Wednesday, August 31, 2005

They might close down CBGBs tonight.

I haven’t been there in ages, but man, did I love that filthy hole in the wall. I used to catch Living Colour there before they were signed... or otherwise grooved to a bunch of punk bands nobody ever heard of. I missed out on the first alternative rock movement -- bands like the Ramones, the Talking Heads, Blondie and others. But it wasn’t just the music that I liked about the club; it was that whole scene.

As a teenager, I would go into the city with my friends and think we were cool, hanging out in the Bowery, swaggering down the stark streets in our grungiest attire. Back in suburbia everyone was a friggin’ label whore; but at CBs, you stood out if you weren’t a slob. I felt at home. Though I now know I don’t really fit in anywhere...

One weekend back in the day, we caught their early morning rock show. It was freezing outside, so we went inside to warm up as we listened to the bands do the same. Don’t remember the group -- their name was something like “Stomach Pump” or “The Eviscerators” -- but I do remember the loud but soothing tones of the electric bass strumming out the rhythm of their nihilistic battle cry. To me it was a lullaby. As I nodded off, some dude in the club tapped my shoulder. I jostled awake, a bit embarrassed. He asked if I was all right, and I said of course I was.

“Oh,” he said. “I thought maybe you took something.”

I didn’t catch his drift, having never done a drug stronger than Flintstones Multis. But I was still defensive. “Took something? What the hell am I gonna steal in this place?”

Maybe if I was still in New York, I would’ve gone back to delve into that scene again. I really don't like big concerts; I prefer the intimacy of a small venue. But I think I just outgrew the allure, no matter where I am.

I now work at the edge of the Sunset Strip. Everyday at lunch I walk past the famous Whiskey-a-Go-Go and the Roxy (where Jim Morrison and the Doors used to fall down drunk) and the Viper Room (where River Phoenix fell down dead). But those joints just ain’t the same.

Outside of these clubs, waiting for the evening distortion fest, I see these kids -- babies, I tells ya -- dressed entirely in black and sporting Mohawks & faux-hawks & schmo-hawks... I wanna tell them, hey punx, it’s been done before. It was passé in my day, and now it’s not even retrohip cool.

And when they tell me hey, old man, why don’t you retrofit your hip and tell us in your worldly wisdom what is cool... I’d tell them to go back East. Go to New York. Hang out at CBGBs. Yeah, like on your T-shirt, kid. It was a rock club first, y'know.

But they can’t. And maybe none of us ever will again.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Blogland’s Most Wanted -- Special Report
Overdue report prepared by undercover FBI (Fellow Blogger Intermingler)

Goes by several aliases -- Inanna, Peaches, NannerPeach, NannerBelle, West Virginia Witchy Woman -- don’t let her beauty, brains and beads fool you, this MILF is deadly with a rifle, if you’re a poor deer frolicking through the forest. Or a shotgun, if you’re a video zombie from “House of the Dead”.

Random Aimee
Spotted all over California, from the Bay area to Santa Barbara (also by field agents in Kansas City and Chicago). Another hot mama with a huge heart, but lethal with knitting needles, random thoughts, and a high-powered snort.

Known associate of Random Aimee and NannerPeach.
Reportedly weak with a golf club, but definitely disarming with a well-told joke, as evidenced here in surveillance photos.
ajsu1 ajsu2

The NiceHat Gang
Members: Newlyweds Jeanette and Tony. Trustworthy drivers in the Anaheim area, but enjoyed issuing threats of Disneyland devirginization.
pchsjntfsh jntnyfsh
With help of NannerPeach, rumored to make others sleep with the fishes… or at least take photos of them.

Many of these above bloggers have close ties to the Texas Mafia. Phone-taps reveal conversations with Lone Star State local boss Brighton. And photos reveal the NiceHat Gang's too-tall twosome talking to consigliere and presidential candidate Trashman.

