Oct 1, 2006

Identity theft is so Buddhist.*

So I posted to my MySpace blog last week, because it had been brought to my attention that there was someone calling herself Jessica in New Haven, Connecticut, using pictures of me on her profile and passing them off as her. So I guess it's more appearance theft than identity theft. But it's theft anyway. Ten out of her twleve profile pictures are photos of me. They were all taken in various parts of 2004, and they are all copyrighted. By me.

I wrote to MySpace requesting they get involved. (There hasn't been any response yet, by the way. I know we hear this argument all the time, but honestly, for the amount of money that was paid to purchase MySpace, you'd think by now they would have been able to staff up and start offering some actual customer service. But no.) The way you do that is to send them what's called a "salute." Basically, you have to take a picture of yourself holding a handwritten sign that reads MySpace.com and then your friend ID. You send that to them, and then you send them the URL of the profile that is attempting to pass itself off as you. And theoretically, they swoop in and fix everything.

In a show of passing but pitiable dumbness, I remember having a flash of concern that this Jessica could send them a picture and get them to shut down MY profile. It took me a second or two to realize, "Oh, wait. She can't do that, because she isn't me. So if she were to take a picture of herself holding up this sign, the picture would reveal that she isn't me. Because she isn't. Duh." I shared this lapse with Beulah, and she confessed to having thought the same thing. And she's a school teacher.

I have thought about this situation for the past week, as I've been waiting for MySpace to respond. I suppose there's room to be flattered that someone in need of a fake appearance would choose mine. The profile is not intended to use my image to satisfy anyone's chubby fetish. Jessica is not telling anyone that she -- wearing my face and body -- is some cock-hungry whore or multi-level marketer. I just took issue with the fact that this fake me would say that her musical likes are Enya and Buddhist chants. And that she would make all of the content of her profile about how much she's into Buddhism and helping others, especially children. I was discussing it with my brilliant friend Simon over IM last week, and he said, "You should write, 'Fuck you, Jessica,' on your hand and take a picture. Or how about writing something hurtful about the Dalai Lama on your body, take a nude picture, and email it to all her MySpace friends." I love the idea of getting back at this person by maligning the Dalai Lama. Not that I believe for a moment that she's really a Buddhist. Or that she's really a she for that matter. And what's the point of pretending to be so enthusiastic about Buddhism? I don't think a lot of hot girls are going to be sending nude pictures of themselves to Jessica with a rap like that. And I'm assuming that's the idea. But I'm no psychologist. Is there money to be made in Buddhist evangelism? I'm assuming there isn't, but I haven't really done my homework.

A number of my friends have written to Jessica, as have I. The gist of my message was just, who are you and why are you using pictures of me. My friends may have phrased their queries with more verve. MySpace lets you see when someone has read your message, and I've confirmed that "she" has read mine but just chose not to respond. She didn't accept any of their friend requests either, so no one has been able to post comments to her profile or photos. The one of me with my min pin Audrey that is captioned, "Me and my puppy Tina," is particularly irritating. As is the one of me at Coachella wearing a Duran Duran baseball cap and captioned, "Duran Duran is my band." The one that is captioned "Saturday night" was actually taken in the middle of the day on a Monday. I remember it distinctly, as I was on my way to LACMA to meet a guy for coffee, and it was my friend Angie's birthday. Beulah and I have taken to referring to Audrey as Tina now, just to amuse ourselves. But everyone knows "Tina" is a dumb name for a dog.

It seems that Jessica has not signed on since reading my message, so I assume that she -- like me -- is just waiting for MySpace to summarily pull the plug. I wish there was some hope that the mystery would actually be solved. But I doubt I'll ever find out if this was a prank or something more sinister, if it was executed by someone who actually knows me or just by someone who has been to my web site enough to have collected a few photos they liked. The photos were all pulled from my Roundup page but from a few different sets and from a few different time periods. So that has an element of creepiness to it. Generally, no one gets weirded out when they find out someone likes them. But when they like them enough to have done their homework...that's a horse of a different color.

So I'm in San Diego now. I played the late show and the midnight show at the comedy theater. I was exhausted, but the shows went all right. My eyes are burning, and I am filled with a form of disquiet about a number of things. Tina is curled up sleeping beside me, but when I got home, I realized that she had splattered a few of my parents' carpeted steps with liquid shit. So I spent a half hour or so cleaning that up, much to my dismay. I really do need the help of the Dog Whisperer. As cute as she is, she is a ridiculous handful. But I don't want to apply to be featured on the show, because I don't want the world to make fun of my cluttered apartment.

I've been uploading photos to my Flickr photostream for the past week or so. I have more than 21,000 photos uploaded so far. And there are many, many more to go. That verges on mindblowing. I have taken a gigantic lot of pictures in the past few years. A crazy, inexcusable lot. If only I could focus some of that energy on all the other things I still have to do.

Kerstin and I are trading writing projects. I've got a Channel 101 pilot idea that I think could fly. I've got a friend's screenplay to rewrite, and I've been sitting on that one for ages. I've got a thousand one- or two-sentence ideas that could easily be fleshed out if I would just stop destroying the muscles in my right arm moving pictures and photo sets around on the Flickr web site with my notebook touchpad. My right forearm is noticeably Popeye-ified. And that can't be good.

My plan tomorrow is to wake up at a reasonable hour, maybe go swimming a little bit, then go down to Mission Valley to take executive portraits of my clients, for whom I am designing a fundraising prospectus. Then I will drive back to Los Angeles and hopefully get back in time to perform in a show at Improv Olympic West with Lunch with the Girls. I played my first show with them last week. I don't know that I distinguished myself so terrifically, but I did get to play Teddy Ruxpin in one scene. I only wish I knew more of the phrases Teddy actually said.

Anyway, I'm extraordinarily tired. I even overslept this morning and didn't make it to San Diego in time to sing at a funeral I had agreed to sing at. I'm pretty sure that makes me an awful person. But then I've never tried to pass myself off as anyone else. So maybe it all balances out.

*Beulah Forrest

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posted by Mary Forrest at 3:42 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Jun 29, 2006

Ceaseless Entertainment

Bravo for Superman Returns! I enjoyed it so much. See, Matt? I can like movies. I really can. And I did like this one. My one nitpicky complaint is that Kate Bosworth's wig action was pretty awful. But I didn't even care. And I don't like Kate Bosworth. And I REALLY don't like Kevin Spacey. And I thought Parker Posey looked terrible. But that didn't stop me from thrilling. And Ottman does such beautiful things with the parts of the original Williams score he repurposes. Such beautiful things.

Not everything was plausible. Not everything made sense. But the things I think were most precariously at risk were worried for on no account. What a rotten sentence that was. What I mean is: Brandon Routh was perfect. Even the re-envisioning of how Superman moves is especially wonderful. His physical abilities seemed so much less corny and clunky. His flight is balletic. He can turn over and do the backstroke. He can do anything. And I believed it. So, he didn't underact or overact. He didn't make it look like a sideshow. Gay, you say, Beulah? More like gay-REAT. Wait. That doesn't sound as good as I meant it to either.

When I was at the comedy theater over the weekend, I was talking about how bad X-Men: The Last Stand was, and I was accused of being unpleasable. But this was my point. Brett Ratner is no Bryan Singer, and never the twain shall meet. Except maybe at a disco party in the Hollywood Hills. Bryan Singer is a wonderful filmmaker. Whether you love or hate the superhero genre. Whether you think comic books are canon or crap-wiping paper. He makes movies that don't rely on the genre to tell their stories. I feel as if I'm about to compare him to Nicholas Meyer. Someone stop me before I drag Captain Kirk into this. But back to Bryan Singer. I don't know his actual influences, but you can appreciate him for the (early) George Lucas or the (early) Steven Spielberg in his work as much as you can for the William Wyler. Brett Ratner, by comparison, is good friends with Russell Simmons.

I'm sure there are things that will crop up if I see it again or discuss it with more people. Violations of the myth. Bum-outs over the crisis. Questions about the science of kryptonite. The friends I saw it with hashed through some of these things outside the theater, but then Kevin and I had to jet off to see Eddie Izzard, who was also impressive and hilarious and wonderful. He reprised one of the bits I remember from Sexy, which I saw in 2003 on three different nights with four different people. But it was nearly all new material, all delivered in his hallmark smart, endearing, tangential way. I will see him again this week. And I will marry him one day, if he will have me.

I have a review of the changes to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disney's Disneyland on deck, too, but I am very hungry.


posted by Mary Forrest at 1:50 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Mar 26, 2006

As Good As It Was

I drove to San Diego yesterday to perform in some comedy shows. I also stopped over at Sarah's for Paul's birthday party, where some fun was had. We even went to The Lamplighter because Sarah wanted me and Beulah to sing karaoke. And I ended up on the stage alone. I sang "Rosanna." Then I left. And I really think The Lamplighter is a shitty bar. I always have. I always will.

I had to rush over to the comedy theater to play the late show and our monthly midnight show, in which I am allowed to say words more representative of the words that actually come out of my mouth when talking than one might be able to tell from watching the regular PG-13 show. The midnight show is a fun excursion. We don't do the short-form games of which I grow so bored. We do long-formy stuff, and we get to be more creative with edits. And none of this is entertaining to talk about. I had a fun enough time, despite some disappointments. And I drove home in the rain in the wee hours, listening to a very old playlist on my iPod that sent me into a strange reverie. Strange and painless. I was almost trying to force myself to feel nostalgic and wistful. It's like I miss all that heartache. Like I don't know how to want things in the absence of being denied them. This all ended in getting into bed at the hateful hour of five a.m., where I was neither sad nor happy and where I was so tired I couldn't sleep. So I read a Star Trek novel for a while and then forced myself to turn off the light and be quiet and still.

Who cares.

Now, I'm working again. And As Good As It Gets is on the television, and Audrey is my little Verdell, and I can't believe Helen Hunt won an Oscar for this movie. The movie itself is still reasonably enjoyable to watch, but Helen Hunt's performance didn't wow me the first time I saw it, and none of the letters in "wow" are in my feelings about her performance today. I much prefer her in that educational film where she takes PCP and jumps out a window.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 4:45 PM | Back to Monoblog

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     Mar 10, 2006

Unacceptable! (Mea culpa.)

It's not that I haven't had anything to say.

I did not watch even a second of the Oscars. I regret this in a way, as it is usually a fertile field for my exclamations and complaints. I did watch Jon Stewart the next time he was on his show, and he said words that sounded flip, but he seemed cranky about the fickle reviews he received. I guess he is allowed that. But it mars the image that I think previously made him so appealing: that of a very smart dude who can civilly commune with opposing intellects while keeping his justifiably smug superiority a complete secret. In the past few weeks, it's Stephen Colbert who has most thrilled and charmed me. I think the smugness suits him. The irony is subtle enough to be lost. And his delivery has gotten to be leagues better. Although that remote about the women's prison in Shakopee that Dan Bakkedahl did this week is among my favorites.

I was in San Diego over the weekend. That's part of the problem. I did a couple of shows at the comedy theater. Got to play Five Things both times. And then afterwards, I went and met John Meeks at Nunu's only minutes before last call. Then he and I sat and drank whiskey in my car with the iPod playing and me eventually singing along like the gayest gayrod ever until my battery died. I had to call a tow truck and everything. When my mom called at 6 a.m., I felt guilty. And when I got into bed at 7:30, I felt guilty and terrified of having to be up in only a few hours and still pretty drunk. But I was able to get up in time to get my errands done and to celebrate my mom's birthday (which was on Monday) with the rest of the family at Jasmine. For dessert, we were served those peach-shaped buns with the sweet bean inside. Somehow, and at the urging of one or both of my sisters, I ended up doing something to that bun with my tongue that fetched the interest of a host at the restaurant, who knows me and Sarah from the days long ago when we used to go to Jasmine for dim sum at least once weekly. He looked over Beulah's shoulder as she reviewed the pictures she was taking and said, "I want to see those pictures." Randy. I got very red in the face and wanted to leave immediately.

I drove back to L.A., having not watched the Oscars, and was mortified to hear Steve-O hosting Loveline with Dr. Drew. Good god. Not only can I not stand his bong-soaked voice with the audible fluttering tendrils of mucus in his throat, but he NEVER SHUTS UP. A girl called in to talk about her heroin addiction and how she is living in a tent, and he interrupted her at every chance, plugging his web site, inviting her to log on to his message boards and receive encouragement from him. I guess her tent is in an area with good wireless signal. And he interrupted Dr. Drew incessantly, too. And never for any amusing or informative reason. It was the worst. Really. Intolerable. I had to turn it off.

And since I have returned, I have had so much work to do and so little time to do it in that I've barely bothered to make notes about the things I wanted to write about later.

Wednesday night, Jeff came over and broke my PlayStation 2. But we fixed it. Like screwdriver-wielding surgeons. I wonder if surgeons save people's lives by just sticking their fingers in wherever they can and jiggling things around.

And I reconnected with an old friend from college this week and have been pitched into that dizzying pace of email exchange that leaves little time for public speaking. Whenever I am immersed in a scintillating exchange, I channel all the good stuff into that private dialogue and my public performance suffers. One day, I will learn to balance this.

I can't remember a single other thing.


posted by Mary Forrest at 10:48 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Jan 15, 2006

I require the use of a time-turner.

I wanted to be in countless places at once tonight. I was at Tom Hicks' birthday party in Silverlake, using up the photo booth at the Edendale Grill like tomorrow would be the end of photo booths. And I also had wanted to go to the Tomorrow Show. And I also wanted to be at home in my bed or in my bathtub. And I also wanted to be performing at the comedy theater in San Diego with my pals that I love there. And I also wanted to be appreciating the company of my aunt who is visiting from far away and has the best name in the history of names (Ping Ping Valtriani). Tomorrow, I am supposed to go make up an improv workshop. And I am planning to go to San Diego to see my aunt and my family. And I will try to make it to a meeting for a sketch show while I'm there. And maybe I will also drop dead. Because it has been quite a week. I've had somewhere to be every night. And I've stayed out well past closing in most of those cases. And I've had work to do when I arrived home, often with a bit too much of the sauce in my veins. And I really don't know that I have it in me anymore. I want to sleep and read and run and tidy up and fix things. I want to seize the day. I want to squeeze every last drop out of the day. I want to pulverize the day. I want the day to be left bruised an unrecognizable, even to its closest friends. I want there to be fewer bits of celery in the leftover Chinese food I'm eating right now. I want the Bond marathon on AMC to continue forever. Even though it will mean never getting to see an episode of this new con-artist show they keep promo-ing. I would not make a good con-artist. I am not good at telling fibs. And I feel sorry for people. And I have too many belongings to ever be able to up and skip town. God, enough with all this celery.

P.S. Mindy makes my world seem like a bottomless mint julep.


posted by Mary Forrest at 3:14 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Nov 4, 2005

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds

When I was in high school in Japan, there were two girls who became inseparable best friends. Jo Ann and Natalie. They were a year behind me. I knew both of their sisters better than I knew them. They were pretty and popular and all the boys wished they could get as close to either of them as they were to each other. I envied them.

I remember towards the end of my junior year, Natalie was moving with her family. Back to the States I think (that's what you call America when you are in a military family overseas). They were in drama together. Either in a class or in the extracurricular activity. I can't remember. They were performing Paul Zindel's play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. I don't know if it was the whole play or just a scene from it. I assume they were playing Ruth and Matilda, but I never saw the performance. What I remember is hearing that they had a very emotional scene together and the reality of Natalie moving away and of this being their last performance together and perhaps one of the last times they would spend together reduced them both to very real tears on the stage, and everyone in the place was moved.

Krissy and Dorian are moving away next week. I am going to perform with them on Saturday night at the comedy theater. It will be their last show in San Diego and our last show together for what will certainly be a long time if not the longest of times. I've thought about this story of Jo Ann and Natalie a lot recently, wondering if I will find myself in a scene with Krissy and just not be able to handle it. Of course, doing improv is hardly the same as a play about adolescent angst. I'm less likely to have an emotional breakdown in a game of Forward Reverse. But still. I haven't been able to think of much else for the past few weeks. I don't know what it will be like. It isn't the same as when you live on separate continents. I said a great many of those sorts of goodbyes growing up. Everyone was always leaving. Someone was always moving away. And someone was always showing up in their place. And very few people kept in touch. We'll be better about that. We'll call and write. We'll instant message and e-mail. We will do better. But we won't be able to do many of the things we used to. And we won't be able to do anything at the drop of a hat. Anyway who wears hats anymore.

