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14 Campy Facts About Ed Wood

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It may not have been a huge box office success, but Tim Burton’s Ed Wood did win two Academy Awards and a chorus of rave reviews following its release in 1994. Pretty impressive for a biopic about a man who has largely been labeled “the worst director of all time.” Throw on an angora sweater and let’s take a look.

1. IT’S THE BRAINCHILD OF FORMER COLLEGE ROOMMATES.

In 1981, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski—both freshmen at the USC School of Cinema-Television—met each other in a cafeteria line, hit it off immediately, and arranged to become roommates. During their senior year, the duo began joining forces on an assortment of screenwriting projects, kicking off a partnership that continues to this day. Together, they have co-written Problem Child (1990), The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996), Man on the Moon (1999), and Big Eyes (2014). On the small screen, they also developed the hit FX series American Crime Story, which recently completed its first season with The People v. O. J. Simpson.

Before graduating from USC in 1985, Alexander and Karaszewski briefly considered making a documentary on history’s most enigmatic director, Edward D. Wood, Jr. Although this project went unrealized, they eventually returned to the subject. In 1992, author Rudolph Grey published Ed Wood: Nightmare of Ecstasy (The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr.), a thoroughly researched oral biography of Wood and his work. The book inspired Alexander and Karaszewski to pen a 10-page story treatment for a new biopic about the eccentric, cross-dressing auteur.

2. THE ORIGINAL PLAN WAS TO BRING ON TIM BURTON AS A PRODUCER.

Karaszewski said that, at the onset, he and Alexander “envisioned Ed Wood as more of an indie style picture.” Obviously, it would need a director, so the scribes presented their treatment to their former USC classmate Michael Lehmann, who’s best known for directing the low-budget cult comedy Heathers (1988). Lehmann loved the concept and agreed to sit in the director’s chair. Then the scriptwriters contacted Tim Burton.

“We weren’t even asking Tim to work on Ed Wood, just to put his name to it,” Alexander recalled. “We said, ‘Would you mind coming on as a producer or a presenter, just to help us raise our financing?’ This was so we could say ‘Tim Burton Presents [Ed Wood].’” Having grown up with Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959), Burton was a lifelong Ed Wood fan. Excited by the treatment, he told Alexander and Karaszewski that he’d like to direct the film.

Not only did the material seem tailor-made for Burton’s unique style but, as Karaszewski pointed out, everyone involved knew that, “The film would have a much better chance of being made if Tim agreed to direct.” Even Lehmann was excited about the possibility and agreed to “step aside” should Burton choose to assume directing duty. (Lehmann later became one of Ed Wood’s producers.)

There was just one problem: Tri-Star had already asked Burton to helm Mary Reilly, an upcoming drama about Dr. Jekyll’s housekeeper. In order to secure his services, Alexander and Karaszewski knew they’d need to give him a full-length script—and fast!

“Tim had six weeks to decide whether he was going to make Mary Reilly or not,” Karaszewski explained, “… so Scott and I locked ourselves in a room and quickly did a first draft, which ended up too long at about 140 pages. We got it to Tim on a Friday and then we got a call [that] Sunday saying Tim had dropped out of the other movie and was going our movie. Tim had no notes at all, and his intention was to simply shoot our first draft, which is exactly what he did. We were very lucky. Not much got changed.”

3. COLUMBIA PICTURES DROPPED THE FILM AFTER BURTON INSISTED ON SHOOTING IT IN BLACK AND WHITE.

One month before production began, Ed Wood hit a snag. Burton was fortunate enough to hire his first choice for the role of Bela Lugosi, actor Martin Landau, and makeup artist Rick Baker made Landau look uncannily similar to the Hungarian movie star. Nevertheless, after watching the first color tests, something felt a bit off. That’s when everyone realized that they’d only ever seen black-and-white photographs of Lugosi. Immediately, Burton decided that Ed Wood couldn’t be filmed in color.

