Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Pansy, and Porn or, The Passion of the Pansy

...just when you thought it was safe

New readers (all six of you) may want to scroll to the bottom and start from there, the misadventures of Pansy are chronological. God knows you don't want to miss a minute...

When we last left the adventures of the irrepressible Pansy Tham, she was out in the cold, having been canned at Thong World. Needless to say, our funny little heroine wasn't all that sad about the situation. Thong World was a personal hell. Unfortunately, Elsa the Friendly Gorgon (you have been reading from the beginning, haven't you?) wasn't forthcoming with more jobs. Friends to the rescue! A friend of mine got me a temp job as a game show tester. Yes, you read that right. They actually hire people to test out game shows. Who knew? This was at the time that every network was trying to get the next "Millionaire", and this was one of the other networks attempt. I don't remember much, except that I won a million in one round, and when I asked if I could try out for the real show, I was told in no uncertain terms "no". Also, (when I was on camera) I was asked a sports-related question, and the look on my face brought down the house. Alas, it ended, and the show tanked.

Then, as she has done so often before, a dear friend of mine offered me a job. She was working at a concern that was producing original content for the internet. They had won awards producing reality television for broadcast and were going to take the world by storm by getting people to watch live shows, at a price. I remember thinking at the time "good luck, dudes", since even to this day most people have the really high speed connections at work, not at home, and most workplaces have this funny habit af actually wanting you to, say, work. But what do I know? I don't have an Emmy. And it was money that I needed. I was at sixes and sevens: I even had to use my friends car to do the job (yes, my friend is a saint) that she hired me for. The original content was for a show that followed, 24/7 the antics of a young person in their new apartment. You could log on at any time to see an empty sofa, of a sofa full of a twenty-something people watching television, or if you were lucky, the 20-something people might be eating pizza, or having an argument. Or having lusty sex with four other twenty somethings of various sexes and perhaps an underage goat. Mostly, I assume, you got sofa.

In any case, part of my job was finding an apartment for this to happen. This was not as easy as it sounds, since there had to be an adjacent apartment in which would be all of the equipment to film Casa del (hopefully) Lusty Action. All of which was complicated by the tender sensibilities of the producers. Apparently, they had no compunction about airing every moment of the banalities or hopefully emotional and sexual fireworks of their filmees, but they were not going to saddle them with a "bad" neighborhood. God knows why- since these kids were lambs to the slaughter anyway, why not have them cowering on their sofas, watching cable TV and having obsessive end-of-the-world sex? If they were in a decent neighborhood, they'll be out partying. Then you have more sofa.

The seach continued. I was nearly three weeks into this and the producers were getting antsy. They had dinged three places as just being too unsavory, including a place in downtown LA that's now a pretty posh address. I particularly remember a place in Studio City, where the very nice elderly couple who ran the place managed to make me feel like something that slimed out of the LA river by asking if the cameras would be on in the bedroom: "what if they are having sex in there?" they asked. "Well," I said, feeling like pond scum "the cameras are on 24/7. if they decide to have sex in front of the cameras, it's live", meanwhile thinking "If they could get more subscribers, they'd have ecstasy drips and hot and cold running lube" while holding the cup of Postum the nice lady made and wishing that a large-ish hole could open up in the floor and swallow me whole.

Finally, I found the place. It was in Hollywood, but not in a part of Hollywood that was too scarily close to the boulevard to put off out west valley-dwelling producers. The property manager didn't care much about what I did with the apartments, as long as I had the rent paid and didn't cook up crystal meth by the pool. I was even in my own car- Pansy's PeParon was back, top down and proud, raring to go. I drove in to announce my triumph- I had the location.

I got a call from my friend who was off at a film festival out of state for the group. She was diffident. Clearly she was not happy delivering the news she was charged to deliver. She told me that I wasn't going to be needed during the time they were out. This with one of the producers in the next room. My friend and I cut to the chase- I was being let go. A bookkeeper had been fired a few days before and had apparently said something to the effect that I should be fired, since I just spent my time on the computer, so they called my friend and forced her to can me. K. I walked into the producers office, looked him straight in the eye (as he was trying to look at anything else) in my most mellifluous New England deb drawl forced him to shake my hand as I wished him well in his endeavours and gave him the address of his internet porn-pit.

My friend made sure that I got a thumping-good severance

Which takes me to the job I have currently. And if I ever lose this job: my what stories your little Pansy will tell!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


I like to collecct old telephones: the bakelite ones that Joan Crawford was always taking one earring off to answer. I remember the first one I got was a big clunky Western Electric 202. I plugged it in by my bed. One Saturday morning, the LA Times called me to ask me to subscribe.

At 8 am.

On Saturday.

