Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Shame Of It All

Back from NYC where the cold wind was like bamboo canes slashed across the face. And I share a story that starts off with me looking like I'm laughing at the disadvantaged but ends with egg on my bamboo-reddened face.

So I take my window seat on Jet Blue-- more legroom, slightly more economical, cable TV, no headphones-- and then a woman heads towards the aisle and, before she sits down, guides her mentally challenged mature son to squeeze in between us. Okay, we're all God's children. I'm no better and no worse than anyone else(except for the Belgians). But I'm not going to lie. My mind was whirring with worst-case scenarios. What if he drools? What if he elbows me? What if he freaks out when the plane takes off? What if there's turbulence? The more these thoughts kept popping into my head, the more I worried about how I'd react if there was some kind of uncomfortable situation.

And then I knocked my drink over the guy.

I don't know how it happened. I reached for the Coke can and it slipped from my grasp. There were only a few drops left in it but they spattered across the guy's leg as it made it's way to the ground. I gave him an apologetic look as I tried to grab at it. But then I had to tug at my seatbelt so I could bend down and fumble around under the seat to retrieve it.

The look the guy gave me said it all. He couldn't believe he had to endure the rest of the journey seated next to me....

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Not Al.Z. Heimer's Fault!

The old guy shuffled back to the Apple Store today. He finally managed to negotiate the successful purchase of his iPhone. And when he got it home he found to his bafflement, it didn't sync with iTunes. The old guy may barely be able to successfully operate a soup spoon, but, in this one instance, the fault was not his. With bent back and wounded spirits, he trudges back to the Apple Store tomorrow...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Crazy Mama

America's most unstable reality show judge made her triumphant return to our screens this week.


It used to be hard breaking up with a magazine. There was a time my consumption level was close to twenty(20) different titles a month. Now I'm down to three. Domino: for all the design suggestions that I'm never going to act on. The New Yorker: for all the stuff I skim through and promise myself I'm going to get around to reading one of these days. The Word: because it's an Old Guy British rock magazine that's interesting when it touches on any subject other than Old Guy British rock.

And, up until recently, there was a fourth. I was sort of aware that the magic had long ago dribbled out of my relationship with Entertainment Weekly. But you know how it is. You think of the history you share: we go back almost twenty(20) years. You think of the good times you shared: the movie preview double issues! The new TV season issue! Jim Mullen's Hot Sheet!
You think the feeling of dissatisfaction will pass and you'll regain your affection for something that has been such a constant part of your life.

But then one day, you look at your new issue. And it's thin. It's not just thin. It's catwalk model-consumptive. And it's filled with ancient content, stuff that popped up on websites that refresh every twelve minutes. And even though there's next to nothing worth reading inside, it still packs it's paltry allocation of editorial pages with lists. And Stephen King's column which is somehow hailed as the jewel in it's crown.

So you finally face the fact: it's over. A magazine like  Entertainment Weekly has no reason to exist in it's physical incarnation(of course, the same could easily be said about me). My Thursday morning routine of picking up the new issue at the 7/11 was just a routine, bereft of anticipation, surprise or enjoyment.

Sure, there are times when I glance down at the stack of magazines on the bathroom floor and expect to see a new Heroes thinkpiece or a list of the 150 Funniest Talking Animal Movies looking back up at me. But then I remember how little we had to say to each other at the end--not to mention how tough it was to write those teeny-tiny little 100 word album reviews!-- and I know our parting ways is ultimately for the best...

Thursday, January 15, 2009


And something else from The Guardian.  90210.

Head Over Heel

Here's a piece I wrote for The Guardian about The Wrestler and where it ranks amid the recent crop of feel-good sports movies.

I Hate The 90's

Cute. Welsh. Blonde. Catchy. Kind of like The Primitives. Puts me in mind of working at SPIN magazine with people who got way too exited about groups like this. Makes me feel that there's more of this sort of stuff waiting right around the corner

Al Z. Heimer

There was this old guy in the Apple Store at The Grove yesterday. Clueless, shambling, unsteady on his feet, clearly baffled by his surroundings. Hilariously, it turned out he wanted to buy an iPhone. Shoppers and Genius bar staffers traded sympathetic smirks and amused eyerolls as the old guy made a meal of inputting his information on the screen so he could switch from his previous phone to his brand spanking new purchase. Then when it came time for him to enter his ZIP code and the last four digits of his Social Security, the form advised him his entries were incorrect. The old fool was flummoxed. His only course of action was to repeat the same entries and stand by, even more confused, as, once again, his information was rejected. Finally, he shuffled, mumbling and embarrassed, from the store, making incomprehensible noises about getting to the bottom of this and promising to return.

