Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I pulled a muscle near my left shoulder blade -- nothing too serious, just some minor discomfort that I thought would go away, but instead the aches seemed to migrate over to the right side of my neck and back with a vengeance. I’d love to say this occurred as a result of turbulent parachute deployment during my BASE jump off the Bonaventure building, but actually, I just slept on it wrong. Down pillows can be dangerous.

This happens to me once in a while, like every 5 or 6 years. It’s not a spine thing so a chiropractor can’t do crap. Nor can heating pads or ice packs or icy hot pad packs or whatever. I just have to wait for the muscles to heal. But 'til then, I'm not exactly happy and peppy and bursting with love. You can’t do anything to take your mind off the pain -- laying down or sitting makes your back stiffen up, walking around reminds you of it every step, as well as any movement of your arms, like when you grab the phone to make an appointment to get a massage.

I was always skeptical about massages. They were a great prelude to fooling around with a girl in college (“Oh you’re so tense, let me rub your shoulders…”) but I never felt like they did any good for my upper body. In fact, I usually ended up feeling worse -- maybe because I was anxious to skip the formalities and cut to the happy ending already.

But since I’ve had these gift certificates to Burke Williams forever but never used ‘em, I decided to finally cash in on my free massage. The place is just down the street from me, too. But I wound up late for my appointment and had to apologize to the guy at the desk -- I didn’t realize they had relocated up the block. “Yes,” he said. “We moved three years ago.” Good thing those certificates never expired.

Since I would have to wait for the next appointment, I was encouraged to take advantage of the facilities. I got a brief tour and decided to try everything out. Now, I know some people love health spas. But I'm not comfortable being pampered. Especially around strangers. While the heat from the jacuzzi and steam room loosened up my sore trapezius and latissimus dorsi, I was less relaxed seeing other guys' nekkid glutemus maxi-must you walk around with that gnarly ass in plain view?

I gotta say, the Quiet Room was fantastic. It's a place to sit in a comfortable chair and just read or chill out in total silence. That's right -- silence. You can actually hear yourself think. Or is that the reason these things are so rare -- who wants to think? When they can can have insipid conversations on their cellphones, or obliterate their brains with that "Promiscuous Girl" song blasting outta their iPods?

The music was the only thing I didn't like about the massage. Hearing New Age waterfalls and forest ambience -- sounds-to-relax-you -- just make me agimitated. Otherwise, the massage, I have to admit, was awesome. This tiny woman masseuse managed to knead my knotted kneck into a loose knoodle.

When I was done, my shoulder and back were definitely more flexible and hurt less, but the problem was still there -- the pain from the sprain came mainly to make me insane in the membrane. But I can feel it getting better each day, so I just have to grin and bear 'til I'm off the DL.

In the meantime, Adelphia and I went out for drinks -- my girlfriend and alcohol would definitely take my mind off the discomfort, since ibuprofen and lotsa water doesn't seem to do diddly. She wondered: do I need something stronger?

Hey, I've still got coupons for Burke Williams -- I'm no longer against getting another massage, but as I told Adelphia, "Pain killers are for pussies."

"Not a bad slogan," she said. "You oughta have a t-shirt like that."

So I sketched the idea on a napkin. She said she liked it, but I think she was just massaging my ego.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Pluto: It’s not fair, I tell you! Why should I get demoted?

Nothing personal. You’re just not a planet anymore.

Pluto: Sez you. Why do you get to decide?

Neptune: Because he’s the only one with intelligent life.

Mercury: “Intelligent” life. Haha.

Mars: And hey, you still haven’t checked me thoroughly. Maybe there's life in the ice crystals beneath my --

Mercury: Yeah, right. Your Martians have been due on Maple Street forever now…

Mars: And we’ll probe your ass one of these days, too, you sun-huggin’ little-- Wait a minute. I thought you were on my side in this debate.

Mercury: (shrug) I’m Mercury, bitch.

Earth: Look, we’re all on the same team. Pluto, you’re still part of the solar system, okay?

