Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Oscars

I haven't written anything in a few days, which is unacceptable, of course. Since I last wrote, a couple of things have happened.

Sunday I went to the Universal City Hilton to volunteer for my alma mater's LA Oscar party. It looked like something worth doing, and it proved to be. The commute was easy enough both ways, which is never assured when using public transportation. I got there a minute or two after the requested 3 o'clock, which falls within the margin of error when it comes to clocks. I likely would have gotten to the hotel sooner if not for the fact that I had to hustle something like half a mile up hill. I'm in reasonably good shape and not a complainer, but I was definitely breathing a little heavy and sweating a bit when I got to the hotel.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Myth Of The Virtuous John

I'm watching the premiere episode of Fox's "Lie To Me" starring the very good Tim Roth. I don't care for the show, but that's not at issue here. Interesting to me is a plotline in the episode where a congressman goes to a prostitute, but not for the purpose of having sex. This brought to my mind this idea that I have.

There are a lot of things in the world that are vastly over-represented in pop culture and the media. A prime example is hitmen. I'm inclined to believe that there are more hired assassins in movies and on TV then there are in real life.

But let me get back to the virtuous john thing. In movies and TV, there often seem to be men who hire prostitutes and call phone sex lines not to have sex or talk dirty, but in both cases, just to talk. The involved women either find this reasonable or get angry. Both reactions seem difficult to understand.

I think I first saw this phenomenon in Spike Lee's "Girl 6". In it a woman goes to work for a phone sex line, encountering a grief-stricken widower who just wants to talk about his feelings. It also pops up in Scorsese's "Taxi Driver". Travis Bickle initially visits Jodie Foster's teen prostitute character not because he wants sex, but because he wants to extract her from her depraved situation. I think there are more examples like those out there. In truth, I don't believe there are such men paying women not to have sex.

Come back for more of my media over-representation theories.

Bum Party

After a string of good parties, the inevitable happened: I ended up at a party that wasn't terribly fun.

It was a "prom" themed party for a girl I met who is leaving to serve in the peace corps in albania, and my critique of the party isn't meant to be a judgement of her personally. It was just too big and "prom"-y for me. It generally takes some alcohol to help me along to being sociable, and there was not alcohol at the party.

Anyway, I can say I went out on Saturday night and did something, and now I can sit back at home do things more natural to my personality.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Medical Studies

There are a lot of things that infuriate me. One is the sort of medical study that I just saw on CNN. It seems to happen so often that researchers investigate something like red wine, chocolate or coffee, and then conclude that it may have beneficial properties towards one's health. I don't accept this even to be a possibility. It's surely some kind of bullshit being trotted out for God knows what reason. Someone evidently wants us to believe that our bad habits are good habits. I don't believe a word of it. Things such as I mentioned are pleasurable but definitely bad for you.

Late Night With Conan O'Brien

Before Conan O'Brien took over for David Letterman on Late Night at NBC, I was not really aware of late night talk shows. That year, after the transfer, I saw some for the first time. It was not a habit forming experience exactly. I watched a good number of episodes of Letterman when I was able to be up for them (I similarly developed a fondness for Mash, as the Phoenix CBS station used to air reruns of it in between Letterman and Tom Snyder).

So that first year I saw an episode of Conan's show which failed to make an impression on me. I started watching it on a semi-regular basis a few short years later, and it was akin to a religious experience. Andy Richter, Carl "Oldy" Olsen, Abe Vigoda, Pimpbot 5000, and on and on. The years up until the exit of Richter were unparalleled. Even after, Conan has been fantastic. It felt at least a little special to watch the last episode of Late Night with him at the helm. On the 2nd of next month, Jimmy Fallon takes over. I'll give him a shot, but if he hasn't got it, my loyalty at that hour will be with Craig Ferguson, who is a thing distinct from the likes of Letterman, Leno or Conan. Ferguson is not worse than the others, but what his quality is I'm not able to articulate exactly as yet.

I never cottoned to Craig Kilborn. I didn't get into the Daily Show until he left that. I was too young for Tom Snyder, but I think I might have liked him had I been more mature. Leno has some fine "found humor" bits (i.e. Headlines, his 99 Cent Store bit), but there's much about him I don't care for. Letterman's really my guy as far as that goes.

I haven't really watched much of Jimmy Kimmel. I appreciate that he has, as the others do, his own distinct quality. He really uses Hollywood and LA. I really don't know about Leno as far as that goes. Ferguson kind of does, as least in his penchant for W. Hollywood gay jokes.

