Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Fictionality of Fiction

My friend Sam asked me a couple of days ago if I thought there were any such thing as "purely fictional thoughts" or if all fiction began with the real and then transformed. I thought back over my writing of the past, oh, twenty-eight years (but mostly the last fifteen or so) and thought about the impetuses for those I could recall -- all were rooted in some real moment or experience or emotion.

I thought about the writing of my peers, especially those from graduate school, and the multitude of books I have digested in my days on earth and, while I don't presume to speak for any of them, I would guess, if questioned, most if not all could pinpoint the concrete catalyst for the work.

I then thought about science fiction, because if any genre would contain purely fictional thoughts, surely it would be SF. That made me think of Philip K. Dick and the ways in which the early death of his twin sister impacted his writing, and how my learning that information shifted my own novel in an important and potent way. And I decided that my gut reaction to the question -- no -- is the correct one. Anything we create comes from us and what are we if not the sum of our experiences? Still, I'll borrow from Hemingway when I give the answer I like: "Isn't it pretty to think so?"

Monday, March 28, 2005

Passage of the Day

From Garden State:

Andrew Largeman: Do you lie a lot?
Sam: What do you consider a lot?
Andrew Largeman: Enough for people to call you a liar.
Sam: People call me lots of things...
Andrew Largeman: Is one of them liar?
Sam: I could say no, but how would you know I'm not lying?
Andrew Largeman: I guess I could choose to trust you.
Sam: You can do that?
Andrew Largeman: I can try.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Is There a 12-Step Program

for Wint-O-Green Lifesavers? If not, can someone start one, stat?


or Something Strange Is Afoot in the Universe...
I'm under deadline to get the first few chapters of the customer service book I'm writing with my uncle to him tomorrow. So I'm at my office aka Starbucks pounding caffeine (that double shot business is surprisingly yummy) when my old boss from LA, Michael, calls to pitch a screenplay idea to me for me to write. I'm flying out to LA the week of 4/18 to give him my pitch back before proceeding with the writing of said movie. I'm also, btw, in the process of editing my second-cousin's book about her brother's murder. I take a panic-break to check my gmail and find that I have a message from an ad agency I interviewed with a gazillion years ago here in Dallas: They have a freelance assignment that they'd like me to do if I'm interested. I'm interested, I call -- and I now have a meeting there this Monday at 4.

Now the big question is not what I did to deserve all this work to come my way (though that's certainly a question to ask), but, rather, can I do it???

I'm reminded of David Rakoff's essay "Fraud"...

“The central drama of my life is about being a fraud, alas. That’s a complete lie, really; the central drama of my life is actually about being lonely, and staying thin, but fraudulence gets a fair amount of play.” - Rakoff, "Fraud" from his eponymous collection

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Revlon Run/Walk for Breast Cancer

On Saturday, May 7th, my friend Carrie will be participating in the 12th Annual Revlon Run/Walk For Women in Los Angeles. It is estimated that one in eight American women will develop breast cancer at some point in her life. In 2005, more than 211,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed, while more than 22,000 will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

To date, the Run/Walks (LA/NY) have distributed over 30 million dollars for cancer research, counseling, and outreach programs. Thanks in part to these funds, new treatments are being developed and lives are being saved.

If you'd like to make a tax-deductible donation, click here:
Donate to Revlon Run/Walk for Breast Cancer


Favorite Downloads of the Week

Because I give up on trying to hook up my VCR, TiVo, and DVD player in a way that any of it works with DirectTV.

"Life Less Ordinary" - Carbon Leaf
"Collide" - Howie Day
"I Am" - Nicole C. Mullen
"Mr. Brightside" - The Killers
"Somebody Told Me" - The Killers
"Eleanor" - Low Millions
"Hey Girl" - O.A.R.
"You Had Me" - Joss Stone
"Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own" - U2
"Breathe (2AM)" - Anna Nalick

By the way, are there people you can hire to come hook up all of this stuff, or must I continue to miss all of my favorite shows and be unable to watch any of the many DVDs that beckon from the nearby shelf?

Oh, okay, in the interest of full disclosure, I did download some of these songs earlier than this week, but still...

Monday, March 21, 2005

Now I Can Die

I spent the weekend in Austin where, let's face it, I should be living, and had the rare opportunity to head to 6th street with my sister-in-law Audrey on Saturday night. It was less crazy than I anticipated given that it was the closing night of the mega-music fest, South by Southwest (otherwise known as SXSW). It helped that we wound up on 4th street. Audrey and I had time to kill before her friends met up with us, and stumbled upon a pleasant outdoor patio bar with heat lamps and a series of bands scheduled to play for the evening. As we paid our $10 cover at 9:00, we noticed that Vanilla Ice was slated to play at 1AM. We thought, that's too bad; there's no way we'll still be here at 1, and it would be hilarious to see Vanilla Ice.

