Monday, December 10, 2012
Greatest Airplane Cookie
All it usually means is that I have gone on a little trip and that's what it means this time too. I went to Los Angeles to do some of my ADVENTURE TIME work. As usual, I thought about you the whole time and jotted down some little jottings in my precious little notebook for your pleasure and entertainment upon my return, and as a way of making amends for all the wrongs I have done you. I would now like to present you with those very jottings. 1) It has been a long time since I flew Delta Airlines and I had almost forgotten the Biscoff - the world's greatest airplane cookie, which is handed out on Delta flights. I love it so much that I wrote a paean to it on the McSweeney's "web" site many years ago. I guess if you dig around very hard you might be able to find my paean to the Biscoff buried somewhere in those archives, but I won't blame you if you decide there are more important things to do with your life. 2) Reading JANE EYRE on the airplane. Or should I say Eyreplane? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Mr. Rochester threatens to send Jane to work for "Mrs. Dionysius O'Gall of Bitternut Lodge." That sounds like a terrible place to work! Turns out Mr. Rochester is just goofing around anyway. 3) At Cartoon Network I met two nice people named Natasha and Patrick who had just bought a little package of caviar from "the caviar vending machine in the mall"! 4) Joey Lauren Adams and I accidentally stumbled upon the best bar in Los Angeles! I am not going to tell you the name because it is going to be our secret! But I brought a book of matches home with me so if you ever come over you can snoop around for clues, I guess. It was a very dark bar and one of the murals on the walls featured a unicorn - nor was this the final unicorn I encountered in Los Angeles, as you will soon discover. But that's for later! Right now I will tell you that when I ordered a Manhattan with rye, the bartender took a little slice of orange peel and alchemically passed a lit match over it and under it before dropping it in the drink as a final touch. And then I will tell you that as we sipped our drinks in the atmospheric dimness, Joey told me about the time she almost went hunting ghosts with Dan Aykroyd and Dan Aykroyd's brother! They really believe in ghosts and invited her along on one of their missions. Joey jumped at the opportunity! But as the brothers started gathering their equipment and giving her a terrifying list of rules NOT TO VIOLATE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, she started freaking out even though she did not believe in ghosts and therefore, to quote the words of Ray Parker, Jr., was under most circumstances not "afraid of no ghost." So anyway Joey missed her one chance to go ghostbusting with an actual ghostbuster from GHOSTBUSTERS. 5) Talked to my mom on the phone. She had taken my aunt to a movie for her birthday. I was surprised. Mom never goes to the movies! I asked what movie they went to see. "RED DAWN," said Mom, by which she meant the recent remake, of course. "It was awful," said Mom. I guess for this to be really funny or interesting you would have to know my mom and aunt, but you know what? I just don't care about your problems. 6) It was in a Burbank hotel room that I confirmed JANE EYRE does have owls in it, just as I always suspected! "I dreamt another dream, sir: that Thornfield Hall was a dreary ruin, the retreat of bats and owls." 7) Speaking of owls, the great M. Emmett Walsh does the voice of The Cosmic Owl, a deity on ADVENTURE TIME. Kent told me that when M. Emmett Walsh came in to record his lines, he handed everybody pictures of himself, along with two-dollar bills! Kent gave me his photo of M. Emmett Walsh, which unfortunately is not quite - though frustratingly close to - wallet-sized. I would love to have a photo of M. Emmett Walsh in my wallet. 8) Speaking of Kent Osborne, his brother Mark - like Kent, a beloved old friend - was in town for one night only and I got to see him! Mark had coincidentally flown in from Paris, where he is living now. Mark is directing a feature film based on THE LITTLE PRINCE, and he was in town to meet with a CERTAIN FAMED ACTOR about being in his movie. No hints! I think it would be okay to hint, but I don't want to take any chances. 