who dat? contest:

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"i know!"

yesterday's results:

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writer paul auster
the music of chance, timbuktu, smoke (film)

first correct answer:

you all suck

i return in style

Boy, did I have a good time.

…well, I’m waiting. Did I?

I’m a bit too dazed to assess, but I think I had a lot of fun. I think I spent 5 days in Madison, Wisconsin with my sister, going to bars and talking and sitting out on her back porch with her two cats and enjoying the midwestern air and watching fake-red cardinals flitting about and listening to cicadas and woodpeckers. I think I spent time playing with her downstairs neighbor’s 3 pug dogs (one with one eye) and loving the Sixth Sense and seeing the Sopranos for the first time and golfing horribly with her boyfriend. I think I rented a car and drove to Northern Minnesota with M. and picked rocks on her private beach on Lake Superior and laid in bed watching a ferocious lightning storm over the lake, drinking wine. I think I toured lighthouses and hiked waterfalls and fell in love with a tiny town a half hour north of Duluth and ate the biggest fucking caramel rolls in the world. I think we scoured antique shops and I actually got into it (I think I began a dice collection). I think cooked dinner and visited locals and distant relatives and was in such a good mood that Analyze This made me laugh very hard. I think I dreaded every time a conversation with a stranger turned to me because I would have to explain things that I will very soon have to deal with and I leapt at the chance to turn the conversation back to the school system in Duluth and the Green Bay Packers and the ups and downs of running a restaurant in Twin Harbors, Minnesota, and was 1000 times more interested in that than in checking the Weekend Box Office. I think I went back to Madison and stopped at the Ho-Chunk Casino on the way and ran in and won a hundred dollars in half an hour and then spent the next two days eating the best pumpkin muffins I’ve ever had and sleeping in very late. I think on a whim we saw a local production of Speed The Plow and was quite taken in. I think I checked my machine and returned calls from Very Important People saying, "I’m in Wisconsin, I’ll have to call you when I get back to LA" and didn’t worry about it afterwards. I think every day I thanked god for being away from Los Angeles and all the damned urgency.

And why am I not sure? Because I spent 14 hours yesterday trying to get my ass home.

The travel saga began at 11 am when my sister Elizabeth and I had a final breakfast together at a local diner in Madison. We sat at the counter and drank coffee and chatted. Our waitress was a very pretty blonde cock-eyed girl with big teeth. She was obviously green and kept messing up. It was endearing, I thought. The problem was that she didn’t put my sister’s additional to-go order in until we asked for a check, so by the time we got the sandwich, we were dangerously close to running late for the bus that would take me 3 hours down to Chicago, O’Hare, AKA: The World’s Spookiest Airport. And when the sandwich finally arrived, it was wrong. My sister said she’d be back in 20 minutes to get the right sandwich and grumble grumble you’re a sucky waitress, we leave. On the way to the bus stop, her car starts sputtering out. Apparently the huge monster truck she bought 6 months ago has a broken gas gage and… we ran out of gas. Luckily, we ran out 50 feet from a gas station.

We get gas and speed on, almost getting in 3 accidents on the slick rainy streets. We turn the corner and see: an empty bus stop. It is 11:31. Fuck.

Funny part: the night before, her friend Dawn told a story of how on their way to Europe a month ago they got to the bus stop one minute late and the bus was gone and they had to chase it for 45 minutes until it stopped in Jamesville, Wisconsin so therefore don’t be late to the bus stop. We all laughed and hoisted our pints.

So my sister chased the bus to Jamesville. On the way I gave her 10 dollars for gas, but only if she promised not to yell at the very pretty blonde cock-eyed waitress with big teeth when she got back and fetched her now-cold sandwich. She reluctantly agreed "not to yell" and took the 10 spot. I appeased her a bit by singing Waitress by Tori Amos with her, "I want to kill this waitress…But I believe in peace. I believe in peace, BITCH!".

So we’re on 90 heading towards Jamesville when we pass the bus at another stop. Good, we’ll make it. A bit later though, I look in the mirror and see the bus coming up behind us.

"Oh my god, it’s going to pass us. Go faster!"
"I can’t! My car doesn’t go very fast!"
"Well, do something!"

So my sister switches lanes and blocks the bus. The bus switches lanes to go around, but she switches back. For the next 20 minutes, my sister blocked this poor bus in a desperate attempt to keep it from passing us. Eventually the bus outsmarted her and whizzed by, the driver fuming.

It was the wrong bus.

We got to Jamesville about 2 minutes ahead of the real bus and said goodbye.

Two hours of no leg room and a good book (Preston Falls by David Gates. Kids: read this book. Oh man, funny. Funny. Married PR exec who listens to too much NWA – his mantra: "Crazy motherfucker named Willis." – takes 2 months off work and quickly loses his shit.) bring me to O’Hare where I have to wait for 3 hours before my flight to Los Angeles. I decided to check my bag for once, even though I usually stow it and intentionally try to only carry a bag that will fit on the plane. (Boy, would this turn out to be a mistake…) Smart me called ahead and my friend Bill from summer camp 1989 drove out and met me at the O’Hare Hilton where we caught up (haven’t seen him in 6 years?) and drank beers and watched football. He’s teaching acting to junior high kids in Chicago and living with his girlfriend and seems happy, if a bit pudgy. So finally I have to say goodbye and make my way to the gate.

One word about O’Hare: you know that long walkway leading to the United wing with the moving sidewalk and the zooming overhead neon lights and the creepy tinkling music and the subliminal and oh-so soothingly disturbing voices telling you to "keep walking" and informing you that "the moving walkway is now coming to an end"? Fucking freaks me out, man. I keep hearing "the world is now coming to an end". Please let me know if this creeps you out too. I feel like the Sixth Sense kid: I want others to see the dead people too.

So naturally my Sunday 5:50 flight is jam packed. I play it cool since I don’t have to fight for overhead space and wait until most have boarded to get on. Seat 12E. Wait, "E". "E?". Hmmmm… I don’t like the sound of this E thing. And yes kids, E is not a good thing. E is never a good thing. E is an especially bad thing when your plane is, as mine was this day, a DC-10. You know the insidious seat pattern on these motherfuckers: A,B – aisle – C,D,E,F,G – aisle – H, J. (For some reason they leave off "I". Is "I" like floor 13 or something?)

Yes, I was in the fucking middle of 5 seats. So I see my row, and who is sitting next to me? Is it 2 hot supermodels? A cynical but horny art student with a nose ring and a blanket? No. Two Fat Men. Two Fat Men with Laptops. Two Fat Men who fart the whole flight and steal the armrest.

God, I hate flying.

So I’m reading and trying to relax, when alla sudden I realize we’ve been sitting on the tarmac for an hour. Finally we "push off" after reviewing our strategy for a water landing (can crashing into the ocean at 700 mph really be construed as a landing?) and plane "disembarkation" (how long has disembarkation been a word?). Later, the captain comes back on and announces we’re returning to the gate because we’re "too heavy". So after they throw off some weight (Fuel? One of them bulky and redundant engines perhaps?) and two people disembark (their sudden exit is never explained), we take off. How late? 2 hours. And how does the captain attempt to make us feel better about the delay?

"We’ll hopefully be able to make up some of that time en route."

A fucking plane could leave 10 hours late with one wing in the middle of a hurricane, and the captain would say the same thing. Pilots: if you have the capacity to just like make up time when you’re running late willy-nilly, why don’t you fucking do it every time you fly? Is it just like arbitrary that a flight from New York to LA takes 5:20 or whatever? Could you do it in 4:40 if you really felt like it? Please, use all the time-saving measures you can every time, OK? Thanks.

Anyhoo, after 2 hours I felt a headache come on and I got hot and I really really thought I was about to loose it big time. Go all Grodin in Midnight Run on they ass. But I kept it together. I ordered 3 free (yeah!) Becks and watched Notting Hill. Fuckers did the trick too. Warm ale and Hugh Grant, wonder-impending-freak-out-medicine.

However, once the beers and the middling romantic comedy wore off, sitting between these two walking reasons for never going corporate, I began to lose it again. So I made my way Bugs Bunny-style out of "E" and "roamed freely about the cabin". For some reason I love plane bathrooms so I made my way to all four, one by one. Then asked for another free Becks and chatted with the stews. I love stews. Has anyone noticed how the airlines like totally dropped their once stringent and illegal age/weight/hygiene requirements for the in-flight help? Especially that Southwest. I’m telling you, it’s a horror show in them skies. And you know that old stereotype about male stews all being gay? Well, apparently some stereotypes are indeed based in fact. (That and the whole women can’t drive thing – I’m kidding!!! Jeez.)

So we fly, blah blah blah, and arrive at LAX over 2 hours late. I guess we didn’t "make up any time en route". But now the captain, who by now has lost all credibility with my ass, tells us that due to construction there’s no gate for us, and so they let us off in the middle of the fucking tarmac and we all hop on buses and are carted like it’s a field trip to the United terminal.

So walking to baggage claim (remember, I for once checked my bag) I try about 15 pay phones to check my messages to see my ride called. None of them work.

Well, my Sainted friend AK was still waiting, so we sit at baggage claim and talk… until a voice comes over the loudspeaker…

"A construction worker has apparently severed a power cable and as a result, the baggage system isn’t working. We should have it up in about an hour or so. You may wait, or wait in line to fill out a card, and we’ll deliver your bags. Or, leave and come back tomorrow." Well, by the time I found the line, it was about an hour long, so, hung over from my 4 Becks and exhaustedly punchy "Hey lady, what if you have a cat in baggage? Just come back tomorrow? Hee hee", I say "fuck it" and walk out.

So now it’s 3:34pm and I have to leave work soon to go back to LAX to get my baggage. Good thing, because my toothbrush and deodorant is in there and… Let’s just say it’s a good thing I didn’t have any auditions today. And thank god I didn’t check the poodle in Chicago. Hee hee. Heh. Hm.


…apparently I missed the chance to meet a few of my favorite journal-ists/ers/iers/izers in LA last week. Would have been fun. Thanks for missing me (or thanks for lying, Chuckster. "Yeah, good thing that stee with the stupid name and the stupid little face game is on vacation. Um, please pass the Pellegrino").


…thank you all who’ve written telling me you enjoy the journal. It means quite a lot.


…my meeting with the Production Company was on the Thursday before I left. I’ll only go into it briefly but I do not have a check in my hand. But, well… yet. On a 1 to 10, it was an 8, in terms of what I could have expected. And I met with the VP of Production as well as the Story Editor and they both love the script and were very cool and they bought me drinks in Beverly Hills and I pitched projects and we talked and I discovered that my obsessive knowledge of what’s going on in Hollywood will pay off in these meetings. I have to call them tomorrow to check the status of the things and to set up a meeting with the Head of Television to pitch some ideas.

I guess the days of gigantic caramel rolls, lightening storms, and lighthouse tours are officially over.

Hooray for Hollywood.

The Larry King Happy Song Corner

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Big ol' jet airliner. Don't carry Larry too far away. Big ol' jet airliner. Cuz it's here that Larry's got to stay... speaking of air travel. Does anyone understand these seatbelts? They tell you to pull the cord low and tight over your lap. Boy, last time I had anything low and tight over my lap, Ike was in office and petrol cost 32 cents a gallon!

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