Not the Dream He Had in Mind

The March on Washington, August 28, 1963. Among the thousands gathered on this momentous day are members of the crew of the firefly-class spaceship Serenity. They’ve sailed far across that vast sea the president is so excited about, and they have demands. As Dr. King approaches the podium, the tough guy with the woman’s name starts to mix it up with members of the crowd. Who thought it was a good idea to let a bunch of space cowboys stand in the front row? Did Kennedy have something to do with this? Or are we witnessing an ill-conceived attempt at comic relief on the part of an exhausted TV writer? Fortunately, history will forget they were ever here.

Dos tipos de cuidado (1953)

Outside the shack of Pedro Malo (Pedro Infante) is a wicker bull wrapped in Christmas lights. Inside, on the floor in the half darkness, is Jorge Bueno (Jorge Negrete). The camera follows Pedro’s dimly lustrous cowboy boots as they creak across the boards to plant their toes in hog-tied Jorge’s sides. The toes are pointed, the kicks repeated. The charismatic boots almost fill the frame. Pedro staggers out the door and the camera goes with him, leaving Jorge moaning quietly to himself as the wicker bull’s lights flicker in mysterious patterns.

Retrospective

I was invited to create an exhibition. In the old train car that served as a gallery, I found a garbage can and put my long-ago-abandoned dissertation in it. I left the door open and went outside to watch a rabbit that was browsing around the base of a tree. It was a really weird-looking rabbit. I said I’d write the artist’s statement later.

Out of My Mind 2: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Special Reunion Episode

Surprise! Tara wasn’t dead, she was just asleep for a while. She and Willow are back together, but they’re having trouble getting along after all that time apart. At the cast pajama party in the attic of Buffy’s mom’s house, they keep waking everybody up with their bickering. Still playing the role of Irrelevant Older Friend, I counsel them not to try to work out all their breakup details now — division of property will be easier in the morning. Meanwhile, Buffy is in heaven, which looks a lot like New Zealand. She cruises up and down the mountain roads on a motorcycle; the angel guide on the back of her bike explains that this is what you do during your first year in heaven. Also, you have to wear an oversized black leather police cap with lots of gilding and sparkles on it, inspired by a costume designed for the Village People. “That’s funny,” Buffy says, “because I’m not even a gay man.” Her long tresses spill from under the cap and fly out behind her as she takes a hairpin turn at top speed. Her toenails, peeking out between the straps of her high-heeled sandals, are painted pink.

Dog Story

We finally figured out a way to kill the old man. It was simple, really: wait till he starts talking again, then quickly pour the pills in his mouth, hold it shut to make him swallow, stroke the neck a little like pilling a cat. It worked. He (played by Nick Nolte) was dead, and in a panic we (me, played by me, and you, variously played by John Cusack, Samuel Beckett, and several actors I didn’t recognize) fled the country. Nobody at the airport noticed that our only luggage was a suitcase full of corpse. We scampered across Europe in a quick, madcap montage, flitting from Amsterdam to Zurich in the blink of an eye. After a few minutes it seemed that nobody would ever catch up with us, because nobody was trying to, and so we headed back to the States to continue our adventures on the family houseboat on the Bay. We were finally free — except for the dog. I forgot about the dog. The one-eyed mangy poodle had been there when we did it, and he was still there on the houseboat, waiting for us. He knew everything. He blinked that rheumy eye at me, and I knew he’d told the cops; he didn’t care about the old man, he didn’t care about us, he didn’t care about justice, but he turned us in anyway. Damn dog! Why won’t he let us be in our carefree romantic comedy? Why does everything have to be a thriller or a tragedy?

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.