Friday, March 25, 2005

Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like cold embers above the Serengeti

Toto would be pleased.... I'm off to Africa. Yes, two and a half weeks of safari-ing. It should be amazing. Maybe I'll tell you a little something about it when I return.

In the meantime...update this web address!
Thursday, March 24, 2005


All day long I have to take moronic story pitches from publicists; far and away the worst people I deal with are those "writers," "artists" etc. acting as their own spokespeople.

For weeks now this one man has been hounding me to write an article about a crappy-ass collection of poetry he's written. I dodged him, then told him maybe, then told him no, which he didn't understand, so I told him no again.

He called just now to follow up on a fax he sent me about himself and to see where the story's at. When I finally lost my patience with him, he played the old "calm down" card, followed by something along the lines of "take a deep breath."


My car will never ever ever ever ever be stolen. Ever.

Last night, as I was getting ready to leave the office, I couldn't find my keys. House keys, car keys, office keys, they're all on the same ring, so after going through my bag about five times, I started to panic. My only guess was that they had somehow fallen out of my bag on the walk from my car to the office.

So I set about retracing my steps. No sign of the keys anywhere. As I got closer to my car, I started to wonder if the keys had fallen out of my bag inside the car somehow. It was my one and only hope.

That hope was realized -- kind of. My keys were indeed in the car, but I'd left them IN THE IGNITION. And this is a car, mind you, that had its roof slashed two weeks ago, an injury I have yet to repair with anything other than duct tape. So all day my car sat in a not-great part of town, the keys in the ignition, the roof (and therefore the locked door) accessible via one quick strip-away of the tape. And still, no one stole my car.

I think if I drove this vehicle off of a cliff, I would return home to find it sitting in my driveway. It's never, ever going to leave me.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Aw, nuts

A couple of years ago, the hubby and I were reminiscing about an old mutual coworker, and I offered up the idea that he seemed like someone who would be particularly adversely affected by a kick to the balls.

I have no idea where the comment came from. This guy was a great bloke and one of the few workmates at our former place of employment whom I didn't want to harm at some point. But when his name came up, I suddenly had a crystal-clear image of him falling to the ground and screaming “Oh, CHRIST!” upon receiving a below-belt blow.

Here are some other folks I think would suffer tremendously from a kick to the balls:

Verne Troyer
Dennis Kucinich
Josh Groban
Andre Agassi
David Arquette
Tom Wolfe
Adam Brody
Marv Albert (though he’d probably enjoy it)
David Gest
Al Reynolds
Sunday, March 20, 2005

My dream, before I forget it

I was in biology class and it was our final exam. Our teacher told us that the exam would consist of a single essay that had to begin with the words "Lizards always." She handed out a sheet of paper to all of us with a series of handwritten sentences; we had to figure out what all the sentences had in common and then write our lizard essay based on that. I read the sentences and determined that they were all about animals who did incongruous things: a turtle that ran fast, a cat that barked. So on the first page of my blue book I wrote, "Lizards. Incongruous." Right when I did that, the teacher started handing out lizards to each of us, to inspire us, she said. She gave me my lizard and it basically looked like a tiny Lhasa Apso with a lizard tail; the teacher told me its name was Shavonda. So I looked at Shavonda for a while and then put her down and wrote in my blue book "Lizard: Big Brown Eyes." Then I looked up and realized that Shavonda was gone, so I got up and started looking for her. I left the classroom and headed across the hall towards the other science classroom to see if Shavonda had wandered in there, but on the way I bumped into Ashton Kutcher. So I told him about Shavonda and he said he'd keep an eye out for her.
Saturday, March 19, 2005

Another Saturday night

... stuck working at home alone. I've been an idiot to take on as much freelance editing as I have lately. I've been putting in six- or seven-day workweeks off and on for months.

But I'm remembering that there's a dignity to being purposefully at home on a weekend night. Those Saturday nights in college when I stayed in to write a paper or catch up on reading or whatever, I could not have felt more accomplished the next morning.

The only thing disrupting the pleasurable flow of my work right now are the occasional screams I'm hearing outside my window. They're coming from a bunch of kids playing on the high school track field nearby. At least, I think they are; if not, I guess I'm having a Kitty Genovese moment.
Friday, March 18, 2005

How my personal ad would read if I were 6 years old

(Sexy parts removed)

Last great book I read
Green Eggs and Ham for the 46th time.

Most humbling moment
Crashing into a wall and splitting my head open in gym class while chasing one of those big red rubber balls.

Celebrity I resemble most
Radar from "MASH."

Best or worst lie I've ever told
“No dad, I swear I didn’t accidentally swallow your bicentennial commemorative coin.”

If I could be anywhere at the moment
At Brie Murphy’s house, playing “Ladybug” on her ColecoVision.

The five items I can't live without
My stuffed frog Froggy; peanut butter and butter sandwiches; my Woodstock watch; “Three’s Company” reruns; my Millennium Falcon.

