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Marooned on an island


I got some really great gifts this year from people who really know how to shop for me.

But the best gift I got this year was after I got back to Austin Tuesday night. All weekend had been a pretty mad scramble to finish my shopping, to spend time with Jessica and my family, and to get up early enough to drive down to South Texas to see the rest of my family. It's like this every year. We usually open gifts Christmas Eve, stay up late with music (usually Tejano or whatever CDs were received as gifts) and then there's yelling through the house all morning as my parents try to wake my brother and I up to make the four-hour drive early enough to see all the family.

We made it down, spent the night at my grandma's, saw Cast Away (I liked it, I don't care if people think it's slow and boring) and then drove back. I had a laptop on loan with me, so I was able to do some writing, catch my brother up on the glory that is Diablo II, and keep up with e-mail.

Then Tuesday night I was driving back. It was frigid -- the whole country was getting ready for snow, ice or just a blanked of cold air. We'd just gotten back from a place where we all wore T-shirts to a restaurant in the middle of the afternoon.

Suddenly, I was thinking that I had had a restful weekend, despite all the rushing and driving. My wish had been for things to slow down, even just for a little bit. After finishing my Third Watch recap, the whole rest of the weekend had really been, for me, a chance to get away from work, from the constant writing and from all the pressures that have been building up. That was my best gift, and a lot of it had to do with having a place to be, and family to visit.

Now I'm back. I feel rested. Nothing seems too stressful or scary anymore. I didn't know how badly I needed a break.

Torrid Affair Update -- Judging from my keen male instincts, I believe my torrid affair with Wendi is at an end.

It's just as well. This whole Secret Lovers thing was starting to prey on my conscience.

Wendi -- I'm sure Reed or Matthew will come and sweep you off your feet and take you away to some isla bonita where they will shower your feet with kisses and lay you down on a bed of rose petals. Or maybe they'll take you for some Arby Melts and spring for large fries.

In either case, may those fantasies come true...

One of the great things about Cast Away (besides how well they did the airplane crash and how cool it was that there was so little dialogue for so long in the movie) was how the sheer Everyman™ traits of Tom Hanks make it easy for people to put themselves in his shoes in a movie. For instance, when you watch The Green Mile, you almost unconsciously start to think, "Now if I was a prison warden in the Depression Era South and a magical giant healed me with powers, what would I do?" Or, "If I fell in love with a mermaid and my best friend was John Candy, who would I hang out with more?" Those kinds of questions.

In Cast Away (as in Survivor), you begin to wonder about your own resourcefulness in a similar situation -- being stranded on an island.

Basically, I'd be a blind, blubbering mess. Without glasses or contacts, I would quickly become crab bait and I could just imagine all the rashes and the scurvy and ... well, let's just say I'm no Richard Hatch.

But, I think I could be a bit innovative and substitute a few island tools to help recreate some of my daily habits. For instance, I could probably send e-mail by hollowing out coconuts, lining them with blown glass (blown glass is just sand, right?), focusing that glass into a fine point that would reflect light, and then quickly bouncing light up to an overhead satellite by shaking the coconut really fast, while covering it periodically (on light/off light) to represent binary code. With some luck, I could catch a satellite that just happened to be sending a Hotmail feed back to Earth.

To entertain myself through the grueling hours at sea, I could pretend that I was the main character of the NBC Must-See TV show ("Must-See" in this case meaning, "Must-See How Much Pain I Can Withstand") Cursed. I could just pretend that the whole getting stuck on the island thing was an elaborate episode involving this curse. It would certainly be more entertaining than the real Cursed.

My cat probably wouldn't make it to the island with me, but I could imagine the whole island was one big kitty litter box. That woud make me a little less lonely. (and would solve lots of sanitation dilemmas.)

The itching. The burning.

I could devise a Bamboo Heather made of bamboo shoots and pieces of island coral to keep me company like I did when I was recapping City of Angels.

I'd organize an intra-island Piña Colada-making contest. My Colada would prevail. I am sure of it.

I would dramatically draw a line in the sand, daring anyone who would not stand up against our common foe to cross it. I would keep doing this until I got bored.

Learn a coconut-clomping jig.

I would carve a pager out of wood and then make a big show out of turning off my pager so that I wouldn't disturb others while they were eating or watching a movie. The pager would also have seaweed on it.

Every day would be palm Sunday.

I would invent a transparent tanning booth that involves no booth and no transparent material.

I would miss my friends, but would find friendship with an island monkey who talks by using his feet for sign language.

I would try to make an "Awesome Blossom" out of a coconut.

The insects and rats would all do my bidding. I would name each of them so they didn't feel like I was just issuing random orders to faceless minions.

It actually sounds like a lot of fun. I don't know what Tom Hanks was bitching about in that movie.

The LCP is doing a show this Friday night as a fundraiser for Teatro Humanidad's youth program. If you happen to be in Austin, it'll be at the Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC Site) on 700 River St., 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 before the event (512-454-TIXS) or $15 at the door.

It's called Loco Año Nuevo and we'll be doing a half hour of skits, some old and some new, and performing with other acts including stand-up comic Jason Gutierrez and Chancla, a musical comedy act from San Marcos.

Go check it out.


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