Thursday, June 30, 2016

My Professor.

Your password must contain at least two characters who may or may not hook up in the finale.

Yeah, my brain may be a little too fixated with writing lately, and could use a reboot. So I signed up for Aaron Sorkin’s online master class.

Aaron is by far my favorite writer, and one of my best/just-missed moments happened when I booked a role on “The Newsroom”, only to have the scene cut before it was shot. Would have been nice to work with him, but it happens.

Part of Aaron’s course will include him leading a writer’s room of students creating a new episode of “The West Wing”. He was fired after season four, and claims he never watched seasons five through seven, so he now wants to create his own season five two-hour premiere. That’s bad ass.

It starts next month, and I’m looking forward to it. I may have the chance to submit some of my writing to him for his critique. Can’t wait.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Things You Must Eat In LA. Part II.

Every fork at your favorite restaurant has been in hundreds of strangers’ mouths.

Doesn’t make me hesitate for a second. Here’s part II:

Burger at Father’s Office. Another finicky chef, who prohibits putting any ketchup on his burger. That’s okay, because he tops it with his own gourmet condiment, made with caramelized onions and bacon, along with gruyere cheese. There are two Father’s Offices now, with a roomier location in Culver City, but the original on Montana is in such a physically narrow space, you may want to grease yourself before squeezing in.

Chocolate Gooey Brownie ice cream at Salt & Straw. The flavors at Salt & Straw have serious range – black olive brittle and goat cheese, honey vinegar with raspberry fig cobbler – but I sexually identify as chocolate gooey brownie.

Pizza at Mulberry Street Pizza. On a par with the best pizza in New York. The pies are so thin, you can eat an entire one by yourself. Plus a cool atmosphere, with the walls autographed by hundreds of celebrities.

Ice cream cookie sandwich at Diddy Riese. The place is an LA institution, just off the campus of UCLA. The later the night gets, and the drunker the neighborhood crowds get, the longer the wait. Choose from ten different cookies, and a dozen different ice creams. Very affordable yumminess.

Godmother at Bay Cities Deli. They say it’s all about the bread when it comes to a great sandwich. And someone foolishly tried to take on Bay Cities by opening a deli actually called All About the Bread. He even had the nerve to offer the answer to the godmother, and called it the godfather. But you can’t beat the godmother’s perfect mix of meats and cheeses, served with the works. All About the Bread gets the shittiest reviews, and Yelp, though I think erroneously, lists the place as closed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Things You Must Eat In LA. Part I.

My sister-in-law: “We brought snacks for the kids.” Me: (with a mouthful of food) “We did?!”

I like the eating. And when my friend Drew asked me for a list of must-eats for when he visits LA in September, I got down to business. Here’s part I:

French dipped sandwich at Philippe’s. (Pictured above.) One day in 1918, while making a sandwich, Philippe Mathieu inadvertently dropped a french roll into a roasting pan filled with juice still hot from the oven. His customer, a cop, said he would take the sandwich anyway, and returned the next day with some friends asking for more dipped sandwiches. 100 years later, they’re just as yummy. The cast and crew of my film The Beneficiary had them for lunch one day during filming. It was the perfect LA storm.

Triple chocolate milkshake at Milk. Don’t let the line out the door at Milk  fool you – the staff serves quickly and the turnover always results in a table opening up at just the right time to have a suck down three times chocolate.

Lobster roll at Son of a Gun. Bite size, with potato chips on top. This is my favorite item at my favorite restaurant in LA. A close second: their fried chicken sandwich, piled a mile high with coleslaw. The chef doesn't allow for changes to anything on his menu. Not that you’d want to.

Chicken and Waffles at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. Roscoe’s was in the news recently, with Snoop Dogg pledging to buy the place after it fell into debt. Their trouble didn’t stem from a lack of customers – a disgruntled employee sued the place and won. Either way, it’s as good as advertised, and will fill your belly for a day and a half.

Cream-cheese stuffed french toast at Martha’s. My dad used to love the scrambled white-corn omelet, but give me Martha’s signature dish, stuffed with cream cheese and the fruit filling of the day. If you go there for brunch on the weekend, get on the waiting list, and then go walk the strand in Hermosa for a couple hours. Worth the wait.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Five Days. Then A Holiday.

I drank a Mike’s Hard Lemonade and crashed my electric scooter into a mailbox. How was your weekend?

But now it’s Monday, and there’s nothing I love more than a clean slate. Let’s get after it. Here’s our motivation: the new house on my block, above. Oceans views, available for rent for 15K a month. Who says no?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Police Station In A Strip Mall.

Between a Ross and a Dress Barn. Inglewood is LIT.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Friend In Low Places.

I just want to be rich enough to say “that won't be necessary” when the police start to handcuff me.

A backstory: when I was a kid, my parents were looking to buy a vacation place for us, and one of my dad’s podiatry partners told him about a condo he’d bought in Ocean City, MD. My parents bought the condo next door to him, and we spent two weeks every summer and every three-day weekend with his family.

They had three kids, and we had three kids, and we all got along. Those are some of the best memories of my life. Good on Paul and Sheila Shevin, because for kids, Ocean City is the SHIT – a beach-town peninsula packed with fast food joints, arcades, jet-skis and dune buggies.

We eventually lost touch with that family, save for a little Facebook catching up I had with their daughter a couple years ago. Then her brother, always a sweet kid back in the day, did something not so sweet.

He was arrested on Tuesday, for making and selling firearms, including AK-47s and AR-15s. Police seized 59 weapons in all, 49 of them illegal. That’s one of the evidence photos, above.

Not helping:
  • He was arrested after dropping off his daughter at school, while carrying an illegal firearm on school grounds 
  • Wrong place, wrong time – the arrest happened where he was living, in Fairfield, CT, only 20 miles from Sandy Hook 
  • Some of the guns seized didn't have serial numbers, so they couldn’t be traced. He was selling silencers as well. 
  • Many of the guns found in his house were not locked up or secured, so the cops went ahead and notified the Department of Children and Families 
  • He had business cards and a website that proclaimed “All of your AR needs... no names, no numbers, no witnesses.
The arrest is all over the news in NY, and in a time in which we don’t know how to stop shooters, the guys who supply the weapons are going down hard. They’re gonna jack up the jail and throw him under it.

My brothers, my mom and I are trying to wrap our heads around all of this. It hits much too close to home. Though I must say, way to go, Mom – three for three, no gun arrests. Much respect.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Cracking The Whip.

I want to sit in a Starbucks and scream into my phone, “What we need is fresh screenwriting talent! An unknown! Where on earth can we find it?”

I may wanna buy Kevlar first. In the meantime, I put in some serious writing of my own last night on my sitcom, fleshing out one particular plotline.

Let’s face it: writing is a bitch. Or a bastard. Pick your gender. Doesn’t matter. The process is a pain no matter how you shake your fist and swear at it. But one thing is for certain: the toughest part is getting started. Just start, and you’ll surprise yourself. Stories will present themselves, characters will come to life, and you’ll find your way through.

No one ever regrets having written. Last night was a good night.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

What Is Going On At My Neighbor’s House?

Bitchin’ passive-aggressive smiley face, though.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Swanky.

I hug people I hate so I know how big I need to dig the hole in my backyard.

There’s no room for bodies in my brother’s backyard, now that he and his wife finished their new hangout area, complete with a full kitchen and bathroom, fire pit and fireplace, and a crying wall. So we broke the place in on Saturday night.

Pretty bitchin’ imported sink in the bathroom. (Imported from Mexico, but still.)

My nephew was proud of himself for breaking his previous record of staying up late –1:30 a.m. – but I think it’s also important for kids to experience defeat. So I kicked the shit out of him in pool.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Very Odd. And Very Good.

Lobsters would be proud of themselves if they knew how expensive they were.

Not helping their low self-esteem: the movie The Lobster, which is very interesting but VERY strange. The premise: single people are arrested and transferred to a creepy hotel, then forced to find a mate within 45 days, or be transformed into an animal and released into the woods.

Colin Farrell is great in this. He plays David, a sad sack with a bad mustache who seems incapable of cracking a smile. Oh well. Lobsters gonna lobst.

This is one of the smartest movies to come around in a long time. See it.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

I Am What I Eat.

According to a box of spaghetti, I am an Italian family of eight.

Food is my favorite. And Tuesday night, I stumbled into a new place to procure it: Au Fudge.

Au Fudge has super yummy food, and seemed a bit kid friendly. (I read later that Jessica Biel owns it, and that was her intent.) But I was there at night, and with all the kids all gone, it was just grownups in comfort-food heaven. Hell yeah that’s baked mac and cheese and chicken nuggets served in ceramic piglet dishes.

There’s also steak and chicken and salmon, and incredible desserts. Oh, and there’s a mini arcade:

The check comes with two pieces of fudge, which were so rich, we headed straight into the bakery section for more. Sure, I eat my feelings. But at least they’re really happy ones.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pretty… Pretty… GREAT.

I watched golf for two hours before realizing that the TV was off.

Man, I need something good to watch. Oh, wait, Larry David’s bringing back “Curb”? Pardon me while I breathe into a paper bag.

My friend Rob had it right on the money:

So now, not only is one of the best shows coming back, I have a new chance to audition for Larry, who was a brother at my fraternity at Maryland a couple decades before me, and give him the secret handshake. I assume he’s not the hugging type.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

An All-New “Excerpts From My Text Messages.”

If I’m your emergency contact, for your sake, I hope that hospital sends texts, too.

I’ll respond to them. And here are a few new, real messages from my phone, with my outgoing texts in blue:





Credit for this last one goes to my friend Chad. A Howard Stern reference after Chad’s Pittsburgh Penguins clinched the Stanley Cup and were about to sip champagne from it.

Monday, June 13, 2016

This Is What You Can Do.

Years old, my dad needed a heart valve replacement, a pretty major surgery. The hospital suggested that as a precaution we have people we know donate blood, just in case my dad would need it.

My brother mentioned this to the coworkers at his ad agency, and many of them went over to the hospital and donated. I was overwhelmed. I’ve donated blood every eight weeks ever since.

I took the pic above while giving my latest donation, on Friday. (Which I now realize would have been my dad’s birthday.) I never give much thought as to who might receive my blood, but after the tragedy in Orlando on Saturday, I thought about it a lot.

You can argue gun control. Or how we might stop the terrorists. You can offer your thoughts and prayers. But the tragedies are happening more often, and while it feels helpless, there’s actually one thing you can do: donate blood.

I’ve blogged out it several times, and I mean this as much as ever: donate. It doesn’t hurt. It won’t make you light-headed. It doesn’t even take much time. (You can make an appointment, and in a new option, you can answer the 40 questions about your health before you even show up. Bing, bang, boom.

I was in and out on Friday in a half hour.) Terrorists can suck our asses. We’re better than them.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

A Prediction.

The government spent $300 million to arm our allies in Afghanistan? Why didn’t they just use cheat codes?

That number is true, and it’s been made into what I think will be one of the most entertaining films of the year: War Dogs. And we could use it – it’s been a very slow movie year. Can you name a few you really love so far? Exactly.

War Dogs has all the elements of two other gritty, but very cool films: Lord of War and Blow. Even the poster, which is a play on the film Scarface, tells you everything you need to know. This adds up to a winner. Trust me.

Friday, June 10, 2016

David Hadley Smells Badly.

Go to a suburban neighborhood, find the meanest dad holding the biggest glass of scotch, and bring him to negotiate your new car purchase.

The dad in my neighborhood recently sprinted at me twice, because I’d committed the ultimate sin of listening to a podcast without headphones while I was walking my dog.

I contemplated smashing his face in, but the poor guy is dealing with some shit. So I did the next best thing: after he stuck a placard in his lawn for Assembly candidate David Hadley, I made my vote count for the most important reason of all: spite.

Actually, I would have voted for his opponent anyway, but when David Hadley got his ass beat on Tuesday, it was that much sweeter. The system works. America!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

My Triannual Foray Into Culture.

Years ago, my family traveled to Florence, and as I admired the statue of David, I couldn’t believe a teenage mutant ninja turtle had sculpted it.

I still have some to learn. Yesterday, I took in the Barbara Kasten exhibit at MOCA in West Hollywood. She’s a photographer whose work involves paint and sculpture. And butts.

The piece above is called Seated Form. To trick the security guard into thinking I understood the work I was viewing, I stood in front of everything and silently counted to twenty. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My 2600th Blog Entry.

You win every marathon you don’t run.

And yet I don’t mind subjecting myself to the pressure of non-stop blogging. For one thing, there’s less nipple chafing.

And now, as is tradition, I’ve chosen my five favorite entries from the last 100:

My New Favorite Before And After. I didn’t lose a dirt patch; I gained back pain and a thousand crickets. Dig my spread here. 

This One Goes Out To My One True Love: The Ladies. If I can help just one woman trap a guy into a commitment, I’ve done my job. Let’s get romantic here. 

Made My Day. Auditioning is hard. Bragging about it is easy. Find my motivation here. 

New York’s Only Redeeming Feature (Besides My Mom): And iPhone™ Photo Gallery. The Yankees unfortunately lost, and I lost feeling in my toes. Take me out to the blizzard ballpark here. 

Proud Of This Girl. Here’s hoping this is the only drama her parents will have to endure. The theatrics begin here.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Bittersweet.

I’m glad the athlete on my favorite team said he’d just take it one game at a time. I was worried he’d try to take it three-to-four games at a time, which is bad.

My favorite athlete lately has been my nephew. I’m not just saying this because of the unbreakable bond forged by changing his poopy diapers, but he’s easily the best player on his Little League team. All he does is rip doubles. (Home runs aren’t allowed in today’s coddled world.) But Saturday was his last game of the season, and now the weekends just won’t be the same. Only one thing to do:

Drown my sorrows at LA’s favorite new ice cream place: Salt & Straw, which features the most unique concoctions, like black olive brittle and goat cheese, fish sauce caramel with palm sugar, and California avocado and cardamom with fermented carrot custard. (Try saying that five times fast.) I went with chocolate gooey brownie, which was made with chunks of brownie and Marshmallow Fluff. It’s official: I won Salt & Straw.

I’ve mythbusted before and I’ll mythbust again: here in LA we love to eat. The line for Salt & Straw stretches around the corner. They just does everything right, including using real metal spoons for taste samples. So get your fat butt in line there tonight.

Friday, June 3, 2016

This Is The Best.

As an outright addict of “Saturday Night Live”, I was thrilled Lorne Michaels created what is essentially a spinoff with “Maya and Marty”. The best sketch of the show’s premiere featured Martin Short bringing back his Jiminy Glick character to interview Larry David. It’s a rare side of Larry, in which he cannot stop laughing, and his laugh is contagious. Check this out:

Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Jew Walks Into A Nazi Compound…

Convinced that after Europe fell to the Germans, America would reduced to anarchy, so Nazi sympathizers built a compound in the Pacific Palisades for refuge in the 1930s. Silly Nazis.

Shortly after Pearl Harbor was bombed, these bigoted geniuses, who had thrown $4 million into the unfinished compound they called Murphy Ranch, were arrested for espionage. Today, some of the structures still stand, in what is a strange, overlooked area of LA. On Sunday, my friend Mike and I explored it.

To get down to the ranch requires a traverse down a dizzying, much too narrow set of stairs that seem to go on forever. The world’s worst DIY project. Mike held me responsible for his life.

LA was covered in graffiti until the city really cracked down. But because Murphy Ranch is the place that time forgot – not to mention pretty challenging to access – it’s the last bastion of taggers. We passed these two knuckleheads mid paint-job.

The penalty for spray-painting is five grand, so you may not want to tag your username, ace.

We decided to keep walking deeper into the forest, and then things got even trippier, as we came upon this firing range. A closer inspection revealed live ammo, so we quickly pushed on.

That was when it when full-on nutty, as we discovered it was a boy scout camp – but not just any camp – the boy scouts were orthodox Jews, who’d staked their territory with Israeli flags. Mike’s head exploded. I thought it was the ultimate F-you to the Nazis.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

31 Seconds Of May.

I gave up sugar for the month of May, and now that it’s over, I’m going directly to Milk Shop. Prayers appreciated.

 Here it is, condensed: