March 9, 2007
I've seen her around a bit, but all I know is that she's pretty nice looking in person. I haven't even been close enough to hear her voice. Today she was crossing the street wearing Ugg boots and I thought I'd grab a picture, but the sun was really bright and I couldn't really see so this is what I got. Sorry if it's a bit of a disappointment.
I did walk by Forest as some guy called out, "Hey, congrats on the Oscar," (to him, not me) which I guess he's getting a lot of this week. He seems like a really, sincerely nice guy -- I mean, sure, he's an actor, so maybe he's just really good at faking it, but it seemed like he was actually touched.
I asked him, "Hey, does anyone every say NOT congrats on the Oscar? You know, like, 'Damn, you really didn't deserve that.'" Forest actually thought about it, and his face furrowed up in a way that you can probably kind of see in your head if you've watched his movies. "No, but that would really suck, huh?"
Some friends and I were later talking about Forest's Oscar, and we agreed we were pretty happy about it because he's actually an actor, not a caricature. We're not paying to see Forest The Legend get up on screen and be himself, we're paying because we know that he's going to actually be the character he plays. Frankly, I'm sick of Cruise and Schwarzenegger showing up and smiling and being smarmy and calling it a day.
I should mention at this point I am actually kidding about being engaged to Jehane. I know humor isn't always clear in blogs-- I really do understand we're not really engaged, ok? She seems like a nice gal and everything, and it's fun to flirt, of course. But please don't worry about me having totally lost touch with reality. I mean, not in that one specific way. Other ways, sure.
When you get to TED you get a couple gift bags -- this year it's a shopping bag full of loot plus a bright red suitcase full of more loot. Plus, you get to keep the suitcase, which seems like a deleted scene from Austin Powers. ("It's a really nice suitcase." "That's not the point, the point is might not have wanted to spend the money on a suitcase...")
One of the coolest things we got this year was a copy of Aperture, which would be awesome except I just bought it, so I feel stupid. I was sitting at the bar tonight with Richard Kerris (now from Apple, once from Maya, and a really good guy) and, in my fashion, I started yelling really loudly, "DAMN YOU FOR GIVING THIS AWAY JUST AFTER I BOUGHT IT!" Completely deadpan, Richard didn't even pause before he shrugged ever-so-slightly and said, "mehyoucanaffordit," like it was all one word, which everyone thought was pretty awesome. I mean, companies need employees who tell it like it is.
I've gotten extra bonus swag just by talking to other TEDsters. I met a guy from Netflix and told him I owned stock and loved them and wanted him to destroy Blockbuster, and he basically confirmed my basic faith in his company. He was really nice and said he'd send me a free one-year subscription when I got home. Sweet.
I also met a man who is a VP at Chik-Fil-A, which is a chicken sandwich chain (mostly in the Southeast) which makes the best chicken sandwiches ever. I told him how I grew up in Georgia loving those sandwiches to death, but I couldn't get them in Seattle, and twice I'd actually had friends who were traveling bring me back five or six of sandwiches in their suitcases.
He was really happy to hear this, and he said, "You know what I'm going to do for you?..." and pulled a little card out of his pocket, good for one free sandwich. "Now, if you're ever in a state where they have a Chik-Fil-A, you can get a free one. Note that there's an expiration date, but you can just ignore that and point out my name, and they'll honor it."
Sure enough, it actually had the name of the VP on the little free sandwich card. For some reason this struck me as really, really strange.
I contemplated for a moment the economics of taking a plane trip to a state where they have Chik-Fil-As in order to cash in on a single free sandwich, and then further the idea of telling the employees, "Look, I know this has expired, but I've flown across the fucking country and check it: this is signed by a damn V.P."
But, honestly, he was being really sincere and I accepted his offer graciously, in the spirit in which it was given. Also, I seriously fucking love those sandwiches.
I met a dude here who's got some gorgeous sculptures on display, and we've been drinking together the past two nights, bonding over how nuts we both are. He's got me somewhat beat in the first part of his life, having A.D.D. so bad he dropped out of high school to become a ne'er-do-well before he discovered prescription drugs at the same age I did. Now he works as a 3D animator for movie trailers (seriously!) and welds sculptures at night. His work is moving and incredible -- frankly, I'm considering buying one of the pieces here at TED.
Last night he and I were at the "Crown & Anchor" (WTF does that name even mean? What has both a crown and an anchor? Am I on the king of all boats? Or some floating sovereign?) where all the TEDsters go after the parties, and across the bar I saw Matt Groening again.
I said to my new friend, "Hey, there's Matt, I should go do some starfucking!" He was curious about Matt, too, and honestly asked, with wide-eyed sincerity, "Is it cool if I starfuck too?"
I'm a magnanimous man: "Of course! Starfucking is for everyone!" (Note: I don't actually know if it is, but it sounded good.)
I ran across the pub in slow motion with my arms open yelling "Matt! Matt!" like that guy in Wuthering Heights. Sadly, pretty much nobody saw this, so I felt like a giant idiot after doing it.
Matt was surrounded by what can only be described as a bevy of bodacious babes. I'd like to take this opportunity to state, clearly and for the record, and especially for his girlfriend who apparently sometimes does searches for his name: Matt did nothing with these admirers that would give any rational partner cause for jealousy. (Also, if you are reading: Hi, Matt's a really nice guy, hope you like my little blog, please realize I'm going for humor here.)
One of the girls was actually the bartender from a previous party, but she had recognized Matt and apparently asked to come along. The other I think had already been in the pub when he got there, and had glommed on to him in the way that some people (-cough-) do. Today at TED Matt told me that he had been hoping I would come into the bar last night, so he could show off his little mini-posse and pretend that he really rolls that way when in fact, I guess, he doesn't. Well, not EVERY night.
Now, here's the thing about Matt: he's so nice to everyone around him that I honestly have no idea if he was just messing with me or not. I mean, maybe he was just saying that because he thought it'd make me feel special, and he's the kind of guy who likes to make people feel special? I'm not sure.
So, let me shift gears to seriousness for a second, because I noticed something interesting. All night he was surrounded by people who simply loved him and his work. And he constantly shifted the attention back on them. And it wasn't just because he was shy: he actually paid attention to the people around him. Someone would start talking about how great he is, and he'd say, "Hey, so this is Anita, and she's speaking tomorrow... I want to hear about that..." and he'd really listen to her. He knew the names and professions of every person around him, all night, and he'd introduce everyone to everyone else as if he were hosting a little pub-based dinner party. "Wil, I want you to meet Sally, she's a student here in town..."
And, unlike my assumptions of how famous people act, Matt doesn't prefer to be around other famous people. The whole conference I've seen him pretty much hanging out in the common areas and talking to people from every walk of life. He's doesn't seem to need to feed his ego by talking to other people of high status. He just wants people around him to be happy, whoever they are.
In light of how cool this is, I guess my starfucking seems, well, kind of shallow. But let me offer this defense: I don't talk to Matt because I want people to see me with him. If I were trying for that crap, I'd be following around Cameron Diaz, anyways.
I talk to him because I used to read his comics when I was a kid, and they spoke to something deep inside me ("at night, the ice weasels come"), and then I watched The Simpsons on the Tracy Ullman show, and then on Fox, and then I watched Futurama, and I loved them all and they made me laugh and they challenged society and they sometimes really touched me as well.
And I just really, really want to get to know this person who can do this. I am just intensely curious about someone who can touch not only me, but every single person I know. Who can do that? What kind of man is this?
Yesterday I said hi to Peter Gabriel again briefly and told him that Delicious Library 2 was in the swag bag, and I hoped he'd enjoy it. He introduced me to his unbearably lovely wife, who was so pretty she made my toes ache. I knew he was shy and didn't want to hassle him so I was all, "Well, anyways, now you've saved $60 in upgrade fees, and I know that's probably pretty damn important to someone in your position."
Part 2: In Which I Show Meg Ryan What A Really Big Penis Looks Like
Tonight a group of us were watching the TED prize winners in the simulcast lounge, including Matt and one of his genius writers (I don't know if he wants his name used or not) and his writer girlfriend. Interestingly, I met her first -- it turns out she worked on Arrested Development, the Best Show Ever.
Someone commented, "Wow, you guys must have some AWESOMELY funny pillow talk," but, you know, lives are never as glamorous as we imagine. She said, "Honestly, most nights we're so exhausted it's just like, 'Your turn to go take care of the fussy baby.'"
Ha ha! And the larfs don't stop!
An odd thing is I kept seeing the writer (before I knew who he was) around TED, and he looks so much like a younger, taller version of Matt that I'd think it WAS Matt for a split second. I've never seen anyone with Matt's haircut, so the idea that two people in the same office have that haircut was mind-boggling. Maybe it's an LA thing?
I asked Matt if he or the writer was funnier, just to see if I could stir up trouble, but he basically just kind of growled at me to not be bad, the way the dad lion gently swats his cubs when they try to bite his ears too many times. I guess I'd forgotten he has a 14-year-old -- I'm seriously outgunned in the goat-getting department.
While we were watching Meg Ryan came in to our little area, and she wasn't wearing her glasses, which I guess was her signal that she was in the mood to be more social. She smiled nicely at us as she sat down. I wasn't sure if she was just saying hi to Matt (the famous one) or all of us, and since I'd already twice today done that thing where someone smiles at me and I smile back really big and then realize they are totally looking at someone behind me and I feel like a total asshat, I didn't really smile at her, but tried to, you know, keep my eyes bright.
She's really pretty close up -- very slender and small. Our group (Matt and the two comedy writes and a couple of drinking buds) were all joking around a bit, especially after a waiter came by with some champagne, and although Meg and her friend were sitting a bit apart from us she kept looking over and laughing with us.
