Wednesday, May 31, 2006

TV Party: Ali-axed

Last week’s series finale of “Alias” was promoted by ABC with about as much gusto as they had to; the tone of the ads leading up to it were on par with “Hey, if you bothered to stick with a series that we pulled off the air for five months in the middle of the season, you may as well see how they wrap it up.” And that pretty much was the reason my girlfriend and I tuned in; it would be like reading all but the last chapters of a book.

If J.J. Abrams hadn’t given them “Lost” then it’s doubtful “Alias” would have escaped the fate given “Commander in Chief”.

I had watched the show since its beginning, and after we got together, my girlfriend got into it. I’m not suggesting it was that great a show. It was generally compelling—the episodes ended with one wanting to see how it would play out in the following episode—but it was not such that I found myself inclined to watch re-runs; there I knew what happened, and I could find some better way to occupy an hour.

As regards its compelling aspect: My girlfriend would say at the end of watching each episode, “I hate this show! I can’t wait for next week.” Another friend who got into the show later and rented the DVDs of the early seasons noted she couldn’t stop part way through a disc even though she tried; each cliffhanger made her keep watching, in defiance of sleep or whatever activity she should attend to.

While that seems to be applauding the show, I would not recommend checking it out if you never watched it in the first place. The mystical recurrent plotline on which the show more or less became founded did not ultimately prove to be that satisfying when resolved in the final episode. There were many twists they could have pulled at the end that would have redeemed the entire series, but in the end they wrapped everything up in a quaint little bow; the effort put into the ending of the series seemed about as enthusiastic as how ABC promoted the ending (eh, let’s get this over with). For example, (spoiler warning) I would have reclassified the show to something pretty cool if in the end the creators (who admittedly no longer included J.J. Abrams, as far as I heard) had the gumption to kill off the main character, Sydney (portrayed by Jennifer Garner); in so many episodes through the series I thought the way she comported herself that she should have died, so that to some extent seeing if they would kill her in the end was part of my motivation to keep watching.

Oh well.

Much like “Gray’s Anatomy”, I watched the show despite the main character; there were other characters who made it worthwhile, and the plots had the potential to be good. However, ultimately, that’s all any show like that ever has: potential.

After watching the end of the series finale, I found myself pleased about one thing. I was happy I never got into “Lost” (the series Abrams developed part way through the run of “Alias”). I did watch the first episode, but for whatever reason it did not hold my interest. (I’m sure those devotees of the show would be incredulous that I could have such a reaction; perhaps I wasn’t in a good mood at the time.)

What I hear of the show through the usual pop culture outlets leads me to believe it is filled with the same compelling elements that “Alias” had but with only the mystical plotline (“Alias” could play with the typical spy stuff for episodes and pick up the mystical one when desired—not unlike the “X-Files” in how it could be about just whatever freaky thing popped up that week or about the larger alien plotline). Thus, when eventually “Lost” must be concluded, I won’t be similarly disappointed by how that show is wrapped up, because I won’t have devoted any time to watching it.

It’s not much, sure, but it’s what I have.

Good endings are difficult to concoct, obviously. (See how awful this one was?) It’s not that I’m unsympathetic to the writers, really; I am hardly in a position to assume some kind of viewpoint of superiority in the matter, given how many TV series I have written (at last check, zero). Of course, I haven’t been paid exorbitant amounts to try to come up with a satisfactory ending to a series, so I don’t feel too bad about that. For the right amount (or even a fraction thereof), I could be convinced to give it a shot (if there’s any producers out there reading this… by mistake).

I could be as detached as it seems the writers of the end of “Alias” were, of that much I’m certain.

TV Party: Rejected

VH1's "Metal Month" of May culminated in another completely unnecessary bit of patting rock on the back with the "Rock Honors" telecast, honoring Queen, Judas Priest, Def Leppard, and KISS. The feted groups were paid tribute by a younger band covering a song, then came out to play themselves. Pretty standard format for this sort of show.