Johnny Carson? Really before my time. He went out just before I became aware.

So we'll just see how things go.

Half-Baked Thoughts

I've had a couple of things sort of on my mind. Firstly, I think some about relationships with people, and regardless of their depth, how they change with the familiarity that comes from living together. I think that for the typical person, there are very few relationships of which it's true that they would be better if you had that kind of closeness and familiarity. Invariably, as the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt. Conversely, I feel there's an obviously equal truth in the saying "Absence makes the heart grow fonder".

My other thought is about dreams. They're endlessly fascinating, in part because of their reliably strange content, and partly because of their intensely ethereal nature. The contents of the dream are well known in the moment, but slip away just as soon as you even leave deep sleep. And as I said, they're very strange. I don't believe I've really ever had a dream depicting something conventional and grounded. I understand there's a great deal of research ongoing regarding dreams, but I can't imagine they'll come to any satisfying findings anytime soon. Maybe it's best if they don't.

So those are my thoughts. Perhaps I'll develop them into something.

Friday, February 20, 2009


I had another successful social outing Thursday night. Previously, I was invited to attend a talent show by a cool woman who I'd met at a party my roommate threw. I went, and as promised, she did a great salsa dance.

I had to go from my home in North Hollywood to her school campus in Koreatown. That part went well, as I was able to make most of the trip via the subway. I had to work out where in the building I needed to go to, but that happened easily enough.

The entertainment included the aforementioned dancing as well as singing, rock music, poetry and rapping. All that was great, but something I didn't know about beforehand was the food. For whatever reason, it was not hot, but there was salad, macaroni salad, garlic bread, potato wedges and fried chicken. That was entirely welcome.

Saturday there will be a party to say farewell to someone else I met at a prior party. She heads off to serve humanity via peace corps thereafter. Ought to be fun, provided I work myself up to attend.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What I Bought to Eat

As promised, I went out and bought groceries. For breakfast, I got store brand honey nut cheerios. For lunch, chicken hot dogs. I already had the ketchup. I think there's mustard in the refrigerator too, but that's not mine. For dinner, I got a couple of things. Firstly, spaghetti and some canned sauce. Secondly, some boxes of macaroni and cheese. I used to just get the cheapest variety of the latter. I did still get some of those. But I've decided that it's worth spending twenty or so more cents a box to get the next step up, as it offers a tasty white cheddar flavor. Also for dinner, a ten pound sack of potatoes, and a couple frozen boxes of spinach. Also available, four pot pies, two chicken and two turkey. I think that's all.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Our Despair

I recall that in "The Magnificent Seven", Charles Bronson's character attracts a few youthful admirers while defending a Mexican village from bandits. The kids resent their parents, but Bronson admonishes them, talking about the nobility of their actions. He tells the kids how the responsibility of being a provider weighs on the parents like a heavy rock, and how it eventually drives them into the ground.

That last part is what I'm getting at, only it's not responsibility that feels like it's driving us into the ground. It's not even as positive as that. It's more as if it's brutal despair that weighs on us every day. Every day, more jobs bleed out of the economy, and our national self sags and totters and reels. Japan played that out all through the 90s, and we can only hope to pull out of it before it gets to that point.

I hope that we have the fortitude to do so. We have before, many times. The only time it was worse than this, though, it took a war that engulfed the world. I don't foresee something like that saving us again, so we're going to have to do it for ourselves this time.

Jane Austen Mash-Ups

As happens so often, two people got the same great idea. Elton John will be making a movie combining Jane Austen with hostile aliens getting thrown into an English costume drama.

Likewise, a book is being published offering the same idea, only with zombies rather than aliens. Evidently film studios are anxious for the chance to adapt it into a film.

The idea common to both of them is worthy of a post in itself, but I'm always fascinated by the phenomenon of virtually identical movies ramping up and getting released at about the same time. It seems to happen so often.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Musical Provenance

I've been listening to music for a little while. Not as long as some, but long enough to realize that the more you know, the more you know that you don't know, if you're familiar with the expression. It seems to me that hit songs tend to go back a long way. When someone records a song, and in so doing makes it famous, it's attributed to them in the popular imagination. It's interesting though, that to a certain extent, the talent of writing a good song and that of achieving acclaim with it as a performer are exclusive of each other. The people who can do both deserve everything they can get their hands on.

I've said on at least a couple of occasions (probably to people who weren't terribly interested in hearing my opinion) that about any great song can be traced back either to the Beatles or Bob Dylan. If the two entities were to have been in the same place to co-write something..

Just One Thing

Who watches the Watchmen?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Reefer Madness

As I listen for the 22nd time to the soundtrack, I feel that I must pay tribute to a very enjoyable film. Many of us at some point got turned on to the classic anti-pot propaganda film "Reefer Madness". For some time now there has been a stage musical version, which just four years ago was made into a movie. This thing is fantastic.

It's got some fine actors, including Ana Gasteyer, Alan Cumming, Stephen Weber, Kristin Bell and Neve Campbell (whose brother Christian plays the lead). It's got great, very catchy songs, good production value, and a resonant message. Check it out.


Here at the apartment, I am about all out of food. I've sustained myself over the weekend with fast food of a nature that I wrote about previously, plus bland grits made palatable with somewhat unconventional flavors which happened to be available. Luckily, I have the means to acquire new groceries.

All through college, my grocery lists were fairly consistent. Breakfast was easy enough- cereal. Lunch was almost always hot dogs, which remain a favorite, as does cereal. A few times it was cold cut sandwiches and a few times it was a kit for gyros. I haven't done either really since then. Dinner typically involved things like pasta, baked potatoes corn on the cob, pot pies, pork chops, hamburgers and such.

These days, breakfast can be cold cereal or hot- either a malt-o-meal generic offering of cereal, or flavored oatmeal, or the aforementioned grits. I've also gone with pancakes, which can hardly be beat. A lot of coffee. Probably too much. It is homemade though, which seemingly is the exception these days. Who out there makes their own coffee?

I stick with hot dogs for lunch, unless I go with ramen noodles. When it's the latter, I really only get the spicy ones. Those are the only ones I can really enjoy. Dinner has entailed some of the previous dinner items, but a lot of chicken, some pasta, rice dished, and some other things. Probably too much starch.

So I'll likely be shopping tomorrow. I'll accept input if offered. On an unrelated note, my list of most attractive women has been on the back burner, but will be deliberated upon when possible.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Apologies and the Speech

I haven't posted in a few days due to preparations for a speech, as well as an editing job. I return now with the prepared text for that speech. In delivering it, I diverged from the text only slightly.

My name is Calder Holbrook. I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. My childhood was a fairly conventional one for a boy raised in a middle class household. My mother Priscilla was a graphic artist for a number of print publications, including the leading daily newspaper in Arizona, but left the workforce to care for my sister and I. My father Peter was, and continues to be a cost estimator for a construction contractor with offices in several states. My sister Annie has always been a mystery to me, but is currently finishing her undergraduate degree at Arizona State and hopes to work for a record label or radio station.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Day At The Aquarium and The Speech

Tuesday I spent the day with a friend to the aquarium in Long Beach. Afterwords we drank a few rounds and got something to eat. I'll be elaborating on that later, but for now I have to focus on the speech I'm giving tomorrow at Toastmasters. This is the introductory speech, and shouldn't be too tough, but I don't want to take any chances.

Monday, February 9, 2009


If you visited my blog's page in the past few hours, you no doubt noticed its anarchic state during that time. While fiddling with my header, I inadvertently rendered it permanently disfunctional, and opted to hastily institute an entirely new template which disposed of most of my layout. I have since replaced what went missing, and hope that my all-new look pleases you.

About the Party

The party is over, and I am happy to report that it was a successful one, both for the party guests collectively, and for me personally.

The day prior, we went to a grocery store and picked up food and drinks. The drinks included vodka, beer, orange juice and cranberry juice. To eat, we had homemade chili, fresh bread, tortilla chips, and dip and salsa.

The party was scheduled to start at 8, which, in my experience, means that people won't come for an hour to an hour and a half after that. That was not the case this time. One particular guest came over quite a while earlier to work on my roommate's computer. Another guest who frequently comes over was there quite early also. Then there were the party-goers who came a little early or on time. The bulk did come after 8, though.

The party did not start well for me personally. Of the guests who had come at that time, I found none with whom I was able to converse easily and enjoyably. My anti-social side wanted to wait out the party in my room, but I knew I couldn't do that. With time, and the consumption of some refreshments, things improved. Indeed, I found numerous people to talk to over the course of the evening. The part which officially began at 8 didn't end for me until about 5 the next morning, as a couple of stray party guests and I began the morning with a wide-ranging discussion perhaps appropriate for a drunken McLaughlin Group.

