Monday, April 27, 2009

The Hair There? I'll Get It Cut When It Stares at My Eyebrows

I admit: I'm a hermit. I usually only go out on Sundays to the library to pick up my weekly 18-wheeler-load of books. That's followed by shopping at Ralph's and any other stores we need to go to. On Tuesdays, I go with my dad to pick up my sister from College of the Canyons, the only community college in the Santa Clarita Valley, as her classes end after 8 p.m., and no buses run to our area by then.

I have everything I need in this house. There's movies to watch on the Tivo when I'm compiling job listings for a five-day-a-week freelance writing newsletter (owned by someone else, so I get a paycheck), there's jazz I haven't yet listened to, there's Netflix for titles I need to review for ScreenIt as well as research for my first book (a documentary on D.W. Griffith to come, for research on silent film actor Robert Harron, as well as "True Heart Susie" from 1919 for the same purpose), and there's stacks of books to read, including the ones I need to read for research. There's not much reason to go out in this valley since there's nothing anyway. To really find anything to do, you have to get out of this valley and go to the San Fernando Valley or Los Angeles proper. I don't do it often. In fact, I don't even drive, even though I have my license.

That's why I thought it strange when my mom asked if I could wait possibly another two weeks for a haircut. I'm the only one who really looks at my hair. There are days when I let it go wild and it matters to no one. I've no social reputation to maintain. The only problem I have with my hair is when I take a shower before bed at 5 a.m. Even if I dry my hair well enough, there's always a part in the morning that stubbornly sticks up, no matter how many times my comb rampages through it. That's the only frustration from my hair getting longer.

Two more weeks? I can wait. I don't have to impress anyone. Unless the trees are picky about appearance.

The Post-Teeth Pull Recovery List

On Thursday morning, my mom has to get two wisdom teeth pulled. Every time she's gone to a doctor for something, including the operation she had on her sinuses, I've always been there for support. This isn't going where you might think it would, since I might go again, not only for the usual support, but also because it's at 9 in the morning, and I could stand getting up early at least once this week, particularly with the minefield of work now laid out before me. Yesterday at the library, I picked up 27 books, 1 DVD (disc 1 of the Noel Coward Collection again), and 1 CD (Eartha Kitt: Greatest Hits - purr-fect). 10 of those books are research for "What If They Lived?" I'm a speed-reader, but I've no idea how detailed research works. I know I have questions about these actors that I hope will be answered. I know that there's details in their lives I want to know about. I want to know what Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle liked in his life outside of making silent comedies. I want to know, if possible, what caused Robert Harron to squeeze that trigger in suicide. Was it only D.W. Griffith paying less attention to him? It's known that Harron saw Griffith as a father. Not as a father figure, but apparently as a father, though I'm not really clear on that yet, as to how much attention his birth father gave him. But a poor Irish-Catholic family that included 9 kids, there most likely wasn't a lot.

I want to know more about the easy, good-natured rapport Arbuckle and Mabel Normand had together onscreen. Did it remain that way offscreen? What made Normand become such a physical silent film comedian? What did she like about the work?

There's so much to know and I hope there's a crush of questions enough that I don't have to think about how to begin each essay. I'll just find something within each person that sparks something in my mind and off I go. But those historians and experts I've contacted will be ultra-valuable because I still need insights into what these actors might have done in their careers had they not died. I read that Normand had retired from movies, before she contracted tuberculosis and died a year later. Well, she retired. Wouldn't that be the end? The public had begun to welcome Arbuckle back into movies, and then he died. Now that is something to consider.

What do I do? Do I just read and hope something grabs me by the throat, demanding that I write it down? I'd like that. I'm not a masochist, but that would help. There I go again, though, overthinking the whole thing. I love all this and I should just concentrate on what can be accomplished each day, while being mindful of the deadline in late January of next year.

So on Thursday morning, I'm also thinking of going because it'll get me up early enough and let me produce something on a full day. More time to read, more time to consider, more time to write down pertinent information.

Then comes my mom's recovery from this teeth extraction. My dad wrote down a list of what to pick up from Von's and Ralph's. It's all that I like too:

- Apple sauce
- Ice cream (no detail on what kind)
- Chocolate milk (more is always better)
- Jello (pkg) Straw/Banana - Powdered strawberry/banana Jello that my sister will make
- Pudding cups (in red on the list: Mixed chocolate and vanilla) - Chocolate on top top, vanilla in the middle, chocolate on the bottom.
- Cottage cheese - Didn't pick up any yesterday because it was too expensive. $4.49? Mom goes for that more than I.
- Hawaiian bread - Hard to find a good loaf of bread in this valley, or at least one to stick to for more than a week.
- Gatorade - Fierce Strawberry - Didn't find it in Ralph's yesterday, but they did have my kind, Fruit Punch.
- Ginger ale (in red: individual bottles)
- Crackers - soup - Oyster crackers, I thought, but she said that the last kind we got was too salty. Geez, how long ago was that? I'm guessing the soup will likely be chicken noodle. It's a reliable standard.
- Iced tea - What other kind of iced tea would she need? We've got Lipton Cold Brew bags in one of the cabinets, and I have to make more this week anyway.
- Yogurt - She likes fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts. I used to like the blended kinds, but now I like working for the fruit. However, my absolute, no-change favorite is the Yoplait Thick and Creamy, which I was fed as a baby, when it was called Custard Style. I wish it still was. And I wish they had kept the strawberry drawing on there, which was a lighter red, it had an outline, and the seeds were more prominently shown.

And this is the week. Up to Thursday, heavy research. I hope it'll be easier after I write my essay on Robert Harron. I have to also remember to read more, and not just what I have to read. Inspiration is always useful in big projects. This is the biggest I've had in my life so far. Today, we also have to clean the birds' cages. Then Thursday, keeping tabs on Mom after the teeth-pull, while also still concentrating on the research.

That reminds me. There's a few thank-you e-mails I have to send to a few people who've agreed to talk to me, including director Richard Shepard, who's known for "The Matador," starring Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear, but who also made a documentary about actor John Cazale. That's going to prove very useful once I get to researching his life.