Thursday, October 30, 2008

An Open Letter to the Writers of 'The Office (U.S.)'

Your show is a comedy.
Those are the ones with jokes.

Please adjust future scripts accordingly.

--Goodtime Charlie

It certainly seems that way...

But maybe there'll be a devastating failure of the annual carb crop, followed by a government-mandated, one-year-long 'Run for Your Life...for Cancer' and we'll all be saved?


Weirdo At Play in the Fields of the Lord

Earlier today, in Los Angeles, my friend and I went to Griffith Park to lay in the sun/shade and read through a script we've been writing.

Despite the fact that we were two guys reading aloud to each other in a park, things were going well. Then we got swarmed by ten-year-olds on their lunch-break, riding out the back-end of a sugar-filled field trip to the nearby Griffith Observatory.

(photo courtesy LA Times)

Whoa! Don't worry--we survived. It didn't get that hairy.
It's amazing how far a box of Nerds can take you, when scattered 'at random' by a professional...

Anyway, after all that hullaballoo ran its course and the bambinos were herded back onto their school buses, emaciated teenagers of both sexes began trotting around in strange matching uniforms, oddly tolerating the unreasonable barks of some overweight, Napoleanic coach sitting in a low-rent camping chair. I overheard him telling those kids the following, as they diligently set up an obscurely-branded 10' x 20' pop-up tent under a tree:

"Alright, alright--let's move this into the shade. Come on! Okay...let's get those waters out there, and the Gatorade. Make sure you put the Gatorade next to the water--no--ON TOP OF the water--but make sure you drink BOTH today, guys. Seriously..."

It was quite distracting--and not in the good way you might be thinking (none of them were hot). By the time we were back in the zone, my buddy had to head off to an inconvenient job assignment. I say that like it was court-mandated or something, but it wasn't. wasn't. That's all I can say. Legally.

Our semi-productive day cut short, we trudged through several feet of sunshine, back to my glistening Lamborghini Countach.

On the way, I couldn't help but notice this:

A totally creepy guy hanging outside his serial-killer-issue van, dancing drunkenly to deafening, shitty country music, in broad daylight, at a high-school cross-country meet, just after a four-bus-load junior-high field trip finished eating their lunch.

ROCK ON, MAN!!!!!!!!


Wait--or is pedophilia not cool anymore?


Monday, October 27, 2008

Who Knew Richard Marx Was So Revered?

I was singing a Richard Marx song in the shower yesterday--Now and Forever, the #1 wedding song of the early '90s--and found myself almost immediately at a loss for lyrics.

Oddly, there was a time when I knew every word to every track on his album Paid Vacation. As hard as that is to admit to people right now, I take solace in the fact that I was merely the victim of a sadly-limited musical exposure.

Despite the fact that my parents came of age in the 1960s-70s, the only CDs in our house were the following:

1. Aretha Franklin's Greatest Hits
2. Cristopher Cross -- self-titled
3. Huey Lewis and the News - Sports
4. Huey Lewis and the News - Fore!
5. Huey Lewis and the News - Small World
6. The Back to the Future soundtrack (with 2 tracks by Huey Lewis)
7. The Beverly Hills Cop II soundtrack
8. Bonnie Raitt - Luck of the Draw
9. A dozen or so classical piano and Christmas CDs my dad would listen to

Notice the lack of even the Beatles and Rolling Stones, much less funk and soul records...

Anyway, I digress. As I searched my memory bank for more lyrics to Now and Forever, I was instead reminded of a story that one of my bosses told me once, at a sushi restaurant in St. Charles, IL (don't worry--I had the beef teriyaki). To protect my boss' identity, let's call him Reinhold.

Reinhold and I, along with maybe a dozen other crew members, were crammed into monastic dorm rooms on the grounds of a former convent, working on some awful Accenture conference for a week and a half, so it was nice to get out on the town, even if that town was St. Charles. After a few tall bottles of Kirin, Reinhold told me that before he got into producing boring conferences, he was a touring lighting designer for various musicians throughout the late '80s and '90s.

I asked him if he had any good stories and he told me one of his favorites.

Reinhold was the head lighting designer on a Richard Marx World Tour when his popularity was at its peak (early '90s?), and their last stop before returning to the United States was in Taipei, at some sort of large arena.

Richard Marx had been a prima donna the whole time, so nobody on the crew was surprised when he didn't turn up on time for the show. As more time passed, however, the packed house started to get riled up, shouting, chanting, screaming, stomping.

"We want Richard! We want Richard!"

The crew all gathered backstage, fearing things might soon turn ugly, to discuss their options if it did. Then Richard Marx's tour manager turned up to inform the crew and the local promoter that Richard was not going to perform because he had a cold.

"But what are we gonna do with this crowd? They're gonna tear this place apart if you go out there right now and say that?!"

The local promoter took to the stage, grabbed the microphone and said to the throng of rabid Richard Marx fans, "Richard Marx will not be performing tonight because he hates the people of Taiwan."

You can imagine their reaction. Ape-shit NUTS.

Reinhold followed some other crew members through a hole in the fence behind the stage, left the madness behind, and headed back to their hotel as the mob no-doubt tore the stadium apart.

The crew members all went to their rooms, hurriedly packed their things, and headed down to the lobby in the elevator. When the doors opened, an angry mob filled the lobby and they found themselves staring down the barrels of a half-dozen AK-47s.

They were all taken hostage and led into a room to be interrogated.

According to Reinhold:
"Luckily, I was able to talk my way out of it and we all headed to the airport. As soon as the plane landed at LAX, we said goodbye and headed our separate ways, since we all lived somewhere in California anyway. Richard had to find a whole new crew to staff his last few tour dates stateside."

