Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Belts: A Good Idea

School has started, yeah. I'm already terribly behind and I have to figure what classes to drop. You can't have it all. But your education is something no one can take away from you. Conundrum.

In the past 1.3 weeks, there have been numerous times when I have been sitting in the second row of class, only to have someone sit almost directly in front of me and display a large expanse of lower back and ass crack. To make it worse, the design of the chair backs has a cutaway in the lower back area, creating a smiley window for such a view. I tried to look away, I did. Concentrate on the teacher, I said to myself, apply yourself to the task at hand. No luck, for there was that naked top half of someone else's bum but four feet away and well within my field of vision.

Do I object to nudity? Or to bottoms? Not at all! Both things are lovely in the right environment, and more particularly, in their whole forms. But partial nudity? Of part of your ass? Of someone I know? No thank you, please!

And don't think any lower back tattoo is going to exempt you. It simply makes your display seem intentional.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Floorplans for Everyone

O design people of the world, please invent me a garbage can that stays cold or at least makes an effort to avoid the fetid heat of rot. For the summer months. You could advertise in the Sharper Image catalogue. But all those jerks who buy Sharper Image crap have A/C up the ying yang, don't they.

I often think the true class divide in LA is on the road on a hot day: the people with their windows rolled up vs. the people with their windows rolled down.

At my dad's surprise birthday party, his friend Milt brought along a copy of Robert McKee's "Story" to give me. You all know this book, right? As seen shilled by Brian Cox (as McKee) in Adaptation? Called "one of the truly funny books ever written" by one of my writing teachers?

In fact it is a very funny book. The further in you get, the more odd little personal things McKee throws in: rewards for getting to page 154 kind of thing. Some of the intense specificity of the rules of structure were pretty funny to me when I read it back after applying to USC. Fresh from years of analysing novels, the idea that you could draw a bar graph and then write your story based around it seemed pretty ridiculous. That winter I sat in coffee shops a lot with a pencil and underlined and sidenoted my way through the pages.

Milt loved the book and gave it to me because he loved it so much. Milt is an architect, so this makes sense. McKee loves nothing better than an elegant structure- "both surprising and inevitable"- which I've come to closer to deciding is a pretty accurate description of things that happen in life as well. Death, for one example. As an architect, you've got to deal with certain amount of degradation of your objet d'art: what crap pictures will people put on the walls? What horrible furniture will they bring in? (Unless you are Frank Lloyd Wright, but he was, by many accounts, an asshole). So I can see the drive to make a space that will inspire people to live beautifully. Structure, structure, structure. Maybe writing a well-structured story will do the same from the movie that comes from it?

What I'm really trying to say is that architecture school is the new film school.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


I was just in Vancouver for a little while:

-Threw my dad a surprise birthday party and he apparently was truly surprised.

-In preparation for the party, my mom and I spent the day before barbecuing obscene amounts of chicken for hours and hours. It got to the point where barbecuing wasn't even fun anymore. I started burning them at that point.

-I bought running tights and a fanny pack. Because fanny packs are awesome and only nine dollars at MEC.

-This one night I saw an old friend and was about to say hi when I remembered we were at Pride ball celebrating all things gay. I had a brief crisis in which I self-consciously balked at saying hi. Luckily, she came over and said hi and we chatted and she's doing well and what do I care if she thinks I'm gay or if I wonder if she's gay. Then she said bye, smacked me on the bum and walked away.

-I went swimming in the water off Tofino. I borrowed my brother's girlfriend's wetsuit to do this. I didn't think it would really be that necessary, but then I found that the absence of wetsuit gloves was sharply painful and I was glad the rest of me didn't have to, you know, seize up and get carried away by a rip tide.

-I stepped on a bee.

-While walking down a trail at dusk a bat hit me on the chest and then flew away.

-I drank a lot of tea and beer in backyards, and on porches and couches.

-I listened to Phil Collins "No Jacket Required" while driving around in my mom's car. I'm nursing a little bit of a Phil Collins obsession, actually. When Kevin and Jeremy were in the back seat and Phil sang about how he's been a prisoner all his life, one or the other of them asked: "Of what, Phil, bad drum beats?"

-The other Kevin had a birthday and caused me to drink Jagermeister for the first time. What is the name of the game that is basically shuffleboard but on a table with cornmeal?

-Read all of Nick Hornby's 'How To Be Good' in what felt like a very short period of time. What does he mean by this book? That he hates everyone or just himself?

-Saw the new John Cameron Mitchell movie in a super-secret advance screening. It's no Hedwig, but it's fun and there are lots of funny sex scenes, especially at the beginning. Auto-fellatio, man. Crazy.

-Had an aisle seat on the way back and at one point woke up realising I had been sleeping with my head cranked over into the aisle and my mouth hanging open. First thought was disbelief at my mouth, second thought was: is anything in there? Because if I saw someone sleeping like a corpse with their mouth open, I'd have been tempted to put a little something in there. A ball of paper, maybe. Or an earplug.


The whole point of living in LA is seeing Snakes on a Plane the night after it comes out, and there being a baby in the theatre (2nd row from the front).

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Chien Fatale

Last week I was walking from Alex and Eric's house to my house, something I've never done before. I was dropping the car off because I was going back to Vancouver and Alex lets me park in his driveway so I don't get streetcleaning tickets. The funny thing about walking from Alex and Eric's to my house was that I had no clear idea if it was actuallly possible. This is for two reasons: 1) people never walk in LA so I have lost all reasonable ability to estimate if anything is a walkable distance and 2) we live in a neighbourhood were all the streets twist and spin out from some unfindable central axis and the shortest distance between any two points is always a strange zigzag that has taken me forever to learn how to navigate. The real reason that there's a place called Sunset Junction is so you start there, and think you are halfway to where you want to go and realise that you are back where you started. Hence: junction. My otherwise hardy sense of direction is no match for it.

It turns out it is possible to walk from Alex and Eric's. I dropped the car off, waved at Eric, who was wandering around the driveway trapped in a phone conversation, washed the rest of the soap off the side of my car (my 3 minutes at the carwash had run out with half the car still soapy) with the (brackish?) water from the hose, waved at Eric again (still trapped) and started walking.

Maybe I will love LA more and more often if I spend more time walking around it at dusk. What better way is there to feel tenderness for a neighbourhood? Little houses, and glimpses into little gardens, and small porches, bikes and toys left, the orange glow of a stranger's living room.

As I walked, I spotted a lost dog sign. "LOST. LITTLE FLUFFY WHITE DOG." And a phone number, the whole thing almost Zen-like in its simplicity. A block on, there was another sign, similar, but with a picture included in the photocopy. Two blocks later, the same sign, but in Spanish. Three blocks after that on the other side of Fountain, another sign with a lot more information on it, including a better picture. $1000 Reward! Dog is called Nico! A thousand dollars is a lot of money. I started scanning the streets and alleyways. Across the street, another, final poster. This one was in colour, with a colour picture.

Were the posters in expanding concentric circles of increasing desperation? Or were they weakening circles of dwindling hope and finances for Kinko's? Did the two little white fluffy dogs I spotted within a block of my house answer to Nico? By that time it was dark and I was home.