Sunday, August 13, 2006

I’m thinking about Sheldon’s letter to me regarding celebrity or fame and being recognized which he wrote in response to my last post. I think I have finally come to terms with fame. And that sentence is hilarious because I have so little of it at the moment and it seems to disappear like running water – no, maybe like dripping water – each year. And the truth is, I was so uncomfortable for so long with anyone recognizing me. I was constantly mortified by it. I didn’t like the basic idea that someone knew me and I didn’t know him or her. And it wasn’t like I even did want to know them, it was just – it felt like an invasion of privacy, while at the same time unavoidably unfair.

Now I look back at it all so differently. I feel compassion for myself. I didn’t have the right psychological make up and the ambition and savvy to appreciate or use the fame I had when I had it. To me, the greatest value was humility. To be “proud” was sinful. My heroes were Catholic saints who did good works in secret. (Which had it’s own backfiring repercussions, but that’s another topic.) So to be publicly acknowledged all the time was just the worst. Plus, I never felt very good about how I looked. I always thought I was going to be judged by my inadequateness as a woman. And I think I was probably partially or even more than partially right. I have listened to all kinds of people now talk about female celebrities with such crudeness, with such a harsh critical tone, it startles me still - each time I overhear it, and I overhear it constantly. I don’t think I’m being paranoid to imagine that I was often on the receiving end of that kind of criticism.

Anyway, when I became famous I wasn’t a lithe, beautiful ingĂ©nue, so I felt I was failing in public all the time. (Which I now think is pretty silly, but this was then…) The last thing I wanted was for someone to recognize me. Or pay more attention to me. Even though I created a character that made me look as hideous as possible, as Pat, it still didn’t help me from feeling shame and embarrassment anytime someone recognized me.

In any case, I always marveled at the other actors at SNL and how they (really, the men) were so excited by their own fame. Again, I don’t judge this critically. Now I get it. The fame increased their status, their status gave them power, particularly over women. Fame is the greatest thing that could happen to a guy – especially a guy who was probably not getting the attention he thought he deserved or wanted deeply as a teenager. After the shows at SNL, beautiful models would swarm around the male comedians, while us gals just took the limo to the party and drank mostly with each other. (And we had a great time, by the way…) In any case, fame was so cruel then, it seemed. Even my little bit of it.

Later I met a few people who were really comfortable with fame. At this point, I just thought I wasn’t cut out for it. Some people were, some weren’t. I wasn’t. But then I got to hang out regularly with some people who were seriously famous. I mean, they couldn’t walk down the street without everyone noticing them or being constantly approached. To me, this would be the ultimate nightmare. But these two people who I am thinking of in particular handled it (at least when I was with them) with amazing grace and class. They took it in stride. They shook hands, took time to talk for a minute. They didn’t seem desperate, they just seemed to be dealing with an inevitable part of their life. And I really admired how they had grown into their situation with all its ups and downs. Because, what I finally realized is, it is nice to be recognized – especially if it’s for work that you’re proud of. And fame often brings power too, and that’s undeniably nice. And I learned the difference between people who admired you because you were famous and those who admired you because of something in particular, some specific piece of work. And then it wasn't so bad. In fact, it was pretty great! And then, just about the time that I didn’t shudder at the mere thought of being a famous person, it all began to dwindle away. Oh! Well, I guess that's how it goes.

But Sheldon, you were talking about people who were over-awed by fame. But it seems that we are hard-wired to recognize status. It’s such a deep part of our social and personal psychology. So to me, it’s perfectly understandable why people would – at first flinch – listen more closely to what a celebrity is saying even if it’s in a field in which they are not experts. Also, when it comes to politics, I don’t know if I trust a celebrity less than a politician who has some authority perhaps but also has a clear agenda. There are plenty of celebrities who risk their status by speaking out. I mean, someone like Janeane Garafalo could have continued a lucrative show-business career acting and writing, but she decided to do radio for 1/10 the money. I’m actually surprised at how few celebrities there are out there speaking out against this war.

Well, I just got home from doing the Uncabaret, this stand up like show at the M Bar here in Hollywood. Michael Patrick King, who is a dear old friend was there and he was absolutely hysterical. Also Taylor Negron was on and he was so damn funny. Beth is always great to see and I miss her and Greg so much. It was a really, really fun night. It makes me want to do more performing. I have a vague idea of trying to come up with a true stand-up show. I have never done that before but now I kind of get how I might be able to do that. If I gave myself a year and slowly built the material together. I think it would be fun to try to write solely for the laughs and forget about building the big story, like I’ve concentrated on in my last monologues. In a way, it’s sort of like going backwards. Most of the people I worked with at SNL were stand ups before they got on the show. I don’t know… something in me is telling me to try it.

