Friday, September 29
I have joined the ranks of Netflix. The list of movies I want/should watch has grown so much I cannot keep track of it, so I've outsourced it. You get to keep 4 DVDs out at any given time, and when you mail one back they send you the next one in your queue. For $20 a month you just cycle out four DVDs. I know, I'm linking to a corporate site, but I'm eagerly expecting my goodies. I've become a technogeek holing up in my house, ordering movies online, installing 100baseT ethernet, and tooling around online. I did, however, write some really goddamn good pages on the new script and am feeling particularly cocky about it. I cracked myself up twice today, which is always a good sign that I'm enjoying what I'm writing. It's about damn time.

My partner and I had the long talk last night about how we're going to work together in the same small space. Her mother had told a story about a writer who wore a yellow vest when he was in "writer's mode", and no one in the house was allowed to talk to him or get in his way when he was wearing the vest. It was the best way to deliniate "work" mode versus "just being there" mode. I've started to wear a hat while I write. My thinking cap. My partner has a better method - when she works her brow furrows up and one eye twitches. That's my signal not to interrupt. I'm a muttering, puttering fiend when I write, so it's confusing if I am working, ranting, asking for something, or testing dialogue.

I can't imagine what it must be like to live with me. I am a nightmare. When I'm working, I'm muttering or making weird noises, when I'm agitated I putter and crawl under my desk to futz with things or pace the house, and when I'm bored I look for sex because I know it's fun and not boring.

Here's a tip - don't date writers. We're a mess.

Tuesday, September 26
Three things disturbed me today:

1) Watched Papillon.

2) Finished reading Mind hunter, inside the FBI's criminal profiling unit, written by John Douglas, the first major profiler in the FBI.

3) I just read this.

And now I am awake, exhausted, and obssessing about death. Again. This has got to stop.

Monday, September 25
Sat around this weekend and did absolutely nothing. Well, almost.

Submitted Professional Help to Project Greenlight. Why not?

Sanjuro - continued watching the original Kurosawa/Mifune movies that gave Clint Eastwood all his chops.

Beyond the Mat - a great documentary about wrestling, featuring the whereabouts of crack smoking Jake "The Snake" Roberts.

The Candidate - Robert Redford starring in a movie about politics that is just as true today as it was in 1972. Nothing ever changes. Vote Nader. Written by a former speechwriter, this movie captures the erosion of the man as the politician takes over. That Robert Redford has really done a lot for making films that try and make a difference. It's interesting to see Warren Beatty grab a similar premise later in Bulworth. It saddens me that both films use the idealist protaganist have a "no way out" situation that forces their public disclosure.

The Magnificent Seven - holy shit, Steve McQueen out-handsomed by Yul Brynner. Color me young, but I had no idea Yul was so captivating. It's highly entertaining to see the origins of Hollywood legends. The man was a travelling gypsy and worked a trapeze for a time. This American remake of The Seven Samurai maintains the rogue pistols for hire with honor tradition, while combining the charismatic Mifune's farmer warrior with the brash naive kid into one character. Some scenes are directly taken, while others compress time. Kurosawa clocked in at over three marvelous hours, while Sturgess is just over two. A cool pair of films to watch back to back.

Mission to Mars - this miserable pile of dogshit is ripped off elements from 2001 without any of the smarts. Not worth the time, but if you don't plan on getting out of your underwear all day it's fine.

The Olympics (mostly diving) - we've actually been watching the Olympics. I could watch men's gymnastics all day and ogle their incredible physics and prowess. I appreciate women's gymnastics, too, but the difference is between power, grace, and agility. Women have poise and control, while men are about powerful fluidity. I like them both, but out of muscle envy I am more riveted by men's routines. Diving was fun, too. I wish I could do a handstand and drop thirty feet like that without belly flopping.

Tuesday, September 19
Sitting here at work, laughing my ass off.

If I knew how to program, I would have made one of these.

