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Monday, December 22, 2003


After Eyes Wide Shut the TV Wound Up in the Pool and There Were Boar's Head Wrappers Everywhere

YOU KNOW THAT no one is at work right now, sitting in front of their computers, reading the words you're leaving them for the holidays. Everyone's home trimming their Christmas trees or lighting their menorahs or whatever funny, lame thing you dismissively and probably racistly imagine people do for Kwanzaa. But still you write, because you're on deadline from three major magazines, none of whom realize they've assigned you the same "Best of Lists List" article that you tricked them into thinking is a really clever twist on year-end lists, a meta-list that will sting best running after the start of the New Year.

You write because Tom Cruise is sitting in the Eames chair in your office, eating perfectly-calibrated one-by-one-inch cubes of diced ham out of a nine-by-nine Tupperware cube. Cruise always stops by to "help" with your writing following the less than smashing success of one of his big Jesus-complex blockbusters. You haven't seen him since Vanilla Sky. You wince as Cruise pops yet another ham cube into his mouth and offers an abortive list topic, as you assure him that "Top Five Red Economy Cars" is not exactly what you're looking for. You notice that Cruise's nonstarter list engine requires exactly three ham cubes to turn over. Another involuntary wince rockets through you as you anticpate the swallowing of the third cube and its inevitable list output.

Best Nineteen Things that Can Double as a Whisk in a Pinch, he says, and you realize that somehow you hadn't noticed he's wearing a Santa hat with "Theta-Free since '93" scrawled in glitter across the fuzzy, white brim.

You tell Cruise you'll keep that one in mind, fully intending to scrub it from your synapses, but still somehow involuntarily type it into your brainstorm list. His endless, constipated, self-congratulatory smile that's been flashed across countless movie screens makes the room feel cramped.

You watch as he picks up the pace with the ham cubes, knowing the lists are going to start flying. You'd hope that he'd run out of ham, but you know better; his assistant is in the pantry chopping pork like she's trying to obliterate the field in a county fair butchering contest.

2003's Five Best Undervalued Treasures on Antiques Roadshow....cube cube cube....Top Two Cable Channels Featuring Home-Swapping Decor Improvement Shows of the Year...cube cube cube...The Year's Ten Best Toppings for Your Vegan Wedding Cake...cube cube...

You watch as he examines the third piece of ham like a pawn shop chiseler trying to get up the nerve to tell you that your Rolex is fake, but he thinks he can move it. He asks if you're listening to him, and you assure you him you're taking down everything he says, as you certainly don't want another three-day Far and Away handwashing jag in your place. You're not entirely sure why he shows up here. You wish he'd just have some toast and go. The assistant arrives with a fresh Tupperware bin of ham, and you can tell from the evil look in her eye (probably put there by one too many samurai-sword sparring matches) that there's one cube in there that's got a rounded-off corner, and that the Eames chair may likely wind up kindling in the ensuing rage if you don't get this piece finished right now.

Of course I'm listening, Tom, of course I am, you echo, throwing in that he's been such a help that you're probably going to have to give him a byline. He flashes that smile again.


About this site

This is the internet home of Mark Lisanti, a Los Angeles writer sometimes known as Bunsen. He is the founding editor of Defamer, a weblog about Hollywood, where he now serves in the nebulous capacity of "editor-at-large."
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