Friday, October 31, 2014

Skid Row Diary 35

17   October   2003   Saturday    Day 97

   My dear maid, although she had cleaned the room next to mine just yesterday, waited until 8:30 today to clean mine, waking me from my gentle slumbers in the process. I went to the showers while she performed her fine work.
   I spent the morning writing, and reading from the Koontz book, avoiding anyone who was outside of my lonely room until 1:19pm, when I went to the library. I spent two hours searching for facts and figures, any news concerning Odalys and other issues. I also borrowed some nice video tapes to take back with me. 
   Upon returning to my room I watched the 1965 comedy/western “Cat Ballou,” starring Jane Fonda, Lee Marvin (in two roles), and Dobie Gillis. I choose this one to watch first as I hadn’t seen it in years and had forgotten how it ended. I had forgotten the song Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye sang throughout the film as well. 
   Coincidentally I had a dream involving the beautiful and talented Jane Fonda. In it she was a television news reporter doing a story at the Ventana nuclear power plant outside Los Angeles, and I was one of the plant engineers down in the control room, when an incident occurred, causing a turbine trip, and a heavy, throbbing,  monotonous alarm to sound, all the while Jane was filming from the visitor’s gallery above. I noticed that one of the water level indicators on the control board was stuck. After tapping it with my pinky, it registered true, and we had to pump massive amounts of sea water into the reactor vessel. But we didn’t have any sea water, so we had to use tap water instead, thereby avoiding certain destruction.
   After saving the day, I went upstairs and took Jane out to dinner.

18   October    Saturday       Day   98

   “All phenomena the Buddha says are empty and void. Why does the Buddha say this? Because all phenomena arise and exist through the combination of many different elements. Since what exists depends upon other things for existence, it lacks an immutable core of independent actuality and is, therefore, considered in itself, void.” -Thích Thiên-Ân

   I spent the morning writing. What a surprise. 
   Frank Valdez, the weekend case manager, knocked on my door and asked me to supply him with some fresh urine at my convenience. He didn’t want any of that stale stuff.
   I continued writing, and began drinking a lot of water.
   I finished reading from “Winter Moon,” Koontz’s inter-dimensional chaos monster story, set mainly in beautiful Montana. I thought the ending was a little too contrived for my taste. The monster, who up until the very end had been fairly passive, all of the sudden starts chasing the mother and her son. But why? For what reason? There’s no indication that it can, or even desires to hurt the humans. It can hunt them telepathically, but it can do that from out in the fields.
   Why Dean? Why? I have to know.  
   And for a creature that boasted it was immune to death, it turned out to be fairly easy to dispatch, although Koontz does leave open the possibility  of part of it surviving, with the ability to grow again, another day.
   I took a little nap and dreamt I was horseback riding in the mountains of Santa Monica with Karen Kopins, the beautiful and talented star of “Once Bitten,” and who I used to enjoy so much on television commercials during the 80s. We were headed to the beach when I woke and cooked up a smoked sausage for lunch. 
   I gave Frank the sample. He just gave me a bottle and let me go on my own without him bothering to supervise. 
   Trusting soul.
   I had computer time reserved at 3:00, and so walked to the library at 2:20, stopping at Rite-Aid to buy tomorrow’s paper and pick up some badly needed 3 Musketeers bars.
   I wrote a letter to Odaga Corp, and John Manzano. The letter to Odaga was apart get well card, and part request for information, and went almost exactly like this:

To ODAGA Corp    Oct 18, 2005

   My name is Richard Joyce, and for many years I have been a fan of Odalys Garcia. 
   Recently I was dismayed when while looking through the Univision web site I discovered an article which implied she was involved in an automobile accident in Los Angeles, CA. I do not read or speak Spanish, so except for a few words that have a similar meaning in English, like accident and traffic, I did not wholly understand what the article described. I tried to use other sources to gain information on the possible accident from sources such as our local Spanish newspaper, La Opinion. Also the L.A. Times, but received nothing back. Odalys’s website had not been updated to include recent news, so I was hard put to find out what happened.
   Since then I’ve had the short article translated and learned that an accident had occurred and she was injured. I am very sorry to hear this and wish her a speedy and complete recovery. The article implied that her injuries were slight, and I hope that this is so. We need to have her well so she can continue her work, to dance and sing, and making the world a happier place for it.
   I first became aware of Odalys several years ago when I saw a picture of her wearing a black dress in a television novella magazine. I thought she was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen, but more importantly I would soon discover that she was a very nice person as well. I continued to watch her on “Loco Lente,” and although I rarely understood what she was saying (except for the words “Blockbuster” or Balley”), I was constantly mesmerized by her grace and talent.
   Before ODAGA Corp. became the huge multi-international conglomerate it is today, I sent a request for an autographed picture of her to the Univision address in Miami, along with $5.00 for postage and handling, and very soon received wonderful picture of Odalys with my name on it, and her signature... and the $5.00! I have never forgot that generous act. Giselle Blondet, upon the same request, didn’t send me any pictures, or my $5.00, so she still owes me five bucks, which I’ll ask her for the next time I run into her.
   Anyway, I’ve been a passive fan of Odalys ever since and have tried to follow her career as best as I can, and was so sorry and alarmed when I found out about the accident. 
   Please send her my best wishes. I know she has many friends looking after her, and that she must be getting lots of letters such as this, but I could not sit back and do nothing. I wish for her the very best in life; peace, love, and happiness.
   Please, if you could send to me any information on her condition and recovery, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

Sincerely, Richard Joyce

   I met Clyde Foster on the way back to the Weingart. Clyde was one of Harold Eversley’s kitchen helpers back at the Pasadena ARC, and was now working as a cook at Harbor Light, the Salvation Army’s downtown facility. 
   I hadn’t seen him for awhile. He wants to see the new Denzel Washington film, “Out of Time,” next Saturday if the buses and trains are running. He wants me to go with him.
   He’s stood me up for movies before. I don’t trust him.
   The World Series, between the Florida Marlins and the New York Yankees, pre-empted the “X-Files,” again. And Fox, in it’s infinite wisdom, has replaced the 11:00PM Sunday night broadcast of the “X-Files,” with “M.A.S.H.”
   I may have to boycott the Fox Broadcasting Corp., possibly even News Corp. itself. It is a drastic action which I dislike taking, but my hand has been forced. 
   I tried to tape, “Once Bitten,” which by chance was airing on UPN at 8:00. The local station was transmitting the film in such a way that that the picture and sound were alright through my television, but the VCR recorded it only in black and white, with the sound distorted. I stopped taping it.
   One of the tapes I borrowed from the library was Woody Allen’s “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion,” which I had not seen. David Ogden Stiers (who I’ve never trusted) hypnotized  Woody, whose character was an insurance investigator, and instructed him to steal some jewels and bringing them to him. Starring Charlize Theron, Elizabeth Berkley, and Helen Hunt, it was one of Woody’s lesser efforts.
    There is a gnat that’s been flying around my room for several days now, and won’t go away, even though the window is open, and sometimes the door. There is nothing for it to eat or drink here. I’m beginning to worry about it’s well being.
   I’ve named it Wally.
   After the Allen film, I put in an Avengers tape, the British television show from the 60s. Tonight’s particular episode was from 1965, and in black and white, when Diana Rigg had just taken over from Honor Blackman (so she could go off to be a Bond girl, in “Goldfinger”) I loved this show as a kid, and still love it. It boasts one of the best theme songs ever (thanks to Laurie Johnson), and has an eerie, idiosyncratic, and isolated feel about it that I’ve never encountered in any other television show. You rarely see crowd scenes on “The Avengers.” 
   Patrick Macnee,  who played secret agent John Steed, went on to appear in the classic, “The Lobster Man from Mars,” along with Tony Curtis and Billy Barty. And Dame Diana went on to star in “The Hospital,” written by Paddy Chayefsky, and starring George C. Scott, and can still be seen each week on PBS’s “Mystery!”
   I happen to be one of the 2,422 people who actually liked the 1998 film version of the show, starring the lovely and talented Uma Karuna Thurman (Uma, which means "Light" in Sanskrit. As David Letterman once said, “ "Oprah...Uma. Uma...Oprah," "Have you kids met Keanu?"), with some help from ex-Nazi Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, and the indomitable Sean Connery. I didn’t care for Mcnee’s cameo (if you can call it that) as an invisible bureaucrat, or them walking across a river inside a giant beach ball, but other than that I thought it was great, and very much in the spirit of the television series.
   Next up, I watched David Lynch’s masterpiece, “Blue Velvet,” starring Ingrid Bergman’s daughter, Isabella Fiorella Elettra Giovanna Rossellini, and Laura Dern, both exceptionally beautiful... and talented.
   A surreal (if you can call it that), crime/suspense story, Lynch described it as a “suburban comedy, only different.” Different yes. And I don’t believe I laughed once during the entire movie. 
   Dennis Hopper, God bless him, played a sadistic, drug addled villain, who was probably happier in death then he was in life, a part Hopper seems to be particularly suited for. 
   He used to be such a nice young man.
   Tonight I had a dream in which Isabella Rossellini offered me a potion that she promised would give me eternal life and an ever-lasting youthful appearance. I was very happy at the way things were turning out. I went home and waited until February to invest all of my money in this new business venture founded by this college kid from Harvard which I thought might have great potential, something called the facebook. I would soon became a multi-billionaire and retired to the island of Rimatara, in French Polynesia with Diana Rigg and Carmen Miranda,  living happily ever since.    