Monday, September 18
We just watched Yojimbe and The Searchers. Spent most of the day at home or at the grocery store. It's never a smart idea to get your staples on a Sunday, the market is packed with idiots. Yojimbe proved again that Akira Kurisawa gave American filmmakers their westerns in a bag. Yojimbe featured the totally wonderful Mifune, a Kurosawa favorite, as a samurai in town to turn a turf war into a full scale war. It's a fantastic film. The Searchers was appalling, but certainly put the John Wayne myth into focus. As a film it is remarkable for how it deals with time, the five year search for the daughter of a slain family. I suppose the movie really known for John Wayne's character's arc, but that seemed forced and cliched to me (this being one of the movies that established the archtype in American cinema). I also found the racism gross, but it was 1956 and I'm not going to expect the nicest of sentiments from that era.

Listened to Laddio Balackio on CD today, and am pretty much done with it. At least I got it at their show, so they made money off of it. I think I'll retire it to the shelf.

Looks like I'll be going on a road trip soon. Going to fly east to pick up a car and drive it back to sunny California where cars live forever. Except mine.

Sunday, September 17
Last night was Trans Am at Spaceland. It was a packed house, and they were playing both Friday and Saturday nights. Since we normally don't go out on Fridays (we do Shabbat dinner from six to midnight, bibbity-boppity-Jew) I don't know if the huge turnout was because it was a Friday or because Trans Am has such a good following. I liked the album The Surveillance, but didn't know what to expect from a live show. Turns out they have a following of ambient techno kids, not the math rock set I was anticipating. We stayed for their main set, which was sometimes brilliant, sometimes boring, and very watchable. It reminded me of a lot of the shows I went to in college, watching really talented musicians fuck around until they found something really cool. Trans Am does better than fuck around, but sometimes they get too hung up on moody synth sounds. Their drummer kicked motherlovin' ass and hearing him was worth the price of admission. His changes and transitions were great, his inflections were kickin', and he made percussion fun. He also looked like Wolverine's neglected skinny younger brother.

The opening act we missed, Laddio Balackio, but after hearing a couple people raving about their performance I got their CD. What I didn't know is the whole "rave" quality to the crowd. LB is OK, not nearly as interesting as Trans Am, but in the same vein. I'm sure they were better live. Between the opener and Trans Am was a stand up comic named Neil Hamburger. He sucked monkey cock for a half an hour. He got spit on by the crowd, booed, heckled, and abused but kept going. He was awful. If you ever see his name on a bill, avoid the show. He was trying to do Andy Kaufman's Tony Clifton schtick, but without any skill or sense of irony.

Today, we started out by going to Ontario Mills, and outlet shopping Mecca and getting clothing. My partner and I decided that we were tired of squeezing ourselves into clothing that didn't fit and also made us feel bad about ourselves. The decision was made that squeezing into pants that are too small is stupid, makes you feel worse about yourself, and also amplifies your size. We treated ourselves to pants that, unavoidably, were made in the Dominican Republic.

After driving the 120 miles round trip, we picked up my partner's parent's dog from the kennel and took her to the valley. Then we were off to the Great Western Forum to see a couple of friends do something unique: women's professional wrestling. However, first we had to get buttfucked by Yahoo Maps which sent us to a deadly section of East L.A. A nice guy at a Shell station whipped out his Thomas Guide and got us to Inglewood, where we wanted to go. Oddly enough we went from one bad neighborhood to another, but at least we were trying to get to Inglewood. We went to a monster truck rally a year or so ago, but this, friends, this took the cake. The Women Of Wrestling league is just like G.L.O.W., with many of the same wrestlers, but with characters designed to appeal to both teenage girls and horny teenage boys. Most remarkable I thought was the crowd was made up of stacked L.A. chix. I would bet it was call in sick night at many strip clubs, because the female population of the Great Western Forum was damn popping out of their tiny tops. I am assuming that many of them were friends of the girls performing, as each performer got 40 tickets each. Future shows they only get 4, but since this was the first they were giving away the store. I think that we just got a special treat, as the WOW won't see that kind of gene pool turnout ever again.

After all that action, I still have a movie review to write and two scripts to keep working on. *sigh*

Friday, September 15
J.P. Morgan merged with Chase Manhattan, another mega-merger. It occurs to me that the trend of mergers is showing hypercapitalism to be suicidal. Companies merging with each other eliminates competition. Competition is good for business and good for the economy. When we are one nation under Time Warner, our system will reveal itself for the fascist oligarchy that it really is.

Thursday, September 14
My friend Craig just got his PhD. My friend Gabriel got married, got his doctorate in music composition, and moved to London. Seth is moving into his first Scottish apartment with his wife. It is very exciting to see the friends I came of age with become adults.

Al Gore has "crossed party lines" so many times, what makes him a fucking Democrat?

Our trial system is inherently biased. Criminals are prosecuted by the state, often defended by the state, and the court is presided over and run by a representative of the state appointed by its highest officials. Where is the fairness in that?

Tuesday, September 12
Pardon me while I vomit.

Have you ever had a motherland moment? Andy opened the door to his room at the Motel 6 and I had a flash of it. A motherland moment is when you see someone and they somehow connect to a genetic memory or part of you that is deeply rooted in your grandparent's photos. Andy is a handsome fellow; he's a Slav. (How do you know a Slav? Ask one!) Most of my family is Ukranian/Eastern bloc Russian Jews. Andy is Romanian by birth, living in Sweden. He's a good looking Slav, which means he's got an angular face, solid cheekbones, and a good sized forehead. It was such a strange door number three moment, Monty.

We went to Universal Studios, which is now up to $41 per goddamn person. A cheeseburger that had been sitting under heat lamps for an hour and had the remains of an avocado draped on it was $8. Andy's small coke was $1.95 and a squat bottled water is a shocking $2.50. I sunburned my head and we rode the movies. Dig this: once upon a time the tram guided tour had plastic bubbly guides who could rattle off a hundred different facts about any part of the tour. This was a way of stalling for time as one tram would move through a location. Being a Universal Studios tram guide was at once the butt of a hundred jokes for being so ridiculous, and ironically, really hard to do. Now they have LCD screens hanging in the tram and the guide reads off a teleprompter. When there is a lull, they just play movie clips on the screen and the guide reads off the little karioke screen. If I wanted to watch movies on a 15" screen I'd have stayed at home. Jesus, as the admission price goes up the creativity goes down. Your tram takes you through the parking lot of some of the best production facilities in the business and your guide is busy ordering Big Macs from their touchscreen.

I tried drawing Los Angeles on a piece of paper, since it's good to know the layout of this damn town before you get zig zagged across it in traffic. After I sketched out my scrawl of freeways and cross-streets, Andy handed me the Motel 6 complimentary map. It's the best map I've seen of L.A. in a condensed form, so I stole a bunch from the lobby. It sure as hell beats pointing to areas on my dashboard and saying "OK, so the CD player is a mountain range." From now on I'm just using their map to my visitors. (I'll leave the goddamn light on for you, but not after ten 'cause I don't want bugs in my house.)

Monday, September 11
Up late again, finished reading White Plague. The book was pedantic, overly political, and infinitely dry. I had to read it as research for the script I am co-authoring. Right now I am in terror over both stories I am writing. Both of them were wholly original when they were first conceived. The script I am co-authoring has been gestating in my friend's mind and my imagination for over a year. The other story I thought of in January. However, in both cases circumstances prevented any work from being done on them. Unfortunately, that has also been the same amount of time it has taken for the concepts the stories deal with to move to the front of society's consciousness. I no longer have the luxury of writing them at my leisure, I've waited too long. At this point I expect to see my ideas sold or pitched and gone. That won't stop me from trying to get treatments registered and done as fast as I can. And of course, in both cases, the third act is holding everything up. At any rate, White Plague is not very compelling, and at its best it presents a moral question to the scientific community of the potential effects of genetic research. Herbert's politics and self-righteous insights into Irish politics reads like a box of morally superior Lucky Charms and completely misses the real story. This is why the book is out of print and mostly forgotten. It's on Alibris, not Amazon in your Earthling.com lingo.

I'm meeting Andy tomorrow, I think we're going to Universal Studios to "ride the movies" for $35 freakin' smackers a person. I don't think it's the movies that are going to be taken for a ride. But, Andy's from Europe and I'm sure the site of Americans squeezing their fat ass children eating churros into a vibrating T-2-3D seat will just scar him for life. I can't resist being one of the first people to mold his view of America. I mean, he's staying at the Motel 6 in Hollywood and he's certainly seen by now that the "Hollywood" spoken of in international media is very different from the Hollywood that is home to 12 year old hookers, drug dealers, and gangs.

