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Lots of characters in movies go by fast. There's no use looking for them in the credits, unless their character's named situationaly and you read fast. In
In the Bedroom
there is a man playing a poker buddy who improbably recites Blake's poetry during lulls in play. I thought, he sounds familiar, have I seen this actor. I realize he sounds like Charles Crumb, R. Crumb's gifted, lost brother who was not an actor and no longer alive, having committed suicide. Same timbre, same sibilance suggesting false teeth. I whisper to J., he sounds like Charles Crumb and J. nods.
Just as it was beginning a white-haired man in a suit sat down one seat from me in the almost empty theater, Every time anyone in the movie kissed, the man attempted to synchronize a loud lip-smack to the on-screen action. I moved several seats, Unfortunately, Bridget Jones and her friends and family do a lot more kissing than you'd think given the loneliness angle and all. I wanted to shake him and say, "You think I don't want to say "doink" every time Hugh what's-his-name-I-want-to-say-Kenner-but-that's-not-ri ght blinks his eyes?! But I don't do that here. I save that for home!"
There's this scene in
where Sigourney Weaver unpacks her groceries, prominently placing a bag of marshmallows on the counter. I thought yeah, that's because all sophisticated, single career women eat bags of marshmallows, not because a gigantic Sta-puff Marshmallowman appears later in the movie. But when the sophisticated, lawyer Michelle Pfeiffer plays in
I am Sam
is cramming marshmallows into her mouth I thought okay, we've already seen this character uses sugar as a crutch, but I laughed and finally, bought it.
Another highlight of the film is locating exactly where the Spicolli face becomes the retarded guy face.
Just past the ticket-taker a woman well on the far side of "a certain age" asks me, "Are you seeing
?" Yes. "Oh good I don't want to be alone in the theater." Uh-huh. I'm glad there are already people in there already so I don't have to be alone with her. It's a meaty film, what with both Meat Loaf Aday and its incredible ham-fistedness, So here's a question: who's more Jewish, Gregory Peck or William H. Macy with his hair dyed? Had I not seen it, I wouldn't have believed a film could make
Four small planes fell from the sky today in the U.S. alone. Actually one flew into a building. Which makes me wonder, is four normal? Do we only hear about the crashes when they occur in the immediate vicinity, carry a celebrity, or land inside a building? Last summer J. and I won a raffle. A trip down the Hudson and around the Statue of Liberty with a friend who was imminently receiving his small plane license. Due to busy schedules come September 11, we had yet to take the trip. Needless to say, we still haven't collected our prize.
The New York Times
has finally done away with the separate "A Nation Challenged" section, including it instead as a sub-department of the A Section. "A Nation Challenged", as a section, bothered me. Actually, the name did. Not THE Nation Challenged or OUR Nation Challenged. The indefinite article galled me, both inclusive and exclusive, suggesting difficult times for more than A (specified) nation and at the same time, not. It's euphemistic, thus disingenuous. Why not "War Coverage" or better, the all inclusive "Attack Update." Channel 2 calls itself "Nightcast" making it nothing more than 11:00 news with a silly name.
The bank wasn't crowded, but I went to the machine people forget anyway. The one closest to the tellers that's not available off-hours. I made my deposit. Fine. I try to withdraw $60 when prompted by the denominations of 20's screen. But the ATM changes its mind now telling me it only has fifty's and I should choose accordingly. I do. Then the machine tells me it has no money to dispense. Another machine claims not to recognize my PIN, nor does a third. The customer rep fixes it, but I feel betrayed, like my dog no longer recognizes me.
He has his own dummy. She says this as if it was perfectly reasonable. Let me get this straight, I say, he's not a certified instructor but he owns his own resuscitation dummy? Yeah, so he says we wouldn't have to rent one. He's a volunteer fireman she says as if that explains anything. He wants us to pay for him to become a certified instructor so that he could train other employees using his own personal resusci-Annie? Yes. His own personal life-sized gaping female doll that he owns for no obvious reason? Yes. For us to practice mouth-to-mouth? Oh.
It was a bet because we thought nobody could even reach the bottom branches. But Terry Abendroth shimmied up the trunk like a giant squirrel. Soon he was out of sight. Rustling leaves marked his upward progress. We moved to get better views of the tree's top. When the teachers came to round us up after recess, we refused to go in without Terry and they stood at the base of the tree yelling up. Terry never answered. Later when the textbook said what goes up must come down, we all knew it was wrong. Terry Abendroth never came down.
Dear Neighbor: I really don't know how to say this. I thought about it a lot this morning between 6:30 and 9:00, but still I'm having difficulty. You see the longer I thought the angrier I got that I was thinking rather than sleeping. You might think that makes me a late sleeper, but I really don't know the statistics on that. And you might wonder why I wasn't sleeping and why I'm telling you, but think about what you were doing from 6:30 to 6:50 this morning and please consider moving your bed and maybe getting a new mattress.
Everyone calls it the Potts House even though I don't think a living person remembers when any Pottses lived there. It's the biggest house in town that's not funeral parlor. When it caught fire a couple years back, it lost a wing. so now it's still enormous, but flightless, like an ostrich. There's a gate at the front walk, but no fence around the yard. The ancient elm tree in the front yard shifts with studied nonchalance. It's watchful of anyone who might walk around, instead of through the gate, and also for the moment it can make its escape.
Plastics: Subject drinks a lot of seltzer, some ginger ale, uses cheap shampoo, consumes lots of chinese food and tries to recycle yogurt containers.
Cans: A sad amount of soup, and a puzzling quantity of crushed pineapple.
Glass: Jars of artichoke hearts, pickles, economy-sized mayonnaise, salad dressing bottles. Not brand loyal to a specific beer or wine, but all wine is red, and many example of each present.
The New York Times
, and an occasional bad movie script, subscribes to
(doesn't remove address labels),
The New Yorker
(ditto), picks up
and favors Two Boots Pizza,
First presidential health scare of the administration! The president choked on a pretzel and fainted while watching football. I like the word "faint," it's one step away from swoon and just far enough from "passed out." According to the president's doctor, "He fainted due to a temporary decrease in heart rate brought on by swallowing a pretzel." The doctor's theory is that the pretzel stimulated a nerve, which slowed his heart rate!?!?? " I do not find any reason that this would happen again," the doctor said. "Besides who would notice a little more brain damage," he did not add.
My stomach has been asking me the same question all day – "Shall I vomit now?" Very polite. Very attentive. A little time passes and it asks again, "How about now? Shall I vomit now?" Not being a terrible pest about it but all the same, not letting me forget the option is still open. Today I am potential incarnate. Around 7 it changes its tune. "Aren't you hungry?" my stomach asks. "You bought some pears," it says. It was the most delicious, perfect pear, neither hard not grainy. And after I ate it, my stomach asked, "Shall I vomit now?"
As you get older those impulses that you thought were controllable take steadfast unrelenting steps toward the uncontainable. There is this kind of necklace called a choker, sometimes it's just a ribbon worn tight around the throat. Very popular with the kids. Whenever I see a girl wearing one, I think, "Hiding the reattachment scar." Because a garrote is so becoming, the only excuse is that it's better than a big ugly wound. Someday when I see one, I will approach the young woman and with a sharp thrusting motion of the heel of my palm, set her head free.
My older brother appeared in a dream last night. Not him now and not exactly the boy he was then. He looked like he did then, strong with a halo of wavy reddish blonde hair. But he was loose and carefree in the dream. He was in sunshine and he was laughing and he was comfortable in his world, and that was not exactly my brother as a teenager. Now, not out of his thirties and on high blood pressure medication when I see him he looks like he might explode. I realize you can lose something you never had.
After picking up J.'s sweaters at the reweaver's it occurred to me that cashmere is hair, so I can shampoo it and save on dry-cleaning. I bought a sweater dryer which is simply a PVC frame with mesh strung across it to facilitate drying knits flat. Inside the box was a one-page leaflet rather grandiosely titled "Owner's Manual" which also warned: "CAUTION: Carefully Read Instructions and Procedures for Safe Operation." After reading assembly picto-gram and advise that the racks become stackable by stacking them, I still haven't figured out how one safely operates an inanimate object with no moving parts.
Saw J.'s play for the fourth and last time, and the first time since the cast changed. Still it was very much the same and I found the new actor neither more nor less compelling than the old. Maybe I concentrate too much on J. when he's on stage, or maybe it's how the play is written. But there's no extension this time and at the closing night party I drank wine while the many pregnant women drank sprite. Props were given to actors as keepsakes. J. got his rather large gavel. More of a mallet really. An ominous memento.
Lately I have been wearing my glasses. Actually I've been wearing my glasses and one contact lens. When people aren't around I take off my glasses to make my weak eye work and let my left eye wander wildly. Alone I look like a loon. In public, bookish. I have rather severe cat-eye frames I got at a flea market. They look particularly out of place at the gym, which gives me a perverse thrill wearing them there. I watched a trainer coaching a girl through some pilates wrong. He believed my glasses not my body when I politely corrected.
That late in the show he had pretty much used up all the game people. Friends didn't want to ruin his credibility by looking like plants. Even the biggest attention-cravers balked at volunteering more than once, glad they had jumped up before this last thing involving the trick roper/whip specialist. So I stood up. The joke was that the guy with the whip kept threatening to cut the deck of cards in my hands, poising and taking aim. Finally, the magician laughed and said he would hold a card for the whip to cut, but I wanted to. And did.
