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Showing posts from August, 2010

The Restaurant Nobody Goes To

I'm sure you have one.

That restaurant you drive by that always seems to have an empty parking lot regardless of the day or time.

And yet it stays in business year after year, and you wonder to yourself--

How?

How can a place that is seemingly never busy continue to operate?

I've always wondered about places like that.

You know, like lighting fixture stores.

There is, believe it or not, a lighting fixture store near my house, and I always wonder, how, in a bad economy, does a store that sells only lighting fixtures stay in business?

How many lamps can any one person need?

Does the store survive when some heiress pops in every year to replace all her chandeliers?

That seems more plausible than that a restaurant could get by when on a Saturday night--what should be the busiest night for a restaurant--they're as dead as ever.

Finally, I decided to figure out what was going on.

I decided to go to the restaurant nobody goes to.

From the minute I walked in the door, I was taken by surprise.

I…

100 Plays to Read Now

U.S. Weekly came out with a reading list last year that I loved called "100 Books You Should Read Now."

Rather than come up with a typical "Best 100" list with "Lolita" and "The Grapes of Wrath" on it, they decided to put together a list of books that are relevant to the times we're living in right now.

That, coupled with one of my friends doing a play-reading challenge, inspired me to put together a list of 100 plays I think people should read NOW.

It's nice to start a list like this and not have to worry about not including "Death of a Salesmen" or "The Glass Menagerie."

These plays are either contemporary or classics that don't get enough attention.

Here are my suggestions in no particular order:

1. The American Plan by Richard Greenberg
2. A Fair Country by Jon Robin Baitz
3. The Overwhelming by J.T. Rogers
4. November by David Mamet
5. After Ashley by Gina Gionfriddo
6. The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh
7…

Enough Oliver Platt

My new favorite show is 'The Big C' on Showtime.

Normally, I can't take Laura Linney outside of my 'Tales of the City' DVD's, but in this show, she's fantastic.

Granted, it's pretty much 'Weeds' with cancer, but it's 'Weeds' back when 'Weeds' was great, and not the shell of its former self.

L.L. is great, John Benjamin Hickey as her brother is great, Phyllis Somerville on television every week is like Christmas coming early, and the cherry on the sundae?

Gabourey Sidibe!

So what's the problem?

Two words: Oliver Platt.

Oliver Platt is one of those people that must be lovely to work with, because for some reason, television executives keep trying to shove him down my throat.

Look, I don't hate the guy, but there's no reason for him to get as much work as he does, and lately he's been cast in roles that make absolutely no sense for him.

On The Big C, he plays Linney's former husband (the separation is new).

Yet you ca…

Writing Every Day

Today there was an article posted on CNN about a guy who has written a song every day for over a year, and plans to keep doing so until he's 80.

Now, as you might expect, these songs aren't exactly 'Yesterday' material.

Most of them are cute little songs, and a few are quite good.

This pretty much proves the golf theory--if you hit a hundred golf balls in a row, even if you'd never played golf before, one of them would be the perfect swing.

Just like anything else, writing is an exercise. The more you do it, the better you get at it.

The more you produce, the better chance that something you've written will be terrific.

Of course, along the way, you write a lot of junk.

I think that's why more people who are interested in writing don't do it.

They sit down. They write something lousy. They give up.

When I started writing, I didn't care if what I wrote was lousy, because I considered myself an actor. If what I wrote was bad, oh well. I wasn't a write…

Words of Thanks

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." ~G.K. Chesterton

"The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention." ~Oscar Wilde

"The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you." ~John E. Southard

“To say thank you, is in recognition of humanity” ~ Toni Mont

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~ John F. Kennedy

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you’, it will be enough.” ~ Meister Eckhart

“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “thank you?”" ~ William Arthur Ward

“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.” ~ Seneca

"Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a littl…

I'd Rather Not Leave It to the States

The concept of states being given back the opportunity to make rulings regarding laws that would normally be federal domain is obviously a very stirring issue for me.

For one thing, we've seen that when we allow this to happen, a cult with a lot of money--otherwise known as the Mormon church--can swoop in and money up the issue so that basic liberties are denied a particular group.

Now, I'm not saying money doesn't play a part in how things get done in the federal government, but I also know that it's a lot easier to get laws passed state-by-state than it is in Congress.

