Nov 26, 2006

Repetitive Motion Injury

Although it comes but once a year, it isn't lost on me that it comes every year, this Thanksgiving business. And that each new one I celebrate is piggybacked on all the rest that preceded it. And that maybe I'm getting tired of having all these milestones to mark my progress. Or regress. Or no-gress, as the case my be. Maybe it's just "gress" at that point.

Often with the hope of not being extremely redundant -- despite the fact that eating a turkey dinner every year at the same time seems prone to a redundancy that even Kurt Vonnegut couldn't dress up in disguise -- I end up reading over my previous writings on this subject. Now that I've been writing in this venue for over five years, there's more to pick through and more to tiptoe round. It wastes a bunch of time. And usually leaves me with the feeling that the thing I wrote last year or the year before was better than whatever I'm going to say now, and why didn't I ever get paid to write when I was saying clever things like that? And why doesn't it result in any palpable satisfaction to read something I've written and like it? Why isn't that ever ever enough? Anyway. I went back is my point.

I began my holiday on Wednesday, leaving town at precisely the stupidest possible time and having already been warned that there was some shitty-ass shit going on on the 405. But surprisingly, I really didn't suffer much. The big hubbub in El Segundo was still there, and many lanes were closed, but I probably had to slow down for ten or fifteen minutes, and then once I was through it, I was flying along at 75 the rest of the way. So I got to my parents' house with time to heft all my junk in the house, write my annual Thanksgiving email, feel very tired and contemplate not doing anything social, and then get myself into the car and on my way to Ono Sushi, where a typically super duper dinner was had. After sushi, I visited Nunu's, where I was treated like a princess -- as usual. I had hoped to stop by Jivewire at The Casbah, but the ranks of enthusiastic compatriots had thinned, and I guess I was tired enough that dancing would have done me in. So I'm glad that Nunu's was where we landed. My mom didn't even hassle me about not getting home until well after her Thanksgiving day preparations had begun. That's unprecedented.

Come to think of it, this year was different than previous years in a few ways. But it was also very much the same. Maybe with deliberation attached. Like my annual Thanksgiving nightcap at Nunu's. I've come to look forward to that, so I make a point of perpetuating it. This year, there were so many people there with me and other people there that I knew, it really did feel like it's own special holiday thing. And after a dinner of turkey and lobster -- yes, LOBSTER -- and more things than can be artfully put on a normal-sized plate at once without layering and overrun unless you serve your cranberry relish and yams and stuffing in tiny little tablespoonsful, like they might do at a chi chi restaurant. With like cilantro oil or a vanilla-infused truffle and balsamic vinegar reduction drizzled on the plate and a garnish of something like star fruit or caviar. That gives me an idea. Would anyone mind if I started calling poultry eggs caviar? I will serve turkey caviar at my next Thanksgiving dinner. And see if anyone notices. And if anyone wants to try and fit it on melba toast.

If I can recall properly, here was our menu:

Cheese Platter
- Aged Mimolette
- Huntsman (Stilton layered with Double Gloucester)
- Wensleydale
- one other one I didn't try
- every possible kind of cracker
Fresh Fruit
Marinated Mushrooms
Kalamata Olives
Picholine Olives
Wine: Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon

Roast Turkey (specially brined and cooked to moist perfection)
Broiled Lobster Tails with Clarified Butter
Mashed Potatoes
Jansen's Temptation (a Swedish potato casserole, apparently secretly including herring -- yum)
Chestnut Stuffing
Mashed Yams with Apricots and Almonds (?), Topped with Bruléed Marshmallows and Coconut
Cranberry Relish (a special recipe that causes all others to be deemed inferior)
Green Beans (I almost called them Haricots Verts. And I can't remember if they were Amandine.)
Corn (It wasn't fancy, but it's still my favorite.)
Gravy (duh)
Wine: Stag's Leap Merlot and Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon

Side by Side Pumpkin Pie and New York Cheesecake with Raspberries
Apéritif: Sambuca

I hope I've managed to make it sound fancy and perfectly planned and brilliantly executed. Because it was. And I noticed how proud and happy it made my mother to have everything go over so well. Big success. Big success.

