Friday, April 29, 2005

I don't know which is more embarrassing -- this crap I wrote drunk the other night, or the fact that now, sober, I decided, what the hell, I'll post it anyway.

Chivas Regal you're my friend
You've got that malty happy blend
You make me numb to the dumb and nasty schmoes.
And the girls who stir my loins
But still leave my heart purloined
Not worse or better than that letter by Edgar Allan Poe.

Chuggin' scotch
It starts to splotch
Spills on my crotch
Undo my belt
At least one notch
Stain on my jeans
Big like Sasquatch
How am I doing?
Said Mayor Koch
To keep my pants on--
I sure did botch
Check my watch...
Later, beeotch.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Why I Like -- and Hate -- Guns N’ Roses

(Part 2)

Michael vs. Axl: This time it’s personal.

Except I never met the maniac. So what could he have done? How could this be personal, if he never crossed me?

Well, he fucked with my family, and that’s practically the same thing.

My sister Julie is a litigator; she focuses on environmental law, looking to protect the planet. Although she did represent the “bad guys” in the PG&E case. Y’know, from that movie Erin Brockovich. A good film, she admits, even though they completely simplified and distorted the facts.

She does that. Ruined all the attorney shows on TV for me. You mean “Ally McBeal” wasn’t realistic?

I now know how much Hollywood spices up the legal stuff for entertainment’s sake: A lot. Most of what my sister does is pretty mundane. Complex business disputes that take years to resolve. Even the smaller, personal proceedings are usually kinda dull. Hardly anyone asks Julie about work… and she’s relieved not to have to explain it. But every now and then she gets a case that’s got a little glamour to it.

Like the time she represented one of the many people suing Axl Rose. I won’t say who it was or what it was about. You can guess that he was being a schmuck again. And my sister got to meet the Guns N’ Roses frontman. Face to face. Attorney to asshole. Julie to jackass.

My sister was co-counsel with her boss, Tom, at a deposition in one of those high-rise office buildings in downtown Los Angeles. Facing off with another couple of lawyers, and their client, the deposed Axl Rose. I’m sure it’s no fun to be stuck in some conference room with a buncha suits, especially when you’re used to pissing your days away backstage getting loaded and schtupping groupies. But these protracted pow-wows are a small price to pay for acting like a violent dipshit.

And Axl Rose -- at 30-something years old -- was still an overgrown baby. Fidgeting and muttering under his breath about how fucking stupid this bullshit was, couldn’t believe he had to motherfucking fuckity fuck shit fuck. Tom told the other attorneys to please control their client. Axl settled down. For a moment.

Julie proceeded to discuss some basic stuff. Nothing even personal or accusatory, just going over the previous points raised, legal mumbo-jumbo… when the dipshit started muttering again, shooting daggers at my sister and calling her “a fucking bitch”.

I don’t know what I would’ve done if I was there. Reached across the table and grabbed Crackerboy by his goldilocks? Slammed the scrawny schmuck’s skull against the office window, made him apologize or pray the safety glass held?

Bam! Take you down to the Paradise City? Bam! Sure, it’s only thirty stories down there. Bam! Oh, won’t I -- bam! -- please -- bam! -- take you home -- bam!

Tom was a lot more dignified than I woulda been. He closed his briefcase and simply said the deposition was over. They wouldn’t sit there and be insulted. The opposing counsel obviously couldn’t control his client and --

“Okay, okay,” the other lawyer said. “Axl, why don’t you leave the room?” There were still things to be ironed out among the lawyers, and since the deposed was feeling distraught… perhaps he should step outside and try to calm down…

The crybaby stormed out of the room. My sister later discovered:

Axl marched out of the attorney’s offices, into the lobby by the elevators. He slumped down onto the floor, sulking. Then he opened up his guitar case and started strumming some chords on the acoustic. Some young dude from another office passed by, unaware of why the fuming little fucker was in the building in the first place. If it were anyone else, he’d probably toss a buck into the open guitar case. But this was the famous Axl Rose, so the dude thought he was at his own “Unplugged” concert. “Whoa! Aren’t you the guy from Guns N’ Roses? Cool!”

So Axl got the attention he wanted -- for being a rocker with platinum records -- instead of for being a redneck with a police record.

And Julie and Tom’s client got what they wanted when they ultimately settled the case out of court. This was probably best for Axl, too. If he threw a tantrum like that on the witness stand, well, it wouldn’t exactly help Crackerboy’s case.