Pluto: Along with a bunch of new nobodies you’ll barely ever mention.

Neptune: This is hard on all of us, too, y’know. My Very Educated Mother won’t be Just Sending Us anymore Noodle Pudding or Nine Pizzas.

Pluto: Pfft. You can still have Nachos.

Mercury: Ooh, Nachos.

Pluto: This sucks, you guys. You know how cold and lonely I get out here? And now I’m even kept out of the mnemonic device.

Jupiter: Sorry, dude. But I got moons bigger than you.

Saturn: Me, too. No one’s calling my satellite Titan a planet, now, are they?

Oh, that’s perfect, coming from two big bloated bullies.

Mercury: Yeah! Why don’t you wring Saturn’s neck, haha!

Pluto: Shut up, Mercury!

Venus: Don’t listen to that hot-head, darling. It’s okay, baby. Come to Venus.

Pluto: I wish I could.

Earth: That’s just the point, Pluto. Gotta obey the laws of physics. And it’s not so much your size -- which is why big moons aren’t planets -- but the fact that you don’t clear your orbit around the sun.

Pluto: Hey, I got a path over 240 times longer than yours. By the time my New Year’s rolls around, I’m too exhausted to sing that “Auld Lang Syne” crap.

Neptune: Hey, next time you overlap my path again, I’ll sing it for you. How’s that?

Pluto: Don’t condescend to me. Bad enough you say I used to be one of your moons.

Neptune: Well, you and my Triton have a lot in common. You should give her a call sometime.

Pluto: I’m not a moon!

Neptune: We know, pal. You’re considered a dwarf planet.

Mercury: Aww, look at these two. They’re like Dr. Evil and Mini-Me. Haha.

Pluto: Oh great. Dwarf jokes. Can’t you just call me, like, a little planet or something? I’m gonna be the laughing stock of the Milky Way.

Earth: No you won’t, Pluto. No matter what you’re called…

Venus: Yes, darling, that role’s already been taken.

Pluto: By who?

Neptune: Check out the other side of me.

Pluto: Oh, yeah. I almost forgot.

Mercury: Haha.

Why is everyone looking at me? Oh… Screw you guys! Real mature.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Not much to report regarding my friend Bags’ short filmConsumed” that I did last year. I think he didn’t want to put it on the ‘Net because one scene utilizes an obscure song to which he hasn’t properly secured the rights. On one hand, I don’t think it’s a big deal. Ifilms or YouTube might as well rename themselves “copyright_infringements.com”, but I understand his hesitation to toss it in among the homemade blooper reels and “Family Guy” clips swirling in cyberspace. I’ll see if I can upload a different scene soon. A silent one -- no music, and there certainly ain’t me talking in this thing.

Bags did tell me that Chris Carter, creator of the “X-Files”, saw “Consumed”. It was the result of one of those six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon things. Bags plays in a band whose drummer is Carter’s personal trainer. Or something like that. Anyway, Carter said he thought it wasn’t bad -- the concept wasn’t entirely original, but he liked the execution. Bags started filling my head with ideas that when Chris Carter spearheads his next sci-fi conspiracy show, maybe he’d cast me.

Right. As what? Cigarette-hating man? Someone to act even more deadpan than David Duchovny, just so Mulder seems alive by comparison?

Unlike Adam, who appeared in "Consumed" and is now featured in the major motion picture comedy Accepted, I'm not pursuing an acting career.

So I appreciate Bags' crazy what-if scenarios, but I jokingly reminded him that even he wouldn’t use me in his next film. A few months ago, he managed to secure another production package and said he re-wrote “Consumed” with a more fleshed-out concept and storyline. I had just started my TV gig and couldn’t take the time off work that was needed to reprise my role. So did Bags work his shooting schedule around his star? Hell no. He just recast the part. I haven’t seen any clips, and I’m sure it’s another good film, but, c’mon, this ersatz Mike Markham is bound to be the indie equivalent of George Lazenby.

On the other hand, I did get cast in another short film. Out of the blue again. I’m convinced if I pursued an acting career, I wouldn’t get as much work.

The way this came about begins over ten years ago. Through some writer/actor friends, I took an improv comedy class, similar to L.A.’s famous Groundlings, only cheaper and less competitive. A lot of us were there to have fun, maybe hone some comedy skills, not use it as a stepping stone to doing hackneyed characters on Saturday Night Live.

Anyway, the instructor, Tweed, was funny and talented, so my friends and I cast him in our independent feature film. He and one of the other improv guys had just a few scenes, but those two were so hysterical, they practically stole the entire movie.

I lost touch with him after that, but then, early this year, I saw him in the elevator at my old job. I learned that he had moved back to his native Toronto, where he had a successful writing and acting career working on the Canadian equivalent of the Jay Leno show. From what he told me, the comedy sounded hit-or-miss, but since they didn’t have Nielsen ratings and the FCC on their backs like we do here, they could experiment more and get away with far raunchier stuff. But he came back after his second baby was born -- he said he didn’t want to raise his family in that awful weather, but I think it was just the accent. Who wants their kids sounding like hosers, eh? Tweed was still working on his show biz career, visiting one of his talent reps whose offices were in my building. We reminisced about the old days, said we should stay in touch, and of course didn’t.

Fast-forward to last week. My home phone rang, and I answered, surprised the caller ID didn’t say it was a solicitor. Who calls my home phone anymore? It was Tweed. He had lost my cell number I gave him, and he had to track me down through our long-time mutual friends.

He said he had written a role in his short film with me in mind. Just like Bags last year. And unlike the situation with Bags’ latest film, I actually had time to work on this one. Plus there was dialogue. So would I do it? Well, I hadn’t seen any script yet.

“It’s not a snuff film or porn, is it?”

“No,” Tweed said. “Of course not.”

“Well, I’ll do it anyway.”

So recently I went up to his house in the Valley, along with the other actors, a kind of pre-production meeting. But it was completely laid back. Just like the script -- a funny concept, but with a casual slice-of-life tone to it. It would feature Tweed, his wife, his friends (one of whom I knew from 10 yrs ago), me, and even one of his kids. We all hung out and joked around -- in a way, it was a rehearsal for the tone of the film, which will shoot in a few weeks.

I’m looking forward to it, considering how much fun it was seeing Tweed and the gang. And I realized I’m occasionally cast not so much for any special acting ability, but because working with friends (even long-lost ones) there’ll be a relaxed set and easy-going production.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Bad news: Still can’t believe my car was rear-ended.
Good news: No big deal. It only seemed to be a dented bumper and busted taillight.
Bad news: Upon inspection, the damage was more extensive than that. The whole body was slammed and so will my wallet after I get it fixed.
Good news: No, the insurance company says I’m only responsible for paying the deductible.
Bad news: I can’t even afford the deductible. And my car will be in the shop for weeks.
Good news: I'll save $ on gas and ride my bike in the meantime.
Bad news: What bike? It got stolen last week, remember?
Good news: Okay, well, I think my policy provides for car rentals during repairs. Didn’t I sign up for that?
Bad news: Nope.
Good news: Hey, my sister said she’d lend me her extra car while mine’s out. That's incredibly nice of her.
Bad news: Right, but... You mean since she bought a new vehicle, she never got around to selling the old one? That car’s been sitting around for so long, it required us getting it jump-started, smog-checked, insured, and registered with the DMV, not to mention cleaning off the foot of dust sitting on top of it. Wasn’t that gray thing once green?
Good news: So, all these chores will help her sell it later. And hey, it’s a Mustang.
Bad news: From 1994.
Good news: So?
Bad news: 12-year-old cars are like 12-year-old children: The foreign kids are precocious little things solving complex equations in three separate languages. But the American ones are stupid, lazy and already have arthritis and clogged arteries.
Good news: Maybe the car ain’t much, but it’ll do. I don’t have far to drive these days anyway.
Bad news: Because I don’t have a job.
Good news: Because I’m on hiatus. Our show got picked up for another season and I’ll be working again soon.
Bad news: Well, I’m not being as productive with the free time as I’d planned.
Good news: Right, because I’ve been having fun hanging out with Adelphia.
Bad news: She went out of town this week.
Good news: That’ll give me time to do things I wasn’t getting done.
Bad news: Who we kidding? I’m gonna procrastinate and watch baseball games.
Good news: Did you see the Yankees beat Boston five in a row?
Bad news: Uh...
Good news: Yes...?
Bad news: I don't have a negative spin on that. That’s friggin’ awesome!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Thanks to Aimee, who in the comments on my last post, cleared up Kate's misunderstanding about “Adelphia”, who is in fact the cable provider for areas of Southern California, not the name of my Cute Girlfriend. But I think I’ll refer to her as Adelphia from now on.