Friday night, I went over to Beulah's, and we went shopping for groceries and treated ourselves to a variety of artery-clogging snacks. A lot of cheese and crackers and apples and pepperoni and stuff. But also Totino's Pizza Rolls. In case anyone was wondering if I've ever eaten poorly. Believe me. I have. And I do. We also watched The New World on pay-per-view. Essentially only because it's another flick Christian Bale is in, and Beulah is devoted as the day is long. We didn't like it. It was the slowest movie I've watched in a long time. Perhaps ever. Unbelievably slow. And the dialogue was so soft and so ickily poem-like that I often had to stop chewing and lean in to try and hear what was being said, only to find that what they were saying revealed nothing at all story-wise. The only way Beulah and I were able to enjoy it was in being so disappointed in it. We began to sarcastically wish it could just be slower. That Christian Bale and Pocahontas would just TAKE THEIR TIME. I once heard a comedian say that he was surprised that Finding Neverland had been nominated for Best Picture; he said the movie was so slow it should have been nominated for Best Photograph. I liked Finding Neverland, but I thought that joke was funny. Even funnier, however, was Beulah's exclamation during one of the sequences of inanimate objects being shot for long silent moments for no apparent reason: "This movie is a screensaver." It really is like a two-and-a-half hour poetry reading. And if you're into that, we probably shouldn't go to the movies together. Incidentally, Beulah's never seen Reign of Fire and was concerned that it, too, would suck. But I maintain that Reign of Fire is a terribly underrated film. As long as you let yourself buy into the whole dragons thing -- and as long as you can bear to watch Matthew McConaughey playing an insufferable wacko, which I further maintain is less insufferable than watching him play a love interest or a looker -- and if you allow that these kinds of grandiose fantasies might call for some grandiose acting, it's perfectly entertaining to watch. And it contains one of my more favorite Star Wars references. Which will do nothing to help Beulah want to watch it, I realize.

I performed in a couple of improv shows on Saturday night, spent the night at Beulah's place, then drove home to Los Angeles today, with not much traffic to grouse about, bookending a relatively painless travel experience. And while I was driving up today, I listened to nothing but Beatles music on the radio. First it was just Beatles Beatles Beatles, and then it was an hour-long tribute to George Harrison, the fifth anniversary of whose death is this Wednesday. Which made me sad, and made me marvel at how long it's been, because I distinctly remember when I heard he had passed. And the night it happened was an awful one for me, through no fault of George's. Golden Slumbers made me think of Tasha, which made me cry a bit. The rest of it made me think assorted things. I never give you my pillow. I only send you my invitation. And in the middle of the celebrations, I break down...Lying there and staring at the ceiling, waiting for a sleepy feeling...You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead.....Everybody had a hard year. Everybody had a good time. Everybody had a wet dream. Everybody saw the sunshine...Bang, bang, Maxwell's silver hammer came down upon her head. Bang, bang, Maxwell's silver hammer made sure that she was dead...Will I wait a lonely lifetime? If you want me to, I will...Boy, you gotta carry that weight, carry that weight a long time.

Very little Guitar Hero was played. Very little sleep was had. There was an unfortunate -- and perhaps statistically unavoidable -- falling out with my mother. She was so happy with me for two straight days. That couldn't possibly have continued without somehow triggering the onset of Armageddon. I had a lot of work to do. I squeezed that in where possible. I edited and posted photos, despite drooping eyelids and flagging spirits. I didn't get to eat Thanksgiving leftovers even once. And I didn't bring any home, which is usually the case and an unfortunate one. I drove home wondering why I allow things to matter, particularly when I am doing it alone. And I felt thankful for a sense of history. Even though it's a sense of history that most often prevents me from ever having a sense of present.

Everybody had a hard year. Everybody had a good time. Everybody had a wet dream. Everybody saw the sunshine.>

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posted by Mary Forrest at 11:10 PM | Back to Monoblog

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     Nov 23, 2006

You know what I am thankful for? You, et cetera.

Reprinted from an actual email.

Dearest email recipient,

Please consider this my heartfelt request that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I guess you could choose to not have a wonderful holiday, and there's nothing saying that what I want is atop your list of priorities, but if saying so makes any difference, I'm pulling for you in the great battle of enjoyment of the holiday versus glaring at people who look to be happier than you.

So, let it not be left unsaid that you are awesome, and I applaud you for having the temerity to share your email address with me. I even applaud the apathy that has kept you from changing said email address or -- in the event that you really need to keep it -- creating an email filter just to weed out messages from me. No one would blame you. Even I know that.

But consider doing a few things for me this Thanksgiving, if you would.

1. When the "what are you thankful for" thing is making the rounds, think of Mary Forrest. Just for a second. You don't even have to say it out loud. In fact, it's perfectly acceptable for you to think, "What am I thankful for? Not Mary Forrest." As long as I'm on your mind.

