Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Secret's in the source.

DUDE, the Washington Post just revealed W. Mark Felt was Deep Throat!!!!!

This is HUGE. And not just because I was hoping it was Kirsten Dunst.

Or, worse, Hal Holbrook.

Or, um, Linda Lovelace.


Something I already knew has just been mentioned to me. My resume does not have an objective statement, which it needs. I know this. Trust me.

It's just that, well, I don't know where I'm applying yet, and I like to condition the statement accordingly. Of course, in the meantime, I also want to strengthen my resume to feature my, I guess, most valuable attributes. This resume thing sucks. I don't remember it being this hard when I got out of college. Of course, then, I was applying to people who basically already knew me through my byline, my friends or my work at the student newspaper. So this is different.

What do I want to do? What do I enjoy? What are my strengths? What am I capable of?

This is the sort of thing I'd be prepared to answer in therapy, but not on paper.

How is it that I can work for five years at two jobs and lose all my known, basic, marketable skills?

Alternative qualifications.

I wish there was a way that I could put stuff that mattered on my resume:

- Contributed significantly to at least 50 winning bar trivia games.
- Ranked 676 on Amazon.com's customer reviews.
- Successfully maneuvered through six years of therapy.
- Published online in The Guardian, Ain't It Cool News and worked freelance for Schroeder Publishing.
- Had a letter in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY once when I was 13.
- Managed to be able to spell despite attending public school in Gwinnett County.
- See 6 to 10 movies a month.
- Member of the Margaret Mitchell House and ArtsCard.
- Received accolades for my blog from the Center for Puppetry Arts.
- Still insist to customers at my bookstore that NAPOLEON DYNAMITE and THE VILLAGE are really, really bad movies.

That's just what you are.

Last night, while I was at my mother's house, I updated my resume to the best of my ability. The resume seems weak to me. My mother pointed out to me that I neglected to mention much of the freelance writing that I did a couple years ago after leaving CNN, and it doesn't suggest how often I actually work. She also mentioned that it doesn't even begin to hint at what a good salesman I am or how much I know about movies, books and music. I couldn't figure out a way to turn "knowledge of general trivia" into a printable, marketable job skill.

My mom's supposed to be one of my biggest fans. That's her job. There's nothing I've written that wasn't "genius," even if she found some of it "inappropriate." Everything of mine that she reads, she suggests we "send it to OPRAH" because that Oprah loves "a good, human-interest story."

Arguments against me going on OPRAH are not acceptable at my mom's house. My mom's going to have me on OPRAH before it's all over.

She mentioned OPRAH last night when I showed her the chapters about my disability that I've been working on for my writing class.

As she read the chapters, she said, "Wow, I didn't know you thought this much about your disability. You know, if it's really a problem for you, I'm sure health insurance would pay for some physical therapy."

"Yeah, but what would I write about then?" I asked her.

She laughed, then said I could reference it "from memory."

It's my way. I want to complain about something, but far be it from me to ever actually do anything about it. At this point, I would prefer not to treat my minor limp any differently from the way that I do. It's just that, well, now I write about it, so it becomes fair game for discussion.

When I was carrying in my laundry to my apartment last night, I found my old, suede, snap-shut journal from 2001 in the trunk of my car, and I reread a couple entries from a particularly suicidal period in my depression, including the writings I did about Sept. 11 and the writings I did about losing my friendship with that guy Dax. Also, there were some rocky times with Lupo that I mulled over in the book. And, plus, that was the summer of my runaway car, the year I spent not talking to my parents.

Most of that journal was written after midnight on the formica counters of the Huddle House in Buford. In it, I mention this waitress named Melissa a lot. Now, of course, I wouldn't be able to pick that woman out of a line-up, but she was the one who talked to me the most when I felt like overdosing on pills.

That journal, which is a precursor to this one, I guess, is well-written but pretty damn difficult for me to read. (Of course, last night, I wanted to transcribe the thing into entries here, so people could get a better record of who I was versus who I am. But that probably would be both indulgent and unwise.)

I'm still in the same jobs I was then, technically. But my view is so different.

It's time to take more steps forward.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Laundry and DVDs.

It's fun discovering that my mother has installed a Broadband connection at her house, particularly because she was still trying to figure out how not to overuse the caps lock key in her e-mail when I lived here.

I'm here doing laundry because I didn't want to invade my friend Larry's condo while he was composing an opera. While I was waiting for everything to dry, I started to watch this movie LEON on DVD. I'd never seen it before, even though I'd always heard good things about it and about the Natalie Portman performance it features. What I've seen thus far has been violent and fun.

Of course, I couldn't watch all of it. Mom would come in to remind me that I had underwear to fold everytime the movie started to get interesting.

At some point this week, I'll watch it at my apartment.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the washer and dryer. And the Broadband.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Miss Gibson is missing.

This is a test to see if I can learn more HTML code. This is completely silly, yet I don't know how to properly format a photo with wrap-around text. I want to learn. I feel like a complete dork.

