THINGS I DID ON MY DAY OFF

THINGS I DID ON MY DAY OFF

  • Marveled at how may people in Los Angeles don’t have day jobs and how many have beagles. Those are two classes of people of whom I am very jealous.

  • Placed a call to the phone company, which started as a cordial call, then morphed into a mildly annoyed call when I was transfered the first time, then an angry call when I was transferred the second time, then a red-faced, snappish, veins-bursting belligerent call when I was transferred the thrid time, then, finally, a grateful call when I was connected with someone who knew what the hell she was talking about and who solved my problem for me. Thanks, Mindy.
  • Watched a man wheel up a large blue curbside-style recycling bin to the trash can at the gas station. He picked out the empty cans and bottles and crushed each one before putting it into his official City of West Hollywood-issued container. His possession of such a container and his meticulous crushing of recyclables made me wonder whether he was a homeless guy or some concerned college student doing his part to save the environment, until I saw him take a sip from one of the discarded water bottles. I had my answer, though, sadly, it was not the one I was hoping for.
  • Spoke to my “agent” for the first time in months. It was predictably pointless. She insisted that she just drove past the Groundlings building and that it was now a designer clothing boutique. (Though I haven’t driven past the Groundlings building in at least four days, I am fairly confident that this is not true.)
  • Had lunch at Topz and actually scored a parking space on the street. While I was inside, they played “Something Got Me Started” by Simply Red. That made me almost as happy as the Aero-Fries. I’d give it all up for you. Yes I would!
  • Listened to the launch of Air America Radio on 1580AM Los Angeles, which was preceded by two Spanish-speaking men signing off to their listeners for the last time. It sounds unlikely, but I swear their last word before their signal cut off was “Ciao!”
  • Spent almost as much time working on this site as I did writing, which was supposed to be the point of today.
  • Forgot to read my friend’s script, which was the one thing I was really supposed to do.
  • Thought about packing for my trip to New Orleans tomorrow, but did not actually pack.

RIDING THE TROLLEY

RIDING THE TROLLEY

It’s always fun to have guests in town, because you get to do all the things people from out of town think Los Angelenos do all the time, like go to the beach and stalk celebrities. In actuality, I haven’t stepped foot on a beach in almost a year. Fine, so I stalk celebrities on a regular basis, but the only time I ever bought an actual star map was when my sister was in town. Unfortunately, the map we bought seemed to date from the 70′s, and the only homes we got to see belonged to Joyce DeWitt and Charo (who I believe now actually lives on a cruise ship).

For the last few days, Drew and I have been hosting Drew’s brother Peter and Peter’s girlfriend Veronica. I had to miss their trip to the beach, but it was fun to take them to mankind’s greatest creation, the Grove, and see it through virgin eyes. Even they could tell it would be lame to ride the trolley (which travels the shortest distance in all of trolleydom), and that made me sad. I had spent all morning rehearsing what I’d say if anyone I knew caught me. “Oh, this is Drew’s brother and his girlfriend. They wanted to ride the trolley. Can you imagine???” Alas, if you can’t ride the trolley with out-of-towners, when can you ride it?

Peter and Veronica, who hail from Philly, wanted very much to take advantage of the nice weather by eating outdoors. Drew and I had a hard time thinking of a place to take them. Not that we never eat outdoors, but we just don’t tend to classify restaurants that way, as eating outdoors is something we take for granted and we never make a special trip to an eatery just for its sidewalk seating. (We eventually settled on Swingers.)

The other fun thing about the visit was spending time with a family member of Drew’s. It’s always fascinating to meet the family of people you know really well. A lot of times, they can’t help seeming a little like deformed versions of each other. Peter looks as if someone tried to make a life-sized doll of Drew and messed up some of the important details, or like the composite sketch a police artist will draw up someday if Drew is ever a fugitive from justice. It looks just a little taller, the hair’s a little shorter and a little darker, and the eyebrows are bushier, but if that sketch aired on the local news, our neighbors would probably call the Eyewitness Tip Line and rat Drew out.

