10.31.2005

LET'S PLAY BASE-BRAWL!

To the surprise of no one, President Bush chose a conservative white man as his nominee to replace outgoing Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Evidence indicates that, unlike previous nominee Harriet Miers, Judge Samuel Alito's nomination has been fully vetted by the President's conservative thought leaders, including Focus on the Family's Dr. James Dobson.

But the differences between Miers and Alito do not end there. President Bush chose Miers, in part, because she was a judicial "outsider" whom he hoped would bring a fresh perspective to constitutional law. You don't get much more "inside" than Judge Alito, who was put on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals by President Bush's father, and argued his first case before the Supreme Court in 1982.

According to a memo making the rounds among conservative groups, "Judge Alito has more judicial experience than 105 of the 109 Supreme Court Justices appointed in U.S. history." And with that experience comes a record, quatifiable proof of Judge Alito's positions on the controversial issues that divide this country.

This is a step in the right direction. (Pun intended.)

Judge Alito is a conservative, and his record indicates that he is far to the right on issues like reproductive freedom, civil rights and workers' rights. We know that President Bush puts great importance on consistency of vision, so we have a good idea of what to expect from Judge Alito in the future.

Judge Alito paid his respects earlier today to Rosa Parks, whose body is lying in state in the Capital Rotunda. Rosa Parks fought for freedom and equality for minorities, for women and for working people. Nothing in Judge Alito's extensive judicial resume suggests the same commitment.

With approval ratings at an all-time low, and his presidency falling down around his ears, President Bush chose to throw a bone to his base. But he also gave the left (and the moderates as well) the ammunition they need for a fair fight.

No more hypotheticals. This is going to be an old-fashioned political brawl.

According to reports, Judge Alito is a big baseball fan. So he knows what happens when the benches clear.

I just hope he's wearing a protective cup.

10.29.2005

MOUSE-PAD

I found a mouse in my apartment.

He was living in my shoe. I feel like a character in a nursery rhyme.

I pulled a pair of boots out of my closet and a little brown mouse scurried out of one of them. Then he disappeared behind my bookcase.

I don't know how a mouse got into my boot. But I do know one thing. That mouse was a punk. I know this because he was in one of my black Doc Martens. And he was wearing a Ramones t-shirt. So when I saw him I said, "Hey! Ho! Let's go!" And then I screamed like a middle school girl on "TRL."

When the cold weather came, the superintendent of my building gave everyone glue traps and warned us to expect to see mice. My building is under siege by armies of boot-invading rodents and the best plan management can come up with is sticky pieces of cardboard? This is exactly the kind of thing that happened in New Orleans! My super is the Michael Brown of New York City.

Animal Rights activists condemn old-fashioned mousetraps because they are "inhumane." But with the old fashioned traps, the mouse eats the cheese and the trap takes care of the rest. End of story. You just throw it away and forget anything ever happened. Yes, a fellow mammal was executed. But it's not on your conscience.

With glue traps, YOU are left to do the dirty work.

You can't just throw away a glue trap with a live mouse stuck to it. You can, but two days later you go out to the garbage and the mouse is like, "I'm still here asshole! You left me in a GARBAGE pail. I got plenty to eat. When I figure a way out of here, you are DEAD!"

A more humane solution is to cut the mouse out of the glue trap with scissors, but this requires a degree of surgical precision that I do not possess. If I tried that the mouse would end up with sticky white patches on each of his feet, like slippers. Or skis. This would be convenient if he lived in Aspen, but not in New York City.

The other day an attractive female neighbor banged on my door and yelled "Will! I need your help!" This was a surprise to me, because I didn't know she knew my name.

I opened the door and she was in a panic. "I need you to kill a mouse!" she pleaded. "He'’s stuck on a glue trap in my apartment."

"No way!" I replied. "I'm not gonna be your accomplice. Find someone else to commit your murder!"

And she was like, "“Just step on him! Don't you have a pair of boots?!"

And I was like, "Don't you understand? It's too late. The mice are on to us! They've gotten to the boots. They own this town now. They've won..."

Then the lights went out.

And somewhere in the distance I heard an evil, squeaky laugh.

10.28.2005

"LIFE & STYLE WEEKLY" KNOWS HOW TO PARTY!

Last night I did another of my reporter/field producer assignments.

My mission was to cover a party celebrating the first anniversary of a magazine called "Life & Style Weekly" at Marquee, a trendy club on the west side of Manhattan.

I was not previously aware that there was a magazine called "Life & Style Weekly." But apparently there is such a thing, and they are doing well, thank you very much!

The stars really came out to support the first anniversary of "Life & Style Weekly." Joan Rivers, dressed in a lovely gold lame' gown, hosted the red carpet celebrity arrivals, welcoming such luminaries as Cher, Madonna, Barbra Streisand, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani and Mary Kate And Ashley Olsen.

And here's the best part: they were all guys. Female impersonators, dressed in costume. It was hysterical. (And, just between us, I think Joan Rivers may have had some work done.)

In addition to the transvestites, I interviewed Latino pop singer Jon Secada, who later performed a song from his new CD, as well as his Top 5 hit "Just Another Day." This was the actual Jon Secada, not a guy (or girl) dressed up as Jon Secada. He was very cordial during his interview, and his face visibly lit up when I asked him about his kids.

In addition I interviewed Arista Records founder (and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member) Clive Davis, Damien Fahey from MTV's "Total Request Live," and three cast members from "The Apprentice": "Heidi" from Season 1 and "Jennifer" and "Brian" from the current cast.

Apparently cast members of "The Apprentice" only use their first names, like AA members.

Heidi (whose last name is actually Bressler) was a fun interview. The first thing I said to her was, "Heidi? Oh, I remember you. You were the crazy one, right?" Heidi then proceeded to defend herself, claiming that she was actually the sane one and that the others (she mentioned a few by name) were actually crazy. She also defended her on-camera chain smoking, and mercilessly knocked the villainous Omorosa, as well as the entire current cast. Apparently Heidi has not read the work of Dale Carnegie or Dr. Norman Vincent Peale.

After our interview had concluded, Heidi showed no sign of wanting to leave the red carpet. So - with the camera off - I asked her how often she worked out, and told her what a nice flat tummy she had. Yes, I was sort-of hitting on a cast member of "The Apprentice." Yet another surreal moment.

Rosanna, the very charming publisher of the magazine, had the best costume of all. She was dressed as Angelina Jolie, with two fake (adopted) babies in a Baby Bjorn sling, and a guy dressed as Brad Pitt trailing behind her.

Inside the club the real celebrities mingled with the fake celebrities, the real singer (Secada) sang and the fake singers lip synched. All the while a bored Paris Hilton impersonator sat in the corner, text-messaging on her cell phone. Was the fake Paris sending real text-messages, or fake ones? I tried to ask her, but she completely ignored me. Which is exactly like the real Paris would have done. Good job Paris!

If - like me - you have never read "Life & Style Weekly," why not pick up a copy? It's only $1.99. And if the magazine is half as hip as their first anniversary party was, it's definitely worth a look.

I have to go now. I have a date with Heidi. I just rented the DVD boxed set of "The Apprentice - Season 1"

10.27.2005

!YO NO SE!

I'm adopted. Actually I prefer "previously owned."

A lot of adopted people know absolutely nothing about how they came to be. That is one of the great tragedies of the adoption process here in the United States.

Some people know everything. That can be a tragedy as well, but it in a completely different way.

I'm somewhere in between, which is not a great place to be. Sometimes knowing a little can raise even more questions than knowing nothing.

My adopted parents have always told me that my birth mother was an Irish Catholic. Yes, "Irish Catholic" and "unplanned pregnancy" seem to go together like "cheap" and "Jew". (If you don't believe me, do a Google search.)

I personally do not think Jews are cheap. When I was a kid growing up on Long Island I had a paper route, and my Jewish customers used to give me much bigger tips than the Christians. I think it's because they thought I was Jewish. I don't know why. Maybe it was the prayer shawl I wore while collecting. Or the Passover cards I slid into their copies of Newsday:

"Happy Pesach! With love from your paperboy, Ira."

Another thing that my parents have always told me is that my birth father is "Spanish."

I asked them recently if they meant "Spanish" like in "European, from Spain" or like in, what my adopted father calls anybody with dark skin who speaks rapidly, i.e. "the Spanish fella who pitches for the Mets."

But my parents don't know the answer. So I am left to wonder about my true ethnicity.

The Irish part makes sense, because I have very pale skin and I really love potatoes. But I don't drink. So I guess that explains why I'm only half Irish.

