Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tonight On SportsCenter- Me!

Tonight On SportsCenter- Me!
Originally uploaded by EliCubs
So, last weekend I decided to watch Valdosta State play for the Division 2 national championship in football (yes, I was that bored). As I'm watching, a commercial for the university comes on. It has the kind of production values you'd expect from VSU, but right in the middle, I caught a surprise.
Suddenly, I glance at the screen and see my smiling mug staring back at me! That's me in the middle, from A Chorus Line my senior year. First off, I didn't even know this showed was taped. Second, I certainly don't expect to see myself on ESPN2.
n my business, it's entirely possible to end up on the air from time to time. I've appeared in the background of Bones and Las Vegas in the the past. But on an ESPN network? I can honestly say I didn't see that one coming. Life is full of surprises.


p.s.- You can click on the picture for a larger view where I've highlighted myself.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

You Choose to Go With the Princess

The Princess looks at you with her large blue eyes. "Please," she begs, "Don't be foolish. Come with me away from this cave and I shall be your bride. I will do things for you that you haven't even imagined it's possible for two people to do with each other. And I know how twisted your imagination is."

Well, you don't need more prodding than that. You jump on her horse and ride with her off to her distant palace where you quickly marry her and take her to bed. It's fantastic. Why did you even bother with this quest when there's stuff like this that you could be doing? All those troll beatings and sword wounds seem so unnecessary now that you can have sex with a beautiful Princess all the time. You lie in bed, pleased with your decision to go with her and not find the dragon in his cave.

Of course, the dragon flew out and torched a village full of thatched roof cottages a few miles away, killing hundreds. You probably should have finished him off, since, you know, that was the quest we gave you and everything. Still, you probably didn't know any of the people who were burninated, and you're pretty damn happy right now. It's hard to complain when you're married to gorgeous royalty.

The End

The White House is Burning

Seeing a lot on the news this morning about the Eisenhower Building, which houses many executive government offices, being on fire. The fire apparently is near the Vice President's "ceremonial" office. What??? The Vice President has a "ceremonial" office? What's it for? Can he draft legislation in there and later say it doesn't count, like the ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game? Or is this the chamber where he gets his life support mask robotically attached and the Imperial Guard kneels before him, like Vader in Empire. Seems kinda suspicious. Of course, all of the media was quick to point out that the Vice President was in his working office in the West Wing at the time of the fire. Thank god. Don't get me wrong, I'm mostly thankful that the VP wasn't hurt, but if he's spending more time in his ceremonial office than his real office, we have even more of a problem than I thought.

Speaking of the problems with the current administration, I'm sure that when a lot of people saw the imagery of the smoke pouring from a government building, the first thought was, "Terrorists!" Is it bad that my first thought was, "What documents is Cheney burning this time?" Congratulations, Bush Administration, it appears that I'm more scared of you than I am of the terrorists.

Friday, December 14, 2007

You Choose to Face the Dragon

Really? You choose to enter the cave, even though you don't have any weapon, any armor, or any protection whatsoever? Why would you do this? To prove you're brave? You think this will impress the princess? Whatever, it's your funeral. I'm just following orders.

You walk into the pitch black cave, smacking your forehead that you forgot a torch, flashlight or any way to illuminate your path. Miraculously, you reach the dragon's lair with only minor cuts and bruises. You hear its lumbered breathing and can feel the heat of its smoke on your neck.

You charge at the dragon with...your bare hands. You slap its belly fruitlessly. It opens one eye, snorts out a fireball that chars you to a crisp, and bites off your head. You're dead. Big surprise.

Oh, and the princess? She liked you for your personality, not your bravery. Better luck next time, chump.

Sports Are Awful

Michael Vick to judge: 'I am not the beast' -

Michael Vick says he is an animal lover and "kinda shy." This makes perfect sense to me. If you love animals, the most natural thing a person can do is make two of them fight to the brutal death so that you know which one you should love more. And since you're shy (pardon me, kinda shy), you have to do it where no one can see you. How about the attic of those black sheds you have hidden on your property. No better place in the world for a shy guy to be.
Is anyone buying his reformed act? He can go to church all he wants, but that doesn't make him a good person. And from all accounts, he has both been going to church and being awful for a very long time. On the lighter side of this case, Vick showed up for his sentencing wearing a black and white striped jumpsuit. Those still exist? Maybe he should carry around a bag with a dollar sign on it. My favorite line I read about this- "What is he, the Hamburgler?"

Elsewhere in sports, everyone who has played baseball for the last 20 years or so has cheated. Sure there were the kind of jerks on the list that everyone expected and no one was upset about (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens), but the tone of the report seems to suggest that the 80 or so names released yesterday were the tip of the iceberg. Everyone and there brother has been sticking a needle in their ass these days. Jerks.

So, there you have it- the latest entries in the "Athletes Are Just Grown Up Versions of the Assholes Who Picked On You in School" report. There's only one way to respond to this kind of behavior. Pay them millions and billions of dollars. I'm talking media moguls who are too greedy to pay writers kinds of money (at the risk of going off-topic, Les Moonves, the head of CBS, just announced his new salary at $3.5 million, with total compensation estimated at about $30 million per year after incentives. The amount that what the WGA is asking for would cost CBS- $4.6 million per year. That bastard (and he is a bastard) alone is making almost 7 times what the increase would cost his network to cover EVERY SINGLE WRITER THEY EMPLOY. Sheesh). Back to the athletes...

Wait, I can't think of anything more to say. I'm too bummed.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

ESPN - Descendant of Davy Crockett, 5, kills bear

ESPN - Descendant of Davy Crockett, 5, kills bear

Looks like this kid just couldn't quite match great great great great great great great great great great grandpa Davy. 5 years old is far too old to have just kilt yer first bar. (That's not a typo, I was typing in hillbilly).

By the way, why do people still hunt? When (if) Davy kilt that bar, he used the fur to make a coat, ate the meat, and probably lived inside its hollowed out carcass to survive the harsh winter. This kid just killed a bear because he enjoys killing things. That creeps me out.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Getting Back Into Shape

Old Friends
Originally uploaded by EliCubs
I was looking at some recent pictures of myself and realized that i could be in much better shape. Ever since I took my new job, I've hardly gotten any exercise. I used to jog up to my wife's office and walk her home after work (we only have one car to share between us). Now I'm out of the house 12 hours a day for my job and it's just been easier not to do anything. Well, it's time to do something about it.

So, yesterday I got about about 40 minutes early, did some stretching and went for a jog. It really felt pretty good. I'm really hoping I can keep this up, and maybe vary it with other forms of exercise so my body doesn't get used to doing the same thing every day. I realize I've said this many times before, but I'm really getting to a point in my life where if I don't start to take care of myself, it's just going to get harder to do as I get older.

Additionally, I've decided to drastically cut back my soda intake. I had been having a can of Coke or 7Up every day with my lunch, but starting this week I've switched to water. I will still probably drink soda at restaurants or when we order pizza, but the daily volume will be going way down. As a downside of this, it's 4:30 and I'm dead tired. My body has to readjust itself to do without the caffeine. Of course, I was also at Disneyland until 1am last night, so that may have something to do with it, as well.

Wish me luck as I set out to improve myself!



Thursday, November 29, 2007

I'm Perfectly Happy With My Lifestyle, Thank You

So, I just recently got back from visiting my family back in Georgia. And honestly, while I was there, I think I was confronted about changing my religious or political affiliation about half a dozen times. Now, most of these weren't direct, face-to-face, confrontations. Only two of them were. They were mostly things like billboards (Sean Hannity saying, "Stop Hillary"), books ("Why the Founding Fathers were Conservatives), and various religious displays (A manger scene at City Hall, churches with signs saying that anyone who doesn't accept Jesus is going to Hell, that sort of thing). What really got me was the woman knocking on my door, dragging her helpless, brainwashed child around, and telling me that Jesus was the only thing in the world that offered hope to anyone (incidentally, this encounter made me lose a lot of hope about the future of our country). Of course, none of this includes the minister who officiated my wedding asking if we'd found a church in LA- I expect him to. It's his job and he didn't mean any offense by it; he was just making conversation.

What it all boils down to, though, is that this community is on the defensive. And for the life of me, I can't figure out why. It is probably at least 90% Christian and easily 70% conservative Republican. There isn't much threatening their dominance in the area. And yet, they act like conservative Christians are the minority in the town and that they have to fight to keep it that way. They are essentially making up enemies and pretending they are under siege, and that if their whims are not catered to, then they will disappear. For example, saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" is not trying to exclude Christians, it's try to include everyone else. But try telling that to most people in my home town and you'll get a lecture about how the country is a dangerous place for Christians these days.