The movie was being developed by Columbia Pictures, whose higher-ups disagreed with Burton’s decision to shoot in black and white. “They were saying, ‘Look, we can’t get our cable money, we can’t get our foreign video money, we won’t be able to exploit the movie in a lot of markets if it’s in black-and-white,” Alexander recalled. Still, Burton held firm. Realizing he wouldn’t budge, Columbia abandoned the picture. Fortunately, Disney was there to pick it up—and allowed Burton to follow his creative instincts.

4. MARTIN LANDAU PREPARED FOR HIS ROLE BY STUDYING HUNGARIAN LANGUAGE TAPES.

In order to imitate Lugosi's voice and mannerisms, Landau watched some 35 Lugosi movies and purchased Hungarian language tapes. With the latter, he would “literally practice the language and see where the tongue would go.” Doing his homework really paid off, as the performance earned Landau an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1995. When Hungarian-born director Peter Medak saw Ed Wood, he called Landau to praise him; Medak said that Landau’s accent sounded spot-on because, “You are not an actor trying to do a Hungarian accent, you’re a character trying not to do [one].”

5. BURTON HAS LIKENED THE ON-SCREEN BOND BETWEEN WOOD AND LUGOSI TO HIS OWN RELATIONSHIP WITH VINCENT PRICE.

Following the release of his 1953 mega-hit House of Wax, Vincent Price became one of Hollywood's biggest stars. And Tim Burton, who grew up watching and rewatching the actor’s acclaimed Edgar Allan Poe films, was one of Price's biggest fans.

“There was an energy he had; it was evident in everything.” Burton said. “I liked believing Vincent Price, I believed him.” In 1982, Burton gave Price’s career a boost by casting him as the narrator of Vincent, a short film. The two became friends and worked together again on Edward Scissorhands (1990), as well as a Price-centered documentary called Conversations With Vincent.

When Burton read Alexander and Karaszewski’s script for Ed Wood, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of déjà vu. “There was an aspect of Wood’s relationship with Bela Lugosi that I liked,” Burton said. “He befriended him at the end of his life, and … I connected with it on the level that I did with Vincent Price, in terms of how I felt about him. Meeting Vincent had an incredible impact on me, the same impact Ed must have felt meeting and working with his idol.”

6. JOHNNY DEPP’S ED WOOD VOICE WAS A COMBINATION OF RONALD REAGAN, CASEY KASEM, AND THE TIN MAN FROM THE WIZARD OF OZ.

In interviews, Johnny Depp has said that to capture the voice of Wood, he tried to merge Ronald Reagan’s “blind optimism” with the “vocal attack” of Casey Kasem, the long-serving disc jockey who voiced Shaggy on the original Scooby-Doo cartoon series. Further inspiration was drawn from Jack Haley’s performance as the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz (1939).

7. BUNNY’S ROLE WAS EXPANDED AFTER BILL MURRAY SIGNED ON.

Actor and drag queen John Campbell “Bunny” Breckinridge was a major player in Plan 9 From Outer Space. Despite this, the original Ed Wood script gave the character very little dialogue. But when Bill Murray signed on to play the part, Alexander and Karaszewski decided to beef up the role. “When Bill got cast, it didn’t make sense to just have him standing in the background!” Karaszewski said.

8. THE REAL ED WOOD PROBABLY DIDN’T KIDNAP AN OCTOPUS.

The movie shows Wood stealing a motorized giant octopus from Paramount so that he can shoot the climactic scene for Bride of the Monster (1955). However, the jury’s still out on whether this actually happened or not. Many years after the fact, Wood himself boasted that he illegally lifted the prop and Dolores Fuller later said as much in a conversation with film historian Tom Weaver. Yet Alex Gordon, the movie’s screenwriter, claimed it was rented.

9. PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE’S LEADING MAN IS IN IT.

Although he appeared in more than 30 movies and worked with visionaries like Steven Spielberg and John Ford, Gregory Walcott is chiefly remembered for playing the main character in Plan 9 From Outer Space. “It’s enough to drive a puritan to drink!” Walcott vented in 1998. Regardless, when Tim Burton’s Ed Wood came around, he made a quick cameo as a prospective investor in one scene. The film marked Walcott’s final film appearance; the actor passed away in 2015.