And the other half is Spanish, or more likely Hispanic. I'm half Hispanic. I don't believe it, either. Because I've seen me dance. If I'm half Hispanic, it's definitely not the bottom half.

I could be Puerto Rican, or Dominican or Cuban. It's frustrating, though, not knowing. Because there's a very good chance I might be racist against myself. That would be awkward. I would have to take back a lot of things I've been muttering under my breath for the last three decades.

I really want to find out what kind of Hispanic I actually am. So I've been going to parades every weekend, just to see if there's any sort of resemblance.

I'm really hoping I'm Dominican. Because I'll have a much better chance of getting drafted by the Mets.

10.26.2005

WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?

I'm afraid of being alone.

The weird thing is, I'm not particularly close to my family, I have very few friends and I am technically single. Some people might even call me a loner.

I'm a loner who's afraid to be alone.

I say I am technically single, and that's technically true. But it's also not true. Being single means you are by yourself. You do not have a partner. Being single means taking a risk.

What if nobody ever loves me again? What if something bad happens? Who will take care of me?

I dated Maggie for four years. We met at work. I was the senior producer and she was the college intern. We had our first kiss at my 30th birthday party, in full view of our co-workers. It was a scandal! It was also a lot of fun. She taught me how to relax, how to be myself and how to get high (actually the getting high part came first and the other two things followed). She was with me when I quit my job of seven years and when I began my second career as a comedian. She was with me when I spent a year trying seventy different combinations of anti-depressants and mood stabilizers to overcome a debilitating case of Bi-polar Disorder.

Meeting her was the best thing that ever happened to me. And I'd like to think she would say the same thing.

After four years the relationship died of natural causes, through no particular fault of either of us.

Three years later I still see her every day. We hang out together every night. We sleep at each other's apartments just about every night. We talk on the phone multiple times per day. We share our lives in every sense of the word. And every now and then we have sex. It's just like when we were dating. The only difference is, we are both free to pursue other relationships, as long as we are open about our intentions and actions.

In the three years since we broke up I have dated two other women. Both of those relationships didn't work. Why do you think that is?

I'm not saying either of my subsequent dating relationships would have worked if Maggie wasn't around. But they certainly would have had a better chance.

Last night I had a drink with one of the girls I dated since my breakup with Maggie. This girl is a comedian. It's been more than a year since the last of our numerous break ups. How would I have handled it if I had to share her with her ex-boyfriend while we were dating? Not well, I suspect.

You can't have two soulmates. But how do I let go of someone who has been my partner and best friend for seven years?

I had another girlfriend for ten years before I even met Maggie. This is not a new thing for me. I didn't know how to end that one either. And when it did finally end, bad things happened. Trust me on that.

Maggie and I are not in love anymore. And I want to be in love with someone. I want to share my life with someone in every sense of the word.

I know one thing. My inability to let go has a lot to do with being adopted. But maybe it's time to stop letting something that happened in 1968 determine the choices I make in 2005.

I know one more thing.

The road to the future does not run through the past.

10.25.2005

HAT-TRICK

I wear a lot of professional hats.

Last night I wore my reporter's hat. It's a rumpled fedora, with a dogeared sign on it that says "PRESS." (Okay, that last part isn't true.)

My mission was to cover the 250th anniversary celebration for Swiss watch maker Vacheron Constantin, at the historic 42nd Street branch of the New York Public Library. I was right there on the red carpet with my camera crew, sandwiched between reporters from "Extra" and E! Entertainment Television.

I love being a reporter! I carry a long, thin notepad and everything. (I'm not kidding about that part.)

Here's the way it works: A company decides they want to throw a party to promote something. They hire a public relations firm to plan the party and attract media. The PR firm hires a production company to videotape the event and celebrity interviews. Then the production company hires me. I produce the shoot, write the questions, interview the celebrities and supervise the editing after the event. The production company then distributes the edited piece to broadcast news organizations around the country, usually via satellite.

Yes. Technically it is corporate propaganda, like most of the other stuff I work on. But I don't tell the celebrities what to say, so I still feel like a real reporter. Now stop trying to rain on my parade!

The biggest celebrity at the Vacheron event was Melania (Mrs. Donald) Trump. I interviewed the stunning, Slovenian-born model and soon-to-be mother and she seemed like a perfectly nice person. (I had also interviewed The Donald ten years ago, so I feel like a friend of the family.)

Mrs. Trump was wearing a lovely $600,000, forty-one carat diamond Vacheron watch on her left wrist, mere inches away from her gigantic wedding ring. It was humbling to realize that Melania's left arm was worth more than my entire body will be for as long as it is in existence.

In addition to Mrs. Trump, I interviewed basketball legend Isiah Thomas, celebrity chef Eric Ripert, singer Sasha Lazard, European race car driver Jenson Button and other celebs and executives. But the true highlight of the evening was my (brief) interview with documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles.

Albert Maysles is perhaps best known for "Gimme Shelter," the riveting 1969 documentary about the Rolling Stones ill-fated free concert at the Altamont Speedway. Albert and his brother David Maysles also directed "Salesman" and one of my favorite films of all time "Grey Gardens." I first saw "Grey Gardens" in 1980's as a film student at NYU. I have been a fan of the documentary form - and of Albert Maysles - ever since. (If you've never seen it, put it on your Netflix list. It's on DVD.)

After the red carpet arrivals, when my crew and I had moved inside to shoot the party, I saw Mr. Maysles sitting alone. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I've always wondered what Albert Maysles thinks of "Survivor." So I asked him. He told me that he had never seen it, and I told him that I thought it was a brilliantly edited example of non-fiction storytelling. I don't know why I chose to use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be an apologist for reality television, but there you have it. Mr. Maysles asked me about the type of projects that I work on, and then handed me his business card!

Again, I know this probably means nothing to you. But this guy has been making documentaries for fifty years! And he gave me his business card. I want to write him an email and say, "I will get coffee for you for free, just for the experience of working with Albert Maysles!"

I love being a reporter but I would REALLY love to be a documentary filmmaker.

Maybe I will need a new hat.

10.24.2005

TV GUIDE - NOW LIGHTER & LESS CONFUSING!

Have you seen a copy of "TV Guide" lately? It's changed a little bit.

"TV Guide" no longer has listings for TV shows. I thought that was kind of the point. The magazine is called "TV Guide."

Apparently the editors of "TV Guide" decided that, even though I subscribed to a magazine called "TV Guide," what I really wanted was more stories about Oprah.

There's already a magazine about Oprah. It's called "The Oprah Magazine."

I think "TV Guide" just gave up. They took a dive. They were like, "How the fuck are we supposed to list Pay-Per-View? This is crazy. We quit. Most people just flip anyway."

The editors of "TV Guide" are a bunch of liars and crooks. I think people are going to sue.

Like chiropractors. Think of all the mailman business they're going to lose.

10.22.2005

THOUGHTS ON BEING A TEETOTALER

I don't drink.

Technically, that's not true. I drink Yoo-Hoo all day long. Typically, I go through about a case every two days. I love Yoo-Hoo because it gives me pep! And I only drink the chocolate flavor. Strawberry Yoo-Hoo is for pussies. But that's not the point of this story.

I should really say, "I don't drink alcohol." But that's also not really true, either.

I will occasionally have a beer, and I very much enjoy a certain type of white wine called Riesling. And no, I am not gay because I enjoy fruity white wine. But you are gay because you enjoy a man's fruity white penis. Nah nah.

I feel like I am 'watering down' my point. Isn't that PUNNY?! Ha!

For the most part, I don't really drink alcohol. Which is somewhat ironic because, as a comedian, I'm in bars just about every night of the week.

A lot of my fellow aspiring comedians ask me why I don't drink. Here's my standard reply to that question:

"Why don't you mind your own fucking business you ignorant, no-talent hack."

And that is why I don't drink.

Because when I drink, I tend to tell people how I really feel about them. And that never works out well. So I have made it a rule to prevent myself from being inebriated around people I know, in order to save them the emotional pain of learning how much contempt I really have for them.

Frankly, I'm amazed by the amounts of alcohol I see my fellow aspiring comedians drinking at open mics and even at real shows. This is a bad idea for many reasons:

1) Drinking is expensive. Don't go on stage and talk about how broke you are, while sipping your third Guinness. Maybe if you didn't drink so much you wouldn't be broke so much.

2) Drinking on the job is unprofessional. Stand-up comedy is a job. It's hard work. The bar where the comedy show takes place is your workplace. Do you drink at the office? Do you hit the break room for a shot before a big meeting? Yes, alcohol is served in many establishments in which comedians perform. That alcohol is for the audience. It is not for you.