Nonetheless, I've not heard from Miss Gibson in weeks since she headed to the Dominican Republic, and she's got a really pretty photo that I can use to figure out how to learn this simple, basic HTML function.

OK, it looks like I might have it, so now this blog won't have some glaring photo formatting errors.

Everyone else has already left my office for the holiday.

I have to go to the store soon, but the guy is still on the crane.

Things to do while everyone avoids that crane guy.

* See Daniel Craig in LAYER CAKE, playing locally at the Tara. Or you could see Sam Peckinpah's MAJOR DUNDEE at the Landmark.
* Read the first chapter of THE HISTORIAN, which is being touted as the summer's biggest non-HARRY POTTER book. It comes out June 14, but you can read an excerpt on Amazon. It's supposed to be some scary, DA VINCI CODE-like take on DRACULA.
* Pay tribute to the late Ismael Merchant by watching A ROOM WITH A VIEW, which is a fantastic movie adapted from an E.M. Forster novel. The Merchant-Ivory production features, among other things, nudity, beautiful Italian scenery and an early performance from Daniel Day-Lewis as a stuck-up, foppish nerd.
* Buy Kacoon's baby shower present at Babies R Us.
* Finish doing the stuff off last week's list, and continue telling people to see OLDBOY.
* Connect with an old friend, like my old bookstore co-worker Vicki. Vicki, it turns out, just returned from Indonesia, where she and other missionaries helped tsunami victims with medical aid and clean-up.
* Do laundry.
* Wash the dishes.
* Take out the garbage.
* Update your resume. Work on getting a new job, just for the fun of it.
* Go to Atlanta Jazz Fest.
* Go out of town. It's Memorial Day.
* Heck, because it's Memorial Day, visit a cemetery. Pay tribute to the war dead. Find a flag, and say the Pledge of Allegiance.
* Visit me in the music department at Barnes & Noble in Buckhead, if that guy ever comes down from the crane, because we're having a Buy Two DVDs, Get One Free sale there. And, if you're that linen-shirt-wearing guy named Colin who talked to me this week, come back to visit. Let's get coffee.
* Place bets on how the situation with the crane guy is going to end.
* Finish watching John Huston's THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE. Bogart's cool.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Last night, I was late getting to work at the bookstore because, well, to get to my bookstore, I have to drive through Buckhead. And last night, the roads in Buckhead were blocked because this guy was standing on a crane 350 feet in the air, threatening to jump. If he fell, the police were directing traffic away from the bullseye zone. Though it had something to do, I'm sure, with the genuine value of every human life, the cops mostly didn't want anyone's car to get hit.

I've always been fascinated by cliffhangers. When I was a kid, I figured that a movie HAD to have people in peril, dangling from the air, in order for it to be any good. The Goonies all had to walk the plank. E.T. and Elliott went flying through the air. Annie had to hang off that bridge.

If you think back on me a couple years ago, I wanted to write fiction stories about people trapped on Ferris wheels or jumping off a mall balcony.

I've always been fascinated, and a little frightened, of the idea of falling. Taking that leap. Jumping. The seemingly inevitable crash below always struck me as the ultimate - what's the word - abandon. Though I'm not much of a thrillseeker, I've always appreciated someone whose final choice in life came at them as so black-and-white.

Remember the idea of the life that you wanted to live?

Risks aren't easy. But risks, I'm thinking, are necessary.

What if we could have choices that simple? Do you ever get so frustrated with the small things you do that you know don't really matter - but you have to do them - that you envy someone who can just jump?

I'm not advocating suicide. I'm speaking of taking chances, risking things.

There are days on-and-off that I walk through my office feeling just numb. It seems so cliche to say that, but, honestly, it's not untrue. Why does any of this matter?

It matters because I have to eat. Because I have bills to pay. Because I like to go to the movies, and you have to buy the tickets.

I just called my mom, told her that I wouldn't make it to her barbecue tonight. She wanted me at Lake Lanier by 6. It's 6 now, and I'm at my desk, making up some work. Because it's the end of the month. Because I have a production goal. Because I'm trying to avoid traffic. Because I work best when no one else is around.

I want to be willing enough to let go of the safe life I have to try something different. It annoys me that I'm not that brave.

Me and you.

Everything I've heard about ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW, which opens in limited release next month, gets me excited about it. I don't know yet if it's good or not, for I haven't seen it, but it's being raved about by people who know film.

My friend Jim at the Landmark e-mailed me to let me know they're booking the movie, and I thanked him. He said I was the one who mentioned it to him first. I actually asked him to try and get the movie to Atlanta just so I could see it, but now everyone's talking about it.

It's played to great response at Sundance and won awards at Cannes this week.

Miranda July, the performance artist who made the movie, also sounds like she'd be really fun to know.

In the meantime, see OLDBOY. It was really, really fantastic.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Jenipher confessed to me yesterday that she did something really, really embarassing over the weekend. While she and her husband were out, their TiVo, programmed to catch anything Hayden Christiansen is in, "accidentally" recorded a marathon of every episode of this old, cancelled FOX Family show called HIGHER GROUND.

It's apparently a Canadian family drama featuring Joe Lando from DR. QUINN: MEDICINE WOMAN as the head of a Christian boot camp facility that takes in misfit kids. Our hero, Hayden, plays the main misfit, a drug abuser with a secret past and an attitude.

Now, first of all, I don't know why Jenipher wants anything and everything featuring Hayden Christiansen TIVO'ed in the first place, but I was not at all surprised when Jenipher told me that she had not deleted the 30-odd episodes. Instead, she started watching them during her daily treadmill workout, pleased by the soapy nature of the show and its innate Canadian flair, and now she's addicted. The whole thing sounds like DEGRASSI-gone-awry.

"I love how everyone on the show is supposed to be a smoker, but the makers of the show don't want to show kids smoking cigarettes on TV," she told me yesterday. "Thus, everyone's beginning the act of smoking. The cigarettes are in their mouths, but they're unlit. Or someone's about to light a cigarette. But the show's too wholesome to show anyone actually smoke."

She e-mailed me this latest episode synopsis, which barely makes sense:

Hayden (Glue Sniffer/Acid Tripper/Sith Lord) confessed to That Guy From “Dr. Quinn” that he was a victim of sexual abuse by his hot stepmom. He whined and cried incessantly, then threatened to beat up every other student when they looked at or talked to his slutty girlfriend, Druggie/Almost Smoker Who Never Lights Up On TV. Bulimic grew closer to Stereotypical Mexican Who Used To Be In A Gang And Is Now The Only Minority At The Whole School, and they made out in the janitor’s closet. Suicidal Goth Girl remained depressed and in love with ‘Shroom Eater/Bleach Sniffer, who almost drowned when he fell out of a kayak. In the end, everyone learned an important life lesson and remained very, very Canadian.

Jenipher admitted that she found Hayden very cute but said she felt wrong about it, for he's so young.

"I feel so wrong, like I feel like his stepmom on that show," Jenipher admitted. "I mean, I was watching it, thinking, 'Oh, Hayden, I want to be your incestuous stepmom.'"

It's all very PAX-TV. I think Jenipher misses her 90210 fix.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Tales of the cube.

So my friend Lisa just quit her job at my office to go work for our competition, and I guess I'm sorta happy for her. The new girl at the office came over to my cube yesterday and yelled at me because I made a mistake that my manager told me was relatively minor. But the new girl yelled at me. And I'm stuck at my office because I do have more work to do, but I'm also waiting for Edmondson to finish work so that we can go see OLDBOY.

Yesterday was tough. Today was really boring. I'm drowning in paper, and the idea that someone else got to leave here just made me, um, kinda jealous. I know I could leave my job. Both my jobs. Hypothetically.

Of course, when I found out that Lisa was essentially going to do the same job at a different company (and it's impossible for any of us to explain in under five minutes what exactly our job is), I lost my jealousy. If I left this line of work, I'd sincerely want to do something completely different. I'd want to work in the arts or something, do work that I actually enjoyed.

Meanwhile, the class really liked - or seemed to like - the chapters I gave them last week. One person told me that the first chapter featured too much exposition, but a friend at the Margaret Mitchell House told me not to change anything, at this point. She said to just keep writing, to just keep moving the story forward. So that's what I'm going to do. (Of course, since the next chapter's going to be written in the voice of my mother and feature a miracle, it's been a bit more difficult to get my head around it. But, if you haven't read it and aren't in my head, then you don't know what I'm talking about.)

I e-mailed Chris from Freshman English. I saw him when I went back to the puppet show. He was nice to me and asked me what I've been writing lately. Cool guy.

I was mean to Poli Sci Guy about his unpublished novel that he's been "finishing" for about a year. The way he talks about his book, dare I admit it, comes off as obnoxious, so I told him that he probably lacked confidence in his work since he never showed it to anyone. Which, when it comes down to it, is mean of me and unnecessary. (I told Marley what I did. She fears I'll generate mountains of bad karma and not focus on making myself happy. She's right.)

Oh well. It's late. I should leave work now.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Things to do while everyone else sees STAR WARS.

- See OLDBOY and CRASH at the Landmark.
- Go to XPT: XPERIMENTAL PUPPETRY THEATER again at the Center for Puppetry Arts since Larry, Andy and the Davids are going. (And there were a considerable number of cute guys at the Wednesday show.) Oh wait, I'm working.
- See my college friend Mary Claire Dunn in WIZZER PIZZER at 7 Stages.
- Read over the two chapters of my "novel" again, then write another chapter. Then print enough copies for class on Monday.
- Do laundry.
- Do dishes.
- Clean house.
- Finish Season Three of GILMORE GIRLS.
- Try not to work too much at the bookstore.
- Sleep off seeing STAR WARS at midnight a couple nights ago.
- Watch KINSEY's double-disc because, apparently, the cast's sex questionnaire answers are a special feature - which means you get to find just how kinky Peter Sarsgaard really is.
- Rent TARNATION from Movies Worth Seeing.
- Try again to re-read THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE because that movie preview looks cool.
- Reconsider reading THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS. Teen girl lit is really fun to read.
- Try again to read JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL because Chris read it and said it was good. And Lynda at the Margaret Mitchell House said it was good. And Mike read it and said it was good. And David read it and said it was good. And Vickye read it and said it was good. And you've met the author and have an autographed copy of that book.
- Pretend to read that Diana Wynne Jones book that Jenipher bought four years ago, since she's been asking you about that HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE Miyazaki movie.
- Try to find a way to make the ending of my short story, which makes sense to me, work better for other readers before even considering to send it to McSweeney's.
- Buy a gift from Babies R Us for Kacoon's baby shower next week. Make a joke in the card about naming her baby "Sirius Black Coon."
- Find a way to see Vic, maybe an arranged meeting at a bookstore one morning.
- E-mail Miss Gibson again in the hope that she'll check her e-mail while she's in the Dominican Republic, researching her thesis. Mention Papa Doc in e-mail, even though he's Haitian.
- Watch ROBBIE WILLIAMS: LIVE AT THE ALBERT on DVD, based on Mike's suggestion that Robbie Williams has the proper amount of "swagger" to pull off a convincing swing performance.
- Find a way to watch the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational THE MUPPETS' WIZARD OF OZ, which comes on tonight when I'm working. (Lupo says he'll record it. Lupo's my favorite person on Earth.)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Notes on the other stuff I did last night.

REVENGE OF THE SITH is absolutely terrific. My friend Mike loved, loved, loved it. The ending left me in a reverent silence, with my mouth open, for five minutes afterward. I mean, WOW. It's really damn good. The beginning is visually amazing. But the thrills really build momentum after Anakin's conversion to the Dark Side. After that happened, the movie completely had me and wouldn't let me go until that closing shot.

I sold my soul for a pomegranate.

So I went to the new adult puppet show, "XPT: Xperimental Puppetry Theater," last night not knowing what to expect. I didn't know whether the people at the Center for Puppetry Arts had read my review and invited me back so that they could, I guess, string me up - so to speak - for what I wrote earlier about "Anatomy of Melancholy," that pretentious puppet show featuring a Sept. 11 re-enactment.

Somewhere in my head, of course, I knew exactly what I was doing there. I was invited back to the Center to give the "art of adult puppetry," I think it was called, another chance.

And, with its new show, the Center for Puppetry Arts has converted me. I'm all about the puppet love now. Forgive me if I show a glaring lack of cynicism in this review. I promise I've not been brainwashed by the Blue Fairy into believing puppets can become "real." Also, this is not a plugola scandal involving my site and the Center for Puppetry Arts.

I just really liked "XPT." It's a fun, fun show. And, not coincidentally, it's running from tonight until May 22, and you can buy tickets here.

To tell you why I laughed out loud during some of it, I have come up with this list:


1. A green pear doing a sexually-explicit table dance.
2. A Creative Loafing "Karma Cleanser" letter brought to life in a stage production.
3. My friend Chris from Freshman English on a stage with no pants. (Though, for some reason, it didn't surprise me to see him using his "announcer voice" while pretending to be a news anchor.)
4. A re-enactment of a 1986 Russian video game called "Glasnost," featuring a falling hammer and sickle.
5. Frankenstein's monster dressed as a pimp.
6. Animal from THE MUPPET SHOW attacking the new Pope.
7. A puppet learning the hazards of attending a candlelight vigil.
8. Use of the word "humansexual" after a puppet and a woman start making out in front of a bandanna-wearing, angry beaver from Compton.
9. Puppets, puppeteers and a set entirely covered with black-and-white horizontal stripes.
10. A creature with eyes made out of badminton birdies performing a song about loneliness.

Granted, "XPT" is an anthology show of six skits, and some of them work better than others. (The "Rapunzel" skit, which is performed on one side of the stage while the sound engineers mess around on the other side of it in full view, falls flat.)

The first skit, the one with all the stripes, seems equally influenced by Samuel Beckett and Shel Silverstein. It's strange and confusing, but it inevitably works as an interesting piece of stagecraft.

Four of the skits really, really entertained me, and it almost made me wish that I'd bought my own ticket so that I could show these people my support.

But, since my ticket was comped last night, the best that I'll be able to do for the Center for Puppetry Arts is to go back for another show and another. (Their revival of "Avanti, Da Vinci!," one of their biggest adult hits, opens this summer, and I plan to be there.)

A friend of mine told me nine years ago that we in Atlanta didn't know how lucky we were to have the Center for Puppetry Arts, for it can, at times, feature the most innovative, wacky theater. Having seen something edgy and fun like "XPT," I know exactly what he meant.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

On the road.

NOTE: I am dictating this to Lupo while driving on I-85.

Just left "Xperimental Puppetry Theater." It was hilarious. Review to come later. I saw a friend of mine from college with no pants. Will write more later after I wake up from seeing the movie at 3 a.m.

Thank you, Lupo, for typing this. Thank you, Sydney. I am a puppet convert.

Chaos theory.

Last night, since the settings for my VCR haven't been changed since last week's awesome VERONICA MARS finale, I accidentally recorded UPN's new reality show BRITNEY & KEVIN: CHAOTIC. And, yes, after getting home from a visit to Miss Q's with Larry, I watched as much of it as I could stand.

I made it through three commercial breaks.

Britney usually garners a lot of sympathy from me, but the love affair between she and I officially ended last night. Dear God, she's filming the show herself, and that video camera is aimed up her damn nose all the time. All she talked about was sex and how single she was before she met Kevin Federline, the dumbest, redneck, low-rent, white-trash, no-account, no-brained, cute, badly-dressed, backward-ballcapped hanger-on I've ever seen shirtless-and-tattooed on a celebreality show.

Britney, you were single for, what, a year?! Please ... The marriage will, by all accounts, last five years before ending horribly. The two of them will then fade into further obscurity (beyond appearing on a UPN show that's not VERONICA MARS).

The show needs to stop. Clearly, someone forgot that being dumb, obnoxious twentysomethings in love is fantastic ... but watching other dumb, obnoxious twentysomethings in love is annoying.

What to do in the event of an emergency.

The puppet show that I've been invited to by the nice people at the Center for Puppetry Arts is tonight at 8. And I was going to take my friend Brad since he's the one who helped me write the last piece. I figured he could be Statler to my Waldorf again, should the show merit that kind of reaction, and I thought, as well, that it would be, in a way, an odd reward for both of us.

Sydney at the Center for Puppetry Arts has been such a good sport about all this, and she gave me these great seats for tonight's show.

But Brad hasn't confirmed for me yet that he'll be able to go - and, even though I've been trying to communicate with him for weeks now, I only heard from him about it yesterday since he has a fear of phones (yeah, fear of phones), has been sick for weeks and doesn't respond to any not-completely-urgent communication. So I fear he's going to flake out on me.

I e-mailed Sydney that I may be alone tonight, even though I fear that makes me look either incredibly rude or, worse, like the only person on Earth who can't find a date. She wrote back that she hoped I had someone to come because the seats really are damn good.

I've been looking forward to this night for about a week. This whole situation amuses me, except for the part that I'm likely going stag.

Also tonight, I'm seeing STAR WARS: EPISODE III with my friend Mike in Duluth, which should be fun. (I can't take Mike to the puppet show for fear that he'll mock it aloud - like I did at last year's screening of Kevin Smith's JERSEY GIRL, but that's another tale altogether.)

Maybe I can hire an escort to the puppet show.

Oh God, oh God, oh God.

Friday, May 13, 2005


I often make fun of my friend Jenipher's job. She works for the visitors bureau of that county in Illinois where those little girls were stabbed to death this week. In talking to Jenipher for all these years now, I've never been able to exactly determine what her job for the CVB entails. She says she works in "sales," but usually she's just making up fun party signs or hip, happening posters. One time, she arranged a party with a Barbie theme.

Several times I've called her, and, I swear, she's been doing some project with construction paper, popsicle sticks and glitter. One time I asked her if she used the left-handed scissors much for her biggest projects, like arranging gift baskets or tying decorative ribbons.

And Jenipher goes on vacation, like, once a month. She says they're business trips, but I don't think so.

For instance, she just called me a few minutes ago from her car on her way to a "business meeting" to ask me if I knew the full lyrics to Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl."

I asked her if the meetings usually ended with she and her other workers in a pillow fight or with them braiding each others' hair.

She said, "No, we end with manis and pedis."

Jenipher's probably lying about her job. She's probably just living as a housewife and running a Girl Scout troop.

I asked her why she went to college for that job since it sounds like, um, all she ever really needed to know she learned in Kindergarten.

Gynecological tools for the study of mutant women.

Last night, eager to see this movie that's been long out-of-print, I rented DEAD RINGERS from this great, rare video store near me called Movies Worth Seeing.

Jeremy Irons gives this freaky, fantastic performance as twin gynecologists who routinely trade lovers. The movie shows them as they go from being pioneers in medicine to, well, rather disturbed individuals.

It's David Cronenberg, so the movie's more than a little sick. But, wow, it was good. And Irons is fantastic.

They're re-releasing it on DVD next month. It's been out-of-print a couple years.

The reviews are in.

So the reviews of MONSTER-IN-LAW come in, and everyone HATES, HATES, HATES it, which is set to happen to a movie you thought was pretty damn funny when you saw it in a crowd full of enthusiastic people and movie stars.

My mom called me first thing this morning and said, "Did you read the paper??? They gave it a D+!!!"

It's possible that I'm wrong in noting that, of course, the comedy was extremely broad, the scenery is chewed with fervor and the whole thing seemed intentionally ridiculous, and I thought it was funny.

Ah well. See it. Don't see it. Think me stupid.

It's OK. My mom liked it.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Battlefield: Mirth.

When I was a senior in high school and my friend Jenipher was a bored freshman at the University of Georgia, she used to send me interesting clippings from The Red & Black in the mail. She knew that I was interested in journalism, so she would send me the most ridiculous articles from the student paper, which I later worked for, in hope that she could improve my journalism skills.

At one point, she found this classified ad in the paper from the Eva Gabor Wig Company and sent it to me, complete with the attached note: "Have already sent them your address. Expect something soon."

Thus, on the day I graduated high school, a catalog of nicely-styled, silver wigs for women arrived in my mailbox. Since it was the day of my graduation, of course, my entire extended family saw the thing.

"Ooh, you should seriously forward that to your grandmother," my mother said. "The ones she wears aren't nearly as nice."

(A side note, someone recently saw a photo of that grandmother standing with my parents. They asked me how my parents knew Andy Warhol.)

I called Jenipher and laughed about it, telling her that it was a pretty good joke, but I also intended to one day get back at her for leading strangers to think I had some creepy fetish involving elderly women's wigs.

One day, while browsing through the library, I found a pamphlet and questionnaire that I thought Jenipher might find interesting, but I knew she would never fill the survey out herself. It was on Dianetics.

So I answered the questions for her and sent it, complete with her name, address and phone number, to the local Scientology Research Center.

Within weeks from arriving home from Athens, Jenipher received several phone calls from an L. Ron Hubbard-esque guru named Yogi. Seriously, Yogi would call Jenipher's house night after night to tell her all about how Scientology believes that energy waves communicated by aliens traveled through the ground into each human soul - or some such thing.

After about a month, the calls finally stopped, but Jenipher still says that I took that joke too far. But I still think it was funny.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Baby's coming.

Kacoon's scheduled her baby's birth for Monday, which means that next week we will have a brand-spanking-new Baby Coon to talk about and play with. We still don't know what Baby Coon's sex is going to be since it decided to play the Crying Game with the ultrasound photos. (Though I know it's not genetically possible, I think the baby gets that from me.)

I've not seen Kacoon in a month. She was really, really pregnant when I last saw her, so now she's probably got her own ZIP Code. From what she's written about it, though, I see that she hasn't lost her sense of humor. She says her swollen hands have developed carpal tunnel since she's entered her last trimester.

I think they've chosen to ignore all my old suggestions for the name of Baby Coon, which means that it'll stand a better chance of surviving the playground.

I love Baby Coon. This is going to rule. I mean, it's better than a new Harry Potter book. This time next week, I'll get to drive to the hospital and see a new baby, which I'll eventually get to teach sarcasm and the joys of shopping.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I should re-medicate.

OK, so if I'm mildly concerned that the 17-page document that I sent out in the middle of the workday didn't garner an immediate response from my very busy friends who all have jobs, then I'm clearly insane, need to get a grip, snap back to reality and what-not, right?

Yeah, that's what I thought, too.

I'm always nervous sending out my fiction, though, because I always think that my fiction (and this is a very, very rough draft) will be considered bad.

My friend Chris told me that, to take my mind off stuff, I should try to write a novella. And this is what I came up with.

If you didn't get a copy of anything I sent out and would like one, I guess you could e-mail me.

Friday, May 06, 2005

So what have you done since the breakup?

It's almost two months since my three-month-long relationship broke up. It's been about a month since I last spoke to my ex-boyfriend. It's been a week since I last hooked up with someone, though, really, that was nothing.

I've been attending my writing class, working at the bookstore, worrying about money, working on a short story and trying to keep busy around the city. I'm trying to keep my mood up. Things have been lively. (I'm actually still off my crazy pills, trying to maintain an edge while not becoming too annoying.)

I've been reading a little. I've been trying to write paragraphs that are longer than one sentence. I've been hanging out with some friends. I've spent some time with family.

The apartment's messy again. I'll get around to cleaning it one of these days. (Maybe someone should come check on me. I'll clean it if I have visitors.)

Things are good, I guess. Yeah, things are good.

I'm not babysitting some arrested-development guy with Roberto Benigni's attention span and energy level a lot of the time. I'm not sick over the love that was lost. I try, at those moments of weakness, to remind myself that the ex could really get on my nerves. There were times when we were terrible together.

The apartment needed to be messy for me to see that, I guess. I suppose that's one way to justify it. I could claim that the dishes in my sink are a sign of progress.

PETA, G-CAPP, J-Lo, Jane, Mom and Me

My mom picked me up from my office at 4:30 yesterday, and we immediately headed down toward the Fox for "Monster-in-Law." I asked Mom which famous people she wanted to see, and she said "Ted Turner," which I personally didn't understand - though I guess Mom likes money.

We parked the same place we always do, walked the short distance we always do and ended up in front of that grand awning once again. A woman walked by my mother with a neatly groomed, purple-painted poodle in tow.

My mom told the lady her dog looked really cute and asked her where she got the dog's paint job done.

I asked the lady a tongue-twister.

"You're walking that purple poodle past the PETA people?"