Things with Adelphia my girlfriend are excellent and Adelphia my cable is still working too. In fact, Adelphia was just over at my place watching Adelphia with me. I'm madly in love with Adelphia, and I don't mean the company recently bought by Time Warner. That Adelphia is an overpriced whore, even if lately it’s been unwittingly servicing me for free.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Say what you will about the diminishing quality of Hollywood’s output, about ridiculous theatre prices, about inflated box office figures that don’t reflect the shrinking number of ticket purchases. Pontificate all you want about the advances of DVDs and home entertainment systems, not to mention computer and mobile technology. Just stay outta my lane when watching the podcast from your PDA while driving your Prius and I won’t disagree.

It’s probably why the movie business is so frustrating. And I’m looking to make a living in television because there are more creative opportunities with the idiot box. Yet ironically, I cancelled my cable (and if the cable guy ever actually came to disconnect me so that I stopped getting reception for free, I wouldn’t even be able to watch reruns of the show I worked on). Meanwhile, I’m using Adelphia’s money on Netflix, so I can catch up on shows I’ve heard are better than movies like "Lost" and "24", not to mention rent all the great cinematic masterpieces I’ve missed.

But I’ll tell you this: There’s nothing like seeing a flick on the big screen.

I hate to sound like the friggin’ Academy here, but it's not self-congratulatory coming from me: How many experiences do you remember sitting at home watching a DVD? Probably not many. Usually the best ones were notable only because your attention toward the latest video release was interrupted by the person sitting next to you on the couch… and maybe while you and your date were saying, “oh, I can see why this got so many Oscar nominations -- what wonderful cinematography and check out that costume design and sound effects editing,” you were really just hoping one of you would make a move on that cheap date already.

But in the theatre… well, I’ve got so many great memories. From when my family took me to see now-classics by Spielberg and Lucas to years later catching old epics re-released on widescreen, how could I forget where and when I saw ‘em? Or the way the film affected me -- while seated with hundreds of others, and the music swelled during the fifty-foot close-up of the pensive protagonist, my emotions were soaring. Then I got up and by the time I was walking up the aisle, I realized that Forrest Gump or Good Will Hunting was a big manipulative piece of crap.

And then there’s flicks you know will be schlock.

One of my best times at the movies was as a teenager when my friend and I were roaming around Manhattan all day. But we ran outta money fast, and had just enough cash to catch the train home… plus a few dollars. We were near Penn Station, getting ready to go, but I hated to cut our jaunt in NYC short -- the night was young, the city were dirty and so were we… but unlike the streets congested with commuters, our pockets were practically empty. What could we do? Where could we go?

The answer was just uptown a few blocks: Times Square.

This was before Giuliani and Disney ruined the most gloriously ruined area of New York. Back then, 8th and Forty-Deuce was beautiful -- a cesspool of sex shops, street hustlers… and cheap second-run movie theatres.

So for about three bux, we got to attend a double feature of… shit, I think it was one of those Fletch flicks and Friday the 13th Part Duh. It didn’t really matter. The first film was hard to enjoy. Chevy Chase’s deadpan lines were drowned out by all the loudmouths in the audience. Clearly the wrong crowd for that kinda movie. Most of my fellow cinephiles were too busy shouting about who stole their crackpipe and throwing 40 ouncers across the aisles.

The second movie was different. ‘Til then, I never understood the allure of slasher films. So the hockey-masked unkillable killer’s gonna kill the next moron. Where’s the thrill in that? I realized the problem was I had only seen these movies on VHS or cable -- at home -- thinking perhaps watching ‘em alone would make ‘em scarier, and of course they weren’t. But that’s not the point. These movies aren’t truly terrifying -- they’re tailor-made for Times Square viewers talking back to the screen.

Whatever dialogue or plot the screenwriters might have intended was superfluous. The soundtrack from the seats made the mediocre movie magnificently more memorable:

“Oh, shit, girl, don’t go in there, you gonna die!”
“Get her, Jason! Chop her up!”
“Haha! That’s what you get, bitch. Stay the fuck outta Crystal Lake!”

Friday, August 11, 2006

The first clue something was wrong came when I found a broken piece of plastic on the ground next to my car as I slipped in behind the wheel. Even after I took off and turned left, and the signal blinked more rapidly than normal, I was still oblivious. I guessed I was so sluggish and jonesing for morning caffeine, everything else seemed to be going at twice the speed.

But when I got out at the café, I finally saw the problem: the back corner of my car was dented. The left rear panel was knocked inward, so it stuck out the side, mangled, and the clear plastic protecting the taillight was smashed. It looked the way I felt, but a strong cuppa coffee wouldn’t fix the fender.

On one hand, no big deal. Not only in the grand scheme of things, but even in my little world. The car still runs fine; it’s just cosmetic damage. I never cared about impressing people with my wheels -- if I did, I certainly wouldn’t drive some non-descript reliable mid-sized sedan already with dings and scratches. My hoopty sure as hell ain’t no high-priced Hummer or hybrid.

But I also got pissed off. This is gonna cost just enough to hurt my bank acct., but not enough to make it worth getting the gov’t sanctioned scam artists (i.e., insurance companies) involved. And since I’m leasing, I’ll have to get this repaired sooner or later. All because some careless asshole couldn’t even take the fucking responsibility for turning my street into a demolition derby. If I ever find out who it is, I’m gonna give their skull the Malachi Crunch.

I was keeping my car on the street because I was doing my friend a favor by letting him use my space at my apt. while he was away on vacation. In the meantime, I made sure to get an extra parking permit since I had loaned out my other one. And I was super careful to watch out for the signs about street sweeping, to avoid paying more money to the city of Santa Monica. And what did my consideration and diligence get me? A kick in my car’s ass and a pain in mine.

Shit happens, I guess. Get too philosophical and get frustrated. It’s just a fucked-up fender. Fabricated by the friggin’ fickle finger of fate.


That night, my bike was stolen. Some asshole must've actually broken the Kryptonite chain lock and swiped the thing. What a day. Glad it's over -- if that kinda luck continued, I'd be afraid to go for a walk and have someone Gilooly my kneecap.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

My Cute Girlfriend and I may be facing some trouble with our relationship soon.

We’ve been having an awesome time, whether hanging out at the beach (she looks hot in a bikini), watching DVDs (she likes horror and comedy as much as me) or bouncing around bistros in Hollywood (she’s turned places I used to hate into my new favorite haunts). Even minor setbacks aren’t a big deal because we’re there for each other. (She needs a new car; I need a new job.)

So what’s the problem?

She’s a Mets fan.

Actually, this isn’t a problem for me. I respect my fellow NYers who root for the underdog in our hometown. And since the Mets have been dominating their division all season, I assured her that if they make it to the World Series against anyone but my beloved Yankees, I’d cheer for her team. (Although -- and I may be wrong about this -- but no matter the match-up, I’m pretty sure the American League will destroy the National League. Just don’t tell her that.)

