Wednesday, February 28, 2018

What I Missed.

"It's too bad my big brother wasn't kinder to me growing up," I think, as I order my nephew a bullhorn for his birthday.

I try to be an involved uncle. I go to the plays, and the baseball and soccer games. But while I was in Florida, my nephew's soccer team, which had won the South Bay championship, moved on to a regional tournament in Riverside. They advanced to the finals before losing 2-1 to a very good team, and will you look at the red star next to the tournament MVP?

My nephew plays goalie, and to his credit it's not his favorite position, but he takes one for the team and does really well.

I'm so proud, the next time we go skiing in Mammoth, I'll consider not shining my iPhone flashlight on my butt as I moon him before bed every night. He earned it.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

I Crush Tampa.

It's not a family vacation until someone threatens to throw a prized possession from a moving vehicle.

I travel much better alone. Like in the pic above - one hand on the jet ski, the other behind my head, snapping a pic at 46 mph. And yet my phone is not at the bottom of Tampa Bay.

Chad the groom grew up in Pittsburgh. Less than 24 hours after his wedding, his Pirates played my Yankees in Bradenton. This was our honeymoon.

I drove out to Orlando and had dinner with my friend Chris at the newly-rebranded Disney Springs. $34 for four slices of pizza is the most Disney thing ever.

This is the view from my hotel room. I've seen enough movies to know you're supposed to do karate in front of a sunset. 

I flew back in first class. Heisman Trophy winner turned 12-year NFL pro Ricky Williams walked past me to coach. Let having five kids with three different women be a cautionary tale, guys.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Best Man In My Best Friend's Wedding.

I misspelled "marriage" and auto correct changed it to "mirage". What do you know that I don't, auto correct?

I happen to be all for getting married if the couple is perfect for one other. In my toast at the wedding of my friend Chad (that's Chad with me, above) to his incredibly sweet girlfriend Jacqueline over the weekend, I said that their marriage was just a formality – they were already a very loving husband and wife as far as I was concerned.

And their wedding was really nice. The venue was the Shabby Chic Wedding Barn in Brooksville, FL, about an hour north of Tampa.

Hence the cowboy boots. Just a week ago, I was bonding with a horse in Dallas. Apparently I'm going through some sort of transition I like to call "ranch dressing".

The ceremony took place outside, next to the barn. The bride would be justifiably miffed for me taking this pic while I stood at the altar. That said – you're so pretty and smart, Jacqueline.

The barn interior was so beautifully decorated, it would give any woman an aneurysm. Great weekend. Perfect wedding.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Walking Disaster.

As this woman, wearing a tinted face visor, moved through the terminal at LAX, she sang a very loud, very off-key song.

Everyone she passed gave her a really perplexed look, and I turned to each one of them and said, "You KNOW I'm going to wind up sitting next to her."

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

I'm Heading To Florida. (But Not Permanently, Like All The Other Jews.)

JAMES LIPTON: If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
ME: Let me explain Florida.

Well, I'm headed there anyway today – to the nice part. I'm in my friend Chad's wedding in Tampa, and I'm very much looking forward to it.

I've never been to Tampa. I'll be there for five days, and all I know so far is that my hotel room has a "bay view". Fancy.

I'm going to get around town and see and do as much as I can, then snarkly recap it all here. Talk soon.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Culinary Corner. Kisses Fingers - Perfecto.

According to most boxes of pasta, I am an Italian family of eight.

So in my fourth foray into teaching myself to cook, I made a big batch of gnocchi.

Creating extra-creamy potatoes meant I got to break out my newest toy: a potato ricer. It was entirely satisfying.

The result. This past year, I found out I'm part Italian, and I think I did my people proud.

One piece of gnocchi fell to the floor, and Ricky enjoyed himself a fancy snack. then yelped me 4.5 stars.

Monday, February 19, 2018

My Voice Is On A Commercial Running Right Now.

Curling seems like the kind of game Mr. Miyagi would've made up to trick Daniel into cleaning his floors.

