bill maher

One of my best friends came into town to stay with me for a couple of days. He and I have been friends for nearly thirteen years, which makes me feel simultaneously happy and depressingly old. In fact, when my dad died, he graduated to the position of person in my life I've known the longest - at least, among those who are an active part of my life. (There was a small ceremony, involving copious amounts of tequila and a branding iron.)

We have a mutual friend from Arizona - more of an acquaintance to me, though - who works on Real Time with Bill Maher. So he hooked us up with tickets to see a taping on Friday. The CBS studio where it's shot is just next door to The Grove, so we went early to have dinner at Morel's, wander around the farmer's market a bit, and salivate over Phillip Lim sweaters in Barney's. Oh wait that was just me.

Did you know there's a sticker shop buried in the back of all those food stalls? Can I please be ten again for like an hour, just so I can enjoy this? Actually, I'd still enjoy it, if someone gave me $25 (that used to buy, like, a hundred stickers) and a blank notebook for collecting. Blue puffy swirly-oil stickers and Lisa Frank unicorns FTW.

The taping itself was really cool. We had great seats up front, and I got a huge kick out of seeing the production side of things: the cameras panning around, the staff watching just offstage - even the flashing neon "APPLAUSE" sign. Audience members all go through security on the way in, and we had to check our cell phones. So I don't have any pictures of the studio (the same one The Price Is Right is filmed at) or the show itself to share, boo.

That's as close as we got before security told us to ixnay on the otosphay. As you can see, the CBS compound is weirdly gulag-esque.

Guests included a Politico blogger, two political pundits/writers I didn't recognize and whose names I'm too lazy to find, David Simon (writer for Treme and The Wire), and Christine "feminism means celebrating my femininity" O'Donnell. She didn't disappoint, serving up heaping helpings of ignorance and general WTFery, including a reference to the Civil Rights "war" and a fascinating answer to the question of how, if she's against Big Government, she justifies her desire to limit what women can do with their own bodies, and what rights gays have. Answer: Well, yes, the federal government shouldn't have that power - but individual states, on the other hand, that's ok.

The audience collectively *headdesked* on that one. Even the other truly conservative member of the panel called her out on that BS, it was awesome. Grossest of all, though, was how she dodged responsibility for that ridiculous "I Am Not a Witch" spot she put out. She claimed she'd never "approved" the message and then said something ambiguous and blameriffic about her "advisors."

Best moment was when she announced to Bill that she'd converted to Catholicism, to which he replied, "Oh, you found a new One True Faith. That's nice." BOOM. I was kind of bummed that the panel wasn't better - or rather, better known to me, I guess - but in retrospect, I realize how exceptionally lucky I was to see a taping at this particular time. Meaning, just coming off of the conventions when election season is getting really hot. There was plenty to talk about and no one was pulling any punches. It was an interesting conversation with some excellent, salient insight that I got to watch live. Right on.

Afterwards, we got drinks at Mixologie (loud, slightly douche-ridden), then went to Palihouse in West Hollywood, where some of the staff had a send-off party for one of the writer's assistants. Palihouse is definitely one of my new favorite bars. Very chill, lounge-y, probably not a surfeit of brain surgeons there, but fantastic for people watching.

Aaaaand here is a pair of de rigueur Ellie-as-hot-mess-in-bar pics:

Now we've all got a clear idea of where my eye makeup goes after a few drinks and an hour on the dance floor (south!), yes yes? Brilliant. Also not sure why I find it appropriate to drape my limbs over my male friends like an ovulating octopus, but OK!

Today, M. and I bummed around Hollywood a bit, getting a hand tossed, wood fired pie (fennel sausage, scallions, red onions) at Pizzeria Mozza, then coffee at Stir Crazy.

And listen, if you go to Pizzeria Mozza and do not get the butterscotch budino with creme fraiche - well, you, my friend, have committed a sin of the highest order. Behold heaven in a glass:

(On the left is a trio of sorbets - plum, melon, and passion fruit - that wasn't too shabby, either.) Incidentally, here's the face of a man who's juuuuust about had it with the nonstop photo snapping of his bestie, whom he gets to see, like, twice a year:

Ha ha, sorry amigo. Love ya.

Last thing - on the way home, M. stopped to pick up a couple of cigars for his drive back to Vegas. I didn't go in because, hello, gross. But there was this lovely group of older men sitting around outside, talking and enjoying the gorgeous day. The sight of them made me happy, so I asked if I could take their picture.

One of them assumed I was a tourist, and said in a heavy Mediterranean accent, "Now you can tell your friends back home, 'They don't work in LA! They just sit around gossipping like old ladies!'"

You and me both, pops. Let's get an Old Fashioned some time.