Monday, March 31, 2008

Item: Woman Afraid of a Mailbox

Los Angeles, CA (Koreatown)---Mere hours ago, on the corner of Western and Fifth Streets, a little old Korean woman hobbled toward me, thrusting a stamped envelope in my face, repeatedly saying the word 'okay' and smiling.

I pointed to the mailbox--she said 'okay.' I opened the mailbox--she said 'okay' and then dropped the envelope down its throat.

The little old Korean woman resumed pushing her shopping cart from the nearby Korean supermarket down the sidewalk. The door to the mailbox swung shut as I released my grip. The 'walk' signed lit up, and I crossed the street, chasing down a couple tacos, wondering why the old woman was afraid; have they begun the revolution? So soon? Are the mailboxes taking over?

Stay afraid, stay tuned.

Life Imitates Art

I read something once about hip-hop/rap videos that interested me. The article discussed the phenomenon of poor rappers renting Rolls Royces, hiring fawning booty girls, talking about how tough and famous they are...and becoming famous, rich, and sexually desirable as a result. The age-old idea of life imitating art. [Is it in fact 'age-old?' I wonder how to verify that...]

Unattractive men have become musicians to get girls ever since music was invented, so it's not like that aspect of it took me by surprise; it was the fact that even an attractive man can benefit from such posing, because he can not only increase the number of women after him, but he can also become rich. Shouting about how rich you are, even though you are not, can make you rich; such a music video can turn a liar into a mere fortune teller. Presto. Fascinating.

Years later--last night, in fact--after I watched an Eric Rohmer movie, A Summer's Tale, and then thought about the life and loves of Woody Allen, I was struck with the same realization about filmmakers. Self-doubting, overly-intellectual, unattractive men tend to write movies where a 'physically undeserving' man must choose between two or three beautiful women. He debates their respective virtues among friends, finds reasons both--or neither--would be the right choice for him, but the fact that they are both far out of his league is a topic that is never broached. Therefore, even the most gut-wrenchingly raw, realistic movie about an intellectual in love (I'm thinking Rohmer and Woody Allen here) is total fantasy, because the fundamental conceit is flawed from the start.

Yet, by craftily avoiding the question of their worthiness, they ultimately prove themselves in the right when, as a result of their movies, the directors are able to effortlessly lure beautiful women into their beds. Life imitates art once more. [Note: It's sadly not quite the same for writers; not enough beautiful women read. Yeah, I said it. If it'll make you feel better, the same is true of handsome men. It's just too hard to find time to read when you're always fucking supermodels...]

And so, just as Mick Jagger would never be able to bed any girl under nineteen stone were he not in the Rolling Stones, and John Mayer would never get a first look from Jessica Simpson (much less a second) were he not a millionaire recording artist, Woody Allen, Michaelangelo Antonioni, Peter Bogdanovich, and others would never have had their pick of the ladies were it not for them making movies about guys like them having a shot with their beautiful leading ladies. [Note: I'm not sure if Rohmer ever got to have sex; too little is known about his personal life. It wouldn't surprise me if he dies a virgin, or at least never explored beyond missionary with his wife.]

It's not a bad strategy, I must admit. Since I don't play guitar, I better get cracking on those film scripts. Ladies, I will win you over yet--simply by telling you that I will win you over.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Yet Another Reason to Kill Yourself at the Multiplex Next Weekend

George Clooney's Leatherheads is set to release on Friday, April 4th. It's a period piece about the birth of the NFL, but also a screwball comedy with romance! Something for everyone! All dollars accepted, thank you very much! Clooney directed the film and plays the lead role--a hunky, aging football player with a fearsome grimace on the field and a familiar Cheshire grin while wooing the young ladies post-game. I know--it's a stretch, but I think he can pull it off. Remember--not only do they edit the images to make people look better at the game they are pretending to play, but they also use stunt doubles, AND--the coup d'gras--every actor has to follow a script approved by Mr. Clooney! So he always wins! Or loses humbly and handsomely and gets the girl anyway. What a life...

The poster alone--ubiquitous in L.A.--makes me want to punch the movie in its face (what a cute dog! OMG!). Since this is impossible, I will instead hit this faceless entity where it really hurts: I will give it bad PR to at least ten people!

For a fascinating history of the Leatherheads movie--the script, written by Sports Illustrated writers, sold in 1991 and has been 'in the works' for the last 17 years, with Steven Soderbergh attached to direct it TWICE, and Mel Gibson initially tapped to play the Clooney role--then click HERE. And I suggest you do, especially if you hunger for insight into the 'process' of making shitty movies in Hollywood.

The $50 million-dollar(?)--plus $50mil(?) marketing--juggernaut was pushed back from its initial December launch due to 'George Clooney's busy schedule.' I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that the movie is a piece of shit. Why release a piece of shit when good/big movies are out, in December? Why compete with pre/post-Oscar extended releases of big movies in Jan/Feb, especially if you're in one of them (Michael Clayton)? Any idiot knows you should release a bad movie in the spring, although preferably not during the first three weeks that a big animated movie (Horton Hears a Who?) is in theaters!

December, 2007 releases included: Atonement, Juno, I Am Legend, Charlie Wilson's War, National Treasure, Sweeney Todd, Walk Hard, Bucket List, and There Will Be Blood.

Alternatively, here are the current Spring 2008 releases, with commentary, for your consideration:

March 7
10,000 BC--didn't even make $10,000 profit!

The Bank Job
--who is Jason Statham's audience? Who cares about heist movies anymore? They're all the same! Let me guess--they get a bunch of money/jewels/gold/information, but then something happens, somebody gets squeezed, loyalties are tested, a villain chases them down, our hero gets away, with or without the treasure--and along the way, sexy women with tits are involved for various reasons.

College Road Trip
--Martin Lawrence stinker, with annoying grown-up Cosby kid who thinks we like her.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day--
this one is so stupid, it deserves to fend for itself:
"In 1939 London, Miss Guinevere Pettigrew (played by Ms. McDormand) is a middle-aged governess who finds herself once again unfairly dismissed from her job. Without so much as severance pay, Miss Pettigrew realizes that she must for the first time in two decades seize the day. This she does, by intercepting an employment assignment outside of her comfort level as social secretary. Arriving at a penthouse apartment for the interview, Miss Pettigrew is catapulted into the glamorous world and dizzying social whirl of an American actress and singer, Delysia Lafosse (Ms. Adams). Within minutes, Miss Pettigrew finds herself swept into a heady high-society milieu and, within hours, living it up. Taking the social secretary designation to heart, she tries to help her new friend Delysia navigate a love life and career, both of which are complicated by the three men in Delysias orbit; devoted pianist Michael (Mr. Pace), intimidating nightclub owner Nick (Mr. Strong), and impressionable junior impresario Phil (Mr. Payne). Miss Pettigrew herself is blushingly drawn to the gallant Joe (Mr. Hinds), a successful designer who is tenuously engaged to haughty fashion maven Edythe (Ms. Henderson) the one person who senses that the new social secretary may be out of her element, and schemes to undermine her. Over the next 24 hours, Guinevere and Delysia will empower each other to discover their romantic destinies."
Married Life--hackneyed step-grandchild of Divorce, Italian Style and Crimes & Misdemeanors with four actors who don't belong in a movie together (Pierce Brosnan, Patricia Clarkson, Rachel McAdams, and recent whore Chris Cooper). Remember The Holiday?

March 14
Doomsday--Does this plot synopsis not sound like Children of Men/21 Days/3 Kings, but worse?
"A lethal virus spreads throughout the British isles,infecting millions and killing hundreds of thousands. To contain the threat, acting authorities brutally quarantine the country as it succumbs to fear and chaos. The quarantine is successful. Three decades later, the Reaper virus violently resurfaces in a major city. An elite group of specialists, including Eden Sinclair, is urgently dispatched into the still-quarantined country to retrieve a cure by any means necessary. Shut off from the rest of the world, the unit must battle through a landscape that has become a waking nightmare."
Horton Hears A Who--It's animated, so it'll make at least $100million, but that doesn't mean it's good. In fact, the only thing good I can say about it is that at least Mike Myers wasn't in this one. This movie will fade just in time for Clooney to sweep in and get all those horny old ugly moms back in the theater again.

Never Back Down
--Karate Kid meets Fight Club, but in a high school, and involving mixed martial arts. Looks like Daniel-san has gotten hotter and finally watched Ultimate Fighting Championship. Hits the coveted 'dumb, testosterone-soaked young male' demographic, the rare pack of gutsy, super-horny tweens who will see anything involving abs, and nobody else.

