Thursday, November 30, 2017

Happy Belated.

I’m thinking about stopping by a cat adoption event with Ricky today. Pick out whatever you want, birthday boy. It’s on me.

How did Rick spend his birthday? Stuck inside my place for 10 hours while my mom had surgery. And yet, not an ounce of resentment. He’s been checking in on her hourly. Dogs just know when you’re laid up, and there’s nothing like it.

Meanwhile, where in the world is Sheila Shevin? Still stuck in LA. Her eye isn’t 100% healed, and she’s had to cancel flights back to New York twice now. She’ll try to get back again tomorrow after another visit with the surgeon. In the meantime, she’s got a 96-lb. male nurse at her side.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center Emergency Room: An iPhone™ Photo Gallery.

Thursday, my mom’s left eye was in worse shape than Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna’s relationship. Which I’m told is a sentence that makes sense.

So off to the emergency room we went, where my mom received damn good treatment, and I found good blogging fodder. The results:

Talk about a safety net: UCLA’s frat row is directly across the street.

The staff was top notch, not only in their skillset, but their charm. This Korean nurse named Grace kept calling my mom “my lady”.

Every item in an ER examination room would make a kickass band name.

Aspiration Syringe is opening at the Whiskey for Slit Lamp Chin Papers.

My mom asked me what I want for the holidays. Bair Paws Patient Adjustable Warming System for my bed, please and thank you.

Monday, November 27, 2017

You Thought Good Thoughts.

Highlight of the weekend: almost pulling the emergency cord in the hospital bathroom when I noticed the toilet paper was on backwards.

Not as great moment: on Thanksgiving day, the first words out of my mom’s mouth, as I grabbed her bag at LAX, were, “Matthew, something happened.”

As she was about to board her flight in New York, the vision in my mom’s left eye went black, and then she saw strands of red. When she landed here, I took her directly to UCLA Medical Center’s emergency room. An ophthalmologist found a possible tear in her retina. She went into surgery early the next morning.

After ten hours in the hospital on Friday, the prognosis was slightly better: it turned out it wasn’t a torn retina but a macroaneurysm, and the surgeons cleaned up some of the blood in her eye. Then, mom had to really take it easy. Here’s a short list of things she’s forbidden from doing: looking at her phone, looking at a laptop, reading, riding in a car. Come out to the coast – we’ll get together, have a few laughs.

It made for a shitty visit for her, but we kept her company as best we could. This morning, she finds out whether she’s allowed to fly home tonight, or has to wait a few more days. I have a good feeling she’ll be able to leave.

I was overwhelmed by all the responses I received after posting about her on Friday. I have so many good people in my life. Thanks so much, guys.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Who’s Up For Thinking Good Thoughts?

My mom arrived yesterday, along with yummy turkey-shaped iced cookies for everyone, and a brand-new partial tear in her retina. Which meant she had the pleasure of spending her first five hours of Thanksgiving in the UCLA Medical Center ER.

This morning, I’m taking her at 5 a.m. for surgery. Positive vibes would be much appreciated.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

I Give Thanks.

If you’re going to someone’s house for Thanksgiving, compliment their fancy rugs. That’s what they’ll be spending the next day cleaning.

Mainly, I want to thank you for reading my blog. Let me now give thanks to all the things that make it possible:
  • $30 worth of candy 
  • $1200 worth of ski boots 
  • My fear of dudes on stilts 
  • Being killed by female assassins 
  • Jet-skiing through the streets of LA 
  • Jason Termite 
  • The most magnificent community college in all the southland 
  • A roaring fire on a 76° day in LA 
  • Bashing Arizona 
  • Camouflaging a $250,000 car 
  • Putting my picture on a 40 oz. 
  • Getting champagne out of sweatpants 
  • Sitting in wet underwear for six hours 
  • Abraham Lincoln and Perry Como 
  • Watermelon jello shots Uber muscle cars 
  • The China Town Summer Fair, brought to you by McDonald’s 
  • Indian Joe Torre

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Training Table.

Yesterday, in preparation for tomorrow’s binge, I had breakfast for lunch: a burrito so enormous, I used an iPhone 8 Plus for scale.

I’m ready.

Monday, November 20, 2017

I Feel Shame.

The other day, my ten-year-old nephew chugged a bottle of water in 15 seconds. Now I’m fearful of his college days.

I may have driven him to drink. You see, I showed up late to his Little League game on Saturday, as he was on the mound pitching to a batter with a 3-2 count. I stood behind home plate, and smiled with my mouth as wide-open as possible – mostly to let him know I was there, partially to make him laugh. He promptly threw ball four and was taken out for a reliever.

With the loss, his team is now out of the playoffs, the season is over, and we’re back to torturing each other like a couple of civilians. Let this serve as my public apology.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Typing With The Fattest Of Fingers.

I think my family and friends are really going to dig the 15 minute Power Point I’ve created of the things I am thankful for at Thanksgiving dinner.

Yesterday was a really nice warm-up. I should be hungry again just in time for the real thing.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Now In Rehearsal.

The turkey is the luckiest one at the Thanksgiving table. because it’s already dead.

But today, I’m the lucky one, because I’ll be attending a family-free pre-Thanksgiving pot-luck. Thanks to Trader Joe’s, you can put me down for “all the flavors”.

I love this time of year, when I get to experience two feelings: “I’m hungry”, and “I shouldn't have eaten this much”.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Saturday, a fella at my gym sideswiped my car.

Last night, I sideswiped the brick ledge outside my place.

Ricky, you’re on the clock.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

I Celebrate The Good Celebrities. Part II.

Dear media: There’s nothing shocking about celebrities misbehaving. Let me know when they read a book.

I’ll take care of it in the meantime. More stories about the good folks:
  • My friend Cynthia left this gem in the comments section yesterday: “When I was a kid, my sister and I got into the elevator at the Fountain Bleu hotel in Miami. In walked Burt Reynolds. He was a HUGE star back then and I gasped. He asked me my name and he and his assistant told me that we could go up to the penthouse with them and watch Mr. Reynolds get interviewed by some of the press. We went up and when the door opened everyone stared at me and my sister and he said, ‘Those girls are with me. You let them have a drink and watch the filming.’ I will never forget it. Burt - you are the best.” 
  • My friend Ben: “Nicest celebrity I ever worked with was William Schallert. Not like ‘let me call your grandmother’ nice... but very warm and polite and a pleasure to work with. A real pro.” 
  • A precocious movie extra told me he saw Steven Spielberg in the Disney Studios commissary, and told Steven “Wait here!” The extra ran and grabbed his headshot, and brought it back to Steven, who stood waiting for him. Months later, he met Spielberg again, and Steven said, “Oh yes – I dropped the headshot off at the casting department.” 
  • My friend Kerry told me that during lunch breaks on the set of “The West Wing”, all of the cast brought their lunches back to their trailers, except for Martin Short, who insisted on eating with the extras. 
  • Growing up on Long Island, my friend Greg’s mom was a friend of Billy Joel’s mom. One day, Billy’s mom brought a teenage Billy over to Greg’s house, where he joined Greg and his brothers in their basement playing pinball. Decades later, thanks to Billy’s mom, the brothers were able to go backstage at a Billy Joel concert. Trying not to impose, they stood quietly in a corner. Billy noticed them, came over and introduced himself. Greg said to him, “You probably don’t remember, but you were at our house once when we were kids.” Billy thought for a second, and said, “You guys had a pinball machine, right?” He then caught up with them and took pictures. 
  • When my friend TJ was a baby, he began crying in church one morning, so his dad picked him up and brought him out to the lobby. A man came up, shook TJ’s little hand, and told TJ’s dad, “That’s a fine-looking little fella.” It was JFK.

Monday, November 13, 2017

I Celebrate The Good Celebrities. Part I.

If you watch 2017 backwards, it’s a heartwarming story of famous people learning how to behave just by trending on the Internet.