I got to thinking about it and honestly, in the year and a half I've been in LA, I can't think of a single incidence of such confrontations happening (unless you count the crazy bums and weird religious groups on Hollywood Blvd who are little more than tourist attractions). There are a ton more people here, all on top of each other, and this sort of thing just doesn't happen. The diversity is much greater out here (ie- there are things other religions that might encroach on Christianity), but no one seems to bother each other. The political arguments here rarely get past the bumper sticker stage. It's not like we don't have both sides of the political spectrum out here, but people just don't seem to get as angry about it. Most people have adopted a kind of laid back, live and let live attitude. It's pleasant. I didn't even notice it that much until I went back to Georgia and realized how different it really is.

I have a theory about city living. The more diverse a population is, the more we start to realize how very little race, religion, and affiliation have to do with a person's character. You see more lots of different people around you and realized that we're all pretty much the same. Every group of people can have its jerks and its good guys, it doesn't matter. Yet, the farther you get from the cities, as the cultures start to homogenize and people start living with people exactly like them; the more you start to see the fear and anger kick in. I'm reminded of the line in Beauty and the Beast-"We don't like what we don't understand, in fact it scares us." My middle school music teacher spent an entire day lecturing us about that line when we were singing the songs from that movie, and now I understand why. It's a pretty stinging observation about provincial life.

I'm not quite sure how to end this post, so I'll just say this: If everyone in the world was exactly like you, it'd be a very boring place.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Medicine and Marketing

Where Have I Been?
Originally uploaded by EliCubs
So, I've been sick for the last several days. It's just a head cold, but still not a lot of fun. When I first started showing symptoms, I overloaded on Zinc lozenges and that managed to keep me from getting a sore throat. At first I was thrilled, but I didn't realize just how miserable congestion can make someone.

I started taking decongestants. Now, Sudafed has always worked for me. But anything containing pseudophedrine has to be purchased from behind the pharmacy counter because it apparently can be used to make meth. When I bought my medicine on Saturday at Walgreen's, the pharmacist was not in and I had to buy the Sudafed PE, which is phenylepherine instead of pseudophedrine. Which brings me to my point (yes, I have a point).

Sudafed has been marketing this as their "New Formula." "New," in the marketing sense, implies "improved." Neither is actually true. Phenylepherine was the decongestant of choice before pseudophedrine was developed. It was developed because phenylephrine doesn't work. At all. I would have had better results taking sugar pills. It's not a new formula, it's a step backwards. But, rather than force people to buy stuff that works with slightly more hassle, they release a product that doesn't cure them but is easier to get to. That's the point- Drug companies don't want to make you better, they want to make you poorer.

As of right now, only the United States and New Zealand (or maybe it's Australia, I don't remember) allow drug advertisements on television. Soon, it will only be us. As a result, we seem to have non-stop commercials for medicine that cures diseases we don't have. Restless Leg Syndrome may be real, but does it really need a cure? We sit and watch ads that manage to convince us we have diseases so we will go to our doctors and beg for prescriptions. And it's working. The drug companies can charge whatever they want for these pills because they know hypochondriacs will buy them.

I don't know what the solution is, but health care is becoming unaffordable because we're wasting money on over-medicating. Is it really good to have this many chemicals in our bodies? All I know is if I DO have Frisbee Lip, Irritable Ring Finger, Chicken Sandwich Pancreas, or the Knee Cap Heebie Jeebies, I can live with it.

Now, if they have a pill for Crumbling Nostril Syndrome...that's another matter. Side effects include sleepiness, nausea, rectal bleeding, urinary seepage, and, in about 10% of all cases, death. Please consult your doctor.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Joy of Spam

Today I had a message in my Spam folder with the subject line, "Overstep the bounds of your imagination- Enlarge your Phallus!"

That made me laugh. It made me think of an old-timey medicine man or some jolly fat man with a top hat and handlebar mustache calling out to you on the street. "Pardon me sir, perchance you've dreamed in Morpheus' domain of exaggerating the size of your gentleman's parts. Well, dream no more!" I mean, does enlarging my phallus really overstep the bounds of my imagination? No. Dragons, wizards, super heroes, talking animals- if these things show up, that's overstepping the bounds of my imagination. But making my junk bigger?

Which brings me to my other point. Are the people who are really interested in male enhancement going to respond to this kind of vocabulary trickery? "Honey, you tell me who won the NASCAR race today, and I'm going forthwith to inquire upon enlarging my phallus." Have Victorian gentleman come forward in time and started using the internet? Because man, that would be awesome.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's...Obama?

I found this picture online today. I like Barak Obama. I like him a lot. He's incredibly smart, a brilliant speaker, and he's got charisma coming out his ears (which is the common place for charisma to spill, incidentally). I think he's got some great ideas and would make a fine president, if not this term, then sometime in the future.

This picture was taken in Metropolis in the southern tip of his home state of Illinois, a town that lives and breathes Superman. Now, as much as I like Obama, is this really the best Superman pose he can muster for the camera? Puff out your chest, raise your chin, and would it kill you to wear a cape? In fact, that goes for all of you presidential candidates- Start wearing capes! The first one to do so in public gets my vote (offer not valid if said candidate is a Republican. Sorry, but I have standards).

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Get thee to a Hamburgerery!

Get thee to a Hamburgerery!
Originally uploaded by EliCubs
My new office is across the street from the Hamburger Hamlet. I haven't eaten there yet, but I'm told it's nice. What strikes me is the sign.

Now, I don't know this for sure, but I'm guessing that they originally intended the "village without a church of its own" definition of the word "Hamlet." Now, however, based on the sign with the comedy and tragedy masks, they appear to have switched to the "brilliant, violent tragedy by William Shakespeare" definition. This seems like an odd choice to me. What part of the play Hamlet makes people want to eat hamburgers? Is it the ear poison? The regicide? The moss and flower symbolism? Please tell me.

Do the waiters here soliloquize about the virtues of murder and suicide instead of reading you the specials? Are you allowed to put poison on the tip of your steak knife and get into a fencing knife with your girlfriend's brother at the table? Can you have two of your friends sent off by pirates to be executed in England, hoisted by their own petard, as it were? Is the maitre'd a doddering old man who spouts proverbs and gets stabbed behind curtains?

And finally, at that breakfast on the sign, do you think they serve Melancholy Danishes?

Thank you folks, you've been wonderful. Good night!

Monday, November 5, 2007

I am the Hero of the Guitar

I am a guitar hero. If by "guitar" you mean "plastic video game controller shaped like a Les Paul", and by "hero" you mean "guy who plays too many video games." I bought Guitar Hero III for the Wii this weekend (Wii-kend? No.) and I can't stop the rockin'! I have watched friends playing the game before and, honestly, people look kind of lame when playing it. But when YOU are the one playing, you feel like a rock god. It's just awesome. I love making clicky noises on a small plastic guitar and having it translate into the solos from Paint It Black, My Name is Jonas, Anarchy in the UK, Smoke on the Water, and others. And soon, Welcome to the Jungle will be unlocked. I can't wait!

Now, the interesting thing is that I actually play the guitar. The whole time I'm playing the game, I'm no more than 5 feet away from my actual guitars, with which I could make actual music. Unfortunately, I'm not very good at the real guitar. I'm getting VERY good at the fake plastic guitar. I'm not quite sure how proud of that I should be, but I am.

The game is just too much fun. It makes me want to go out and buy a PS2 so I can play the first two versions of the game. I keep hearing songs and thinking, "Red, Blue, Blue, Yellow, Yellow/Green." It's this kind of addiction to games that has kept me away from cigarettes and drugs. When I get hooked on something, I'm hooked good. I guess I should be lucky it's just a video game.

Will this game actually improve my guitar skills (Skillz? No.)? Probably not, although my left hand will probably be more dexterous and strong when all is said and done. But if a band is ever looking for a guy to make clicking noises with an electronic toy, I'm their man.


Thursday, November 1, 2007


When I came to work today, I found this little fella sitting on my desk:

Now, I like the Red Sox just fine. As a Cubs fan, I always commiserated with them (at least until I don't know how to deal with them). Plus, Boston always seemed like a cool place and anyone who hates the Yankees gets extra points in my book. But, I probably never would have bought Red Sox championship gear. Really, I find all championship gear a little silly. Next year, you'll just look like a jerk if you go around wearing it all the time. We get it. Your team won LAST YEAR (I'm talking to you, Cardinals fans). But I digress...

As I said, I would never buy this kind of thing. But to have it given to you...sweet! Free stuff is always good. Just one of the perks of working for the owner of the team that wins the World Series. It would take me two hours to earn what this hat costs, so it's like I worked a little more overtime this week almost...if I had been intending to buy a hat in the first place. Still, swag rules. Working for this company has provided me with some great stuff in just over a year (free hat, free meals, new digital camera). Everything is sweeter when someone else gives it to you. Yes, that's an exceptionally greedy thing to say, and no I don't feel guilty right now. Feel free to shame me later.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Thrill at the Monkey Speedway!

My brother sent along some information today. He's researching a Chicago mystery involving a submarine, and that submarine ended up making the rounds at a carnival. What caught his eye is that it was replaced by a Monkey Speedway. That's right, a Monkey Speedway.

I did some research of my own and, yes, this is exactly what it sounds like. They would basically strap monkeys into little cars and drive them around a racetrack. Fantastic.

There's a really big part of me that feels awful for the poor little monkeys. They didn't actually control the cars (obviously), they were just being sped around against their will. And carnie life isn't great for humans; it can't have been better for a monkey. While maybe not on par with dog fighting, this was still fairly cruel treatment. And still...

There's also a part of me that thinks this sounds like the best thing ever. I would totally pay to watch monkeys drive cars around a track. I absolutely abhor NASCAR, but put a monkey behind the wheel (see Jocko Flocko) and I would be first in line. Monkeys acting like people- is there anything more entertaining? I feel like I should be ashamed for wanting to see this so badly...but I'm not.


Thursday, October 25, 2007


Well, if that title didn't get your attention, I don't know what else to do.

So, I just moved into a new office. It's not bad; the phones are weird and the commute is pretty tough, but the neighborhood is nice. I'm right down at the end of the Sunset Strip. Today, I had to go rent a movie (for research) and I went to the Video West in West Hollywood. I had used the store in Studio City in the past, so I thought this one would be pretty much the same. What I wasn't counting on was the abundance of porn...specifically, gay porn. Now, I know West Hollywood is one of our nations largest gay communities (which doesn't bother me in the slightest), but I guess I didn't expect to see so much porn in what is a standard video store. It was jarring.

It reminded me of working in my first offices in LA. There was a porn casting office on the second floor of the building and we'd see all kinds of people on the elevators getting off on the second floor (pun only somewhat intended). One time, we got a piece of their mail and I had to take it to their office. It was surreal. There were naked lady pictures hanging everywhere and on the reception counter was a digital photo frame cycling through what I suppose was some kind of "greatest hits." I didn't know what to do. Was it rude to look? Was it rude not to?

Now, I'm no prude. I have no problems with the porn industry and the things they do. But I can tell you it's discomforting to have that much nudity and raw sexuality staring you in the face when you don't expect it to be there. Very bizarre.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How to Become a Hobo - wikiHow

How to Become a Hobo - wikiHow

I've blogged about the wikiHow site in the past, but I couldn't resist pointing you guys to this one. Nothing makes me laugh harder than hobos. Nothing. I haven't even read the article yet, but the fact that it was even created is hilarious. I hope it talks about bindles.

Apple pie!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pac-Man Update

Attention world! I no longer suck at Pac-Man. I offer this screenshot as evidence:

My definition of "no longer sucking" was that I had to reach the Key levels, and I did that. In the process, I broke the 100,000 point level for the first time. Am I a master? No. Not by a longshot. But I'm not embarrassingly bad anymore, and that's all I can really ask for.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Not Vegan, but Supportive

Vegan Plate
Originally uploaded by EliCubs
I love meat. I love the taste of it, the texture of it, the smell of it- everything. There's nothing I like more than a big, grilled steak. At the same time, I like vegetarian food. Sometimes when I stir-fry, I'll use tofu instead of steak or chicken. I just like the flavor of it. I'll often get a Veggie Burger at a restaurant, and one of my wife's and my favorite meals is a patty melt using Trader Joe's veggie patties. I don't know if I do it to give the animals a break (I am a sucker for animals, especially, but not limited to, cute ones), or if I like feeling a little healthier from time to time. Either way, I enjoy it.

So, today, I went to Vegan Plate for lunch. It's across the alley from my office (and I occasionally get my wireless internet access from them...sorry), and some of my vegetarian friends raved about. And it was damn good. I got the P.E.T plate (that's stir-fried pumpkin, eggplant, and tofu) and it was both delicious and filling. I'm not a vegan (obviously), but every time I eat a meal like this I start wondering if I should convert. It has the kind of flavor mix that you just don't get with meat dishes (meat is often overpowering). I love the different blends of tastes and smells that overtake me when I try something like this. Plus, it's all fresh, clean, and fills you up without making you feel sick. If my office wasn't moving, I'd be stopping at Vegan Plate regularly.

Great, I've gone and made myself hungry again. God, I love food!


Thursday, October 11, 2007

What happened, Charlie Brown?

This was the Peanuts strip that ran in today's paper (Edit: Sorry, apparently you'll have to click on it to see the full strip- ES). Obviously it's an older one (I think they're around the time where Sally is less than a year old, right now), from the early days of the strip. Man, what happened to the Peanuts?

This strip is dark, insightful, and overall very clever. Most of the early Peanuts strips are like this. They're smart social commentary, very clever, and practically counter-culture. Somewhere between when this strip originally ran and the time I grew up (when Charles Schulz was still putting out a new strip every day), Peanuts lost its edge. If I had to guess, I'd say it was around the time Snoopy started shilling for MetLife, or possibly when the gang made the jump to TV. Although, if you watch the TV specials, they get less edgy as well. The original Charlie Brown Christmas was a nice commentary on consumerism in modern America. From there on, it steadily declines. By the time Charlie Brown and his friends went to France, they were nothing more than amusing characters; the social relevance was pretty much gone. I love the early Peanuts and reading them as the "classic" strips that newspapers run today is truly a joy.

On a similar note, I recently found a series of Mickey Mouse comics from the 30s in which Mickey tries to kill himself (repeatedly) because Minnie is going out with someone else. Walt apparently got the idea from a Harold Lloyd movie. Try getting away with that in today's over-censored society!


Wednesday, October 10, 2007


That's right, it's freezing in Los Angeles. We've dipped below 70 degrees for the majority of the day and at night it may even dip into the mid-50's! I have to make sure that we have a fully stocked emergency kit for the obviously impending blizzard. And that all the blankets are out. And that we get the harvest in before the frost.

Seriously, though, the weather has turned really, really nice out here. I think I can finally say that autumn has pretty much started. We still hit the 80s from time to time, but it's not bad. And yet, for some reason, I'm freezing. Actually, it's not "some" reason, I know the exact reason- there's some kind of cold-blooded monster living in my office.

At various points throughout the day today, I've felt (and smelled) the heat turning on in the building. Then, I hear someone going to the thermostat and within ten minutes, it's cold again. Some days I come in and the thermostat is set to 50 degrees. Seriously! 50! That's jacket weather when you're outside, why does anyone want the inside to feel like that. Most days, sitting directly under the AC vent, my fingers and toes start to go a little numb if I don't keep them moving. I shouldn't have to wear a coat to work. Ok, back to my igloo.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

My Job Hates Disneyland

So, I'm pretty sure that either God hates my job, or my job hates Disneyland. It's one of the two, and it's starting to piss me off.

Last month, I had planned to take a Friday off to take my parents to Disneyland while they were in town. I gave my boss a full month's notice and we had a temp all set to come in. Then, the day before the trip, he tells me he wants me to come in for half the day because he doesn't trust the temp (who he has never met) to do anything right. Thankfully, I managed to persuade him that everything would be fine, and he let me go (albeit grudgingly).

Now, I have a trip scheduled with a couple of friends on the 20th, and suddenly I'm told that that's the day we'll be moving to the new office and that I have to be there to help. It doesn't seem to matter that I already have plans, as apparently it's perfectly natural to expect me to drop everything and do manual labor on a Saturday. The date is still tentative, so there's still hope. But what's the deal? Can't I just enjoy my days off at Disneyland?

p.s.- I would have included a picture, but my computer's moving ridiculously slowly today. Sorry, the visual feast continues tomorrow.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

I Fought City Hall

And by City Hall, I mean Time Warner Cable. I had e-mailed TWC about not having TBS-HD. You see, this year the first half of the baseball playoffs are being aired on TBS, and since my Cubbies are playing, I thought I should be able to watch them. And since I own a nice HDTV, I'd like to see the friendly confines of Wrigley Field displayed in all their glory. Now, Time Warner in Southern California has a history of being very anti-HD. And I sent them a polite, but strongly worded, e-mail telling them that since I had spent the money for their HD service and my fancy TV, I deserved to watch my favorite sport in High Def (especially since it was readily available). I also mentioned that DirectTv had just added the channel, along with 30 more, so they could offer me nearly triple the amount of HD channels I currently had. And it worked. Yesterday I got an e-mail back saying that TBS-HD had been added to the lineup. So to every baseball fan in LA who owns an HDTV and gets their cable from Time Warner- you're welcome. I'm sure it was my letter that put them over the top.

On a side note, anytime anyone talks about fighting City Hall, I think of a song from Rocko's Modern Life on Nickelodeon (Rocko faught City Hall/Rocko faught corporate America). I remember there being a joke about how the whole town had rehearsed for the big musical number without Rocko knowing it. Good times.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Flat Buns

I don't know how wide reaching these commercials are, but Carl's Jr. (and from what I can tell, Hardee's) are currently running an ad campaign for their new patty melt burger. The ad features some kids in a class room and two scrawny white morons start rapping about how their teacher has "flat buns." That's the hook- the patty melt is served on flat buns.

