Jan 27, 2008

Hangover F. Tompkins

I don't actually have a hangover. But I probably should. I sure drank a lot last night at the renaissance of The Paul F. Tompkins Show at Largo. It was cold and wet outside, so it was easy to seek comfort in glass after glass of Irish whiskey. I don't need excuses. I don't know why I should pretend to operate within the coolness of the shade they provide.

I was so (selfishly) glad to hear that Paul was bringing the show back. It was Martín's and my standing date the last Monday of every month for years. And then it ended in late 2006. After a period during which I had had to miss many of the shows anyway. So there has been a dearth of this tradition, and I'm terribly pleased to revive it. I've gotten to know so many people who work on and come to the show that it's like a reunion every time. And this one was all the more rewarding, as I've not seen many of these people since October of 2006. The most missed of which was Paul himself.

Have you ever had that feeling when you can't laugh hard enough? There is that scene in Scarface when the guy is about to get chopped up with a chainsaw, and his mouth is taped up, and you can see that behind the duct-taped silence, he's screaming as loud as he can. I don't know where that instinct comes from, but I do think that horrible things are altogether more horrible if you are robbed of your ability to let everyone nearby know it. That happens to me in dreams sometime. Also the thing where you can't run fast enough and you actually try and make yourself go faster by pulling on the edges of buildings. Like swimming. Anyway, my point is, sometimes I feel that way when something is so very funny, that I can't seem to get the relief(?) that laughing typically provides by merely laughing. This happens a lot at The Paul F. Tompkins Show.

Oh, my god. I almost accidentally watched Norbit. Crisis averted. Relief. Empire Strikes Back is halfway over but still. How are the whites of Yoda's eyes so white? No amount of Visine affords me that luxury for very long. It's dusk in Cloud City. What was I saying? Oh, right.

Sometimes Paul is so funny that I'm appalled at my inadequate ability to express amusement. Having expelled all the air in my lungs and heartily slapped my knees, having made eye contact with friends and established visually that we both think that was a good one -- it almost seems cruel for someone to be so funny that I'm left to evaluate my own impotence. But maybe this is more my problem than his.

Sometimes I think I like traditions. And sometimes I think I don't. Sometimes having a standing appointment with a good time feels like an oppressive obligation. And sometimes, saying such things makes a person sound like a sociopath. I remember having a standing appointment with The Paul F. Tompkins Show. And I'm glad it's back on the calendar. No matter how many Largo entrées I have to pretend I've eaten.

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

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     Nov 13, 2006

I play my red guitar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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     Aug 3, 2006

Dear Myspace,

Why don't you work? I realize you have intermittent crap-outs and can now only wryly be referred to as "Still Better than Friendster!", but for the past few weeks, you have been consistently unusable, however in an infuriating, "don't give up -- try, try again," time-consuming way. At least with Friendster, you just plain couldn't get to the site. And to be fair, you had that same problem during most of Comic-Con. I know, I know. You had a power outage in your data center. But still. Don't you know that I don't bother to know my friends' actual email addresses specifically because I assume I can rely on you? These days, everything I try to do results in an error. And I'm pretty bright with computers and stuff, so I try not to assume that the error messages I get from you are real without first confirming that my message hasn't in fact been sent or my comment in fact been posted. And it's precisely because of this reputation I have that I am terrified of mistakenly assuming your error messages are factual, resulting in a comment of mine being posted more than once -- especially since you seem to have taken away the ability for users to delete comments they've left. But some of my friends who are newer to you don't know to do that, so as a result I have been receiving messages from some of them ten, twenty, even thirty times in a row. Anyway, you've really been making me waste a lot of my time this past week. And not in an engrossing, addictive, or infotaining sort of way. It just takes me a lot longer now to confirm that you truly are not going to let me ever post a comment for Paul F. Tompkins. Oh, wait. It just worked now. But I'll bet this blog will never post...

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posted by Mary Forrest at 4:23 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Apr 25, 2006

A little chin music.

Why don't I write about The Paul F. Tompkins Show as much as I used to? I'm lazy and a jerk. Those are the only acceptable explanations. But tonight, I attended the show, as I nearly always do, and I feel the (tipsy) impetus to remark on how great the show always is and how disappointed in it I never am. Maybe I write less because I've run out of synonyms for extolling Paul F. Tompkins' genius. That's just embarrassing. I own a thesaurus. Surely I can find ways to praise Paul without constantly repeating myself. Or not. If history is any witness, I've taken all manner of notes at show after show, but I've just seldom managed to retype them into a journal entry. Obviously rendering my note-taking worthless.

For the record, I have looked up the chin music issue, and it turns out that Dave "Gruber" Allen has nothing for which to answer to me. I guess "chin music" -- while it does also mean punching someone in the face or pitching a baseball a little too close to the batter's face -- made its debut in The Red Badge of Courage and meant an excess of jibber jabber. When I'm wrong, I say so. And then I move to another state and pretend we never met.

Kristin Herman is my favorite thing in the world. Samm Levine is my hero of aerial acrobatics. And AC/DC is good no matter who sings it.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 1:32 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Oct 2, 2005

Leather Anniversary

Last night, I worked for more than thirteen hours, standing for nearly the whole time in high Fornarina heels, producing my company's coverage of the Comedy Death Ray 3rd Anniversary Show at the UCB Theatre. And as much as I was there to advocate for and promote an event I support and want to help to make super famous, being part of a production crew like that feels a smidge like being a leper. Asking people to sign releases and trying not to be in the way of the actual show doesn't feel fancy or exclusive. And I'm not the sort of peacock that wants anyone to be inconvenienced, so mostly I just kept trying to make my physical self smaller and more invisible.

The show itself went from ten p.m. until long after six a.m., and the crowd was unbelievably stalwart. By the time Hard n' Phirm closed the show, nearly none of the house seats had been abandoned. Which is part of the reason I had to stand for so long. Here's why people stayed:

Doug Benson
Matt Besser
Blaine Capatch
David Cross
The Fun Bunch
Zach Galifianakis
Janeane Garofalo
Todd Glass
Hard 'n' Phirm
The Idiots
Andy Kindler
Howard Kremer
Jerry Minor
Bob Odenkirk
Patton Oswalt
Brian Posehn
Paul Rudd
Sarah Silverman
Brendon Small
Nick Swardson
Paul F. Tompkins
James Adomian
Michelle Biloon
Susan Burke
Neil Campbell
Pete Carboni
Sean Conroy
Andrew Donnelly
Bil Dwyer
Graham Elwood
Chris Fairbanks
Wayne Federman
Jarrett Grode
Boris Hamilton
Sari Karplus
Martha Kelly
Jen Kirkman
Aaron Lee
Natasha Leggero
Dan Mintz
Eric Moneypenny
Morgan Murphy
Jason Nash
BJ Novak
Jimmy Pardo
Melissa Paull
Eddie Pepitone
Chip Pope
Jonah Ray
Moses Robinson
Kevin Seccia
Mike Schmidt
Tom Sharpe
David Taylor
Joe Wagner
Mishna Wolff

I didn't get home until well after eight a.m. But even that felt like a cop-out. I'm sure other people were out doing things I would have wanted to be doing. Even if I would have required the assistance of a wheelchair.

I wasn't sure what to call this entry, so I went and looked up the traditional materials that the various anniversaries are supposed to be celebrated with. So this gets me to thinking. Why would the third anniversary be leather?

The first and second are obvious. Paper for the first because there is very little chance you'll make it, so don't invest in anything substantial. If the union fails, you'll be glad your gifts are water-soluble. And it's also an opportunity to hand your spouse a document. A photograph of the two of you. A coupon for a free backrub. A no-fault divorce kit.

The second being cotton is equally understandable. Why not celebrate two statistics-defying years together with a fun t-shirt. Maybe one that says, "In it to win it." Or if things aren't actually defying statistics so much, a jumbo bag of cotton balls is a thoughtful acknowledgement of the frequent need to absorb mouth blood.

But why leather for number three? Does it really take three years together to get comfortable and honest enough to let your BDSM interests see light? Does the third annum necessitate a lot of motorcycle jockeying? Does this come from a period in history when leather was the only material used in clothing and year three was about the time a couple could finally have done with being perpetually nude? I'm just wondering.

And because I'm thorough, I may as well explain the rest of the traditional gifts. Using Occam's razor, of course.

4th - Fourth - Fruit/Flowers
By year four, constipation has set in. A gift of fruit and/or flowers -- properly ingested -- will help smooth the journey into year five.

5th - Fifth - Wood
This is symbolic of the fact that you've managed to keep the thing afloat for five impossible years. Also, wooden gifts make for good kindling.

6th - Sixth - Candy/Iron
This is the all-important Flintstones Vitamin anniversary.

7th - Seventh - Wool/Copper
Wool is a great insulator. Copper has powerful conductive properties. Both come in handy, as this year is going to be a cold one.

8th - Eighth - Bronze/Pottery
Bronze and ceramics are representative of the fact that your love life has taken on the appearance of a sculpture garden.

9th - Ninth - Pottery/Willow
Recycle the ceramic gift you bought last year, or get something made of willow, the most emotionally distraught and tormented of trees.

10th - Tenth - Tin/Aluminium
Canned goods contribute nicely to the "fallout shelter" cast your relationship has taken on.

11th - Eleventh - Steel
You live in a cage. Celebrate!

12th - Twelfth - Silk/Linen
The Mongols wore their silk underclothes until they literally rotted off their bodies. That was on or about year twelve.

13th - Thirteenth - Lace
Your marriage is beginning to feel like your grandmother's house. Therefore doilies -- not lingerie -- would make the most appropriate gift for this doomed year.

14th - Fourteenth - Ivory
With longevity like this, you are part of a legitimately endangered species. Murder an elephant.

15th - Fifteenth - Crystal
Fifteen years in, it's not Swarovski you're shopping for. Tweaker.

20th - Twentieth - China
Apparently at this point, anniversaries are only celebrated every five years. Also, apparently you've finally been together long enough to sit down to a meal in your formal dining room. And microwaveable plastic plates would just seem gauche in there.

25th - Twenty-Fifth - Silver
Time to plug the parking meter of connubial bliss! Although the true progeny of this gift-giving tradition is that photo of a dead Abraham Lincoln with two coins over his eyes. I might have seen that in a scary movie as part of a dream sequence. But apparently, so has everyone else.

30th - Thirtieth - Pearl
Pearls are very rare. You get the analogy. They are also found in seafood. For some reason.

35th - Thirty-Fifth - Coral
This is the year your spouse buys you a scuba-diving vacation in shark-infested waters. As a means of recapturing "the spark."

