A Trial Gone Wrong

Monday: You know that woman who killed her child but the jury let her go? Rumor has it that they’ve moved her into the empty repo at the end of the block.

Tuesday: No sign of the press, which is good. Of course, all the kids on the block have been forbidden to go near the murderess house. Folks walk their dogs on the other side of the street. I may walk past later.

Wednesday: The mailman says she doesn’t take in her mail, which is all junk anyway. He says he won’t deliver any more till she takes it in.

Thursday: She doesn’t water the lawn or anything. No car. Mrs. Jones says that she thinks her cat may be missing but isn’t sure. Mrs. Ramirez says she thinks she heard a scream in the night.

Friday: Rumor has it some kids snuck over and peeked in the windows of the murderess house last night. It’s vacant. I guess she moved out.

Flag Stickers

Whenever I see an American flag sticker in the window of a car lately, I’ve been asking the driver why it’s there. The results so far:

3 – Have a son, daughter, or spouse in Iraq or Afganistan.

8 – Want to show that they’re proud to be an American.

12 – Donated to a conservative campaign.

5 – Donated to Sarah Palin.

6 – Asked me why I wanted to know.

1 – Asked me where I was from.

1 – Told me to go f**k myself. (Also had a Dixie flag sticker.)

Through Story 3

After I fixed her second flat, Anna parked her bike in my office every morning. I was coming in around noon and at the time and never saw her do it. I’d pass her work area and see her sitting at a workstation in there with the rest of the artists, generating storyboards. I never saw her smiling, but she had a quality that attracted me like a magnet. I made extra trips past the door.

On a Friday, after several weeks of this, I was hurrying back to my office in the late afternoon to balance my drug and alcohol levels. I was having trouble with my head, or my legs, or my fingers. I couldn’t tell which. The uppers and the downers in me were pulling in non-orthogonal directions but I couldn’t think straight enough to know what to do about it. My office door was open and Anna stood just inside holding her bike by the handlebars. She had her helmet on and her pantlegs were gathered up by bike gaiters.

I nodded and pushed past her to my desk. I felt her eyes on me.

“How are you?” I said over my shoulder. “I’m just…”

She was wheeling her bike out the door. I fumbled with my keys, trying to unlock my desk drawer while looking back at her. She pulled the door shut after her, with a click.

I lined up my pill bottles on the desktop and unscrewed their lids. How to proceed? I fished out a bottle of Jack Daniels from the drawer.

The phone on my desk purred.

“What are you doing down there?” Aaron said, when I picked it up. “Get back to the stage. Brad is ranting at the crew. Help him out. Help them out.”

“I’ll be there in a minute.”

“You’ll be there now.”

He hung up.

I dithered, took several deep drags from the bottle, and left it at that.

“I can’t say these lines,” Brad said to me when I got back.

“You can’t say Don’t go. I love you?”

“I can say Don’t go. I can’t say I love you.”

“Why not?” I said.

“This guy wouldn’t say that.”

“Well, then, just say Don’t go. Say it like you mean it. Say it like it will make her stop. Say it like you mean you’re in love with her.”

“I need more than that. Give me some words.”

“Don’t go. I… I’m hungry. Make my dinner first. Don’t go… I’m horny. I need you. That’s it, Brad. Don’t go. I need you.”

“Nah. He wouldn’t say I need you, either.”

“I want you?”

“No.”

“Don’t go. Stay.”

“Lame.”

“Don’t go. I… I have something to tell you.”

Brad perked up.

“Ok,” he said. “Now then.”

“So she hesitates,” I said. “She doesn’t look back but she says What?”

“Yeah,” Brad said. “And then what do I say?”

“You say, Come back in here. You say it strong. She comes back in. She says What? again.”

“Yeah? And?”

“And you say, I love you.”

“Oh for Christ’s sake,” Brad said. “Get the f**k out of here, will you?”

Later Aaron came down to my office.

“Miramar Palms,” he said. “I won’t take no for an answer.”

“I’ll write him the damn lines. I’ll do it right now. I’m feeling better.”

“Too late. He could see the shape you’re in. I can see the shape you’re in. Everybody can see the shape you’re in. It’s a useless shape. I can also see into that open drawer. Your visit to Miramar will be the studio’s treat.”

“I can’t go back there, Aaron. It almost killed me last time.”

“I’m driving you over there now.”

“Just like that? Without a suitcase? Without a toothbrush?”

“They’ve got plenty of your stuff from last time. You room is ready and waiting. It’s all set.”

I was already sweating. I reached into the open drawer and opened a random bottle and took out a couple of capsules and swallowed them. I picked up the Jack Daniels and drained it.

“That should hold you till we get there,” Aaron said, “barring traffic on the 405.”

“Tell the woman with the bike she can still  keep it here,” I said, handing him the key to the door.

Pinchas the alien

I’ve written previously about Amos and his sister Fruma (here and here). They’re aliens from another planet who work on contract at Universal. I forget how I know that they’re aliens, but there is no doubt in my mind that they are.

I don’t see Fruma much anymore. I asked Amos about her and he told me to forget her, and I feel as if I have.

Amos is a lot of fun to hang with and I asked him to point out others of his ilk.

“There are a number of alien tourists working in Hollywood,” he said, “but they aren’t of my ilk. We aliens all look human here, but back on our individual planets, most of us are just plain repulsive. It’s one more reason we like to spend time on Earth. Back home, drunk or not, you don’t want to screw a two-ton cockroach. Especially if she lives in a public toilet.”

“You’re highly evolved,” I said. “Why would you be replusive?”

“Humans are simple. Two of this, two of that. One schvantz. Smooth skin unless some hair on the back. On my planet, oy vey. Three zayin, minimum. Can you imagine three different painful STDs at once, caught from a damned roach? Evolution. Don’t get me started. Everything gets mixed in, the bugs, the birds, the frogs, you’ve got parts you don’t know what they’re there for. Like those old VCR machines here on Earth, with the knobs and the dials and the God knows what. Good riddance to VCRs.”

Amos introduced me one night to a guy named Pinchas, who was working as a compositor at MGM. We were over at the Power House on Highland, drinking caipirinhas on a hot night.

“You a tourist too?” I asked the guy.

“Damned straight I am.”

“Amos was telling me that you all appreciate the simplicity of the human body,” I said.

“It’s true. A babe has two breasts, in most cases. Genius. One isn’t enough. Three isn’t necessary. You play with one, then play with the other, go back and forth. Of course, here in Hollywood there is way too much gel, but once in a while you’ll turn up a natural pair… But you know what? It’s the simplicity of the human mind that I like most.”

“How so?”

“On my planet, I’ve always got nineteen things at once on my various minds. Whereas, look at you. One brain. A silly smile on your face. Your race strolling toward the cliff of racial oblivion and what are you doing tonight? Cocktails? A couple of lines on this napkin? A joint or two out in the lot? Close the place with a pitcher of beer? Genius.”

“Hey,” I said. “I’ve got a lot on my mind. I’m a worried man.”

Pinchas laughed. He drank. He banged his fists on the table.

“You’re sooo primitive,” he said. “Most of your urges and motivations and worries and fears are located in your unconscious. In your unconscious! You don’t even know what they are. You don’t even know that they’re there. My God, what I wouldn’t give for an unconscious. Can you imagine what it’s like being conscious all the time? Do you know how much booze and weed and crank and shit it takes to shut down my f**king conscious? Just take a hammer to my head. The last day on Earth and you’ll be sitting in here laughing at that joke about the bunch of bananas and the lonely doughnut.”

I reached over and conked him on the top of his head as hard as I could with the side of my fist.

Pinchas groaned.

“Yes,” he said. “Yes. For a second there I almost felt human.”

Top 5 Hollywood Rumors This Week (2)

– One of the top voodoo practitioners in Hollywood, at the behest of Selena Gomez, has FedEx’d to Justin Bieber an Elvis finger, as a birthday good-luck juju. This does not prove that Elvis is dead, but it does prove that he no longer has ten fingers.

– Justin Bieber rolled three Yahtzees in a row in a game against his tutor.

– The other top voodoo practitioner in Hollywood, at the behest of Shia Labeouf, has UPS’d to Justin Bieber a finger from Macaulay Culkin, as a bad juju. Since Culkin appears to have ten fingers remaining, it proves that he previously had eleven.

– Justin Bieber’s tutor rolled three Yahtzees against Bieber and shouted “Suck on this, bitch!”

– Paparazzi have photographed Justin Bieber on the beach at Malibu picking his nose. It cannot be determined from the pics whether he is using the Elvis finger, or Culkin’s.

Life in Hollywood: prosecuted compelling equivocal removal favorable

There is a producer, Isaac, with whom I have worked at Universal for years. Isaac has prosecuted a successful career in the industry, with many compelling films to his credit, and few that were equivocal. He’s never faced abrupt and ignominious removal from his office and from the lot, like so many of his peers. His  future prospects are favorable, if not sparkling.

Isaac called me into his office the other day and asked me to do a treatment of an idea he had. Or he had had. Or that he had had. He paced behind his desk.