Back in the day when people had one phone, it was in a niche in the hall downstairs. Ma Bell made the bells on those old phones loud enough that eventually (no answering machines, and it was considered polite to let the phone ring at least 12 times to leave the person time to get to the phone) someone in the house would hear it.

Now imagine that giant freaking gong going off 7 inches from your head.

When I move, the landlady is going to be very perplexed by the fingernail marks on my bedroom ceiling....

Saturday, November 19, 2005

This is rich

It seems that another porn-obsessed white guy has found a new threat the the nations youths: iPorn.

Yes, little Johnny and Jenny aren't just using that iPod to get parent approved tunes on there, they're downloading "Debbie Does Dallas".

He writes However, the ability of parents to monitor is seriously undermined if their children quickly can download adult content onto their iPods and then take it away from the home for easy viewing elsewhere

Currently, the only thing you can download to the iPod is from the iTunes music store. Access to the store can be limited by parents. If little Johnny has figured out how to rip a DVD and stuff it onto his iPod, by-passing DRM's and coding it so it will actually play, well, you have one problem with him watching porn, but then again, he is ready for M.I.T.. So that's something.

He continues Yet, iPods are becoming so ubiquitous and are so small, they are an easy vehicle for bringing pornography into the workplace. Employees discreetly could try to view pornography away from the watch of others.

Only by people who are seriously looking to get fired. Most companies are more interested in what you are putting on thier machines, not yours. That's why they block you from downloading or attaching practically anything. If I turn off my computer I have to have IT come and re-attach my CDRW drive that I use for work.

He makes the point that parents should closely monitor what kids put on their pods. I'm not a parent, but I think of little Johnny got it together to purchase himself a $300 iPod (because the most he'd get from cheapo Pansy is a Shuffle), he's adult enough to be trusted not to have stuff he shouldn't on there. Or at least discreet enough to keep it to himself.

Maybe it's best I'm not a parent. I'd be more disturbed by little Johnny wanting a copy of "Carmaggedon" or "Grand Theft Auto" than video of people boinking.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

And now for something that's not a big fat whinge

two posts in one night? Christmas in November!

On my way home today, I got off the bus at the Pacific Design Center to see the exhibition of William Haines furniture. Really beautiful stuff- Billy Haines practically created the whole Hollywood Moderne thing, but his undeniable talent and 50 year career as a decorator is only part of the story.

Movie star Billy Haines was to the 20's what, well I don't know who is to the present. He was huge. He was one of MGM's biggest male stars, specialising in roles that played up his boyish. althletic, all-American image. During one of his movies, he fell in love with his stand-in, Jimmy Shelds. They moved in together in 1923. Despite pressure from the studio, he refused to cover up his homosexuality by getting married, even though his friend Joan Crawford offered. Finally, in the early 30's. Studio boss Louis Mayer gave Haines an ultimatum: he could give up Jimmy, or give up Metro. Billy told him in no uncertian terms: "I'll leave Jimmy if you leave your wife"

Can you imagine the stones? Never mind doing it in 2004, with at least some semblance of civil rights, equal protection under the law (at least for now), and some states allowing gay marriage- this was seventy years ago. Being killed for this "sin" was not exactly looked upon as a bad thing.

Imagine a big Hollywood star today walking away from that....

Luckily, Billy had his side business. He and Jimmy had bought an antique shop in 1930 and had made some money; their customers went from just buying the furniture to asking advice on how to decorate. His friend Joan Crawford was one of the first to hire him to decorate her Brentwood house. He redecorated it over the years and they remained the best of friends; she was known to quip "the happiest marriage I've seen in Hollywood is Billy Haines and Jimmy Shields".

Billy designed homes for Crawford, Claudette Colbert, Marion Davies, Bette Davis, George Cukor, Lionel Barrymore, Carole Lombard, Ronald Reagan, and Jack Warner (if not Louis Mayer). They also designed the London home of the US ambassador Walter Annenberg, Winfield House.

Haines died in 1973 of cancer, Jimmy, unable to live without him, took his own life a few months later.

Sometimes in these days when people are able to pretty much (at least here in the US {for now}, as opposed to Iran) able to live our lives with a some sense of freedom from persecution, we forget that some people made the simple act of being true to themselves a courageous act.

Some of you (all five of you...) know that I am really into cars. REALLY into them. Not so much that I clip pictures and paste them up in my cubicle, but enough that I peruse all of the car mags and several of the websites. For some reason this has landed me on several mailing lists that have allowed me to go off to various events and drive some serious iron: Mercedes and Cadillac have both invited me to drive their best, and at one GM event (sparsely attended because of a morning downpour) I got to drive a new Corvette with the following instructions from the GM guy in the seat next to me: "Keep it in first and stand on the gas until I tell you to brake. If you wreck it, I'll take responsibility"

Is there more of a way to release the inner 5 year old?

Of course, I'd never buy one of those things- I'm just too cheap. I grind my teeth writing the check to the insurance company as it is, and I don't want to give up the feeling of smug superiority that using 8 gallons to go 200-odd miles gives you (cheap and smug, how does he remain single?)

Having said that I wrestled the LA Times to the ground last Thursday and saw that the public was being invited to preview the 2007 Escalade at it's premier at the 2 Rodeo mall in Beverly Hills. Usually, I hate SUV's: I find it the epitome of irony that Boomers railed against their parent's giant gas-guzzling chrome laden dinosaurs now drive something that makes a '79 Chevy look like a Honda, but I have an soft spot for Cadillacs. Especially the new ones. Their fractal styling I find refreshing after years of jellybean cars, and the roadster one I drove made me wish for Lotto winnings.

So, I wandered over to take a look.

Well, it was a gorgeous SUV. Really pretty and looked well put together. Makes the old one look like a Model T. Not for me, but I'm sure it'll sell.

But where they really dropped the ball was the whole "event" One Escalade (white and gorgeous) was merely parked at the end of the fake street that bisects the 2 Rodeo mall. No signs, nobody from Cadillac nearby to tell people about it, no nothing. There were people all over the car, even though it looked as if the Valet had just parked it there by mistake and
wandered off to Il Fornaio for a coffee. Would it have killed them to have someone there, at least to direct people to the storefont down Rodeo where the other cars were? Guess so. At first I thought it was because I got there at the very start of the event, so I decided to drop back later. Same deal.

Walking down the street, you got to a storefront. The window has a gorgeous XLR-V in it, and the store has been christened "Chrome Couture" (how cute). There was a woman outside in a black suit, who I think may have been from GM, but since she was staring off into space, I wan't sure. But then I remembered seeing her earlier at ten AM, so unless she was comatose, she worked there. She certainly wasn't making eye contact with anyone, or smiling. I went in. There was a BHPD officer in a chair chatting with someone else in a black suit next to the (stunning-really stunning) XLR-V roadster. There was another black suit standing by a desk by the door. None of them remotely noted my existence.

The thing that came to mind was "why'd they bother?" The only thing I could think of was that thay had the
store for a whole week, so at the last minute, they decided to "invite" the public. Invite them, but treat them like worse-than-D-list. I mean, I realise that I'm not Kanye West or Paris Hilton so I can't be invited to the cool-kids party, but I was there. Isn't that the point?

Granted, I'm not an MBA or a marketing genius, but if the people you are paying to host this event in your name and
represent your company (and may even work for you) cannot pretend to be excited enough about your new cars to actually greet someone who came in to your "store", or at least not act so very put out that they are forced to interact with the hoi-polloi when they were so recently rubbing shoulders with Tara Reid, then why the hell should I get excited about them?

What a freaking waste.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Not so little boxes....

This is an image posted by a friend who moved to
Western Pennsylvania. She may have thought that she was getting away from the Mansionization capital of the universe, but nooooooooooo, it just was a little slower to get to her.

Firstly, I will never for the life of me understand people that feel the need to move to a certain area only to totally wipe out any vestige of that area's original appeal. I've seen it all over the US. What little sense it may make in beautiful Beverly Hills to move into a neighborhood filled with gorgeous little story-book cottages so dripping with cuteness and original detail that you have an urge to burp them, (I guess if you dropped 2 million on the place, you might want more than 2 bedrooms and "original charm" ends at 1927 wiring) only to shoehorn in some huge box that usually has all the grace, style and architectural significance of your local strip-mall, I can't get why people feel the need to go out into the woods, clear cut a few acres, slap up a thyroidal monster in that ever present mish-mash of neo-Colonial French country and Meditterrifyingly bad hash that looks just as ridiculously stage-set-like whether it's in Boise, Bel Air of Bala Cynwyd.

What is it that caused this shift in tastes? (He types, getting out his grumpy old man trousers) What happened that seemingly everybody in America feels that it's not only their right, but their duty to have a two-story foyer, "Great Room" and separate bath for the pets? Why on earth would someone move to say, Scottsdale, which has some of the most glorious desert terrain imaginable, and slap up a faux Ante-Bellum with an acre or rolling lawn and some live Oaks? Why not just move to the South if you just have to go home to Tara every night? Why move into a heavily forested country area, plow the ground flat and do the same thing? Just so you can have two extra bathrooms, a sub-zero and enough room to dock your giant Ford ExxonValdez?

Do we need these houses, really? I wonder what's going to happen when tastes shift back (and what with the price of heating oil doubling this year, I think tastes may shift back faster than anybody thinks..). Since they are nothing even remotely specal architecturally, and the ones I've been in have all the quality of construction of a '78 Cordoba, I see a huge glut coming of ugly, big-ass houses that won't sell at half the original price...

