Excerpt:Â Because California, and Hollywood in particular, have been the punch line for so many jokes over the years, I suspect that people who don't live out here assume we can't possibly be that wacky. They don't know the half of it. In order for you to better understand what conservatives in this neck of the woods have to deal with, I'll relate a few typical incidents. The first took place about 10 years ago. My wife and I were invited to a dinner party by the widow of a screenwriter who'd been my longtime tennis partner. We were one of six couples, which meant that, counting the hostess, there were 13 of us sitting around after dinner. I recall thinking at the time that this is how superstitions come to be perpetuated.