Today, I can separate the man and his music. Whenever I hear “Welcome to the Jungle” or “Sweet Child of Mine”, I can enjoy it. But the tunes are always tainted by knowing about the schmuck singing 'em. Yeah, sure, Axl Rose recorded some great rock n’ roll, but I never forget:

That asshole called my sister a bitch.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Last week’s karaoke tale prompted this two-part story, called...

Why I Like -- and Hate -- Guns N’ Roses

(Part 1)

It all started in the ‘80s -- the best decade in the history of history. That was the era that brought us countless Steven Bochco shows, three Indiana Jones movies and two versions of “Der Kommissar”.

Times were a-changin’ and so was I. That period also brought scrawny Mikey-boy a deeper voice, shoulders, facial hair, and a relentless fascination with the opposite sex. Yeah, I was becoming a man, and needed to chisel out a new identity for my manly self.

What sort of rugged ruffians should I emulate in order to impress the girls? Well, shouldn’t be difficult to figure that out. Technology brought us a research tool that wasn’t available in previous generations: MTV. Let’s see what the videos offered in male pop icons...

Michael Jackson... Prince... Boy George...


I couldn’t do it. Sorry. Maybe others could moonwalk their way through adolescence, wear a Raspberry Beret or Karma their Chameleon. Not me. I spent enough years with a soprano voice. And don’t tell me to Relax. I didn’t give a shit what Frankie says.

I turned to heavy metal. Yeah, sometimes those dudes wore silly outfits, but their music seemed tough enough. It was loud and dark and appealed to angry hormonal teenage boys like me. The songs were all about Breaking the Law, Rocking Like a Hurricane, Barking at the Moon and Girls, Girls, Girls.

For a while, it seemed just right. I grew my hair long, went to Motörhead and Metallica concerts, and if you thought I was gonna get tired banging my head, You Got Another Thing Coming.

But then somewhere, somehow, it got away from me. I blinked and the whole thing changed. People said to me, “Oh, you're into heavy metal? Like... Poison and Warrant and Nelson and Cinderella?”

No... No. NO. NO!

How did this happen? Do we blame Bon Jovi and Def Leppard? Good rock bands who attracted the chicks ‘cause they were almost as pretty as ‘em? Where was the scary imagery? The raw rebelliousness? The Satan worship?

It was a disappointing time in my life. I felt betrayed.

I still watched music television, but without much enthusiasm. “Yo! MTV Raps” was cool. Otherwise it seemed to be nothing but that fucking “Remote Control” or Bono trying to look like Jesus... Ho-hum...

Oh, look, there’s yet another pretty-boy group. “Guns N’ Roses”. Their band name is weapons and flowers. See? They’re tough... but touching... Yeah, right. It’s all Money for Nothing. Check out the ugly dude with his eye-liner and teased-up hair...

Wait a minute... This “Welcome to the Jungle” song... it’s good. In fact, it rocks.

And when they released their power ballad, it wasn’t some insipid “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”. No, “Sweet Child Of Mine” actually had quality guitar work by Slash, decent lyrics, and a hard edge from beginning to end. I really enjoyed when they broke down into that “where do we go now?” part.

I went out and bought Appetite for Destruction. I still say that it’s one of the best albums of the decade. And at the time, I thought maybe Axl Rose and his crazy crab-dance (stolen liberally from the Monkees and Aerosmith) may have saved rock n’ roll...

A year later, they released an EP. I bought it right away. Then I listened to it. The songs were okay... but what was with those lyrics? “One in a Million” -- bitching about gays, blacks, immigrants...

In an interview, Axl tried to defend himself, which only made it worse. Classic demonstration of prejudice. He had one bad encounter with someone of each of these groups, so he condemned them entirely. Something about arriving in LA at the bus station and immediately getting hassled by street hustlers, many of whom were black. As if that justifies calling them “niggers”. What an asshole.

I never had a big politically correct chip on my shoulder, and I don’t expect rock stars to be the most enlightened people on the planet, but the whole incident was still repugnant. And Axl continued to get in trouble. Run-ins with the law, violence against women, acting like a primadonna and refusing to perform at concerts people paid big money for...

I came to hate Guns N’ Roses. People seemed to forgive and forget, chalking it up to the fact that half the band was fucked up on drugs and their lead singer was clearly chemically imbalanced. I might have been able to get past it all, too.

Until Axl Rose made it personal...

(to be continued)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Everything I need to know I learned from karaoke. I’ve done it 3 times. I’m a fast learner.

First was in Koreatown. Not Little Tokyo, like you’d expect. Seems singing off-key is a fad that slinked across the Sea of Japan faster than Hello Kitty.

My friends signed up to perform; peer pressure made me pick something out too. I chose a Frank Sinatra song. Like Elvis, Frankie’s easily imitatable. With ol’ Blue Eyes, you can practically say the lyrics and land Ava Gardner or Mia Farrow.

Unless you get nervous. All the people watching you, the Korean MC introducing you and mispronouncing your name, "Go, Meeaykil!" The lounge music kicks in...

And my voice cracked like Peter Brady: "Tha-a-at’s li-ife!"

I warbled a list of my past experience: “I’ve been a puppet, a porpoise, a pill-popping poonanie pirate...” Damn, I really shoulda read the lyrics. But those made-for-Chee-Z videos on the screen were so distracting. Who directs that crap? And how do I land that gig? Anyway, it went okay, I guess. But I wasn’t gonna get groupies any time Soon-Yi.

Then this old man got up there. He did Neil Diamond’s "Coming to America". Guy was pushing 60, probably came over with nothing and now runs his own business, or he’s a mid-level exec at Samsung... Livin’ the dream. He couldn’t carry a tune. Not a single Tae Kwon Do Re Mi. But when he atonally announced, "We comin to Amireeka -- today! Today!" well, shit, Seoul brutha meant it. No irony there. Just melting hearts and melting pots. I musta had something in my eye...

The next time was in Little Tokyo. I had a lot to drink and decided to saki to ‘em. “Bust a Move”. Yeah, you know it. Movie’s showin’, so you’re goin’ / Could care less about the ten you’re blowin’. See how I updated it? Gotta get with the times, man. And still stay in rhythm. Bang your head like Flea on the bassline.

By the third chorus the bartender told me, “Stand up!” I arose from the couch area where my friends & I had settled. Woulda made Young MC proud. Went into this Japanese joint thinking I might bomb like a kamikaze, but I blew up like Mt. Fuji. This time at karaoke I did improve / I knew what to do, G: Bust a move.

Finally, a pal’s birthday gathering took us to Brass Monkey. The play list was the size of the Yellow Pages. I told my friend to pick me out something. Whatever he chose, I’d be ready. I thought for sure he’d give me a Beastie Boys number. After all, how many times did I say “...that funky monkey...” as a hint? Instead he pointed to that hit by Staind. He knew I liked that song and the lyrics were easy enough: “And it’s been awhile...” over and over. But, nah, too sappy. Gimme something that rocks. Okay, he said, but I had no right of refusal this time.

Later, the host called me up to the podium. All the scotches didn’t dull my senses enough. I felt that adrenaline rush of anxiety. Yeah, I crave attention... until I get it. Then -- look away. Ignore me. Pay no attention to that man behind the microphone.

The guitar strummed the intro. Okay, Mike on the mic. I managed to mutter, “Oh my God...”

Then I remembered running a half-marathon in Orange County. My midsection was in knots the whole race. Something I ate? Or psycho-stomach-ic? Whatever the cause, I knew the effect. Nausea. GI tract achin’ throughout the OC. I knew I was physically fit enough to do my goal time. If I wasn’t so damn queasy. Maybe I should slow down... Then the drill sergeant in my head emerged. Told the self-doubting part of me to shut the fuck up. Quitcher bellyachin’, boy. You need to puke? You gonna die? Do it on the other side of the finish line. And surprise, surprise, I achieved my goal. Without ralphing on my Reebocks.

Some people do karaoke ‘cause they think they can actually sing. I know better. Couldn’t rely on musical ability. It’s all in the attitude, baby.

Pulled out all my air, deep from the diaphragm, and gave out a blood-curdling “Waaaaaaaaaaa!” Everyone in the joint sat up and took notice.

“Welcome to the Jungle! We got fun and games...!”

Did I do the Axl Rose crab-dance? Did I writhe my hips like “ooh, my, my, my serpentine”? Did I make a fool of myself?

Did Axl wear those oh-so-cool bandanas to hide his not-so-cool acne? The answer is a resounding fuck yeah.

But the place ate it up. Strangers were high-fiving me the rest of the night. Shouting that I rock, dude. I’d whisper, thanks. I had blown out my vocal chords.

What did I learn? Whatever you do, make sure it’s meaningful, or at least enjoyable... and then go all out. Warp speed, Mr. Sulu. Yeah, you might look like a geek or bust a gut, but it's worth it.

Otherwise, karaoke -- or life -- well...

It’s gonna bring you down! Hunh!

Monday, April 18, 2005

Weekend phone conversations between Michael and his sister, Julie

Friday, 5PM
Michael: Hello?
Julie: Hi, it’s me. What’s the plan for visiting Mom this weekend?
M: Well… none. I’m shooting that film.
J: All weekend?
M: Yeah, I told you that.
J: You did?
M: Months ago.
J: So we’re not seeing Mom this weekend.
M: You can if you want to.
J: Uh-huh…
M: Sorry. But I went out of my way to make sure everyone in the family would be cool before I even committed to doing this film.
J: I forgot.
M: Just taking one weekend without hanging out with Mom.
J: That’s fine.
M: …or with you.
J: What?
M: Nothing. I was talking to someone here at the office.

Saturday, 11AM
M: Hey.
J: Hi, you’re not filming now, are you?
M: No, they’re still setting up.
J: So what are you doing?
M: Just in wardrobe, waiting.
J: For them to call “all actors on the set”?
M: Yup… Know what? I’m outside a private medical facility that has operating rooms in every building, and I’m standing here in a shirt covered with fake blood.
J: Cool. Anyone get freaked out?
M: Nah, it’s the weekend and no one’s around.
J: Oh, that sucks.
M: What are you doing?
J: I’m getting ready for a dinner party I’m having tonight. I just put it together. You can come if you want. It’s at 8 o’clock…
M: Thanks, but I doubt we’ll be done in time. If things change…
J: Yeah, lemme know. Mitch is gonna be there and Michele and Dina and---
M: Oh, wait -- someone finally saw me.
J: Was he freaked out?
M: It was one of the other actors. We never met, but I guess he figured it out. He walked past, saw the bloody shirt and said, “You must be Mike.”

Saturday, 7:45PM
M: What’s up? Aren’t your dinner guests gonna be there soon?
J: I have so much food.
M: Oh, we just wrapped shooting today.
J: So, do you wanna come over?
M: I can’t. Bags -- the director -- he’s taking us out to eat here.
J: Hey, I remember Bags. He’s cool. He’s welcome to come, too.
M: Well, he wants to eat up here. And with traffic, we’re still an hour and half out of LA.
J: Oh, okay…
M: Sorry. Thanks again.
J: I have so much food.

Sunday, 2PM
M: What’s the matter?!
J: Nothing.
M: You called me three times.
J: Oh yeah, well, I tried your cell, and then you didn’t answer, so I figured you were filming.
M: We were.
J: So I tried again a little later. Then I thought maybe you were home already, so I’d try you there.
M: Nah, we’re still on location. Besides, I never answer my home phone.
J: I know. That’s why I called your cell again.
M: So everything’s okay.
J: Oh, yeah, Mom, everyone, they’re fine. I just saw this license plate that said “F CASTRO” and thought the driver liked Cuba or something, but then saw all these anti-Communist, pro-American bumper stickers and realized the “F” didn’t exactly stand for “Fidel”.
M: Uh-huh.
J: And that made me think of Dad.
M: Oh…
J: So that’s why I called.
M: Okay.
J: Remember how Dad would always go off on a tirade about Castro?
M: Yeah… Yeah, actually, I just wrote about that.
J: On your blog thingie?
M: Yup.
J: You’re still not gonna tell me the website.
M: Nope.

Sunday, 7PM
M: What’s up?
J: There’s no power in my building. They said it won’t be on ‘til late tonight.
M: That sucks.
J: I don’t know what to do. What did people do before electricity?
M: Light a candle and read a book.
J: I’ve been doing that for the last 2 hours.
M: Go for a walk.
J: There’s construction going on all over my neighborhood. That’s why the power went out in the first place.
M: Go see a movie.
J: Oh, that’s a good idea. I just hate missing all my Sunday night shows.
M: I’ll tape “The Simpsons” and “Arrested Development” for you.
J: Will you tape “Desperate Housewives” too? And “Charmed”?
M: Can’t believe you watch that stupid show.
J: “Desperate Housewives” isn’t stupid.

Sunday, 7:05PM
M: Yes?
J: I locked myself out.
M: Again?
J: I was going to see a movie, and I usually leave my keys on a hook by the door, but they’re in a bowl, and I forgot ‘em, just as I stepped out and the door locked behind me.
M: Is that what happened the other 3 times?
J: Yeah.
M: And still no one else has a key.
J: Just you. And a locksmith would take forever to get here.
M: Y’know, I just got home.
J: I’ll take a cab over to your place and get the keys from you.
M: No, no, I’ll drive over to you.
J: But you’re tired. You were filming all day.
M: It’s okay. A cab would be way too much money.
J: I don’t mind.
M: But I do.
J: Why?
M: ‘Cause if you come over here, you’re gonna wanna hang out and make me watch “Charmed” and “Desperate Housewives”.
J: Can we?
M: I’ll drive to you.
J: Okay, okay… Thanks, Mikey.
M: Y’know, I almost made it all weekend without having to drive anywhere.
J: Sorry…
M: …or see you.
J: What?
M: Nothing. I’m on my way.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Old people have a wealth of experience. Decades of discovery. A lifetime’s worth of observations and wisdom to share. Yet they repeat the same damn stories over and over.

Imagine taking all the music from the ‘80s and siphoning it down to a greatest hits album. And it’s not as if the best, most representative music is chosen -- there’s nothing from Springsteen, Thriller, Run DMC or even Falco. The selections are more along the lines of some hair band screecher no one remembers from when it hit #89 on the Billboard charts for one week back when Dukakis was campaigning, or it includes the B-side to that Kajagoogoo song.

At least that’s what it’s like with the elderly members of my family. My dad repeated the same schtick. Mostly rants -- argument-starters about science or history. The first fifty times I heard ‘em were mildly fun.

I had once presented this theory that perhaps there was no other life in the universe. That maybe there are so many physical variables which need to be just right -- the perfect proportion of heat, atmosphere, gases, liquid, solids, a correct combination of chemical mixtures cooked up with the proper timing... Sure, there’s “biwwions and biwwions” of stars out there, but there could be billions of factors that need to be in synch, and we Earthlings won the lottery.

My father loved that theory. Loved to repeat it and loved to refute it. Every time we were outside and he spotted some bizarre plant or neat-o bug on the ground... “See, Mike? See how tenacious life is? Did I ever tell you the time I was building this chemical treatment plant in Syosset...?”

Yes. For some reason a giant concrete basin wound up filled with two antiseptic liquids of different densities, so they settled into layers. And between the layers -- the only place anything could possibly survive -- was a disgusting film of algae. “They called it monkey vomit,” he said, and I had to try my best not to monkey him as he repeated that now-too-familiar phrase. “So you see, even in such a forbidding environment, an organism grew. Don’t you think life would find a way on some other planet? How can you say there’s nothing else out there?”

Same conversation every time. And I always ended it the same way -- with a shrug. “Just a theory.”

But strangers had never heard these discussions. So if I was with the old man and new people, I was subjected to it all over again.

Last time we were in the Caribbean together, there was a group of British tourists who were telling us about all the islands they had visited. I could see my father’s mind working, looking for that segue to a Dad Diatribe. The English were inventorying their excursions: “Bermuda was lovely... and we went to Trinidad once... oh yes, and Cuba...” Aha. There it was. The tumblers fell into place and the vault of invectives was open. Here we go...

“You wanna know something about Cuba? Y’know what Castro did wrong...?”

I had to walk away. Couldn’t listen to this rant about how Fidel shoulda held elections to make him a democratically-elected leader and then the U.S. wouldn’t have had to hold an embargo and that whole Bay of Pigs thing blah-blah-blah... and don’t get my father started on JF-fuckin’-K...

There were times you had to walk away, times you had to grin and bear it, and times you had to know how to work the system. Like when the discourse du jour was about me:

“So Mikey, what’s gonna be? Y’know, by the time I was your age, I had already -- ”

“Hey Dad, what’d you think of Harry S Truman?”

“Oh… They should build a statue to that man! A fuckin’ monument. The way he handled the end of World War II, lemme tell you...”

See? Just kick the jukebox and skip to the next track.

And as the years go by, you would think there would be even more songs to sing. Yet even fewer numbers remain on the playlist. My grandmother seems to have just a handful of diddies that go into heavy rotation. She’s not even aware that she just told you the same thing five minutes ago.