When I saw the ads for the show in the days leading up to it, the other bands mentioned as playing the show were Foo Fighters (okay, Dave Grohl has credibility) and... the All-American Rejects. (The other bands, Godsmack, and an all-star amalgamation, apparently didn't prove worthy in the eyes of the marketing department.) A show celebrating bands that cranked up the volume, and somehow these pop-punky pups were included.

Having now watched the festivities, I can state: The Foos did well playing Queen (and playing with Queen); Godsmack did a decent job with Priest's ouvre; the star combination of Rob Zombie, Tommy Lee, Slash, Scott Ian, and Gilby Clark had more-than-sufficient chops to pull off KISS. And the AAR's... well, I suppose they didn't completely embarrass themselves chewing on Leppard's "Photograph".

One of these things is not like the others...

Then it occurred to me: If the hard rock community can accept and honor bands with gay lead singers (Queen and Judas Priest), with pretty boys and self-described "poofta rock" (Def Leppard), and who wore makeup and platform shoes (KISS--like you didn't know), then I suppose there's room for everyone.

And frankly, from the standpoint of never having a stronger opening act, Leppard may have been the only band of the honorees who was way better than the band who preceded them. I doubt the lads from Sheffield had anything to do with choosing AAR's, but that's about the nicest thing the event organizers inadvertantly did for any of the headliners.

Or was the point to highlight that these erstwhile champions, metal gods, and gods of thunder were living off their former glory?

Eh, like we all aren't doing that...

Friday, May 26, 2006

Where is everybody?

Oh yeah. They're in Phoenix. (Nice going, Lakers and Clippers.)

Well, I guess downtown's already rebuilding for next season...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sunset over Sunset

The return of the random Southern California picture: Sunset over Sunset Blvd., Hollywood.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Better in theory

Ruminating on last Thursday's post, I realized it might be worth expanding on my theories about why some people are more driven than others. Then the question became whether the topic of my theories is worth expanding upon. The answer to such queries is, alas, pretty much always no. So the follow-up question becomes whether I have sufficient inspiration to overcome the better judgment that would dictate we drop this before it starts.

Probably not. Could I make a convincing case to prove that those who seem the most driven are more than likely fueled by some inner demons they are trying to placate, that their motivation stems more from an unresolved psychological situation than from a magical font of inspiration? Could the implication of such an assertion—that those who aren’t as driven are ultimately more psychologically sound—not just as easily be dismissed as seeming euphemistic for justifying laziness? Of course. That, however, would not make the original assertion inaccurate; it’s a theory attempting to explain why some people are more inclined to undertake activities that aren’t absolutely necessary (those that don’t strictly fulfill the lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) than others.

To the extent doing so would seem critical of those who are thusly driven, that would stem from a (perhaps unsupportable) perception that those who are thusly driven seem critical of those who aren’t thusly driven; it would be reactionary, in defense of a side I suppose, reflecting on how I tend to be motivated, would be the one with which I would identify if pressed to be choose.

It would be entirely self-serving, but I would argue that any theory that is not self-serving is inherently a worthless theory.

Further, there'd be no point in arguing that the whole point of having theories in the first place is to offer explanations for why things are the way they are that serve to make one feel better about why things are the way they are; to serve to resolve psychological situations.

I suspect such a theory, were it offered, would be dismissed by a great many people, which could very well be interpreted as supporting the theory. Those who are thusly driven—those with unresolved psychological situations—would reject such an explanation because it isn’t one that makes them feel better about why they do what they do (presumably they would prefer the magical font of inspiration, or something altruistic—and they can have those; for example, all societies throughout human history have developed some theory about how the universe came into being, and because no one was actually around to see that happen, they can all be as correct as one chooses to believe them to be). Because many would dismiss the theory would not refute its thesis; it would support the inherent assumption behind the theory: most people have at least some unresolved psychological situations. Therefore, most people would be disinclined to agree. The theory behind the self-serving nature of theories would explain that.

Clearly I would draw more enjoyment from concocting these theories than attempting to convince anyone else to believe them; that would involve elaborating on them, offering what I have used as examples supporting them. I am not inspired to do that, and the theory would suggest that I lack sufficient unresolved psychological situations to motivate me to seek that sort of general acceptance. Frankly, the more it might prove to be adopted by others would likely make it less self-serving to me, thus becoming even less motivating for me to move toward “achieving” that.