I brought S. to the button store. It's actually a notions store, which is a better name, a notions store, so I don't know why I insist on calling it the button store, but I do. I love this place, as cluttered and dusty as it is, peopled lightly with customers, Hasidic shopkeepers, and one black cat. And hundreds of thousands of buttons. Perhaps millions. S. is the perfect person to have brought, we wind through the aisles like in a museum finding ancient and odd buttons. I buy her a couple small pink hippopotamus buttons for her button jar.
In the bathroom mirror every morning Will got a bead on his own face for the day, deciding what lie he was going to tell. Unless it was a special occasion, he would make it a small lie that he would only tell to people he met that day. Something like having had 16 moles removed, just work that into conversation. But on special days, like today, he would make it bigger and tell it to anyone he pleased. Like how his ex-wife had an operation to keep her from blushing and now she only sweats from the waist down.
A couple days ago I found A. on the internet. I've looked for him periodically, but like me he is one small person with a common name living in an immense country. This time however I found a picture of him with a bio, so there's no doubt I have the right one. A. was directly or indirectly responsible for my meeting J., depending on how fatalistic you are, but has no idea of this rather intimate impact of my life having moved away before the actual meeting. I sent him a carefully worded email. He has not written back.
The woman who claimed her Port Authority policeman husband trapped with ten of his co-workers under the towers' rubble called her on her cellphone pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison on reckless endangerment charges. Not only was the woman's husband not trapped with ten other police officers, he was not a police officer, was not calling, and in fact, did not exist. In choosing such a large, bald lie it didn't take long for the media who jumped on the story to label the young mother of two mentally imbalanced. But her two children do exist.
It could be a commercial for the Olympic games. We see rows of lithe athletes from behind. Sprinters in scant, pale clothing poised at the blocks for a start. Swimmers in even scanter, pastel Speedos as they ready themselves then dive into a pool. But wait, there's no track and field or swimming at the Winter Olympics. Upon listening it turns out the commercial is for Cottonelle Toilet Tissue. The voice-over stresses the importance of cleanliness as yet another row of scantily-clad asses are lined up across the screen. The camera captures a graphic, now grotesquely suggestive low-angle on hurdlers.
My brother's current girlfriend has a catchphrase. Something she says for emphasis, in effect to amplify her agreement of anything that has just been said. She says it like some people say "like", by which I mean often. This overuse may be exacerbated by the fact she's meeting our parents and doesn't realize how much contention is valued in our family. It's employed to such a degree that at times it's difficult not to find yourself pondering the variety of vocabulary at her disposal. I have to stop myself from repeating it after her each time to slightly different effect.
We went to the Outsider Art Exhibit without D., who'd been pushing Henry Darger at the Folk Art Museum instead. As it turned out there were more than enough Dargers, which is to say nude little girls with penises, at the exhibition for my parents. We all winced as a woman exclaimed to her own daughter, no more than four, "Look at the painting with the little girls!" We moved on before we heard her try to explain the genitalia and horns or Darger's crusades mythology. We had the Brad Pitt portrait made from strips of corrugated cardboard to ponder.
J. is strangely fascinated by Project Greenlight, or Project Green Director as he calls it. Today's installment involved filming a young boy swimming in Lake Michigan. Due to myriad problems one of the producers suggests changing the location to a pool. To which moviestar Ben Affleck, another of the film's producers, scoffs about the change saying the only potential threat the characters would then face would be having a red circle around them if they peed in the pool. Which makes me wonder, is moviestar Ben Affleck suffering from persistent frank hematuria, chronic lead or mercury poisoning, or simply colorblind?
One of the awnings on the New York Dog Grooming School bears this legend: "We are proud to celebrate our 42-year achievement in writing the book in dog grooming." I'm pretty sure that's verbatim, although I may have left a word out here or there. I've seen many awnings that would have benefited from a spell-checker, but this is the first I have seen that screams for an editor. It earns a place alingside my other favorite NY signs: the M.T. Deli on Third Avenue, the improbably ancient-looking "Theatrical and Disco Lighting Specialists" on Bowery, and the city misspelling "Bleecker".
I am perhaps inordinately concerned that the faults I find in others are actually my own. That person is dull, that one strident, that one a know-it-all. Am I actually seeing myself in them as I vaguely recall once reading? And what of J's sister who just had her second daughter and whom we find brittle and humorless. New among her faults is the fact that she's named her new daughter a name that all but dooms the girl's peak life experience to being ruling the mall. Not a name that sits easily with "doctor", "justice" or "ambassador" preceding it.
Without a doubt, it was not built to become a folly, but then I guess that's what makes it a folly, A dozen years ago or so the city declared the sails dangerous although a person would have to be something like 10-foot tall to risk decapitation. They ordered that the vanes either be dismantled or in some other way disabled, so the owner (people called him the Dutchman, but he wasn't Dutch) tethered them. In exchange for energy, the city gave him potential. The potential for what they would not learn for years. But that's a whole nother story.
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