Diary of a Mad County

Wednesday, Sept. 14
Local entrepreneur the Walt Disney Company announces its film unit has lost up to $300 million for the current quarter. Chief financial officer Thomas Staggs said the studio's performance is “considerably worse than we anticipated,” which is saying something, since people have been anticipating the worst from Disney films since it released Pocahontas. Staggs blamed some of the studio's problems on the industry-wide slump at the box office, but added, “In fairness, the difficult results at the studio have more to do with the performance of our titles.” Some of those weak titles include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in His Pants, Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Blow the Manand hardcore adult fare Herbie: Fully Loaded.

Thursday, Sept. 15
Speaking of film, Kresal e-mailed to say that the thing I wrote last week about John Wayne dying in True Grit was wrong. Turned out I was thinking of Glen Campbell, as I often do. Anyway, I trust Kresal when he tells me stuff like this since it was Kresal, more than 20 years ago, who explained on a meandering walk around Cal State Long Beach where we were both “students,” that the song “Look of Love” by ABC was fundamentally flawed because the line, “If you judge a book by the cover/Then you'd judge the look by the lover” compared judging what was within (book) by looking on the outside (cover) with judging what is on the outside (the look) by looking on the inside (the lover). I think that's what he was saying. There was a lot of cursing. Also, I was drunk. Do they still have that bar on the Long Beach State campus? That place had pretty good pizza.

Friday, Sept. 16

Saturday, Sept. 17
Formerly popular movie star and governor Arnold Schwarzenegger assures Republican conventioneers in Anaheim that he knows how to fix California: pound the pariahs that are nurses, teachers, firefighters and cops. If that doesn't work, he's reportedly thinking about going after seeing-eye dogs and elderly nuns who read to orphans with cancer. Schwarzenegger, who announced his re-election bid the day before, threw his support behind Proposition 75, which would require public-employee unions to get members' permission before using their dues for political campaigns. “Big government union leaders should not use their members' money as a personal kitty to fund political campaigns,” said Schwarzenegger, though he failed to mention if he'd support a comparable proposition requiring corporate bosses, who have contributed millions to his campaign(s), to get similar permission from their stockholders.

Sunday, Sept. 18
This actually happened yesterday, but it seems more appropriate to write about it today. I took my son to the USC-Arkansas football game at the Los Angeles Coliseum Saturday, and as my mind began to wander around the time the Trojans took a 73,987-10 lead midway through the third quarter—a Pac-10 record—I saw a gentleman approach another gentleman two rows in front of me. They embraced warmly and began communicating through sign language. My first inclination was to feel sorry for them, but then the one gentleman pointed out to the other that a mutual friend was sitting in a different section. It was then that this gentleman and the man in the other section began having a full-on conversation. This is, of course, nothing “normal” people can do. It really opened my eyes, especially when the gentleman began conducting a drug transaction with his friend from the other section. You could tell by the way he kept counting off his fingers, then putting his thumb and index finger together and pressing them to his lips. Here I was, pitying this man, and he was scoring sweet ganja. Who's handicapped now? Certainly not this deaf man in dreads with his perpetual, if yellowed and drowsy, smile. It made me really appreciate the human spirit that, when faced with adversity, picks itself up and says, “I wonder if anyone in the Coliseum is currently dealing? Oh, sweet, there's T-Bag!” And I thought about that story where Jesus is lugging persons about the beach, the last line being where Christ says, “Where there was only one set of footprints is when I carried you.” And I thought, this is kinda like that, except, in this case, Jesus is helping this man score pot. I think that's what I thought. Also, I was drunk.

Monday, Sept. 19
A plan to widen the San Diego (405) Freeway is revised today by an Orange County Transportation Authority committee . . . THIS JUST IN: Scott Moxley reports that Amit Kumar Sinha, the man accused of calling in a bomb threat in a failed attempt to halt a medical school graduation at UCI, pleaded to making a bomb threat and will receive three years of formal probation, as well as pay $5,000 to a victims' fund. Sinha must also stay away from UCI, which is what got him into trouble in the first place. Prosecutors allege that he tried to stop the graduation ceremony so his parents, who had been sending him money for his medical education at UCI, would not find out that he had never even applied to the school. . . . Now, back to the freeway: The committee recommends adding two lanes in each direction in that area around Los Alamitos, Seal Beach and the junction of the 22 freeway where you want to eat your own head. OCTA officials, who believe the widening will cost about $500 million before graft, say it will increase rush hour speeds by five miles per hour, bringing rush hour speeds up to an average of five miles per hour.

Tuesday, Sept. 20
PETA VP and good guy Dan Mathews e-mailed to tell me that his organization scored a major coup by getting former fur-wearing Martha Stewart to cut an anti-fur video spot. “I used to wear real fur, but, like many others, I had a change of heart when I learned what actually happens to the animals,” Stewart says in the video, which debuts today at www.peta.com. Dan said he had met Stewart several times at parties and that the meetings were “cordial,” but there was “tension as we've targeted her over everything from boiling live crabs to wearing fur.” But when Stewart went to prison, Mathews, who has been in more than his share of jails owing to his work with PETA, wrote her a note: “I know we've had our differences over the years, but now we have one thing in common: we both know our way around a jail cell.” Mathews, who grew up in Costa Mesa, has been in prison so much—sometimes in various states of undress, sometimes made up as a giant vegetable—that he sent Stewart a copy of a piece he wrote in Details magazine called “Connoisseurs' Guide to the World's Jails,” in which Dan rated prisons for food, hospitality and accommodations. The best? Hong Kong. Worst? Chicago. Makes you wonder if he's ever been in the Orange County Jail, which has been unfavorably compared to Abu Ghraib. Here, let's ask him (e-mailing Dan . . .). Dan replies: “Costa Mesa High was the only OC jail I ever did time in. My advice to anyone who finds themselves behind bars is to exaggerate your charge to something like assault but not give any details and don't make eye contact and people will let you be; unless you happen to be in a giant carrot outfit.”


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