2. Don't tell anyone about how bad the holiday traffic is or why the city you live in is better because it is not Los Angeles. (This means you, San Diego.)

3. Let someone else have a turn at Guitar Hero.

4. Tell the people you love that you love them, and make sure to point out that you're only saying it because it's expected of you.

5. If you have a dog, make him or her wear a humiliating outfit.

6. Don't get murdered. I ask this of you a few times a year, I know. But my stalwartness is unwaveringly vigilant. If you can do everything in your power to not be murdered this Thanksgiving, you will have given me yet another thing to be thankful for. Thank you in advance.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and know with great certainty that I am thankful for you. Even if you are receiving this email in error.

Mary Forrest, thanksgiver

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posted by Mary Forrest at 10:57 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Nov 13, 2006

I play my red guitar.

I don't often go on and on about how nice my weekend was. But this past weekend deserves laudatory distinction. On Friday, Beulah drove up to see me do stand-up at the Comedy Store. She was one of twelve friends who showed up, but she drove the furthest. I was not horrified at my performance, but I was sapped of energy by the time I got to go up, which was hours after I got there and the third to last spot in the line-up. And I never even got a drink in me. Never not one.

After the show, a handful of us went over to the Dresden and then to Fred 62. So I got drinks and breakfast in my gullet and cigarette smoke in my lungs, and I went home very late feeling very pleased. Because I have lovely friends and an extraordinary sister, and the stress of doing a show was well behind me.

In between snatches of sleep and the odd meal and Borat and running lines with Jessie for the sketch we're doing at Garage Comedy, I spent much of the weekend playing Guitar Hero II and watching the Star Wars Marathon on Cinemax. I do love a marathon. Especially the kind I can leave on all night. Even while I'm sleeping. When I turned on the television on Saturday morning, the end credits for The Empire Strikes Back were rolling, and I was disappointed, but then Return of the Jedi came on, and I was actually able to pique Beulah's rather geek-hating interest when I pointed out that Han Solo is very clearly modeled after Rhett Butler. We had just watched Gone with the Wind a week or two ago, and she ranks it among her favorites. So when I pointed out the similarities between Captains Solo and Butler, it pleased me that she seemed marginally swayed into believing maybe -- just maybe she might be able to enjoy Star Wars after all. Those similarities, by the way, are as follows:

smuggler:blockade runner
not loyal to either side:not loyal to either side
thinks Leia wants to kiss him:thinks Scarlett needs to be kissed (and often)
handsome man's man:handsome man's man
competing with girlish boy:competing with girlish man

Mark Hamill went to my high school. In Japan. I stole the copy of the yearbook with him in it. I have it somewhere. I think I had forgotten about it entirely, but Beulah was telling Kerstin that fact, and it reminded me. And I furrowed my brow and wondered how many other little stories worth a "wow" I've failed to keep from being sloughed away in the great brain cell holocaust that occurs whenever I'm at a bar. Lots probably. It's dismaying. Also dismaying is how different Mark Hamill looked after all that reconstructive sugery. Poor guy.

I'm kicking the ass of Guitar Hero II, by the way. I'm good at less and less, but this is one of the things at which I am goodest.

I didn't get to do a number of things I had planned to this weekend. I missed out on parties and plans that I'm sure would have been worth the effort. But in the end, I had a lovely time. I even got to make use of my fireplace for the first time this season. And I had an egg nog-flavored something at the Coffee Bean. These are a few of my favorite things.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 1:28 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Oct 23, 2006

Magic Is Gay

Friday night, I went to The Magic Castle to help my friends Kevin and Chris celebrate their birthdays. I am not a fan of magic. I find the melodrama and faggy hand gestures to be the height of overdoing it. I especially don't like the Vegas-y variety of comedy and magic that The Magic Castle seems to be famous for. (Incidentally, is it The Magic CASTLE or The MAGIC Castle?) The first time I ever went to The Magic Castle, I had only lived here for a month or two, and my office had our Christmas party there. I had dinner, and then left before the magic show. I had tickets to see Tenacious D, Naked Trucker, and Spinal Tap at the House of Blues that night. And that was far more magical a prospect.