The lady said she wasn't with PETA and, of course, she would walk the dog past them. The PETA protestors were stationed right by the old Will Call window, to the left of the cordoned-off red carpet area.

I held on to the shoulder of Mom's neat, black pinstriped suit (technically riding her coattails, I guess) as we fought our way past the bloody animal photos. The guy holding the plastic model of the bleeding, skinned puppy dog caught my mom's attention, but she quickly shuffled past him. (She kept mispronouncing the group "petta," instead of giving the name a long "e." And she kept telling me that "those PETTA people are psychos.")

The real Will Call window was toward the back, through hundreds of people, but Mom's a trooper. Mom led the way through because she's short and could shoulder-pad her way past ladies in couture without apology. She was basically unmoved by sights of glitter, though plentiful cleavage was displayed throughout the crowded gallery.

My mom kept watching for crowds and camera crews, though, trying to see if she could catch a glimpse of someone famous on the red carpet over her shoulder. We never saw anyone out there, thanks to the hordes of people congregated around any sign of lights-camera-action.

We got to the real Will Call window, tried to discern if there was any real line there. I accidentally stepped on a woman's open-toed, sequined shoe, and Mom and I finagled our way in front of her.

"Sorry," I said to the lady.

"It's my fault," she said back. "I put my foot under yours. You didn't put yours on top of mine."

Another lady in line with us, wearing this puffy, turquoise jacket and this plastered, fake, real-estate-agent smile, was sent away by the ticket booth for not having her credit card. I loved that.

Once we got our tickets, we headed directly for the door of the theater.

"I just want to get in and sit down," Mom said. "I don't really care about seeing J-Lo. I just like the Fox."

So we went inside, and there was breathing room. Instead of lingering in the lobby to catch a glimpse of Dallas Austin or the beautiful Michael Vartan (who, I found out later, had to work on ALIAS and conspicuously wasn't there ... although I thought ALIAS already wrapped for the season), Mom and I found our aisle seats. Then, we headed to the lobby, grabbed some refreshments and sat back down, gabbing about what people were wearing as they walked by.

"I can see right through her dress," Mom said silently about a random lady who limped by while nursing her ankle.

One of the ushers helped that lady, telling the injured limper that she could lessen the pain of leg cramps by pinching the divot just under her nose. The usher said that home remedy was in Ann Landers. Mom and I misunderstood and almost offered the cramp lady a napkin for her apparent nosebleed.

When the seats finally filled and the program began, Jane Fonda came out from behind the red curtain on the stage, looking really good in this white jacket and ruffled gown. There was much applause, particularly when Jane said that this crowd was larger than the L.A. premiere's crowd and when Jane called Atlanta her hometown.

Our seats were OK, so Mom, wearing her glasses, got a pretty good look at Jane's outfit.

"She looks AMAZING," said my finally star-struck mother. "I wish I'd brought my digital camera."

When Jennifer Lopez came out in this short, pink-looking dress, there was more applause, of course. And I got a little excited because, as I admitted a couple days ago, I'm a fan. And, even though she was on a stage and I was in the aisle, it was really cool because, I dunno, she was right there.

Then they trotted out all the famous people, each of them getting applause - though there were audible boos when Jane announced that Michael Vartan wasn't there.

The 20-minute G-CAPP speech and presentation, which I figured would happen, kinda annoyed my mom. She just wanted to see "Monster-in-Law," not hear about some pregnant 13-year-old girl who made the Honor Roll.

"If that girl had been really smart, she wouldn't have gotten pregnant," my mom said.

"Mom, she's 13," I reasoned. "She's a kid, and she just made some really bad choices."

Mom rolled her eyes during the film about G-CAPP's housing initiatives for teen mothers.

"Why don't they show us some girls who actually listened to the G-CAPP arguments on safe sex and abstinence and didn't get pregnant?" Mom asked.

"Because their stories aren't as visual," I told her. "It's a documentary."

After the documentary, of course, the movie started. And, during the opening credits, one of the PETA people who'd managed to get inside yelled out something like "KILLER!" every time Jennifer Lopez appeared onscreen. Thankfully, the ushers put an end to that quickly.

Jane and her two dates, Big Boi and Dallas Austin, actually came into the theater during the opening credits and, I believe, watched the whole movie. Or, at least, most of it. (I figure that, once you're in a movie, you manage to see it in parts about three-dozen times before the actual premiere, so I didn't actually expect the stars to, you know, watch the movie.)

Since it was Jane's big comeback, though, and it was her fundraiser, I guess she felt it necessary to watch "Monster-in-Law." Thank God she was there, though, because her scenery-chewing, over-the-damn-top, broadly comic performance is HILARIOUS.

My mom said herself, "I never much agreed with her politics, but Jane Fonda is a GREAT actress. That was one of the best movies I've seen in a long time, and she should get an Oscar for it. She stole that whole movie. And I liked J-Lo, too. I thought she was sweet."