I don’t want that to happen to me. See, I know I’ve mentioned Grandma’s short-term memory before. And I try not to repeat my stories. Like last week, the family was sitting around, and I suddenly recalled a fresh anecdote about my dad.

How he’d rudely prop his legs on you if you sit next to him on the couch. So I’d pull out a felt-tip marker and start drawing tattoos all over his big-ol’ hairless shins. I’d create a pretty elaborate cartoon before he even could react. Gave me some crap about getting ink-poisoning in his bloodstream. Yeah, right. He just didn’t like having a giant tat of Foghorn Leghorn declaring, “Who -- I say -- who’s got the chicken legs here, boy?”

That story prompted my uncle to sit up. “Well, when I was in jail, the guys used to find a way to get the ink out of the newspaper, and then they’d file down their toothbrushes into a needle, and inject the newsprint into their arms and make their own tattoos.”

Wait -- hold the phone. He was in jail? When did this happen?

Oh, it was back in the early ‘70s, he said. He and his hippy friends had ditched their van full of pot -- total Cheech & Chong mobile -- up in Canada. They avoided getting busted by Washington state troopers searching vehicles at the border, and then got arrested for hitchhiking on a highway outside Olympia. Since he and his buddies didn’t have money to pay the fine (they had planned to get some cash by selling a little weed), they had to spend the weekend in the slammer. Wound up in the joint even though they didn’t have any joints.

I hadn’t heard this story. Nor the other ones about all the crazies he met in jail. They weren’t half as wacko as the wastoids with whom he roamed the country that summer.

And my uncle is retired now, traveling the world and coming back with fun anecdotes and interesting character studies. I was concerned that as my uncle gets older, he won’t remember all these adventures. He might end up like my dad -- or worse, my grandmother -- repeating just two or three yawn-inducing yarns from his youth.

I told him he should write his stories down. Hell, keep a weblog.

That’s why I do it. Safety precaution for old-age amnesia. When I’m a senile senior citizen, I can just sift through the archives, and regale my grandkids for hours:

“Aww, Grandpa Mike, not the pumpkin story again! Gross!”

“Fine, you whippersnappers know about my dog Max? Like the time he broke his paw? Or when he puked in someone’s lap? How ‘bout when he pissed on a Christmas tree?”

“Heard it, heard it, heard it.”

“Okay, I was saving this for when you were a little older, but I’m gonna tell you about yer ol’ Grandpa and his ginormous --”

“Yeah, Grandma Eliza Dushku already told us the truth about that one.”

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Today’s (non-)gripe:

Everyone & everything out there is screwed up.
Except me.
I'm the pinnacle of peace-of-mind.
The maximum of mellow.
The summit of serenity.
The apex of apoplexylessness.
The zenith of...zzzzanity...

Yep, it’s one o’ those gripe-less... nope, nothin' buggin' me, all is well... days.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Saturday was my first day of shooting Bags’ short film. Though I was fighting a cold the whole time, it went pretty well. Thanks to Bags, Pablo (the producer and asst. camera) and Kevin -- the D.P. (that’s director of photography, not double penetration, you sickos). Allen was there early on to take publicity stills, and maybe I’ll post ‘em later... For now, here’s some typical discussion on the set. Ah, the glamour of movie-making...

“Camera’s ready...”
“Yeah, but the bathroom mirror isn’t fogged up.”
“Are you running the hot water again?”
“Yeah, it takes longer each take...”
*Impatient, Mike breathes hot air on mirror*
“Hey, that worked! Do that again.”
“Dammit, Bags. First you film me in the bedroom, then in the shower, now you want me giving blow jobs. What kind of movie is this?”
“Porno snuff. We still have to film you stabbing yourself.”
“Oh yeah..."
“Remember in this scene, you’re getting sick...”
“We’re still rolling...”
“And... cut! Excellent!”
“Wow, Mike, how’d you do that?”
“Eh, method acting...”
“Got the right F-stop?”
“Yeah. Put it on sticks?”
“Or I can set up the jib...”
“Nah, let’s do it hand-held.”
“Hey, Bags, what’s my motivation here?”
“For fainting? You’re gushing blood, Mike.”
“Oh, okay. But I’m not really gushing here...”
“I’d say it’s more like he’s oozing...”
“Let’s get some more corn syrup!”
“Hey, don’t get that sticky crap on the sound boom.”
“I thought this shot was M.O.S.”
“What’s M.O.S.?”
“Mitout sound.”
“It’s from the Germans, in the early cinema days...”
“Hey, Mr. von Stroheim, we’re behind schedule.”
“Yeah, let’s get on ‘mit’ it...”
“And... action!”