But like most people, my girlfriend sees the Yanks as the evil empire and grew up giving them the Bronx cheer. (Good thing we’re both Jewish, ‘cause otherwise this is a real mixed relationship.) She agreed -- albeit reluctantly -- to root for the Bombers if they face anyone but the Mets in the World Series. We’ll both cheer on New York.

Since my Pinstriped Pals have taken over first place in the AL East, there’s a better chance for another Subway Series: Yankees vs. Mets ’06.

And then this relationship could be in big trouble.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


1. Runners: If you’re jogging with friends on the path and see me approaching, one of you should dash ahead or behind the others to make room. If you don’t, be prepared for running to become a contact sport. I’ll stop trying to emulate marathoners from Zimbabwe and instead make like Zidane. If you and your friends are going the same direction as me and taking up the entire path, you’ll know if I’m trying to pass you as I come up breathing like Darth Vader. Luke, I am your Faster. Step over to the Dark Side. Or the Light Side. Just step aside, motherfucker.

2. Rollerbladers, skateboarders, razor scooterers: go play in traffic.

3. Bikers: I don’t care if it says it’s a bike path. The sidewalk is hard concrete, whereas the asphalt is softer and gives a little cushioning for us feet-pounding runners who frankly, work harder at exercise than you coasting gear-shifting wimps. So gripe at me one more time and I’ll derail your derailleur and leave you with less balls than Lance Armstrong or that testosterone-taking loser Landis.

4. Cars: Run over the rollerbladers, skateboarders and razor scooterers. Bikers, too.

5. Dog walkers: Thank you for keeping ‘em on a leash. Fuck you for letting the leash extend across the path like a damn tripwire. I’m coming back with pepper spray for the puppy and mace for his master.

In summation: Get the hell outta my way. I’m runnin’ here.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


The coffee shop.
There, you can see the woman spending hours on her Sudoku puzzles, shrieking when she can’t solve a square, or leaping from her seat to adjust her pink fishnet stockings that she wears over her aging thighs and under her hot pants every day. But she’d be considered chic compared to the dude who stands just under five feet even with his four-inch heel cowboy boots and ten-gallon hat, offering his two cents to each busy barista, coffee-drinking customer, or anyone who’ll listen. Most people won’t. Some just want a place that’s quiet and cool to catch up on reading and writing during a hiatus from their TV gig. What’s Sudoku Sadie and Tiny Tex’s excuse for not working?

The Santa Monica Public Library
. You ever go into a health food store, and notice how all the shoppers look deathly ill? You can’t tell if you’re at the All-Organic Emporium or Auschwitz? And you wonder why a place that’s supposed to support a strong body attracts such sallow-faced sickos? Same with the library. A place full of books should be populated by intelligent, healthy-minded people, but everyone there seems to have some kind of mental disorder. Sit down at the tables by the periodicals or non-fiction section and there will be all sorts of disturbances by others twitching, sniffling, humming or scratching the odd patterns in their facial hair. It’s frustrating. The facility itself is great -- recently-re-constructed, the library is beautiful and open and kept cool all day. But it’s also free, making it a refuge for the damned.

Home Depot. My dad always hated that store, because like all franchises, they take away from the small businesses. Home Depot hurt our local King’s Hardware, where you got great individual attention. The knowledgeable guys working there could settle arguments on how to fix the pool pump before me and the old man went to blows wielding his rusty socket wrench and skill saw as weapons. Now my dad’s not around and neither are the local places. So I’m left with no one to stop me from killing the pretty boy condo kid trying to snatch the last A/C unit from my cart. Or the loudmouth sweaty guy who forgot to measure the dimensions of the entrances on the building he’s subcontracted for, so he’s blocking the aisle, looking to buy up every screen door in every size, while a certain individual just wants one 36-incher, dammit.

Michael’s apartment. In his newly air-conditioned living room -- that can also be well-ventilated with his freshly-installed screen door -- wondering if it was all necessary now that the unbearable heat-wave has finally broken, but satisfied nonetheless, there’s just one weirdo. One quiet, cool weirdo.

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