Why would I want to make a convincing argument about these theories? What would there be in doing so for me? The more this is dismissed by others, the more I will like it.

As the point of all this is to be self-serving to me, about keeping me amused, the only logical course of action for us is for me to keep quiet and for you to come up with your own theories to serve you. As it should be.

So, no, I guess not only can’t I make a convincing argument, I don’t want to.

However, do please note how considerate of your time I was, so to speak; rather than blather on for paragraph after paragraph with futile attempts at persuasion, I realized the futility of bothering before getting into detail about that.

Why bother ruminating and having these theories? Well, as I just did not offer such a theory, there's no proof that I have ruminated on such a theory. However, in theory, in a scenario where I have such a theory, I suppose I would need to find some way to fill all that time I’m not pursuing activities like those with more pressing unresolved psychological situations. Or perhaps more likely, that’s what the demons of my situation would inspire me to do. In theory.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Signs of nature in L.A.

In recent weeks the wildflowers have been blooming, and living in the metropolitan area crafted out of the desert that is Southern California, one would think that one would have to travel well away from the strip malls and condo complexes to see them. However, on my daily ride on the train I have found evidence of the natural blooms amid the manicured terrain. (The photos were taken out the window while the train was moving quickly, but you should get the idea.)
Yellow blooms in an empty triangular-shaped lot in northern Long Beach, just north of the 405 (the bridge in the background is the transition ramp to the 710 north), along the Los Angeles River (yes, the concrete-lined area over which said bridge passes).

Farther up the Blue Line tracks, just past where they cross underneath the 91 freeway and on the north side of Crystal Park Casino (in what is technically Compton), this vacant field is also awash in yellow. (Yes, admire the power line towers in the background.)

In mere weeks, these blooms will wither and the green will start to turn brown, and the ride to work will offer nothing colorful except the graffiti on the backs of warehouses in Lynwood.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Tired of this non-sense

So the other day a couple of co-workers were discussing (next to my desk) how tired they were feeling. In my usual jocular way, I quipped, “I’ve gotten used to it.” Hey, a little joke implying I find myself fatigued enough that it isn’t something I’d even bother to comment on; it’s merely the state under which I undertake my daily routine.

At least that’s what I thought I meant.

The new co-worker (one who is also a pianist and has written a book she hopes to get published) replied (in a sincere tone, which, as far as I can determine thus far, is how she generally conducts herself; I have seen little evidence of being so dry in her sense of humor that an ironic tone would seem sincere), “Well, you just have your job, and your rowing…” (no one correctly identifies dragon boating as paddling), and continued with the slightly explanatory, “You know how to manage that.”

After a pause, where the other co-worker made a remark back on the general topic of being tired, I came back with, “I’ll choose to not be insulted by that.” However, because of my usual demeanor, my reply was dismissed as ironic in a very dry way, even though I was more or less sincere. It was an instance where I could have deemed the allegation (of sorts) of my life consisting only of work and one recreational activity as insulting, but as I knew that wasn’t the intent I didn’t interpret it as such. It was, at best, a brief summary of what the co-worker knew of my life, mostly because in the weeks she’s been there I haven’t spent every minute blathering on about myself. Merely because she didn’t know how I occupied all my time really didn’t mean my existence was intrinsically less complicated than hers. Sure, she included what could be inferred as a compliment at the end, with the line about having what she mentioned under control, but really, were my life only those two elements, how much of an accomplishment would it be to have it well in hand?

All that aside, when I analyze the moment, I grasp that her remark didn’t even logically follow what I quipped. I clearly implied I was routinely tired, and further that what I do keeps me in this state of regular fatigue. If I was properly handling my life, and if that merely consisted of the time at work (and we’ll even throw in commute time) and a few hours of time on the weekends and Wednesday evenings practicing, how would I not have plenty of time left over to be well rested? Therefore, any response to my quip of being accustomed to fatigue must take into account there must be more to my life to explain the fatigue.

