Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Blade Cuisine

There's this picture of rough, uncultured masculinity that I idealize in my mind. It looks something like a thug from the Adventures Of Mark Twain. He's uneducated, slovenly, mean and violent. When I see myself doing anything that meets part of that description, I kind of like it. It's not good to be like that, but I must confess a certain charm in it nonetheless. It's hard to explain it, and I'm sure I've failed, but there's something to it. Maybe you just get tired of sticking to the rules, even the good ones.

Something that makes me think of this is how I eat. I often eat poorly, both in terms of the food's nutritional content and the manner in which I consume it. Suffice it to say that I don't lay out multiple forks and spoons on the table, both because I don't have the silverware and because I don't have the table. I'm certainly capable of eating in a sophisticated manner, but I don't make the effort to do so generally.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Well, I had another setback in my VHS backlog-reducing campaign. I had been doing very well, and had gotten down to 44 from above 70. This was having even acquired a number of tapes along the way. I would have been under 40 in a day or so, but I had to go back to Amoeba Records and browse around. I knew that I shouldn't do it, but I also knew how much I wanted to do it, and how much I would enjoy it.

It was in a way a stress-relieving thing. "Retail therapy" is what I think I've heard it called. I'd been to drop off some props for the sketch I'd co-written. I was feeling insecure about how some of those people saw me, because I had rather awkwardly hung around hoping to find out from the director whether what I'd brought was any good. I knew that going and buying some tapes would help take my mind off that, and off of the show to come that night.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Job... Done

I was very happy yesterday to see a sketch I'd co-written staged at iO West. In the middle of last week. I'd read an item about a Yankees pitcher being caught again using pine tar on the mound. This is technically not allowed, although it's commonly done. The key is that you be discrete about it. That was the only thing that anyone had against the pitcher in question. He did not do anything to hide his crime. The pine tar was slathered on his neck, and quite visible. Worse, he was again doing it against the Red Sox.

I showed this story to a friend who's also into baseball. She happens to write for the show I submit to, and expressed a desire to write a sketch based on the incident, and invited me to collaborate with her on it. I was eager to do so, but found a day later that she hadn't managed to get a handle on it. She suggested that I could try if I wanted, and I did so. An hour or so later, I'd banged out what I considered to be a passable script. She agreed, and took her pass at it. It was largely an improvement on my sketch.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


I had mostly been sticking to my VHS tapes recently when my attention turned to my long-neglected Netflix discs. Finally I got to "Gangster Squad", as you'll recall, and then I got ambitious and decided to try and knock out another one right away. That's when I succeed at forming a habit, when I jump on top of something instead of letting time pass with the vague intention of getting back to it. Every day or as close to it as possible is ideal.

I picked my next movie like this. There's this podcast called "How Did This Get Made?" It's hosted by Paul Scheer, and he and his co-hosts (along with a guest) dissect movies in hopes of deciding how they ever were made. It's a consistently entertaining listen, even if you don't watch the movies they're talking about. It's better if you do, and while I've listened to more episodes without having seen the movie than with having seen it, I do prefer the latter.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Yet Another Set Of Movies

It's another day, and another couple of movies have been dispatched. On this occasion, I ran into no shortage of tape problems. Several movies that I watched or attempted to watch had problems. One turned out to be very probably a PAL tape, which doesn't stop an American VCR from trying to handle it, but does stop the player from handling it properly. Other tapes had their own problems, forcing me to change VCRs or to abandon them altogether and finish the moving streaming from the Internet (which is a terrible betrayal on my part).

The first film I watched was the Michael J. Fox classic "Teen Wolf". I'd never seen it. I enjoyed it an awful lot for a number of reasons. One thing I enjoyed was that it was a basically small story. It's about one kid who turns out to be a werewolf, his father, and his school friends. It never involves the authorities beyond a couple of school officials, and the scope never expands beyond typical high schooler problems. I liked that. I also liked that everyone actually gets over the werewolf thing fast and starts exploring something new. We've seen people freak out over a monster in their midst before, and this film actually looks for something else to do.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Seen It

As I didn't manage to watch any movies last night (to my great chagrin), I thought I would share about one from a little while ago that I have great fondness for. It's called "Tuff Turf", and while not every cast member is very happy with having it on their resume, I was very happy watching it. It's an interesting film. James Spader plays a newcomer in a California town (which is LA, I guess), but he interestingly plays the guy from the right side of the tracks. That is to say that his family is formerly rich, and very mannered.

He meets Robert Downey Jr, who plays a more streetwise teen, and Kim Richards, a romantic foil with hair that reaches well below her waistline. It's a hell of a thing to see. In any event, Spader's entanglement with her arouses the ire of a school tough, and a a variety of hijinks ensue. There's no need to get into any more plot than that, since this movie is more heavy on youthful attitude and music. Like I said, I liked it an awful lot.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Trio, Me-o, My-O

The barrage of movies taken in continues for me. There are another three movies to report on, one of which is not a VHS tape. It's a novel experience to watch a movie via the latest technology (although it's now arguable whether that can fairly be said of Blu-Ray discs) when you proceed to watch two more on technology that was surpassed something like fifteen years ago. The picture and sound may be better, but is the film?

Finally I've seen "Gangster Squad", which I'm sure I meant to watch soon after I saw "Public Enemies". Instead it came a long time later, but if a comparison must be made, it's Gangster Squad that comes out looking better. I would have said a lot better, but then I watched more than the first half hour or so. The film, while gorgeous to look out throughout, and while featuring some really fun performances and moments, just is not there all the way story-wise.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

On And On

My enthusiasm for watching VHS tapes continues unabated, and I'm pleased to say that I've gotten back underneath 50 unwatched tapes. It was not so long ago that I was above 70, and I have even taken some new tapes in during this time, so getting to 49 is a meaningful accomplishment as far as sitting in front of a TV for any reason is concerned. To prove what I've done, let me here give brief descriptions of the conquered films as I have sometimes done in the past.

Each of these two films is one that has been sitting around in my collection for want of any severe interest on my part. They looked good enough to buy, but for a long time not good enough to watch. The first was "Light Years", which was laboring under the hindrance of looking like a pretty good movie. It's a French animated film based on an Isaac Asimov story, and contains the voice acting of some notable actors. It plays like an unusually heady "Heavy Metal" story. It was as good as it appeared to be.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Never Too Late

I was thinking yesterday about a "Saturday Night Live" sketch from 1991 or '92. It was about a presidential primary debate, and the joke was that the ultimate outcome of the election was a foregone conclusion, so none of the primary candidates actually wanted to be nominated and incur the fate of facing certain defeat in the general election. It was a very funny sketch, even if one isn't familiar with the people involved.

The merits of the sketch aside, it now mainly serves as a historical curiosity, since it is predicated on beliefs that since proved incorrect. Those primary candidates needn't have been afraid after all, as George H.W. Bush ultimately proved vulnerable and in fact was defeated by Bill Clinton. The week of the show in which the sketch was presented, however, no one could have know that would happen. Bush looked very popular.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Further Apace

I have continued to make progress on my unwatched backlog of VHS tapes, of which there are currently 54. I credit my currently strong resolve as well as a lack of funds to buy any at the present. That does not stop the collection from growing due to the generosity of friends however, and so my task remains an occasionally challenging one. It is, of course, not strictly an onerous task. It is also a fun one, and towards the end of illuminating that fact, here are accounts of my latest conquests.

I managed to watch two the other day. I might have watched more if I had gotten an earlier start and if one of them had not been rather long. That film was "Excalibur", which I was of a mind to watch after having seen "Dragonslayer". I can say that Excalibur is not quite as good. It's possible that it was the prettier film to look at, which is certainly true if one excludes the scenes in Dragonslayer that feature the dragon. Unfortunately, Excalibur was just too hard to follow. The plot was sometimes rather baffling, and never slowed down enough to let you absorb what was going on at any given time.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Today is Easter Sunday. For many people, and maybe most in this country, that is the most important thing. Today commemorates the resurrection of Jesus, and that is no small occasion to remember. Should he have died and remained dead, that probably would have been the end of a lot of his mystique, but instead we have a man who was placed in a tomb and who failed to remain there. That is, again, a very big deal. We had that man who revived after being put in a body bag, but that remains a rare thing.

Interestingly, the reason some would give for the believe of those who were there and who said Jesus was absent from his resting place has some relevance today. Some would say you'd have to be high to think so. As it happens, today is not just Easter Sunday but also 4/20, which devotees of marijuana regard as a special day. I suppose any day is one on which pot can be smoked, but people do seem to constantly seek special occasions.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Long Lasting

Last night I was listening to the Dodgers-Diamondbacks game on the radio- a game which a few years ago I would have called a Diamondbacks-Dodgers tilt. I was listening on the radio because whereas there were before only a few LA games on free TV, there now are none. For most Angelenos, those games are inaccessible no matter what you're ready to spend- the consequence of setting up a new cable channel. You can see it upsets me.

That stuff isn't the point I'm trying to make. A while ago, I was getting tickets to almost every game from a friend. Every other week, I was at Dodger Stadium either six or seven nights in a row. Though it was enjoyable, it became routine, and I started to want for nothing more than speedy, punctually-concluded games. The games mostly would start at 7:10, and I was ready for them to be over just as soon as the clock struck 10. Even earlier was preferable, but almost impossible.

Friday, April 18, 2014

For Real?

Pretty much every day sees a celebrity die. Some are not so big, but I'd say one dies every day, more or less, and there's always someone I'm tied to who can muster some grief on their behalf. That bugs me. You might think I should be heartened by how people care about each other or something, but I'm not. I'm bugged by what seems like either false or at the very least wasted grief. I've complained about this before, but the frustration continues to develop anew all the time.

Yesterday Gabriel Garcia Marquez died. He's reputed to be one of history's greatest writers, but I wouldn't really know about that. I never have gotten through one of his books. I tried once, but made little headway before giving up. I should try again, because I'm sure I would make it this time, but the point is that he's meant nothing to my life personally, so I'm not going to undergo the horrible experience of mourning a death I don't need to.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lost Wanderer

Socializing is difficult for me. People who know me sometimes find that hard to believe, but I would venture to guess that people who know me well can see it. At any rate, I have a hard time getting myself to go out and do things because the social component is often an exhausting prospect. Expending the energy and enduring awkwardness are tough, but overall I think the reward is worth it. It's just a question of convincing myself over and over.

Some people are probably worse than I am, which is some comfort. I think I may have seen one of them last night. I was out at iO West, an improv (largely) comedy theater, and I was having a pretty good night. A guy I know was doing a show, and I took advantage of his offer of a free ticket. I saw that show, which involved a number of people I know to some degree, then I chatted with several of them after. Actually, I did so before as well. I was in good form, and I hung around for most of the night.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


There's something I really like about straight-to-video action movies. There's a whole different thing going on there. There's a whole different roster of stars who loom large in that arena. The action is different, because they have to come up with things, I guess, that are impressive in some respect without being so expensive. Other people who are into tape collecting like I am are apt to go for scifi and horror movies, or maybe martial arts movies, but not straight action, I don't think.

I may or may not have mentioned "Ballistic", which is about my favorite. Marjean Holden is Detective Jesse Gavin, who is bearing the twin crosses of being a female cop and the daughter of a wrongfully imprisoned cop dad. They actually don't do the worst job of setting Holden up for some kind of success. Of course they exploit her sex appeal with a gratuitous shower and a subsequent sex scene with her boyfriend, but it's striking to me that she winds with him resting on top of her after it's over.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Put Me In, Coach

There's been a tremendous amount going on with my VHS collecting lately. I haven't been buying many tapes, since I'm trying to winnow down that pile of unwatched ones, but I have been receiving some as gifts. I will have to get more selective about what I even accept for free, because I fear I could very easily and very quickly find myself with an unmanageable number of them if I'm not careful. The thing is to tell people thanks, but no thanks.

Outside of tapes, there have been developments on the other end of things. I'd had the two VCRs for a while, with one in the bedroom and one in the living room. They were working nicely, and then suddenly one of them went bust. I started relying on the other one, shuttling it over between the bedroom and the living room as needed. Then what should happen but that the other one went bust as well, leaving me without any at all? Of course I rushed out to replace it.

Monday, April 14, 2014

How To Handle A Vandal

A couple of friends and I were on the subway last night, bound for Hollywood. Suddenly we noticed that a kid was writing on the wall at the top of the car. When he was through, we saw that that he had cited the book of Leviticus and a particular passage, though he didn't quote it. He alluded to it though, confusingly saying something about not making tattoos on yourself and adding "I am Jehova". That's how he spelled Jehovah.

I was myself first annoyed by yet another person degrading and devaluing public space. I hate that. There's no place that is safe from mindless destruction. That seems to be the reason behind so much of it: no reason at all. It's hardly better when it's someone like this guy who has a pretty clear motivation. The city has little choice but to endlessly and futilely attempt to eradicate such damage, and that adds up to a lot of money that could pay for more trains and more train lines, not that vandals like this guy would appreciate the value of that for them.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Three Films, Eight Hours

With a whole passel of new VHS tapes coming in from well-intentioned friends, I have lately felt keenly the need to improve my turnover of the ones I have. Sometimes I have acted on that feeling with greater alacrity than others. Yesterday evening, I managed to get through a few movies, and more incredibly, I was able to focus on them and almost never look at my phone or fall victim to any other distraction. I was in rare form, that's for sure.

The first movie I watched was one that had been sitting and waiting for quite some time. It was "Reckless Kelly", the less-heralded (if that's possible) follow up to "Young Einstein", the one thing for which anyone in America remembers Australia's own Yahoo Serious. I really loved the latter film when I was a boy. I didn't follow the story well (even if I understood that the film did not depict the true life story of Albert Einstein), but some of the moments in the film stay with me to this day.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Scare

I had an incident yesterday. It was maybe an hour before I was heading out for an improv performance. I still had to shower, so I had relatively little time to spare It was at this time that I became keenly aware of how much noise my VCR was making. I don't mean the sound of the movie it was playing, of course. I mean the inner workings of the VCR itself. Even turning up the sound of the TV, the whining and whirring of the player were more than a match.

I noticed a flutter on the screen, and I decided that enough was enough. As it happens, I had two other VCRs sitting around. I had earlier determined them also to be broken, but with that other player acting up, I wondered if they were as bad as I thought. Maybe sitting idle had cured them of their ills, or I could figure out what what wrong with at least one of them and thus have a satisfactorily working player once more. It was worth a shot.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Speech & Preach

I gave a particular sort of speech yesterday for my Toastmasters club. I had signed up to give a speech weeks ago, and mostly forgotten about it since then. This is the danger of committing to things down the line. It's less likely that there'll be trouble if I only commit at the last minute, but taking only last minute opportunities exclusively would leave me out of a lot of stuff, so forgetting about some of the things I agree to is a price I'll have to pay.

In any case, the speech I gave was intended to persuade, and what I decided on, since I forgot until about the day before, was to pick something funny. It would have taken more time and energy than I had to give to try to do something really serious, but what I picked was also partly serious. I decided to try persuading people to see the Hulk Hogan movie "No Holds Barred". It's a pretty crazy movie, but I would seriously vouch for it to anyone.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Glancing Blow

I was walking up Vine in Hollywood, which is not quite as romantic as it might sound, but it's not bad either. There are a number of great stores and restaurants around there, one of which is the Trader Joe's at which I bought the bottled water that I wrote about yesterday. I was leaving there when I was addressed by this guy. It is often not a good thing to engage in conversation with a stranger, but sometimes it can work out passably well.

I thought it was going well. He complimented my hair. This happens sometimes, and what I can't figure out is why it happens when I've taken proper care of my hair and also when I've just rolled out of bed and gone out. Maybe the hair is lower maintenance than I think. In any case,  my hair was well looked after on this occasion, and I was ready to believe that he honestly liked my hair and just wanted to say so. Maybe the first part was true.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Things mostly are not cheap anymore anywhere. Even at the "99 Cents Only" stores, many items in their inventory now exceed that price. Indeed, they all do, as the cheapest price now is 99.99 cents. Knowing that, it is a surprise to me whenever an item sold represents any kind of a bargain. I even lose perspective on what a bargain is, and a four dollar beer at a bar can sound pretty good. That is, of course, no bargain whatsoever.

There are still bargains out there, and one in particular comes to mind. I don't shop at Trader Joe's often, though I probably should. It would be good for my health (though I fear it would be bad for my checking account balance, the name of which I must confess I wince while typing). They have many find offerings, but there are only two that I have had great enthusiasm for at any time. One is their bread, which is pretty good. I can't eat as much of it as I used to.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Momentary Quiet Imposed

I have a certain difficulty with silence. Yesterday, one of my roommates asked that I not have a movie playing for a while while he recorded video in the living room. I guessed on my own that making noise of any other form, including music, while honoring the letter of his request, would fail to honor the spirit. I eventually decided to listen to music on headphones, but for a while I just existed in silence. I found it to be a trying experience.

I fill most of every day with noise of some kind. I listen to the radio in the shower, and I play movies or episodes of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" as I sleep, and there's lots of the same in between. Being denied the ability to do that leads me to a lot of unfettered thinking, which is not always so pleasant. I may have said this a number of times before, but it probably bears revisiting. I may have had new thoughts, improbable as that is.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Time That Comes

The day that we knew would inevitably come is now almost here. David Letterman has declared that he will soon be retiring. He hasn't said exactly when, which lessens the impact of the moment, but he seems sure enough that it will by next year. I will admit that I haven't watched "The Late Show" in years and years. I used to watch religiously, but I don't anymore. You might as well know that since I'm making like I've been heavily invested all along.

I always loved Letterman, and never was very fond of Leno. Leno's style was safe and his comedy was  more like research than writing. Letterman's style was caustic and outsidery. His comedy was smart and often absurd. I related to him as a person. I have always thought that if everything goes my way and I do as well as I possibly could, my ceiling would be like his. It has always upset me that he was so long second in the ratings on account of Leno's big hooker interview with an actor no one cares about anymore.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Failure To Read!