Gotta Get Up and Be Somebody

I went for a run this morning. I did some editing work. I met my friend Michael for lunch. I did not get a parking ticket. I dropped off some film. It hasn't been a bad day. But it hasn't felt like anything at all.

Titanic is on the television. It's been on a lot recently. Someone's residuals checks will get a nice bump this season. I remember going to watch this movie in the theater and crying like a total wiener. I took the day off work to see the movie, and then I went shopping at Tower Records and bought things I didn't need. And when I got home, Beulah was making fried chicken, and the whole place smelled like it. I went upstairs and took a nap and dreamed about Titanic and knew my eyes would be puffy on waking after all the crying I'd done. What a ninny I was. So crippled by delusions of romance. So jelly-like inside. So manipulable. I can understand being sad about all those people dying. It's awful awful awful. Especially because it's true. But it's still such a clunky movie. Heavyhanded and obvious. All that treacle and vinegar. Subtlety is a lost art, isn't it? People don't seem to like things unless they're easy. Especially people who think looking for fifteen minutes at one of those Magic Eye posters is a sign of deep intellectual exertion. Of course, those Magic Eye posters have gone away, too. Too many brain injuries, I'm sure.

Anyway, I have wasted a lot of time feeling bad about all the time I've wasted. I've wasted a lot of time feeling bad about a lot of things. I don't know how one gets wired that way. Damned Chinese ciruitry.

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     Oct 23, 2005

Long Goodbye

Loren got it started. The festivities were beginning to break up at Jonah's goodbye party, and Loren told me that reading the thread of posts between me and Krissy on the comedy theater listserv was what finally made it kick in for him.

She's leaving.

Tears started welling up in my eyes immediately. I was saying goodbye to Krissy for the night. But in a week or two, I will be saying goodbye to her altogether. She and Dorian are moving away. Starting a new and different life. Preparing for Baby Zoe. And Jonah is leaving for his new job and his new town and his new everything that same week. Smiling and happy. Excited about what comes next. As well he should be. My Jonah Bear. Leaving.

It's like everything is turning upside down at once.

Krissy and Becky and I went shopping today for Halloween supplies and costume ideas. It was so dismal and grey out. The sun never emerged. There was this blanket of gloom. A misty veil of sad autumn weather. Autumn is where the ending begins.

And I had this continual feeling of déjà vu. Mid-october. Goodbyes. I realized I was being taken back to the autumn of 2001, when I was leaving San Diego for Los Angeles and whatever the calendar pages held. My leaving was abrupt. My job offer came just as September 11 was happening. I had to move and start work all at the same time. I never had a goodbye party. I remember my last practice at the comedy theater. People didn't even stay after to have a drink with me. I left feeling sad and jilted. I went over to The Living Room and wrote in my journal and made friends with someone who thought I looked interesting.

Everything was so uncertain then. And I felt more alone than I ever have. Striking out on my own. But also being abandoned to it. With nearly no support system. Nearly no well-wishing. A motel room and a job waiting for me. And a notebook to write in in tiny pencil print.

We drove down drizzle-spattered streets that might as well have been those same 2001 streets. To the foot of Mount Helix. Through Clairemont. Down Sixth Avenue. Past Balboa Park. It was nighttime all day today. It was bleak and cruel and colorless. And looking forward felt like paying lipservice. Everything is ending.

So there I was at Jonah's party, drinking punch and catching up. And Loren mentioned that reading what Krissy and I wrote to each other on the listserv made it all hit home. And the tears started to come. And each time I tried to deny them, they welled up more insistently.

I love her so much. Krissy. I love that girl so much. Krissy and Dorian are family to me. I love them the way you love the ones you have to love. Only I don't have to love them, and I do anyway. Effortlessly. They are so special to me. I can't write a sentence that would do them justice.

As I was driving home, Wake Me Up When September Ends was playing on the radio, and tears began to sprout from my eyes. Spilling out onto my cheeks, despite my attempts to brush them away. My poor eyes have suffered so much this weekend. There is no hope that they will look pretty again before the new week begins. I wonder if they will ever look pretty again. Asian girls are ugly when they cry. It's a fact.

I always say this is my favorite time of year. The spate of months whose names end in "ber." The smell of fireplace aftermath. The seasonal goodwill. The preparation of turkey feasts. Days that get shorter. Nights that come sooner. Turtleneck weather. Long sleeve weather. Socks weather. Scarf weather. This used to be my favorite time of year. But it's almost as if its former favored status is its worst enemy. All the things that once made it sweet threaten to turn it bitter now. Memories of how such things ever became favorite. Spoiled. It gets so that looking back is distasteful. And how I used to glory in my nostalgia and melancholy. How less glorious when it all turns wry.

I have lived in Los Angeles for four years now. How can that be? Shouldn't I be graduating from something? Matriculating in some fashion? Shouldn't I have more signatures in my yearbook? For all my diligence in saving everything, I don't seem to have been able to save anything at all. It all washes away. Ebbs into the distance. Pulls out beyond reach. There are all these stars in the sky, and you can't catch a single one. Not if your arms were as long as the street you live on. There are no stars on your street. No matter how far you drive.

I have been utterly ineffectual. The rainforests. The ozone layer. Israel. Blame it all on me. I haven't done a goddamned thing.

Everything is always ending. That's how it was made.

There's a reason I have to skip ahead when Saying Goodbye from The Muppets Take Manhattan comes up in the music mix.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 2:57 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Oct 11, 2005

bite lip. close eyes.

My beloved Krissy is the most unconditionally dedicated Green Day fan I know. (And when I said that over the weekend, Dorian was offended. For the record, he is the second biggest Green Day fan I know. He may be gayer about it than she is, but she married him because he looks kinda like Billie Joe. I think she wins. They both have Green Day tattoos. Their baby is destined to be either a total punk rocker or the world's biggest Republican.) She and Dorian have seen five Green Day shows in the past week or so. San Diego, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. I work for the company producing the extra-special Green Day show at The Wiltern tonight, so they're going to that, too. And I got Krissy to blog their concert road trip and to blog the show tonight. The Network is opening for the band, which I hope by now at least one or two people realize is Green Day in masks. When an opening act was being mentioned here in the office, the production people didn't know anything of the sort. Which is depressing. I like knowing secret things. But I also like working with people who know their shit. And know the shit out of it.

I'm listening to American Idiot right now, doing my track research and preparing the copy I have to write for the on-demand version of the show we will make available after the live stream is completed. Going from web site to web site, confirming discography information and band history. Encountering the boys and their eyeliner and their triptych style of studio pose. I remember when I first heard When I Come Around on 91-X. I remember wondering if Billie Joe was British. And I think I remember thinking that he would be cute if it weren't for his jacked up teeth. I bought Dookie and then the next four albums. But I buy albums like many people breathe air. And I get hooked into thinking I need the omnibus, so I buy everything a band releases and then never bother to listen to the songs. Explaining why so many of my thousands of CDs are still comfortably packaged in their native cellophane.

When I met Krissy and Dorian -- when they started playing with me at the comedy theater in San Diego -- that was who they were to me. That cute punk rock couple who loves Green Day. The young marrieds who change their hair color all the time and will love you for buying them many things you can find at Hot Topic. Today, of course, they are much more to me. But the Green Day part of that portrait never fades much.

So I'm listening to Green Day music and looking at Green Day pictures and sometimes getting a little misty over how much they mean to people who mean so much to me. And then going, "Why are there synthesized hand claps in She's a Rebel?" And then getting over that and getting misty again.

Punk breeds pop punk breeds pop punk rip-offs. Even if you hate Sum 41 and Good Charlotte (and you should), you should be able to give credit where credit was once due. I just love that there are still people whose passions are so pure they can experience uninterrupted joy at a rock concert. I applaud the uncomplicatedness of loving one thing completely. And I think they should name their baby Gunther.

take me away. paradise.

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     Jul 7, 2005

The War to End All Tom Cruise/Steven Spielberg Collaborations

Spoiler alert: This movie is no good.

I saw War of the Worlds for the second time last night. Don't think that means I liked it. I didn't. I hated it the first time I saw it, but I wondered if it might just be that seeing it in a theater in Burbank where the common folk were so audibly annoying might have slanted my take. But alas, no. Last night, I confirmed my first impression. Incontrovertibly.

It's sad that this is true, but Steven Spielberg, who I used to consider to be fairly deft at playing at the human melodrama -- is apparently just as out of touch with the reality of human interaction as George Lucas. Beyond the admittedly very good visual effects, this movie just proves that some writers and some directors really just have no idea at all how people behave or how they talk to each other or -- and this is the most unbearable part -- what children do and say. If you ask me, Dakota Fanning is what's wrong with children in film and television. I mean, maybe it isn't her fault. She's a little kid who can play an emotion and memorize a line and hit her marks. And that's all right. But if you've ever seen her interviewed, it's just the scariest thing imaginable. She spends one portion of the chat showing you that she's about to lose a baby tooth and the rest going on and on about how a-MAZ-ing it was to work with so-and-so and how BRILL-iant this such-and-such is, and all in the emphatic, cocktail-party elocution of a queeny creative type in the heyday of Truman Capote. She's not just too old for her age. I would find this kind of person insufferable as an adult, too. Seeing it in a child is just too much. Maybe Spielberg was trying to recapture the charm he found in a young Drew Barrymore or that Heather whatshername who died. He does seem to have a penchant for casting pale little girls with stringy blonde hair. But Dakota Fanning has none of the naivete of a young Drew Barrymore. And god help us if she grows up to be any worse an actress than an adult Drew Barrymore.

I was listening to Paul Feig on Fresh Air with Terry Gross last week, and I just caught the very end of his interview, when he was being asked about what shows he liked growing up, what shows influenced him. And he made such a good point about how shows like Leave It to Beaver and The Brady Bunch were good because they featured children speaking the way children actually speak. Whereas shows today constantly portray children speaking in the way that their adult writers wish perhaps they could have spoken in their own tortured childhoods. The Jonathan Taylor-Thomas syndrome, in my mind. One of the trailers I saw before my first screening of War of the Worlds was for this new remake of The Bad News Bears. And it isn't just because I love Walter Matthau or because I hate Billy Bob Thornton or because I hate Billy Bob Thornton's embarrassing hair plugs that I despise the very idea of this film. There is a clip where a girl shows the taunting boys that she can pitch, and one little four-eyes says, "I think I just entered puberty." And I just wanted to crush something in my angry fists.

One of the things that rubbed me the wrong way when I was in the Burbank theater was how, to much of America, everything is apparently a comedy these days. This happened when I went to see Revenge of the Sith, too. Now, I'll grant you that Yoda is kind of funny-looking, and maybe seeing him wielding a light saber with angry resolve is a little ridiculous, but not if you are allowing yourself to believe that he is in fact a Jedi master and that some serious shit is going down, and I'm assuming you're allowing yourself to do that, as you just paid twelve dollars to see a movie called Star Wars. And yet every time Yoda was on screen, I heard swells of laughter. The same was true in War of the Worlds. Even in cases of graphic carnage or (intended) gravitas. People kept laughing. And I kept wondering what was wrong with them. Maybe it's because of movies like Blade 3, where the seriousness and humorlessness of the Blade character is inexplicably "spruced up" by the addition of Ryan Reynolds' wise-cracking, steroid-pumped, shit-talking sidekick. The Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 2 syndrome, if you will. To be fair, so many of the moments of high drama in War of the Worlds are so implausible and ridiculous that it makes sense that you might laugh at them. But not for amusement's sake. But I don't think this was wry laughter. This was the same disappointing laughter I heard when Kevin James dances in the trailer for Hitch. Shame on you, America. But then, maybe it isn't America's fault. Maybe America has just seen so many of these insufferable mood-lighteners and assumes that every uncomfortable moment is intended to tickle a little bit. Maybe it's the result of generation after generation of cinematic "bad touch." Maybe we're all going to end up strippers.

Oh, I have so many issues with this movie. The first fifteen minutes? Totally unnecessary. That sandwich shuffling scene? Waste of time. Morgan Freeman's opening and closing narratives? Largely uninformative. What did those aliens envy so much? What did they want with our planet? What was the value of the blood? And if it was so valuable, why vaporize so many people instead of sucking them dry? And while we're on that topic, the annihilation methods employed by these guys were hardly the portrait of good process flow. We have droves of more effective tools for mass murder. And certainly they could look to the Nazis for some lessons on efficiency in this area. Which brings me to another point, Schindler's List was only one of the many of his own films I saw Spielberg cribbing from this time around. Also on the list were Minority Report, E.T., Poltergeist, and -- if only in the sense that Robbie looked so much like Karen Allen -- Raiders of the Lost Ark. On the list of other people's films he cribbed from are Titanic, The Abyss, and Signs. And I should further note that I wrote the following in my notebook when I was about an hour into my first viewing: "Worse than Signs." If that is even possible.

This movie is a pastiche of convenient exit strategies in scenarios that have been painted to be impossible. It is also a multiple offender of a rule I learned in improv: If you introduce something, it had better pay off. If Tom Cruise picks up a piece of freezing cold asphalt and puts it in his pocket, that has to pay off later. Did it? No. If Dakota Fanning is shown to be a claustrophobic, that has to come into play at some point. Did it? No. Even when she was in a number of cramped spaces, including a basket filled with strangers freaking out and being sucked one by one into a big red rectum. She screams for no reason many times throughout the movie. She screams. Then stops. Then screams some more. There is no halo to the panic. It is both succinct and distinct. And therefore unnatural. But when she's actually in a small, suffocating area -- utter silence.

Even the music was evocative of Schindler's List in places. Especially when you're seeing a mass exodus of sad, trudging, hope-bereft people who have lost everything and have nowhere to run. But it was in one of those scenes that I wrote in my notebook, "No one would have minded if they were only here to kill the Jews."

Lord, do I have issues with this movie. Why did that marine decide to save Tom Cruise when he was getting sucked up into the thing and not the other guy that got sucked up into it only moments earlier? How did Tom Cruise know that there would be a grenade belt in that overturned vehicle? How did the pins for the grenade get into his mouth when he was hanging onto that marine the whole time? Why did that soldier at the end provide the narrative exposition about the erratic behavior of one of the tripods before hustling Tom and Dakota along as if he didn't have time to explain everything to a pair of meaningless strangers? Why did everything stop working when the electromagnetic pulse hit -- everything except digital cameras and camcorders? Why would an adolescent boy with a huge chip on his shoulder be able to convince his father to abandon him to certain doom by quietly insisting, "I need to see this. You have to let me go?" Why did everyone suddenly want to be on that ferry when the tripods showed up? What was so much safer about being corraled on a slow-moving boat than being on the shore? How many times did Tom Cruise escape death by mere millimeters? How did he get all that man ash off his leather jacket? Was that soldier at the end really able to say "Clear!" with any conviction when that alien's gelatinous hand went limp? Is he a space doctor all of a sudden? Was that TV news crew in the van even human? Come on.

Another thing that REALLY got on my nerves was the number of times characters in the film would speak to someone who would not respond, requiring them to just say the same thing over and over again. It was almost as infuriating as watching Tom Cruise say Matt Lauer's name to him over and over again in that ridiculous interview. "Dad. Dad. Dad." "Mike. Mike. Mike." "Robbie. Robbie. Robbie." "Ray. Ray. Ray." "Get in the car. Get in the car. Get in the car." "Get out of the car. Get out of the car. Get out of the car." Are these lines actually in the screenplay? Could it have been an accidental cut-and-paste glitch?

Oh, and that scene with the tripods scouring the scurrying masses with their searchlights could just as easily have been a Moonlight Madness event at Best Buy.

Speaking of the tripods, I know it's from the book and all, but these are as lamely unwieldy as the AT-ATs in Empire. You'd think they'd have vehicles that could like...fly or something.