9) Party at the home of Pendleton Ward, creator of ADVENTURE TIME. The wallpaper in his kitchen had unicorns and cyclopes on it, and yes, that is the correct spelling of the plural of cyclops. So you would think Pendleton Ward might have unicorns and cyclopes on his kitchen wallpaper but get this! There were already unicorns and cyclopes on the wallpaper WHEN HE MOVED IN. At the bottom of this "post" I will place a photograph taken by Kent Osborne, in which I seem to be gesturing with consternation at the kitchen wallpaper of Pendleton Ward. 10) Saturday morning I went across the street to Starbucks to get coffee and noticed the guy from Tenacious D in line in front of me - not Jack Black, the other guy. Part of me was thinking I could blow his mind by saying, "You were great in CRADLE WILL ROCK." But I said nothing! And that was the best decision of all. Really I was just cracking myself up inside, kind of pretending to believe I could blow his mind by doing that. I could not blow his mind by doing that. 11) When I went to the counter to get my refill, I was staring at the back of a guy in an extremely nice WEIRD SCIENCE jacket, like a crew jacket, with leather and everything. I thought, "I bet he was on the crew of WEIRD SCIENCE!" The barista asked his name so she could tell him when his order was ready and he said, "Todd." So I made a secret vow that when I got home I would look up on imdb what Todds, if any, worked on WEIRD SCIENCE. As I left the Starbucks, I noted that the name "Todd" was fancily stitched on the breast of his WEIRD SCIENCE jacket. Okay, I just looked it up and the only Todd I see is Todd Hoffman, who played one of "The Weenies" in WEIRD SCIENCE but I have not seen WEIRD SCIENCE since it came out and I don't remember what "The Weenies" might be, so I can neither confirm nor deny that I have found the correct Todd. 12) There was a pet store next to the place where I ate breakfast with my brother and my nephews. On the window of the pet store was a poster for a book called HARRIET'S JOURNAL. The cover of the book was a photo of a possum apparently drinking a cup of coffee. I don't know what this book is, but I assume it is the amazing true story of one woman and her unlikely encounter with a possum that changed her life, but I don't know. I went in the pet store and looked around and didn't see the book and left quickly because pet stores bum me out, although the staff of this one seemed particularly attentive and kind to the animals. Photo of the photo of a possum drinking coffee (above) by my brother. 13) I think I met the nicest bank teller in the world, or maybe that's just the way the bank tellers of California are, maybe that's their thing, maybe they're trained for it. I was in the middle of performing a very simple transaction (depositing a check) and he said, "May I offer you a bottle of water?" He is the first - and I am sure, only - bank teller to ever offer me a bottle of water. 14) My brother and nephews and I went to a car wash. It looked like the car wash from the movie CAR WASH. But my brother, who was paying from his spot in the driver's seat and was thus in the perfect position, REFUSED TO ASK! 15) We went to a cool vintage toy shop to which one of my nephews had been wanting to go for a long time. Turned out to be next to The Scarlet Lady Saloon and The Tattle Tale Room. I met a man who was wearing sleigh bells around his neck. He said he had fallen off a roof onto his head at the age of three. He seemed like a nice person who had had some bad luck. 16) I saw Josie from the movie version of JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS doing some holiday shopping (not near The Scarlet Lady Saloon! Somewhere else entirely). I don't think Ace Atkins would mind me telling you that he likes that movie. I have heard him say so in public. We were at dinner once with a large group. And down the table he said, "Jack likes that movie, too. Hey, Jack, didn't you tell me you like that movie, too?" Yet like St. Peter I denied him thrice. 17) It was at this point in my jottings that I realized (and jotted) that if I "posted" everything I had jotted so far, the "post," if "labeled" "correctly," would require more than the maximum amount of "allowed" labels. 18) Dinner with Laraine Newman! She looked like a kid! (And her husband, by his own - accurate! - assessment, looked like Anthony Michael Hall.) But she really looked like a kid. Laraine Newman and I have been pen pals for a while but it was my first time meeting her. When I called Mom to let her know I had made it back to Mississippi okay, I told her about dinner with Laraine Newman and Mom said, "Don't you wish you could go back in time and tell your 12-year-old self that story?" And Mom was right! It is impossible to overstate the impact - the salvation! - of that original season of Saturday Night Live on a 12-year-old boy in rural Alabama. 19) As I sat at the bar waiting for Laraine Newman (!) and drinking a Manhattan, I thought, "Here I am waiting for Laraine Newman! And this time tomorrow I will be grading finals." And then I sighed like Charlie Brown. 