Thursday, December 29, 2005

You Never Rehearse in Movies

That's what I learned this week after catching part of the movie Rock Star with Marky Mark on VH1 and the current remake of King Kong.

In the case of Rock Star, the only thing between Marky Mark getting the job as a lead singer of a band and the band playing in front of 20,000 people at an arena show is a press conference. Backstage before the concert he's nervous and we in the audience are supposed to feel nervous for him, but all I kept thinking was, "they had to have rehearsed. It's a freakin' arena show fer cry-eye. If he couldn't hack it they'd have replaced him by now."

But I guess the movie was going for that nightmare feeling where you show up for a final in a class you forget you had. It's probably better for the movie and most normal people wouldn't be bothered by it..

The case of King Kong is more troubling, however. It's opening night and Kong is the featured attraction at a new show on Broadway. When they pop up a girl in front of him as a sacrifice, Kong goes a little berserk (actors), breaks out, and wreaks general havoc on Manhattan. With a little rehearsal at a safer location, that little wrinkle could have been worked out ahead of time.

And I'm not up on my union history, but I have a hard time thinking Actor's Equity would let dozens of their members perform in a show with a giant gorilla in which workplace safety wasn't addressed. Where was the shop steward? Were the actors scabs?

But then again King Kong was three freakin' hours long. Maybe there were rehearsal scenes and I'll have to wait for the special 9-hour DVD version of Kong. When that comes out I hope there's a making of featurette that shows how they got Adrian Brody's nost to look so big.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Upside of the Transit Strike

Dental Plan--Lisa Needs Braces

I wish Homer Simpson were in charge of the Trasit Workers Union here in NYC, at least he took steps to negotiate with Mr. Burns. The head of the local union has said he's standing up for working people... by keeping 7 million of them from work while causing many small businesses irreparable damage during their busiest season.

But I'm no fan of the MTA either so I'm going to try to stay out of the fray and look at the bright side, which is: without the rumble of the subways running under my street I can record cleaner vocals in my home studio.

Next year, when the strike is over (having solved very little I'm guessing) and everyone's scrambling to make up all of the money and time lost during this strike, I'll release my cute little comedy record and one can marvel at the lack of noise gates and cleaner compression used on the vocal and acoustic guitar tracks.

In fact, if the MTA workers went on strike every three years or so, that would really help me stick to a regular release schedule. Unite!

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Magic of the Season

Today I tended to my filial duties and went to the Post Office to send my mom and her hubby their Christmas presents. You'd think that it being six days before Christmas and the busiest mail week of the year they'd have extra people on staff, but you'd be wrong.

The line was out the door and into the cold, but on the upside it was going so slowly that by the time you got indoors you had plenty of time to warm up. I had plenty of time to ponder what I always ponder at the post office: couldn't there be a line at the post office for people who just need to mail something?

I mean call me crazy but I go to the post office when I need to mail stuff and maybe get stamps, not to put my life back together with money orders, certified mail, and refused packages that, see, they sent it but they didn't send the right part so I was going to cancel the order and they said before they could refund my money I had to return the merchandise C.O.D.

I once worked with a comedian who, at the end of the week when we got our checks, boasted that he didn't have a checking account. "I do everything with money orders, it's easier that way."

Easier? Easier than what?

I then spent the entire plane ride home pondering what could be easier than having to go the post office every couple of weeks and get money orders. I think basic training or boot camp would be easier, taking my own braces off, creating peace in the Middle East...

But I may be going back to the post office soon because if this transit strike happens the easiest way to get around town would be to mail myself to where I need to go.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ollie's Sport Shop

This is a picture of my new favorite bar which is owned by one of my best friends from Chicago and is located in downtown L.A. I don't know what's more surprising--that my friend owns a bar or that L.A. has a downtown-- but either way, it is now, in my opinion, the best bar west of the mighty Missisip.

I have a superstition about talking about bars I like because I'm afraid that the bar will then become too hip and trendy thereby ruining what I like about it, so forgive me if I don't tell you the name of it or exactly where it is. But I'll give you a hint: it's not really called Ollie's Sport Shop as it says on the sign.

To fully create a Chicago bar feel in L.A. my buddy tracked down an Old Style sign to greet patrons as they enter. When they were putting up the sign a denizen of the downtown streets looked up, saw the "live bait and tackle" subtitle and said, "there ain't no fishing for miles."

True enough.