The Baby Gooch Posse
The cherubic-cheeked bad boy boss has often been spotted with an unnamed henchman, known to present clever observations and relive his frat-boy past. The posse has been mostly underground as they are suspected to be moving their hideout to somewhere in the OC.
bgag gooch
Experts believe that since these photos were taken in June, Baby Gooch may have doubled in size, due to his voracious appetite. He’s reputed to devour just about anything, including trying to eat this undercover photographer’s camera.
bge bgr

Friday, August 26, 2005

Director aka Cop aka Bags: Mike, what are you looking at? Something wrong with the jib overhead? The camera?
Patient aka Mike: No, you got me a friggin’ gurney. Where else am I gonna look but up?
Producer aka Doctor aka Pablo: Oh, I thought we were all just praying this movie turns out okay.

Salesman aka Rich Skidmore (who, btw, has appeared numerous times on the Jimmy Kimmel Show): Hey, of course this movie’ll turn out great! Have you read Bags’ brilliant script?
Nurse aka Graciela: If I kiss Bags’ ass, can I get a bigger part, too?

Fellow office drone aka Adam: Hey Bags, when and where will this short film be playing, anyway?
Director of photography aka Kevin: Yeah, hurry up and answer. My arms are getting tired.
Bags: Well, it’s funny you should ask... and Mike, be sure to blog this:

At the 2005 Los Angeles International Short Film Festival , "CONSUMED" is playing in the program: "Fragments of Sunset Strip" at the Arclight Cinemas on Saturday, September 10, 10:00PM.

Mike: Okay, I blogged it. But what am I getting myself into...?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Have you ever talked your way out of a speeding ticket?

I had a girlfriend who was shocked the one time she was unable to. Purely coincidentally -- I’m sure -- she’s a cutie with giant gazongas. When she got the citation, she worried that she was losing her touch, that her glorious cleavage wasn’t eye-catching anymore.

She tried to reassure herself, saying the officer must have been gay or visually-impaired or something…

“Yeah,” I said. “He was probably more of an ass-man.”

Or maybe he was just doing his job…

One of the first jobs I ever had was back in high school. I got an afternoon gig, working at a record store. It enabled me to pick up more heavy metal than a crane at a steel mill, and yeah, sure I’ll use my employee’s discount for your new age crap, just stop by the mall. The 20-something manager dudes at the store see the hot goth teens coming to see me, they’ll think I can hook ‘em up with Siouxie and her Banshees, so they’ll assign me the cushy details like sorting the CDs (less work, since not everything was out on disc back then).

Anyway, I was able to have this job -- and thus some spending money -- because I finally got my driver’s license. But I nearly jeopardized all that.

I was always late for work, so I always sped to get there, and so I got busted for speeding.

Twice in one week. By the same cop, in the same place, same speed, same time of day.

The officer walked over and peered in my window. A look of recognition washed over his face. “Michael, right?” he said. (He actually called me by my last name.) “You don’t learn, do you?”

Man, was I frustrated. Not at the cop… just my own stupidity. “Look,” I said. “I drive past here everyday. You’ll see me go by in this broken-down mint-green Buick Skylark. I’m the kid with the stupid tie he has to wear… to his job at a record store, for chrissakes. Which I won’t be able to keep because I won’t be able to drive there if I get this ticket.”

There was some rule in New York, I think, that in your first six months of getting your license, you were on some kind of probation. If you got more than one moving violation, your license was suspended.

“If you see me speeding again, write me a ticket and I’ll be off the road for good. But gimme a break this time and I swear it won’t happen again.” The cop looked at me. I figured he remembered my name, we were like old pals now, right? I said, “C’mon. You already got me once.”

He shrugged and said, “Okay, ya get a freebie. But just this one time.”

I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even have to try to bribe him with a discount on vinyl or cassettes. What would he like? Do the police listen to The Police? What the hell is Texas Music?

In the following months, I would still do over 60 in the 30 zone, but I always slowed down within a mile of that cop’s speed trap. And in the years since, I’ve gotten plenty of moving violation tickets. Maybe things woulda been different if I was a babe with boobs, maybe not. Some of the cops were rude, and some were perfectly civil… but I always remember that first guy.

