The Memory Project
Off the top of my head, natural (Johnny Ketchum)

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. . . and written in "just the facts" Memory Project style. Here's my experience on The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

I arrived in Los Angeles Wednesday night after a blessedly uneventful flight. Just before leaving for the airport, I had done a "pre-interview" with one of the show's producers. She told me that the interview would be unlike any other I had done on television. I confessed to being a fan and a nerd (not necessarily in that order), so I had seen the show quite a bit and also gone back to watch author interviews on Youtube. I talked too much, which I think worried her a bit.

Left to our own devices for much of Thursday, my SO (in Los Angeles for his own stuff) took a very long walk, almost six miles or so, ate lunch in a restaurant that is very proud of having been featured in the film HEAT, then went back to the hotel, which is famous for having been featured in PRETTY WOMAN. Car came to pick me up and we went to the CBS studios, where I had my own "dressing room." SO was busy doing his own business for a while, so I fiddled with e-mail, brooded about static cling, and wished I had brought the divine book I was reading. (New Elinor Lipman. I love everything she writes.) Was called into makeup, which required quite some time. The makeup artist was a man -- Trent IIRC -- who also is an artist. Had worked for MAC, then a soap opera. Michelle then took charge of my hair. I wish I lived in a parallel universe where they were there for me every day, but it's not to be. Michelle said she had looked at some photos of me online, but thought I would look better with my hair flipped up. I told her that I trusted her completely and she should do whatever she thought best. At one point, when she had a clump of my hair piled on my head as she was teasing it around the crow, she asked: "But what if I told you to go out like this?" I said: "I'm from Baltimore. I would just assume this was the new cool thing in LA and we hadn't heard about it yet."

Lisa, the producer who had interviewed me, dropped by and reminded me: Keep it punchy, "Craig is your eyeline," go with the flow. The sound guy came by and we realized that the only place to clip the wireless microphone was on the waistband of my underwear, so I did that by myself. The show had started by now and we were watching it. I was warned that Howie Mandel, the guest before me, could end up going long, in which case, my segment would air at a later date.

Lisa walked me to the set, where I stood on a taped line and wait for the introduction. She said if I was nervous, I should just go ahead and cop to it. But I wasn't, only concerned that I would trip walking up the steps to my chair. New shoes. Hmmm, I think it was Oscar Wilde who said to be wary of anything that required new clothes and here I was in a new dress** and new shoes.

I walked out, then: Author photo/Book/memoirs/John Waters/Baltimore and Glasgow, similarities thereof/John Waters/Mr. Rogers/I blurt out how much I admired his novel, which I read on the plane trip* and it's done.

Nice little literary conversation as the music comes up, about something that happened while writing his novel, and I think I'll keep that to myself just because I should keep something to myself, no?

Because Ferguson is an admirer of The Wire, he asked to meet my SO afterwards and we had a nice chat. I also came away with a copy of his memoir, which I started last night. It's quite good and, despite what he claimed, I have a hunch he didn't make it all up. I think he's one of those uncanny people who really can remember what he wore for his first passport photo.

Me? Not a chance, and I actually have my first passport photo.

As I wrote in this space last summer, my life makes me laugh. It is an absurd and improbable adventure for a newspaper journalist, especially one who was never on the A team. (I think I did good work, but I never felt as if I made it to the upper rungs, in the eyes of my bosses and some of the reporters who were on that top rung. And I am grateful to them all because their disdain was great fuel.) I probably don't deserve to be having as much fun as I'm having, so all I can do is be appreciative of it.

*See "nerd," above.

**Lizzie, frequent contributor here, gets to take credit/blame for the dress and shoes, indirectly, because she sent me a bunch of links and one of those led me to the dress I chose, and the shoes were recommended on the same page.

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