The character of the party was largely like the ones preceding it, although very little dancing occurred during this one. It was a good time, though a significant mess was left afterwards, the cleanup of which was not pleasant. I guess that's the price of hosting a party. Anyway, it was fun.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

My Ribbon!

I was kind of just testing my ability to send a post with a picture from my phone, and it seems to work nicely. This is the ribbon which I won, previously chronicled in one of my earlier postings.

On Books & My Most Beautiful Women

It seems to me that most people read only for school, and the reading ceases when they graduate out of lack of interest. I guess that I don't judge such people for that. They don't get any pleasure out of it, and it's not a priority for them. I wish they would read, but I think that's just a projection of my own values. No doubt they're out doing things they can't live without, and which I have a hard time doing and do not consider a priority.

It's my understanding that reading has never really been an activity of the majority of humanity. There was a time when books were the main media for entertainment and education, but many, if not most people were too poorly educated to take advantage. I understand that if there was any book a common person did own and read, it was the Bible. Today, due to organized education, more people are literate and able to read than ever, but books and other reading materials must compete with tv, movies, recorded music, and the so-called "New Media". Books don't have a monopoly on the enlightenment of mankind, and I guess we're not any the worse off for that.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Internal Affairs

Regular readers (of whom I believe there are none) will notice that I changed some things on the blog. A lovely picture of my native Phoenix now appears behind the title, and I have changed some of the colors a bit. I love the colors that appear in the artwork for spaghetti westerns, so that's sort of what I was going for. Also I have added links to other things I have going on the internet (nothing terribly uncommon other than my imdb page). Lastly, I've added a hit counter, an rss feed subscription link and an email link; they are there mainly for the purpose of finding some evidence that someone is out there looking at my efforts.

More changes may be on the way, but I pledge here and now that I won't sell out by accepting advertising unless I can make a profit by doing so.

On Rain

It's raining here in LA. LA feels a lot like Phoenix in the sense that it doesn't feel terribly well equipped for a rainstorm. In many places in every neighborhood, the water pools in the worst places. Actually, this can happen even when it's not raining, so much do people here love unleashing their hoses on the hapless landscape.

There are certainly those who dislike the rain, and it can be a severe inconvenience even for the rest of us. One of the last times that it rained, I was on my way to a shoot, and had no intention of being delayed by the weather. On this occasion, I needed to get across the street to catch a bus. Unfortunate, there was a torrent of water rising above the sidewalk, and something like a foot deep on the street. With the bus visible on the other side of the street and no apparent alternative, I rushed across the street, utterly soaking my beat-up sneakers. It was a little like fording the river on Oregon Trail.

I love the rain nonetheless. The precarious health of our environment depends on it. It feels ok to stay inside and do little when it's raining. I don't like it when the Dodgers get rained out or delayed, but delays have been seldom and cancellations have happened about never. I guess that's all that I felt moved to write about the rain.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


As I previously mentioned, I joined Toastmasters. To recap, it's an international organization for the improvement of public speaking and communication.

Last week, I was unable to fulfill my roles for that meeting, and thus committed to do so this week. At the beginning of the meeting, people who have a certain role are called on to describe it for newcomers. I was evidently able to adequately describe my roles as grammarian and provider of the Word of the Day. I then delivered the Word of the Day itself ("Dolorous"), and began the task of tracking grammatical infractions, which I then announced towards the end of the meeting.

I also was called upon to speak during Table Topics. This is a part of the meeting which you shorten or lengthen depending on the pace of the meeting. The person tasked with officiating Table Topics offers topics which willing members offer to speak about. I was asked to speak about the subject of fulfillment, and to describe a perfect day which would indeed be fulfilling.

I was awarded a ribbon for being the best Table Topics speaker, which was encouraging. Next week, I'll be giving my first speech, which is the "Ice Breaker" speech introducing myself to the club.

I may be going to an improv class tonight (I have gone twice before, and would like to make it a regular thing. If I do so, I'll offer description of it and my successes and failures therein.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Idleness and The State

The early 90s were an exciting time, with me being a young teenager. I learned about things like Pogs, Pearl Jam, and one of the great shows being broadcast by MTV, The State.

At the time, options for sketch comedy were few. Saturday Night Live was the standard, but I wasn't a huge fan yet. Feature films like Kentucky Fried Movie and Amazon Women on the Moon were out there, but I hadn't discovered them yet. Nickelodeon had offered You Can't Say That On Television, and I had loved that.

But having grown to be something slightly more than a kid, I was getting into things more subversive, like Beavis And Butthead. The State was just what I was looking for. The performers were energetic and appealing, and the comedy fit into no formulas or conventional wisdom. In a few short years, the show came up with no end of enduring characters and catch-phrases.

The show was over a long time before it was due to run out of steam. Years later I learned of the creators' aspirations go go up against SNL on ABC. It's unfortunate that those hopes did not come to fruition. Mad TV came later, but never has caught on with me personally (with the exception of a few memorable sketches). It wouldn't be until Mr. Show that a sketch show came along that was anything like The State.

Since the end of the State, I've followed the efforts of those performers. There was Viva Variety, which was fun, but didn't last long. Also there has been Stella, perhaps even shorter-lived. Most successfull from members of that original group have been the film Wet Hot American Summer and the series Reno: 911. Apparently now there has been a string of reunion shows with the entire original cast of The State. It might even amount to something more, such as a film. Anyway, the activity was a nice excuse to remember one of the best shows of my earlier youth.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Best Around

I'd like to make this clear, here and now. Warren Zevon is my favorite musician of all time. Why? He invented edgy. The backing instrumentals were absolutely sound, but they were the foundation for lyrics that were at times dark, funny, touching, raucous and illuminating.

I think that everyone starts with "Werewolves of London". That's fine, and it's a good, addictive song, but it's just the first breath of a body of work packed with nothing but great songs. Currently, I can't stop listening to "Mr. Bad Example. Previously, it's been tracks like "French Inhaler", "Life'll Kill Ya", "Mohammed's Radio", "Frank and Jessie James", and on and on and on.

Sometimes he has my heart pumping and my breathing heavy. Sometimes he makes me want to cry. I get truly choked up watching his final appearance on the Late Show. It feels like such a loss that he's dead. It seems like every word was written with the knowledge of his fate in mind.

Saturday Night Live and the Super Bowl

I watch SNL fairly faithfully. Such has largely been the case since I saw it for the first time in the early 90s when childhood idol Charles Barkley hosted. It waxes and wanes with the strength of the cast, but I'm always there.

Recently I feel its been good. Saturday's episode with Steve Martin was hit and miss, but good on the whole. Certain bits have stayed with me. I've always admired Steve's skill with the banjo, and was delighted to hear him perform with it. I also loved one of the later sketches, which featured Steve as an old-time football star who wielded a handgun on the field. Funny stuff.

I feel better about the Super Bowl now, so maybe I can better articulate some of my thoughts. As angry as I remain towards exuberant Steelers fans (particularly those who have no apparent connection to the city or the team other than enjoying a winner), I can acknowledge that they were the best team in the league, and played a great game. James Harrison's interception and touchdown return was amazing, and definitely could have silenced Arizona's fighting spirit.

What did Arizona's loss come down to? Penalties were very damaging. Mike Gandy was accumulating holding penalties like he has a collection of them at home. The defense faltered there at the end, but they were great for most of the game, and any defense is going to fail at some point. It was just bad luck that Fitzgerald's touchdown came with so much time left on the clock. You can't decide exactly when you're going to get your scores.

In spite of losing, they surely proved themselves. In a sense, the Cardinals are very much like Rocky Balboa at the end of the first film. The tagline from that film comes to mind: "His whole life was a million-to-one shot". He starts the film as small-time muscle for organized crime, and as a scrub boxer. He rises to a bout with the champion, and no one gives him any chance of success. Seemingly, he doesn't even belong in the ring with Apollo Creed. He should be crushed, and is defeated, but he does manage to go the distance against the best in the world.

That sort of feels like the Cardinals' season. God willing, next season will resemble Rocky 2.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Big Game

I don't know whether I'm up to saying anything about the game. My team lost, but it was nonetheless their best moment in the last 61 years. I sincerely hope this isn't the end of their recent movement towards greatness.

film shoot

Saturday, I was mostly occupied with the task of helping friend Caitlyn with a student film. I don't actively seek out opportunities to work for free, but a number of factors made me happy to participate in this one. Caitlyn is awesome, and after I read the script she sent, I couldn't say no. I briefly explained the story on facebook, but to elaborate:

An early 1900s carnival entrepeneur purchases a savage cannibal to to be shown in his freak show. Initially defiant, she wilts and wastes away in captivity. A little person becomes infatuated with her, plying her with drinking water. He then offers one of his ears for her consumption, which she accepts. The film ends with the cannibal having eaten her admirer, and seeming gaining a new lease on life. Presumably the little person was a willing participant in the act of being eaten.