That I don’t have a life that justifies the fatigue is not something she has sufficient information to even inadvertently insinuate, and of course that explains the vitriol of this reaction. Still, she’s not in a position to feel put upon by assuming my life is somehow in better control than hers.

I appreciate the roundabout catharsis of finding some tiny validation for self-pity, but this is a stretch.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

One mother of a cautionary tale

On last Tuesday's the Today Show (which I only watched for a couple minutes while I put on my shoes) there was an author who’d written a book about why mothers are so critical of their daughters, based, as best I could discern, on her relationship with her own mother and with her daughter. The identification mothers have with their daughters is different than with their sons, for obvious reasons; their own insecurities and concerns are reflected back.

The author also offered an example of how when her daughter was 13, with a bit of “baby fat” still on her, and would come home after school and start eating ice cream. She then started eating the ice cream herself, to prevent her daughter from eating it. (Apparently simply not buying the ice cream in the first place was not an option.) She was willing to make the “sacrifice” of putting on five pounds so her daughter wouldn’t. (It’s possible she was kidding when she used that term, but it was not clear.) Some woman who was next to the author on the couch offered the explanation that what the mother perceives as a for the benefit of the daughter, the daughter perceives as being restricted from doing something for no discernibly good reason. The woman mentioned how despite her mother’s poor eyesight, the mother could always spot a pimple from across the room. The person the daughter wishes to she her as most perfect is the one who notices her flaws the most.

I don’t think I’ve ever known a woman who didn’t have issues at one time or another with her mother. Thus, I’m sure the book will do very well. (Hey, I didn’t make the mother-daughter dynamic what it is; I’m just noting how to benefit from it.)

However, I mentioned all that not to spotlight the author or her book but because when I see something like that and think of how cool it must be to have the time to write a book on a personal subject (including spending all that time researching it), I then think of how poorly I tend to deliver my quips and anecdotes in person. Were I ever on the couch with Katie Couric interviewing me, I would almost certainly throw out some story like the ice cream sacrifice one that, out of context, would end up eliciting in the viewing audience the same reaction this author’s story elicited in me: the glib perception that the author is something of an idiot. And that can’t be good for sales.

I am duly aware of my idiotic tendencies; I don’t need them spotlighted on national television. (More than likely, I’d sit there the whole time, mumbling, unable to mask my nerves, and deconstructing the experience out loud. Captivating television, no doubt.)

Happy Mothers Day.

Friday, May 12, 2006

World of Escapism

The other morning on the ride in from Hollywood to downtown L.A. (on the Red Line), having failed to get a seat, I positioned myself in the middle open area of the car (on the subway, the cars are long enough to have three sets of doors), in the back corner of the square standing zone. The person seated nearest to where I stood looked rather bedraggled, long dirty blonde hair tousled, wrinkled and sinewy fingers (one with a large ring on it), scuffed pumps, faded jeans, with a distant facial expression that implied not being on pure air. The way I stood left this person somewhat behind me, over my right shoulder, so I didn’t really see unless I craned my head around.

A few stops after where I got on a group of young men in their early-to-mid 20’s entered through the door nearest me. They glanced up and down the length of the car (with the lack of subtlety indicative of ones who don’t regularly take the train) then congregated in the standing area next to me. There were enough of them that a few stood in the aisle in front of the bedraggled one (who continued to stare vacantly at nothing in particular). I could tell they were on their way to the E3 expo at the convention center, not merely because of the badges hanging around their necks, but also from the geekitude emanating from their clothes, haircuts, and general demeanor. (One doesn’t work in a comic book store for many years without being able to spot them. Please allay your thoughts of it-takes-one-to-know-one; were I a geek I would make a much better salary, undoubtedly. Thus, I am not criticizing them; I am identifying what they were.)

I am content to allow you to fill in the picture with your own ideas of what geeks are like (and I am using the term in the contemporary sense, as has been co-opted by the computer support offered by Best Buy, not to indicate they were circus freaks—although that certainly would make for an interesting ride).

