Friday, September 30, 2005


Phone conversation around the turn of the 21st Century...

Mike: (groggy) Hello?
Mike's Dad: Did you know that Yahoo is up one and a half points?!
M: Wha--?
D: Hey, Mr. Financial Planner. Good afternoon.
M: Dad, it's not even 7 in the morning.
D: Yeah, sure, out there in California, ya bum. The New York Stock Exchange's been open for almost a half hour. And Yahoo has gone up one and a half points.
M: We don't own any stock in Yahoo.
D: I know. Imagine if we did.
M: Uh-huh...
D: And Zymogen is up to 34 already...
M: "Zymogen"?
D: And look at this -- AMDL is up one and a quarter.
M: What's AMDL?
D: I don't know. But it's up. We shoulda bought that.
M: Right. How's our stock doing?
D: Haven't gotten there yet. ASM, up three-eighths... ATC, down a half... AVI...
M: Dad--
M: Dad!
D: What?
M: What are you doing?!
D: I'm watching MSNBC... the ticker tape at the bottom... BEAero, down one...
M: Dad, you could look it up on the computer...
D: Hold on, be patient... BFC... we'll be there soon. BSD... What's our stock's symbol again?
D: Really?
M: No, it's YXL.
D: Oh, I missed it when the Y's came by earlier. Did I tell you Yahoo is up one and a half points?
M: No, really? How's Zymogen doing?
D: I'll let you know. We're on the C's now. CCC, down one-eighth... CDC, up a half... this is kind of hypnotic…CIM…

Mike puts the phone down, goes to the bathroom, washes up, fixes something to eat... Comes back and his dad's still there...

D: WJ Com… WorldAir… actually, this is getting boring, watching the ticker tape go by.
M: Oh, really? That’s too bad. ‘Cause having you read it to me is fascinating.
D: Hold on, wiseass, we’re almost there... Here’s Yahoo again. Up two points now.
M: We should’ve bought that.
D: Yeah, we should have.
M: Or Zymogen. How’s that doing?
D: We’re not there yet.
M: I don’t care. I just like the name… “Zymogen”…
D: Y’know, Yahoo -- the company -- they’re not even doing well right now. They reported losses their last fiscal quarter, but they’re up.
M: Up two points, last I heard.
D: That’s what’s wrong with playing the market. I tell you, Mike, at the racetrack, a horse could be a nag, a real stiff. But let’s say it won its last race, so everyone makes it the favorite, even though the crowd doesn’t recognize that the horse may have gone up in class, from maiden to claiming, so it’s facing a tougher field. Then when it loses, everyone who bet on it is screwed. But with the market, you can have a shitty company hyped beyond its true value, and it doesn’t matter. Those assholes on Wall Street are just -- oh, here we go... YXL...
M: Uh huh…
D: Unch.
M: What?
D: It says “unch”. What the fuck is “unch”?
M: Unchanged, Dad. It didn’t go up or down.
D: Ahh, shit. Okay, let’s wait for it go around again… ZebraT… Zila…
M: Dad…
D: Wait, here comes your Zymogen…
M: No, Dad -- do me a favor. Sell our stocks. Take the money and go to the track, okay? Put it all on a good trifecta.
D: Really?
M: Yeah. I’m going back to bed.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The other day walking back from lunch I got caught in the rain. Rain? Here? When it’s barely autumn? I was beginning to wonder if hurricanes were franchising -- from Louisiana LA to Los Angeles LA. But nah, even though I came back to the office drenched, I can’t complain. Gotta be thankful for our dry climate here.

Then this morning, I was taking advantage of the unseasonable warmth and went for a run jog/walk along Palisades Park. Enjoying a beautiful blue sky over the beach… except for this ugly black cloud emerging from over the mountains… seeping from the northwest. Wild fires. Not to be outdone, California’s gotta have its own share of natural disasters.

I tell ya, no place on this planet is safe anymore. When frogs fall from the sky, I’m moving to Jupiter.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

How was your weekend? I didn’t do anything too exciting… went running, had a few drinks, photoshopped my pictures from the previous weekend.

That's when I had gotten together with my friend who’s had her third baby. We all oohed and ahhed at her, and I thought I'd blog about the little blob... but after the third repetition of the sleep-cry-eat-poop cycle, my friend's other two kids took over my attention.

Hannah and Jake are both great kids, but very different. Hannah was friendly from day one. Even as a baby, she included a climb-on-Michael step in her baby to-do list, and now, at 6, I seem to be viewed as a human jungle gym. Based on her, I thought I was a natural with kids… but J-dawg was more of a challenge. I’d pick him up, and he’d take a squirmy-wormy journey out of my hands. Even here, Hannah’s holding her shy baby bro in place to allow me to take this photo.

Further illustrating their differences: We went to the park, and in a minute Hannah befriended another girl, sharing shade, Twizzlers and face-stuck-that-way grimaces.

Jake sat down under a tree by himself with his hands folded in his lap and stared out at the lake. I’d like to think he was contemplating deep thoughts, but it was probably more like, “whatever those ducks out there are eating, I want some.”

After feeding him -- one juice box, two bites of a sandwich and three thousand Doritos -- I took him to the playground where we worked the wheels to the world’s fastest concrete racecar. Something got him to warm up: either my boyish charm or the blistering heat -- bad day to wear boots and baggy jeans. Three-year-old Jake figured that out before I did.
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I walked him back into the shade… his little legs taking forever to travel 50 yards across the hot grass. When I offered to take him to feed the ducks with our leftover chips and bread, Jake seemed a bit disappointed to learn that they didn't dine on some kind of gourmet cuisine, but he was still excited to go. I was too impatient to wait for him to baby-step through that heat again. So I just picked him up, then expected him to do the J-Dawg jiggle dance... but I had gained the dude's trust. It was a pint-sized victory, but I'll take it.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

“My Name is Earl” aired the other night. Don’t know if you watched it, but surely you’ve seen the ads all over the place featuring Jason Lee lookin’ like a loser. I hoped all the hype would help make sitcoms hip again, but who knows. The show was just okay… it’s about degenerate dirtbag Earl trying to improve his karma, a word he learned from -- of all people -- Carson Daly. I found it interesting that this premise seems to be NBC’s answer to reality TV.

Karma vs. reality.

I hear about karma all the time. I don’t think a day goes by without someone talking about being wronged by another, but “that’s okay, karma’s a bitch and is gonna take care of him / her / that asshole who cut me off / the assmunch who insulted me / the asshat in the White House.” It’s very satisfying when bad people get their just desserts. Or when the meek inherit the earth. Some authors made a fortune off of that concept. And why not? Karma makes for great stories.

Here’s one: I remember Darryl, the bully in my elementary school. Recess was the worst, ‘cause that’s when Darryl had free range to act like an asshat, –hole, and -munch. Our school had a large square blacktop outside, with tall metal posts on each corner, which made it the perfect kickball court, the poles acting as bases. Darryl always bossed everyone around, threatened kids and insisted on being the pitcher so he could get his hands on the ball and mow people down, whether they were baserunners or just someone who got in his field of vision. He was being such a pushy little prick, I said the hell with it and sat the game out.

Later, someone kicked an easy pop-up. Darryl started yelling, “I got it! I got it!” The ball was nowhere near his position, but he didn’t care. “Get outta the way! Move! Igotit!Igotit!” I was watching from the sidelines as Darryl ran, head up, shooing everyone out of his path… not seeing he was headed straight for the second-base pole…

You could hear the clannnnng! throughout the Tri-State area. Needless to say, Darryl lost the ball. And several front teeth. As he lay dazed on the blacktop, drops of red blood and broken pieces of enamel everywhere… I remember sensing some kind of spiritual force at work, but at the time I didn’t know the word: karma.

Still, all too often karma seems non-existent. For every despot in history who got overthrown in a revolution, there’s been an evil king who was born, lived and died with a silver spoon up his ass. Fuckers often get away with shit scott free. Not just in politics and business, not just criminals who never get caught… even in everyday life. We all have that someone in our world -- that insidious little bitch or condescending dick -- the loathsome person who seems to have everything going their way. Yeah, sure, maybe they’re struggling on the inside in ways we can’t tell -- we all are -- but their money and good looks and ritziness probably makes life a lot easier for 'em, no? You figure they made a deal with the Devil, and hey, at some point Beelzebub’s gonna yank ‘em outta their champagne-filled Humvee and take repossession of their soul, right?

In other words, you’re counting on karma. If not in this world, then in the next one. Yeah, well, maybe… I’ll get back to this.

What about when bad things happen to good people? Does karma explain why people in the Gulf Coast are getting double teamed by Katrina and Rita? What kind of karma-compelling crap did all those folks do? You reap what you sow -- the whirlwind and its evil sister? What comes around goes around… and around again?

Did those poor people on that Jet Blue plane that was supposed to crash yesterday deserve to suffer watching their own demise on the in-flight TVs? Talk about your life flashing before your eyes. And since the plane landed safely, was it because they all had good karma, or, like “My Name Is Earl”, they managed to improve it while circling LAX to burn off fuel?

I don’t think so.

You can’t explain good and bad fortune. There was a prayer I read at my father’s funeral and again when we did a memorial for my grandmother. Can’t remember exactly how it goes… Something about how it’s not our place to try to understand the triumphs of the wicked and the tribulations of the virtuous, just do the best we can with our time here… It’s frustrating, but I agree.

Recently I ran into an old work acquaintance. When we first started working together years ago at a major studio, his advice to me was: “Be nice to everyone here, from the executives and producers to the security guards and janitors. ‘Cause you never know.”

You never know who’s gonna be a bigshot in this town. Everyone’s got a script, a headshot and resume, and a lot of ambition. There’s a lot of mobility in Hollywood. You might befriend someone who gets some success and in turn, makes you a mogul too.

True, but I thought to myself: Shouldn’t you be nice to everyone, regardless? (Assuming they deserve it, of course -- respect’s a two-way street.) Be nice regardless of their present status… and regardless of their potential status…

This is what bugs me about the idea of karma, whether that means people get what they deserve on Earth, or in Heaven or Hell. The concept of cosmic justice seems to enforce good behavior by the promise of an eventual reward, or deter wrongdoings with the threat of punishment. Ooh, da Debbil gonna getcha!

Here’s Mike’s Morality:

You should do the right thing… because it’s the right thing to do. That’s it.

I’m not saying I’m not without my faults… I’m only human and have done some shameful shit in my time. But I try to learn and make improvements. Nothing super dramatic. Just in the everyday stuff I mentioned. Yesterday, in heavy traffic, while weaving through lanes, I bumped a woman’s car. I could’ve totally taken off and gotten away with it. But I pulled over, prepared to pay for any scratches or dings… (turned out there was no damage). If someone insults me, I try to let it go and not retaliate… only address it if necessary and do so respectfully. I feel like my sense of humor is a power I should use for good -- I’ll sling my slurs like Spiderman’s web to try to help, not hurt.

And I don’t do these things out of fear of reprisal. I wasn’t worried about getting in trouble with the cops or insurance companies with that woman’s car. I certainly wasn’t thinking about bad karma. Mostly I just thought how I would feel if I were in her place.

Yeah, I suppose there’s a whole buncha platitudes you could conclude from this: Do unto others as you would have blah blah blah… A good deed is its own yada-yada…

But I simply say: Don’t count on karma. Just do what’s right. Oh, and reality TV ain’t going away any time soon.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Baseball babbling below. Don't say I didn't warn ya.

As of today, the Yankees are a half-game behind Boston, and a game and a half out of the wild card race. Which seems weird to me. That they have a better chance of taking first in their division than being the second-best team in their league.

This is one area I gotta admit the old-timers are right about baseball being better back in the day.

My dad and I used to argue about that. All the classic generation-gap bickering. He said that there were only 16 teams the whole first half of the century. So baseball got the very best players, as opposed to this expansion era, with 30 team rosters to fill out. I reminded him that in his caveman days there were half the people in the country. Since he was a kid, man invented fire, the wheel, the polio vaccine, suburban tract housing and now there’s more than twice the population in the U.S., hence plenty of players to scout for new franchises. And today, the “World Series” is at least a more appropriate term than back in his provincial horse-and-buggy era. All those players from Mexico, Panama, Venezuela, Cuba, and of course, the Dominican Republic. Weren’t no Japanese or Korean guys on the Washington Senators. Hell, when Pops was in short pants, blacks weren’t even allowed on the field.

We’d continue the arguments about:

• how guys like Babe Ruth or Alex Rodriguez would do in each others’ era (I think talented players would excel in any era, but added that today’s superior fitness training gives players the edge, which only led our disagreements into the inevitable ‘roid rage),

• whether pitchers today are wimps with their 4- or 5-man rotation, closers, middle relievers, pitch counts, etc., or if the division of labor on the mound creates tougher defense, and

• free agency merits (the end of indentured servitude, mobility of talent) and drawbacks (inflated salaries, who the hell does so-and-so play for this year?).