3) Stand-up comedians tend to become alcoholics. Why? Because they are often depressed and neurotic people. Because they want to 'party' like rock stars. Because doing stand-up is hard, and alcohol may seem to make it easier. But if you are early in your career and getting hammered at open mics, you may as well just sign up for AA right now. Because the harder stand-up gets - and the bigger the stakes become - the more you are going to drink. Not because you want to. Because you need to.

4) Drinking makes you fat. Most comedians pursue a career in stand-up comedy because they think it will get them laid. And, yes, it is true. There are loose, immoral young women will occasionally offer sexual favors to talented purveyors of the art of comedy. But not if you are grossly overweight. Louie Anderson was funny, but I bet he wasn't spending a lot of time fighting off the chicks.

5) Drinking makes you do things you will regret. As I have mentioned, I smoke a lot of pot. But it's medicinal marijuana. I smoke at night to counteract the effect of my anti-depressants, which tend to increase my feelings of mania. But I have never smoked a bowl and made a fool of myself in public, or fucked a stranger and gotten a venereal disease. I pretty much just sit around my apartment and watch TiVo.

So the moral to this story is, if you are a comedian, don't drink! However, if you are an audience member, and you are an attractive female under the age of 37, and you are coming to see me perform stand-up comedy, then you should drink. A lot.

Don't worry. I'll make sure we both get home safely.

10.21.2005

MAKING 'EM LAUGH SINCE 1976

I was seven years old the first time I performed stand-up comedy.

It was a steamy August day in the Bicentennial year of 1976. My parents, my sister Missy and I were riding on a tour bus in Williamsburg, Virginia. Speaking over the low-tech public address system, the bus driver welcomed all of us to the Colonial theme park and told a few corny historical jokes.

He was bombing. Luckily for him he had his bus-driving job to fall back on.

I sat quietly in the front seat of the bus, sensing an opportunity. I tapped the driver on the shoulder.

“Can I tell a joke, mister?” I asked. “Sure kid,” the driver said with a smirk.

Moments later I received my first-ever intro. “Ladies and Gentleman, we have a very special treat for you. From Woodmere, New York please put your hands together for the comedy stylings of Mr. Billy McKinley!”

The passengers applauded politely, as I grabbed the handset microphone from the driver.

”Thank you! How about it for Stan the Bus Driver? Let him hear you! He’s workin’ hard for you guys.” A smattering of applause.

I began my joke:

“So a young American guy is driving down a dirt road in Italy, and his car breaks down. He walks for hours and hours and finally comes upon a farmhouse, with a horse tied to a hitching post. The American guy knocks on the door. An old Italian man answers.

‘My car broke down,’ the young American explains to the old man. ‘I need to ride into town for help. Can I borrow your horse?’

‘My horse, he no looka too good,’ replies the Italian man.

‘I’ll pay you! I just need to ride into town!’ pleads the American.

‘My horse, he no looka too good,’ the old man repeats.

‘He looks fine to me. Here’s $100. I’ll be back in one hour,’ the American says, as he mounts the horse.

‘My horse, he no looka too good,’ the old man says again.

The horse begins a full speed gallop and runs right into the side of the barn. The American guy falls to the ground with a thud. The old Italian man walks over to him.

‘I told you, my horse, he no looka too good,’ the old man says with a smile, clutching the $100 bill.

‘But now I can finally afford to get his eyes fixed!’

The crowd went nuts. And a comedian was born.

10.20.2005

THOUGHTS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY

I really enjoy writing things for this blog. But I like it even more when people read what I write.

I made a decision early on not to tell certain people about the blog, because I didn't want to feel like I had to edit myself. It didn't work. I still edit myself, mostly because I am friendly with some of my readers.

I wish I weren't. I wish I could tell you exactly how I feel about things. I wish I could tell you exactly what I did on Tuesday. But I can't, because people I know will judge me, or look at me differently,

That's a shame, really. I know people who write things on their blog and don't care about the ramifications. I try to do that but I can only go so far.

Recently, I took the plunge and told my mother I was a blogger.

MOM: "Does that mean you don't like girls?"

ME: "No Mom. I like girls. I said 'blogger'. A guy who doesn't like girls is a 'bugger'.

MOM: "Why are they called buggers?"

ME: "Because they like to...Okay, we've kind of gotten off topic here. I write things, post them on the internet and people read them."

MOM: "Why would they do that?"

ME: "I don't know. Maybe they're bored at work. I have this counter on the site that allows me to see who's reading, and for how long. The other day a guy in Canada was on for like half an hour. So he must have liked what I wrote."

MOM: "Or maybe he was just a slow reader."

ME: "I'm going to take the 'glass half full' position on this one."

MOM: "I'm just trying to be realistic."

Mom never asked for the web address of my blog. But, in her defense, she and my father have recently moved to a 60+ community in Florida and they are very busy playing mahjong and awaiting their impending deaths.

This past Saturday I visted my aunt and uncle on Long Island. Once again, I mentioned the blog. My aunt said that she would love to read it. On Sunday I emailed her a link. On Monday morning she replied to my email:

> From: (my aunt)
> Date: Mon, 17 Oct 2005 09:09:25 -0400
> Subject: Re: My blog
>
> Read some this morning. Interesting. . . some more than others.
> Keep writing (like you need to be told). Thanks
> Love You.

How is that for damning with faint praise?! INTERESTING?

Okay, as I mentioned, I have this thing called Sitemeter. It allows me to track who visits the site, and how long they stay. But I can only tell how long you were reading if you click on MORE THAN ONE PAGE. If you just read the current posts, it does not give me a duration of your visit.

There was no duration for my aunt's visit. That means that she was so unimpressed with what she had read that she chose not to read any of my archived posts. She didn't click even one of them. This woman has known me for 37 years. Every time I see her she's like, "Oh, we miss you! We would love to know what's going on in your life."

THEN READ MY BLOG.

I'm not trying to be a baby about this but, I had someone at the University of Wichita visit the site yesterday for 47 minutes. He or she looked at 40 pages. I have no idea who that person is. They have never met me. I have never met him or her.

But MY AUNT only had time to read SOME. Nobody will admit this, but I think it's because I'm adopted.

You see those essays that are archived on the right side of the page? Some of them took me DAYS to write.

But I guess SOME people IN MY FAMILY are TOO BUSY TO READ THEM.

My mother always used to tell me that she couldn't understand why I was so "guarded" about my life.

Do you understand me just a little bit better now?

My aunt ended her email with "Love You." That's nice, but it doesn't make it okay.

My Mom used to hit me and tell me that it hurt her more than it hurt me. Really? I never saw her nose get bloody from empathy.

I am angry and frustrated right now and nobody will have sex with me.

To my reader at the University of Wichita: if you are cute and female (and over 18) I have a plane ticket to New York City with your name on it.

I am not kidding.

A RHETORICAL QUESTION

I ran into an ex-girlfriend tonight at an audition.

(Sorry if that sounds a little too Hollywood, but I'm in the entertainment business.)

Anyway, this girl is a comedian and I last saw her a few weeks ago when I did a show at the Comic Strip here in New York. After that show I wrote a whole thing about how I had seen her, and how good it felt to finally be over her.

Well...maybe not completely over her.

Why is it that there are some people that you just can't shake from your soul, no matter how hard you try?

Does that mean something? Or am I just feeling lonely?

10.19.2005

ON A TUESDAY, THEY'RE WAITING...

Earlier this evening I walked past the Virgin Megastore in Times Square and I noticed a line of people in front. The line started at the door, continued north up 7th Avenue and snaked around the corner, heading east on 46th Street.

I saw a guy with a clipboard standing at the front of the line. Here's a good rule of thumb: If you have a question, always ask the guy with the clipboard. Nine times out of ten, the guy with the clipboard will be able to answer your question, whatever it may be.

"What's the line for?" I asked.

"Ashlee Simpson. They've been waiting all day," he said, with a discernible roll of the eyes.

"Why would so many people wait on line all day to meet Ashlee Simpson?" I asked, incredulously. "I have no absolutely no idea," the man with the clipboard replied.

I scanned the line to observe the demographic makeup: white, suburban, overweight teenaged girls as far as the eye could see. And, every now and then, a gay (or soon to be gay) teenaged boy. It was kind of touching to watch the future fag hags and gay boyfriends of America on one of their first dates.

"He's never going to love you the way you want him to," I said to a very large girl with bad skin standing next to a boy wearing a t-shirt that said "Boys Lie."

The first person on line apparently had shown up at 11 in the morning, and had been standing and waiting all day.

Who, you may ask, was Ashlee Simpson's #1 fan?

It was a balding, Asian guy who looked to be about 40.

And the air hung heavy with pathos.

10.18.2005

THE CATCH OF THE DAY

My Dad loved to go fishing when I was a kid. So, one summer when we were on vacation, he tried to teach me how to fish.

The first lesson didn't go so well. I threw the pole in the lake.

I could not figure out how I was supposed to throw it, but also hold on to it at the same time. That was very confusing for a first grader.

So we tried again. He gave me another pole, and he told me to make sure not to let go of it.

This time I threw myself into the lake. But I never let go of that pole.

My Dad fished me out of the lake and dragged me up to the dock. Then he had my Mom take a picture of us.

He was standing up and I was hanging from a hook.

10.17.2005

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"I remember you. You used to be kind of obnoxious, right?"

Said to me by a freelancer at work, someone I had not seen since we worked together at my first job in 1990.

She was right about 'obnoxious.' She was wrong about 'used to be'.

10.16.2005

MAIL CALL!

This week's question comes from Evelyn in New York City, who writes:

"How was your hosting gig at New York Comedy Club on Friday night? I assume it went badly, because after that you wrote about how all comedians are stupid, etc. Just checking!"

Thanks for the question Evelyn! First a few points of clarification:

First, I just wrote a whole essay about how I don't like it when people call stand-up shows 'gigs'. Don't you know how to read, you stupid comedian?!

Second, I did not write about how ALL comedians are stupid. I wrote about how SOME comedians are stupid. And lazy. Don't forget lazy. Of course, you are neither stupid nor lazy!

And the show at New York Comedy Club went well, thank you very much. There were about sixty people in the audience, which was a big surprise considering how it rained in New York City for eight days. I had to take my ark to New York Comedy Club! Get it? Ark? You can call me Noah!

Okay, here's a bit of background on my relationship with hosting comedy shows.

Beginning in August of 2003, I was the host of THE 8 O'CLOCK SHOW at New York City's Boston Comedy Club every Friday and Saturday night. Along with my friend and co-host Lori Chase, I produced and hosted more than 100 shows, attracting more than 5,000 audience members to the club. I worked very hard to promote that show and we got really good crowds in a time slot that had been traditionally filled by amateur "bringer" shows.

We were even chosen as Time Out New York's Comedy Pick of The Week in August of 2004. That same week, THE EIGHT O'CLOCK SHOW was cancelled! How's that for a 'thank you"?

After getting fired I moved the show to another location for a few months and then, in October of 2004, I chose to hang up my hosting spikes.

So, the last time I had hosted a real comedy show was more than a year ago. I was worried that I had forgotten how to do it. But I didn't forget. I remembered what to say, the audience remembered to laugh and the comics on the show were decent.

As mentioned previously, hosting can be fun or it can be torture. This one was actually fun. There were a lot of attractive women in the audience, which always makes things more interesting.

One of the things that I do when I host is, I pick out one cute girl and I flirt with her for the whole show. It creates sort of a soap opera for the audience to follow. And it's fun for me because it allows me to be aggressive with young, attractive women in a way I would never have the guts to be off-stage. In a few cases this routine has gotten me a phone number after the show. Never has it resulted in anything more than that.

But this time things were different. I actually had a female audience member dive head first into my crotch!

Unfortunately, she was sixty years old. I like older women, but I draw the line at menopause. How are you supposed to have rough sex if you're worried about osteoporosis? I like girls that are hot and flashy, not having hot flashes! Hey now!

Seriously, take my wife. Please!

Here's what happened: There was a young, beginning comic on the show who had brought her entire family and just about everyone she knew in the world to see her. In her act she talked about how her Mom was an alcoholic. The jokes were amusing, in a completely awkward way. But not long after her daughter's set, the Mom got up and "attempted" to go to the ladies room. Moments later she was in my lap, the contents of her purse scattered across the sticky floor of New York Comedy Club.

I felt terrible for the poor drunken senior citizen, but even worse for her daughter. It's one thing to joke about your Mom being a drunk. It's another thing entirely for your Mom to take a drunken header into the host's lap.

But most of all, I felt bad for myself. I have always dreamed of a girl throwing herself at me in a comedy club. I just never dreamed she would be a member of AARP.

But here's the best part: I GOT PAID! $5. That's right. Five damp singles. I felt like a stripper.

Sure, earlier in the day I had gotten paid at my day job. And yes, it felt good to deposit $4,730 into my checking account. But never, in my fifteen years in corporate communications, has a drunken senior citizen fallen into my lap.

That is why I love the world of stand-up comedy.

Thanks again, Evelyn!

WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR...

I read an article in the Sunday New York Times last week about writers banding together and creating communal writing work spaces in large cities.

Here in New York City, at a place called Paragraph, writers pay a monthly fee in return for a quiet work space with Wi-Fi internet access and a choice of comfy couches, or business-like desks.

The fees range from $100 per month for part-time access to $132 per month for full-time, 24/7/365 access.

For me, this sounds like a dream come true.

The vegetarian coffee shop that has been my preferred writing spot has become increasingly un-friendly to the laptop-lugging squatters who camp out all day and nurse a tea bag. When the place opened last Fall, signs trumpeted "Free Wi-Fi Internet!" and soon all the tables were filled with office-less writers, yearning for a place to commune with their respective muses.

Since then, as actual paying customers have learned of the joys of Textured Vegetable Protein Pot Pie, the regulations placed upon "the laptop people" have become more stringent. First, all of the outlets were covered with metal plates and a single powerstrip was placed next to a large, communal table. Next, we were informed (by small signs placed on each table) that those of us with computers would not be allowed to sit alone at individual tables during certain hours of the day.

I'm still waiting for separate water fountains.

These acts of segregation on the part of management, while understandable, are nonetheless frustrating. In an effort to atone for the sins of my fellow displaced writers, I have begun to spend more and more every time I visit the vegetarian coffee shop.

So, I end up paying money to write. For free. This increases the number of money-losing careers I am pursuing to two. I don't see you sending me a check every time you read one of my meticulously written, insightful essays.

If I'm going to pay $10-15 to sit in a loud, public space each time I want to write something, why not just sign up for a place like Paragraph?

I'll tell you why. Because those people are real writers.

What am I going to do, sit there with published writers while I labor over my narcissistic blog? I know the real writers will sit in the break room and talk shop about this publisher and that, while sharing a love for Proust, or other great literature that I have never gotten around to reading.

What am I going to say to these people? "Hi I'm Will. I've never been paid to write anything in my life. And at night I tell dick jokes in various basements around the city."

Maybe it would be good for me. I would really love to become a real freelance writer, and get paid to do it. But I have no idea how to do that. Maybe, by sitting in a room with real writers, something will rub off on me.

I just want to be a real writer!

Sometimes I feel like Pinocchio.

10.15.2005

THOUGHTS ON PURSUING MY DREAM

I hate it when comedians refer to their shows as “gigs.”

Gigs are for musicians. And as much as comedians would like to think that they are rock stars, they are not.

A musician must have some quantifiable ability in order to be allowed to perform in front of a paying crowd. He or she must be able to play an instrument, or carry a tune, or he or she will be quickly removed from the stage they have been given the opportunity to perform upon.

Stand-up comedians must meet no such requirements.

I have spent the better part of the last four years pursuing my life-long dream to be a comedian. I was terrible the first time I got on stage. I’m better now, but I still have a long way to go. And a lot of work yet to do.

Over the course of the last four years, I have met some talented, hard-working people who are serious about mastering the art of comedy.

I have also met many people who call themselves “comedians,” yet they are not funny. Not even a little bit. They can’t (or don't) write, have little or no stage presence and are not particularly intelligent. In my opinion, you need to have all of those things before you can call yourself a comedian.

I am not trying to be curmudgeonly. I believe in the power of aspirational thinking. “You must BELIEVE in order to ACHIEVE,” or whatever motivational drivel gets not-particularly-intelligent passive people to buy books written by not-particularly-intelligent aggressive people. But, stand-up comedy seems to attract a number of people who desperately want fame and fortune, yet have no particular talent, other than the ability to speak.

Because, when it comes down to it, as long as you can speak you can ostensibly call yourself a stand-up comedian.

Stand-up is unique in this respect. If I can’t play the bass, I can’t call myself a bass player. I can, but it would soon become obvious that I was lying. I would like very much to be able to play the theme from “Barney Miller” to impress the ladies, but I can’t. So I don’t call myself a bass player.

Many comedians do not let the complete let lack of any recognizable talent stand in the way of being a “comedian.”

I am not saying that I am the best comedian in the world. Far from it.

As stated previously I don’t even think of myself as a comedian. Yet. I would like to be a comedian some day, but I am not one yet. I am well aware of where I am in terms of my development - as a comedian and as a human being.

Only a truly intelligent person knows how intelligent he or she really is.

Pursuing a career in stand-up comedy is an endurance test. It’s a hard fight, and the best man (or woman) does not always win. In fact, in New York City “club” comedy, the opposite is often the case.

Many comedians would never write something negative about an established comedy club in a public forum (like a blog). That’s because many comedians live in fear. And rightly so. They fear being banned from this club, or that club. Or they fear someone in a position of authority engaging in some sort of mafia-style hit against their reputation. Again, rightly so.

In my experience, the people in positions of authority in standup comedy (at least here in New York City) are some of the creepiest, low-rent weasels I have ever had the misfortune of interacting with.

That saddens me, because stand-up comedy is an art form I have always loved, and had enormous respect for. But today, in the strata of the entertainment industry, stand-up is one level above stripping.

Actually that’s not really true. Strippers make money. Comedians don’t.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule. Jerry Seinfeld did very well for himself with a sitcom you may have heard of. And Dane Cook made it to the cover of “Rolling Stone” by playing every college in the country. But behind the handful of comedians who have been promoted to the next level, there are thousands and thousands of others bottlenecking up The Comedy Highway.

This creates what an economist would call a “buyer’s market.” If there are one hundred people who are willing to do what you do for less – or no – money, why should I hire you? Because you work hard? Ha! Because you write every day? Ho! Because you’re funny? Who cares? Because you’re smart? Definitely not!

Comedy clubs, for the most part, have been colonized by the low-brow. The level of discourse in your average comedy show rarely rises above that of magazines like “Maxim.” But at least “Maxim” has hot chicks to look at.

Too often, stand-up comedy is ugly, mean and ignorant. And the smart person who wants to raise the level of discourse must navigate this minefield of stupidity and ignorance and bear down in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges, just to be able to pursue their dream. And often they must compromise their personal integrity in order to achieve any degress of success

Most intelligent, well-educated people I know would never even consider going to a comedy club. Why? When did this happen?

This dilemma gave rise to the “alternative comedy” movement, but that did not solve the problem. I have watched - and performed in - many alternative comedy shows, and I have learned an important fact: “alternative” is frequently a euphemism for “not funny.”

And comedy that is not funny is not comedy. They call it “stand-up comedy” not “standup weirdness,” or “stand-up thoughtfulness.” I have no issue with performance art. It’s a completely viable form of self-expression. But it’s not standup comedy.

Standup comedy is a truly unique art form. It is a combination of well-constructed writing, engaging stage presence and a unique point-of-view, the combination of which results in the involuntary response of laughter.

Anything less is a pale imitation.

Becoming a working, professional standup comedian is sort of like becoming president. Does the best-qualified person get the job? Of course not. It’s all about who you know, and how much bullshit you’re willing to put up.

Somewhere, in an alternate reality, George W. Bush is doing a "gig" at P.J. McYuck-Yuck's in Des Moines.

And he’s doing a shitty job there too.

10.14.2005

OH GOD, IT'S TONIGHT

I'm hosting a show at New York Comedy Club tonight.

If you are not familiar with this particular establishment, imagine a comedy club in a halfway house, or an old Times Square porno theater. The only thing funny about this place is the fact that they haven't been shut down by the Board of Health.

It's been raining here in New York City for a solid week. I am secretly hoping that the rain will keep everybody away and that the show will be cancelled.

"Dread" is not a word that should come to mind when you think about pursuing your hobby.

Here's the thing about hosting a standup show: If the audience likes you, it's great fun. You get to come back every eight-ten minutes and tell a joke or two, and then introduce the next comedian.

But if the audience doesn't like you, it's like the Comedy Hostage Situation. You are trapped. You can't leave. And you can't nominate an audience member to take over for you mid-show. Trust me. I've tried it. Plus, the management (such as it is at New York Comedy Club) would probably frown upon enlisting audience members to entertain the other audience members.

Maybe, because I don't really care how it goes, it will go better than it would if I cared how it went?

10.13.2005

LAUGHTER IS NOT ALWAYS THE BEST MEDICINE

Last night I did a standup set at the Village Lantern, a bar in the Greenwich Village area of New York City.

The comedian who went on before me spent his five minutes talking about how, as a young boy, he had been sexually molested by a Catholic priest. Now, I love a good molestation story as much as the next guy, but the whole thing made me (and the rest of the audience) extremely uncomfortable. It felt terribly inappropriate, amongst all the jokes about porn and masturbation. But it's his story. If this guy chooses to face his demons by telling hacky jokes in the basement of a shitty bar in New York City, that's his business. Far be it from me to judge him.

Later in the show, a female "comic" took the stage and asked the crowd (of mostly comedians) if there were "any men who liked children" in the audience. She then proceeded to refer to those men as "pedafilers. This malapropism was, by far, the funniest thing I have ever heard this unfortunate woman say in the four years that I have been listening to her mangle the art of standup comedy. Sadly, she was not trying to be funny.

At that moment, the young man who had been molested suggested that the term was actually "pedophile." The female comedian then began to argue with him about what child molesters are actually called.

Here is a good rule of thumb: Never argue with someone who has survived child molestation about what to call a child molester. It's bad form. The survivor of child molestation is an expert on the topic of child molestation, in a way that you are not (assuming that you have never been molested, which I hope is an accurate assumption).

The profoundly unfunny female comedian eventually decided that the actual term was - or should be - pedophiliac. Just like hemophiliac, except instead of bleeding uncontrollably you touch young boys uncontrollably. (That's my witty explanation, not hers.)

The molested child who grew up to be an aspiring comedian laughed at this talentless woman, and remained a good sport throughout. I, on the other hand, prayed to God that this woman would survive some trauma, and live to hear an idiot tell jokes about it in her presence.

I know God is busy with all those lawsuits, but I sure hope He had time to listen.

10.12.2005

THE START OF SOMETHING BIG

Apple announced today that they’re coming out with a new video iPod.

You know what that means, right? iPorn.

150 hours of it. Wherever you want, whenever you want.

It's pornography on the go. On the bus. On the subway. In the bathroom at work. Pornography is about to be liberated!

The only reason guys don’t spend their entire work day looking at porn on their computers is, we know we might get caught. Somebody is watching us. We don’t know who it is. We don’t where they are. But we know they’re watching.

And God forbid, you follow a link in an email and all of a sudden you’re on some freaky site called “Chinese Middle School Girls Gone Wild.”

And you’re like, “What the fuck?!” And you try to close the window, and three more windows pop up. And each one is freakier and nastier than the one before it.

And before you can say “control-alt-delete," the FBI is confiscating your computer and dragging you out of your office in handcuffs, with your pants around your ankles.

Try explaining that one to the cute blond receptionist.

Here are the facts: Americans spend $12 billion a year on pornography. And it’s not just us. Worldwide it’s a $57 billion business. Porn makes more money than Hollywood. Porn is primarily responsible for the growth of the VCR, the DVD, the internet, video-on-demand. Pornography inspires innovation.

The point is, ladies and gentlemen, porn is good. Porn works, porn is right. And porn, mark my words, will save not only Apple Computer, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A.

The revolution is here. And it’s in your pocket.

A REAL CONVERSATION THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED

MAN #1: "Umbrellas are for pussies."

MAN #2: "Well this pussy doesn't like to get wet."

MAN #1: "Hmmm, sounds like my ex-girlfriend."

MAN #2: "This conversation is making me uncomfortable."

MAN #1: "What's your name, anyway?"

MAN #2: "I'm MAN #2."

MAN #1: "Nice to meet you, MAN #2. I'm MAN #1. But you can call me Larry."

MAN #2: "Nice to meet you, Larry. You can call me #2."

MAN #1: "Hmmm, sounds like my ex-girlfriend."

MAN #2: "Why did you call your ex-girlfriend #2?"

MAN #1: "Beacuse she liked it when I poohed on her."

MAN #2: "This conversation is making me uncomfortable."

MAN #1: "You realize that we don't really exist, right?"

MAN #2: "You mean in an existential way?"

MAN #1: "No. We don't really exist. We were made up for the sake of this blog."

MAN #2: "Then we can say or do anything we want, and it doesn't have to be based in any sense of reality?'

MAN #1: "That's right."

MAN #2: "Okay. You are now Kelly Monaco from TV's 'General Hospital' and you want to have sex with me.

KELLY MONACO: "Hi. I'm Kelly Monaco from TV's 'General Hospital' and I want to have sex with you."

MAN #2: "Nice to meet you Kelly. I'm Will McKinley."