It's also a chance for me to provide one of the voices for a commercial for Geico. It's called "Cheese Curl", and I'm the American announcer doing play-by-play alongside comic actor John Ennis, who went full Australian color-guy.

I had so much fun recording with John that I didn't want the day to end. The spot will run every winter for several years. Take a look:
GEICO - Cheese Curl from McManus Woodend on Vimeo.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Holiday Just About Over.

Idea: a No-More Tangles shampoo for Christmas lights.

Or, just leave them up, like my friends here in Dallas. They haven't taken them down because a) they love the holidays (I do too), and b) they've been having such a good year so far, they don't want to risk ending their streak. It's just good science.

Flying back to LA today. Always a bummer to end a good trip, but I actually have to get back before going out of town again next week. Merry 54th day of Christmas to you all.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

My Valentine.

I want to get a horse, but Im worried Ill just pile laundry on it.

One of the benefits of Texas life: youre often steps away from a ranch. This guy was extra sweet and came over to say hello. Helped me miss Ricky a tiny bit less. Thanks, sir.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

To: Every Lady Everywhere. Love: Me.

Me, remembering women like mysterious men: “My favorite color is a secret.”

I like the romance. And I love the Valentine’s Day. So much so, I make it an annual tradition to share ten things about men that women may like to learn:
  1. Titanic is the best movie about how to get rid of your boyfriend and make it look like an accident.
  2. Wait at least a year before getting engaged. You haven’t seen his fall wardrobe yet, and it could be a deal breaker. 
  3. Guys are like, “I want a girl that rocks Jordans, plays video games, and watches sports with me.” Yeah, you want a boyfriend, dude. 
  4. You can tell a lot about a man by the way he calls off the wedding and starts dating your sister.
  5. A good thing to write on your dating profile: “High risk. High reward.”
  6. Spoiler alert: if a guy friend gives you a teddy bear, it has a camera in it.
  7. If you really want a quality man, focus on pizza delivery guys, because at least you’ll know they have a job, a car, and pizza.
  8. “Let’s hang out non-stop until one of us finds a penis or vagina” = Friendship
  9. Want our attention? Send us nude pics. Want to piss us off? When we respond, reply: “Oops, wrong person”. 
  10. Always keep a positive pregnancy test around in case you need to ruin a man’s life.

Monday, February 12, 2018

My Tony Home Away From Home.

Someday I’ll have my own swanky place. And then I’ll need a housekeeper/butler. What’s Geoffrey from “Fresh Prince” up to lately?

In the meantime, I’ll live vicariously through my friends Mark and Michelle, and their huge Dallas home. It’s includes a pretty awesome media room. I must have it.

Mark and Michelle are super fun and gracious hosts, and I never want to leave. When you think about it, this place is so big, I could just hide here and never be found.

Gone Visitin’.

Texas. Where the vegan menu item is chicken.

I’m heading there today – to Dallas, for five days, to visit my friends Mark and Michelle.

It’ll be good to see them, and be back in my old haunt. I lived in Dallas for a smidgen before moving to LA, and it’ll be my first time back.

Check in, as I’ll be blogging from there, and refraining from using a Southern drawl so as not to incite a riot.

Friday, February 9, 2018

And You’re Welcome.

Shout-out to the post office for delivering my recycling to me every day.

With one exception: my agents took the time to send me a handwritten thank-you note, and that was extra sweet.

And hell yeah on the successful year. It’s already happening. Good news coming soon.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Culinary Corner – I Loiter In The Orient.

I eat my Chinese food just like any other American: with chopsticks, one grain of rice at a time.

After my successful stab at wonton soup, I went back to the Asian well, with another one of my favorites: chicken lo mein.

As is my perverse wont, I made the noodles from scratch. The key: slice them as thinly as possible, and keep dusting them with flour to keep them from sticking together. (One of these days, I’ll delve into my newfound love affair with all-purpose flour – a staple of every recipe I’ve made thus far. It has more range than The Rock. A five-tool player.)

