Thursday, May 31, 2012

My 150th Blog Post: Stealth Name Bombing and Why I Love Kristen Johnston



Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers!


Happy 150th LilyOnTheLam Blog Post Day!  Imagine my surprise when I realized my work did not classify today as a paid holiday and I would actually have to ... gasp! ... work today.  Oh sure, Thanksgiving gets a day off but 150th Blog Post doesn't even merit an extra long coffee break?  Uh huh, I see how you roll.  


I have been putting off writing my 150th blog post because I wanted it to be "really special" ... and I am ... "really lazy."  Finally, I decided I needed to approach writing the 150th blog post like I approached losing my virginity ... with the attitude of "Let's just get this over with ..."  Seriously, I looked at my ... ahem, suitor and said: "Just do it already!"  I am nothing if not a big, steaming pile of romance.


So here I am and here you are ... ready to embark upon my 150th blog post together ... like Thelma and Louise in a car careening off a cliff into the Grand Canyon.  Well at least we got to have sex with Brad Pitt before this happened ... Wait, what?  We didn't get to have sex with Brad Pitt?  What kind of low-budget suicide mission is this, anyway?  Pffft.  Double Pffft.


Enough with the blather, on with the show...  "My 150th Blog Post:  Stealth Name Bombing and Why I Love Kristen Johnston"


GUTS the Book - Cats sold separately
I dedicate my 150th Blog Post in honor of Mr. Nicky G - the internationally known raconteur who first uttered the now classic saying:  "Sometimes you just gotta wake up and say `Hey, there's a brick house on me.'" (Copyright - LilyOnTheLam.Com - Thank you very much!)  Not familiar with that saying?  You really need to get out more.  I need to open a Zazzle.com store for Nicky G sayings ... t-shirts, bumper stickers, thong underwear, coffee mugs ...  I'll be RICH - rich, I tell you!


You may wonder why I would choose to dedicate this 150th Blog Post to Nicky G ... It's not like he invented penicillin or Spanx.  True.  But I am going to spend part of this blog post ripping on Nicky G, so I might as well honor him first.  And hope Nicky G doesn't read this blog post.  Crap ... tactical error there.  Ah well ...


Nicky G and I attended the same Midwestern University together - although as I have consistently done for many years, I must emphatically point out that I was there for undergrad and Nicky G was there for grad school.  I am significantly younger than Nicky G, for the record.  I am also foxier and I am a much better tap dancer than Nicky G as well.  But I love him nonetheless and he's managed to figure out some way of existing in my shadow.  Excuse me, I need to sing "Wind Beneath My Wings" ...


One "morning" (which by University time zones means "well past noon"), Nicky G and I were having "breakfast" at this granola-y cafe that had recently been the "baby" in an estranged lesbian custody battle royale.  I didn't go to this particular cafe often, because I felt like I was siding with the lesbian who won sole custody of "the baby."  This feeling permeated and tainted my enjoyment of my buckwheat pancakes.  It was just too much drama for "the morning." 


On this particular day, Nicky G and I were both fuzzy-headed, possibly hungover ... or perhaps just spiritually hungover.  Nicky G looked at me and made some sort of philosophical statement about his life ... The type of thing that sounds really "deep" at the time, but then in retrospect you realize that as a college student your greatest personal struggle was wondering how many times you could skip your 7:45 a.m. class to sleep in before you'd flunk out.  Hardly the stuff of great trials and tribulations to anyone other than said college student.  


Nicky G set down his fork, looked at me and said "Sometimes you just gotta wake up and say `Hey, there's a brick house on me'" ... (Pause) ... "Wait, is that the saying?"  


My response to Nicky G, done in two ways:


My revisionist history memory:  I leaned over to Nicky G, tapped him sympathetically on the hand and said "No, you mixed up `Sometimes you gotta wake up and smell the coffee' with `I don't need a brick house to fall on me.'  But regardless, it was genius."     


My more probable response:  "WHAT?  DUH!! YOU MIXED UP TWO SAYINGS, YA DOOFUS!"       


It is this kind of witty repartee that has kept my friendship with Nicky G going throughout the years.  However life is not all perfect in Wonderland.  Nicky G does have a particularly annoying trait that has threatened to derail our friendship on several occasions.  


Nicky G is a ... stealth name bomber.  Gasp!  


Oh, you don't know what a "stealth name bomber" is?  First time in the Big City, Little One?  Allow me to educate you ... I lived in Los Angeles for several years, so I think that allows me to hold myself out as a name dropping and star-f*cking expert.  (And yes, I am being facetious - geez, I'm not that full of myself ... all the time.)  


I believe my life is like CNN - I owe it to "my people" to deliver the Lily News ... 24-7.  People count on me to be informed about all things "me."  So when I was at a Broadway show and James Earl Jones was sitting two rows directly behind me, not only did my entire Facebook friend list know about it within thirty seconds ... I also had conducted a Facebook and texting poll to determine whether I should go up to Mr. James Earl Jones and say "OMG - will you say `Lily, I am your FATHER'" or "OMG - I love you as the voice of CNN!  Powerful acting!"  (Btw, "Lily, I am your FATHER" won by a landslide.)  If I spot a celebrity, I'm going to tell the world about it!


By the way, have you read my epic two part blog post series detailing my meeting of Kevin Spacey?  ("A Space in My Heart for Spacey and Charo - Part One" and "A Space in My Heart for Spacey and Charo - Part Two")  Check it out!  "A must read" - declares the Tampa Palm Tree Harvesters' Monthly!


When I was at Baz Luhrmann's "La Boheme" and Steven Spielberg, Kate Capshaw, Michelle Pfeiffer, David E. Kelley, Patty Scialfa and none other than The Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen were four rows behind me, everyone I knew heard about it.  (Thanks again, Facebook!)  


They also heard from me in frazzled, rambling stream of consciousness, real time detail about: "how everyone in the theater was handing Steven Spielberg their Playbills for his autograph and how ridiculous I thought that was because Steven Spielberg had nothing to do with "La Boheme" and how I had the book "Catch Me If You Can" in my bag, which Spielberg directed and THAT would have made logical sense to ask for his autograph on the book ... but I would never ask for his autograph because that would be "uncool" and then I was standing next to Spielberg for like seven minutes while we waited for the theatre to empty and how I never realized that I was taller than Steven Spielberg until I was jammed up against him and now maybe in retrospect I am really regretting I didn't pull out "Catch Me If You Can" just to show him that I was above the Playbill-autograph seekers and we would have totally had a chuckle about it and then he would have invited me out for a post-theater decaf latte and asked me my thoughts on whether he should make a sequel to `E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial' and I'd banter with `Only if I can play Gertie, all grown up!' and we'd laugh and laugh and laugh ..."


Yes, when I have a star sighting; you're going to hear about it!  My public deserves all the details as they are happening!  No sitting on a killer story for "my people."


Which by the way ... when I was seven years old, my best friend's mother worked for a used car lot that had decided the way to really bring in the used car buyer market was by having a star from the old television show "Happy Days" appear for autograph signings.  And for some unknown reason, myself, my best friend and her 5 year old brother were being dragged to the used car lot like this was going to be some big event for us.  I was seven years old - reruns of "Happy Days" were not the stuff that made my heart go pitter-pat!  


In my book, "star from Happy Days" means either Henry Winkler or Ron Howard.  My best friend's mother informed us that no ... it was no one "big" like that.  Well then - what the flibberty gibbets is going on here?  (I was seven.  The expression "what the f*ck?" would not enter into my vocabulary until I was the mature age of seven and a half.)  I intensely scrutinized who else could be considered a star from "Happy Days" ... my seven year old brain was at a complete loss.  


I'll save you the suspense and anticipation.  The used car lot mystery celebrity turned out to be Anson Williams ... "Potsie" from "Happy Days."  I stuffed my face with a handful of free used car lot popcorn and muttered "THIS BLOWS!" while chewing with mouth open wide.  "Even Ralph Malph would have been better!"  I pouted.  


(FYI - sincerest apologies to actor/director Anson Williams.  What can I say?  I was seven!)  


We each left with an autographed picture of Anson Williams that had been signed in advance and handed out, so it wasn't even personalized.  It was only his name too.  Nothing cheeky like "Sit on it, Hugs and Kisses - Love, Potsie!"  I stared at the picture bitterly and said "I don't even think I know who you are" to Mr. Williams' face.  I wondered what level of hell Anson Williams had entered where he had to go hand out pre-signed pictures at a used car lot in a Minneapolis suburb.  Oh, the cruel underbelly of some celebrity sightings.


Which come to think of it, other than singer Matt Nathanson, the Anson Williams' autograph is probably the only other autograph I have ever received.  This could be why I never ask celebrities for their autographs.  And to be fair, I didn't really care about Matt Nathanson's autograph ... I just wanted to press myself against his delicious body for a photograph.  Mission accomplished!



So even disappointing star sightings like "The Potsie Episode" are readily disclosed.  I believe in full disclosure, people.


And even more important than star sighting is the "true connection" with power, infamy or celebrity.  Those closest to me (and by that I mean everyone in a 300 mile radius of me ... and this website) know that I used to hang out an actress' home who was the ex-wife of a one time huge movie star and now I - Miss First Name: Lily, Last Name: On The Lam - can do the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" in four degrees.  FOUR DEGREES!!  That alone should get me a free churro on alternating Tuesdays somewhere.  (Btw, that churro comment is a shout out to you, Miss LM.)  One only needs to select the "Top Chef" label on the left-hand column of my blog to read about my brushes with reality TV/culinary demigod celebrity as well.  


To show even more of my "true connection" to power, infamy and/or celebrity, my blog is called "Lily On The Lam" in honor of the truly great uber-genius of our time - who is number 69 on this year's Maxim's Hot 100 Women List, Mr. Stephen Colbert.  In response to Tampa Bay's Mystery Monkey - Stephen Colbert on "The Colbert Report" started running a "Monkey on the Lam" series.  (My favorite - "Monkey on the Lam - Lobster Edition.")  


   
My cat's name is Finnerty - named after the husband of actress Kathy Najimy - Dan Finnerty, lead singer of the delightful comedic band "The Dan Band."  My first job outside of college was working with a kid who's uncle managed the band Cheap Trick.  Actress Mary Louise Parker has gone to my favorite tea room of all time, not when I have been there but still ...  (I wrote about this tea room in my 100th blog post.)  Again I say, FULL DISCLOSURE, people!  All celebrity connection details must be disclosed! 


If I look in any good etiquette book, I know there will be at least one chapter on proper disclosure of star sightings and celebrity connections.  And that chapter says all disclosures must be made upfront and within the first day of one's friendship.  It's true - just look it up.  So imagine my horror and "Southern Belle" shock when I realized that Nicky G has several celebrity connections that he did not disclose upon first meeting me.  And even worse - when he does choose to disclose - he does it subtly and casually like it's no big thing.  STEALTH NAME BOMBER.  You do not casually work in a celebrity connection into a conversation - IT IS THE ENTIRE CONVERSATION.  Rude, rude, rude!  


Nicky G, I am the etiquette police and this is your citation!


I had known Nicky G for at least eight months when out of the blue, the little f*cker STEALTH NAME BOMBED me.  As he was walking out of the room, he casually mentioned in a "ho hum, just another day in my life" manner that he went to high school with Kristen Johnston.  


Nicky G's high school alum


I don't remember what our conversation topic was that led to this stealth name bombing.  What I do remember is chasing after him and saying with full frothy spittle emerging from my mouth:  "KRISTEN JOHNSTON?  THE ACTRESS?  3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN KRISTEN JOHNSTON?  FUNNY, TALL, BLONDE KRISTEN JOHNSTON?  YOU WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH HER?"  


(Side Note: For those of you too young to know "3rd Rock from the Sun" [a.k.a. young a**holes], Kristen Johnston was also the uber-wild and crazy Lexi Featherston from "Sex and the City."  She currently stars in "The Exes" on TVLand.)




So now where was I in the story?  Oh yes I was screaming: "YOU WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH KRISTEN JOHNSTON????" Nicky G looked at me as if I had said "YOU PUT EGGS IN AN OMELET?  SERIOUSLY?  TELL ME THE TRUTH - DO YOU?"  He shrugged and said "Well yeah, but it's not like we were best friends or anything.  She went to the high school.  I went to the high school."  He said this all cool and blasé, like a stealth name bombing ninja.  


"WERE YOU IN THE SAME GRADE?"  I believe I may have been shaking him at the time that I demanded to know this information.  This was not a conversation.  It was an interrogation.  For some reason, Nicky G gets the high honor of being the person I have shaken the most in my life.  Poor guy definitely has shaken baby syndrome by now ... I may need to host the telethon.  My opening number?  Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)."  I plan on using a lot of hair spray.


Nicky G extracted himself from my shaking hands of fury and said "Yes."  Still cool, still blasé ... but probably a little dizzy.  Or a lot dizzy.  Or suffering from a subdermal hematoma ...


I believe my next combined utterance/spewing facial movement was a cross between the Hulk growling, polar bears mating and whatever it is that Gordon Ramsey does when he starts swearing in a kitchen.


"HOW IS IT THAT I HAVE KNOWN YOU FOR ALMOST A YEAR AND YOU'RE JUST NOW, JUST NOW, JUST NOW TELLING ME THAT YOU WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL - SAME GRADE EVEN, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD - WITH KRISTEN JOHNSTON, THE ACTRESS????"


My memory gets a little hazy at this point.  I think the cops might have dragged me off of Nicky G.  There may have been some jail time.  Nicky G's brain might have been shaken into a pool of slimy goo after I was done with him, but he needed to learn his lesson


"No one and I mean no one, stealth name bombs me... EVER!"  


When I meet someone, I need full and immediate disclosure of every connection they have with any celebrity, serial killer or member of any Royal Family ... OK any popular Royal Family - suck it, Liechtenstein!  (And in my case, I also disclose any sexual relationships with men who later turned into ex-con Neo Nazis.  Read about it here!)


Again in the name of full disclosure, none of my high school classmates became internationally known actors.  (Way to not reach for the stars, my fellow Midwestern high school alumni!)  But I still tell anyone visiting St. Paul, Minnesota that they have to have dinner at the very tasty and fun Señor Wong's Restaurant which is co-owned by a guy who went to my high school.  So I am still representing!  MIDWESTERN RESPECT!


Oh and a couple years ago, one of the "Biggest Loser" contestants was an alum of my high school.  That's pretty much it for the fame department for like a century of students.  But I still was (sadly) revved up to see my high school cafetorium on NBC.  (One more time - FULL DISCLOSURE, PEOPLE!)  If you can't respect a cafetorium, who can you respect?  


All of this ranting and raving about Nicky G leads me to the heart of this 150th blog post for LilyOnTheLam.com ...


Fast-forward to a couple months ago ... I had heard that Kristen Johnston had written a book called "Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster."  (See the book's website here.) I immediately - and I mean IMMEDIATELY - went on BN.com (Barnes and Noble) and tried to order the book.  To my pouty disappointment, the book would not be coming out for three more weeks.  Damn you, pre-release book buzz!  I went on Twitter and ranted (ahem - tweeted) my frustration that the book was not out yet.  


And then a little Christmas miracle happened ...  


Kristen Johnston tweeted me back.  


OK, OK ... Clarification - Kristen Johnston's Twitter account "@KJoTheSmartAss" tweeted me back.  While I have the absolute utmost sincerest hope that it was the glorious Ms. Johnston tweeting me, I do recognize that it could have been her PR team, her personal assistant, her book editor, her housekeeper, the President of her Fan Club, her dog walker or a homeless guy that she gives day old muffins to in exchange for tweeting for her every now and again.  I know, I know ... but I was still excited to get the tweet!    


I had the sincere joy of tweeting back and forth with the Twitter account known as @KJoTheSmartAss a couple more times over the next week or so.  And if you look at the left-hand column of my blog, you'll see that I have quoted one of the tweets from @KJoTheSmartAss.  Can't find it?  It's right under my beautiful "shout out to Lily" picture of comedian Margaret Cho (who was guilt-forced to take the picture by my friend, actress Jillian Kinsman who was taping a spot on Margaret Cho's television show "Drop Dead Diva.")  


If you haven't bothered to read the quote on the left-hand side of my blog, I'll tell you that @KJoTheSmartAss tweeted something akin to "Lily, you are a joy and inspiration - I wish I could have a fraction of the powerful wit, charisma and magnetism that you have."  Or at least that's what I recall the Twitter account tweeted.  (Fact-checker side note:  The tweet between @KJoTheSmartAss and @SouthTampaLily was "You are one kooky broad.")


I like to think that if @KJoTheSmartAss is not Kristen Johnston, that at least it's her plucky sidekick/assistant Raoul.  I don't know if she has a plucky sidekick/assistant and even if she does, he/she is probably not named Raoul ... but in my imaginings, it's Raoul - and he is PLUCKY.  I see him in small hats and ridiculously soft cashmere sweaters, no matter what the temperature.  I fantasize that Raoul and I strike up a rapport ... our witty tweets laying the foundation for a solid friendship - well as solid as two ADHD Tweeting Twitterers can have.  I offer to take Raoul out for a cucumber martini the next time I am in NYC.  Raoul heavily considers this offer- because while I may be a stalker, he thoroughly enjoys a good cucumber martini.  But vodka please, unless it's Bulldog Gin.  


In the end, Raoul decides that my background as a Midwesterner and my now even more whackadoo residence of Florida may make me too unfashionable to be seen with -- so instead Raoul and I share a 40 ouncer in a brown paper bag while watching his yippee dog named "Miss Thang-a-dang-dang" get her nails done.  I believe she is a Yorkie mix.  


I pump Raoul for tales of what it's like to work for Kristen Johnston, but this isn't Raoul's first time around the Doggie Nail Emporium.  All pumps get summarily rebuffed ... a stronger buffing than Miss Thang-a-dang-dang's nails get!  At the end of our afternoon in NYC together, Raoul gives me an air kiss on each cheek and says "You know, when I tweeted that you were one kooky broad.  I meant it!"  A lone tear runs down my cheek as I realize that this is the single most defining moment in my entire life.  Happiness is finally mine!  Raoul then takes his little dog and goes home.


Sigh ... it's like my own little "making it big in New York story" - watch for Ryan Murphy to tell my tale on the next season of "Glee!"


With the vision/fantasy of "Raoul and Lily watch doggy manicures while drinking malt liquor" fresh in my head (and heart!), I was jumping for joy when Kristen Johnston's book arrived in the mail.  It was like I was one step closer to making my fantasy a reality.


Like a giant chunk of chocolate whip cream cake from Wuollet's Bakery, I wolfed down Kristen Johnston's book in one sitting.  And just like that chocolate whip cream cake, it was absolutely fantastic, satisfying and fulfilling.  (But a lot less calories!)  Who knew Kristen Johnston was such a heart-warming creature so acutely tuned in to the f*cked up human condition?  I started dog-earing the pages where I felt Kristen Johnston had written something powerful or soul-touching.  By the time I finished the book, it seemed like every page had been dog-eared!


I kid you not - my actual dog eared pages of "Guts"
I am not going to say something as cliche as "I fell in love with this book" ... OK well then I am not sure what I am going to say.  It was amazing.  You need to go out and get this book.  If not because you like Kristen Johnston, then do it because she went to high school with Nicky G!  (P.S. Everybody who is anybody knows I loves me some good merch - check out the GUTS t-shirt.  The motto on the shirt is priceless.)


Kristen's tale of addiction, denial and then her final pathway to rehab and recovery was inspiring - not because it was some "Look at me, I am WOMAN!" self-congratulation, but because of its "Here I am, this is what I went through" level-headedness.  It was very ... Midwestern in thinking, I guess is the best way of articulating my thoughts.  I grew up in Minnesota and went to school in Wisconsin and there's a lot less self-indulgence in the overall tales of perseverance.  OK I get that that is a sweeping generalization, but work with me here.


Even though I am not a tall, blonde, gorgeous, internationally known actor, I found myself relating to a lot of what Kristen Johnston wrote about in "Guts," such as her childhood torments and her inability to process or savor her initial success.  And I envied her eventual realization described when she wrote: "If I don't want to care what other people think of me, then I simply don't have to."  It sounds so easy and yet so many people live their entire eyes seeing themselves only through how they perceive others view them.


