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Tom, Julia and the Doable List

INSIDE/OUT

My most successful New Year’s resolution to date was to go back to

school and at least see if journalism was for me. After that, my

record with annual feats of resolve has been pretty unimpressive.

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I did resolve one year to move back to L.A., but I’m convinced the

actual fulfillment of that vow was 98% chance and 2% post-divorce

claustrophobia. And moving to L.A. was just half my resolution, the

other half being that I would lose weight and spend every afternoon

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discussing screenplays with a pretty starlet over lattes at a trendy

cafe. That part met with very limited success.

I came to a point long ago when I stopped believing in News Year’s

resolutions, but every year I find myself making them just the same.

“I will clean the apartment from top to bottom at least once a

month,” I scribble on a sheet of paper under the heading, “New Year’s

Resolutions.” “I will spend more time with my nephews.” “I will

finish writing that book.”

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A week later, the resolution list is nowhere to be found. What was

that I resolved to do? Oh yeah, finish reading that book. I’ll get

right on it.

My problem with resolutions might be that I always try to take on

too much at once. Not satisfied with simply vowing to be a tidier

human being or to finish a long-delayed project, I try to use every

Jan. 1 as an opportunity to completely alter the course of my

existence. It isn’t enough to vow to be a better dresser or go to

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church more often. No, I will be a better dresser AND commit myself

to a religious philosophy that will carry me through to the end of my

days and beyond. I will spend every weekend being a second father to

my nephews AND I will reorganize my finances in such a way as to

achieve financial independence by year’s end. I will finish that book

AND it will be such a book as to set the West Coast literary scene on

its head AND put me in the running for the Pulitzer Prize AND will

immediately be optioned for a major motion picture starring Tom

Cruise as me AND I will discuss the first draft of the adaptation

with Julia Roberts over lattes at a trendy cafe.

The way I looked at it, New Year’s resolutions were revolts

against the status quo, little palace coups of the mind, and if I

were going to declare war on my circumstances, I might as well call

out the Marines.

Of course, this is a recipe for failure. One cannot erase a

lifetime of behavioral conditioning with the wave of a “to-do” list.

It would take a monumental feat of digital animation to get Tom

Cruise to look like me. And even if I did somehow wrangle a coffee

date with Julia Roberts, I doubt I’d have anything of substance to

say to her.

This year, recognizing that I’d stand a better chance of success

if I stopped shooting for the moon and started aiming for -- I don’t

know, Pacoima -- I decided to keep my resolutions for 2003 simple. I

will stake out clearly defined and easily attainable goals, and

achieve them. And I’ll stop treating New Year’s resolutions like the

Ten Commandments, where if you break one you might as well have

broken them all. If I meet with success with just one of my

resolutions this year, I’ll be greatly pleased with myself and

insufferable in my smugness.

So, in this new spirit of practicality, I’ve written up a list of

New Year’s Resolutions that I know I can keep. Here are a few:

I WILL TREAT VIDEO STORE RENTALS WITH THE RESPECT THAT THEY

DESERVE!

For far too long, I’ve treated rented videos and DVDs the same way

I treat books loaned to me by friends. I’ll toss them in a corner,

forget about them. I’ll put them on the shelf with my personal

collection, sit back and admire them like they are part of my

personal collection. Eventually, I’ll get around to viewing them.

Eventually.

This behavior must stop! Because they’re not books loaned to me by

friends. They’re ticking time bombs, patiently waiting for the time

they’ll blow a huge crater in my finances. No more! Never again will

I pay $19 to watch “Harold and Maude.” In 2003, my local video store

will have to find a new sugar daddy.

I WILL FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET MY VCR AND DVD PLAYER WORKING AT THE

SAME TIME!

This might seem easy enough to accomplish, but don’t be fooled.

It’s a teeth-gnashing, mind-bogglingly frustrating affair that has

put a damper on my holiday spirit ever since my friend Robert (may he

be eternally blessed) gave me a DVD player for Christmas. I’ve

managed to get the player working, and I’m pretty sure I can get the

VCR working again, but getting them both going at once has eluded me.

I would have had more success installing a pacemaker in my neighbor’s

parakeet that I’ve had hooking up these electronic devils.

But this will change! I didn’t pay $250 for a VCR just to have a

digital clock in my living room. In 2003, I will have all the manuals

translated into English, buy the appropriate cables, invite a team of

JPL scientists over for drinks and get my VCR and DVD player working

at the same time!

I WILL AVOID THE GLENDALE DMV LIKE A GAMBLER AVOIDS A BOOKIE ON

PAYDAY!

Life’s short. Why spend it in the 10th circle of hell? This year,

I will renew my registration by mail, complete with all the

appropriate smog certificates and proofs of insurance and even DNA

sample, if need be. As God as my witness, I will not wait in line at

the Glendale DMV in 2003!

I WILL REFRAIN FROM EMBARRASSING MYSELF IN FRONT OF CELEBRITIES!

John Travolta. Anthony Edwards. Jay Leno. Larry Hagman. The list

of celebrities I’ve made a fool of myself in front of goes on and on.

And having recently moved to Burbank’s Media District, the

opportunities to disgrace myself before show business mentionables

has increased dramatically.

I don’t know when or how this began, but we’re going to put a stop

to it right now! In 2003, I will cease making stupid, blithering

comments like, “I’m y-y-your b-b-biggest fan!” and “Hey, you! Yeah,

you! Love your show!” From now on, when I spot a celebrity, I’m going

to maintain my composure.

Of course, there will be exceptions to this resolution.

Celebrities for whom I maintain the right to embarrass myself before

include Robert DeNiro, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Neil Young, maybe a

few others. But for most of you famous people out there, you’re safe

with me!

I WILL LEARN WHEN TO STOP WRITING AND JUST SAY THANKS TO EVERYONE

WHO HAS BEEN SO KIND AS TO READ MY COLUMN!

May you and yours have a happy, safe and prosperous new year. God

bless all of you. And if you know anyone who’s good with

home-entertainment systems, feel free to drop me a line.

* DAVID SILVA is the city editor of The Leader’s sister paper,

the News-Press. His column runs Saturdays. Reach him at 637-3231, or

by e-mail at david.silva@latimes.com.


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