Monday, March 06, 2006

Well, I guess that’s it. “Crash” won best picture. How disappointing. I mean, the Academy misses so often, but this year – with such wonderful films, it really missed. In spite of this, I am going to take back my announcement that I won’t ever watch the Academy Awards again. That’s because this year I went to an Academy Awards party. Not an official one, just a friend who had some friends over. I’ve been invited many times, but I’ve never gone. I usually prefer to skip it all together or watch the show and read a magazine or a book at the same time. But this year I went to my friends’ house and I had the best time. I barely had to pay attention, I got to catch up with my friend Wendy, eat some great food and laugh a lot. People thought Jon Stewart wasn’t so great, but after his torturous beginning, I thought he handled himself nicely. I liked the little mock-ads, I laughed at them. I felt safe with him up there on the stage.

Afterwards I went with another friend to the Elton John after party. Again, fun. I didn’t have the time of my life or anything, but pleasant. I laughed, caught up with my friend, and ate some really amazing pizza. Had two gin and tonics. Watched Elton John sing with another band that I’m too much of an old lady to remember who they were. All the women at the party under age 70 were wearing a square inch of clothes with their breasts almost fully exposed. I was fully covered, but still I felt pretty and relaxed. I did not fall into a shame spiral. See: progress!

This week I am doing a guest spot on “Joey,” that “Friends” sit com spin off. My friend Jennifer Coolidge is on that show, although she’s not in the scene(s)? I’m doing. In any case, I hope we get to catch up too. Then I head to Palm Springs on Thursday night.

The cd must get finished this week. Everything is done, and I am the one holding things up because I can’t finish tweaking the transcript that will be the book/text of the show that will be inserted along with the CDs. What is wrong with me? I get 90% of something done and then I freeze. With the “Letting Go Of God?” screenplay (yes – it now officially has a question mark in the title) a friend literally stepped in and took over the final organizing and editing of it. So far, I’m getting a very good response to the script. I think with this situation I will have to turn it over as well. This afternoon, I am paying someone to finish it. I can never decide whether to overcome my shortcomings or accept them and move forward with help.

Oh, yesterday the L.A. Times had an article about my show and me. It’s a nice article. I got several calls about it. I guess I’m the smiling atheist. That’s so funny. Who would have thunk it? And for the record, I am not always smiling. Witness: my blog.

Yesterday I did my show at the Groundlings. It was sold out. The audience was very quiet during the first act. It turns out that the piano bench I sit on, on stage, had one of it’s legs precariously hanging off this wood-podium-like-thing it balances on. Several people, after the show, said they feared for my life and that’s all they could concentrate on. One guy, a paramedic, said that all he could think about was how my head was going to hit the stage floor when it toppled backwards and what he was going to do about it when it happened. Not exactly what you want your audience to be feeling. In the end, after the piano bench was sturdified, I seemed to regain the audience’s attention. I was upstaged by a piece of furniture! ARGH.

Wow, I have been a spectacularly absent mother this weekend. I only spent Saturday all day with Mulan and during the day I went to two meetings and took several long phone calls. It fills me with guilt and sadness. But, she did say one hilarious thing to me on Saturday as we drove to my eyebrow appointment in Beverly Hills – yes, my eyebrows are professionally managed every two weeks, it’s my one area of major indulgence on my grooming I think – and as we were driving Mulan said with a touch of exasperated ennui, “Can you make these eyebrow appointments during the week, when I’m at school?”

That doesn’t look all that sad and funny, but at the time, I couldn’t stop laughing about it. She’s right; I can make them during the week. But just the idea that she’s aware that she’s being drug around to my appointments makes me realize she’s not a baby anymore. I used to be able to say, “Mulan, guess what? You get to play with your dolls and color in your coloring book…at an office building! Yes, a big office building where we’ll take an elevator! And while you play Mommy is going to chat with a few people!!!” And she would laugh and clap her hands, “Coloring!” “Elevators!” And now the jig is up. She’s aware it’s all about me. Shit!