I did actually like the Close-Up Room, where the show is more about sleight of hand, which I can truthfully appreciate very much. Our magician in the Close-Up Room was a lady named Suzanne, and she was really good. And not at all covered in glitter or self-tanner. I think sleight of hand and magic are very different things. Where one of them is a good and cool thing and the other is a thing that makes me want to punch my fist through a hat. And frankly, it really comes down more to the issue of whether or not you are really good at it or whether you have one of the two hairdos magicians are apparently allowed to have. The guy in the Parlor of Prestidigitation was not funny, not skillful, and not someone who is not a hunchback. I had had enough to drink that I was probably not a very gracious audience member. And a fat guy glared at me at one point because I was having a good time but not in synch with the rest of the group. I think we also annoyed the young lady whose bosom would have received a marriage proposal from Chris, had she not liked magic so much.

I also don't like being asked to participate in the show. I don't even like it when this happens at comedy shows. Or at restaurants with especially gregarious servers. I hate being put on the spot. And I'm always convinced I will do the wrong thing. So I was relieved to not be wrangled into doing anything to support the magic. I had warned Kevin before the event that there was no way I was going up on stage for anything. Especially not to be sawed in half. It also occurred to me that women are always more at risk at these events for the simple reason that women are considered less likely to be -- or worse to think they are -- funny. So you get a lady up on stage to hold your tablecloth, sprig of baby's breath, and bewitched hat stand and you can do your schtick uninterrupted. You get a dude up on stage, and there's a very good chance he will find himself a chance to do a one man interpretive scene from Top Gun. (Probably either the You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling part or the part where Goose dies.) So maybe I resent this tradition. Despite the fact that I freely admit women are less likely to be funny.

In the end, I had a nice enough time. A lot of whiskey helps. I also started out the evening with a Campari soda at dinner, and I haven't had one of those in years and years. It was nostalgic and good. And afterwards, Kevin and Chris and I went to the 101 Coffee Shop and argued about my Guitar Hero skills (though Chris has never played) and whether or not mac and cheese should be soupy. I'm a fan of the crispy/chewy variety. Chris prefers the soupy version. But everyone agreed on the onion rings. Although the boys ate theirs with mustard, while I ate mine with ranch. And I drove home quite certain I would never need to -- nor should I -- ever eat again.

Birthday Party

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posted by Mary Forrest at 12:49 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Aug 12, 2006

I should be playing Guitar Hero.

I just saw an episode of Stargate Atlantis whose plot was nearly exactly the same as the plot of an episode of Stargate SG-1 I watched a few weeks ago. Is that the premise of Stargate Atlantis? It's the exact same show as Stargate SG-1, only they've rewritten all the scripts and replaced "SG-1" with the word "Atlantis" and MacGyver is played by a guy with darker hair? Knowing this now, I feel like a real bum that I haven't tried harder to pitch show ideas to the Sci-Fi Channel. I need the work. And I think there could really be a market for Battlesquare Universica.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 12:56 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Feb 26, 2006

"This is a very specific kind of bullshit."

Last week was my first week at a new job which came to me suddenly and thus took on a dreamlike quality. Not dreamlike in that it was beautiful and ethereal, but rather dreamlike in the sense that it never felt like I was fully awake or fully there. My sleep habits are ridiculous, and my eyeballs are delicate. It seems.

So, it was not entirely unforgivable that I plain forgot that I had tickets to see the Kids in the Hall at the end of the week. My calendar and a conversation with a friend reminded me, and all of a sudden I had to scramble to find mates to go with me, because I had bought two tickets for Friday and FOUR ticket for Saturday, assuming I would have lots of buddies who missed out on the sale. It wasn't difficult. Save for those who wouldn't be in town, no one DIDN'T want to go. In the end, I took Martín on Friday and then Dustin, Boris, and Martín (again) on Saturday, and both occasions were super. The theater was so crowded on Friday night that Martín and I had to stand in the back, but we were flanked by Vera and Blaine and a handful of other friends, so it was really nothing to complain about. But on Saturday, I made sure to get there good and early so that we could sit up close and not have to wonder about what unplanned offstage banter was happening out of earshot.

The Kids performed all new material they had just written this week, which was a thrill and a treat and a dose of inspiration. And an equally potent dose of indictment.

After last night's show, Boris and Dustin and I skipped out on the after party for the show and went instead to the House of Pies and then to the liquor store and then back to the Steve Allen to watch the Tomorrow Show, after which I still had a great deal of whiskey in my handbag and really should have created a scenario that would have led to my drinking more of it, but instead I hurried home to my dog and my Guitar Hero, which just might be as good as it gets.

My friend Simon and I had an IM chat later that night during which I confessed that I had felt pretty, as a means of balancing out the usually self-critical responses I make to any of his kind compliments, and also because -- amazingly and for once -- it was true.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 2:39 PM | Back to Monoblog

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