Sunday, April 27, 2008

Noony noony noony

I feel bad for the people in this world who don't know the joy of a good late-night putter. You know the putter: it's that time of night when there's nothing to do, and so doing nothing--or at least a very mindless something--is the whole point. I mean, I have movies to watch and plenty of writing to do, but then I wouldn't be puttering, would I? I could go to bed, but then when would I organize my sock drawer, take on ill-advised baking projects, and catch up on my Mythbusters? You know what I mean, Vern? (Ooh, now there's a late-night cable movie.)

I'm not talking a quiet evening at home, here. Contrast is key to successful puttering. I went out tonight, had a good time, met some new people, ate a lot of things I might regret tomorrow. Then I came home, ran through the shower, and here we are, with all the windows open and Park Boulevard relatively quiet for once. That's how it goes: social, social, social, then putter.

Bedsheet-changing is a great puttering activity, especially because there are so many obvious benefits when sleep does finally catch up. Did that. Also folded laundry while watching Grey's Anatomy, which I never ever watch, but which saved me from both the Christopher Walken Saturday Night Live episode I'd already seen and from the disappointment of TBS's sudden refusal to be my personal cable station. From there I was prepared to move on to Love Comes Softly (I know, right?) until ABCFamily and One Fine Day stepped in. And did you know that Baby George Clooney doing a puppet show is mind-blowingly cute? Or that Amanda Peet has an unfortunate run-in with some nude lipstick? Think of all the things I would never know if I slept through all of this! KEY INFORMATION, I'm telling you.

And with that, my clean sheets are calling.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Let the record reflect

Tonight at the very end of church, Mark Labberton followed up a sermon on unity in Christ by asking the congregation to hold hands with their neighbors. Oh, we were so close, I thought. Next to me, Christine looked out of the choir loft at her friend Brooke, a visitor, and mouthed, "Sorry!" We grabbed hands and prayed, and afterwards, we confirmed: the Universal Law of Church Visitors had struck again.

You do know the Universal Law, right? I have yet to find it in the Bible (probably buried somewhere in the Minor Prophets, or maybe Leviticus, sandwiched into the kooky wandering-in-the desert laws), but I swear it's there somewhere, and someday I'm going to find it. The Universal Law of Church Visitors states that in the presence of a non-regular attender, church will get weird. The pastor will spontaneously preach on homosexuality or tithing, or will be absent entirely. He or she will be replaced by a drama troupe, missionaries either to or from Africa specializing in sign-language ministries, liturgical dancers in leotards, and/or a church business meeting. It will be Youth Sunday, and (I'm sorry to say) none of the musicians will actually know how to play their instruments. All of the music will be in Portuguese and accompanied only by an accordion and a rhythm gourd. There will be random hand-holding, possibly while singing or chanting. On Christine's first Sunday at First Pres, a man in the front row occasionally took a bite from a bouquet of daisies he held behind his back. Bringing a friend to church is a risky venture.

Maybe the Universal Law should be the least of our worries. Maybe it's some kind of secret vetting process: virgin birth and empty tombs don't go over so well with those who can't hack Sandi Patti and baton-twirling during the offertory. And, to be fair, maybe it's just getting them ready for life in a church community, letting them know that sometimes, church is full of things that are weird or unintentionally funny, because people are weird and unintentionally funny. Church is a place of earnestness, and sometimes earnestness is uncool. Probably best to get it all out in the open. Maybe God's just trying to keep things on the up and up, which is why things always get just a little unusual when you're wishing for the usuality you love so much.