40th - Fortieth - Ruby
I'm pretty sure this is just a marketing idea from the Wizard of Oz franchise.

45th - Forty-Fifth - Sapphire
By necessity these days, you drink a lot of gin. Now everyone can buy it for you. In quantity.

50th - Fiftieth - Gold
Only Jews manage to stay together this long.

55th - Fifty-fifth - Emerald
Another ingenious ploy of the Wizard of Oz people, all the more appropriate as this anniversary is as rarely arrived at (and as fictitious) as that storied green city. Your eyes are so milk-colored and cloudy with age, you wouldn't know if you were getting a gemstone or a Skittle anyway.

60th - Sixtieth - Diamond
By the time you make it to this fabled milestone, one of your mothers is probably dead. That's when the woman in the couple gets the heirloom wedding ring. And victory.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 7:40 PM | Back to Monoblog

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     Sep 3, 2005

"Narcolepsy is not a superpower."

I was watching CNN's Katrina coverage on the TV in the gym this morning. I remember watching the tsunami coverage there, too. Today, I felt so sad and tired of looking at all the devastation that I found myself watching The Surreal Life on the adjacent monitor. There isn't even closed captioning. But it was easier to watch than all that suffering.

I've been to New Orleans a few times. The first time I visited, it was in the springtime, and it was beautiful. And I shopped like mad in the French Quarter, and foolishly brought back all sorts of New Orleans foodstuffs that you can readily buy locally. I ate very well. Tried all the things that are famous. Beignets. Bananas foster. Coffee with chicory. Bread pudding. Gumbo. Jambalaya. Red beans and rice. Muffalattas. Alligator sausage. Even a Lucky Dog. You name it. I was there for a conference, and my boss was a foodie of grand proportions. So we didn't waste any meals. The next time I visited, it was nearly Christmas, and the city was cold, and my work was tiring, and I didn't make nearly as much of my stay. The next two times were right at the holidays. Once, passing through on my way to Italy to spend time with my family, I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning there. That was the time Richard Simmons called me "pretty hair." The last time was in late 1996. I stayed for a week, from Christmas Eve until New Year's Day, visiting with the family of my sister's then-boyfriend. And although it was winter, it was muggy and warm most of the time. And I regretted all the wool I had packed. During that visit, I did all sorts of fun things. And all sorts of cliché things. At Tipitina's one night, a local band was playing a song whose subject was New Orleans and whose unsurprising lyrics kept repeating the phrase, "Big Easy. Big Easy." And a guy in the crowd next to me called out, "More clichés! More clichés! Sing about Bourbon Street. And jazz. And red beans and rice." Later that night, I wrote it down in my notebook.

I think my old college friend Brian Housh may still live in New Orleans. We've fallen out of touch. I hope he's all right. The people I was visiting in that last trip no longer live there. I am so sad for the people who are going through this nightmare. And I am glad that at least some journalists are making a point of calling attention to the molasses-like response of the federal government. Adam sent me this link to Ted Koppel's interview of Mike Brown, director of FEMA. It's encouraging to see some courage and incisiveness return to the news. At the same time, even as these questions are being asked, help is only just getting to New Orleans. And still so little attention is being paid to the rest of the gulf coast, where entire towns have been wiped out. Entire towns. Gone. It's hard to imagine. Hard to believe. And this is just me as a far-off observer. I can't even begin to think what it would feel like to return to your neighborhood and see nothing left standing. I remember the shock of seeing my parents' house after the fire that engulfed it in 1998. I remember just walking through like a zombie saying. "Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god." And eventually beginning to cry.

Walking through the parking lot at Trader Joe's today, I thought to myself how fortunate I am. And I hate corny sentiment. But I saw a father and his young daughter trying to decide what kinds of flowers to buy, and I thought that we really are lucky to be out here right now where the sun is shining and the breeze is blowing and the temperatures are mild and lovely. Of course our own local news media wants us to be afraid, too, as usual. There was a segment yesterday evening on disaster preparedness. What if an earthquake hits us? Or some other catastrophic event? A reporter went door to door checking to see how much bottled water and canned food people had. Whether they had flashlights and batteries. Anyone worried about me should relax, knowing that I have enough non-perishable food to last me well into the next decade. And a goodly amount of bottled water. Of course, I also live in a very old building and would probably be crushed by debris and my jerk upstairs neighbors, if the earth were to quake with any great force. And so would all my valuable supplies. So there.

At the gas station, on my way home, where I paid $3.12 per gallon to fill up my tank, a guy with a giant boat of a vintage Cadillac was making conversation with a bum trying to wash his windshield for him. I overheard him say that it costs him seventy dollars to fill up his tank at this price. And then he laughed and said, "It's just a weekend thing." It seemed crass to me. But I was also filled with relief that the freelance windshield washer was too engrossed in his conversation with that freewheeling gas-guzzler to hit me up for any money. We're all jerks on some level, I suppose.

I went to see my friend Ben's show The Thrilling Adventure and Supernatural Suspense Hour at M Bar on Thursday night. I hadn't been able to make it to the past few shows, and I was glad to be catching it again. It was a fine production and I laughed many times. During the Beyond Belief segment, Paul (F. Tompkins) actually had to shush a table to the left of the stage. And later, when they apparently continued to not shut up, he glared at them. I found that awesome. After the show, in the ladies' room, I heard another in a series of mindnumbing conversations I have heard in ladies' restrooms between girlfriends who stun me with the lack of interesting subject matter that infuses their discourse. This one went a bit like this.

Girl 1: I like your hair.
Girl 2: Do you? I think it's getting too long.
Girl 1: Oh, no. I like it long.
Girl 2: Really? Because everyone tells me they like it better short.
Girl 1: I like it long.
Girl 2: How long?
Girl 2: Like long long?
Girl 1: Yes. Long long long. I like long long hair.
Girl 2: I like your earrings.
Girl 1: Oh, they're like doorknockers.
Girl 2: I want to be a more daring earring person.

I saw them outside later on. I didn't care much for Girl 1's earrings or for Girl 2's hair. Paget Brewster clued me in that they were the ones who were making all the noise during the show. It figures. Boy, does it figure.

So, it's Labor Day Weekend. And I guess I'm glad to see summer coming to a close. But I'm not sure that I continue to be grateful for the demarcation. It seems that I am able to access too many of my disappointments when I place them in these seasonal categories. I have had happy summers and horrific summers and summers that passed without much mention. But it seems like the happy times end up getting tainted. Inevitably. Even the good times eventually get hidden behind a feeling of, "Oh, but then THAT happened." I once wrote, "Sometimes when you think you're on top of the world, the world turns over." And I guess that's just the way it goes.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 6:04 PM | Back to Monoblog

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     Jul 28, 2005

Star War III: Backstroke of the West

Friends, allow me to share with you the funniest thing I have ever seen. It is this.

Thank you, Paul F. Tompkins, the Famous Comedian.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 2:40 PM | Back to Monoblog

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     Apr 24, 2005

Big Pour

Jessie and I went to Birds after workshop yesterday again. It was the last of our Saturday classes, and we get done early enough that we find excellent parking easily in that very popular Franklin hive. We have made friends with the bar staff there, and that pays off like you wouldn't believe. I was drinking Jameson on the rocks, and I'm sure by the time we left, I'd had half a bottle of it. What a man I am.

Yesterday was not my favorite day. On my way to Hollywood in the afternoon, a phone conversation left me with tears streaming down my face and no tissues in my car or handbag. There's me, walking quickly to class and wiping tears away and hoping I'm not also wiping blue eyeshadow all over my face, and it's a good thing it's Hollywood, because no one takes an interest when scenes of sorrow and anguish play themselves out on the sidewalks here. I did not look as much a mess as I felt. And class went all right. And when we went to Birds, this fellow called Peter invited us out for a smoke and told us that some other guy he had just met at the bar told him that I had "caught his eye." And I guess that was by way of warning us that a chat-up was imminent. That guy did then suddenly join us outside and tried to make conversation with me. But I have to say, he didn't give it much juice. I'm not a snob. I will talk to a guy. Even if I have no agenda. I try to be a friendly conversationalist. But this was just one of those interludes that wanted for more effort on his part. He accused us of not being regulars, because I guess he's there all the time and has never seen us. So I explained that we take a class and we sometimes drop by afterwards, and he took immediate interest in the comedy tip, and made that one demand that cannot be tolerated. He asked me what my "style" is, and I couldn't really answer that, as I do improv and that's just whatever. But I said that I talk about my mother a lot and that I've been known to use a lot of smart words. And he said, "Like Dennis Miller?" And I said, "Well, I'm not a fan." And he said, "Really? I think he's really good." And I said," I don't care for his politics." And then I added, "And I find his rants to be sort of masturbatory." And he said, "Masturbatory? You mean he's doing it to amuse himself and it's not intended to inform people?" And I said, "Right. He's beating off." And he laughed. And I added that I suppose my style is also sort of vulgar. And then he said, "Can I hear a sample?" And this is the death knell for a conversation of this sort. Invariably, if someone finds out I do comedy and they say, "Say something funny," whatever I say next will fall flat. I'm always hoping that they're paying enough attention while talking to me that they might find me funny just sort of organically and on the sly. But if that isn't the case, and someone asks me to amuse them, I usually just say, "No." I didn't shut this guy down so abruptly, but I did sort of find a way to work myself back into the conversation Jessie and Peter were having, and the other guy pretty quickly excused himself and went back inside. Peter later relayed to us that he asked the fellow how it had gone, and he had said, "Not well. I don't think we hit it off." And then Peter tried to invite himself back to my place.

I suppose there's kindling for the self-esteem fire in there. This happens to me from time to time. And at bars -- and when I'm with Jessie -- more often than in other scenarios. It's flattering to have someone take an interest in me, but so often I really just want to be left to talk to the person I'm with, and all that attention is just an intrusion. Again, I'm not stuck-up. I just really like my friends, and I never feel as if I get enough of them. And when I'm out in the world, like on Friday night -- when I stopped in at a liquor store to buy some purse-sized whiskey to take over to Cranes because Kevin had mentioned that they don't have a full bar there and I'm certainly not going to spent the night trying to get hopped up on soju -- the guy buffing the floors said, "You look sexy tonight." And I said, "Thank you," but I didn't really go away feeling awesome because of it. That guy has never seen me before, so the comparative nature of his compliment was suspect. And he was the guy buffing the floors. The Korean guy behind the counter was not terribly flirtatious at all. He was friendly, but he wasn't trying to take me home or anything. And I wondered if it's because I can only catch the eye of the ones who aren't management material. Later, when I was walking up El Centro to the bar, a guy pulled over and asked me if I needed a ride. I declined politely. But that's an odd thing. It wasn't like I looked as if I was limping back to civilization after a harrowing brush with crime. I was walking with a great sense of purpose from my parking spot to a bar. And he was driving in the opposite direction. I suppose I could have gotten him to drive me the block and a half to the bar, but that might have turned out to be a block and a half of saved walking in exchange for being chopped up with an axe in the trunk of his Altima. I'm doing the scales with my hands right now.

