Thursday, May 02, 2013

In the Land of Richard Dix

Let me tell you about my Tuesday. First, I saw Cher. Then I walked into a room and immediately started acting in a scene with Anne Heche. Finally I sang a song with Joey Lauren Adams and Mr. Belding from SAVED BY THE BELL. Tuesday! Yes, I went on a little trip and believe or not I didn't jot anything at first. I was like, "I am going to be too busy to jot down anything for the folks back home!" Such was my hubris! I did not jot for more than 24 hours! Twenty-four jot-free hours! But then I was sitting in the Starbucks where I once saw the guy from Tenacious D who is not Jack Black, and I was reading the New York Times, and I came across this first sentence of an article: "Forty five minutes of monkey impersonations?" A rhetorical question, I suppose, but one requiring a single answer: a resounding, Joycean YES! And that made me recall something I read in my new book about kings before I left on my little trip: "every chariot had a fierce great mastiff on a leash standing in a cart or walking behind it, and every sumpter beast had a long-tailed monkey on its back..." That's about a procession in 1158, and when I first read it I thought it was about monkeys riding dogs, a subject we have contemplated at some length on the "blog," but rereading it just now, never mind. Then (back to the New York Times) I read an article containing Robert Mitchum's pick-up line to Edna O'Brien (which totally worked): "I bet you wish I was Robert Taylor, and I bet you never tasted white peaches." Mitchum! What a smoothie! And that's when I started feeling bad for not jotting anything. I remembered something from the day before which I had not jotted, for example: we were driving down the street and Kent yelled, "It's the diner where Larry Crowne worked in LARRY CROWNE!" And so it was. We drove by it again a day or two later and Kent suggested that we stop and get a picture of me in front of it and at first I resisted, and Kent said "WHAT!!!!!" and stopped the car and took the photo anyway (below) and right he was to do so. I saw Kent eat a lot of chicken, as usual. He loves chicken! But I also saw him eat a pork chop and a steak. We ate big steaks at a restaurant where Bob Hope used to eat! Taking a stroll after one chicken luncheon, Kent and I observed a young woman communing with two tame rats, which were sitting on top of a Los Angeles Times vending machine. "Don't freak out," she was saying calmly and sweetly to the rats. As this actually very charming person put forth to us the argument that rats are among the most misunderstood of God's creatures, she was engaged in some sort of handiwork - she seemed to be, possibly, knitting some clothes for the rats. Let's see what else I jotted. I ate at a restaurant where they give you a coconut with a straw in it to drink! I guess this is a pretty common thing, but somehow this was my first time. I had previously seen such a way of drinking a coconut only on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND. (Coincidence: upon my return home, I found an email from McNeil about the fact that Ida Lupino directed several episodes of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND. McNeil seemed ashamed for not knowing this before!) One of the people at lunch was Ako Castuera, who used to sell coconuts for a living, and she regaled me with lots of amazing coconut lore, including something about coconut water and its use in blood transfusions during World War II, which led to a discussion somehow of the immortal jellyfish (or maybe that came up when we were debating the preferable place to visit: outer space or the bottom of the sea), and Ako - entirely different subject - told about a vacation she took on a cruise ship when she was a little kid and she spent all her time in the library. There was a library! Ako first discovered Edgar Allan Poe on that cruise ship, which put the endearing image in my mind of little Ako in the dark ship's library reading Poe while everybody else was up on the deck playing shuffleboard in the sun. Jottings! I saw my old friend Tom Bissell. He lives directly over the Hollywood Walk of Fame! In fact, he lives almost directly over Richard Dix's star. Oh, Richard Dix! Can I not get away from you? Your inexplicable stardom continues to haunt me. (Pictured, above, Richard Dix.) Tom and I talked about CHRISTIANITY: THE FIRST THREE THOUSAND YEARS and walked down the block to get a Mexican dinner and on the way back we witnessed a car crash! Everybody was okay, but the cars were smashed up. Okay! Now we are back to the fateful Tuesday. I was sitting in my hotel lobby when Cher walked through! I mostly saw the back of her head. Then my ride came and I went off to act with Anne Heche. FOR REAL! In what project, I am not at liberty to say. YOU'LL FIND OUT SOON ENOUGH. Anne Heche was more beautiful in person than you can possibly imagine! She was not "done up" in any fancy Hollywood makeup and finery. You got the feeling she just walks down the sidewalk being all radiant. After we acted in a couple of scenes together she gave me a big hug and discovered, I am certain, that I was covered in flop sweat like Albert Brooks in BROADCAST NEWS. Like Harrison Ford and Johnny Depp before me (a phrase I type with astonishing regularity) I played Anne Heche's love interest. Okay, and then a bunch of us went out to sing karaoke (including Natasha Allegri, the nicest person in the world!) and Mr. Belding showed up and everybody was like, "Oh my God! It's Mr. Belding!" and somehow the last thing I did was sing "Jolene" with Mr. Belding and Joey Lauren Adams. Before that, I saw Joey Lauren Adams and Pendleton Ward do Elvis's "American Trilogy" together, and I thought to myself, well, that is probably the most surreal thing I will see tonight, but I was wrong.