Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Give me scandals, lies, and deceit, or give me. . .

utter ridiculousness.

When I was a kid I would often think the following:

Some of these news stories seem pretty dumb. It almost seems like there wasn't any real news today so they made up this for us to watch in between commercials instead.

I also thought that, on days when there was no news to speak of, the newscasters should put a sign on their desk that said, "Nothing to see here folks - go outside and get some fresh air," or spend the time telling us about their favorite books. Neither of these things ever came to pass.

Last night was perhaps the worst offender of the No News violation in recorded history.

Los Angeles has been getting off easy this winter with little rain and lots of 80 degree days. This week the temperature's dropped significantly - even to (gasp!) the mid to upper 40s at night. Last night's lead story on ABC's local news broadcast was how it's KIND-OF cold.

First, the requisite teaser before the story about the chilly temps. The graphic behind the newscaster's head? A thermometer -- reading 55! They cut to a woman outside a (closed) coffee store. She's wearing a light fall jacket over her blazer and turtleneck. The anchor asks her about the weather. She reports, 'live, from the scene,' that it's "pretty chilly. . . a 3-layer night." This woman is neither wearing a scarf, a hat, nor gloves. She does not provide any quantitative indicator of the temperature. She notes that the cold weather is driving people to drink coffee (but apparently from other places, because the coffee store behind her is closed).

Cut to outdoor softball game. A player remarks that, "We can really feel the difference. It's affecting how we play - our noses are cold." Okaaaaaay. . . Cut to women in the bleachers who, according to the voiceover, "are covering up with anything to stay warm." One has a blanket. Another has put up her hoodie. No gloves, no scarves. No hypothermia.

The best, and final, part of this groundbreaking segment is when the news crew goes to Coldstone. SERIOUSLY. They report that even though the weather is cold, it does not seem to be deterring people from wanting to eat ice cream. What?! First people are drinking coffee? Now they're eating ice cream?? Is this a leftover piece on obesity or diabetes? I would also note that the cold weather has not seemed to deter adolescent Coldstone employees from wearing excessive quantities of eye makeup.

I'll leave you with this image - a Coldstone patron is interviewed about his *unbelieveable* food choice on this "pretty chilly" night. Under the shot of his head is his name, Chevon Something, and the caption "Likes ice cream."

It's all too much. Far, far, too much.

The old days, before "pretty chilly" weather took LA, and ice cream eaters, by surprise.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A harrowing brush with death: a tale in one part.

Senior CE advisor Jessie and hunky Norwegian friend were escaping the urban Alaskan life in Anchorage last friday night when Jessie's Saab slid off an icy patch in the road and into a snowbank. After a brief inspection by the pair determined that the car was indeed stuck, hunky Norwegian firend called ahead to his similarly hunky, similarly Norwegian, brother a few miles away at their intended destination.

While brothers Norway conversed, a utility truck approached in the road - a perfect rescue opportunity thought the stranded travellers - that is, until the truck also slid on the icy patch in the road and slammed into the back of the car before the truck's trailer (which happened to be carrying a generator capable of powering a small town) jacknifed, pinning Jessie's car against a wall. Glass shatters, heads bump things, but the intrepid travellers have sufficient wits about them to flee the car for the nearby woods. Once safely out of harm's way, they see a second utility truck approach. This one also slides on the ice patch, toppling to a rest on top of Jessie's already abused car -- TOTALLY smashing the driver's side. Moments later a third utility truck slides off the road, but apparently the third time *is* the charm, and this truck doesn't hit anything.

Fantastically, none of the five people involved were hurt and Jessie enjoyed a restful evening at the cozy cabin of the brothers Norway.

Does this story remind anyone else of Sweet Valley High? It does leave me wondering what Jessie did with Elizabeth.

Monday, February 13, 2006


I know, I know. I get everyone all excited about the Grammys and then I don't post about it.

Grammys!! Equal parts silly and exciting. Seeing stars behind the scenes was definitely sweet, but having people not respect your time wasn't. If everyone in Hollywood made a truce that they would arrive on time (No, really. On time. Like the actual time you're supposed to be there, on time.), things would happen a lot faster and movie tickets would only cost $4.

Like I said, the best part was the serious, serious star gazing. Note the grainy cell phone image below a guy in my group got of Ludicris. Another girl has a picture she and Ludacris' faces cheek-to-cheek sorority girl style, but she hasn't posted them on her MySpace yet for me to steal. On the way back up to our suite, the stylist's assistant told the guy holding the Dr. Pepper that he could keep the $300 True Religion jacket he was wearing. The guy was really happy. His girlfriend was happy. I was even happy. Had Ludicris known about this, he too probably would have been happy.

We passed Matt Dillon in the hall. Then these stage managers/escorts pushed us out of they way so Ellen and Portia di Rossi could get by to present something. They pushed us into Nelly and Terrance Howard, who happened to be catching up. Madonna and her entourage were on the tail end of the Ellen/Portia chain. Madonna had put track pants on over the purple ice skating outfit and was sporting a pair (of the rumored 11) diamoned encrusted false eyelashes. Who thinks of that? I guess Madonna does.

Terry Hatcher ran by, looking too skinny, trying to memorize her presentation speech. I called her appearance on Go Fug Yourself when we first saw her arrival on the closed circuit television in our dressing room. Tacky. We also saw Tim McGraw and I had seen Jamie Foxx the day before, wearing an enormous diamond earring.

Waiting to leave, celebrities arriving late took the 'side' red carpet. Bruce Springteen and Patti Scialfa were more than fashionably late, as was Dave Chapelle. He was the best sighting because we were standing there, totally tired and ready to be at home, when all of the sudden Beverly looks up and shrieks, "it's Dave Chapelle!" No one was really around and it was really quiet - and he was about 6 feet away. He just looked up at her and said, "Hey, how ya' doing?" Ah, loyal fan for life. . .

