Sunday, August 31, 2008

Usually graphic novels and comic books never translate well to live action, but this is one instance when the real life version was even better. The wedding was a spectacular, practically perfect romantic evening with family, good friends and of course, my wonderful wife. If you've bounced around Blogland lately, you may have heard about our cupcakes, photobooth, Yankees & Mets yarmulkes and other fun personal touches. I may provide further photographic evidence, but for now, here's the cartoon wedding program. I expect our honeymoon to exceed my doodled expectations, too.

(Click on each pic to enlarge, or use these shortcuts: Pages 1, 2, 3 & 4).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Well, I made it through all the pre-wedding family gatherings. Stressful but fun. I can't remember the last time I was around so many Long Island accents. My fiancee's relatives were a witty wisecracking bunch. It made me wish more of my family could be there, especially my parents. And not just so I could get some Yankee fan support to counteract Adelphia's NY Mets lovin' aunt, who I think liked me in spite of my Bronx Bomber allegiance.

My aunt and uncle agreed that my late grandmother would've loved my fiancee. She would've gotten a kick out of Adelphia's quirky, funny, animated, sweet personality. "She's quite a gal," Grandma would say. "You should marry her."

My sister brought over our bar mitzvah albums -- she had two copies of each, inherited from our late mother and grandmother, so now I have a set. I really don't know why 13 is considered the age at which you become a man, because you're so clearly not. Not mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and definitely not physically. This was one of the better pictures of me. Believe it or not, in the other photos, I look twice as much like a scared awkward prepubescent dork.

Adelphia and the rabbi believe that my parents will be somehow present at the wedding, looming in the background, watching me proudly, like in this photo. I don't know if I believe that. But I know my wedding pictures will be better.

Partially because I'll be thinking of them, partially because our photographer is awesome, partially because I'm no longer stuck in an awkward phase of boyish bewilderment and teenage angst, partially because our fashions and style aren't stuck in an awkward phase between '70s drab and '80s flash.

But mostly because my soon-to-be-wife is beautiful and I'll actually smile -- I'm marrying the greatest woman ever. I love you, Randi.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hours til wedding: 51
Hours til rehearsal dinner: 28
Hours til relatives congregate at our house for a get-to-know you BBQ: 4

I'm fairly confident everything will go well. Just in case, I try to imagine the worst case scenarios. Earthquake? Flash flood? Plague of locusts? Zombie apocalypse? Not a problem.

But here's a short list of things I pray don't happen... again:

1. A relative disappearing for two days because they got wasted and somehow wound up passed out in a stranger's car outside another stranger's house in Rancho Cucamonga, wherever that is.
2. Adelphia and her mother fighting.
3. Adelphia and her sister fighting.
4. Adelphia, her mother and her sister fighting.
5. Pseudo-psychoanalysis, unsolicited advice, or any conversation that begins, "Mikey, I've known you your whole life and you know what your problem is?"

Monday, August 25, 2008

Dear new co-worker,

Let’s recap, okay? The first thing you said to me was: “It is nice to meet you, but just so you know, I’m not much of a chatter.”

I smiled and took your word for it, since the only other time you talked to me all week was when I was setting up my voicemail and you told me to turn down the volume. “That’s pretty loud if I can hear it over here," you said.

And a week later, when I asked if you had a pair of scissors to borrow, you seemed annoyed and told me, “Yes, but you really should get your own.” In other words, just this once, and don’t ask again. No problem.

I would believe that you really do like things quiet, but you also like to make a lot of noise yourself. With your loud, nasally, boisterous outbursts. Your phony kissing up to the bosses around here, your gossiping with other biddies, your sing-song phone voice and referring to everyone who calls in as “sweetie” or “doll”.

Hey, lady, I get it. You are a chatter, but you just didn’t want to chat with me. I don’t take it personally -- how could I? -- you don’t know me.

But I’m getting to know you. Too well.

I’m pretty sure you’re not Latina or Parisian, but you like to talk to your special someone on the phone with a mixture of Spanish and French cutesy-wootseyisms. “Papi! Ça va? Ohhh, Papi… Buche buche…” I think that last bit is a bastardization of a foreign word for kisses. It’s nauseating in any language. I try not listen, but it’s hard to avoid. The specifics are as syrupy as the tone. I can't tell if these hourly sweet-nothing conversations are with a boyfriend, girlfriend, dog, cat, gerbil or perhaps giraffe, judging from the photograph at your cubicle of you kissing one of those tall spotting grazing animals. Safari? Zoo? Romantic getaway?

