Friday, December 30, 2016

Holiday Over.

I sure hope skinny jeans are still in fashion. After all the calories I consumed in New York, that’s what all my pants are now.

Time to go back, and time to diet. I’ll be doing both tomorrow. I do have good New Year’s Eve plans, so I have that to look forward to. Semi-related: do I need a permit to have a monkey?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Holiday History Lesson.

When I die, I want my tombstone to say free WiFi, so people will visit more often.

It wasn’t an option for Ezekiel Halstead, buried in my hometown in 1805. You see, Rye was settled in 1667, making it 109 years older than America. While taking Ollie on extremely long walks down memory lane, I’ve snapped a few pics.

This is the Square House, a tavern/inn that George Washington stayed in twice. George called it a “clean and decent inn”, which I presume meant he didn’t contract syphilis.

This is more personal history than American history: Highland Hall, my first residence. I lived there until I turned one. We lived upstairs, and my dad, a podiatrist, had the world’s shortest commute – the diet center on the first floor, center, was previously his office.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

With Great Power Comes Great Electricity Bill.

There are 363 days until Christmas, and people already have their Christmas lights up. Unbelievable.

This home, near where I grew up has been going been going exponentially more berserk for decades. The pic above doesn’t even do it justice, so I shot some video, below:

Monday, December 26, 2016

In Which I Lose My Shit Over A Film.

In the face of such hopelessness as your eventual, unavoidable death, there is little sense in not at least trying to accomplish your wildest dream in life. That is, unless, your wildest dream is to hunt humans. Then I’m not talking to you. Life is painful enough, so don’t hurt people, asshole.

If you’re pursuing any sort of dream, including falling for someone who gets you and supports you, La La Land is your cup of tea.

I loved it. Yes, it’s a musical, but it’s epic and funny and romantic and inspiring and I don’t know how Damien Chazelle, who also wrote and directed the amazing Whiplash, pulled this off. Shooting the opening dance number on the ramp that connects the 105 Freeway to the 110 is in itself a major feat of city permit magic.

But that’s fitting. Damien did it the hard way. The best way. The song in that scene, “Another Day of Sun”, is all about endless possibilities for those of us with dreams in Los Angeles. Even when you fall flat on your face in LA, you go to bed, and when you wake up the next day, it’s gorgeous, and the possibilities start all over again.

I’m partially ashamed to admit that I located the film’s composer, Justin Hurwitz, last night, and told him how much I appreciated the lyrics speaking to every actor in LA. He replied right back, thanking me.

Now, take my opinion with a pound of salt – I’m not guaranteeing everyone will love it. (My little brother didn’t. Heart of stone, that kid.) But you really might. There’s a moment in La La Land, when after a defeating night, one of the leads questions why we act. What do we contribute to the world? I’ll say: plenty. After a long week, people go to movies to escape, and we can take them on a journey. And this is the best movie week of the year. We have time off, and we’re around family, so go see La La Land, or Manchester By the Sea. (Which is also amazing though terribly tragic.) You’ll see what I mean.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

From All Of Us.

However you’re spending today, we hope it’s a good time. If you’re working, please accept our thanks for keeping the world spinning while the rest of us get to have fun.

And if you’re traveling, remember: it’s perfectly safe, except that air traffic controllers are all government employees forced to work the holidays. Merry Christmas.

-Matt, Ricky & Santa

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Christmas Tree Tip.

Place a fake present under your tree with your misbehaving child’s name on it, and when he acts up, toss it into the burning fireplace.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Walking Tour With Ollie Shevin.

So, you wait in long lines, there’s no shade, lots of crying kids, and drinks cost eight bucks. What should we call it? “Amusement park”.

My hometown of Rye, a suburb of NYC, is well-known for Playland, an amusement park built in 1928. Everyone who grew up here spent their childhood there, because the park includes a beach and an ice rink, and the best 4th of July fireworks around.