Who would have thought a Richard Marx tour could involve such adventure, eh?

I wish I knew what Reinhold said to the guys with the machine guns, but he wouldn't tell me. Said it was a long story--a long story I never got to hear. Hopefully he didn't give away any state secrets...

Jimmy Kimmel is a Talent-Less Hack

As if I didn't already despise Jimmy Kimmel enough--for being a comedian who is not funny, yet broadcast over the airwaves five times a week to millions of zombies across our once-great nation--this just arrived in my email inbox:

Why exactly is he interviewing the cartoon mascot of an insurance company? Has product placement really become so blatant? Have we fallen this far?

Or is it all a dream? Punch me in the face and maybe it'll wake me up.
Or knock me out and I can forget about all this...


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Reason #146 That I Love Italy

Love Berlusconi or hate him, you gotta love a country with a President that would say this:

“If I sleep for three hours, I still have enough energy to make love for another three,” the newspaper La Repubblica quoted him as telling the younger crowd. “I hope that when you hit 70, you’re in as good shape as I am.”

(source: NYTimes)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Amazing What You Can Find Out There...

All I was looking for was a photogenic picture of shit!
(Never found one, by the way...)

120 Days of Sodom

Okay. So I finally watched Pier Paolo Pasolini's Salo, or 120 Days of Sodom, an uber-controversial 1975 film adapted from the Marquis de Sade's equally controversial 18th-century book, The 120 Days of Sodom, or the School of Licentiousness.

How controversial was Salo when it came out? Well, 20 days before the movie was to premiere at the Paris Film Festival, Pasolini was repeatedly run over--with his own automobile--on a beach outside Rome. A 17-year-old hustler confessed to the crime, then recanted 30 years later, saying the safety of his family had been threatened unless he did as he was told.

Although most countries eventually allowed the film to screen--after rating it X and/or cutting footage--Salo is still banned in Australia.

Gotta love the Criterion Collection for putting this out there; it was the 17th film they chose to release (this is the second issue--much improved from the first, I hear, and full of extras).

As in the book--which remained unpublished for 150 years--most of the action in the movie involved homosexuality and shit eating, which is pretty unfortunate when you consider there were nine beautiful young girls (virgins, of course) they could have been having their way with instead. But hey, when it's my 120-day orgy, I guess I can start making the rules...

Overall, I enjoyed the experience--probably more than most people would, since my sensibilities have been continually worn down to nothing over the last...30 years...of action movies, horror movies, porn, Ultimate Fighting Championship, and my own perversely inventive imagination--but it is not without its problems.

From an ideological standpoint, I respect the movie. The transposition from pre-revolution France to the waning days of Fascist Italy definitely adds an interesting political dynamic to a story already rife with social commentary and philosophy generations ahead of Freud, Nietzsche, and the Surrealists. Through his depiction of the victims in the film, Pasolini seems to be saying that the public will always be forced to endure whatever they will tolerate--and that we should feel no sympathy for those people, as they chose their fate by allowing it to happen--is certainly heartless, but not exactly untrue, either. Methinks the scrolls of history seem to agree...

Additionally, the structure of the story is admirable--it ends in the middle of things, leaving the audience wondering how long the cruelties will continue, leaving the fate of the participants unknown, leaving us hanging, making us feel less like an audience watching a story unfold and more like voyeurs watching a sickening reality, and wondering if we should tell somebody about it or just keep watching and see how bad things get.

Will we do anything? Do we ever do anything? Oh, every few hundred years or so, when things get really bad...wait--are we at that point again? Shall we storm the Bastille like old times?

My main complaint about Salo is that I would have liked a little more set-up in the beginning. Who are these guys? Why are they doing this? Why exactly did others lend a hand in capturing beautiful young boys and girls for them? Even something as simple as showing some money change hands would have been enough for me... I think the movie's comment on Fascist Italy, the class system, and consumerism would be much more powerful if the audience were given a little more information at the outset, a little something to chew on while the perversions unfold.

All in all, I would say it is most important that this movie is watched as a work of art, as a philosophical treatise, as a political statement, and not as entertainment. It is not a popcorn movie; it is not a clever, cool art film that makes you want to move to Europe; nor is it pornography, for that matter, if you were so inclined, as the nudity is frequent, but decidedly un-erotic.

So if you've got a head on your shoulders and a stomach for filth, pop it in your VCR and see what you think...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Notes from the Rijksmuseum

"In fact, by the late seventeenth century, piss prophets were no longer considered reliable."

"As the old sing, so the young shall peep."

Best Pitcher Ever goes to Johannes Lencker, for a gilt-silver Merman blowing a conch while balancing on a dolphin's tail, a foxy female hanging around his neck.

During the Golden Age in Holland (1600s), rich people ATE peacocks.

* "For those who are on a diet but who really want to eat something meaty, peacocks are the answer. The fat content of peacock meat is very low, only 0.8 to 1 per cent, while the levels of protein, vitamins, calcium and other microelements are high. The nutritional value of a peacock is much higher than that of fish or snake." --China Star


I Wonder What Happened to that Little Ugly Duckling...

maybe she turned into a swan?
and has a new job doing red-carpet interviews for E!?

or maybe she died from an overdose of Chunky Monkey

dare to dream, America!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cubs v Sox

I must say tis a shame both the Cubs and Sox had to exit the playoffs this year. A crosstown series would have been a splendid manner by which to end the Cubs' 100-year World Series drought!

I say this not as a baseball fan, but as a