On Friday night, I wasn't going to go to the Comedy District, but Mindy gave me a little push, and I relented. I have seen a few shows at that room in the back of San Gennaro, and it's really far less of an epiphany than, say, seeing the blood of San Gennaro recoagulate every year at that festival in Naples. It's a miserable room, and the last time I saw a show there, I was surprised that they weren't also selling timeshares. Jason Nash was hosting the show, and I leaned over to Paul (F. Tompkins) and said that Jason's hair is so long now that he looks like Dragonball Z. (And, of course, by that I meant Goku when he is in the Super Saiyan level and goes blonde. But no one would have found that funny. Too much detail. Too much geek truth. I'm not even a fan of Dragonball Z. I just know these things.) Jason didn't even know what Dragonball Z is, so no connection there. But other people did, so when Paul mentioned it during his set, it wasn't a dud and I was relieved and flattered. Howard Kremer was so great, and his coining of the term "cram hole" was my favorite thing in some time. Paul was also super awesome. There was a lot of gold in both his and Howard's sets that was specific to the odd awkwardness of that room. In a way, it's a shame, because that alone can't be reason enough to see or do a show there. And if you're ever able to get someone to bring you a drink in that room, you must be sitting under the halo of heaven and appear to be very special and important.

Two last things. If you happen to get seated next to a parent with a small child on a ride like Soaring Over California the next time you're at one of the Disney theme parks, you might notice as I did that the world is suddenly reduced down to a Richard Scarry book. The lady to my right spent the entire ride just captioning every object she saw for her youngster. And I distinctly noticed the absence of rat families, cat policemen, and whatever the foxes generally were. And here's a bit of conversation Jessie and I had last night that I thought was perfect.

Mary: You've got to see this outfit behind you.

Jessie: I saw it. It doesn't make sense.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 10:32 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Apr 7, 2005

This post will be entirely about Paul F. Tompkins.

So I've missed a few opportunities to sing praises and register grievances as they pertain to the career of Paul F. Tompkins, the object of my (at times creepy) affection. And I am in the business of making good. This is for you, Paul. As promised.

The Paul F. Tompkins Show

This most recent Largo show was the three-year anniversary of The Paul F. Tompkins Show. Well-attended, as usual. Surprising and pleasing. I'm remiss in not having written about it sooner, as my ability to recount all of the glorious details seems to grow more and more brittle in direct proportion to the number of Ketel One sodas I've had. And this week, I've had a few of them. Fortunately I have a notebook. My notes included the following:

Paul -- cute.
Colin Hay -- also cute, but in a different way.

Derek Hughes did a magic act with needles coming out of his mouth. And at the end of it, instead of the fourteen needles that should have come out, he counted eleven. And when Paul came back out on stage, he said, "He's got four needles in his mouth!" And someone in the audience said, "Three!" And I wanted to find them and smack them. Hard. I hate the devotion to correctness. Much as I am a slave to it myself. When it comes to comedy, I just wish people would get over the idea that paying close attention and being right about things matter when they just don't hold a candle to being smart and funny. And Paul is extraordinarily smart and funny. And that boob in the audience clearly is neither. So they should shut up. And that's my point.

The big gang's-all-here number was Donovan's Atlantis, which delighted me all to crazy. Although I have to admit that when it pops up in my iPod mix, I tend to skip through the spoken-word preamble. Beulah once played this song for her English class, but I can't remember the circumstances. Was she teaching them about preambles? I don't remember. Anyway, it's a good and groovy song. And there were humorous addenda that made it all the more enjoyable. The surprise "I am the god of hell fire!" ending wasn't included. But I'm glad. That part always scares me. And anyway I have since learned that that isn't even part of the Donovan song and is my just desserts for downloading files illegally, even though I own a best of Donovan CD and am apparently just too lazy to find it and rip its contents to my computer. But the real point is, why would they have sung that at the show, since it would have been completely misplaced and inaccurate, unless they had gotten all their rehearsal cues from listening to Atlantis on my iPod, and -- really -- how dare they.

I was talking to Wayne Federman after the show, and Ileanna Douglas came over and began talking to him, too. And I think I offended her with my snipey assertion that Quentin Tarantino is unfortunately bottom-heavy for a dude. She said that the cocktail I was holding was to be my last. But fortunately, she doesn't actually have any authority at Largo. Because it was not my last at all. I was afraid that I had offended Ileanna with my assessment of Tarantino's thickness in the thighs, but in the end, I feel protected by the truth in my opinion. I'm not saying he's not talented or anything. I'm just saying he should walk it off a little. You know?

Sam Levine was a perfect creepy nightgown girl from The Ring. And Ben Acker was wearing a very festive sweater. Paul called it "Christmas." I said "après ski." You say tomato...

This Business of Kelsey Grammer presents "The Sketch Show"

So Paul has been appearing on Fox on Sunday nights on this show. And I don't think it's a very good show, and I usually find myself laughing at the parts I feel were probably the most painful and humiliating to Paul, and that's not nice of me, and I know it. But there are also sketches that have had their moments, and I have laughed at them. So there's that. But I will say to the world what I have said more privately to others: Kelsey Grammer has no business even being on television. Unless it's in the role that America most loves him in -- that of Sideshow Bob. He is absolutely terrible. And I can't understand the marketing message in saying that ONLY Kelsey Grammer could have brought sketch comedy to America's Sunday nights like this. What is his claim on sketch comedy in the first place? What character has he ever created that wasn't Frasier? It's nearly as bad as watching Drew Carey when he actually participates in the improv games on Whose Line. He is horrible. And the most painful part of it is that he apparently has no idea about it. And I feel the same way about Kelsey Grammer, who is perhaps so cushioned in the bosom of fawning hangers-on and porn spouses that he doesn't realize how embarrassing he is. The first week the show aired, Kelsey was in a sketch where he was singing. And the fact that he didn't realize that his horrifically poor singing skills were the joke is what is saddest of all. Pee yew. His singing leaves much to be desired.

So the show is sort of like Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Just a series of very obvious punchlines, strung together with jaunty interstitials of cast members mugging on a colorful sound stage. I think that's what would prevent me from ever being on a show. I could never do those interstitials. If they said, "Okay, Mary, now just dance around a little," I would have to say, "I'm sorry but you're going to have to fuck off now," because I really can't do that. Maybe my self-consciousness is unmerited. Maybe it implies a dignity that I have not actually earned. But I just can't imagine being able to do it, and that's why I'm no actor. Even those bits in That '70s Show with the cast members bouncing on trampolines and such make me think: "I could never do that. It's just too gay." To Paul's credit, he never seems to do anything terribly goony. Martín applauded how well Paul made the "C" look heavy when the cast members are moving the letters in the show's title around. And I'll second that. The most important thing you can take from watching the show is that Paul's gift is in maintaining so much of his dignity, even when they're making him dress like a transient. Which, for the record, was actually really enjoyable to watch.

My mother watched the show this past weekend, and she recounted to me a scene where Paul plays a director on a porno set, and Lee Mack (the British dude) is an actor who keeps harshing the vibe. She described it to me like this: "He was the director and the other one kept RUINING it. He would say, 'Action!' and the guy was so STUPID! He did it wrong every time! Why was he even in the movie?" She was clearly ruffled by it. Never really understanding that that was the idea. I think my mom is the sort of person who will watch a historical film and be angry when the protagonist dies, even if that's the way it occurred historically. She always reasons that it's someone's fault and that the ending could be prevented. But who am I kidding -- she can't stay awake for a historical film in its entirety. The fact that she was able to watch a single forty-five second sketch from end to end is an accomplishment in itself.

Paul really needs to have his own show. A real show where he gets to be in charge and stuff. Think of the joy it would bring to people's lives. Think of the number of sickly and ailing children who would suddenly find new color in their cheeks. Think of the number of televised hours we would be spared having to see Kelsey Grammer in something. Development executives of the world, get it together, will you?

Oh, and Kelsey Grammer's head is shaped like a bean.

The M Spot

Monday night, Paul did stand-up in Jason Nash's Monday night M Bar show, and it was the superlativest. First rate and all that. When he mentioned his affection for blooper shows, I fondly recalled how my family used to record Life's Most Embarrassing Moments -- the progenitor to TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes and any number of other blooper shows -- and replay the tapes for everyone who ever came over to our house for dinner. That's right. My parents would invite some couple from work or church or the principal of our school and his wife over for dinner, and my mom would cook some amazing dinner, and after the meal, everyone would retire to the living room with coffee and dessert, and someone would inevitably cue up the Betamax with Life's Most Embarrassing Moments, commercial interruptions and all. I don't remember anyone making faces that would imply they thought it was gauche of us. But who says they would have known better. We didn't really mingle with a very sophisticated set in my recollection. We recorded all of those shows when they came on the television. I think there was Life's Most Embarrassing Moments I, II, III, and IV. But the first one was the best. Just like Faces of Death.

Paul was also my hero for wanting to be played on with only the coolest of music. "Do you have any Bowie? How about Blondie? Pixies? How about some Wave of Mutilation?" What a dreamboat, huh? In a recent Largo show, he said that he does not care for Pink Floyd, and I felt a bit sad about that. But then I remembered: Who cares? It's fun to argue with people about what is and isn't good, but in the end, what difference does it make? After the show, Michelle Biloon and Wayne Federman and I were talking, and somehow Wayne tried to say that The Shawshank Redemption isn't a good film. And -- much as I adore Wayne -- this is just poppycock. But it's poppycock that in no way impacts my affection for him, so no harm done. I was very flattered when Wayne let me look through his book of notes. I would never let anyone look in my stupid notebook with its many pages of nearly illegible and always embarrassing drivel. He must be very secure. And well he should be. He has wonderful penmanship.

I guess I feel I haven't said enough about Paul, so I will refer you to a Channel 101 pilot he was in that is one of my favorite things ever. It's here.

Tomorrow night, I will be seeing Paul again in Ben Acker's program. But I will speak of that separately so that Ben can feel huge and important.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 2:09 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Mar 4, 2005

The Thrilling Adventure and Supernatural Suspense Hour

I was going to try and find some oblique reference to use as a title, but why bother? This is about the show, and that is the show's title.