The finished product. Hours to make, seconds to wolf it down. (I’m slightly ashamed to admit I used a fork. Forgive me, but when I use chopsticks, it looks like I’m trying to knit the noodles. Plus, it feels kinda racist that people only use chopsticks to eat Asian food. How come never for pancakes?)

Thanks, Beijing. You’ve been great.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Zero Seconds Of January.

It takes a car 30 years to become vintage. It takes a phone 30 days.

Because my iPhone had been acting up, I brought it to the Genius Bar last week, where a helpful employee suggested I wipe the phone clean, then redownload my apps.

It worked. Mostly. I’d forgotten that this maneuver would erase my one-second-per-day clips that I consolidate into music-backed videos at the end of each month.

I had some nice stuff, too. Me, attempting to shoot footage and not kill myself while skiing at Mammoth. Buttery, soft pretzels, fresh out of the oven, during my first foray into baking. My nephew’s team celebrating the South Bay soccer championship. All lost forever.

I’d like to thank Apple - and the iCloud – for January, the greatest month that never was.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

In Which This Guy Gives Me The Day Off.

I helped some dude at my gym write a breakup text the other day. So yeah, my English minor is really paying off.

But today, I receive the assist. An actor/dancer named Franceso Pireddu emailed me, asking if he could write a blog entry about what he’s learned from working in Italy (where he grew up), the UK and the US. Absolutely, and here it is:
I have been performing for more than a decade and had the opportunity to express myself through the work of powerful choreographers and directors such as Lindsay Kemp, Micha Von Hoecke, Jacqulyn Buglisi and Stephen Pickover.

It has been, and still is, an empowering and challenging journey. The most important things I learned from each one of them is how to “lead the stage”, how to make it yours and allow the audience to capture every single moment.

Not so long ago, I performed at the Dixon place in NYC in Triptych, a play directed by Albert Andrew Garcia. I played Adam, the first man on earth. My character was raw, intense. I was against the wall. Completely wet. Scared, and apparently defeated. A strong light was guiding me. The movement became bigger, more intense, and almost frantic by the end. It was a methodical crescendo which brought my character to express himself with words that came from nowhere.

I played Adam by implementing the important notions I gathered from Lindsay Kemp, the world famous director and choreographer, who taught me the principles of commedia dell’arte, which is an early form of professional theater born in Italy (my country).

Commedia dell’arte is both scripted and improvised. Characters’ entrances and exits are scripted. I brought these principles to the stage; the movement was scripted and improvised at the same time. The entrances and the exits were scripted and carefully planned. Thanks to commedia dell’arte, I learned to improvise without ignoring the theme of the performance and getting off track. I allowed myself to trust the work and be vulnerable.
A few years ago, my friend Carolyn asked me to come see an actor named Jack Plotnick speak at a theater in Hollywood. Jack is a great, working actor whose method is to learn his lines, but deliver them as if they’re improv. It instantly raised my acting skills to a new level. I bring all of my natural inflections and mannerisms into a character.

Interesting moment – the day after I read Francesco’s story, Jack Plotnick starred in a Super Bowl Commercial for Sprint:

Thanks, Francesco. Nice job.

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Secret To Happiness.

I like my Facebook messages like my Harry Potter novels: unread.

But I am thoroughly enjoying Sick in the Head, Judd Apatow’s anthology of interviews with comedians. I especially liked the introduction to his chat with Jimmy Fallon:
I don’t understand Jimmy Fallon. He’s fast, witty, handsome, musical, inventive, a confident performer, a great listener – and he is definitely having more fun than the rest of us combined. I always thought comedy came from pain. I thought it was impossible to do it if you are also an enthusiastic, hopeful, energetic person. Most talk show hosts are fun to watch because they seem so miserable, but Jimmy is the opposite. I wanted to speak with him to figure out how he became this way – with the secret hope that it would help me shed some of my old, boring, neurotic, my-pain-is-so-old-I-don’t-even-remember-where-it-came-from BS. I think I got my answer but I am not sure I can make it work for me. (I think he is happy because he is not a Jew.)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

He Gets It.

I wish, like this dude down the street, that I could completely give up on life.