First off, the commercial itself is horrible. The rap is lame (as is most rap in advertising- this is what happens when you let 60 year old, fat, white ad execs try to be hip) and the whole concept is borderline sexist (as is most rap). It is also apparently teacherist as many teachers have protested the commercial (because it objectifies them, not for the real reason they should protest- watching it makes kids stupider). But none of that is what really bothers me. It's the general theme of the campaign that irks me. Even their unrelated print advertising is based around the concept that this new burger is served on "New Flat Buns!"

Last time I checked, a flat bun was called a slice of bread.
"How can we make this sandwich more appealing to the kids?"
"What if instead of a patty melt we called it an Extreme Melt?"
"Don't be retarded, Ted."
"What if we started calling bread 'flat buns'?"
If you haven't seen the ads, I'm pretty sure there's no irony intended in this concept. It seems like they're pretty much straight-forward marketing flat buns. You know how people say something is "The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread?" Apparently, sliced bread wasn't good enough for Carl's Jr. Way to raise the bar.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Go Cubs Go!

Ok, the weekend went the way I wanted it to (heck, everything was over by Friday for me), so I can safely discuss it now-

The Cubs are the National League Central Division Champions of 2007!

For a team that started out awful, this is a big deal. They were 22-30 on June 1st, when Carlos Zambrano decided to re-enact Mike Tyson's Punch Out with Michael Barrett as Little Mac. The next day, Lou Piniella exploded and everything turned around. Since that time they've been an impressive 63-46, which, I believe, is the best in the National League. It's been a wild ride. Seeing Aramis Ramirez's walk-off home run on July 1st to beat the Brewers and get the team back to .500 still gives me chills.

How about we make this the year Cubbies?

I'm so excited, I'm posting an extra picture. It's a compilation I did of my favorite moment from the season premiere of The Simpsons. Hopefully Fox won't sue me. Enjoy!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Very Superstitious

There is nothing exciting happening in the world of American sports (shifts eyes suspiciously)....

Ok, maybe there's something cool going on. Maybe it's possessing me so much that it's starting to distract me at work. Maybe I'm so damn excited that I can't think about much else. Maybe I can't blog about anything else because I can't think of anything else worth blogging about because it's taking over my whole consciousness. But I'm a superstitious man and I'm not going to talk about it until it's a sure thing. God forbid I be the one to curse it.

So, yeah, nothing's happening.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I Ruin Your Childhood Misconceptions

Hey everybody! Got a couple of things for you today. First, on my Google homepage, I have a feed of WikiHow. This is a daily instruction on how to do, well, something. Innocuous things like "How to Steam Broccoli" or "How to Change a Tire." Today was "How to Flirt." Here's some highlights:

"Being a good listener is far more important to successful flirting than being witty." As someone who prides himself on wit, there is nothing more important than being witty. Maybe this is why I suck at flirting.
"Or be more assertive and hold the person's hand when you cross the street." Are we trying to date someone's grandma, or a five year old? Also note that that one is a link to "How to hold hands."
"What you say is not particularly important(as long as it's not completely idiotic)." Of course what you say is important! Don't go talking about the holocaust- it's not idiotic, but it's a terrible flirting topic.
"Funerals, for example, are generally not good places to flirt." If you needed a website to tell you not to flirt at funerals, maybe you shouldn't be trying so hard to breed.

Second on the docket, apparently last night's premiere of CSI:NY had a plot line featuring mystery blood on the Statue of Liberty. Loyal readers will remember I posted about a mysterious Statue of Liberty head on this very blog not so long ago (I believe the title was "Working in the Picture Business" for the curious and forgetful among you). Well, I saw the commercial for the show and I can assure you that it was the same head I blogged about. So, in case you watched the show, DON'T BE FOOLED! They weren't really repelling down the Statue of Liberty's face, they were on the side of my parking structure. It was all movie/television trickery and lies! Lies, I tell you!

Tune in next time when I tell you how magicians saw a lady in half and spoil the endings of popular movies.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Writing am hard

Sorry about missing yesterday, loyal readers (reader?), it's been pretty busy. We're gearing up to start production on a new movie and are expecting an offer from a studio any day now. It's pretty exciting, but it certainly makes me busy. However, since my boss is taking a quick break (ie- nap), I figured I had time to fire off a blog.

Part of my job is to read scripts, and frankly, it's my favorite part. There's nothing better an aspiring writer can do than read other people's scripts, especially from represented writers. What strikes me more than anything is how bad most scripts are. And these are people who are actually being paid to write. It certainly gives me hope. That said, I just read a knockout of a comedy. It's amazing how much a script that's even remotely original stands out like a sore thumb. It always makes me want to start writing again.

Which brings me to my current problem- I haven't done any serious work on any of my scripts for over a week now. Sometimes I just get into a writer's funk. It's not that I don't know what I want to write, I just can't get the enthusiasm up to write it. This is especially true of the drama I'm working on right now. When I write comedy, I'm always excited to go back and make the characters I've created say and do funny things. Sometimes, I even surprise myself and funny jokes flow out of my head in a stream of consciousness. It's exciting. Drama is much harder to get enthused about. I open up the Macbook, start up Final Draft, and think, "Welp, it's time to kill the character that's been living in my head for six months." It's unbelievably hard. I write ten pages, get depressed, then turn off the computer and forget about it for a while. It's amazing how much fiction, even fiction that only exists in my head, can affect me. I have another idea for a drama in my head, but I think I'll need to do another comedy after I finish this project. Or maybe replace the guns with banana cream pies...I don't think that would compromise the integrity of the story much.
Catch you next time,

p.s.- I just realized I'm still paying for Anyone have any good ideas for what I should do with a website?

Friday, September 21, 2007

All Kinds of Stuff

I have no cohesive theme for my blog today, it's just going to be some thoughts that are coming to mind. My wife has one of her best friends from high school in town this weekend, and today they went to Disneyland. Without me. I got to go to work instead. I don't begrudge them going without me, I just wish I was there instead of here. It's a deep bitterness, but it's not directed at anyone.

I might get to go home early because today is Yom Kippur. I love working in Hollywood.

The Cubs's Magic Number is currently 8, and could be 7 by the end of the day if the Braves can beat the Brewers (which they'd better). A two game lead feels a hell of a lot better than a one game lead, let me tell you. That little extra wiggle room is nice to have. For those of you who don't know me (I should stop saying that, I'm pretty sure that everyone who's reading this knows me...if you don't, introduce yourself in the comments- make me feel popular) I'm a HUGE Cubs fan. If the Cubs hold on and make the playoffs, they could end up playing San Diego and/or Arizona. Road trip!

Finally, in that parenthetical in the last paragraph, I just realized I used three different punctuation devices to indicate a "pause." There's two commas, an ellipses, and a dash. Variety, kids! It's what makes life worth livin'!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Gather 'round the teevee box!

It's that time again! The summer doldrums of network television are passing by, and it's time for the new fall season! Not that summer has been a total wash. HBO has been splendid with a great season of Big Love, a good (though not as good as in the past) season of Entourage, and my favorite new show Flight of the Conchords. Plus, TBS aired the pleasantly surprising My Boys (it helps that it's about Cubs fans, but it really is smartly written). But nothing compares with the fall, when we have a glut of the new and the welcome return of my favorites.

The first new show I'm interested in aired last night- Back to You on Fox. The commercials did nothing for me, it looked like a fairly stale premise, and I can't stand Patricia Heaton (mostly because of how quickly she jumped on the pro-Rush Limbaugh/ anti-Michael J. Fox /anti-stem cell bandwagon during the last election) but I was interested. First, the critics told me to be interested. It was universally acclaimed. Second, I love Kelsey Grammar (hooray for Sideshow Bob!). Third, it's created by two of the guys from Frasier. Also, Fred Willard's on it, and he's hilarious! So, what did I think. Not bad, really. Made me laugh out loud more than once (twice at least on Fred Willard jokes...just sayin'). I give every new show I watch a few episodes to prove itself, and I feel like Back to You has a solid foundation. It at least has my interest.

What else will I be watching? In terms of new shows- Reaper (Kevin Smith directed the pilot), Pushing Daisies (could be cool or just plain horrible), Dirty Sexy Money, and Carpoolers (it has Arrested Development creators on board- I'm there). There may be others I'll try, I just can't remember them. I'm also going to start watching How I Met Your Mother. I've seen a couple episodes and Neil Patrick Harris is just plain brilliant. Plus, it's funny. It officially becomes the first show I've wanted to regularly watch on CBS (aside from news and Letterman) in at least a decade. That's impressive.

Returning shows? Sunday belongs to Fox and animation. Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Guy, and even American Dad because I'm too lazy to change the channel (it's not as bad as most people say, but I wouldn't miss it if it was gone). Thursdays belong to NBC. All four of their sitcoms are absolute top notch, and I can't wait to get them started again; especially The Office and 30 Rock. Other than that, House and Heroes come back soon, but then I have to wait until January for 24 and Lost. So, my schedule's pretty full. I'm sure things will change, but it's always an exciting time. Oh, and one thing I won't be watching: Cavemen. Stupid commercials, even worse show. That's all I have to say right now.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Rosh Hashanah

Today ends Rosh Hashanah, or, as one of the guys my company is working with put it- Roshomon. Now, everyone knows my industry is run by liberal Jews, so yesterday was supposed to be a day off for me. My boss wasn't coming into work, and neither were any of the agents and producer-types that we deal with. As an interesting side note, after sundown on Wednesday, the only calls we got in our office were from people with last names starting with "Mc" (McKittrick, McKnight, McCarthy). Seems the Irish don't think about the Jewish New Year much.

It also turns out that most of the Jews I know don't think much about it earlier. On Wednesday, everyone was talking about "Observing" and spending the day off with their families, away from work. On Thursday, well...they may not have been in the office, but that doesn't mean they weren't working. The way this works is that an executive calls their assistant from their cell phone, then the assistant calls someone else's assistant, who in turn calls their executive on cell phone, and the assistants patch it through as a conference call. Apparently this is easier than one person just calling the other on their cells directly. It makes easy things much more complicated, and I ended up having a surprisingly busy day yesterday. I think Yom Kippur will be different. Everyone seems to agree that that holiday is way more important and that they shouldn't be working. We'll see.

In other news, big congratulations to my brother who announced his engagement yesterday! I don't know Ronni yet, but she always posts very nice comments on my blog and I'm sure she's a lovely girl. Mazel Tov!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

How I spent my Weekend. By Eli- age 6

Man, I gotta tell you, I love Disneyland. And Disney World, too. If I had a choice to be anywhere at almost any given moment, I would choose a Disney theme park. I bring this up because last Friday, I took my parents there and it straight up kicked ass. The off-season started this past week (and basically only lasts until the Halloween promotion starts up) and there were absolutely NO lines in the park. Middle of the day, we were waiting 10 minutes for Space Mountain. As someone who usually doesn't mind lines, I was downright giddy. Melissa says I turn five as soon as I pass through the gates of Disneyland, and on Friday I certainly felt 5. The only downside was that the Haunted Mansion was closed while they put up the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay. Since I normally ride the mansion between 3 and 6 times on each trip, this made a big difference. Oh well, next time.

I can't put my finger on exactly what appeals to me so much about Disney. I think more than anything it's the attention to detail. When I'm walking around Adventureland, I can convince myself I'm in an Indiana Jones movie. Main Street just feels like home. It's unlike anywhere else I've been, and it just makes me happy. I love it, and I'm not ashamed to say that I love it. I think everyone should check out one of the parks with me at some time. Sure, you can have fun by yourself, but going with me is like getting a guided tour. Please, share my love.

We also took my parents to the LA Zoo. I live about 5 minutes away from the zoo and had never been. It always looked kind of small and unimpressive, especially considering the king of all American zoos is just a couple hours away in San Diego. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. We got there early before the heat kicked in, and as a result, we got to see the animals actually moving most of the time. It was a much better collection than I was expecting (though the living environments seemed a little too small to me). Lots of cool little primates and some great giraffes who were practically blocking the walkway with their necks. But the highlight was the orangutans. I love apes and monkeys. If you know me, you're already aware of this. These orangutans were simply awesome. There was a two year old that was just going nuts, and actually used one of those swinging ropes like Tarzan, which I've never seen an animal do in person before. Also, she stuck her finger up her but for a really long time. Hehe, I'm a grown up.

The adult males were also impressively large and they were sitting right up by the glass in their habitat, which made for some great viewing. But it was while reading the story of Eloise that I got to thinking. Eloise is the oldest orangutan in the clan and she's been at the zoo the longest. She also has cerebral palsy (I believe that's the one it said she had) and other mental disabilities. Now- how great of a children's song or book would "Eloise the Retarded Orangutan" be? Sure, it might offend some of the sensitive types, but it could teach a message or something. I haven't really thought it out, it's just a fun title.

" 'Eloise, you shouldn't take that baby! It's not a doll and it's not yours!' But it was too late, and the zoo keeper knew it was going to be a long day."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Well, with my parents in town this weekend, I haven't spent a lot of time blogging. I'll probably post a catch-up of all the exciting things I've done tomorrow. Today, I wanted to share with you the wonders of the scientific world.

I'm a total gadget nerd. I honestly read three separate gadget blogs on a daily basis (checking each multiple times). For the record, they are: Engadget, Gizmodo, and TUAW (the Unofficial Apple Weblog). I can't get enough of them. I want to know exactly what the cutting edge is so I can plan for my future wealth. Do I need to read 70 posts about various things happening to the iPhone? No. But do I want to? You better believe it. Sometimes, these blogs step away from the latest handheld media players and high-def TVs and talk about some real science. Two such posts caught my eye this week:

Today, on Engadget, I read about a guy who has using a radio-wave generator to desalinate water using radio frequencies. Sounds pretty boring, right? Well, he noticed some little flashes in the water and within a few days he was burning tubes of saltwater like candles. Burning water hot enough to melt the test tubes. As with all science that no one has thought of before, everyone else in the scientific community thought he was making it up. But, another separate scientist just held a demonstration proving that it is indeed...Science! What's this mean? Possibly a new form of fuel...using salt water. Sounds a bit better than oil, no? Follow the link above to see a news report on the demonstration. I don't know why this is exciting me so much, but it is.

Yesterday, I saw a report about a company called Ambient that has developed a wheelchair that is controlled by your mind. You read that correctly, it's a telepathic wheelchair. Basically, the person wears a sensor on their neck, and when they think about certain words, the sensor can read the words from the larynx through the skin. So, think about saying "left," and the chair goes left. I can't help but think of Professor Xavier from the X-Men when I hear this. That guy made being in a wheelchair seem almost cool and this just brings that closer to reality. Read about the demonstration and peep a video here. This isn't as potentially world-changing as burning the most abundant element on earth as fuel (by the way, the water apparently doesn't burn, so it doesn't even really waste water), but it's still pretty damn cool. Already I'm imagining myself sitting in a robotic cyborg chair, arching my brow menacingly and thinking, "Smite my enemies!" You'll all say I'm mad, but I'll show you! Mwuahahahahah!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Ants in an Office

I watched Snakes on a Plane a couple weeks ago on HBO (it was on, what can I say?), and in the spirit of Samuel L. Jackson, I've got something to say:
"I have had it with these motherf*in' ants in this motherf*in' office!"

I don't want it to sound like I'm overrun with ants. They're just here, and they're irritating. Every once in a while I'll see one of the little buggers crawling across the wall or nosing around on my desk. I believe there may be one living inside of my keyboard right now (my work computer's keyboard...those little bastards better keep away from my precious MacBook). I kill them, but they keep coming back. As a side note, I feel bad every time I kill one of them, or any bug for that matter. Just thought I'd mention that.

Anyway, I've been around the block a few times. I've had my share of encounters with ants. This one's different. Normally, ants tend to be making their way toward food or some sort of sweet garbage. These guys seem to want nothing more than to crawl across the walls and desk. Also, most ant attacks consist of a line of ants pouring in from an outside location. I remember one summer I was working at a theater and I had practically an entire ant colony come in to my dorm room through a hole in the wall and crawl all over my bed. I can't figure out for the life of me where these ones are coming from. There no line of ants by the windows, the doors, or any of the seams in the wall. It's just single ants that randomly appear nearby. I somehow find that more disturbing. It's easier to deal with an any problem when you know where it starts. I'm not prepared for mystery ants.

UPDATE: I just found out that we are apparently being kicked off of the studio lot (not just my department, all of my company), and we're going to be getting new offices. Don't know where we're going, but hopefully the ants won't follow. Not looking forward to a long commute, though.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


I got nothin'. I want to be good and post today, but I have little to nothing to talk about. I didn't do much over the holiday. Stayed inside mostly because it was about 106 degrees for most of the weekend, had my fantasy football draft, had dinner with a couple friends, went to a bar with another friend. I had great times, but very little of my weekend would actually interest the outside world. Come back tomorrow, I'll be more interesting. I promise.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Whether the Weather

Ladies and Gentlemen, it's hot in LA. And, as always, it's even hotter in the Valley. It's the kind of heat that feels like you're walking through a hot jell-o wall as soon as you go outside. Still, it's not as hot as the week Melissa and I moved here (and our AC promptly broke). And at least we have central air in our new place.

So why bring it up? Widgets. That's right, widgets. I recently started using the new Google homepage as my internet start page. It's pretty great. It shows my Gmail inbox, keeps track of my Google docs, shows my Google calendar (my God, I'm a Google whore!), as well as several non-Google related things. I can search Wikipedia, read one of my Cubs blogs, get news feeds, all kinds of stuff. Recently, I've noticed that the "official" Google Weather widget has been a little...well, off. So, I've started looking into alternatives. Basically, I have three options:
  1. The Weather Channel widget
  2. Apple's dashboard weather widget
  3. Stick with what I've got.
So, in true American fashion, I'm holding a competition. Physically, they're all pretty similar (although the Weather Channel one is a little large, shows a radar, and kind of looks like an iPhone). I'm only interested in how they perform. Looking at their forecasts for today, picking a winner should be pretty easy. Weather Channel said it would be sunny with a high of 101. Apple said sunny with a high of 105. Google, on the other hand, said there was a high of 97 with a picture of rain and lightning. Now, just looking out my window, I haven't seen so much as a cloud, so that should tell you how reliable Google is right away. The "Current Weather" reading on all 3 stayed consistent throughout the day (though Google seemed to be about 15 minutes behind), so that's a wash. It all comes down to what the actual high temperature was. And with the mercury reaching 101, it looks like Weather Channel is the winner. As a fun side note, Google continues to post the high as 97 degrees, even when the current temp right above it says 101.

I'll give the test a few more days, but it looks like Weather Channel is far superior. I don't know why I care, anyway. Someone in my office building insists on keeping the thermostat somewhere in the mid-60s, so I won't feel anything either way.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I Suck at Pac-Man

Yep. The title says it all. Pac-Man (or as the Japanese call it, "Puck-Man") has been on this Earth every moment of my life, and I still royally suck at it. I'm not even close to being "OK" at it. I know this because of the internet. First, some background:

A couple months ago, I watched a screener copy of the new documentary "King of Kong." This fun movie chronicles two gamers (the underdog and the pompous "king" of video games, Billy Mitchell) as they try to be recognized as the world's best Donkey Kong player. What did I learn from this movie? I suck at Donkey Kong. But I already knew that. My brother has always been way better than me at Donkey Kong, and this movie taught me that he sucks at it, too. So what does that tell you about me? Anyway, it certainly made me want to play some of the classics. So, I broke out my old favorites and set to work.

Which brings us to today. I've accepted my suckiness at Donkey Kong. I'm a fairly passable Berserk player (and I love how the machine taunts you- "Chicken! Fight like a robot!"). But, boy, do I suck at Pac-Man. I decided to put some research into it (maybe I should rename this blog "I decided to Research..."- it seems to be a common theme), and I learned that there are vast tomes of Pac-Man strategies. I studied them. I learned some patterns, I learned how each of the ghosts reacts differently and what parts of the screen they can't go to. And I still suck. Can't even get past the second peach level (and only made it that far once). There's no excuse for this. I've had all my life to hone my Pac-skillz, and I intend to make up for some lost time. Watch out Blinky- your red ass is mine!

p.s.- On a more serious note, check out my buddy Mike's blog "Hey Gang." It's linked on the right side of the screen. He just got back from Africa and posted some great pics. Enjoy!

Monday, August 27, 2007

My Corporate Responsibilty

Hey, so, as I mentioned in my first blog posting, The Brothers Solomon comes out on September 7th. Now, according to our best research, most of you have never heard of the movie, or at least you don't care about it. Well, I'm here to do my part to change that. I've been sitting on these funny videos that Will Forte put together for a couple of weeks now but they've finally showed up on YouTube so I can post them freely. Here are my favorites (the first one is NSFW, Not Suitable For Work, but please watch them and tell everyone you meet about them. There are four more on YouTube, just do a search for "Will Forte Grandma" and they should all come up. Do your part to spread these things like a virus:

Go forth and spread the gospel!

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Day at the Blog

Ok, so my boss is on vacation this week, leaving me alone in the office. This has the effect of making my work day rather boring, and as such, I haven't posted in a few days. That much time to yourself has a tendency to freeze your mind. But not to worry! I actually did something productive! I got out my Marx Brothers movies and watched every one I hadn't seen (and a couple I had). So what better way to celebrate than to go through and give my thoughts on them one by one. Now, I didn't watch The Cocoanuts or Animal Crackers this week, and it's been some time since I have, so my thoughts for those will be short and a little hazy. Anyway, here I go:

The Cocoanuts: Obviously it's very raw. It's the first Marx foray into film, and from what I understand, it's nearly identical to their Broadway hit. I like this movie and it makes me wish I could have seen the brothers preform on stage in their early years- I can only imagine how crazy and chaotic they must have let their shows get. Must have been fun.

Animal Crackers: More great fun. The opening Captain Spaulding number is one of my favorites.

Monkey Business: I blogged about this one a little while ago. It drags a bit in parts, but overall the comedy is solid. I love the Chevalier bit, and Zeppo really seems at the top of his game in this one.

Horse Feathers: The college stuff is fantastic, some of the best. Quincy Wagstaff's song and introduction are up there with Animal Crackers. Unfortunately, the football stuff falls WAY flat, dragging down the last half of the movie. Still pretty good.

Duck Soup: Still my favorite Marx Brothers movie. Groucho during the war scenes is something I could watch (and have watched) over and over. It's short, sweet, and has a real anti-authority message that most of the movies just hint at. The jokes are funny, the songs are wacky (so they actually fit in) and there's no dumb love story tacked on. It's pure Marx.

A Night at the Opera: Another classic. The comedy set pieces (the state room, the opera itself) absolutely kill. Possibly their funniest stuff. Unfortunately, to me, the musical numbers here seem to go on forever. "Cosi Cosa" stands out as one of the biggest wastes of time in a great movie, and the Chico playing piano and Harpo playing harp bits are uninspired in this one. That's the only thing keeping this one from joining Duck Soup at the very top.

A Day at the Races: There's a lot to like here. Groucho as a doctor (a horse doctor treating humans) is great. Even the horse races at the end seem like they belong. I laughed a lot during this one. Unfortunately, the "Negro Spiritual" song made Especially when the brothers try to hide in the crowd by painting their faces. (Though Harpo only doing half of his face is still pretty funny).

Room Service: It all falls apart for me here. This was actually a stage play that was adapted for the Marx Brothers and it wasn't adapted well. The real laughs are few and far between here. The young romantic male (formerly the Zeppo role) is just awful here. It loses even more points for criminally wasting a young Lucille Ball by not giving her anything funny to do. I was really really disappointed by this one.

At the Circus: For the most part, another miss. Though I love "Lydia the Tattooed Lady," the people in this one would just not stop singing sappy love songs. There's some goodness here, but I watched this right after Room Service, and my patience was starting to wear a little thin. Still, the bits in the midget's house were good, and Groucho's scene walking on the ceiling was pretty enjoyable.

Go West: And my faith was restored! I was ready to give up on the later films when I came to Go West. They seem to have regained a lot of their comic form in this film. It wasn't brilliant, but I laughed an awful lot. I'd never heard much talk about this movie so it came as a surprise to me. Not bad at all!

The Big Store: Didn't make me laugh as much as Go West, but still a solid step above At the Circus. Nice to see Groucho and Harpo working together, and the detective agency scenes with Margaret Dumont were classic. The chase at the end didn't work perfectly for me, but there were some nice set pieces throughout. This also features what is easily my favorite Chico piano scene AND my favorite Harpo harp scene. So that's a big plus.

A Night in Casablanca: Another solid effort, much like Go West and The Big Store. I like that these last few movies took the Marx Brothers and put them in more distinct, "Hollywood" settings. It gives them each a nice character. Nothing terribly "classic" in this one, but having Nazis as villains is always a good thing.

So there you go. My thoughts on all of the Marx Brothers movies (except Love Happy, which I don't own and am not sure most people count it anyway). My not be earth-shattering, but it's what's been on my mind.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Ongoing War...

Hey everybody, sorry no posting yesterday but I couldn't think of anything to write about. My mind kind of blanked out around 1pm and never fully recovered. But there's something to talk about today...The War!

Don't worry, no talk of politics. The War I'm referring to is a format war. Here in Hollywood, the studios all seem to have gotten a case of the crazies over high definition versions of DVD. For those not in the know, there are two competing formats- Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. For all intents and purposes, these formats are identical. Hook up one of each kind of player playing the same movie side by side and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. People who work professionally with video can't tell the difference. But the studios are insisting that there's a difference and taking up sides to make consumers choose. Blu-Ray was looking like a clear winner, with every major studio except Universal showing support for it, but then yesterday happened. Stupid yesterday.

Yesterday Parmount and Dreamworks Animation announced that they would no longer be supporting both formats and that they were switching to HD-DVD exclusively. Why? They say it made more business sense, but what it really means is that the HD-DVD people (notably Microsoft) gave them a total of $150 million to do so. That's a lot of scratch. Now, Microsoft didn't create the HD-DVD, Toshiba did. But they are it's biggest supporter (mostly because their rival in the gaming world, Sony, is the creator of Blu-Ray). This is essentially a Microsoft cash grab. Their interest seems to be in prolonging this format war as long as possible so that people will stop buying any DVDs and switch to their Xbox Live Marketplace to download high definition movies. It's moves like this that make me even more proud to be a Mac owner.

I was seriously considering buying a Blu-Ray player sometime after Christmas once the prices get reasonable. This move by Paramount has changed my mind. Now I'm not going to be buying either format, possibly ever. And I'm not going to start downloading my movies either. Call me crazy, but I like to have some kind of physical representation of the media I buy. I can't help but envision buying a bunch of digital movies, having a hard drive crash, and the online store folding so I have no record of my purchases. Just like that- no movies. So what to do? Stick with plain old DVD. I have an HDTV and a DVD player that upscales my current movies to 1080i. And you know what? It looks fantastic. There's nowhere near enough of a difference in picture quality between what I watch now and the HD formats to justify switching unless I'm forced to do so.

Now if they release Star Wars or Indiana Jones in Hi-Def, well, ask me my opinions again.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I Look Like A Monkey....

....And I smell like one too. That's right, today is my birthday. I'm 25 years old. I am officially no longer in the "MTV" Demographic. That's fine, really, because I haven't watched much MTV since "Beavis and Butthead" and "The State" went off the air (no, I don't watch the Real World/Road Rules Challenge...ok, it's on my Tivo because my wife watches it and I may be in the room on the couch at the same time...). I'm no longer in the key 18-24 demo. Of course, some people say it's 18-25, so I'm good for another year. Ah, who am I kidding? I'm a white male, advertisers won't stop caring about my opinions until I'm well past 50, and then the drug companies will start taking interest (if I see one more Cialis commercial, I swear...). It's nice to be wanted.

Everyone keeps asking what I'm doing for my birthday. The answer- Not a whole lot. I'll see Superbad this weekend, and we'll probably have a nice dinner or something, but my real gift is the MacBook, and I couldn't ask for anything more for my birthday. Really, things are pretty good right now. Here's to hoping that they stay that way for a long, long time. Cheers.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It's a Girl!

At least, I'm assuming it's a girl. It's all curvy and pretty and seems to have mostly "female" input ports. Of course I'm referring to my beautiful new Macbook! It's 13 inches diagonally, 1 inch, think, weighs 5lbs and is perfectly healthy! Cigars for everyone!

Seriously, though, I haven't had much time to play with it yet (I just went home at lunch to pick it up and plug it in) but I can't wait. The shipping was a little crazy on it. After Anchorage last night, it apparently flew to Indianapolis, then caught another flight in the wee small hours of the morning to make it to LA. For those of you keeping score, the final flight path looked like this:

Seems like Indianapolis was a little out of the way, but I'm not complaining. It got here in less than a week, which is a hell of a lot faster than I could get anything here from China. Maybe I'll put some pictures up tomorrow.

The only thing dampening this good mood for me right now is the fact that I have a splitting headache and no pain medication at the office. Looks like I've got something for the shopping list this weekend.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Working in the picture business

As I was leaving my parking spot recently, I noticed something strange hanging from the outside of the parking deck:
Intrigued, I decided to get a better look at it from outside. Imagine my surprise when I saw this:
For some reason, someone had re-created the head of the Statue of Liberty on my parking structure! I know CSI:NY films on my lot, but I can't figure out why this thing is there. It's not like it's got blue or green screen behind it to allow you to fake a scene there. Plus, there's nowhere to stand or anything, the actors would have to be hovering around it. And even more curious, the thing seems to get bloodier every day, like it was crying blood (yes, I know I said this happened "recently," but the head has actually been up for nearly a month now. I've just been too lazy to get the pictures off of my phone.). Just one of the perks of working in the biz, I guess. Where do you park? Oh, I park in the Statue of Liberty's bleeding head.

MacBook Update: As of posting time, my MacBook has made it on to the continent and is in Anchorage, Alaska! Some reports I've read say that it will come straight to LA from there, others say it might be routed through Indianapolis first (which doesn't make a lot of sense, it's apparently a FedEx sorting thing). This means that there is at least a small possibility that I will have my new laptop (I'm sorry....notebook) computer tomorrow!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Waiting is the hardest part...

Hey everyone. So, this past Thursday I ordered myself a shiny, new white MacBook. And now, I wait for it to arrive. I'm reminded of The Simpsons (once again), when Homer was going through the 3-day waiting period to buy his gun. He sits in front of the house watching things he wants to shoot go by as Tom Petty's song "Waiting is the Hardest Part" plays. That's pretty much how I feel right now.

It finally shipped out late last night, so now I get the pleasure of using FedEx to track the shipment. I track everything I order, even if it's nothing exciting. And, well, this computer is VERY exciting, so I'm tracking it obsessively. Here's what I know so far:

I live here:

The package has just left here:

Now, for those of you who failed geography and don't own a globe, this is what the trip looks like:

Hopefully the plane can avoid the giant dragon in the Pacific and get me my computer soon. I'm hopeful because when I ordered my iPod, it only took like two days to get to Atlanta from Hong Kong. And California is closer to China than Atlanta, right? Ah well. I'll have a new computer soon, things are good.

Making good things better is the fact that Karl Rove resigned today. Granted, this is 7 years too late, after a career of causing irreparable damage to the world in every way conceivable, but better late than never. I'll be drinking to that tonight.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Bear with me on this one...

So, last night I was watching my DVD of Season 2 of The Muppet Show (which is fantastic, by the way) and the Rich Little episode came on. Now, Rich Little is pretty awful. He does a bit where he does impressions of Fozzie, Kermit, and Piggy and none of them are even recognizable (I do much better Muppet voices, thank you very much). His impressions are cartoonish and often way off base (how hard is it to do a Bing Crosby, for god's sake?). But that's beside the point. He did a number where he recreated scenes from classic movie musicals, and when he did "I Remember It Well" from Gigi I thought, "Hey, that's a pretty good Maurice Chevalier." Wait a minute, did I just think that? Where the hell did that come from?

I couldn't pick Maurice Chevalier out of a line of two people. Why did I know 1)Who this guy is, and 2) that Rich Little's impression of him was pretty good? I've never seen or heard Chevalier before, really. Well, that's not entirely true. I'm pretty sure XM's broadway channel plays his Gigi recordings fairly frequently, but I didn't know who he was when I heard them so they don't count. So why my sudden expertise on Maurice Chevalier? Then it hit me- The Marx Brothers.

Early in the week, my boss was out of town and I filled some of the downtime by going through some of my Marx Brothers collection DVDs. In Monkey Business, the brothers are stowaways on a cruise ship and apparently Chevalier is one of the passengers. They manage to steal his passport to try and get off the ship uncaught. In turn, all four of them (Monkey Business does feature Zeppo) imitate Chevalier to prove that it is their passport. Harpo's imitation, which involves a small phonograph, is especially memorable (not to mention the only time I had knowingly heard Chevalier sing). Seeing them all fake their way through "You Brought a New Kind of Love To Me" is a highlight of the film for me. But it apparently was also enough to make me an expert on Maurice Chevalier. It is an introduction to pop culture of the 1930s.

I love pop culture. Heck, I love all trivia, but pop culture is fun. This whole Chevalier fiasco (that should be a movie- The Chevalier Fiasco) has made me realize how much pop culture I absorb second hand. I can reference TV shows and movies I've never seen just because I'm pretty familiar with them. For example, I could pinpoint a scene from Citizen Kane or Dr. Strangelove on sight before I had seen them because I was so familiar with them from The Simpsons. And Animaniacs? Forget about it. I am a font of other people's knowledge. Thank you movies and television, for teaching me all about movies and television.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

My First Earthquake (by Fisher Price)

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Last night I experienced my first earthquake. Granted, the epicenter was at least 20 miles away, but I still felt it. It was a terrifying experience, much like the Earthquake ride at Universal Studios. The gas line was spewing flames out of my stove and a truck came crashing through my roof! We were lucky to escape with our lives...

Ok, that's exaggerating things just a bit. It was only a 4.7 (apparently, that's pretty low) and I was awakened by a gentle rumbling at 1am. How gentle? I convinced myself pretty quickly that I had imagined it. Hell, Melissa slept right through it, how strong could it have been? The action figures that I keep precariously perched on my desk didn't even fall over. Honestly, my office is directly above the air conditioner for the building, so my desk and windows shake more than that on a constant basis. If an earthquake hit while I was at work, I might not even notice it.

Which brings up a fear I've always had- What if you're riding the Earthquake ride at Universal Studios and there's a real earthquake? You come out of the show building and see the world still shaking. Are you convinced that it's all part of the show and that Universal has really upped the production values? You laugh and take pictures while the rest of the town runs around screaming. You'd be woefully unprepared. These are the kinds of things I worry about all day. I think there might be something wrong with me.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Who Watches This Crap?