20) Speaking of which, I need to thank Dr. Theresa and Bill Boyle for proctoring my finals while I was strutting around Hollywood acting like a big shot. 21) The restaurant, which Laraine had described to me beforehand as a "genuine Rat Pack hangout," had a photo of Frank Sinatra on the men's room door. Over the urinal: a photo of Sinatra and Tony Curtis peeing against a wall. I felt I had to check who was on the door of the women's room. Marilyn Monroe. I love Marilyn, but I was hoping for Shirley MacLaine. 22) The owner of the restaurant came over and told us we were sitting at Dean Martin's old table! He also told us that Dean Martin had driven him to his high school prom. (You can read more about that in an article Laraine Newman wrote. "Click" here. She sent it to me this morning. Laraine's article also contains - spoiler alert! - the unforgettable image of Frank Sinatra shooting bullets into stacks of money.) 23) JANE EYRE: "The crisis was perilous; but not without its charm." 24) "... the moon was setting in the waves, broad and red, like a hot cannon-ball..." That's more JANE EYRE. By the way, a glance at the stats tells me our "blog"trospective on the moon is by far the least popular "blog"trospective. What's the matter with you people? Don't you like the moon? 25) I just realized I skipped an entire page of jottings from much earlier. It starts with another JANE EYRE passage, of course, describing an emotional (not literal) landscape: "A Christmas frost had come at midsummer; a white December storm had whirled over June; ice glazed the ripe apples, drifts crushed the blowing roses; on hay-field and corn-field lay a frozen shroud." 26) First sentence of an L.A. Times article: "Donny and Marie Osmond hit the stage at the Pantages Theater in a cloud of nearly palpable pizazz." I tried to figure out what I found so troubling yet compelling: was it that "nearly palpable" pizazz is no pizazz at all? Was it the idea that pizazz comes in cloud form? 27) Waiting in the lobby for my brother and the boys. The hotel lobby is decorated with actual books, all different books, but in identical, blank white covers. The effect is disorienting for a lover of books. You just have to take them off the shelves and see what they are. I opened one at random to page 329 and read about "a penumbra of unfamiliar shapes obscured in the dim owl-light," whatever that is, and that's how I know THE FINAL CLUB by Geoffrey Wolff is a book with an owl in it. 28) I see on another page that I forgot to tell you about something else! Between The Scarlet Lady Saloon and The Tattle Tale Room (see above) was an aquarium supply store, where my brother and nephews and I saw something called a "glass catfish." It was a real fish, a real transparent fish, and it looked like a fish skeleton swimming around. Goodness, what else important have I neglected to tell you? 29) I read in a magazine at the airport that Dan Aykroyd has webbed toes and I thought, "Did I already know that?" 30) Flying back, I was seated next to the SAME GUY who had been sitting next to me on the way to L.A.! Weird! He flies a lot and says it has never happened to him before. He said he lived in Oxford and I said, "Me too!" He said he teaches at the university and I said, "Me too!" He said he had flown out for business but stayed an extra day so he could visit his brother. ME TOO ON ALL COUNTS! It was starting to feel like the beginning of that Ionesco play, I think it's THE BALD SOPRANO, I might be wrong. Both of us are bad fliers! Both of our wives love Hong Kong action movies! And so on. 31) A dog got on the plane! A German shepherd. He or she (no, he, I heard a guy with him say, "Good boy") just got on the plane and trotted down the aisle like anybody else. Maybe he sat in a seat! I lost track. 32) In the magazine, Albert Brooks talked about Steven Spielberg directing from a young age: "He put his dog in a certain position and made him eat at four o'clock." Why did that simple sentence make me laugh so hard on the airplane? It shares a quality with certain sentences I like by Jerry Lewis. Why do I keep calling it "the magazine"? So irritatingly vague on my part. It's the VANITY FAIR comedy issue and there are tons of good stuff in it. 32) A guy in one of the seats in front of me on the airplane had a particular kind of bald spot that made it look as if the FRONT of someone's head was sticking up just a bit over the headrest, like maybe his head was on backwards. 33) VANITY FAIR: Elaine May used to be a private eye. 34) "Tombstone Blues" came on the iPod and it reminded me of something I haven't thought about in decades: an itinerant evangelist I saw in a church service as a kid. He theorized in great detail that the lyrics to "Tombstone Blues" (of all songs to pick as the centerpiece of your sermon!) formed an elaborate anti-Christian parable. I had never heard of "Tombstone Blues" and in fact it is almost a certainty I had never heard of Bob Dylan. But the lyrics the preacher quoted struck me as awesome and I guess that's when I got interested in Bob Dylan for the first time. Missionary fail!