I am so tired of the sameness of everything that is being churned out today. The few beacons of hope on the horizon are so very few as to be lost in the gaping black maw of everything else. Batman Begins was great, for instance (although I should write about that under separate cover and explain why it solidifies my misogynistic feelings toward nearly every ingenue in the superhero/action-adventure genre). But when trying to pick something to see last night, there were just so few titles out that were not guaranteed to actually hurt. I was left nearly no other option but to see this movie again. That's an algorithm the box office trackers probably don't factor in. Come on. Rebound? I'd rather be bitten by snakes. So I ended up seeing this movie twice. And no one is sorrier for it than I am. Although I have to say there is a certain sweet vindication in knowing that my first takeaway was not wrong. To my friends whose opinions I respect and who told me this movie was badass -- especially to the one among you who saw it twice and announced that it "holds up" -- I just have to shake my head, knowing that you and I probably want different things from a film. We can still be friends. And we can still play video games together and drink booze and stuff. But I can't really allow you to bandy your film recommendations so recklessly. Let's just get high and watch movies we already know are going to be bad. It's better for the friendship.

P.S. I think I like Christian Bale better emaciated. There is something wrong with me.

Trailer Watch

Stealth. Boo. I have managed to see this trailer on the big screen at least three times now, and it never ceases to cause me to make that face. First of all, are we really meant to believe that the three top pilots in America are a white dude, a black dude, and a chick? At least Top Gun was a little more honest about this. Face it. It would be three white dudes. Three white dudes with haircuts and ego trips and a tendency towards gum-chewing. Why do we have to be so beholden to diversity in our storytelling? If this was a movie where the world's top basketball players had to stop an unmanned fighter jet that had "gone rogue," they would be three black dudes. Period. Maybe one white dude. But really, probably not. I just love the way trailers these days give you every single important beat in the story right up front. We see the plane get hit by lightning. We hear them pronounce it sentient. We see that girl's ass. The only reason to go watch this movie would be to see if Jamie Foxx and that white guy accidentally touch each other's naughty parts in the mandatory three-way scene.

Narnia. I was excited at first. But it's already all wrong. What a shame. Every book from my childhood will be plundered before the end of it all. Who's slated to make the film version of Ferdinand the Bull? Probably Michael Bay. Fuck.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This may be the worst trailer in film history. It totally makes me not want to see the movie. It's possible the movie won't be horrible (although I'm leaning in the opposite direction), but the trailer is just this halting string of close-ups of Johnny Depp where the music cuts out just in time for him to utter an unamusing one-liner. And I don't think it's playing to his strengths to have him look so much like a girl.

Bad News Bears. I already aired my laundry on this one.

King Kong. The people on the island look like those freaks in The Thirteenth Warrior. And, although I want to see this movie, again I wonder at the logic of having the trailer expose every single plot point. Maybe Hollywood is just too used to promoting remakes. It's custom now to take it for granted that the audience might not know how the story goes. If The Crying Game were being promoted today, I'm sure the trailer would show Jaye Davidson peeing standing up. Not that that scene ever occurs in the movie. And, by the way, I hope I didn't just ruin the big surprise for you.

Elizabethtown. Cameron Crowe movies are really just soundtracks at this point.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 10:27 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Jun 19, 2005

Up. And also at them.

So that's it then. Two weeks of having to be up for morning meetings and apparently I get up early on my own.

I drove down to San Diego last night, tired when I began the drive and anticipating more of the same. I ducked into a liquor store before stopping by the comedy theater, so I was armed with sugar-free Red Bull and the small (but not the smallest) bottle of Bushmill's. I watched the second half of the second show and then went to C.J.'s with Krissy and Dorian and David and Janet, and we stood outside, smoking and talking until the bartender came to the window nearest me and asked me wanly to let everyone outside know it was last call. I did. And a discussion ensued with a guy who was probably trying to be clever. There were a lot of moments when I was spinning yarns and I noticed that strangers standing near us had positioned themselves as if they were in our party. Peripheral vision powered up, I could see their facial expressions registering the appropriate amusement or horror or curiosity or disbelief, but I wondered if it felt weird for them to be standing there listening to me talk about my mom without ever knowing who I was or why any of it mattered. No one really tried to make friends. Rather they stood there and acted as if they already had. Only skipping that important step of actually doing it.

I stayed out last night until C.J.'s was nearly closed. Then I drove the twenty-some miles back to my parents' house and reunited with Audrey, after having not seen her for two weeks. It was sweet to say the least. I got ready for bed and found that I couldn't get onto my parents' wireless network, so I turned in a bit earlier than blogging and messaging might normally have had me do. But still. I was not drifting off until at least three or so. And there I was, up before eight. Surprised to see that my parents hadn't yet left for church. For the many weekends I have come to visit here and stayed out till all hours with my compatriots, I have never been voluntarily awake before they left for church. Unless I had not yet gone to sleep. I'm a little disappointed. I don't like it when things fuck with my clock. I always assume I should be out of the reach of such things.

It's a beautiful day in San Diego. A beautiful day to be the daughter of my father.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 9:07 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     May 21, 2005

Threading the Spindle

For some reason, my journal entries have felt somewhat chore-like this past week or so. I let so many things slip through the cracks. Stories I don't bother to tell. I hear myself speaking them to the people I know and run into on a regular basis, and I lose my zest for making them permanent.

For instance, last week, I drove to Claremont to see a dinner theater matinee performance of A Chorus Line with my dad, who had bought tickets for himself and my mother only to later find that my mother was going to be out of town. So I drove fifty miles and joined him and this church group of older folks. They call themselves "55 Plus," but, let's face it, I'm closer to 55 than most of these people. "55 Plus Thirty" might be a better name. Anyway, when my father said it was going to be a church group and also that it was going to be A Chorus Line, I said, "Are you sure? Because you know there are some mature themes in that show." And he sort of shrugged it off. But sure enough, long before the number "Tits and Ass" even came up in the program, the pastor had excused himself out to the courtyard and apparently had no intention of coming back for the rest of the show. The fellow who organized this affair came back at intermission and told everyone that they were going to leave. And I was surprised to see my dad decide to leave with all of them, ditching me there, fifty miles from home and only halfway through a show I didn't really want to see so urgently in the first place. The people I told this story to heard me say things like, "Christians can be so immature," and make my case about the strange elitism they use to condemn all things secular. I talked about the idea of their being fishers of men, but apparently only of men who never talk about the unwanted erections they used to get in high school. My father is a right grown-up, and I don't think he would have left had he not been pressured to by all those cranky old skinbags. He even leaned over at one point and told me that one of the women on stage was really good. Clearly he can handle a little language, which is all there really was. I got into a frustrating debate with my Uncle Virgil about the content of the show. He threw around generalities that implied that the creators of this show put smut in it to make more money. And I had to object that I can't imagine paying a premium to hear the word "bullshit" said in a crowded room. I mean, if they put some horsefucking up there or something, then maybe. But mention of gonorrhea is no great shakes in my book. And he started telling me about how a show like this would never be done in a town called Branson. And it only got more inane from there. My dad even chimed in and supported me at one point when I was trying to say that the language and content are in there because of a desire to faithfully represent the community in which this show is taking place. Much like one might expect a play about the Navy -- and not Anchors Aweigh -- to have some language in it. And possibly horsefucking, as well.

I think I was going to call the blog entry I planned to write One Singular Sensation: Outrage. But I never got around to writing it. Anyway, bad as I felt about the cast coming back for Act Two and seeing this one table right down front empty of its former thirty occupants, I ended up leaving at intermission, too, because I decided I might as well beat the traffic back to Los Angeles, whence I immediately left for San Diego to drop Audrey off before my birthday weekend. Then I went and had some drinks, and I ended up driving back to Los Angeles at about three a.m. All told, I put about 350 miles on the car I am borrowing from my parents in one day. And I think I am still a bit tired from it.

That same day, I made a note that I've never been kicked in the yarbles, but I have fallen hard on the cross bar of a ten speed. I don't remember why I wanted to remember that fact. But I remember that it happened when I was in grade school and that there was actually some bruising.

I also went to see House of Wax last week, believe it or not. And it was really far less good than I could have ever imagined. Less good than House of a Thousand Corpses. Seriously, less good than that. And Paris Hilton gave an infuriatingly bad performance. Not that anyone else in the movie was particularly convincing or likeable. But Paris Hilton can't even convince you that something smells bad. And I'm not joking about that at all.

Tonight, I went to see Revenge of the Sith at The Arclight with Wayne Federman and Derek Hughes and Martín. I actually had a great time. I laughed at parts of the movie that were not meant to be funny. And I would look over at Martín from time to time as if to say, "What the...?" And he would nod in concurrence. He had already seen it twice before tonight. Which I appreciated, because there were a couple of times when I needed someone to tell me what had just happened that I couldn't discern with my logical brain. I don't want to write a lengthy review about it. I was made uncomfortable by the repeated use of the word "younglings." I was ever so disappointed in the Wookiee "battle" scenes, which had been far overhyped in geek discussion circles when the teasers first came out. And -- this will sound really awful of me -- but Peter Mayhew is too fat to play Chewbacca anymore. Unless we are to believe that twenty years later his metabolism finally hits its stride. There were a lot of battle scenes that reminded me perhaps too much of Starship Troopers. Or droids that reminded me of the Mondoshawan. Or of Captain Eo. And I tire of the trend in action films today for the combat to be so fast-paced that you can't see a single move distinctly from anything else that is happening. The lightsaber fighting looked like colorful windmills or maybe some sort of glowstick nunchaku thing at Burning Man. The art and elegance of swordfighting is utterly lost in them. When I was at the bar before the movie started, a greasy-haired youngling with one of those plastic, retractable lightsabers said this to his father, "Dad, I have a question. Do you think those lightsabers are real?" He was referring to something he had seen someone wielding outside the theater. And I found it both sweet and sad to overhear him ask, because it's great that children want so much to believe but he was clearly too advanced in years to be that naive.

But, really, in the gestalt, I enjoyed watching the movie. It was fun. And I didn't have anything at all riding on it being more than that. And my most stalwart advice for enjoying the movie in a zen sort of way is (a) have a cocktail or two before and/or during the screening and (b) don't let your brain start thinking about how good it could have been. I think the biggest letdown in all three of these films has been how obvious it seems to nearly any eye that the problems could so easily have been fixed. And if you don't lose yourself in the frustration of that idea, you can still watch it and be okay and not busy your brain with cutting dialogue from scene to scene or reworking premises when they make no kind of human sense. That's the way to play it, if you ask me. There is forgiveness in forgetting and forgetting in forgiving. And Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor both have a surprising number of growths on their faces.

Martín and I agreed that the moments when foreshadowing of continuity showed up were the greatest pay-offs for us personally. It satisfies something of the geek in you (read: "me") to hear names or scenarios mentioned that you know will be coming into play in the following episodes or to see the two suns of Tattoine and that weird little igloo house. And I am still a great fan of the music. That callback to "The Duel of the Fates" was pretty nice. I remember hearing John Williams conducting the L.A. Philharmonic in a performance of that at the Hollywood Bowl back in 1999. It's hard to believe this second trilogy is already that time-spanning. My, but how easy it is to throw a huge chunk of your life away on stories and stuff.

I haven't been feeling so hot this week. My vim is at a record low. Anxiety begets anxiety. Staying up all night makes it hard to sleep. I went to a few comedy shows early in the week and fulfilled my typical food to drink ratio for a night out, meaning I ate nothing at all and drank a bit more than that. I went to the Joe Jackson/Todd Rundgren concert in San Diego and stayed out until dawn playing cards and drinking and generally disregarding the fact that I had to drive back to L.A. the next morning. Sometimes, I expect to wake up in the morning and see that I've suddenly aged a huge number of years. Like the dude who chooses poorly in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I should take some vitamins. I don't have any desire to see what the bones under my facemeat look like.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 4:58 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     May 8, 2005


My parents' home is near a school. It appears some child lost one of those red four-square balls in the wasteland near their property. It's been out in the sun so long, its faded, misshapen, once-spherical form now looks dimpled and cratered and dull where it once shined, like a stray planetoid, poking up out of the dirt. There are snakes out there in that dusty, brushy open space. I just know it.

Last week, I drove down with Beulah and Justin to pick up the car I will be borrowing from my parents until my insurance business is settled. I was tired. Stressed. Maybe a little sad. The whole weekend had felt that way to me. A lingering sense of endings. Anticlimax. The doldrums. And I had a smidgen of headache. Exacerbated by a number of the hair band choices in Beulah's playlist that day. But somewhere along the way, I changed my mind about my mood, and we sang along to power ballads that require the stretching and straining of vocal limits. Night Ranger. Extreme. Steelheart. Sheriff. G N' R. It was hoarse goodness. Poor Justin. I'm sure he hated every minute of it. We sing like banshees, Beulah and I.

I hate to sound like a complete gayrod, but music sure is magical. And it's really just recently that I've recognized that I don't always have to be so vulnerable to it. Certain songs evoke memories and feelings and pangs of things. But many of them have been around long enough in my life's radio that there are layers upon layers of these memories. And it doesn't take much excavation to unearth a memory beneath whichever one you first encounter. Especially if that one makes you want to cry or call someone you shouldn't or buy something you can't afford. I was listening to Aimee Mann and Elvis Costello harmonizing in The Other End (of the Telescope), and at first it made me sad. I thought about putting this song on many of my mixtapes. Hearing it in the car with this guy or that one. Thinking things about the lyrics and wondering if what I was thinking showed. Or hearing it more recently and having the memory of remembering it and feeling sad for all that has and has not happened in the interim. But clicking back a few iterations to the earlier memories -- the not-sucking one -- has its charms. I was running the other day, and I got bored of my usual running playlist and started playing road trip mixes from ages ago. And it was perfect gorgeous outside and the running was super difficult but also wonderful. And I hearkened back to a much, much earlier listening of this song, riding a Greyhound bus from Ithaca, on my way to go visit my high school sweetheart. It was snowing and grey outside for most of the trip. I leaned my head against the window. The glass was cold and damp. I was poor. A college student. And I never did get a warm enough pair of shoes in the time I lived there. And there were flecks of melancholy in that story, too, but it did not hurt to think of them. One day, I expect the layers will mount, and I will be similarly unmoved by the stories that now abrade. They will be buried by everything else. More important things. The hierarchy of recentness. Everything will be forgotten. And as I forget, I cringe a little, knowing that I am also being forgotten. A great Etch-a-Sketch being shaken, if slowly. But you can't erase just one part of it. No matter how careful you are. Eventually the whole thing goes blank, and you start over. And wonder why there isn't more color in the world.

I have been in San Diego for a couple of days. Friday night, my family and I went to Tip Top Meats and ate meaty German food and the many cabbage dishes that come with it. Afterwards, I met friends at Cane's to see Tainted Love, an '80s cover band that helps you gauge how many of the lyrics you know to songs you were sure you used to hate.

We drank and danced and got sweatier than I usually care to. Then we went to Nunu's, and I got an earful from those who knew me about my new hairdo. I've noticed that a lot more people talk to me -- and for disconcertingly longer stretches of time -- than when my hair was not quite so fair. It is requiring me to be more brusque than I normally would ever be. It makes me want to dye my hair brown with grey streaks and wear nothing but sackcloth.

After Nunu's closed up shop, I took Krissy and Mike to that Mexican place near their house, and then we went back to their house and watched Blade Trinity with the housemates. For clarity's sake, I watched it. Everyone else slept, two of them actually sleeping on me in some fashion. I drove home at dawn.

On Saturday (yesterday), I went for a swim. A perfect swim in a perfect pool that made me reluctantly thankful for the sunshine and all the damage it is doing to my skinsuit. Beulah and I met up for some Mother's Day shopping. I had to leave before I wanted to. I had shows to do at the comedy theater. I did them. I had to sit on my hands a lot. But I did play the part of an infertile woman again and got to end a sentence with "unless your uterus looks like a raisin." And a little girl in the front row asked me after the show if I'm really barren, and it was such a precious little moment. The girl who sat next to her then told me that her brother isn't very nice because he sometimes kicks her "in the private." And that was precious, too, but for altogether different reasons.

After the show -- and another encounter with a persistent stranger named Bertrand who thought my hair and shoes were reason enough that we should be the very best of friends -- I ended up at the Lenz house again. I made a pretty good Chewbacca sound for the first time ever. This time I got home by five or so. But still.

Today, we celebrated Mother's Day by having a gigantic barbecue of assorted meats. I spent more time in the pool. I am a temporary frecklepuss. I practiced juggling with balls that are too light and too large for my small, imprecise hands. Beulah and I played games in the water. Audrey swam with me and rode me around the pool like a raft. And then all of a sudden it was now. And there was nothing much more to say about that. Except that I am coming home soon. And I am glad of it.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 4:28 PM | Back to Monoblog

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     Mar 4, 2005

"I do not attempt to explore the depths of the oriental mind."