Friday, November 04, 2005

I know I haven't posted much lately- I'll correct that soon.

In the mean time..

I just got back from a screening of "Brokeback Mountain". Having read and love the short story in the New Yorker, I didn't quite know what to expect. I like Ang Lee, but didn't really know whether he was the man for the job.

I couldn't have been more wrong. The film is a masterpiece. It will be remembered for years. The cast is uniformly excellent; and if Heath Ledger isn't nominated for an Oscar, the Academy is asleep at the switch.

I urge you to go see this- but bring Kleenex.

adding on

24 hours later and this movie is still hovering over me like a fog. I spoke to my friend who invited me to the screening and she's having much the same delayed reaction. While I didn't react much during the screening, stone-hearted me actually had a bit of a weep- especially after I re-read the short story upon which the movie was based. I was so moved by the infinite sadness of the thwarted lovers (even if the movie could be construed as presenting the relationship as more sexual obsession than true love) and the sadness of the women whose lives they touched that I feel, well, upset is the best word. That could be the fact that this is the first movie I've seen in quite a few decades that actually stayed with me for more than about three minutes after the lights came up, but I don't think so. I think the movie speaks to a universal truth- even if you might never have experienced that one perfect moment of pure happiness with another human being, it's something that we spend our lives looking for. To have found it and to have society, or fear, or happenstance or age take it away is that saddest thing imaginable. For me, this movie taps that like a keyboard.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Ageing sucks.

Not that any of you reading this hadn't come to this conclusion already, but I reiterate: ageing sucks. I've been particularly lucky, in that a combination of good genes and a credit line at Neiman Marcus has allowed me to maintain the visage of, well, less than middle age. But the signs are there- if I tried to pluck out all of the white hairs, I'd have bald spots. The knee that I dislocated in dance class in college (and if there's anything gayer than a dance-related injury, I can't think what it is at the moment) audibly clicks when I climb the stairs. It takes a lot more exercise and a lot more diet than it used to to maintain what I like to think of as a trim figure (shut up, you!). The looks from other guys are fewer and far between, and worst of all, the people at the grocery store now are firmly in the "sir" zone. Since I am not in the habit of going to Gelson's in chaps and a harness, a plain "thank you" will do, in case any checkers are reading.

I know that this is an inevitable thing: "Death Becomes Her" aside, there's no magic potion that reverses ageing (but if there is......). I also know that it's completely possible to remain engaged, happy, vivacious and active into years twice mine; as a matter of fact I will be seeing a friend of mine this weekend who is literally more than twice my age and embodies all of the above traits: a woman who met the love of her life in her 50's and at 92 is still full of vinegar and life and wonder.

On the other end of the scale, I met a couple of young boys who are staying with friends of mine. Barely 20, and really sweet: running around the country on their endless summer (really, isn't school in session now?) working where they can and generally bumming around. I spent some time with them the other day, they're lovely in that not-quite-fully-baked way that children on the edge of adulthood who are from certain families are. Nothing in life has conspired to whack them across the chops with a rolled up newspaper yet, so they look at every new thing and new person with the wide-eyed wonderment of a puppy.

I guess I am just noting that the part of me that was the puppy has been officially over. I'm not ready yet for Canine Senior, but I'm way past Puppy Chow.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

If I only had a heart........

Many of you know that I don't have the closest relationship with my siblings. I have one sister who stayed back in Massachusetts, who seems perfectly keen on never speaking to either my brother or me again. I figure that whatever reason she has for this is her reason, and I don't press- if there's some wrong that I did, since I don't know what it is, an apology would sound pretty false. My brother and I have a more cordial relationship, but we aren't excactly close. I call him or he calls me every six months or so, and we usually chat desultorally about stuff until the conversation just sort of peters out. I've always told myself that there's the family that you are born to, and then there's the family you make. I have the family that I made, and frankly, I'd rather spend holidays with them. Not to say that I never want to see my brother face to face (or, god willing, face-lift to face); we're just comfortable where we are. So it was with more of a sense of duty ("Will I look like a complete asshole if I don't make that phone call when this hurricane I vaguely heard about hits near them? Uhhhh, Yup!") that I picked up the phone and hit speed dial. Bob was there, he and his wife were fine, they were not going to evacuate. The State of Mississippi said they needn't, apparently, and since Bob volunteers for the fire department in Bay St. Louis, he also felt he'd be needed. Bob is like that- he was that way as a kid, too. He wanted to be the one to charge into the disaster and help. I was the one who wanted to charge into Bergdorf Goodman, and well, charge. After about a half an hours talk about gadgets, cars, and other stuff, he signed off with his usual "love you, Bro"

