Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Still preparing to move, I’ve continued to declutterize my place, finding old family photos that take me back. Like to the days when I used to move all the time -- usually from one place in Manhattan to another, and back to Long Island.

My parents were always happy to have me home, mostly so they could have me do chores around the house. Or on top of the house. At least up there no one would see me in my schlumpy work clothes -- that goofy t-shirt and shorts -- or catch me sleeping on the job.
ladld roof
But sprucing up the ol’ homestead was a fair tradeoff, ‘cause I got my father to help me with nearly every move. Dad was always in and out of the city, so I’d load up my stuff in his car and save myself from hiring some guys, paying moving fees, and suffering any aggravation. Well, two out three ain’t bad...

“Mikey, what’s this?” Dad said. “We can’t tie your mattress to the roof of the car using this. I told you to get twine.”

“It is twine.”

“No, it’s string. I said twine.”

“I know you said twine,” I said, “but maybe you meant rope.”

“I meant twine.”

“And I did get twine. That’s twine.”

“This is not twine! This is string. Twine is what we need. Twine!”

“Dad, you told me to get twine. I asked the guy for twine. This says twine on it. See? Twine! I did exactly what you said when you said to get twine and got twine. Maybe this looks like string to you but it’s called twine. And maybe what you think is called twine would really be rope--”

Twine! I know what twine is! And this is not twine!”

We wound up saying the word “twine” another hundred and twenty-twine times before it got too late to go back to the store. So, like the two schmucks that we were, we tied the mattress to the roof of the car, figuring that doubling and tripling up the twine would hold the mattress fine.

And it did, the whole way through rush hour traffic out of the city. But as you can guess, when we finally picked up speed, the mattress caught the wind underneath it like the wing of an airplane, burst its triple-twine constraints and flew away somewhere on the Long Island Expressway. We were heading east and the mattress was west, and never the twine shall meet.

My father and I argued the rest of the way home about whose fault this was, repeating the word “twine” over and over until it lost all meaning and we just started cracking up. I’m glad Dad had a sense of humor about it, but since I still had no mattress, he made me sleep outside on the chaise lounge all summer.

Anyway, hope you liked that story. I’m gonna be on hiatus here for a while. I’ll be back, just taking a blog break. I’ll miss y’all. Twine knot to miss me too much.

Monday, February 26, 2007


Santa Monica, CA -- Local film buff claimed his girlfriend subjected him to mental torture all week, forcing him to pay attention to shallow, mind-numbing fashion assessments, which culminated in last night’s Academy Awards ceremony. He insisted he was “systematically losing gray matter to the red carpet”.

Michael, a writer, blogger and self-described “poker shark and badass mofo”, was taken in by law enforcement authorities for making wild-eyed random public outbursts such as, “those shoes don’t go with that outfit!”, “nice fake-and-bake!” and “what the hell is a halter top, anyway?!”

Psychology experts identified Michael’s condition as bringing new meaning to the term “fashion victim”. They stipulated that he’d been mentally flaggelated by the woman he dated -- his girlfriend, Adelphia. One therapist said her fashionista fascism was akin to mixing the Marquis de Sade with Oscar de la Renta.

Issuing a statement inside a strait-jacket, Michael said the sadism started off slowly. He was forced to watch “American Idol” every weeknight, kept captive through characterless contestants continuously crooning off-key. But the worst, he said, was the boring banter from the judges, and his kidnapper’s evaluations of their appearances, which was relentless, despite Michael pleading to change the channel or turn off the TV.

Neighbors reported hearing such exclamations, including: “I don’t care about Paula Abdul’s hairstyle! She wasn’t hot in that ‘Cold Hearted Snake’ video back in the ‘80s and she isn’t any better now! So please don’t make me decide if she’s dressing too slutty. I don’t know!” Other local residents heard Michael begging not to offer an opinion on Simon Cowell’s jowls. “Maybe he got a face lift, maybe not. What do I care?!”

Representatives for Adelphia responded by saying that she has been nothing but generous and considerate to Michael. Last Friday, for example, he utilized her Valentine’s Day gift certificate to get a shave at a luxurious Beverly Hills barber shop. There were attractive women serving him scotch and letting him relax and peruse the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue with Beyoncé, before shaving his stubbly face smooth.

Michael agreed it was a wonderful gift. And, ironically, allowing a stranger to put a straight razor to his neck was less scary than seeing Ryan Seacrest on the television screen. But then, he pointed out, came the pre-Oscar proceedings.

“There was that damn Ryan Seacrest again. And Joan Rivers. And some other low-brow brow-lifted bitches babbling to Jessica Biel ‘bout Manolo Blahnik. No more!”

Yet Michael said his girlfriend wouldn’t give in, going on all night about gowns she regarded as gorgeous or garish. By the time Helen Mirren hit the stage, Michael snapped. He went into a catatonic state, and his colleagues couldn’t believe he didn’t comment on Martin Scorsese’s overdue but undeserved-this-time Oscar win. When asked his opinion, Michael simply muttered, “Marty should really trim those eyebrows…”

Therapists say Michael is making a steady recovery and has learned to forgive his style-minded sweetheart. He hopes to help make Adelphia’s birthday tomorrow a memorable one. But first, he said, he plans to come back from tonight’s poker game and give her an agonizingly boring blow-by-blow account of every hand.

Friday, February 23, 2007

It's Friday -- time to do some partyin' & drinkin', feel ruff and sick as a dog, and caption some photos. Have a great weekend.

Breast implants? What a great birthday present! Thanks, everybody!

Joke's on you guys. I'm the designated driver but I don't even have my permit yet!

Yes, I'm the one who poisoned the wine! Notice I'm not drinking?

Ugh, that's the last time I party with Scrappy Doo and his uncle. The whole night was a blur after the eighth Scooby snack.

Steady... steady... hey, this is a lot easier to balance on my head than a biscuit.

It sucks enough being a cold compress, and now I got some dirty mutt on my ass.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


10. Mousy Bookseller Woman, who took each hardcover and paperback off the shelf, leafed through the pages and then typed something into her cellphone -- checking their resale worth on the internet. Another prospective customer got pissy about her monopolizing our mini-library, but hell, she was gonna take a whole bunch off our hands, right? After a half-hour, she put all the books back except for four, and paid me a dollar. Guess the others had no profit margin buyin’ ‘em at two bits per book.

9. Stuck in the '80s Movie Buff who was pleased to see I was selling all my VHS tapes, since he himself has no intention on upgrading to DVD. Problem is, he wasn’t familiar with any movies that were made after 1989. So Silence of the Lambs, Fargo, Pulp Fiction -- never heard of ‘em. He bought my copy of Johnny Dangerously.

8. Crotchety Old Couple, who showed up at the end of the day and complained about the quality of my girlfriend's dresses -- this one had a tiny rip, that one was a bit worn out, didn’t we have anything in top condition? Listen, Gramps, all the serious vintage retailers were here at 6AM. We were still trying to set up, and those early birds were pulling everything off the rack as fast as we were putting ‘em out there, praising Adelphia for her good taste in clothes that are now too big for her. Next time get here sooner to get the best stuff. Although what’s left is still pretty good. I don’t know who or what a Betsey Johnson is, but I’m sure at $5 an outfit, it’s a friggin’ bargain.

7. Packrat Dude, who I talked into buying lotsa stuff, from my old snorkel gear to Adelphia’s old plastic Kabuki masks. Guy seemed pretty nice, but definitely had a weird vibe, especially as he said he’s been living in his place for a long time and couldn’t help accumulating so much stuff he doesn’t need. I thanked him profusely for his business… (but secretly, it was for the reminder that without this yard sale, that coulda been me.)

6. Guy who kept his old mother locked in the backseat of his car, looking at him forlornly while he shopped.

5. Honduran on a Huffy, who told me through his broken English and my broken Spanglish that he didn’t have a license, so he rode his bicycle everywhere. Of course, he bought the most unwieldy item at the sale: a big old heavy fax machine, which we put in a garbage bag to dangle off his handlebars as he swayed and pumped the pedals up Hollywood Blvd. I was even more impressed with him than the fat woman who bought the big bookcase and balanced it against a tiny shopping cart to wheel down the sidewalk.

4. Israeli Neighbors, who walked into the middle of the yard sale, then lit up their unfiltered cigarettes and acted like Tel Aviv’s answer to The Wild and Crazy Guys. Still, they purchased my series of annual Malibu 10K T-shirts because the race’s dolphin logo made them miss swimming with the dolphins in the Red Sea.

3. Louise, a strange women with crazy multicolored hair and an even crazier detached expression who asked for Adelphia’s number to inquire later about any items that weren’t sold. Actually, Louise thought Adelphia was so fun and cool, she wanted to be her new best friend and has left over a dozen messages on Adelphia’s voicemail, asking if they could hang out and do a psychic reading together.

2. Sneaky Bastard, who tried to trick me into selling some jewelry for nothing. He had held up a set of playing cards with naked ladies on the back (talk about a full house, da-dum-crash!, poker? anytime! pow!, I’d like to swab that deck, ka-zing!) and asked me how much. Since he had already paid a fair price on a bunch of my sweaters, I waved it off as a freebie. What I didn’t notice is that in his hand he also held one of Adelphia’s necklaces. A minute later, she asked me if that guy had paid for it -- he was about to leave -- and then he insisted I told him it was free. We set him straight, but I didn’t appreciate the ruse. He knew damn well I was distracted and was only giving away the ba-da-bing, not the bling.

1. Ditzy Dog-Loving Director, who asked us to hold onto a few items while she went to her yoga class. But when she came back she said that she had been to the animal shelter and couldn’t decide if she should get this cute Pomeranian she saw there. Clearly needing guidance, I just tried to show empathy by saying that a friend led me a dog adoption website and I found it hard to look away; my friend described it as doggie porn. “Funny you should say that,” she said, “‘cause I direct adult films for a living, but maybe I should work with animals. I mean not in porn, but, I mean… See, I already have four dogs and two horses. Ever since my husband died, they’ve been a real comfort to me. They all sleep in my bed every night. Well, not the horses, at least not every night, but… Should I get another dog? I don’t know…” Fascinating. Now, pay for the stuff, willya?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Unlike me, my girlfriend Adelphia isn’t much for gambling. So when we disagree on something, she won’t bet me money on who’s correct -- we play for the bragging rights.

She won the first dispute -- I believe it was a crossword puzzle clue about a Maurice Chevalier film -- and flaunted her bragging rights as if it was the Heisman Trophy, the Stanley Cup and a World Series ring wrapped up in one. One tremendous taunt: “I got the bragging rights, I got the bragging rights! You ain’t got none! You want some of my bragging rights? Psyche!” like Eddie Murphy’s old ice cream standup schtick, only with more tush-shaking torment. I woulda found it infuriating if she wasn’t so damn cute.

Still, I had to win it back and outdo the dance.

So when I did -- correctly identifying the lyrics to the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” (Yeah, so what?) -- I was sure to do my patented Irish jig and relish relinquishing those rights.

And I didn’t stop there. Not only did I keep winning double-or-nothing on that wager, I developed a new dance each time. When I was correct that Edie McClurg appeared in the movie Carrie, I did a sort of interpretive performance that said: I’m drenched in pig’s blood but I have telekinetic powers… and the bragging rights.

Then Adelphia insisted Back to the Future won a Best Screenplay Oscar, but I knew she was mistaken; it went to the guy who wrote Witness. Appropriately, I did the Marty McFly/Chuck Berry duckwalk with an Amish raise-the-barn-roof-Jebediah jitterbug.

When my girlfriend learned that the heavy metal classic “We’re Not Gonna Take It” was in fact a Twisted Sister song -- not Quiet Riot -- I headbanged to my own rendition of “Cum On Feel the Bragging Ritez!”

Last weekend, she swore VH1’s “I Love the ‘70s” premiered before “I Love the ‘80s”, and I knew better. I did a Cabbage Patch dance mixed with a disco hustle.

By this point, I’ve won the bragging rights over more times than I can count. Adelphia acts irked at being egged on each time, but I’m beginning to think she’s purposely making preposterous claims just to see what kind of choreography I’ll come up with next.

The other night we were discussing the upcoming Academy Awards, and how too often the wrong picture wins. Like in 1999, I said. American Beauty wasn’t better than The Insider that year. And in my opinion, the Oscar should’ve gone to The Sixth Sense. “Oh, that was very well-written,” Adelphia said. “At least it won Best Screenplay.” I disagreed, but she was positive.

Here we go again, I thought.

But she took a moment to reconsider. That’s when she remembered us renting The Lady in the Water. We were curious to see how pretentious the director had become, but no wretched review could prepare us for that self-indulgent time-wasting piece of shit. And Adelphia realized the film would’ve been even worse, if that was possible, had it been advertised as “From the mind of Oscar winner M. Night Shyamalan”. So she didn’t bet me.

I love winning these challenges, but this time I was relieved. I couldn’t come up with any new moves for the “I See Dead People and The Bragging Rights” dance.

Monday, February 19, 2007

My poker face must’ve been Botoxed.

At tonight’s game of Texas Hold-Em in Venice California, I did much much better. It came down to former underdogs, One-Hand Mike vs. Two-Hand Tooley. Yeah, the guys who used to get knocked out early were now the ones keeping everyone up late, watching the stacks of chips change hands between us.

When I was down to a short stack, I tried some new tactics – going all in without looking at my cards (Tooley called it and I won), going all in when I had a flush (he didn’t call it), then going all in when I had a pair of 10s (he called it and also had 10s, but a higher kicker). So I took second.

I don’t mind; it was fun. Nerve-wracking -- my elbow is chafed from nervously grinding it into the table -- but fun. And everyone acknowledged I played well; Tooley admitted he had the cards all night, and more importantly, we ended Indiana Slim’s three-time winning streak. Now he’s anxious to recapture his glory, but I reminded him of his advice, which I used to my advantage tonight -- patience.

And as we headed out, Slim said it was weird to leave without a big wad of cash. Tooley said it was weird to have the money. The weird thing for me was that I still left with nothing, but felt pretty good about it.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Hey, it's almost the weekend -- time to give birth to some more photo captions.

Ah, John Junior. He's got his father's name, his mother's smile, the mailman's eyes -- hey, wait a minute!

Look at them cute li'l fingers -- all fourteen of 'em. I'm the proudest father-cousin in the world!

That crazy priest was wrong. From where I'm standing, his birthmark reads "999"!

The Durante family's got a new boy! And I'm sure Jimmy's little nose will never grow bigger than his old man's!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

This afternoon we had a staff meeting where we discussed the ramifications of recent executive layoffs at the network -- it may or may not affect our show coming back. I was hoping to find out if I’d be getting a promotion and raise next season, now I’m just hoping there’ll be a next season. Also, I haven’t received my W-2s yet, even though the network’s payroll subcontractor swears they mailed ‘em, but they'll look into it, and possibly can’t send another set ‘til March, so I can’t do my taxes and find out if I'm getting a refund right away either.

Money, job, career… Man, I wanna know what’s what -- now.

I also wish I had won at poker the other day. That woulda been a nice supplement to my income.

Still, I did better than before -- I lasted way longer than one hand -- I played smart. But soon I got sick of waiting for a good hand and started betting big with mediocre cards. When I got wiped out, well, at least I got to go home early and get a good night’s sleep…

The guy who won at poker has done so three times in a row, and about seven times outta the last ten. I asked him how he does it -- what’s his secret? -- and perhaps his answer is advice to all these issues:

“Patience,” he said.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day and what-not. 'Scuse my cynism; sweetness doesn't escape me, but no sense sickening my site-seers with such sappy sentiments. Instead, today I'll honor some things I've always loved: Cartoons, the blues and my ol' dog Max.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sometimes you gotta go with your gut feeling about people, even if your brain tells you otherwise.

Take for example, this guy I know -- I’ll call him Ace. Ace is very friendly and energetic, and we share similar interests -- e.g., we met via a weekly running group -- but there was always something unsettling about him. Whenever we hung out, I later felt kinda undermined somehow… I wanna think positively about people, so I discounted the feeling. But it was impossible to ignore Ace’s insidiousness.

A while ago when I was trying to get back into working for TV, I asked Ace for any suggestions, since he did promos for a major network. He wanted to discuss it while we went running. I can barely chalk and goo wum, let alone powwow while pounding the pavement, but whatever.

Ace spent the first two miles describing how he was jockeying for a better position at the network, and he was frustrated with the TV biz. Then he said he didn’t think I’d find anything I wanted, based on my limited experience. I kept quiet, even when he asked to stop and walk for a minute -- like I said, I can barely galk and woo chum, let alone recap my resume while running. I thought Ace wanted to catch his breath before trying to discourage me some more, but he kept prattling on.

So after a minute or two, when I suggested we start picking up the pace again, he said, “Okay. I stopped for you.” Excuse me? “Yeah,” he said, “you were struggling.”

What kind of pseudo-psyche-out competitive bullshit was this? Ace changed the subject quickly. He asked about my lovelife, and instead of focusing on the girl I was seeing at the time, he wanted to know about the flaky one I had stopped dating.

Now sufficiently warmed up, I said that she had called me, perhaps to get closure, but she tried to blame everything on me. It was totally off-base, and I calmly and respectfully explained to her the reality of what had happened between us. By the time I was done, she not only acknowledged I was right, but admitted she had some serious issues to work out, and wow, I’d been so cool about this, hey, maybe we could give this another try. Yeah, sure, I’ll call ya, I said.

The reason I mention this story-within-a-story is the way it was concluded. When I said I was kinda pleased with the way I handled it, Ace said, “Yeah, you did okay there, Mikey, but you coulda done better. Trust me.” What the hell was this guy’s problem? His advice was to be a complete jerk to the girl, which wouldn’t have been any where as much of a vindication. And in the process, he was being an asshole to me.

I suddenly found lots of energy and sprinted away from Ace and pretty much avoided him after that. But as time went on, my annoyance subsided. Ace always seemed really happy to see me at our running group. Mutual acquaintances thought he was such a nice guy, although they may have only known him superficially. Still, perhaps I was making a too big deal about this.

So when he invited me to a little party at his place, I considered it. My girlfriend and I didn’t have any other plans that Sunday afternoon, and Adelphia suggested that if I just go with the right attitude, it might be fun.

And she was right. I had a nice time -- meeting Ace’s girlfriend and his friends, seeing his new house, having a drink and catching up. That wasn’t so bad.

We left and as we got to my car, Adelphia said, “Okay, that guy is totally obnoxious.”

Really? Adelphia is much sweeter and less cynical than me, and for her to say that… Was she right? Had I tried so hard to be nice, I had turned off my jerk-radar?

She reminded me the way Ace pontificated about every damn subject -- annoying know-it-all. Well, that’s the way he is, I thought. Everyone’s got opinions; Ace just states his more vehemently than others. The reason I call him Ace, by the way, is because like Ace Ventura, he tends to talk out of his ass.

But this Ace has a way of laying little insulting grenades. He pulls the pin and your politeness doesn’t permit you feel the blast right away. Only later do you realize how you’ve been undermined.

That evening, Adelphia reminded me about this exchange at Ace’s party:

"Oh, cool, you get The New York Times," I said. "Adelphia and I have been doing the crossword puzzle every Sunday. It’s fun. We’re getting pretty good. It used to take us forever, but today we finished it in under an hour."

In an offhand, dismissive way, Ace said, "Yeah, we do it, too. Takes us a half-hour."

Ace’s girlfriend looked at him, as if to say, What the fuck you talking about? I had looked at the puzzle, thinking, Then why isn’t there a single square filled in?

And that evening, Adelphia and I looked at each other, knowing: Sometimes you gotta go with your gut feeling about people.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The other weekend my girlfriend Adelphia and I found the perfect apartment for us to move into together. A large split-level two bedroom in a good neighborhood nearby that was totally affordable. The catch: It had already been rented. Adelphia was really disappointed. I was too, but I wasn’t discouraged. ‘Cause when it comes to finding an apartment, I’ve always had incredible friggin’ luck.

That’s how I found the place I’m in now. I started looking in Santa Monica, but everything was so pricey, I had to move my search east and north, heading further inland and away from where I wanted to be. A casual acquaintance heard I was moving and when she asked where, I grumbled. “Koreatown, East LA, Bakersfield, who knows.”

“Oh,” she said, “’cause I know of a one bedroom that just opened up, but I guess you don’t wanna live in Santa Monica.” What?! Hell yeah, I do!

I rushed over and it was exactly the right size, in the right neighborhood, and with rent control, at the right price. I’m tellin’ ya, I got the right mojo.

And not just here in California. I always scored in New York, too. People complain that Manhattan is so much more expensive than LA, that you pay an arm and a leg for a place, which is good ‘cause those extra limbs would only take up space in the shoebox you wind up in. I don’t know what they’re talking about. Out here, you gotta have a decent car -- between payments, insurance and gas, I’m dropping $500 a month. In New York, I’ve had great apartments and never paid more than $350 a month on rent.

When I graduated college, my friend and I looked to rent a place in the city together. He went through some realtor but it was a waste of time. I remember being shown some apartment in Chelsea -- wrong area and out of our price range -- and the realtor was pushing the hard sell, saying the current tenant was Al Pacino. I noticed all the clothes still in Al’s closet looked like they'd fit someone over six feet tall. So either the realtor was desperate enough to try to bullshit and star-fuck us into the lease, or Serpico really shrunk on the silver screen.

We were getting desperate ourselves, but then I heard my uncle knew someone who had a place on the Upper East Side. It was a whole floor of a brownstone he’d been renting forever for only $1000 a month. My college friend didn’t wanna do it. He was nuts -- worrying that it was an illegal sublet and there were rumors that the hospital that owned it might tear it down… someday. (I went back years later and the building’s still there.) It was a railroad flat with several bedrooms, a huge living room, and even came furnished, albeit with old, unstylish furniture. The place was a total bachelor pad, but what the hell were we, after all? Rich yuppie scum?

Maybe my friend was. He took some dinky studio for a grand a month. Sucka.

I had the brownstone for the same amount. If I got some roommates for that huge place I’d cut my rent down to practically nothing. And finding people to live with can be done in a New York minute. Normal people -- that's another story.

My uncle's friend knew another couple of recent grads looking for a place, so he hooked us all up at the brownstone. When I first met these guys, they seemed okay. I thought I might be friends with my new flatmates but I was flat out wrong. Two obnoxious inconsiderate loudmouth morons. I didn't even mind the slovenliness and stupidity (our electricity was shut off every other month). Those schmucks were mensches compared to their loser friends always hanging around -- a circus of jerkus.

Most of it's a blur to me now, but I recall one of them blowing up the mailbox with illegal explosives, and another getting smashed and smashing our apartment windows. Then he hit the street, kicking in store windows with his steel tip boots. The cops caught him when he cut his Achilles tendon on the broken glass. Never saw that asshole again. But his burn-out brother was still crashing on our couch. I'd ask the guys what that he did besides sit there all day and stink up the joint, smoking joints. One of them shrugged and said, "Sometimes he has to go to court."

But on the other hand, it wasn't that big a deal. This was my post-college pad, nothing more. A place to sleep when I wasn't working or roaming the city. For a third of a grand, I could afford to put up with the citizens of Dumbfuckistan.

One good thing about these guys: while their degrees from Rhode Island School of Design didn't help with their careers (they worked at a paint supply store), it did stir up their artistic skills. Whenever they got wasted, these RISDies would repaint the apartment. So every day the entire place had some funky new colorful pattern.
apt1 apt5 apt3
apt2 apt4
When my sister was coming back to New York to do a summer legal clerk job, she called and asked if she could crash with me. She and I were often in flux in the city and would stay with one another. I looked at my dickhead roommates -- I could put up with them, but why should she? I said, "Yeah, but we're not staying here."

It seemed crazy to give it up -- neither my sister or I were making big bux; why forfeit paying so little for that big apartment on 76th and Lexington? 'Cause I knew I could do better. And I did. I found another longterm sublet -- huge place with three bedrooms on 82nd and Park. To move, I just wheeled my stuff, including my bed, uptown a few blocks. The new apartment rented for $650, to split with my sister. So I went from paying $333 a month down to $325.

The current tenant had held onto the unit forever, and it showed -- the apartment was still decorated in a flashy '70s style. We called the master bedroom "The David Cassidy Suite". But that joint rocked. And though my sister and I might fight when we're around each other too much, we managed to keep cool for those few summer months. We even threw an awesome party together. Hey, we had plenty of space in that cheap place. And my sister's a lot better than those lunkheads I left behind on Lexington.

It's likely my luck with leases will last. I'm not worried. Adelphia and I will find an apartment we both love. Or at least, this time, I know I'll have a roommate I love and get along with.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Another photo for your captivating captioning capabilities... capisce?

Man: You are getting sleepy... You are completely in my control...
Woman: Cut the hypnotism crap, asshole. I know you slipped me a roofie.

M: Such a vision of beauty and perfection should be admired...
W: Ah, we manicurists love to hear praise, even if it is from narcissistic sickos.

M: Open your mouth and close your eyes and you will get a big surprise. Hey, c'mon, open up!
W: I heard his fly unzip. I know this surprise ain't big.

M: How 'bout now? I scrubbed with steel wool this time.
W: Nope. Scratch your privates that often and the smell never goes away.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I didn't give a shit about the Superbowl last weekend. Football's fun, but I'm not much of a fan. Maybe it's because LA doesn't have a team, but I grew up in New York and, well, don't the Giants play in Jersey?

Actually, this all probably due to the fact that my dad never really watched football either. Winter weekends in my family didn't revolve around the NFL. Nearly every weekend revolved around the OTB.

My ol' man went to the Off-Track Betting parlor whenever he could. Then he'd come home and give us a play-by-play of his handicapping heroics or heartaches. Instead of agonizing over an interception and if that damn coach had pulled his QB in the second half, Dad would subject us to tirades about a blown daily double and if that damn jockey hadn't pushed the horse in the backstretch...

I always thought handicapping was just his hobby. Until, while finally clearing out some of my clutter that I inherited from my late father, I found that the papers filling his file cabinet weren't important business documents, but stacks of spreadsheets and speed statistics from Saratoga, Belmont Park and Aqueduct Racetrack. An entire drawer was filled with envelopes of betting slips, and when I emptied those, I found enough loose ones for a taxidermist to stuff Seattle Slew.

It seems a little crazy, perhaps a bit OCD -- did football fanatics keep this much paperwork on Peyton Manning? Then I remember my dad saying that the IRS would nail him whenever he hit a big payday. So he needed to have proof that he was investing money into his gambling as well as collecting.

And as if to emphasize that point, I also found my father's old tax returns -- in addition to his salary as a construction consultant, he listed the supplemental income he earned at the OTB. Jeez, who knew playing the ponies was so lucrative?

So regarding the Superbowl, I stand by my apathy toward the -- who won? The Colts? Are they still in Baltimore? I got a better question: Are the Thoroughbreds running in Hollywood Park or Santa Anita this week?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Hope it's clear enough in this photo -- see that bruise near my left eye? Some shiner, eh? But it's no big deal. You should see the other guy.

Here's the other guy:
That's right, my gym bag beat me up.

This morning, as I swung the strap over my shoulder, the padlock fastened to the corner came around and BAM! Clocked me in the temple. Damn thing hurt so bad, I had to skip my workout.

But tomorrow I try again. So stay tuned for the rematch:
Michael vs. Gym Bag II -- The Scuffle with the Duffle

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Declutterization discovery #527: I wuz robbed of an edumication.

Perhaps the only reason I saved so many of my high school term papers wasn't to revel in the good grades I received, but to marvel at how undeserved they were. This one, entitled "Mark Twain: Fathoming America", somehow impressed my 11th grade English teacher -- a notorious curmudgeon and martinet -- enough to land me a perfect score and to get him to reconsider ol' Samuel Clemens.

Thing is, I didn't read a single book. I skimmed the novels (Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court) and a biography the night before it was due, stayed up 'til 3 in the morning, composing a first and final draft on an electric typewriter.

My mom, then going for her PhD in American history, rolled her eyes and said that my procrastination and last-minute bullshit would make me flunk for sure. And she wasn't gonna drive me to summer school, dammit.

When I showed her my rave review and score of 100, she couldn't believe it, and insisted on grading it herself. Mom found lots of awkward phrasing and several forced, unsubstantiated conclusions, but still, she admitted it wasn't that bad. She gave me a B-. And a warning that while high school teachers may just steamroll their students through, this crap wouldn't fly in college.

Being a smug teenager, I reminded her I was gonna be pre-med and taking mostly science classes where you didn't need to know how to not write real dumb or nuthin'. Of course, now I'm employed as a writer -- ain't life funny? Then again, it's just for TV, which is pretty much bullshit anyway.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Is it cool to save all your paperwork over the years?

I'm talking notebooks from college, high school midterms or old tax returns (even though the IRS doesn't need 'em, perhaps you've kept them as a sad reminder of how little your income bracket has gone up)?

You're cool with trashing those things. But how can you throw out your stacks of travel journals or folders and folders filled with story ideas and creative thoughts? Well, you gotta be discerning.

For example, if you find your list of what's cool and what isn't -- it might be interesting to see where your mind was at years ago, or how people's images held up since then -- but after reminiscing... chuck it. Also... "Cool" may be subjective, but making cool lists is definitely not cool.

Christopher Walken
Eric Clapton
Bruce Springsteen
Walter "Clyde" Frazier
Chow Yun-Fat?

People who think they're cool, but ain't
Warren Beatty
Mick Jagger
Frank Sinatra (Rat Pack)
Dennis Hopper
John Cougar Mellencamp
Tom Jones
Dave Letterman

Dead but very cool, and you should know 'em
Yves Montand
Thaddeus Stevens
Emma Goldman
Miles Davis
John Garfield
*Muddy Waters
*Che Guevara
Edward R. Murrow
*James Dean
*Billie Holliday
**Robert Johnson


Jodie Foster
Denis Leary
Sara Gilbert
Winona Ryder
Jon Stewart

Uncool stuff or automatic elimator

Country musicians
Rap musicians
Body piercing & excessive tattoos
Guys with really long hair

Close but no cigar
Tom Waits
Shelly Winters
Mel Gibson
Paul Newman
Joe DiMaggio
Smokey Robinson
Robert Mitchum

Despite popular belief these people are NOT COOL

John Lennon

Once were cool, but not anymore
Woody Allen
Marlon Brando

Friday, February 02, 2007

Declutterizing the chaos in my cabinets and closets, I came across a calendar of crazy pics calling for captions. Keeping this crapola is killing me, but I couldn't keep it concealed.

I used to post these a while back, and some readers were particularly clever at adding creative blurbs. I may post some more in the future, depending on how much the comments get filled up, or how much my apartment needs to be emptied...

"Don't worry. I'm sure we'll catch up to those three girls on the hares."

"Remember when we started this ride, back on the other side of the field? My fifth birthday sure was fun, huh?"

"So we got our spring break places mixed up, but who says 'Turtle Beach' isn't just as exciting as Myrtle Beach?"

Violin Guy: You can make it! Just a few more yards!

Drum Guy: Next time I run the musical-instrument-marathon, I'm carrying a piccolo.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Do you like sushi?

If you live in LA, and want to dine socially, you better. Telling Angelenos you’re not into that Japanese cuisine can be like living in London and not drinking tea or lager. Trust me, I know, ‘cause I’ve done both. And been asked: “Dude, like, how can you, like, not, like, like sushi?” as well as: “No pint fer ya? Bloody Yank got no bollocks.” Apparently my picky consumption habits turned me into a pariah wherever I’ve been.

Here in Southern California, I often wind up being the limiting factor in a bunch of friends going out to eat. What do we want for dinner? Anything but sushi, I’d say. And the group would groan, like I’m so damn difficult. I swear -- it’d be easier to be a vegetarian in this town. Or keep Kosher.

It wasn’t that I hated sushi -- I just didn’t like it that much. I love seafood. And I’m not even adverse to eating raw fish. In fact, the only thing I find disgusting is the seaweed they sometimes use in those rolls. And any connoisseur would tell you that California rolls are to sushi what a cheeseburger is to filet mignon.

So there are all the other fancy varieties to eat, which I found to be just okay. Since they’re uncooked, they’re often flavorless. Then my friends advised me to add some soy sauce, ginger and wasabi. Sure, then your meal’s good, but add salt and spices to styrofoam and it’d taste better, too.

Everyone out here would rave about Roku-this or Tengu-that, but the few times I tried ‘em, I came away from the restaurant with an empty wallet, a possible case of salmonella in my belly, and a bland taste in my mouth. But really, I didn’t hate sushi.

What I did hate was the reaction from the masses, the false implication that I wasn’t an adventurous eater. So I decided I’d agree to go next time. Even though giving into peer pressure goes against everything I learned from those ABC Afterschool Specials.

But I also remember something my grandmother taught me. As a kid, whenever I said I didn’t care for a food she wanted to prepare, she’d talk about how my uncle used to hate eggplant. Then one day when he was older, he mentioned he was eating eggplant parmigiano, saying that now he loved it. “So you see,” Grandma would say, “your tastes can change.” Yeah, maybe. But it was hard to take the lesson seriously considering how often I heard it. The old lady was forgetful, sometimes repeating the same story several times in a single conversation.

She’s not the only wacky one in my family. I also recall the day after Thanksgiving, when many of my relatives were in town, driving me nuts. They all had different LA things they wanted to see, specific stores to stop at, or criticisms about California culture. Though I did my best to accommodate everyone, it was impossible. I dreaded planning the day-after-Turkey-Day dinner.

When they all declared they wanted sushi, I said fine. For once they were in unison and I didn’t want to be the voice of dissent. When they argued about which of the hundreds of Japanese joints here to go to, I put my foot down and picked a friggin’ place already.

Turned out, I chose the sushi restaurant with the worst service in town. Our edamame appetizer took an hour, the miso soup was cold, they screwed up every order and the waiter spilled soy sauce all over my aunt’s suede jacket.

But y’know what? The food was actually good.

Maybe I was just so damn hungry. Or relieved we finally got somewhere as a group. Or happy the relatives had food in their mouths to stop them from going on about how LA is so shallow and image-conscious -- an observation they made during the profound endeavor of label-shopping at the malls of Beverly Hills. Whatever the reason, sushi hit the spot that time.

Then the other day, our post-production team at the TV gig went out for an end-of-the-season celebration. When they suggested Katsuya for our last meal together, it wasn’t just the cuisine that made me pause, but the suspicion that I might not fit into the restaurant’s hoity-toity crowd or its decorations featuring minimalist paintings of Asian women’s eyelashes. Still, I said nothing ‘cause I didn’t want to be the monkeywrench in the sashimi.

And once again, I kinda liked it. This time, I could chalk up my enjoyment to the laughs we all had, recapping our workplace’s wackier moments. Or maybe it was that we put the tab on the network’s expense account -- expensive yellowtail tastes better when it’s free. Or the couple of cocktails -- good booze apparently goes well with raw fish, and there’s nothing like coming back to work tipsy from your double-vodka lunch.

Or maybe, just maybe, Grandma was right.

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