And when she writes: "I was pathologically obsessed with appearing as unneedy as possible," I wondered how Kristen Johnston knew my sad life's goal?  Has she been breaking into my condo reading my journals?  And if so, why haven't my cats told me?  Full disclosure, people!


I don't want you to think this book is some fluffy recovery piece or some equally vacuous downer, Kristen Johnston is known for her comedic dry wit after all.  This book had equal parts hard fought/hard won enlightenment to "oh no she didn't!" calamities!  Kristen Johnston also writes "Nurse Wretched turned around quickly and glared daggers at my vagina ..." Now go out and buy the book to find out the context behind that line.  (Or stay in and order online like I did!)


There were many thoughts, feelings, realizations and "holy f*ck, what am I doing?" moments in Kristen Johnston's book that I could really relate to ... some a little too close for comfort, to be quite honest.  I expected some puffy "Look I'm an author!" celeb tale with maybe some tepid "trying to be scandalous" tales about John Lithgow or Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  


I did not expect to feel like Kristen Johnston invited me into her living room and said "Hey, I've had some f*cked up times - but then again so have you - so let's cut the bullish*t and let me tell you my story.  I think it's one you can definitely relate to and maybe we'll both learn a little ... or at least laugh and shake our heads a bit at the insanity."  


"Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster" is plain and simple, an unexpected punch to the heart and the abdomen, in all the right ways.


I feel like tweeting Raoul and asking him to tell Kristen Johnston to write more books ... NOW.  I very much enjoyed her tone, her wit, her candor and her Midwestern level-headedness.  It was surprisingly moving and riveting.  "Guts" was so much more than I ever expected.  While I devoured the book very quickly, as you can see by the number of dog-eared pages the messages in the book stayed with me for quite some time.


I hope you enjoyed my 150th blog post for LilyOnTheLam.com.  I wanted to write about something I considered special and Kristen Johnston's first book was definitely special to me.  My life, as of late, has not been as glamourous as I would prefer (future blog post!) and the Papillon section of Kristen Johnston's book (gotta read it!) has been ringing in my ears.  Lots of questions and thoughts stirring around in my brain and not a lot of answers at this point.  But I welcome the discourse in my head - better to have conversations with your inner self than a whole lot of denial and ducking of white elephants.  Check this book out for yourself at www.gutsthebook.com  


About 10 months ago, I was laying on a couch cuddling with my then "wicked paramour" (now "dirtbag loser" - kisses!!).  This was definitely in the lustful enchantment stage of the relationship, because I was pretending to listen and enjoy watching a documentary on Lemmy from Motorhead that the wicked paramour was intently interested in.  However I was becoming annoyed that the smooching part of our cuddle fest had ended because wicked paramour needed full use of all his senses to concentrate on watching Lemmy.  


So when my cell phone rang and I saw that it was Nicky G, I jumped off the couch and went to the other room to chit chat with my friend.  We were babbling on about "vapid but ever so important" subjects when Nicky G threw out this informational tidbit before having to end the call:


"Lady GaGa is my third cousin - my grandfather and her grandfather were first cousins.  It's not like I can get tickets or anything though.  Just that we're related."


WHAT???????  


The stealth name bomber had savagely struck again!!!    


Sometimes you just gotta wake up and say "Hey, there's a brick house on me."


P.S.  As if I could not love Kristen Johnston more, she retweeted my blog post link to all of her Twitter followers and sent me the following two tweets:  



 Ok 1st of all...the shit abt being stealth name-bombed KILLED me. I write every single 1 of my tweets. (Raol steaming gowns)

and Tweet #2 - read the comments section first then read this tweet because it will make more sense ...



 I also LOVE what u wrote abt GUTS, & playing Smitty was 1 of the highlights of my life.

Thank you, thank you, thank you Kristen Johnston for reading my blog and for the great tweets ... but does this mean Raoul of the small hats and cashmere sweaters is not taking me to the doggie pedicure emporium?  Boy, there's always a little bitter with the sweet!

Google Affiliates Ad: 
(The only product in Google ads that had the words "GUT" in it ... I am happy to bring you this ad for "Reptile Gut Load.")

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