When I woke up the next day and went into work and saw the reports of the damage, I experienced something that I have never experienced before and hope never to do so again: complete blind panic. Despite the fact that my brother and I had never best buddies, and had a realtionship that was pretty much covered by twice yearly phone calls and Christmas cards, I was totally pole-axed by the idea that he and his wife could have been washed away in the storm surge. Adding hellish gloss to this was the fact that technology managed to not only fail (no phones land or cell) to alleviate my dread, but to exacerbate it (live, clickable satellite photos showing the devasted coast of Missisippi). For days I plodded through my tasks at work, staring at that stupid screen, hating everybody who was asking me to give up an atom of my precious time to focus on anything but my needs (well, more than usual, anyhoo) Hating all of the pundits from FEMA who were sitting on their asses and turning away aid. Hating (even and yet more) our President, who did his Crawford version of Nero, strumming his guitar and eating birthday cake while New Orleans flooded. I didn't want to tell anybody about it, since I honestly felt that I would burst into tears at the mention; when one of my co-workers got it out of me I almost did. Lucklily, that last day (Friday) came news from a ham radio operator that my brother and his wife were safe. I've never wanted to do pretty much anything with a ham radio operator, but if I hit the lotto, dude, I am totally buying you a car. I've even spoken to my brother, at the Ramada Inn they are in. Lost everything, but they're alive, and insured.

There's a scene in the movie "The Women" where Joan Crawford tells Norma Shearer that Joan won't be able to break up Norma's marriage without her help. (Paraphrasing)"Not because he isn't crazy about me, he let's that old-fashioned sentiment put the indian sign on him"

It certainly put the indian sign on me real good......

On the funny side, my brother always painted Bay St Louis as being the back of the Bayou- Bob always wanted to appear as down-to-earth as he could get. Having been nearly wiped off the map, I've learned a lot about the town: it's Nan-freaking-tucket with a drawl. Loads of cute shops and antebellum manses (sadly, now heavily damaged). I used to think about it practically hearing the theme from "Deliverance" in my head. As one of my friends said, "Tom, I met your Mother, and apples just don't fall that far from the tree...."

Love you, but you're busted, Bro

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Why I hate the Metro
The adventures of the Irrepressible Pansy Tham will return.

whether you like it or not...

I am one of the few people I know that actually commutes to work on public transportation. This is mostly due to the fact that the large corporation I work for has a deal where they will pay half the price of your bus pass, but will charge you to park. It's a carrot and stick deal, you see, and while I am personally averse to carrots, I am even more averse to sticks. So, I take the bus to work, and somtimes even on weekends to go out. That way I can go to Santa Monica without having to cope with trying to find a place to park or worry about moving the car every two hours.

I've had a long personal history with the Metro, at least through two major strikes, three name changes (do they think they're fooling us?), the construction of the subway (and subsequent destruction of parts of Hollywood), and the addition of the new "Rapid" buses.

The Metro has been working my nerves during this long history. They cancelled a line that I really liked that ran along San Vicente Boulevard (very scenic) that. admittedly may have been there solely so servants who worked in the big houses in Brentwood and Santa Monica had a way to work. It was usually me and about 25 women who were obviously cleaning women ar nannies. It was also one of the few busses that actually ran during the first transit strike I lived through in LA. I'm sure the fact that the then-mayor live in Brentwood had nothing, nothing at all to do with that.

Then they added the "Rapid" bus. They started out with Ventura Boulevard, which had no affect upon me, and on Wilshire, which did. "Rapid" buses make very few stops. The idea is that you get on in Whittier and make only about four stops before you get off in Santa Monica. Which is nice if you live in Whittier and crave a trip to the beach. The "Rapid" buses were fine for a while, but then the fine people at Metro came up with the bright idea to seperate each "Rapid" stop from it's lesser (and now a lot less frequent) local bus by putting it on the other side of the intersection. This means that commuters enjoy that wonderful Murphy's law effect on Wilshire. For instance, say I want to go to Santa Monica. I can either wait on one corner to see if the red ("Rapid") but I see way down Wilshire is A) stuffed to the gills or B) only going to Westwood, or C) both, or I can wait for a few years on the other corner to see if the orange (local) bus coming is actually going to Santa Monica, or just to Westwood. Invariably, after waiting long enough on one corner to need a haircut, I will switch to the other corner: the buses, who have clearly been in hiding will then release the gaggle of buses that I had been previously awaiting, which will pass me by, radioing any bus scheduled to stop at the stop I'm at that they should divert to Idaho until further notice.

I suppose there is some MBA in the Metro management that came up with this idea (most likely when he was driving into work in his Lexus), astounded by his own brilliance. I think he should be sentenced to having to commute from Covina on local buses only. It's almost as if the Metro's attitude is "If you live on the westside and don't have a car, you're too much of a loser to leave your neighborhood"

In any case, the Metro people are really enamored of these "Rapid" buses. Looking at the timetables, I can't see that they are doing much in the way of saving time for anyone but the drivers, finally giving them a green-light to gleefully pass up people who only want to get anywhere. They've been expanding the number of "Rapid" lines exponentially over the years, until last month when they finally hit me where I live: The Beverly Boulevard Bus has now been "Rapid"ed.

Previously, I could stumble out of my shower, get to the corner with the sure and certain knowledge that there will be at least three buses that will get me downtown reasonably close to early for work. Now, thanks to the MTA, I have one. I suppose I could walk the two places that the "Rapid" would deign to stop for me, but adding a half-hour walk onto my morning commute past 5 local stops makes as much sense as parking in Koreatown and walking the rest of the way. Plus it ensures that the one local bus that does come along is so choked with people by the time it hits downtown that it makes getting off the bus as easy as trying to extricate the middle anchovy from the can. Without opening it.

Personally, I think it's a plot. The car companies are behind it. They clearly want you to buy a car. Any car. And drive it everywhere

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Pansy's scenic drive

So, early the next morning, I awoke, checked out of my hotel, and left Portland FOREVER. Well, maybe not forever, but I felt a little drama was needed, ya know? I got back on the 5 south and headed towards Los Angeles.

All of you who have been so far riveted will doubtless remember that I had said that there is nothing to see on the 5. You may ask yourself why I got back on that road. You may even ask me. Mostly because it's right in Portland. Duh. However, the first chance I got, I made a sharp right and went for the coast.

I took the 101 south through the Redwoods, stopping at the drive-though tree because, really, you just have to.

There are many sights in this country that are awe-inspiring in their loveliness. One of the big ones has to be the coast of Northern California.

For this reason, at Santa Rosa, I made a hard right and went to Bodega Bay. Many of you will remember Bodega Bay as the site that Hitchcock used as the small coastal town in "The Birds". In many ways it looks pretty much the same. The old restaurant has quintupled in size and is unrecognisable, but the old school is still there, with the house Suzanne Pleshette lived in right next to it (actually, that isn't in Bodega Bay, it's on the way into town in Bodega, a few miles inland)

Leaving Bodega Bay, I drove the coast route into San Francisco. This route was in the part of "The Birds" where we aee 'Tippi' Hedren piloting her Aston Martin to deliver her love birds to Rod Steiger at the beginning of the movie. If you are ever in Northern California for any reason whatever, you must, MUST make this drive. It's absolutely spectacular. A word to the wise: it was also the route they used in "Basic Instinct" for the white knuckle car chase between Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas. It's a tricky road with switchbacks and vertiginous drop-offs. Agoraphobics take note. I felt very un-'Tippi' in my giant sand-colored Toyota SuburboCruizer minivan, but I was glad I was getting to make this drive with pay.

I'd like to be able to tell you the rest of the scenic wonders that I experienced, but there really weren't any; the Golden Gate bridge was an experience, and San Francisco is, as always so agressively scenic you sometimes want to slug it. I could stayed the course and kept to the coast road, but it was getting towards dark and I had a holiday dinner to go to the next day. So I got back on the 101 and was back in my lovely home in the Industrial Triangle area of beautiful Beverly Hills in time for the 11 o'clock news.

I got into my house to find a message from the friendly gorgon. Thong World no longer needed my services. I'd been replaced.

Boo freakin' Hoo.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Now that you're all riveted....

So anyway, I delivered the sofa without much fanfare. For some reason, I didn't feel like exploring Seattle. I don't know why (Bill Gates? Mount St Helens? Starbucks?). So I went south to Portland, and found a hotel. The hotel was a rather cheap but clean affair east of the 5 in a neighborhood that was middle-eastern. The people who owned the place were very nice, and pointed me towards some very yummy and very cheap food. Which I availed myself of before I went to the Mecca, the Shangrila, the el Dorado for anyone who loves books: Powell's

Powell's is an enourmous place, having started out as a used bookstore in what was then a rather rundown neighborhood in northwest Portland. At one point, they came up with the great idea that they'd sell new and used books. Since that day in teh 70's, the place has grown like Topsy. One day when I have a lot of extra money, I want to go in there with my platinum card between my teeth and a U-Haul at the curb. I spent a few hours perusing, then herniated my way to the car under the weight of my (what I thought) meagre purchases. Luckily, there was a lot of room in the van.

Did I mention the van? A Toyota Sienna minivan in a tan color that must have been listed on the option sheet as "Champagne Inoffensive Metallic". Pay attention, because this will figure later in the story. There may be a quiz.

Next: Pansy takes the scenic route!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Pansy on the Run!

So, I had been at Thong World long enough to have (gasp!) settled in. I was no longer even Pansy Tham- that email account had been closed, and I was officially tmp00@thongsrus.com. Brimming with joy? Not I. Add into this was the fact that the holidays were coming up, and in a very un-thonglike display of largesse, the thong queen declared that the offices would be closed on the Wednesday holiday, as well as the two days after. Great if your paycheck came from Thong World, disastrous if you were paid as a temp.

Luckily, a friend of mine was producing a show that was moving from it's venue in Hollywood to the Seattle Rep. A major piece of the show was a particular sofa, shaped like the front end of a Buick. Said sofa absolutely, positively had to be in Seattle by a certain date, or the show couldn't go on. Pansy to the rescue (and vice-versa)! I told my thong boss that I would be off that Monday and Tuesday, my friend and I made a deal on my fee, we went to rent a minivan (from an odd, random house on the edge of Hancock Park) loaded the sofa, and off I went.

Well, that's the short version. First of all, I had to pack.

I have a friend who has the amazing ability to pack for weeks in what most people would consider something ample for, say, mailing one's cable bill. He'll show up for the week with his dopp kit and envelope (as my friend Bitsy calls it), merrily pulling out of this tardis-like pouch magically unwrinkled shirts, sharply pressed chinos, perkily creased socks; all manner of clothing so fresh and crisp you wonder if that damned bag is a wormhole directly connected to a drycleaner.

He bugs me.

I am not he. I am seemingly unable to pack for a simple weekend without bringing more stuff than most expeditions over the Antarctic. Somehow, somewhere in the deep dark reptilian part of my brain I am unable to comprehend that there is no place in the world (that I'd go to, anyway) where all-cotton socks, Calvin Klein t-shirts and soft boxers with humourous patterns are not readily available. I could be going off to an extended stay in a maximum-security psych ward and still I'd have to pack a nice pair of pants, a blazer or two, and a couple of shirts, all with at least three choices of ties, 'cause you know, Trembling Acres might have a mixer or something. If I had one, I'd probably pack a ball gown, just in case I was faced with an underdressed dinner partner, or some strange local custom of enforced drag. Oh, and the toiletries? Imagine half of Sephora crammed into a small Burberry duffel. Not to mention, cell phone, computer, various waters, sodas, supplements... well you get the idea.

In any case, laded with all of my stuff and a giant sofa, I left Hollywood for Seattle. I drove and drove. For those of you who have never driven it, the 5 freeway through California practically begs you to speed. Not just 75 or 80, but 100. Hell, 300. Once you've gotten over the "Grapevine", there's not much to see. Huell Howser might beg to differ, but I didn't see nuthin. Oh, Sacramento, but really, the less said about that... Sacramento seems like California's punishment on politicos.

I did drive through a lovely snowstorm at the Oregon border, though, and with a few hours nap on the famous sofa at a rest stop, morning saw me pull into the Seattle Rep's parking lot to deliver my wares.

Next: Pansy Parks it in Portland!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Further Adventures of Thong World...

So, after a few days at Thong World, I was asked to take a drug test. Now for some reason this annoyed me no end; not that I took drugs, but I felt that if I had to get up at the a$$-crack of the morning to leave the comfort and safety of my down-covered bed to treak to the butt end of beautiful Commerce (gateway to Bell) to sit in front a computer and press random combinations of F-keys while wondering where my life had gone so tragically wrong and try to figure out if there was some way that I could transport myself back 30 or so years to really pound into my earlier toddler head that theater was evil (Eeeeeevil!) and a career in Plastic Surgery was the way to go, not only should I be able to take drugs, it should be compulsory: they should station someone at the front desk where they pop a honey-roasted Valium in my mouth as they check my ID.

So, I creakily (oy, my sciatica) got up on my high horse and refused.

Consternation! Confusion! Thongs Imperiled!

Elsa the Friendly Gorgon called. She wheedled, she cajoled, she seduced (she majorly barked up the wrong tree on so many levels, but god love her for trying). Then she pulled out the big guns.

She offered me two buck an hour more.

Weeeeeel, my high horse was pretty freaking uncomfortable anyway.

Having years later had a drug screening at my current job (although I was one of the last employees to have it in house, since the new owners killed of the in-house health department), I can tell you that a drug screening can discreet, respectful and even slightly homey.

Not in Thong World.

Thong World sent you to an even less attractive corner that might not even been in Commerce. Here, at the corner of Crack and Addicted, you were ushered into a peeling paint covered cinder block building seemingly populated by people who managed to be deemed not perky enough, not helpful enough, without the people skills necessary to man the desk at the DMV. Since the Crusades were over, and they had to pay the bills they landed here: Bob's CheckYourPee.