I think he was just being a classic contrary old codger (not entirely like in this editorial), but… when he complained about the whole wild card situation and this modern 3-divisions-per-league set-up, I had to pause at some strange observations:

As much I love Bernie Williams, calling him the player with the best offensive stats in the post-season needs qualification. Mickey Mantle’s Yankees only had to win 4 games in the post season. Bernie’s Yankees have to win 11.

And now the Yanks can win one game and be in first place, but only to be the third best team in the league. Seem weird? How about when the San Diego Padres are in first place, even though they’re barely playing .500 ball, while there’s 4 other teams in the National League with better records who aren’t even guaranteed post-season action. There’s something very wrong here.

And I hate it when the old man is right.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

How much sleep do you need? I hear some people say they’re fine with less than (or, Aimee, is it “fewer than”?) 4 or 5 hours a night. Supposedly Napoleon didn't get more than that, but I suspect the sleep deficit upset his whole digestive system, hence the hand in his coat all the time. But other would-be generals I know swear they're okay with only a few hours sleep. Any more and they feel over-rested.

Over-rested? What the fuck is that? You can be too thin or too rich, but too rested? Over-rested seems to me like being over-sexed. Well, on some fortunate occasions it happens, but that ain’t something to complain about. “Jeez, I am saturated with sex. A surplus of schtupping. No further fellatio! 69ing has already gone over 70.”

I’ve learned that I require 7-8 hours a night. If I fall behind, then I have to make it up. So yeah, if I go several nights with only a few hours… the next day there’s a good chance I need to extend my stay in Slumberland for more than half the day. Or make several long visits in a row.

Like lately. Last night I was so tired, I didn’t think I could stand up in the shower. So I took a nice long bath and started dozing off in the tub. Fortunately, breathing bubbles woke me up and I crashed into bed, slept through 2 alarms before the third one got me up and to work late as usual.

Then at lunch today I went to my friend’s place and napped on her couch, coming back to the office late again. Some of my fatigue is due to all my work early in the week, but I prefer to blame her.

We hung out last weekend at our favorite Mexican joint. She flirted with the bartender and got us super-strong margaritas. But she stupidly gave the guy her number… so when we went back there again, he was all pissed off that she didn’t return his calls, and this time our drinks were watered-down, weak & wussy. Pendejo.

So much later, craving some booze but wanting to keep it mellow, I challenged my neighbor to a game of Scotch Scrabble. Every fifty points, you gotta do a shot. I kicked ass, scoring 430, thanks to two bingos (using all 7 letters), each giving me a fifty-point / 1 ½ ounce bonus.

But while alcohol helps you pass out faster, it interrupts your REM sleep, so you really don’t get as good a night’s rest. The sauce isn’t the sedative some people think it is. I read this in a chemistry book. See, when I really have trouble sleeping, I crack open my old organic chemistry texts and try to get a grasp on the anti-Markovnikov rule regarding the hyperconjugation of double-bonded carbons… or… alkenes… and then… I’m… *yawn*..........

Oh, sorry. Where was I?

Well, let me wrap this up. In an attempt to find a moral in this random stream of (un)consciousness… what have we learned from all this?

Flirt with bartenders, but avoid leading ‘em on. Don’t drink booze when you’re sleep-deprived. Being sleep-depraved, however -- or over-rested -- is a good thing. Hell, it’s what I strive for. And finally… drunk, sober, tired or awake… don’t even try to out-KWYJIBO Mikey at Scrabble.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

When I left for work this morning, Rocky the Rodent was outside my place, staring at me from less than 10 feet away. I was gonna shoot the little shit -- but since I don’t have a gun, I went for my camera -- and he started to advance on me. I assure you he wasn’t posing for a close-up. It was more like a squirrelly scouting mission: “Hey, that dude’s eyeballs look like yummy acorns, but I wonder, how do they taste?”

I had to assert dominance, shouting and stomping like a spastic semicolon until he retreated back behind a branch. That’s when I snapped off this photo.

Yeah, I know you’ll be back, you buck-toothed bushy-tailed bastard. So will I. And I’m trading in my 4 megapixels for a six-shooter.

Then when I came home last night, I noticed this giant spectacular spider web over my car. Actually, I’ve noticed it before, but only in the evening. You can barely see it during the daytime. The sunlight hides the strands, and its homeowner hides so it won’t be a meal for the doves and sparrows. But at night, it’s quite the sight, sparkling from the light over my carport which also attracts the bugs that flitter between the trees.
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I couldn’t seem to capture the webbing with my camera, but there’s the eight-legged arrogant arthropod, sitting in the middle of the net, waiting for its next meal. Like Snyder outside my door, I tolerated this moth trap ‘cause I figured it'd cut down on the insect population.

I was right, ‘cause in the last month, that arachnid's tripled in size. And last night, its devious multi-eyes seemed to be checking me out: "Hey, that dude's ear looks like a good place for me to lay my eggs."

Motherfucking nature. I'm getting tag-teamed here.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Movies is magic, baby. Had our screening of “Consumed” on Saturday. It was part of a collection of short films, so there were 8 or 9 others playing, too. The theater was full; I suspect the crowd was mostly the people involved with each film and their friends.

The audience seemed to genuinely laugh at the right moments; my friends said they really enjoyed the short, even after I grilled ‘em for honest opinions. And it was cool to be recognized afterwards by strangers, being told “hey, great job”. The film turned out pretty good, but it’s hard to critique our own work -- Bags gets aggravated at some tiny aspects of his directing choices, Brian our music guy hears little things most of us don’t, so you could imagine how I felt seeing myself on a giant screen.

It’s a little easier to analyze the other films, and it makes me wonder about how other people perceived ours, because, sorry to say, I wasn’t crazy about a lot of them. A couple were quite enjoyable, but the rest had weak stories or virtually none at all. I’m not that picky about production value or acting or even editing problems, but when the narrative is watered down for the sake of swirling hand-helds of brewing coffee or fetishized close-ups of feet putting on slippers, I say stop trying to imitate Scorsese or David Fincher, go back and re-think the script a little. Still, I know how much work it takes to make a film, even a short, so I applaud the efforts -- mostly first films for the directors.

Bags said this film festival isn’t the most discerning -- 40% of the applicants get accepted. My friends who were lawyers said hey, that’s about the rate people pass the California bar exam. But I’m not sure if that’s a compliment...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The middle of the week is a little crazed for me lately. I get my videotapes for the TV show late late Monday evening, hours after the day job. I’m tired by then, but I still try to watch ‘em that night, though sometimes have to finish viewing early in the morning. I prefer to have already seen ‘em before I wake up, ‘cause I think better after my AM caffeine rush, but it ain’t always the case.

Either way, I tend to only get a few hours sleep that night. Tuesday I come up with most of the voice-over stuff…dashing out ideas before the sun comes up… mull it over all day at work, tweak it that night in my groggy state, and give it a last look Wednesday morning before submitting ‘em from the office where I pretend to be swamped with their stuff. Sometimes I e-mail ‘em in sooner just to get it over and done with.

I’d like to say I always get a feeling of satisfaction for having created such utter brilliance, but with this raunchy stuff, I never know... For example, this week there was this guy who ruins his chances with a chick ‘cause he couldn’t remember the words to the national anthem.

Joe didn’t know -- and won’t get to show -- his rocket’s red glare. Or, Our flag is star spangled, but his flagpole will stay dangled.

I go for a run, come back sweaty and scruffy, the VOs still playing through my head, until I decide: Eh, they haven’t fired me yet.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Been trying all week to articulate my anger, frustration and sadness about what's happened in New Orleans and the Gulf area. I tried to find a personal, original take on the situation -- thinking about how I was in LA for the riots and the earthquake... but those emergencies really don't compare to this. So I can't say anything. Well, I can, but I feel like it's been said. And then a buncha other things were said. And then others. And then it seemed like Katrina wasn't the only hot winds blowing through the country, so I'll just move on to lighter subjects. I probably don't have an original take on these either, and if so, well, here's my not-so-unique POVs on not-so-heart-wrenching topics:

I saw Constant Gardener this weekend. Not bad. Afterwards my friend and I got into a heated debate about the pharmaceuticals (mostly I was told I need to get on meds, to which I replied that I'm perfectly calm, asshole, say I'm imbalanced again and I'll benedryl your skull and rip your motherfucking zoloft), so it wasn't exactly an escape from serious subjects. Yeah, see, it's a thriller that's tied into the evildoings of drug companies. Oh, you thought it was about a guy who just toils in the yard, pulling dandelions and pruning hedges the whole movie? Yeah, so did I. But since it was hippity-hyped, I had to check out this weedwacking flick. Turns out... the title? It was symbolic! Get it? It's like, like, a metaphor, for his like character and shit. Deep.