Thursday, April 07, 2005

On my recent SCUBA trip in Antigua, I knew I'd be lucky if my disposable camera pics came out at all, if not grainy and murky. And all the best sea monsters were seen on the first, deeper expedition. A couple of the other divers used fancy digicams, with a strong plastic casing protecting their megapixels from 70-something feet of saltwater pressure. These amateur photogs said they'd e-mail me some of the better images. But after a few weeks, I gave up hope that I would submoige victorious with clear evidence of what I done seen.

Then last week, out of the blue, one of these skilled shutterbugs sent me some snapshots -- awesome reminders of our adventure. Thanks, George.

S'il vous plaît, let us make another rendezvous in ze beautiful briny.

Beaucoup petits poissons! Formidable!

(Zat means many leetle feeshies. And... eh... formidable.)

Attendez! Wait! Un barracuda!

Let us swim away from zis angry, unmoving... tres ugly fish.

Bon jour, flounder. You hide against ze ocean floor, but I see you...

You too, Monsieur Ray. You sneaky cartilaginous creature...

Eet ees mon amie, ze lobster. Ziss colorful crustacean looks as scrumptious as she tastes -- avec a leetle garlic et butter...

Dehzz yehr nurse shark bite? ...Non, but zat ees not my nurse shark.

Zut alors! I wish we could stay. Oh well, c'est la vie. Au revoir!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

I can't get anything done lately. Posts about storytelling, more SCUBA diving photos, dinner w/Gooch, etc... can't concentrate long enough to work on 'em. Maybe because my apartment is still in flux.

During Thanksgiving, my family came over and decided that my place was really nice... but needed to be fixed up. Everyone made suggestions, but most of the work was done by my cousin and her girlfriend. In an hour, they completely rearranged the entire living room. Lesbian eye for the straight guy.

Then my uncle said I should get rid of my desk; he'd build me a new one, with extra desktop space, and shelves overhead to store all my tchochkes. I threw up my hands -- whatever, dude. Next thing I know, we're driving back from Home Depot in the pouring rain, I'm drenched and freezing, running the A/C to keep the car from fogging up, hunched over the windshield to see out the front, plywood and oak boards sticking out the trunk. I thought the old man was crazy, playing carpenter in my crib, but it came out kinda cool.

Finally, the girls offered to stay an extra day and paint the entire apartment. I told them I needed to focus on getting a new car. So they came back a few weeks ago and slathered the place in two coats in less than two days. I was a mere consultant in this entire make-over operation, only occasionally putting my foot down: "No, we can't put the bed against that wall. Why? 'Cause it's... well, it's not feng shui, howzat?!" and "I'd rather not do the living room 'accent wall' in brown. You say it's chocolate, I say it's shit." We went with dark teal green-blue in the living room, grayish blue in the bedroom, clay-red in the bathroom, and an "oatmeal" color on the non-accent walls.

When it was all done, my place reeked of fumes, I was exhausted, but the pad looked much better. I took some photos on a disposable camera, but the only ones that came out decent were of my desk area. A few notes: That's Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters in the corner, my desk is never that neat, I hate that stupid Imac -- I do more writing on my Dell laptop or at work, and you can probably spot some of the distracting items I've listed here.

Hopefully, I'll get to those other posts soon. Next on my list of things to do: Get a digicam. Pretty obvious why.



Monday, April 04, 2005

More movie 'toons. The friend I originally drew these for is a big fan of the Farrelly Brothers -- all of their works, including: Me, Myself & Irene, Shallow Hal, Stuck on You, “Ozzie & Drix” (an animated show based on the movie Osmosis Jones) and my favorite, Kingpin.

I saw another one of their movies this weekend -- Fever Pitch. Not bad. Some funny bits, some painful -- and not so much the romantic comedy schtuff, but re-visiting the Red Sox comeback in last year’s playoffs. I donned my Yanks cap in protest. Anyone in the theatre complained, I chucked Sno-Caps at ‘em. Right down the pipe. Just like Randy Johnson when he and the Bombers beat Boston in the season opener yesterday.

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