Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dear Kid At The Grocery Store; Part Two

Reusable bags seem to create their own set of conundrums at the grocery store.

- You can't carry your empty bags around the store to do your shopping because, apparently, when you walk in with them empty, you're sure to fill them and then tell the cashier, "Oh, I had all of this stuff when I got here. I'm only here for this teeny-tiny single serving of cream cheese." So you have to check the empty bags when you walk in. (Don't explain this one to me any of you snotty little shits who feel the need to explain it to me. I get it; I just don't like it.)

-When you empty your handbasket at the register, you have to hand over the oversized hunk of broom-handle that signifies that you have checked stuff. If they gave you a little piece of cardboard with a number on it, I suppose you might steal the little piece of cardboard and just leave the stuff you checked. (Ha, fooled you again, I get a piece of crumpled cardboard and all you get is all the stuff I just bought down the street.)

-The people in line behind you get annoyed while they wait for someone to bring your empty bags and you tell the kid not to load up the plastic bags because you're waiting for the bags the store wouldn't let you walk around the store with. Just wait kid. Wait!

-Then, the kid walks away.

-Then the cashier slides all of your crap to the "paid for" section of the counter and ignores it. As you start loading your own bags (because staring at your groceries doesn't seem to be getting any of them closer to your house), the cashier just starts ringing up the next customer in line and throwing her "paid for" stuff with your "paid for" stuff.

I used to love grocery stores. I thought of them as food-amusement-parks.

I'm growing less amused.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

This May Explain Some Things.

I've always wondered why I'm not a world-famous Academy Award winning actor. (Hey! That's a completely natural thing to wonder about. I bet you do it all the time.) Well it turns out that the reason for my current lack of fame and accolades may trace its roots to the fact that I've just remembered -- wait for it-- I'm actually a washed-up child actor.

I was reminded this morning of a Public Service Announcement my sister and I starred in sometime in the late 60's. It was a commercial promoting the Summer Reading Program for the Jacksonville Public Library. I had the following meaty role: While hanging upside down from a set of monkey-bars, I proudly proclaimed, "Mine's a monster book!" The proof of what an accomplished actor I was is in the fact that I was able to deliver that line perfectly over and over without having the slightest idea what I was talking about. For years, in fact, I was convinced I'd been saying "Mynza monster book". I thought that might be the name of the book, but who cared. I was a thespian. And none of that troublesome "What's my motivation?" crap from Nathan. I just said that line as many times as they wanted while looking absolutely adorable. (You'll have to trust me on the adorable part -- somehow the clip has avoided showing up on YouTube.)

My sister was not as lucky as I was. Her role called for her to ride her bicycle through the park while reading a book she had propped up in the basket. Before the commercial aired, some Safety-Nazi decided this bit of action might not be a great message to send to the youth of Jacksonville, and her part got cut. (HaHaHaHaHa.)

So I'm not a star now because my fame flared too early and was snuffed before adolescence -- like so many of my fellow retired child actors. Since my sister's part got cut, I don't know what her excuse is for her continued obscurity.

Here's a picture of the two of us looking like twins from a few years apart. (I'm the one with the mustache.)

Update: Big Sis tells me she got into the commercial as a more sedate child reading a book while on a swingset. I'm sure she remembers it better than I do. Furthermore, she's going to send me a copy of a picture of us in this same pose from when we looked like twins (before I had the option of facial hair) which I shall dutifully post. And she's going to contact the library and see if anyone can dig up a copy of the commercial itself! That will be a most excellent coup if she can track it down.

Saturday Morning Gift Bonanza!

Lots of random people will be receiving a chicken in their email this morning. Why? 'Cause I'm tired of only sending FarmTown gifts to people who are actually playing. That's why.

You're all welcome. Enjoy your chickens.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Maybe They Just Don't Know Any Better

At the southern tip of Brooklyn, nestled under the Verrazano Bridge, you'll find the neighborhoods of Ft. Hamilton and Bay Ridge. Admittedly, these neighborhoods could be said to be fairly insular. When I first moved to NY, these were primarily Italian neighborhoods. (I once met a pair of sisters who were in their 80's, lived in the house where they had grown up, and had never been to Manhattan!) There's a large Polish population there now, and a variety of folks with varying shades of brown skin moving in. (The old Italian ladies are me.)

Anyway, this is a neighborhood where the people living there know their neighborhood intimately and they probably keep in touch with the folks they left behind, so they're also up to date about what's going on a thousand or more miles away. What they're probably completely unfamiliar with is what's going on just a few miles down the road or anywhere west of the Hudson River.

Which brings us to this odd juxtaposition. I realize that Brooklyn might not be the first place that comes to mind when you envision going somewhere to soak up some rays, so it's only natural that a tanning center in Bay Ridge might want to make you have visions of some island; thoughts of a white sandy beach with the surf lazily lapping at the shore. I'd get that.

What, however posessed these people to choose Alaska as their exemplar of fun in the sun? I don't see anyone pushing the rich coffee brewed in the hills of Weehawken, NJ. I've never run across someone touting the delicious taste of Norwegian rum. Nobody goes to Sheboygan to see celebrities.

Maybe I'm a little slow. Somebody explain it to me.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I'm A Lemming.

Yup. I've been roped into playing FarmTown on Facebook. And If you don't show up when your crops are ready, they just rot there in the fields. And if you start off not knowing how to maximize your use of the available space, you end up with plowed fields just willy nilly all over the place. Bah!

The stuff toward the left side and the top is fine. All those fields in the middle and on the right are gonna have a visit from the bulldozer after they've been harvested. And my livestock won't stay in the pen. What's up with that?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Nearly 25% Of Democrats Are Total Fucking Idiots.

