January 31st, 2005

Chalkboard

Palm Desert, Sky Captain, Early TV and My Mother, Donald Trump and Jude Law

I wrote this last week when we were at our house in the desert. I keep doing this -- writing partial entries and leaving them unfinished, but I thought I might as well include this because it goes with the pictures I took -- I mean they belong together, the pictures of the trees and street sign by our house, and the things I was thinking, so I'll put it up now and then backdate it later : )


I love the names of all of the streets here -- so Moroccan.

I just went out to the car to get my camera. Our gardener, Joel, who I really like, sprayed down EVERYTHING this morning including all of the door mats so when I stepped out the front door my feet immediately sunk into about an inch of dirty, wet, carpet, then of course I had to bring my cold, wet feet back into the house with me, along with a trail of brown, leafy, water that I had to clean up, because we're getting the house ready for our renters.

We rent the house out once or twice a year to cover the maintenance costs and the property taxes. I just wish we could find someone with a vacation house in the mountains, in Hawaii, Mexico, on the East Coast, New York, New Jersey or by a beach somewhere who would want to trade houses with us so we could get to travel a bit more and stay places for free. It seems so wasteful to me that we have this gorgeous four bedroom house on a golf course in one of the best parts of the desert that sits empty for most of the year, there must be someone who would want to trade. I just don't know how to advertise it, or make this happen with people I can trust with our house.


It was pretty rainy when I took all of these pictures but there were so many things in bloom and the trees were loaded down with fruit so I wanted to share some of these images with you.

I never understand why gardeners can't selectively water things on people's porches -- they do the same thing at home -- wet everything down without even noticing when there is something there that shouldn't be watered like oh, say, books on the coffee table, or Beau's backpack, or something. I mean I know that when you're holding a running hose you can't exactly stop the flow of water, unless you have an attachment for it, but you'd think they could direct the stream a little more carefully.


One of our orange trees

They never seem to get that while a doormat might be able to handle the occasional weather, it isn't exactly designed to withstand the same kind of watering as say a plant, and that all of this lazy watering is not only bad for all of the outdoor mats that we have to keep replacing when they rot and wear out, but that it pisses people off. It's like a guarantee that each week one or more clients will silently swear to themselves, "Damn gardeners," as they step into a mushy sodden mat and then drag water and dirt back into their houses. What do you think they're thinking when they hose down every little thing in sight, "Hey, I get paid little enough as it is, you can't expect me to water carefully around your things. If you don't want them to get went, then move them out of the way." Or maybe they're not thinking anything like that, maybe they're worrying about their families or how tired they are and how much they want to hurry up and finish so they can go get lunch. I don't know, and I feel like a jerk for complaining about something as insignificant and petty as this.


There was so much fruit that it was weighing the trees down and falling off unplucked. This rain covered lemon was just laying on the ground.

Beau and our friend from Burning Man, Phil, got into the usual naughty, frustrated teenager troubles while they were hanging out together. They went careening around on the golf cart even though they promised to take it easy, and Beau, who was leaning out, dragging something along the ground, got tossed out when Phil made a fast and sudden U-turn. He's okay, just sore and I feel stupid for having trusted them -- stupid for having thought that a good talk would make up for their wild and wooly youthful lack of judgment.

After that they ran off in the direction of the thumping bass that was coming from somewhere in the distance and had fun running around the golf course at night. Some time later they gleefully picked and tossed a couple dozen fat yellow grapefruit in the pool. Beau said, "We like the sound it makes when it hits the water...and the splash." Our grumpy, conservative, old folk neighbors weren't too happy about this when they came out in the morning for their water aerobics class, and naturally I made Beau pick them all up with me. He didn't understand what the big deal was and I felt like a poor parent that he didn't just get that it's not only uncool to do to the pool, and inconsiderate of the neighbors, but a waste of food when there are people in the world who would do almost anything for just one grapefruit. But I did wacky stuff like this when I was a kid -- wackier, if you can believe that -- and it's a fine balance you have to walk as a parent between teaching values and being heavy handed and shaming. When like countless other parents before me I said, "Who do you think is going to clean this up for you?" He said, "Whoever wants to." Sigh.



Beau and Rosa's son Jose, or Junior, are watching the copy of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow that I rented yesterday. I never saw it when it was out and you'd think I would have rushed to see it, given the actors and the special affects, but somehow the trailers left me feeling cold.

This movie is undeniably, dazzlingly beautiful but at it's heart it's a bit formulaic and cold. I should have seen it before this though because it has so much to offer. I had boycotted it because I was being stupid. I love movies. I am madly, passionately in love with the art of filmmaking, but as much as I love digital animation and can appreciate CGI, I worry when anything drastic happens in film. I'm a big frightened baby when it comes to change and I don't want film makers to work actors against blue screens in order to save money on locations and for the thrill of the amazing special affects they can create when they work this way. As much as I love art, working entirely in blue screen is too much of a sacrifice, too much of a trade off.

Once we start drawing everything but the actors in a film, how far of a step is it until we're drawing all of the characters as well. I worry that we'll draw actors out of work and we all know there is little enough work for the number of artists wanting to work in this medium as it is. Conspiracy nutter that I am, I saw the future filled with computer drawn people and digital special affects with voice work outsourced to Canada or even generated by computers and I hung back and boycotted the film. I worry that actors, directors, casting directors, cinematographers, costume designers, editors, grips and best boys and girls -- all of us, will be consigned to the dust heap of cinema. Yeah, what about craft services. But sadly I can see that while some of this may be true, I was mistaken in having denied myself the experience of seeing this film, and in not supporting it. I think it's a beautiful sight to see, serious eye candy, and it's definitely my loss that I didn't get to see it on a big screen.

It's like a little boy's 1940's futuristic dream of marching flying robots, a world saving action adventure with a noirish love story thrown in.

There's a scene in the movie with Gwyneth Paltrow in a phone booth, and the super dark, almost black lipstick she was wearing reminded me of a story my Mother likes to tell: Back when TV was a brand new thing, there was a man who owned a big Cadillac dealership in downtown Los Angeles near the freeway. His name was Tommy Lee, at least that what she thinks it was, and he owned a radio station that he used to promote his car dealership. He was successful and wealthy, and before anyone had televisions in their homes he had this crazy idea that he could use TV to publicize his car business, so he bought a television station and would broadcast from his lot. He was desperate for content so he would put pretty much anyone and anything on that would keep him on the air.

At some point he got the idea that models in pretty dresses would be a good thing for his little station so he got Mom to come on down and be the MC for a fashion show of her clothes. She was young and pretty and the models looked good but she didn't have a clue what to do -- she was so shy. They put black lipstick on her and then they would push and pull her on and off camera -- someone standing just off to the side would grab her elbow just out of the shot and yank her off. That must have been so funny to see.

My Grandparents wanted to see her on TV, but no one owned one back then, so they went to the Brown Derby on Vine to watch her there, because they had a brand new TV in the bar. So there you have it, that's what I think of when I see black lipstick, not Halloween or Goth culture, but Mom being shoved on camera and yanked off, years and years ago. God, what I wouldn't give for a copy of that. Someday I'll write this into a film or include it in a story about her life, as long as no one reading it here steals it first eh? Hey, don't laugh, you'd be surprised how many producers troll journals and blogs for ideas, especially the dream journals. I've read conversations about this between writers on line. I once accidentally pitched a story to a producer in an elevator and it turned into a major film, same title and everything, I just know it developed out of that initial conversation.

Watching the movie I was reminded of this kind of telling comment that Donald Trump made in the issue of Vogue that has Melania in her hundred thousand dollar Dior wedding dress on the cover. While flying with Donald, Melania and Andre Leon Talley -- the editor of Vogue -- on Trump's private jet, the writer wrote this interesting little bit;

"Jude Law is nothing," Donald says about the man who just pipped him to the title of Sexiest Man Alive. He says with genuine bafflement, "I don't get it. He's got nothing." Everybody on the jet nods in agreement—in Melania's case, with a sparkle in her eye.


And last but not least...a rainy ornamental pear tree.
Chalkboard

A Tsunami Dream and Mom's Secretary Calls Drunk

Last night I had my first tidal wave dream since the tsunami.

In the dream Scott had been invited to participate in some kind of Marymount town hall meeting session, and I was jealous that he had been invited and I hadn't. I couldn't understand why whatever he had to say was more important than anything I could add, especially since he hadn't even gone to Marymount, (my high school).

I wanted to be a part of this meeting in the theatre of my old high school that I love so much. I felt so hurt and left out -- felt this terrible longing to be included. I had a sort of bird's eye view of the school and grounds and was surprised that it seemed bigger than I remember and that the old reservoir, that had been drained and turned into a sports field since I was last there, was full of water again. Someone had hung a little paper sign on the side of the building that was advertising some kind of phone sex service.

Scott went inside for the meeting and I was left standing outside looking at the stairs to the theatre when Sister Eileen walked up. I called out to her and she came over to me. She said, "Oh Jacqui dear, how are you? I'm afraid I can't stay I'm late for this meeting."
I told her that there was some sort of naughty sign hanging on the side of the auditorium that should be taken down and we went over to look at it.

I was surprised to see that there was a stream running around the building. I was sort of puzzling over how it got there, where it came from and how it could be there, on this hill, above a busy street like Sunset when I began to feel a sense of foreboding and that was when I noticed some bomb making materials on the ground and saw this male figure darting around, hiding in the bushes.

I followed the stream around the back of the building and as I watched I noticed that it kept getting bigger and deeper, and that it began to seem more out of control and felt dangerous and threatening somehow. Then I was part of a family at the beach, the stream had widened out into an ocean, sucking up Sunset Boulevard with it. The waves were getting bigger and rougher and my Mother, (who doesn't in any way resemble my Mother in real life), had disappeared under one and my Dad was desperately trying to find her.

I run into the waves to help him just as another bigger wave, a monster wave crests and sucks everyone up into the air with it. There is this scary moment that seems to go on forever where I'm caught at the very top of the wave, looking down, and wondering how to survive the inevitable crash when it falls. There is a Korean family caught up in the wave with me. I look over at them and ask them if they have any idea how we are going to survive this and then the dream ends.


Oh crap my business taxes are due today and my Mom says her secretary Tina has been trying to reach me. We just got back from Riverside and I haven't cleaned my messages off my answering service yet and the phone is full, so she probably tried to reach me and couldn't, ack. I have to call her and give her the figures.

I called and left the amounts on her machine, called Mom to tell her, and then about fifteen minutes later Tina called me back, drunk and slurring her words. I couldn't make any sense out of what she was saying other than, "I love you." You know I love you guys," and "You're insane but I love you." How sad. I tried to help her, offered to listen to whatever it is that's bothering her, but she just kept dropping the phone and mumbling, shit.

She's called me a few times like this before -- called me drunk at night and gone on and on. I feel sorry for her because she works so hard for her money and tries so hard to do right by her kids, but they have so many problems. Her ex left her for another woman and she's okay with it now, they're friendly, she's even friendly with his girlfriend, which I think is amazing, and she has a boyfriend who she lives with in Palm Desert, a hair stylist who is a Jehovah's Witness, if you can imagine that odd combination of things. But her kids have drug and money problems, don't we all. She's had to borrow money to put her son through rehab twice and now she's trying to help him start a newsstand business of his own. I don't know what's wrong today though and of course I always think everything has something to do with me, messed up ego girl that I am, so I'm feeling a bit anxious and panicky, wondering if she's fed up with trying to help us juggle our crazy finances, and tired of having to be the go between gal stuck in the middle of my aging, forgetful, penny-wise-pound-foolish mother and fiscally-irresponsible goofy ol' me.

Yikes I have to go, she's back on the phone with me again mumbling sad drunken emotional stuff. I wish I could help her but I know I need to just stay out of this, while there may be truth to some of what she's saying, while I may have some small or large part in her upset, I know I don't need to take anything someone says when they're really drunk, personally. I'm just sitting here letting her go off and writing down what she's saying because it helps somehow, gives me something to do while I listen and occasionally say comforting things in between her mumblings.

"I love you but I can't do this stuff against your Mother...I'm having a really hard time right now...I feel you but not in the center affects...It's just my, I feel responsibility towards your mother and towards you and I've worked to take care of you and uh, it hurts sometimes..."

I asked her what happened today to get her so upset and she said,
"Because I talked to her, and no, no, it's what I felt for so long but I don't verbalize it. Don't worry honey if she dies you take everything away from you. I'll always be your friend but not your financial advisor. I love you in spite of your stupid self. I worry about Mom and no person should be that attached but she's teaching me every step of the way...Well I feel that, and you know I want to take care of you. You don't have to pay me for it. I just want to take care of you...It's just that I try so hard and stuff doesn't come out the way I want but I will take care of you so tell me how much money you have and we'll get on that...he's a nice man. Hunh? You are. It's just that I'm thankful for what I have. All right so be better and be...you know, I don't have that much but I have my charges so I can do this. I am, and I have so much faith in you, in this other stuff, that it's going to work out. And so I tell them...you don't know my daughter...they don't know you like I do. They like..I believe in you, all the stuff that you say I believe." Then she hangs up on me.

Oh God, big huge sigh, sadness...