And, frankly, it's probably more an issue of social oversensitivity than anything else. Church gets mocked enough as it is; we can't always help the assumption that newcomers are horrified when things deviate from the schedule. We seem to apologize a lot, even for things that don't bother us. Maybe we should stop that, and trust people's resilience in the face of things that make us cringe, or even the power of God to work through/despite our strangest efforts. I know that. I should try to keep that in mind. And if only the Song of Solomon laser show would tone things down just a little, we might be able to relax.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Absurd degree" rhymes with "verdigris"

The other day, I caved and bought the Wicked soundtrack. For all my love of musicals and show tune geekery, I have not previously kept a single Broadway soundtrack on my iPod--they clash with the rest of my music, you see. People with Shuffle fixations like mine have to keep an eye on these things. But I came home from L.A. on Sunday with a heavy nostalgia for my long weekend away and the songs from Wicked running circles in my brain. So I bought it. And now I can't stop. Over and over, Wicked, Wicked, Wicked.

People who know me shouldn't be surprised at my Rain Man music habits. I know my friend Brydon remembers the day, years ago, that he came over and found me listening to "Tears in Heaven" on repeat; this is also the way the Eastmountainsouth song "So Are You to Me" found its way to the top of my iTunes Top 25, ahead of the runner-up by a good thirty listens. I do this mostly when I'm sad, or when I'd rather be someplace other than where I am, though sometimes it's just a particular note or phrase capturing my frame of mind in a way that I can't quite articulate. I always wonder if it isn't something like the neural loops obsessive-compulsive people find themselves stuck in, though it doesn't feel like something that needs to be diagnosed. It's more like scratching some kind of aural-emotional itch.

Anyway, no need to worry. The cycle will break eventually; it always does (and I caught myself humming Rilo Kiley after rowing tonight). Until then, lather, rinse, repeat.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

12 of 12: April

Aha! I bet you thought, what with being on vacation and all, that I'd skip 12 of 12 this month. Not so! This is 12 of 12: Vacation Edition, wherein I chronicle my last day visiting my friend Kendra in Southern California. It is, frankly, way better than weekday 12s, for obvious reasons. (For more on the 12 of 12 internet art project, including other people's 12s, check out Chad Darnell's blog.)

10:07 - Waking up at a reasonable hour after arriving home from Disneyland at a not-so-reasonable (in the best possible way) hour.

11:10 - How great a hostess is Kendra? She made us Mickey Mouse pancakes, with chocolate chips and/or blueberries, that's how great.

1:40 - A trip to the Agoura Hills Library's weekly book sale, where I didn't buy anything, though I thought long and hard about a copy of H.L. Mencken's notebooks. ( a nerd.)

2:35 - Winter feet + two full amusement-park days in flip-flops = time to call in a professional. (Public service announcement, though: Judgemental pedicure ladies are untoward. I know my feet are gross. If they were as soft and fresh as spring lilies, I would take care of them myself. FOR FREE.)

4:00 - Much better. This will last approximately 2.4 minutes.

4:52 - On the 101, driving to put our names in for the Wicked last-minute front-row ticket lottery, or find something else to do if we don't get in.

6:03 - We won! We won!

6:04 - See?

6:32 - Killing time at Hollywood and Highland before the show. Ice cream and elephants! Two of my favorite things!

7:29 - Found embedded in the sidewalk on Argyle St. in Hollywood

7:45 - Clandestine pre-show non-flash photography from the front row of the Pantages. That's the dragon above the proscenium arch, sort of.

11:10 - Somebody finally volunteered to take Kendra's and my picture after several failed attempts at doing it ourselves. Thanks, guy!

What a good day, right? I could totally get used to this. I can't believe there's, like, work on Monday.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Like I just won the Superbowl

"Liz! You just finished three days of work, and it's your friend Amy's 30th birthday! What are you going to do next?"

I'm going to Disneyland!

No, really. I'm going to Disneyland.

It didn't occur to me until relatively recently that I might be a Disneyland Person. My parents took me a few times as a kid, and my youth group took me a few more times after that. I went to Grad Night. Everybody in California goes to Grad Night. I'm not one of those people who wants to get married under Sleeping Beauty's castle, or get engaged at the top of the Matterhorn, or anything. It's not like I walk around with Eeyore's droopy eyes printed across my chest (...anymore). But I was talking to my office-mate a few years back, and he asked me if I went to Disneyland a lot. "Oh, not that often," I said. "Maybe once every other year?" He looked at me like I'd suddenly grown Mickey ears. "I've only been twice," he said. "Ever."