FADE TO BLACK

10.11.2005

AN UP AND DOWN JOB

Today I am editing video interviews with pharmaceutical reps who sell a drug that treats Bi-polar Disorder.

If you ask me, I think I got this assignment because everybody I work with knows I am Bi-polar. It's like type-casting. Like, "Who's the most manic-depressive corporate communications professional in this company? Why, Will McKinley, of course! He's our man!"

Only problem is, I took this particular drug for awhile and it made me feel like a zombie.

I better not interview myself. I don't think "zombified" is an adjective that's gonna get the sales force pumped. I also won't mention that now I actually take the competitor's drugs for Bi-polar Disorder, and it works great. Bettter than the one that I am working to promote.

Such are the ethical dilemmas of a corporate propagandist.

Reminds me of the time I wore a Mickey Mouse watch to a meeting at Warner Bros.

10.10.2005

SEARCH ME

On August 25, 2005 I wrote a post called LOOKING FOR MR. SALTY.

This was a joke I had done a handful of times at open mics around New York City. I have kind of a rule about not posting jokes from my standup act in this space. But I was working long hours that week and I broke my own rule. I know, I lack personal integrity. I'm working on it.

Anyway, in the six weeks since I posted the Mr. Salty bit, more than two dozen people have been directed to "previously owned" because they did a Google search for "Mr. Salty." Can you believe that? Nothing else has even come close in getting people to this site.

There were two interesting articles in the Business section of Monday's The New York Times. The first was about the Delaware Supreme Court upholding anonymity rights for those who post articles and/or comments on blogs in particular, and the internet in general. That is certainly good news for me, and you (if you comment...hint hint).

The second was about the top internet search terms of the last decade. Surprisingly enough, Mr. Salty did not make the list.

But I have learned a lot about the power of search terms. And now, thanks to the Delaware Supreme Court, I can write anything I want - with complete impunity.

Please enjoy the following story.

+++

A TRUE STORY ABOUT WILL McKINLEY
by Anonymous

"Okay. I have to take a break. I'm getting sore."

Those were words Will McKinley never expected he would hear Pamela Anderson say.

"Seriously, Dude. You're much bigger than Tommy Lee. And I should know. Because we made a movie together called 'The Pam and Tommy Sex Video.'"

Those were words Will always expected he would hear Pam say. Because it was true. How to enlarge your penis? That was not a concern for Will McKinley.

"That's the Hepatitis-C talking," a drunken Britney Spears yelled from the bathroom. "Maybe you should ease up on the tattoos, ya old, disease-ridden skank! I'm Outrageous! I'm a Slave 4 You, Will."

At that moment Britney Spears ran out of the bathroom of the Presidential Suite of the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, dressed in nothing more than Southern Hospitality. Fresh from her breakup with Justin Timberlake of 'N Sync fame (and long before her impetuous marriage to backup dancer Kevin Federline, or the birth of their son Sean Preston), Britney was eager to experiment with an older, more experienced man.

Will McKinley was that man.

"You are such a whore!" Pam Anderson shot back at Britney. "But that's why America loves you!"

Pam laughed heartily, pulling her long blonde hair back into a ponytail, as she sniffed a seemingly endless line of cocaine from the glass table.

"I think this boy needs two whores right now," Britney hollered. "And quit hogging all the coke, Kate Moss!"

"Just like Suzanne Sommers always said, 'Three's Company!" Pam yelled as she dove under the 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, joining Will and Britney.

Will felt like a child on Christmas morning. Or maybe Thanksgiving, or New Year's Eve.

"So who's better, us or Paris Hilton?" Britney asked, as she slowly lowered herself onto Will's outsized member.

"Paris Hilton? Are you kidding? Did you see 'One Night in Paris,' also known as 'The Paris Hilton Sex Video?'" Will replied, in between thrusts. "She gives shitty blowjobs and all she does is whine all the way through. Like, 'Ow. You're so big. It's hurting me.'"

"But you are so big!," Pam laughed, pulling Britney off and hungrily jumping on top of Will. "I haven't had this much fun since I was on 'Baywatch.'"

Britney rolled over and grabbed the remote. "Speaking of porn...let's watch some!"

Britney turned on the TV and began frantically switching channels. Soap operas. 'Lost.' Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah's couch, raving about Katie Holmes, and the baby.

Britney stopped on a cartoon, out of habit. "'Pokemon!'" she yelled. "I love that show! Gotta catch em all!"

"That's not 'Pokemon,' Britney," Will said, bending Pam over the glass table so she could do a bump. "That's 'Dragonball Z.'"

Britney continued to flip, until she found a WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment, formerly WWF) wrestling program.

"Woo-hoo. I love me some WWE wrastlin'!" Britney screamed, jumping up and grabbing Will and Pam, who had moved the action to the couch.

The three lovers fell on top of each other in a heap, like players in the NFL (National Football League).

"I have an idea," Pam said. "Let's all go to Las Vegas and play some poker! I love Texas Hold 'Em!"

"Great idea, "Will replied. "We can take my private jet. My pilot flew bombing raids in Afghanistan after September 11. Boy, do I hate Osama bin Laden and all those Muslim extremist terrorists!"

"So do I," Britney Spears replied. "Now Hit Me Baby...One More Time!"

"Me too," added Pamela Anderson. "Fuck us...for freedom!"

And that is what Will McKinley did. All night long...

THE END???

10.09.2005

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"It's too late for eggs."

That's what the deli guy said to me when I asked for an egg sandwich at 11:30 am on a Sunday morning.

It's also what the OB/GYN said to my Mom when she tried to have a baby after age 40.

10.07.2005

A STORY ABOUT LONDON, SORT OF...

I love New York City.

There is nowhere else in the entire world where I would rather live. But if I got banished from New York - and had to move somewhere else - I would choose London.

I've only visited London twice - and both times were work trips - but I loved it. I felt that same electricity that I feel here in New York, but with a slightly different energy. New York is a young, brash city. We are still busting our collective asses to prove ourselves to the world.

London has been there, and done that. They have nothing to prove. So things tend to be just a touch less manic.

I made my first visit to London in 1994. My mission was to produce a video news release promoting the opening of the Warner Bros. Studio Store on Regent Street, in London's most fashionable shopping district.

What was an American t-shirt shop doing amongst the jewelry, fine china and designer dress shops of London's exclusive West End? Apparently, not enough. Because, like most of the other Warner Bros. Studio Stores around the world, the Regent Street location has since closed its doors.

But that day - on the site of the brand new, European flagship Warner Bros. Studio Store - enthusiasm was up, Doc!

I was excited - and nervous - because I was scheduled to shoot an interview with Sylvester Stallone, who was in town to promote "The Specialist," a terrible movie he had just made for Warner Bros.

I walked to the store from my hotel in Piccadilly Circus and was greeted by Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, dressed up like Buckingham Palace guards. The place was, like all Warner Stores, "themed" to the city in which it operated.

Sylvester Stallone and his entourage walked in a short time later. Stallone was descended upon by Warner Bros. suits, like hungry flies on a fresh carcass.

The thing about Sylvester Stallone is, he's very short. I mean laughably short. If you saw him in person, you wouldn't believe it. I don't know how they managed to make him look like such a bad-ass in all those movies. In real life, he looks like some short Italian guy from the neighborhood who works out a lot to compensate for his height. Which is kind of what he is.

"Sly" arrived with his girlfriend (now his wife) Jennifer Flavin. Jennifer looked at least twenty years younger - and twelve inches taller - than the Italian Stallion. She was tall and thin as a rail. He was short and built like a fireplug. Standing next to each other they looked like the number ten.

Apparently they met on the set of "Rocky V" when Jennifer was 22 and Mr. Stallone was 44. I'm sure she fell for his sharp wit and gentleness of spirit.

Another thing about Stallone is, he mumbles. It is kind of hard to understand him, which can make for a difficult interview. We were introduced by a senior executive at Warner Bros., and Sly half-heartedly shook my hand. My first question was about his passion for art, which I attempted to tie in to animation (a stretch, I know). For the most part, I could not understand what the hell he was talking about.

After awhile Sly seemed to warm up a bit, and his enunciation improved. So I asked him who his favorite Looney Tunes character was. Sylvester the Cat! Of course! Cut to the guy dressed in the Sylvester costume who walked over and gave Sly a big hug! It's Sylvester and Sylvester! It was so cute, I almost forgot it was staged propaganda!

My interview with Stallone came to an end, and he and Jennifer and his entourage marched off into the London fog with bags of complementary Bugs Bunny t-shirts.

Later that evening there was a gala opening night party at the store, and Bill Wyman from The Rolling Stones made an appearance. I didn't get to interview him because he was too busy canoodling with a tall, thin, very young girl. Are you sensing a pattern here?

