Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Getting Judgy.

The presentation for best picture was a disaster. Nicole Kidman can’t clap like a human being. Mel Gibson is forgiven. Who the hell is playing Jumanji?

 It’s time to fix this. My friend Brian asked me to be a judge in the Pacific Coast Short Film Festival, and I was happy to contribute.

And how could I not? I get to watch a bunch of films, and maybe see the next great writers/directors before they really hit it big. Let the healing begin.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Allow Me To Star-F For A Moment.

That ending last night couldn’t have been any more ridiculous. I wish the lead accountant from Price Waterhouse Coopers had been mic’d up like a cornerback.

But enough about them. What’s become a welcome tradition for me is a chance to text with Ted Melfi (director of Hidden Figures and my movie The Beneficiary) during award shows. I sent Ted the pic of him alongside Pharell, who co-produced with Ted, and Ted’s wife Kim, an amazing actress in her own right.

Also, on Christmas Eve, I messaged Justin Hurwitz, the composer of La La Land, who wound up winning two Oscars last night. (Forgive my typo – I was moved.) He graciously, immediately replied:

Friday, February 24, 2017

I’m Not Smarter Than A Seventh Grader.

On my kindergarten report card it said, “He is encouraged to ask more questions”. My mom’s reaction: “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”

My mom’s reaction to my niece’s seventh grade report card? She sent my niece 25 bucks. Straight A’s equals straight cash money.

Worth nothing: neither of us have been been privy to my nephew’s grades.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Better Have A Damn Good Reason.

Mulberry Street pizza is my drug of choice. But what gives with covering up Garry Shandling’s autograph? That’s heresy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I’d Like To Not Thank The City Attorney.

Statistics say panic attacks most commonly affect two careers: actors and hospital residents, because we have to instantly go from structure to all hell breaking loose.

Doesn’t matter. I love acting. There’s nothing better than being on set and getting to play. It’s why the outgoing message on my voicemail says “I’ll do it.”

Getting to play tends to be a rare occurrence because there are over 200,000 actors in Los Angeles, and up to 3000 actors are submitted by their agents for each role. So how do we get ourselves into casting offices?

 One of the best ways is casting workshops. A chance to perform a scene in front of casting directors (CDs), and show them your skills and personality. (Knowing you’ll behave like a pro on set is very encouraging to CDs.)

Unfortunately, a bit of a scandal has popped up here in LA, as the city attorney got a bug up his ass and is on a mission to shut down workshops. You see, we actors pay to do them, and the city attorney is under the entirely false assumption that this creates a “pay for play” situation. Pay, or no audition for you.

An actor friend of mine had this to say about it:
I don’t think the CDs or workshops (which are privately owned, usually by actors) are doing anything wrong, as actors who attend them understand what they are and are willing to pay for them. But legal things often proceed on optics – how they appear to a third party who knows nothing about how they work. To a third party, a workshop looks like a paid audition. If anything, it’s a paid general. (A “general” is a meeting with a casting director. There’s no audition – just a chance to be memorable so this person you’re seeing for the first time will keep you in mind for a future project. They’re pretty rare nowadays, because they were never as beneficial as workshops. –Matt) A workshop is the only practical way actors get to practice their craft, THEY’RE NOT SCAMS. They are paid interactions with industry professionals which provide both a chance to act and an opportunity to have that acting seen by someone who can help an actor obtain employment.
Hell yeah they are. But the city attorney went nuts a couple weeks ago and surprised ten random CDs by bringing them up on charges, that could result in a $10,000 fine and up to a year in prison. He also charged several workshops themselves, and some of them immediately shut their doors, and just like that, being an actor became that much more challenging.

It’s a crazy witch hunt that massively sucks shit, and I pray it shall pass.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Judge A City By Its Coverage.

I heard a street preacher say gays cause floods, so I called my friend Eric and asked him what other rad shit he could do.

While the rest of the country (and really, Los Angelenos themselves) likes to make fun of LA for its “Stormwatch” coverage every time it sprinkles a bit here, all of a sudden shit got real.

After dangerously historic drought conditions hit Southern California for the past couple years, Mother Nature decided to clear her browser history. We’ve had so much rain in the last past month, reservoirs are overflowing. Above is a shot I took on Saturday of a freeway message alert about an upcoming mudslide. I’d cry about it, but liquid is the LAST thing we need.

Meanwhile, when it rains down here, it snows up north. My brother took this shot at Mammoth Mountain of something I’ve never seen before: a suffocation hazard. Apparently, my nephew became completely submerged in snow skiing through trees. I didn’t ask if he survived. Remind me, Siri.

Still skeptical? May I present to the court evidence A, B and C: 

Friday, February 17, 2017

End Of Several Eras.

The week I graduated Maryland, I bought a sweatshirt. It was extra comfy, and since that day, I’ve worn it constantly, and never been without it. It’s my Wilson.

But sadly, the end is near, and this style of sweatshirt is no longer made. You know, if I could go back in time, the first thing I’d do is buy two sweatshirts. Killing baby Hitler falls to second place.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Grooviest Restaurant In All The Southland.

I order so much Chinese food, the delivery guy must think I’m a middle-aged divorced homicide detective in an 80s movie.

So it’s good to get out and try new places. Barton G, on La Cienega, is not just excellent, but downright nutty. To make the dining experience fun, food is served in wacky dress-up. Above are lobster pop-tarts. They’re honestly one of the best things I’ve every tasted, and are placed on your table in a giant toaster. That said, this is one of the least preposterous dishes served at Barton G.

A napkin folded into a tuxedo is incredibly satisfying.

Below the Belt, a $46 drink for two. With novelty boxing glove and shorts, and a mason jar full of booze resting in a tiny boxing ring. Naturally.

I shot video of this. Bacon, white and black truffles, and grated parmesan. Yummy, and fun – the dry ice effect lasts several minutes, and lets you blow cool steam out of your mouth.

Order the Great American Steak, get a novelty-sized fork. Make America ginormous again.

The wait-staff is super cool, and fully aware it’s going to be an Instagram free-for-all at every table. The Canned Soup and Sandwich is a bite-sized lobster roll with tomato lobster bisque.

Almost lost in the Rubber Ducky…You’re the One – coconut angel cake in a milk-chocolate tub, with passion-fruit ducklings – is a duck in a shower cap.

Marie Antoinette’s Head. Cotton candy on a mannequin head, surrounded by pastry, fruit and white chocolate ganache. Marie wanted them to eat cake, and they do – most tables only nibbled at the cotton candy but inhaled the rest.

Studio 54. Spaghetti with a brisket and veal meatball, featuring a spinning disco ball and Bee Gees tune playing on a loop.

Mouse Trap Mac N Cheese. The most popular dish they serve. Worth getting your hand snapped off.

The bill. Bold, yet honest. I respect that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Valentine’s Gift To All My Ladies.

If we’re supposed to have sex with our valentines on Valentine’s Day, I am totally avoiding Presidents’ Day.

As is tradition, every Valentine’s Day I let women take a gander into the minds of men, with ten things we guys are thinking:
  1. WOMAN: I do not want to have sex with you. MAN: Women are so mysterious. 
  2. If you have a crush on a guy, try spending time with him, and you’ll usually get over it. 
  3. Date a Patriots fan, because he won’t mind if you cheat. 
  4. It’s simple – just try to meet a nice boy who has never considered becoming a DJ. 
  5. New sexual fantasy: I take your hand, lead you to the bed, and whisper, “I want you to nap for as long as you like.” 
  6. The size of a woman’s bag is directly proportional to how crazy she is. 
  7. Baby, if we could write a Yelp review of your face: “Good, quality face. Would look again.” 
  8. Don’t cry because it’s over– smile, because you were able to steal 12 of his hoodies. 
  9. Your biggest challenge in the relationship: proving to be more interesting than our smartphones.
  10. Winning a fight with your boyfriend is like winning a vacation to Detroit. Don’t get too excited.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Check It Out.

When you think about it, McDonald’s always served breakfast after 10:30. If you had a gun.

It’s interesting to see how Dick and Mac McDonald developed the conveyor-belt process in their original drive-in restaurant, and downright fascinating to see how Ray Kroc stole their idea and turned it into a billion-dollar business. There’s a very poignant moment in The Founder in which Ray tells the McDonald brothers that he’s got a greater understanding of what they’ve created than they do. Dick move, but true.

Really worth it: Michael Keaton’s portrayal of Ray, swigging gin and conning his way into control of the business. It’s pretty damn cool. This is a good movie. See it.

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Tarp As A Garage Door.

I guess the meth lab inside was a little unstable.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

An Excerpt.

Is it just me, or is every Canadian super sweet? Meanwhile, Americans are just Canadians that someone fed after midnight.

One of my favorite Canadians is Martin Short. He’s arguably one of the most consistently funny, super charismatic people in showbiz. Right now I’m reading his autobiography, and I love it. Here’s a story that took place in 1977, after Martin had had a pretty successful run as a musical stage performer in Toronto:
By February, I had nothing on the employment docket: no work, no auditions, no exciting prospects. It was a career low point. Absent any professional obligations, I flew to LA to join my wife, Nancy, who was knocking on the door of record companies trying to get a deal. (She was an amazingly-talented singer and songwriter.)
It so happened that Paul Shaffer, who was then the leader of the SNL band, was in town at the same time. Bill Murray was as well, so Paul invited Nancy and me to join the two of them for dinner. In a couple of months, Bill and Paul would unleash upon the world the iconic lounge singer bit.
I, meanwhile, was stuck in a rut. There was always work for me back in Toronto, but increasingly it was a dreary safe harbor. Having once felt like the guy who didn’t need the Second City improv troupe, I now felt like the guy who, unlike all of his classmates, chose not to go to university because he wanted to open his own shwarma stand, but the shwarma stand hadn’t worked out.
Nancy and I were walking along Santa Monica Boulevard, en route to our dinner with Bill and Paul, when I froze. There was a bench nearby. I coolly turned to her and said, “I have to sit down now.”
“Why?” Nancy asked. “What’s going on?”
“I cannot spend an evening with Bill and Paul,” I said. “I can’t spend another evening pretending to be happy for someone else’s success. I just need to sit.”
Nancy, bless her heart, sat by me and held my hand. Finally, after about 15 minutes, she whispered, “How long are we going to sit here?”
I gathered myself – eventually. But we didn’t have dinner with Bill and Paul. Instead, we headed east, to the Cast Theater in Hollywood, where an improv comedy troupe called War Babies was performing.
They were good. They made me laugh. And I finally saw the light: this is what I am supposed to be doing. I phoned Andrew Alexander, who owned and operated Second City Toronto, and boldly declaimed, “I want to join Second City.” Andrew, the savior of many of us, was, thankfully, happy to make a place for me.
And so northward I flew, ready to begin life as Martin Short, Funnyman. And forever after, into our eventual lives as Los Angelenos, Nancy, whenever we drove past the corner of North Flores Street and Santa Monica Boulevard, would point to the bench and say, “Hey, look honey, there’s Breakdown Corner.”

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Pick One! Do One Right!

SEBASTIAN: There’s this jazz club... the Musain. It’s incredible. All of the big swing bands used to play there. And I... I always wanted to play there.
MIA: So what’s stopping you? I’ve heard you play – you’re definitely good enough.
SEBASTIAN: Well, um, thanks. But unfortunately, it’s a samba/tapas place now.
MIA: What’s a samba/tapas place?
SEBASTIAN: You know, a samba place where they serve tapas. So the joke’s on… history, I guess.
I recognized it the second I passed it: the location from La La Land that plagues Ryan Gosling’s character. It’s actually a theater on Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank, used to be owned by Barbara Streisand, and is where she recorded most of her albums.

Facing it is the cafĂ© in which Sebastian went out of his way to drink coffee and feel contempt. The crew dressed it up a bit – it’s little ragged in real life:

Monday, February 6, 2017

Remember, Falcon Fans:

Your Monday morning could have been a whole lot worse.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Not A Library.

The shooting range is great for practicing being attacked by a paper target.

I spent yesterday afternoon firing pistols at targets with my friend Ariel. It’s strangely relaxing – you slow your breathing, ease the trigger back smoothly and concentrate on your aim.

Here’s a quick video of me in action:

And here are my results:
Not bad. Small target from 45 feet. Two bull’s-eyes. But even if I completely missed, I’d still have better aim than any stormtrooper.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Estoy En La Biblioteca.

I have read every classic, important book ever written, just in case you have a question about the first 54 pages of any of them.

Forgive me – I went to a state school. Which was the last time I entered a library until yesterday, thanks to a new “grownup study hall” pact I have with my friend Mike.

Mike produces made-for-TV movies, and has spent the last few months in Canada working on his latest one. Now that’s he’s back, he’s had trouble focusing on his work, and since I’ve been so busy I haven’t visited the sitcom I’m creating in a while, we decided we are going to spend our weekdays at libraries.

Yesterday, we went to the very tony Manhattan Beach location. Brand new, built for a cost of $27 million, it easily has the best view of any library in the country. I had the Pacific Ocean in my sight all afternoon.

Next, we’re going to hit one of the libraries by Mike in Santa Monica. Not as fancy, but just as disciplining. By the way – to all those who receive a book from me as a birthday gift – they’ll be due back in two weeks.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

31 Seconds of January.

If you think January was a big month for marches, you’re gonna lose your mind when you hear what the third month of the year is called.

Here’s my January, one second per day: