So! If'n you'd like to see some of my wife's paintings up close and personal, perhaps while drinking coffee and perusing a book of essays by Susan Sontag, the cafe at Borders on the Santa Monica Promenade is showing her work through the month of April.
On Friday night we drove to our friend Jaq's apartment near the Promenade. Jaq is a floor manager at Borders and responsible for the artwork on the cafe walls, which is how mi esposa landed this gig. It had been a while since we'd seen him so over a late night pizza we caught up. The next morning (after taking a few minutes to turn Jaq on to Homestar Runner) we ate breakfast at Polly's Pies ("Welcoming as many guests as the law allows: 96") and then drove to Borders for the hanging. It was a little stressful, as such things are, but in the end we got things the way we wanted, having to dislodge only a few paying customers from their seats so we could pound nails where their heads were. One group commented very favorably on Angela's work as we were hanging it, which is always nice.
Early on during the nail-pounding, factgirl and her daughter Hellcat arrived. They amused themselves at the toy store next door while we finished our gritty labor, and then we walked a few blocks (It's just halfway down the next block, I swear, facty insisted at each new block) to a really good Thai restaurant within prawn-throwing distance of the ocean. After a delicious lunch and swell conversation in the course of which Hellcat proved herself to be just about the sweetest, cutest smartest little girl ever, we piled into the Factmobile and jetted off to the Giant Robot store on Sawtelle. You may be familiar with Giant Robot the magazine of Asian pop culture; this is their retail outlet and I'd been dying to go there for years. The store was full of Asian imports of the type you don't find at, say Mitsuwa. I'm guessing this is what the hip alternative kids in Japan are into. There's local product too, and I yearned for a t-shirt with a Recognizer from Tron on it. Tragically they didn't have my size, and twenty-three bucks is a little steep for a t-shirt anyway. They also had Micronauts and again, if I'd had twenty-five dollars I could have once again owned Baron Karza, this time in translucent red plastic befitting his evil nature. Angela scored a shirt with a bunny crouching in a pair of headphones on it. Factgirl bought a piggy bank of that brown guy with a big open red mouth and jagged teeth--you know, the one who looks like poop.
The wimmenfolk moved on to look in other stores that carry dishes and paper and such (Sawtelle has a plethora of Asian import stores, which we were completely unaware of before this trip.) I remained in the GR store trying to find something to buy. Just as I was about to leave I caught sight of a display of those little plastic toys that come individually packaged in very small cardboard boxes so you don't necessarily know which toy in the series you're getting 'til you open it. There were plenty of thse around the store, but THIS one had pictures of Mothman, the Jersey Devil, the Jackalope, and the mysterious Crystal Skull on the display, plus other creatures and artifacts from the type of books I was addicted to as a kid. The line of toys is called The Great Mystery Museum Collection and as soon as I find out more about them I'm going to node it. I grabbed three, one from each series, and found myself in possession of incredibly well-made and detailed plastic reproductions of El Chupacabra, a sea monster/submarine tableau called "U-28 Saw It", and something called the "Shaded Figure" which I remember Von Daniken used to argue was an ancient sculpture of a man in a space suit. They are some of the most wonderful things I have ever seen. Oh, and I got a poster for my wife by the same artists who did the bunny shirt; it's a takeoff on the famous Hokusai "wave" image, only if you look closely you see that the foam is cascading bunnies.
After grabbing some refreshing cold drinks at a nearby tea shop and catching a glimpse of a posse of young mobsters piling into their Mercedes, we returned to our Santa Monica parking garage and said our reluctant farewells, promising to meet again soon. One parking toll booth and seven dollars later we were on the road again and heading for home.
This morning I placed a call to Igloowhite's cell phone. Oddly enough, on one of the very rare occasions we're in Los Angeles he was to be in San Diego. We'd hoped to get together for lunch or coffee or something while he was in town, but when I reached him I learned that he and his special lady had ended up only spending one night in town and were already back at Firebase Igloo. "Dude, what the FUCK?" I said, hiding my disappointment. We then discussed the chapters I'd emailed him of my novel. He was very encouraging, and his perceptive criticism of those parts that still need work I recognized as being right on the mark. I was very grateful for the feedback, and as my deadline to get the manuscript to iUniverse is the end of this month, getting the story into its final, best shape is a now-or-never endeavor.
After we hung up, my thoughts turned to just how close that deadline is. I suddenly had a vivid and painful realization of how many times over the past few weeks I had watched television, played computer games, read books, noded and slept when I could have been writing. I was filled with shame, then terror which turned into a deep and all-pervasive gloom which lasted about an hour. I then became hungry and had a sandwich, after which I passed through rage and despair. This by the way is my normal response to criticism.
Then...well, then I wrote a daylog.
In summary, it was great to be back in L.A., and to see our dear friends Jaq and Kate, and while I'm sorry that Mr. White and I missed each other there will, as they say, be another day. Furthermore, I have a crapload of writing to do and will probably miss my deadline and be a pathetic wretched laughingstock the rest of my life. But on the other hand, I'm not being shot at.