Friday, June 03, 2005

A weekend aside

You don't know much about me. That's intentional. Until the recent media blitz, I was happy to remain cloaked in a pseudonym. I like to be the observer, not the observed.

But in these marvelous, inspiring, funny, touching and thoroughly humbling emails I am getting every day -- this week the Ivy League discovered the blog -- you're asking questions. So with your indulgence, I'll share a couple of things and then on Monday I'll resume regular bidness.

Shoot, if you read all these posts, you get a pretty good idea who's behind the mask. No surprise, I'm sure, to learn that I listen to Al Franken on Air America almost every weekday. I read Romenesko, Gawker, Defamer, Slate, the NYT and Page Six. I consider Mark Felt (aka Deep Throat) a hero and Molly Ivins a goddess.

After spending years hanging out in movie and TV studios and Hollywood backlots for interviews, I'm a slave to pop culture and showbiz gossip. Has Tom Cruise lost his last marble? Why did Katie Holmes go up the crick without a clue? Why does Oprah wear so much orange? And does she really expect her viewers to read THREE Faulkner novels as they bake on the beach this summer?

I love Mario Cantone's stand-up, the first 20 minutes of Regis & Kelly, the last five minutes of Jeopardy! and every minute of What Not to Wear (on BBC-America, not TLC). This week I wallowed in Beauty and the Geek on The WB and the new ballroom dance reality show on ABC. I've seen every episode of every Real World (RW: Austin starts in three weeks and I've already blocked out everything else that night). This morning I stopped everything to watch the luminous Luise Rainer in the 1938 black and white weeper Dramatic School on Turner Classics. Playing a bit part: a teenage Lana Turner.

Last week I reviewed Cathy Rigby in the touring production of Peter Pan and clapped wildly to bring Tinkerbell back to life. Next week, it's The Producers, which features its own big fairy, Carmen Ghia. This Sunday I'll hunker down with a plate of Chinese takeout to watch the Tony Awards.

Fave reading material: Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (with whom I once got deliciously loaded on margaritas in the only gay bar open on a Sunday night in Columbus, Ohio). Hardly anyone has read A Fan's Notes by Frederick Exley or Never Trust a Naked Bus Driver by Jack Douglas. They're worth finding. In a grad school class last year, I went mad for Woolf's A Room of One's Own and Mrs. Dalloway. Lately I've liked Freakonomics and Blink. I want to reread All the President's Men (my first edition is signed by both Woodward and Bernstein... if the house catches fire, it's the first thing I'll grab).

Spinning in rotation on my CD player are the cast album of Wicked, Beck's Guero and my friend Gary Floyd's sumptuous Unbound.

As for my writing schedule, since someone asked... If I can think up enough errands to keep me out of the house, I won't start work until late in the day. I prefer writing in the middle of the night with talk radio on. And if there are no Diet Cokes in the fridge when I sit down at the keyboard, I get as twitchy as Patty Duke jonesing for reds in Valley of the Dolls.

I have a dog. She's a 15-year-old Aussie Shepherd with what the vet calls "end of life issues." She's on pain meds but sometimes they wear off too soon and I become Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment getting frantic until the nurses give Debra Winger the morphine. Last night was a rough one. For three hours I had an ailing doggie in my lap as we both sat on the floor till after 1 a.m. She was aching and crying. I was crying. I finally thought, what the hell, and fed her half a can of the wet food she loves, with an extra pain pill stuck into one big bite. (If I thought it would soothe her, I'd eat the dog food.) She calmed down and fell asleep. She's rested peacefully all day and enjoyed a huge dinner.

Funny how having a sick member of the family -- a four-legged one -- can refocus priorities.

Enough about me now. Keep those emails coming. In the middle of the night, with a sweet old dog snoring in my lap, they really help.

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