Okay, now I’ve had a good hour and a half with Mulan and tonight we have an evening to spend together. We played "orphanage" - a game she insists on playing over and over. It's a sort of heartbreaking fantasy play game where she lays in my bed and I pretend I come into the orphanage and find her and then I give her a hug and a cuddle. She would play this game day and night if I would go for it. I think this is okay for us. She seems to need it. I am a weary actress in the scenarios though, I used to have a lot of enthusiasm for these games, but now I have to fake it slightly. Plus, we break character now all the time, stop and talk about what she's going to wear to school or what I'm going to put in her lunchbox, and then going back to the orphanage game.

Today I will recover from the weekend.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't see all the enthusiasm for "Crash". It was just "Grand Canyon" all over again.

And it is kind of a shock when a kid grows up enough to figure out what's going on. Our daughter just turned seven, and she's definitely at that point for a lot of things.

And the article in the Times was good. Being known as the 'smiling atheist' isn't all bad. At least they didn't say you have horns or something.

crabbydad said...

I understand the "orphanage game" thing. My daughter had her tonsils out last September (along with a couple nerve-wracking days in the ICU for 'complications') and she wants to play hospital all the time. It's heartbreaking but also sweet. I think she has really fond memories of her time there because the woman in the playroom gave her her first (and last) Barbie. I figure, invest the time and effort in the 'hospital game' now and save a lot of money on potential therapy later.

niecey said...

The Oscars been a sham for a long time now. Don't base too much on them. It's just a reason to go to a cool party, nowadays...and a little gambling is fun, too.

My mom used to play orphanage with us when I was about 3-7 yrs old. I'm sure it got old for her, too, but it is something I remember having a lot of fun with...and I still remember it fondly over 30 years later :)

Anonymous said...

When my Mother played the "Orphanage Game" with me she had a different twist. I was six or seven,I did something bad and was told that I was going to be sent to the orphanage. She make me pack my little brown suite case and then sit at the bottom of the stairs and waite for the cab to come. I would waite for hours. And I would see myself in my mind's eye, walking along a broken down street draging my suite case and their my Mother would drive by, she give me a little waive of the hand and just keep on driving. I would sliently cry to myself, because she would not stop. After two or three hours she would come to the top of the stairs and say the "orphanage called and said their full try again tomorrow" so I was to go to my room and leave my suite case packed. In the dark, I would lay thinking of tomorrow.

Steven Strauss said...

"Crash" seemed like "Magnolia" rewritten as a two hour season finale of "E.R." In place of a rain of frogs I'm sure you can think of a finale much more heart-tugging and no more plausible.

As for the Best Picture vote, Jack and Ennis didn't stand a chance in the category open to all voters. How could it win when a significant straight male percentage of the Academy would naturally and inevitably fail to get around to watching Jack and Ennis doing whatever it is that they do.

I occasionally see movies that create a world for the viewer to observe and grasp without having it explained. You can go years of Oscar nights without ever hearing about such movies.

Hellbound Alleee said...

"Letting Go of God?" ?

Wait, did I miss something? Why is there a question mark in it now? I can speculate, but I'm wondering if this question mark is really softening it enougn for the people who need it softened, anyway. It's just too bad. Or is the idea that people who see the thing will go not knowing if you "Let Go," and then the answer comes later? Eh...I guess you, or someone, has their reasons. It's just that when I look at it, it looks more like, "Letting Go of God? You're Kidding, Right?"

Steven Strauss said...

Hellbound Alleee, without the punctuation the title sounds like a field guide, and *that* bothered *me* before. At least this way it mirrors the narrative, which takes the form of an inquiry. (The title I liked best was "My Beautiful Loss-Of-Faith Story.")

Sean Rhoades said...

Hi Julia
I think the question mark in the title of your show is a wise idea? However, given that I do decide to listen to the show "Letting Go of God?", upon hearing your finale conclusion, will I know what that question mark is for. (I only caught the show you did on NPR's 'This American Life') My hope is that it means you will actually keep a place in your heart to really seek the Gospel about Jesus Christ as truth. From what I know about the show, so far, I believe your questions are healthy and should be asked by every believer. But I might also add that if the question mark proves to be a place in your heart to seek the truth, that you will do it outside of any dogmatic doctrines found in large organized religious groups, such as the Catholic Church. All you really need are two or three fellow believers and a Bible. (Matthew 18:20 GNB For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.") I am certain you remember the "Our Father prayer", as found in the sermon on the mount. The first thing we ask our Father in that prayer is that his name be made clean from the reproach it has received. This reproach, I believe comes from the Capitalistic nature we see in America's Christianity today. Jesus Christ has been divided, each group has its sales pitch wrapped around one or more scriptures taken out of context. The temple of God has been turned into a market place, each one tailored around drawing people, based on their own image of what they define God to be, and not who God really is. This, to me, is no different than idolatry.