I think that, for a lot of people, Disneyland is not cool, especially if you are not eight, don't know anybody who's eight, and are at all aware of the socio-economic impact of the Disney Corporation (what my brother would once have called "media control"). And maybe they have a point, in theory. Is Disneyland part of an eeeevil corporate empire meant to take our hard-earned money and poison our children with leaden toys? Probably. But I love it anyway, and here's why.

First, Disneyland is fun. It's fun when you're four and your favorite princess is RIGHT THERE and MOM MOM MOM THERE'S DUMBO AND OMG HE FLIES! But I'm not gonna lie: I am 27 years old, and I love Space Mountain. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, too. And have you been on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride lately? Cracked out, I'm telling you. (The ride ends in hell. Yes. Hell.) I do not get tired of going fast and seeing fun things. Also, I have history with this place, like the way you have to find the constellation in Space Mountain that looks like a big oatmeal cookie and yell, "Giant cookie!" Or the time I wasn't paying attention and my backpack fell out of the Jeep on the Indiana Jones ride, and we had to come back the next day to pick it up (Public Service Announcement: The mesh pouches in front of you are there for a reason, kids!). Or the time Al and I rode the Matterhorn while perfecting our Julie Andrews impressions and watching the 50th-anniversary fireworks, which is basically a confluence of perfectly wonderful things. Who could be too highbrow for that?

Second, it's all about atmosphere, and nobody does atmosphere like Disney. I'm always amazed by the sheer amount of thought, money, and energy that goes into being The Happiest Place on Earth. Half the fun of Disneyland as an adult is how they do it, the perfect little touches and extra flourishes attached to everything, and the painstaking hiding of all seams. In that sense, it's a trivia gold mine. Did you know that there's a small basketball court inside the top of the Matterhorn? Did you know that Walt Disney kept an apartment, which still exists, above the fire station on Main Street? Did you know that the penny arcade on Main Street originally used real .22-caliber rifles and real ammo? See? Disneyland is a crazy, crazy place! This is the kind of information I'll keep (mostly) to myself, so as to not be a complete Wonder Killer, but rest assured that the Disney factoids are strong in this one.

And that, my friends, is why I'm (apparently) a Disneyland Person. See you in L.A.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Just keep writing

Well, this is depressing.

And true, of course. I'm not disputing that. I was an English major; the only thing we hear more than "Would you like fries with that?" is "It's not what you know; it's who you know." Here's the problem: I don't know anybody. I mean, I know people, but I don't Know People.

I did meet Jane Espenson once, at WonderCon, and she was just as nice and funny and supportive in person as she is online (though I will say that my dream of her saying, "Hey, I wear funky glasses and you wear funky glasses! Want to come write for TV?" did not materialize). And I think that while I'm trying to figure out how to Know Somebody, I have to take the advice Jane gave me, and the advice she gives all prospective writers: Keep writing. Write for TV, or write not for TV. As long as you're writing. Jane says that one way to get into this kind of writing is to be good at other kinds of writing, and to make a kind of lateral move (like Pamie, and I know I am one of many who would like to be Pamie when we grow up)--as she says, what's the worst that can happen? You become a famous novelist on the way? Either way, writing appears to be the thing to do. (Surprise!) It makes me happy to be able to say I've been prolific lately. I'm making good headway on a spec 30 Rock script, and I'm excited about an original pilot that's been percolating. And I'm trying to do whatever else I can find, to get out there or just get more practice: essays (my personal favorite) or short stories or reviews or a certain movie blog. After all, I'll only get better, right? This is what I have to keep telling myself. Just keep writing. It'll all come together.

Thank you for the pep talk, Self! Now I think I will go eat some pineapple for dinner, because pineapple makes everything good.