Monday, June 28, 2004
As of late, I’ve come to realize that my recent postings have been negative in nature. I was thinking I should write something positive, something as proof that my life is generally pretty good: a bed of roses, if you will.
Then I saw this less than a block from my house.
Great. I suppose this takes care of the swarms and plagues, and one can only suspect that the Four Horsemen will soon be riding through the streets as they turn to rivers of blood.
I always knew Judgment Day would come to Los Angeles first.
Friday, June 25, 2004
To: My boss
In light of recent events, I think few words of gratitude are in order:
1. Thanks for being available to accept the award for the project I conceived, wrote and produced. It probably wouldn’t have been appropriate for me to do it.
2. I am truly grateful that you were willing to travel all the way to New York to accept the award for the project I conceived, wrote and produced. Not asking if I wanted to go was probably the best thing anyway.
3. You have my deepest appreciation for calling me from the post-awards party in New York to let me know “we” actually won the award for the project I conceived, wrote and produced. I’m not much for events like that, so it’s better you were able to go.
4. Most importantly, I really want to express my thankfulness for something you said. Immediately after letting me know that “we” actually won the award for the project I conceived, wrote and produced, somehow you were able to crap all over the new project I am working on. For the 1.5 seconds I was allowed to enjoy the thrill of winning an award, I owe you my deepest gratitude.
Thursday, June 24, 2004
For those of you not familiar with my trash receptacle saga, please read the entry from Friday, June 18.
Yesterday, I come home to find this. Mind you, this was Wednesday afternoon and trash pickup day is Friday.
He is mocking me.
As a self-righteous and self-justifying aside, please note the three black bins on the far right are partially blocking the driveway of the apartment building next door (the bins belong to the apartment on the left). Since I was accused of this egregious behavior, I find it only fair (and childish) to point out that he is doing the same thing.
One can only surmise that the intention of this action is to take up a perfectly good parking space for more than two days, and dare me into action.
I am not about to fall into his passive-aggressive trap, however.
No, I have my own plans. Under the cover of darkness, I will covertly engage in my own brand of passive-aggressive, yet legal, behavior. I won't park in the space. I won't move them in front of his driveway. I will however, move them up onto the curb and off the street, leaving a free and clear parking space for all freedom-loving citizens.
He will hate that.
Sunday, June 20, 2004
Dogs aren’t allowed on the beach in Los Angeles County (at least near where I live), so yesterday we took a little trip up to Ventura County to hit the surf and sand.
Cigarettes, incidentally, aren’t allowed on a growing number of beaches here. I’m not a smoker, but still, that seems a little bit of overkill. If anything, I think we should focus on getting people not to leave trash all over the place. During a recent adventure on a Santa Monica beach, my wife saw condoms, used diapers and various forms of feminine hygiene products. Gross.
Anyway, the beach up north was very, very nice. And clean. And quiet. And Bob was able to have a good time.
Friday, June 18, 2004
I am sitting here listening to a very old Metallica album, just seething. I suppose “seething” might not be the correct word since I’m also smiling and laughing. For some reason Metallica’s music has always been strangely calming to me.
Last night I came home from work a bit late. Since my apartment building only has one parking space, my wife gets to use it so she’s not wandering the streets after sundown. The street parking in my part of Los Angeles can be a nightmare as it’s very congested. If I find a spot, I take it.
Friday morning is trash collection day in my neighborhood, so last night every apartment building and house put out their garbage cans to be picked up. Around the corner from my place there’s this parking space—just enough room for one vehicle—that is always occupied by garbage cans late Thursday night. More than once, I’ve moved the trash bins to make way for my car. Last night was no exception.
I get out of my car and move a couple of bins on the sidewalk, and a couple in front of the driveway to the building they belong to. Viola! I have a parking space that doesn’t require me to walk five blocks to get home.
Things are good.
This morning, I take Bob the Dog out for a walk and out of the corner of my eye I see what looks to be a parking ticket on the windshield of my car. “Crap!” I think, “Is this street cleaning day?”
I walk over to find not a parking ticket, but this.