Whatever. That’s cool. I’m not judging, mind you. Even though I suffered some personal trauma with a pack of wild giraffes, you go ahead with your interspecies verbal intercourse.

I just don’t wanna hear it.

Just like you don’t wanna hear anything from me. Still, I'm gonna tell you something: I’m getting married in 3 days. I’m madly in love with my fiancée and can’t wait to call her my wife. We’re often overcome with affection…

But out of consideration and professionalism -- and an attempt to avoid hypocrisy -- I try to keep that shit in check during working hours. Tomorrow’s my last day at work before we get ready to tie the knot and go off on our honeymoon. I’ll be outta here for 2 weeks. So for one day, can you spare me from hearing “Ohhh, Papi, je t'aime, Papi”? Once I’m gone, you can get back to your loud-mouthed long-necked love.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Nearly freaked out last night.

No, not because our wedding is in 5 days. No cold feet so far, and I think everything's running smoothly. Once I put that piece of furniture together, my to-do list was -- ta-da -- done.

To celebrate, we went out to Santino's, a popular tapas place down the street that's always packed, for good reason (excellent empanadas, frittatas and crepes) and now we have a new location to add to our repertoire, relieving us of our restaurant rut.

I came home and had some scotch from our new buffet, watched a few minutes of my favorite Saturday night programming: The Olympics and Be the Marriage, treated myself to some extra dessert and preceded to blog.

I was licking a nice chocolate ice cream cone, and enjoying it so much... the top scoop fell off the cone and landed right on my keyboard. That's when I freaked out.

Adelphia jumped in and started reminding me of when her hard drive crashed a few months ago. Her life was on the computer and she couldn't retrieve any of her data -- she felt like her existence had faded somewhat.

So she furiously cleaned off my keyboard of my confectioned cream computer contamination, using her magic keypad fluid and delicately dabbing between the letters Q, W and A with a Q-tip... Sweetly assuring that that horrible thing shouldn't happen to me.

Now, if my hard drive crashed, of course that would suck. But I'm careful to make sure I backed up most of my important stuff. I got CD-ROMs, printouts, stuff e-mailed to myself so it exists in cyberspace... I even gave specially authorized personnel copies of my data in case of the worst. I'd hate to lose my computer 'cause I spent a lot of money on it within the last year. And where would I blog?

Fortunately, my better half saved the day. So why was I still freaking out the rest of the evening?

Dude, that was the last friggin' ice cream cone in the freezer.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

How to get your future wife really turned on: Take this thoughtful but monstrous wedding gift that she registered for but was completely intimidated by the assembly required, use your clever construction skills and awesome set of tools...

...and turn it into this:
IMG_2253 IMG_2252

She'll be raving about this great piece of furniture for the rest of the night and oh-so-thankful for you for setting it up. If that doesn't work, use the alcohol that she neatly lined up atop your new buffet to liquor her up and get her in the mood.

Friday, August 22, 2008

When I'm so tired I feel like I'm dead
I try to rhyme the thoughts in my head
Like last night we met with the rabbi guy
And then had dinner up at Versailles
Garlic chicken and rice and plantains in Encino
But had to drive home, so I had passed on the vino
Would the spices screw up my digestion?
Queasiness soon answered that question.
So made up for it with a salad today
When I had lunch with the blogger AJ
But now I'm hungry and tired and yet I'm still typin'
For all this I wish I got a nice stipend
I think I take food and sleep to a higher degree
Too bad those skills won't earn you a PhD
'Cause I know you know I'd already have my diploma
But now I gotta go eat and slip into a coma.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

So last night, I was home, watching the Olympics on TV.

During the 20 seconds it took for Usain Bolt to set a new world record in the 200m, I had a weird feeling.

During the 20 minutes of celebration afterwards, I realized what it was:

I knew this would happen.

No, I'm not clairvoyant. I just have Yahoo as one of my bookmarked websites. And they splashed on their main page the information about Bolt's achievements. I had forgotten that I had read about this... and now know I'm knowing the news before the night when I need to know.

