Wednesday, April 30, 2008

THOROUGHLY WANDERED TWIGGY

To say things around 801 have been in a state of upheaval for the last few days is rather like saying the Titanic had a “water feature”.



Since my goal with this "blog" (as the kids call it; in my day we simply called it a Diary and that was that!) is to provide hints on enjoying a more fulfilling life -- which, given a few of the comments I've received from Readers over the years, could be as simple as teaching some of you how to eat with utensils or freshening up your trailer homes without stealing flowers from the local graveyard -- I strongly advise those amongst you with household staff for whom English is nothing more than a type of muffin, do NOT under any circumstance, permit Said Staff Member



to clean the cages of Very Expensive Birds-In-Law Owned By The Boyfriend’s Parents. This is a recipe for disaster and I currently have a very sheepish Peruvian (possibly - we still haven't figured out what language he's speaking) Houseboy as well as an aviary containing fifty percent less cockatiel than it did yesterday to prove it.

BEFORE

AFTER

Let me explain.

This was supposed to have been a relatively sedate period of time pour moi, a well-deserved rest nestled between the completion of my last two motion pictures - Ice Blues and On the Other Hand, Death - and the theatrical release of my “highly anticipated” (to quote the press release) spy thriller "Kiss Me Deadly: A Jacob Keane Assignment", opening in LA this weekend and across the rest of the free world after that.



Before we proceed, please note I did NOT select the name “Kiss Me Deadly”, being well aware of the fact that this title was already taken, once by the classic novel by Mickey Spillane and AGAIN by the classic film directed by Robert Aldrich.



The script I signed on to was originally called “Second Chance” which is, admittedly, a rather lame moniker. It then became “The Delphi Effect”, so named because I decided the MacGuffin-like chemical which sets the plot in motion needed a slightly more opaque label than the writers’ original “X-tract”, which sounded to me like a highly potent laxative.



But this final change, arrived at with absolutely no help from me whatsoever, will certainly result in my being raked over the coals by film fans for the rest of my natural life. C’est la vie. I shall, as always, rise above it.



Besides, if my recent experiences in the public motion picture houses is any indication, the only people actually GOING to the movies these days are knuckle-dragging morons and their illegitimate hell-spawn, all of whom feel it is their inalienable right to talk/text/telephone their drug dealers and parole officers during the film, so I suppose I shouldn’t get too worked up about it. These dullards probably wouldn’t know the original picture anyway, let alone that films were once upon a time made in black and white, and didn’t feature Paris Hilton in the lead.

But far from what I had hoped would be a relaxing time at home-



-these past several weeks have seen a non-stop onslaught of houseguests, social events and literary deadlines, the likes of which would surely have driven any normal man to drink. Fortunately, I am ALREADY a drinker, so I’ve endured rather well, all things considered.

First off, the Boyfriend, well intentioned as he may be, has managed to bewitch, bedazzle and be-tux me into attending virtually every single fundraising event occurring in our glamorous desert paradise this season, to the point where I have come to believe that if a disease doesn’t have a themed meal attached to it, it doesn’t deserve a cure.



There have been highlights, of course: I won’t soon forget the spectacle of the Artist Formerly Known As Doogie – our own Neil Patrick Harris – singing a show stopping song from “Little Shop of Horrors” during an evening at the Viceroy Hotel to benefit The Trevor Project, a telephone help line where gay kids can dial a number and be assured that the backwater religious ditch pigs they live with are not only horribly inbred but just plain wrong.



But besides a brief appearance by the rather vague Cindy Crawford at another black tie event -



- during which the successful silent bid I made on a “White Diamonds” gift pack signed by Miss Elizabeth Taylor gave my mother bragging rights into the next millennium, there has been nothing as memorable at these various cash grabs than the brief moment in which I met one of my cinematic idols, Mr. Roger Perry.



The less cultured of my readers may not recognize his name, but for those of us steeped in the arts enough to appreciate the cinematic treasure which is “Count Yorga, Vampire”-



- the image of Mr. Perry wielding a crucifix against a bloodsucking trollop in a hospital gown remains one of our most treasured childhood memories.



And in that peculiar kind of Natural Law which governs the B Movie Universe, it made perfect sense that standing next to him was the lovely Joyce Bulifant-



- most famous of course for her role as Murray’s wife on the old Mary Tyler Moore Show and currently appearing in the role of MRS. Roger Perry. This kind of celebrity hobnobbing is to be discouraged, as one doesn’t want to be seen as nothing more than a “hanger-on” amongst the rich and famous. However, since I was wearing a tux custom made for me by A Very Famous Designer And Friend Of Barbra, not to mention a bowtie I had actually knotted myself, instead of one of those cheap strap-on jobs favored by waiters and Chippendale’s dancers, I felt it was my Donna Karen-given right to shake hands with one of my heroes.

While this was certainly enough excitement for one week, we then made our way the following morning to my Los Angeles Sister’s 75th birthday party – I may have the number wrong on that one – held at the legendary Santa Anita Race Track just outside Los Angeles.



Dressing for the occasion of course -



- I believe an Ascot is always appropriate at the Steeplechase, and even though the rest of the track patrons seemed to have simply thrown onto their backs whatever item of clothing wasn't sticking to the floor of their closet, I think at the very least we gave them something to aspire to -



- the BF and I brought along an extra surprise present for the Birthday Girl in the form of my Still Up In Canada Sister –



--the sane one of the bunch, she deals not only with her sixteen year old offspring Benmont



(here demonstrating how the genetics of his uncle (me) have clearly made it all the way to him) BUT also the ongoing car accident which is my Parents’ Marriage; since neither of them wants to be the first one to blink, they have stayed legally “hitched” through bankruptcy, infidelity and, at last count, a separation which has seen them living in houses located at either end of the same county for the past twenty two years. In classic Peyton Place formula, they don’t want to bring the “shame” of divorce upon the family, so they’ve apparently decided to wait to do anything drastic until their children die.



The SUIC Sister stayed on with us at the Desert House for the rest of the week, making friends with the Birds In Law and generally thawing out from the chill of a northern Ontario winter.



I’m sure there’s a solid anthropological reason why humans settled in Canada in the first place, but for the life of me I can’t figure it out. Oh wait, now I remember. Free Health Care. Which you need, of course, when you get frost bite from the continuous sub-zero windchill of winter or a raging case of encephalitis from the hawk sized mosquitoes which attack in the three to four week period of bad sledding which passes for summer up there.

In spite of the fact that during her stay I had to finish writing a screenplay and two articles for a rather high-brow British film magazine (www.moviescopemag.com for those of you interested in expanding your horizons beyond Britney and Lindsay) not to mention the continuing adventure which is the penning of My Memoirs, it was a lovely visit and there were many tears shed when she left –



- mostly by the Boyfriend who was just thrilled to have somebody around the house who shared his passion for junk food and Lip Plumping Gloss – but we barely had time to get the sunblock stains out of the towels before The Germans Arrived.





I met Herr Direktor – a filmmaker who is arguably the more talented version of me in Germany – almost fourteen years ago while we were doing back to back sequels to an utterly dreadful science fiction movie series created by a lovely man who was made all the lovelier by the ignorance he showed regarding his complete lack of talent. The movies were a nightmare, although we both got to work with heroes of ours
Rutger Hauer for him,


Tim Curry for me, and when it was all said and done the only thing we actually got out of the experience was a friendship that has endured to this day.



He had retreated to our Desert Paradise with his delightful Actress/Wife to lick his wounds after his most recent film, a critically acclaimed thriller about killing the Pope (a very good start if you ask me…) tanked in the tv ratings, plunging him into the kind of existential career abyss one usually only sees in MOVIES about filmmakers. But a few days of sun and some very well made martinis seemed to bring him back around, and things were generally looking up for all of us…



Until Panton decided The Birdcage was “stinky bad for birdys”.

Granted, we have been diligently clipping the Cockatiels’ wings in order to keep them from ending up as a bit of Cat Appetizer for the feline next door, but it would seem that unbeknownst to us, Twiggy (yes, that’s her name) has been practicing short take offs in her spare time. While Panton left the cage open as he tried to figure out just exactly how the rear patio faucet worked, she took off like a Boy Scout out of a Priest’s tent and, catching an updraft, vanished into the early morning sky.

Needless to say, all hell broke loose at 801 and we enlisted everyone from the Germans to the Gardeners in our search for the missing pocket-sized poultry. There was a single brief moment of relief when it appeared as though Panton had found her, but it turned out to be one of his typically dimwitted Peruvian “solutions”; a pet shop Budgie is a bird, yes, but sticking a few extra feathers on its head with Crazy Glue and painting it yellow does not make it a Cockatiel.



And so we continue the search. Our houseguests, delightful as they were, finally left – I swear it was easier getting the Germans out of France than it was getting them out of my house – and now it is just me, Panton, the Boyfriend and the household Staff charged with finding this tiny fugitive before the return of The In Laws.


I am sure, dear readers, you all wish us luck.