Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Pen Runs Over a Bottle

1. Lee was about to pull up to give me a ride to Memphis when I discovered that the button on my jacket was precariously loose. It took the desperate combined efforts of Dr. Theresa and me to thread a needle. Suddenly that infomercial I saw in January 2011 about an innovative needle with a huge eye didn't seem so damn funny anymore. Once we got the needle threaded, precious seconds ticking away, Dr. Theresa secured that button in place like a speed demon. But that wasn't the end of the troubles! This is exciting already. So! 2. When Lee and I were about halfway to Memphis, I glanced down to discover that I was wearing the wrong shoes. For you see, I had an appointment at the Magic Castle in Hollywood later in the week, thanks to my friend Kate, who is a magician, and they (the Magic Castle, not magicians in general, nor Kate in particular) have a dress code, for which reason, and with some exaltation, I had recently purchased my very first ascot. Anyway, Dr. Theresa had to mail me my shoes. Or they would have never let me into the Magic Castle! 3. The Von's across from my hotel in Burbank no longer stocks the gigantic bottles of seltzer I like. 4. I saw Kent, who happened to be visiting from his new home (well, he's been there a long time now!) in Vermont. He wasn't going to the Magic Castle with us but asked whether I had been with him at the Magic Castle years ago when a guy made a baby appear. I said I thought I would remember something like that, but now I wonder. Was I? Did I? Would I? 5. Kent told me a dream he had had the night before, which I will abbreviate to its ruin. A yellow cobra comes out of a faucet and starts fighting a rat. Then a monkey runs into the room, grabs up the cobra, and begins choking the rat with it! I suggested that the yellow cobra coming out of the faucet meant that Kent needed to pee. 6. In TENDER IS THE NIGHT (the book I brought to read on the airplane) someone's monocle falls out due to a surfeit of emotion! Like in a cartoon! 7. Kent walked by while I was talking on the phone to Dr. Theresa. "Did you tell her about my dream?" he asked. Ha ha! Sure, we kidded him, it was the top of our agenda. Dr. Theresa used to call Kent "Big City" as part of an inside joke. Now, as she decided during the very phone call being described, she's going to call him "Big Maple." Because of Vermont. He has a beard now! Because of, I assume, Vermont. As these shenanigans were taking place I was about to leave for the Magic Castle, so Kent fussily rearranged my ascot (which I had tied myself; I'm not so hot with ties, but noting the ascot loophole in the Magic Castle's dress code, I deduced that an ascot would be easier to tie than a regular necktie... and I was right! An ascot, in its raw appearance, is like a big clown tie). 8. There are some things I can't tell you about the Magic Castle but maybe one day I will. One of them involved the invisible piano player who performs there. I wish I could tell you! Another guy kept making lemons appear out of thin air. Where were those lemons coming from? It was crazy! Magic is crazy. 9. At a Holiday Inn with Julia Pott, Pen, and Kent. "It is happening again," Julia kept saying during the karaoke at the Holiday Inn, purposely and accurately invoking TWIN PEAKS. Everyone there had chosen a sad song, as if by psychic prearrangement. Pen and Julia are especially fine dancers. Kent is a great dancer too, but what I remember is Kent and me sitting at a tall two-top with our really bad drinks, watching the fluid motions of Julia and Pen under the spell of a scrawny white-haired stranger moaning a song of absent love. (Pictured, above, a higher floor of the Holiday Inn.) 10. Back at my own hotel, alone... they were shutting down the bar when I came in... as I was sipping my nightcap a couple sat down next to me, a man and a woman. "The bar is closed," said the bartender, Harvey by name. "But we're getting married tomorrow!" objected the woman. Harvey has been known to do me a favor, so I proclaimed with a flourish, "Oh, allow me to get these two some champagne!" To which the bride-to-be responded quite severely, "No." Then, after a pause, "I want a 'chard.'" So I was like, "Never mind!" She went on: "Champagne is for tomorrow." And I said, "I understand." Why was I trying to force champagne down the throat of these innocent victims? And so to bed, as Samuel Pepys would say. 11. Now we have reached Saturday, and - speaking of Samuel Pepys - a bawdy section of our tale, so be forewarned, as bawdiness was not an area in which I normally dabbled, back in the days when I "blogged." At home on the Saturday in question, Dr. Theresa was suffering the calamity of a football game day. The streets were wild, she reported, and the home team was playing a team called "something like the Cockmasters," an assertion on her part that made both of us laugh even as she said it. "Well, it's something like that," she repeated, and vowed to find out. I begged her not to enter "Cockmasters" into the search engine of the computer. Anyway, it was the Gamecocks, which Dr. Theresa said she liked even less than Cockmasters, given the actual name's association with the practice of animal cruelty. 