The picture may be a bit fuzzy, so I’ll translate: WARNING. If you move our containers again I’ll pour the garbage all over your Jeep!
This is an excellent way to start your day. I’m at first shocked. Who would write such a thing? Then, I feel angry. Who would care that their garbage cans had been moved, especially if they were still emptied? Once the garbage men are done with them they’re practically left out in the middle of the street anyway. Then I feel vengeful. I want to dump trash all over the street. Fortunately, the garbage trucks have already come.
I want to know who wrote this, and I have my suspicions.
I come back home all fired up trying do decide what to do. “No one messes with me!” I say to myself. This note is so passive-aggressive, that I decide I have to be the opposite.
First, I call the City of Los Angeles to clarify a few things. After pressing a few buttons, I get a live person on the phone. “Los Angeles Department of Public Works and Sanitation, how may I help you?” a nice lady says with a cheerful voice.
“Uh, yeah. I have a few questions about those trash bins people leave out on the street—You know, the ones people put out by the curb to be picked up?“ I mutter.
“Sure, what about them?”
“Well, I was wondering: Are those are considered city property?”
“Now, if someone were to set them not on the curb, but actually in the street where someone might park their car, can they be moved so someone may actually park?”
“So, there’s no legal issue with me moving them?”
“Not as long as you’re not blocking them from being picked up by our trucks,” she informs me. “What’s the problem?”
“Oh, I’ve got this guy threatening to dump trash on my car since I moved his garbage cans,” I explain.
“Oh. He just doesn’t get it, does he?” she says. I have her on my side.
Armed with this knowledge, I go to the closet and put on a stocking cap, the kind a longshoreman might wear down on the docks. I’ve been told that I look a certain kind of thuggish when I’m unshaven and wear the cap, but I think my wife was just trying to make me feel manly. Despite that it’s already 75 degrees outside, I put it on and furrow my brow; I have no idea what kind of character I’m going to run into.
I grab the note and summon up a small amount of courage as I walk over to what I think is the offending apartment building. From behind a metal gate, I ring the doorbell. A man of about mid-50 comes answers the door scowling. I think he might already know what this is about.
“Hi, are you the manager of this building?” I say.
“Yes,” he replies. In my twisted mind, I’m thinking that he’s already being short with me. Using one-word answers, how dare he?
“Do you know anything about this note?” I ask as I hold up the scrap of paper.
“Do you know who wrote it?”
“Was it you?”
At this point, I realize I should stop asking yes/no questions and get down to it. “What’s the problem here?” I ask.
“The problem is that you’re moving my garbage cans! And you’re blocking my driveway, so we can’t get out!”
“You have no right to move those garbage cans! Those are my property! You cannot touch my things!” he says to me. It occurs to me that this is beginning to sound like an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, but I don’t know which one of us is Larry David.
“Look, pal. I just called the sanitation department and learned two things. One: Those containers are city property, not yours. Two: I’m within my legal right to move those containers as long as I’m not blocking them from being picked up,” I smugly respond.
“How do you know? Are you a lawyer?” he counters.
“No,” I truthfully answer. I figure telling him what I really do for a living wouldn’t help the situation any. “Are you?”
At this point he puts his hands on his hips and looks at me right in the eye. “Yes,” he says.
Going out on a limb, I say, “No you’re not.”
“Yes, I am.”
“No, you’re not. You’re lying.”
“I’m not going to stand here and argue with you, especially with you threatening me!” he bellows.
“What are you talking about? You’re the one threatening to pour garbage on my car. And if you do, there will be legal consequences,” I advise.
“I have 60 lawyers to go after your one lawyer!” he threatens.
“I thought you were a lawyer,” I say.
As he closes the door, I shout, “There better not be garbage on my car… Punk!” Now, I realize I probably shouldn’t have called him a punk, especially since he’s probably a good 20 years my senior, but my playground sensibility had already kicked in.
And I keeping thinking of all the childish things I could do.
1. Design fake law firm letterhead and draft a note from an attorney named Clarence Caswell. He will demand on my behalf a cease and desist of all garbage-dumping threats.
