Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Alissa Milbert can suck my balls - part 2

After my boss's pronouncement about the possibility of seeing Carol Burnett there, El Coyote immediately became my favorite restaurant. (Ok, so the cheap yet tasty margaritas and kick-ass green corn tamales didn't hurt either.)

Any time I went there it was all I could talk about. "I hope we see Carol Burnett tonight! My boss saw her here once!" I would gush to every dining companion who dared join me at this trashy yet lovable L.A. standby. I never did get to see Carol, but one time I was fortunate enough to be seated in the booth opposite from Ricardo Montalban. That's some pretty damn good washed-up star viewing if you ask me.

Over the course of my 5+ years in Los Angeles I became friends with a lot of "industry" people, mainly because the first few close friends I made worked in Hollywood. It was great for me to be around all these people while not working in the "industry" because I got all the benefits of rubbing elbows with the stars while not having to put up with any of the industry bullshit. (Save the fact that some movie or other would shut down all or part of our street about once a month for filming. L.A. people HATE that because it's more common than road construction.)

My friend Lex who lived downstairs from me worked at Paramount, so he would occasionally host parties where someone kind of famous would show up. My M.O. with these people was always to act as unimpressed as possible for fear of being seen as the total star-crazed geek that I was. One time I went on and on to Meri Stilpin from the show "Frazier" about my lower back problems until I thought she might want to kill herself rather than listen for ten more seconds.

(Note that I never use their real names in these posts for fear of being Googled. I am still in possession of a shred of dignity, although that is quickly wearing away.)

Sometimes this kind of nonchalantness could backfire. One time when my friend Beth was visiting me, we went out for breakfast with the gal who played Ellen Degeneres's love interest on her then-controversial TV show. I was kind of friends with Lisa already so I didn't feel I had to hide my admiration for her, and I think she enjoyed my pandering. (Who the hell wouldn't, I ask myself?) Beth, on the other hand, WAS actually unimpressed.

I asked Lisa what she had been up to lately.

"Well, I just wrapped another episode of 'Murder She Wrote,' she replied.

"Murder She Wrote???" Beth exclaimed with surprise. "Murder She Wrote??? Who the hell still watches THAT?" She was at that time a Ph.D student in English literature and as such disdained anything so vulgarly pop-culture.

"Beth!" I replied. "What is with these manners of yours?! Lisa is talking about her job, here! Show some respect, will you?"

"Well I'm sorry! But god, who even WATCHES that show? It's so stupid that even my MOM likes it! It's like mystery-drama for geriatrics!"

Lisa was shocked to the point of not knowing what to say. She just let out a little grunt of horror. "It was really fun to work on," she quietly mumbled.

"Well, I guess I just don't watch that much TV," was Beth's final comment on the subject.

"Oh my God, that's even worse!" I thought Lisa might possibly cry, although it was probably all just part of being dramatic. Actors are like that.

Our breakfast, delicious as it was, slowly disintegrated from there.

....to be continued......

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Alissa Milbert can suck my balls - part 1

I have long been a fan of famous people. At least I've been a fan of people who are famous for the right reasons. I don't like people who are famous because they lock people in their basements and eat them. As a simple illustration, Shirley Booth = good. John Wayne Gacy = bad.

Actually, I realize John Wayne Gacy didn't eat his victims. It just sounded better that way.

When I moved to Los Angeles in 1992, I was giddy with excitement each time I saw a famous person. One of my favorite things was to go to El Coyote for trashy Mexican food because it was such a great place for star sightings, especially to view stars of the "B" variety. (Washed up TV actors being my absolute favorite genre, if you hadn't figured that out from the Shirley Booth example.)

The first time I went to El Coyote I was with my new boss, who mentioned casually that he sat next to Carol Burnett the last time he'd been there.

"Carol Burnett?? Are you kidding me with this??" I demanded to know.

"Yes, I did," Michael replied. "You see a lot of stars here. Perfect restaurant if you're into that sort of thing."

And was I ever! Seeing stars was fun!

....to be continued.....

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Go vote for Bubs' kid Nora

Hi all,

PG and I are just back from a cross country trip to move him from Brooklyn to San Diego. Our life as a couple of New York urban sophisticates has officially come to an end. From here on in we'll be floating around SoCal with the rest of the airheads. Suits me.

I have many tales to tell from our trip, but for now I want you all to follow Lulu's instructions to vote for Nora O'Sullivan, eldest daughter of beloved blogger Bubs. (Lulu already recapped everything nicely and provides the link you need to vote.)

Love and Coasters,


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My Crazy Eights

Bubsicle (my new nick-name for him) named me as one of his Crazy-Eights. No one really calls it the “Crazy Eights” – I’m just being a dork as usual.