Well, that's not true, actually. That's a quotation from a John Wayne movie. I, in fact, do attempt to explore the depths of the oriental mind and often. Seriously. And I have no problem with people saying "oriental."

I forgot to cover some things. Wednesday night, Jesse and I went to The Hotel Cafe to see my lovely friend Anya. That part I covered. It was raining out, and I was in a blue mood, so Jessie brought me flowers, and I took a picture of them next to my leg. After our visit to The Velvet Margarita, we were walking back across wet streets to Jessie's car, and a cab with Tom Green in the front passenger seat nearly ran us down. Tom Green looked at us and said, "Hi." But that was hardly an apology.

It's brilliant sunny out, but the skies are black. It's raining in places but not everywhere and not all the time.

Last Friday night was the Duran Duran concert. I have finally posted the pictures of the band (and it should come as no surprise that this is really just more than two hundred photos of mostly only John Taylor) and of Beulah and me.

Saturday night, Yen and I shared a cherry after my show at the comedy theater.

Monday night, I realized how long my hair has gotten. The answer? Too long.

I guess that's the whole story up until this point.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 4:05 PM | Back to Monoblog

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     Feb 25, 2005

"Everything is flat and dreary. I couldn't care what's in the news."

I came home late to musicals on television. First My Fair Lady. Then on another channel West Side Story. And Maria began to sing in those pretty arpeggios, like delicate little glass bells, her voice. I know it wasn't Natalie Wood singing. But curiously, the same voice double sang for Natalie Wood as did for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady in the sopranoest of the songs. Marnie Someone, if I recall correctly.

Anyway, Maria sings to Tony out there on the fire escape. (The prologue to Tony singing Maria, his big solo.) And I admire the precision of her voice. And I remember admiring it when I first saw this movie on the television as a high school student living in Japan. We lived off-base in a neighborhood called Uraga. And there was no American television. Just this converter box you could buy that would sit atop your television set and play the English voice track to certain movies once a week or so. In mono. And we would watch whatever movie played just for the novelty of being able to understand what the actors were saying. Much like one might look through those colored cellophane cards at whatever poorly-narrated story was being presented in a given children's book in the promise of stunning 3-D.

Sometimes we watched movies that weren't that great. Or movies that were scary and that I wouldn't have ordinarily wanted to watch, as I do not usually care for scary movies mostly because they scare me and I feel nervous and fearful when I'm alone or trying to sleep after having watched one. But when I watched West Side Story, there was none of that inadvertency. I watched because I wanted to, and I never wanted it to end. It was so gloriously colorful and lovely to listen to and perfect and melodramatic. My only regret was that I couldn't hear it in full stereo surround sound. I had a chance to play in an orchestra for a production of the show back in 1998 or so, but I was playing in another show at the time. The Mystery of Edwin Drood, I think. And that was wonderful, too. A fun experience and a spate of happy memories. I was charged up with creative fire. I was performing in a sketch and improv comedy show at the time, and I spent all of my downtime in the orchestra pit writing ideas in my little notebook. Ideas for sketches. Ideas for characters. Ideas for names for the comedy group. Ideas for names for the show. Some of the things I wrote in this notebook (it had a Matisse painting on the cover and was library bound, with blank pages inside) still amuse me. Some of those days in the late summer were grey and surprisingly cold. The light in my bedroom when the blinds were closed seemed like nighttime, even when it was barely dusk. And when I used to open the windows -- because I was cleaning or because I wanted to remember the feeling of a breeze -- it used to smell lovely and odd in a way that I wonder if any other place in the world ever smells. Warm. A bit damp. Full of those various essences of chlorophyll and sweat and asphalt and soda pop. I lived on the third floor. But I never felt very far above anything.

I performed for several years in a musical comedy theater group at Mesa College in San Diego, and one year I sang the part of Maria in a few numbers from West Side Story. I was one of the reliable sopranos in the group, and eventually I began to be cast in even the ingenue roles when they called for a high voice. I felt very proud and fortunate. And confidently disappointed in my certainty that I would never be cast to play the entire role in a real production of the show. I've never auditioned for such a show, but that's how I've managed to keep my record of clairvoyance intact. I never get cast as the ingenue. I can think of any number of reasons why, but no one enjoys hearing that list.

I never finished reading the biography of Leonard Bernstein I started reading either that year or the next. If I stumble onto it while I'm poking through boxes at some point, maybe I will. He is the recipient of a great lot of my admiration. And the score to West Side Story is at least as difficult to play instrumentally as it is to sing. I am a fan of difficult. I don't know why that is. But I really appreciate being made to try.

I have been avoiding nostalgia. I have been keeping my feet out of the reminiscence pool. I have been giving it a go. But harping on my history is one of those things I do. It's the grind that turns out some form of usable pulp. It's necessary or something. I like to tell stories about things. And I like it when the telling of those stories leads me to places I had not planned to go. Most of the time. But I don't necessarily love the sinking feeling that accompanies certain of my memories. That apartment. The way the light looked at that time of year. The choices I made in furniture placement. Everything is so temporary. And yet you live with it for such a goddamned long time.

I was living through the seconds. My composure was a mess. I was miles from tenderness. It was dark outside the day it was broken in pieces.


posted by Mary Forrest at 1:37 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Feb 4, 2005


Wednesday, I drove myself and Jessie down to San Diego for the comedy theater "awards" banquet. Afterwards, we went to Dorian and Krissy's place and then headed back to Los Angeles. I was home by about 2:30, in bed by 4. Then up at 6:20 so I could drive back down to San Diego for a day of client meetings, followed by my referee debut at the comedy theater. A drink at Shakespeare's preceded my drive home again. And I am very tired of the inside of my car.

I had a rough audience tonight. Rowdy, drunk folks and hecklers. Hardly the ideal proving ground for a first-timer. But I think it went all right, all in all. And I hope I wasn't too mean to anyone. The jerks who kept interrupting the show were very kind when they were leaving, congratulating me as if to say they respected me for having survived their hazing. I guess they had a good time. And I guess they had no idea how much I would have liked to dowse them in gasoline.

I was surprised to see my old friend Lee at the theater. He is apparently a pal of Matthew, the token British guy. It was lovely to see happy faces that might have once been considered long lost. I'm glad I didn't discover until after the show that anyone I knew was in the house. Such things tend to make me perform closer to poorly. And I was running on fumes as it was.

I didn't do everything right, and Dorian gave me a series of helpful notes. But the only one I will remember is, "Stop being so hot." At my worst, I glow in the face of a kindness.

I think reffing will be fun. Once I get the hang of the whole whistle and stopwatch and notepad ballet. And once I get myself a ref jersey that fits and doesn't smell so...human. It's weird to hear myself say, "The game of schoolyard insults works like this..." Or any number of other things I have heard said by others hundreds of times over. I look forward to looking back on this sensation when it has all become old hat.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 3:33 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Jan 22, 2005

Sunshine on my shoulders

I went for a run today. I don't know my parents' new neighborhood all that well. My friend Rachel used to live around here with her husband, and I remember driving out to meet her one morning and having brekafast at the little coffee shop that is almost right across from my parents' house now. Afterwards, we went to a few thrift stores and to some sort of antique sale at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. I remember buying a green lamp. It is still in my bedroom.

Running along the streets and sidewalks is great for the get-to-know-you game. I now have a fairly complete inventory of the restaurants and shops nearby. I noticed that the Pannikin is very popular and that all taco shops smell the same. And I saw that Lou's Records has a Camper Van Beethoven CD for $13.49. It was gorgeous sunny out when I was getting dressed for my run, but by the time I laced up, stretched, and tried to figure out how to get out the security gate on my parents' property without the clicker, the marine layer had rolled back in, and I had to start out in the relative grey and cold. But by the time I had gone the first half mile or so, the sun seemed to be peeking out, and I was warm and conscious of the risk of more freckles. Something I have come to be reasonably at peace with.

I ran a few miles along the 101 and on the beach, where there were seagulls swarming over patches of kelp and kids toddling alongside their parents. Moms ineptly throwing footballs to their impatient pre-teen sons. Shapes drawn in the sand. Strange castle-like structures made of kelp and pieces of pallets and sticks and wire. Surfers and more surfers. Large rocks that are easy to turn your ankle on so you must step carefully, no matter the pace. Waves rolling in. Sunlight backlighting figures strolling towards me. Some amount of implied romance. My iPod didn't have enough juice, so I ran to the pace of my breathing. And in a way it was better. I was able to hear all the conversations I was running through. Little snippets of things that I could make my own sense of. Stories told out of context. Sort of like being in a Robert Altman film. I ran about a half mile on the beach. The tide was out, and the sand was vast and wet and hard-packed. And I mildly scolded myself for not having come sooner. For not having made a point of getting up early when I'm here and going down to the beach with a notebook or a sketchpad or a novel or a cup of coffee. I'm not a beach person. But I love the ocean. And being near it is a reminder of so many of the places I've lived and things that I've done and shoes that I've ruined by exploring tidepools. Beaches here on weekend days are interesting, too. They are expansive enough that you can be amongst hundreds of people, but you can have your privacy. And people walking past you don't bother you. They're not there for you. And it's nice that way.

I ran back up the hill and had to wait at the intersection for a while before I could cross. When that happens and I'm running, I just jog in place. I've gotten over wondering if I look foolish. I don't think anything of it. But while I was jogging in place, there were some guys in a truck in the left turn lane across from me, and from where I was, it looked as if the driver was moving his hands up and down to the rhythm of my bouncing. I don't know why. I suppose I can come up with a few scenarios. When the light changed and I ran across the street, they turned past me and said, "Bye!" I headed for the park, where children were making use of all the playground equipment (which includes a miniature rock-climbing wall), and parents were looking on with varying levels of interest. There is a sandy path that winds through the place, and I took it for as long as I could. Possibly because of the recent rains, a good stretch of the path was cordoned off, so I just moved to the grass when I had to. A birthday party was going on in one of the large pavilions. The bridge over the tiny man-made creek had a sign indicating that wheelchairs were not allowed. At least I assume that's what it meant. It was the handicap symbol (the guy in the wheelchair) with a circle around it and a line through it. I guess it could also have meant that no handicapped people are allowed to cross that bridge, but that seems too much geared towards my amusement and not at all in the interest of safety or convenience. And then I walked the last bit back to my parents' house. Cool down period, you know. And the cherry on top was the truck that pulled up behind me and idled on the two-lane road so that the driver could make that kiss sound out the window at me. He needed to do that so much, he didn't mind holding up the parade of cars behind him. Nor did he mind leaning across the woman in the passenger seat to get his puckering lips closer to the open window. Maybe it was his sister, and apparently he has some knowledge of outdoor acoustics. Anyway, I'm already not good at receiving compliments. Imagine how much more awkward I am when the compliment is actually sort of rude and inappropriate and when I have no real choice but to continue walking and hoping that it doesn't look like any extra bounce has been added to my step.

I was gone for an hour. Nearly on the nose. My internal clock is really quite impressive.

I took a shower and a bath (my parents have a luxurious abundance of hot water, and I often take advantage of that -- don't tell my mom), and that's that. I have shows to do tonight. Last night's shows went well. I was proud of some things and never terribly disappointed in anything. That's a victory of sorts. At one point, as the world's worst thing to say at a Wendy's protest, I said, "These hamburgers are made of Jesus." But I now wish I had said, "These hamburgers are made of stem cell research." In all things, my brain is always editing. Even improv. Which is cheating.

I don't like to be one of "those" people, but there really is something to be said for the value of vigorous exercise. It's a pain to plan for, and I can't say I really look forward to it or get excited about it or ever experience the mythical endorphin rush. I just know that I feel good when I'm done. Super good. And my face is all glowing and pink and my posture is better and I don't scowl so much when I pass the mirror on my way into the shower. I'm sure there must be some psychological method that could make it seem like less of a chore. But for the time being, the only thing that works is my dissatisfaction with how I look and feel when I'm not doing it. When I'm unhappy or dissatisfied or disquieted in some way, I do something. Not always the same thing. And not always the right thing. But I always do something in the hopes that it might be the thing that makes it all better for a moment. This protocol has led to the creation of a lot of miscellaneous junk over the years. It's like my brain says, If I'm going to be down, I might as well have something to show for it. And that's why I have this monumental fear of ever being content with everything. It's my displeasure with how things are that keeps me working and striving and thinking and reading and running and jumping and learning and hoping and reaching and bathing and grooming meticulously. It's a compromise.


posted by Mary Forrest at 1:58 PM | Back to Monoblog

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     Jan 17, 2005

Random House

I don't like to watch award shows. But I often watch them anyway. I caught the last bit of the Golden Globes tonight. Just in time to see Diane Keaton wearing an outfit that really is only a parody of her look at this point, to see Jamie Foxx tear up at the podium and to hope that he was sincere -- a cynicism planted in my brain by Halle Berry and her ridiculousness, and to see Robin Williams receive his "special" award.

Okay. For the record. I can't stand Robin Williams. I'm not saying he was never funny or that he didn't make a proper name for himself or that he doesn't have a sprawling body of work. I just find him annoying and unsurprising and never ever ever never funny. Now.

I like Popeye. I'll go on record with that. But I like it because of its production design and because it's the first PG movie I ever went to see without my parents and I broke a filling on an ancient apple Now and Later I got at the concession stand while my friend Sharon's mom (who had brought us to the theater) was watching Raging Bull. I also like the music. And Shelley Duvall. And Burgess Meredith. And the idea that someone might be considered marriageable on account of being large.

But that's not enough for a special award. Even the movies of his that I've liked haven't rung true because of the fact that EVERY character eventually breaks down and does a few minutes of "material," and that's not what film acting is about. It happens in Dead Poets' Society, it happens in (fucking) Patch Adams, it even happens in Jack, and he's playing a kid in that. I think the only film I can think of where he doesn't do that (unless I just missed it) is Awakenings, which is still a pretty good flick. But again. No statue there.

His more recent dramatic roles have not had the funny man character in them, but that gives you cause to notice that -- when he's not pretending to be a sassy Black woman from Mississippi or a flaming queer or some other overused caricature -- he's really very, very creepy.

But this isn't about me or what I think of his work. I really just mean to comment on the fact that I think these award shows seem to be hard-pressed to find someone worthy to recognize. And that his acceptance speech was endemically insincere and performed and, frankly, impolite in its self-importance. Even his attempts to be magnanimous came across as braggart. And when they played a clip from Mork and Mindy, I really had to ask myself if that show was ever funny. Except for the parts with Jonathan Winters in them. And even that's a maybe.

Before the award was issued, a friend reminded me of the lawsuit that is Mr. Williams' reason for being so frequently cited on gotherpes.com. And then that's all I thought about while he gave his acceptance speech, which was little more than a pandering stand-up act to an entirely industry audience. Thank god he was followed by Orlando Bloom, who cleanses the palate so beautifully. Pretty pretty. I could look at him and listen to him talk for what would amount to a very long time.

I was IM'ing a friend about all this James Bond that I've been watching. I basically said that watching all this James Bond has changed my mind about the more recent issuances. They ALL sucked. They were ALL corny. So I no longer hold it against Pierce Brosnan that the gadgetry is outlandish, the puns are unbearable, and the martinis are still ordered shaken as if any bartended in the world STIRS them. EVER. And Die Another Day had a lot of much more gritty military type action in it. Real warfare-y looking. Far less murdering people with sharks. Or piranha. I think Halle Berry is a putz, but it wasn't a bad film I now conclude. I just take note of how brash and unreasonable and boob-like Americans tend to look in these films. I guess it must mean that that's the way we like to see ourselves. Because we're the ones these movies are being sold to, aren't we? Are we missing something here?

A short list of things I've learned from the various James Bond marathons I've watched in the past month or so would be as follows:

Thunderball and Never Say Never Again (the only non-Albert Broccoli production) have the same plot and the same character names. They even have the same plot summary on imdb.com. But I've never heard Never Say Never Again referred to as a remake. I just remember going to see it in the theater with my mom and being uncomfortable and embarrassed when Barbara Carrera was water-skiing in a one-piece bathing suit with a thong back. How did I ever manage to cease being such a prude?

James Bond had a wife and she died. George Lazenby married Diana Rigg in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and then she gets shot by Blofeld at the very end of the movie. And it's the only time you ever see James Bond really seem to lose it over a chick. In a way, it's one of the best moments in the series. He turns into such a shadow of a person after that. Maybe because of that. Huh? Huh? How do you like that little twist there? Anyway, later, in The Spy Who Loved Me (I think -- or was it Octopussy? They all begin to run together.), Roger Moore prickles when he is reminded of it. When a female agent recites his dossier to him and says he was once married. It AFFECTS him. Again. Rare human moment for James.

And lastly, you nearly never see Dr. No anymore. And yet I really like it. In truth, the book is one of my favorites. And the movie was a smash disappointment for me, because of how much of the riveting action from the book was just not done at all. I guess I assumed it was because of the fact that cinema was still fairly primitive, but it sure would have been nice to see that book made into a proper flick. Maybe someday it will be remade again using all that modern cinematic technology has to offer. Although, by the time that happens, James Bond will probably be played by Seth Green or something. Surely, by then it will be his turn.

Okay, well, it's officially Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, so I suppose I should tell my one MLK anecdote, which goes like this:

When I was in high school in Japan, each year we would have a Black History Month speech contest, sponsored by some rotary-type club that was for the Black people. (I don't mean to sound ignorant or insensitive; I just don't remember what it was called.) Anyway, I used to enter this speech contest every year, and every year I won. I was sort of the speech and essay contest phenom in high school. I actually made more money winning speech and essay contests than I made in all of my summer jobs. So each year I would enter the Black History Month speech contest, and I would write a speech about Black history, and I would give the speech, and I would win. And then I would be invited to the dinner of this club with all the other winners, and we would sit at the honored table and have dinner before being invited to give our speeches to the club membership. We would sit there on the dais -- me and two or three Black kids. And I would get the biggest prize every year. Even I thought that was sort of weird and unfair. But that's the way it happened.

Gosh golly, it was gorgeous out today. I'm slightly furious with myself for not spending more time out in it. For not taking one of my straw mats over to LACMA and bivouacking out on the lawn with a book and a bottle of something cool to drink. I should have done that. Maybe I will do that tomorrow. If it's as sunny and warm as it was today, I surely should.

And it's been two nights in a row that I've taken Audrey out for one of our obscene late-night walks (yesterday it was at five a.m.) and noticed that the stars were out in force and that I could see Betelgeus, clear as a punch in the face. There are many nights when I can't see the stars at all on my block. Los Angeles with its street lighting and billboards and that persistent haze that makes even the darkness feel like just-after-dusk. If there's even a wisp of haze in the air, the night is cottony black and starless. Bleak and coldly unfamiliar. But these past few nights, as happens at this time of the year and whenever the rains come, the stars are like brilliant pinpricks in a big velvet sheet with a studio-quality lamp behind them. I've lived in Hollywood for long enough now that even the wonders of nature conjure analogies of cinema fakery.

This is the fourth January for me here in Los Angeles. And I have said many times that January and February in Los Angeles make for one of my favorite times of year. When it's cold and crisp but sunny. And the skies are clear. Not the muddy haze of the summertime. Not the humid swelter of an unwelcome Indian summer. Januaries and Februaries have been typically melancholy for me. For some reason. They have always been gloriously beautiful. But sad. If it's not one thing, it's everything. I am glad for a break in the rain. I want to sit on grass that is unmuddied. I look forward to picnicky afternoons. And ham sandwiches. I'm always ready with something excellent to read. And the straw mats are always in the trunk of my car. With a blanket I don't mind getting dirty. I've had too few daytime outings recently. I notice it in my picture-taking. There's nothing so bad about taking lots of pictures at night. But I need a little sunshine and cirrhus clouds in my eyes to mix it up.

Later this week, I'm heading for San Diego to ref a minor league runthrough and play a few shows at the comedy theater. I'm thinking it's going to be awesome. I've been wanting to ref for ages. And I get to have a whistle and a stopwatch and everything. Bomb ass. So I'll be in town (or out of town, depending on your zip code) for a few days, and I intend to make a scene. I left a bottle of Bushmill's at John Meeks' apartment as a "housewarming gift." But I hold my liquor a lot better than he does. It's a fine line between housewarming gift and safekeeping. Bottoms up.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 2:24 PM | Back to Monoblog

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     Jan 4, 2005

This I Have Observed

Last night, Angie and I went to St. Nick's for a drink and were accosted by two fellows who never ever took the hint that we weren't interested in going back to their hotel suite with them. They stuck by us, breathing their stale beer in our faces for well over an hour, despite my repeated intimations that I would have liked to spend some quality time with my friend, whom I had not seen in some time. One of them wooed us with the appealing story of how he has five children and an eighth grade education and spent ten years in the penitentiary. The other wooed us by being embarrassed by him. In an attempt to avoid being walked out to our cars -- and to what would have been certain death or at the very least a very inconvenient rape -- by them, we walked past a short British fellow who also had a hot tub to invite us to. And all of these guys, and another guy who was supposedly trying to protect us from them, found reasons to touch my bare midriff. One of the first pair of jerks actually just reached down for no reason and caressed my exposed hip when I was talking to the bartender. Like I was some sort of tactile exhibit at the natural history museum. I scolded him, and he apologized by saying, "I like it when a woman is very feminine." Lord, I pitied him.

Tonight, I went with Martín and Francisca to Versailles for dinner, and a guy at an adjacent table handed his business card to our waiter and asked him to give it to me. From the art on the card, I gather that he is a hip hop producer or something. No one you would know. But there was really nothing for me to do but shrug and put the card in my handbag. Is this even done anymore? People sending messages to other people's tables via waiter? He didn't write anything on the card. And when I looked at him, he didn't even do that lame "call me" pantomime gesture. He just sort of looked at me, and it made me uncomfortable.

Both nights, I was wearing stripes of some kind. I wonder if that has anything to do with it.

I was finishing up some work this evening, and 50 First Dates was on the television. I had no desire to see it when it was in the theater, but that's why I pay for movie channels. So I can lackadaisically listen to movies I know I won't like while I'm working. And boy am I glad I didn't pay to see this. All the actors look like they're about to break with every line. And none of the lines they're saying are funny so the breaking is wholly inexcusable. Then there was a Callahan Auto reference. Callahan Auto in Sandusky, Ohio. I suppose that's an homage to Chris Farley. And that's nice, but I don't like having Tommy Boy associated with this crap on wheels. Tommy Boy is a bit of genius. Genius needs to be kept separate from crap. At all costs.

And speaking of bad comedy, every time I see a trailer for Racing Stripes, I ask myself how it is that David Spade hasn't just killed himself by now. He must really be dying to.


posted by Mary Forrest at 8:34 PM | Back to Monoblog

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     Dec 27, 2004

Trepanation of an Holiday

Christmas Eve Eve

I drove down to San Diego late late late after packing a heap of gifts and clothes and travel essentials and my dog into my car. No complications were wrought by my garage door this time. It turns out the last time that happened, it was my neighbor Paul, who lives in the apartment behind me, thinking he was doing me a favor. I am told he is very very sorry. And it's lucky for him that he's so cute. Which he is. I'm just channeling my rage towards my very unattractive upstairs neighbors.

Christmas Eve

I sang "O Holy Night" in my parents' church with a cough drop in my mouth, and it went better than I was afraid it might. Then I had dinner with my family. I drank a single glass of wine with dinner and was laughing and my mom said -- as if I wasn't sitting right there -- "Look at her. She's drunk." And it's not like I was sitting laughing in a room by myself. I was laughing at a story Beulah was telling, and it was funny. But apparently merriment of any kind is a sure sign of intoxication. Frankly, in my house that may be true. Which might explain why I try to drink when I'm there. Later, I went and met friends at The Casbah, where their annual Rolling Stone-a-rama (not its official name) was going off. I had to sneak out after everyone went to sleep, because my mother so strongly objected to my having any semblance of fun. I ran into so many people I know, it was super swell. I felt like a soldier who just got back from The Great War. Only I was wearing my pink and white houndstooth check coat and had all my limbs.


We had a big yummy breakfast and then opened presents with the Lakers game on, because Sarah and Justin wanted to watch it. No one actually paid any attention to it. It was just annoyingly on the whole time. Both the doggies got a bunch of crazy cute little outfits. Audrey is wearing a little t-shirt that looks like that Chanel suit that Marge Simpson kept wearing in that one episode from that season from before. It's adorable. I was sipping Knob Creek bourbon in the afternoon, and my mom and my sister began making uninspired jokes about my need to begin attending "meetings." I was beginning to think that the company at those meetings might be preferable to the gallery of judgment I kept finding myself sitting in, but I kept that to myself. Later, I played two fun shows at the comedy theater and then met my friends (the ones who had come to the late show) at Nunu's for a Christmas nightcap. It was too warm, but everyone was so very friendly and cheery, I was really glad to be there. I ran into my friend Anya, who kissed my hand, which I will never ever wash now.

And then

I was invited to go to Disneyland, but my cold had ratcheted itself up a bit, and I didn't think I could enjoy it much, nor could I keep from contaminating my friends' respiratory systems. So I stayed in town. I played the most embarrassingly poor games of billiards ever at Gaslamp Billiards and drank way too much for someone who hadn't eaten a thing all day. That came back to haunt me later in the night. I stayed in bed later than I had planned this morning. And I roused with a smile when I heard the Ms. Pac-Man intro blasting on the television downstairs. Beulah bought my dad one of those joysticks you plug into the t.v. for Christmas, and he's been playing the shit out of it ever since. When we lived in Guam, my dad used to come home from work and destress by sitting down in front of our Atari and playing Ms. Pac-Man. When he played it on Christmas morning, he said, "This reminds me of my melanoma." Which is both hilarious and horrible, but so typically Samuel Forrest. I'm sure this toy was his favorite gift this year. Followed closely by the Mr. T in Your Pocket that Beulah also gave him. Who knew that Urban Outfitters was so the store to shop for my dad. There are photos on my Roundup page of him modeling the Jesus wig and moustache-beard combo that Beulah also gave him. He is a good sport.

And now I'm off to Vegas. Later than I had planned, but there is no time in Vegas. So it doesn't make a difference.

So, that's what's inside. I am dismayed by the news of all the disastrous carnage in South and Southeast Asia. But I don't want that to be what I write about.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 4:22 PM | Back to Monoblog

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     Dec 19, 2004

In a Vacuum

Last week, a jogger passed me on the sidewalk and called back over his shoulder, "Paris?" I said, "Yes." And he smiled and waved and said, "Hi." And I felt good. That's my perfume. Paris. By Yves Saint Laurent. I've been wearing it since I was fifteen years-old. Once, in high school, I strayed from my usual scent and tried Opium, also by Yves Saint Laurent. And my chemistry teacher sniffed the air and said, "Who smells like bug spray?" I kept silent, but I knew not to make that mistake again. I think Opium is a very pretty scent, too, and I like it on other people. But I think I was traumatized by that comment. He also said I should never cut my hair short again because it made my head look like a bowling ball. I think I have transcended that part at least. Because when I look at pictures of me with my long hair now, I screw up my face and think, "Gross. How in the world could I have worn it like that for so long?" I mean, I guess it wasn't super ugly. But I get bored just thinking about it. I'm happy to have shorter hair. And I'm happy to not always have to exist in the superlative.

There are many people in the world who know me by my scent now. Friends from high school used to say they knew I'd been in the hallway before they passed through because that Paris scent lingered. People who may still have a shirt or a pillowcase or a barrette that never managed to rid itself of my fancy residue. People who haven't even known me for so very long but know what to expect in their noses when I show up. I never really tried to make it my signature. But there you have it. The signature I put on my checks and tax forms is a weird scrawl of nearly unintelligible peaks and squiggles, and I don't know how that came about either.

Fish, for instance

I'm in the habit of commenting on the movie trailers more than on the movies. Today, I will try to do both.

When I went to see The Life Aquatic last week, I saw a teaser for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and I felt all giddy. I actually inhaled sharply and clapped my hands over my gaping mouth. And I was surprised that I was the only one. In that theater filled with hipsters who were cool enough to be seeing a Wes Anderson film before nearly everyone else, you'd think the words "Don't Panic" would have more of an audible effect. I miss my old Infocom game. I miss my youth. I miss the certainty of immortality that infuses the cellular structure of a fifteen year-old whose bra size is not yet fixed. Maybe we start dying as soon as we figure out what size jeans we will wear. For the rest of our lives.

Then there was a trailer for a new movie with Lawrence Fishburne and Ethan Hawke, playing some version of the roles played by Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke in the previous movie by the same filmmaker. From the bits pulled from the movie, my guess is it's just Con-Air in a building. And Gabriel Byrne is too short to be scary. Ethan even gets to wear the same costume as he did in Training Day. Which is good, because he always looked to me like a guy who preferred to wear his clothes until they rotted off his body. Like the Mongols did.

"Oh, good. There's a movie with Will Smith AND Kevin James in it. And there will be a chance for Kevin James to try to dance in some form of hiphoppery, and Will Smith will correct him." That's what I thought to myself when I saw the trailer for Hitch. And then I thought, "Oh, please." And I wished I could have thought something more vitriolic, but that's the best I could muster. I'm sure many lessons in love will be learned in that movie. And I'm sure white people will feel very good about how accessible Will Smith is to them. And that everyone will forget that slavery ever happened. Because we're all friends now.

"Oh, good. John Travolta is back. And as Chili Palmer, no less. What a relief." That's what I thought to myself when the trailer for Be Cool began. But I was being sarcastic. I don't like John Travolta anymore. However, Vince Vaughn looks like he might be amusing in it. He hasn't quite Ben Stillered yet. I can still tolerate the one note he plays. But then there's Cedric the Entertainer. And then Uma Thurman. And then The Rock. And then James Woods. And then Danny DeVito. It's like a roller coaster of disappointment interrupted by the occasional Oscar nominee. Anyway, I probably won't see it until it happens to be on and I'm too lazy to reach for the remote.


Without spoiling any of the movie for you, I can give you a cryptic synopsis of what I thought of The Life Aquatic.

There is a certain cynicism with regard to love in Wes Anderson movies. It is hollow and sad, but it appeals to me for some reason. And this film was more of everything the other films were. The relationships were tenser. The emotions were falser. The colors garisher. And there were so many beautiful, bizarre little moments. Little secrets happening in the background. Labels I wanted to write down. I was even touched to see them using one of those retractable multi-color ballpoint pens I remember from my youth. I didn't really love the animated sea creatures all that much, although they did have a certain Harryhausen appeal to them. And I didn't really like Cate Blanchett's elocution choices. But you can forgive Owen Wilson's shoddy southern drawl without much ado, because he's thoroughly likable in so many other respects.

Visions of Italy are lovely. I used to drink Campari sodas all the time. This movie made me want to order them again. I won't. But I remember what it was like to down that sweet, bitter fizziness. And I remember how pretty it looked in a glass.

There were a lot of wonderful lines that I wanted to write down and remember. I scribbled some of them in my notebook. Some of what I scribbled is illegible to me now. "How could you lay that slick faggot?" is not. I was able to make that out perfectly. "Please don't make fun of me. I just want to flirt with you," was also quite easy to read.

There is an admirable amount of branding in the film. And that typical self-awareness that the characters always have in Wes Anderson pictures. That calm straightforwardness. That imperviousness to shame or awkwardness. The poker face. Maybe you assume it masks some fragile vulnerability, but you really don't see it. Even the vulnerability is only ever verbalized. Maybe this is part of what I like about Wes Anderson's style. I never really mastered the "show don't tell" approach. I've always been better at saying it. And in his movies, everything that is experienced is announced. No matter the level of sincerity. The dialogue captions everything that is implied. I can't decide whether that elevates subtext or shamelessly outs it. But I know that it feels different than watching anything with the Wayans Brothers in it. And I'm grateful for that.

Maybe I'm going to write you a letter right now.

I was just thinking about that song with the line about blue skies smiling at me. There's a line in it. Nothing but blue skies from now on. That line bothers me. I guess the idea of the song is that I've met this special someone and now everything will be wonderful and perfect forever. And I'm not opposed to that idea, but I think if the sky was never anything but blue, I would murder someone. I really enjoy a good bit of rain every now and then. And an ominous cloud or two. And you really can't overestimate the beauty of the diffuse light that happens on an overcast day. Take black and white pictures in that haze and you'll wish the sun would never again show its smug face. Well, I'm using the word "never" where I shouldn't. The whole point is that nothing is so great if it's always the same. Who wants to live in a wax museum? Well, me, but only for like a month. Then I would get bored and want to live in an apple cider factory.

So, I've been in San Diego all week. I've been performing in Christmas pageants and comedy shows. I've been doing my Christmas shopping and catching a cold. I've been settling for TBS and Spike TV. And I've been going out for drinks and good times as often as my less enthusiastic friends will humor me. And I've been feeling a little bright and a little bleary. I've been feeling a little soft and sentimental. I don't know what it is to feel Minnesota, but maybe I've been feeling that, too. I'm going home later tonight. That will either alleviate or exacerbate my sense of displacement. There isn't enough time to do all the things I have to do. Certainly not enough time to do all the things I want to. And there's no surety in any of my plan-making. I'm up in the air. And, much as I like that weightless feeling, I fear the inevitable thud that will happen when the ground comes looking for me.

At the beginning of the year, when I was sad and adrift and had no work and no money, I started sending mail art to people whose addresses I happened to have. I have a great deal of stationery and clippings and half-done projects and the benign desire to put them out into the continuum. I have letters I still mean to write. And plenty that I've written but never sent. All in my customarily tiny print. There is a sort of romance attached to the notion that someday, long after my tragic death, some interested party will carefully pore over them and weep for all the unsaid words. I might worry a bit that they would mistake my "h"s for "n"s, but not so much that I would be motivated to type out a companion manual. Where's the romance in that.

I would send more letters. I just wish they didn't have to mean so much. And at the same time, I am saddened that they wouldn't mean more. Don't you get tired of how I turn things over like that? It's not like a conundrum is a kind of cookie or something.

The year is coming to a close. Another year. Another series of ups and downs. More things are different than ever before. And that's a better thing than I would have expected it to be.

Looking at happiness, keeping my flavor fresh. Nobody knows, I guess, how far I'll go.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 1:04 PM | Back to Monoblog

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     Dec 13, 2004

Night Watch

I am in the habit of taking Audrey for a walk before going to bed. Just so she won't wake me up any earlier than is absolutely necessary. Which means I was walking my dog at five a.m., wondering if anyone on my street was up yet. And then, when I ran into a slew of pesky postscript errors, I ended up continuing to be up, which is the state I am in right now. I've got the local news on. Cartoon Network came up out of Adult Swim and plunged right into edifying children's fare, and boo for that. The plot of the episode of whatever the show was that I passively heard was chock full of information about how farm subsidies work and about the environmental impacts of some of the governmental meddling that takes place in the agricultural industry. It's a superhero type show. The team of empowered youngsters were battling a "Villain" who had sinister agricultural plans. It was hard not to be amused by that. I remember seeing a vintage issue of a Popeye comic at a booth at Comic-Con a couple of years back, and the entire book was about the environment. Popeye was really just a spokesperson for some very green message. And it was all very boring and educational. And I still almost bought it. You know. Just because.

Local news really annoys me, though. Like today, there is frequent coverage of the progress in the investigation of a murder that happened on Friday. Some poor kid in Whittier got shot working in a Subway sandwich shop. He gave the robbers the money, and they shot him anyway. And now he's dead. And every time this somber story was covered, it was followed -- without a beat -- by the cheery-but-bumbling correspondence of the lady reporter covering the announcements of the Golden Globe nominations. I realize it's just one guy and life goes on and all of that, and I further realize that newscasters truly are soulless automatons who can't feel anything that isn't typed in brackets on the teleprompter, but it just seems all too plain that human life is cheap cheap cheap when compared with the money that gets made by the picture show. Seven marines from San Diego died in Iraq today, too. But I'm sure their families would much rather know whether Leonardo di Caprio has a shot at Best Actor. I know I would.

I'm so tired. This past few days have been a vortex of performances and county-to-county commuting and having to ante up in order to make plans. I have the marks of violin playing on my fingertips and my neck. And I have a few more comedy shows under my figurative belt (I really don't wear them that much). And Jessie and I went and signed up for an improv workshop today. And I'm really glad about that. In addition, as we were leaving the theater, we saw a homeless man kneeling Mecca-style, with his forehead down on a star on the Walk of Fame. He was praying to it. And I was especially curious to know which star he might be praying to. As we passed, I nearly burst a blood vessel in my eye with the ridiculous thrill I got from learning he was praying to Lassie. I think that rules all over the place. And I'm not kidding. I don't think that scenario could have been more quintessentially ironic if he had been praying to an anthropomorphized can of fruit.

There's no real reason for my saying so, but I'm really surprised Elizabeth Taylor isn't dead yet.

I took Josh to "A John Waters Christmas" at Royce Hall last week. It was pretty great. At least it was when it stopped being the opening performances of Vaginal Davis (who wasn't as clever as drag queens are expected to be), Phranc (who wasn't bad but only did one number), and Marga Gomez (who wasn't funny for nearly her entire set). John Waters himself is peerless in his ability to inspire me to aspire to the horrible and base. I took a few notes down during the show with the intention of writing it all up. But my weekend and I got into a tiff. Off the top of my head, I can recount that he charged the audience in the following fashion: If you know someone who doesn't want books as gifts, don't fuck them. And if your significant other doesn't have books and doesn't want them and won't get them for you, don't fuck them, either. He followed that with the list of books he would like to receive for Xmas, and the list alone was enormously entertaining. Josh recognized Mink Stole sitting right in front of us. We didn't do anything about it. I wouldn't have recognized her on my own. I'm not as well-versed in the seminal works of John Waters as nearly anyone else in the world. But I sure do think he's clever. And I'm jealous of everyone who gets invited to his annual Xmas party. He told us where he receives his fan mail, and I was tempted to send him dirty pictures, but I've since forgotten the name of the bookstore, and I'm almost sure there's nothing I could photograph that would really pique his interest.

My eyes are burning, and I have an appointment in a few hours, so I'm going to shut my PowerBook and tuck my dog in and see what happens when I hit the sheets. When I resurface, I will likely apologize for the lack of inspiration in everything I have just written. I'm tempted to do it now and get it out of the way. But I'm afraid I won't have anything to say later on if I don't reserve that. Which is truly disheartening.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 6:55 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Oct 4, 2004

They say, to play the blues, you've gotta understand pain.*

I hate it when I fall behind. And it's something I've been doing a lot of. Things I never said but meant to. Like when I was going to talk about having gone to see We Don't Live Here Anymore with Arthur and thinking to myself, "This movie needs a shave." That was ages ago. The first week of August. Practically dinosaur times. I hate that.

So now it's just about the week and what I've missed and what I hope won't get swept under the rug and what I want to emblazon on something. It'll end up coming out all staccato now. And that's a shame. My thoughts have a pleasanter rhythm when I'm first having them. But the things that stick out will stick out no matter what.

Arthur and I tried to see a screening of Beyond the Sea. When that didn't pan out, we went to Casa Vega and quizzed each other on our various desert island necessities. The last time I went there, I had just moved here, and it didn't seem real to be on Ventura Boulevard. It didn't seem like it was where it should be in my mental map. I was still staying in a motel back then, and getting there and eating there with a bunch of people who knew their way around was actually quite uplifting. The salsa is just as good as I remember it. And then Sarah came over. And Audrey bit her. I found myself a therapist at long last and met with her for the first time. I went to the Sunset Marquis, where Sarah was staying, and had drinks and was told that Jessica and Nick had just walked in, but I didn't care enough to turn my head and look. Who cares about them. I worked all night. Several times. Bryn and I caught up. I don't know if it was the food from Versailles or some other happenstance, but I was sick for a good long while from the middle of the night on into the next day. I almost didn't leave the house, but then at the last minute, Matt and I met at Cinespace for the debate-watching party there. I had a pretty obstructed view, but it was nice to see the spectacle in the company of compatriots. Tommy Davidson was standing next to me the whole time. I had to move because I was getting jostled a lot. I ended up in a corner where both the debaters' faces were usually blocked by light fixtures. It was just like radio. Afterwards, Matt took me to the Casting Office to celebrate Gretchen's birthday, and I had too much to drink. But that is always made better by a trip to Lucy's, so we made one. The dog trainer lost hold of Audrey's leash when they were outside alone, and I almost had a heart attack watching from the window. But Audrey ran to the door and wanted to come inside, and she probably has no idea how close she came to another mad race across busy streets. I like to think it's because she loves me now, but I still don't trust that she wouldn't bolt if the opportunity came. It's what min pins do. My Uncle Virgil is in the hospital awaiting some pretty hardcore surgery intended to prevent his having a stroke. Apparently, he had a minor stroke-like event just a week or two ago, and it brought attention to the need for him to have what amounts to bypass surgery on both the major arteries in his neck. He is my dad's best friend, and I hope he will be all right. I drove down to San Diego to perform at the comedy theater. We went to Fred's in Old Town for drinks and food. I wore white pants, thinking I loved them, but I saw my reflection and realized I couldn't possibly wear them, so I made a mad dash to the department store, where I bought several other pairs of pants to try on at Krissy's place before going to the wedding at which I was to be her surrogate date. The reception was in Rancho Santa Fe at the inn where I once played for someone else's wedding on a weekend in October three years ago. I saw some people I knew. And I drank the free booze. And then Krissy and I went to the theater to catch the last half of the last show before going out for more drinks at Shakespeare's. We ran into David and Janet, because it was about to be David's birthday. The entire team has a crush on David, so that was a treat. And when I speak for the team, I really just mean me. Yen invited me out to see Transfer, but I didn't get the message until late. I bought a Happy Meal on the way home and was not happy with my fries. My mom crocheted a little lavender sweater for Audrey, so she's been wearing that around. Her barking and viciousness towards everyone but me are wearing on my nerves. And an unmentionable part of her required expressing today. If you know what that means, you feel immensely sorry for me, as well you should. I thought about seeing some comedy but didn't. Passed on seeing I Heart Huckabees. Passed on drinks. Drove home later than I planned. And I'm beginning to worry that I have a tumor in my neck. Seriously. It's like it's god's way of helping me choose between the HMO and the PPO I was about to sign up for. Considering how much I'm going to have to pay for the coverage, I almost hope I've got something that will kill me sooner than later. My mom would be upset at me for saying that. I had some sketch and short film ideas this week. And I actually wrote them down.

My neck really hurts. And there is a weird little bump in it. I hope it's nothing that will require me to wear a wig. Wigging is only fun when it's voluntary.

Nothing super out of the ordinary happened when it became October, and I think I was a little surprised by that. I expect the apocalypse even more ardently when November spins up. It's the changing, the dying, the drying up, the falling off. It's the grey of cloudy sunshine and the chill of dusk. That whole "I'd be safe and warm if I was in L.A." bit isn't entirely true, you know. It gets cold here, too. Things die here, too. People here dream of being elsewhere, too. I know I do.

*Ironically, this comes from a commercial for diabetic testing supplies, but you get the gist.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 2:18 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Sep 3, 2004

"Delicious wine?" "Exactly."

It was a well-filled and affirmation-espousing house at the comedy theater tonight. A mass of paying customers there to see The Unaffiliated put on (or perhaps pull off) our show "Nothing to See Here" for the first and penultimate time. It's been an arduous ascent, and I already don't like where this metaphor is going, but you know what they say: it's all downhill from here.

On this show's account, I have had to drive back and forth to San Diego a lot more than I would like, and those who know me and my calendar would contest that statement, believing as they do that I ADORE driving to San Diego, since I seem to be doing it all the goddamned time. But in all reasonable truth, I always tell myself I won't be there all that much this month, and then it turns out that someone in my family has a birthday or a surgery or a movie they want to watch with me, or I'm scheduled to perform, or I have to get my car serviced, or I need to deposit a check, or I find that I'm really missing the Mexican food, and whaddya know -- bingo bango bongo -- I'm in San Diego every weekend with no one to blame but CalTrans.

I'm trying to curb it -- trying to actually allow myself to be a citizen of my zip code. But there is an ebb and a flow to even that. I spent nearly all of the first three months of this year in Los Angeles with nearly nary a visit to the southerly county. But that's easily forgotten when you look at the mileage I've racked up since May. So, I can't promise that I won't keep subverting my own journey towards the absence of a sense of displacement. But I can put forth my stolid wish to do more in my current city of residence. After all, I hear you can actually do comedy shows in Los Angeles, too. And some say that the Mexican food isn't half bad either.

So, I've been in San Diego for a few days now, and I may be here for a few more. I don't know yet. The only thing I'm sure of is that all our post-show celebrating has made me very thirsty, and there is bottled water only feet away from where I sit. And that means it's time to break. I'm a firm believer in hydration. Even though I prefer not to call it that.


posted by Mary Forrest at 3:58 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Aug 24, 2004

The louder I say I'm happy, the more I believe it's so.

Saturday night, an anomalous Paul F. Tompkins Show found me at Largo. Paul F. Tompkins, who was so bearded and mustachioed as to make us think at first that his evil twin from the alternate universe had somehow found his way onstage, turned out to not be evil at all but in fact hilarious. It seems pointless to even offer superlative assessment, as each show seems to top the preceding one, and you start to ask yourself if you were even paying attention before because how could it possibly keep getting to be so wonderful. Surely, you just missed part of it before. Because you thought it was damn fine back then, too, and when are you ever wrong. I'm not following my own logic here. Anyway, it ruled. In my notebook, I nearly illegibly wrote, "Paul F. Tompkins, maverick hypnotist," and, "A fun word for the color yellow; 'Rocket Red' is too scientific." You don't know why that's funny, but it is, and you can trust me. Uncannily, Pee-wee Herman was introducing his hypnosis doll Dr. Mongo on t.v. just as I began to type the maverick hypnotist thing. And maybe that isn't exactly uncanny, but I know that very few of you will bother to look it up to make sure.

So, Paul F. Tompkins, right? Give this man his own television show, or I will strap sticks of dynamite to my bodice and blow my womanliness to smithereens. What do I have to do? Seriously. Just don't make it a show that requires him to stop doing his shows at Largo, for that would make me truly and ironically furious.

My pals and I went to Canter's after the show, and I ordered blintzes, but I wanted vodka.

And there's more.

I got a doggy last week. Her name is Audrey. And she runs away from me whenever I reach for her, but I'm sure that will change. Eventually. I also cut and colored my hair again. And celebrated my sister's and my father's birthday. And my friend Jessica was visiting for most of the week, which was lovely. But for some reason, I was tireder than I've ever been last week. I felt like I was falling asleep all day long. I could barely keep my eyes open for the shortest of drives. And I wanted naps again and again. And I didn't get them nearly that often.

The week before last, I went to Las Vegas at the drop of a hat and lived it up at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, where I spent hours at the heavenly man-made beach they have there, swam with my sunglasses on, and liked the fact that you can walk through the lobby dripping wet and in your bathing costume and share an elevator with a woman in a bridal gown -- and look down on her for how gauche she is.

I spent a lot of money gambling, but it didn't hurt at all. I was totally up for losing it. That's a nice feeling. If you can go to Vegas and feel that way, do.

I had all sorts of ideas while I was driving up. I scribbled a lot of them down on a parking stub while I was on the road. Which I shouldn't be proud of, as I covered the 280 mile distance in about three hours and forty-five minutes, including the trafficky part getting out of L.A. I don't think it's recommended that you write while you drive at any speed, but that's just ridiculous. I even had a highway patrolman pull up behind me when I was going 95. I looked in my rearview and saw that scary, cockroach-like silhouette that those cars cut with their coloring and their antennae. I pulled to the right and assumed I was going to get a ticket. After all, my tags are expired, and even though I had an extension in my windshield, this cop couldn't have seen that. But to my surprise and delight, he passed me and pulled up behind the red Acura in front of me. They did not get over right away. And when they did, he pulled in behind them, sirens a-blazing, and I experienced the schadenfreude high that I nearly always feel when someone is getting a ticket and it isn't me. I don't know why I didn't get a ticket, but I took it as a sign and parlayed my good luck at the roulette table, where I did in fact win.