When we're talking a law becoming a federal law than a lot more eyes are on it. Ridiculous laws get passed all the time when they're only state laws because if you don't live in that particular state, are you really going to care about what's happening there?

One argument that's really disturbed me regarding the gay marriage issue are the people who are trying to say that by having a j…

The Food Addict Who Can't Cook

Though this week has been rough, the bright shining spot of it wasn't something you'd expect.

For once, I loved the winner of The Next Food Network Star.

SPOILER ALERT!

Aarti beat out Guy Fieri wannabes Herb and Big Tom in what I felt was a bit of a surprise upset considering Indian cuisine isn't exactly going to appeal to Middle America.

I was thrilled to have Aarti join my Food Network family.

Yes, I consider them my family. To be honest, I probably spend more time with the Iron Chefs than I do with many of my cousins.

Considering how much Food Network I watch, I should be a master chef by now. Yet amazingly, I have absorbed absolutely nothing from watching all these shows.

Oh don't me wrong. I know all about the Barefoot Contessa's husband Paul--actually, I know too much. I know far more about Paul than I have any business knowing. That woman talks more about that man than any wife I have ever met talks about her husband. I'm starting to wonder if Paul has so…

What Is the Expiration Date on Sensitivity?

About a month after 9/11 happened, there was a toy convention.

I read about it in the newspaper.

One of the more interesting toys at the convention was a scaled-down replica of the Titanic.

The inventor had turned the entire thing into a slip and slide.

That's right. Kids could slide down out of the Titanic into a waiting lifeboat--giggling and laughing the whole way.

The author of the newspaper article couldn't help but point out that perhaps a toy based on what was in fact a tragedy was not altogether appropriate.

The response from the toymaker was--"Oh, but that happened so long ago."

To which the author of the article replied--"Does that mean in 2101 it'll be okay to have a toy where kids jump out of a burning tower?"

I think he made his point.

Still, it brings up an interesting question:

Does sensitivity have an expiration date?

The toymaker in this case seems to be arguing that once everyone involved with a tragedy has died, there's no longer a need to …

When Exactly Did MTV Lose Its Luster?

With the announcement that Chelsea Handler would be hosting the VMA's this year, I had my normal reaction to finding out that MTV is doing anything--

"Ohhh, that's nice."

I love Chelsea Handler, but it was sort of like finding out that someone you like is dating someone you used to like, but now think of as being lame.

Then again, maybe that's what people were saying back when I loved MTV.

Luckily for me, I feel like I loved MTV during its height.

Yes, I'm talking about the TRL years.

Once Total Request Live went off the air a few years ago, it felt like the last breath coming out of the coffin right before it's nailed shut.

After all, aside from Lady Gaga (who received a record-breaking 13 nominations this year), there really aren't as many polarizing musicians around anymore.

Oh sure, not everybody liked the boy bands of the late nineties, but at least they inspired debate.

The only thing Justin Bieber inspires are lame jokes on late night television.

I think…

Read This Book

I just finished a terrific non-fiction book entitled "The Council of Dads" by Bruce Feiler.

It's about a man (Feiler) with a wife and two identical twin daughters who learns that he has cancer. He decides that if he should pass away without getting to see his two young daughters grow up, he would want them to have father figures in their lives who would represent him.

He goes about assembling a Council of Dads made up of six men who impacted his life. He asks these men to be his voice, and be the father he might not be able to be.

Obviously, the book is a tear-jerker. If you're a Daddy's girl, you'll absolutely love it.

More than just being sentimental though, it brings up some things that I've been thinking a lot about lately:

- Community is such an important and neglected concept. For years, people have been bemoaning the death of the nuclear family and how it's brought about society's disintegration. I don't think that's what's tear…

A&E's Coming Out Show

A&E is developing a new show where--

Brace yourselves.

--A celebrity will come out of the closet every week.

Remember when coming out in Hollywood meant your career was over?

It still does.

Except now you can have a few extra minutes of fame on A&E before the phone stops ringing.

Does this mean I won't watch the show?

Don't be insane. Of COURSE I'm going to watch.

The best part is, you don't even have to watch the whole show. Just watch the first five minutes to find out which former cast member of "The Facts of Life" is gay now.

(Come on, Tutti, I know you like the ladies.)

People are questioning whether or not the show is exploitative.

Of COURSE it is. But not anymore so than any of the other reality shows on the air now.

I feel that if people want to exploit themselves for attention, they should major in theater like the rest of us. But if that's not an option, then sure, go on television and tell the world something they probably already knew.

I just h…

For the Family Feud Addicts

Facebook Family Feud has taken over my life.

I've played so many games, I'm now getting questions like--

"Name something that reminds you of Uzbekistan."

and

"Tell us something that would let you know you're in the presence of a narc."

I always manage to get most of the answers, but there's always those lingering bottom two answers that just never seen to pop into my head because they don't make any sense.

"Tell us something you associate with Johnny Depp."

Bottom Answer: Wearing a hat (3)

Who ARE these people?

In my head I envision those kids we all went to school with who wore clothing backwards just to be different.

I can hear them saying--

"Whatever--Belgium is the country I think of when I think of countries that rhyme with Famerica. Sorry for being unique."

Lately, I have a new way of guessing the bottom two answers.

I put the most obscene, ridiculous phrases I can think of.

Laugh at me, but guess what? It works.

For some reason, t…

An Interview with Andrew Holder

On a bright sunny day in August, I sat down with Andrew Holder to discuss his career. What follows is an excerpt from that interview.

INTERVIEWER: So Andrew--
ANDREW: I'm sorry. I'm going to have to stop you. I prefer to be known as Cookie now.
INTERVIEW: Uh...I hadn't...um...
ANDREW: Check your notes.

The interviewer checked his notes, and learned that Mr. Holder will be appearing as "Cookie" in the new MTV Series "The Real Homosexuals of Narragansett Shore."

ANDREW: I'm the sassy one.
INTERVIEWER: Aren't they all sassy?
ANDREW: Who?
INTERVIEWER: The other homosexuals.
ANDREW: There are OTHERS?
INTERVIEW: Um...
ANDREW: They told me the show was called "Cookie!"

Mr. Holder called his agent while the interviewer ate some Nabisco crackers. After ten minutes, Mr. Holder returned looking frustrated.

ANDREW: I could stab someone.

The interviewer looked down at the knife near his plate, and slowly moved it closer to him and away from Mr. Ho…

Kevin Broccoli's Giant People Monologue Crazy Project

Since I'm about halfway through the project, I guess I'm not tempting the gods too much if I make an official announcement.

In addition to my "nice" project, I've been working on something a little more theatrical.

I've been wanting to find a way to create the quintessential monologue show. All the shows have been incredible experiences for me, but I wanted to find a way to put together something that would really say--"This is what this is about."

Of course, once I set out to do that, I realized that defining the monologue shows would be the same thing as defining myself as a writer. This proved to be pretty difficult.

Then, during the sex show, when we almost had one hundred performers over the course of the run, I realized that was what I needed to create my Big Monologue Experience.

One hundred people doing a show about...well...people.

The biggest thrill I've gotten while doing these shows is getting to work with so many amazing people. Even t…

If My Car Could Tweet

Engineers have finally done it.

They've finally found a new invention that is equal parts creepy and unnecessary.

Cars can now tweet.

There is a new device in cars that allows the car to update a twitter account saying things like--

"Cathy is stuck in traffic"

and

"Jim is on Main Street."

Welcome to 1984 everyone. I used to mock people who consider today's society Orwellian, but now I gotta hand it to them--we've driven into Big Brother Town in a tweeting car.

It got me thinking though--

What would my car tweet?

"I desperately need an oil change. Seriously, Kevin."

"Someone hit a pothole and now my left front tire is low. Thanks, Kev."

"Yeah, go ahead, pretend my brakes are fine. Denial's lovely this time of year."

"I smell like potato chips. Was someone eating potato chips in me? Gross."

"Can you pleeeeeease turn off the Oldies station? If I hear 'Brandy You're a Fine Girl' one more time..."

&qu…

Bill O'Reilly vs. Jennifer Aniston and Single Moms

After making a comment while promoting her new movie that women shouldn't have to wait for a man to come along before they decide to have children, Jennifer Aniston was attacked by Bill O'Reilly "throwing a message out to 12-year-olds and 13-year-olds that, 'Hey you don't need a guy. You don't need a dad.'"

He claimed that her message is destructive to society, and he even brought on two of his Fox News henchwomen to debate him, and by debate, I mean, agree with him.