If you really want to check it out though, drop me a line. And I'll be doing a couple of shows there in the new year so I guess I'll have to get over my superstition and actually mention the bar by name.

What I can't get over is that three days ago I was playing volleyball in Venice Beach and today it's 21 degrees in Brooklyn and I don't want to leave the apartment. But I'll keep telling myself that living in NYC keeps it real.

Real f&%@ing cold.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Best Quarter-Century Ever!

So I was at a gym today in Hollywood and my choices for t.v. viewing were Dr. 90210, who was cutting up a woman and installing and/or removing various and assorted parts, or a CNN special summing up the past 25 years in quick and easy-to-digest news magazine nuggets. I opted for the latter. Yeah I'm a little squemish, so what?

The news folks got to the story of Elizabeth Smart, a 14-year-old girl that was abducted, and miraculously found alive and well 9 months later. As they showed all of the broad plot points-- missing signs, grieving parents, the mug shot of the abductor-- I wondered if they would address the religious undertones of the story, religious factors which could help to explain not only how a kidnap victim could be unrestrained in public near her home and not attempt to flee but also why she would give a false name to authorities when she was finally found.

They didn't.

I realize a news story countdown show doesn't have time to get too in-depth with any of its subjects, but they should at least put in the sentence, "by the way, the mormon fundamentalist that abducted her thought he was doing god's work by taking a 14-year-old girl as one of his seven wives."

But I guess that would involve more from the news channels than simply setting up a camera and recording someone's press conference. They say it's 24 hours of news, but it's 24 hours of 5-second sound bytes and you never hear more about a story than...

Oh look! Somthing shiny over there! A tornado! A car chase in Southern California! A fire in Baltimore! Gotta go.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

What Would You Do For Love?

So asks a diamond ad that’s running on t.v. It shows a man snowed in at an airport calling his wife to tell her he won’t be able to fly home for Christmas Eve. He then looks at the diamond necklace he has gotten for her and, as if the necklace were spinach and he Popeye, he runs out into a driving blizzard. The commercial asks you to visit the website to “see what happens.”

So I did.

What happens is I found out that these two people really aren’t in love and this relationship will probably be over sometime before next year’s holidays. In the twelve episodes between the first ad and the triumphant conclusion ad in which the man shows up at home in a snowplow, we follow the man’s journey from Minneapolis to Chicago.

First of all, the trek itself is complete crap. I’m from the Midwest and I’ve been stranded in blizzards so I know that no matter how hard you try or how much money you’ve blown on a Christmas gift, you ain’t gettin’ from Minneapolis to Chicago in a driving snowstorm.

But it’s the holidays so I’ll let that slide. What I won’t let slide is the voicemail messages we hear the guy making to his wife during his odyssey. He tells her he’s walking in the snow with bags on his feet, he tells her he’s about to jump a freight train, at one point he says that his car (a car he bought just that night without consulting his wife) has slid into a ditch. And, no lie, at one point he says “I called 911 and couldn’t get through.” That message ends with the phone getting cut off. If he really loves his wife why is he scaring the shit out of her with every minute detail of his idiotic journey?

“Honey, I know you’d be sad if you spent Christmas Eve alone so I decided it would be better if you were panic-stricken all night. Gotta go, some bears are coming.”

Why can’t their love survive a blizzard? If she loves him can’t she understand that if there are whiteout conditions on the road maybe it’s not his fault for missing Christmas? Is she that much of a harpee that he has to risk his life to make it home?

On the other side, is he so afraid of disappointing her that he can’t rest until he’s face down in a ditch in Baraboo, Wisconsin? Does he think that if she suffers one slight disappointment she’s gone?

And if he is trying to be romantic by making it home against all the odds, for the love of heck shut up about it. If you leave all of those voice messages your wife won’t be surprised and touched when you walk in the door, she’ll be relieved you’re alive and she’ll be angry at you for torturing her all night.

And you’re being kind of a drama queen anyway, wanting to make sure your wife knows in excruciating detail how hard you’re trying to get home. Are you trying to score points? Trying to make up for something? Have you been too flirty with your secretary lately?

Seriously, this relationship is not healthy. But maybe that’s the real message of the ad: “Your wife may make unreasonable demands on you, or you might be so insecure you can’t ever possibly let her down, but a nice diamond gift will gloss over all of those issues and get you through a few more months of apparent happiness.”

Merry Xmas one and all.