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Showing posts from June, 2010

Art and A**holes

On a recent episode of the televised black hole known as Bravo's "Double Exposure," Lindsay Lohan showed up somewhere between eight and ten hours late for a photo shoot. There's still a dispute about exactly how late she was--as if eight hours is any less insulting than ten hours.

When she does finally arrive, the photographer remarks that he'd prefer to have someone show up ten hours late that can deliver a good photo rather than someone who might not give him the perfect photo right away.

All I could think of when I heard that were all the divas and a**holes across the country who would now believe that it's fine to be a jerk as long as you have some sort of talent to back it up.

I see this same behavior accepted in theater all the time. An actor will be inconsiderate, rude, or cause trouble, but if they can deliver a good performance they're cast again and again, despite the protestations of other actors.

Even worse is when a director hears bad things ab…

You Damn Well Better Love Your Stepkids

I read an article on Open Salon recently that absolutely infuriated me.

It was a post about stepparents and whether or not they should be obligated to love their stepchildren.

The author assured stepparents that they should be cordial and kind to their stepchildren, but they were under no obligation to feel any more than that. If they happened to love the kids, great. If not, oh well.

As a stepchild, I found this article absolutely repulsive.

Of course you should attempt to love your stepchildren. The second part of that word is "children."

If a parent claimed not to love their child, they'd be looked down upon. Even a grandparent or an aunt or uncle is expected to love the children they're related to, but somehow stepparents only need to be polite?

Nobody expects you to love them immediately the way a parent might, but your goal should be to eventually have the same sort of affection for them a parent would have, especially if you're living together.

It's not o…

How to Spot a Russian Spy

Now that we've reverted back to the Cold War with cold spies popping up everywhere from suburban households to Starbucks, it might be good to update some of the methods the previous generation used for catching Russian spies.

Here are some tips:

1) If you have a friend with a Russian name, check their Facebook accounts. If they're hobbies include "Watching 'La Femme Nikita'" and "Reading Kruschev biographies" and "Attempting to assassinate diplomats" then I would probably defriend them and alert the government. They're probably a secret Russian spy.

2) If you notice someone in a coffee shop saying random things to people walking up to them for seemingly no reason--be alert. Conversations may sound something like this:

"Have you seen the eagle eating the monkey?"
"I saw it yesterday in the HAMPTONS."
"Was there a bulldog nearby?"
"I saw it yesterday in the HAMPTONS."
"And did you finish the ecla…

My 8th Grade with Big Pun

You wanna know how to get me back to 8th grade?

Put on Big Pun.

Yup, that's right.

The easiest way to turn me into a 13-year-old boy, jumping around in my car like I just found out I won the lottery is to put on "Still Not a Player."

For some reason, as soon as I hear the beginning of that song, with the little "ahh ahh ohhh" into the "I don't wanna be a player no more" suddenly I'm back at church feast near my house eating fried dough, running into people from my class, being shocked that they actually existed outside of school, and riding the smallest ferris wheel known to man.

Funnily enough though, I never bothered to learn the lyrics to the song.

Maybe it's because you never really needed to know more than the two opening lines--"Hey yo I'm still not a player but you still a hater/Elevator to the top hah, see you later." By that time, everybody was too busy doing that lame side-to-side dance that white people should never EVE…

Vinny's Barbershop, or How I Wound Up in Salons

When I turned sixteen, I committed my first act of open rebellion.

I stopped going to the barber my mother had taken me to since I was seven.

Well, that's not entirely true. My mother wouldn't take me. She would force my stepfather to take me.

Why, you ask?

Because going to the barber--Vinny--was something you had to do early on a Saturday morning, and it took about four hours.

Getting a haircut became a full-day ordeal when you went to Vinny's, because Vinny liked to talk--and talk, and talk, and talk.

His shop was almost cinematic in how stereotypical it was. Guys would come in, read the paper, chat up Vinny, and then leave--never getting a lock cut off their head.

I should mention that if you went to Vinny's, you were only getting one kind of haircut--a buzzcut.

To get the easiest, and what should be the quickest, haircut would take hours and hours.

It used to drive me insane.

I would sit in one of Vinny's uncomfortable chairs in his tiny waiting room with all assortme…

If I Were Jason Bateman

Yesterday, Jason Bateman was booed at an Apple store in L.A. when he was escorted in to purchase the new iPhone 4--skipping the rather long line of waiting techies.

I had a few thoughts about this when I first head it.

First off, why is this even news?

Secondly, why are people so offended?

How many people would honestly wait in a line like that if they didn't have to? Having been to several amusement parks, I can tell you that I've never seen a person turn down a chance to cut a line for any reason.

It doesn't make it right, but people do it.

I'll tell you one thing though, if I were Jason Bateman, I would not have cut that line, because I wouldn't have even bothered going to the store in the first place.

After all, I'd be a famous actor. I'd make my assistant go down and wait in line for me. Then again, I might feel bad for my assistant, so maybe I'd just call Apple and have them send me an iPhone 4.

The point is--there are perks to being famous. Why else …

The State Farm Guy Confuses Me

I'm perplexed.

I've been watching the new State Farm insurance commercials, and I can't quite figure out the logic behind them.

For those of you who haven't seen them, they feature a poor man's Tom Cruise being...well...basically, an asshole.

No, I'm not kidding.

State Farm has decided that it's--I don't know, funny?--to have some random non-celebrity acting like a jerk to other random people.

I'm not sure who pitched this one--

"Look, people hate Tom Cruise. So let's get someone who isn't Tom Cruise, but has all of his worst qualities."

Can someone explain this to me?

Pick Your Theater Season

A theater season can say a lot about a theater.

One of my FAVORITE things to do is look at random theaters across the country and see what season they've put together.

To me, a season isn't just five or six good shows, but a collective group of work that defines what your theater and you are about.

A few years ago, I put together my ideal theater season, and now I want to see yours.

Give me your ideal theater season.

I want seven shows.

But there are rules, because, well, rules are fun.

Seven Slots:

The Mainstage

1) A New Work Commissioned by a (Living) Author--and you can pick the author, but tell me what they're writing about.

My Pick: I would want a Tom Stoppard play about Studio 54.

2) A Non-Shakespearean, Non-Greek, Non-Chekhov Classical Play. No disrespect to these authors, but let's try thinking outside the box.

My Pick: Women Beware Women by Thomas Middleton

3) An Adaptation. Pick a work that's not a stage play that you would like to see adapted, and tell me who …

The Strange Career of M. Night Shyamalan

Let's go back to the late 90's, when a new young director burst onto the scene in late summer with a film that would go on to be an unexpected blockbuster and a critical smash.

I'm talking about The Sixth Sense, and its director, M. Night Shyamalan. The movie shot the director into the limelight, both for his talent and his mysterious nature.

His follow-up--Unbreakable--was a modest hit, but he roared back with his second smash hit Signs.

Then things started to go wrong.

First, his movie The Village was a huge let-down for fans, and was also the center of a plagiarism case. A young adult author claimed Shyamalan had ripped off her novel, and if you read the novel, you could see that she had a pretty good case on her hands.

Then came the bomb to end all bombs--Lady in the Water.

Not only was the film a letdown on all fronts, it also solidified Shyamalan's high opinion of myself. Personally, it was the moment when I decided I was giving up on a filmmaker I used to admire.

Sp…

American Idol Continues Its Slow Backwards Slide

After losing Simon Cowell and suffering both the worst-reviewed and least-watched season in its history, American Idol figured out exactly what was wrong.

They needed more inexperienced singers!

So, they went ahead and lowered the age limit from 16 to 15 in what I can only imagine is a desperate ploy to gain back their teen viewers.

Don't they realize that teens like it when you play hard to get? The more you chase them, the faster they DVR "Glee" then watch something else for an hour while Idol is on.

Apparently, the producers have also failed to notice that when it comes to talent, being older is now where it's at. Between Susan Boyle, Betty White, and the multitude of other older women jumping onto the A-list, I'm surprise Idol didn't extend the age up--like way up, like to eighty.

Even Simon Cowell agreed that was something Idol should have done years ago, and he plans on it having no age limits at all for his new show "The X Factor."

If American Id…

New York Sets Out to Make Beautiful Music

On Monday morning, 60 pianos were spread throughout the five boroughs of New York City as part of an installation by artist Luke Jerram and the Sing for Hope organization.

