On the Mind of Larry King Jr.

I’m tired of dinner.

Is anybody else getting the feeling the Swedes are up to something?

I bet I couldn’t build a decent table.

Note to the movie stars: Take a small role now and then, like Bill Murray did in Tootsie . It makes ’em love you again.

I like having lots of smells around me during sex. Good and bad. That’s just the way it is.

I thought everybody had quit smoking. Then I watched an episode of Big Brother 2.

I still have the hots for Miss Crabtree from The Little Rascals.

Cinnamon in my coffee? No, thanks.

My dad may have been cut loose by USA Today , but that doesn’t change the fact that no one ever stopped reading one of his columns in the middle.

Sorry, gang, but Elton John ‘s version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” beats the original.

How much would it take for you to spend a night in an abandoned insane asylum? Me? No less than $5,000.

When the talk turns to David O. Russell , I always put in a strong word for Flirting with Disaster over Three Kings.

For my short-story dollar, no one has topped Guy de Maupassant .

Rain is beautiful.

So when did bamboo stalks become the new flowers? And why wasn’t I informed?

I wonder if anyone has ever followed me around the block. I doubt it.

Who doesn’t like watching people dance?

Would it kill the gang down at The Producers to put on a free show for the kids now and then, or donate some of the proceeds to charity? Just wondering.

If I had a time machine, I would definitely go back to the caveman days and try to make love with a cavewoman. How great would that be?

Is it “Don” DeLillo or “Dom” DeLillo ?

Would somebody please tell me how many bats live in Manhattan? It’s something I’d like to know.

You know those magazines that cost, like, $8.95 per issue? Björk is always on the cover.

If you’re in your 20’s, do the rest of us a favor and quit yapping. We’re not really interested.

Unbreakable was good. Rent it and you’ll see.

Does anyone like George W. Bush?

“Joey” is my favorite Friend . Excellent deadpan expressions. And who does a better double take?

I’m beginning to think that people’s relationships with their pets exist mainly in their own minds.

Nobody ever felt better after crying.

I like the idea of having my own canoe. But I think I wouldn’t like it so much if I actually had one. One of those things that’s better in theory.

In the 1940’s everybody drove drunk, and they were damned good at it.

Nothing tastes better than a buttered roll.

Note to Dad: How’m I doing? Hang in there, big guy.

I think my therapist has been “coasting” lately.

–Larry King Jr.

Train of Thought

Howard Roughan rode the 3:07 Metro-North out of Grand Central with a visitor on a recent afternoon. A compact man with neatly combed brown hair, Mr. Roughan sat in a spacious four-seater, his legs crossed, an iced coffee in one hand. He wore a khaki corduroy shirt, khaki pants and Nike hiking shoes, and he looked happy. Mr. Roughan enjoys the Metro-North–its clunky cars, its blue-and-orange leatherette seats. It was also the train that made him a writer.

The year was 1998. After 10 years in Manhattan, Mr. Roughan moved to Weston–a rural version of its flashier neighbor, Westport–to raise a family. “My wife and I didn’t want to raise a kid who would be more cynical than his parents by age 5,” he explained shortly after the 3:07 began moving. Every weekday morning and evening, Mr. Roughan left the suburbs and commuted to his job as a creative director for Bates North America, an advertising agency on Seventh Avenue and 37th Street. He worked on campaigns for Foot Locker and Miller Genuine Draft. At some point, he began taking notes on the train for what he thought might turn into a short story.

“I found myself to be really productive,” he said. The Metro-North was humming along now; the clapboards and trees of Fairfield County washed by outside the windows.

“Here you are–you’re surrounded by all these people, and yet there’s this kind of strange silence that you only get with a large crowd who’s not talking to each other,” he said. “I don’t know if it was that or the motion of the train, but I just started writing. It just happened.”

After a few months on the train, Mr. Roughan noticed he had typed 88 pages. He got an agent and a book deal. He quit Bates to finish the book.

But then Mr. Roughan found himself in trouble. “One weekend I was at home, and I thought I’d try to finish a chapter I had started on the train,” he said. “But I was literally stuck. So I got up, grabbed my wallet and my laptop, drove to the train station, got on and just wrote. Sure enough, by the next stop, I had it all figured out.”

He kept riding and writing, every day, back and forth to Manhattan, and eventually he finished The Up and Comer –a modern-day morality story about an unctuous New York lawyer who embroils himself in a mess of adultery and blackmail. The actor Michael Douglas liked it so much that he optioned the film rights.

“The way the train bookended my day, particularly coming home, it was such a release,” Mr. Roughan said. “There’s that comfort level–you spend all day in the advertising world, and then you have that time at the end of the day to dedicate to yourself. The worst would be when I’d be so intent on writing and I’d hear, ‘Hey, Howard, how ya doin’?’ It would be some friend, and, you know, you can’t be rude.”

The train pulled into the Westport station, and it was time for Mr. Roughan to get off. On his way out the door, he noticed a placard advertising his book, complete with a snazzy quote from American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis. “Kind of appropriate, I guess,” he said, as he strolled out into the sun.

–Ryan D’Agostino

Crazy for You

On Friday, Sept. 7, the 32-year-old actress Anne Heche made an appearance at the Union Square Barnes & Noble to read from her new memoir, Call Me Crazy . In recent weeks, Ms. Heche had spoken publicly about her abusive childhood, her relationship with Ellen DeGeneres, her recent marriage to a man, her pregnancy, her breakdown, her alter ego named “Celestia” and her fantasy world called “the Fourth Dimension.” Naturally, we were interested to see what kind of people would show up.

The place was packed. Ms. Heche’s lesbian fandom was represented, as were her plain old movie fans, and a bunch of folks who fit into the traditional NPR-listening, book-reading-attending crowd. There were also some arrivals who had the guilty look of trouble-seekers hoping to see a collision at the air show, so to speak.

Ms. Heche, who is blond and blue-eyed, pale and slightly elfin, approached the front of the reading area shortly after 7:30 p.m. She wore a sleek black shift dress that betrayed only the slightest hint of her pregnancy. After a blast of applause, she read an excerpt from Call Me Crazy detailing her first foray into acting: playing Jonah in a Biblical reenactment for her family. This was rendered even more dramatic by the presence, directly behind Ms. Heche, of an oversize portrait of Moby Dick.

When Ms. Heche finished reading, audience hands shot up like toast. A fair amount of the questions were innocuous: “Do you have any movies coming up?” ( Yes. ) “What’s your favorite role?” ( Six Days, Seven Nights ). Others came seeking larger truths. “Do you live in forgiveness?” one person asked. “How did you get clear again?” asked another. And then: “Do you consider yourself an advocate for mental illness?”

Later, a woman stood up and announced: “You remind me of Meg Ryan. So I was wondering if you were friendly with her.”

Ms. Heche–whose own stretches of logic had recently made Barbara Walters look like she needed a very stiff bourbon–wasn’t the least bit thrown off by the inquiry. “Oh, that’s really flattering, because I consider her to be such a great light,” she said politely. “I see her at parties and we smile at each other, but no, I am not her friend .”

–Pauline O’Connor On the Mind of Larry King Jr.