Here are some grainy photos from a cell phone smuggled into rehearsal one day. As you can see, it looked really different in person than on television. For one, the characters were a lot smaller in person. They also weren't all on the same level with each other, which I don't think was clear on screen.

Given how dark it was onstage, it sure is lucky they spent all that time and money wardrobing and make-upping us.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. I can *definitely* wear this outfit again. The great thing about this picture - well, besides how Beverly looks like a flight attendant for a swingers' airline - is that when our friend Brent, who took it, first saw us in our Gorillaz togs he commented, "Guys, we should make a pact to go out like this one night." Easy for you to say, man of the jeans and button down black shirt.

Tune in tomorrow for harrowing tales of bravery and adventure from the last frontier.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Lifestyles of the living dead part II

So it's a lot of work to be both (a) hanging around the Staples Center killing time while you wait for the next take and (b) trying to get a moderately respectable amount of work done.

But whatever. Madonna was at the rehearsal yesterday.

That lady has one hot bod.

At the beginning of the song, Gorillaz are animated. Then De La Soul comes out and does their thing. Then Madonna is animated and Feel Good, Inc. ends. Madonna's image walks over from the left side of the stage to the right side, where the real, hot, in the flesh bodied Madonna comes out and sings and dances. Her choreographer dances with her troupe when she's not there to warm them up. She also dances with them when Madonna watches the performance from the audience. When it's dark onstage before a run through Madonna's "people" use flashlights to see to put make-up on her. Madonna's "people" also wear shirts that say "Madonna" on the back. Madonna's manager wears a cowboy hat and blue jeans. One of Gorillaz' manager-type people is super hot and super, but unexpectedly, British.

You're not allowed to go to the bathroom in the Staples Center without an escort. I could not imagine a more boring job. Oh, and I thought the UCLA graduate division was an inefficient bureaucracy, but then I started hanging around behind the scenes at the Grammys. Geez. . .

P.S. I've been corrected about 700 times about the Lance/Sheryl split - oddly enough mostly by my relatives. It's like my roommate said, it's really hard keeping up with Hollywood gossip when you're busy* living it.

* "busy" is understood to indicate time spent waiting around, doing math problems in your head until the escort arrives to take you to the bathroom/hallway/exterior waiting room/credentials desk/main floor, etc.

Monday, February 06, 2006

So Wednesday doesn't really work for me.

What sucks is not getting funded to do research abroad next year.

What doesn't suck is being onstage during the Gorillaz/Madonna opening act at the Grammys on Wednesday.

Through a friend of a friend who works at KCRW (like I said, public radio is a good thing) I was on the receiving end of an email forwarded asking for young people interested in voluteering to send in pictures. The short version is that my friend Beverly and I spent most of the day yesterday hanging around the Staples Center while the graphics people worked on the 3-D animation images of Gorillaz and Madonna and De La Soul went through their blocking.

It was awesome.

The production people started putting posters and headshots on the seats to mark what artists and celebrities will sit where. The row right in front of the stage has Mariah Carey, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, James Taylor, and Missy Elliot. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are on the adjacent row, with Madonna and Guy Ritchie sitting behind them. Gwenyth Paltrow has a seat reserved next to the Coldplay spots, but the seat next to Sheryl Crow is just reserved, but not marked. I guess Lance doesn't have a headshot.

Anyway, a big group of people are just lying around on stage while Gorillaz & Madonna's images do their thing. I'm on the viewer's right side of the stage, near the top.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Comeback*

Twice weekly for the last month I've subjected myself to the pokings and proddings of my Ambiguously Lecherous Physical Therapist (ALPT) who I suspect enjoys his one non-geriatric client a little too much. After the initial injury in early December, I had been able to run for 13 minutes before inducing excruciating pain and a day of limping. On Tuesday, ALPT says that I should try to run for 15 minutes and stop if I don't have any pain. Okay, ALPT - I know you probably weren't a math major, but if three weeks, six sessions (at $65 a session, by the way) buys me 2 minutes and a 9 minute pace means is a 4 hour marathon, we're going to be here for a while. I digress.

Having established that the immediate problem has progressed well, ALPT says we're going to asses and work on my "core." Hmm. . . Now, I read Newsweek last month too and I must say that I'm underwhelmed that the best these professionals come up with is the latest trendy health problem. It's like getting diagnosed with Bird Flu - it's been done.

A few minutes later I'm on all fours with a wooden pole resting on my back. "Charlotte!," ALPT calls to the head PT, "Come look at this!" Head PT comes over, is appropriately impressed, and for a moment it appears they're going to send my picture into the Annuls of Hunchbacks, Scholiatics, and Otherwise Gimps. It turns out that the right side of my "core" (or "back," as we Texans with a healthy appreciation for sensibility might say) is normal. The left side of my "core," however, has no muscles; it basically gets left out of all the physical activity I do and thus never gets any stronger - just like kids who are locked in basements and don't learn how to speak. In fact, when I left that day ALPT admitted, "Usually we just suspect that this is what's wrong with people - on you we can actually see it."

What remedy do ALPT and head PT suggest? Pilates. Seriously. Only a trendy/ladies-who-lunch/Californian solution will do the trick. Pilates, like most pop culture exercise trends, of course, is not cheap. Yes, there are group "mat" classes for $15 or $20 a pop, but most studios don't allow you to go to them until you've had a few individual sessions - the cheapest of which is a package of 3 for $150.

So anyway, this was a struggle. I hate being dependent on appointments for grooming and health that cost time and money. Thus, a compromise: I ran for an hour and booked the 3 pack.

* themesong for this endeavor.