I did something yesterday that I usually don't. You see, I've been reading "Atlas Shrugged" for the last nine weeks. I had tried to read it years ago, but failed to get very far. It's a long book, and at times an especially difficult one to read. Much of it I enjoy a great deal, and I see something even in its philosophy (though I wouldn't myself go as far as Rand). Still, there are those tough stretches, and it's VERY long, so I just couldn't finish it in the amount of time the library permits.

I knew yesterday I would have to return it, but I expected I'd be able to check it out again. I don't think I was thinking very clearly, though. I brought the book to the library and looked around for a copy already there. I didn't find one. They had the audiobook version, so I took that thinking it might be neat to listen to while waiting to get a book copy. I remarked to the desk clerk that some books can be finished in the amount of time the library allows and some cant. She agreed, saying "depending on the number of pages". She's a real bright one.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Throwing Shades

A while ago, I lost my sunglasses. I don't recall the details about it, except that I was mildly upset (since they were very cheap, but slightly difficult to locate). The place where I found them only sometimes has them there, and I couldn't be bothered to go over and check, so instead I kept wearing bad sunglasses that I had on hand in a props and costume box I have. They were not stylish at all, let alone stylish in the way that the ones I had were.

The ideal sunglasses for me, I feel are mirrored aviators. That's what I lost, and that's the only thing that was going to suffice for me in the end. They fit the look I have, and they occupy a lot of space on what I regard to be an expansive face and forehead. It's no good to have a ton of empty space above glasses of any kind. It's nothing you notice when the face is unadorned, but it's pretty glaring under any other conditions. I've just got to have big frames.

Friday, April 4, 2014

One More Screaming Fit

Yesterday I wrote about watching the Scream movies, and I gave a short accounting of the original. I still like it. The sequels I was watching fresh, and I didn't like them so much, although they weren't all bad. I'll just hit them all today, since I doubt I have enough enthusiasm to carry this beyond today. "Scream 2" still had for itself some aspects of horror films left to skewer. In particular, making a sequel lets you jab the genre's known propensity for sequels.

It seems evident that some deliberate effort was made in the first sequel to be more diverse in casting. Including one actor with a tan would have made the sequel more diverse than its lily-white predecessor, but they went much further. They didn't cast anyone of color in an especially meaningful role, but I guess what they did was something. In any case, the first sequel had some value to it. It's not that bad that they made it, though reuniting everyone who survived the original in this new college town is iffy.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Scream, Scream Again

Earlier today (because these days I am not up to the task of remembering to write a post every day and then following through) I wrote about watching the entire series of Scream movies, which I should say, if you are not yourself familiar, amounts to four films. They were in my assessment good to passable, which is more than I can say for some movies I've been given to watch. I thought I might delve more thoroughly into them after delivering very broad strokes.

"Scream", the original, was a revelation. It really was a breath of fresh air that revitalized the horror genre as a whole and the slasher film in particular. It was satirical without being a spoof, and it delivered some fair scares while making a lot of valid points about the movies it was following. It came from a place of affection, which I think is very important, and it was focused, which is also important but which has been forgotten for a long time.

The Completist

There are a lot of things that I had hoped I would have done by this point in my life. We all have that, I'm sure. All of us, however accomplished we are in life, see more as having been in the cards. For some of us, that's a very reasonable opinion considering our abilities and our accomplishments, but for others it's an irrational thing. For me I think it's something closer to the former, but probably we all think that. I can think of one thing that I hadn't done that I probably didn't have to.

Following on the heels of a mostly complete viewing of the Howling films, it was someone's idea to watch all the "Scream" films back to back. I had always had some interest in the Scream sequels, having enjoyed the original fairly well and somehow having never gotten to the rest. Here was my chance to make things right. It's a chance that, lamentably, we all too seldom are granted in life. I was determined to take advantage of it in this case.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

More Complaints About Progress

We are in a time of much change, both big and small. Freedom is on the march in some sectors, and on the retreat in others. There are great innovations, and great setbacks. In all of this there is fear and confusion that we must get over. One of the more interesting areas of puzzlement for me is in television, and yet on the other hand it isn't television at all. It was, I suppose, only a matter of time before the internet's ability to handle video led to video made just for the internet, but what are we to call it?

I was reading an article about Michael Connelly's "Harry Bosch" character. I was mildly curious because I had started one of those novels after picking it up at a bus station. I didn't finish it, but I started it: "Trunk Music", I think it was called. In any event, a show about the character is in the offing. I call it just a show because it's going to be run by It's a show that will be streamed on the internet. My mind cannot accept it as a TV show, because it won't air on television.