Funny Games--a glaring exception, although I did not love it. It's at least worth seeing; nobody will see it.

March 21
Drillbit Taylor--Owen Wilson didn't refuse to do the press tour due to his still-frail psyche; he refused to do it because this movie clearly SUCKS and he'd like to forget he was ever associated with it, much less gracing 100-ft tall billboards in L.A, in character. So he told the executive producers to suck it, and they did.

Meet the Browns--King of the box office Tyler Perry strikes again, with yet another movie only black people will see; but not just any black people--only those black people who will go to the movies to see anything starring other black people, regardless of quality.

Snow Angels--Can't stand David Gordon Green; and neither can 99.9% of the country. For once, we agree!

Shutter--Stupid horror movie. Doesn't need to be good; will make money in first few weeks because people go to see horror movies even when they will clearly suck.

The Grand--Improvisational comedy centered on people playing poker--starring Shannon Elizabeth, Woody Harrelson, and Werner Herzog. Ugh. I feel bad that David Cross and Cheryl Hines felt the need to be a$$ociated with this bad idea...

The Hammer--Adam Carolla as a boxer? Even as a joke, it's an awful one. Who cares about this guy? Who can listen to his voice without wanting to puncture their ear drums with a fire-hot dagger?

March 28
21--A great book, based on a fascinating, supposedly-true story, that I just know will be an awful movie. Why? Because that's what Hollywood does! There's too much money at stake not to turn a unique story into an exact replica of some other movie the 60 year-old producer saw part of once--but with more tits.

Run, Fatboy, Run--I don't understand people's fascination with Simon Pegg. Shaun of the Dead was awfully unfunny. So was Hot Fuzz. I wish Michael Ian Black wasn't involved with this (story+cowriter), but I guess he needs some dough, and you don't get that for writing good stuff. Best factoid about this movie? David Schwimmer directed this surefire piece of bunk.

Stop Loss--Much like Syriana, from what I hear, this movie blunders through a great issue without saying anything concrete, without making much sense, and always shoots for style points and fails. Essentially, it's half-ass; but, OMG, whatever, it's got Ryan Philippe in it! And he looks so hot in the poster! What a fucking tween-female-targeted poster, totally out of sync with the subject matter/style of the movie. Brilliant marketing...
[Question: Has 'tween' ever been used to refer to 'tweenage' boys? I feel like the term itself is feminine, but...maybe I'm wrong? Help!]

Superhero Movie--Can they stop making these movies? Can people stop going to them so they will stop making them? Even a short clip is like watching helplessly as somebody stabs me through the eye socket with a dull knife and twists until I can flawlessly recite the Gettysburg address. They. Are. Not. Funny. At. All. Nor do they have any point--a reference is not a joke! Go to joke school, for Criminy's sake!

--So flawed. A caper that's no fun is not a caper. And Demi Moore cannot act, so why put her in a period piece? Even though she's old enough to remember the '60s, god bless her, that doesn't mean she can act! Can Michael Caine retire already? If you can here me, Mike, stop ruining your legacy!

April 4
Leatherheads!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeah!!!

Nim's Island
--"A young girl inhabits an isolated island with her scientist father and communicates with a reclusive author of the novel she's reading." Through her imagination! And the author overcomes her agoraphobia, finds her on the deserted island, and helps locate her missing father! Abigail Breslin plays Nim; Jodie Foster plays Alexandre, the author; Gerard Butler plays Nim's father AND Jodie Foster's schizophrenic alter ego, Alex. Oh, Lord. Enough already with the Lord of the Rings/Harry Potter-fueled fantasy genre. Were Narnia and that awful DeNiro movie not enough? Not every idea is good! They cause studios to lose hundreds of millions of dollars and prevent them from releasing dozens of movies that are actually GOOD!

The Ruins--Well, it's been 2 weeks, so it's time for another horror movie, with the same poster as all the other ones. I think it's the same dude that makes them. If not, it's even more depressing. This one is about a group of sexy young people who stumble upon mysterious violence and some of them die, the girls get stripped and sweaty, and then it ends at some point and you wonder why you sat through it instead of just playing video games in your bedroom in your underwear for 91 minutes. Because you're a loser. Because you saw this movie.

Shine a Light--Another rare exception (that makes only 2 so far), in that I would like to see it and I imagine it will be good. Plus, it involves the Rolling Stones, so every dumbass, overpaid, McMansion/'luxury' condo-dwelling 35-55 year old man will either see it in the theater with his Texas-Hold-Em buddies or rent it later so he can watch on his 60" HDTV with surround sound, so this will make some money. But it won't ruin The Leatherheads coming-out party, that's for sure. Read: Leatherheads=Women, Shine A Light=Men. Women win. They will drag their men to see Leatherheads on 'date night,' and the guys won't mind because it involves football and George Clooney is a 'man's man,' if you believe the PR spin he pays people to make you believe, so this movie isn't gay like most of the other movies she wants to see. He will either see Shine A Light the next weekend, or decide to rent it later. Trust me--I can see the future.

Meet Bill--Aaron Eckhardt's American Beauty-but-funnier low-budget independent vehicle that doesn't seem to have been advertised yet, so it's highly unlikely this will be in many theaters, or will make any money. They've already changed the title to Bill. Why? Shit by any other name smells the same, First Look International.

My Blueberry Nights--I want to see this because it's a Wong Kar-wai movie, and I've been waiting a long time (almost a full year since its premiere at Cannes), but I don't think it will be super good. It's his first English-language movie, and it has Jude Law and Norah Jones in it. Even if it IS good, however, nobody will go to see this. How many people do you know who have even heard of In the Mood for Love? It's no Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, buddy, I mean--come on!

With all these other choices (above) at the multiplex next week--well, let's be honest, Leatherheads and Horton Hears a Who will be on 75% of the screens--who will be this movie's audience? Who loves George Clooney enough to go wherever he goes, as long as it doesn't require thinking too much (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Syriana, Good Night and Good Luck, Darfur)?

Well, as if expecting this question, Clooney touchingly premiered the movie in tiny Mayberry, Kentucky--where his father was born. Somehow tracking down a red carpet to stand on, outside the town's opera house, Clooney had a few well-tooled, humble words to say. He even memorized them!
"They really are family," Clooney said of his Kentucky fans. "If you're from a small town, you don't really ever shake that. It's the best support system and they're always the biggest critics, which is kind of the fun of it."
The townspeople lined up for the show, namely Ronnie and Ellen Compton, of Jenkins, KY, swooned--
"We were staying in Florence (Ky.) to go to the Creation Museum and thought we'd see if we could get lucky and get in," Ronnie Compton said.
(source of both quotes: The Courier-Journal)
And so there you have it--Clooney's fans clearly are all idiots who not only believe in Creationism, but also feel the need to visit a museum devoted to the odious myth. Here's to hoping they aren't too numerous next weekend.


8 Sweet-Ass Ways to Use Coke!

Considering bourbon and Coke is my favorite cocktail ever, believe me when I say this news saddens me deeply. I will never get over it. I will never drink Coke again. My life has been irrevocably altered--for the better, I guess, although blissful ignorance can be pretty cool sometimes.

Pay attention, as these tips may save your life some day:

1. Blood on your street/driveway from last night's little 'what-have-you?' Pour Coca Cola on the offending pavement and smile as the phosphoric acid eats away the evidence in minutes. An old highway patrol trick I picked up as a boom operator on CHiPs.

2. Blood, grease, or noxious odors on/in your clothes? Treat them with Coke, throw 'em in the washer, and rest easy. Nobody will know. Except you. And me. I can see you. Always. But it's cool. Seriously. Forget about it. And put some clothes on.

3. Bathroom sink draining slowly because your sketchy girlfriend sheds like a golden retriever on meth? Pour 2 liters of Coke down the pipe, wait an hour, run the water. Cheaper than Draino, easier than finding somebody else who finds you attractive.

4. Mineral/rust stains on your toilet/tub? Pour a can of Coke in the bowl, let sit for an hour, lightly brush, and flush. I believe you--it's just...mineral deposits...

5. Engine clogged? Clean it with Coke! Why not, that's what the Coca-Cola Company has been using to clean the engines of its trucks for decades! BUSTED! I mean, I don't have any proof, but that's what people tell me.

6. Need to dissolve a nail for some reason? Maybe he squealed on your brother? Let the bastard sit in a resealed 2 liter bottle of Coke and it will cease to exist in 4 days, due to the carbonic acid. Way more effective than cement shoes, trust me.

7. Are you a vegetarian seeking vengeance against your roommate? (I'm talking to you, Vengeful in Vancouver!) The next time he goes away for the weekend, or sleeps over at his 'best friend's' house, destroy his coveted Omaha steak without breaking your solemn vow by simply leaving it in a sealed container full of Coke. The steak will no longer exist in 2 days time.

8. Tired of having all those pesky teeth in your mouth? Drink a few cans of Coke every day and they'll be gone eventually! So will all the calcium in your bones, but it's not like it matters--you'll be so fat by then nobody will even care whether you have teeth or bones!

[Coke and Coca-Cola are registered trademarks of the Coca-Cola Company, duh]

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I Have Seen the Future, and It Wore Zippered Pants

Last Saturday, I had to return a minivan that had been rented for a film shoot I was working on. It was my last errand for the day, and I looked forward to starting my weekend.

I rolled into Enterprise at 11:30am, parked the vehicle, and walked into the office. Another young man patiently waited in front of me, at the counter. I hung back and listened as a smooth-talking sleazy salesman type--27 going on 40, wrinkled cheap suit, inability to make eye contact--was in the middle of a pitch. He spoke into a phone cradled between his shoulder and ear, as he typed something into a computer.

"Yeah, I mean, I got nothing right now. We're slammed. I could give you a pick-up truck. I could give you a pick-up truck for $40, just to get it off my lot, you know? No sense lettin' it sit around takin' up space, might as well get it on the road."

A middle-aged couple, clearly from out of town, came into the office. I was immediately glad to be in front of them; they looked like the type who never do anything fast, and always have problems. The man wore shiny grey polyester pants with zippers all over them--zippered pockets, zippered flare-bottoms, and zippers to cut off the pants at a capri length.

This is a disturbing trend I have noticed with a certain portion of the 'middle-aged man' demographic. Why does a man think he needs convertible pants? At what point does he feel the need to zip off into capris a mere four inches shorter than his pants? What does that accomplish? What do you do with the removed anklets? Do they become stylish bracelets? And why does he tuck a Polo shirt into these pants and think it's a cool look?

His wife looked like a real bitch. She had a narrow bird-like face, which I am pre-disposed to hate. Maybe because every woman with that look lives up to the billing. [For those of you curious, I would say the 'rodent face' would be the male equivalent. Hate 'em.] She also looked older than her husband, but who knows whether or not that was true. Maybe it's a just a simple case of him getting the bad zipper pants, and her getting the bad genes. Hey! Ho! Zing! I'll be here forever! Try the shrimp!

The point is that they both looked patently unhappy, by sight and behavior, but her scowl ran much deeper. She struck me immediately as the kind of woman who leaves fifty-cent tips for their waiter at Olive Garden, writes mean notes to her mail carrier, and doesn't understand why she can't return a soiled shirt she no longer wants at Target.

As the sleazy car salesman babbled on, she walked in real close to her husband.

"We need to bring the car with us."

"What car?"



"Traffic better be good on the way to San Diego--we're late."

Her husband didn't say anything, didn't care, probably has zero tolerance for his wife at this point in his life. I smiled--what a life these two must have together. Endless love...

The Salesman rambled on.

"Yeah, yeah, you could pick it up today. A Jaguar? No--the Jaguar's ninety. Well, it was probably the only thing we had left, but now I got some pick-up trucks. Look--forty bucks is the cheapest rate, so I'll give you the truck for that, since I got no cars, you know? Yeah. Alright, no sweat. Let me know what you wanna do. Cool."

He hung up the phone, handed the man in front of me a printed receipt, said goodbye, then looked at me. It was my turn.

"Hey. I just need to drop off a minivan."

I handed him the key.

"Alright, I just gotta check it out."

He left to inspect the vehicle.

The Wife sat down on a nearby bench seat, which must have been removed from one of their minivans, and began tapping her foot. The husband leaned against the counter and stared off into space.

A young woman walked into the office, another customer. She wasn't unattractive, but I wouldn't say she was attractive; she was kind of a Goldilocks. The Husband, however, seemed to be a big fan of her immediately--I noticed him surreptitiously checking her out several times. I guess the older you get, you start to appreciate any young woman, if only because of the natural attraction of the flower of youth, the lack of cellulite, the unfamiliarity. Compared to his wife, this girl was a supermodel.

As Goldilocks had walked inside the office, I heard a loud, irritating BEEP. I figured it was a motion sensor intended to inform people in the back room when a customer or thief has arrived, but then the BEEP happened again.

And again.

And again.

The Wife winced and wrinkled her nose in distaste.

"What is that God-awful noise? Where is it coming from?"

"I think it's the phone. I see a light on the phone flashing."

"Well, is anybody going to answer it?"

"I don't know."

The Wife squirmed uncomfortably on the bench seat, occasionally peeking outside to see if the Salesman was coming back. Her Husband turned around to face the speaker emitting the noise, raised his arms like a zombie, and said, in a monotone voice:

"Yes, master, I will do as you command. I am your slave."

He looked at Goldilocks and smiled. She didn't smile back. I don't think she even made eye contact with him, which greatly deflated the Husband, since the 'joke' was clearly designed solely for her benefit. He turned back around and leaned on the counter.


His Wife had had enough of that loud noise--which was, in her defense, annoyingly loud and unending--and was on the move. She crept behind the counter, keeping her eyes peeled for the Salesman. She glanced at the phones, she looked up, she looked at the others in the waiting area, she reached for the handset and paused.

"Do you see him coming?"

As soon as she spoke, she realized he was on his way back and scurried back over to her bench seat.

"I was just going to answer the phone for him," she said to nobody in particular.

Right...I'm sure she wasn't going to pick up the handset and accidentally drop it back into the cradle...

The Salesman returned, but he was not alone. An intense, petite young man in a shirt and tie steamed in behind him, shot tremendously brief glances at the assembled customers, and accompanied each look with a curt, "Hi." It sounded something like this:

"Hi, hi, hi, hi."

The young, hip, lip-service version of Wal-Mart's infamously unnecessary Greeter.

The Greeter immediately fanned the ire of the Wife when he moved straight to the back of the office without helping her. She rose, and was about to say something, when he cut her off.

"Who's next?"

The Husband and Wife both angrily said, "me." The Greeter took one look at them and realized they deserved each other, and must therefore be married.

"And what can I do for you two?"

My Salesman typed a hundred things into the computer, as he smooth-talked another customer on the phone, but I didn't pay much attention--the Greeter's conversation was much more interesting.

"Do you have a reservation?"


The Husband handed him a folded printout, and the Greeter analyzed it intensely.

"Hmm. A one-way."

The Greeter handed the paper to the Salesman, for his input.

"Mmm-hmm. One-way."

"Wait a minute--we can't do a one-way on GPS."


"We can't do a one-way on GPS. It's our policy."

The Husband looked the Greeter dead in the eyes.

"This isn't our home planet--WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO?!"

The Greeter looked at his computer screen, looked over at the Salesman, looked back at the Husband.

"You could...get a map?"

"A map? We need a GPS. How are we supposed to get to La Jolla?"

"I'm sorry...I...can't do it. It's our policy."

"Well, can you call someone?"

"No--that's just our policy. There's nothing we can do. I'm sorry."

"You're sorry? What good does that do us--WE'RE SCREWED!"

The Wife, tired of throwing out occasional, irrational requests from the bench seat, stood to ask the same question everybody unfamiliar with the perils of Internet booking ignorantly asks.

"Why would they tell us we could have a GPS if we can't?"

"I...don't know. We don't do one-way rentals. Most places don't. I don't know why they would tell you that. It's always been our policy."

"Well they did."

The Salesman finally chimed in:

"You're lucky we even have one. We can't even guarantee that we will ever have one. But we do. But we can't give it to you."

This didn't help. He resumed typing up my paperwork, which seemed to be taking on Dickensian proportions.

The Husband threw his arms up in the air. "We're screwed!"

The Wife got crafty again."What would happen if we said we'd bring it back, but we didn't?"

"Then we'd charge you $300 to replace it. That's the cost of the machine."

"We're screwed!"

A lightbulb illuminated over the Greeter's head. "Wait--I know! I can Mapquest directions to where you're going and print it out for you. It'll give you the exact same directions as a GPS."

The Husband leaned in, "We need a GPS because Mapquest is 100% unreliable. I use to use it but I never use it anymore."

The Sales man and the Greeter both stared at their computers, not sure of their next move. "Uhmmm..."

The Husband suddenly screamed at his wife, who was typing something into her cell phone. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!"


She was frantic. Tears were nigh. I couldn't stop smiling.

It was at this point that I nearly inserted myself into the mix. I couldn't take it anymore. These two old fuckers were so clueless--as if these two Enterprise schmucks decide 'the policy' and can bend the rules for them, as if that's how things work in corporate America. And even if they did have the power to negotiate, was this really the way to persuade them to cut a deal? I don't like people who project their own unhappiness on others--especially when they're at work. Especially when they have a shitty job.

What would I have said? Why, exactly what should be on all your minds right now:

"What the fuck did you guys do before GPS was invented? For the 50+ years of your life before you ever used a GPS device? Did you never leave your house? Did you never travel anywhere? I bet you did. I bet you used a map, asked people for directions, FIGURED IT OUT. Now just take the car, leave these guys alone, buy a road atlas and some snacks at the gas station on the way to the highway that is THREE BLOCKS AWAY, get on that highway, merge onto another highway, and wind up effortlessly in beautiful, sprawling, McMansioned La Jolla, 105 miles later. Call your daughter when you get off the highway and she can guide you in--I'm sure she has GPS at home. But hurry--I bet her husband can't wait for you to get there!"

But I didn't. The Salesman finished his novel, handed it over, and offered me a ride back. I said I'd rather walk and left--the old couple is probably still there.

The most frightening thing about this whole unpleasant affair? If people in their sixties are this unnecessarily dependent on technology, imagine when children alive today grow up. All a terrorist would have to do is shoot down the GPS satellites and our entire nation will starve to death because they won't know how to get to the grocery store. We're doomed--begin senseless fornication with the most attractive person nearby.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Once Again, No Humbling Winter...

...and so the egos in Hollywood continue to flourish, unabated, for the 155th consecutive year. The moral/intellectual gulf between Hollywood+environs and the more-sensible Midwest/Northeast/Northwest (sorry, South--you're on a whole 'nother page of dumbness!) continues to expand, once again outpacing the growth of the universe itself (pay up, Hawking, or I'll break your legs!). More and more people move here, more and more people grow up here, more and more people never leave here. Why?
"Cuz the weather's so great! OMG--I'll do anything to stay out here! I'll not only be more anorexic than you, and therefore hotter, but I'll do your shitty job for longer hours and less pay, since my family supports me anyway. I just want to stay out here and lay on the beach all day and go clubbing and buy a new designer handbag every Saturday, but my parents said I need to have a good job, with growth potential, or they'll cut me off. Hey--is that Zach Braff? So totally hot, but, I mean, only cuz he's on TV, or he'd be totally like YACK! I wonder if he needs a new third assistant..."
And so the ranks of Hollywood's coveted 'fiscal upper class, intellectual lower class' demographic continue to swell, unperturbed by the current financial crisis that, let's face it, doesn't affect rich people. How did this all start? What made the first selfish, idiotic fame-whore come out here to El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora Reina de los Angeles sobre El Rio Porciuncula?

Curious? Well, dig in to these pointless highlights of Hollywood's past (courtesy, edited and fruitlessly commented upon by yours truly:

"In 1853, one adobe hut stood on the site that became Hollywood."

Such arrogant's no wonder we are where we are today. Adobe?

"The name Hollywood was coined by H.J. Whitley, the Father of Hollywood. He and his wife, Gigi, came up with the name while on their honeymoon, according to Margaret Virginia Whitley's memoir. As they stood on the hill (which is now the center of Hollywood) admiring the view they spied a rickety old wagon pulled by one horse with a Chinese man driving pell-mell down a narrow path. As he approached them he stopped his wagon. HJ Whitley asked what he was doing. In broken English with a Chinese accent he said, 'I up sunrise. Old trees fall down. Pick up wood. All time haully wood.' With an epiphany HJ declared he would name his new town Hollywood."

First of all, are we sure that wasn't just Mickey Rooney driving the wagon?

Second of all, who the fuck asked this guy to name the town he was visiting on vacation? Is this some kind of unprecedented hubris, or what? isn't.

While we're on the subject, why was this arrogant rich dude honeymooning in a town that recently had only one adobe hut and wasn't even incorporated yet? Were all the oceanliners to Europe booked? Did his wife force the marriage due to a pregnancy, and he brought her to this remote spot so she could 'accidentally' fall into the ocean on their honeymoon? I guess we'll never know...until his great-great-great-great grandson makes that moment in time into a highly-fictionalized movie, starring Francis (Frankie) Coppola-Barrymore-Pitt II as 'plucky' H.J. Whitley.

"Hollywood was incorporated as a municipality in 1903. Among the town ordinances was one prohibiting the sale of liquor except by pharmacists and one outlawing the driving of cattle through the streets in herds of more than two hundred."

That explains why there's so few cattle in the streets and such a lack of liquor in my mouth. Prescient, Hollywood--very prescient. If you don't start out completely intolerant, you'll foster misbehavior and wind up with valueless teenagers running all over the place, driving drunk, bearing unwanted children, and shaving their heads.

"After many years of serious decline, Hollywood is now undergoing rapid gentrification and revitalization with the goal of urban density in mind. Many new developments have been completed, and many more are planned, and several are centered on Hollywood Boulevard itself. In particular, the Hollywood & Highland complex, which is also the site of the Kodak Theater, has been a major catalyst for the redevelopment of the area. In addition, numerous trendy bars, clubs, and retail businesses have opened on or surrounding the boulevard, allowing it to become one of the main nighttime spots in all of Los Angeles. Many older buildings have also been converted to lofts and condominiums, and a W Hotel is currently under construction at the famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine, including The CBS Columbia Square which is being used as the new site of MTV's Real World: Hollywood which will likely serve to even further revitalize the area."

Don't get me wrong--eight years ago, Hollywood was nothing more than a sketchy neighborhood full of stripper-lingerie shops, sleazy sex clubs, souvenir shops, 'Maps to Stars's Homes!' stands, and abandoned storefronts; it sucked. Fast forward eight years--it is now the character-less, traffic-clogged, avoid-at-all-costs nexus of corporate consumerism/tourism. Notable example: the venerable Oscars ceremony is now held in a mall! Choose thy poison.

"The population of [Hollywood], including Los Feliz, as of the 2000 census was 167,664 and the median household income was $33,409 in 1999."

That seems really small. And poor. And true.

"Notable Residents: Really? That's all the entire web community could come up with on wikipedia? Are we really that sad? Let's see...since Hollywood proper now contains the hills and Los Feliz...I could add, off the top of my head...Jack Nicholson, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Cristina Ricci, Giovanni Ribisi, Jason Lee, Crispin Glover, Gwen Stefani, Gavin Rossdale...and thousands more! Let's get going, people! Put that gelato down--this is urgent.

[gunshot to own head]

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

ISO A Good Food Taster

Five People Who Probably Already Have Food Tasters:

1. George Bush
2. Tom Cruise
3. Hillary Clinton
4. Jerry Bruckheimer
5. The Pope

Five People Who Probably Don't, But Should:

1. Oprah Winfrey- somebody's gotta be thinking about it...maybe Jonathan Franzen? Or Tom Cruise? Or...any other man who lives and breathes?
2. George Clooney- have you read the article in Radar?
3. Tyra Banks- I feel like even the winner of America's Next Top Model would want to kill her
4. Simon Cowell- because he tells it like it is to a bunch of talentless, crazed wannabe divas yearning for press of any kind
5. Seth Rogen- cuz I'm totally gunnin' for him!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Crystal Meth and Shuffleboard

Back in November of 2005, my girlfriend knew a guy who was selling four tickets to a Rolling Stones show in San Diego for a ridiculous $25 each. This seemingly-reasonable price is only ridiculous because the face value of these nosebleed seats weighed in at a whopping $120/each. Ah, the Rolling Stones...after all these years, all those millions upon millions of dollars, all those quasi-legal offshore Dutch tax shelters... It's good to know they still do it for the love of the music, for something bigger and purer than all of us. Rock on!

For the record, to come clean from the start here, I love the Rolling Stones, despite their greed; they are human, after all. That being said, I am not one of those annoying, get-a-life, super-obsessed fans, not by a long-shot. I only own a few of their records; but I love those records. They are bluesy, they are rock, they are pop, they are guttural, they are sweet, they are everything all at once, which is quite a feat. This is one of the few scenarios where it is okay for somebody, a neophyte, to believe the hype and swim into the deep waters of their catalog without hesitation. I do think they are the biggest and best band in the world, if only because they are a true band, which is pretty rare in and of itself. I would not say the same about the Beatles, for example--they were more of a 'brilliant, volatile duo with passable back-up band.' Ditto for Elton John/Bernie Taupin.

