Again, in a perverse way, it makes me love the city more.

I'm back in L.A., and it took me only about a week to fall back in love with it. I felt it happen while staring at a sunset over the palm trees. I just spent four months sailing to the Caribbean and back and I still kind of can't get over palm trees.

Anyway, one of the many endearing things about this city is that Angelenos are so willing to be self-deprecating about it, to make shallow jokes and stupid jokes and shallow stupid pretty people jokes. There was a campaign for the L.A. County Fair a year or two ago that was damn close to brilliant.

Also endearing? The fact that there's always someone willing to actually live up to the stereotypes. I saw a car with a personalized plate last week: SMPLFY, or some variation of that.

It was on a BMW SUV.

They were turning into the parking lot of a Whole Foods.

God, I love it here.

My clothes and I were on the same island yesterday.

...And yet I do not have them. Whoever was supposed to deliver them to the ship didn't get the message, and by the time I'd realized that and bolted out to the airport, the desk was locked up tight.

Oh, well. It's only stuff.

I'll be doing my show tonight in a stunning ensemble purchased at the island K Mart.

Cast and rehearsals have been great, though - given the choice between great people and no bag and bag and difficult people, I will wear any number of cruise line T-shirts.

Shaping up and shipping out are not mutually exclusive.

So I'm on a boat. A great big boat. I like saying "boat". People will snottily tell you to call it a "ship," yes. Many of these people have never been closer to an ocean than Kansas, but they will tell you, and with great weight and authority. They are correct, but I mock them anyway. There is, in fact, an in-joke in my cast already about people getting snippy about how it's a ship. Maybe I'll see their point one day, but not yet.

"One day" may be anytime between now and the beginning of February; I am on this boat for a good long stretch. It was a scary decision, but I'm glad. I wasn't getting any writing done after the day job. Some rehearsing and performing at night, and a few tiny scraps of sleep, but precious little writing - one little sitcom spec and a very little bit of prose - and the writing is really what I moved to L.A. for.

So I took a job back with Second City, doing sketch comedy for cruise ship passengers. It is a ridiculous job, and it comes with gallons and gallons of free time. With luck I'll return with some decent writing, a fresh perspective, and only minimal sunburn damage. To get closer to Hollywood, I have moved far away from it. That feels very Zen.

So far I've gotten my Guest Entertainer I.D., had an extremely fun and productive four-hour rehearsal, failed to figure out what makes our cabin door rattle that way in the dead of night, and spent no small amount of time begging United Airlines to please please please send me my carefully packed bag with everything I need for the next four months in it.

My bag is at LaGuardia airport. This is a marked improvement from Denver Airport, where it was for most of Friday and Saturday, but is still less good than it being in my cabin. I have mostly reached a state of non-attachment about it, except that I'm not sure what I'll wear for Wednesday's show. My new collection of T-shirts featuring my cruise ship's name, while charming, won't quite cut it.

But it's all new enough and weird enough that the bag situation is still pretty funny. I have a LOT of T-shirts with my cruise ship's name on them.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get some writing done.

I can't wait.

Sometimes swatting doesn't help.

I'm dog-sitting this weekend, the classic Aspiring Actor/Writer Other Job. The dog in question is great. She's a good girl, let me sleep in a bit on Saturday before our morning walk, and was shrewd enough to come with me quickly, quietly, and IMMEDIATELY when we accidentally rousted an urban skunk this evening.

And the house is great... except for the spider. She's outside, but she spins a web that blocks the way to front door every evening. Since I sometimes come back from work after she's started it and I take the dog out for a last walk after she's made repairs, I don't necessarily run into it just once.

And it's a HUGE freaking web - when I ran into it (the first time) yesterday, I saw leaves in a tree at least a yard away move in time to my flailing. She's clearly not just going for insects with that. She's trying to get me.

And she's clever, too - it's always in the path to the front door, but not always in the same spot or at the same height. The first night I ran into the web at head level, meaning I could not trust my own hair for the rest of the night, so the next time I came at it clearing a path by sweeping the thing that the leash retracts into up high... and ran into it with my waist. She also tries different angles, and, as I mentioned, the anchor threads span ridiculously long distances.