The way they surrounded me made it a bit tricky to not stare at them. I had to glance over their heads at the top of the door, or down toward the end of the car. Complying with the tacit rule about not making eye contact is certainly easier with a bit of empty space around one’s self, so their proximity forced me to constantly move my gaze to and fro. The best part of getting a seat is not alleviating having to stand; the best part is getting to read, or write, or gaze out the window without having to make any effort to not look at others.

Several stops later, the bedraggled one started to rouse and to gather belongings and then start toward the door, forcing the geek squad to make way. I noticed one of the geeks at my far right try to get the attention of one to my far left, without speaking, waving and pointing at his own throat. The other one didn’t seem to understand, so he kept at it, and because our soon-to-exit friend faced the other way, the geek mouthed the words “Adam’s apple” to make clearer what the pointing at the throat meant.

It wasn’t so much that the geeks reacted as they did. Sure, they could be more sensitive, given they’re not exactly the top of the coolness food chain themselves; it's hardly a revelation to me to find further evidence of how we seek some means, no matter how pathetic, to feel superior to at least someone. Their behavior was not as harsh as the stereotypical treatment jocks give to geeks in high school but still displayed some of the same homophobic machismo (albeit in a timid way).

What disappointed me most was not how this group of ostensibly intelligent individuals took so long to realize “she” was transgendered. I figured it out within seconds of getting on the train. (Yes, I was feeling a bit superior to the geeks in that regard—and only in that very specific regard.)

The biggest disappointment was that they considered this to be at all noteworthy. It’s Hollywood, for crying out loud; have they not been paying attention?

I guess the electronic entertainment world keeps one fairly well insulated from the outside world.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

TV Party Tonight

If you haven't been watching the American version of The Office, you have been missing a very funny show. (Not as funny as the British version on which it is based, but isn't that always the case?)

Of course, after watching tonight's season 2 finale, my first thought was: They've ruined the show.

I hope I'm wrong. I really do.

(If you don't know what's going on, I'll merely note that they've already reached the point that ended the British series, and it's not an easy plotline to continue; we all remember what killed Moonlighting and Remington Steele, don't we? Well, those of us who watched TV in the 80's.)

So I guess if you haven't watched the show on NBC, eh, just get the DVDs of the British series (including the specials), watch those, and if you happen to catch reruns of Steve Carell and company, enjoy these first two seasons. Check back in the fall and I'll let you know whether they can salvage season 3.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Back when I didn't suck

Submitted for your... perusal: What follows is the first chapter of an uncompleted novel, written back in 1992. The "working title" was...
If Swallowed, Induce Vomiting
(However, that had nothing to do with the subject. Self-deprecation at its most abjectly deplorable.)

I won't elaborate on the overall story; I'll allow this to stand (or fall) on its own.

Chapter One

The boy sat at the edge of the octagonal, dark wood-paneled dining table, his left elbow resting on the table, supporting his left hand, which supported his left cheek, which, by means of molecular attachment, supported his entire head. His right hand supported a fork between the index finger, middle finger, and thumb. The fork varied between supporting cold pieces of asparagus and releasing them as the boy stabbed the vegetable and subsequently shook the fork until the captured morsel came loose and rejoined its green brethren on the plate. The boy had been repeating this activity, with some variation, since his mother and sister had finished eating their meals, approximately one hour and three microwave heatings before.

“So, Timmy, how are we coming?” his mother asked as she re-entered the small space attached to the kitchen (not in the same manner as the boy’s cheek to the rest of his head) where the boy and asparagus presently existed. She had allowed another ten minutes of solitude to the boy, in hope that the contents of his plate would have diminished since her last check.

The boy glanced at his mother, pivoting his head without removing his cheek from his hand, taking a deep breath through his nose and slowly exhaling.

“Oh, fine,” he eventually replied, returning his attention to his fork.

“I really don’t want to be the bad guy here,” his mother continued, “but you know the rules. I let you out of eating your beans last week--and I shouldn’t have done that--but I’m not letting up this time.”

The boy grew disinterested with his silverware and looked out the window to his right, noticing the middle-aged woman in the apartment across the alley dangling her husband out their third-story window--at least, it appeared to be her husband; he couldn’t make out much detail on this moonless night. He was fairly certain it was the same man she had held by the ankles last week, vaguely remembering similar screams. His gaze fell back on the plate. Picking up a knife, he began to dissect the asparagus for the fourth time, although his one-handed technique succeeded only in scooting the pieces into the gravy left over from the cube steak he had flushed down the toilet by sneaking it in his pocket during his two allotted bathroom visits.

“Would you like me to re-heat it... again?” his mother asked.

The boy shook his head, his cheek rolling along his palm.

“You might as well start putting it in your mouth, because I’m going to stand here until you do.” Pausing a moment, to inventory in her mind the phrases she had already used and come up with one not uttered since the previous evening, she added, “It’s not going to disappear by staring at it.”

Balancing his head back on his neck, the boy dropped his left arm to the table. He set down the knife. He began to grasp the fork.

The asparagus disappeared.

Every last particle of the vegetable had vanished. No ‘poof,’ no fade out. One second it was spread across the plate, and the next, nothing remained but tracks in the gravy.

The boy stared at the plate, intently, his fingers still lightly touching the fork’s handle.

His mother stared at the plate, intently. She rubbed her eyes. She glanced around the room. Cautiously, she bent down and looked under the table.

No asparagus.

The boy stared at the plate, intently, his fingers still lightly touching the fork’s handle. The corners of his mouth curled up slightly.

His mother touched the plate, bits of gravy sticking to her fingertips.

The screams of the dangling husband echoed between the buildings outside.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Clouds, clouds, clouds

Driving south from California's central coast last month, I got this shot out the car window.

You probably thought it was Iowa or someplace that gets tornados, didn't you?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

They're in the home stretch

In honor of Derby Day: Horse racing at Santa Anita, taken back in March. (I've never set foot in Kentucky, much less been to Churchill Downs, so this is as close as you'll get from me.)

Apparently the live racing is so dull they need to display it on the big screen to make the fans think they're watching it on TV.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Futility: the follow-up

For those who read yesterday's post (and if you didn't, go ahead, scroll down... we'll wait... done? okay), I will offer this report on the "fiesta" at work.

Okay, the only part about which I can report is the chips (Mexican style) and "home-made" salsa.

The salsa was, as best we can tell, genuinely homemade. However, it was apparently made at just one person's home, by (I'm assuming) one person.

Around 11:00, the chips and salsa were brought to our floor (my employer occupies six floors in the building) and set up in the lounge (which is the glorified term for break room). There were two large bags of tortilla chips. There were three kinds of salsa: verde, roja, and pico de gallo. The salsas were in three separate bowls.

Three small, half-filled, paper bowls.

Yes, that's all our floor got. All day. For everyone (at least 50 people). It's entirely likely our floor was served last, and that's all that was left. Nonetheless...

Yep, yep, yep. I wish I was making this up.

I have no expectation they'll cease to be potentially offensive in an internal communication to hype events; I'm not even thinking they'll figure out how much hundreds of people might consume. I merely hope they learn to stop hyping events. Or better, to stop having events.

Good intentions only get you so far.

Viva Mexico. Or something.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Perhaps resistance was futile


Today at work an email was sent to the entire staff (hundreds of people) to alert everyone to a celebration occurring in the office tomorrow, honoring those people for whom this is their fifth year. Here is the abbreviated text of that message:


Shake those maracas and wear your sombreros, this Friday is Cinco de Mayo and we would like to treat everyone to some delicioso churros .... honor our cinco año anniversary employees with ... a slice of some delicioso Flan and Gelatina de tres colores (Mexican jello-cake).... We will also have fresh home-made salsa and chips (Mexican style) in every lounge for everyone to enjoy a little picante!.

Now, I will note up front that am of neither Mexican nor French heritage, and to be completely honest, I lack any emotional association with what Cinco de Mayo celebrates (at least ostensibly). I am as much a fan of free food as the next person, and I'm willing to offer my sympathy--er, my congratulations to those who've lasted half a decade, but I really wonder if General Ignacio Zaragoza would have bothered with the Battle of Puebla had he known 144 years later the whole of Mexican culture would be boiled down to maracas and sombreros in an email (could he have forseen such technological advances, that is).

Maybe he'd just rather the office party encourage everyone to wear berets and... uh, be rude.

(Sorry. No good French stereotypes came to mind. Apparently it was best that the Mexican resistance triumphed in 1862, if for no other reason than it allows for easier misappropriation of the fifth of May.)

I'm glad the email clarified--for people who live in Los Angeles--that the chips for the salsa would be Mexican style. We're really not that familiar with this Mexican culture stuff here.

And as shown, the message did end with a period after the exclamation point. I'm not sure that warrants a [sic].

Man, I could use a cervesa. (Tequila would have been too obvious, don't you think?)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

More Tinseltown

Yesterday I spoke of this area, and now here's a picture taken last month: Ominous clouds hover over the Valley, but Hollywood is sunny.

Am I suggesting God decided to "go Hollywood" for Easter? You'll have to decide for yourself. (If you're having trouble, consult with President Bush, as he's apparently good at that sort of thing.)

No, I'm not part of the solution.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Veggie Tales: Tinseltown goes to the dogs

This past weekend my girlfriend and I went to the Hollywood Farmers Market. It’s held Sunday mornings on the streets of Selma (between Cahuenga and Vine) and Ivar (between Sunset and Hollywood). We sought ingredients for guacamole.

It might sound incongruous to put "Hollywood" together with "farmers market," but it’s a very busy area while it’s going on. Being Hollywood, there’s the predictable mix of hipsters along with the hippies.

However, it is worth bearing in mind the streets of Hollywood proper are populated by celebrity impersonators but not by actual celebrities. I’m plenty jaded anyway, but in my experience the only time actual Hollywood lives up to the reputation of "Hollywood" is during the Academy Awards—and only during the lead-up to the telecast.

At the entrances to the market are posted signs stating in very clear terms that no dogs are allowed. Not only should it be clear why that is to anyone who would actually buy fresh food from an open-air market, but the signs cite a city ordinance forbidding canine companions (except the seeing-eye kind).

Nonetheless, when we passed a booth where a woman was holding a small white dog up on her shoulder as she looked at fruit, I couldn’t be entirely surprised. I didn’t even look that closely at the woman (or at the dog) out of general disgust. As we continued down past other booths on our search for limes, my girlfriend looked at me incredulously and I nodded, thinking she was amazed at how blithely some ignore the rules. However, she stopped and asked if I saw who the woman was. I had not; when I glanced her face was partially obscured by the dog, but what I remembered noticing was very pale hair and too much makeup; I figured it was an older woman.

My girlfriend looked me square in the eye and said, "It was Gwen Stefani."

She explained that she wasn’t sure at first, but then she spotted husband Gavin Rosdale right next to the dog-carrying woman, and knew it was her. The woman was ready-to-pop pregnant, my girlfriend had noticed, as Stefani would be. Apparently I’d mistaken the No Doubt singer’s platinum locks for the faded coif of a woman in her golden years. Perhaps that was how they blended in so well and didn’t get mobbed. Granted, the hipsters and hippies wouldn’t be interested in her autograph anyway; the tourists who would don’t frequent the market.

I just took my girlfriend’s word for it. By that point we were too far away for me to see whether she was right, and I had no interest in going back. I may be neither hipster nor hippie, but I similarly had no interest in being close to a celebrity.

The worst part was confirmation that the O.C. girl had "gone Hollywood" (as evidenced by the arrogant breaking of law and defying of common sense). Apparently no one told Gwen that no one does that in actual Hollywood. Perhaps down the road in Beverly Hills, but not in the gritty, trash-strewed, homeless-filled, wannabe-Mecca that is identified as the portion of Los Angeles known as Hollywood.

But if Gwen hasn't realized she should keep "Hollywood" out of Hollywood, perhaps there’s hope for her still. So if anyone happens to know her, please ask her to leave the pooch at home next time.

Oh, and we did find limes. The guacamole turned out okay. I'm sure you were hanging on that detail.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Lampost shadow

(I know. You're wondering where I think up with these clever titles for these pictures. They just come to me. Sometimes I amaze even myself.)