While I'm sure there is no shortage of rambling phillipics on the sad state of entertainment in America today as a result of reality television, I'm also sure that most of them don't refer to themselves as "philipics." So, I'm going to go ahead and do it anyway.
Today, they're apparently shooting "America's Got Talent" on my lot. Fine. Whatever. Unfortunately, this means the area surrounding my office is crowded with slack-jawed idiots. You can pick them out from a block away. They're the ones wandering around like they've never been outside of their homes before, staring and pointing and driving 3 miles an hour down Venture Boulevard. They walk across the street at a leisurely pace, gaping and gawking, hoping to see some minor celebrity at the McDonald's, all the while oblivious to the traffic they are blocking; every driver about 3 seconds from running them over. They are either dressed pathetically sloppily or WAY too nice to be going to a television taping, like this is the biggest event of their lives. These are the people who are not content to sit at home and waste an hour of their life watching a crappy reality competition on TV, they have to take an entire day of their lives (a Monday, mind you; most people are working) and watch the same crap sandwich in person. And to make matters worse, I was told when I came back from lunch that my RESERVED parking space may not be available because apparently these morons can't follow simple directions and park in the general spaces on the 4th and 5th floors. Apparently, they just think they're at the mall and can't be bothered not to park in the first space they see, regardless of whether it says "SPACE RESERVED FOR E. SELZER- CW FILMS." Thankfully, no one had taken my spot or I would have left a rather nasty note.
I believe that these people are not fans of reality television, they are products of it. Networks like to make a big deal of the fact that they are putting out terrible reality programs because people watch them. I think this gives people too much credit. If you took every reality program off the air, people wouldn't stop watching television. If every network made the blanket decision to stick to scripted shows, the overall number of people would not change. People will watch what they are told to watch. So, I see reality television as a vast conspiracy to dumb down the American people. If you want to keep a civilization in submission, the first thing you do is keep them from getting educated. Intelligence is the main enemy of tyranny. I don't think it's a coincidence that the first season of Survivor was the year that people allegedly elected George Bush president. I'm just saying.
Now, I'm not one of those people who claims that television used to be a golden font of entertainment and it's all gone to hell. There's always been crappy TV. And, to be fair, there's a lot of REALLY good TV on right now (The Office, 30 Rock, Lost, Heroes, anything on HBO). But reality isn't just bad television, it's stupid television. It talks down to the viewer and removes any critical thinking that standard storytelling evokes. It tells the audience that they must personally get involved to affect the outcome of the show. You don't have to think about anything, you just have to feel something. "I like that guy better than that girl! I want that suitcase, not that one." When was the last time anyone turned off one of these shows and said, "Wow, that really gave me something to think about." Art (and yes, I'm including television as art), should be a thought-provoking reflection on society. If reality TV is a reflection of society, we might as well just kill ourselves now. I don't want to believe that we're all such vapid, greedy, fame whores. I try to give the average citizen credit for having some amount of intelligence. And yet...
Do me a favor. Go watch an episode of "Dora the Explorer" or any current children's show. The obsession in the industry right now is to make these shows more "interactive" for kids. Dora (or Mickey or whoever) will address your kids directly; they will ask questions, ask for help, and praise them whether they actually do anything or not. The idea is to get the kids involved in the show, and for the six and under set, this strategy makes a lot of sense. But this is basically the same strategy they use with these reality shows, specifically, the reality competitions. "Call in and vote so YOU can change the outcome of the show! Hooray! You did it!" With your toddler, it's cute. But isn't it insulting that major television networks think your brain is essentially the same as that of a six year old? I'm insulted, and I don't even watch. Create characters that get me involved in your show. Don't pander to me and tell me that my watching has an impact on the show (Spoiler Alert- It doesn't. The networks pick the winners and then manipulate the shows so that you feel the same way that they want you to feel. And that's assuming that they even look at the votes; which, in fact, they probably don't). Please, television networks, start treating us like adults and put some damn effort into your programming.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Bad Day for Art Films

Wow, this has been a bad start to the week for fans of artsy foreign films. Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni both died within about 24 hours of each other. I have to admit, it doesn't really sadden me that much, mostly because I assumed they were both already dead. I can picture a lot of scrawny film school students smoking thin cigarettes toasting these two legends over espressos at any local coffee house that isn't Starbucks and basically acting like they're better than you. Granted, I haven't encountered nearly as many Antonioni or Bergman disciples as I have Kubrick disciples, but I'm sure they're out there, telling their friends why any movie that is popular is worthless. Let's face it, I respect these guys' work and I can see the artistry in it, but it is pretty damned pretentious. While I like The Seventh Seal, I can't say that it's something I'll watch over and over again. It's more of an appreciation than an enjoyment. That's pretty much how I feel about most "art" films. 2001 is a gorgeous, brilliant movie, but I can't say that I really liked watching it, per se. I think this comes down to the difference between "film" and "movie." One is art, the other is entertainment. This is not to say that the two are mutually exclusive. Many movies are also films and vice versa. There are plenty of "films" that manage to be highly enteraining, and many "movies" resonate on a higher level (Dr. Strangelove comes to mind, as does Brokeback Mountain and most Charlie Kauffman movies). I don't know, I don't seem to have a point to be making here. I'm just rambling. I guess what I'm trying to say is: It looks like Ingmar Bergman wasn't as good a chess player as the Knight he created in Seventh Seal. Talk to you guys later.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Playing Catch-up

Hey there, everybody! Sorry I disappeared for a couple of days, but I'm back and ready to catch everyone up on my goings on. For the better part of last week and this weekend, I've been fighting a pretty awful cold. This thing just refuses to go away. I feel good now, for the most part, but my head is still very congested. My boss suggested pumping warm saltwater through my nose and sinus cavity, an idea which scares the bejesus out of me. I think it's an irrational fear, but I just have a feeling that it would pool at the base of my brain and turn me into Forrest Gump or something, like a reverse Flowers for Algernon. I'll just sit here feeling like my head is underwater for another couple of days, thank you.
So, let's see, what's happened since last you saw your hero (me)? I went with both of the guys who were my college roommates to see The Simpsons Movie on Saturday. The Simpsons is the single defining cultural work of my generation. The movie didn't disappoint. It was like 4 very good episodes of the TV show strung together. A lot of the jokes worked really well, and the ones that didn't weren't terrible. The whole theater seemed to be enjoying it. I can't wait for the DVD to see all the stuff they cut out. Now, my former roommates and I had our Simpsons rituals. My freshman dorm-mate, Mike (his blog's linked on the right side of this one), and I barely talked for a year. It's not that we didn't like each other, but we didn't really become friends until we moved into our own places. But, we did connect on cartoons. Sunday nights we'd watch King of the Hill and The Simpsons (and Futurama if it was on, if memory serves), then turn to Comedy Central and watch The Critic, Dr. Katz, and Duckman. It was our common ground and it has served us well. My other roommate, Josh, and I based the ritual around entire Sundays, especially in football season. During the afternoon games, we would order two pizzas (always Pizza Hut, often P'zones if they were available) and eat one during football and the other during Simpsons. After football season, the pizzas were just for The Simpsons. Neither one of these routines was broken very often, and even with the slightly lower quality of recent Simpsons seasons, they were good times. So, the movie, for us, was a huge deal. And we all left happy. That's as good a review as I think I can give.
Yesterday, I took Melissa out to dinner to celebrate her birthday, which is tomorrow. I wanted to take her to a Japanese Teppan Yaki steak house (like Benihana). Now, in Atlanta, every strip mall has one of these places. They're everywhere. LA apparently isn't as fond of them. I found a total of 3 in the valley: Benihana in Encino (too expensive), some place (Shogun?) in Pasadena, and Mori in Glendale, where we ate. It was damn good. I'd never had lobster on a hibachi before, but it worked really well. I want one of those hibachi tables installed in my house when I'm filthy rich. Every time I go to one of these places, I'm struck by how similar the routine is no matter where you are. The chef cracks an egg on a spatula, he tosses a shrimp you're supposed to catch in your mouth, he builds an onion volcano, etc. Where do these guys train? I picture a place liken Kitchen Stadium from (the original) Iron Chef and a ton of recruits sloppily tossing knives and eggs in the air, cutting off their ears and whatnot. I always imagine a kung-fu montage of these guys training set to the "You're the Best" song from The Karate Kid. Always cracks me up.
Finally, I have a new love in my life, and I don't even own it yet: I am dying for a new Apple MacBook. I've been obsessing over this for a while now (as is my wont) and doing a TON of research (as is also my wont). I had thought about getting a MacBook Pro because I like the bigger screen, the option of matte screen, and the aluminum case; but I couldn't justify spending nearly twice as much for computing power I wouldn't need. That left me with one decision- black or white. Initially, it was no contest. All I wanted was black. But, if I were to build an identical white one, it would cost $125 less. Why should I pay $125 for a different color? Also, many of the reviews I read said that fingerprints and smudges are more obvious on the black one and that the white one is easier to clean. That's worth something. So the black is more manly. Bah. White is more futurey and it matches my Ipod and Wii and Nintendo DS. I'm man enough to not need a black computer to prove it. Now, comes the hard part- the wait. Apple is releasing OSX 10.5 Leopard in October. If I buy a computer now, I'll have to pay an additional $150 to upgrade when it comes out. I've tried very hard to convince myself that this isn't a big deal, but it is. So, I'll probably be waiting two months to buy my computer. If the wait doesn't kill me first.