When Audrey's friends arrived, they said they always went to Cedar Creek (name of pleasant outdoor patio bar) and they wanted to go somewhere different. Tish, our leader, took us to a place called Foundations (that I think was on 5th but may have been on 6th) that epitomized Cheese. House music thumped out conversation; a couple of guys sporting excess hair gel thought a good pick-up technique would be walking up to Audrey and me and just dancing in front of us. Hmm. One more vodka down and, thankfully, Foundations was behind us.

Back to Cedar Creek just in time to see Blessid Union of Souls. They have a lovely song called "Delta Rain" that was nowhere in sight as they instead burst into their one hit, "Hey Leonardo" (as in: She likes me for me/not because I hang with Leonardo...). (Oh, okay, "I Believe" was a minor hit as well.) As it got closer to 1:00, the small patio filled with people and excitement. A small crowd gathered at the top of the staircase that led down to the patio, hoping to get their Ice fix for free. And then -- there he was: Vanilla Ice in all his 80s glory. He played a bunch of who-knows-what and then, the moment arrived. Ice, Ice, Baby. Vanilla dramatically sprayed the crowd with his water bottle, perhaps not realizing that that "crowd" was about 100 people, tops, all of whom paid ten bucks for the whole night. Still, I have now seen Vanilla Ice, in all of his pitiable flesh. (What does it say that I woke up singing "Hey Leonardo" instead of V.I.?)

As Tish said the next day, "I've now seen Vanilla Ice. I don't know if that's something to be excited about, or something to be really ashamed of."

Blogging Is Beautiful

I linked from Sally's blog to Mark Scroggins's blog to someone else's blog to yet another person's blog and found Jay, with his excellently-titled blog ("bad with titles") and his impressions on Vegas:
bad with titles

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Poetry in Pain & Other Miscellany to End Today/Start Tomorrow

Poetry is, in fact (against my previous assertion), quite often born of pain and/or sadness. Not always, but often.
My cat snores.
The iTunes visual effects mesmerize.
Candlelit baths are the perfect way to end a day.
Children speak the truth as no others can (or will).
Creativity must be fed.
Deadlines feed productivity.
Words to consider: redemption, cradle, home, forgiveness, retreat
"This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time." - Tyler, Fight Club

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Outsourcing Is Fun

Today I spent two hours and twenty-seven minutes on the phone with Vijay in India. Vijay works on the Help Desk for Microsoft, and worked tirelessly to make my T-Mobile Hotspot account work at Starbucks. I do think that without the slight language barrier we encountered more than once, that bordering-on-three hours might have been cut down a bit, but, nonetheless.

Here's what I learned from Vijay:
- If they have Starbucks in India, Vijay is unaware of it. In fact, Vijay has never heard of Starbucks. So, either the long arm of Starbucks is not quite so long, or Vijay, bless his decaffeinated heart, is out of the loop.
- It's about 80 degrees in India today, at least in Vijay's corner of it. According to Vijay, their weather consists of "hot, hotter, and hottest."
- Microsoft Tech Support apparently does not have levels. When Vijay started retracing ground I'd already covered with both T-Mobile & Sharp tech support, I asked -- nicely -- if I could be fast-tracked to the Level 2 support person. Vijay said, "I'm sorry? I'm not understanding." Later, after my friendship with Vijay was firmly cemented, I felt badly for asking that someone higher up take my case.
- Vijay may not be a big fan of his homeland. When I said I'd like to visit India someday, Vijay paused, then said something like, "Hummumm."
- Typing "Run" and "msconfig" can take you to all kinds of interesting places.

Here's what I learned about myself:
- I'll go to any lengths to get online. I could have simply come home and used my own wireless access, but no, I needed to be at Starbucks, paying $40 a month to be online there and, thus, had to spend two and a half hours with tech support.
- I can help myself. After working side-by-side (or, phone-by-phone) with Vijay, and coming home to find my home wireless no longer worked, I employed my new education from him to fix my own wireless problem.
- I like my nonfat gingerbread latte at 140 degrees. Perfectly ready to drink.

Vijay, if I were wearing a hat, I'd take it off to you. Instead, when I go back out in the unseasonably cold weather, I'll put on the hood of my sweatshirt, then take that off when I get back inside, all in your honor.

Quote for the day

"Need and want -- they don't always match up." --ZSW

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Dancing fountains at the Bellagio (thanks, Phil!). Posted by Hello

The Quote that's in My Head

"I had gone so far out on a limb with my feelings that I didn't realize I was standing out there alone." - Carrie, "Sex & the City"

Friday, March 11, 2005

Dad and me opening night. Posted by Hello

Crazy Leno photo. (Someone really needs to teach me how to use my digital in the dark. Not teach me in the dark... you know what I mean.) Posted by Hello

Vegas, Baby

I just got back from four days in Vegas for my uncle's company's annual conference, and I have to say it was amazing. I've never heard so many tremendous speakers in succession -- one amazing speaker after the next, + I met some v. cool people. Our closing entertainment was Jay Leno, and we had rock star seating, so that was super cool.