I went to M Bar last night to see the show of the aforementioned name. My friend Ben Acker (whose show it was, as he is the "Acker" of "Acker and Blacker," who are the "Acker and Blacker" of "Acker and Blacker's WorkJuice Theatre Presents" fame) was all ants-in-the-pants about it and invited me some weeks back, so it was on my calendar, and I am ruled by my promises. While there, I finally met Murphy Gilson, whom I've known for some time but have never managed to actually meet, which is a shame in retrospect, as it turns out he's pretty rad. Ben and I have a number of mutual friends, among whom are David Hill, who was woefully absent and for whom Ben and I once did a script-reading together for a Curb Your Enthusiasm spec he wrote, and Matt Frederick, who everyone agrees has long since overstayed his sojourn in Costa Rica. The world is a mess of tangled threads at times, and no one is fonder of that than I.

Anyway, Murphy and his friend Craig kept me company while I was waiting for my friend Tom, who was late and perhaps secretly punishing me for having been late to meet him last night at my friend Anya's CD release party at The Hotel Cafe. But honestly, that was Jessie's fault. And all was forgiven after Anya's show, when we went to The Velvet Margarita, which I promptly fell in love with. It's still a too-expensive, bullshit Hollywood type place, but the décor is too perfect. Velvet paintings of luchadoras and Elvis and dia de los muertos skeletons and skeleton Elvises. And animatronic Mexican marionettes performing their repetitive little dances in inset little stages high up on the wall and Spanish language movies from the 60s playing on big screens with subtitles in full effect. We drank, took pictures, and went on an errand to Pink's before the night was through, at which time I had no continuing ire over how late we were to the show. But maybe Tom was still holding a grudge. He didn't accompany us on any of the post-show fun-having, so it figures.

I'm just now realizing that perhaps I shouldn't have called this journal entry what I called it, as it hasn't been about the show at all. So far. But I will correct that. Now.

So, the show.

The show was presented like an old-fashioned radio play, with actors holding binders and speaking into microphones, but it also made clever use of the visual component of us actually being able to see them. And it seemed that the audience laughed in nearly all of the right places and that Ben was pleased. I was a bit thrown that the musical guest, whose name was Shawn Pander, was not funny. I suppose it doesn't take so keen a sophisticated comic mind to assume that a person with the surname of "Pander" might be using a funny pseudonym and that the musical interlude itself might be intended to be a joke. But, no. He was a musician, and he played music. And it sounded good. And it wasn't funny at all.

I remember leaning in -- and let's face it, standing on tippytoes, because that Ben is one tall fellow -- and telling Ben what I thought from time to time. "Thumbs up for liberal use of the word 'onus' and for the phrase 'bad books,'" for instance, I recall saying to him at one point. And I hoped that he heard my laughter where he might have wanted to hear it. I may not have told him how much I liked many other things. It's mostly just me realizing that leaning over and yakking into the writer's ear for the whole show might be the rudest possible thing I could do. But I was fond of the smushing agenda and the caroms and ricochets of bullets of sound. And I also loved how simple it was to modify a woman's voice to sound like that of a demon by just having a guy talk at the same time. I'm obviously no sound design genius, but I'm sometimes embarrassed by how easy it is to impress me with problem-solving techniques that are not so very complex to begin with.

Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster played a perfect war-era couple of paranormalist mystery-solvers. That might have been my favorite thing. There were many other things worth noting, but I did not take notes at all, and I am afraid I can't give proper credit on a case by case basis. But just in case the rest of the cast Googles themselves, they were Dave "Gruber" Allen, Mark Gagliardi, Marc Evan Jackson, Derek Hughes, Amy Seeley, and Stephen Taylor, and I wouldn't want them to feel like their efforts went unnoticed.

And for Ben in particular: Well done, you. The intonation of even the most complex syllabic concoctions occurred brilliantly. I am fond of the words you use.

After the show, I joined friends and cast members at The White Horse, where I had a few drinks. Enough so that I apparently repeated myself and was embarrassed by it. Sometimes the drink is not my friend. But if you know anything about me and how patient I am with my friends, it won't surprise you to learn that I'm not entertaining any plans of ditching it. But holy cow, the past few times I've had a drink or two, I've been overwhelmed by persistent fears that I made a grotesque and obnoxious fool of myself. I would prefer it if it turned out that I was actually charming and wonderful. But I have no way of knowing. And I'm also glad that there is no crew of video documentarians following me around. A hidden camera show about my actual life would ruin my chances for a great many things, despite how incredibly popular it would be.

Before the show, I performed a surgically precise parallel parking job with the owners of the vehicle to the rear of me actually sitting in their car, watching my every girlish correction. I took extra care to not bump them, obviously, and couldn't help wondering why they didn't ever pull their car back a bit, as there was plenty of room behind them but not enough for a car to fit in, and here was I trying to wiggle into a space that looked as if it was carved out JUST to fit my car with nearly no room to the fore or aft. They did not help me. And they did not applaud me when I completed my acrobatics. They might have been having a "talk" there in the car, though I never saw their lips move. Maybe they were psychics having an unpleasant relationship discussion. I don't know. I am a good driver.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 1:53 PM | Back to Monoblog

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     Mar 2, 2005

Laughter. Like Medicine.

Last night at Largo, Paul F. Tompkins had a bit to say about the Oscars and about Sean Penn and his apparent humorlessness in taking offense on Jude Law's behalf to what Chris Rock said about how many movies he was in last year. I was sorry I hadn't actually gotten to watch the show, because some amount of the jokes may have been lost on me, and that is a grave concern of mine. My powers of inference and extrapolation are considerable, thankfully. So I doubt I was ever entirely left in the dust, but there's really no way of knowing at this point. Tonight I watched The Daily Show and heard Jon Stewart lampooning the same incident, and I got to see Sean Penn's actual "performance," followed by Jon Stewart's epilogue to the incident, which went something like this: "Penn added, 'And while we're at it, Mr. Youngman, I would not like to take your wife, as I already have one. And, Mr. Seinfeld, regarding your query, in re: The Deal with Airplane Peanuts, the answer is economies of scale render it fiscally imprudent to distribute them in larger packaging. Let's get to the nominees.'" And that amused me greatly and also made me think that, despite his acting talents and impressive head of hair, Sean Penn must just be no fun at all to live with. I wonder what would happen if he ever happened on to a televisation of a celebrity roast. I'll bet there would be tears and broken things very soon after.

My friend Adam sent me a very well-written and thoughtfully-reasoned assessment of the show, too. And all of this just compounds in force and focuses like a laser on my sense of inadequacy at having not bothered to watch or form any opinions of my own. Sometimes I miss things. And, yet, I managed to watch Equilibrium in its entirety. Yes, I was working the whole time, but it's not like I didn't look up ever. Christian Bale is awfully distracting. Even when he's fulfilling the gargantuan cliché of experiencing an enormous welling-up of emotion at the first hearing of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. I mean, yeah, it was the Fourth Movement, but it was right at the beginning of it. Not anywhere near the Ode to Joy. No one cries at that opening part.

Anyway, at least I managed to not see The Counting Crows at all. You have no idea how much I go out of my way to not be exposed to them.

So, yeah, the PFT Show was awesome as usual. I wonder what I would say in the event that it ever wasn't any good, but my imagination just isn't that keen. My friend Tom and I were talking today and couldn't remember how it was that Paul got off on an interesting tangent regarding skeletons just before the show wrapped up -- right before Danny Boy and the excellent reference to 1995's Se7en, a.k.a. Seven (alternative spelling). But Tom felt that the declaration, "Skeletons, you take the cake," was the topper.

And before we left, I gave Martín an opportunity to defend his assertion that Star Wars: Return of the Jedi is the best of the original trilogy to Wayne Federman, as Wayne and I had just been discussing the comparative superiority of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back (the Star Wars: prefixes are implied) a couple of nights before. But it was just as I suspected. Even Martín is enough of a grown-up now to admit that Return of the Jedi can be his favorite without actually being the best. Everyone knows the death of the franchise started with that movie. I invite your dissension on this topic, should you find that it inexplicably exists.

Coincidentally, while we were driving to Largo, I asked Martín if he ever feels like a grown-up these days, and we had a short chat about that phenomenon. As I often feel as clueless and flailing as I did in high school, and, aside from having my own bank account and a private residence and stuff, it amazes me on a daily basis that I'm allowed to do anything unsupervised. I'm better today in many ways than I was when I was a youngster, but in many ways I am shockingly the same. And I wish every meal came with a toy.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 2:06 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Feb 2, 2005

"Nobody puts Todd Carlin in a corner."

This month's Paul F. Tompkins Show was superlative on many levels. My only regret is that my voice is still so missing that I couldn't really cheer for any purpose beyond soundless aspiration. I tried to, but anyone listening to a mic trained just on me would have probably been made sad by my efforts. Sometimes, one is forced to resort to simple clapping. But my tiny little hands sure do get sore.

Paget Brewster is my hero of elocution. She also played a mean (and by "mean" I mean "fine") Ursa in the Sci-Fi Fantasy Pageant of several months ago. Thigh-high boots were made for a reason, and I think that reason is her. She did not wear any such thing at Largo on Monday, but she materially participated in what Martín is calling his favorite Paul F. Tompkins Show ending of all time. Except maybe for the J.F.K. assassination ending. Or maybe perhaps right in league with it. It's so hard to rank. It's not as if the show is ever anything but great. Mostly, I just rate my experiences on the basis of how disappointed I was or wasn't in the food I ordered. On Monday, I made the bold choice to not eat anything at all and to drink several cocktails. That, I maintain, is a top-notch choice.

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

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     Jan 14, 2005

The Rain in Spain

Martín and I went to The Improv tonight to catch Paul F. Tompkins and Andy Kindler and David Cross and surprising bits of coolness from Jonah Ray and Eddie Pepitone. Martín was under the weather, and I was sort of similarly, but when we commit to a night of comedy, it's written in stone.

Martín has finished moving in, and in case you didn't hear it from me personally, his new apartment is quite literally a block away from mine. Even on the same street, no less. It's the nearest we've ever lived to one another since the commencement of our friendship, more than eight years ago. I predict that we will be going to countless shows around town from now on. And that he will overprotectively demand to drive my car home while I pretend to be drunker than I actually am. Score. I also predict that we will grow to despise each other some time within the next three to six months. The price of proximity.