It’s just a tag game where Bubs professed his undying love for my blog (and seven other blogs) and I’m supposed to return the favor. Glad to – I have so many great blogs on my list that I can’t even keep up with them all.

I’m supposed to post THESE WORDS:

“These bloggers are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find
and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that
when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.
Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight
bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into
the body of their award.”

and the picture at the heading of this post – that is your award, bloggies. My eight are supposed to do likewise with their Crazy-Eights.

With that, here are a few of my besties, my crazy-about-ya-eights, in completely random order:

Grizzbabe’s Den – this gal has a good soul

The Pop Eye - everyone nominates her but I know she feels neglected by me so I’m hoping this will make up for it

A Twist of Lemon – I am simply charmed by his use of only partial words

Gifts from a Broad – cracks me the f*ck up

Tenacious S – another real life bestie

Prone to Whimsy – Flan and I are real life besties now

Two Minutes in the Box – she goes on great vacations and didn’t really mean to ignore me in Chicago that one time.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Another awkward tale from my youth part 2

This is not the old caf at St. Olaf. But it conjures up the cold, Lutheran ambiance of which I speak. I mean, write.

In an attempt not to drag this on for a year as I did with the story of how PG and I met, I'm getting a move on with this tale. See here for Part 1.


Just figuring out Jeff's name seemed like such an important feat that I hadn't even thought of what I might do with the information once I acquired it. I was always a fairly shy person and had never, at least in my own memory, manipulated a situation so that I would have a chance to talk to someone in particular. I was used to letting things happen and unfold as they may, which would probably explain the many disastrous events of my life up to that point.

I decided it was time to take control.

A few days later as I was walking toward choir rehearsal I saw him about 20 yards ahead of me. I knew I needed to get his attention and slow him down right then before he reached the choir room, depriving me of a chance to walk with him and chat him up for a few minutes.

"Jeff!" I called out. He stopped and turned around.

"Oh, hey Tom! What's going on?" I quickened my pace to catch up to him.

"Not a lot." (Yeah, right Tom.) "So how are classes?"

I was so nervous that I had absolutely no idea what he said in response. I had always been like that; it was so unusual for me just to start talking to someone I barely knew that my self-consciousness overrode anything else about the situation, including the ability to listen to the other person. Most of us shy folk can compensate by developing an ability to recognize the cadences of typical small-talk, and are able to imitate having an actual conversation with all the perquisite give-and-take.

It's remarkable how many people in life have told me I'm a "good listener." If they only knew.

I could not have repeated even five minutes later what either of us said to the other. There was just one very important part of the conversation that had to, and did take place: setting the stage so that I could run into him again and casually suggest having a meal together.

Over the next several weeks I took note of the various directions from which he approached the music building before choir practice, which was three afternoons a week, and made sure to be in the general vicinity each day so that I would be in place to chat him up. It worked.

One day, as we were approaching our rehearsal I said "So are you doing anything for dinner after choir? Want to go to the caf afterward?"

He he, the caf. It still makes me laugh today when I think about the caf, as we called the dining room at St. Olaf. Having a companion at meal times was crucial in the caf because it was this large room with two separate entrances, filled with long rectangular tables spaced out in perfect symmetry. It was a cold, glaringly lit stark room with a decorative motif that would be best described as "church basement pot-luck industrial."

No one ever wanted to sit alone in the caf, especially not at dinner time, because there were no safe corners in which a lone diner could tuck him or herself away to hide. If you went to the caf alone, there you were for the entire student body to see, pathetic and friendless under the glare of the unwaveringly Lutheran interrogation lamps---I mean, white lights.

In other words, asking someone to eat with you was a foolproof way of getting face time with the object of your interest. No one in modern history has ever turned down an invitation to have a dining companion in the St. Olaf caf, at least not until the college upgraded its facilities long after I graduated.

"Yeah Tom, that sounds great! I'll meet you at the door after choir?"

SCORE!! An actual dinner date!!! I thought. And I even had the rest of choir rehearsal to think up things to say to him!

.....to be continued.......

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I'm like totally freaking out

I'm totally freaking out because I'm getting ready to go meet Poor George in Chicago so that I can drive with him back here to San Diego. My excitement and anticipation of my road-trip vacation was interrupted this morning when I got pulled into a conference call with the VP of my division and Human Resources so that they could tell us my boss is being laid off.

My boss just lost his job. This is not good.

Then when the VP doing the call said "are there any questions?" I asked about the proverbial elephant-in-the-room: "Are you anticipating any reduction in his current staff?"