10. DEPP DEVELOPED A LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH ANGORA SWEATERS.

“I learned too much about women’s clothing,” Depp said of Ed Wood, while promoting the movie in an MTV interview. “The first thing I learned is that angora feels amazing on someone else, [but] not on you.” Alas, the fuzzy material does have an annoying habit of shedding profusely; Depp joked that in certain scenes, he may have “inhaled more angora than oxygen.”

11. IT WAS THE FIRST BURTON-DIRECTED MOVIE THAT DANNY ELFMAN DIDN’T SCORE.

Burton and Danny Elfman first collaborated on Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985), which marked Burton’s feature directorial debut and Elfman’s first major movie score. It was a match made in heaven. Following Pee-wee, Elfman provided the music for Burton’s next four pictures: Beetlejuice (1988), Batman (1989), Edward Scissorhands (1990), and Batman Returns (1992). But due to a temporary falling out between the two artists, Elfman did not lend his talents to Ed Wood, which was scored by Howard Shore instead. The dynamic duo would later bury the hatchet after filming began on Mars Attacks! (1996).

12. BELA LUGOSI JR. ISN’T A FAN.

Although Ed Wood was showered with positive reviews after its release, the picture didn’t win everybody over. Bela Lugosi Jr., for one, was outraged by the film’s “distorted” portrayal of his late father’s drug rehabilitation process. “The truth, in this case, is actually more dramatic than fiction, but it doesn’t star Ed Wood,” the younger Lugosi told the Los Angeles Times. “My dad, who had a medically induced addiction to morphine, turned himself in—with no Mr. Wood accompanying him, contrary to what the film shows—to Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk.”

Furthermore, Lugosi Jr. says that his father never would have made “certain references to Vampira’s anatomy or … scatological remarks regarding Boris Karloff.” (In fact, Lugosi Sr. greatly respected Karloff, and vice versa.)

13. DOLORES FULLER DIDN’T LIKE SARAH JESSICA PARKER’S PORTRAYAL OF HER.

Overall, Wood’s longtime girlfriend enjoyed the movie. Before her death in 2011, Fuller called Landau’s performance “magnificent” and said that Depp did a “beautiful” job in the lead role. “Eddy wasn’t always that up, he had his heartbreaks too,” Fuller allowed, “… but oh what a great actor [Depp] is and I just loved the portrayal.” But she didn’t feel that the film treated her fairly.

“That was the only thing I didn’t like about the movie,” Fuller said. “Sarah Jessica Parker smoked all the time and I would never smoke. And she didn’t contact me. Here she’s playing my life and she didn’t bother to do any research.” Also, she pointed out that her relationship with Wood was a lot warmer than the movie might have you believe. “They portrayed me as an actress out to get all I can get, but I contributed.” Indeed, she did: Among many other things, Fuller (willingly) provided Wood with a number of costumes that were used in his films. She’d also help her then-boyfriend entertain Bela Lugosi during the Dracula star’s regular visits to their home.

14. PEOPLE WERE MISTAKING GEORGE STEELE FOR TOR JOHNSON LONG BEFORE ED WOOD CAME OUT.

A professional wrestler himself, George Steele looks like Tor Johnson—who appeared in several of Wood’s movies—reincarnated. Noting their physical similarities, Burton asked Steele to submit an audition tape and cast him as Johnson shortly thereafter. In Steele’s autobiography, he reveals that he “knew nothing about” Wood before Burton contacted him. “While I had never seen Plan 9 From Outer Space,” Steele wrote, “people had told me that they’d seen me in this monster movie. I had no clue at the time what they were talking about. Later on, I learned it was an Ed Wood movie featuring Tor Johnson. Apparently, Tim Burton was not the only one who saw some resemblance between me and ol’ Tor.”

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20 Things You Might Not Know About Mr. Show
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You never need an excuse to look back at Mr. Show with Bob and David, but given that today is co-creator Bob Odenkirk's 55th birthday, now seems to be as good a time as any.