According to a Fox Poll taken a week or so ago, 23% of Democrats questioned believe that Oprah Winfrey would make a good Supreme Court Justice. (The poll is linked as a PDF from an article linked on

OK, let's start with two caveats here.

1. The Constitution doesn't list any specific training or experience necessary to be named to the court. You don't have to be a lawyer or a judge or any particular kind of scholar. Frankly, I can imagine people who would be imminently qualified for the court without any of those prerequisites.

2. I don't have the personal knee-jerk, visceral reaction that Oprah seems to inspire in a lot of people, either positive or negative...but c'mon...Oprah?

Like I said, I really don't have any particular ax to grind with Oprah, and there are some things about her that I find highly admirable, but all of those those positive reactions to her end with the thought, "for a talk show host". She's Oprah Winfrey for Pete's sake.

Her recent love-fest with Jenny McCarthy doesn't really speak well for her. She seems to have bought into a few "non-fiction" books in recent memory that turned out to be mostly fiction. Everyone is aware of the phenomenon that takes place when Oprah "anoints" something or someone. And I suppose that's really not the end of the world when it comes to being a talk show host. So what if she endorses cosmetic procedures left and right, declaring "That's amazing!" So what if every woman in America decides she needs a pashmina shawl because Oprah declares it one of her favorite things. So what if we get stuck with Dr. Phil just because he helped analyze her jury? (Oh wait...that one really does suck.)

Anyway, even if the poll does come to us from Fox, that paragon of fairness, do I really believe they just made that one up to make Democrats look like idiots? No. I have to conclude that my fellow Democrats include our own lunatic fringe who could do us all a favor by limiting their interaction with the rest of us to voting how we tell them to.

I mean really....Oprah? I don't think it's any particular slur on her to say that she might not be considered the most deliberative person available. In her defense, I guess it would be awfully entertaining to read her majority opinion if she ever got to write one. Yeah, that'd be some scholarly work there.

Anyway, we appear to have dodged that particular bullet. And this also gave me the opportunity to lob a soft one to my hordes of non-Democrat readers. You're welcome.

We'll be back soon with your usually scheduled curmudgeon.

Just Because It Makes Sense Doesn't Mean I'm Gonna Do It.

It would make a lot of sense for me to go out back and do some yard work while it's still only 57º and the sun hasn't made it to the backyard yet. It's not like I haven't been up for a while. And it's not like I don't have another hour or two before the sun makes it back there. And it's not like there isn't still plenty to do back there.

It's also not likely that I'll make it back there anytime real soon. That would be too sensible.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Grilled Pizza!

O.K. I'll admit it. The first time I heard about people making pizzas on the grill, I thought it was a really stupid idea. I'm not sure if we have Yuppies anymore, but it sounded like something they would do so we could sneer at them. I finally knuckled under.

Yup, we grilled some pizzas today. They were really, really good. Really!

Now, if any of you are expecting a recipe, you'll be disappointed. Pizza is a very personal thing, so you should look around the internet and choose one of the 607,000 dough recipes that show up when you search for it. This is mostly about technique.

First, there's some debate about it, but I went with the folks who advised a hot fire. And it seems to have been the right choice.

Roll out your dough in a shape that fits your grill. Oblongs seemed best for my grill. You shouldn't need to oil the grill or the dough; just drop it on there over the coals. You may need to pop some air bubbles while the first side is cooking. Leave it over the coals just long enough for the dough to start toasting on the bottom and for it to begin to be rigid. And don't close the lid for this part; you don't want to cook the top any more than you have to at this point.

When you've cooked the bottom enough (just a little), take it back off the grill and flip it over so that the bottom is now the top and the uncooked side is standing by to be the bottom when you put it back on the grill. Don't try to just flip it and put the toppings on while it stays on the grill. It'll be a race and you'll lose.

The recipes I read all said you should go light on the sauce because it might get the dough too soggy. I say sauce to your heart's content...the recommenders are obviously a bunch of pansies and should be ignored.

You can't really see it, but there's a hell of a lot of cheese under the toppings and then a little more sprinkled over the top...just to hold things together. On the subject of toppings...put whatever you want on there. The recommenders, once again caution about putting too much stuff on (especially things that have a lot of water content), and here, I'd listen a little. This pizza cooks very fast over high heat and doesn't leave a lot of time for water to evaporate. Also, if you're one of those people who think things like whole clams in the shells belong on pizza, I don't even want to talk to you. I'll listen to justifications for just about anything on pizza, but if you can't just pick it up and eat it, it's not a pizza!

Slap those suckers back onto the grill. Close the lid. You want the heat getting to the stuff on top, don't you? What's that you say? You have a grill without a lid? Shame on you! Go get a damn grill with a lid right this very instant. You'll thank me later.

At this point, you're only minutes from done. You basically want to be obsessive compulsive about checking the bottom while opening the lid as few times as possible. Unless you've got a glass-bottomed grill, this part is gonna drive you batshit. You want to let it cook just short of really burning the bottom. A little bit of char is what you're going for.

The pizza actually does take on a little flavor from the grill that you won't get cooking it in the oven. We loved it.

Oh, and one other thing. If you're having this for lunch and you have an actual dinner planned, you should start making it before 3:00 p.m. It's very filling and having lunch at 4:00 p.m. is not conducive to having another full meal at dinner time.

Just sayin'.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Aaaaaaarmy Training, Sir!

I know other folks will be coming up with inspirational stories for the Memorial Day Weekend. I was looking for stories about Soldiers, Sailors or Airmen who were fuckups of a magnitude worthy of note.

I couldn't find anything. Damn.

So here's this. It's good too.

P.S. If anybody wants to point me toward those stories I couldn't find, have at it.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Once Upon A Time In Queens.