Vegas itself: somewhat claustrophobic. We stayed at the Venetian, but all of the hotels are little mazes that send you in circles with no hint of daylight to be found. Sometimes you go stir crazy just wanting to see a piece of sky that hasn't been carefully painted onto the ceiling. Once you get your sky-fix, it's a lot easier to appreciate the beauty of the hotel. A sunken living room and two TVs within a stone's throw of each other? Not bad. Plus, TWO Coffee Beans in the hotel, one of which is open 24 hours. That's right -- a 24-hour Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. I made sure to get at least one 24-oz. Iced Blended Vanilla a day. Made me miss California just a little bit more.

Some of my favorite quotes from the speakers:
"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." - Ed Foreman
"Expectancy of a desired outcome brings it about." - Ed Foreman
"People who think they know it all don't know that they don't know it all." - Jay Riffenbarry
"Don't be dependent upon good experiences to be happy." - Tim Sanders
"Long after people forget what you did, they'll remember how you made them feel." - Tim Sanders

Friday, March 04, 2005

Movie Time

So I saw The Wedding Date tonight with my sister. First off, it was just good to see a movie and even better to see one with my sister. That aside, I must say, either Debra Messing has an oddly inexpressive forehead, or she's been dipping into the Botox. I'm just saying.

Dermot Mulroney, however, well, he looked, you know, okay. ;) And to think I once made out with his not-nearly-as-cute-as-he-is brother. (Dermot, FYI, is an NU alum. So there.) So I know in real life a guy in a black jacket and white button-down strategically unbuttoned would probably look a little on the cheesy side, but, man, did he pull it off.

Speaking of cheesy: Way too many cheesy lines in this movie for my taste. (I do know that some of you [Kubec] are saying, "The Wedding Date? What did you expect?") Here's a sample: "I'd rather fight with you than make love with anyone." Really?? That's the best they could do? V. pretty color for the bridesmaid's dresses, however.

Here's a tip: Should you find yourself in a Dr. Pepper Lipsmackerf-free zone, C.D. Bigelow's "My Favorite Lip Balm" is actually quite nice. 5% shea butter & 2% sweet almond oil. The only way you can beat that is, well, Dr. Pepper Lipsmacker.

Time for a glass of Coppola Rosso, Francis Ford's cheapest, but yummiest, red.

Wait. What's with Carson Daly putting himself behind a desk? Does he not know he's just playing at talk show host? Could there be a cheesier talk show host?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

More Randomness

1. Lindt's Lindor Truffles are unbelievably, meltably delicious
2. Coconut Truffles taste like a tanning bed smells
3. In front of me are 3 empty water bottles, two diet vanilla Pepsi cans (1 empty, 1 half full), 1 empy fountain coke styrofoam cup, and 1 empty wine glass. I can safely predict I will be up several times tonight.
4. Five years to prepare or not, Conan is still going to be a weird fit in Leno's spot. (Though I do like that floppy hair and marionette dance...)
5. I'm fascinated by the fact that Sally knew the artist and title of the song that the chubby Dutch kid was singing at I'm also fascinated by the fact that I felt the need to run to iTunes and download it.
6. Worst names for boys: Gomer, Herbert
7. Spearmint Lifesavers are addictive

And now, for some quotes from Kicking and Screaming:
Max: "Are you wearing mascara?" Otis: "No... yeah."
Girl: "You'd look really good with a nose ring." Otis: "Yeah. I'm probably going to get one."
Max: "Is that a pajama top?" Otis: "No... yeah."
Max: "I find myself writing 'wake up' and 'go to bed' on my to-do list as if they're two different things."
Otis: "I'm a little guy." Max: "...You're enormous." Otis: "But you know what I mean. I'm little. I'm small."
Max: "That was more of a yield at that stop sign." Grover: "I broke, thanks."
Jane: "Sometimes you can be such a child." Grover: "Yeah, but if I were a child you'd find that endearing."

And the best exchange:
Grover: "Ok, the way I see it, if we were an old couple, dated for years, graduated, away from all these scholastic complications, and I reached over and kissed you, you wouldn't say a word, you'd be delighted, probably, but if I was to do that now it'd be quite forward, and if I did it the first time we ever met you probably would hit me."
Jane: "What do you mean?"
Grover: "I just wish we were an old couple so I could do that."

Two good ones from My So-Called Life:
Angela Chase: "Sometimes it seems like we're all living in some kind of prison. And the crime is how much we hate ourselves. It's good to get really dressed up once in a while. And admit the truth: that when you really look closely? People are so strange and so complicated that they're actually... beautiful. Possibly even me."

Angela: "Sometimes someone says something really small and it just fits into this empty place in your heart."

That's it for tonight.