I always wanted a little brother, so seeing Drew and Peter together made me just a bit jealous. The little in-jokes they share. The way Drew gets to spoil Peter with spa treatments and sushi and hearty helpings of cruel brotherly teasing. The vast catalogue of memories they dredge up when they want to embarrass each other. Brothers get to be real jerks to each other, and there are few things in nature more beautiful than a noogie or a good-natured, button-pushing impression of someone you love. Thanks, Peter and Veronica, for the “Drew Megamix” of Drew’s memorable quotes.

Now that the next season of “The Real World” is filming in Philadelphia again, it looks like Drew will be going there on business someday soon, and, assuming I’m able to join him, that means that we get to be the guests and let them show us around their city. It’ll be fun to hang out with them again and get a look around their hometown and have them show us all the things they love to do. We’ll make them take us to the Liberty Bell, and you better believe if there’s a Liberty Bell trolley, I’m gonna get their asses on it.

SO THIS IS WHAT FOOT TASTES LIKE

SO THIS IS WHAT FOOT TASTES LIKE

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an entry about attending a book signing for a book called “Join Me” by Danny Wallace (which you can see in the recommendation column on the right). Well, guess who read my entry and posted a comment about it? Danny Wallace himself. Consider me humbled.

Of course, I didn’t think anyone read this blog, let alone guys who live on other continents and write books. I certainly never meant to hurt anyone’s feelings, let alone someone I genuinely admired, so, with egg dripping down my face, I decided to write to him in response to his comment in hopes of doing a little fence-mending. And just to clarify my feelings about Mr. Wallace, his book, and the event, here’s what I wrote to him:

Hey, Danny:

I just read your comment on my blog. I really hope what I wrote didn’t offend you. (I just reread it myself, and I do think some of it may have come across as a bit harsh.) To be honest, I’m a little embarrassed — and at the same time flattered — that you read what I wrote about your book and the signing in Pasadena.

Just to be perfectly clear: I don’t really think writers are under any obligation to take their fans out for madcap alcohol-fueled misadventures when they meet them. Quite the opposite. I meant for my piece to be as much a bit of self-deprecation about my own out-of-whack expectations as anything else. To put things in perspective, my entire readership could probably carpool to the next Karmageddon in one mid-sized vehicle, so my intention was never to turn masses of people against you — nor was it to send you a personal message. If I were going to write you personally, I would’ve focused on the nice things — we Americans are more polite than we sometimes come across on our blogs.

I hope that amid all my obnoxiousness, my compliments came through as well. As you can see, I still have your book up in my recommendations section. I really enjoyed reading it, and I’m happy to promote it. You’re a terrific writer, and I hope I convinced at least a few people to pick up a copy of “Join Me” for themselves. I had a great time at the signing, too, and I’m really glad I went. You’re a very natural and entertaining speaker, and the fact that most of the crowd didn’t seem familiar with the book and yet walked out buying copies proves that you more than did your job that night. You entertained us, and you sold your book — which is two things more than most authors probably do at their signings.

I’m glad you had a good time in America. And I’d like to remain a proud joinee, if you’ll have me. Next time you’re in LA, feel free to drop me a line.

And I promise, the beer’s on me.

Cheers back atcha!

Jerry

P.S. I don’t want you to think I’m the kind of guy who says one thing on his site and then writes you privately and kisses your ass, so I’ve posted this letter on my site so that anyone who read the last piece can read this, too.

Though I may have given the impression that Danny’s signing was disappointing, I think I can accurately say that nobody else in attendance seemed at all disappointed — well, except maybe for the Long-Haired Guy. But I don’t blame Danny for not inviting him out for a beer, as he seemed a little weird.

Of course, with my luck, Long-Haired Guy probably reads this blog, too.

No hard feelings, Long-Haired Guy.

HOW MY MIND WORKS, CONTINUED

HOW MY MIND WORKS, CONTINUED

About half an hour ago, I started having a strong craving for Taco Bell, which was weird because I haven’t eaten there, or even thought about eating there, in a long, long time.

Then I realized my craving started around the same time I started checking the basketball scores. See, I don’t know anything about basketball and really don’t care much about it, but I join my friend’s NCAA pool every year because gambling is fun, and if I win I get to go, “Ha, ha, ha! I beat all the jocks!” (Quietly to myself, of course. I’m still scared of jocks.)

Using a complicated formula involving team rankings, my assumptions about what picks other people would make, a possibly ignorant theory that any school with Michigan or Texas in its name is good at sports, and the words “eenie” and “meenie”, I picked UConn to win it all.

And now that there’ve been all kinds of crazy upsets, if UConn’s the champ, I have a pretty good shot at winning the pool. (It helps when half the pool went to Stanford and Stanford loses in round 2.)

So I safecrack into my subconscious and plumb around a bit, and I remember that the time that I visited a friend of mine at UConn, oh so many years ago, it was in a little hick town and there was nowhere to eat, and then he said, “Oh, wait, the Taco Bell just opened!” So we went there, and it was the shabbiest Taco Bell ever, and their dining room was constructed of plastic lawn furniture, which is sort of beside the point, but it was kind of sad.

And even though I know that the reason I stopped going to Taco Bell is that the last time I went there, they didn’t wear gloves while they made my food, I still might pick up a chalupa on the way home tonight.

Go Huskies!

(I think that’s what their mascot is.)

Update: UConn won, the Huskies are indeed their mascot(s?), and ultimately, after much deliberation, I passed on the chalupa.

GOD, HE’S NUTS

GOD, HE’S NUTS

As I write this, some kook is arguing before the Supreme Court that the words “under God” should be taken out of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Don’t get me wrong. He’s not a kook because he believes in the separation of church and state. He’s just a kook. And for those of us who agree with him, it’s just not fair. I’ve been offended by that part of the pledge since I was in high school, and that was before I knew it was a relic of the McCarthy era, and back when I still believed in God myself. I couldn’t help feeling like a school where I learned about freedom of religion in fourth period but where I was made to acknowledge God in homeroom was being hypocritical. Now the issue is finally coming before the Supreme Court, and an issue like this, as we all know, only gets one chance in a generation, if that.

And Mike Newdow, the guy who’ll be arguing it before the Court, is hardly the ideal man for the job. He’s a guy who doesn’t have custody of the daughter whose welfare he’s so concerned about. A guy who claims to have his daughter’s best interests at heart, but who’s shown no shame about savaging the girl’s Christian mother in the press. A guy who’s never argued before the Supreme Court, but who insists on arguing the case himself. (The Supreme Court doesn’t usually allow someone so inexperienced to handle a case before them; they made an exception in his case.) Still don’t think he’s nuts? Then buy his CD for $17.89 (get it?) from his official website and hear the folk — and, yes rap — songs he’s recorded about his plight, including “Establi-Rap” and “(Won’t You Play Fair) Bill O’Reilly”.

I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in Hell. Hell is what will break loose if this guy wins, just like it did with the Texas sodomy case and the gay marriage issue and everything else I believe in. And I know that it wouldn’t exactly help the Democrats for the separation of church and state to become an issue in an election year. In many ways, the timing of this issue couldn’t be worse. But we don’t get to choose the timing for these things any more than we get to pick the people who represent us.

Whenever I hear someone expressing embarrassment (or worse) about the decadence of gay pride parades and how it doesn’t send America the best message about gays blah blah blah, I have to remind them that it was drag queens who rioted at Stonewall. Without them and the in-your-face troublemakers of ACT-UP, there wouldn’t be a parade at all. We’re lucky they let us march. No, I don’t think the guys in the assless chaps “represent” me, but until very recently, the only image of homosexuality “respectable” gays like me ever gave America was the front of a closet door, so in a way, I owe those greased-up leather daddies a lot of gratitude.

After all, it’s not like I’ve brought any cases before the Supreme Court lately. I’m sure other people feel the same way about the Pledge as Mike Newdow, but this guy was willing to put everything he has on the line for it. He’s getting death threats, he’s spending tons of his own time and money, and even people like me who agree with him are calling him a kook. And at a time when watching Jesus get the shit beaten out of him on screen is the #1 national pastime, you’d have to be crazy to bring a religious issue before the Supreme Court.

Mike Newdow is clearly crazy. And for that, I salute him.

D & E are A.O.K.

D & E are A.O.K.

Well, I finally got up the nerve to ask Person D about the wedding gift my friends and I got him and his wife back in September. To recap: a group of us chipped in to get them a big ass gift certificate to Best Buy, which I slipped inside a card and personally handed them in a parking garage about two weeks after the wedding. A couple of months later, Person D started talking about some expensive purchases he planned to make at Best Buy, which would’ve been a great time to thank me for the gift, or so I thought. Instead, he said he’d be buying his stuff with some Christmas cash from his grandma. Huh? Whuh?! A-hibbly-jibbly-whozitt?!?!?

Suddenly, I felt like I was living in a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode. Technically, newlyweds have a year to send their thank-yous, so I didn’t want to be rude and bring it up. But I couldn’t help thinking back to Jennifer’s hairbrush in the Family Ties TV movie where they went to England, and thereby picturing some bizarre string of events involving a missing microfilm which was hidden inside an identical envelope that might’ve caused the gift certificate to be stolen by some bumbling European spies, who then treated themselves to a Tivo and an Matrix box set.

More months go by, the thank you still doesn’t come, and my co-gifters keep asking me, “Have you heard anything yet?” It’s still within the socially acceptable year, but I’m getting more and more nervous, and I finally ask myself, “What would Larry David do?” So I called D and got ready for the awkward hilarity that was sure to ensue.

D’s response was, “I knew it!” I’m pretty sure “it” meant that he’d been wracked with guilt for months about not getting those cards out, but I couldn’t help feeling like I’d just lost a battle of wills wherein he was hoping I would cave and call before he caved and thanked. Anyway, the point is that they got the gift, they’re very appreciative, and they feel EXTREMELY guilty about not thanking me/us sooner.

And at this point, that’s the best thank you I could imagine.

WHINE COUNTRY

WHINE COUNTRY

Tonight’s American Idol theme is country music. That’s all I need to post my picks. Expect lots of complaining, at least three renditions of “Crazy”, and more goofy footwork from J.P.L. (who I’m guessing will do either “Friends in Low Places” or “Boot Scoot Boogie” — but hey, those are just about the only country songs I know). And definitely expect me to fast forward past Steven Cojocaru’s fashion makeovers — ugh! Are they really calling him a “style expert”? Among people who outrank him as a style expert are Bobby Trendy, Jennifer Hudson’s sister, my grandma and (just barely) Carson from Queer Eye.

I also predict that John Stevens will do Johnny Cash, Diana will give the night’s strongest performance, LaToya will disappoint, Fantasia, even out of her element, will still be really great, and Matt Rogers will channel Garth Brooks in an embarrassingly over-the-top personal hoe-down and yet survive another week — damn him.

Bottom 3: George Huff, Camile Velasco (the night’s worst performance)

Sent packing: Jennifer Hudson (I like her, but her country will probably fall as flat as her “Imagine”.)

A WEEKEND I’LL NEVER FORGET

A WEEKEND I’LL NEVER FORGET

Drew came up with the perfect theme to summarize this past weekend, but I honestly can’t remember what it was. And that’s appropriate, I guess, since we started off Friday night by seeing “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. I can’t recommend this movie enough, not only because it’s great, but because seeing it with your boy/girlfriend-spouse-legal partner opens up a whole new realm of good-natured teasing for you and your special friend. Drew and I spent most of the weekend threatening each other by saying “Don’t make me erase you!” and reliving our own memories and imagining how the background components would be wiped away with high-tech effects. “Remember the waiter eating our leftover cake at the Grove? Whoosh! He’s gone!”