2. I could do a pre-emptive strike and dump the garbage in his driveway before he gets to me. I might spread out the coffee grounds to spell, “Garbage This!”
3. Writing words with sidewalk chalk in front of his building could be a viable option. “Punk” might be the first word I would choose.
Of course, I won’t do any of these things, but it sure is fun to think of them.
I think I’m going to listen to the Afro Cuban All Stars now.
I dropped my nephew off at the airport tonight. He’s a fresh-faced U.S. Marine currently on his way to his first duty station: Okinawa. For purely selfish reasons, I’m glad he’s going there instead of other dryer and warmer climates.
As I watched him step inside the terminal, I was reminded that a lot of the troops my government has spread over the globe are just kids. 18. 19. And given the weight of the world on their shoulders. I’m thankful most of them take their responsibilities seriously. I can only hope that the persons in charge of sending them into action take their responsibilities as seriously as the troops who often have to bear the consequences.
Enough on that subject. I think that’s about as political as I want to get on this blog.
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Three strange things I’ve seen recently driving to and from work:
1. A guy dressed as Homer Simpson. Not your run-of-the-mill costume, either. This person had a huge Homer head and was wearing either body paint or a bright yellow unitard. To top it all off, he was sporting a wife beater and a giant pair of tightie whities. As much as I love The Simpsons, this was disturbing.
2. A clown standing at a bus stop smoking a cigarette. As I wondered if he was coming to or from a child’s birthday party, I got a case of the shivers. As weird as that is though, it was even stranger that the 10 other people at the bus stop didn’t seem to notice a creepy looking clown taking long drags off a Virginia Slim.
3. A guy playing drums under a tree. No, it wasn’t a bongo and he wasn’t part of a drum circle. This guy had a full-size drum set strategically placed under a lonely oak tree on the backside of Griffith Park. Just him, the tree and the drum set. Since AC/DC was blaring from my stereo (yes, I sometimes listen to AC/DC, but don’t make any assumptions about my musical tastes), I couldn’t tell if he was any good.
I really must start carrying the camera in the car at all times.
Saturday, June 12, 2004
Let’s see, where were we? Oh, yes… So, my friend Joe goes into the room and who is there? Sylvester Stallone. Only he’s dressed in his Rambo outfit, all sweaty and dirty, complete with headband. As he stands up to extend his hand for a warm handshake, a rocket-propelled grenade crashes through the window and the whole room explodes. Miraculously, everyone survives… And they caught it all on tape.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
I’m hoping people aren’t expecting something too fantastic with this story. I’m only a simple man telling a simple second-hand story. For the most part, I stopped writing at that point because my wrist was getting sore. So really, it was only a half-hearted attempt at a cliffhanger, mainly due to my low tolerance for pain.
Anyway, Joe is up next and goes into the room. There are producers, assistants, assistants to assistants, camera operators, guys turning on and off very hot lights and The Girl.
Before Joe goes on any further with his story, he leans across the table and says to me, “Look, I’m a nice guy and all, but this wasn’t a woman I could go out with. I don’t mean to be shallow, but there’s a certain look and type I’m attracted to. I mean, she wasn’t hideous or anything, but there are guys in this diner I would go out with before her.”
Joe is immediately ushered into a seat directly across from this woman. Bless her heart, he says, “It looked as if she was having a bad day. She looked like a nervous fawn stuck in the path of oncoming traffic. And if they had given her a makeover, it wasn’t apparent to me.”
The producers immediately start prodding her to ask Joe questions. She stumbles and stutters a few words, but nothing much coherent. Finally, one of the producers says, “Ask him how long he’s ever been in a relationship!”
Meekly, she asks him this, to which Joe replies, “My longest relationship has only been three months.”
This goes on for a little while longer. The producers tell her what questions to ask and she asks them. Joe gives honest answers until his time is up and is then led out of the room. While the third bachelor is being subjected to awkward questions, Joe sits in the waiting area with Guy #1. “I don’t think I can do this,” Guy #1 says.
“I’m really not into this either,” Joe replies. At this point, one of the producers comes out with a cameraman in tow. “Can we go ahead and film you guys? We need you to act nervous and anxious as you await the decision.”
This is where it starts to really go downhill for Joe. “You can film me, but I’m not nervous,” he says.
The guys let them film, but mostly they just joke around and B.S. with each other. After a while Guy #3 comes out and joins them.
Eventually, one of the producers comes out and says to Guy #3, “Okay, you can go.” She then turns to Guy #1 and says, can you come in here? And you,” pointing to Joe, “Can you hang around for just a little bit longer?”
Joe sees right through this. “Wait a second. I see what’s going on here. She picked him, but you want me to stay around just in case he doesn’t want to do it. I’m sloppy seconds!” Joe exclaims.
“No, no. It’s not like that. Please don’t leave. Just hang out for a minute.” The producer says.
Being the nice guy Joe is, he decides to stay. After a few minutes, Guy #1 comes back out. He says to Joe, “I’m sorry, man. I just couldn’t do it,” and then gets to leave.
“Okay, can we get you to come in here now?” a producer beckons.
“Are you telling me I’m sloppy seconds?”
“I know, I know. You’ve been such a trooper for hanging out; she’s had a really long day. She wrecked her car on the way in here, she’s not happy with the makeover and it just hasn’t been a good day.”
“I was her second choice?”
“I’m really sorry. Do you think you could just come in and we’ll re-shoot a few lines and we’ll be finshed. You don’t even have to go on the date. We’ll just shoot some shots of you guys getting in and out of the limo. Please?”
Joe thinks about this, and then decides that he’s still a nice guy. Hey, he can get along and have fun with anybody. What the hell… He’ll do it.
He goes back in the room and sits down across from the girl. “Okay, we’re going to need you to say your last relationship was something like, three years,” a producer says.
Joe contemplates this for a nanosecond. “I’m not going to lie,” he states with conviction.
“Yeah, but it’ll just sound better.”
“It might, but I’m not going to lie.”
“It’s just for TV. It’s no big deal.”
“Sorry, I’m not going to lie.”
Finally, our bachelorette has had enough of this back-and-forth and leans over to Joe. “JUST ACT! I DIDN’T CHOOSE YOU BECAUSE I DIDN’T WANT TO LOOK LIKE A FLOOZY,” she says in a loud voice.
“But this is reality television, I’m not going to act,” Joe counters.
“LISTEN! IF I CAN PRETEND I PICKED YOU, YOU CAN PRETEND YOU’RE NOT A COMMITMENT-PHOBE AND SAY YOUR LONGEST RELATIONSHIP WAS MORE THAN THREE MONTHS,” she practically yells.
He was dumbfounded. The room was dumbfounded. Not only was this mean-spirited and rude but it was potentially embarrassing. Hadn’t anyone considered that maybe he’s gone out with a few psychos? That maybe he’s been burned a couple of times by love and that might be the reason things have never worked out? Anyone? Anyone?
“I’m leaving,” Joe says and gets up and walks out of the room. The main producer comes out and walks with Joe as he heads toward the exit. “I’m really sorry about all of this. Thanks for sticking in there. She’s just had a bad day.”
“Yeah? Well, she didn’t have to be so rude,” Joe says.
Just then, the bachelorette comes running out the door. “I’m sorry!” She says. “I’ve had the worst day and I didn’t want to look like the kind of girl who just goes out with anyone. I just want to get this day over with.”
For one last time, Joe thinks about the situation and comes to a decision.
“It is over,” he says.
And with that, Joe walks out the door, gets into his car and drives away. I don’t even think he looked in the rear view mirror. I can’t wait to hear what happens when he talks to his friend who put him up to all of this.
I guess the moral of this story is, "Don’t believe most or all of what those ‘reality’ shows are spoon feeding you."
That, and "Never settle for sloppy seconds."
Thursday, June 10, 2004
I realize I haven’t been writing much about my job lately, but it’s a slow time of year right now. The most excitement around here has been hearing my office neighbor screaming, “You’re a goddamn alcoholic and I don’t want to talk to you! Don’t ever call me again!” and then slamming down the phone. I don’t think that warrants any comments from the peanut gallery. And no, I wasn’t eavesdropping. Well, maybe just a little.
