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Showing posts from October, 2006

where's a duck bill when you need one?

Okay, so the scary clown has not yet begun to shoot blood from his eyeballs as I had hoped, but he is now tied—by the neck—to the lamppost with what looks like a periwinkle unitard. In the interest of better clown posture, I guess. I’ll probably stop by that store today to see if I can find a cheap, minimal, last-minute costume. The other day AK described the following conversation with her coworker, and I could relate: AK: I’m trying to come up with a cheap, minimal, last-minute Halloween costume. Coworker: Alright, let’s think about what we have to work with. What do you have in the costume section of your closet? AK: [Blank stare.] Coworker: You know, your old clothes and stuff. What do you do with your old clothes? AK: I give them away. Coworker: [Shaking head.] Before you give anything away, you should always ask yourself, “Could I use this as part of a costume?” This mo rn ing I checked the shelves above my closet to see if maybe I had a costume s

three movie reviews

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Most of my week in New York was kind of…worky. Breaks included: 1) getting food poisoning and 2) seeing some good movies. I’ll spare you the details of the former. The Prestige : Nicole S. (of NYC, not to be confused with Nicole K. of LA—although, interestingly, they both have sisters named Vanessa) and Bram and I went to Nicole’s favorite theater on 33 rd St. , the one with the good chicken tenders. I was still a little nauseous—and still a vegetarian—so I ordered the so-much-more-stomach-settling nachos, and settled in to see Christian Bale play an obsessive magician competing against his fellow obsessive magician (Hugh Jackman) in tu rn -of-the-century London. Given that I love Christian Bale (especially in tu rn -of-the-century period pieces ) and anything that vaguely resembles the gritty, creepy, fun-house glamour of an old-fashioned traveling circus, this movie didn’t have to do much to win me over. In the nearly perfect opening sequence, we see Hugh Jackman’s c

there's no such thing as baby weight in manhattan beach

After 11 and a half years, people from my high school are finally planning our 10-year reunion . I had made up my mind to go: I was already in town, I was curious, I’d made a decent life for myself and I thought it would be nice to run into one of the four people I’d like to catch up with who aren’t on MySpace . Then I read the part of the Evite that said “Send $55 per person to….” Then again, I thought, they’ll have to join MySpace eventually , right? Around this time, I also stumbled across the MySpace page of a fellow Mira Costa Mustang who’d recently had a baby. She smiled up from her profile pic, looking blonde and radiant, sans an ounce of baby weight. Her gorgeous daughter was in one arm, and her designer leather diaper bag was in the other. I thought, Do I want to pay $55 to be reminded more viscerally than ever of what Manhattan Beach is like? I looked at the “No” section of the Evite. The people who had declined so far had included comments like, “Sorry to miss it, bu

what you dream after eating veggie sausage and onions for dinner

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I was traveling for work (seemed like some sort of Central Valley town, somewhere with a lot of strip malls and open space) and, coming out of a meeting, I wandered across the street and into a warehousey-looking store. It tu rn ed out to be a giant thrift store that catered to drag queens, especially drag queens of the slightly tragic, less-than-fabulous variety. They type more likely to wear polyester than sequins. They had to live on the DL in this town, and it showed in their shoulders. I looked around for something to buy, and was repeatedly drawn to quiet, casual clothes. Cotton shirts. Jeans. I thought, Wow, I’m such a dyke. I befriended the owners, this cool drag-queen couple, and as I was drawn further into the store, it lost its Salvation Army vibe and became more and more magical. There were twinkly Christmas lights. Steamer trunks full of silk slips. Wine and music. One of the owners gave me an apple, and when I bit into it, it was full of chocolate.

the therapeutic powers of lagomorphs and carbohydrates

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I’ve been in a bad mood for the past 36 hours or so because I’m at the stage of novel-writing where I hate my draft so much that I want to erase my name from the title page and replace it with my worst enemy’s. Family Genus Species , a novel by George W. Bush. But then I look at pictures of bunnies and bread and I feel better (thanks Jay Jao and Patricia).

by halloween, he’ll have started to shoot blood from his eyeballs

The balloons that were previously tied to the scary clown ’s mannequin wrist have all popped, leaving eight or ten dangling strings attached to shreds of rubber. Basically it looks like a bunch of giant spiders have repelled down from his Madonna-glove hand on fat webs.

augäpfel mit ihrem bier?

Perhaps almost as important and informative as fictional has-been movie stars are the current projects of my real live artist friends: 1) My friend Nicole just co-authored (with Mike Szymanski) The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe . I haven’t gotten my copy yet, but I did take one of its quizzes on http://www.guidebi.com/ . I learned that based on the foods I like (eggplant, pancakes, curly fries), I am apparently bisexual. 2) My friends-of-AK’s-friends J.P. and Jennifer Jordan Day collaborated on the online Halloween advent calendar-slash-art exhibit Gothtoberfest . I learned how to make pumpkin pizza and say “Do you want eyeballs with your beer?” in German.

why yes, i am a 60-year-old gay man

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As I was driving back from the San Diego City Book Fair this weekend, listening to the Sunset Boulevard stage musical soundtrack (featuring the sexy-voiced Kevin Anderson ), I had an epiphany: Norma Desmond has called my office dozens of times. She’s also approached my organization’s booth at lots of book fairs, asking questions like, “Do you want to hear me recite my epic science fiction poem?” But for the grace of sometime-stardom, Norma would be one of the loony minions who show up at public events in search of fresh blood to inflict their egos and idiosyncrasies on. I’ve mostly come into contact with the literary loony minions—at the SD book fair, there was the guy with the tall walking stick who smelled like peanut butter, and the guy who told everyone who’d listen about how world peace could be achieved by holding hands (interestingly, his left hand was bandaged—workplace injury?). But I know they exist in every subculture. Sunset Boulevard is one of my favorite movies, and

two updates

1) The scary clown outside my office is now wearing a single fluorescent yellow lace glove on its creepy mannequin hand. 2) Well, this one only qualifies as an update to those who’ve heard me tell the following story (and they are many): About a month ago, I started noticing a strange noise outside my apartment building: “Waah!” It sounded sort of like a bird—but not quite. It was a short, loud, simple sound, performed at random intervals. Not anguished, just squawky. One day I came home and saw a guy standing on the co rn er of my street, shouting “Waah!” Mystery solved. Then, last night, I heard the familiar “Waah!” but this time it was answered by a different voice, also saying “Waah!” The inflection was the same, but the vocal cords clearly belonged to someone else. It carried on for a couple of minutes. An entire conversation composed of one non-word. I welcome any theories you might have.

a three-day weekend in postcolonial socal

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Last week my boss sent out a company-wide email saying, “Just a reminder that, while Columbus did not discover America, we will have Monday off. Enjoy the long weekend.” I did. I finished Middlesex , which I will not bother to review here because what brilliant conclusions am I going to make about its brilliance that the Pulitzer committee didn’t already make? (Suffice it to say, they were right.) I finished draft one of the novel I’ve been working on—the one about the nuclear family vs. the global family , featuring bicycle rentals in Malaysia . I’m hoping that its brilliance emer ges—like the late and surprisingly blooming Calliope Stephanides—in draft two. I also discovered that Jamie , whom I’ve known a year and a half now, is not only an excellent poet but a bold, riveting performer. I discovered that Brendan Constantine , whom I’d never encountered until Saturday night at Beyond Baroque , is both of those things too. And on Sunday, AK and friends and I gave two British boys a f

stephanie just called to tell me two great things

1) “There’s a review of your book in the Sacramento News & Review .” 2) “I just had an audition for two parts on Two and a Half Men . I don’t know how I did with ‘Cashier,’ but I nailed ‘Snack Bar Cashier.’”

a good pace

Sometimes I forget how much I love running. That’s because I don’t love starting to run—getting off my ass, finding a semi-clean sports bra, taking those first awkward steps when I haven’t figured out my pace and my bandana feels crooked on my head. But last night AK and I finally went jogging together after months of anxious deflecting (“I’m sure you’ll be faster.” “No, you’ll be faster.”), and I quickly remembered why I stuck out a whole season of cross country in high school, even though the coach was an ass. It tu rn s out we’re pretty evenly matched. We’re both medium-slow, better at distance than sprinting. Which reminds me how much I love running-as-metaphor. I glowed: See! We’re perfect for each other! I may have glowed out loud a tad too much, because AK politely indicated that she prefers a slightly less chatty run. It’s cool, it’s cool. Soon I was too tired to talk anyway. There was only breath and pavement and the scary-thrilling rush of cars whizzing by the jog

not ready for my close-up

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You know how, in interviews, actors always say they can’t stand to watch their own movies? And how you think, Oh shut up and stop being modest. I know you have a big home theater where you watch all of them over and over again, Norma Desmond -style . Well, I maybe get it just a little bit now. Not too long ago I encountered my first nasty reader review of The Commuters on Amazon (which is weirdly missing now, but I swear I did not report it to the Amazon authorities). Luckily the late Jake Dante posted a very thoughtful rebuttal. (Jake was AK’s shy, cuddly, scholarly cat, whose fate was sealed by a careless driver on a foggy night last week. He is very much missed, and deserves more than a parenthetical. But, um, for the record, many people and cats who’ve read my book are doing just fine, so I don’t think there’s a curse or anything.) But on the heels of the negative review, I was nervous about reading the two links to real live jou rn alistic reviews that my editor sent me