One of my first jobs in NY was as a Locations P.A. on Coming to America. The McDowell's Restaurant in the movie was actually a Wendy's on Queens Boulevard that was scheduled to be completely refurbished. The production made a deal to rent the site for a few months to create the McDowell's and my job was to babysit the set while they were dressing it. Mostly, I didn't have a clue what I was doing, but since I didn't have all that many responsibilities, I managed to fake it.

At any rate, the production had also jumped through all of the hoops necessary to keep McDonald's from getting all pissy and injuctive-y and stuff like that. The only problem was that the folks at the corporate offices neglected to tell anyone at the local level of McDonald's.

On the day the McDowell's signs showed up, we were all out in the parking lot watching the signs get lifted into place and having a fine old time. Suddenly, a car came screeching into the parking lot and two men came flying out of it. One of them started snapping pictures like mad and the other one just started screaming. "You people think you can fuck with McDonalds? You have no idea what kind of shit storm you've stepped into!" He went on in that vein for quite a while until he ran out of steam...probably because we were all laughing and that probably wasn't the reaction he'd been expecting.

This next part really doesn't have anything to do with anything, but it seemed appropriate.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Flowers, Fruit & More of Those Damn Baby Birds.

I don't know what this is called, so it's a PomPom Flower.
Someone else who lives here knows its name, but she's not home right now.


Maybe. I know they grow in front of the Hybernia bush. Or maybe Hyacinth bush. Or Hypoxic bush. Whatever. They're a different kind of PomPom Flower.

This is a rose.
Don't try to tell me it isn't.

These will be more roses. The bush is covered with huge clusters of buds like this.
I like it just fine until after they start to die off and then the rain washes the petals all over the place. Those petals are really hard to clean up.

These will be pears...sort of. Most of them never get ripe because the squirrels walk around taking a bite or two out of each of them. They don't like them, but they'll just keep testing them just in case there's one that tastes different.

Here's one of the baby birds living in the Cherry Tree.
"Mommeeeeeeeee! I'm hungry!"

And Mom comes home.
Note the baby waiting in the left side of the nest.

And both babies are there.

This has been Wild Kingdom, from Mutual of Omaha.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Baby Birds!

Between the leaves and Mama-bird getting in the way, it was really hard getting a shot of the new babies (who I think hatched yesterday), but here they are. That's Mom in the middle -- duh.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Alien Minds.

Bear with me, please. If you're not sciencey or science-fictiony inclined, the first part of this post is not the eventual point, so give it a moment. If you are sciencey or science-fictiony, you may also have to give me a pass and just accept my premise in the introduction...'cause I'm much better grounded in the fiction aspect than the science.

Like I said, bear with me, please.

One theme that shows up rarely, if ever, in science fiction is when humans encounter an alien species so alien, that we have absolutely no starting point for establishing communication. Maybe they have no sense of touch, smell, hearing, sight, taste. Maybe they posess other senses that are completely alien to us.

Taken a step further, what if there are aliens that are so alien, that we don't even recognize each other as living beings. What if we discovered that beach sand is a living, sentient species from another galaxy...that beach sand showed up here millions of years ago traveling on particles of radiation? What if they live out their lives on an extremely slow time scale that makes us appear too fast to percieve. What if we've been co-existing with this alien species for the entire existence of humanity and neither we nor they recognized the other for what they truly are. I'll speculate that one reason this rarely shows up in science fiction is that if you have two alien species encounter each other and blithely go on their ways not recognizing each other, then you have the makings of a very short and boring story. But I digress.

If, indeed, we figured out such a thing, we'd probably be no closer to figuring out how to speak to each other, but I'm pretty sure we'd devote a lot of time and energy to trying to find a way. And that would be in spite of the fact that we've gone milennia without needing or wanting anything from each other...without necessarily having any common goals. We'd do it for the hell of it, for the shear curiosity if that were all we could look forward to.

What got me thinking in this direction is a post that Vince wrote today about the folly of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy. I read that post and my first reaction was, "It's all so obvious, who could argue with that?" Yet, there are a great many people who do have an argument with it. And I just can't understand how those people's minds work. Sure, I'm aware of their arguments and, truth be told, I don't honestly think most of them are motivated by hatred -- they just come from a mindset that's so alien to me that I can't even make the first stab at empathizing with them.

There are a lot of opinions I disagree with, and even though I disagree with them, at least I can understand where they come from. I understand the motivation of most people who oppose abortion. I understand the motivations of people who argue about welfare and bailouts and whether or not we should have soldiers in Iraq. I even think I can understand something about the position of people who deny Evolution and think there should be Christian prayers said in every school in America right after roll-call.

I don't understand the mindset of people who think that a gay man or woman can't serve in our military. Surely, it can't really be the fear of some guy lusting after their baby boy in the showers. Don't Ask, Don't Tell implies a level of self-control that wouldn't exist if that were the problem. And surely they're not afraid of their boy turning gay from having to acknowledge that they exist. I mean, regardless of whether they believe that people are born gay, or make it a choice, they must have some faith in how they raised the kid for the first 17 years of his life.

And I'm really not just talking about homophobia here. I can't muster up any empathy for African villages who torment children with dyslexia or other learning problems because they see the ailment as evidence of witchcraft. I have no empathy for cultures who value male children so much that they'll abort girls just because of they're not boys. There are cultures all over the world who firmly believe things that I categorically reject.

And please don't start in on me about tolerance. It's a word that's used so much it ceases to have any meaning. I'm not tolerant of the KKK or of inner-city gangs or assholes who want to protest at soldiers' funerals because they think God hates America. I'm not tolerant of any of them and I don't really give a shit why or how they got to be the way they are.

The fact is, as far as I'm concerned, these people all have utterly alien minds. I understand the words they're saying but their thought process is unfathomable to me.

And I'll grant that most of the people I'm talking about don't care about converting me to their way of thought; they'd rather I just go away. But some of the people I'm talking about...they do make an effort to convince the rest of us that they're right and we're wrong. Unfortunately, that doesn't make their minds any less alien to mine and vice-versa. Any discussion is more likely to degenerate into nothing but name calling and bemoaning the other side's ignorance.

I sure as hell don't have any answers. But I do have what I think might be a new question. If we'd put masses of time and energy into trying to figure out how to communicate with sand (and we would), why can't we manage that with the alien minds who already live among us?

A Brief Interlude.

Something I read today got me thinking (Holy shit! Nathan's thinking?) and I'll be posting my thoughts later.

In the meantime, to keep you all busy...

If the U.S. is invaded tomorrow by belligerent aliens, what movie star is best equipped to defeat them? And why do the aliens always invade the U.S.? Couldn't they start off with a smaller chunk of Scotland?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ready or Not, Here I Come!

Widget never volunteered to play and Teufel is unclear on the concept.

Your Apathy Will Be Avenged...(Well Maybe. If I Ever Get Around To It. If I've Got Nothing Better To Do.)

When I was about 10 years old, I had a box turtle as a pet. This is the best picture of a box turtle I could find and it doesn't really show scale all that well. My box turtle was about a foot long and must have weighed almost 10 lbs. He was nasty and he'd snap at you and I couldn't remember his name if my life depended on it, (although I'm sure it was some name more appropriate to a dog or a fleet steed or something like that -- you know, a hopeful name).

Mom wasn't especially fond of my turtle, so he was kept in a cage Dad built in the backyard. The cage, you should know, was built within the dog run. Don't worry. The dog never tormented my turtle because the dog refused to use the dog run. Whenever the dog was placed in the run, he would tunnel his way out of it and return to tormenting the neighbors. (I loved that dog.) The dog also figured out after his third or fourth re-enactment of The Great Escape that Steve McQueen's tactics were easier -- jumping over the wire worked perfectly fine. So the dog run was a dusty, sandy pit of despair -- aside from the little turtle-Shargri-La it contained.

Let's talk, for a moment, about the joy this turtle brought to me. O.K., I can't recall any joy the turtle brought me. It's not like the damned thing would play with me. It wouldn't fetch; it wouldn't roll over (except when I tipped him over and I got yelled at for that); and it sure as hell wasn't cuddly. It was capable of bursts of speed where it could move from one end of its 8' long cage to the other in something less than 15 minutes. It also smelled funny...not funny-ha-ha, funny like Ewww, wash your feet, funny.

And since he was my pet, I had to feed him. My turtle ate Gaines Burgers. If you don't recall, Gaines Burgers were a dog food that came like little individually wrapped burgers. You'd peel open the cellophane wrapping and crumble the burger into the dog's dish...or in the case of a turtle, onto a brick he could scale to get at it. And, oh, did that turtle love his Gaines Burgers. I'd put out the food and make a mad dash out of the way in the 10 minutes I had while he made a beeline for it. (Gaines Burgers smelled nasty too, but not quite as nasty as the turtle.)

Eventually, as all pets somehow do if they're left to the care of resentful 10-year-olds, my turtle died. I was heartbroken. O.K., truth be told, I may have felt a little guilty about the lack of love I'd shown my turtle. So I decided I'd make up for it by giving him the best damned turtle funeral any turtle had ever had.

I lovingly dug his grave -- I'm tired now, that's deep enough. Then I found a shoebox coffin for him -- I had to shove him in a little due to the lack of wide-footed family members. I even carved a headstone for him to eternally mark his resting spot -- at least as eternally as a balsa-wood headstone can mark anything.

Then I invited my mother and my two older sisters to the funeral. I may have demanded their attendance, but that's beside the fact. I may also have pointed out that proper mourning clothes would be appreciated -- I'm sure the veils were my idea. And then, as I conducted the service, I noticed that my mother and sisters were giggling. Giggling, dammit!

I made them wait out there, graveside, in the hot Florida sun while I went to prepare crying handkerchiefs for them...which I helpfully filled with onion slices. You're damn tootin' they cried for my turtle.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Today's Dithering.

For some reason, the other day, I found myself searching for websites that describe how to schedule a movie. I was surprised to find that there are very few posts on the subject. What I found were mostly geared toward ultra-low-budget or short films that can't afford or don't need the level of scheduling that a feature film requires. Then I got to thinking about how it's kind of a miracle that any movie ever comes up with a workable shooting schedule because there are only about 12-bazillion details that have to be coordinated to make a schedule work.

Then I decided as long as no one else seems to have bothered describing the process, I might as well make that into a post. I'm not the one who is usually responsible for creating a schedule, but I've done it a few times, so I actually do know what I'm talking about, so why not me?

Then I started writing it. Then I decided it would have to be divided into a number of posts because the answer is so complex. Then I decided that Part 1 was getting a little long and I wasn't going to finish that in one sitting if I was going to do the subject justice.

So, that won't be today's post.

Here's some other stuff.

I'm starting work on Wednesday on reshoots for a movie that shot in 2007 and has never been released. It's about a week and a half of work for 2 or 3 days of shooting. As usual, I won't tell you what movie it is until some time after my part in it is done, but it has some promise. It's based on a play that did really well Off-Broadway in the late 80's. Its star has recently made a name for herself as a pop singer, so this might be the incentive they've got to revive the production. The fact that they've found money to reshoot scenes that may not have worked before bodes well for the movie. Anyway, I met some of the people involved last week and they all seem like good people, so I'm looking forward to working with them.

