Monday, March 31, 2014
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Friday, March 28, 2014
It’s the weekend! And you know what? Still playing at the ArcLight this is the first great movie of the year, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Get after it.
By the way, I can say without equivocation that the ArcLight is the best movie theater in the world. It has assigned seating, no commercials and homemade caramel corn. And because it’s located in the epicenter of showbiz, it always has something fascinating on display in the lobby. Right now, it’s the actual scale model of the Grand Budapest Hotel. On any given week, they’ll feature the Batmobile or Iron Man’s suit.
You can also can’t throw a punch at the ArcLight without hitting a celebrity. For years, tourists wandered around Hollywood searching for celebs, not realizing Humphrey Bogart was the last one to actually hang out there. But now, stars come in droves to watch movies at the ArcLight. Last week, I was on line for popcorn ahead of Jason Bateman.
Go see Grand Budapest – the movie. And the model. And double-fist some caramel corn and thank me later.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Label me quasi-brave. Not quite like the men who run into danger and get shit done. I could learn from them.
I’ll explain: I just wrapped up a long-term writing assignment, and now I’ve got some time to work on my own projects. I wasn’t sure when this window would open for me, but I kept myself ready by collecting bits of motivation as I came across them. Some of them are entertainment related, but today I’d like to share a non-showbiz story, from Esquire magazine, about the member of Seal Team Six who actually killed Osama Bin Laden. To protect his and his family’s identity, he’s simply referred to as The Shooter:
For the Shooter personally, bin Laden was one bookend in a black-ops career that was coming to an end. But the road to Abbottabad was long, starting with the guys who tried and failed to make it into the SEALs in the first place. Up to 80 percent of applicants wash out, and some almost die trying.
In fact, during the Shooter’s Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training in the mid-nineties, the torture-chamber menu of physical and emotional resistance and resolve required to get into the SEALs, there was actually a death and resurrection.
“One of the tests is they make you dive to the bottom of a pool and tie five knots,” the Shooter says. “One guy got to the fifth knot and blacked out underwater. We pulled him up and he was, like, dead. They made the class face the fence while they tried to resuscitate him. The first words as he spit out water were ‘Did I pass? Did I tie the fifth knot?’ The instructor told him, ‘We didn't want to find out if you could tie the knots, you asshole, we wanted to know how hard you’d push yourself. You killed yourself. You passed.’”
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
And yet I’ve been given the considerable privilege of becoming one of the judges of The Eclipse Awards, which honor the best in movies and TV filmed in Western Michigan.
Year after year, Western Michigan has produced some of the best stuff around – including my hero, Derek Jeter – so I respectfully accept this obligation will all the duties it involves. (Come to think of it, when it comes to watching movies and TV, I’m a Viking.)
You can count on me, Western Michigan. I always thought you were the prettier, smarter half of the state. Thank you.
Monday, March 24, 2014
I’ll do anything to protect my dog. I’m a Pit Bull owner. And I’m a New York Jets fan. I’ve been a Jets fan my entire life, and I’m not casual about it. I watch every game, read everything about them I can get my hands on, and proudly wear the team’s merchandise. I stick, through anything – terrible trades, terrible drafts, inept coaches, decades without a Super Bowl. I stay dedicated no matter what.
But on Friday, Michael Vick became a Jet. And my dedication came to an end.
In 2007, when Michael Vick was no longer able to cowardly deny his dog-fighting ring, his fans posted all kinds of thoughtful notions. “It’s not like he killed people!” “They were just Pit Bulls!” “Dog-fighting is a way of life in his culture!”
Actually, it’s a federal felony. It’s why Michael Vick denied and lied and begged for his freedom when he was caught. And why people like Russell Simmons and Reverend Al Sharpton joined with PETA against him.
After Michael Vick went to prison, I would occasionally see guys wearing his jersey in some sort of public act of defiance. I almost got out of my car one day on Hollywood Boulevard to personally yank a jersey off of someone.
Would my violence have been hypocritical? Not to me. Not when a guy is inviting confrontation. Dogs, on the other hand, don’t have a choice. I’ve had Pit Bulls for 14 years, which qualifies me enough to know that all they want to do is please people. If their owners want them to fight, they’ll fight. But when Michael Vick’s Pit Bulls didn’t have a taste for blood, or didn’t fight well enough, Michael Vick personally killed them – by gunshot, electrocution, drowning, hanging, swinging them around by the neck or, in at least one case, repeatedly slamming a dog against the ground.
Here are pics of Michael Vick holding a puppy, and the same puppy months later, after Michael got through with him:
This is the man whom my football team just gave a $5,000,000 contract.
Yes, Michael Vick served his time, and I suppose that entitles him to return to his career, just as much as I’m entitled to be horrified when my team puts winning ahead of the unimaginable things he’s done. If you think he’s a swell guy now because he paid his debt to society, ask yourself: would you want your company hiring a man who killed dozens of dogs? Would you want him living next door? Would you trust him with your kids? Would you let him dog-sit?
Some folks have already given it some thought:
For as long as Michael Vick is a Jet, I will not be a fan. I won’t go to Sharkeez every Sunday to watch the Jets play, or attend their game in San Diego this fall. I won’t pay attention to anything they do, with the exception of hoping they lose every game. Until the dog-killer is gone, this lifelong fan is out.
Here’s Ricky, as a puppy, with his Michael Vick chew toy:
Ricky loves everyone. He would give Michael Vick a second chance. But he’s much more forgiving than I. By the way, proceeds of the toy go to charities that raise awareness toward animal abuse. It apparently needs to be raised significantly in New York.
It’s truly heartbreaking to give up my team, but you forced me to choose sides, Jets. And I’ll choose the puppy in my lap every time. Goodbye.
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Friday, March 21, 2014
• Are you outgoing? Do you love to party? Do you know what and where is hot in the city? Do you sometimes bump a little coke? Then we want to talk to you!
• Are you the leader of a traveling tent revival? Do you speak in tongues, or can you heal the sick? Do you feel you were meant to go on a healing crusade? Do you speak the word of G-d, and feel his divinity is truly in you?
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Yeah, I love to consume. So I stopped by Milk Jar for the first time for the best cookies in town. Some thoughts:
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Lodging used to be lavish. The Grand Budapest Hotel flashes back to a time when The Grand Budapest was the utmost in style and taste. Running the place was Gustave, an uptight concierge (played by Ralph Fiennes, who it turns out is really funny) with a tendency to sleep with very old chicks.
It gets nuttier from there. The cast is huge, filled with stars like Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton, who only have a line or two. It just goes to show how much they love working with Wes Anderson.
Wes Anderson is a genius, by the way. He used 35mm film to shoot this, and no one does that anymore. Like all of his films, Grand Budapest has a style that’s all his own. Everything takes place in some sort of alternate reality. This one is like a modern-day Marx Brothers film, and I LOVE the Marx Brothers.
This past week, three of the top-five rated TV shows were “The Bachelor” and two nights of “The Voice.” Restore my faith in humanity by going to the theater and seeing something a tad less appalling, for crap’s sake.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Recycled twice, actually, for as is tradition, whenever I hit a milestone, I like to post my favorite five entries of the last 100:
In Which I Help A Very Talented Man Have Copious Amounts Of Sex. Hos before bros. Join me for the assist here.
Much Pumpitude. Change is good. Especially when it involves a bathroom that gets mopped every now and then. Upgrade your membership here.
Get Your Butt To LA, Part 62: In Which I Dislocate My Elbow Patting Myself On The Back. There’s not a lot of heavy lifting in acting, but you sure can break your brain. Help me only bruise mine, here.
An Open Thank-You Letter To My Neighbor. She’s been looking at me funny ever since the Emmy comment. Shake your head with her here.
Feel The Love, Ladies. This is why I keep the notes app open in bed. Attract yourself a fella here.
Monday, March 17, 2014
Saturday, March 15, 2014
Friday, March 14, 2014
Tomorrow night, I’m going to see what I believe will be the first great movie of the year, right after I try a new dessert place in LA before word gets out and people pack the place.
Plus, I have a ballgame, Ricky gets a bath, the Hermosa Beach St. Patrick’s Day parade is tomorrow – featuring the inexplicably traditional Last Surviving DeLoreans on the Road, it’s gonna be 85° here on Sunday and 20° in New York, etc., etc., etc. Have a great weekend.
Someone find that plane and let’s all meet back here on Monday.
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Exceptional day? My mom had one yesterday, as she brought home the Cocker Spaniel I blogged about last week. Just when it seemed impossible that she would get him, a minor miracle occurred. (That, and she threatened the foster chick. I am definitely my mother’s son.)
I mentioned my family was in the habit of replacing each blonde Cocker with another blonde Cocker, and giving him the same name: Ollie. Three Ollies. Well, it turns out this new one’s name, Buster, was only given to him temporarily by his foster family. So yes, everybody, meet Ollie IV.
My mom said he’s sweet and smart and curious and I’m really glad he’s with her now. He’s had two years full of shitty days, but it’s all good now.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
In the latest issue of New York magazine, Alec Baldwin wrote an article about why he’s quitting being in the public eye. And more importantly, leaving the city.
He’ll still act in movies, but he’s done with interviews and public appearances. And while he used to not love Los Angeles, Alec misses it and is coming back. He’s finally come to the same realization as the rest of us parolees: New York sucks shit.
It’s the most overrated city on the planet. The weather blows ass. (More inches of rain per year than Seattle.) The traffic is twice as bad LA. (Literally, three-lane highways vs. six.) The city is overcrowded and over-expensive and, save for my Yankees, just horrendous.
Every now and then, friends of mine who grew up in LA fall for New York’s hype, and have to go live there. All of them return. A friend of mine moved there recently, and is in a hurry to get the hell back to the beach. Every day something new disgusts her in NYC. She recently asked me why, at her fancy Manhattan gym, the women don’t groom themselves. I was stymied.
Poor New Yorkers don’t know any better. They’ve convinced themselves they’re in the epicenter of culture (you know, Rocky: The Musical), and that the horrendous weather, overcrowded subways, tiny apartments for $3500/month, irate coworkers and 12 rats to every person are normal. Life is rough; you gotta get through it. No thanks.
Alec Baldwin has grown tired of everyone in Manhattan being in his shit. Here’s some of what he had to say:
“I want the same thing everybody else wants. I want a happy home, and for the first time in my adult life, I have one. I love my wife more than anything in the world and I love my child more than anything else in the world and I don’t want that to change in any way. I probably have to move out of New York. I just can’t live in New York anymore. Everything I hated about L.A. I’m beginning to crave. New York has changed. I have to accept that. I want my newest child to have as normal and decent a life as I can provide. New York doesn’t seem the place for that anymore.”
Come get your hug, sir.
Monday, March 10, 2014
and you can too, here… Realization while leaving Umberto salon: haircuts are great because you do none of the work but get all of the credit… Nothing specific about the finale (I’d never spoil, so not to worry), but I’ll really miss “True Detective.” The better writers have all come over to TV. It was the first show that had its viewers going nuts, doing their own detective work, just trying to unravel every detail. And more than that, it was a master class in acting, every week. Grand slam.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Friday, March 7, 2014
Thursday, March 6, 2014
It’s been many years since my parents had to put down Ollie III. And then suddenly, the other day, my mom was paging through the local newspaper when she came across a Pet of the Week adoption notice, featuring the guy in the above pic. His name is Buster.
That was it. My mom had to have him.
And that’s when the great barrier was erected. My mom filled out forms that asked ridiculously specific questions, only to be told by the woman in charge that she was too old to adopt Buster.
My mom is a tough chick, and pushed right back. “You’re going to age discriminate against me?” If you know my mom, or withstood being raised by her, you’d know she is not going anywhere anytime soon. And as for her qualifications as a dog owner, she has a home and a yard and 43 years of experience with Cockers. Buster would hit the lottery with her.
So what gives? This might help: I took Ricky to a dog park one day, where there was an adoption event going on. I watched a really sweet family of four fall madly in love with a dog, and then the dog’s foster mom followed the family back to their home to make it official. She returned 20 minutes later with the dog, saying their backyard wasn’t big enough.
What? Aren’t we barraged with pleas for adoption? You can’t watch the Sarah McLachlan commercial all the way through without crying and throwing your wallet at the TV. And yet, foster people think no one is good enough to adopt, and would rather let dogs be euthanized than live in loving homes because their yards are slightly undersized.
Speaking of which, Buster had been homeless in West Virginia, and is now either living in a cage or in Lunatic Foster Woman’s shithole apartment. But if my mom were allowed to adopt him, this would be his new home:
My mom and Buster living together. The “Arrested Development” references alone are worth it. But it looks like it just ain’t gonna happen. It’s not about my mom’s age; it’s a power play. The lunatic foster bitch was going to find some excuse to keep the dog from being adopted no matter what. You know – my mom lives alone. She works. She’d only smother the dog with ten million kisses, and this particular breed requires ten million and one.
To my mom’s credit, she at least went down emptying the chamber, telling the woman, “Fine, I’ll just go get a puppy,” which is like Kryptonite to a foster person.
And you know what, lady? My mom is just crazy enough to do it.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
It did do its job late last night, during a workshop in Hollywood. That’s me, above, doing a scene for Ric Enriquez, casting director for “Conan.” Ric casts the show’s sketches, and is super-actor friendly. He took his time with us, and shared some great stories. Like that he gets headshots from actors in New York who think Conan still shoots there. Or the time he cast a hand model, who showed up missing a finger.
That alone earned him a really kickass, out of context thank-you note. Sincerely written with all five digits.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
• How many movies was Tyler Perry not able to write while he was onstage?
• Harrison Ford added a goatee to the ear ring, and he’s now officially a night manager at Chipotle.
• The superhero montage made me want to jailbreak my DVR remote to fast forward up to >>5.
• Nine movies nominated and Kevin Hart wasn’t in all of them?
• John Travolta’s eyes deserved the Oscar for best editing.
• Kim Novak might have had some work done.
Monday, March 3, 2014
but here’s what can happen… I went out in Pomona for the first time, and it wasn’t nearly as life-threatening as I imagined. (Only two guys fought the bouncer the entire night.) Fun fact: Walt Disney originally planned on having Disneyland built in Pomona, but the city council declined his offer, fearing that the park would not succeed and would cause the city to go into debt. That worked out… I always like to blog about the Oscars, and if I have time today I’ll write something up. For now, I’ll at least say Pharrell Williams’ song is so damn catchy, and while his XXXL hat is really nutty, it will always be trumped by Harrison Ford’s earring.