Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bad news: I’m back to working hard this week.
Good news: Why is that bad news? I like my TV gig.
Bad news: Well, I didn’t always feel that way. I was starting to get burnt out on writing raunchy rhyming quips. “Speedo / torpedo”… “Toodle-oo / Booty-do”… Please.
Good news: Yeah, but then one Friday about a month ago, the post production associate producer --
Bad news: The what? The who?
Good news: Just shut up and lemme finish. She said that she had to go back into the field for a few weeks, so I’d be filling her position in the meantime, starting Monday . That was exciting.
Bad news: True, but she also said it wasn’t definite, that I should wait to hear from the executives about this temporary promotion. And the weekend came and I heard nothing.
Good news: Which gave me a chance to describe my mood with an adjective I don’t normally get to say.
Bad news: Using the word “crest-fallen” isn’t good news.
Good news: Okay, but when I came into work on Monday, I did have the job.
Bad news: Woulda been nice if the execs had told me beforehand.
Good news: So they forgot.
Bad news: Did they forget to pay me more, too?
Good news: Maybe not. Didn’t I get my direct deposit for an extra week?
Bad news: That could’ve been a screw-up in payroll.
Good news: Sshh. In any case, it’s a great opportunity. Now I’m working closely with the editors to help put the show together. I’m more creatively involved, and feel more vital to the whole operation. Not so superfluous.
Bad news: Nice word.
Good news: See? I’m increasing my vocabulary, too. Plus, the execs and everyone’s saying I’m doing a great job, that I can do almost anything. Writing, associate producing… hell, I’m even helping out with the creative consultant work. This could be good for me in the long run. And they’ve extended this position another week.
Bad news: What position?
Good news: As post-production associate producer.
Bad news: Oh, right. So maybe I should demand more money.
Good news: Maybe. But do I have to be so recalcitrant?
Bad news: I don’t think that’s the right word. Stick with “booty-do”, wouldya?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

For Thanksgiving, I made my pecan pie and chocolate pecan pie as usual, with a few changes. This time, instead of buying pie crusts from the store, I made 'em from scratch. And instead of going at it alone, I had help from my girfriend. But you know what they say about too many cooks, especially when the new one insists we actually follow instructions. Instructions. Pfft. I call 'em "guidelines". Oh, and here's another difference in word choice: I say the pies will be delicious, maybe a bit... "crunchy". Adelphia calls it "overdone".

This morning, to work up our appetite for the meal, we also wanted to do a little more vigorous exercise than usual. Adelphia's not a regular runner like me, but she suggested we do a 5K race together in La Cañada. I thought it seemed crazy to drive 25 miles just to run 3.1 miles. Instead, she joined me on a jog down the beautiful beaches of Santa Monica and Venice. And she kept up even though we went twice the distance of that race.

Now, we're both famished and ready to feast. But poor Adelphia has since been suffering from a sore knee. I'm incredibly impressed that she could do so much and still meet my family for Thanksgiving, undoubtedly exuding her usual bubbly disposition... but I'm hoping neither the pies taste nor Adelphia feels... "overdone".

Have a great holiday.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Just got back from moving furniture around at my sister’s place. Sure, schlepping schtuff like a schmo for my schister is kinda schitty. And this week I’ll probably be chauffeuring all my relatives as they converge to her place for Turkey Day, and then, during the weekend, all around Los Angeles -- the artistic cousins to the Getty Center, the gay ones to West Hollywood and the alcoholics to the Betty Ford Clinic.

But really I can’t complain, considering all my sister does. She’s pretty amazing. Showing grace under fire. Or under a shit storm. Literally.

Her beloved condo had its waste pipe burst a few weeks ago, so as the building’s hired workers were cleaning out the crap and replacing all the refuse-ruined rugs, my sister crashed at a friend's house a few towns over. She spent almost a month living out of a suitcase, entertaining her pal's toddlers and still doing her growned-up lawyer job.

This weekend she’s moved back home, but can’t exactly relax ‘cause she’s gotta get the joint fixed up for all family from out-of-town, and the feast to fill our bellies. Yeah, like she had any time for that -- it’s not the last minute yet.

She spent one morning volunteering for her mentoring program -- kind of a big sister thing, which is cool especially because it was in Pasadena, a town my big sister knows, unlike Malibu -- the site or their last outing, where she might get lost and call me non-stop for directions.