Understood, the time difference with China isn't U.S. prime-time friendly. But the real culprit is Yahoo. They barely try to be spoiler-free, with headlines along the lines of:

"a beloved American gymnast finally gets her gold"

or "a sprinter does something that's never been done twice in the Olympics. We won't give anything away, but he's from Jamaica and his name rhymes with 'schmolt'"

or "Michael Phelps does something eight times". Hmmm, what could it be? If he were Jewish like Mark Spitz, maybe it'd be light the menorah candles...

Yahoo went out of its way not to ruin reality competition shows for its TiVoing fans. The top story would read: "On American Idol last night, Paula Abdul says something incoherent", which was true every episode, but the headline would still attract readers who enjoy watching that Straight Up trainwreck. And despite Yahoo's spoiler-free teasers about "Dancing With the Stars", it didn't matter anyway. Who didn't know that Christina Yamaguchi would win it all? And who cared?

But I wanna get my e-mail messages without getting messages about who got the medals that morning. If Yahoo could only give me the winners at Hollywood Park ahead of time -- that'd be a real goldmine. Otherwise... screw you, Yahoo.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The conversation that saved me $3, but made me want a $6 scotch afterwards:

Michael: How much to get this shirt pressed?
Dry Cleaner: Six dollars.
M: You’re kidding.
DC: Alright, five.
M: Keep getting more serious.
DC: No, really it’s five dollars.
M: But if I had this shirt laundered here, it’d be two bucks.
DC: You want it laundered?
M: No, just pressed.
DC: But you just said laundered.
M: No, I don’t need it laundered. It’s new. I just unwrapped it and it’s perfectly clean. But it’s all creased from being in the packaging and I can’t go to my wedding in a wrinkled tuxedo shirt.
DC: Of course not.
M: So how much would it be to just get it pressed?
DC: Well, let’s see… a tuxedo shirt…
M: It’s the same as regular shirt. My fiancée wouldn’t let me get one with the ruffles in front.
DC: Ruffles would be harder to get pressed.
M: Of course.
DC: That would cost more.
M: I'm sure. Good thing it doesn't have any ruffles.
DC: So…um…
M: Okay, pretend you just laundered this shirt, and now, before you put it on the hanger, what do you do?
DC: We press it.
M: How much is that?
DC: Oh, I see. Two dollars.
M: Thank you.
DC: We'll have it for you Friday.
M: Great. Now, any bars open around here?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Adelphia: Thanks for getting me kosher deli, but I'm so sick, I can hardly taste the matzoh ball soup.

Michael: Oh, you poor thing. Then no sense you trying that black and white cookie either.

A: I knew it. You got the black and white cookie for you.

M: I got it for us to share. That’s what the black and white cookie’s all about. Sharing. And equality.

A: Yeah, but knowing you, you're gonna end up eating most of it.

M: Just the black part. I like the chocolate.

A: No way -- this cookie's got more white than black.

M: Really?

A: Yeah, that's not fair. What, were they trying to reflect the U.S. population?

M: I doubt the baker was following American demographics. If he was, by 2042, it'll have to be the other way around.

A: Talk to me then, maybe I'll share my cookie.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Those running races in the Olympics were exciting, eh?

Like that Jamaican guy who set the world's record in 100m, even though he started celebrating before crossing the finish line?

Didn't you love the understatement by the American dude who got the bronze and said of his Jamaican rival (aptly named Bolt) -- "the guy can run"?

And that Romanian 38-year-old woman who left her younger competitors eating her dust in the marathon?

Or that cute Jamaican girl with braces who finished first in the woman's 100m?

And hey, it's not the Olympics, but how 'bout the drama surrounding that local American runner? I mean, he'll never set a world's record, but he is determined to accomplish his goal of averaging 4 miles a day. It'd beat his previous yearly bests, of around 3.5/day. The trick, he decided, was not to punish himself by training for a marathon, and then burning out, but doing a steady regimen of exercise -- 5-6 days a week, alternating 8-10 mile runs with shorter ones and other workouts.

He was even building a surplus of miles so he could take time off during his upcoming wedding and honeymoon -- gonna be kickin' it in Kauai. But then all the planning for these upcoming events made him so busy, he was falling behind too early. Oh no -- what's this obsessive human odometer to do? Run a marathon to catch up? Well, he did the 26 miles in the last 4 days, but he's too exhausted to do anything else, like type up the groom's to-do list or track down the right tie for his tux.

Or go running. And now he's fallen behind again.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Yesterday's post about my dad puttin' up his one-two dukes reminded me of other faux feistiness from my father.

Back in elementary school, I was briefly friends with a couple of schmoes Matt and Paul who at the time I thought were cool, so me proving my coolness quotient meant avoiding the parents if possible, even when the guys came over my house. Unfortunately, we had to go through the kitchen to get outside, and my dad was there, reading Newsday or The Times or The Daily Racing Form. Being a polite kid, I reluctantly introduced my friends. "Dad, this is Matt and Paul."

My father said, "Nice to meet you, Matt and Paul." Only he said it in a fake voice -- a deep gruff loud one, like he was growling it at us.

I was completely mortified. "Dad, why are you talking like that?"

"What?!" he said, still in his bass-grumble. "Matt and Paul look like tough guys. I want them to think your father's tough."

I shook my head, still completely embarrassed, and turned to them, clarifying: "He really doesn't talk like that."

Over time, I learned that this was Dad's standard operating procedure. If I ever had a peer to impress, Dad deftly destroyed my desire for dignity. I got off easy with Matt and Paul. He'd tell prospective girlfriends details about my toddler toilet training days, not to mention refuse to stop skinny-dipping at our pool. ("Don't wanna see?" he'd say. "Avert your eyes.") If we were in a public place and there was music playing he'd do his goofy knee-bending dance ("What?! This is good song? I feel like boogying!") despite me begging him to stop or my refusals to acknowledge any family connections.

Disgraceful. Humiliating. Cringe-inducing.

And hysterical.

If I have kids, I plan to do the exact same thing. I'm already working on my white-man's overbite.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

In a tribute to the Olympic games in Beijing, and my late father's birthday today, I present Dad's bout with an up and coming Chinese hopeful back during my parents' visit to China in 2000. Mom and Dad really loved this trip, despite not winning any gold medals or Golden Gloves titles.

The kid in this photo is probably competing in the welterweight division in the Olympics this year. So if he wins, he owes thanks to the American sparring partner he met early in his career. As someone who's stepped into the ring with Hard-Hitting Harvey, I know first hand that the ol' man never pulled his punches.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I just got a message from my sister that my uncle had to have emergency heart surgery. I think he'll be okay, but he'll spend so much time in the hospital he won't be able to make the wedding, which is really disappointing.

Like I said, though, he'll do fine; he's already recovering. In fact, he had the surgery Wednesday, but I only first heard about it tonight and I'll give him a call tomorrow.

Under the circumstances, I'm kinda glad I didn't learn about this sooner. Last night Adelphia and I went to the Hollywood Bowl, and for once, I wasn't worrying about my sick mom or hearing about my cousin Morty passing away. If I had heard about my uncle, I wouldn't have been able to enjoy the performance of The Planets, and I'd start to wonder if my visits to the Bowl cosmically and not coincidentally cause health issues for family members.

So when Adelphia tried to talk me into going next weekend's concert, I refused simply because I can't stand the crowds. Even my childhood crush Donna Summer couldn't get me out among those throngs of people. That's the only reason.

Still, as Howlin' Wolf sang: I ain't superstitious, black cat crossed my trail.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I was listening to the podcast of This American Life while running yesterday, and as usual, that thought-provoking podcast got me pondering personal experiences -- maybe I should do my own video podcast.

But until I work out the technology and get ready for my close-up, I'll have to write out my musings -- specifically, on TAL's theme this week, of "Fear of Sleep". Now, unlike the people profiled on the show, I don't have hypnophobia. I love sleep and welcome it any chance I can get. Even on the job sometimes. But I wasn't always that way.

One of the people on the show saw The Shining as a boy and it scared him pretty bad. It was an okay segment, presented from one of TAL's producers POV as a kid who related to the "Redrum" kid in the movie. I really think I had it worse, though.

The first scary movie I saw was Jaws. I was pretty young and was profoundly affected by it. I drew sharks all day -- picture after picture of them, and then laid awake at night, replaying scenes of Robert Shaw getting eaten, the dorsal fin protruding above the surface, and even my own odd obsessive drawings.

Eventually, I got over it. Perhaps as a kid, there was so much stimuli to distract me over time, that the film became a distant memory. Also, I realized that even though I lived on an island -- as Roy Scheider said in the movie, it's not an island if you look at it from the water, which made no sense, but more importantly, if I don't go in the ocean, I'd be safe from killer cartilaginous fish.

Three years later was Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I thought I had described this movie experience on the blog, but I had only mentioned that it gave me a phobia of sleeping in the same room as plants. I don't trust anything that's alive yet doesn't move or make a sound, and reproduces by having sex with itself.

Seriously, though, this flick fucked me up.

And my parents were no help. They had seen the original version from the '50s and were interested in this '70s remake. And they took me along figuring the kid wouldn't have another Jaws-like incident. But this was worse.

I was literally trembling in my seat. Physically, profoundly terrified. See, the thing is, if you're afraid of sharks, don't go in the water. Jason Voorhees scares you? Stay the hell away from Camp Crystal Lake. And let's hope no one who trained for NASA has a serious phobia of the Xenomorphs from the Alien series.

But the creepy slimy pods of Body Snatchers got you when you were sleeping. How do you avoid sleeping? We spend a third of our lives doing this! Basically, if you live, you die. The paradox was perplexing for my prepubescent pea-brain.

Still, I was precocious enough to purge the picture's possibilities. "That could never happen," I said as we were leaving the theatre. "'Cause the alien plants would have taken millions of years traveling through space to get here."

My mother said, "Maybe they left millions of years ago."

Okay. How 'bout this: "Well, I heard that things from outer space burn up when they enter our atmosphere, . That's why the rocketships have to have special protective covering so they don't get too much damage due to friction during reentry."

Dad looked at me, ready to put the smartass punk in his place. "That's because rockets and asteroids come in at great speed. But these seeds from outer space -- they just floated down."

"Well, but-- okay, wait--" I tried to come up with another hole in this
pod person theory, stammering away.

Mom tried to calm me down. "Don't worry, Michael," she said. "You'll feel much better after you get some sleep."


And that's the other aspect of this movie that was so scary. The paranoia. Everyone's in on it. You don't know who to trust. Even my own parents were conspiring to get me.

Or at least mess with my head. I was seriously traumatized by this movie. That evening, it was one of the nights of Chanukah, and I had gotten this really cool ceramic R2D2 light thing that my grandmother made in her ceramics class. And some board game that was kinda like Battleship or Stratego, but with magnets. I made my sister stay up for hours playing game after game to the flickering droid light. I remember struggling to stay awake and me begging her, just one more game -- I can't go to sleep!

My sister got it, but Mom and Dad thought it was all a big joke. The nights that followed, they'd stand outside my door and whisper things like, "okay, I think he's asleep..." or "you got the pod?" and "leave it here. Tomorrow he'll be one of us."

The cruelty didn't end there. Six months after that winter of my discontent, when I was in sleepaway camp and the long summer nights helped ease my nighttime fears, I got a letter from my mother: "Your father has been acting very strange lately. Quiet, serious. Not like himself at all. And he's been growing some ugly plants in the backyard..."

I know they were just kidding, and either unaware of how serious this fear of mine was, or trying to help me get past it with humor. Nevertheless, it's all going on the shrinklist.

Today, I can look back on it all and laugh. I recognize what scared me. And I think that's one of the things I like about zombie movies -- the idea of losing allies to the enemy, becoming increasingly and inevitably outnumbered. But it's all just a movie. I can watch Body Snatchers without any deep-seated dread. Hell, I own it on DVD -- I love the weird score, and think it's got one of the best final scenes in cinema. (The all-time best, by the way, is in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.)

And I sleep soundly... as long as there's no fucking plants in the room.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Three inspired things my fiancee has said recently, or, reasons #905-#907 I'm marrying her in two weeks:

1. "We should switch to AT&T. Because their slogan is 'More bars in more places.' And I'm all for more bars."

2. "Why don't they have swimming on every night? Even after the Olympics, they could air some cool reality shows. Like, 'Swimming with the Stars'. Or 'So You Can Think You Can Float'."

3. "You know, if we get our marriage license in Beverly Hills bright and early, afterwards, we'd be first in line to get cupcakes from Sprinkles."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Michael: You don't need to see my Comic-Con pass.

Stormtrooper: We don't need to see his Comic-Con pass.

M: These aren't the geeks you're looking for.

S: These aren't the geeks we're looking for.

M: He can go about his fan-boy visit.

S: You can go about your fan-boy visit.

M: Blog on.

S: Blog on... blog on...

Monday, August 11, 2008

People love the drama surrounding the swimmers in the Olympics -- the French chick who defected to join her Italian swimming boyfriend, only to get snubbed by Italy and go back with her goggles between her legs, and learn that her former Bambino was doing the breaststroke with her pool-side rival. Not to mention the photos of the freestyling Frenchie without her one-piece.

And then there's Michael Phelps, going for the gold eight times, and just might do it. Most Americans are super proud of him so far. Except Mark Spitz -- seven gold medals and all that pool chlorine musta made him permanently bitter.

But at least it didn't screw up his skin, the way fellow famous '70s Olympiad Bruce Jenner did. What's with these old athletes? They're either bitching about Beijing or spawning Kardashian reality shows.

So who's to say what'll happen to Michael Phelps in 30 years? What I worry about for that kid is his eating habits. Phelps is 6'4" but has trouble breaking 200 lbs., despite the fact that he eats 8,000-10,000 calories a day. Basically, he eats, sleeps and swims. That's livin', I tells ya.

But once he stops his Aquaman existence, he better slow down on the all-you-can-eat buffets, or he'll go from doing the butterfly to needing a forklift.
40473244 fattest-man3

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Who needs the Olympics? My bachelor party had its own series of sports spectacular:

• The manly meat-eating marathon and scotch-guzzling relay.

• Synchronized shot-drinks.

• The freestyle ego-stroke, deluding ourselves that the women in our lives won't mind us extend this to a guy's weekend in Vegas, even after I'm married.

• The main event: The Pole-ympics. Can't go into details, but suffice to say those gymnasts in Beijing got nothing on certain female athletes' flexibility.

• The feign forgetfulness to fiancée field event.

• The drink-lots-of-water / sleep-the-whole-next-day biathlon.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Hey, I'm gonna be an uncle.

I'm very excited that my sister's having a baby. But that won't happen 'til January.

So in the meantime, I'm welcoming the new batch of spiders that hatched right outside our door. It's hard to see, but those hundreds of little spiderlings are kinda cute.Yeah, they're creepy-looking and gross, too. But so is childbirth.

Friday, August 08, 2008

I need a drink.

Not just to drink a drink but to create one, too. And name it after me.

Today I saw someone drinking an Arnold Palmer. An “Arnold Palmer Lite”, out of a can. Genius.

It’s so simple. Iced tea and lemonade. And now it’s a big commercial property, appealing to consumers who consume. And since it’s a soft drink, anyone can have one. But throw in some amaretto, it’s an Arnold Palmer Sr. Not as catchy as Sex on the Beach, but it’ll do.

I rarely drink carbonated beverages, but whenever I get the self-serve kind, I create my own concoction: three-quarters Diet Coke (or Pepsi), one-quarter Mr. Pibb (or Dr. Pepper), and one-quarter Barq’s root beer (or Mug).

Why can’t I sell that? Besides the fact that they’re other companies’ trademark names? And, I realized right after I wrote that, I obviously don’t know my fractions.

Also, I’m not a famous golfer like Arnold Palmer. Similarly, I’m not a cute dimpled child star of the ‘30s like Shirley Temple. Nor a British Prime Minister (that’s Earl Grey tea, not Margaret Thatcher in the Rye or Tony Blair Witch’s Brew). Hell, I’m not even fictional like Harvey Wallbanger. Or a distinctively-colored insect, as in the old joke:

A grasshopper walks into a bar. The bartender says, “Hey, you know we got a cocktail named after you?” The grasshopper says, “You got a drink named ‘Irving’?”

But, dammit, I will be famous one day, just so they’ll name a drink after me. I’m not sure what it’ll be yet. But, it’ll be delicious. And mark my words, before long, when the bartender asks what you’re having, you’ll say: Make mine Make Mine Mike.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I realized recently that I managed to keep some things secret from my mother her entire life.

That may not sound like a big deal. Some people pulled all sortsa crap when they were young. But I was for the most part a pretty good kid -- I usually just got in trouble with the teachers and the principal; law enforcement authorities rarely needed to get involved. And I was always really bad at keeping secrets, especially from my mother. As a kid, if I did something wrong, and maybe even got away with it, I still ended up spilling the beans because a) I felt terribly guilty; or b) she usually found out it somehow, so better she hear it first from me.

And it's not a big deal. I'm not talking deep, scandalous secrets here. Just little misdoings that she never knew about.

For example, my mom seems to think that I never drank when I was in high school (aside from the one New Year's party she caught me at 'cause I never come home and had to send my dad out looking for me, but that's another story). She knows I guzzled booze in college; she expected it; hell, she pretty much encouraged it, until she saw my first semester's abyssmal grades. But I was a teetotalling teen in my mom's eyes.

This misperception came from back before I had my driver's license. I had Mom drive me and some friends to a party, and shortly after, called her to pick us up. I explained that the party was justa buncha people hanging out and drinking from a keg. This became interpreted as me being some super responsible youth who didn't want to attend anything where alcohol was being served to minors. Mom talked about that long into my adulthood. Sometimes my worldly, wise mother's naivete was startling. I never had the heart to tell her -- we left 'cause that party sucked. I partook in plenty of parties with potable potions. It wasn't the booze, it was the lameness.

As I was thinking about secrets like these that I never came clean about, I thought about the un-truths I caught my mother in. Like for years we weren't allowed to have a dog because our parents lied and insisted we were all allergic. Or how for throughout most of elementary school, my sister's birthday was believed to be in November, when in fact it's in January. Mom and Dad wanted to get her into kindergarten early before the cut-off. My sister and I couldn't be trusted not to let the cat out of the bag, so we celebrated her fake birthday unwittingly, two months early.

Then it occurred to me -- these are only the deceptions I know about. What other, deep dark secrets did my mother take to the grave...?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Nearly every day we get something from our registry. It's fun to come home and find out we got another package delivered. These are all things we need, and the generosity of gifting friends is greatly appreciated... but I realized I'm just not that materialistic. The more stuff you have, the more stuff can be broken or taken away. And I hate clutter. The minute we got our full set of dishes, I packed up the old ones and took 'em away. I'm an utter clutter cutter.

In fact, when I indulge in fantasies about having obscene amounts of money, I can rarely think of stuff to get... just stuff to do or services to purchase. I'd definitely hire a chauffeur. Or a helicopter pilot.

But just to get around other places, not because I'd live on some ridiculously lavish estate. When I was visiting Hearst Castle, I kept thinking about what a waste of money it all was. I mean, that guy really pissed it away on tacky tapestries and furniture. Money don't buy you taste.

But exploring his old guest house, with entire sections brought over from ancient churches or Medieval structures, it got me thinking. You know what would be cool? To build a house with secret passageways, like trap doors and revolving bookcases ("Put the candle back!"). Maybe I'd have it set up so that anyone visiting would have to maneuver through labyrinths and uncover clues and decipher 'em to get to their destination -- which might be a life-size Rock Band arena, in a pool like Hearst's, minus the gawdy marble statues. On the way, there'd also be booby traps and perilous results if they didn't follow the right path... Yeah, that'd be a fun way to blow some cash. Maybe someday...

But for now, I'm happy getting packages of kitchen appliances and glassware. Be grateful for what you get, right? If I want something booby-trapped, thank goodness it's not the mail.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I've said it before -- planning a wedding isn't that hard... if you're good at making decisions. But all too often, there's so many factors to consider.

Take, for example, the idea of a memorial area. We thought it'd be a good idea to have a section devoted to our loved ones who couldn't be with us. With photos. But who? And how many photos?

There's a good picture of me & my dad. And the one of Mom & me in Paris -- that trip meant a lot to her. And then one of them together. When they were younger, or as I remember them later in life?

And then, Adelphia's father. One of him with her? At her bat mitzvah, or more casual as usual around the house?

Should it just be parents? 'Cause I was close with my grandmother, who died only a few years ago. I really wish she could've known Adelphia, and she would've loved to be at the wedding. But what about her husband, who died before I was born? And Adelphia's grandparents? And the grandparents on my father's side... I don't even know where to find a good picture of them.

Finally, do we include our dogs? Is that disrespectful to our human relatives? I mean, my Golden Retriever and Adelphia's two dogs were like family to us. It's too many decisions to make.

