Thursday, August 31, 2017

One Last Excerpt.

I don’t know about you, but I still remember what I was doing when I found out Kennedy had been shot: sitting at home, reading the JFK Wikipedia page.

For Alec Baldwin, the Kennedys hold a particular significance in his life. His dad idolized them, and brought Alec to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for Bobby Kennedy’s funeral. Years later, Alec was able to get to know Bobby’s widow, Ethel.

I finished reading Alec’s new autobiography yesterday, and wanted to share one more interesting passage:
Not all of the Kennedys are created equal in terms of the ineffable quality that distinguishes them in American political life. The blend of charisma, the ability to articulate the facts, and the high level of passion are rare in politics these days. But no one can top Ethel Kennedy for her sheer life force. She is sharp, indefatigable, funny, intense, and well practiced at granting a chance to experience the Kennedy zeitgeist. In 1994, I was invited to the White House for a screening of Ron Howard’s film The Paper. To my delight, I was seated next to Ethel. At one point in the movie, a gun went off and Ethel grabbed my arm. To see the look on her face, all those years later, showed me that though she is tough, that moment is still there.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

My 2900th Blog Post.

2900 entries is just stupid. If Costco built a blog, this would be it.

As is tradition, here are my favorite five posts from the last 100:

You Asked, And (Unlike United) I Deliver. United Airlines, once again running the old beat-up-our-passengers grift. In-flight entertainment here.

My Appetite Has Risen. Just saying, but I still think it shouldn’t be “Easter”, instead of “more East”. Agree to disagree here. 

A Toast, To When You Could Drag A Man Off A Plane With No Repercussions. Return to a time when flying didn’t feel like someone threw a can full of people over the ocean and hoped someone in Europe would catch it. My review of Now Boarding is here. 

How I Spent My Birthday, By Matt Shevin. My birthday wish was actually to have mutant lung strength, so I could blow away the cake and my party guests. But this’ll do. 

My Summer Trip To Chicago, By Matthew Shevin. Part I. Apparently in Chicago, if you ask for a vegetarian pizza, they’ll say, “Sure – what kind of meat do you want on it?” Everything else I learned here.

Monday, August 28, 2017

I Started The Good Stuff.

It seems like everyone I know had a challenging week, and I was no exception. So I needed a win. Then, on Saturday I had workshop with the head casting director for “The Bold & the Beautiful”, and I just crushed it. She told me she loved my work. I felt the like the single soggy onion ring that somehow made it into an order of french fries.

Yesterday, I did a workshop for multiple casting directors, and received their reviews later in the day:
Really funny, great headshot and pacing of scene, so good at playing the straight guy, funny, really great scene choice, Good looking great look, hilarious.
Time to keep the momentum going. Let’s all have a good week. Work with what we already have, and keep going. Do not stop.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Tough Loss.

There are 2 kinds of people:
1) Happy morning people
2) Cranky morning people that fantasize about killing happy morning people

Jay Thomas was extra cranky, but I really liked him. He unfortunately passed away yesterday.

Jay and I worked together on a radio commercial, and he was funny and cool, but he was definitely a grouch. He was miffed when we had to come back a second day to redo a voiceover, even though he was getting paid twice. I didn’t mind – that was always Jay’s public persona on his radio show, and his appearances with David Letterman, who adored him.

Really sad to see him go.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Class Act.

I received a message from Atlanta Falcons General Manager Scott Pioli recently, and was tempted to reply: “Same phone. Who dis?”

It would have been extra rude, because A) Scott was actually replying to me, and B) he is a very good man.

You see, a couple months ago, a story was posted online about Scott when he was GM of the Chiefs. One of his players, offensive tackle Ryan O’Callaghan, visited him in his office:
“He had built this up like he was coming in to tell me that maybe he had done something truly terrible,” Pioli remembered.

Pioli had known about O’Callaghan’s drug abuse, and the gravity in his player’s voice over the phone told him that something dire was on his mind. O’Callaghan trudged into Pioli’s office the next day. After a hug and some small talk, O’Callaghan turned serious. He told Pioli he had been visiting with Wilson and had gotten clean. It was good news to Pioli.