I have nothing important to say. Except that listening to movies in Japanese makes me feel closer to myself than listening to movies in any other language. I was watching that movie -- I think it's called Escaped Convict Baby -- with Skeet Ulrich and Gary Oldman in it before it was time to go out tonight, and I realized that the loop of The Sea Is Watching, even when I couldn't really look at the subtitles or remember how to translate the dialogue, was a much better film. If only because it reminded me what good nigiri tastes like and what wonderful liqueurs you can buy at Japanese 7-11s. How I do miss my Violet Fizz. And my Cobra- and News-brand whiskeys. Cheap cheap cheap and with a reasonable likeness of Dick Tracy on the label of at least one of those. Mild Seven cigarettes. Popeye magazine. Everything seems so ridiculous when you actually write it down. How I do reminisce about the year when I was fifteen. I guess I would rather hear people talking in Japanese through an accidental party line than watch a movie with lame American dialogue in it. Baby Boom was on the other night. I didn't watch it at all. But if I did, I would have scoffed at Diane Keaton's belted suits, and then I would have wished she was talking in Nihongo. I miss my sweet Yokosuka. I really do. Pay for me to spend an afternoon in the train station outside the Naval base, and I will be your friend for life. Seriously. I will provide a string quartet for your wedding. I will cook exotic meals for you. I will go to Melrose with you and truthfully tell you what you should and shouldn't buy. This is an investment in your future. Jessie went to Paul's web site recently and found her way to the links list, where she stumbled onto http://www.engrish.com, an Internet destination that has been among my favorites since at least early 1998 or 1999. Just saying that makes me feel like an old woman in a wheelchair. The fact that I was using the Internet back when it was new and many people did not understand it is just further proof that I have no business buying the new Franz Ferdinand CD. I shouldn't be allowed to buy any music that postdates Linda Ronstadt (who is dead now, right?). It's not a question of age. It's a question of prolonged sentience. And I have been technologically aware for far too long. Anyway, that web site also makes me want to go back to that special place where everyone spits on the ground and an apple costs like ten bucks. Ah, me -- the magic of my youth.

There's a C2 (that's the new bullshit Coca-cola lower-carb soda) commercial with Queen's I Want to Break Free acting as soundtrack. This reminds me of Beulah's tutelage that Germany uses Queen songs as advertising soundtrack for everything. Apparently, the song needn't even have any narrative relationship to the commercial. Germans just feel like spending money when Queen songs are involved. I guess I feel the same way. But I won't spend any money on C2. I'd rather buy a fancy vodka.

Beulah leaves tomorrow for her expansive East Coast trip. She's all stressed out because she has to accompany a busload of eighth-graders to various important educational spots, including the presidental inauguration. I'm sure it will be awesome, and she will be awesome. And if you are a mutual friend of ours living in the D.C., New York City, Philadelphia, or other major historical U.S. city area and you know Beulah's cell phone number, by all means, start punching those numbers. She's coming to town, and there isn't a moment to lose! If you don't have her cell phone number, you probably feel like a huge jerk right now. And rightfully so. Hint: It's not (888) 2-GOOD-4U, but it might as well be.

I'm always hoping I'll be brilliant when I start writing. But I'm often disappointed. And tonight, I'm going to play a few PlayStation2 games to cleanse my palate of that sensation. You're already sleeping. So what difference does it make?

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posted by Mary Forrest at 3:57 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Nov 27, 2004


I'm wearing fishnet stockings with tube socks. My mom eyed my legwear and said, "Fishnets? Are they back in again?" I scoffed. As if fishnets have ever not been in. If there's one thing that can be said about fashion, it likes women to wear things that may someday help them catch a meal. Just the way Jesus did it. This is a perennial truth.

I buy a lot of clothes and stuff at Anthropologie. If you're familiar with that store, then you know that this means I really don't like money at all and am frequently looking for preposterous ways to throw it away.

Beulah and I agree that that fake Tiny House show that's in the Geico commercial would actually be a really great show to watch. I'm no fan of reality television. No, sirree. But I might enjoy watching that couple live a year in that house. For kicks.

So, maybe it's obvious that I'm stalling, but I'm afraid of getting started on what may turn out to either be a heap of crap or a very longwinded escapade, neither with a shred of brilliance. But I suppose there's only one way to find out. Fasten your safety belt. It's not going to be a bumpy ride or anything, but I like saying things that imply I can control you.

Last weekend, I came down to San Diego to get my car fixed and to sing in church. My mom has been acting as my manager since she and my dad began attending a new church in their new neighborhood. She has been calling periodically and trying to get me to schedule a date and sing. It has taken months. I even picked a date in October, but they had scheduled someone else. I was beginning to feel like one of the members of Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Just not Crosby. One of the other guys. That no one knows. I felt like Stills and/or Nash trying to book a gig at a hole in the wall as a favor to a friend and getting bumped because Dan Fogelberg came to town. When my mom finally booked me, she called to say the pastor was giving me ten minutes to do whatever I wanted. I could sing two songs. Maybe lead the congregation in something, my mom suggested. I don't do this, just so you know. I'm not some traveling troubadour. What was she expecting? That I would tote in my guitar and teach them all that "Doe a Deer" song? Not happening. I don't even have a guitar.

On Friday, my car got a new radiator, after which Sarah and I went down to the Gaslamp to watch the new Bridget Jones movie, which was largely a disappointment to me. If it wasn't for Colin Firth (and Hugh Grant to a lesser degree), I can't imagine it would have been watchable. If it's possible for Renee Zellweger to look any uglier, it might have to involve surgery and a series of blows to the face with a two by four. The kind with a few rusty nails in the end of it. It was actually painful to watch her. And not at all believable that there would be men battling for her affection. Unless those men like rosacea and girls who walk like their joints have been splinted. I once knew a girl in grade school who always walked like that. Kind of on her tippy toes all the time and with knees that looked like they didn't bend. And I can assure you, no one liked her. I think she also had a weird tuft of blonde hair under her chin, but that's neither here nor there.

After the movie, we strolled a few blocks, reaffirming for me that I despise the scene down there. The Gaslamp on a Friday night is such a drab display of ick. It's not as flip-flopped and t-shirted as Pacific Beach. But it's the same gross clientele with the same natty pick-up lines and the same bullshit posturing. I detest it.

I wonder if the psychic whose sign this is had any foreknowledge of how much the misspelling of the word "psychic" might depress business.

We almost went to Airport, but I insist that there is nothing particularly cool about going to a club where everyone inside is a friend of the door staff. Not only do I revile the currency of bouncer worship, but I can't imagine that anyone who is willing to be friendly with these power-mad, near-minimum wage-earners and their orthopedic shoes and flashlights and earpieces and bad haircuts is someone I want to be standing next to when I'm pouring booze down my throat. I maintain a modicum of standards where I can.

We went instead to Nunu's, my reliable home base. There was a line out front, so we went to the back and were let in by the door guy who regarded us as regulars. We were greeted with aplomb and almost immediately invited by my bartender friend Jeff to a party after closing. Two French guys -- both chefs -- were annoyingly all over us. I said something about us being gourmands, and one of them started running his hands down my midsection from behind and saying, "I don't think so." I assume that was him saying that I'm not fat enough to be a food-lover, so maybe that was compliment enough for me to tolerate the intrusion. My standards here might be questionable.

Sarah and I did go to the party. It was someone's birthday. I don't remember whose. We met a number of nice people, drank a number of stiff drinks, entered into a few minor contests, and left in time for me to just barely make it to bed before sunrise.

The following night, I had plans to go out with Krissy and Dorian and Pam. Our friend Becky works at Club Rio, so we stopped by there early enough to be embarrassed by the male strippers doing their thing. We played a little shoddy pool and then took Becky with us to Nunu's, where we didn't stay long enough for my taste. Then we went back to Dorian and Krissy's place and ate late-night Mexican and played strip poker until it was late enough for me to be concerned about my singing obligation. Not to mention the fact that I was playing strip poker only hours before I was going to be sitting in church having to think about the fact that I was playing strip poker only a few hours ago. Which is in fact what I was thinking about, when I was sitting in church, waiting for it to be time for me to sing.

I sang.

Apparently there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Even my sister Sarah, who was good enough to drive up to watch me, said she was welling up a wee bit. I'm pleased that people liked my singing, but this sort of thing always makes me feel guilty and hypocritical. Because once I finished singing, I sat in the pew and wrote jokes for the rest of the service. And that's the cruel truth. And one of them was pretty good. And one of them was about the pastor.

Later that day, I found a John Deere tractor just sitting there, waiting to have its photo taken with me. And you know how I am about things like that.

Monday night, Martín and I went to the Paul F. Tompkins Show, the show's namesake having returned from England at last. We had a fine time. Laughed it up good. Ordered the halibut, both of us, which is the only new thing on the Largo menu these days. But they served carrots instead of peas, and that's a fair cop. I hate cooked carrots. And I adore peas. And it's hard enough working up the juice to look forward to something you've ordered at Largo, only to have your hopes dashed by substandard vegetable replacements. Cooked carrots. Plegh. It's almost a fruit. Not at all pleasing. The show, by contrast, was very pleasing, ending in a rendition of How Soon Is Now? with the Watkins Family adding violins where once there were synthesizers. I've been planning to cover Every Day Is Like Sunday with Josh for some time now. And I was going to replace synths with violin, too. But now I just feel like a copycat.

We had a few drinks at The Dime after the show with our friend Tom and his friend Marcia (whose name might be spelled "Marsha" -- I've not yet seen it written). And then I went home, feeling a smidge badly for keeping Martín out so late. But not really. Corrupting my friends is a favorite pastime of mine.

Tuesday night, I had dinner at A.O.C. with my mathematician friend Paul. I will gladly go again. And I will order the brussels sprouts. Because they were magnificent. I adore brussels sprouts. And I don't care how much of your nose you wish to wrinkle when I say it. They are grand. And they make me feel like a giant. Eating entire heads of cabbage like popcorn. It's fun. After I eat them, I go and make my magic harp sing for me. She's a bitch and will betray me at the drop of a hat, but the songs are pretty for now. And I believe in living in the moment.

That's not actually true. I don't believe in living in the moment at all. For the record. I've noticed that I tend to not do it almost as a rule. But that's a matter for another entry. One with many, many commas in it. And time set aside for a potty break. Perhaps in the form of a musical interlude.

Once I got home, I picked up Audrey and took her with me to Steve and Chris's place to help them with some Mac issues. If that was at all ambiguous, I meant that Audrey came with me so that I could provide the computer help. Audrey doesn't exactly perform Mac troubleshooting. She's remarkable, but she's not magical. And, for the record, that's me showing up in Studio City after midnight to provide IT assistance. I can't imagine anything less sexy. And then Audrey peed on the carpet.

Wednesday, after sending out my annual Thanksgiving email message, I drove down to San Diego through a number of hours of what might have been horrific traffic, but I had my iPod playing and my dog in my lap, and I was happy as a clam. And come to that, I love the phrase "happy as a clam." I don't know why. Maybe it's the notion that bivalves know something the rest of us don't. So, yeah. I was fine with the delays, but a little tired when I got to town. I went to Jivewire at the Casbah with Yen and Beulah and Jantzen, and we drank a lot and danced a little. I was finally able to spend a few moments of face time with the lovely Kate and her handsome companions. I can never stop saying how pretty she is. She's just the prettiest pretty pretty thing there is. And she's smart and stylish and fun. I totally want to kidnap her and take her with me everywhere, just so I can show her to people and say, "Look at my pretty friend. Isn't she just super pretty?"

Then it was Thanksgiving. Sarah invited her friends Linda and Jim over to spend the holiday with our family. I brought down several bottles of a merlot I really like, and I kept offering it to everyone but found no takers. I was beginning to wonder if everyone had become recent Jehovah's Witnesses and if I was making a jerk of myself trying to force my booze on them. I still don't know what the story was there. But I drank nearly the whole bottle myself. Dad helped a bit. He's a sport. And Justin may have had a splash, too. But mostly it was me. And nary a buzz to show for it.

Dinner was extravagant, as usual. My mother is some kind of kitchen sorceress. You can't believe how good everything she makes is. But it is. And why fight it. Everyone ate to busting. Then Beulah told a series of hilarious stories. Then we all watched (and intermittently dozed in front of) Elf. That was enough nap for me. After the movie, I went and picked up Yen and brought her to Nunu's for what is becoming a traditional holiday nightcap. We ran into friends we knew, met people we didn't know, and drank many drinks which we did not have to pay for. When I was leaving the house, my mother was disapproving. "You go out every night. It's not normal." I didn't argue. First of all, I don't go out every night. And secondly, I'm not especially interested in being normal. Particularly if it means going to bed at a reasonable hour. That's just not for me.

Tonight, I went out and met one of my former bandmates, again at Nunu's, somehow the default locale for all my liquored-up chit chat. We had not seen or spoken to each other in well over a year. And it was nice to not be bothered by any of that nonsense anymore. A few hours into it, Krissy came and joined us, and we stayed for a bit, until it was time to get Krissy something in a food way. My outfit, which was not fancy or anything, provoked approving comment from a bartender or two. I don't know why that makes a difference, but it absolutely does. Without fail.

When I was driving home a short while ago, the fog sat above the Del Mar valley like a translucent ribbon, sheer enough to give away the locations of the McDonald's and the supermarket. I had my iPod on shuffle, and I kept hearing songs I've never heard and wondering if I would remember them if I ever heard them again. Nostalgia is great. Repetition is powerful. But there is something to be said for feeling something for the very first time ever and having nothing else at all to connect it to. There is something nice about getting a chance to write a proper history. One that isn't bogged down with footnotes and a backstory that takes up more space on the page than the story itself. This was my Thanksgiving. It wasn't particularly eventful or remarkable. It wasn't somehow an offshoot of a previous experience. It wasn't a reminder of last year's Thanksgiving. Or a retelling of the one the year before that. Or an echo of the one the year before that. It was just a day I spent with friends and family. And it probably won't have nearly as much staying power as some of the previous ones have had. Next year won't likely transport me back to this one in a way that will catch in my throat. I'll remember it, sure. I remember nearly everything. But I won't be crippled by the memory. Nor will I likely be able to get high on the fumes of it for years to come. And perhaps that's as it should be.

So, there you have it. I don't generally prefer to do my catching up in bulk like this. Surely I've missed something. Surely I've skipped over an opportunity to tie things up with a clever quote. Surely I could have held your attention better by saying these things in smaller spurts. I seem to have even forgotten to bother telling you why this entry is called coelacanth. But that's the way it goes. You can't eat a sugar cookie without losing a few crumbs. Even if you have a gigantic mouth. Just try it.

That's it for me. For now.

Mary Forrest, an incurable romantic whose immune system is kicking in

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posted by Mary Forrest at 5:22 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Sep 13, 2004

Front Row Seating

Although Paul F. Tompkins is now an actual acquaintance of mine, I can assure you that I shill for no one. So I trust that you will believe me when I tell you that The Paul F. Tompkins Show this week was as brilliant as a show could be without simultaneously being mistaken for a lighting device. I will miss it next month when it is in England and not happening. Jon Brion and Dave Foley and Derek Hughes were splendid. And Paul F. Tompkins slumping over dead on a stool was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. I mean it ranks up there with that video of the monkey that smells its hand and falls off the branch. I even got hit in the face with shards of breakaway glass. And I don't have health insurance. Talk about getting Martín's money's worth. Speaking of which, Martín and I only narrowly escaped being enveloped in a panic when it turned out he had no idea what he was doing with regard to making reservations and paying attention to what time they were for, but it all worked out painlessly in the end. Which is lucky for Martín, as I wouldn't have thought twice about leveling him. Side note there, I think Martín is the anti-buzz. It seems I can down half a dozen bottles of beer with him and feel no chemical change whatever. Whereas I can drink two bottles of the same beer in a room with someone else, and suddenly I'm telling "romantic" stories and concocting excuses for playing strip card games. It's a curiosity. And a shame, really, because in my recollection, getting sauced with Martín was always a good time. The last few occasions we were drunk together were among the finest of times.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 2:21 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 5, 2004

"She's dressed in black again."

I have always been susceptible to being highjacked into inadvertent trips down memory lane. But for the past several months, I've been surprisingly free of the nostalgic interlude. At the same time, the absence of that component of myself has left me nearly paralyzed. At least in the writing sense. The past few days have seen a slight return to those old sadder habits. There's no scientific explanation for it. And I don't know whether to welcome it all or curse it. I see myself in glimpses. Fun-loving. Dependable. Friendly. Surprising. But there's a little bit of morose and brooding in the mix. Ironically, I've trained myself to see them with relief. Going anywhere without my introspective episodes is like removing the training wheels from a bicycle. But in that simile, it would seem that a big girl like me would want to do just that.

I've still a touch of the coughing, but I'm mostly right as rain. Tired. Dreadfully tired. But only from how much I've gotten to do. And I cheer for that.

And I realize it can be of nearly no value to anyone to read several paragraphs about me being tired or nostalgic or hungry even. But I haven't had a moment to spare. If I had been able to see a movie, I would surely tell you what I thought of it. If you're keeping your bank book, you'll note that I still owe you an opinion on the Paul F. Tompkins Show. I shall make good. With interest. I would hate for anyone to think I had ceased to be a rabid fan. But hold fast. There are lots of things yet to come. I can't even count the number of photographs I have scanned in the past week. Prepare to have your eyeballs shown things.

Oh, but I am tired. The sleep I have tonight is destined to be of the very finest variety. No matter what.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 2:07 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Jun 1, 2004

Swan Lake

Let me just start this out by saying that my face is tingling with anger at the fact that I had finished this post and was pleased with it and then went to post it and found that nearly everything I'd written had been cut off. I have tried to recreate it, but I am so tired of having to assure you that I am better at this than I appear. What I wrote the first time around will live on ghostlike in my memory, a taunting reminder that what you will now read is a mere shade -- ersatz.

But on with it.

I had lunch at the Hotel Bel-Air today with Adam and Scott, who wanted to thank me for designing his web site when he was running for elected office (he won). He really didn't owe me anything; I was happy to do it. But the lunch was nice just the same. Lovely company in a terribly beautiful setting. We walked by the little Swan Lake they have there. It was idyllic and sunny and tranquil. It hardly feels like Los Angeles. Until you see all the embarrassingly swanky cars in the lot. And Joe Millionaire was sitting at the table beside us. I have no patience for such things.

As a surefire means of eclipsing the tattered remnants of a month that might have ended without much glory, Martín and I went to see the Paul F. Tompkins Show, and -- like magic -- all that was wrong in the world was set right again. I cannot venture far enough into the depths of the superlative to craft a compliment that would do this man justice. He is the awesomest. He and Michael Penn did a rendition of the Talking Heads' Psycho Killer that you should kill yourself for having missed. Seriously. Right now. Get your affairs in order and get on with it. He even worked an homage to the Violent Femmes' Blister in the Sun into the opening number, and that, too, was several magnitudes more excellent than anything you could possibly have seen or done today. Why oh why did you go to that barbecue where at least three different people brought crockpots with some gross bean dish simmering in them? Why did you let your girlfriend talk you into shampooing the carpets on THIS NIGHT? Why did you waste the day memorializing our fallen soldiers? They can't hear you. And frankly they're not altogether impressed with the fact that you don't think about them at all during the other 364 days of the year. Sure, you have a static decal of the ol' stars and stripes stuck to the window in your Toyota truck's camper shell, but were you really "saluting" it by spending most of the day skirfing? Maybe you just hate yourself. I can't let that be my problem. And I don't actually have any power to compel you in this, but my strongly-worded suggestion stands. You cheated yourself tonight, and for that you deserve to be punished. By you, because the cruel irony will teach you a sterner lesson. I was going to play good cop-bad cop and tell you that you deserve better than the Paul F. Tompkins-free world you are living in, but the more I think about your behavior tonight, the more convinced I am that you don't. A foolish person might see the PFT and wish that everyone in the world could be that funny or that talented or that smart. And another foolish person might call that person a communist.

Martín also finally gave me my birthday present. He had left it in the trunk of his car all this time. We joked that it was a puppy. That reminds me of the time my cousin gave me a brown paper bag that was stapled shut and instructed me to give it to my younger sister. I stuck it in my car and forgot about it for weeks. When I finally remembered, we hesitated before opening the bag, thinking, "What if it's a bag of cheese?" But then we remembered that our cousin is Chinese and not likely to enjoy dairy products. It turned out to be a wetsuit. Which doesn't make for much of a story.

So that's how I spent the last day in May. My birthday month. The only month that doesn't require abbreviation. I also finished up some work, did a little tidying, and looked at hundreds of items on eBay. And while all of that was going on, I let Quiz Show play on the television. And it occurred to me that that film is an uncanny allegory for that whole scandal at the Abu Ghraib prison and the ensuing public relations nightmare. If you need me to explain myself, I will. But you will have to ask me to, and that will be embarrassing for you.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 2:55 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Apr 29, 2004

She certainly can can-can.