I did however get to interview a number of minor, U.K. celebrities, none of whom I can remember. I think one of them was a weather man.

After the party I hopped a taxi cab to an edit studio, where we cut the VNR and fed it, via satellite, to every TV newsroom in Europe. The next morning my interview with Stallone was on all the morning "chat shows" in the U.K. (as well as throughout Europe).

I must clarify here: when I say "my" interview, that does not mean that they used footage of me on the air. I hold the mic. I write and ask the questions. But neither my face, nor my voice, ever makes it to air. All that the Europeans saw on the telly while enjoying their morning tea was the partially paralyzed mug of Sylvester Stallone.

That is true, by the way. His face is partially paralyzed. One of the public relations execs from Warner Bros. told me about it, and asked me to make sure we only shot Sly's "good" side.

"Which side is the 'good' side?" I asked. "The one that doesn't look paralyzed," the executive replied, with absolutely no sense of irony.

Apparently, Sly was born via forceps delivery and there was some permanent facial damage. I think that's why he always sounds like he's mumbling. Because he is.

Talk about overcoming adversity! A short guy with a half-paralyzed face becomes a movie star and gets the hot model, half his age! Hollywood truly is the land of dreams!

Later that day, I took a flight from Gatwick Airport up to Glasgow, Scotland, where we shot the Warner Bros. Studio Store on Buchannan Street. Bugs Bunny was in the window dressed in his finest tartans, playing a bagpipe. It felt like Johnny Appleseed, spreading American popular culture across the European continent.

The next morning I flew back to New York City, having spent most of my time in the United Kingdom filming American cartoon characters. Like Sylvester Stallone.

I had asked my boss to take a picture of Sly and me shaking hands, right before I interviewed him. And when I got home I proudly showed the picture to my father.

"That's a nice picture of you," he said. "Who's the short fella? "

A POST ABOUT TOAST

You know what is a good snack? Toast!

TOAST RULES! T-O-A-S-T...GO TOAST!

I love toast. I love toast with butter. Not some "I Can't Believe it's Not Fucking Butter" shit. I'm talking about ACTUAL BUTTER, made from milk that was squeezed out of a cow, on a farm somewhere in the Mid-Western United States of America, on the planet of Earth, in the Milky Way Galaxy.

I am lactose intolerant, but I still love BUTTERED TOAST. It is so good I want to cry tears of joy!

If you try to put margarine on my toast I will tear your fucking head off your neck. Do you understand what I am saying to you? Who the fuck eats margarine? Squeeze Parkay? I'll squeeze your Parkay! I'll give you something to squeeze about!

Pepperidge Farm bread is the best sliced bread since sliced bread! I'm talking about the thick, square loaf. You know what I mean, Jean?

Are you hip to the Pepperidge Farm toast with REAL BUTTER? That's PEPPERIDGE with two P's. Do a Google Search, BITCH!

Get high and eat AN ENTIRE LOAF! That's what I did last night.

It's OKAY. It's Atkins-Friendly.

Did I mention I love toast!

Here's the FIVE O'CLOCK TOAST WHISTLE!

TOOT TOOT FOR TOAST!

I am not high right now. I am at work.

10.06.2005

DO THE MATH!

This week I'm working on a proposal for a pharamceutical product launch.

When I work as a freelance production coordinator I make $450 per day. I'm not saying that to brag. It's a fact. When I work as a video producer I make even more. I'm not saying I deserve it, bit if people are willing to pay me I am not gonna say no.

Anyway, when I am working in the office (as opposed to on-site, like I was in Atlanta) I typically come in at 10 am and leave at 6 pm. That works out to about 93 cents per minute for my time. That's like phone sex money!

For example, I have spent about three minutes (so far) writing this post. And in that time I've made almost $3.

I like to time everything I do in the course of my day, and figure out how much I made while doing it.

That conference call this morning? I made $70.31. That awkward chat by the water cooler $2.34. I just made $3.25 for doing a number two. Awesome.

The point is, when you divide each pointless, meaningless task you do at work into its component parts, and you attach a financial value to it, it makes it much easier to do.

Why not try it right now?

How much did you get paid to read this post?

Why not read it again, and make even more?!

10.05.2005

A STORY ABOUT BEING A COMEDIAN, SORT OF...

I am an aspiring comedian.

I don't call myself a comedian, because I don't really get paid to do standup. I did get paid $50 to do a Hurrican Katrina benefit show in Connecticut, but I donated my fee to the Red Cross. Those poor people floating around the Ninth Ward of New Orleans need the cash more than I do.

Standup for me is kind of a hobby. Don't misunderstand what I'm saying. I take it very seriously, I just don't want to be a full-time, professional standup comedian. There's too much else I want to do in my life. I hope that standup will always be part of it, but it will never be all of it.

I've enjoyed pursuing standup for the past four years, and I've also enjoyed watching the way other people pursue it. For most aspiring comics there seems to be this feverish desire to be successful RIGHT NOW.

Here is a fact: Unless you are an absolute natural, it takes a while to develop as a comedian. A lot of people say the first five years don't count, that it takes that long just to develop your "voice" and your confidence on stage. I believe it. After four years, I am just beginning to feel like I know what I'm doing.

Last night I performed for the very first time at the Comic Strip, arguably the most historically significant comedy club in New York City. The Comic Strip opened in 1976 and has launched the careers of many of the most famous comedians of the last three decades.

In order to perform at most comedy clubs in New York City you have to be "passed" by the management. And in order to be passed you must have TV credits, or be buddies with the booker or engage in endless political maneuvers. But the Comic Strip is different. They devote an entire night of the week just to auditioning new performers. On Monday nights, green amateurs share the stage with experienced veterans, and every now and then one of them is passed and gets to join the family.

This kind of "open architecture" is unique in the world of New York City standup comedy.

Twice a year, the Strip holds a lottery and awards audition dates to hundreds of ambitious newcomers. Over the last four years I have watched dozens of my friends and fellow aspirants engage in this process, only to be soundly rejected. In most cases my compatriots are shocked and angry that they were not passed. Often they blame it on the woman who judges the new talent, accusing her of every imaginable injustice.

Here are the facts: Most of the people I know who have auditioned at the Comic Strip are not good enough to pass. Period. That doesn't mean they won't be good enough in the future. But they are not good enough now.

It is extremely important to understand where you are in terms of your development, in comedy and in life in general. Why would you put yourself before the eyes of the powers that be before you are truly ready? Why not wait until you are such a lock that you are almost guaranteed of passing? This is, and has always been, my strategy.

I always looked at the Comic Strip as a place where I would perform some day - when I was ready.

Then, a few weeks ago, I was asked by my friend Steve Rosso to be part of a show at the Comic Strip that he was putting together for the New York Underground Comedy Festival.

My first thought was, "Am I ready? Is now the right time? It's only been four years. What if it turns out I'm not ready, and somebody sees me?" I listened to all these questions, and self-doubts and decided to do it anyway.

I dreaded the day for weeks, worried that my five-year plan was going to be irrevocably compromised.

On the day of the show I was more nervous than I have been in a long time. I went to the Gap and bought a new shirt for good luck (and because I was sweating profusely), and headed up to the Comic Strip.

Steve Rosso opened the show, and introduced the first comedian, Tom McCaffrey. The crowd loved Tom. The second comedian got off to a rough start with some questionable material about Hurricane Katrina. During his set, Steve came over to me and told me that the next scheduled comic was late, and asked if I wanted to go next.

To add an additional level of drama, the comedian who was late was my ex-girlfriend. She and I dated on and off for two years, and the Comic Strip was the scene of many moments of drama between the two of us. The first time we broke up was the day after my ex was passed. Her moving to the next level - without me - created a sense of imbalance in our relationship that neither one of us handled well.

I sat in the back of the showroom, feeling a combination of nervousness and confidence. Something was happening inside of me that I didn't understand. But I felt it. And I knew it would all work out if I didn't get in my own way.

I raced to the bathroom, put on my new shirt and walked up to the mic. I immediately felt at home. I felt a sense of history, in a way I never have before on stage.

The set went very well. The audience laughed where they were supposed to, and in places that surprised me. They "got" me, which does not always happen.

Toward the end of my set, I saw my ex-girlfriend walk through the door. I made eye contact with her and felt free - free of the power that I had given to her, and free of the power that I had given to that room.

I concluded my set by saying "Thank you, Comic Strip." And I meant it.

What will happen next? I have no idea.

All I know is, I have a new lucky shirt.

AN EXCERPT FROM MY NEW SELF-HELP BOOK

"The process must be organic or it will not work. You can't force it. You cannot force evolution. Growth must happpen at it's own pace, or it will collapse upon itself.

