Synecdoche

In her gallery talk the curator invited us to ponder this painting entitled, she said, “Schenectady.”

Advertisements

The Victim: Pilot

Standing in the hallway by the copy machine, trying very hard not to say what I really thought to the person who kept talking and talking at me, I noticed that the lights were flickering. The file cabinets seemed to be changing colors, and then my knees folded under me and it was dark for a long time. When I regained consciousness I found that I was blind and unable to walk. But this being America, I’ve transformed my tragedy into a new reality-comedy hybrid in which I roll around L.A. in my motorized wheelchair bumping into people and then insulting them. “The Victim,” premiering this fall on Fox.

Vita Brevis

It was the end of a long day of gallery tours, and everybody from my office was exhausted. We were ushered into a big white enclosure with pale line drawings covering the walls. They looked a little like engineering diagrams, but from the middle of the room, where we were sitting on avant-garde contoured plastic chairs, it was hard to tell. I hoped the curator’s presentation would be brief, but she kept interrupting herself to talk on her cell phone, and then she decided to demonstrate her recently acquired fiber arts skills by knitting a giant pink fuzzy flower. “Look! I’m knitting a flower! Isn’t it cute?!” she exclaimed. I decided I would never knit anything again. Then the curator introduced the performance-art portion of the program: “As you’ll see, it’s very political.” A group of Nazis burst into the room with their German shepherds and submachine guns and shot us all, one by one.

International Kitten Cemetery

Traveling through a Japanese movie, we stumbled upon the International Kitten Cemetery outside Kyoto. Its only signage was a small, weathered wooden cat statue on top of a fencepost in someone’s back garden. Kittens of all nations were buried there, with cocktail-toothpick flags marking the little graves nestled among the vegetable rows. A kindly old man was tending the plots on the quiet hillside. Part of his job was to drown the kittens in the stream at the bottom of the hill before burying them. A few mangy cats hung around the graveyard keening for the young ones who died before they learned how to see.

At Home with Charles Boyer

Charles Boyer invited me to visit his family’s farm in France, and of course I said yes. I wandered among the picturesque hills and quaint stone outbuildings, noticing that all the animals seemed deeply contented. Even the pigsty was fragrant and cheerful; the hogs wore expressions of joy as they rooted in the dirt. I complimented the swinekeeper in my perfect French. Charles arrived to take me on a haycart tour of the fields while the farm workers enjoyed their midday rest, drinking wine and boasting about their asparagus: “You’ll never find anything like this in California!” At the village inn that night Charles bashfully asked me if I would share the farm, life, everything with him. Of course I said yes. If it weren’t for the war. . . .

The Simpsons Christmas [in July] Special

The Simpsons are getting a TV set for Christmas! Santa brought it in his black snowmobile. Marge and I ran out to meet him because he didn’t want to bring it inside himself. For a magic television it was surprisingly heavy, and when I tried to lift it I dropped it on my toe. We dragged it into the living room, where the extended family was gathered, drinking heavily. Instead of admiring the new television, they just yawned and shed their orange skins. I didn’t recognize most of the characters in their “real” human form—even their voices sounded different—but it didn’t really matter, since they were ignoring me anyway. Some of them got into their cars and drove away; others climbed up to the roof where they could continue drinking undisturbed. There was no antenna up there.