I don't want to talk about how hot it's been. I don't want to talk about how strange it's been. I don't want to talk about tape delay or hand-squeezing or crossing the international date line. It seems, lately, I don't want to talk much about anything. At least not here. I get my lists together and I fall behind. And I feel this strange unfamiliarity with the old days when I had so much to say about so little. I have been working a lot. That may be to blame. But in the absence of inspiration, I defer to discipline. If I don't keep up, I can only ever fall further behind. So these are the highlights that missed the stage's center in recent days.

Disneyland was brilliant and sunny and hotter than it's ever been in my recollection. Not as humid as that time I went in July. But hotter, certainly. Tom is a "cast member," so we got into both parks for free. I had never been to California Adventure. I had never eaten a fancy dinner at the Blue Bayou. At least not here. I think I did at Tokyo Disneyland, but I was too much a teenager to have ordered anything smart. This time, I had the prime rib, and plenty of it. That Soarin' Over California attraction is breathtaking. Such pretty pretty music in that park. A film score enthusiast's cup of tea -- with milk even. And that Screamer is quite a ride. Tom didn't want the secret of the super high-speed take-off to be revealed so he kept insisting on the long way around the park. A trek we had to make repeatedly because the first time, we waited 40 minutes in line only to have the ride break down. But it was worth the wait the second time around. Even though I almost had to throw down with a girl in line who kicked me in the hip as she was climbing over the rails only to blame it on me for not getting out of the way. Using my mom's terminology, I'd say that the attendance at California Adventure appears to come from a slightly different "income level," if you know what I mean. If you don't, ask me in private.

The Paul F. Tompkins Show was terrific as per usual. I laughed until my face hurt. And I wish I'd written more down. Or that I hadn't had so much to drink, as I would surely crib from the best parts and lay the decontextualized quotes down here to confuse you. Instead it's all just floating in a fog of funny. Pieces of silver. This is sad. Oh, my god! I can't forget Murderton, Crackshire, and Rapeham! I nearly collapsed my own trachea on Rapeham. If you knew why that was funny, you'd be floating on a cloud of it. Sucks for you. Incidentally, I saw that my table was right up front on the reservation chart, but somehow someone else was sitting there when I arrived. It was TV's Teri Hatcher and some other unidentified woman. Now, I'm no very important person, but I was in a minor state of dismay. Then, the server took our drink order first, but brought drinks to Samm Levine and his guest (sitting close enough to me that I couldn't help but overhear Samm's discovery that the Sprite he ordered had booze in it) before serving us. Stee-rike number two. If you count giving people with IMDb credits preferential service over ordinary paying customers like me a strike. Which I do. Jon Cryer was down at the far end of the tables, but as far as I could tell, he did not preempt any of the service I was waiting for, so I guess he's okay. For now.

I drank too much, anomalously, and that made a dent in my productivity later in the night. But it's the sort of thing I don't have the attention span to regret. Mr. F. Tompkins was spinning brilliant yarns about his recent high times in London, and I was envious. Not just because he is funnier than I will ever be, but also because he got to go abroad. Side note: I don't think I'm going to be calling him Mr. F. Tompkins anymore. I think he was referred to as Mr. Eftompkins or Mr. Ephtompkins in an interview I read, and I thought it was clever and endearing, but when I write it like that -- Mr. F. Tompkins -- it looks and sounds like the sort of name an old woman gives her overly important cat. From now on, it's anything but. Carrying on. Aimee Mann -- high on my genius list -- sang and strummed. Michael Penn was sitting down to a meal at Canter's just before the show. I saw him as I was leaving. I even said out loud but not within Michael Penn's earshot, "I hope that Aimee Mann will be playing." And that's reason number one hundred and forty-seven to attend the Paul F. Tompkins Show: it grants wishes. Paul F. even worked the Handbags and Gladrags theme into his opening number, and it gave me cause to wish that he would release that version -- and all of his songs -- on CD. I would buy such a CD again and again. You think I'm being hyperbolic, but I'm not.

So, yeah, I came home from that a bit fizzy in the head. And I wrote saucy responses to emails in my inbox, knowing I would have no recollection of it in the morning. That's what the Sent Items folder is for. Shame and retribution. I slept fitfully and awoke early enough to know that I shouldn't have gotten up. And I had all this work to do. And it was murderously hot. But it was not the end of me.

The deadlines this week have nearly been the end of me. I'm a survivor so far, but there's time yet for me to cease to be. I finished an article I was asked to write for a magazine that circulates in the Inland Empire, and I was sure it was shit, but the editor -- insisting it couldn't have been a first draft -- accepted my first draft and liked it. This is the exact sort of turnabout that will never ever teach me that procrastination and slapdashery supposedly have an effect on a career similar to the effect curiosity has on cats. How will I ever learn this lesson? If ever there was a girl in need of discipline, it's me. And I'm not just referring to the striking of the fanny.

Pasadena was hot as a motherfather yesterday. Hot and under construction and quaint-looking. I was on a job interview that seemed to go well. I was wrapped up and pitched out into traffic right at 5:15 and was surprised to find that it wasn't half murder getting home. An encouraging detail if I end up having to go there regularly.

I agreed to do some freelance transcription work yesterday, as well. Which I should never have done. I did some of this work before the holidays, and it was extra money, but laborious and time-consuming, and I don't need the money right now. But I hate to say no to people who are counting on me. Stupid as that sounds sometimes. That left me stoop-shouldered and frustrated and further behind than ever in everything else I was behind in. But when I was driving into the Hills to drop off the video tapes, it was around the hour of last call, and I decided to stop and take photos of the window display at Trashy Lingerie. That accounts for one of the eleven rolls of Lomos I dropped off today to be developed. Let's hope there's one or two in there worth keeping. I'm glad I stopped. I always think about taking those pictures, but it's always when the streets are congested and the sidewalks attentive. I liked the barrenness of La Cienega after one a.m. and the absence of self-consciousness I feel when I'm confident that no one is watching.

Tonight, I went to the Egyptian to see The Corporation as part of the Artivist Film Festival. It was just amazing. I really want to buy it by the case when it comes out on DVD and give a copy to everyone I know. I was so moved by it. And so convicted and inspired and disheartened all at once. And it provoked all manner of compelling discussion afterwards. I wish I had the presence of mind and the focus to recount some of what we talked about. But I really do hope that everyone will see this movie, and -- in the case of those who like to talk to me -- that a subset of everyone will bandy ideas around with me in the aftermath. There are some very compelling and startling ideas in this film. And I'm hoping that I can be an instrument of change. Ironically, I just became a corporation myself last week, but I promise that I will not plunder our natural resources or exploit third world labor. You can quote me on that.

After a bit of Toi, I said good night and got into my car, at which time my pants ripped completely open. And, it's not because they were too tight or anything, so don't jump to conclusions that aren't flattering to my figure. They were jeans that I paid a lot of money for and there must just have been a flaw in the weave, because they split from the seam just under the waistline all the way down the back of my thigh. And I was terribly relieved that I didn't have anywhere else to be. I even held my handbag in a strategic place when walking from my car to my apartment for fear that my neighbors might think I was clumsily trying to resurrect that Def Leppard look of 1987. Joe Elliott was great in many ways, but I can't get behind his fashion choices that year. I don't know if I should bother trying to seek reparations from Anthropologie. I'm not keen on getting that once-over from the sales clerk who will obviously think it was the fault of my ass. Speaking of which, I got a full-on, head-to-toe once-over from an orthodox Jew today. Hardcore. Anyway, now I have yet another thing in common with Spongebob Squarepants. The oops-I-ripped-my-pants thing -- not the orthodox-Jew-once-over thing. Incidentally, the things previously on the list were naïveté and butterfly kisses.

This is the point at which Blogger ate a portion of my post. A lengthy, satisfying, wrapping-up portion of my post that I will now try to recreate -- a task at which I will fail miserably, if history is any measure. And I should know. This happens to me all the bloody time. And always with the prolific posts. I'm gnashing my teeth. But back to closing.

I'm going to Coachella, but this year get this: I'm going with a VIP wristband and press photo pass. I swear, if I get a cool close-up photo of Frank Black or Kim Deal, who in the world will be cooler than me? No one! I have every Pixies CD and a wide-eyed helping of lolling admiration that cannot be outdone! You so wish you were me. Don't even try to deny that you do. I'm also thrilled and excited to see The Cure and Radiohead and Muse and Air, but rather than dangle it all before you in a disordered series, I'll just send you here so you can see for yourself. I am a bit concerned that some of the other acts I'm keen to see (Savath & Savalas, !!!, Prefuse 73, Erase Errata) are playing early enough in the line-up that, if I go to see them, I may risk speeding toward a much earlier exposure-related death. If past experience is any proof, getting there before dusk will be a form of self-immolation. It's going to be cooking temperature out there. I expect my meat to be falling off the bone by the time I'm through. But I have lovely accommodations at a chi chi resort where I can rehydrate poolside and have a massage. And a gang of other lucky folks will be bunking with me there, so there's no need to pity me.

We're in a bit of a cooling trend right now, sure sure. But they say the mercury's set to bolt right back up again just in time to incinerate me and thousands of other music-lovers like me in the cruel desert. Rolling in the rave tent is not how I'd like to go, pleasant as it might sound.

I am fairly certain that I will die out there, so if there are any of my belongings to which you are particularly attracted, get your dibs in early. And remember me fondly to those who come after us. Tell them all that I was worth it, will you?

But before any of that can happen, I've still mountains more work to do. So much so that it seems a crime. Even when life is full, it is no less fleeting.

See? I had a much better ending than that, but it's lost to me now. Afford me the benefit of the doubt and superimpose something that you would have liked to read. I'd be ever so grateful.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 2:37 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Mar 30, 2004

"What's that noise you're making with your throat?"

I adore the Paul F. Tompkins Show. (Even if I am now referring to it in intimate company as the Paul F. Tompkins Has a Girlfriend Show.) Paul F. Tompkins really has no business not being the most successful man in comedy. There is no one in the world who better deserves fame, fortune, and a grandiloquent wardrobe. Although, in a way, I'm certain I will rue the day he explodes in the collective consciousness and is suddenly too big to do these shows each month. I look forward to them more than most things. And I'm someone who overheard a guy at Canter's explaining to his lady friend what the word "rapture" means for Christians.