Ollie pauses in front of Playland Baths (told you this place was old) because you might recognize this boardwalk from the film Big, where the character Josh gets his wish granted by a fortune-teller machine.

Next to the ice rink (where several high school and college teams play – and the New York Rangers used to practice) is a miniature golf course. A great place to watch your kid throw 18 tantrums in a row.

Some folks have Vietnam – people from Rye have the Dragon Coaster, a wooden roller coaster built in 1929 that is physical terror interrupted by periods of vomiting. Not helping: a scene from Fatal Attraction, in which Glenn Close’s character “borrows” Dan’s daughter for the day was shot on the Dragon Coaster.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

In Which I Go To The Theater. (Or, A Reason To Shower.)

Just when I think I’m 100% against the death penalty, I get stuck behind someone driving super slow because he’s texting.

The death penalty is a major plotline in the Broadway play The Front Page, which I saw last night. It has a great, huge cast, including John Goodman, John Slattery and Nathan Lane, and because it was written in 1928, it’s a true throwback, with a three-hour running time and two intermissions. If you’re in the city, check it out. It’s great.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Cold Opening.

I didn’t even set foot in my mom’s house after arriving here, and already I was shoveling snow. On the second night of Chanukah, she’s getting a flamethrower.

Never a good sign when the chick sitting next to you on a plane breaks out the Emergen-C, and of course I contracted her fever. My temp is 100.7°, which means I’m 81 degrees warmer than the 19-degree weather here. Thanks a lot, Typhoid Mary.

Monday, December 19, 2016

How Was Your Flight?

Way to read the room, JetBlue.

Well, if I’m going down, I’m taking TV’s Luis Guzman with me.

Friday, December 16, 2016

For The Holidays, You Can’t Beat Home, Sweet Home.

Any tree can be a Christmas tree if you yell at your family around it.

And what better place for some dysfunctional rage than New York. I’m headed there tomorrow to spend two weeks at my mom’s.

In between the traditional stuffing of my face and freezing my ass off, I’ll be blogging, so log on for some goodness while I’m there.

Everyone behave while I’m gone. I’ll scream hello to my mom for you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

My Gift To You: A Great Gift Idea.

My Christmas shopping will be financed by my swear jar again this year.

And I’ve put that cash to good use, getting my mom personalized wrapping paper featuring Ollie, her Cocker Spaniel. Go to Gift Wrap My Face, and you can do the same, featuring your face, or your kids’ faces, etc. It’s a heck of a lot more convenient than a lifetime ban from Toys R Us.

Oh, and before you think I spoiled my mom’s gift by posting it here, she already knows about it. She opened it by mistake after I had it sent to me at her home’s address, where I’ll be staying for the holidays. A happy mistake, that is, since she can use it this Christmas. I am winning this holiday

You can, too. Go here: Gift Wrap My Face.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

You’re So Damn Selfless, Hollywood.

Here’s why I prefer dogs: all Ricky does is greet me with kisses, or give up the couch when I need a nap or he senses I’m not feeling well. He even pees and poops on command, so during commercial breaks, I don’t even have to pause my DVR.

Meanwhile, cats constantly look at you like you asked them to give you a ride to the airport.

I’m all about the givers. Like my friend Ted Melfi, who directed my film, then went on to direct St. Vincent, and the upcoming Hidden Figures. Ted was always the most selfless guy – when his brother suddenly passed away, Ted and his wife immediately adopted his brother’s young daughter without hesitation. So it comes as no surprise that he recently got involved with The Black Ghiandola.

 It’s a film written by a 16-year-old named Anthony Jonathan Conti, who is suffering from a life-threatening form of cancer, and whose wish was to make a zombie film. A-listers immediately sprang into action. The movie was co-directed by Ted, Sam Raimi and Catherine Hardwicke, and stars Johnny Depp, JK Simmons, Penelope Ann Miller and Richard Chamberlain.

I love that Ted did this, but really, that’s how much of Hollywood operates. It doesn’t matter the level of talent, or even if you’re in the business – Los Angeles people care. Like my friends Aina and Bru, a married actor/director team who donated ALL of their wedding cash gifts to an orphanage. Or my friend Jeff, a creative director who volunteered to speak to parolees because he thought they might need to know what to expect when they enter the work-world. Or Kim Rhodes, who played Zach and Cody’s mom, and allowed the mother of an actor Kim didn’t even know to stay at her home, after the actor got into a bad motorcycle accident, and his mom came to LA to care for him. Who does that?

Want to make America great again? God bless. But we’ve already got it covered in LA.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Good Weekend. But I Have Notes.

Really want to lure kids into your creepy van? Change it to “Free WiFi”.
Sunday, Manhattan Beach. 

I don’t need to be rich – I just need to live in a neighborhood where I can be confident that that noise was definitely fireworks.
South Bay Christmas fireworks.

Me: “Welcome to the halftime show. Are you ready to rock?!”
The crowd goes nuts.
Me: “Well, too bad. Here’s Lady Gaga.”
PA announcing the Beach Cities Super Bowl games.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Sacrilicious.

Last night, I ordered two slices of Sicilian at Mulberry Street Pizza. One for dinner, one to ward off any gluten-free hipsters.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Celebrity Reader.

Sometimes you run into people who totally change your life for the better. Bartenders. Those people are called bartenders.

Even better are people like my friend (and very good actor) Brian Singer, who forwarded my blog entry about The Edge of Seventeen to Kelly Fremon Craig, the movie’s writer/director. Above is her response.

Super thrill. Thank you, sir.

Here’s Brian on his friendship with Kelly:

One week after moving to LA – 20 years ago this month – I responded to a casting notice for an evening of one-acts at the La Habra Depot Theater. I ended up in two of the plays, one with her. She was just 16. She and her mom were very cool, and we stayed in touch. Yeah, well now she’s hanging with James L. Brooks, and from what I can tell, staying cool. Very cool. 

I like that Brian first knew her when she was 16, and experiencing everything she wrote into her movie.

In retrospect, 1996 was an interesting year for Brian. Check this out:

Nearly 20 years ago, I chaperoned a high school drama club to their theater competition in Tampa. A friend and co-actor from Lake Worth was their teacher. I spent quite a bit of time with two kids – one, a lively little guy named Jay. The other, an aloof, quiet, interesting kid named Oscar. Yes, Oscar Isaac. Just found that out a couple months ago. Had no idea when I saw Llewyn Davis. Of course, I instantly became a fan. And I’ve had to go re-watch Bourne Legacy, Sucker Punch, etc. to see him. I look forward to seeing how he holds Star Wars together. Huge for a kid from South Florida.

Thanks again, Brian.

Monday, December 5, 2016

What To Do In December In Los Angeles.

Californians reacting to snowfall is very similar to cavemen reacting to seeing fire for the first time.

Yet there we were, spending Friday night at The Grove, drinking on the balcony at Bar Verde, when the snow machines kicked in. Our heads exploded.

I presumed this guy on the trolley with his hand on the back of the snowman was dating whoever was stuffed inside. Then I realized he was keeping the person inside from tumbling to a hilariously embarrassing death.

The Apple Store changing their logo to red for the holidays is the second smartest thing they’ve done since preventing their phones from exploding.

The kid in me said, “Buy 30 bucks of candy.” But the adult in me said, “Buy 30 bucks of candy and more liquor.”

We had to go off the reservation for pizza late night, and here’s a tip: Damore’s is open until 4 a.m., and so good that I wolfed down a slice faster than anyone could snap a pic.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

30 Seconds Of November.

No-Shave November was a success, so I guess it’s time for No-Date December, JustMe January and Forever-Alone February.

Here is my November, one second per day: