Wednesday, September 30, 2015

In Which I Witness Both A Crime And A Dude Turning Pro.

I can tell by the Instagram pic of you in front of a famous landmark that you have definitely been to a place before. Well done.

I tried to avoid that trap on my recent trip, and as I went through the photo albums on my phone, I found a couple of gems from Brooklyn. First, a guy removing all of the newly-shoplifted goods he’d stuffed into his jeans.

And the complete antithesis: this gentleman, who happened to get down on one knee and propose in the background as we were rolling. We got his info and promised to send him the footage. Glad she said yes.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I’m Holding The Correct End, Right?

The other night, I pulled out a tissue, and five came out. For a brief, terrifying moment, I felt like a clown.

No, I wasn’t stoned. Because I’ve never been stoned.

That’s not to say I haven’t been offered. My dorm at Maryland was like living in downtown Kingston. Guys smoked weed from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Same with my fraternity brothers. And now pot is so legal in California, you can get a prescription via Skype. (For real.)

It simply never interested me. I like working out, and writing – and I couldn’t function at either endeavor stoned.

My inexperience was on display on Sunday, when I was about to get on stage for a big casting workshop in a scene in which I was supposed to light up. I needed a pipe, So I ran down the street to a shop called Smoke & Gift, and bought the glass one in the pic above. I confirmed with the guy behind the counter that it wasn’t for crack, and he was nice enough not to call me an idiot.

The scene went great, save for inhaling a big hit off the lighter. Which means while I’ve never smoked marijuana, I have now, unfortunately, huffed butane.

Monday, September 28, 2015

I’ve Got This Babysitting Shit Down Cold.

My nephew is only in second grade, but he snapchats at a 7th grade level.

Definitely proud of him. And enjoy watching him and his sister. But I can’t take all the credit.

My associate handles naptime like a boss.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Come On.

Stopped by Costco yesterday, and in the wake of the Nutella incident here, there were no treats being given away. Bad news for those of us who think walking around the store and getting free samples is an ideal date.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Rest In Peace.

Sometimes, I’ll take such a good picture of someone that I think, “This is definitely making it into the slideshow at their funeral.”

But when a true hero dies, I have no idea how to handle it.

Yogi Berra passed away yesterday, and while he had a Hall of Fame baseball career, many forget he fought in World War II – in the Navy, in the English Channel, on the day we stormed Omaha Beach. Or maybe we don’t forget so much as we never knew this about him, because Yogi was too modest to mention it.

He went on to win more World Series – ten – than any player in history, but he’s unfortunately known mainly for butchering the English language. As a big Yankee fan, I’m disappointed by this because by all accounts he was the sweetest man, a father figure for 26 years later in life as a coach.

In every screenplay I write, the character names are tributes to Yankees. In my drama The Beneficiary, Peter Holden’s name was derived from Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra. (And a less-Semitic nod to Ken Holtzman.)

I suppose one famous Yogi-ism is worth repeating – the one we’ll probably hear most in the coming days: “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”

But I bet no one gets in to Yogi Berra’s funeral – it’ll be way too crowded.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Great Correspondence? Or The Greatest Correspondence?

A friend of mine passed this along from his friend Michael, who works in advertising in New York. Michael said, “Came across this gem today. It’s a 1998 letter from Jeff Goodby (a big advertising creative director) in response to a rather impolite request I made of him in response to an Ad Age review he penned about our Doritos Super Bowl spot ‘Laundromat’. Touché sir. Touché.”

Click on the pic to read the letter.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Backlog Blog: International Food.

I love meeting new people. Wait, not people. Nachos.

My recent trip was a gastronomical adventure. Like in São Paolo, where all my friend Chris had to do was point out CHEESEBURGER SALAD AMERICA on a menu, and I could not stop saying it.

Rice bubbles. Always the most important meal of the day.

The Shanghai airport offering up my favorite type of food.

In India, where beef is essentially illegal and unavailable, this is a Big Mac.

Choose spicy to bring out the claw flavor.

I believe it’s Portuguese for “Little Choke.”

Monday, September 21, 2015

Blockblockers.

So much of being an adult is bringing a bottle of wine someone brought to your house to someone else’s house.

Unfortunately, I never made it to the party, thanks to the stupidest blackout that hit my street. My garage door wouldn’t open, so I was trapped. The only things on in the neighborhood were my living-room ceiling lights.

video
Earlier in the day, I managed to squeeze in some uncle time. Offer up a little motivation.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Before You Bitch About Your Job:

Consider this guy, on the hottest day of the year.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

I’m Back.

I like to spend my Sunday night wishing it wasn’t Sunday night.

Sunday mornings are another story. Football is back, and so am I, after taking a year off from rooting for my favorite team, the New York Jets.

The Jets broke my heart last season when they signed Pit Bull killer Michael Vick. I stopped following them immediately.

I must have been pretty disappointed, because in a day and age in which you can’t avoid sports highlights, I went to bed on opening day not knowing whether the Jets had won or lost for the first time since I was 12.

The guys who watch the games with me respected my decision. On our trip to Green Bay last year, my friend Jeff, who remained a Jet fan (and is not a dog lover), thought my shirt sent the exact right message:

But as the Jets went through one of the shittiest seasons in team history, several friends congratulated me on picking “the right year” to stop rooting for them. Yeah, my team signed the most despicable man on the planet and completely let me down. I’m the luckiest guy in the world.

My friends meant well. Someone who didn’t mean well is my now ex-friend Frankie, who had this exchange with me on Facebook:

FRANKIE: Where you watching the game Sunday?
ME: I’m suspending my Jets’ allegiance as long as Vick is on the team
FRANKIE: What? That’s stupid
ME: I’m a Pit Bull owner
FRANKIE: Yeah? Well you’re not a real Jets fan
ME: Apparently not
FRANKIE: You’re such a stupid asshole I hope the Jets win the Super Bowl this year just to screw you
ME: Take care

Why the Jets risked losing thousands of fans by signing Vick was baffling to me. And even more baffling to ESPN on-air talent Michelle Beadle, a huge Jets fan who gave up her allegiance permanently. Michelle favorited one of my tweets:

When Michael Vick became a free agent this year, my best friend Chad, a Steelers fan, heard his team might sign him. Here’s how Chad reacted:
The Steelers wound up signing Michael Vick. Sorry, bro.

So now the new season has begun, and the two men most responsible for the Jets signing Michael Vick – head coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik – have been fired. It gives me an even cleaner slate to come back.

But I don’t forget.

When Michael Vick signed with the Jets, he said, “Right now, my past is irrelevant.”

This past:

“As the little red dog lay on the ground fighting for air, Qaunis Phillips [one of Vick’s accomplices] grabbed its front legs and Michael Vick grabbed its hind legs. They swung the dog over their head like a jump rope then slammed it to the ground. The first impact didn’t kill it. So Phillips and Vick slammed it again. The two men kept at it, alternating back and forth, pounding the creature against the ground, until at last, the little red dog was dead.”
– from The Lost Dogs, by Jim Gorant

As long as that guy doesn’t play for my team, I’m a fan of the New York Jets.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Around The World In 29 Seconds.

After a few days in China without the Internet, I learned what’s really important in life: the Internet.

It allows me to share my trip, one second per day. Check it out: 

T

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

You Stay Exceptional, San Diego.

If you want to hide something from me, put it on my voicemail.

But if you’ve got great news, email me immediately. In my inbox yesterday: my latest comedy short, World Class, was accepted into the San Diego Film Festival.

It’s good to get into another fest, but I’m not about to take my foot off the gas. More writing, more premises, more shoots planned very soon.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Good To Be Back Nonetheless, LA.

For the record, I don’t mind getting a jury summons. I’m always down to drop the hammer.

But to receive it as a threat after being away for a month seemed a little discourteous. Hate to be the guy I get to fry.

It’s nice and a little odd to be home. Because it was a concentrated dose of 20-hour days in several countries, it actually feels like I was away for several months. Driving a car for the first time felt odd. I went straight from the airport to get a haircut, to which my friend Ben astutely pointed out: “It’s like when Tom Hanks came back from the island and had to make himself look civilized again.” But my hair was so overgrown, it looked like I was wearing a piece.

There have been coma-like symptoms. I’ve forgotten a couple of Internet passwords. Forget about cable channels. Upon waking up yesterday, I sat up in my bed and for ten seconds desperately tried to recognize the hotel room I was in, and why the mattress wasn’t king size.

On the best side, I get to have Ricky back. He’s exhausted, so I’ve resorted to waking him up hourly for kisses. The bill from the fancy kennel was 1500 bucks – I’m getting my money’s worth. Welcome home, dummy.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

I’m Going Home.

29 days
4 countries
65 hours of flight time
1 pair of underwear worn four straight days
3 new languages in which I can say “thank you”

It was the trip of a lifetime. I have more stories to tell, and I will, after my brain decompresses. For now, I’m taking one last flight home and sleeping in my own bed.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Penultimate Day In New York.