The locations of the instruments range from zoos to post offices, and each one says "Play Me, I'm Yours."

There are no conditions attached to playing the pianos. Jerram is leaving that up to the communities in which they're placed.

Jerram sees this as a great opportunity for musicians and performers who would normally need licenses to play on the street. He's encouraging people to upload their experiences with the pianos on the project's website: www.streetpianos.com/nyc2010/

There you can also find a map that shows where all the pianos are. When the project is finished, all of the instruments will be donated to community organizations and schools.

In a time when music is becoming more and more digital, and when government support of the arts seems to be dwindling more and more every day, it…

Do Men with Accents Get More Action?

A recent CNN article posed the question:

Do guys with accents get more girls?

Hmm, I thought, that might actually be true.

I know most girls can't resist a British lilt or a Southern drawl.

Still, I couldn't help but wonder, what about more unique accents?

So, I decided to do a little investigating.

To test drive a few different accents, I went to one of these places known as "straight bars." A friend told me about one after I promised not to reveal his name.

The first girl I talked to wasn't that impressed with my accent.

GIRL: Um, are you slow or something?
ME: Nuuuuu. I'm from Sveden.
GIRL: Oh...but you're, like, tanned.
ME: I'm from Suuthern Sveden where it's suunny.
GIRL: Oh well, I think my friend's waving at me.
ME: Flergen bergen jergen.
GIRL: Okay, now you just sound like the Swedish chef.
ME: Shuuld I take my chef hat off? Wuuld that help?

Big negative. I decided to try a more Germanic accent.

GIRL: So do you like movies and stuff?
ME: N…

Sex and Everything Else

I've had a few people tell me they're not coming to the monologue show I'm doing in July that deals with sex.

When I ask why, I've gotten a variety of responses, such as:

"I'm uncomfortable with graphic material."
"I don't like hearing some of those 'words.'"
"Won't it be awkward?"

I should mention a few things.

#1: There will be bad words--but far fewer bad words than in your average 'True Blood' episode.
#2: Hardly any of the monologues are what you'd call "graphic." If they are, they're appropriate, not exploitative.
#3: If sex is still awkward for you past the age of eighteen, seek therapy. Seek MAJOR therapy.

I'm not apologizing for writing and producing a show dealing with sex, and then expecting people to see it.

We live in a society where sex is thrust in our faces every five seconds. So why is it a problem when someone wants to examine it in a theatrical way?

When I did a show about bei…

Reconciling the Tomato, or The Diary of a Picky Eater

I cannot reconcile the tomato.

I've tried. God knows I've tried, but I just can't do it.

When I was a child, I was beyond what some normal eaters might call "picky." I used to go to restaurants and order plain spaghetti, then sprinkle Parmesan cheese on it. I wouldn't touch cucumbers, green olives, peppers, strong cheeses, pears, any sort of fish, peas, broccoli (ironic, considering it's my last name), steak, pork, anything with visible fat, and a multitude of other foods.

My mother never tried to break these habits, because it made cooking dinner a lot easier. Though some people enjoy cooking, my mother does not. So it suited her just fine that all she had to make for dinner was a bowl spaghetti, and she certainly saved a bundle on groceries.

It was, however, known throughout the family not to take me to any restaurant that was buffet-style, as it would be a total waste on me. I would get a plate of lettuce drenched in ranch dressing, and my usual spag…

Bravo Stands Behind Its DC Party Crasher

Some of you may Michaele Salahi, and her husband Tareq, who were arrested after crashing an elite dinner that both the President and the First Lady attended.

The groan-inducing moment of the story for me came when I found out that the Salahi's were being filmed for Bravo's newest addition to its "Why Are These People on Television" line-up--"The Real Housewives of D.C."

At the time, it was said that Salahi was auditioning to be on the show. Bravo categorically denied any such thing, going so far as to muddy the waters regarding whether or not they were even associated with the Salahi.

Now, lo and behold, the show is premiering and not only are the party crashers on it, but Bravotv.com has actually issued a statement from Andy Cohen, the producer, IN DEFENSE of keeping Salahi on the show.