One of the women, Gretchen Carlson, said that Aniston was "glamorizing single parenthood" and that young girls wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a 40-year-old woman wanting to have a child on her own and a girl their age wanting to do the same thing.

Good to know Carlson has absolutely no faith in the youth of America. Even if girls couldn't distinguish the difference, I'm sure they're aware that getting pregnant isn't exactly a great life choice.…

Become a Bookslut

I love when people turn me on to websites--especially websites that deal with literature, involve the word "slut," and have nothing to do with people pleasuring themselves on copies of Mansfield Park.

Bookslut.com is a great site that deals with interesting books you normally wouldn't see on the front page of Amazon. At times, it can be a little pretentious, but every review offers an author interview, and there's a mix of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

The interviewers are great. They ask things you would actually want to ask an author, and because (obviously) the site isn't shy when it comes to language, there's absolutely no vanillification.

They update the site every month. This issue features books on polygamous gorillas, utopia, infinity, and gay marriage (and that's just the left side of the page).

So check it out--just warn your boss first.

Inception: Round Two

Lisa Schwarzbaum from Entertainment Weekly recently went back and reviewed "Inception" again after a recommendation from Chris Nolan to give it another viewing.

I decided to do the same thing and came up with this list:

Top Ten Things You Notice About Inception the Second Time Around:

10. Leonardo DiCaprio is acting a couple of times during the movie.

9. The final dream was filmed amongst the ruins of EuroDisney.

8. Ellen Page squints eight hundred times less in this movie than she does in Juno.

7. Warwick Davis understudied both of Leo's kids when their faces were turned away from him.

6. The hotel room fight was choreographed by Twyla Tharp.

5. If you look closely, you can see the Wachowski Brothers sitting in the front row of the theater giving the whole film the finger.

4. The entire script was adapted from an episode of "Quantum Leap."

3. After the credits, Christopher Nolan inserted some footage of Michael Cera being awkward...just because.

2. One of the gu…

Why Rhode Island Won't Give Up VJ Day

Every year when August rolls around, the awkward political discussions once again raise their ugly heads in Rhode Island.

This is because we're the last state to celebrate Victory Over Japan Day--perhaps the most unnecessary holiday next to Arbor Day.

(We have Earth Day now--do we still need Arbor Day? Do the trees need their own day? Yet, I digress--)

You'll often hear people say that we should no longer celebrate VJ Day in Rhode Island. People point out that the rest of the country has done away with it, and they think that because we haven't yet, we're insensitive conservatives who still want to send a message to the Japanese.

This is, I believe, almost completely untrue.

In all actuality, I don't think we celebrate VJ Day because of what VJ actually stands for. I think we celebrate it for the same reason Rhode Islanders cancel school when a snowflake falls on the ground--

We love not having to go to work.

I don't think I can express how infrequently holidays h…

The Fox News Coffee Shop Mystery

While I was rehearsing "That Might Not Be Sex," I would often go to a coffee shop in my town to meet with people.

Usually, the two television sets in the place are set to Fox News.

Initially I thought it was sort of unfair. Shouldn't one be turned to MSNBC or the Food Network or something?

Then I realized that most of the people in my town who go to this coffee shop are probably old, Italian conservatives who like their news with a side of grumpy. So I got over it.

Then I noticed the Trio.

Two older guys and a girl in her teens. They were sitting in the comfortable chairs right in front of one of the television sets watching Fox News--rapt with attention.

Every once in awhile, they'd comment on what was happening, and it would always be something like--

"See that? See that? Yup. Yup."

This, of course, utterly disturbed me.

Not because they were agreeing with whatever was on Fox News, but just because the idea of anybody watching any 24 News Channel that intent…

Tax the Tanners

I never thought I'd write this next sentence, but here I go--

Tax Snookie.

Yup, you heard me.

The Jersey Shore cast member was recently quoted as saying that she's against Obama because he put a tax on tanning.

Now, I'm sure that some clever reality show producer was at least partly responsible for that statement, but it doesn't make it any less ridiculous.

After hearing it, I almost instantaneously said out loud--

"Tax the tanners."

What a great campaign slogan, right?

Personally, I see nothing wrong with vice taxes.

In my opinion, you have every right to give yourself skin and lung cancer, and/or rot out your liver, but if you do, you should pay for it.

