tonight. I'll be arriving at around 10ish and plan on staying until at least 1am. (Though I'm usually a sucker for the marathon and end up staying way past the time I intended to leave.)

Friday, January 20, 2006

New Thing #20: Sit 'N Spin, and Jake, and MSCL

So, about a year and a half ago, I dated this guy named Jake. (Jake is not his real name, but wouldn't it be cool if it was his real name? Because come on--Jake? I've said it once and I'll say it again: it's a great name for a boyfriend.) (Speaking of which, if your name is Jake and you're reading my blog, feel free to become my boyfriend.) (Ed. note: Um, Erik? What's up with this fixation on having a boyfriend named Jake? Is it because Jake Ryan was one of your first crushes? Get in the back of the line, bud. Lotsa people had crushes on Jake Ryan. Move on.) (Speaking of Jake Ryan, though, and obviously not moving on, you must read this essay.) (Oh my god.) (Sorry.) (Anyway.) (Let me start over with this post.)

So, about a year and a half ago, I dated this guy named Jake. We met through Friendster, so the first time we actually saw each other in person was on our first date. Now, during this date, I thought he looked familiar to me. Really familiar. I've-seen-him-in-something familiar. And this was in Hollywood, so it was fairly possible. Then it hit me: he's the guy who played the Snooty Matre d' in Ferris Bueller's Day Off who wouldn't let Ferris and his friends have a table until Ferris pretended to be Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago.

Now, I could have just asked him: "Did you play the Snooty Matre d' in Ferris Bueller's Day Off?" But then I wouldn't have had any fun googling him later that evening. And a first date isn't a first date without at least a little bit of googling before going to bed.

After resolving to google, I stopped wondering where I knew Jake from. Besides, I was fairly certain I had figured it out: he TOTALLY played the Snooty Matre' d in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I was certain of it now, looking at him. I could move on.

We continued with the date, and it went very well. It was actually kind of a perfect first date. We had dinner at a very nice restaurant and as we were finishing up, he disappeared--for a moment I thought that maybe the date had only been going well in my head and in reality he hated me and had ditched me with the bill--but then, a few moments later, he returned with some Chocolate Chocolate Chip Haagan Daz ice cream. I had mentioned earlier that it was my favorite ice cream, so he ran across the street to 7-11 to pick up a pint for us to have for dessert. This was just a small thing, maybe, but I think it speaks volumes to the kind of guy Jake is.

After dinner, he dropped me off at my car, we kissed goodnight, and then I went up into my apartment and I googled him. Turns out, I was wrong. Jake did not play the Snooty Matre d' in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, after all; this dude did.

Whatever, I still liked Jake. I forgot about the Ferris Bueller thing and then we dated for about five weeks. It was a quick affair, heated, fraught with emotion. When we broke up, we severed things pretty severely. Not in a I-don't-want-to-ever-see-you-again way, more in a I-don't-think-I-can-see-you-for-a-long-time-because-it-would-be-too-painful way. There was just a lot going on, and I don't want to get into all of the details, but suffice it to say the break-up was a beast and we haven't spoken since. This was over a year ago.

Now, today's post was supposed to be about how I went to Sit 'N Spin. Sit 'N Spin is a show run by Jill Soloway and Maggie Rowe at the Comedy Central space at the Hudson, where, according to the LA Times, "people [read] things that are funny, dirty and sad, twice a month in Los Angeles." How can you beat that? I was super excited to go to Sit 'N Spin and hear some "funny, dirty and sad" essays because I've recently started dabbling in the form (I kind of consider this blog like my workout area, where I can practice writing about real things rather than writing about imaginary people, a.k.a. "characters") and so I'm eager to read and hear as many personal essays as possible right now. Also, my friend Taylor was reading a piece written by Amy Heckerling, and I was excited to see Taylor perform. Like, bonus.

Going to Sit 'N Spin was supposed to be my New Thing for the day. (It still is my New Thing for the day.) That's all today's post was supposed to be about--it was gonna be short and sweet, along the lines of "I went to Sit 'N Spin tonight, it was great, and...The End." But then things got...well...kinda complicated.

The night started out fine. Let me set the scene:

I'm there with my friends Jesse and Mike. We've got great seats (5th row back, center) and we're just sitting there chatting, waiting for the show to start, checking out all of the gorgeous, literate types in the audience. Jesse sees someone he knows from college; they say a quick hello. I see someone I did a play reading with a few years ago; we say a quick hello. I look around the room and see several more quick hellos happening between several more gorgeous, literate people in the room. I feel like I look like a homeless man among all of these well-groomed people, but I figure it's okay because I'm a writer and writers can get away the "unkempt hair and wrinkled shirt and vaguely homeless" look. (Right?) The show should be starting any minute.

And that's when he walks in.



I haven't seen him in over a year. I lean over to Jesse and tell him, "Jake's here." Jesse knows all about Jake, but they've never met, so he cranes his neck to see what Jake looks like. "He looks exactly like the guy who--" But before he can finish his thought, the lights fade and the show begins.

And this is when I have a quick little panic attack. No, that's not right. The words "panic" and "attack" seem to be alarmist words for what I had. It wasn't anything major. All that really happened was my heart did a little bit of a skip and a jump and I wondered what my conversation with Jake after the show was going to be like. It's been over a year since we've seen each other, what are we going to say? Are we going to be emotional? Are we going to fall back into our old jovial patter? Will things be awkward? What's going to happen? Dear god.

Fortunately, the show is great and I'm able to forget about my anxiety and just enjoy myself. The show begins with a very funny piece by Eric Friedman about getting lost hiking up to the Hollywood sign; next up is a poignant piece by Shaz Bennett about a lucky foxtail, and blaxploitation, and religion; this is followed by an outrageous (in a good way) essay by Anderson Gabrych about coming of age and butt sex; then Kate Flannery reads an essay about doin' the deed with one of the Monkees, which literally has the entire audience singing along to Daydream Believer; and then Taylor Negron finishes us off with a piece by Amy Heckerling titled "Joseph Goebbels' Private Diary," which is exactly what the title promises and it's also brilliant. Oh, and I forgot to mention the music--there are also some very funny songs by Mark Nutter and Cynthia Carle. It's a very entertaining evening. So entertaining that I almost forget that Jake is here.

But then the show ends, and the lights come up, and everyone stands, and people start to mill about the stage so they can say hello to the performers, and I see Jake standing across the room, and it all floods back to me. Oh, man. Okay. I'm ready. I'm going to go have this moment. I'm feeling a little bit buttfluttery, but I can do this.

As I'm making my way into the crowd, Jake and I have eye contact. I smile, nod my head. But he doesn't react. He looks away. He starts talking to someone else. Weird, I think to myself. Maybe he doesn't want to talk to me? Maybe I shouldn't approach him? No, that would be even weirder, I have to talk to him.

Okay, here goes. I walk over to him and I touch his shoulder. He turns to look at me.

"Hey, Jake," I say.

His look is inscrutable. It's loud. (The room, not the look.) Lots of people are talking.

"Hey," he says back to me.

There is a long awkward pause.

And then I'm like: "So...how have you been?"

It feels like such an inadequate question--I mean, it's been a year since we've seen each other--but it's all I can think of to say. I should say something else. I should say something about how he grew his hair out, and it looks good. I should say something. He's not speaking. WHY ISN'T HE SPEAKING?

He looks at me. Brusk. (Dismissive, almost? I can't tell.) And then, finally, (FINALLY), he says, "I had a good new year. Nice to chat. I have to head out."

And then he walks away.

What? WHAT?!? What just happened?? What was that? It's been a year and that's the conversation we have?

I go over to Jesse and Mike. They have been standing within earshot. They've heard the whole thing. They can't believe it either. What a dick! That's the general consensus: Jake is a total, complete dick. "I had a good new year. Nice to chat. I have to head out." I mean, what the fuck?

So I get all upset, and I'm bitching to Jesse and Mike about it, and then Jesse says, "Did you ever notice how much Jake looks exactly like the guy who played the Snooty Matre d' in Ferris Bueller's Day Off?"

Wait. Stop. Hold the phone. Um, Erik?


The man you just talked to?


The man you've been anxiously awaiting a conversation with for the last hour?


I'm sorry to break this to you, but that man, well...

Spit it out.

It wasn't Jake.


It wasn't Jake.

You mean the man I just had an awkward conversation with wasn't the man I went out with for five weeks last year?

No, the man you just talked to was Jonathan Schmock who played the Snooty Matre d' in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

The Snooty Matre d' who wouldn't let Ferris and his friends have a table until Ferris pretended to be Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago?

Yep, that's the one.

Okay, um, wow. So. Um, yeah. No wonder he looked at me so funny when I went up to him and put my hand on his shoulder and started talking to him like we went way back. He looked at me so funny because he had no idea who the fuck I was. Because we don't know each other.

The rest of the night is a blast and a blur. I drank some brandy, and I told my story to some of Jonathan Schmock's friends who confirmed that the man at Sit 'N Spin was, indeed, the Snooty Matre d' from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Mr. Jonathan Schmock.

But all of that said, my New Thing for today was still going to see Sit 'N Spin, and it's a great show, and you should check it out.


As I lie here in bed typing this into my laptop, I'm reminded of the last few moments of the pilot episode of My So-Called Life. Angela Chase and Rayanne Graff and Ricky Vasquez try to get into this club called Let's Bolt, but they can't get in because they're under age and Rayanne's cousin Tito never shows up to help them sneak in, and then Rayanne gets drunk, and these two guys almost rape Rayanne and Angela, and then Rayanne almost gets into a fight with one of the guys, and then the cops show up, and the cops drive the girls home (Ricky isn't with them anymore, he's already run off), and then Angela's voice over notices that "at rayanne's house, no one was home," and then my heart breaks, and then Angela sees her dad with another woman outside of their house, and he might be having an affair, and Everybody Hurts by REM starts playing on the soundtrack, and then my heart breaks again, and then Angela's shoe (which isn't actually her shoe--she and Rayanne traded shoes when they were waiting for Tito to help them sneak into Let's Bolt), well, Angela's shoe-that-isn't-really-her-shoe breaks, and, my heart breaks again, I just can't take it anymore, and Angela finally goes upstairs and wipes off her make-up and she sees her mom and breaks down and cries in her arms, so happy to be home and safe after such a supremely shitty night. But then, the next morning, when Angela bumps into Rayanne and Ricky in the hall, her friends are telling these other kids about what a totally wicked night they had. Rayanne says, "I am telling you, we had a time." And then Rayanne looks at Angela: "Didn't we? Didn't we have a time?" And then Angela kind of smiles and she bends one of her legs a little bit and without even really thinking about it, she says, "We did. We had a time." And you can see in her face that, yes, she did have a really shitty night, but you can also see that she's only sixteen-years-old and when you're only sixteen-years-old sometimes even shitty nights can be great because they're new and they're alive and your life is suddenly feeling like an adventure. And how great is that, right?

Tonight was not a shitty night by any means. But there were a few moments there where I felt like I was having an adventure. And I would definitely say that we had a time.

Yes, we did. We had a time.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

New Things #18 and #19: New writing group, new word

You know that anxious, fluttery, butterfly feeling when you're about to start something new? A new job, or a new school, or (if you're a geek, and you might be, because I know at least half of my blog readers are geeks) a new game of Dungeons and Dragons with new players? You know that feeling of...I was going to say 'dread in the pit of your stomach,' but dread isn't really the right word. Dread is too negative, too dire, too sci-fi. No, the word I'm looking for would be used to describe something that feels like 'excited fear.' Is there even a word for the feeling I'm trying to describe? Does the word even exist? Do you even know what I'm talking about? That feeling of being both 'excited' and 'afraid' at the same time? Is there a word that describes that? A word that describes that feeling of "Will they like me? Will I fit in?" That feeling of "this is gonna rock if it doesn't suck, right?" That feeling of "I don't know how to match my clothes and I don't know if they'll care, but fucking whatever because I don't care, and I think this could be the beginning of something amazing as long as nobody cares whether or not I can match my clothes and this could also be amazing if only I can get through it without throwing up because I don't want to throw up on my first day but I kinda do wanna throw up."

Is there a word that describes all that? Or do I need to get all Shakespeare on that word and make it up?

Did you know that Shakespeare made up words right and left? He did! He just made words up. If there wasn't a word to describe what he friggin' wanted to describe, boom: a new word came flyin' outta his quill.

That's one of my favorite things about Shakespeare. He made up new words and then he used them in his plays and then he trusted his audience members to be smart enough to understand what the words meant based on their context and then those new words became part of our lexicon.

Words like "lonely" and "tortured" and "assassin."

Words like "amazement."

Words like "flawed."

When I was in college, I took this Painting 101 class, and all of the other nascent painters in the class were, like, total geniuses, while I could barely get the paint to stay on the canvas. My painting skills truly were lackluster, to use another word that Shakespeare invented. I tried, I mean I really tried, I just couldn't ever get the image that was in my head to appear on the canvas. For our final project, our assignment was to paint these huge pieces. Like, four times the size of anything we had done before. And we had to do a rough sketch of our painting first, which we would then recreate on a larger scale. I was really proud of my rough sketch. It was great. It was this geometric collage with all of these colors that actually came together and I was more excited about this than anything I'd done all semester.

My final project was going to rock.

But then I tried to recreate the collage on a larger scale, and, well...it...um...did not rock. Like, no, there was no rocking going on, only sucking, like, major hard-core suckage taking place on my canvas. I tried, I mean I really tried, I just couldn't get the image that I'd created in my rough sketch to appear on my canvas. But I kept trying.

Flash forward to the last day of class. We were supposed to turn in our final projects, and mine was still awful. (I'm not even exaggerating for effect. It was awful.) So I went to the hardware store and bought a can of spray paint. I shook the can. I got it all primed and ready. And then I sprayed the words "incomplete" and "flawed" across my canvas.

It was such a college-kid thing to do, but I did it, and as pretentious and lame as it kinda sounds, those two words were the truest thing about the painting and all of a sudden it was good. It was the only painting I'd made all semester that I was proud to turn in.

Anyway, that was a long digression, but I was trying to think of a word that describes the exact emotion I was describing, and I couldn't come up with one, so I decided to take a page from Shakespeare and invent my own damn word. I was re-reading the beginning of this post ("You know that anxious, fluttery, butterfly feeling...") and then the word suddenly hit me.


That's the word! Isn't it the best?

Some derivations and definitions of my new word:

Butt*flutt*er: v. To induce in someone else the state of being both excited and fearful.
Butt*flutt*er*y: adj. A simultaneous state of both excitement and fear.
Butt*flutt*ered: adj. Being in a state of both excitement and fear, often incited by New Things.

I googled the word and got zero results, so I think I'm onto something. I've created a new word. Use it. Abuse it. Get it into the lexicon.

But back to what I was saying...So: I joined a new writing group yesterday, a group that has already been together for quite some time but who wanted to add someone new, a group of friends who've known each other forever, a group of very talented writers whose work I know but who I'm just beginning to know personally, a group of writers I was honored to be asked to join. And as I walked towards the meeting, I was totally buttfluttered.

But then, as one of my new writing group companions opened the door to let me in, I was greeted by two dachshunds, and I take dachshunds as signs of good things to come, so all of my buttflutteriness fell to the wayside and I settled into the group and enjoyed myself and by the end of our first meeting I felt like I belonged, my stomach was peaceful, I was absent of any buttfluttery.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

New Thing #17: My text message conversation with my cousin Nikki

I have a very large family. Actually, I have several very large families, but the family I'm talking about right now is the one on my mom's side. Lots of aunts and nephews and grandparents and Sri Lankan wives and third-cousins-half-removed and one extremely cool 4-year-old uncle. Most of the family lives in southern California--and the ones who don't live here, well, they travel here as often as they can--which is fairly often--and any excuse we can make to get together, well, we make the excuse and we get together. You say it’s your birthday…Awesome—who’s buying the cake? You’ve got another anniversary coming up…We’ll be there for dinner. And while we’re eating, why don’t we plan Christmas at Grandpa and Granny J’s? And then we can talk about having Hanukkah at Aunt Lee’s. And then we can arrange a get-together the following Sunday for brunch in Mom and Joe’s backyard. Why? Because it’s Sunday, and we wanna see each other, and why not?

Honestly, if you offer us up a holiday, we’ll embrace it and then celebrate the hell out of it. I'm surprised we didn't get together for MLK day yesterday. Because getting together? That's what we do.

We also eat too much and we talk over each other and we laugh and we get into each other's business and I always make my mom cry at least once and then everyone will try to figure out what I said this time that made Sherry cry and then my mom and I will start laughing uncontrollably and then people will stop trying to figure out why Sherry's crying and they'll all decide, again, that we're a little bit crazy, and then we'll eat some more, and we'll laugh some more, and we'll yell over each other some more, and we'll end up talking about whether or not we should all go see a movie until we realize it's too late to see a movie because we've been talking about it for so long that now it's time for everyone to go home. Then we'll spend 45 minutes saying good-bye to each other, and some of us will say things like: "Don't you love a long Jewish good-bye?," while others of us will say things like: "I hate Jewish good-byes, get in the car, I wanna go home."

And of course we have our problems, just like every family, but the one thing I can be sure of every time the family gets together is that there will be as much love as there is food.

But my one complaint about these big frenetic family get-togethers is that sometimes I don’t get enough one-on-one with people because we’re so busy being big and loud and frenetic. Which is why the conversation I had with my cousin Nikki over the weekend merits New Thing status. Now, of course I’ve had thousands of conversations with my cousin Nikki, but I've never had a conversation with my cousin Nikki via text message, until this weekend, and I’ve never had a conversation with her quite like this specific conversation.

I know that saying "I've never had a conversation with my cousin Nikki via text message, until this weekend" maybe sounds like I'm cheating with my New Things. Like, maybe if you're a cynic, then right now you might be thinking something along the lines of: "I bet his next New Thing is gonna be something stupid like 'I have never hopped on one foot while saying the pledge of allegiance at exactly 9:17 p.m.'" Well, maybe that will be my next New Thing. But it's my Year of New Things, so I can hop on one foot while saying the pledge of allegiance at exactly 9:17 p.m. if I want to.

Anyway, the text message conversation started out fairly simple. Like this:

ERIK: Like, whatever.

This was how I decided to say hello. Nikki's a teenager, and so I thought it was an appropriate hello. So then I got her response:

NIKKI: I know, right?

Awesome, she knows exactly what I'm talking about. So I replied:

ERIK: Totally.

And then she continued, still with me:

NIKKI: For sure.

And then I was like:

ERIK: Listen girlfriend, that's what I'm talking about.

(Seriously, that was my response.) And then she responded:

NIKKI: Like totally, for real, i'm like: ok!

But then she ended the game:

NIKKI: Haha…SO…how r u big cousin?

And I could have just said “fine,” which is what you usually say when someone asks you how you are, and probably what I would have said to my cousin in the past because she’s ten years younger than I am, but the truth is that, before this text message conversation, I’d been at a funeral, and it had been a long, sad day. So instead of saying “fine,” I told my cousin about my day, and we had a real conversation. Kind of odd to be having a real conversation via text messages, but it was real nonetheless.

And if the main goal of my Year of New Things is to have some new experiences, well, having a text message conversation with my cousin Nikki was just that. But it was more than that, too. The way I see it, it marks a shift in our relationship. I feel like she and I are transitioning from our old relationship (which, because of our ten year age difference, has always been along the lines of older cousin/kid cousin/playful) into a new one (which is becoming more of a "we're cousins but we’re also friends so we can talk about shit" kind of relationship).

And I like this new relationship that my little cuz and I are forming. So I’m marking down our text message conversation as New Thing #17.

Or, like, whatever.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Golden Globes, and another list. Yes, another list.

Okay, so several posts ago, Dustin asked me to post a list of things I have done, rather than just lists of things I have never done. Well, I'm still working on that list (I know, Dustin, I'm being lazy--I know), but since I'm about to sit down and watch the Golden Globes, I thought I would share one thing I have done:

I have crashed the Golden Globes. Eight times. With my grandparents.

Now, this was all pre-9/11, and I'm sure that the security is tighter nowadays. (It was pretty tight back then, but we always managed to work our way through it. The key is to act like you're supposed to be there and like you know where you're going.)

I have several fun Golden Globe stories. Like the time Ian McKellen told me he loved my blond hair. (It was blond at the time, so it made sense.) Or the time I got trapped in the middle of a conversation between Julianne Moore and Juliana Margulies. (This one's hard to explain, but it happened.) Or the time Allison Janney hugged me, kissed me on the cheek, and then thanked me for understanding her. Or the time Sharon Stone winked at my Granny. (They were totally flirting.) But people are beginning to walk down the red carpet, so I've gotta plunk myself down in front of the TV and enjoy.

Speaking of lists, (and I was speaking of lists, earlier, at the beginning of this post), Sheila over at The Sheila Variations has a great post today with a list of her favorite literary characters. I made my own list and posted it in her comments. But I wanted to post my list here as well:

OWEN MEANY, from A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
HUMBERT HUMBERT, from Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
SARAH MILES, from The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
MILKMAN, from Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
SOOKIE STACKHOUSE, from the Dead Until Dark series by Charlaine Harris
BENJAMIN SACKS, from Leviathan by Paul Auster
ARTURO THE AQUA BOY, from Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
PETER, from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
MELONY, from The Cider House Rules by John Irving
the unnamed NARRATOR, from Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson
JONATHAN HARKER, from Dracula by Bram Stoker
SEMYON ZAKHAROVITCH MARMELADOV, from Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky
DANNY, from Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
DOT, from Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
ARCHIE JONES, from White Teeth by Zadie Smith
SAMAD IQBAL, from White Teeth by Zadie Smith
ALEXANDER, from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

This list is totally off the top of my head and by no means definitive. But, as I've said many times before, I love making a list, and so I had to play along with the "favorite literary characters" game, and I'll probably keep adding to the list. Feel free to provide your own lists in the comments.