Thursday, July 21, 2005

As The Cook Deals With Meat And Vegetables

I want to write/blog something often. Maybe every day. Maybe not. We will see how things go.

Today’s highlights:

A good quote I read by Eric Hoffer, a writer who lived mostly in San Francisco and died in 1983 after he spent his life being a longshoreman. He kept notebooks with his thoughts as well as writing nine books, including The True Believer which is subtitled, Thoughts on the Nature Of Mass Movements. He writes that true believers are disappointed people, “Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.”

But I am writing all this to get to one other quote of Hoffer’s that I really, really love.

“How terribly hard and almost impossible it is to tell the truth. More than anything else, the artist in us prevents us from telling aught as it really happened. We deal with the truth as the cook deals with meat and vegetables.”

I had a great late-night conversation with Michael Patrick King, my friend who was the show runner on Sex & the City and who is now working on The Comeback. A show I was initially wary of and now find impossible not to watch and watch again. Even though I am not in any way whatsoever an actress like Valerie Cherish, the actress that Lisa Kudrow plays on The Comeback, I think the show is driving me back into therapy. It has gotten under my skin. I watch it more than once.

The scariest thing on television in the last ten years are those two writers on The Comeback. They make me shiver.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I'm sorry. And I'm not moving.

Oh dear. This whole blog thing is NUTTY! Well, first of all I have to apologize. I did get several horrible e-mails from people about not believing in God. But honestly, nothing compared with the positive ones. And now I’m embarrassed that I gave the bad ones so much weight. If you look at it scientifically, and you consider that I got -- let’s see – including all the e-mail I got after the L.A. Times article, about 3500 e-mails over the last two months, and about 100 to 200, I would guess, are negative and only about 70 to 100 were hateful. Such an incredibly small percentage. Teensy weensy. Not worth bothering about.

It’s kind of weird having your blog be quoted in the paper. I think this is the third paper I’ve been quoted in. I keep thinking that blogs are so…PRIVATE. Ha. To me, blogging is like you are blathering to a friend late at night when everything in the world is bothering you and it seems like it should have a shelf life or something. And then, out of nowhere, you get quoted in the paper. I should be more…on my toes! Ready to be quoted!

And yet, the whole beauty of the blog is that it’s half personal diary and half public pronouncement. Blogs are like personal conversations at a restaurant that can suddenly include the people at the next table – sort of private, sort of not private.

In any case, I will attempt to think through what I’m writing a little more. I got sooo many letters from Christians apologizing for the bad spelling and the hateful language. I don’t even care about the bad spelling. I was being catty. And that is so bad. Bad, bad, bad.

I mean, it’s true about a few, a very few of the letters. But who cares about spelling? Some of my favorite people -- people who I consider to be geniuses -- are horrible spellers. And I had my own spelling and grammar mistakes pointed out to me. Oh why, oh why did I say that to begin with?

And the hate part – I don’t even care about that anymore. I feel hate myself. I guess more like anger, not exactly hate. Threats bug me. But I really don’t care anymore.

I sound like I'm convincing myself. I am bugged when people write and say things like, "I see you've gotten yourself more publicity." I don't know how to respond to that. Of course, what I'm doing is not responding to it.

Also, I’m not moving. I was so tired when I wrote that. And I had started a new job and I had been with my mother for over ten days. IMAGINE my state of mind.

I just flew back from Toronto where I shot something for a day. I shot an episode of my friend Bob Blumer’s Food Channel show, The Surreal Gourmet. I think I didn’t do such a good job. I think they wanted me to be witty and have quips and I did not. Why don’t I know in advance that I’m not good at that? It was a hot, long day. But excellent food.

And on the plane ride back this morning, I read a book I picked up at the airport: A Short History Of Progress by Ronald Wright. It’s soooo good. And soooo depressing. It’s almost like a very condensed version of Jared Diamond’s Collapse and Guns, Germs & Steel mixed with Martin Rees Our Final Century. If you don’t have time for Jared’s two big books, this one by Ronald Wright is sufficient. Then I also read the July/August Foreign Affairs issue, which is all about the next pandemic. Which could be the avian flu. Which could happen anytime. And how we are destined for a major population reduction. We are majorly overdue. Wright writes, “Medical experts worry that nature may swat us with disease: billions of overcrowded primates, many sick, malnourished, and connected by air travel are a free lunch waiting for a nimble microbe.” Eee gads.

Basically I am not eating meat (which I have no proof would stave off any type of avian flu) and I’m enjoying the sunsets a lot more. Even though I just ate meat for this shoot yesterday, so see how I’m a hypocrite already? But no more meat. That was the end of it.

I’m going to look up eating poultry and avian flu.

Okay, now I’ve spent an hour reading about the Avian flu on the Centers for Disease Control web site and the CNN website. The CNN website is actually better for information. You can get the Avian flu from handling birds that are infected, or being around them. When I was in China a few years ago, walking through the Qing Ping market in Guangzhou, seeing all the caged birds next to the caged dogs next to the caged cats ready to be slaughtered all together for the purchaser on the very same cutting board – I thought, this cannot be a good thing. And apparently it is not. Anyway, once the flu is entrenched in humans, it can then spread from human to human. Very scary.

I know this has nothing to do with God. But it is one of the side effects of not believing. The world truly does get scarier. Human history, civilized human history anyway, becomes a mere ten thousand or so years. A blip. A crazy patch of stable weather, good for chimps.

My favorite line in Wright’s book is: “Homo sapiens has the information to know to know itself for what it is: an Ice Age hunter only half-evolved towards intelligence; clever but seldom wise.”

Why didn’t I spend more time reading the In Style magazine that I also bought? Victorian blouses are going to be in this year. A return to conservatism!