Then we both raced over to see our mother, reminding the ol’ lady: “no, Mom, today’s not Thanksgiving so please stop worrying about what to wear or about that grudge you hold against your sister-in-law back in Jersey whom you haven’t seen in years and who won’t be coming anyway… we’ve had this same conversation every time we see you… since August, Mom.”

And finally my sister went to volunteer again, helping to set up her silent auction banquet, raising money for a firm that provides legal service to low-income families. In the live auction, I wanted to bid on the golden retriever puppy, but it went for over three grand. Cute, but too rich for my blood. Otherwise those functions are a bit on the boring side. But since my girlfriend Adelphia came -- looking cute, too (and more glamorous than any puppy) -- she helped me get through it.

That was just Saturday. Today my sister did another hundred tasks for the holidays, and I think she still has to file some legal briefs on Monday morning. Is her personality type A? Fuckin’ A.

So playing moving-man-little-brother wasn’t such a big bother. At least I can say I did something. About the only other task I accomplished this weekend was finishing the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle.

And, hell, I had Adelphia’s help with that, too.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Three reasons why celebrities are a lot like handicapped people:

1. You don’t wanna stare at ‘em, but you can’t help yourself.

2. They sometimes say they don’t want special treatment. But you feel wrong telling a blind person: “Hey, nice to see you.” Or directing a guy in a wheelchair: “Walk this way.” Or when first introduced: “What’s your name? Oh, great to meet you, Tom Hanks. So, what do you do for a living?”

3. Despite what they say about special treatment, they always get better parking spots than everyone else.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Michael is driving his girlfriend Adelphia back from a party in Redondo Beach:
A: Wait -- you’re going the wrong direction. Make a left here.
M: Left? That takes us south.
A: No, that’s the way to go.
M: If we wanna head to San Diego.
A: I’m telling you.
M: That you wanna go to Mexico?
A: Michael.
M: Adelphia. I think we should make a right.
A: Well, I know we should make a left.
M: Okay…
Michael turns the car around, starts humming a tune.
A: What are you humming?
M: Ay ay ay ay… canta y no llores! Porque cantando se allegran--
A: Michael!


There’s this Italian restaurant in my neighborhood which I discovered has good food… and awful service. Not that they’re slow; they’re too quick. Quick to get their customers outta there. Maybe they were closing soon, so they were anxious to get their day’s work done. Who knows. Had they said something to that effect beforehand, I wouldn’t have sat down and felt rushed the entire meal. Instead, they hesitated to provide us grated cheese or more water when we asked, but were hovering like flies to remove dishes and condiments from the table right under our noses. So damn annoying. That’s when I warned my friend I was about to make this dinner a painful experience for the wait staff. I ate my entrée very very very slowly… one tiny bite at a time… no, no, I’d tell the waiter, I’m not done; I’m still eating this… nibble nibble nibble…


While continuing to drive Adelphia in the direction she wanted, Michael starts humming a new, indiscriminant tune.
M: Doo doo doo doo doo…
A: Y’know, none of these streets we’re passing seem familiar…
M: Dee dee dee di dee…
A: What are you humming? Is this another joke about Mexico?
M: Da da da da dah…
A: Okay, okay, I think we’re going the wrong way.
M: Doo dee doo dee dahhhh…
A: Fine. And… *sigh* you were right.
Michael stops humming, smiles and starts to turn the car back around.
A: But you don't have to drive so hurky-jerky... turkey jerky.


Early yesterday morning, my downstairs neighbor woke me up to the sound of him pounding so damn loud, again, as he was refurbishing his apartment or building a giantic mousetrap, who the hell knows. I stomped on the floor, which he could definitely hear, but the construction didn’t stop. When I finally got out of bed, groggy, fighting a cold and desperately in need of sleep, I stepped out my apartment on my walkway to look down and see him moving furniture outside, still making a ruckus. He saw me and just said, “Hey, I had to do this.”

A minute later he took cover as he was pelted from above by my leftover Chinese firecrackers. Pop! “Seven…” Pop! “in the” Pop! “morning” Pop! “on a” Pop! “fucking” Pop! “Saturday?!” I had to do that, too.

As I continued to bomb that schmuck, he said, “Hey Mikey, next time, don’t stomp on the floor, just knock on my door and talk to me.” I was too tired to remark that I shouldn’t have to get out of bed to point out his lack of common courtesy. And what happened later would confirm that it wouldn’t matter if I did.

In the afternoon, I came back to my building and saw all his furniture was back inside his apartment and it was quiet, but the lights were on. Obviously, he was home, but done for the day demolishing the place. I rang his doorbell to find out when he planned on starting tomorrow, then tell him no, please keep it quiet til at least 9AM on the weekend. But he wouldn’t come to the door. First he ignored me. Then he said who is it, whattaya want? Then he shouted go away. Wouldn’t answer, wouldn’t acknowledge me, nothing. I kept ringing his doorbell, knocking on the door; I wanted his attention the way he had gotten mine. He yelled, “What the fuck are you bothering me for? I’m sleeping, motherfucker!” In the afternoon. Like I was trying to do at a reasonable hour, before the sun was even up. Well, he just summoned The Incredible Jerk.

I went upstairs to my place and repeatedly bounced rubber balls against the radiator, knowing that would resonate downstairs. For a good hour, I did the trampoline dance, flouncing myself onto the floor as I blasted my stereo. And I don’t mean fun catchy rock-n-roll; I tried to find the kinda stuff that no one would like: Obscure heavy metal bands, some old Yiddish folk music only my grandparents understood, Blind Willie Johnson -- he sounds like Froggy from the Little Rascals thrown in a cuisinart.

Maybe all that was excessive, but it kept that schmuck below me from sleeping. The next day he was too tired to tear apart his apartment, and I got a good night’s rest. I’m tellin’ ya: never try to out-jerk the Jerk.


As Michael whips the car around in the direction Adelphia recognizes as the right way…
A: Why do you gotta peel out like that?
M: Oh, sorry. You don’t like the smell of burning rubber?
A: No, that I love. But it’s the sound of squealing tires that really turns me on.
M: I thought so. That’s why I do it.
A: And I’m gonna call you “Screech” from now on.
M: “Screech”?
A: Yeah. Like you do whenever you make a turn.
M: I thought it was after that kid from “Saved by the Bell”.
A: Oh, yeah. Him too.
M: Does that mean you wanna make a sex tape with me?
A: *shrugs* Okay.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Roller derby rocks! Why am I first learning this?

No idea, but here’s...


10. Any event that makes you sign an indemnity waiver before you go inside has got to be awesomely dangerous. Okay, maybe the venue just didn’t have any insurance, but it’s more thrilling to think that if you show up… you might die.

9. It’s a real sport, with rules and penalties and player positions called Jammers and Blockers.

8. Who cares? It’s also a buncha chicks going fast and beating the crap outta each other.

7. And still, you gotta love the pageantry of it all. The first team on the track was the Sirens, wearing police uniforms with mirrored sunglasses and fake mustaches, skating to “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys. Guess which team I rooted for.

6. The skaters all have puntastic names like Juana Beatin and Amber Alert. Weird coincidence that all these women wound up doing the derby. Their parents must've planned this, right? I mean, you don't name your baby daughter Thora Zeen and expect her to grow up and play badminton.

5. The crowd was eclectic. There were Hollywood hipsters (unemployed musicians and actors), groups of hot-but-harsh mamas (rival roller derby divas), totally-tattooed and facial-pierced people (gangrenous pin cushions) and beer-swiggin' redneck families (Lindsay Lohan and her parents in five years).

4. The alcohol was good and inexpensive. The Lohans had the right idea.

3. The Sirens were easily outmatched by Fight Crew, whose team's theme was feisty flight attendants. ("Non-stop flight to pain. Turbulence and extreme force are expected.") Their squad included the tough Militia Etheridge, the demure-but-deadly Judy Gloom, and the speedy star, Crystal Deth, who seemed way too tiny to be out there, but no one could ever catch that skinny little skater as she zipped around the track and eluded every body check.

2. But the other women weren't so lucky. They'd get banged into the rail right in front of you. This is where I began to wonder about that indemnity waiver. But who could worry about that when sexy skaters in skimpy skirts are flying at your face?

1. I jokingly asked my cute girlfriend if she'd every wear an outfit like that. Adelphia said, "Oh, I've got clothes like that somewhere in my closet. I could dress up like a roller derby girl for you..." What?! Again -- Why am I first learning this?

Friday, November 03, 2006

I’ve had a lot of fun this week, and I’m not gonna let Gene from work ruin it.

Monday, I attended a showcase entitled "All About Walken". Several actors -- men and women of different sizes and ethnicities -- each imitated the legendary Christopher Walken. They captured the mannerisms, odd pauses and inflections he uses to make even a simple sentence hysterical. (“More cowbell!”) It began with a punny rendition of “These Boots are Made for Walkin’”, and continued with scenes from all his great movies, including dueling Walkens doing monologues from True Romance and Pulp Fiction. They acted out scenes from movies he should’ve been in, like Fight Club and The Wizard of Oz and ended with a little spry Asian guy doing the dance from the “Weapon of Choice” video.