Why?

Because it's the closest thing to a stupidity tax we can have without offending people, and I see nothing wrong with taxing the stupid.

Taxing, smoking, and most other vices are not necessities. That's why they're called vices. If you don't want to pay the taxes, quit the bad habits.

I bite my nail…

Gay Marriage Semantics

One of the most frustrating elements of the gay marriage is the way the proponents, opponents, and the media play word games when discussing the issue.

Today on Yahoo, they said the "culture war" has been revived.

Sorry, but I don't see that as being appropriate. To say that gay people and the people that support them are a "culture" is silly. If there was a law trying to stop African-Americans from getting married, it wouldn't be called a "cultural" issue, it would be called a racial one.

Everyone is avoiding the main word here: Sex.

This entire debate hinges on how uncomfortable people feel with sex. I'm not limiting it to two men or two women having sex either, because I believe ultimately somebody that's offended by the idea of gay sex is probably just as offended by the idea of straight sex.

I also notice everybody dancing around the fact that religion is playing a major part here.

Religious groups have funneled millions of dollars into…

Your Kids Might Not Be Gifted

"This is Jenny. She's reading at an eighth grade level and she's two days old. We're very proud."

I don't understand what the fixation is with having a gifted kid.

Obviously, if you have a gifted kid, it's wonderful, but why do so many people act as if it's not only nice, but necessary?

"This is Robert. He's two, and he recently built a model of the Pentagon using Lincoln Logs. He'll also be running for State Senator in November."

Every time I hear a parent talk about their child like this, I wonder if the kid is thinking what I'm thinking: Would this person like me if I turned out to be less than a genius?

"This is Fijoa. She's a concert pianist and she teaches physics at the local community college. She's three and a half."

It's even better when the child is decidedly not gifted, and the parents try denying it.

"This is Humphrey. Yes, he's eating his own hair, but our therapist tells us that Isaa…

Let's Redefine Prostitution

There's a word I'd like to see redefined:

Prostitute.

What exactly is a prostitute?

(Noun) A person who performs sexual activity for payment.

Maybe redefine is the wrong word. I'd like to see the definition expanded.

Here's why:

If you turn on the television and flip around a little, it won't be long before you come across a reality show like The Bachelor or Millionaire Matchmaker, where women are effectively pimping themselves out for camera time and fifteen minutes of fame.

Oh sure, they're not directly getting paid for sex, but have you ever seen how long one of them lasts if they hold out on affection past episode three?

Even on shows where competition isn't a factor, you can see women and men engaging in sexual activity simply because they know it'll get them more airtime.

How is this not considered sexual activity for payment?

The difference between these people and some woman walking the streets for money is about the same difference as a crack addict an…

The Power of Polite

Recently, I made a decision to be more polite.

My biggest fear was that I'd turn into a doormat. I was afraid that if I took a polite approach, I'd wind up getting steamrolled by everybody around me.

It turns out that I grossly underestimated the power of being polite.

Shortly after deciding I was going to stay civilized no matter what situation I found myself in, I found myself in a bit of an argument.

To make matters worse, the person I was arguing with had definitely not decided to stay polite in any given situation.

He decided to take a few personal shots at me when he realized I wasn't going to be coming around to his way of thinking.

The funny thing is, the more determined I was to stay polite, the stronger I felt. With each comment he made, I stuck to my points and even brought out that age-old favorite "Well, I'm sorry you feel that way."

Normally, taking this approach would have made me feel weak, but when the argument was over, I felt that the other pers…

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

There's a fantastic new book by Peter Lovenheim making waves called "In the Neighborhood: The Search for Community on an American Street, One Sleepover at a Time."

In the book, Lovenheim is dealing with a murder/suicide in his neighborhood that sent shock ripples through him and his neighbors. The shock comes not just from the nature of the tragedy, but from the fact that Lovenheim didn't even know the murderer or the victim. It made him realize that he'd been living in a bubble. He didn't know anything about his neighbors. So he sets out to fix that by not only introducing himself to his neighbors, but asking to stay over their houses and see what happens behind the houses he drives by everyday.

Reading this book made me think about my own neighbors. Lovenheim details how at some point, Americans became fixated on putting their personal lives online, while at the same time shutting themselves away from actual human connection located just a few steps from…