Saturday, October 25, 2008

the vet who did not vet

Thanks goes to Dan Savage at Slog for finding this one:


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

the medicine chest of the soul

Today I discovered a magical place full of wonder and intrigue called the public library. When you go to the public library you can get books, dvds, magazines, even audio books- FOR FREE. It is a spectacular, previously untapped resource containing a bottomless pit of knowledge the depths of which are just waiting to be plumbed.

But seriously- this is a new thing for me. When I like a book I want to own it, flat out, so that I can read it over and over and over and over again and dog the pages and take it everywhere. My favorite books get loved to the point where they couldn't be donated to a book drive. So I've never had particular occasion to frequent a library. Sure, we went to the one on Page Street every so often when I was a kid, and we were forced to have "Library" class every week at SF Day, where we had to do stupid things like fill out worksheets on the Dewey Decimal System and find things in the card catalogue (come of think of it, this experience may have fueled my aversion to libraries)- but I've never really made USE of a library. The library at Lick was new and had a stock of mostly useless books; the public library in Evanston had its share of creepy homeless people who camped out all day long; the library at AFI is almost solely film books; and good luck even finding your way out of the library at Northwestern, with its honeycombed wings and hidden corners and circular rooms, let alone find the book you're looking for. At Northwestern I knew how to get to the Media Library, where I spent countless hours in cubicles watching rare and usually boring foreign films, to the Digital Media office I worked in Freshman year, and to the classroom where I had Reading and Writing Poetry. I MIGHT have checked a book out once or twice, but it was probably found for me by a library employee.

My newfound love of libraries stems from the fact that I am broke and don't have a whole hell of a lot to do. Oh sure, I have things I SHOULD be doing, like figuring out what is wrong with my ipod so that I can get music off of it to cut my reel to, but for the most part I have been either working menial jobs (see the Oh, Pretty Woman post) or scouring craigslist at home. So I am not just broke, I'm BORED and broke. It's a bad combination- it means that I would much rather fill up my time with reading all the awesome new books that have come out recently, but that I can't afford to buy them for my very own. This makes me sad, because I want more than anything to own the new Sarah Vowell book, The Wordy Shipmates, and I'm pretty sure that once I read it I will want to own State by State: A Panoramic View of America by Matt Weiland, he of The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup. I want to own these books, and many more, but I am destitute and becoming more destitute by the day, so tonight I set out for the LA public library on Franklin and Hillhurst. It's a nice walk from where I live (and helps with my new, improved exercise regime- the one aimed at no longer having the body of a middle aged mother of four), and it has a decent stock of books, and it's quiet. And, like I said, free! So few things are free these days that I don't quite know what to do with it.

I spent a long time just browsing. They did not, in the end, have either of the two books I was after- the waiting list for The Wordy Shipmates is 52 people long, and the one for State by State is 34 people long-- 34 people, that is, once the library buys a copy of it. At this rate, it will be 2011 before I read either book, and this is unacceptable. However, the library is very useful for all those books I was curious about but not enough to buy them- like Weird California, a coffee table book about roadside attractions in California that seems to just scream ROADTRIP, or I Like You, Amy Sedaris' hospitality guide. These are both large and hardbacked and probably always will be, so there's very little chance of me buying them... but I can check them out at the magical library and copy down all the fun stuff inside them!

I also found a wonderful cookbook for people with food allergies like Yours Truly. Did you know that eggs, nuts, and soy are three of the five most common food allergies in the world? Then how come everyone looks at me weird when I say I'm allergic to them? It's not like I'm allergic to something really specific and random, like, say, kumquats. I have very common allergies, I just have a lot of them. Anyway, this book is awesome because it tells you things to substitute for the five most common allergies (the other two are gluten and dairy), and has lots of fun recipes. Huzzah.

So the library is my new best friend, despite the fact that they can't seem to buy more than one copy of popular books, and I look forward to a long and beautiful friendship.

Note: the title of this post apparently comes from the inscription above the door to the library at Thebes: "Libraries: The medicine chest of the soul." Just one more thing I learned at the library!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

once again, I <3 Mark Morford

He just has a way with words... a gloriously snarky way with words. On the difference between Obama and McCain:

"It's a bit like choosing between a glass of wine and a beer bong full of turpentine and carpet tacks. Sure you can ingest them both, but come on."

The rest of his rant on undecided voters is here.

oh, pretty woman

I am really reluctant to write about my day yesterday without accompanying pictures, but I think I'm going to have to because I didn't have my camera. I took a bunch of pictures on David's camera, but he is flying to the Phillipines tonight and who knows if he'll get a chance to send them to me. I also have crappy pictures on my cell phone, but I don't know how to get them off, and none of the cords I own seem to be able to do it. So sans-pictures it is.

Yesterday was possibly the silliest, yet easiest day I have ever had on set. It was long, and there wasn't any food I wasn't allergic to, but it was still easy. If my description of it is vague and convoluted, you'll have to forgive me-- I experienced the whole thing and yet am still confused as to what exactly happened. I will try to put it all together in a logical way, to the best of my ability.

My friend David from AFI has worked for a documentary company in the past that is based in New York. This company and a company here in LA were, together, working for a very very rich client who used to own Kraft Foods, or be CEO, or something like that. In any case, this guy was loaded, and he was about to marry his girlfriend of apparently many many years. These people were probably at least 60, and have been dating (with some ups and downs, if I understand correctly) since Pretty Woman was in theaters. How do I know this? Well, their first date was going to see Pretty Woman, and because of this, the guy, Stefan, decided that he would use the movie as a theme and pamper the living crap out of his fiance for a day, making it seem as though she was actually IN the movie. This is where the LA company comes in-- it's a company that apparently helps people live out their fantasies, which usually for some reason involve movies. The LA company hired David on the recommendation of the New York company to film the whole day, and he in turn hired another camera operator and me to be his camera assistant. There was also a photographer for the whole day, a designer for the hotel suite (I'll get there) and multiple actors involved.

The day started with everyone staked out at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. My job at that point was to be an undercover camera person-- I had a little point-and-shoot that also shoots 16x9 HD video. I was pretending to be a tourist when the party's giant SUV pulled up to the hotel. I shot them going in, and being introduced to the "manager" (an actor), who gave the woman a bag with a "clue" in it. Oh- quick aside: the woman's name was Heidi, but we were supposed to call her "Vivien" all day... like Julia Robert's character in Pretty Woman. Mental, I know. We were also supposed to call Stefan "Edward." Anyway. So she got some sort of clue or other that led her a few blocks West to Neiman Marcus, where she had a personal shopper (also an actor, but one who knew his way around fashion) help her buy THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS OF CLOTHES. I, personally, had very little to do at Neiman Marcus- I ended up wandering around a bit and nearly fainting at the price tags on the clothes. There was one tank top with stupid little beads on it that cost $1600.

After Neiman Marcus "Vivien" was whisked downtown to a loft studio where there was a makeup artist and hair stylist who fussed over her a LOT, and they had a photo shoot with a very high end photographer who reminded me a lot of Seth Kamphuijs, my Cycle 1 producer... same sort of pseudosleezy, confident attitude. Anyway, we were at the loft FOREVER, taking pictures in all her various outfits. I, again, had very little to do. I charged batteries and swapped tapes, and every now and then David would get sick of shooting the makeup sessions and let me take over. But for the most part, it was boring. "Vivien's" two friends were with her, these other old German ladies (everyone involved in this is German), and they seemed unendingly bored. Who can blame them? The highlight of ridiculousness was when an actress BURST into the room dressed as a hooker, and fussed about "Vivien" as though they were old friends from the hooker days at the beginning of Pretty Woman. She handed her another clue, smacked her gum, posed for pictures, and then left.

The point of the photo shoot was to have the actor who was playing the stylist and the photographer (who was not an actor) pretend that "Vivien" was so great, so naturally talented that she had to go to New York and be in a runway fashion show... a runway fashion show that "Edward" was paying for completely, just so that she could be in a runway fashion show. I don't know if this woman actually fell for any of this crap, but I hope to god she didn't.

I guess the clue led to a restaurant, because that's where the German people and David went next, but the B camera guy and I went back to the Beverly Wilshire and waited around in the presidential suite as it was being decorated. The designer and the woman who owns the LA company laid a trail of rose petals all around the suite (which was HUGE- it was bigger than the flat I grew up in, bigger than our apartment in Evanston, definitely bigger than Kristin's suite at the Sheraton in 5th grade... it had three bedrooms and three bathrooms and an office and a dining room and a huge balcony and it was insane) and there were candles everywhere. They'd brought in a grand piano just for the night, so that "Edward" could play "Pretty Woman" for "Vivien" when they got up to their room. There were other random details-- the designer played a maid who handed her another clue, the manager at the hotel spoke German so was recruited to pretend to be a bartender, etc-- but that is the main course of the day.

The "Pretty Woman" on piano part is awfully sweet- he learned to play the piano just so he could be like Richard Gere in the movie. But if I were her, I would have rather spent the whole day with my fiance than have him pay for a dozen people to pamper me all day. I realize that megarich people simply see the world differently from me, and that when you're really rich, maybe you have to go to greater heights in order to impress anyone, but it all just seemed so extravagant and unnecessary. Let this be a warning to any boyfriends/fiances/husbands I may have in my life: I would much rather you cook me dinner than send me out with strangers on a shopping spree. If you feel truly compelled to spends scads of cash, take me somewhere cool! Take me to Argentina, or Iceland, or Bali, or Russia or something! Hell, take me to Chicago to see my friends! Not that I would scoff at a hotel suite filled with rose petals or anything, but really... the poor maid who has to clean all those up!

I spent the day slightly appalled by the showboatiness of it all, but at some point I realized that hey, a whole lot of people were employed for the day because this guy wanted to show his girlfriend how much he loves her. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's a weird, unnecessary way to do it, but I'm not going to complain. I actually made money for the day, which is more than I can say for most of my days recently. So in the end it's win-win, and I just hope that "Vivien" didn't think it was too ridiculous. I definitely saw a couple eye rolls on her end.

It also made me really happy that, for the most part, the rich people I know don't show off like that. I grew up with the privileged kids in San Francisco, and while we ourselves were never rich, a lot of kids I went to school with certainly were. Sure, there was the kid with the pool in his front foyer, and the kid with the penthouse apartment overlooking the city skyline, and the kid with all the stupid modern art in her house, but for the most part, the rich people didn't seem like rich people. They wore jeans and drove SUVs and helped their kids with their homework. I have aunts who are very well off who still shop at sales and cut coupons- and I love that about them.

I just hope David sends me some pictures so that I can share the insanity with all you other normal, not rich people.

UPDATE: I forgot!! Random weirdness: the woman who owned the company in LA was named Jennifour. No, that's not a typo... JenniFOUR. And it was pronounced as such. Either it's a really uppity name change on her part, or her parents were certifiably insane.

Monday, October 20, 2008

two things

a) WHAT DO YOU MEAN OBAMA HAS DROPPED TO 93.1 WIN PERCENTAGE?? Oh no oh no oh no I don't know what I'll do if he doesn't win, if he doesn't win the Supreme Court will end up being, like, ALL REPUBLICANS and abortion will be outlawed and idiotic things will happen to health care and the ANWR will be drilled into oblivion and I might as well just take the next four years and move to Sweden.

b) if i ever go to China, remind me to track down this statue:

i did not take this, but it's awesome

GIANT OPTIMUS PRIME, how cool is that? Whoever sculpted that was all "I am a nerdy child of the 80's, deal with it."