Friday, March 29, 2019

Happy Belated Joe Day.

I’m inventing a new holiday in which you take back one gift you previously gave someone.

Of course, it can’t be March 27th, because that’s International Joe Day. It’s a genuine unofficial holiday, and while I’m not quite sure what the day honors, I’m a traditional guy, so I spent it with two guys named Joe.

We went to Boulevard Burgers, a great place that hasn’t changed in decades. Nor have the prices – vintage Pepsi menu board behind the counter with press-on letters lists their kickass burger at $3.79. Best Joe Day ever.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Game Day.

Do the spectators at golf tournaments know they don’t have to be there?

Seriously. Especially since it’s the best day of the year: Major League Baseball opening day. The Yankees are playing this morning and it’s the complete antithesis of golf.

By the way, I love the above piece of art hanging in Gramercy Tavern my friends and I stumbled upon on St. Patric’s day in Santa Monica. Butterfly knife Yankee logo. Time to kill it, guys.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

I Make Preemptive Amends.

The episode of my sitcom that I’m currently writing is going to be so obnoxious I apologize beforehand.

Among those I offend in the latest draft: Chipotle, the United Postal Service, and the advertising industry.

I’ll be expecting a few class-action lawsuits. (Or as I like to call them, “gangs for white people.”) Worth it.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Saving The Date.

I forgive all my enemies, but I hope their deaths are all written, produced and directed by Quentin Tarantino.

No one makes a film quite like him. I would pay twice as much to see anything he does – and I practically will, when his next movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, comes out in July.

And here’s the best part: the screenshot above of the Cinerama Dome (which is attached to the ArcLight Theatre) is from the film, and that’s where I’m going to see it. Super meta.

It’s good to be Hollywood elite.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Doctor Of Rug.

I cleaned my living room rug so well, I wondered how difficult a homicide would be to clean up.

Yes, I own a Rug Doctor. They should issue one with every Pit Bull. 95 lbs. of slobber, fur, and giant mud-tracking paws mean every few months I gotta drag the rug to my garage and spend a morning making it new again. But I do it with a view of the Pacific Ocean. How many rug-cleaning dudes can say that?

And now, I begin the week with endless possibility.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Once Again: Free Money.

I wanna be rich enough to realize that I can't buy happiness.

I’m on my way, as yet another unexpected residuals check showed up in my mailbox.

So now I’ve got some mad money for the weekend. Who wants CPK?

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Hail Yeah.

How did people describe the size of hail before the advent of sports?

I’m guessing animal testicles. Well, they weren’t quite rhino, but they sure were irregular for Southern California. A thunderstorm with hail. We all ran out of our homes and offices to investigate. Speaking of which, a local reporter had an instant nipple-hardon:
So lots and lots of rain for a month, and now hail on the first day of spring is the new normal in LA. I’m down.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Rest In Peace.

Steven Shaw’s phone number has been in my contacts list for several years. He passed away this week, and I find myself faced with a modern-day dilemma: it feels as if deleting someone’s number is deleting him. For now, Steven stays in my phone.

He was a great actor and a real gentleman – always happy to chat – with a very interesting life. He was a talented baseball player growing up in Brooklyn, and was invited to try out for the Detroit Tigers. Then he acted for a short time, appearing on a TV show in 1957. He then began a prolific career as a stage manager on Broadway, including the original production of Hair.

Watching the best directors and actors at work was the ultimate education, and when he returned to acting in 1999, he started working like crazy. Two years ago, he had a role in Surburbicon, directed by George Clooney. I was entirely jealous.

Steven culled his fascinating stories and wrote and starred in a great one-man show last year. It’s rare these shows captivate – Steven’s show was amazing.

He’ll be missed by a lot of people, especially me. The number stays in my phone.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Once Again: Matt’s Book Club.

My short-term goal? Well, I’d like to learn how to shuffle together a sandwich like you see in cartoons.

First step: I’m reading the new book by Mike Reiss, who has been a writer on “The Simpsons” for 30 seasons. I’m halfway through, and it’s a very enlightening read. My biggest takeaway so far is how hard the staff works on the show. For two seasons, Mike was one of the showrunners, and he worked 100-hour weeks, 51 weeks a year. He finally took Christmas week off, but as he was leaving for Hawaii, he read an Entertainment Weekly article that proclaimed that the current season was the worst one ever, and it ruined his trip. (Last year, EW called it the “best season ever.” Thanks a lot.)