Last week, I was a Guest Instructor at the Made in NY Production Assistant Training Program. The session I was involved in took place one day before their graduation after 4 weeks of training on the students' part. My part was to conduct mock-interviews with some of the students (on camera) and then to critique how well they did. First of all, I'm qualified to conduct and critique interviews because...uh...I interview people quite often for my department and then I hire them (or not) depending on how well they did. I was assigned three of the students and they all did great. When I find out what kind of department I'm getting for next week, I'd definitely consider hiring any of the three. (Note: It really showed that they had just been through 4 weeks of training [as opposed to two days] and they really seemed to know their shit.) I was duly impressed.

Last, but not least, my friend Eric and some friends of his were involved in a traffic accident over the weekend when a pick up truck ran a red light and slammed into them. Eric has a broken wrist and one of his friends required surgery for multiple broken bones. The car is scrap metal. Go over and wish him well if you get a chance. You'll have to scroll down and comment in the previous unrelated thread because he closed comments to the post telling us about the accident. Don't worry about being off-topic there. None of the rest of us let that bother us.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Le Dirigeable de L'amour

Remember The Love Boat? How about SuperTrain? Well you guys can get in on the ground floor of my idea for the next big TV RomCom...der Zeppelin der Liebe, The Blimp of Love. (The name needs a little work, but you get the idea.)

The show will center on a company that is bringing romance and luxury back to air travel. This won't be you father's blimp...Hell, no! This bad boy will have the biggest envelope ever manufactured and carry a four-story tall gondola with huge staterooms, elegant dining rooms, and glass-sealed observation decks with a variety of recreation choices. How about a swimming pool at 10,000 feet? Tennis courts? A simulated climbing wall up and over the envelope? You name it, The Dirigible de L'amour will have it. (It's TV, so we can just add shit to the inside...the audience will never know that the inside is 20 times larger than the outside.)

Casting will be easy as hell too. We'll get Scott Thompson to play the Captain. (That's Carrot Top for those of you who don't follow the biz.) Kirstie Alley can play the head Chef. We'll have a running gag where she's always eating something off the plates before she sends them me, it'll be hysterical. How about Todd Bridges for the lovable bartender? There are hundreds of washed up actors left over from the 80's and 90's who are just dying for a role like one of these to sink their teeth into. They'll be lining up for a chance to audition. I bet they'll all work for scale.

OK, I can hear you all pooh-pooing the idea of casting has-beens for the lead roles. Don't worry, we'll get really hot names for the guest stars each week. How about Joe the Plumber one week? I hear he's available. We could get some of the kids who lost previous seasons on American Idol. I'm not sure where they all are, but I bet Norwegian Cruise Lines has some of their numbers. Can you just imagine the laughs and romance you could get out of an episode with Dick Cheney? He'll be at his undisclosed location looking for love. Maybe we'll let him go skeet shooting on the roof. Maybe we could set up a Meet-Cute between Stephen Colbert and Ann Coulter. I bet we could get Jenny McCarthy to play the gasbag one week.

Guys! I'm telling you this idea has Win written all over it. Anybody wanna help me write the pilot?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fine! Go to America if You Must, But YOU WILL DIE THERE!

The Japanese are a truly pragmatic people. Exercise is important, sure. But why not use that time to also learn some valuable phrases in English? I mean really, when you get to America and you find yourself alone in a dark alley with some really scary dudes, what use is it to know how to say, "My hotel is located at...". No, clearly that would be useless.

If handing over all of your valuables doesn't work, this will probably come in handy.

And after you you've completed your meeting in the alley, you surely don't want any confusion when you find a friendly local Policeman. Do you?

And visiting America is not all about confronting dangerous individuals. If you're not used to our water, there's a little thing called Ben Franklin's Revenge.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Post You Were Promised And A Post You Shall Have.

I don't know if this is a short story or the beginning of a short story or what...but it's what's been rattling around in my head since yesterday afternoon.

Here! Let it rattle around in yours.

Darius Coville woke at precisely one minute after Midnight. He didn’t wake with a start but the transformation from deepest sleep to wide awake had been instantaneous, nonetheless. The first thought that occurred to him was to wonder how he knew the time precisely to the minute. He didn’t have an answer to the question, but he knew that he was exactly correct.

The next thing he noticed was how completely dark it was. It didn’t scare him at all, but this too, weighed on his curiosity. He was actually rather pleased with himself that the dark didn’t inspire any sense of panic. His mother would be proud of him if she knew. After all, he was little more than 11 years old and he could well remember being afraid of the dark just recently; and that was normal dark; the kind with shadows moving about, taking outlandish shapes and meanings in his imagination. This was an utter absence of light and even though it should be much scarier, it did nothing but add another item for him to ponder.

Something was truly different but he couldn’t put his finger on it.

He thought back. He recalled that the day had started like any other day with Momma hollering from the kitchen for he and his little brother Jake to come in for breakfast. He had been doing his morning chore of milking Honey Pie, the family’s one cow. Jake was still too small to handle the milking but he had recently gotten the job of tossing feed to the chickens and retrieving any new eggs in the coop.

After breakfast, Momma had made sure that Darius and Jake practiced their letters. School might be out for the harvest but Momma still made them keep up with their lessons. She had plans for her boys and those plans didn’t include scraping out a living on any Missouri farm, no-siree!

The rest of the morning had also been uneventful. Jake had been sent out to collect fallen apples from the tree behind the barn and Darius was kept busy splitting some logs for the woodpile. Eventually Papa came in from the fields for lunch and the family had all sat down together for a meal of Momma’s fried chicken (almost fresh from the icehouse), and sweet buttermilk. Lunch was eaten in silence after Papa had uttered a short prayer.

Darius had heard his father and some of the other men down at the town store arguing about whether or not a war was really brewing. Nobody there was overly fond of Lincoln, (Darius had learned a few new terms listening to that conversation), but neither were they all-fired eager to get involved in a fight they didn’t see as their own. There wasn’t a single slave owner in the county and the few freed blacks living there weren’t any trouble at all. That young’un, Thaddeus Washington was a fine blacksmith and when old Bart Johnson had died, all of his usual customers had taken their work to him without a word of complaint. Darius knew his Papa was a lot more worried than he let on.

After helping Momma clear the dishes, Darius was told he could take Jake down to the creek and see if they couldn’t catch some dinner. They chased each other and stopped to have swordfights with their cane-poles on the way down to the creek but it had only taken them twice as long to get there as it should have. That was fine, though. Momma wouldn’t expect to see them again for hours and as long as they brought back a few fine catfish, everyone would be happy. The fishing might be serving a real purpose on the farm, but everyone knew the boys had been let loose from chores for the rest of the day.

The day had turned awfully hot by then and Jake shucked off his clothes and jumped into the creek the minute they got there. Darius had yelled at him to come on out, that he’d just scare all of the fish away, but there was no heat in the rebuke. Soon, the two of them were both splashing in the creek and cooling off.

Jake was making a game of diving under water in one place and reappearing somewhere else, hoping to surprise his big brother. Darius just floated lazily on his back, enjoying the sensation of the cool water. The cool water and the quiet of the creek flowing and the breeze in the trees. The quiet.

Suddenly, Darius had realized that he didn’t hear Jake splashing or whooping any more. He’d looked around and hadn’t seen him anywhere. Frantically, he’d started searching for his little brother, diving and swimming underwater in the silty water. On his fourth dive, he’d come up hard against a large tree limb resting on the bottom. Somehow, Jake had gotten his ankle trapped under the branch and was trying to free himself. Darius tried lifting the branch, but that only forced his feet deeper into the muddy bottom.

He dug furiously at the mud and rock bottom trying to free his brother. With his breath burning in his chest, he fought a heavy rock out of the way and Jake was free. In the act of moving the rock, however, he had rolled it onto his own forearm. He was trapped himself now and knew he couldn’t hold his breath a moment longer.

Darius lay in that unusual darkness, just moments after he’d awakened and smiled inwardly, knowing he’d saved his little brother. He was glad to have that memory because he also remembered that it was the only thing he had to stack up against how much being dead sucked.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I swear I'll blog something tomorrow. Really. Pinky-swear.

Feel free to comment on and in my absence.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

National Limerick Day 2009.

I've gotten a ton of visitors today searching for National Limerick Day (based on last year's post.) I wouldn't want all of the searchers to be disappointed so...

(Uh...note: Neither this blog nor most of its links is especially child-friendly so Run Away!)

Eric’s A-theist, he's told us.
Dislikes bible thumping in POTUS
Go read, if you will
His screed to The Hill

I’d try hard to top it, but nonplus

I don’t want to talk about Star Trek
I missed DS9; heard it was drek
Michelle, with a yell
Told us all, “Go to hell”,
“I bet you’re all Bajoran Vedeks"
(I think that's a pejorative.)

Yet Another Mortifying Admission About My Geek Deficiencies.

I haven't commented anywhere on the new Star Trek movie. I haven't seen it yet. I fully intend to see it, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. This means that I don't know what you're talking about with your commentary about it and I'm also avoiding any possible spoilers that I don't want to run across.

But guess what. Even after I see it, I won't be commenting. I just don't know the series the way a lot of people do.

I liked the original Star Trek. I liked The Next Generation and Voyager. I have no memory of Deep Space Nine if I ever did see any episodes of it. (Look! I'm not even cool enough to refer to to them by their initials the way all the other kids do.) I may have seen the first movie, but I'm not sure -- and I know, for sure, that I never saw any of the other big screen incarnations. I also never saw the animated series; I didn't manage to get a look at any of the unproduced scripts for Phase II, and God save me, I damned sure have never cracked the cover of any of the hundreds of books that have been churned out over the years.

So, when you guys go on about how something in the new movie contradicts canon from Season 5, Episode 13, I'll just be scratching my head and moving on cluelessly.

Strangely, I can live with the stigma.

Note: Thankfully, I'm savvy enough to find this USS Enterprise Instruction Manual hysterically funny.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Black & White? It's Kind Of A Gray Area.

Charlize Theron is African-American.
(Born in South Africa, became U.S. Citizen in 2008)

Naomi Campbell is not.
(She's British.)

That's is all.

O.K. It's not. Paulo Serodio has filed suit against The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey for discrimination. The Mozambique-born student claims he was harassed by students and faculty because he described himself as "white, African, American" when asked to describe his background in classroom discussions on cultural diversity. Ultimately he was suspended from the school for "conduct unbecoming" (whatever the hell that means in the context of a student at an American University).

I don't actually have all that much to say about this except to note that I've always thought African-American isn't the best way to describe fourth generation Americans born in Wyoming. Just sayin'.

Hey! We Gots Naycher Too!

Look who built a nest in the cherry tree that hangs over our backyard. Since she doesn't seem to move very much, I'm sure there are eggs being hatched here. I'll keep an eye on things and get some shots of the babies, once they make their appearance.

We also have a mated pair of cardinals. I have no idea how long cardinals live so I don't know if it's the same pair that come back every year, or their kids or just some random cardinal interlopers. I'll try to get some pictures of them too. They usually pay a visit in the afternoon, but they're not all that obliging when it comes to posing for portraits.

Wild Horses.

If you've never heard this should. Really.

I've never posted a video of music that didn't show the players playing...even if I knew it wasn't live. I love this version, though. Hope you do too.