12. Talked by phone to Megan Abbott. We spent some incredible amount of time (I will say 20 minutes) just parsing the monocle sentence from TENDER IS THE NIGHT (see #6, above): "His monocle fell out, with no whiskers to hide in - he drew himself up." Megan solved it for me. She also said I sounded sedated, like late-stage Judy Garland. From Megan that's a compliment! 13. "I'm happy talking to an idiot." - Rae Gray. 14. Saw Rae Gray and Ashly Burch and many others at a kind of sendoff before Kent returned to Vermont. Talked about books a lot with Rae and Ashly and we laughed uproariously about a number of things, as well as becoming somber and contemplative when the occasion arose. Steve Little was there and when he saw my jotting book he produced his own jotting book in solidarity! Then I admitted I had neglected to bring a pen and he seemed disappointed in me. 14. My friend had a birthday party. Hmm! I can't remember why he's always anonymous. Maybe I made him anonymous because I didn't know him that well when he started appearing on the "blog." Anyway, now he's anonymous forever and subsequently my tales of his birthday party will be shrouded in vagueness and mystery... like why were at least half a dozen cast members of VERONICA MARS there, supplemented by the equally dazzling stars of iZOMBIE and PARTY DOWN? See? Already I've said too much... let me be clear. My friend was not the creator of VERONICA MARS, whom I did meet for the first time that night, however, and who, upon learning that I reside in Mississippi, told me he had played at a club in Jackson in 1985, but he couldn't remember the name. I was pleased to correctly assume he meant a place named W.C. Don's, and to tell him the possibly true fact which I barely recalled hearing somewhere that it had burned to the ground. I played there in 1990. We just missed each other! He swiftly produced a photo of himself with a mullet in front of W.C. Don's. 15. My friend Joey, knowing me to be a huge VERONICA MARS fan, introduced me to Kristen Bell, to whom I remarked how surreal it was for me to see the residents of Neptune (the town where the show takes place) walking around, which prompted her to explain to me the concept of acting, ha ha! I'm making it sound like she thought I didn't know the difference between fiction and reality but that wasn't the case... I hope! No, she was explaining from long experience why people feel and act the way they do when they see someone who performed in something in which they (the viewer) became emotionally invested. But just for a joke (and because it was true) I pretended to conflate another actor from the show with his character, leaning in and murmuring confidentially, "Don't be alarmed, but Logan is standing right behind you." And then an incredible thing happened. Kristen Bell became Veronica Mars! Her voice and posture changed instantly, and she said in character, "That's okay, I have eyes in the back of my head." What a good sport to indulge me so! And what a dexterous display. It was something to witness, and I felt lucky to witness it. Then I ate some creamed corn. 16. The next day Pen and I were out doing stuff and we stopped on a side street. Pen said, "I'm going to park my car better." We were already on the sidewalk. Pen hopped back in his car and pulled up a few inches and immediately ran over a bottle that disintegrated into a million sprinkles of brown glass with a terrible BANG! I jumped and started laughing. We had just been discussing Groucho Marx in the car, and that's where my mind was. "I'm going to park my car better." POW! The timing was perfect. In a movie, his tire would have gone pssssssssssst, but the tire was fine. 17. "You think you're with a decent candy maker and then he starts screamin' at you," is one thing Pen said about Willy Wonka. 18. "It was often easier to give a show than to watch one." - TENDER IS THE NIGHT. 19. Sitting in the airport thinking I have nice shoes but my socks are falling down. As long as I bought an ascot, why not sock garters? 20. Also I saw a man with shoes so shiny they made me ashamed. Maybe his shoes were TOO shiny. Blindingly gleaming they were! Dr. Theresa always says she likes a leather shoe that's been broken in so it has some character. She understands me! 21. Rising to depart from the plane which had returned me to the Memphis airport, I heard a plaintive meowing behind me that made me pine for home. Why, this passenger had been traveling with her cat the whole time and I never knew.