My journey from the angels to the stars was inspirational, to be sure. I spent a lot of money and had a lot of fun and wrote a lot down and learned to use my new camera. Well, one of them. The Sony is still gathering dust. But my new Canon goes with me everywhere. The road to Las Vegas is a tire tread graveyard. Ruined carcasses of shredded black rubber. I empathetically pitied the travelers who must have had to pull off to the dusty shoulder and work a jack in the 110 degree heat. They're long gone now, but the pieces of tire linger. It feels like the Old West, only less old. All the abandoned gas stations and ramshackle diners. Towns with no one in them. Quivering heat fanning off the sandy valley floor. It was stormy on my drive home. Rain and thunder and lightning in the desert. A pale grey sky. Majestic, in a way. I drove straight through to San Diego -- stopping once at Minneola Road to pee and take a picture of an old sign -- and performed at the comedy theater, where I was happy to have done so. I no longer remember what I did on stage on Friday and/or Saturday that might have been worth mentioning. But I remember having a good time and being told by a weird fellow leaving the theater (as he touched his eyebrow to mine) that I was the best one. I would ordinarily not have allowed such an invasion of my personal space, but it came as such a surprise and afterwards I just shrugged it off and told myself he was probably autistic.

Miss Yvonne sure was buxom. She plays old ladies in commercials now. I feel sad for that. But I feel happy when Kap'n Karl says, "Miss Yvonne, may I LIKE you?" Because that is a very funny thing to say. Paul Reubens is a genius. I give him a special dispensation to do whatever perverted and illegal thing he wants to. He'll always be great to me. And our society is too uptight anyway.

Oh, when I was in Vegas, I took my crew to the Star Trek Experience, for I am a nerd of gargantuan proportions. And nothing was funnier to me than when Justin thought that the signature Borg phrase ("Resistance is futile.") was, "You are not suitable." I wish that's what the Borg would say. It's much better. Did you know that when you go to the Borg attraction at the Star Trek Experience, they poke you in the ass? It's true. Vicious pointy things prod you through your seat and make you wonder what might have happened if you had been sitting only two inches further to the left. It's similar to those 4-D attractions at Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. That "A Bug's Life" show touches you all over the place. And that's all right in the context of the show. But in the Borg thing, getting poked in the ass makes no sense based on what's happening on the screen and around you. It's completely out of touch with the narrative. It was just rude. The Borg Queen is talking to you and the Doctor is yelling and a hole gets blown in the overhead part of the bay you're in, but nothing really explains the ass-poking. I wonder who designed that part. Maybe it's an artifact left over from the previous attraction, Date Rape 4-D, starring Leslie Nielsen.

Yesterday, I was driving south past La Jolla, and I saw a scruffy couple walking on the freeway with their two dogs. They were dragging an amply loaded cart up a steep grade. I don't really remember whether they looked destitute, but in my imaginary memory they were shirtless and poor. I was listening to Bill Collins reading his poetry on A Prairie Home Companion at the time, and I wanted to write something amusing about them, but I didn't.

The Muppets Take Manhattan has been playing on cable like crazy. It's one of my favorite movies in all the world. And all the songs remind me of our living room in Guam, where I watched our VHS copy of it again and again and again. I wonder sometimes if the fact that such a great lot of my sentimental ooze is unleashed by shows that feature puppets and cartoon characters says something distasteful about my brain development. My tears get jerked by lots of things. But that Saying Goodbye song in this movie is like getting sprayed in the face with mace.

Life is a lot like that drive to Vegas, you know. Like a two-lane highway where everyone around you seems to be content to go sixty. This is an ineffective analogy. But I am always in a hurry. And I seldom get what I want.

When I ramble on like this, I am often at a loss for a way to let go and end it, so in closing, here is an excerpt from a conversation in a coffee shop where pictures were being drawn on placemats:

J: See my Luxor sign?

B: Yeah. I hate it.

J: Well, I hate your house.

M: You guys are like six year-olds.

J: You make me six years-old.

M: Poached eggs are not supposed to be completely cooked through in the yolk.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 2:18 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Jul 18, 2004

"The years have been short but the days were long."

It's been a long day. Ever so long. I played three shows at the comedy theater. I felt good about them and bad about them and satisfied and frustrated. But when I was wringing out a mop outside and an audience member said, "She's the best one up there and they make her mop up?" it made me feel just slightly less beleaguered. I'm sure I wasn't the best one up there in everyone's mind. But I'll settle for pleasing the people who can be pleased. I felt a little roughed up and maybe a little betrayed here and there. But these are things that I will forget. My tendency to take things too personally is trumped by the passing of time. Even now, I can barely remember how we were sweaty and impatient for our breakfast at Nick's, and at the time, it was the only thing that mattered.

Since then it's been a book you read in reverse
So you understand less as the pages turn
Or a movie so crass and awkardly cast
That even I could be the star

The day aches in me. In my eyes. In my gut. I am not myself tonight. And no amount of cool shower or oscillating fan or beachy night air will restore me. I take great comfort in the fact that tomorrow is something of its own, and once you're in it, today ceases to exist. I don't want to suffer in the heat. I don't want to suffer at all, if I can help it.

I don't look back as much as a rule
And all this way before murder was cool
But your memory is here and I'd like it to stay
Warm light on a winter day

This was me the night before.


Two loose kites falling from the sky
Drawn to the ground and an end to flight

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posted by Mary Forrest at 3:44 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Jun 4, 2004

Find it where it is.

The dictionary.com word of the day on 2 June was autochthonous. The following day, David Tidmarsh correctly spelled the same word to win the National Spelling Bee. And he totally knew it when they read it to him. In the same way that he clearly knew gaminerie before it. He was near to hyperventilating as he spelled it. I don't know if that's officially uncanny. But it's a good way of learning the word autochthonous. And you never know when that might come in handy. I already knew how to spell it, but -- as with a secret many things -- I might have been hard-pressed to tell you what it meant unless you presented it to me in context. And a sentence like, "Fred was autochthonous," wouldn't have been enough.

My sister and I were talking about this the other day. The fact of her former spelling champion-ness (yes, both of us; can you believe it?) came up in conversation with a client (if I remember the anecdote correctly), and he challenged her to define the word lugubrious. And she said that she could SPELL it. Who cares what it means. Lugubrious, as it happens, means mournful or sad. By rights, it should be a favored word in my lexicon.

This same thing happens to me from time to time. It's the curse of being labeled a smart pair of pants. Everyone wants to unseat you. And I swear that any pun quotient in that sentence is not only unintentional, but you are forbidden to infer it. I was called "Brain" a lot in school. And for some reason that is both a term of esteem and loathing. They admire your smarts, but they also hate you for them. And nothing gives them more pleasure than to catch you out. Like the time my fourth grade math teacher made me cry by getting the entire class to chant taunting remarks at me when I missed one on a test -- FOR THE FIRST TIME THAT ENTIRE SCHOOL YEAR. It was Mr. Atcheson (fondly called "Mr. A"), and he and the entire class sarcastically asked and answered the same sentence over and over and over again until I ran crying from the room. "Mary missed one? Mary missed one! Mary missed one? Mary missed one!" I ran past the open door of my sister's reading class, and Jason Loomis, the cute boy that everyone liked who always carried a Goody comb in his pocket to tend to his feathered hair, leaned over to my sister and whispered, "I think your sister just got her period." And my sister, never one to disappoint, later told me that her greatest concern was not that I was in a state of duress, but rather that I might have gotten my period before she did.

Later that week, when Mr. A was the teacher on duty at lunch recess, he saw that I was red in the face from a game of whatever I had been playing at (probably tetherball or handball), and he placed a hand on my forehead, thought I was feverish, and had the nurse send me home. It was clearly a guilty peace offering. And, while I enjoyed helping my mom fold laundry in front of the Richard Simmons show instead of whatever we would have been doing in social studies that afternoon, I neither forgave nor forgot that incident. If you're reading this Mr. Atcheson, shame on you.

Some of the games we play at the comedy theater require us to get difficult words from the audience, and I am often put on the spot when someone suggests a word like defenestrate or stochastic, and my teammates turn to me, knowing that I will be able to tell them what it means. I ALWAYS feel that sense of panic: "What if I don't actually know what the word means? What if I've been faking it all this time?" Don't worry. I know what defenestrate and stochastic mean. Never you fear. But there are plenty of words I know how to spell and only know how to spell. And having that made public in front of an audience is never a pleasant thought.

When you play the role of the smartypants, you have to fake it a lot. It's a terrible habit. I, in my growing up, have tried to break free of it. I have tried to say, "I don't know what you mean," when I don't know what someone means. I try to say, "What is that word?" when I don't know what a word is. I try to be okay with not knowing everything. Because I have a feeling that leaving the desire to always know everything unchecked eventually evolves into other roles such as the agoraphobic, the sniper, and the cat lady.

And believe me, it's a far sight better actually learning things from people than trying to learn it all behind their backs while no one's looking. If you have something to teach me, I welcome it. Maybe not so much when I was a sophomore in high school. But I've done a lot of growing up since then. And there is actual truth to the notion that it takes more courage to admit that you're wrong or that you don't know than it takes to lord your rightness over everyone. I wasn't going to bring up anything George W. Bush-related today, but there you have it. Why won't he ever admit he's wrong? No one even thinks he's a smartypants? What has he got to lose?

I was really just going to point out that autochthonous was the word of the day only the day before it was the word of the hour. But, as has been known to happen, I digressed. Don't get me going about me and my pants.

P.S. Autochthonous means originating in the place where found. Just in case that wasn't clear.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 1:02 PM | Back to Monoblog

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     Dec 29, 2003

"What do you fear, my lady?"

In 2001, my birthday fell on May the 14th, and May the 14th fell on a Monday, which means I had practice at the comedy theater. That night, we did an exercise, facilitated by one of our teammates, Dave George, who works for the famed (An)T(h)ony Robbins. Dave brought pieces of wood for us to break with our hands. On the wood, we were asked to write one of our fears. In pencil, with a modicum of mirth, I wrote "dying alone." And then I waited in my seat until it was my turn to get up on stage and give it a go. I was nervous -- sure I would fail. But I inhaled and pushed forward suddenly, and I busted that piece of wood right in half with my tiny little hand, much to my surprise. I have a Polaroid of the moment somewhere. I was wearing a pink sweater. Pink like ice cream.

I was born with jaundice. Like both my sisters, after I was born, I had to stay in the hospital for several lonely days, wriggling under a lamp until the yellow took its leave. Use your imagination and the following photo to picture this experience.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 11:59 PM | Back to Monoblog

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     Dec 12, 2003

The Great Waste

I didn't mean to catch Swept Away on late night pay television, but I did. And it was the most egregious waste of time I have committed in recent history. Lord, what a horrible movie. It spends thirty too many minutes establishing for you that Madonna's character (Amber) is a bitch. And you've long since accepted the fact. You also marvel at how unattractive she looks. After all the music videos she's looked hot in, you can't get past her steroid-striated face and arms. And there's something too -- I don't know -- blonde about her face. Maybe because of the need to later try and portray her as not wearing make-up while stranded on a deserted island. They don't pull it off.

Giancarlo Giannini's son looks too much like Valeria Golino circa Hot Shots Part Deux, and he's not likable either. It never makes sense that they fall for each other. Or that they spend a month stranded on this island but his facial hair never grows. And their clothes are still clean and untattered. Or that they don't end up together in the end, because they give you no reason at all to believe that she would feel compelled to stay with her knob of a husband.

And there's SO MUCH TALKING. You scan the credits in the end to see if George Lucas wrote it. Oh, and it's never EVER funny. Not once. I think it was billed as a romantic comedy, but maybe that's just because there isn't a standard category called "boring will-to-live-drainer."

So much disappointment in the cinema. If I had paid to see this film, I would have wanted to kill myself and someone sitting next to me. I would have wanted to leave before they even got off the ship. But I probably wouldn't have, because I never walk out of movies. Once, in college, I went with friends from the debate team (true) to see a German film of Charles Bukowski's Love Is a Dog from Hell, and Susanna Soo (we called her Sue Soo) wanted to leave during the first of the three vignettes, which portrayed randy young boys engaging in sexy voyeurism at a vulnerable age, so she left and Mike (was his last name Davis?) left with her, I assume because he was a gentleman. I was confused. And glad that I wasn't also being asked to go. I also saw a couple walk out of Pulp Fiction when it first came out, and I was seeing it at a Landmark in Hillcrest, a theater I imagine seldom provokes the walk-out. It's just not that kind of neighborhood. I went to see a Bollywood thing there called The Music Room, and I wished we'd walked out, but we stayed till the end and then went to the City Deli and talked long into the night about how little actually ever happened.

I haven't been to the movies much lately. But I think I'm capable of extrapolating the disappointment for the vast majority of flicks currently on the marquee. I'm not entirely given to cynicism, but there's a certain component of live-and-learn. I can admit to looking forward to seeing Big Fish. I also want to take my dad to see The Last Samurai. And whatever new Denzel Washington film happens to be out. If you don't know this firsthand, my dad has a crush on Denzel Washington. He likes him in everything. Even Virtuosity. I had planned to see Love, Actually, but that's looking more and more like it will come to me on the small screen. And of course I will go see The Return of the King. I'm no fool.

Perhaps that's where I will leave things. I often feel that I could go on writing for hours. Just sort of randomly vomiting it onto the page. It surprises me where that sort of stream-of-consciousness approach takes me. Sometimes I just keep going hoping that something cool will come out. I feel like I'm treading water right now, waiting for just that. But it's late. And there will be time for this on other nights. As many things as I feel I can never be certain of, that's one thing that doesn't change.


posted by Mary Forrest at 3:43 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Nov 30, 2003

The Keeping State

A lot of what I tell myself can't possibly help. This sort of pessimistic certainty that whatever is good right now will surely end at any moment. Probably tomorrow. Or maybe within the hour. I am vigilantly fearful of what lies ahead. No matter how much I am able to put behind me. It's like skimming the ocean's surface in a little skiff. And you can cover great distances, but no matter how far you go, there is exactly that much still out there to cross. Perhaps a problem of the circular nature of things. I don't really think about getting through things. I think more of staying ahead of them. For now. Knowing -- KNOWING that I will be plunged back into it eventually. That it is only a matter of time. That I can relearn many things, but my sentimental self is an indelible word written on a page that cannot be removed. I will always always go back. It's the only thing I know.

And even as going back is a part of going forward, it's hard not to fear the cycle. I have seen enough things again and again to know that I've been round this way before. And that sounds like going in circles. Somehow, I've come to see that circle as an adversary. A bitchy reminder that nothing can be gotten away from or gotten past. It may not all be within so small a radius that you can wrap your arms around it and draw it close, but it's out there. And it's coming around again.

Normally, I suppose I would feel pride in the fact that certain things have continued in my life. That I have a prolonged tenure in anything at all. That I've stuck with it. Become a veteran. Gotten to the point where it was all second nature. I used to keep track of the duration and announce it to myself with pride. But sometimes that turns around on you. Sometimes, you end up saying, "How could it have been that long? Why am I still here? What have I been doing for all this time?" Some of the time, you can feel great that you're the longest-standing member of whatever club it happens to be, but then before you know it, you're the oldest senator in congress and people are just clapping you on the back for managing to stay alive that long. Sometimes you're happy that you've got seniority. But, for me, some of the time, there is a sort of implied dissatisfaction in it. More and more I realize that I cannot flourish in the absence of challenges. Not tribulations necessarily, but the sparking action of ideas and problems on my flinty brain. The easier it is, the less interesting it becomes, the less interesting I become, the less vital it all seems, the closer to the end I feel, the closer to the end I am. If it gets to be routine, if it gets to be a breeze, I feel like I'm wasting my time. I need to be working at something meaningful just to stay alive, for Pete's sake. I used to think that I would be happy being independently wealthy with no demands being placed on me, but this is simple fiction. I need the struggle. Which is why the ease of massive riches that I haven't worked for could never be a reward for me. Unless the whole of my wealth was kept in small coins and I was required to carry it around with me, loose, in whatever pockets and handfuls and shopping bags I had handy. That might be challenging. And therefore worth it.

The process of effacement is no simple thing. For the moment, that is challenge enough. But it is the assurance that I can scrub and scrub and still not get rid of the traces of all that hurts or aches or torments -- that is what makes the trying hard. It's hard to keep at it when you know you can't win. You've got to find a way to tell yourself that another outcome is possible. Even though they say that's what retarded people do.