1. BOB ODENKIRK AND DAVID CROSS’S FIRST MEETING DID NOT GO VERY WELL.

Following four years of writing on Saturday Night Live, Odenkirk was in Los Angeles in 1992 as a writer for the Chris Elliott Fox cult classic Get a Life. David Cross was a comedian in L.A. after performing for years in Boston. One boring afternoon, Cross asked friend and fellow stand-up Janeane Garofalo if she knew anybody that played basketball. The two went to Odenkirk’s house, and Garofalo introduced David to Bob and then asked if he wanted to play basketball. He said no.

2. ODENKIRK AND CROSS FIRST WORKED TOGETHER ON THE BEN STILLER SHOW.

Despite their inauspicious beginning, the two ended up having numerous fruitful collaborations, starting with their work on The Ben Stiller Show. Odenkirk was a writer/performer on the short-lived but Emmy award-winning sketch show with Garofalo, Stiller, and Andy Dick. Cross was brought in in the middle of the show’s 13-episode run as a writer.

3. THE CO-STARS FIRST PERFORMED ON STAGE TOGETHER AS "THE THREE GOOFBALLZ."

Odenkirk and Cross performed sketch comedy together at the Diamond Club in Los Angeles, with a third improviser that, the joke went, would either be deceased or out elsewhere getting high.

4. "THE THREE GOOFBALLZ' WAS ALMOST THE TITLE OF MR. SHOW

Odenkirk also pitched the title Grand National Championships, but David Cross was never a fan of it.

5. JACK BLACK, SARAH SILVERMAN, AND OTHER FUTURE STARS APPEARED ON THE SHOW BEFORE THEY WERE FAMOUS.

Black was in four episodes of Mr. Show, starring in the classic Jesus Christ Superstar parody “Jeepers Creepers.” Silverman was a performer in 10 episodes. Mary Lynn Rajskub, best known as Chloe on 24, was a featured actress in the first two years. Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants, was a series regular for a majority of the run. Scott Adsit, a.k.a. 30 Rock’s Pete Hornberger, was in six episodes.

6. PATTON OSWALT WARMED UP THE MR. SHOW CROWD.

In addition to performing stand-up before tapings and keeping the studio audience interested in between scenes, Oswalt played Famous Mortimer in the episode “Operation: Hell on Earth” (but was credited as “Patton Oswald.”)

7. HOMELESS PEOPLE WERE NOT KIND TO THE ORIGINAL SETS.

Because the pilot episode was shot at a “down and dirty,” small Central Hollywood club, the sets had to be placed outside, where homeless people defecated on them.

8. YOU MIGHT ALSO RECOGNIZE SOME OF THE WRITING STAFF.

Dino Stamatopoulos was already on the original writing staff of Late Night with Conan O’Brien and had written for David Letterman before writing for Cross and Odenkirk. He would later create three shows and play Starburns on Community. Writer/performer Scott Aukerman co-created and executive produces Between Two Ferns, and created and stars on Comedy Bang! Bang!. Writer/performer Paul F. Tompkins hosted VH-1’s Best Week Ever! and currently hosts the satirical debate show No, You Shut Up!, where he moderates discussions by a panel full of puppets. Bob Odenkirk’s brother Bill has written ten episodes of The Simpsons.

9. THE DIRECTORS OF LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE LEARNED HOW TO DIRECT COMEDY FROM MR. SHOW.

Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton were known for directing music videos like The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight” and Jane’s Addiction’s “Been Caught Stealing,” and decided to direct two Mr. Show episodes to expand their filming vocabulary. The husband and wife team were behind the camera for the classic sketch “Monk Academy.”

10. ONE SKETCH WAS INFLUENCED BY LOUIS C.K.

One of the first sketches in the show’s history involved Odenkirk playing a priest forced to do rather unpleasant and un-priestly things. The idea sprang from a conversation David Cross had with fellow young Boston comic Louis C.K., where Louis talked about annoying people that try to claim a prize on a bet that their friends never agreed to in the first place.

11. HBO ONLY CENSORED THE SHOW ONCE.

Throughout four years and 30 episodes, the lone note Odenkirk and Cross got from HBO was to get rid of a line where one character tells another to have sex with a baby. Odenkirk admitted that being told to edit it out “wasn’t too much to ask.”

12. THEY ONLY RECEIVED ONE VIEWER COMPLAINT.

The only angry letter that Odenkirk and Cross were ever made aware of was from a military veteran who was offended by the sketch in “Who Let You In?” where Cross’s performance artist character attempts to defecate on the American flag. The two stars actually called the viewer and discovered that he didn’t watch the entire sketch, and therefore never realized that Cross’ character was never able to actually go through with it.

13. ONE SKETCH WAS CUT FROM THE SHOW SIX TIMES AND NEVER MADE IT TO AIR.

A sketch called “Party Car,” a joke on old, low-quality shows filled with '70s celebrities was cut from half a dozen scripts and never filmed. It would have featured Nipsey Russell, Zsa Zsa Gabor, (or reasonable facsimiles), and a baby in a balloon-filled car.

14. BOB ODENKIRK GOT IN TROUBLE FOR USING A PICTURE OF HIS DEAD GRANDFATHER.

Because the sketch “Old Man In House” needed a photo of an old man, and the elderly gentleman was not the butt of the joke, Odenkirk thought it would be fine. Instead, some Odenkirks were “very upset.”

15. CROSS WAS PAYING OFF HIS STUDENT LOAN DEBTS THROUGHOUT MOST OF THE SERIES.

David Cross and Amber Tamblyn
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Despite executive producing and co-creating a series on television, Cross had trouble paying off his student loan debts from his time at Emerson College. Figuring that the person calling from the bill collection agency wouldn’t believe that he couldn’t pay if he knew his job status, Cross pretended that he worked at Mr. Show as a messenger.

16. ONE PERSON WAS GIVEN A "SPECIAL THANKS" IN THE CLOSING CREDITS OF EVERY EPISODE AS A JOKE.

As Cross once explained, Rick Dees was thanked in the credits of the pilot episode, even though he was “certainly nobody we would ever thank, or be in a position to thank.” Some personalities that were thanked for no discernable reason were Greg Maddux, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, Gabe Kaplan, and Howard Zinn.

17. HBO CHANGED THE TIME SLOT FOR ITS FINAL SEASON, AND IT WAS "DEMORALIZING."

After airing Fridays at midnight for the first three seasons, HBO moved the show to Mondays at the same time, confusing some loyal viewers, and the ratings decreased as a result. Bob Odenkirk told a reporter that, after 30 episodes, HBO was still treating the cast and crew as “second-class citizens,” and that they were “demoralized” by the slot shift.

18. BOB AND DAVID TOLD A STUDIO AUDIENCE THAT THEY HAD JUST WITNESSED THE FINAL EPISODE, AND THEY WEREN'T JOKING.

“Patriotism, Pepper, and Professionalism,” the 40th and final episode of Mr. Show, was taped on November 21, 1998. After the final sketch was filmed, Odenkirk and Cross made their announcement, although the show’s cancellation wasn’t made official for another few months.

19. THERE WAS A MR. SHOW MOVIE THAT WENT STRAIGHT TO VIDEO.

Run Ronnie Run focused on David Cross’s redneck criminal character Ronnie Dobbs. It was filmed in 2001, but never made it to theaters. Bob Odenkirk admitted that the movie wasn’t perfect, but he blamed the poor quality on director Troy Miller, for not allowing himself and Cross to edit the movie.

20. THE TWO HAVE REUNITED A FEW OTHER TIMES.

David Cross and Bob Odenkirk star in 'W/ Bob and David'
Saeed Adyani/Netflix

In 2002, Bob, David, and Mr. Show writer/performers Brian Posehn, John Ennis, and Stephanie Courtney (Flo in the Progressive commercials) toured the country to perform some of the show’s sketches and material from their unproduced screenplay Mr. Show: Hooray For America! The next year, Odenkirk guest starred as Dr. Phil Gunty on a season one episode of Arrested Development, alongside Cross’ character Tobias Fünke.

In 2012, Odenkirk, Cross, and Posehn went on a six-city tour to promote their book filled with more unproduced material. Bob and David appeared briefly together the next year on an episode of Aukerman’s Comedy Bang! Bang! In 2015, 20 years after Mr. Show's debut, Netflix premiered W/ Bob and David, a five-episode sketch comedy show created by and starring the duo.