19      October     Friday       Day 99

   “I have… seen things you people wouldn't believe… Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those… moments… will be lost in time, like tears… in… rain. Time… to die…”  -Roy Batty from “Blade Runner”

   I got up before 9:00, showered, and made coffee before going downstairs to sign in. I had missed the last two days, so had to make sure it was done. It is a good thing not to give cause for anyone to bitch, especially if it’s not to hard to do.
   I wrote in the morning, cleaned my little room, and watched another episode of “The Avengers,” about an atomic bomb masquerading as a department store. 
   John Steed was certainly a randy bastard in those early black and white days, chasing every skirt that happened his way. Mrs. Peel kept in his place though. He may not have lost interest, but was certainly less obvious when the show turned to color. He did make those annoying “We’re needed,” messages to Emma still, like a smitten schoolboy.
   A real hamburger for lunch, not one of those compressed patties of vegetable matter. I read from Hermann Hesse’s “The Glass Bead Game,” his final novel, prior to walking to the library to return videos and use their computer.
   I was there until 4:30 or so, then returned to my room to continue writing and reading the newspaper. I listened to an NPR story concerning Pentecostalism, a protestant renewal movement that places special emphasis on direct personal experience of God through baptism with the Holy Spirit, and which involves speaking in tongues, faith healing, and withering about on the floor as the spirit of God fills each member. Like dancing, this seems to be a good, socially acceptable (to other pentecostals) way to make an absolute fool of oneself in public. This sect is experiencing rapid growth at present, and is wide spread, which to me is rather alarming. A reaction to hard times and feelings of helplessness perhaps.
   At 6:00 I taped the UPN broadcast of the classic, “Spy Hard,” starring Nicollette Sheridan, Leslie Nielsen, Andy Griffith, and Dr. Joyce Brothers. 
   I got fairly good reception throughout, I’m happy to report.
   I was somewhat disgruntles to observe that the TV censors had changed the phrase “Wouldn’t want to blow it!” uttered by Academy Award winning actress, Marcia Gay Harden, with an emphasis on the word “blow,” changing it to “Wouldn’t want to blunder it,” with no emphasis whatsoever. 
   I don’t know what the censors were thinking. The phase “blow it,” is a harmless reference to making a mistake. Gee wiz TV censor people... I can handle references to making a mistake. Even little kids should know that making mistakes is part of the learning process, so the censors are actually doing the Nation’s children a grave disservice, and should be taken to task for harming America’s yoots... excuse me... youths. 
   Bad TV censor people. Bad.
   Save our children! Let Marcia blow!
   Anyway, there was nothing on television after that. I continued reading the paper and listening to KMZT, the classical music station. At one point I stopped reading the paper, and read the second chapter of my namesake’s book, “Ulysses,” then wrote some more.
   Close to 11:00 I put in the tape of “Blade Runner,” Ridley Scott’s (who became a Knight this year) expose on life, our experience in it, and the impermanence of being, all disguised as a futuristic, Sci-Fi, dystopian crime, drama. I can watch this film over and over... and then some more, and often do. The movie boasts arguably Rutger Hauer’s and Sean Young’s most accomplished and memorable performances. Harrison Ford is Harrison Ford, and pretty much the same in every film he appears in, yet he was particularly poignant in this role, demanding love from the replicant that he’s been ordered to kill. The movie was dedicated to the writer, Philip K. Dick, whose novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (why yes, they do)” was the basis for “Blade Runner’s” screenplay. I always get all misty upon seeing the “Tears in the Rain,” scene with Rutger, near the end of the film. 
   I have been told that the actor edited the script’s version of this short monologue, which was much longer, the night before it was shot, without Ridley’s knowledge, and performed his version, which everybody agreed was much better. Some say this is "perhaps the most moving death soliloquy in cinematic history (the a Welsh writer and philosopher, Mark Rowlands says it at least)," and is an often quoted piece of science fiction writing.
   Heck, I quoted it too!
   Frank Sontag doesn’t like the movie, but what the hell does he know?!
   Speaking of Frankie, I turned on his show briefly after the movie, listened for a while as he defended whatever position it was that he was defending at the time, became distracted, then watched another Avengers before going to sleep at 2:30AM.  
   I dreamt I was in downtown Los Angeles, near the Bradbury Building on 3rd and Broadway (built oddly enough, by another California science fiction writer, Ray Bradbury, who constructed buildings in his spare time. Parts of the film ”Blade Runner” were filmed inside) in the year 2019. I was being chased by Joanna Cassidy, Sean Young, and Daryl Hannah, all of the “Blade Runner” girls, who had big ass guns. The forced me to the roof, and I ran from them with all of my might, on a cold, rainy night.
   I tried to leap across the street onto another building, and didn’t... quite... make... it...