Of course, I loved it. I’ve admired Walken since I first saw The Deer Hunter, and he became a favorite of mine ever since The Dead Zone and Biloxi Blues -- two films that were unfortunately not featured in the showcase. But that’s because Christopher Walken keeps doing so much awesome stuff it’s hard to pick what’s best. He often makes otherwise mediocre films fun, and in the process attracts generations of new fans.

When I told Gene about the show, he had his own anecdotes about Christopher Walken. Back in his days as an actor, Gene had done a play with the man in Massachusetts. At first, the stories fit into the lovable quirkiness you’d expect: Walken stepping off stage during a performance, in full costume, to buy a sandwich from the local deli. The way he told Gene the Jew, who was playing a Mexican named Jorge, “You look like a Jorge.” But when Gene said that Walken became really erratic and blew off the entire performance because he had to deal with his coke problem, I was disappointed. He did drugs? Gene thought I was being naïve; why else did Walken act that way? I said I just thought he was crazy.

Then Tuesday was our office Halloween party -- attendance in costume was mandatory, but there was no room for guests. So I asked Gene what his pregnant wife was doing tonight -- going out as a knocked-up nun? He said nah, she wasn’t into the whole exhibitionism of Halloween. I’m not either, I said, but my girlfriend is. Adelphia was disappointed we couldn’t spend the holiday together and dress up as a couple. Frankly, I was relieved, but one idea of hers I thought might’ve been fun was to go as Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. I get a kick out of proof that wealth and white trash aren’t mutually exclusive. Gene just shrugged, barely interested, except in his own thoughts: “Well, you realize of course, the problem with that concept is that it’s hardly original. I’m sure you’ll find lots of people doing the exact same thing.”

Okay, well, good thing we weren’t. Whatever. Others’ opinions about outfits don’t irk me; I only bring this up because of what happened later that night.

At the office party, we were talking to the executive producer, admiring everyone’s costumes, and she mentioned a couple of her friends whose original dress-up plans fell through -- to go as Britney and K-Fed. Gene guffawed, saying, “Oh, that’s funny! What a great idea!”

What a kiss-ass. Right in front of me, within a half-hour of scoffing at my identical suggestion.

Okay, okay. Gene’s generally a great guy. So let’s put things in perspective a little: 1) it was a party atmosphere, so he was trying to be upbeat; 2) the woman who would've been Britney had two little kids everyone at work knows, and the tykes’ participation in the dysfunctional family might’ve upped the ante on the portrayal; 3) it’s simply good business sense to laugh at the boss’s joke; and 4) perhaps I should take it as a compliment that he’s honest with me -- when he says he likes my ideas he means it.

And maybe I just felt weird at the party. The editors put together a group costume and included me, to do “Deal or No Deal”. They would all be the hot ladies in matching dresses, holding the briefcases with different dollar amounts. I would be Howie Mandell. Yeah, we both shave our heads, so it was an obvious choice. The good thing is I didn’t have to look silly like all the guys in drag; I just grew in a soulpatch like Howie’s and donned a sports jacket. But the performance pressure was on me. I had to do all the talking, emceeing and spoofing the game show with inside jokes about our show. It went well, but afterwards, I still seemed wrong for the whole scene. Normally I’d be fine just wearing a blazer, but not so surrounded by Chewbaccas and Wonder Women and other cross-dressers. When everyone looks ridiculous but you, you’re the oddball. I felt like the school narc or the principal chaperoning the prom.

So it might’ve just been me; I cut Gene some slack and enjoyed the rest of the week. Wednesday night I took Adelphia out for a romantic delicious dinner at BLD, a restaurant Gene had suggested. His know-it-allism had redeemed itself.

Still, I’m wary. Thursday night I met a friend for drinks, at the newly-renovated Sofitel Hotel. I was pretty impressed with the place and had a good time, but I won’t mention it to Gene. Knowing him, he’d pontificate on how they used slave labor to rebuild the joint, or that all the money we’re spending on drinks goes to the hotel’s investment in drug cartels or something. He’d spoil the whole experience. But if one of the network executives had gone there too, Gene might say the Sofitel rocks, dude.

Perhaps I’m not prestigious enough to prevent him from pissing on my parade.

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