Monday, February 07, 2005

My sister’s birthday was last month, but her planned get-together with a bunch of friends wasn’t ‘til this weekend, which was good ‘cause it gave me extra time to procrastinate on getting her a gift.

Among other things, I bought her the Lemony Snicket books 7 through 9. It was kinda self-motivated. While she likes to collect these hardcover kids’ books, she lends them to me after she powers through ‘em right away. We had both enjoyed the Series of Unfortunate Events #1-6... Plus I gave her the present in Barney the Dinosaur wrapping paper, just to make her feel extra young. Turned out, she just bought these books, so I told her to exchange it and pre-order a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It’ll probably be over a thousand pages, and she’ll finish it in four hours.

We went to see the Groundlings, which is a famous LA comedy improv group. Their esteemed alumni include Jon Lovitz, Lisa Kudrow and Phil Hartman. I used to love the cast they had years ago: Will Ferrell, Cheri Oteri, Phil Lamarr, Chris Kattan, Michael McDonald. Trust me, they were infinitely funnier live than on Saturday Night Live or other TV shows... In recent years, you can sense the latest Groundlings trying to create franchise characters for when they hopefully hit it big. And the writer in me can’t help but notice that each skit is basically a cousin of one they’ve done before. I’m sitting there thinking, “Yeah, that’s the same premise, different location. Aha, the annoying salesman at the department store is now a customer at Blockbuster...” I admire that it takes talent and hard work and guts to perform like that, so I don’t say anything. And I don’t want to ruin it for others, but even this time, everyone agreed it wasn’t quite as funny...

But the highlight of the evening was when my sister went into the theatre, then turned around, looking freaked out. “Omigod... He’s here!” Her face was all contorted. Normally she gets along with everyone, so if there was someone she recognized and disliked, it must be pretty serious to get that reaction. I asked who? And then I realized she wasn’t upset, she was excited. She beamed and said, “Topher Grace!”

One of her friends didn’t know who that was. My sister explained he was the guy on “That ‘70s Show”, and the recent film, In Good Company with Dennis Quaid was his first starring role. Entertainment Weekly said they think Topher will follow in Tom Hanks’ footsteps as the nice-guy comedy TV actor who goes on to a longtime successful movie career. Aw, my money was on “Fes”.

It’s not that the celebrity sighting was the big deal. In LA, you see famous people all the time. Last week my sister scored great seats to the Lakers game, sat behind Michael Keaton, across the court from Jack Nicholson. Batman and the Joker didn’t thrill her, but “Eric Foreman” from that silly sitcom did?

Topher Grace was around six feet, but looked taller because he’s so skinny. The kid couldn’t have weighed more than 130 lbs. My sister’s past infatuations were on men who weren’t so freakishly out of proportion. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, John Cusack, those guys I understand. Why was she so agog over this whippersnapper beanpole? She kept wanting to go talk to him, but he was surrounded by people, and what was she gonna say? I told her to tell him what a crush she had on him.

“I don’t,” she said, blushing. “I just like him, that’s all!”

Heh-heh. She didn’t need the Lemony books wrapped in Barney paper to make her feel young. Just bring out some sitcom pretty-boy and my big sister’ll easily turn back into a frantic little preteen girl.


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