‘Cause he’s the only one who ever gave me a break.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Here's some more cartoons I did to pass the time in film school. My friend and I gave each other assignments -- you can see the ones I wrote out for him, but I don't have his drawings. Among his instructions to me were: Hume Cronyn & Jessica Tandy kicking Schwarzenegger's ass; Rain Man meets Napoleon; (For a larger size, click here.)
fsanld copy

Hulk Hogan assassinating a mutant goat, JFK-style; U2's Bono eating a New York taxi cab;
(Larger size)
fsbno copy

Bobcat Goldthwaite as an Egyptian Pharoah; and Han Solo doing a jock strap commercial. (Larger size)
fsbcgw2 copy

Friday, August 19, 2005

Had dinner w/AJ last night, at the same place we met last August, when he was on his annual So Cal visit. Good Italian food -- I think I had the same dish as last year, too. But they were out of chianti, so we had our fra diablo liver and fava beans with some white wine.

Don't have much new to report on the guy, he's still the same lovable goofball as always... Leaner, maybe wiser, definitely less paranoid.

No, wait, that last one was me.

When AJ said he wanted to meet me last year, I started having concerns about insane internet stalkers. So left word with the authorities as to his ISP, filled out my donor card and kept a heavy-duty staple gun in my pocket.

I didn't get into this to make friends, but in this full year -- bookended by the goateed guy with the Tennessee twang -- I've hung out with, if I counted right, 17 bloggers. Granted, i got together with over a half-dozen locals two weeks ago, but several I've met several times... I'll post pics of another half dozen from last week soon.

Look what you started, AJ.
Yeah, you.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

“Hey, I’ve been in your shoes, man. I know how it is, freelancing, trying to make others happy with your writing.”

That was Jasper, the head of the post-production team, calling me shortly after I began my TV gig. He's a cool guy, but I’d been waiting for a while for some feedback on my first submission of voice-over lines… and this is how he started off?

He continued by telling me that he and the producer who pushed to get me in at the network, they really like me, they think I’m really talented, they want this to work. But the executive producer is so busy and is only about finding a solution.

Well, what’s the problem?

“I don’t know if you were holding back. Maybe you were afraid to offend someone, or maybe you showed this stuff to a girl first and didn’t want her to think you were raunchy or something…”

Is he kidding? Some of the girls I know, the shit they write would make Richard Pryor blush. And I wasn’t holding back…

Well, he told me the executive producer complained my VOs were “not racy enough.” Then Jasper asked me if I’ve looked at last season’s episodes.

Yes, I had. I quickly ran through the example scripts sent to me -- they were the same kind of tame, punny lines I was writing. Hardly any risqué stuff.

Jasper agreed, but said that now they wanted to go racier. Have lots of sexual double entendres, push the envelope. They’d rather offend the censors and have to reel it back in a little. The producers thought I knew that, but as Jasper said, “guess there was a disconnect.”

I winced at his improper use of “disconnect”. It seems to be used more and more as a noun, and perhaps is becoming more acceptable, but it’s always irked me. Probably because the first time I heard it was when Ahnold Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy for governor. “I’m running to terminate de disconnects. Dere is a disconnect between de government und de people. Dat, und dere a disconnect between my movies und big box office.”

But I didn’t go grammar police or Kindergarten Cop on Jasper. I didn’t even try to defend my misunderstanding about the change in style of the show. I simply told him, “They want racy, I can give ‘em racy.”

So I had to rewrite all my stuff. That took a couple of days, and then I waited even longer to hear from him again. I know he’s incredibly busy with his post production duties, and he wanted to satisfy the producers as much as me. But that made him, IMO, over-think my VOs. Second guessing the wording of each line. It made me regret not correcting him on the “disconnect” thing.

He also thought I should redo the opening lines, the ones that introduce the show and set up each situation. But on those, I had gotten specific instructions beforehand, and he had told me after my first submission, the producers really liked what I had done there. They had no problem with ‘em. Still, Jasper said, “maybe you could punch these up, too.” By tomorrow. And do the second set of episodes.

So I did a second rewrite on the first set, and a first pass of the second set and practically pulled my first all-nighter since grad school. And maybe I was a bit loopy on the math, but considering how little I was getting paid per episode, and the amount of time I was spending on ‘em… I think I was making minimum wage.

When I heard all that hard work paid off, that they liked what I had done on the first two sets, friends gave me an “I told you so.” That I was worrying too much, over-dramatizing the precariousness of my position. Maybe, but the words the executive producer had used were, “Okay, we’ll keep him on the books.”

