eek!

I love all of God’s creatures. In theory. I don’t however, want to live with any of them in my apartment, particularly tiny animals that  scurry or skitter or crawl. A large animal, if it somehow got into my apartment, would, at most, scare the hell out of you the first time you saw it. If I came home one day and there were an elk standing by the fridge, I’d freak for a minute, but then we would reach one of those uneasy ‘Wild Kingdom’ truces as I calmly walk around him and make a sandwich. Each of us keeping an eye on the other, but as long as I don’t threaten the elk, we could, I suppose, coexist until I lured the elk outside.

Which brings me to the mouse. They’re cute, mice. But they scare the shit out of me. Irrational, bone-shaking terror. First of all, they’re not content to just scare you the one time. After they scare you , they run away and can scare you again. Anywhere, anytime.  Just because I saw him under the sink doesn’t mean I’m safe at my desk. Said mouse can simply scurry along the wall and show up at my feet as I’m writing this. And I know they’re really small, and I know they don’t attack people. But somehow I feel all it will take is one rogue mouse to leap from the floorboards to my throat and I’m a goner. All the other mice will see this from a crack in the plaster or under the microwave or inside an envelope (because they can freakishly shrink in size!) and then–it’s on. Forensics teams will spend days trying to match hundreds of tiny bite marks.

Now don’t give me that ‘they’re more afraid of you than you are of them’ crap, because in the animal kindgdom, they fight through the fear. Mr. Lion might be initially startled by Mr. Gazelle, but he finds a way to push past the fear and eat the gazelle. ‘They just came in to get out of the cold’. Great, nice to know I’m running a mission for rodents.

So one morning last winter, I dragged my ass to the bathroom for my morning ablutions, and as I’m peeing (a detail probably not necessary to the story), I glance in the direction of the shower and notice there’s something in the tub. And it moved. Now when I first wake up, I’m not very coherent, so I actually did that cartoon double-take where I literally shake my head and look again. When it moved again, this time trying to crawl up the side of the tub. Quickly flipping through my recollections of biology class and the Discovery Channel, I realized it was too big to be a roach, and too small to be a raccoon. Waking up a bit more now, I know that between roach and raccoon therei’s a lot of possibilites (is it a lemur?). When I finally realize t’s a mouse, I also realize I have no idea what to do with that information.

Do I make myself look really small or really big–no, that’s for bears. Do I try to kill it–get all alpha on its rodentine ass? Because then I have a dead mouse to deal with, and the ick factor goes up exponentially. Chase it around my studio for a while? Here’s what I decided, folks. I stepped back from the tub, and as I backed up, trying to look as little like…cheese as possible, I grabbed a towel and my toothbrush, and backed out of the bathroom. And then I shut the door. Understand what happened here. I made the conscious decision to CEDE an entire room to the mouse. I was apparently playing some inter-species game of Risk, and was trying to isolate the attacking mouse army, Not my proudest moment as a man.

A friend came by to toss the mouse outside, but that night I was still a little rattled. Thought about leaving a light on, but couldn’t remember if mice were maybe attracted to lights. But in the dark, I heard the skittering. Little evil mouse feet. I was sure I would wake up and see them lining the perimeter of my bed, all along the headboard like some outtake from ‘Willard.’ I grabbbed my cane and put it by my bed, apparently thinking that somehow I would be able to swat the oncoming horde and they would then worship me as their king. But my crowning touch came into play when I realized that there was no actual door separating the…mouse area from my ‘bedroom’, just a door frame. I fixed this by placing a pile of clothes from the hamper on the floor in the at the boundary between the ‘kitchen’ and the ‘bedroom’. I guess I thought, ‘Well, mice can come through the cracks in a wall, but they’ll never get past my inpenetrable barrier of fabric.

I haven’t seen any other mice since then, frankly because they understand who’s in charge here. This is my house, dammit!

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let’s all go to the movies

I love movies, but I don’t get to many of them. Too much money for marginal product–spending ten bucks for a comedy movie with ten laughs is like spending fifteen bucks for a cd with four good songs. The reason people illegally download music is because buying music is too expensive.

In fact, if studios want to stop piracy, they should make movies cheaper. I think you should pay when you leave the theater, whatever percentage of the ticket price you think the movie was worth. You think the studios would keep turning out crap if their average take per person was eighty-three cents?

Major studios are relics, at any rate. I actually think the days of the Zanucks and the Goldwyns, as much as they may have squelched some visionary work, were better for the movie industry–for the fans. I don’t if any of you remember the Lily Tomlin-John Travolta vehicle (a poor word choice, since it implies it went somewhere) ‘Moment By Moment,’ which featured a horrifying hot tub encounter between the two leads. In the days of the big, mean studios, a guy in a suit would have taken the writers to lunch at the Brown Derby, and said “Interesting idea–but Lily does comedies, not romance.” That movie would have never happened.

Part of the problem is the deadening of the American film palate.  Some of the greatest films in history would never be greenlighted (greenlit?) today–too ‘talky’…too ‘complicated’…not ‘high-concept’ enough. Basically, the male American movie-going public likes two things in their movies–breasts, and explosions. I suppose that’s three things, because I’m not sure how well a movie featuring only one breast would do. But two breasts and some explosions–that’s box-office gold. If someone could made a movie about breasts that explode, it would be more popular than ‘Star Wars.’

I personally think that if a movie isn’t deep, it oughta be fun. If it isn’t deep or fun, then it’s just fifty million dollars that could have gone to Habitat for Humanity.  And if I’m watching at home, I usually give a movie the twenty minute test. If a movie hasn’t captured my attention in twenty minutes, I turn it off. I have seen five to fifteen minutes of more movies than I can count. Which is why I love surfthechannel.com.

Apparently Sweden has comparatively liberal copyright laws, because a site based there called SurfTheChannel has every movie and tv show ever filmed available for free. Okay, maybe not every, but oh my god do they have a lot. I’m not sure I should even be telling those not ‘in the know,’ but it’s THE GREATEST WEBSITE IN THE UNIVERSE. Missed a movie that came out last month? Loved the sitcom ‘He and She’ that only ran one season? It’s probably here. Now some of the movies were recorded by a dude with a cell phone in the front row, but they’re free! Just know that if you see a new movie has been added, watch it right away or you will see the dreaded phrase ‘removed for infringement.’

And before you start saying ‘Hey–you’re a creative artist…aren’t these people just stealing? Shouldn’t the people who did the movie be paid?”, let me just point out that for the VAST majority of movies being ’stolen,’ the people involved have already been paid. A couple of times. And there’s stuff you can’t buy, even if you wanted–I’d love to have a dvd of the first season of the second remake of ‘Twilight Zone,’ but I haven’t seen that at Blockbuster yet. Realistically, if I want to have a few friends over for a marathon of  bootlegged “Lou Grant,” I don’t think Ed Asner will have trouble paying his mortgage. And, not that this will stop the flaming outrage, but I do feel guilty about it.

Since I discovered surfthechannel.com, I haven’t been sleeping a lot lately. It’s been sensory overload–like an epileptic on Red Bull in Vegas. And I’ve been having strange dreams. Here’s the weirdness: I’ve had more than one dream which featured a celebrity–IN A CAMEO! Famous actors appear in my dreams, but they don’t have speaking roles. I’m in some surreal library/delicatessan/army recruiting office, and there’s Corbin Bernson! Understand–he’s not part of the ‘plot’ to my dream, he’s just…there. A couple nights ago, the thing I remember is that Christopher Meloni was in my dream–for no apparent reason. He wasn’t a part of the story–he just showed up in some of the scenes. Any amateur shink wanna take a shot at that?

The Chris Meloni dream is not the strangest dream I’ve had lately. When I was still working the day job, one night, in my dream, I woke up to my alarm, took the train to work, sat at my desk, took the train home, and got ready for bed. I had a dream in which nothing happened. In a world of infinite possibility, my mind created a dreamscape identical to my actual life! Now that’s wasted time. I felt almost cheated when I actually woke up.

My favorite film genre–movies where entire cities are destroyed, by aliens, some space virus, or some combination of cataclysmic natural disaster. Not sure why, but I get a real kick out of seeing places I’ve been to slapped around, and I find myself strangely inspired when all of society’s hopes rest on the shoulders of a b-level movie star, like Tom Skerrit, or one of the Quaids.

‘Volcano’ was great, simply because a volcanic eruption is one of the only horrible things that hasn’t actually happened to Los Angeles. And ‘Earthquake In New York’–if cars blowing up are cool to watch, it’s exponentially cooler to see the Guggenheim Museum crumble, or the Statue of Liberty slowly topple into the bay. Unfortunately, that movie screwed up by wasting the first hour giving us the personal back stories of the people who would ultimately be buried in the rubble. Just get to the destruction–let’s see some iconic landmarks collapse already! The best of the bunch is, for my money, ‘The Day After Tomorrow,’ which manages to include multiple natural disasters, a cautionary tale about global warming, AND Randy Quaid! Tell me it wasn’t great to watch a tornado turn the Capitol Records building into a bunch of building-sized frisbees.

I’m also a sucker for old-school monster movies, but I’ve always been curious. Before CGI, when aliens were actually hard-working, unappreciated working actors in green costumes, one thing was a given. It was always “Attack of the Fifty-Foot” something. What I want to know is how was it decided that fifty feet was the height at which a genetically-mutated, nuclear-fallout-created anything becomes threatening to mankind? Did studios say “Well, a seventy-five foot tall broccoli stalk is just silly–nobody’s gonna buy that. Make it fifty feet tall and you’ve got yourself a movie.” I mean, wouldn’t a twenty or thirty foot tall thing that’s not supposed to be twenty or thirty feet tall be just as scary?

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drawing a blank

I’ve typically dismissed horror stories about social networking sites as so much Luddite paranoia, partly because, as a relatively unknown comedian and novice print humorist, it probably wouldn’t hurt my career to have someone stalking me. I need visibility. Hell, I’d give you my social security number if you told me you liked one of my shows.

But now, I understand the dark side. I get an email tonight from someone who apparently found me through classmates.com which led him to MySpace. I think I registered for MySpace two years ago, never went back because it seemed to skew a bit…adolescent for my tastes, and though I have joined Facebook, I still don’t check MySpace because I really only need one black hole of time-wasting in my life.

Here’s the thing. He was a high school classmate of mine, and I DON’T REMEMBER WHO HE IS. At all. His name did not ring even the tiniest of bells. Forget about being afraid of being tracked by some creepy, deranged,  obsessed psycho–it is FAR more frightening to realize that someone who liked me well enough to get back in touch after thirty years has dropped entirely from my memory. I mean, what else have I forgotten? Because, if I’ve forgotten it, obviously I wouldn’t know I forgot it.

The worst part of this is that I replied to him and tried to (ever so light-heartedly) get him to jog my clearly age-enfeebled memory. Iwrote–“catch me up.” His email back to me was three long paragraphs about his life (and it sounds like we could really connect based on what he’s been doing) and that of another (apparently) mutual friend of ours whom I ALSO DO NOT REMEMBER.

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