“The nation is filling up with geezers,” he said. “Even I am becoming a geezer. Let’s cash in on the demo.”

“Sure,” I said.

“E. T.,” Isaac said. “His race, out there in space, they age faster than us. He comes back to Earth, he’s old. He’s a wizened little f**ker. He comes back to find Drew. You remember that other movie Drew was in, where some guy has a Barrymore fan club and he just wants to have lunch with her, and when she finds out, she has lunch with him? Well, with E.T. in this movie, I’m thinking, she doesn’t find out that he’s back and she doesn’t have lunch with him. See, E.T. always had a yen for Drew. Anyway, Universal lets him stay on the lot but he can’t get a meeting, not with Drew, not with Spielberg, not with nobody, nothing, nada, zilch. He’s old news. Nobody cares from this guy. Eventually, he gives up with a broken heart, or whatever he has in there, and walks out the gate. Or gets kicked out. He ends up on the street with Will Smith in that homeless violin movie. Or was that Jamie Foxx? So then E.T. has some street  adventures, you dream up something for him, and meanwhile Drew hears what’s happened and she goes out looking for him. She’s depressed. Maybe she’s not over that breast-reduction she had. She didn’t realize how much she was going to miss them.”

“Geez, Isaac, I don’t know about this.”

“Shut up. Put in a little sex. Howard the Duck got it on in his movie, didn’t he? Did Spielberg show the little guy’s thing at all? E.T. comes back, he’s old, but he’s still human, you know what I mean?”

“Couldn’t he be regular age, maybe six feet, like in Avatar?”

“What, are you crazy? Nobody wants to see Drew shtup a six-foot lizard. What are you thinking? But now, if he’s old and creaky, it’s a Mother Teresa thing. And even old, he could be hung. The geezer demo can still operate. Don’t make this Coccoon. It’s more like The Wrestler meets Thelma Schoonmaker.”

He opened his desk drawer and pulled out a personal checkbook. Scribbled me a check.

“Keep it to yourself,” he said. “These sharks around here, they’ll steal your balls out of your boxers, you let them.”

Life in Hollywood: upset, “ho stroll,” common, money, house keys

It has never upset me to learn that a woman I am seeing is a whore. Over the years, some of my best friends have been whores.  That doesn’t mean that I want to see my current squeeze out on Sepulveda or down on a ho stroll in South L.A. Hey, I’m a script doctor. I’ve got a lot in common with my friends the whores. They need money, I need money, but we’re all a little short right now. Probably more than one woman with my house keys still in her purse is selling it as we speak.

Having said that, there was Tivona. Tivona did a little work in costumes but a lot more with the crew. She didn’t service the stars; she handled all those names you see in the crawl at the end of the movie. Tivona and I liked to share a drink or two, or a toke or a line or a pipe once in a while when we were both free. I liked Tivona and Tivona liked me. We spent some quality body time together too and it didn’t hurt that she was flexible in mind, body, and morals. She also darned a couple of socks for me.

What happened with Tivona was, she was so well liked around the studio that eventually some producer offered her a bit in a summer blockbuster. All she had to do, naturally, was sleep with a couple of executives and the star. So I congratulated her and invited her out to dinner to talk about it.

“I don’t think I should go,” she says.

“What?”

“Well, you know. I’m sort of going with the top line now. I’ve got my ticket. I’m not sure that I should be, you know, consorting with the crew anymore.”

“Tivona. You’re screwing a couple of rich sleazeballs to get a part in a movie. It’s no different than what you’ve been doing around here for months.”

“Please don’t talk like that, Honey. I’m an actress now.”

“You’ve been acting for years, if you know what I mean.”

“Don’t be coarse. I’ll get you tickets to the premier.”

“I don’t want the premier. I want your rear.”

But I didn’t get it. Tivona (not her real name, by the way) is a real star now, with the public romances and the adopted babies and the home in Malibu and the fancy wheels. All I get from her on the set is a wink.

Life in Hollywood: moment, woman, grand, reassembled, misunderstand

Harry likes to call me on the spur of the moment. He’ll have a woman and his poker buddies waiting for him in Vegas at the MGM Grand and I’ll drive him over from L.A. When we arrive, I’ll find the boys reassembled in Harry’s suite, ready for action, and the girl sitting at his wet bar. I always grumble when he asks, but don’t misunderstand. I never regret helping him out.

Just to be clear, Harry is not Willie Nelson. Harry is an older, grizzled star like Willie. Harry sings like Willie. He spends time in Hawaii like Willie (who lives there). Harry smokes cigars and a lot of weed. He loves poker, like Willie. Willie, however, focuses on life and poker in Paia with the other members of his rat pack there: Don Nelson, Owen Wilson, and Woody Harrelson. Harry lives up on Mulholland Drive. The poker rooms in their homes, Willie’s  and Harry’s, aren’t so very different, though.

Harry doesn’t like to fly and he doesn’t like to drive his own car. I’ve been his gofer on a number of movies over the years and he’s happy to ride shotgun with me behind the wheel. He insists that I be sober both ways, so our little road trips provide me with an opportunity to dry out a little. When the traffic is reasonable, the trip takes five hours, more or less. On this latest occasion, I told Harry that I had to be back on set in two days, no matter what. Harry said we wouldn’t be gone that long.

He seemed unusually excited this time around. He ran off at the mouth all the way to Nevada. His arch enemy Sid was coming to the game, and Sid always got Harry going. Harry and Sid are the best of an excellent group of poker players. They’ve taken a lot of money off the others in the group, and Sid has taken a lot of money off Harry. This time, Harry said, he had a secret weapon. He wouldn’t say more.

We checked into the Grand and in no time at all Harry had a blond bimbo on his arm, his girl for the trip. He squired her around, showing her off to hotel staff and punters he knew from all over. Harry’s wife never made the trip.

The poker game, once it started, progressed as it often does when Harry and Sid are after each other and in top form. By the time the sun came up, after no more than twelve hours of play, the two of them were alone at the table in the suite. The rest of us were spectators. Once head-to-head, they switched to seven card stud exclusively. Old school. After an hour of play, Harry was already on the rocks. He sat back in his chair.

“I don’t feel so good,” he said. He gestured toward the house phone. “Get the doc down here.”

A young Asian physician appeared, gave Harry a onceover, and told him to stop playing.

“I won’t stop,” Harry said.

“Don’t be an idiot, ” Sid said. “I’m not playing a sick man.”

“Then forfeit your chips,” Harry said.

“You ain’t that sick.”

Harry rubbed his face. He groaned.

“Let my girl take over for me,” he said. “Just until I get myself back together.”

Sid’s eyebrows shot up. He looked over at the bimbo. He looked back at Harry.

“Who is she?” he said.

“That’s Reba,” Harry said. “Reba, come over here.”

Reba came over. I pushed a chair forward and she sat down at the table next to Harry. Sid stared at her.

“Harry, you dog,” Sid said. “You’re throwing in a ringer. You think she’s better than either of us? Or is she a mechanic?”

“Look at her,” Harry said.

She was not prepossessing.

“Take off the dark glasses,” Sid said to her.

She took off the glasses.

“Take off the wig,” he said.

She looked at Harry.

“Go ahead, Baby,” he said.

She took off the wig. She had a mousey little noggin.

“You know her?” Harry said.

Sid shook his head.

“If she were any good, you’d know her?” Harry said.

“Sure.”

“Well, then. Play cards.”

“Watch her hands,” Sid said to the rest of us. “Watch her like a hawk.”

Mort had been dealing for Sid and Harry. Sid tossed his ante into the center of the table and motioned to Mort.

“I’ll explain the rules to you,” Harry said to Reba, “but then I’ve got to get my feet up on the couch for a little bit.”

Sid barked a laugh.

“Right,” he said. “She don’t know the rules.”

Apparently, she didn’t. The game progressed in fits and starts. Reba truly seemed ignorant of the game, not to mention of any strategy or tactical subtleties. She played a conservative game and Sid took her money slowly, shaking his head and rolling his eyes as he did so.

Harry had moved back to a sofa from which he watched the action. And slowly, strangely, Reba began to win. The pots got bigger. Mort handed over the cards to Jacob, but Sid’s luck did not change. By lunchtime, he was wiped out. Reba was modest in her success but Harry wasn’t. He crowed and then he crowed some more.

“I know I’ve been snookered,” Sid said. “Tell me how and it’s worth it to me. She didn’t cheat. I’d bet on that.”

“She didn’t cheat,” Harry said. “She’s a sweet kid and a freak of nature. I’ll let you stew until next time and then I’ll explain what happened.”

Sid fussed, but he had a story to eat out on and a revelation to look forward to. On the way back to L.A., Harry told me about Reba.

“Did you ever  play that game with a little kid where you put your hands behind your back and put a penny in one of them, and then you hold your hands out in front of you and the little kid tries to guess which hand has the penny? Sometimes they get it and sometimes they don’t but if you want them to get it, you can sort of move that hand closer to them and they’ll pick it. And then it’s their turn and they hold their two hands out and you start to point and they’ll sort of move the empty hand toward your finger, so you always choose the empty hand if you’re not a complete schmuck? You ever do that?”

I shrugged.

“Well, if you play that game with Reba, she’ll always pick the hand with the penny and you never will. It’s not telepathy. She can read body tells by instinct, without thinking, instantly. You hold your hands out and if you want her to pick the empty hand, she can tell just by your tiny movements which hand you want her to pick. Like you were that little kid. We keep doing the same thing when we grow up, only just, you know, a tiny little bit. Of course you’ve got to care or it doesn’t work. When she holds out her hands, you’ve got to want to pick the hand with the penny, and if you do, she’ll get you to pick the empty hand, again, sort of like the kid does, by signalling which hand is empty, and then you go along without even knowing it. Or if you want to pick the empty hand in the first place, to score point with her by letting her win, because you’ve got designs on her, you’ll keep finding that damn penny every time she opens her hand, with her grinning at you and saying My aren’t you the lucky fellow, I guess I just can’t win. Do you follow me?”

I shrugged again.

“Sid cared. On every hand,” Harry said. “He wanted to take her money.”

“But wouldn’t she still make dumb bets?”

“That’s the beauty of it! In the beginning, with small bets, she could afford to play like a beginner, which she was, because that allowed Sid to judge her ability and informed his behavior in subsequent hands. After that, Reba didn’t play her cards. She played Sid, always doing the opposite of what he wanted her to do or hoped that she would do. Sid kept trying, harder and harder, raising the bets higher and higher, but he was actually beating himself by telling Reba how to bet the opposite of what he wanted. Because he’s a hell of a player and if she bet his way, he was going to win for sure.”

“How’d you meet her?” I said.

“She’s a shrink at a rehab clinic in Woodland Hills. Spend a week with her and you’re off your jones for a month. A week for a month. Keep her in mind. Sooner or later, you’re going to need her.”

Guest Post: Representative John Jakobs

Hello, Mr. joem18b. I’m making this guest post as a thank you for the help you rendered me on my recent Hollywood junket.

You ask, what are my three favorite films?

Well, I like the one where the family man is falsely accused. His wife and kids continue to believe in him, although perhaps they do have a few doubts, but in the end he is proven innocent and it was all a big mistake.

I also like the one where the husband discovers that his wife has been unfaithful. He actually sees the pictures, but he finds it in his heart to forgive her, after giving her a good sound thrashing.

Finally, I enjoyed that comedy where the man’s wife is an alcoholic, his son is a drug addict, and his twin daughters are whores, but he manages to keep the whole mess a secret until he retires.

Thanks again for your Hollywood help. Since nobody reads this, let me avail myself of the opportunity to tell you that what you said about fellatio in Hollywood is absolutely true. Executive power in the studios is measured by who blows whom pardon my French. If you’re a member of Congress, you’re lucky if you can keep it down to only two mouths at once.

Don’t forget to vote!

Your friend, John Jakobs

Working with Van Sant: “There’s a hand down there.”

From time to time I snag a few moments onscreen, for one reason or another. The other day I found myself at a Van Sant shoot with a line to say. I had spent a night in jail in place of the producer’s son, and he gave me the bit, which paid scale, as a thank you.

I was to look down into some steampunk gearworks and say, “There’s a hand down there.’

We were outdoors. I took up my position.

“Camera.”

“Speed.”

“Mark it.”

“Scene twenty-one, Hand, take one.”

“Aaaand, action,” Van Sant said.

I looked down into the gears.

“There’s a hand down there,” I said in horror.

“No,” said Van Sant. “Not like that. Do it again.”

The crew ran through the setup again. I looked down into the gears.

Take two.

“There’s a hand down there?” I said in disbelief.

“No,” said Van Sant. “You see it, you’re not horrified, you don’t doubt your eyes.”

Take three.

“There’s a hand down there,” with a hint of a chuckle.

“Are you trying to annoy me?” Van Sant said.

Take four.

“There’s a hand down there.” Flat. A statement.

“Do you know what I can do to you if you make me mad enough?” Van Sant said.

Next to me, the slate girl had fear in her eyes.

“Don’t make him  mad,” she said to me in a whisper.

Take five.

“THERE’S A HAND DOWN THERE!”

“DO THAT AGAIN AND I’LL BREAK YOUR F**KING FACE!”

Take six.

“There’s a hand down there,” with a sort of a sob.

Van Sant sighed. He came around behind me and knelt down, out of the shot. He reached between my legs and grabbed my testicles in an iron grip. Began to squeeze.

Take seven.

“There’s… nnngggh… a hand… nnnngggghh… down… there… nnnggghheeek.”

“Cut,” Van Sant said, standing up. “Print it. Next setup.”