Nightmare on I-5

Sitting in a hotel overlooking the Hollywood Hills writing a blog entry while watching “Dancing With the Stars.” It doesn’t get any better than this.

Ever. Since I’ve apparently been condemned to Hell. I guess what the preachers kept saying about self-abuse being a carnal sin was true.

There’s an orc-like woman who lurks in the rental car office at the Burbank airport. For all I know, she’s a charming woman when not in between me and a set of car keys, but I haven’t seen any evidence of it. She’s not openly hostile, and she doesn’t hit or throw things, but still she manages to be just thoroughly unpleasant to be around. She just makes everything that much more difficult, and she seems to cherish the opportunity to do so.

In reality, it only ends up taking a few minutes to deal with her and be on my way, but it’s like the prolonged hyper-time of a car crash. By the end of it, I just take whatever car she’s giving out — minivan, Pontiac Vibe, pogo stick, whatever — just to get away and get “Ramble On” out of my head. (In particular: “then Gollum and the evil one came up and swept away with her…”)

The thing about Burbank is that it’s just awful. It’s mile after mile of relentless suburb. As you fly in, you’re blinded by the glint from all the identical swimming pools in the back of every identical house, crammed in among all the identical strip malls.

As you walk around, if you’re in the right light and you look closely enough at yourself, you can see wispy tendrils of dull gray smoke escaping from your every exposed orifice. It’s not cigarette smoke, and it’s not smog. It’s the soul being slowly squeezed out of your body, leaving nothing more than a dessicated Ann Coulteresque husk.

The thing about frequent flying into Burbank is that it turns awful into a routine. Burbank is oppressively mundane, but there’s always the chance you turn a corner and see the WB studios or the Hollywood Bowl or something else you recognize from years of excessive TV watching. So it was the exotic kind of mundane. At this point, though, it’s all just familiar. There’s not even the lesser thrill of knowing that I could get lost at any second, since without thinking, I still manage to get where I’m going through sheer muscle memory. Maybe it’s Purgatory, not hell.

Hey, speaking of excessive TV-watching, lost, and purgatory, guess what’s on! Gotta go.

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