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30 Memorable Quotes from Carrie Fisher
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Just days after suffering a heart attack aboard a flight en route to Los Angeles, beloved actress, author, and screenwriter Carrie Fisher passed away at the age of 60 on December 27, 2016. Though she’ll always be most closely associated with her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars, Fisher’s life was like something out of its own Hollywood movie. Born in Beverly Hills on this day in 1956, Fisher was born into show business royalty as the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds.

In addition to her work in front of the camera, Fisher built up an impressive resume behind the scenes, too, most notably as a writer; in addition to several memoirs and semi-autobiographical novels, including Wishful Drinking, Surrender the Pink, Delusions of Grandma, The Best Awful, Postcards from the Edge, and The Princess Diarist (which was released last month), she was also an in-demand script doctor who counted Sister Act, Hook, Lethal Weapon 3, and The Wedding Singer among her credits.

Though she struggled with alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness, Fisher always maintained a sense of humor—as evidenced by the 30 memorable quotes below.

ON GROWING UP IN HOLLYWOOD

“I am truly a product of Hollywood in-breeding. When two celebrities mate, someone like me is the result.”

“I was born into big celebrity. It could only diminish.”

“At a certain point in my early twenties, my mother started to become worried about my obviously ever-increasing drug ingestion. So she ended up doing what any concerned parent would do. She called Cary Grant.”

“I was street smart, but unfortunately the street was Rodeo Drive.”

“If anything, my mother taught me how to sur-thrive. That's my word for it.”

ON AGING

“As you get older, the pickings get slimmer, but the people don't.”

ON INSTANT GRATIFICATION

“Instant gratification takes too long.”

ON THE LEGACY OF STAR WARS

“People are still asking me if I knew Star Wars was going to be that big of a hit. Yes, we all knew. The only one who didn't know was George.”

“Leia follows me like a vague smell.”

“I signed my likeness away. Every time I look in the mirror, I have to send Lucas a couple of bucks.”

“People see me and they squeal like tropical birds or seals stranded on the beach.”

“You're not really famous until you’re a Pez dispenser.”

ON THE FLEETING NATURE OF SUCCESS

“There is no point at which you can say, 'Well, I'm successful now. I might as well take a nap.'”

ON DEALING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

“I'm very sane about how crazy I am.”

ON RESENTMENT

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

ON LOVE

“Someone has to stand still for you to love them. My choices are always on the run.”

“I've got to stop getting obsessed with human beings and fall in love with a chair. Chairs have everything human beings have to offer, and less, which is obviously what I need. Less emotional feedback, less warmth, less approval, less patience, and less response. The less the merrier. Chairs it is. I must furnish my heart with feelings for furniture.”

“I don’t hate hardly ever, and when I love, I love for miles and miles. A love so big it should either be outlawed or it should have a capital and its own currency.”

ON EMOTIONS

“The only thing worse than being hurt is everyone knowing that you're hurt.”

ON RELATIONSHIPS

“I envy people who have the capacity to sit with another human being and find them endlessly interesting, I would rather watch TV. Of course this becomes eventually known to the other person.”

ON HOLLYWOOD

“Acting engenders and harbors qualities that are best left way behind in adolescence.”

“You can't find any true closeness in Hollywood, because everybody does the fake closeness so well.”

“It's a man's world and show business is a man's meal, with women generously sprinkled through it like overqualified spice.”

ON FEAR

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”

ON LIFE

“I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.”

“No motive is pure. No one is good or bad-but a hearty mix of both. And sometimes life actually gives to you by taking away.”

“If my life wasn't funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.”

“I shot through my twenties like a luminous thread through a dark needle, blazing toward my destination: Nowhere.”

“My life is like a lone, forgotten Q-Tip in the second-to-last drawer.”

ON DEATH

“You know what's funny about death? I mean other than absolutely nothing at all? You'd think we could remember finding out we weren't immortal. Sometimes I see children sobbing at airports and I think, 'Aww. They've just been told.'”

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