Cohen has ridden the Housewife train into his own Bravo talk show, as well as all the Housewives' Reunion Specials. Every time I see him on the air, I wonder if he actual…

Kids Can't Spoil Themselves

VH1 has a new addition to its twisted reality show family.

"You're Cut Off."

It's a show about spoiled rich girls whose families have decided to financially abandon them after twenty or more years of supporting them.

The girls will have to learn to work, cook, clean, and overturn their spoiled ways before they can beg their families to associate with them again.

Watching this show, something popped into my mind.

Well, two things--first, why the hell am I watching this show?

Second, why aren't the families being held accountable in some way for what these girls have turned into?

Seeing the girls careen through their new lives like spoiled pinballs in a bitch machine is a little like watching Frankenstein's monster struggle to understand why the doctor won't buy it Prada anymore.

I didn't exactly feel badly for these girls, but I did want to see their parents, grandparents, and in one case spouse, suffer some penalty for creating all this nonsense.

My favorite m…

The Betty White Effect

Today there was an article on CNN's website touting Joan Rivers as "the next Betty White."

The article was interesting for a number of reasons, but a particular statement jumped out at me.

The author mentioned that he felt it was ridiculous for people to be "discovering" Betty White now, when she's worked consistently for decades. It's a little like looking over at someone once the party's almost done, and saying "Oh, you're still here! I love you!"

Thankfully, Betty White's grade-A appearance on Saturday Night Live has finally made people start looking around at other comediennes, who've been kept by the wayside for far too long.

Rivers has a new documentary coming out about her called "A Piece of Work," which is garnering a lot of acclaim.

There are other SNL campaigns in the works similar to the one that got Betty White a hosting gig. The largest is for Carol Burnett. When I saw the Facebook page, I thought to mysel…

Tony Awards Recap

Here's what I loved (and could have done without) at the Tony Awards this year:

- The pop medley was all right, but shouldn't Green Day have been singing WITH the cast of American Idiot as they did on the Grammy awards. I was a little perturbed that they got to go on for a good seven or eight minutes, and Ragtime got relegated to a thirty second snippet (done wonderfully) by Christiane Noll.

- Best speeches of the night? Viola Davis gets my first place. Angela Lansbury comes in second place when, as the first Honorary Chairman of the American Theatre Wing, she advised young people to educate themselves as much as possible instead of just moving to New York and hoping to make it big. Hopefully people were listening.

- I could have done with a little less Kristin Chenoweth. I liked having her in the opening number. The Sean Hayes kiss was funny, but by her third bit, it was a little--"Um, you weren't invited to this party, and you're getting too old to keep doing the w…

Phrases and Words I Would Like Retired Forever

Here are a list of words and/or phrases I would like to see abolished:

- "Where are you in my life?" Spoken usually by a sad, lonely girl to the gay friend she wishes she could marry, it's more a cry for help than a friendly sentiment.

- "We're amazing." No, you're not. You're annoying. Nine times out of ten, when you're acknowledging your own amazement, you're just being obnoxious.

- "Um, can we talk about how..." This is usually just a way of bringing attention to something funny that happened to you that you think--when shared with the world--will make you look fun and crazy. Normally, nobody has a clue what you're talking about, and you end up just sounding like a kid who wandered off the field trip and got felt up by a homeless person.

- "I love my boyfriend!" I'm not putting a /girlfriend there, because try as I might, I cannot find a single boy who has written "I love my girlfriend!" on the…

Seasonal Depression in the Wrong Season

I’ve always wondered if I suffer from season depression.

Every year at the same time, I start to feel sad. As the days go by, and the season solidifies, my feelings of sadness get mixed in with anxiety and hopelessness.

I start to look at my life, and pick apart all of its flaws. Molehills become mountains. Friends fail to cheer me up. Life, overall, becomes dreary.

The catch?

This doesn’t happen to me in the winter, when it’s more common to feel morbid and bleak.

I feel this way every year when summer starts.

Maybe it’s because I’m a creature of routine. Summer signifies the three months out of the year when everyone’s daily life is thrown off-kilter.

Starting from when you’re a child, you know that summer means three months of no school, no responsibilities, nothing to worry about at all.

The trouble for me was that I never saw any of my friends during the summer. I was shy as a kid, and calling my friends to ask to see them over the summer was nearly impossible for me. So summer mea…

What You Learn from Having a Bad Father

Father’s Day has always been a tricky time for me.

My Mom and Dad are divorced, and my father isn’t exactly what you would call a model dad.

When I was a kid, he was more like a big brother than a father—and not in any sort of good way. He was immature, temperamental, and in no way paternal.

He had a parade of girlfriends. Women would come in and out of my life, and just as I was getting used to them, they’d disappear with little or no explanation as to where they went or why.

One woman I particularly liked. She even got my mother’s seal of approval. They were together for five years, and I adored her. Then one day, she was just gone. When I asked where she went, I was told that I wouldn’t be seeing her anymore because she messed up. My mother even got involved with that little bit of child trauma, but my father refused to budge saying that it was his prerogative not to tell me what happened to her.

I later found out that my dad found out she flirted with one of their neighbors, and…

Why I Don't Want to See the A-Team

It's happened again.

Marketing has turned into counter-marketing.

A movie I was mildly interested in seeing has now become a movie I refuse to see because I feel like I'm being forced to see it.

That's right--I'm talking about "The A-Team."

In the past two weeks, the cast of "The A-Team" has done everything from hosting WWE's Monday Night Raw to taking over a Dairy Queen in Brooklyn.

...Okay, maybe I made that last one up, but now that I'm suggesting it, the studios will probably send Liam Neeson to scoop rum raisin by Friday.

Maybe it's me, but whenever a movie gets pushed this hard, I always think it must be because it's not that good.

Pretty soon, every time I see a billboard with the stars of the movie, I become that much more determined not to see it.

Haven't they learned yet that "less is more" can also apply to advertising?

Viral Hit is a Hoax, and I Don't Care

First, check this out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQITWbAaDx0&feature=player_embedded

Pretty cool, right?

Well, there's a bit of controversy surrounding the video, or at least, there is if you're an idiot.

The video makes it look like this diver stayed under the water for a full four minutes.

Clearly, that's impossible.

The diver himself admits it, but people who've seen the video felt that it was misleading.

Well, yes, but so is The A-Team.

Basically--it's a movie, and a pretty cool one at that.

The sinkhole featured is real, and so are all the individual shots. There's no green screens here.

So enjoy the clip--just don't try this at home.

The Disappearing Housewife of New York City

As the latest chapter of the Shrieking Banshees of Manhattan comes to a close, a mystery lingers.

Is NYC going to add Jennifer Gilbert, an event planner seen in recent episodes, to the recurring roster next season?

Well, that's a trick question:

They already added her--then cut her.

Now, some viewers may have known this if they read up on The Real Housewives of NYC, but for those of us ashamed to admit we watch it, let alone research it, there was some confusion.

With fan favorite Bethenny Frankel doing her own spin-off, some of us were thinking that the annoying Jennifer was coming in to take over.

Just what everybody needed--another smug rich bitch to add to the line-up. I was ready to start a Facebook campaign begging the show not to make her a regular.

Lucky for us, Bravo is way ahead of me.

They filmed Gilbert for three months, and then only aired a few scenes with her.

The cherry on the sundae? She wasn't invited to the reunion.

Now if only we could lose those other six...

On Alan Ayckbourn

Until I was poking around the Tony Awards website, I had no idea that the Tonys were giving a Lifetime Achievement award to Alan Ayckbourn.

In the past year, I've become a huge fan of Ayckbourn's work. I had the pleasure of performing in his play "Comic Potential." Then I spent a month reading and re-reading "The Norman Conquests"--marveling at the sheer organization it takes to put together a trilogy of plays that intersect with each other and still work individually in different ways.

What I love about Alan Ayckbourn is that he approaches everything from a challenging and intelligent position. He looks at everyday life from unique perspectives and still manages to stay true to his characters and situations.

In "Bedroom Farce," four couples in four very different marriages interact over the course of one night all in each other's bedrooms. He does something similar in "Absurd Person Singular"--this time with Christmas parties.