Yeah, it’s been bad lately. And the bad folks deserve everything they get. But what about the good guys? On Friday, writer Charles Clymer posted this:
He immediately had thousands of replies. It made me think of both my own encounters, and many related to me by friends. It can really cheer you up: 
  • When I was a kid, in a restaurant in NYC, Ron Howard was walking toward me, ushering his little boy to the men’s room. Ron must have seen the star-struck look on my face and gave me the warmest hello.  
  • On the two occasions I worked with Jay Leno, he had every right to scream at crew members who weren’t doing their jobs well. (Slowing down a shoot, or interrupting a recording.) Instead, Jay very, very sweetly asked them to make a correction.
  • My friend Jamie told me: “Robin Williams used to bring his cars in to my dad’s old repair shop. My dad said he was the funniest guy ever and equally cool. He brought lunch for everybody on the staff when he came in to the joint.”
  • Jamie also stood with his son amongst a crowd of fans outside Angel Stadium one night after a ballgame. Derek Jeter came out of the visitor’s locker room and began signing autographs. Eventually, he was told the team bus was about to leave, but Derek chose to stay. He signed his name for every fan, which took 90 minutes, then took a cab back to the hotel. 
  • Sally Field’s former assistant told me Sally was the sweetest boss, and acted like a second mother to her. 
  • A top special-effects supervisor said that every Friday on set, Hugh Jackman brings lottery tickets for the entire crew.
Much better, right? More tomorrow. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Join Me, For An Excerpt Or Two.

Shout-out to smartphones for eliminating tedious tasks from our lives like reading books, or watching the road when we drive.

I’m reading a book, from the safety of the elliptical at the gym, and I love it. It’s Judd Apatow’s Sick in the Head, in which he interviewed dozens of comedians about their lives and their trade. There’s also a chapter in which he talked to many of the people involved with “Freaks and Geeks”, Judd’s first TV show. I love the incite from Judd, which could apply to any writer or musician: 
There’s a moment early in your career when you will work harder than any other point afterward. And you can see that in “Freaks and Geeks”. Just total commitment in every frame of the series.
While the show was really well written and directed and acted (it launched James Franco and Seth Rogen), NBC never gave it a fair shake, yanking it on and off the air. Judd talks about trying to save the show, mentioning something I’d forgotten about: during the infancy of the Internet, networks were confused:
We started a website, but NBC refused to let us put the address on any of our ads because they didn’t want people to know the Internet existed. They were worried about losing viewers to it. 
 Becky Ann Baker, an actress from the show, chimed in:
They sent four of us to the Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was a really cold, windy, icy day, and at one point we were on a street corner and the float was stopped and someone yelled up to us, “Who are you?!”

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

My Good Acting Day.

Spoiler alert: Your ‘97 Nissan Sentra doesn’t need one.

That’s the only thing I can spoil right now. I can’t get into it yet, since I’m not allowed (I signed a non-disclosure), but I will say I had a very good acting day yesterday, and I love a good acting day.

One of my first acting teachers, Stan Roth, felt it was important to ask ourselves why we act. I adopted his answer: because it’s one of the few professions that allows you to be great. Yesterday felt great.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Chasing All The Lights That Shine.

The best scene in La La Land was when Emma Stone gave Ryan Gosling permission to save jazz because she’d already solved racism in The Help.

I loved La La Land, and I’m still waiting for one of this year’s movies to blow my mind just as much. In the meantime, I’ll never tire of the carpool connector from the 105 freeway to the 110, which I took on Saturday.

It’s where the opening number was shot. That scene required a ton of preparation, so that no time was wasted during filming. Here’s a great video of the actors rehearsing in a parking lot, with director Damien Chazelle holding his camera as he’s pulled from behind. Picture-in-picture shows the scene in the film:

Monday, November 6, 2017

Padres With The Assist.

Ricky needed a sip, so my nephew and his teammates found a loophole to the whole “only players and coaches allowed in the dugout” policy.

Friday, November 3, 2017

This Belated Entry Brought To You By Southern California Edison.

I had two extended blackouts in my neighborhood yesterday, which the power company determined were “electrical issues.” They also determined the grass in front of my place had a green issue.

At 6 a.m. yesterday, a transformer blew on my block, and it was so loud it propelled Ricky and me out of our beds. And for the second day in a week, we were without power. But this time had some casualties, thanks to a massive power surge: my DVR and two surge strips – one that had it’s on/off switch blown right off of it. (Good to know they took the bullet, and not my TV.)

Also terrific: I lost everything I had recorded on that DVR. So if you need me today, I’ll be rage-eating leftover Halloween candy.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

31 Seconds Of October.

I love October because it signals the change from eating tacos outside to eating tacos inside.

Here’s how I ate, drank and tortured my nephew all month, one second per day:


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Happiest Halloween.

I handed out condoms to trick or treaters last night, and told them, “Give these to your parents – I don’t want more of you coming back next year.”

Okay, that’s not entirely true. I like it when the kids stop by, almost as much as Ricky. He mans the front door, bravely handing out chocolate treats that would otherwise kill him. He literally is a giver.