Unfortunately, some things are destined to fade away, like my blissful memories of that first night at the new Target just three short weeks ago. I went back for the first time since then, and it just wasn’t the same. The floors, once spotless, are scuffed. The parking garage, once crowded, is now impenetrable. (Big ups to my boy for finding the secret back entrance nobody else knows about. For you locals, enter on Formosa, then turn down the alley. But shhhhh! It’s our little secret, okay?) And the clientele, once featuring Sandra Bernhard and Janet Charlton of the Star, now features the same ruthless aisle-hogging cart-pushers who inhabit every Target. Still no word on the opening date for Best Buy, but given the overcrowding of the garage, I’m almost hoping it never comes. Sad but true.

On Saturday, we saw “Dawn of the Dead”. I’m not a big fan of horror movies, but in this one, the two scariest things happened after the credits rolled. First, I accidentally brushed my hand against the straw in somebody’s soda, which for me is roughly equivalent to what rolling around in rat puke and medical waste for an hour would be for most people. (Don’t look for me on “Fear Factor” anytime soon.) Then, on the way out, we ran into Drew’s ex-boyfriend. Thankfully, he didn’t try to feast on my brain, but he did have that look in his eye.

Then, on Sunday we did just about the dumbest thing you can do, which is to go to an animal adoption fair when you have no intention of adopting an animal. I realized that I’m almost as picky about pets as I am about men. Sure, there were plenty of cute mutts, but I never quite had my heart stolen. Or maybe I just had my wall up — one more reason why I discovered dogs are a lot like men for me. Drew, on the other hand, fell in love with every pooch we passed, especially Topper, a blind English Spring Spaniel. He even practiced saying Topper’s first name with his last name. That night, I discovered Drew looking for Topper on the rescue organization’s website, and for the first time that day, my heart melted.

That’s one memory I’m really going to miss when I have it zapped away someday.

DEAF EARS

DEAF EARS

Benefit of having a blog, #1,842: when someone doesn’t get your joke, you have another audience to try it out on…

Me: Hi, I’m calling about the non-disclosure agreement Kevin signed. I was wondering if you could fax us a copy of it.

Kevin’s assistant: What is this again?

Me: It’s a non-disclosure agreement.

KA: Kevin hasn’t told me anything about that.

Me: Well, I’m glad to hear that. He’s not supposed to disclose it.

(crickets, awkward pause that lasts all eternity)

KA: Yeah, okay. Well, I’ll ask him about it.

Me: Okay. Thanks.

It’s pathetic how much I’m giggling just as I type this.

KOO KOO K’KOO KOO ROO

KOO KOO K’KOO KOO ROO

What I wanted to say to the creepy guy who came up to me when I was in line:

“Well, yes, I am interested in Lasik surgery. Tell me more. You see, like most people, I’ve been hearing about Lasik surgery for years, but I didn’t want to entrust my freaking eyes to just anyone. No, I’ve been waiting to be accosted in a fast food restaurant by a mumbly, unshaven weirdo with a pony tail who apparently approaches everyone he sees wearing glasses with his brilliant sales pitch. Since you’re clearly not smart enough to see the obvious flaw in your marketing strategy, maybe I should clue you in to the fact that I’m being sarcastic. So go tell your brother-in-law or whoever actually does the surgery that maybe he should find a better way to score clients than to offer every freak in his address book a finder’s fee.”

What I actually said:

“Uh, no thanks.”

What I wanted to say to the employee who got stuck cleaning up the plastic condiment cups that the customer in front of me knocked on the floor:

“You know what, it’s really not sanitary to put something that you picked up off the ground back on the counter for customers to use. That’s why I took the ones that I helped you collect (you’re welcome, by the way) and threw them in the trash. Maybe you’re thinking the five second rule applied and since you picked them up right away, they were still sanitary. Nope. One of the ones I threw out had a hair in it. No joke. Putting them back wasn’t cool. Is it the money? Are you worried about wasting the 35 cents or whatever those two dozen plastic cups and lids cost? Well, here’s 35 cents. No, take it. I insist. Just throw the cups away. Please?”

What I actually said:

Nothing.