Since my life seems to be a bit boring right now, I thought maybe you’d like to hear a second or third-hand story, as told by me.
There’s the story of the “industry” assistant, who got herself so drunk at a recent party thrown by a major television network that she passed out on a couch, but since that was told to me third-hand, I won’t repeat it. That, and the ensuing humiliation from losing control of her bowels guarantees she’ll never work in this industry again. And neither will the couch, by the way.
Instead, I’ll relay a story told to me over breakfast this morning by a friend of mine because it has to do with reality television. For purposes of this story we’ll call my friend Joe.
Joe is a working voiceover talent. He also does some acting here and there, but makes a good living doing commercial voiceover. This means he’s the one you hear saying things like, “Have you driven a Ford lately?” or “For better relief, advance to Advil.” No, these aren’t any of his actual commercials, but if you watch TV or listen to the radio, you’ve probably heard Joe pitching cars, beer and amusement parks.
Joe got a call from a friend last week asking him if he’d like to be on some reality dating show—not mine—and of course, Joe says, “There’s no way in hell I’m doing that.” He knows better.
The friend begged and pleaded and said it would be a big favor and that it was a new show where up-and-coming actresses and/or over-the-hill actresses go out on dates with everyday kind of guys. The implication was that my friend Joe might have a shot at going out with Flo from the old TV show Alice, or someone similar. Joe thought, “If I get to go out with Weezy from the Jeffersons, that would be hilarious!” and agrees to do it.
On Sunday he shows up at the appointed place only to see 6-8 other young, single guys there for the same thing. After waiting for about 30 minutes, this woman breezes into the room proclaiming herself the “Queen of Reality Show Casting” and proceeds to give vague and sketchy details as to what this new show is all about. Of course, no one has ever heard of this woman.
Eventually, one of the young men decides it’s not his cup of tea and walks on out the door. After he leaves, the self-proclaimed “Queen of Reality Show Casting” coldly says something to the effect of, “Can you believe he just walked out like that?” and proceeds to tear his headshot into little pieces. “He’ll never work in this town again,” she says.
Not surprisingly, Joe and the other guys are getting more and more skeptical as to what’s going on. They begin to ask questions about the show, only to be given nonsensical answers that would make any politician proud.
After about an hour, they get around to interviewing each guy individually in front of a camera. They each tell things about themselves, revealing what they like in women and other sorts of tidbits that might attract a member of the opposite sex.
Then they wait for another hour and by this time, the guys are getting antsy because the Laker game is starting soon, and everyone in this town watches the Lakers. Eventually, one of the producers comes out and says, “Okay, I’ll need you,” gesturing to Guy #1, “And I’ll need you and you,” as he points to Guy #2 and Joe. Everyone else is dismissed. They all say things like, “Congratulations,” but really, they’re glad to leave.
Finally, they tell the three remaining bachelors what the show is actually all about. They take a normal and average girl, give her a makeover, etc and present her with a “Bachelor-type” experience, where she gets to chose a guy for a fancy date.
There’s no Flo. There’s no Weezy. This is truly ground-breaking television.
Guy #1 gets called into a private interview room first and after a good 15-20 minutes, he comes back out. As he passes by my friend Joe, he gives him an eyebrow-raised look, seeming to say, “What the hell?”
To be continued…
Sunday, June 06, 2004
I thought I might post a story I wrote sometime ago, and by some time ago, I mean when I was about seven or eight. For some reason, I had my mother type up the story for posterity and today, I thank her.
To put this story in context, you might want to think of a young snot-nosed kid with a bowl haircut living in a very liberal, hippie infested town in the Pacific Northwest back in the mid-to-late 1970s.
THE FIERCE DRAGON
There was this dragon about 300 years ago who would devour about anything. I might as well tell you he loved to eat, but man would he joyously eat a pig.
He was a big, giant, fat dragon. He had people bring a tribute every day. If they didn't, he would devour them, so people brought a tribute very day. The tribute was one pig, two sheep, three chickens, and he was always gorging on pigs. Like on Thanksgiving you see people gorging on turkey and cranberry sauce and other stuff that you eat on Thanksgiving. Well, when there was no more stuff to tribute, the dragon lost his patience and went to villages and went wringing people's necks and eating them.
There was this man that lived around there. He was a disheartened man. One day he decided to get rid of the dragon once and for all. He went out and got some bast and made a rope. He went out in the brush and caught the dragon. He was seizing the dragon and finally seized the dragon. The dragon was scared half to death and the dragon started wailing, "Let me go!"
The man said, "Okay, on one condition, but let me throw a spear at you," and the dragon said, "Well, okay."
He let the dragon go and he did not really throw it, he held on to it and acted like he threw it and kept it in his hand. The dragon was so scared he ran into a pond and the pond was deep and the dragon drowned.
The people that lived in the village had to boast because the man that killed the dragon lived in their village. Some villagers had disbelief in that.
Thursday, June 03, 2004
If you ever get the chance to see Michael Jackson up close, I highly recommend it. You probably won’t have much of a chance in the future.
A few moons ago, my wife and I tried to start a tradition where on Valentine’s Day we would go to any number of strange and weird museums here in Los Angeles. We thought it might be fun, and hell, it’s a lot easier to get into the Museum of Jurassic Technology on Valentine’s Day than it is to get a reservation at T.G.I. Friday’s.
During one bright and cheery Valentine’s Day we decided to visit the Museum of Miniatures. The possibility of seeing the world’s smallest record player, the bible written on the head of a pin, or my name on a grain of rice was hard to resist.
When we got there though, all we saw were a bunch of elaborate dollhouses. I’m not kidding. There were miniature versions of a French Empire Salon and Fontainebleau. Weird? Yes. Boring? Kind of, but we figured it’s Valentine’s Day, so why the hell not?
We may have been romantics, but we were also cheap and broke. We decided to forgo the extra $5 personalized tour, and sneak along a few paces behind the tour group.
As we wandered around looking at a scale model of Buckingham Palace, I noticed another group in the museum. The leader of the entourage seemed to be a Michael Jackson impersonator. He had the MJ look goin’ on: Black loafers, white socks, black pants, a red long-sleeved button-down shirt, a black surgical facemask, and sunglasses. The only thing that gave him away as an impersonator was a black baseball cap that had the words “POO POO” emblazoned on the front in bright red.
That couldn’t really be Michael Jackson, right? He doesn’t really go out in public like that, right? He must be an impersonator.
We continued to shadow our tour group. Eventually, we were herded into a special locked room where we got to view an exhibit in the process of being completed. Since we were following the tour group, and not really a part of it, my wife and I sort of got left behind for a few moments. As we were looking at how someone so faithfully recreated the Louvre, a security guard came in and shooed us out of the room. Apparently, this Michael Jackson impersonator and his entourage had some pull with the museum curators. They were going to get their own private viewing.
What nerve. We weren’t about to cause a ruckus in the Museum of Miniatures though, so we left without a word.
Then we got to thinking. What if that was really Michael Jackson? This could be one of the biggest star sightings of all time! Just wait until we told our friends, our families, even strangers on the street. We saw Michael Jackson, The King of Pop, Peter Pan or whatever you want to call him. People could say to us, “Guess who I saw today?” and we would always be able to trump them.
Then again, he wouldn’t dress like that for real, would he? That’s just for show, star persona, stage façade, right? He must be an impersonator.
Hmm… But he did have an entourage. And there were a few children included among them. And he did have some clout – at least in the Museum of Minatures.
When he came out, we decided to get a better look, so we ditched our tour group and started to tail this Whacko Jacko like a couple of private eyes.
Our stealthy maneuvers eventually paid off. I got a close look somewhere near the Brighton Summer Pavilion, and damn if it wasn’t Michael Jackson dressed like a Michael Jackson impersonator.
And really, isn’t that the perfect disguise?