Needless to say, my particular brand of OFFENDED DIGNITY(R) didn't go over very well.

I eventually was led to a my cubicle/dungeon, and finally after about an hour of trying (performance anxiety- they sent some dude in there to make sure that I didn't Sizemore my way through it), I filled the cup.

All so I could continue to make the world safe for drug-free butt-floss unterhosen.

Coming soon: Pansy Escapes!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

There may be a few of you that don't know the origin of the title of this blog (yes, I know, a blog- how late last year. That Pansy, always on the bleeding edge)

Long about 6 years ago, months after I had parted ways with Rizzoli and the show I had been working on closed, the state of California (and American Express, my landlady and Pacific Bell) started making serious if annoying noises about me getting a job. Since the lottery maintained its dreary habit of not picking my numbers, and David Geffen refused to adopt me (Why David, WHY!!!), I went looking. A friend turned me on to temp work. The agency I went to, in a rather random building on Wilshire, was run by an unfortunate woman that I like to think of as Elsa, the friendly Gorgon. Within about 6 minutes, she was sending me off to my personal hell, the place that I like to refer to as "Thong World"

Thong World, as you may guess (clever boots, you) was a place that made underthings. Just in case there is a lawyer out there I won't mention the company, but you've heard of them. They were (I assume are) located in a particularly unattractive part of the LA basin, and, as much as I love LA, that's saying something.

My job? God knows what I was supposed to do. In hindsight, I think I was supposed to run reports- the job description was for someone who knew Excel. Well, I can surf Excel with the best of them, but this job seemed to involve having my rather nice and very attractive boss pop out of her office every few hours to stand behind me and run me through a DOS program that involved a lot of use of the F-keys and random acronyms to tell the plant in Tel Aviv or Tuscon or Tijuana that the thongs for this season would be fuschia jersey with grey sateen piping. I was never let in on whether this was a report that I should be running daily, hourly, or weekly, or whether there was any particular reason behind doing this. Like an irregular cookoo-clock, she would pop out of the office, reel off a list of F-keys, have me press enter, and leave.

Thongs were played close to the, er, vest. In case of industrial spies, you know.

The other workers were, uhhhh, colourful. There was one girl, who was terrified of being fired, since she had sent "inappropriate" emails. She had forwarded something that had her put on full Thong Probation. Double Secret Thong Probation, to be exact. Unfortunately for her, she seemed to have a couple of friends that delighted in sending her emails that downloaded porno pictures, complete with macros forwarding them to the global address book. Oddly, this girl didn't think not to open these emails from her purported friends. Her computer savvy was about zero also, since she had no idea how to undo the pictures that her "friends" sent to her- including a very outre picture of a young woman in truly desperate need of a Brazilian wax that automatically became her wallpaper. Charming.

She didn't last.

Then there was Gun-Boy. He was a very nice young Asian guy who was obsessed with "The Matrix". He called himself Neo, had the leather coat, and was on a serious mission ot get the exact boots that Keanu wore. Looaaddds of research went into finding these boots; substitutes would not be accepted. While this was enough to send an eyebrow skyward, there was also his Y2K issues. (yes, it was 1999) He was one of those people who were expecting Y2K anarchy- to the point of arming himself. Really arming himself. Like Rambo. When he told me that come January first I'd be begging to be his bitch... well, let's just say my eyebrow may have actually have slapped a passing plane. His job was to keep up an incredibly complicated spreadsheet that no-one else was allowed near.

Oh, and there was the woman whose sole job was to call Mexico and scream at the top of her voice in an accent that sounded like she should be "plwotteenk trubble fuhr moose and sqwurrurl" about the thongs being held up.

Or the overly tanned glad-hander who was some sort of exec who was canned by the woman who headed the company, a gorgon of whom everyone was so afraid, they painted the entire complex in expectation of her royal visit.

In any case- if you're still awake, I will solve the mystery of Pansy....

At Thong World, there was no internet access- one must not be visiting defamer.com when there are thongs to be made. When I got there, I was directed to do my chores using the address of the previous occupant, who had no doubt fled screaming into to night. For an entire month, I would email all of my friends, furiously deleting the sent items and trash folder as soon as I sent anything (remember, all eyes are on you in Thong World). The nome de plume was....

Pansy Tham.

Yes, Pansy Tham.

I think that some of my friends (quite understandably) could not pass up the opportunity of calling me Pansy with impugnity, so it's stuck enough that I've named this blog after it. For those of you who knew the story, you have got some added info that I hope will give you a few giggles. For those of you who never knew, you have far, far more info than you ever needed.

Don't ask me to pity you, I lived through it.