People need to consult me on movie titles. "Rachel Weisz's Boobies" woulda been a better name for this movie. That's the part half the audience is gonna remember.

Also, I've seen previews for some movie with Reese Witherspoon and that overrated Mark Roofie dude. It's a ripoff of Ghost (which is a variation on Hold That Ghost -- this really fun Abbot & Costello movie where the little guy comes back as a benevolent spirit and they do their "Boo's on first?" routine). Anyway, I can't remember the name of the Mark Arugula movie, except that it's got "Heaven" in the title. Far from Heaven? All Dogs Go to Heaven? Heaven Can Wait? Heaven's Gate? There should be a rule that movies can't have "Heaven" in the title anymore. Ditto for "Wild", "Angel", "Heart" (The Wild Angels, Angel Heart, Wild at Heart). Like I said, they should consult me about the titles. Let's see... Reese is someone that no one but Mark RuffleofftoBuffalo can see. Hey, know what else they're ripping off? Sesame Street! They should call it, "Ruffalufagas & Snuffalufagus".

TV commercials:
I think they finally stopped showing those Burger King "Chicken Fries" spots. The ones with the hard rocking band dressed up with rooster masks, partying with chicks and eating BK's answer to the McNugget. I kinda liked those ads... They don't convince me to buy their product or anything. I would never touch those disgusting deep-fried hen gizzards. But the chickenhead band reminded me of GWAR -- lookin' so ridiculous, ya had to love 'em. That headbanger they performed rocked, too. There was one ad where each "chicken" tried to cross the road to get to the other side, of course, where a hot babe was eating some of the fast food nosh. And then they keep getting hit by cars and feathers fly everywhere, kinda like Frogger, except with cocks. It's the first commercial about cock-blocking.

Snoop Dogg has sold T-Mobile, Sattelite Radio, Girls Gone Wild Videos and now... Chrysler cars? I'm not sure if the dude even makes albums anymore. He's still saying things like "Fo' shizzle, Iacozizzle." Didn't the "-izzle" lose its sizzle years ago? Gone the way of schwing! and bling-bling! You bet your sweet bippy. And somehow... Snoop's still dope, phat and def.

For someone who's got a TV gig, I barely watch any of the boob tube. People tell me about their favorite shows: "Lost", "Desperate Housewives", "24"... they sound okay, but I can see why reality TV isn't going away anytime soon... I tried to get into "Gilmore Girls" 'cause Lauren Graham's hot, and almost convinces me when she machine-guns out that snappy committee-of-twenty-Hollywood-hacks banter... but when that doe-eyed doornail who plays her daughter does it...I'm done.

Even cable wasn't grabbing me. "Deadwood", "Six Feet Under"... what's with the death themes? Anyway, I had gotten rid of HBO, waiting for the Sopranos to come back. Still waiting... By the time next season airs, Tony Soprano and his mob are gonna be living in the old folks' home, running bets on the shuffleboard tournament and strongarming the undertaker for a graveyard plot overlooking Satriale's Pork Store. See? There's that death theme again.

But "Entourage"... had I known about this brilliant show, I would've upped my cable service... Just hearing storylines described to me, I had to see it. So I watched a marathon of episodes this weekend, and was falling on the floor laughing through the finale. Part of the fun is recognizing the sites -- that Coffee Bean at the Sunset Plaza...I used to go there before they moved it next to Tower Records; hey, I think I've been to that house in Malibu; yeah, it's true, no one who wants to be "seen" would be caught dead in that Hamburger Hamlet. But more so, I enjoy recognizing the characters -- Jeremy Piven deserves an Emmy for his role as the uber-agent you love to hate and hate to commission. But cool characters like Aqua-Man-to-be Vince and his wiseguys pals... friends like those are the perfect refuge from the harshness of LA and lately, an even harsher world.

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