I felt very proud of myself that after Beth did all this New Age material on stage, I didn’t comment on it. I don’t want to get into some thing where all I do is rag on people’s supernatural crazy-ass beliefs. Even though, it’s all so absurd.

Speaking of material. Here is my cute kid story. Mulan said, “When you do your quilting, you use material right?” And I said, “Yeah – fabric. Yeah, that’s material.” And she said, “Well, do you know there’s a song about that? I heard it on the radio with Frances (our nanny). It’s called Material Girl!”

Friday, August 11, 2006

When my friend Chris heard me say I think we have to have some sort of profiling for security for plane flights, and rate people on their likelihood of being an enemy or terrorist to us, he said, “Oh yes. That’s perfect. And you know who doesn’t have America’s best interest in mind? Democrats.” And he’s right. We can’t have profiling. I would be on the list. Dear God, I’m a democrat AND and atheist. So, I take it back.

But now I am too afraid to fly. I can’t stop thinking about how I can have a no-fly life. But I just bought tickets to New York on JetBlue for October 18th. Now, the terrorists, they don’t know about JetBlue, do they? I mean come on, they aren’t going to blow up a JetBlue flight, the-little-airline-that-could? Plus, as my friend Julia noted, you would have you watch yourself disintigrate on television as you watched yourself from the TV on the back of the seat in front of you. No, no, no. Weirdly, I feel safe on a JetBlue flight from Burbank to JFK. I wonder if I feel safe on Alaska Airlines? That’s what I fly to Spokane. Dear lord, if I have to take the train to Spokane. Well, we won’t be going all that often, that’s all I can say. Oh dear, oh dear. And now I have a boyfriend who like, flies all over the place. Damnit! He can’t stop it. Damn, now I have to worry about him! I probably can’t stop it either. I go around thinking I can just stop flying if things got scary, and the truth is, if I stopped flying it would seriously change my life.

And then I wonder if I will look back, or all of us will look back at these times and say, “We were still so optimistic about everything then. Even after 9/11. There were those five years where it hadn’t really sunk in yet.”

Wow. This whole thing is really throwing me for a loop.

I am going through this period where nothing is working. My Internet connection works only about an hour a day. I feel I am on the North Pole or something. I have called sbcglobal three times and it’s always arduous and time consuming and then it never really gets fixed. And then, after the brown outs happened and the electricity was off for a couple of days while we were in Hawaii, my cable connection to the television went out – as far as I can tell, completely. So, no TV and no Internet. Also, my air conditioning system is not working exactly right. Cool air comes through, but there is a big clicking sound that makes me feel it’s warning me of imminent demise. Anyway, the whole reason I go into this now is that because nothing is really working right, Mulan and I are enjoying watching DVDs when we would otherwise be watching television.

And tonight I decided her film education had to start. I mean, I’ve shown her Buster Keaton silent films. She sort of watched The Awful Truth (Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, 1937) when she was two and a half. But tonight, I figured I needed to really start explaining some things. So, we watched “Some Like It Hot” on DVD. She was very confused about the beginning and I had to even stop the DVD and explain about liquor being outlawed in the “olden days.” Which I don’t think she really got. But there were moments, like when Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe are in the top bunk on the train and then all the girls pile in for the “party” and Mulan started to laugh really hard and it made me so happy. I think she barely could follow the plot, but she sure got that two men were trying to act like two women. Wow, Marilyn Monroe. She could barely act, but she blows everyone off the screen. She’s so vulnerable, so unfiltered by the usual actor-y-ness. It almost seems like if you scratch her, she’d really bleed. And this time I watched it, all I could notice was how revealing her outfits were. She’s practically topless in two dresses that she wears. And of course, as I get older, it’s continually arresting that the actors are so young. They just get younger. Every year, those old actors get younger and younger. Tony Curtis seems like a teenager.

Today I went to my cd manufacturer and signed off on the artwork for the “In The Family Way” cds. It’s weird to think I’ll have two cds available within the month that represents three years of work, but it’s true. Wait, no – four years of work. I think they are going to let me sell the cds at the Hollywood Bowl when I perform there. I will sell both “Letting Go Of God” and “In The Family Way.” It’s funny to think of being in the monologue cd business, but here I am. In it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I was going to have someone edit by blog entries for things that I’m bad at like, run on sentences, grammar, and general do-you-really-want-to-say-that-ness. But I decided to just put a disclaimer on my blog and go forward and blather like I used to do. Then I considered doing a thing where you have only pre-approved people who can look at your blog so I could talk about, I guess – sex or something PRIVATE and not have nieces and nephews reading it. But then – well, first of all I can’t at the moment think of something I wouldn’t want them to read, (I’m not going to talk about sex – and frankly I don’t think anyone wants me to) and second the whole thing started to seem like so much work all I could think of was,.. forget it. So, here I am.