I get asked a lot when I’m back here what I miss about this city. I joke that it’s just the Yankees.

Last night, my mom came into the city to have dinner with me. Afterward, I had to get back to editing, and later, when I returned to my hotel room, I had a package: my favorite cookies from the patisserie in the suburb in which I grew up.

My mom. I always miss my mom.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Man Pissing In Herald Square

2015
Plants, asphalt, urine.
Courtesy of Matt Shevin

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Backlogged Blog: Skylines.

Back to domestic flights, in which the WiFi and the deodorant of the person sitting next to me both don’t work.

The trip around the world was more than I even expected, and I learned a lot about each city. Including the one I grew up in. A primer:

New York 
You always tempt fate shooting here. While we were rolling, a heavyset dude sitting next to us in Madison Square Park started yammering loudly on his cell to whom I assume was his imaginary friend. When we asked him to stop, like a seasoned vet he launched straight into a “DO YOU HAVE A PERMIT TO SHOOT HERE?”, trying to shake us down. He threatened to get a cop, so we got one instead, but the guy wouldn’t back down even after the policeman got in his face. So we pressed on, and of course the second we finished, fatso hung up his phone.

Shanghai
Happy people. Curious people, who would come right up to us and peer in while we shot. I actually kind of liked that… We arrived August 20th, which was Chinese Valentine’s Day… I grew up eating Chinese food, and Shanghai was the real deal. Lots of spicy yumminess… It’s an eclectic city that even has a French Quarter… I went for a swim in the hotel pool and A) Was humiliatingly forced to wear a swim cap and B) Had a female lifeguard who was completely asleep on duty.

Mumbai 
Frenetic. Drivers turn three-lane roads into five-lane roads, and you risk your life crossing streets. Scooters everywhere. Honking is mandated to keep pedestrians and drivers safe – so you never go more than three seconds without hearing a horn… Lots of vendors in the streets selling food and clothing and they have no problem with you taking their pics… The area pictured above is part of a four-mile C-shaped waterside drive referred to as the Queen's Necklace, because when viewed at night, the streetlights resemble a string of pearls.

São Paolo 
I’ve mentioned SP reminded me of New York pre-cleanup, but it actually had a strong LA vibe – several different skylines spread out over a lot of miles. And, with 25 million people in the city, possibly the worst traffic in the world. It can take four hours to get across town, prompting many folks to commute via helicopter. There are four helipads alone in the above shot… Strangely, the biggest language barrier of all the cities we shot in was here. Portuguese is just not Spanish.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I’m A Hitter.

When I die, I want Jay Z’s life to flash before my eyes.

Lately, my own life ain’t half bad, with the fancy flights and hotel accommodations. The goodness continued here in the states Friday night, as I met my little brother at Yankee Stadium to see a game. He came through with seats behind the Yankee dugout. $2400 apiece.

What they included: waitress service, and an all-inclusive menu. Access to the Legends Suite, and all the not-so-classic ballpark fare you can eat. Like gelato…

…sushi, ribs and prime rib.

Of course, this is more my speed.

To make sure I didn’t completely lost touch with the peasants, I took the subway to and from the stadium. Friday night’s featured subway smell: wet dog.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Checking In.

My hotel room in New York came with a guitar and an old-timey refrigerator. If it were any more hipster, I’d be posting this with a typewriter.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Get to Know São Paulo From The Safety Of The Internet.

The weather here is incredibly similar to LA (right down to a massive drought), but it’s winter right now. Yesterday was so frigid, I desperately needed an afghan.

It’s quaint here. Take these shoe shiners, for example, who I’d like to believe live in this box and never leave.

The architecture here is eclectic as hell, including what appears to be a giant monument to Jenga.

The overall look of the city is very pre-Guiliani New York. By that, I mean they’ll tag anything that can’t move.

Impressively, too. Graffiti in the most unreachable places. Much respect, punks.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

São Paulo. Come For The View – Stay For The Kidnapping.

This is what I see from my shower every morning. Boneriffic.

Assigned to us is a badass security detail, which moves us around town in a bulletproof vehicle with bulletproof glass, and a second car following us. A dangerously cool requirement when visiting Brazil with an American accent.

On the left: my friend Rob and I, who were walking with our friend Chris. Out of frame: our security guys: a huge MMA fighter, a detective who tucked the biggest Glock I’ve ever seen into his pants yesterday, and a Brazilian Special Forces guy who’s an expert shot. I kinda want some bad dudes to come after us, just to watch them get put down.