He ca…

Tony Predictions

-- Here are my Tony predictions. The predicted winners are in bold. --

Best Play

In the Next Room or the vibrator play
Next Fall
Red
Time Stands Still

Best Musical

American Idiot
Fela!
Memphis
Million Dollar Quartet

Best Book of a Musical

Fela!
Memphis
Million Dollar Quartet
Everyday Rapture

Best Original Score

The Addams Family
Enron
Fences
Memphis

Best Revival of a Play

Fences
Lend Me a Tenor
The Royal Family
A View from the Bridge

Best Revival of a Musical

Finian's Rainbow
La Cage aux Folles
A Little Night Music
Ragtime

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play

Jude Law Hamlet
Alfred Molina Red
Liev Schreiber A View from the Bridge
Christopher Walken A Behanding in Spokane
Denzel Washington Fences

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play

Viola Davis Fences
Valerie Harper Looped
Linda Lavin Collected Stories
Laura Linney Time Stands Still
Jan Maxwell The Royal Family

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical

Kelsey Grammer La Cage aux Folles
Sean Hayes Promises, Pro…

The Dangers of Discussing Israel

Last week, the world was focused on the Israel flotilla scandal.

It was one of those international catastrophes where details come pouring in by the minute, and so beliefs about the incident and who was at fault were solidified before what had actually happened was even confirmed.

I learned a very valuable lesson last week amidst all this:

Talking about Israel is a dangerous thing.

I work in a public place, where occasionally people will bring up things that are happening in the news. The oil spill is a big topic of conversation, as well as immigration, and as you would imagine, things can sometimes get heated.

It has been a long time, however, since I've seen people so fired up over what to me seemed like a fairly cut and dry issue.

When I first read the reports of what happened, it seemed to me that Israel completely overreacted and that they had basically slaughtered people they claimed were attacking them.

I use the term "slaughtered" because I feel that if one party has w…

Why Summer Movies Aren't Selling

This weekend marked a growing trend at the box office this summer--

--Disappointment.

Revenues were once again down from this time last year. Both of the new releases this week--"Killers" with Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher and "Get Him to the Greek"--failed to generate much cash.

This comes after "Sex and the City 2" and "Shrek Forever After" suffered weak openings and in SATC2's case--weak reviews.

Well, to be fair, summer isn't exactly known for producing Oscar-worthy films, but it is supposed to be known for breaking box office records.

So what's going on?

I have a few theories:

1) Things Can't Go Up Forever--Meaning that it's hard to constantly compare how films are doing based on how movies that came out last year did. This week last year "The Hang-over" and "Up" were ruling the box office. Both of those movies were much stronger simply in appearance than either of the two releases that came out thi…

Tell Me About Your First Time

Since I'm gearing up for a sex show, I thought we'd have another share-fest, although this time I'm expecting a lot more privates messages, but who knows? Maybe y'all will surprise me yet again :)

Tell me about your first time.

You don't have to be graphic. Words, images, thoughts, situations, etc.

I want to know your thoughts on sex. Does it make you uncomfortable? Are you all talk or no talk at all? And how does your first time affect your current beliefs on it?

To be fair--I'll divulge a little.

My first time was wayyy sooner than it should have been. There was no kissing involved, and now I'm obsessed with kissing. For years afterwards, I didn't want to do anything but kiss. Anything else made me feel dirty and guilty.

It happened outdoors in a tent, and MadTV was playing in the background.

Truth or Dare may or may not have been involved.

There was zero romance involved, and that may be why I'm also awful at being romantic.

Okay, your turn--and i…

My 5-Year Engagement Rule

I have a rule that makes girls scream at me.

I think people should wait five years before getting married.

Ironically, as far as I'm concerned, this doesn't apply to girls, because I wouldn't be the one marrying them. Nevertheless, just mentioning it makes them turn bright red and attempt to assault me.

It's possible they think that if a straight guy hears my logic for this rule, he'll adopt it, and then there will be one less man in the world willing to propose within a year of meeting them.

Here's my logic:

Most couples divorce well before the five-year mark. So, it would stand to reason that if most people simply waited five years (a nice, round number) then they'd be less likely to enter into a marriage that isn't going to work.

I realize that some people are together for decades and then divorce, but not as many as those people who get rush job marriages.

Of course, my definition of a rush job is anything under two years.

That's right--two years.

Now,…