It doesn't help that I read this on Friday:

I just hope that she eats me if I lose. I can't handle being used as a hatchery.

I found myself driving behind another sort of predator last night. It was a guy in a van, and he had those shiny silver letters people put on their mailboxes stuck to his back window. The homemade sign said that he was a porn producer, and he was looking for "models". And then there was a phone number. I want to believe that no woman will actually be naive enough to call it, that even the newest aspiring porn models fresh off the plane know that the porn industry is an industry, not just some guy with a scary van and some stickers. I want to believe that, but I don't quite.

I was contacted by a theatrical "agency" recently. One of the partners - the partners!- had seen my resume and wanted to represent me. I was excited for about twenty minutes, which was how long it took me to look him and his outfit up on some online message boards. The agency in question is a kickback operation. You go in for a meeting and they sign you, then say that you need to take classes with certain teachers, and encourage you to get a kazillion head shots - different terrible broad character shots - all from a certain few photographers.

Actors have unions to send out alerts and yank franchises, not to mention surprisingly welcoming and helpful online communities to protect themselves and each other. I hope the adult film community has something similar. Check, ladies, check. I'm pretty sure the one in the van is a spider.

In a perverse way, it makes me love this city more.

A couple of weeks ago, this guy in front of me was near-missing bumpers all the way down Beverly. He was on a cell phone, of course, but he was also doing this weird ducking down thing and leaning way to one side and sometimes disappearing from view...

When I passed him, I looked back and saw that in addition to talking on the phone, he was eating a pizza.

Irons in the Fire

Script Tease

An evening of original pilot and sitcom spec readings

"The Office" by Ali Davis
"Entourage" by Karen Graci
"Big Foam Finger" by Kay Cannon and Karen Graci

Sunday, June 25 at 6:30 p.m.
I.O. West, Upstairs black box
6366 Hollywood Blvd.

I have spent the morning fantasizing about flying to Colorado and punching a stranger in the face.

She is my client, or rather my department's client, and I'm editing copy for her. And then we send it out for client approval and she inserts changes and then it comes BACK to me to try to rip the suck back out without stepping on any toes.

She fancies herself a writer, which means she has inserted "fun" phrasings into the previously clean copy. Including puns. She put puns in there. And they're still arguably better than the many phrases she inserted that apparently sounded good to her but simply don't make sense. I'm still trying to figure out how to diplomatically log my explanation for stetting her change. "This changes the original meaning of this sentence" is as far as I've gotten.

And she likes to change individual sentences without reading the whole paragraph. Sometimes, when you change individual sentences one at a time without reading the whole paragraph, redundancies can be introduced. And that means things can get redundant. If you insert sentences without reading the whole paragraph, redundancies can be introduced. It's important to read the whole paragraph - and, if you want to get crazy, the whole document - to make sure you get the flow of copy, and don't introduce any redundancies. And that's why it's important to read the whole paragraph. Because if you don't, things can get repetetive. Or even redundant.

But her fanciful prose isn't what put me over the edge. It's the fact that she completely fucked the footnote heirarchy. Footnotes are tricky. We use a series of symbols - always in the same order - so that you don't end up with five asterisks in a row, and you can't just sprinkle them around and mix them with end notes. There's a system. It's my job and the proofers' job to know it. That's why we're here.

I don't mind that she doesn't understand how footnotes work. I do mind that she just throws them in there as though she does, merrily sprinkling asterisks and often bumping or moving around other footnotes or endnotes, which are now connected to the wrong thing.

The fantasy involved flying to Colorado, putting her in a headlock, and punching her in the face in time with the words "If you DON'T. UNDERSTAND. FOOTNOTES. Just PUT THEM. INTO. A FREAKING. E-MAIL."

There is no earthly reason I should care about footnotes, this brochure, or this job to such a degree that it hijacks my brain and makes me this snotty.

Time to get out.