Christ, I should be writing right now.

Sunday, September 10
I bought lucky bamboo two weeks ago and now it is dead. I don't think there's any luck involved, either in the bamboo itself or the killing. Bamboo grows so wildly you have to put in underground walls to stop the root system from taking over. Imperialist rooting doesn't sound so lucky. The happy Asians who sold it to me promised it would grow in low light and just sticking it in a glass of water. I bought marbles. I put the stalks in shotglasses. They look like dried out husks. Those fuckers are probably selling Mogwais in the basement. If anyone knows how to properly care for a stalk of bamboo in water, please let me know. It doesn't seem like a hard plant to care for. It's got nothing to do with luck; it's photosynthesis, nitrates, and environment, muthafuckas.

Mount St Helen was supposedly playing a free show Friday night at Spaceland. Here's a tip for aspiring bands: don't pick a name that delivers a bazillion pages about the wrong thing on search engines. After all that bitching, we found their label and their unbelievably good web site. Turns out there's another goddamn band called Mount St Helen! Second tip: if you're going to use a name that's already a pretty common phrase/proper noun/nomenclature make sure it's not taken already! Jello Biafra's Names for Bands ought to be required listening for anyone hoping to go on tour.

Friday, September 8
I started running again today. Nothing reminds you that running as an exercise requires daily attention better than not running for a month and trying three miles out of the gate. Right now the muscular headache I have combined with the absence of ibuprofen in the house is making me wonder what's wrong with being fat and sedentary. It works for sea lions, why not writers? I had lunch with my friend and we discussed making the trailer for Really Pale Rider. He's shooting his spec commercial this weekend and getting his feet wet as a director. I have to get over this horrible nagging feeling that my old work is crap. If I were I dog I'd fear my own excrement. (They say not to scold a dog while housebreaking it by pointing to the feces and yelling. It makes it fear its own poo.) Shooting a trailer will be fun, educational, and the beginning of a nice writer's reel for me and an addition to my friend's director's reel. At the very least, we'd be doing better than the CIA.

Thursday, September 7
Saturday night we went to the Hollywood bowl and watched/saw a phenomenal performance of the 1812 overture complete with fireworks and a full marching band. Later, I went to the L.A. Philharmonic web site and saw the Frank Gehry designed Disney Hall. On one hand, the new building looks amazing. On the other, it's fucking Disney. It's fucking Disney asking for money to complete the building. It's not nice to invite someone to a fancy dinner they can't afford and then expect them to pony up some cash. Leave it to Disney to offer to build something and then expect everyone else to chip in. Is it a gift, or is a white elephant?

We found Los Feliz Village on Monday night. We had driven past it a few times knowing it looked like a hipster section of town. Sure enough, it's where the Dresden room is as well as X-Large and X-Girl shops, Vinyl Fetish records, a beautiful independent bookstore called Skylight Books, and a scattering of restaraunts and bakeries. We walked along and looked at the closed stores figuring we'd come back and check it out during the day. It's next to Silverlake, which is also revealing itself to be a fun town. I'm hoping that the closing of fetish shops and queer bookstores by the Amazon.coms of the world doesn't ruin the place. It will be our luck to find a fun place to go and have it close up shop after 20 years because the Internet killed it.

I started getting phone calls from Russia and Sweden a year ago from people looking for the writer, Max Miller. Apparently I was travelling on trains around Russia and Northern Europe handing out business cards with my Los Angeles number on them. Funny thing is, last time I was near the EEC was in 1993, and I've never even been to the motherland. Someone with a funny sense of humor is out there, handing out my number to Europeans with promises of Hollywood fame. Now Andy from Sweden, who's really Rumanian, is in town to get hooked up with Hollywood. When he started calling a year ago it was difficult to explain that yes, I was a writer, but no, I didn't have any contacts to make him a famous actor. I gave him a slew of practical information that I had acquired over the years and this seemed to validate my status as reputable. Given what I know about Europeans and entertainment, I will drag him down to Santa Monica and point out David Hasselhoff. I'll be a God in his eyes.

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