But it's also been too long since I put up a picture of my best friend here. He may or may not not make it to the memorial, but I miss my Max.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Last weekend, I got to go do a press junket for Tropic Thunder, which meant interviewing Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Nick Nolte and others. I suppose I'm name-dropping here, but honestly, the best part of the whole experience is the free food they offer at the Four Seasons, and the most exciting celebrity encounter was in the hotel lobby afterwards when I said hi to LL Cool J.

And besides, most actors aren't as much fun to talk to as my fiancee, who went with me to the press screening.

Adelphia: I think you liked that movie more than me.

Michael: You woulda liked it more if George Clooney was in it.

A: Or if a woman was in it. Were there any women in that movie?

M: Ben Stiller's wife has a brief cameo.

A: And that's it. That's kind of offensive.

M: You find that offensive? Robert Downey Jr. plays an Australian actor playing an African-American soldier playing a Vietnamese rice farmer. But the no-women thing is what bothers you.

A: Yes. Why couldn't there be a woman in the movie?

M: They're spoofing Vietnam war flicks. There were barely any women in Platoon. Or Apocalypse Now. But there was one in Full Metal Jacket.

A: I never saw that movie.

M: Oh, but the woman had the most memorable line in it.

A: "I'll have what she's having"?

M: Not quite. But you know it.

A: I do?

M: You say it to me all the time.

A: I do?

M: Well, no, but you think it.

A: What are you talking about?

M: "Oh, me so horny! Me love you long time!"

Sunday, August 03, 2008


On Friday night, Adelphia and I rode our bikes down to the First Friday series they have at Abbot Kinney where they keep the stores open late, play music and serve drinks. At one store, my fiancee spotted on the floor -- a $100 bill. I looked around, furtively picked it up and stashed it away.

Adelphia felt bad. We just got found money, a free C-note, and she felt bad.

Yes, I agreed, if someone lost that cash, they'd be upset. But I hung around in the store and looked to see if anyone was searching for anything, if anyone seemed to notice they were missing the money. Nope. I wasn't about to shout, "Anyone lose a hundred bucks?" or return it to lost & found. I guessed that whoever lost it had plenty of Benjamins, and could afford to be so careless. For us, it was a blessing.

To Adelphia, this issue runs deeper. Her father won the state lottery, and within the same year, passed away. Two freak events, but they're not related. As someone who's had two tragic events happen (Mom's stroke, Dad's death) almost exactly a year from each other, I know that it's just a coincidence.

Still, she worries about some weird karmic balance. Like, this good fortune for us will be counteracted with something negative. I think she's seen too many Twilight Zones.

Maybe I should've donated the money to a good cause, but I like to believe using it to supporting local businesses is a win-win situation. So we had a nice meal at her favorite Hollywood hangout the next night, bought ice cream at Mashti Malone's, and used whatever $ was leftover on dinner in Santa Monica tonight.

Contrary to Adelphia's concerns, the bill wasn't counterfeit, and the food was delicious. Oh, and I still have some Mashti's left in the freezer for later on. If I get ptomaine poisoning, I'll rescind this entire post.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

When my fiancee returned from her bridal shower in NY, her mother called. I later learned that Adelphia's mom just wanted to tell me that she liked meeting my relatives. But at the time, here's the conversation that ensued:

Answering machine: Hi, Adelphia, it's Mom, just making sure you got back okay, and I want to talk to Michael later too.

Adelphia: Why does my mom want to talk to you?

Michael: I have no idea.

A: Are you and my mom planning some surprise shower for me or something?

M: What?! No.

A: I hate surprises, you know that. Why do you look guilty of something?

M: I swear on my life I'm not planning a surprise for you with your mom. I truly don't know why she wants to talk to me.

A: Okay.

M: But you really hate surprises that much? I mean, if I wanted to plan a surprise birthday party for you one day, I should forget it?

A: No, I just don't want you planning something for me with my mom.

M: Pfft, you got nothing to worry about.

Technically, I wasn't lying. Thanks Nina & Will & everyone who came and of course, Daisy the WonderNipples.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Okay, I'll try to keep up the per diem posting in August, for Aimee's sake, until the last few fateful days of the month... So here we go with a quickie:

I tried out for another game show today.

Won't say what show it was.

Can't say if I'll end up getting on the show.

Shouldn't say that -- just like last time, even if I got on -- the show is structured so that I could easily get screwed in the end no matter how intelligiment I seem.

Gotta say, I still kicked ass in the audition.

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