Maybe it was because I was in a good crowd (which I understand can influence the experience), but "Monster-in-Law" came off as a really, really funny movie. There were about a dozen laugh-out-loud moments, and it's the best Jennifer Lopez movie I've seen in a long time. And you get more fight scenes (real and imagined) than I thought possible. And Wanda Sykes, though her asides were planted a few times too many, has great delivery. Michael Vartan, sadly, doesn't get much to do besides look really good.

Mom walked out of the theater and called the whole experience a blast. Even though we didn't see Ted Turner or Michael Vartan in person.

It was lots and lots of fun - stepping on toes, watching PETA go crazy, getting to see celebrities and also getting to laugh out loud alongside my mother.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Puppetgate continues.

Apparently, this morning at the Center for Puppetry Arts, Sydney, the perfectly nice official who e-mailed me, received a read-out of where all the traffic on their website came from last month.

An obscene amount of hits (like, 238) came from my site, which she said is usually the amount of hits she gets from Yahoo!, so she checked out my site to see what could cause that amount of commotion. That's how she found my review of THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY and decided to contact me.

I called her. She said, on the phone, "Oh hi, hold on a second ... YOU GUYS, THAT GUY FROM 'RILEY MCCARTHY' IS ON THE PHONE!!!"

She's invited me to the staff preview of their new adult, local-artist show, "XPT: Xperimental Puppet Theater," on May 18 at 8 p.m., and I have agreed to go. It should be a lot of fun, actually. (I wonder if Brad wants to go.)

Beyond that, she said "Melancholy" appealed to their female demographic because it featured some beautiful puppets and an entire female cast of puppeteers. She figured that's why the show worked for those of the X-chromosome persuasion.

Sydney said the men in the audience that she spoke to, though, gave her an earful about practically all the stuff mentioned in my "review" conversation with Brad.

I didn't get a chance to ask Sydney if that Judi Dench narrator lately was local or where she got her fabulous "Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" cape.

Oh my God, best e-mail ... EVER!!!

This polite, hilarious note just showed up in my Inbox. I thought you'd all enjoy it.

Riley –

I really enjoyed your review of the Anatomy of Melancholy! It was well written, hilarious and made everyone in the marketing department laugh. My only concern about your review is that you may have developed an inaccurate opinion of the art of puppetry because of a show that isn’t as representative of the art as we’d like. We found that this show was more popular with our female demographic than our male demographic for several reasons, and because of this I can’t help but wonder if you would have a more favorable view of our center if you were to attend a different show. We do have another adult show coming up this month called “XPT: Xperimental Puppetry Theater” that I would be more than happy to get you tickets to. Keep in mind that this show is comprised of several mini-shows written and performed by local, young puppeteers. It’s crazy, funny, ridiculous, offensive (sometimes) and truly an experience. If you think you’d be more suited for a show later in our season that’s a little less unpredictable, I’m sure I can arrange that as well. Either way, we’d love to have you back at our Center and reviewing our shows (whether you like them or not)…and this time, you can sit where ever you’d like. Thanks again and I’m looking forward to meeting you!

Sydney F. Ellis
Audience Development Manager
Center for Puppetry Arts

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Live from the red carpet.

In 1967, while on her high school senior trip to New York, my mother went with her graduating class to a premiere screening of Jane Fonda's "Barefoot in the Park" at Radio City Music Hall, or at least she told me she did - and I don't have any reason not to believe her. She talked to me about how the Rockettes danced, what the theater was like, and I always thought that was a pretty cool memory, one that I wished I had.

I've known about the G-CAPP premiere for "Monster-in-Law" for a couple weeks now, and I'm going. Jennifer Lopez (I admit I'm a fan) and Marc Anthony will be there. Jane Fonda, of course, is an organizer, and she'll be there, though I already met her when I worked at CNN five years ago. Wanda Sykes is supposed to be there. The film's director Robert Luketic, who is WAY cute and completely gay, is an organizer. And, thankfully, Michael Vartan, one of the most beautiful men on Earth, will be there. (It'll be all I can do not to scream out "VAUGHN!!!" at him, like a girl.)

The G-CAPP premieres always sound like fun - particularly since Fonda get all the stars of the featured movie to Atlanta, but I've never been to one before. This year, though, I thought it might be cool to venture down by myself and check out how accessible the movie stars were and/or if it was any fun. There was a discount offer on tickets, so I was going to buy one. But I didn't do that.

I bought two, and my mom - with her "Barefoot in the Park" memories - is coming with me to the Fabulous Fox tomorrow night. (Yeah, I know it's dorky to call the Fox that, but whatever ...) I figured this was a better Mother's Day gift than the latest Mary Higgins Clark book, though I should probably buy her that, too.

The movie looks decently funny (even though my friend Edmondson and I have a rule that most movies starting with the letter "M" are bad). I hope "Monster-in-Law" marks Jennifer Lopez's return to actual acting (a la her brilliant turn in "Out of Sight") and not one where she works off her persona. (Even if the movie's terrible, though, going to the Fox with Mom is always fun.)

LATER: Marley just told me not to forget my PETA poster.