My shows at the comedy theater were great fun. I have had a nice streak of satisfying stage time in recent months. And I've also had the opportunity to feel close to my friends there. And to be grateful to realize that I have been missed by them. When distances intervene -- either made of time or space -- it's easy to believe that you are no longer cared for or thought of. Assurances to the contrary, however tiny, are like butterfly kisses in Technicolor.

Anyhow, I was glad to play and it had the feeling of a homecoming. And I am fond of that.

The Red Bull high faded long ago. I have been fighting the slouchy fatigue since partway through the second show. But I try to remember how good it feels to know that you have persevered. It might suck while you're at it. But the view from the future looking back is glorious. It's conquest and might and fortitude. And it's better than being vanquished by someone as pansy-like as "the Sandman." Please. He's no match for the adrenaline reservoir cultivated by a guilt-ridden childhood and the resulting fear of dying alone. I can take him like I took him all through high school and college: handily and with limited midday napping.

I just want to be able to rest at last. I'm fully prepared to get right back up and throw myself headlong into the fray. But a rest would be so welcome. A blank slate. A little downtime. The freedom to have a good idea. The ability to sleep without dreams that get remembered. The ability to wake up ready for something new. I could so use a bit of that. Tonight, we received the word insouciant in a game, and -- though I could spell it perfectly -- I couldn't quite remember what it meant. There is a nearly sweet irony to that.


posted by Mary Forrest at 3:43 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Nov 28, 2003

Give Thanks

My mother has the best self-image of anyone I know. No one pays her more compliments than she does, and they are well-deserved. When I was finishing getting dressed and she was flitting from station to station of her Thanksgiving dinner preparations like a bee attending to a field of flora, she was assessing each thing that was in progress and exclaiming, "Perfect!...Perfect!...Perfect!" She presented an extraordinarily beautiful meal, and no one knew it better than she did. I admire her for that. And also chuckle with affectionate amusement.

At the table, we did that sort of forced tradition of going round and having each person cite the the things for which they are giving thanks, and that was a tender thing. I found myself censoring my words, not wanting to flood myself with emotion. I realized that we are predisposed to listing the perfunctory things: family, health, the weather, a job, a car that runs, the successes we've had. When it was my dad's turn he reminded us that we should also be thankful for the failures, for the things that made the year difficult. He cited the biblical admonition that we should give thanks in all things. And in my head, I noted that, when it was my turn, I had had to stop myself from saying, "I am thankful for the chance for a better tomorrow." Maybe I didn't say it because it sounded like an ad from the American Plastics Council. But really, I didn't say it because I didn't want to fog up and get misty-eyed, knowing in my quiet interior that this year has held a great deal of disappointment and suffering and that I am fully prepared to be grateful for it because I know that the tempering pays off. It would have sounded cheap. And I would have been uncomfortable with the sincerity, so I probably would have followed it up with some crap joke to deflect the urgency of my loved ones' attention. That's what happens when things get a little too real.

I was tired for most of the day. And the vagueness of scheduled interludes made it impossible for me to take the typical post-turkey nap. And I had a few invitations to "stop by" at various spots. And I saw that they were all accepted and fulfilled.

When I stopped by the after-dinner wind-down of my friends from the comedy theater, I felt delighted when people laughed at nearly everything I said. It was an effortless sort of reminder that maybe I'm good at this after all. A very young, very cute Navy dude got a little too much Crown Royal under his skin and spent a portion of the evening trying to woo me with endearingly clumsy banter and a bizarre display of one-armed push-ups. He expressed disappointment when I was leaving, and I deferred to my need for sleep. He whispered in my ear in a slow, slurred fashion, "You can sleep...when you're dead." I said, "That's true. And a little bit creepy when whispered like that." I had just met him, and he did spend a few sentences talking about the types of rifle he shoots, after all.

Lia called as I was leaving and invited me to stop by a surprisingly well-attended Nunu's for a late drink with friends I've mostly met. I was momentarily indecisive, but I resolved to have only one and was true to my word. I told the people at our table about my mother's self-confident exclamations earlier in the day, and a few of those in attendance said that I come across as very confident and self-assured, too, and it was said in an entirely complimentary way. I agreed that this is true of me in certain situations. And I realized that I have it in me to be in better command of my faculties than I sometimes am. That I am indeed a competent and confident girl in many situations, but that I sometimes allow things to get the best of me. That in certain settings, I melt into a sort of quivering, amorphous soup of insecurity and uncertainty, desiring nothing more than the assurance that I needn't be so afraid. The contrast is stark, and not very many people have a chance to witness it.

So now, before I get any closer to next year's table, I think I can acknowledge that I am grateful for revelations. Even those that I didn't seek. Even those that I would prefer not to face. I am thankful to have the chance to learn something and change things and fix my missteps. I am thankful that sometimes it actually is like a Choose Your Own Adventure, which -- with the artful use of Post-It Notes -- can nearly always be steered full throttle into the happy ending slip. I am thankful that I can choose at all.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 1:21 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Sep 28, 2003

Eine Kleine Salmonella

A very satisfying round of shows at the comedy theater tonight. I can't really think of that many moments of my personal brilliance. Rather, it was a very balanced, excellent ensemble night with everyone shining and making everyone else look good. My throat is raw from yelling whether in triumph or antagonism or gruff, middle-aged character voice or grating, horrifyingly racist Chinese woman voice. It's not at all good for the singing career I'm not pursuing.

The guys who went and performed for the troops overseas brought back trinkets for us. I got a little silver anklet from Turkey. I've never had an anklet before. I was very pleased and immediately put it on. I just had this really positive feeling about the whole night. Every person at the theater seemed to be happy to be there. There is even an unusual warmth towards the door staff and sound guys, who often get the short end of the stick, either because they are trapped behind the scenes or because they are unignorably creepy. We're kind of in the zone, at the moment, it seems. I'm digging that.

And after the show, we went out for late night Chinese and got bad service but reasonably good food, except Krissy, who received a plate of chicken fried rice filled with raw chicken. And I'm not exaggerating. Say nothing else of Chinese restaurateurs, but they can be frighteningly grudging about being asked to take a potentially poisonous entree off the bill. Our waitress seemed to want to charge Krissy half price. I guess because she had eaten some amount of the dish before realizing that all of the chicken was what one might call "seared" but essentially completely raw on the inside. Maybe a micrometer's worth of cooked white part. The rest: pink, clear and bleeding. I made some off-color analogy about finding a turd in your soup but being asked to pay -- obviously not for the turd, which you didn't eat -- but certainly for the soup. I was getting ready to lay down the law with our waitress, but when she brought the bill, she had not charged us for the bacteria-filled rice dish. However, poor Krissy looked dismal. She had picked the restuarant and was obviously jonesing for the fried rice. In the end, I think the free fraction of rice and nearly-living bird meat she ingested were but a paltry substitute for what she had intended and hoped for.

We talked about Eddie Izzard's show and I compared voting for Arnold Schwarzenegger to voting for a bear in a three-piece suit. Well, it really wasn't a direct comparison, and it was more about voters in California possibly being willing to accept any number of disastrous replacements -- circus animals not excluded, and it included an exclamation of, "Well, he CAN ride a unicicyle." But that's neither here nor there.

I can't really point to anything great that I did tonight. I can only announce that I'm glad I had tonight at all. I seek out the sweet-scented, bosomy embrace of an appreciative audience. Which means I'm as needy and whorish as every other performer. I guess that's a truth that needs facing up to.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 3:10 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Feb 23, 2003

"God speed all the bakers at dawn."

I am happiest when people like what I do. I am quite happy, also, when people notice at all that I do anything. My expectations are not so very high.

I keep finding myself coming home late and congratulating myself on a good time but also chastising myself for the crippling effect my carousing will have on the day that follows. I have to be up in less than four hours. I know this. I knew it long before I made my plans for the evening. But the lure of friends and drink and bartenders who know what I order is stronger than all the sensible proverbs ever wrought. For now, at least.

The title of the story was "The Nail that Broke Too Soon." But the story ended up being about a guy called Giuseppe who grew inhumanly taller with every chapter and increasingly more menacing to the townspeople, who had been blinded by his shiny toolbelt. When the chapter began with me, I said, "Jesus fell from the cross with a thud. 'That nail broke too soon.'" And then I continued with the story of Giuseppe and the clumsy attempts of the townfolk to relieve him of his valuable accoutrements. It surprised -- and perhaps horrified -- many people, and I was proud. Which causes me to suspect that I am not above saying things just for the startled expressions my words provoke. This points to a disappointing lack of standards on my part, doesn't it? I garnered similarly uncertain approval when I pointed out how unfortunate it was for all those people to have died at a Great White concert -- a concert they were more than likely unwilling to tell anyone they were going to in the first place. I have always maintained that I cannot cross the line, for there is no line. Many would disagree with me. But they aren't people I would ever invite over.

My humor isn't always cruel. And it is often at my own expense. But there is a certain intoxicating sense of power that comes from not giving a fig. Unfortunately, I am seldom able to commit to this brash nonchalance wholeheartedly. I really don't want to upset anyone. That is sure to be my kryptonite.

Fueled by pretzels and Red Bull, I bested the night. The rest can only be listed in the column with the word "Comeuppance" at its top.

The desire to be content and the fear of same are the metaphorical pugilists duking it out inside of me. I wish one of them would just set decorum aside and throw a real punch.


posted by Mary Forrest at 4:41 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Jan 26, 2002

Swelling of the eyes and other tales

I drove down on Thursday night so that I would be able to attend the funeral today (yesterday, technically). As much as I cried incessantly and suffered the painful headache-y and puffy-eyed aftermath of that, I'm so glad I did. I'm so glad I heard my father speak and was able to feel so much pride in him and how wonderful he is. And I was so moved by the giant outpouring of love and appreciation at the service. It gave me pause.

I also got to see a lot of familiar faces. Some kids I haven't seen since they were in elementary school who are now all grown up and making decisions about their lives. It makes me want to rush to the bathroom mirror -- the only one I have, curses -- and check for grey hairs. And I got to express my love and my support to people I really care about and was glad to see.

And then I had to do a comedy show. Definitely not my best work, but I suppose it's understandable. I even got the challenge of having to come up with lines for World's Worst based on the suggestion "funeral." Method acting, I guess. Just take it in stride. My eyes ache. My head hurts. I'm kind of hungry. And I'm cold. And I wasn't funny enough tonight to merit any sense of satisfaction or pride. I guess I'll get 'em next time.

And, Alex, if you're reading this, don't be a nincompoop. How many times did I alert you -- either by phone call or email -- that so much of what I wrote here was intended specifically to be read by you. Honestly. You, nameless as you may have been on these pages, have been tightly knit into everything I have thought and felt over these past few months. Don't think otherwise. And you are mentioned on the home page and in the guestbook. Seriously. How demanding does a chap have a right to be? (And, of course, you must know that I bear you no ill will. I'm glad to hear from you, no matter the ribbing. And I am envious of double-decker buses and Don King sightings and beer in the wee hours and den-of-sin decor. Believe it.)

I am reluctant to call it a night. I have felt a lot of things today. I have traversed a huge spectrum of emotions. I have had thoughts that were healing and thoughts that cut me to the core. I have had swelling bursts of encouragement and dagger-like assaults of personal indictment. It isn't just the humility that comes with recognition of my mortality. It is the silent but thorough surveying of all that I am, all that I have been, all that I have become, and all that I hope I will allow myself to be.

When I look for words to describe myself or my state at any given moment, I have recently been at a loss more often than not. Recogizing that I have opened my thoughts to scrutiny. Knowing that the easy comfort of privacy does not exist here. I think it tempers my thinking and guards my words. And half of the time, I think that is the best possible scenario.

I realized today that, despite all the difficulty and disappointment that have often crowded my days, I am a girl who laughs a lot. I am a girl who smiles and enjoys things. I am a girl who makes the people near her smile, too. And it is hardest for me when I know that I am not able to convey smiles or laughter. When I know that I can't provoke those things in others. It is uncomfortable for me to be the one who needs a warm embrace or a word of encouragement. And yet I know that I am always the one who could use those things.

I am looking forward to spending a nice day with my family. I am hoping to be content with that. And I think the outlook is good. I have been less and less inclined to want something other than what I have at the moment. To prefer what someone else ordered to what I got. To wish I had chosen a different movie. Insert metaphor here. I have been more and more inclined to look for the winning aspects of what sits in my lap. And to sleep the night through.

I am not by any means invincible. I'm not even particularly powerul, in my estimation. But I am inclined to be better. Every day, I am. And I am inclined to find joy and satisfaction in things wherever I can -- even if that means just buying more cool pants.


posted by Mary Forrest at 1:59 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Jan 22, 2002

Me Chinese. Me play joke.

Last Saturday night at the comedy theater, the late show turned into this sort of racial free-for-all. I even got to do an obnoxious Asian character on stage without fear that the audience would eat me alive. It was very rowdy and really not so very much outside the realm of propriety. And both shows were great. Really. I was very proud of them.


posted by Mary Forrest at 6:30 PM | Back to Monoblog

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     Nov 4, 2001

Lightning crashes

On my drive home to L.A. tonight, there was just a huge lot of lightning to be seen, admired, feared, distracted by. I was listening to Game 7 of the World Series on the radio. That is unheard of for me. Listening to a sporting event on the radio. Or watching one for that matter. Unless I've been invited to and there's some sort of social event going on. But I listened tonight. And I realized that I have no ability to visualize what's happening in a baseball game with just the assistance of an audio feed.

Today, I went to a Target in North San Diego County with my mom. A girl -- who was with a guy -- came up to me and asked if I was in a movie. I was confused. "Are you an actress?" I told her that I do theater, but..."Comedy!" the guy cried. "You're in the National Comedy Theatre." I affirmed. The girl was relieved by the realization. "It was driving us crazy. We knew we had seen you somewhere. It was the Spanish Inquisition Animatronic thing that night. Remember?" I did.

This is the second time I have been out doing something innocuous in San Diego and been asked if I'm an actress or if I'm in a movie or a TV show. The last time, it was in Kensington, outside of LeStat's coffee house, where I was going to watch a show. A woman stopped me at the crosswalk with her daughter in tow and asked me if I was an actress. I remember being terribly flattered to be recognized. I felt similarly today. I'm no budding starlet, but one can't help but feel a little dizzy when fame looms. Later today, at the Home Depot, an orange-aproned fellow pointed us in the direction of fireplace accessories, and I said to my mom, when we were out of earshot, "Thank you, kind sir. You just provided service to a star." My mom laughed. But then, she's on my side and very easy to amuse.

I performed with the comedy group on Saturday night. Two really great shows. I think the Forward/Reverse Dr. Seuss Romance with the Smelly Clown theme was the highlight. Although I also got a very welcome big laugh when I sang a jingle based on Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" during World's Worst. I think this proves my theory that Rick Astley is a surefire crowdpleaser. That song is a guilty pleasure for nearly everyone. And I bought the CD when it was a new release. Beat that, if you can.

I've gotten a smidge of unpacking done. Not enough to feel proud about, though. I hope the week will be filled with accomplishments and wise choices. This girl knows the cup of a carpenter when she sees it.


posted by Mary Forrest at 11:09 PM | Back to Monoblog

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     Sep 5, 2001

"185 ceiling fans walk into a bar..."

Today, at NCT rehearsal, I had my usual mix of minor triumphs and failures. I felt low on energy. But I think it's becoming chronic, because I seem to begin actively dreading the rehearsals as early as Tuesday evening. It doesn't make the most sense. I used to really look forward to them. Tonight, I took some comfort in making Jonah laugh out loud at 185 punch lines I came up with for ceiling fans and seamstresses. But that was the highlight.

Chinese Girl Eats World

I have been gratifying a curious penchant for unusual Asian foods from my youth of late. Chocolate rice porridge. Various and sundry Filipino baked goods. All sorts of Chinese oddities my mother has managed to make delicious and normal-sounding. And of course there's my newfound love of sardines...Whilst in search of such things, I found an Asian market that carries Magnolia brand ice cream, which I used to eat and love when I was a child and my family lived in the Philippines. There are hysterical flavors, including Corn and Cheese Ice Cream, which -- not surprisingly, and yet astonishingly -- contains creamed corn and cheddar cheese. It sounds so hideous I feel irresistibly compelled to try it.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 10:04 PM | Back to Monoblog

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