There are guest passages from former writers like Conan O’Brien, and celebrities who have voiced characters on the show. And lots of insight into Springfield and characters and how episodes are created. (Each one takes nine months from writing to animation to editing.)

Very good. Very recommended.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Sunday O’Fun Day.

St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland. I hope they gave him a great Uber rating.

To further honor him, we got the guys together and celebrated in the most authentic way possible: lunch and Guiness at O’Brien’s Pub. It was truly post-iontach.

At one point, some local schoolkids came in and did some wicked Irish dancing as a fundraiser. Throughout their heavy tap shoes clanking on the wood floors, all of us clapping, and Irish music blaring, the baby on the lower left slept entirely through it. Like a leprechaun boss.

Friday, March 15, 2019

YES.

I’m outdoorsy, in that I like going to rooftop bars.

But at a bar, I did see a butterfly. MANY butterflies, actually. The coolest thing has been happening the past few days: millions of butterflies have been fluttering through LA on their way from Mexico to the Pacific Northwest.

It’s a much higher number than usual because we’ve had a crazy amount of rain and cool weather. It’s pretty awesome.

In the meantime, New York, your rat is very nice, too.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Read All About Him.

Me, hiring a hitman: “Yes, I’d like to buy one murder, please.”

So I’m not experienced in this area. Neither was Bill Hader, but he created a very compelling hitman. And then he wrote, produced, directed, and starred in a show about it.

Bill is not of this planet. No one has his range of comedy and drama, and to promote the upcoming second season of his show, “Barry”, the New Yorker posted an article this week about him. Here are a few highlights:

On SNL:
Though Hader loved the show’s camaraderie, he dreaded the live performances, the rage and shame he knew he’d feel if he screwed up. He got frequent migraines, had a panic attack while playing Julian Assange, and developed a swollen left retina that required repeated anti-inflammatory injections, a problem he attributed to stress. A few years in, he began deliberately “blowing” his first line of dialogue. If the script read “Hi, honey, I’m home,” he’d say, “Honey? Honey? I’m home!” He said, “That would relax me, realizing, after my brain panicked, that no one even noticed.” Still, he said, “it was embarrassing how unhappy I was. I’d wake up Saturday morning crying, be hitting my head in the shower—I don’t want to go, I don’t want to go. The irony was that I was being rewarded for it, so I had to keep doing it.”

On Post SNL, and being regarded as a performer, not an actor:
Hader said, “I couldn’t even get an audition for a Kenneth Lonergan movie. So I started doing table reads for casting directors.” At one (for a film that never got made), he found himself reading a handful of roles alongside Greta Gerwig, Kate Winslet, Bradley Cooper, and Paul Dano. Afterward, the casting director, Avy Kaufman, recommended him for another film she was working on, “The Skeleton Twins.” She told its writer-director, Craig Johnson, that she’d been hesitant—“Bill Hader? Of ‘S.N.L.’?”—but that he’d proved to be the most powerful actor at the table.

He’s a very humble man:
When he had dinner recently with the writers Tobias Wolff and George Saunders, whom he greatly admires, he said, “I was so nervous I don’t think I ever stopped talking, sabotaging myself by flooding the conversation.” (Saunders recalled it differently: “I woke up that night thinking I was having a heart attack, but it was only a back cramp, caused by having laughed so much at dinner.”) 

On achieving balance/happiness:
“I try to remember that all this ends, so just be happy. Del Close”—the father of modern improv—“would tell the story of the skydiver whose parachute didn’t open after he jumped out of the plane, and he just kept dancing and doing flips and acrobatics and entertaining people as he fell to the earth. I was incredibly moved by that.” His eyes shone. “Because we’re all falling to the earth, so what else are you going to do?”

You can read the entire article here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Making Me Thirsty.

My refrigerator has an excessive amount of leftovers for someone who eats as much as I do.

Yet I plow right ahead. The very first item I made last year when I started teaching myself to cook/bake was buttery soft pretzels. Since then, they’ve become the recipe I repeat the most, and I whipped up another batch over the weekend. Chewy on the inside, crusty on the outside, a bit sweet, and so much better than those mall-bought pretzels. For real. I boycott the mall, and it has nothing to do with the time I fought three security guards in the food court while naked.

If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by, and I’ll toast us up some buttery goodness.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Good To Be Back.

My nephew’s baseball team once had to forfeit a game for not having enough Cadens and Jaydens. 

But now he’s reached the Majors division of Little League, in which it gets a bit more serious. The kids show up, and they have skills. On Saturday, my nephew’s new team, coached by my brother, had a game against a team coached by former USC/NFL quarterback Matt Leinart.

Here’s my brother with Matt. He’s a very cool guy who was very nice to Ricky, and his son is a bruiser of an 11-year-old who was just offered a football scholarship to play at Florida Atlantic University in seven years.

Meanwhile, I have the great joy of busting my nephew’s tiny balls in front of his teammates once again. Like: “Do you guys know I changed a lot of Jackson’s diapers… last week?”

I officially have a new Saturday afternoon repeating event in my Calendar app.

Monday, March 11, 2019

John Kapelos Live!

I had a neighbor who was teaching himself to play the saxophone. He was so shitty, I was always relieved to see his cat in his window – it insured he wasn’t kicking it around the living room.

I got to sit right up front for some real sax players – major pros – on Saturday, when my friend John Kapelos performed his jazz album live at Vitello’s.

John is a prolific actor, having appeared in over 200 films and TV shows (he was Mr. Arzoumanian, the owner of the cinema in The Shape of Water), but singing brought out an interesting side of him. He was so nervous when I visited him backstage before the show. I assured him he was going to kill, and that the crowd was great and the band was superb.

And what a band. 18 pieces! Four trombones! Lots of spit valves being dumped! Plus all of the saxophonists would switch up and play clarinets, flutes, and piccolos, so it was more like 32 pieces.

John sang every song from his new album “Too Hip for the Room”, and it was so fun and funny. Many of the songs evolved from his days as a member of Second City in Chicago. He closed out the show with a fitting, super jazzed-up cover of “Don’t You Forget About Me”, the theme song from The Breakfast Club, John’s first big film.

John told me afterwards he couldn’t have done without both his girlfriend Heidi and me as focal points in the audience, and it made me somewhat emotional. But I think of John as a brother and that’s what we do. We support. And I had a blast. And I can’t wait for him to do more shows.

You can download John’s Album on iTunes here. You will love it.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Don’t Text And Drive.

Just pull over until you’re done using your phone. That’s what I do. I've been on the side of the road since 2015.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Douchey Or Delightful?

House on the beach around the corner from me stays in Corona commercial mode.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

If You Prick Us, Do We Not Bleed?

I’m perfectly fine with commercials for prescription drugs using actors. But they would be so much better if the actors had to act out the side effects, too.

I’m also okay with commercials not using actors, though I don’t appreciate the need to emphasize these “real people”. I understand the intent – these aren’t scripted testimonials, but it still promulgates the myth that actors are entirely phony. Maybe this is just playing out in the space between my TV and my eyeballs. But still.

On the contrary, actors are the best. We sacrifice to pursue our dreams, and few people do that. We have guts. We have to walk into an entirely stressful (and sometimes career-changing) situation – an audition – and access our emotions. And we’re smart. We have to know a lot about a lot in order to play someone in which we have little in common. I love actors.

When I was with Jay Mohr the other day, I told him something that I hold very true. Whenever people ask me if it’s scary not knowing where my next paycheck is coming from, I tell them, “You know what the scariest thing of all is? Knowing exactly where your next paycheck is coming from for the next 40 years.”

Jay loved it and he wrote it down. Expect him to use it on his podcast soon.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

28 Seconds Of February.

The best thing about February is that you can buy a shitload of chocolate and everyone assumes you have a girlfriend – and not a grudge with your neighbor’s dog.

Here’s my February, one second per day:
 

Monday, March 4, 2019

Good Dude.

I ran into the guy who delivered my pizza a couple nights ago at the gym and he didn’t even remember who I was. Never meet your heroes.

On the other hand, I spent yesterday afternoon at the home of comedian/actor Jay Mohr (I apologize, but I can’t talk about why), and he is an outstanding guy.

Not only is Jay as funny in person as I’d hoped he’d be, he’s incredibly outgoing. He spends his afternoons coaching the Palisades High School wrestling team. (He was in the middle of taking ridiculously copious notes while watching video of his team’s meets.) We instantly bonded over our similar New York area upbringings, love of the New York Jets (Jay believes together he and I could win a Super Bowl with two drafts), and quoted a lot of Goodfellas, which Jay is convinced is a perfect, yet still underrated film. I agree.

I have a great new friend/mentor, tough to find in showbiz. I’m a lucky guy.