In my bedroom, you'll find
Froggy, a drawing of Froggy, a hook rug of a snail and a mushroom, a goldfish named Speedy.

Why you should get to know me
I’m great at spider-fighting AND freeze tag.

More about what I am looking for
Someone who likes eating raw hot dogs.
Thursday, March 17, 2005

March moniker madness

Nicknames I've had over my lifetime: Doof, Meaghan Sue, Egg, Egghan, Easter Egg, Schmegma, Magma, Ace, Button, Fishie, Megadeth, Cutie, Fats, Six-Toed One.

Most of them, save for Cutie, have run their course (and for that, I mostly say, Thank you God). But I'm thinking it's time for a new one. Something peppy, something innocuous, something self-explanatory. I like alliteration, and iambs, and onomatopoeia. Any takers?
Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Macabre salad days

My father is a gentle man, but he told my younger sister and I some pretty fucked-up bedtime stories when we were little.

The longest-running tale was "The Fire Story." The basics were this: one night a fire started in our house, and it was up to Zoe and I to figure out how to escape. Dad would mix it up by changing the origins of the fire -- sometimes the stove had been left on; sometimes a candle started the blaze; come the holidays, the Christmas tree had caught on fire -- and by throwing in some peripheral players, usually friends of ours from nursery school who we got to rescue in the process of escaping.

I'm sure his point was to teach us about fire safety (we stopped, dropped and rolled in every telling of "The Fire Story"), but as time wore on my sister and I demanded more suspense and gore, and dad obliged us. Soon enough he was lulling us to sleep (yeah right) with tales of vengeful arsonists and lacksadaisical firefighters and scorched possessions and third-story escapes and second-degree burns.

And then there were his two favorite movie retellings: "Jaws" and "Sophie's Choice."
Monday, March 14, 2005

O blissful ignorance, where art thou?

Do you ever feel like you do everything all wrong?

I do. Some days, like today for example, I can't help but feel that I eat all the wrong foods, read all the wrong books, see all the wrong movies, watch all the wrong TV shows, do all the wrong sorts of exercising, frequent all the wrong retail establishments, travel to all the wrong places in all the wrong ways and generally conduct myself in a hopelessly misguided way.

I don't always eat organic. I eat a lot of meat. I choose books to read based on the Amazon Top 100 list. I don't usually see or rent documentaries. I don't watch PBS.

I go to yoga classes but I'm no yogi; I go to the gym but I'm no fitness buff; I go jogging but I'm no athlete.

Sometimes I shop at chain stores. Sometimes I don't use the Lonely Planet as my travel guide.

Sometimes hereticism and subversion exhaust me. Sometimes specialization bugs me. Sometimes I believe everything I read. Sometimes I take the road more traveled by. Sometimes I wish the unexamined life were worth living.

I just get tired, you know? Tired of weighing the meaning of every move before I make it, of every word before I speak it. Tired of justifying myself to myself, tired of justifying myself to others. Tired of squeezing my square thoughts into an unforgivingly round pigeonhole. Tired of pretending I'm not lazy, hypocritical, gluttonous, naive or materialistic.

It's days like these that I wish I was a dog. Dogs don't worry about this crap.
Sunday, March 13, 2005


The TV background to my Sunday evening work catch-up? Footloose. Now there's a movie I never latched onto. The reason is simple: If my small town had a law outlawing dance, I'd rejoice. No awkward seventh-grade dances? Fantastic. Weddings sans conga lines? Beautific.

Also, I always thought the young Kevin Bacon was pretty ugly.
Thursday, March 10, 2005

"Meaghan needs to participate more in class discussions."

Once a week I have to go to this departmental meeting where we sit around and strategize about how best to communicate the goals of the department as they relate to the broader strategic goals of the -- oh hell, I don't really know what we're there for. They recruited me to participate at the last minute, and I tend to zone out a lot.

This is actually a problem though. It's clear we're all expected to say something every week. Fort-five minutes into the hour, us silent types start getting pointed looks from the discussion leaders while the chatterers sit back with smug expressions.

This is bringing me back to high school, when I would do everything short of fake a nosebleed to avoid participating in class. I suffered most in my Modern European History class; the teacher, Mrs. Kaufman, fixated on quieter students and would call on them/us in a seamless and insidious manner: "So when the church leaders held the Council of Trent in 1545 Meaghan, what was the result?" It got so I would jump in my chair whenever she said a word that contained a "Me-" sound. When we covered the Mexican-Spanish War, I was a basket case.

As anyone who knows me well already knows, I did make one notable contribution to that class that year. In the middle of a lecture one day, I farted. Loudly. As the class snickered and Mrs. Kaufman lost her composure for maybe the second time all year, I went about blaming the student next to me through sideway glances and subtle nods of the head.

I always felt badly about it, so I'll say it now: I'm sorry, Ashesh Bakshi.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Voting in L.A. is a lonely affair

I went to my voting center at 6 pm last night. No one was there. When I walked in, all the elderly poll workers shouted greetings and beckoned me over with maniacal hand gestures. Had an EZ Bake Oven been handy, I'm sure they would have whipped me up a batch of cookies in gratitude.

On the way out, I was pounced upon by an L.A Times exit pollster clearly desperate to reach his quota. He actually chased another voter down the street while I was filling out my survey.

Whenever I start to feel a kinship with this city, its residents work overtime to remind me how vacuous a place it really is.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I hope he's doing okay otherwise

Several months back, CBS aired a TV disaster movie called "Category 6: Day of Destruction." Despite the presence of such luminaries as Nancy "Joe" McKeown and Thomas "Greg" Gibson, the movie sucked even by TV movie disaster flick standards.

But there was one moment that blew me away. Brian Dennehy, playing the crusty old meteorologist days away from retirement, has a scene where he's talking to another weather man and then hangs up the phone in frustration. No one believes him, you see, when he keeps propheting that a monstrous hurricane is heading towards, um, Chicago.

Anyway, right after hanging up the phone, he makes a noise unlike any other I've heard on the big or small screen. It's kind of an "ECCCCCH!" but a 1,000 times more gutteral. It sounds like he's coughing up a hairball.

What kills me is that the noise represents an actor's choice. The script clearly did not say

(Crusty meteorologist hangs up phone in disgust)


So, Brian Dennehy decided to add a flourish, and that flourish was a phlegmy bark.

Nice little L.A. moment

Faye Dunaway was standing next to me at the Whole Food's fish counter last night. She was disappointed to learn they were out of orange roughy.
Sunday, March 06, 2005

Puppies, baseball, grilled cheese with fries

These were a few of my favorite things this weekend.

Friday night I got home and realized I was locked out (stupid me had taken the house key off of my key chain for a jog and hadn't put it back on). I was pleased; it gave me an excuse to meander over to our neighborhood deli to eat my beloved grilled cheese and fries. Both were delicious, especially the fries, all salty and mealy.

The first waitress who took my order was apparently some kind of mole, because right after she left another waitress came by and asked for my order as well. When I explained that it had just been taken by another woman, Waitress #2's face darkened. Point her out to me, she said. I looked around but couldn't find Waitress #1 anywhere; clearly she had exited via the back door and hopped into her souped-up spy vehicle.

Yesterday I dragged the hubby to a dog adoption fair on the other side of town for some window-shopping (our lease doesn't allow a dog, so I went purely for the licks). Dog fairs in LA are charming affairs. The city has the highest numbers of stray dogs and cats in the country; as such, adoption fairs attract people of all ages, races and ethnicities, all of whom share the same sense of urgency vis a vis our four-legged counterparts.

The baby pooches were the obvious draws, and we did see some adorable puppy piles (really tiny puppies can only function as a conglomerate, apparently). But I was mostly drawn to the young adult pitbulls. They were so dopey and large-headed and eager to please.

And today, spring training baseball. The perfect background music to a low-key day of freelance work, chores and lounging.
Friday, March 04, 2005

Seth Fucking Cohen of 'The O.C.'

It's difficult to put into words why I hate this TV character so much, but I'll give it a shot.

For starters, he's an artifice. In the grand tradition of Dawson, Pacey and all the other creeksters, Seth Cohen is not a character; he's a voicepiece for the writers of the show. Spewing rhetoric so finely honed and self-referential that it gives you a headache by the time he hits the third subclause of his "off-the-cuff" pop-riddled musings about nothing consequential, Cohen lets the writers expel their collective musings on everything superficial. It's false dialogue writing in the extreme.

But if you accept him as a honestly written character for a moment, here's the second problem: he's an asshole. When you root for the unpopular, it's because you believe their unpopularity to be unjust. But Seth Cohen is hated for a reason: he's hateful. Smug, sardonic, surface-level, self-absorbed, self-congratulatory, spiteful -- really, when he fell off the roof last week, I was rooting for him to crack his head wide open.

Then there's the personal. Back in a previous life I like to call my early 20s, Seth Cohen was kind of my type. I dated a few boys discomfitingly like Cohen. I never truly enjoyed their company, but I had it in my head that if I could win the approval of such social imperialists, boys who scoff at everyone and everything that surrounds them, boys who then beg off responsibility for such skewerings by falsely playing the "deep down I'm insecure" card (trust me, deeper down they're huge egotists), then that would make me special somehow. Then I woke up, realized that sincerity and kindness are virtues and never looked back. Still, it makes me ill that so many female fans of "The O.C." still fall for Cohen's schtick. Seth Cohen is not Ducky, people. He's not even Blaine. He's James Spader's Steff swaddled in geek-chic clothing. Do not succumb.