“I’ve got something else I’ve got to tell you,” O’Callaghan said. At this point he was fighting back tears. Pioli’s mind raced, wondering if his player had harmed or killed someone.

“I’m gay,” O’Callaghan said.

His private announcement was met with immediate support from the GM. Then:

“So what’s the problem you wanted to talk me about?” Pioli asked.
I thought this was so cool, I stalked Scott, sending a note to what I guessed his email would be:
Hey Scott–
Just wanted to say the way you handled Ryan O'Callaghan coming out is first class.
You are a gentleman, sir.
-Matt Shevin
Lo and behold, he replied. (With a little concern because he’s in the public eye and knows a lot of people):
Hi Matt
Thank you for the email and your kind words…
Please forgive me for not being able to place you – do we know one another (I’m worrying I’m about to be embarrassed…)
Again, thank you
Scott

No sir!
I just guessed your email. Sorry to intrude!
Just thought it was an outstanding attitude by a front-office guy. You’re all painted with a closed-minded brush.
Wish you were in charge of my Jets.
-Matt

No apology necessary – I’ve had much worse ‘intrusions’ – I’m relieved actually – lol !!
Again I appreciate your kindness. I was with the Jets from 1997-1999 for three seasons –I enjoyed being home, but it was tough on my family… I grew up in NY as a Giants fan – dad from the Bronx. We started to get the ship turned, but Belichick and I headed to New England after the ’99 season – sorry about that – nothing personal – lol
Be well and thanks again for the words.
Scott
Forgive what I’m about to say, but it’s become obligatory on my blog: Mom, I am not gay. There’d be nothing wrong with it even if I was. I just thought a nice man did a good thing, and wanted to let him know.

P.S.: Mom, forgive me for saying that on this day of all days. Happy birthday.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

I Want More.

Years ago, a five-year-old Matthew Shevin was enjoying indoor-pool time during summer camp at the Rye YMCA when my mom showed up. An eclipse was scheduled to take place that afternoon, so she pulled me out of that pool, found my big brother, took us home and drew the shades. My mom is like IBS: unstoppable.

That day stuck with me, so yesterday I stayed inside, and let the moon do its thing. I’ll see the eclipse when it’s out of theaters and on cable in three months.

Don’t get me wrong – I like the communal aspect of it all. People gathered on the hill by Griffith Observatory here in LA to see the eclipse together, though we weren’t in the prime part of its path for a real show-stopper. The above shot was taken by the LA Times, and seems to be as good as it got.

Forgive me, Mom, but I want to see more eclipses. I’d like to think you’d agree, considering the only event that brought Americans together lately was OJ’s parole hearing. I’ll be fine – I never look up from my phone much, anyway.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Weekend Salvaged.

Craigslist is a metaphor for life. You think you’re buying used bowling shoes, and you wind up dead.

Yeah, I very much wanted to see Logan Lucky over the weekend, but I got so busy I couldn’t make it. Life will c-block you that way.

I did find time to walk Ricky down to the Manhattan Beach Open, the granddaddy of volleyball tournaments. Our view was somewhat blocked at first, but then we got in a little bit of the finals:

Pretty kickass temporary stadium. Pretty kickass day.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Can’t Wait.

Are all NASCAR fans pasty white with goatees, or is that just the women?

I’ll find out today, when I see Logan Lucky, a film about a couple of knucklehead brothers who attempt to rob a NASCAR race. I’ve been looking forward to it for months, and I’m sure it won’t disappoint.

Actually, let’s all see it, then meet back here on Monday and discuss. Okay? Okay.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I Can Explain.

There are three situations that require witnesses: crimes, accidents and marriages. Need I say more?

Yet I’m all for my best friend Chad proposing to his long-time girlfriend Jacqueline, because they are damn good together. Chad asked me to be in the wedding, and I’m honored – we’ve known each other over 20 years, and he’s been there for me for anything I need.

When I arrived home last night, I was greeted with a package containing part of my attire as a groomsman. I’ve never owned a pair of cowboy boots, but I’ll put them to good use after the wedding – like play cowboys and Indians. Though I’d give it a modern twist, in which I play a cowboy, and the Indians provide tech support.

The wedding is in Tampa in February. As an added bonus, it’s the same weekend as the Yankees spring training opener in Tampa, and I’ll be going to my first exhibition game. Chad hooking me up, even on his big day.

Really looking forward to it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Weekend In Atlanta: An iPhone™ Photo Shoot

I read a sad statistic that something like 2% of all sushi goes un-Instagrammed. Well it was outstanding at Umi, the best sushi restaurant in town, and so was the black cod misoyaki.

Atlanta may be five hours from the closest beach, but I rolled the dice again Saturday – and won – with peri-peri prawn tacos at Yebo Beach Haus.

The rain held off while I was there, but six of seven days with thunderstorms in the forecast is biblical shit.

The exact site of my old shithole, Colonial Homes, which has now been reborn as CoHo. Too swanky for a young Matt Shevin.

Flight home. I dig Delta keeping the peasants out of first class with a Planet of the Apes-style net.

Monday, August 14, 2017

I Can Explain.

I’m too exhausted to get into more details about my weekend in Atlanta. I will tomorrow. But the trip began with my bag being pulled by TSA because of the suspicious object outlined in pink. It’s candy from Dylan’s, and I explained this nicely to the agent and she confirmed it – which is good, because the only cavity search involving this incident will be conducted by my dentist.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Imperfect Science.

Mankind is capable of unimaginable feats of engineering, and yet the windows on the airplane never line up with the seats.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Got To Get Back To You.

Delta Airlines asked me if I had too much baggage, and I told them they’ve only known me a couple of minutes.

I’ve got a flight to Atlanta tomorrow. I’m going there for the weekend. and it’ll be nice to be back. I lived there while attending a grad program, and it was one of the most fun, baggage-free periods of my life.

Plans for the next few days include pouring a 40 oz. on the site of my old apartment (which has been justifiably torn down), sneaking into my old school (I probably owe them money), and teaching the Falcons the Heimlich maneuver after last year’s Super Bowl performance.

I’ll recap the festivities when I’m back. Do drop in.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Hell Yeah.

I used to watch the Olympics on TV as a child, and dream of growing up and also watching the Olympics on TV, but on a better TV.

I’m a couple weeks late celebrating this, but I am SO glad LA was awarded the 2028 Olympics. I love the games and can’t get enough. Yes, they’re going to be here 11 years from now, but I’m already pumped to have them in my city. Beach volleyball will literally be in my back yard.

And we’re getting the good Olympics – not the winter games. Sorry, but if I wanted to see a bunch of white people playing in the snow, I’d log on to Facebook.

If you really want to know my level of commitment, I’ve signed up to do volunteer work and community service – mostly because I care, partially because it’ll give me priority consideration for volunteer opportunities during the 2028 games.

There’s no better host than LA, as we’re the only city that doesn’t require additional infrastructure. We’re loaded with football, baseball and soccer stadiums, and five arenas. Beach Meanwhile, Rio declared a state of emergency just before last year’s summer games. That's like inviting people to your house for dinner, but you have no food. Or house.

Commence 11 years of unreasonable anticipation.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Kinda Back.

Complain about the heat just once, and it will get taken away from us. Don’t be the reason we can’t have nice things.

The best thing about the summer here – the Manhattan Beach 6-Man Volleyball Tournament – was yanked away from us in 2012. Here’s a snippet from a blog post I wrote pre-yanking:
The event features everything I love about LA: sunshine, sand, bikini-clad women, music thumping from 10-foot cabinet speakers, and a half-dozen drunk-and-disorderly arrests. Teams began taking the fun to a new level in the 90s, wearing costumes during matches. I personally dig the bolder outfits that impede play, such as hospital gowns with big, fake butts hanging out the back. The local cops field a team, and wear riot gear and fake mustaches.

At its peak, in 2011, the tourney drew 65,000 spectators. But along with the crowds came trouble: 23 arrests, mostly involving public intoxication and theft. So city officials moved the weekend event to Wednesday and Thursday the next year. There were 3,000 spectators.

People around here plumb forgot there was a tourney – the equivalent of New Orleans not realizing there was a Mardi Gras. It was bad for local morale, and really bad for local restaurants, who lost their biggest weekend.

But this year, the tourney was moved to this past Friday and Saturday, and the crowds and the spirit were back. One team featured Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton and 2016 NBA Champ Richard Jefferson. It was so much fun and so good. Fingers crossed no shitbags drunkenly messed it all up again. I like nice things.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Retrogression.

This funeral home by me is becoming an urgent care center. Natural next step: prenatal unit.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Now 2% Less Jewish.

I’m not a self-hating Jew culturally – it’s the religion that doesn’t do it for me. It’s nonsense. I mean, God talked to the Jews like 500 times in the Old Testament, and there wasn’t one warning about the Nazis.

My results from Ancestry.com have come in, and while I had my fingers crossed for some non-whiteness, there wasn’t any, although I do like the smidgen of Italian/Greek/Irish. Overall, the data confirmed much of what I already knew: I’m mostly Polish, with some Russian.

A few observations:
  • I forwarded the results to my brothers, and I like the fact that only the three of us share this exact ancestral mix. Sure, we grew up in the same house, breaking our mom’s antiques together, but this is a new kind of bonding. 
  • The site lists long-lost relatives of mine who have also had their DNA tested. I have 10,904 matches that are fourth-cousins or closer. The roster reads more Jewy than my Bar Mitzvah graduating class. (Shout-out to my newfound third-cuz, Samuel Sheltz.) 
  • The cousin database is searchable, so I checked if any of mine live in LA. None do, so in some unexpected good news: I have not unknowingly fooled around with a cousin. 
  • Yeah, there’s a stronghold on Judaism in the Shevin family, but my big brother married a half-Jewish, half-Middle Eastern woman, so my niece and nephew are our only hope. 

A clarification:
For all my self-hatred talk, I mean it when I say it’s mostly the religious aspect that repels me. All religions have that effect on me. But as for the cultural side, I will say this: I grew up in the waspiest suburb of NYC, yet my two closest friends from there are Jewish. (We’re still very close. We all met in Chicago last month to see the Yanks play.) And, ironically, my godfather is a rabbi. He was actually the cool, funny rabbi, a Billy Crystal type, who unfortunately moved his family to Israel when I was three. Maybe if he’d stuck around I’d have tolerated temple a little more. When he did return for a visit when I was eighteen, he told me, “I still have the bruises on my shins from you kicking me.” Also, for some inexplicable reason, as a child I affectionately referred to his wife (my godmother) as “Meatball”.

So this was very cool, and I shouldn’t have waited so long to have it done. If you have 99 bucks and a little saliva to spare, I highly recommend you learn your ancestry. You may get a nice surprise. Or a horrifying surprise. (See cousin-sex, above.)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

31 Seconds Of July.

America was born in July, so it’s a cancer. Apparently that explains a lot.

My month was a lot more rational. Here it is, one second per day:
 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Rest In Peace.

People complain about crying babies on airplanes, but in my experience, a crying pilot is worse.

Give me the toughest pilot you’ve got – like Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier. He was a relatively obscure hero until Sam Shepard played him in the role of his career in The Right Stuff.

Playing Yeager, Sam Shepard gave the film real heft. He was the center of its gravity. Ironically, Sam had a great fear of flying, but while preparing for the role, he allowed Chuck Yeager to take him up in a jet.

There was so much more to Sam than just his ultra-cool acting roles – he was a prolific playwright whose writing appeared on Broadway many times. For me, Sam was one of the coolest showbiz guys of all time, and it’s a bummer that he fell victim to ALS and passed this week.

It’s also strange to consider that Chuck Yeager, who is 94 years old – 20 years older than Sam, and a man who risked his life hundreds of times as a pilot and a war hero – outlived Sam. Sorry to see him go.