But I digress...this is not a music review site. I apologize. Back to the point:

The reason nobody else wanted to buy these tickets for more money, and why the owner of them couldn't attend the show himself, was that we all lived in L.A. San Diego is a two-hour drive when traffic is great, and traffic would not be great at rush hour, since these babies were being unloaded day-of and the other two people in our group had to work til five. Whatever. We figured it'd be worth it--mostly due to the affordable price, as well as the fact that we had nothing better to do, so why not choose a little adventure?

I was not working that day, because it was a day like most others, and so I volunteered to drive out to the Valley, to brave the Girls and the heat, in order to pick up the tickets from the seller, who was an actor my girlfriend had met on a film set.

As I pulled up to the house at the address I had been given, a chimney sweep van parked in front of me sent my mind reeling. ‘Chimney sweeps still exist? I guess it makes sense...I mean, chimneys still exist, and I suppose they need to be cleaned every once in a while, but “swept?” Have there really been no advances in chimney-cleaning technology since Mary Poppins?’ Maybe--there seemed to be a vacuum involved.

I was further surprised to discover the guy I was looking for was not the one having his chimney swept but, rather, the one doing the sweeping--soot on his face and everything. Hey, brother’s gotta make a dime on the side, right? Acting sure don’t pay the bills...

Mr. Chimney Sweep lamented the fact that he could not attend the show, but was glad the tickets would not go to waste. He had seen them twice on this tour already, in San Francisco and LA, and they were both awesome shows.

Huh? This chimney sweep bought 4 tickets to three shows, at a minimum of $120 each? That’s like...a million dollars!?! How sick is his obsession?

I left as soon as possible, feeling like I had just caught him performing a strip-tease dressed as Little Bo Peep, for some sleazy 60-year-old children’s movie producer, in order to afford to buy his fourteenth ‘mint-condition Castle Greyskull (in box)’ on eBay.

I drove home and waited for the others to gather at our house in Silver Lake. As soon as the traffic got unbearable on the freeways, we embarked on our voyage with high hopes.

Luckily I had remembered to bring a handful of CDs because, let me tell you, as the man behind the wheel, this was one of the most excruciatingly boring drives of my entire life--and I've logged more miles in the last 13 years than most people will in their entire lives. [Editor's Note: He's not lying. It's true.] It was bumper-to-bumper for 126 miles. 126 miles. Bumper to bumper. It is therefore a testament to the caliber of friends in my car that day that it turned out to be a very enjoyable ride.

Representative Slice:

Tito and I rocked out to Thriller at ear-splitting volume in the front seats, while Bertie and Pedro played a movie-themed guessing game in the backseat. We had just stopped at Wendy's, because it was dinnertime and we couldn't fuck around and had to get fast food, and Tito had ordered a large Coke. After making a little room, he quickly emptied a flask-full of Jim Beam into his cup and we drained it. Oddly enough, this was my first bourbon-and-Coke; it was a transcendent experience; I haven't stopped drinking them since; I think it might be the most perfect cocktail in existence; seriously.

Bourbon-and-Coke fan-boy-exultation aside, here we were, laughing, singing at the top of our lungs, dancing in our seats, riding the brake inches at a time, but not complaining, because it wasn't like we hadn't expected the drive to take forever. Also, we knew our patience was to be rewarded with the music of the Rolling Stones, at a cut-rate price, so we didn't care about a thing.

I pulled a joint out from the console between my seats.

"Look what I found!"

Eyes lit up. It was no accident, and we all knew that, but it was fun to pretend like it was. We all got high. Life instantly became that much more enjoyable. The certainty I felt about the fact that we were having more fun than anyone else on the road that day only intensified. While normally I don't indulge quite so much while/before driving, for obvious legal/survival reasons, I felt okay about this exception. After all, this 'drive' amounted to little more than piloting a well-rehearsed pony down a trail with 13 of his barn-buddies, at a kindergarten-field-trip pace. Besides, considering how much fun we had, and how we all arrived in one piece, it was totally worth it; the drive was easily 1/3 of the fun on this adventure, which is rarely the case.

The second third of the fun was the show itself. As we pulled up near the stadium, the historic PETCO Park (hahaha, lol, rotfl, seriously, kill me!), we could hear the Stones had already begun their set. Shit! Somehow, we found a parking spot right across the street and were able to get inside quickly, not that it mattered. Why didn't it matter? Because, despite their advanced age, the Stones played for at least two and a half hours! It was pretty amazing.

Not only was their stamina impressive but, it being a stadium show, Mick worked the crowd with stunning ease and success. The stage was at least 100 feet long, and Mick patrolled it like a guard dog, keeping everybody excited. The stage even moved from the outfield to the pitcher's mound, to switch up the hot seats and share the love. Nice. Don't get me wrong--had I paid face-value for these tickets, I would have been pissed off. We were miles away from the stage, up in Bob Ueckerville, surrounded by people who paid $120 to sit there. Ouch.

The most interesting thing that happened during the show, however, had nothing to do with the music. It had nothing to do with Keith Richards slurring incoherently through the lead vocals during his moment in the sun. It had to do with the second joint I had rolled for the occasion.

Now, this joint was specifically intended for the show, so I had used a special blend of herbs and spices, anointed it with the unsullied tears of an albino newborn...kidding. I'm not one of 'those.' I just thought we would want another one, and we did. It being an open-air concert, and a Stones concert to boot, I figured a little pot would be tolerated. I was wrong. Sort of.

Almost immediately after we found our seats, which took quite some time due to somewhat-understandable confusion among the various minimum-wage-'I-don't-give-a-shit' venue representatives, I lit up the joint and leaned back to savor the scene we had traveled so far to enjoy. A Hispanic man seated behind me leaned forward.

"Oh, man, that smells so good. It's been so long. Can I give you five bucks for a hit? I just gotta have some of that."

"Sure. Sure."

He opened his wallet.

"Do you have change for a fifty?"


I gave him a hit anyway. Whatever--I'm all into sharing. Most of the time. As long as the person is nice, which this guy was. I couldn't help but notice, as I watched him puff away a little too liberally for my taste, that he was on a date. There was a woman next to him, and she didn't seem too familiar, you know what I mean? It seemed like they were definitely together, but had maybe just started dating, maybe this was even a first date 'meant to impress,' due to the cost. Another Hispanic couple sat next to them and they seemed to be a foursome, on a double-date.

The guy handed the joint back and it was passed among my friends. On its way back to me, as I waited for Pedro to hand it off, my spidey-sense started tingling. I looked over to my left and saw two cops talking to each other. They were pointing in our general direction. One of them had a flashlight. I knew what was about to happen before it did, luckily.

"Pedro--throw it. Throw it!"

Pedro hesitated, saw the cops, hesitated again, and dropped the joint at his feet just as the flashlight beam lit up his priceless face. I was so disappointed--we were so close! All he had to do was throw it! One of the cops walked over, bent down to pick up the joint, and shined the light in all our faces.

"You, you, you, you...and you...and you, come with me."

Wow. That was thorough. He even pulled out the guy who 'bought' a hit from me and the other guy on the double-date with him, who had nothing whatsoever to do with the affair.

As we all paraded out from our seats to the nearest access tunnel like misbehaving schoolchildren, we were completely unsupervised; the cops walked in front of us. If any of us had had any contraband, there was ample time/opportunity to dump it. But we had been 'smart;' we had only brought in one joint--evidence we had intended to completely incinerate.

Out in the tunnel, near the concession stands, the cops lined us up against the wall. Shit seemed grim. Luckily, I was high. Also luckily, I realized he had nothing on us--none of us had any weed in our possession and he couldn't prove where the remains of that joint had come from. It was found on the ground, it could have been thrown there by somebody else--it was circumstantial and not enough to justify an arrest. A wave of relief washed over me. I smiled and listened to the mouthpiece-cop's hilarious speech as his partner looked on, glad he didn’t have to deliver it.

"Now, we're not going to arrest you guys--we just want the rest of what you've got. So I don't care who has it, just hand it over and you'll all be free to go. I'm not even gonna pretend we're gonna arrest you; if we were to arrest everybody here tonight who was smoking pot, our prisons would be filled. We simply don't have the space or the manpower to do that."

I laughed. So did my companions. Nobody else was smoking pot! Why do you think we were so easily located? We were in a baseball stadium! These tickets cost a minimum of $120! This is a show for law-abiding yuppies! This is hardly some kind of counter-culture 'happening,' where laws are being flouted left and right, in the shadows, and the cops 'just can't keep up.' In fact, I thought, this might actually be the least-cool audience in Rolling Stones concert history. I mean, it at least has to be right up there, in contention, and I was a part of it--this was a thoroughly depressing realization.

I told him we had nothing. He didn't believe me.

"Alright, empty your pockets."

I emptied my pockets, cruelly disappointed him, and he said I was free to go. One by one, he checked through what everybody held out in their hands. It seemed to be taking a while. I could hear the music blasting from down on the field and was itching to watch the show, so I decided to head back out to my seat, to wait for my friends there. I might as well have, right? It's not like they needed my support right then, we were all going to be immediately released, so, whatever, I left.

As I sat back down in my seat, the three teenagers in front of me whipped around, checked me out, looked like they had just seen a ghost, and immediately turned back around and whispered to each other. Aha--it was them. Straight-edge punks by sight, meddling tattletales by deed. What kind of a cool-ass 'I don't give a shit' punk teenager, straight-edge or otherwise, gives a shit whether or not somebody else smokes pot at an open-air concert? I mean, isn't the whole punk ideology based on the individual's intrinsic right to freedom? What a bunch of lame-ass wannabes. I laughed to myself. 'Haha! I got away!' I wondered what they were thinking, those little assholes.

"Do you think he killed the cop? Or bribed him or something? Do you think we will somehow get in trouble as a result? Do you think he might hurt us? Do you think he might break our brittle little skinny-jean-clad legs? I'm scared! Hold me, Jarvis!"

My friend Pedro walked back out and sat down next to me, scared sober. After a while, we headed back over to the tunnel, to see what was taking so long with the others, and saw one of the cops handcuffing somebody against the wall. What the fuck?!

As it turned out, the Hispanic guy who had never even touched the joint was rolling with a rock of crystal meth in his pocket. For some reason, he hadn't felt the need to dump it as we walked from our seats to the tunnel and decided not to leave it in his pocket when the cop asked him to empty his pockets. The cops didn't reach into our pockets to see if they had actually been emptied--I could have had kiddie porn in there and he wouldn't have known. It was on the honor system. What an idiot.

Well, I guess if you're tomcatting around town with a bag of meth in your pocket, you're not exactly smart; and even if you were intelligent to begin with, you probably don't have your wits about you after you've cooked up. And so it goes...the one person totally uninvolved with 'the crime' gets handcuffed and taken to prison, because he was dumb. Kids, if you're listening--don't be dumb. You will pay the price at some point.

I wonder what the meth-dude's date did when he never came back? I wonder if she knew. San Diego is, after all, the methamphetamine capital of North America, and has been for decades (according to The Economist, in issues from 1989 & 2000, as reported on

Post-concert, trying to find our way back to the freeway, we stumbled upon the third and final phase of our great evening--a dirty, cool-looking bar called The Jewel Box. Aside from cheap drinks, a diverse clientele, and a decent jukebox, they had a shuffleboard table! I had never played before, but it was not hard to learn; nor, for a stud like me, was it hard to master. We played for a couple hours and discovered it might be the perfect game to play while drinking with friends. I often think about driving down to San Diego just to hang out, drink, and play shuffleboard. The same way I often think about driving up to San Francisco for Chinese food at House of Nanking.

But, as is the case with both establishments, they were discovered at random and therefore greatly exceeded my meager expectations. Now that I have built them up so greatly in my mind, can they possibly hold up? It would be far easier for them to disappoint. But, why would they, why should they? Plenty of places are great and stay great and I go back over and over again. Hmmm.

I pondered this conundrum as we drove home. It was much faster this time, thank Jason Bateman. I went to sleep content--it had been one of the best nights in recent memory.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

How Much Money Does Patricia Heaton Need?

Let's face it, she's not an artist--she always plays the same character, which is no doubt not very different from who she is in real life. For those of you unfamiliar with her oeuvre, Heaton played 'hilarious' Debra Barone, Ray Romano's wife, on 'Everybody Loves Raymond,' a show that seemed to go on forever, but actually was only on for a finite 9 years. 209 episodes. She made $450,000 per episode in season seven--$11 million that year alone.

'Raymond' thankfully expired in 2005, and it did EXPIRE--it was not canceled and did not even finish out its last season. According to (yes, this fucking website EXISTS, and packs a punch):

"Raymond Falls Short - Despite a last-ditch effort by CBS to lengthen its final season, Everybody Loves Raymond will stick to Plan A and produce just 16 original episodes before signing off in May. "We honestly couldn't think of any more [ideas]," says series creator Phil Rosenthal. "We brought in a couple of people to pitch stories, but everything either reminded us of stuff we've done before or wasn't good enough." Damn you creative integrity. Damn you!"

Now, I know what you're thinking or, at least, should be thinking: where was your creative integrity the last nine years? Did every one of those scripts REALLY not remind you of every other episode you'd ever done? Did the initial concept, and every subsequent idea, REALLY not remind you of every other stock, cardboard character/storyline in the boring-ass sitcom pantheon? Were they all 'good enough?'

After nine years of going to work five days a week to play herself on national TV, you'd think Patricia Heaton would pocket the $80 million and live out the rest of her life quietly, raising her four young boys, eating finger sandwiches with her hubby, etc. But no--she decided to start appearing in commercials that seem to play constantly, even to this day. Was this her 'honing her craft?' She obviously didn't need the money...

To make matters worse, she appeared in a pilot for a TV show that never even received a proper name--that's how bad it was, how quickly the umbilical cord was cut from this 'baby' by the powers that be--even though it was made TWO YEARS AGO--"The Untitled Patricia Heaton Project (2006)." Since I know you're curious, here is a synopsis of this series that thankfully went nowhere:

"A recently widowed woman (Heaton) starts a new life for herself by joining the PTA."

No need for a joke here--the work has already been done. Thanks, Patricia!

Sadly, Kelsey Grammar then decided he needed to add Patricia's 'star wattage' to his new unnecessary show, 'Back to You.' In this show, he plays Dr. Frasier Crane--but with a DIFFERENT NAME! His range is truly stunning. Talk about somebody who doesn't need the money--Kelsey! Go away! Swim around in your vault full of gold coins and leave us alone! You were funny in Cheers, but that's in the past!

Isn't the goal in life to make a bunch of money and retire young, to enjoy life the way it was meant to be lived, as children of paradise, sipping fruit smoothies out of coconut halves and making love in the surf, nary a care in the world? When you have $80 million laying around, shouldn't you just go on vacation for the rest of your life, raise your children, and work on the occasional pet project? TV sitcoms are not art--they are popcorn entertainment created by, and starring, people who are only doing it for the paycheck. Why do greedy-soccer-mom-actress-whores like Patricia Heaton not understand this? Why does she think we need to see more of her one-trick-pony acting? How come she doesn't understand that she has no need for her own website? How come she doesn't realize we all see right through her? How come she had her belly button removed by a plastic surgeon?*

Wait, I know the answer--she's a psychopath.

[*Yes, this is true. Read all about it, and check out some scary photos, by cutting and pasting this link into your browser:]

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Saturday in L.A.

It's windy and oddly chilly here in L.A, but it's still sunny. It's Saturday, which means the Jews are on foot in Hancock Park. Traffic still sucks.

I was rattled awake early this morning by deafening Spanish-language talk radio and overly-loud old-person conversations invading my eardrums through my always-open windows. Or maybe it was the hangover, and associated unquenchable thirst, acquired after a day of solitary drinking/writing in my apartment. Whatever the reason, I laid in my bed for hours, unable to sleep, unwilling to get up.

At some point, I grabbed my laptop and decided to read the New York Times, figuring that would kill some time. I never read it. Instead, I responded to a long-lost ex-girlfriend's myspace message, read her blog for an hour or so, and then decided to type the entire chapter devoted to Whitney Houston in 'American Psycho' and email it to her for no apparent reason, other than the fact that she mentioned her love for Whitney Houston in a blog entry. I felt like I was wasting a lot of time; I was.

I got hungry and went to the grocery store, where I somehow spent $52 on cold cuts, bread, chips, salsa, granola, blueberries, and yogurt. In the wine aisle, which had a disappointing import selection (nothing from Chile/Argentina, always a good, cheap pick), a middle-aged man was loudly letting a young woman in on his bartending secrets, with regard to the use of sour mix. She tells him she drinks amaretto stoned sours. Who actually drinks that shit after freshman year of college? After they no longer go to huge frat parties and drink cocktails out of ten-gallon gatorade jugs and pass out in bushes on the way home (if they're lucky)? I'll tell you who--unattractive, unintelligent, overweight Ralph's employees who enjoy the conversational stylings of boring, unattractive middle-aged men reeking of a desire to have sex with almost any woman who is not their wife. I had to leave immediately, and so I have no wine.

As I parked my car down the street from my apartment building, the local bum couple was having another in a long series of lover spats. Allegedly, he DID go to visit her in the hospital, but when he got there, she had already left against doctor's orders. And then she didn't come 'home' for three days and he thought she was dead. And THEN he found out that not only was she NOT DEAD, but had spent $7 on Chinese food. Seven dollars! His mind was blown. She didn't say much. He circled her with raised fists, but she was able to expertly keep a palm tree between them. They were remarkably filthy, even for them. I guess it hasn't rained in a while. They didn't seem to notice me, thankfully, as I walked past with bags full of delicious food.

I'm supposed to play catch with a friend this afternoon and tell him about my recent experience as a particpant in a police line-up at the county jail (more on that later, I guess), but even though it's a beautiful day outside, I kinda just want to stay inside and watch movies and listen to records and maybe write for awhile and then go to sleep again. One of those days.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Three Great Quotes from 'La Collectionneuse,' by Eric Rohmer

"For me, an ugly man has no charm. Nothing's possible. It's over immediately...Ugliness is an insult to others."

"I decided long ago not to run after any girl. It tires me out."

"We speak of a leisure society, but when it comes we won't know what leisure is. Some people work forty years for their life of leisure, but when the time comes, they're lost, and they die.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Las Vegas, T.I. pool

It's about 140 degrees by the pool right now. But it somehow feels good, soothing, cleansing. I like it. The imminent dive into the water will be equally and oppositely enjoyed. The Yin & Yang of a desert oasis. A vodka lemonade on ice could save my life right now.

It did. And now I'm thirsting for another. Isn't that always how it goes?

I wonder if the management at T.I. chose the sickly-tangerine color of their towels as a precaution against theft, or if they're just stupid. Either way, as I scan the watering hole to soak it all in, locate beautiful girls in bikinis, etc, I can't help but feel it's the late '60s, early '70s--something about those tangerine blotches permeating the view, as well as the vague '60s vibe the mere idea of Vegas conjures in my head. The brazen excess of Baby Boomer America, the 'desert air' health theories that prompted locust-like migration to the Sun Belt, and the tolerated corporate crookery, nee Mafia crookery, that lords over the city as a hurricane lords over its volatile eye. But I like the '60s. Well, the idea of the '60s, music and other products of the '60s, etc, seeing as I wasn't even a twinkle in the universe's eye when the decade drew to a close.

Bill and I are supposed to start work on a treatment for a movie we want to write, so of course we got high and lazy and distracted and soon-to-be-drunk. We'll see what materializes when he gets back from his expedition to retrieve magazines and cigarettes from our room. Not promising.

I just got a yard of vodka lemonade because Bill asked for 'big ones.' My mouth might be permanently puckered after today. I also might be as red as a lobster. I might never leave. I could look for lounge-singer openings down on Fremont Street. That'd be the life. "I sing at the Lucky Leprechaun, Tuesday and Wednesdays, from 11am to 1pm. Kill me!"

Our waitress' skin reminds me achingly of caramel. Bill's buying two Fosters Oilcans right now, to have two chances at winning a cabana full of Fosters tomorrow. I guess it'd be cool if we win, and it's not like we can lose.

Speaking of, I lost $80 at roulette last night. That usually doesn't happen. Tonight better be...better.

(From the Vault---6/2/07)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Not to Be Missed!

What This Is: A treatment for a Britney Spears Pepsi commercial, aired during the 2002 World Cup, but only in Japan.
[A treatment, for those of you unfamiliar with industry jargon, is a 'summary' of the plot of a commercial, music video, tv show, film, etc.]

A Little Context: This treatment not only won the director and his affiliated production company the job in the first place, but was also, afterwards, presented once again to representatives of the top-tier advertising agency BBDO/NY and, for the first time, to the client, Pepsi International, the day before shooting began.
In other words, of all the treatments from all the directors who wanted this job, this was the one that won the hearts of high-ranking, college-educated executives at one of the biggest advertising firms in the United States. And neither the Marketing Manager nor the Creative Consultant at Pepsi International saw any reason to object to their choice.

The Director: This commercial was directed by Wayne Isham--a titan in the music video/commercial world--who worked for 'Mr. White,' a subsidiary of Quentin Tarantino's production company, 'A Band Apart.'

The Author: Directors are supposed to write their own treatments, but most working directors hire underutilized writers (also known as PAs) to write them instead. This is a result of most commercial/video directors being unable to write complete sentences, as well as a result of them being 'too busy.' Not sure whether Mr. Isham would want to take credit for this one or admit that he didn't do his own homework.

A Fact That You Should Know: Mr. Isham probably made in the neighborhood of $20,000 per day for his work on this commercial. He also had his own trailer INSIDE the soundstage, for no discernible reason, and was allowed to fly out several Los Angeles-based PAs to sit in said trailer and smoke weed and drink Jagermeister all day long. Mr. Isham joined his younger playmates in these activities frequently, but nobody noticed--he used Binaca.

The Text: VERBATIM, including typos, grammatical errors, a hundred missing commas, scarily uncool '@' signs, inappropriate empty spaces, etc. Rest assured that Goodtime Charlie doesn't make these kinds of mistakes.

Here goes:

"Our Pepsi spot is a roller coaster ride through a fantastically driven landscape of high energy. It is an explosion of energy that is nonstop from start to end. An energetic look @ The world's most exciting pop star combined with the amazing energy and fortitude of the world's best and accomplished soccer players. It is a juxtaposition of images and scale, expressionistic color, and a rhythmic weaving of multiple images.

The commercial is a carefully assembled big bang theory of amazingly choreographed dance moves combined with the amazing athletic prowess both in front of the screen and in the background. It doesn't make any linear sense, your mind is on the lose. It's coiled cohesiveness brought together with an explosive edit. Extreme close-ups blow out into galactic long lens shots with clever transitions to give the whole spot a constant movement. A vibrant color palette packed with an adrenaline pumping energy.

Our ride begins on a seemingly infinite huge white canvas. It is a space with no definition. Off in the far distance we see a glimpse of a female kicking around a soccer ball. Her identity is unknown. She kicks the multicolored red white and blue PEPSI soccer ball straight @ camera. With unbelievable speed, the ball comes straight at us, hitting the screen and taking us into a vortex camera move right back into the moment, revealing our female soccer star to be none other than Britney Spears.

We achieve this action of the soccer ball with a 3d soccer ball that is texture mapped with the real ball's movement and texture.

Britney, kicks into singing and dancing in her signature sexy-style Britney soccer outfit enhanced and designed by her wardrobe stylists Kurt & Bart. Her dance is a combination of both awesome Britney steps and unbelievable soccer moves. Wade Robson, Britney's choreographer will help us to design these unique moves.

As we pull out, we reveal, around her are pixilated huge images of the world's greatest soccer players in today's game. These images will be edited and enhanced in post production. Our soccer heros are stylized graphic portraitures behind and around Britney. The look is inspired by the great pop explosion of Lichtenstein and similar to what we did in the beatbox section of NSYNC's video POP.

We will not treat the footage exactly the same, however, it will be a similar approach. It is a modern approach to background projection. The magic of this spot comes to life in post production. We will design and experiment with the graphic dot pixels enhancing the already amazing footage given to us. This soccer footage is seen ceiling to floor with a unique efx used to enhance their motion.

We will film Britney against a huge green screen cove over a two day period. The first day we will rig, prelight, and bring Britney in for a brief fitting of her wardrobe and harness apparatus. We will achieve amazing soccer moves combined with original dance with the help of a stunt harness. With the harness, we can achieve the PELE moves that are desired. As she bumps the ball with her foot, knee, and then her head, combined with the infamous bicycle-kick our ball crashes into the screen seamlessly becoming a spinning PEPSI logo. ASK FOR MORE...

This Pepsi World Cup 2002 spot will have an explosive impact on television. It will have a uniquely choreographed style that is expressed through the energetic fun attitude of Britney.

Our camera is voyeuristic, invading the moment of fun. It is an abstract visual, combining Britney and the World Cup's finest. It will have a graphic fluidity both in an intimate and grand scale. Thus, creating an organic balance between the extravagance of motion, color and texture."

Goodtime Charlie Says: Wow. Have you ever heard so much bullshit? Can you imagine turning this in as a junior high writing assignment? You'd totally get flunked, drop out of school, drink heavily, never get laid, become a drug addict, and somehow use this to your advantage as you worm your way into the lucrative LA film industry--a scene always on the lookout for another dude 'from the streets, who tells it like it is.' Favorite sentence--"Our camera is voyeuristic, invading the moment of fun."

Reality Check, From the Set: Britney--who was a sweetheart, by the way, and very sexy--stood on a large stage, in front of a greenscreen, moving her knees up and down. Offstage, a female college soccer player bounced a soccer ball from knee to knee, as Britney's $3500/day choreographer (Wade Robson) clapped his hands every time the ball touched the soccer player's knee. Britney's job was to fake bouncing a soccer ball on her knees, by timing her knee-lifts to the audible hand-claps; the soccer ball would be added in post-production, by highly-trained special effects personnel who would charge a lot of money to do so. Behind her--ie, that which replaced the green of the greenscreen--footage of soccer players like David Beckham, Ronaldo, etc. would be playing. The End.

[Editor's Note: I could have performed Wade Robson's duties just as effectively, and for less money. And you wonder why a can of Pepsi costs MORE today than ever before, despite the decreased cost of ingredients and higher sales volume?]

Bottom Line: Even bullies as dumb as Biff check through and rewrite the homework McFly did for them. So, whether he wrote it himself or had someone else do the work, Wayne Isham is clearly a bottom-of-the-barrel idiot. An idiot who is probably worth millions of dollars. [Not the first-Ed]

Further Reading: If you like a good laugh, feel free to peruse a pretty hilarious interview with Mr. Wayne Isham. Copy and paste the following link into your browser:

Monday, March 3, 2008

For $90K, Who COULDN'T Look Like Heidi Klum for a Day?

Breast Augmentation---$4000-10,000
Tummy Tuck-------------$3000-8500
Nose Job------------------$3000-8000
Facial Rejuvenation----$1000-2000
Body Lift------------------$12,000-40,000
Designer Hair Cut------$1200
Teeth Whitening--------$500

That leaves between $19,800 and $65,300 for clothing, shoes, professional make-up application, manicure/pedicure, smiling lessons, and an extra five inches of leg.

Why the random $90,000 figure, you ask? Because that is what a production company must spend to make Heidi Klum look like Heidi Klum whenever she is to be photographed, filmed, or videotaped (Starbucks runs not included). The $90,000 buys you two wardrobe stylists, a hair stylist, a make-up artist, a manicurist, and a seamstress.

Shocked? I should hope so.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Okay, So Follow Me on this Leap...

What if it wasn't the actual drinking, smoking or inhaling of the alcohol/drug that got you high, but rather the resulting death of brain cells? Would this mean that in the future, when things are naturally more efficient and to the point, drug dealers will simply sell ACTUAL human brain cells? (on the black market, of course)

I mean, if it's the dying brain cells that get you high, and not the drug itself, why not just skip the middle man, right? Smoke the rolled up brain cells of poor people who had to sell them in order to buy rotten meat to feed their family, and get TWICE the high you would from simply destroying your own!

It makes total a way...

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Planned Parenthood

So, I was at Planned Parenthood recently (great place to meet chicks) and, as I sat in the lobby, reading a magazine, the buzzer sounded and I heard a young woman shout, into the intercom: "I need a morning-after pill!"

This got my attention.

Who is this woman? Who is this woman who is so brazen about the most private of things, one of life's only remaining taboos, god bless it--the ending of an unwanted pregnancy? I mean, she just shouted it out, in the middle of a strip-mall, along a major thoroughfare, in a metropolis of dizzying size.

"I need a morning-after pill!"

"Wow. She is more confident than anybody I could ever imagine, " I thought to myself.

I wondered what she might look like, but before I could form even a fuzzy picture in my head, a young woman walked inside, followed by her thuggish would-be-impregnator (I assumed; if he is NOT, then he's one helluva guy, which means he'll never get the girl, which means he's a chump).

I laughed to myself, imagining their conversation/argument that morning, her telling him he had no choice but to come here with her today, him giving in.

He played it tough, like he didn't care, but I'm sure he felt awkward. I'm sure he realized everybody in the waiting room heard what his girlfriend (fuckbuddy?) said, once the next 'customer' got buzzed in, and he was slapped in the face by the shocking thinness of the glass.

I'm sure she realized it, too. But I couldn't accurately guage whether or not there was any change in her expression, a sudden dent in her armor, a flushed cheek, because I had stopped paying attention to her. I was distracted by the presence of a small child in her entourage.

The boy appeared to be hers, and possibly theirs, and my mind reeled.

Did she bring this boy along to remind herself and her boyfriend about the importance of this day's main activity? To highlight 'the stakes?' Was he 'a pawn in their game?' Were they going to give him 'a speech?'

"Sorry, Bobby. I know how much you want a little brother or sister, but we have to kill this one or we might not be able to feed you both. You understand, right? It's just bad timing."

Had they already given him the speech? I watched the kid for a while longer. He was either blissfully ignorant, too unintelligent to grasp the matter, or so fucking cool that he had long ago decided he didn't give a flying fuck about ANYTHING.

Could these two adults, of working age, not have found a babysitter for this special day? Had all their favors been called in already? Parents/neighbors dead and buried? Could the man not have stayed home with the child while she 'did her thing?' Was she maybe not allowed to drive home from the treatment, and they were too poor to hire a babysitter for a few hours? Should I be sad about this moment? Is it tragedy brought home, or am I just overreacting to it all, like a typical American, and I should just chill out, take a long sip of a long island iced tea, slip on a black turleneck, light up a fag, shrug my shoulders, and softly reveal to the heavens "c'est la vie?"

I wondered what the kid was thinking, assuming he wasn't explicitly told what was happening, and everything was left to the unpredictable magic of his imagination. Ahh, the imagination of children...such under-exploited talent...

I suddenly veered off on a mental tangent when I realized everybody in the room was staring at this child--this living, breathing reminder of why some of them were there that day. Stopping a potential pregnancy, renewing birth control prescriptions, picking up free condoms or spermicidal bubble baths...all to avoid what HE represents. For we all know what He represents--the end of Me.

The end of My selfish existence, My freedom, My solitude, My irresponsibility.

Me becomes We, for at least eighteen years. And that's just too much to handle for some people.

In this most greedy of greedy towns, this kid delivered a knockout blow to the crowd--he put everything into context, brought it home, retrieving it from the cold, but comfortable, world of the abstract.

Quite simply, he embodied the result of sex, the sometimes feared, sometimes frustratingly-elusive, result of sex: human life.

Vulnerable, dependent, human life--something we all fear and avoid (til we're 35 and spend 5 days a month 'trying' for what we spent 20 years 'avoiding')--yet, paradoxically, celebrate gaily when it happens to others, regardless of whether the 'miracle' was expected or desired.

I could no longer make eye contact with the boy. I couldn't face him. I couldn't stomach the uncontrollable guilt I felt about thinking he might be a burden to his parents, even though I had no real reason to feel guilty, because it's probably true. But the truth hurts.

Others must have felt the same. The previously 'light' mood that had permeated the waiting room disappeared. Granted, nobody had ever actually SPOKEN to each other in the waiting room before the boy walked in, but that just seemed inadvertent, a product of our individual, too-cool-for-school cloaks of nonchalance. This was different. This was fear. I could smell it.

In self-defense, my mind wandered...

"Now Xavier, you just sit still like a good little boy. Mommy's talking to the doctor right now. You see, honey, Mommy wasn't smart enough to do this when she was pregnant with YOU, so here you are. And I love you, don't get me wrong, but, hey, I'd do this to you, too, if I could do it all over again--think of all the youth I could have back! But I can't. So I'm doing it now, to your litle brother or sister. Because I thought of it in time. No regrets. Well, not until I'm old and lonely and barren and tormented by the ghost of my unborn child...then it'll be hell."

She breaks into tears, smacks herself in the face, regains a loose hold on her sanity.

"Give it to me, doc! Before I change my mind..."