Guess what! The geriatric nutcase found his way back to the Apple Store this morning. He sought out the patient staff member who watched him flail yesterday and bored her blind with a never-ending monologue about how he spent 42 minutes on the phone with AT&T trying to find out what ZIP code was on his previous accounts because, as he attempted to explain, he changed addresses frequently. But now, he explained with dismaying self-satisfaction, he had the correct Zip code-- he'd even written it down!-- and would be be only to happy to repeat the process he screwed up yesterday. Once again, he fumbled with the keypad. Once again, he got to the part of the form with the required personal information. And then he realized: he'd forgotten the ZIP code. He plunged a hand deep into the hidden recesses of his dismal pants. Change. Loose buttons. Abandoned fingernails. Nothing else. No Post-It with the correct Zip code. The old guy fell apart. He pulled all the debris from all his pockets. He spread them out across the pristine Apple Store worktop as if the Post-It would materialize out of pure sympathy. When that failed to occur, what do you think the crazy old bastard did next? He only started inputting random combinations of numbers into the box just in case one of them miraculously turned out to be accurate. After a nightmarish few attempts, the old guy gave up, shoveled his grubby belongings back in his pockets and headed for the door, once again, mumbling promises to return with the correct information.

Dear God, I hope he's not there when I go back to the Apple Store this Saturday with my Zip code written on the palm of my hand so there's no confusion of embarrassment when I buy my new iPhone...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

First, You Die....

The Hottie 2 edit notes are in. I'm not a YA rookie anymore. I'm not blundering around, stupefied that I'm restricted to a single profanity and not allowed any dick jokes. I've been through this before. I know what to expect. And yet...

The first reaction is to ignore the fulsome praise aimed at the latest draft and focus on the criticisms. The next is to blow a gasket and loudly question, "Did she even read this? How can she not get this part? IT"S SO OBVIOUS!"

Then the bluster evaporates and the whining begins. "It's me. I'm no good. I was just fooling myself. I'm no writer.I'm a sham and travesty. I should send back the advance. No, wait, I can't, I used it to buy a pair of shoelaces and pack of Slim Jims."

Then the icy hand of fear takes hold. "I can't do this. It's too much work. I've constructed an intricate house of cards here. Change one element and the whole thing comes crashing down."

Then memories of the previous draft surface. The previous draft where you went through the entire process of misery and then sat down and deleted something like seventy pages of plot you thought were precious and irremovable and which ended up not making the slightest bit of difference when removed.

The you notice the February 11 deadline and blow a gasket all over again

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Seacrest out!

What made Seacrest more uncomfortable? Being tongue-handled by the bikini chick or attempting to high-five the blind guy?

Monday, January 12, 2009

The New Glory Note

Three makes a trend. Leona Lewis's `Run'. Alexandra Burke's `Hallelujah' and...? What's the next bare-bones introspective song Simon Cowell's going to subject to the swelling choir and key-change format? Could it be this:

Sally Hawkins Day

Even though Mike Leigh's films always go straight to the top of my list of Movies I Put On Lists And Then Never Bother Seeing, I can't deny he's become an amazingly consistent award-magnet for British actresses. Sally Hawkins is the latest recipient of his midas touch. I may never get around to watching Happy Go Lucky, but I did weep my way through her heart-rending performance in the BBC adaptation of `Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky' which is basically a pre-war Smiths song minus the music and with much more misery and unrequited yearning heaped on top.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Globes Of Fury!

Who had the most profound reason to curse the day Hi-Def was ever invented? The nominations: Melissa George and Kevin Bacon.

Also, was Salma Hayek bursting with affection when Eva Mendes took the stage?

Swift Boat

I harbor no ill feeling towards Taylor Swift, especially her first album which was the very definition of not-garbage, and I'm well aware that saturday Night Live is not the musician's friend. But with American Idol looming right around the corner, it's impossible to sit through a performance like this and imagine that T-Swift with her thin, reedy voice and inability to project would have ever made it past a first audition.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I grew up in Scotland where there were three main topics of conversation: 1) "mmmmrrrrwwwssssacccchhhh"( something to do with soccer). 2)' What are you drinking?" and 3) "That's a nasty cold." My hometown of Glasgow has an ungenerous climate and the houses tend towards the damp. Everyone always has a cold. I moved to New York where the main topics of conversation were 1) "Courtney Love's insane". 2) "Stop saying mean stuff about Courtney" (I worked at a music magazine) and 3) "I'm not coming in tomorrow, I've got a cold."

Now I live in L.A where there are no topics of conversation because I rarely leave the house. But, as all West Coast apologists are quick to point out, we put up with a lot to live here because of the lovely climate. And it is lovely. As I write, it's a very pleasant 61. And I have a cold! An eye-streaming, temple-pounding, nose-dripping cold. The kind of cold I used to get every other day in Glasgow and New York. The kind of cold that was so commonplace I never felt the need to whine about it. But now it's such a freak occurrence that it;'s turned me into a moaning, Kleenex-toting martyr. If the one thing living in L.A had going for it can't be relied on anymore, what's the point of being here?