I saw Alex off at the airport today. He was boarding a big, giant Air New Zealand plane with the faces of the stars of The Lord of the Rings painted on it and something about it being the way to Middle-Earth. In fact, if you go to the Air New Zealand web site, it appears that they are actually calling New Zealand Middle-Earth now. Hasn't this gone far enough? I mean, are maps being redone? Movie characters are on the En Zed stamps. Are they also on the money? And are the film's stars being given giant keys to Auckland? Have they been crowned honorary royalty? What I really want to know is why were those bastards in Tunisia so ungrateful when George Lucas turned them into Tatooine? Where's the Skywalker commemorative stamp issue? I'm wondering if the employees of Air New Zealand are forced to correct passengers who insist on saying they want to fly to New Zealand. Maybe they won't let you on the plane until you admit that you believe you're actually going to Middle-Earth. Maybe that's what they stamp on your passport. I also wonder how the Maoris feel about all of this. It's like New Zealand is a fake country now. A giant, country-sized theme park. How degrading. Well, who am I kidding. I live in Los Angeles.

So, Alex is a rock and roll journalist now. And I am jealous. I keep managing to not happen upon the chance encounters that would turn me overnight into a success of massive proportions. I'm growing impatient for it. My web site was mentioned in Rolling Stone Magazine once, but that was a long time ago, and I've long since surrendered the bragging rights. I need new laurels to clutch.

Not just in this respect, but I do feel as if I am waiting for something to happen. It's terribly trying. Every day I find myself wondering if this is going to be the day. But I have no idea what I mean by "the day," nor have I any idea what's supposed to happen. I'm just waiting. Shifting from foot to foot. Somewhere -- maybe just around the next corner -- something is about to spring on me, and it will change everything. I know it. I'm just hopeful that it won't be a disfiguring incident involving acid in the face.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 2:16 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Mar 29, 2004

Up all night. Sleep all day.

It works in theory. But I didn't actually sleep all day. And I'm all twisted around. Bent backwards and knotted through. Not enough rest. Not enough catch up. Too many plans. Too many places to be. Too much parking to find. I performed in the last of the spec script staged readings from my workshop class tonight. I enjoyed being Susie Green (Curb Your Enthusiasm). I cotton to the foulmouthed; no sense denying it. Salt isn't just for steaks. It's also been a spell since I had to haul out the New York accent. I'd forgotten how much fun it is to fake.

I went and saw some more comedy tonight. When Los Angeles serves up the Paul F. Tompkins, I'm sure to be found nearby. They serve giant cocktails at St. Nick's. I love them for that. My Ketel One soda was a spot-hitter. But I haven't had a shred to eat all day, and I'm not feeling as fine as I'd like. I don't know why, but I feel like I got all dressed up for nothing. That happens sometimes. Usually when my skirt is short and my stockings are saucy. And the evening doesn't end with me being chosen from a crowd to board a spaceship bound for the party planet.

I had such strange dreams when I was dozing today. I get confused. I get stuck in that bleary between state. I have no idea what's real. It was warm today. So terribly, wonderfully warm. If I were a seed in the soil, I would surely be sprouting. Or shriveling. Things have a way of going too far.

In the coming weeks, I'm certain to be crushed by the weight of all the work I have to do. I'm fond of not being destitute, but I wish there could be some middle ground. I was beginning to believe I was living a life of leisure.

Oh, and the taxes loom. Bloody taxes. Shoving me, fingers first, into the memory mill. I get all chopped to bits in there.

The commercial for the new Snickers energy bar plays the dirge from Beethoven's Seventh. I don't understand that choice. Maybe I resent it. That movement (the second) is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written. It often threatens to wring my tear ducts when I hear it. But what could it possibly have to do with mountain biking? If I were still updating those old list pages of mine, I imagine this would have ended up on one of them.

We can't stop to love takasaki. Let's come and join us!!

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posted by Mary Forrest at 2:03 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Feb 13, 2004

Don't you just love me all to crazy?

I took Tom and Krissy to see Paul F. Tompkins at Largo tonight. He was recording stand-up for an upcoming CD, and he was in rare form. But then, he's always in rare form, so how rare can that be. If all goes to plan, I will be heard on this CD, choking on my amusement, yukking it up to his every line. To the point where you might think I'm a shill. I am in the sense that Paul F. Tompkins can do no wrong by me, but he's not actually paying me for my services. Quite the contrary. I pay to see him regularly. Like visiting your analyst. Only with great joy. Like visiting your most beloved prostitute friend.

I'm still saddened by the fact that Paul F. Tompkins and I are not the best of pals. But I'm not loony enough to do anything about it. Krissy suggested I flash him some boob. I demurred. I've been to enough of his performances at this point that if he isn't already dying to know who I am, it's probably because he isn't into Asian chicks. And I guess I can respect that. Listen for my laughter anyway. There is a good chance you will hear it. That's no basis for a restraining order, right? I am content to lurk. Innocently. Asianly. In an intentionally non-threatening manner. I have a crush and a giant set of very sharp knives, but these two facts are entirely unrelated. The crush stands alone. The knives are just for show. And for slicing soft tomatoes with ease.

Tom and I stayed up talking long after Krissy had gone to sleep and for some time after The Muppet Musicians of Bremen had played itself out. I suspect he will regret that, because he has to work in the morning. If only no one had to wake up in the morning. The night owl in me would rejoice for days. I've still got miles to go before I sleep. Miles and miles and a bit of bathtime.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 2:16 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Dec 23, 2003

Table for Four or The Mocking Laughter of Intimate Friends

Such merriment was had at the Paul F. Tompkins Show tonight. Such fanciful merriment. Even though the food I got was not what I had wanted. Paul F. Tompkins spoke to me again during the show tonight. That sounds weird. He spoke to me. As if I was hearing the voice of god. What I mean is he had cause to address me in the audience again. Apparently because I was in his line of sight and had a candle lighting my face. Certainly it was the luck of the draw, but I blushed nonetheless.

The show ended in a sing-along of Auld Lang Syne, and I felt the impending urgency of calendar-based celebration pressing on me. I am seldom anywhere on New Year's Eve that allows for the singing of Auld Lang Syne. I felt a little like I was in a movie. One of those movies where the characters have some landmark breakthrough moment at a New Year's Eve party. Like When Harry Met Sally or About a Boy. Only Paul F. Tompkins and I were not really sharing a moment at all, and he appears to be wearing an engagement ring. So...

I got home in time to go out again. To go out into a quiet Los Angeles night where the streets were empty and parking spaces were as plentiful as flyers for lame rock shows. There is infinite room to be thankful for moments when your city is suddenly unfamiliar. It offers the hope of rediscovery.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 3:39 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Oct 28, 2003

"Sometimes I wish that I was an angel..."

Jill Sobule played an adorable little traveler's guitar at the Paul F. Tompkins Show tonight. However small it was -- however small she is -- she made an enormous, moving sound. It was wonderful. I feel so lucky when I get to see such things. Go ahead, smog -- corrode my lungs. Urban youths, dismantle my car stereo and break my car window (not necessarily in that order). Traffic, tax my bones. Car insurance, bankrupt me. It's no great price, this L.A. This LOS ANGELES. I can afford it. I must. There is neat stuff going on here.

Kevin Nealon was a guest on the show and played a banjo. Matt Besser was a guest, too. He was wearing a moustache. Eban Schletter continues to be my hero. Not only did he work the Halloween theme into the opening song, he also played a theremin solo in the big finale of Bad Moon Rising.

I'm not writing this stuff down to show off. I'm just writing it down so I'll remember it. Other things I would like to remember:

"What are you? Some prop guy from Barnaby Jones? Come back to haunt us?"
"Her voice is hypnotic... you may suddenly quit smoking or recall a slightly unpleasant memory."
Music and comedy battle it out...it usually ends in a tie...that's basically the premise behind the Special Olympics.
Pomegranate juice.
Time machine.
"Let Hitler live."

See? Don't you wish you had been there? I wish I had been there twice. Too bad I was so tired today. I've been feeling awfully drained of late. Like I turned a valve the wrong way and forgot about it. That happens. I forget which way does what. Just like the little circle and the dash on power switches. I never trust that I remember what these mean. I just toggle the switch to test whatever theory I'm holding onto, and I'm usually wrong, but it shakes out in the end with only an occasional need to reboot my computer.

If Paul F. Tompkins doesn't know by now that I am secretly in love with him, he should. It's not like I've been hiding it very well. Oh, I'm not going to bake him a cake or anything. I don't intend to get all creepy on him. He needn't worry. I'm polite and stable and half-Chinese and raised to live in fear of legal consequences. Plus, if I ever lost it and went nutso, I would be harmless. I might like break in and clean his house for him. And I might leave him one of the good coupons for Linens N' Things by the door. Sometimes they send out the coupons for 20% off your entire purchase -- not just off a single item. That's a real value. He could buy some nice towels or holiday-themed serveware. I know he'd really appreciate that. And he'd never have to know it was me. And no restraining order need ever be filed.

Gee. My fantasy life is about as richly-colored as some grey thing. A monochromatic tapestry of lust and creativity and intrigue. I feel sexy tonight.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 12:01 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Jul 29, 2003

Hoist him on your shoulders and carry him around the town, will you?

I'm speaking, of course, of Paul F. Tompkins, whose brilliance only continues to amaze, delight, and defy me. His show tonight was especially wonderful, and he embarrassed me, as he often does when I'm sitting in the front. But I got some balled-up paper to take home as a souvenir. So, all's well. Truly.

He made some timely comments about the passing of Bob Hope and the sort of getting-carried-away of saying he provided the world with one hundred years of laughter. He applauded Mr. Hope for providing the world with, say, fifty years of laughter and "twenty-five years of terrifying, bloody red eyeballs." I was engulfed in whelps of laughter. I know some people don't like to make jokes about sad subjects that are fresh and tender, but I admire those who do. I have always said there is no line. And I stick to it.

He also performed Folsom Prison Blues with the Watkins Family and made my favorite Johnny Cash song even more favoritey to me. If anyone can push the limits of a superlative, it's Paul F. Tompkins. He's really too wonderful to be spoken of in mere mortal terms.

But enough of my gush.

I want to drink cool water until it comes trickling out my ears. And it's not just because of the momentary rainstorm we had.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 12:43 AM | Back to Monoblog

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     Apr 1, 2003

Fiona Apple sings at the precise frequency to make a human heart burst.

Tonight, I experienced a great deal that I didn't expect. I moved through phases I hadn't planned for. I got a lot off my chest.

And I was entertained beyond the expression of mere words by Paul F. Tompkins. I cannot extoll him with enough enthusiasm and ferocity. He is a super duper genius. And he made me blush when I coughed too much.

Sometimes serendipity comes in the form of a butter pat when your bread is dry.

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posted by Mary Forrest at 3:05 AM | 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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