P.S. No Kazoos at all.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Out Of The Mouths Of Presidents.

At last night's White House Correspondents Dinner, President Obama said, "This is a tough holiday for Rahm (Emanuel). He’s not used to saying the word ‘day’ after ‘mother.’

It's like he's talking about you guys.

Happy Mothers Day.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Lessons Learned on a Saturday.

I'm not sure how I've managed to live almost half a century without knowing this, but...

If you pick up a whole cow's tongue (even one that's sealed in plastic) and lick you girlfriend with it in the meat aisle, she will not be pleased with you.

Tools For Straining My Memory...Or Something Like That.

I've written before about how some of my jobs happen really quickly. Somebody sends me emails, tells me what they want to shoot, gives me a little time to prep it and file permits, and then they show up, shoot and leave. Poof!

So, the other day, I'm on the phone with a Producer friend of mine:

PF: Hey, I saw a screening of In The Loop the other day.

Me: Cool. Was it any good? (In my head, I'm going, "What the hell is In The Loop?")

PF: Yeah. I was surprised though at what got cut. Almost none of what we shot is in it.

Me: Oh. That's too bad. (In my head, I'm going, "What we shot? I worked on this?)

PF: Well, it's not so surprising, I guess. From what I hear, the first cut was almost 4 hours long.

I swear to God, I had to go through my old show records to jog my memory. Until I found my notes, I had no idea what this movie might be. (Even the IMDB listing didn't really help since we barely had any of the cast here in NY and they mostly spent their time being filmed in one car while I road around in another.)

For your own reminder, check out my post on Double Dipping from last June. (The pertinent part begins in the fourth paragraph.)

In a way, it's too bad. This looks like a movie I'd really like to have on my resume, but I draw the line at including movies where I spent less than 7 hours on set.

And another thing...

Yesterday a package of kitchen stuff GF ordered arrived and she opened it this morning. Among other things, there was this little colander that's about 6" across the top. (That's a coffee maker in the background for comparison.)

Now, I'm not about to go start counting them, but we have a number of things in the kitchen of varying sizes that qualify as colanders, sieves, strainers and the like.

Me: Uh, did we really need another colander?

GF: No. But it's really cute. And it's red. And it was only like four dollars.

Strangely, I can't fault such perfect reasoning.

Please Line Up On The Left To Turn In Your Geek Credentials.

Is it a Star Trek Character, an NPR Personality, a Food Additive or a Floor Wax? Test yourself here.

I got 73%...Oh, the shame!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Like Manna From The Sky!

I really didn't have much to post about today, but something else has dropped into my lap. I'll keep it short because God-knows, the linked posts will be hideously long enough.

The short version is that I was checking where visitors had arrived from the other day and noticed that I'm now carried as a regular link on the sidebar of P.A. Bootcamp's website. You may remember the whole kerfuffle with them last month. I'll provide links to those posts at the end of this one.

Anyway, my first reaction was to be a little pissy but then I decided that carrying my link doesn't imply that I endorse them. (I don't have enough first hand info to either endorse or pan them.) So, I guess I'm cool with another site sending people my way. I was just really surprised, is all.

I also noticed that they've reworked their site fairly extensively. Not only do they now name the people offering endorsements, they also name their Executive Director and her credentials (which seem pretty damned good). Note: I'm really starting to think I deserve that consulting fee after all. Anyway, I doubt I'd have had much, if anything to say about them if their website had looked like this in the first place.

I also noticed that The Anonymous Production Assistant had been added to their links and since that's where it all began, I thought that was a little odd too, so I emailed him to make sure he knew about it. His post today (scroll down when you get there) includes my email and his copies of emails they sent him.

Peruse around.

P.S. I still think the first person who emailed me from there is a douchebag and I hope, for their sake, they keep him in the backroom away from any communication devices from now on.

P.P.S. I don't expect you guys to actually read all of the linked crap here (especially if you read it before). I just needed a post for today and this qualifies.

My Introduction To A Kerfuffle.
and Like Beating A Dead Kerfuffle.

Hit & Run

Oops...I neglected to blog yesterday. It must have been that whole "waiting for brilliance to strike me" bit. Oh well.

I've got about 400 photos to go through this morning, assemble pans (where necessary), toss the crappy ones, label them all so that they make a lick of sense, and then upload them all to Smugmug (a time-sink, if there ever was one), and do all of that while annoying you all with serial commas. Boo-Yah!

I had a Google search from India last night looking for "free movie photo days of being dump". I have no idea what the real goal of that search was, but I really hope my blog was a disappointment.

I'll be back later today with something (hopefully) worth my time and yours.

Have a lovely Friday.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

So, last night, GF and I went to see the Red Sox play the Yankees in the brandey-new Yankees Stadium. So you won't be in any suspense, I'll let you know right now that the Sox won by a score of 6-3, oops 7-3, so I'm happy. In fact, the game started with the first four Red Sox hitters all getting hits (including 1 home run) for a score of 4-0 before the first Sox hitter was retired. This pleased the ever-loving shit out of me.

I'll also tell you that I considered writing this piece as the latest installment of Won't You Be My Neighbor, but a.) The Bronx is hardly my neighborhood and b.) there wasn't a single one of the owners or managers there to greet us personally when we got there, so fuck'em!

Here. Have some pictures.

This one is what you see after you come up out of the subway. (The elevated #4 train is what you see on the right side of the frame, but we rode up from the Village, so we took the D-train.)

Lookee here! That's the gate where we went in!

And here's the view from behind the field level boxes.

The collonade when you first go in is pretty impressive.

We sat waaaay the hell up near the top. Front row in the Grand Stands behind home plate.