Early this morning I called Michael who is in Brussels and found out from him about the terrorist scares. And how you couldn’t get on a plane unless all your valuables and identity cards were in a clear plastic bag and all I could think of was how glad I am I am not about to fly with a six-year-old who needs to take fifteen stuffed animals with her wherever she goes and then also have a movie to watch on a computer screen or ELSE. Or else… you are involved in a non-stop interaction-conversation-hug-reprimand extravaganza with a six-year-old for fifteen hours. I feel so sorry for all those people I saw trying to fly somewhere. What is going to happen to us? Eventually one of these plots is going to work for them and then… oh. Oh dear.

I calm myself down by imagining myself moving to Spokane and never going anywhere, ever. I mean, if the atmosphere heats up ten degrees in the next decade or two, Spokane is not such a bad idea.

I know, I always say that. And then, what if the super-volcano under Yellowstone goes? Spokane won’t be such a great place to be then, eh? The thing is, it seems like we all need a big dose of illusion about our safety to just live a regular life which includes cars and busses and cancer and bullets and heart attacks that to focus on possible terrorist attacks doesn’t seem very rational. But, still. Scary.

I was wondering, now that there are so many more people who’ve been killed by terrorists in the last ten years, does that make the chances of getting married after age forty go up? I think Newsweek needs to redo that prediction.

I watched the news from the stair master at the gym. People were putting their toothpaste into garbage cans. Toothpaste? I wonder if dentists are happy about this or sad. Worse breath, but more business. Dentists: the newest profession to find itself a war-profiteer. What is considered a gel, anyway? That is a question that has probably had many opinions expressed today. I was wondering about mascara? What about super-wet mascara? What about those lipsticks that you squirt on, and who is going to get all this loot? I think of all the millions of little stork-shaped-manicure scissors that have been confiscated in the last five years, and now the gels! Oh you devious terrorists! NOT OUR GELS!!!

I actually think I am now in favor of profiling. I know that is very not pc of me. But it's so much more efficient. We need security clearance cards based on probabilities of a person blowing up a plane. It doesn't have to be based on ethnicity or skin color. But honestly, spending billions of dollars so little old grandmothers can get searched is ludicrous. Plus, they need their gels! More than anyone else!

Last night I saw “Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles” – a Chinese film, made by Yimou Zhang I saw it at Sony, at the studios. I went with my friend Greg. I thought it was a little in-your-face melodramatic and had a horrible voice over that explained every emotion that the actors were perfectly capable of portraying on screen. But as of this morning, I think the film grew on me a little. Part of it was filmed in Li Jiang, a city I spent some time in, in China. It’s such a beautifully preserved old town near the Yangtzee. It all made me determined to take Mulan to China in the next couple of years. But how will we get on a plane when we are all quarantined from fear? The film was shot to avoid the expanse of ugly communist architecture that surrounds the “old town” of the Li Jiang. It is romantic to think of China looking like it did in this film. Unfortunately, I found little beautiful spots like that were always surrounded by stinky polluting manufacturing centers and diesel truck engines turned into open cars with as many people as you could cram in them.

Okay, this is what I’ve been thinking about in terms of religion lately. I think it’s all about culture transmission. So, it’s hard for me to get on the bandwagon and imagine a world without religion in it. Because religion provides too good a method for transmitting culture. It has rituals, music, codes of behavior. And culture matters, too. And I am thinking that those terrorists, while they may be hopped up on religious ferver, what they really care about is that their culture is not killed off. But big parts of their culture (and really, nearly all cultures) SUCK. Authoritarian, misogynistic, and – well, those are the first two words that come to mind. I may have written about this before. It’s just what I’ve been turning over in my head a lot recently. I haven’t worked out anything yet for myself, but that’s what I’m thinking about.

O jeez. I have to work. I’m goofing off. More, another time.

Friday, August 04, 2006

I am thinking about some things. They are:

1. If I blog again I will have to ask someone to proof read it and correct it for punctuation and that seems like a lot of work plus asking for a favor.

2. I miss my blog. I want to blog. I am going to blog again. I am blogging right now!

3. But I can barely say anything. I mean, my niece and nephew can read it for chrissake.

4. I am tired of being so “open.” I want to be more closed. No! Door 1/3 open.

5. I am trying to finish the book "My Beautiful Loss-Of Faith Story" or give up on it. Not sure which way it’s going at this point, but I’m headed towards a readable draft by the end of the month at which point others can tell me if it’s publishable.

6. My cd comes out soon. I know. It’s taken a bazillion times longer than I thought it would. Like a year longer. But I wanted to do it all myself and I made every mistake you could make. I didn’t like earlier recordings and finally got one I liked. I spent three months trying to clear the music rights for some of the back ground music and then my producer found a way to cut out the music that we needed clearance for. Then I decided I wanted to print a text of the show and that meant basically designing an 80-page cd sized book and that took forever. Then I hated the picture I was using and had new pictures and the whole thing redesigned because of that. BUT now it’s almost done. It comes off the presses on August 25th. In fact, I will have two cds at that time, “Letting Go Of God” (2 cds, I big booklet) and “In The Family Way.” (That one will be one cd and no booklet.) It will be available to be bought off my website after Sept. 15th.

7. I am hiring a publicist and everything for the cd! Like a real professional!!! I'm pretty stoked. This whole do-it-yourself thing is wild. I mean, I could have released the cd through a label, but I wanted to do it myself and… it’s pretty fun, even if I probably lost a lot of sales because of how long it’s taken me.

8. I am not taking the show to New York in the fall. I was going to. I planned on it. Producers planned on it. And then, I just couldn’t. The reality of it began to sink in. Eight shows a week. Moving Mulan to a new school or home-schooling her (eeek!) Bringing a nanny. Never seeing Mulan because I am up, wired after the show, every night. Getting my house in L.A. ready to sublet. And then, doing the show that much. Suddenly, I realized I just couldn’t do the show that much! I want to do about fifteen more performances of my show. I want to do them around the country in different theaters. I want to film my show (now scheduled for December.) And then, I will be ready to stop. So, that’s what I’m going to do.

9. I accepted an offer to perform my show at Harvard in October (the 26th). This will sort of be my test performance before booking other Universities. Which I won’t do until after I film my show in December. Also, I’m writing two television pilots and I will be overwhelmed with work anyway. Plus, I’m doing this really great show for PBS about scientists at Cal-Tech and I’m going to be interviewing professors at the end of September. Busy. But the good kind of busy. Unless my head implodes.

10. I really shouldn’t be writing all this in my blog, but instead posting it on my website. I think I’ll do that too. Wow. I’m already sort of disorganized.

11. I just went on two big trips this summer. First to Iceland where I performed my show in Reykjavik. Mulan went too and so did my boyfriend Michael (!!!#!). We toured around for a week afterwards with various other people from the convention and had a blast. When I got home I was a bit ill and got very little done and then we all (Michael, Mulan, Me) went on another trip, this time to Hawaii. Oahu and Maui. I was gone 11 days. Now I’m happy to be home. Ready to work. Oh yeah, but my mother is visiting until Sunday. However, the visit is going very well. I just need to meditate three times a day for ten minutes each. Or at least that’s what I tell myself will make me the serene, above-the-chaos, compassionate, focused person I want to be. But I don’t have time to meditate three times a day for even ten minutes. But I have learned to pretend that I’ve meditated and I actually get a little hit of calm just thinking about it and imagining that I had meditated. That takes only about a minute. Maybe I should be writing about that. Instead of the One Minute Manager, the One Minute Meditater. “Get the Serenity of the Dalai Lama in only 45 seconds GUARANTEED!”

12. I’m doing a show at The Hollywood Bowl, August 25 & 26. I’m performing twenty minutes of my second monologue, “In The Family Way” and it’s going to be orchestrated by the L.A. Philharmonic and conducted by Leonard Slatkin. I’m not sure why I am being given this most amazing honor. Anthony Marinelli wrote the score. It’s really beautiful. We worked together for a couple of weeks on and off and it’s just… what an experience this will be. Just the scoring of it has been an unforgettable experience. A couple of weeks ago I was at the Hollywood Bowl as a spectator and I got to go up onstage after the show was over and saw what the Bowl looked like from there. It gave me tingles.

13. Now I really am mad at myself for not writing this in various places on my website.

14. Oh yes! Jill Sobule and I are doing two more shows together at Largo. August 22 and 29th. We had even more fun doing shows together the last time we performed.

15. I’m doing the Uncab on Saturday August 12th at the M Bar. Michael Patrick King is also on the bill. Should be fun!