When there was a pause in the on-screen action, Meg and Matt talked and Matt announced she had a part in an upcoming show, and Meg said excitedly she has room to come back, too. This brought our two groups together, and we all started making jokes. At one point someone made a reference to an amazing picture we'd all seen that afternoon, of a whale mating ritual, which featured an ENORMOUS RED WHALE PENIS. So I rolled my sleeve up and held my arm up high with a fist at the end, imitating almost exactly what we had seen jutting out of the water earlier, except less red and slightly less filled with sperm (although I admit it's been a little while).
Somehow the topic of conversation turned to my butt, as it always does, and I mentioned how rock-hard my butt is to all and sundry. I asked my welder-artist cohort loudly if he had, indeed, touched my butt the night before when I'd been showing it off, and he denied it. Those new to my butt expressed disbelief that I would brag thusly, but I expounded on it with such force that they were eventually converted: my butt is a force to be reckoned with; forged of the strongest steel. I don't remember the exact words, but I remember looking Meg in the eye and saying with an almost straight face, "Look, I know it seems weird to tell people to feel my butt. But it's not squishy like you might think. It's just like touching a stone."
Then she demonstrated some game to Matt called "Magic Touch" whose rules I did not catch (apparently it involved walking by someone and bumping elbows?), and said the group should play it later. But then she lamented, "I'm probably going to end up touching Wil's ass."
I feel like that would be a fine thing for my tombstone. Although, by that time I guess it will have happened or not.
I told other jokes, as well; I don't remember what. Maybe some were actually funny. Finally Meg rolled her chair over next to mine and asked to see my badge, "Are you a comedian or what?" I told her I was just a software developer, but I was actually thinking of doing a little stand-up as a hobby. She said I should, since I had a certain presence.
HAH HAH SUCK ON THAT TOM HANKS I BET SHE NEVER SAID THAT TO YOU MISTER EIGHTY BILLION OSCARS! YOU GOT MAIL, SUCKER, AND IT SAYS THERE'S A NEW STUD IN TOWN.
No, I'm not serious, I love Tom Hanks and I know she was just being nice. But, still, that was a really flattering compliment from a very charismatic lady. And you know what? I'm going to go ahead and feel good about it. Yah, that's right, I'm going to sit here enjoying it. I'm going to roll my ego in it and let it soak into all the places with the little dings and scratches from 37 years of occasional rejections or insults or slights.
First the funniest man in the world says I'm funny, then America's sweetheart says I have presence. Who knew stars were so full of compliments? At this point I really wouldn't be shocked if I met Carrie Fisher and she was all, "You know what? Actually YOU are my only hope."
Anyways, Meg and I talked seriously for a little while about life and stuff; I spoke about my big breakup and putting myself back together afterwards -- it would be an invasion to repeat her part of the conversation, but I was really struck by two things: One was that she kept turning the spotlight back to me, and I kept feeling incredibly embarrassed to be telling Meg Ryan stupid stories from my life, but she kept asking questions about me every time I'd turn it around.
The other was that she was, in fact, a real human being, who had the same dreams and fears and insecurities that we all do. Because we are all really pretty much the same. There is just so much more that we have in common than we have that is different. I keep re-learning this.
Remember this, if you ever meet me. I'm afraid of you. I'm afraid I won't live up to your expectations, I'm afraid you'll think I'm ugly, I'm afraid I'll look like a nerd or do something inappropriate and you'll disapprove of me. If I act aloof it's because I don't have the inner strength to risk being rejected that day, not because I don't care about you as a human being.
I write the software for
I'm kept alive by Delicious Library
I'm kept alive by Delicious Library
- TED2007, Day 0.
- Four days off!
- "Piracy reduction can be a source of Windows reven...
- Steve Jobs v. Underwear Gnomes
- Barack Strangelove (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worr...
- Ad nauseam...
- MacWorld EXCLUSIVE: Expect "all-new" Keynote '07!
- Pimp My Code, Part 13: The Pimp Before Christmas, ...
- Marketing Irony.
- Quel Horreur!
Pimp My Code
- Free Programming Tips are Worth Every Penny.
- I will insult your code!
- Part 1: Code Insults, Mark I
- Part 2: self = [stupid init];
- Part 3: Gradient TableViews
- Part 4: Returning late to return early
- JPEG2000: Cool but SLOW.
- Unit testing is teh suck, Urr.
- Part 5: Special Apple Sample Code Edition...
- Interlude: Free Code
- Pimp, Pimp Thyself.
- Frameworks are Teh Suck, Err.
- Part 6: The Pimp Before Christmas
- Thinking, boxes, & what kittens can do to them.
- Part 7: Pimplette?
- Part 8: Mary, Mary, why you buggin?
- Part 9: Beginner Code
- Part 10: Whining about Cocoa
- Part 11: This Sheet is Tight
- Part 12: Frozen in Carbonite
- Part 13: The Pimp Before Christmas, Redux
- Part 14: Be Inflexible!
- Part 15: The Greatest Bug of All
- Part 16: On Heuristics and Human Factors
- Part 17: Lost in Translations