"No, we are not," the VP replied. Then came the sounds of muffled voices and a lot of paper shuffling and other related noises. Followed by the voice of the HR rep who was in the room with him:

"Well, no one can ever promise there won't be staffing changes. None of us has a guaranteed job in this environment."


But anyway, I'm not here to talk about that. I'm here right now at the request of Melinda June, who told her readers to ask me to blog about a book we both just read. You can click over to her post to see what book she's referring to; I don't want to be Googled and then found by the people I'm about to malign.

The book is a fascinating read, so I won't give away too much of it in case you want to "enjoy" it yourself. I'll just tell you it's about a particularly insidious form of child abuse, and that two of the offenders (the parents of the author) are going to rot in hell. At least if I have anything to say about it.

Of course, simply thinking these people are evil was not enough for a mildly retarded and often crusty Punchman. I decided to put my cyberstalking skills to good use by hunting down the address and phone number of said parents.

And then I called them.

I got their answering machine, upon which I left the following message:

"If this is Dr. and Mrs. Beers, I just wanted to let you know you should be asking God's forgiveness every single day for what you have done to your children." And then I hung up.

Mindy thinks this is one of the funniest things she has ever heard, although she also says she is glad I did it.

Next, I went to the author's website, got her email address and wrote her, asking about her current relationship with her parents. Not surprisingly, the author wrote back and said she doesn't speak to them any more.

(Well, maybe it's surprising that she wrote me back, but not surprising that she has cut her parents off. Well, actually, they probably cut her off. She didn't say.)

If you decide to read this book (whose title rhymes with the words "Beezus Hand") let me know what you think.


Sunday, March 08, 2009

Another story of my awkward youth part 1

I have no idea who these guys are. I just did a Google Image Search for "Cute College Boys" and theirs was the first fully clothed picture I found.

Quite a while back I wrote about my more significant childhood crushes and in doing so promised to tell you a certain story from my college days. No one can ever accuse CP of not keeping a promise, even if it takes me three or more years to deliver.

Well Gentle Readers, today is your lucky day because I'm going to tell you a story that has kept many a friend on the verge of his or her seat when I've told it in person. A story of early 20-something romantical suspense, one that is sure to melt your heart. Or melt something.

In college I was just barely out of the closet - I had only told three or four people about my feelings for other guys, and most of these friends didn't live anywhere near me. Lulu was one of the lucky ones who knew, partly because I considered her "safe": she lived far away and didn't know any of my other friends, so there was almost no chance of her being able to rat me out inadvertently.

(As an aside I will note that while I was close to Mindy June, she and I weren't super close at this particular time because she had just abandoned me by transferring colleges, and besides, I feared she would judge me for having dated one of our mutual female friends just a few months prior to all this. She told me in later years that I was cracked to think she wouldn't have sided with me, although it's always easy to say that in retrospect.)

The year was 1987, and I was especially touchy about anyone at my college knowing about me because, above all, I feared scandal in my dormitory: I had three male roommates, not to mention a whole floor of guys I had to share a shower with.

Although I'm sure it still happens today in some parts of the country, back in those days it was par for the course that if a straight person found out their roommate was gay, they would raise a stink, go to the housing director and demand that the gay person be removed. This chain of events would result not only in the serious upheaval of one's routine, but also public shaming and involuntary outing. And trust me, being outed involuntarily as a gay person in 1987 was not what you wanted.

It distresses me to this day that so many of us had to live in that kind of fear during our most formative years, years that are supposed to be filled with the magic of youthful self discovery, first kisses, heavy petting (and, if you were a girl, seat-wetting).

Oh, well.

So to summarize our story thus far, we've set the scene with a 21 year old gay boy living with a bunch of straight guys, afraid to be discovered yet starved for affection and also in possession of the normal 21 year old boy hormones. In other words, quite the dilemma.

My 21 year old boy hormones led me to take an acute interest in a certain guy who sang in the same choir I did. I didn't remember where I had met him, but I must have met him somewhere because several different times he walked by me and said "Hi Tom!"

"Hi Tom!" Wow! What on earth could this MEAN????

I had no idea who he was or even what his name was. But I kept a close eye on him for weeks, until one day I noticed him wearing a monogrammed crew neck sweater. (Parenthetically, should I actually have been wondering if this guy in my choir with a monogrammed sweater was gay?)

So that day, after memorizing the initials on his sweater, I went up to the music rack where each choir member was given a shelf to store his or her music, and scanned all the names on the rack until I found one that matched his initials. This uncannily brilliant detective work on my part led me to the irrefutable conclusion that name of the object of my interest was Jeff Henderson.

(For the record, Jeff Henderson is not this person's real name. But I hope you can sense in this story the first stirrings of a first-rate cyberstalker in the making!)

to be continued........