Two sweet italian sausages. One hot italian sausage. Two beers (in cheap plastic "commemorative" cups.)
Forty-four friggin dollars!

Yum! Can you say "tastes just like a $2.00 sausage"?

Our view!

Looking out toward left field (where we originally thought we'd be sitting).

A closer view of where we originally thought we'd be sitting. (just over the "Audi" sign.)
This would have been nice since it started pissing rain in the middle of the fifth inning. More on that later.

The view from field level seats (which is really a better way to keep track of the game). Don't worry Security-Dude. Just taking a picture and then we'll move on.

If you head out to the concourse in left field, you come to Lobel's concession. They serve steak sandwiches for $15.00 a pop.

You heard me! STEAK!! At the ball game. I'll get one next time we go.

So here's my final report on the stadium. Mostly I like it. All of the concessions are on the outside of the concourses, so you never lose your view of the field, even when you go to spend more on food than the average Guatemalan family spends in a week.

The scoreboards suck. The main one switches over for instant replays and for whatever they want to show you at any given moment and while that's up, the score part disappears. Couldn't they leave the scores up and only use the other 80% of the screen for video? The one showing balls and strikes has so much other crap on it that each time you look, you have to search for the info all over again.

The escalators only go up until sometime late in the game. You'd think if you're going to spend $350 million bucks to build a new stadium from scratch, you could include some that go down all of the time.

Pepsi has a monopoly on sodas. Feh! We're a Coke family.

And guess what? When the rain started in the middle of the fifth inning, we bailed out. It was windy and cold already...who needs to get soaked for a game this early in the season? That wouldn't have been my idea of fun. (Hey, it's not like we're Packers fans who go to games planning to sit through blizzards.)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Another Indispensable Tip For Aspiring Filmmakers!

Never, Ever, EVER, go to work without a spare pair of clean socks!

You're welcome.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Which Whine Do You Think Goes Best With Hot Dogs?

Remember the difficulties I had getting tickets for a Yankees/Red Sox game this week? First I had tickets in some special section (with a roof, no less -- and that'll be important in a minute), and then I found out those tickets weren't tickets at all, but some sort of pass allowing the riff-raff to get a look at how the well heeled live and then GET THE HELL OUT before any baseball is played.

Then I found some pretty good tickets on another website and I was pretty happy with those seats. (I didn't bother telling you about how FedEx wouldn't deliver without a signature and the guaranteed "by 4:30 p.m. delivery" happened at 7:02 p.m. thus imprisoning me at home ALL Day, but as long as I'm bellyaching here, I might as well include it now.)

So, we have tickets for tomorrow night's game. Guess what? The weather tonight, and predicted for tomorrow night is in the 40's with fairly constant drizzle. This isn't enough rain to call the game and reschedule it for some lovely comfortable evening in the future. It's just enough to make sitting high up in the sky with a light, damp, chilly wind seem...miserable.

I'm currently dreading going to a game that I've put a great deal of effort and cash into. I suppose I could bring an umbrella and make sure I'll be murdered by the people sitting behind if cheering for the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium won't be enough to get me hurled off of the upper tier.

Ah...good times!
Note: The first person to make fun of me for posting with such an obvious typo, (now fixed), is gonna get such a clout!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Slapdash Sunday (with UPDATES!)

Item the First.

There's still almost an hour to enter yesterday's contest. Guess how many miles we drove on our road trip. Get a prize that I didn't want for Christmas and now have an opportunity to palm off on one of you. (Scroll down you lazy bastard. Do I have to link everything?)

Item the Second.

I think this is pretty cool. Sara Watson, a second year art student at the University of Lancashire (that's somewhere in England) decided to make a car disappear. Brava! (This reminds me that I need to do a post about Scenic Artists...they amaze me sometimes.)

Item the Third.

I don't want to take anything away from the U.S. Navy, but I've decided the best way to defeat the Somali Pirates is to sic some of Major League Baseball's lawyers on them for trademark infringement. The Pirates are a proud team with a rich tradition and the brand is being diminished by potential confusion. Let those bastards keep taking money and then having to give it all to some team they never heard of in Pittsburgh. See how long they keep bothering with the effort after that.

BTW, I tend to think the 1897 team would have just chartered a ship and gone over there to kick some ass all on their own.

That's all for now. I may add some stuff later today. I may not. I'm feeling somewhat haphazard today.

Hey! More Stuff on a Sunday...Contest Results:

Let's start with Jeff's entry: Sorry Jeff. Accurate Ambiguity yields only losers here.

MWT seems to think that the Ford POS flies! (faster than most commercial jets, no less).

Janiece is of the opinion that we drove as fast as traffic would allow at all times, slowed down to 50 mph for the tolls and stopped for one pee-break. Refueling was achieved by KC-135 aerial tanker. Uh...not so much.

Jeri, on the other extreme guesses that we just went to IKEA (ok, including a few dozen loops of the parking lot looking for a space.) (Shh Jeri. It's GF's rental from work.)

neurondoc believes that I allow for a half hour difference in time zones as you travel south along the east coast. (You'd have lost anyway.)

Jenny and Kimby both put in fine reasonable guesses...but not winners.

The actual stats for yesterday's road trip are: Time leaving Brooklyn -- 11:30 am. Time returning to Brooklyn -- 8:00 pm. Actual mileage -- 201.1 miles total. (Money spent at grocery store because Nathan thinks a big giant suburban supermarket is like an amusement park -- $195.76)

So, our winner, with a guess only 24.1 miles off the mark is (drumroll)...Michelle. Yay!

I'm not telling what the prize is because I want Michelle to be surprised. Then she can tell you all about it (and let us know her rating of the prize in terms of awesometicity or blatant suckitude.)