In his Word
Sean Rhoades

moegirl said...

Hi Julia

I relate to both your eyebrows and daughter's game. My daughter is older now, but she used to like to hide in the linen closet in a pink feather boa, and I had to "introduce her" to her waiting audience of stuffed animals. Sometimes she wanted to be introduced as herself, sometimes as Madonna. I introduced her a gazillion times. I got really sick of that game.

On the eyebrow front- I've had my eyebrows "tinted" each time praying nervously not to look like Groucho Marx. I've always had good results- fortunately. Good eyebrows seem like an easy make up short cut.

Siamang said...

LOL, Sean.

Hey Julia, Check out this story:

Then check out the discussion here:

And here:

Great christian/atheist discussion going on.

Anonymous said...

First, and foremost; I love your work. You killed on SNL !
My real reason for writing, though, was in regards to your life in Spokane. I just finished "Atomic Harvest". It was about Hanford. I thought of you, and when and where you grew up. I thought of your battle with cancer. My wife has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. You were a "downwinder". Have you any thoughts in regards to your illness and it's possible connection to Hanford's emissions?

Jim Piver
Paradise, CA

Anonymous said...

Hi. The This American Life excerpt was really very good. Looking forward to the movie, regardless of its name.

Now about the eyebrows... why do women like to pluck them down to very thin wisps? I guess I'm in the minority in thinking thin wisps are less attractive than substantial eyebrows. But I would mention, that some women, especially of asian descent, have the reverse problem of trying to make their eyebrows MORE prominent (to the point of painting them on in some cases). I guess I'm lucky to be a male and not have to worry about my eyebrows.

Anonymous said...

The adding of the ? has "marketing" written all over it. I understand the reasoning or lack of but it is your choice and I support that.

Justin Kreutzmann said...

sounds like life is good. CRASH or not

Siamang said...


Hemant's story of the ebay atheist is fast becoming the atheism story of the year. He was on the front page of the Wall St. Journal today, and the cover of the Chicago Sun Times.

He'll be going to TED next year, mark my word! And eating pomegranate, and writing a book!

Fun stuff. Oh, and a bunch of my friends from work are going to your show next week. So, you know, like scratch your ear or something. Just cough or whatever. Take a longer pause between acts. I'll tell em that was because of me.

Anonymous said...

Gee, Julia, I just discovered your blog and found it refreshing in its directness as I did your television and radio performances relating to your personal life that I have been fortunate enough to encounter.

I think you, most reviewers, and most of the previous commenters missed the point of "Crash" It is not(only?)an emotionally manipulative piece about racism & reconciliation but it is, in fact about something you referred to in one of your other blog postings: perceiving the world through the filter of your "ego."

The detective's mother's inability, for example, to let go of the idea that her wayward son was not the person who cared for her is just one example of this.

Look at the other relationships in the movie and you can see that this goes on on level after level.

The one common element in all is how we perceive others through the ego filters of fear, need, desire, greed that fuel our preconceptions and how difficult it is to shake those once formed.

Even the snowfall at the end of the movie (reminiscent of the ending of James Joyce's The Dead)) despite the ambiguity of whether it be burning ashes or the snow promised on the forecasts somewhat,I'd say, masterfully brings this theme home.

Your expectations are irrelevant. Life happens.
Let's learn to love and live it as openly and directly as possibly.

This is one of the rare years in which I saw almost every one of the best movie candidates (except Munich, I just realized) and "Crash" was the only one I wanted to see again to explore the nuances.

Anonymous said...

heard you on the NPR fundraiser last night - missed some of it I think - but it was the first time and I was thrilled to hear someone with the guts to criticize the bible publically. you obviously paid more attention than i did in bible class, so i learned a lot. never before had i thought of jesus as angry, probably because i am just as angry and think of myself as a peaceful loving person. i don't like the question mark either. definitely makes it sound like you are just trying the idea out for size. which if so, is good to admit.

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