20   October    Monday      Day 100

   I over slept, and was a little upset with myself because of it. I’m such a lazy bastard it’s unbelievable.
   I certainly don’t believe it!
   I checked in today to see what Giselle was wearing. A beautiful dress, so I knew the rest of the day would be fine. Mark and Brian, and Kelly Gates were bitching about stuff that is stolen when they leave it lying around their work spaces. Frankie was silent. 
   Very suspicious.
   While listening to the radio, and watching Giselle and Ana Maria, I read the paper until 10:00, when the respective programs came sadly to an end. I showered.
   I had to drastically alter my plans for the day due to the time I had woke. Instead of checking in at One Stop and visiting the DPSS, I watched Sir Carol Reed’s (everyone’s being Knighted except me!), “The Third Man,” starring Alida Valli, Joseph Cotten, Trevor Howard (who turned down a chance to be a Commander of the Order of the British Empire), and that Martian propagandist,  Orson Welles. A true classic. The only film that I’m aware of that the writer Graham Greene wrote a screenplay for, which he later published as a novel (originally written as preparation for the screenplay). Imagine that. I have a copy of that novel somewhere around here. Stylishly directed, this movie captures the essence of what post World War II Vienna must have been like, incase anyone was wondering, and tells the tale of a visiting American trying to investigate and clean up the reputation of his black marketeer friend. Orson plays Harry Lime, the marketeer, who only appears briefly, and not at all until three fifths of the movie is over, as he’s thought to be dead at the film’s beginning. I never felt sympathetic toward his character, and was at a loss to explain Alida’s deep commitment to him, other than women are crazy of course, and don’t know what’s best for them. The end shot with her walking past Cotton with stupendous indifference, is one of the best end shots I’ve ever seen. Subtle, real, and understated.
   The mesmerizing zither theme music by Anton Karas would continue playing in my head for the rest of the day. Thanks a lot, Anton! 
    I exercised before going to lunch, and after I ate (barbecue chicken), I walked through the year’s last great heat wave (over 100 degrees F) to the 1:00 ASAP meeting at the VA.
   Kathy had forgotten to bring her Internet jokes with her, so I shared the “11 Minute Joke” which was received quite well, if I do say so myself. We went on to talk about what we like to call, “Gateway Drugs,” i.e., marijuana and alcohol, drugs that she maintains lead to other, stronger and more harmful drugs, like heroin, or speed. In my opinion the issue is moot. A drug is a drug, is a drug. They’re all drugs! Even nicotine. Especially nicotine.
   Afterwards. I took a DASH to Arco Plaza and collected three letters from my post office box. One from Amnesty International, asking for money, one from the appeals board recognizing that I had canceled my hearing for next month, and one from the food stamp people at the DPSS, letting me know I had to come in November 13th in order to re-confirm my dire need for food stamps. 
   I then walked across the street to the library they have there, and looked up various oddities on the Internet, and borrowed more VCR tapes.
   Sloppy Joses and fries for dinner. John Marcellus Huston’s, 1948, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” was for the evening’s entertainment. Houston and his dad, Walter, won Academy Awards for directing, writing an adapted screenplay, and for supporting actor, respectively. The film’s star, Humphrey DeForest Bogart, got  diddly squat, with the emphasis on squat (he would get his, for Best Actor, four years later for another Houston film, and my favorite of both men, “The African Queen”), I remember seeing this movie for the first time on TV during my Jr High School days. It was in the little back guest room in my house in Northridge, right on Nordhoff Street, The same room I had watched Goldie Hawn announce that George C. Scott (oh, how he keeps popping up) had won the Academy Award for Best Actor for “Patton,” in 1970, after telling the Academy that he would refuse it if were to be awarded to him on philosophical grounds. 
    "The whole thing is a goddamn meat parade. I don't want any part of it," he said.
   That sounds pretty philosophical to me.
   I had taken some windowpane LSD before hand, and thought the whole episode highly amusing.
   The first time I ever saw Treasure I was huffing lighter fluid fumes, and thought it was the strangest movie I’d ever seen.
   I laughed and laughed.
   After that I switched to “The Avengers,” but moved forward in time, after Mrs. Peel’s husband was found in the Amazon and they reunited, to the sexiest of Steed accomplices, Tara King (played by the very beautiful and talented Linda Thorson), who had taken over.
   Al Bundy didn’t care for Linda’s performances, but who cares what that loser thinks? 
   I always thought she was marvelous.
   Steed’s ladies, English roses all, and we know how they are.
   I dreamt that Linda Thorson, Goldie Hawn, Alida Valli, and myself, were running through the sewers of Vienna, which emptied into the mountains of Sierra Madre, where we dug for gold, struck it rich, and moved to Finland.

21   October   Tuesday   Day 101

   “Master Ekai meditated on “mu” for six years, until one day he heard the monastery drum and became enlightened. He gave the following advice to students meditating on the koan: 'Concentrate on mu with your whole self, every bone and pore, until it makes you a solid lump of doubt. Day and night, without stopping, keep digging into it. Don’t view it as “nothingness,” or as “being” or as “non-being.” Make it a red hot ball which you have swallowed down and want to vomit up, but just can’t. Forget all illusionary thoughts and feelings that are dear to you. After some time making this effort, mu will bear fruit, and quite spontaneously, inside out will become one. You will end up like a dumb man who has woken from dreaming. You will know yourself... but only for yourself.  Mu will suddenly explode shaking the earth and opening the heavens.’”

   Near 9:00AM I woke screaming from a frightening dream involving the Changi prison camp, Katey Sagal, Jennifer Connelly, Keisha, Christina Applegate, LeeLee Sobieski, Erika Christensen, Traci Lords, Lacey Chabert, Gillian Anderson, Angel, Denise Richards, Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan, Kate Winslet, Drew Barrymore, Giselle Blondet, Holly Marie Combs, Shannon Doherty, Connie Peterson, Brittany Spears, Samantha Strong, and Pee Wee Herman.
   I rushed to the showers to wash the sweat of of my shaken but well toned body.
   I cleaned my room and turned on “Despierta America.” Giselle was there, thank God, and wearing a polka dot blouse, with a black mini skirt. Happy days!
   She changed into an orange cowboy outfit later in the show, donning a blonde wig, while dancing and prancing around like a country bumpkin.
   It was quite entertaining.
   Just because this show, and ODAGA Corp, are based in Miami, I hope the Marlins win the world series, which I can’t watch due to its being on Fox.
   I read the last chapter of “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Grey Havens,” and smoked my last two cigarettes.
   I wrote, and at 12:30 went to lunch. Fried chicken today. 
   Beef stir fry was on the menu, but they must have run out of that. 
   Poor chickens.
   I walked down the Nickel to return my VCR tapes at the library, stopping at the SRHT office to turn in the paperwork I had received last week. Ron McCree was in the office as I walked in.
    “Hey man, what’s going on? Give me three bucks.”
   “Are you kidding? I don’t have any money. I haven’t been able to get to the blood place since the bus strike started.”
   I turned in the paperwork that Labren had filled out. Ron asked me to wait for him while he spoke to someone in the office.  When he finished he decided to kill some time and walk to the library with me. The heat wave was still in fine form. Ron kept bitching about two ladies that had stood him up last weekend for the Aids Walk. I kept going, “Uh huh... uh huh.”
   It was nice and cool in the library.
   Ron said, “Man, I haven’t been here in a long time.” I turned in my videos, and canceled my computer reservations. Ron looked at CDs while I sought more movies.
   “I’ll have to pay them the money I owe them so I can check out some of these,” he said.
   “How much do you owe?”
   “Five dollars.”
   “Shit, I owe two hundred and twenty,” I told him.
   He gave me a strange look. “And you still checking stuff out on your card?”
   “It’s not my card.”
   He continued bitching about being stood up as we left the building, and began to walk back. I bought a paper at Rite-Aid and picked up two 3 Musketeers bars and two Milky Way Midnight bars. 
   Ron and I made plans to meet on Saturday, and left each other at 5th and Main. He went to the Midnight Mission to try to get some free food. I returned to the Weingart, to feed and water Wally.
   And write. I exercised and meditated, and read from “Zen Training Methods and Philosophy,” by Katsuki Sekida.
   I caught Jackie Guerrido’s weather forecast. We’re still going to have some tomorrow.
   I listened to Natalie Imbruglia’s version of “Torn,” and her “Pigeons and Crumbs,” then Venus Hum’s “Montana,” and “Soul Sloshing,” Elton John’s “Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting,” “Tiny Dancer,” “Honky Cat,” “Crocodile Rock,” Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll,” “Going to California,” “When the Levee Breaks,” Sophie B Hawkins “Savior Child,” “Before I Walk on Fire,” “Did We not Choose Each Other,” and “As I Lay Me Down.” I had a few problems with the CD player, but I kicked it and it began working again. I read the paper while singing along. Very good.
   At 7:00, I watched Charlie Rose talk to someone defending the current administration’s policies in Iraq. 
   That’s hard to do in the real world.
   I then watched one of the borrowed tapes, choosing the first Avengers show from 1963 with Honor Blackman as Dr Cathy Gale (anthropology), a widower. Apparently the series began as a televised play, sort of, using just a few sets, with several cameras set in strategic places. Lots of shadows, one could almost call it, shadowy. 
   At this point the show had one of the worst theme songs ever, and the start of a long history of silly and short fight scenes, reminiscent of the “Batman,” television show which began three years later.
   Next, I started watching the first part of the original British (I’ve been watching a lot of British stuff lately. I don’t know why) mini-series, “Traffik,” which I believe influenced Steven Soderbergh’s 2000 film “Traffic.” 
   Or it could be a coincidence that both films have similar names and deal with drug trafficking. I’ll let you decide, dear readers.
   Quite late, I started watching Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange,” Anthony Burgess’s moralistic and prophetic tale of societies gradual degeneration.  
   Has technological advances correspondingly advanced the average quality of life for the world’s people.
   This is without question Kubrick at his most stunning, sardonic, and ironic best. I believe it’s the best thing Malcolm McDowell has ever done, as well. 
   I had once used this film’s sound track to scare small children at Halloween.
   It was near 1:30 when the film ended and I finally went to sleep. I hadn’t remembered the movie being so long.
   I had a dream. In it I was asleep on the bed in Clockwork where McDowell’s lads fight a rival gang. My one time friend and co-editor, Michelle Chandler, came from backstage to my side and gently shook my shoulder. 
   “Rick, wake up,” she urged.
   “Michelle? Is that you?”
   “Yeah. Get up, it’s time to go.”
   I sat up and noticed I was dressed in a racoon coat, shorts, and tennis shoes. 
   “What are you doing here?” I asked. “You’re not still mad at me, are you? You look wonderful by the way.”
   “We don’t have time, but thank you.”
   “Where are we going?”
   “You know. And I must say, it’s about time.”
   “What do you mean?”
   “You know.” We began to walk toward the rear of the theater, which slowly dissolved into a long tunnel with a bright white light radiating from the far end.
   “Am I dying?” I asked.
   “Not yet, silly. But it is time to move on.”
   “Move on?”
   “Yes. Oh. by the way. You’re using too many “buts,” “as wells,” “ands” and “thoughs,” again. Especially the “thoughs.”
   “I am?”   
   “Umm  Humm. And you’re being a little sententious.”
   “Sententious? What the hell is that?”
   “Given to moralizing in a pompous or affected manner.”
   “Oh. Well, you know, this is just the first draft.”
   “Get it right the first time and you won’t have to change it later.”
   We continued on, arm in arm, singing “Singing in the Rain,” until we disappeared into the light

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