The other day, Jasper called me and said he just got out of a big laff-fest over my latest set of VOs. They loved so many of my lines. For every VO needed, I usually write 3 or more alternatives. And often the EP couldn’t even decide which one to use, so they may carry some quips over to future episodes.

Yep, I’m delivering quality and quantity. Building a surplus. It’s nice to know that my friends who believed in me were right that I’d get over this initial shakiness.

And don’t get me wrong -- being raunchy is hard work, but it’s fun. Like when I delivered my first set of rewrites to Jasper.

If you hear these lines on TV, you’ll know where they came from:

A guy complains that a chick looks like an Oompa Loompa: Stacy the Oompa Loompa failed to make Steve’s Willy Wonka.

A dude named Jimmy thinks his stylish cap will land him the babes: That’s not the only Jimmy hat he hopes to be wearing tonight.

A horny lesbian girl is unfazed by an insult: She takes a kicking but keeps on licking.

Jasper read those and said, “Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!”

I told him, “Hey, I aim to sleaze.”

Thursday, August 11, 2005

You don’t see me. I’m not really here.

I hadn’t planned on coming back to blogging for a while. Probably in September. Recent setbacks -- pink eye, purple throat, blue meanies -- kept me indoors, and now with the day job and the new gig… Hey, I wanted to try to enjoy the rest of the summer. Whatever free time I had, I didn’t want to spend it stuck in front of a computer. Blogging’s for losers, man.

But I was wrong. About it all. Especially the last part. Bloggers are pretty cool.

I was reminded of that thanks to Hilary who gathered some Los Angeles bloggers for drinks at the Cat & Fiddle pub in Hollywood last night. She has a lot of links to La-La Landers. But for all of us, it was like one big internet date. Walking around to everyone, saying your name and URL. “Hi, I’m Michael of Make Mine Mike…” And there were so many people at the bar, I wasn’t sure who was a blogger and who was just a boozer. New pick-up line for the millennium: “Hi, what’s your website?”

Yeah, why not? The couple that blogs together stays together. Ask Dan Tobin and his wife Meghan. We chatted the most, but that’s because they’re the only ones -- besides our busy mingling hostess Hilary -- whom I knew beforehand.

I’ve done the face-to-face thing with about 10 bloggers now, and I know every time I come onto my site and give glowing reviews. It may seem like I’m whitewashing it… but really, I’m not. Each person I’ve met has been really great.

And then... there’s Dan. Y’know how he surgically strikes in his posts? He’s like that in real life. Taciturn Tobin. Whenever he talks to people, he skips to the short answers. Brief, almost monosyllabic ones. How long you been out here? “Five years.” You miss Boston? “Yes.” You think the Yankees will come back in September?

“No fucking way! Those losers are going down! Dynasty’s history, motherfucker! That crybaby Sheffield and that rich pansy A-Rod can suck Johnny Damon’s balls ‘cause Joe Torre’s wicked retahhhhded!”

Awright, that’s not really how it happened. But I bet that’s what Dan was thinking.

Though I had seen him around since TJ’s Place, Dan and I started commenting and e-mailing during the playoffs last year. Even in their fever pitch, Dan was totally civil… surprising from a Bosox fan. And last night was great catching up on bloggers, stand-up comedy and the TV business. I felt very comfortable around them, like we were all old friends. I'm glad I went.

Like any party, we clustered into groups, and I tried to mingle, but I only met a handful of others… All very very likable people… Let’s see, there was Dan’s friend at Convenient Parking -- great name for an LA blog; Fun Joel who blogs about screenwriting; Annabel Lee, who courageously relives her dates, good or bad; Nanette, whom I’ve seen commenting around; Neil, who went to the same undergrad and grad school as me… I’m sure I’m leaving people out. I’ll be hitting up Hilary’s blogroll and start visiting more… maybe we’ll all meet again in real life, too.

And now with Inanna, AJ and Aimee all coming to Southern California… there goes the neighborhood. I’ll probably be busy again for a while, in real life interactions… with other 'Net-heads, so you know I’ll be back on the blog eventually.

But for now, you didn’t see me. I'm not really here.

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