I'm not saying you should sit on your ass and wait for good things to happen to you. Be aggressive. Be entrepreneurial. But don't seek out good things until you are ready for them.

It doesn't matter if you feel like you "should be" ready. When you are truly ready, you will feel something that you have never felt before. You will feel Readiness.

At that moment, inner strength and genuine confidence will live in your heart, and you will have the ability to achieve whatever you wish to achieve."


the preceding was an excerpt from
"Where There's a Will There's a Hot Wet Pussy"
published by Previously Owned Ministries

Previously Owned Ministries is a religious and charitable organization and is not affiliated with Previously Owned Nissan of Dallas/Fort Worth - the Metroplex's number one dealer for quality, used vehicles.

10.04.2005

ANOTHER ERROR FOR THE METS

I'm a New York Mets fan.

For my international readers, the New York Mets are a baseball team. You've heard of the New York Yankees, right? Well the Mets do the same thing, in the same city, only much less successfully.

October is the most important month on the baseball calendar because it marks the conclusion of the 162 game schedule and the beginning of the post-season, culminating in the World Series. For the Mets, October is normally pretty meaningless. But this year is different.

No, the Mets are not headed to the playoffs. Once again, in the words of the dear, departed Don Adams of "Get Smart," they "missed it by that much."

This October is significant because it is the last one with Mike Piazza in a New York Mets uniform.

If you live in New York, you know who Mike Piazza is. He's the all-star catcher who spent seven and 1/2 years bringing a bit of credibility to a laughingstock.

Piazza's $98 million, seven year contract expires this year. And neither side has officially acknowledged it, but Mike will not be wearing number 31 for the Mets next year.

I was in the stands at Shea Stadium for Piazza's first game on May 22, 1998. And I was back again for his last game on Sunday.

In typical fashion, the Mets were clobbered by the lowly Colorado Rockies as they played out the string on a disappointing season. But I wasn't there to watch a meaningless game between two sub-par teams. I was there to pay my respects to a player who brought me a lot of enjoyment over the years.

And 47,718 other New Yorkers had the same idea.

We all wildly cheered Piazza as he hit three weak ground balls to shortstop in his first three at-bats. Then, during the seventh inning stretch, a sentimental tribute video was shown on the large Diamondvision video screen. At the conclusion of the video, Piazza came out of the dugout and bowed to each side of the stadium. It was a fitting farewell.

I got a little bit choked up, in the way that straight guys allow themselves to at dramatic sporting events. "But at least we get one more chance to see him hit," I thought, pulling out my digital camera to record the moment.

But that moment never came. Piazza was given the rest of the day off.

When the Mets took the field to begin the 8th inning, Piazza trotted out in his catcher's gear. Moments later he was replaced by backup catcher Mile DeFelice.

How do you take the guy out early on his last day, when everyone is there to see him? To make matters worse, Mets manager Willie Randolph had given Piazza the previous game off. Piazza did not ask to be "rested" on his second-to-last day as a Met. According to reports, he wanted to play. It was the manager who made the call.

Would Piazza have reached deep within himself and found the strength to smash one more home run in his final at bat as a Met? The curtain call that might have been will never be.

This was an act of disrespect to a player who prides himself on never giving up, and to the fans who wanted every chance to cheer for him before he recedes into Mets history.

It was yet another bonehead move from a bonehead baseball team.

I will never forget the years I spent cheering for Mike Piazza at Shea Stadium. But I'm sure going to try to forget the way I said goodbye.

Let's go Mets!

10.03.2005

THE (GAY) BAR EXAM

Harriet Miers, President Bush's choice to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, is sixty years old and has never been married.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Is it possible that our Evangelical Christian president has nominated a gay woman to serve on the Supreme Court? According to the BBC, President Bush himself referred to Miers as "a pit bull." That does not sound very feminine.

O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg will never be asked to appear in a "Supreme Court Girls Gone Wild" video, but at least both of them are marrried. To men.

Of course, if Harriet Miers is gay, she could not marry another woman in the United States.

But maybe somebody could change that. Somebody, say, on the Supreme Court...

10.02.2005

I AM A PROPAGANDIST

According to Saturday's New York Times, investigators from the General Accountability Office ruled that the Bush administration "violated the law by buying favorable news coverage of President Bush's education policies."

The illegal activity to which they refer involves, in part, the creation and dissemination of "video news releases" touting the effectiveness of President Bush's education policies.

While I am no fan of the policies of the Bush administration, the GAO's report leaves me with mixed emotions.

I get paid to produce video news releases, exactly like the ones ruled "illegal" by the GAO's auditors.

Here's the way a video news release works:

- A client has a product or service to promote (in this case, the U.S. Department of Education's policies);
- The client hires an advertising agency (in this case, Ketchum);
- The advertising agency hires a company that specializes in the production and distribution of VNRs (there are only a few that do it);
- The production company hires a producer to handle the shooting and editing of the piece (in this case, not me - phew!)

The issue that the GAO's auditors seemed to have with this process was lack of transparency. Since when has any form of advertising been transparent? Advertising, by it's very nature, is meant to lead the consumer in a particular direction.

I produced my first VNR in 1995. The story was the Orlando, Florida launch of Time Warner's Full Service Network, the very first "interactive" cable TV system in the country.

Ten years later, things like high-speed internet and Video on Demand are commonplace. Back then, they were big news.

Time Warner hired the production company for which I worked and we developed a script for a VNR to promote the launch.

I visited the home of an Orlando family "cast" by Time Warner, and proceeded to rearrange their living room in order to get better camera angles. Then I interviewed the family members (and fed them lines), as well as various Time Warner executives who all praised the system - in scripted sound bites - as the most important innovation in television since color.

Finally, we taped footage of the big, splashy launch event (where Time Warner had a backup system in place in case the network failed, but we didn't show that part).

I took the footage and worked with a video editor to cut a three-minute piece that looked as much like a news story as possible. Then, we fed the edited video (along with additional footage of the system) to a satellite where it was distributed to every newsroom in the country.

We encoded the video with a the equivalent of a digital "fingerprint," which allowed us to track each and every time any of our content was used on broadcast or cable television. The Full Service Network VNR I produced ended up being the second most-successful of the year, in terms of aggregate audience. (I think the winner was the VNR promoting "The OJ Simpson Workout" video.)

Millions of viewers saw some part of my VNR. And none of them knew that it was essentially propaganda, designed to get them excited about digital cable television.

All the major network newscasts - CBS Evening News, ABC World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News - used our footage. As did, all the morning news shows. None of them identified the content as supplied by Time Warner.

And that's okay, in my opinion. It was a perfect example of symbiosis. News programs need content and Time Warner needed targeted promotion for this initiative.

I understand that the issue here is the U.S. government spending tax payer dollars on what amounts to partisan propaganda . But let's keep this in perspective.

How is placing a news story with a positive spin about "No Child Left Behind" worse than Scott McClellan lying to reporters in a press conference, or Dick Cheney's right hand guy outing a covert C.I.A. agent, or Tom DeLay laundering money, or Bill Frist engaging in insider trader or President Bush spending $80,000 an hour to fly Air Force One to New Orleans each time his approval rating drops.

A VNR is no more guilty, and probably a good deal less. And outside of government propaganda, VNRs can be a very effective marketing tool for companies. Not to lie, but to promote.

We can add a disclaimer to a government-funded VNR. That's an easy fix, but it's a Bandaid on a amputation.

Fix the dishonesty that lies at the core of this administration first.

And leave us propagandists alone.

10.01.2005

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Are you a Pride Person?"

My awkward way of asking a girl I don't know very well if she is gay.

In my defense, she mentioned that she was going to a Pride Party. I assume, if somebody tells me they are going to a Pride Party, that they are not exactly in the closet. And if they are, they are doing a pretty bad job at it.

Anyway, when she told me that yes, she was in fact a "Pride Person," my response was "Good for you!"

It sounds patronizing, but it's actually extremely heartfelt.

If I ever have a daughter I hope she is gay. The idea of MY LITTLE GIRL being manhandled by some stupid, horny guy makes me sick to my stomach. I think all girls should be gay. If you do that, eventually men will become extinct.

And the world will be a much better place. No more wars, no more rapes, no more drunken barfights, no more Fraternities, no more Maxim.

Of course, I am against all of the above, so I will be allowed to live.

And I will be free to engage in awkward, non-sexual relationships with members of the opposite sex, while simulataneoulsy being pursued by homosexual members of my own gender. And I will end up alone in my apartment, with my pictures of Kelly Monaco.

In other words, nothing will change.