11.29.2006

THANKSGIVING AT THE MOVIES - PART 3

Finally: The Palm Beach Story.

I visited my sister in Florida recently and we stopped by Blockbuster Video to select the evening's entertainment. Upon entering I spotted about three-dozen DVDs of You, Me and Dupree, a rather unfunny looking comedy from earlier this year, among other recent releases. So I ambled over to the checkout counter and asked the clerk where I could find the "old movies."

"You mean, like from the '90's?" the teenager with the crispy perm replied, in between snaps of her gum.

"No," I answered, with a smile that belied my contempt. "I mean, like from the '40s."

"Like, the 1940s?" she asked incredulously. "Oh, I don't think we carry any of those."

Of course they did carry a few of the regular suspects, such as Casablanca, Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz. But they were hidden in the back of the store, in a two-shelf section pejoratively labeled Classics, located right between French documentaries and community service videos.

No wonder even the employees couldn't find them.

One of the great crimes of modern American culture is our collective lack of appreciation for the classic films of the first half of the 20th Century. This country has such an anti-Black & White bias that we actually invented software to add wretched, cartoonish color to some the most beautiful films ever made. This is akin to painting a smile on Edvard Munch's to make it more "accessible" to a younger audience.

Black & White movies -- particularly comedies from the 1940s -- are one of the great joys in my life. And none is more joyful that the 1942 Preston Sturges comedy The Palm Beach Story. I watched this classic for the first time over the long Thanksgiving weekend, and it is by far the best film I have seen all year.

Claudette Colbert and Joel McCrea play Gerry and Tom Jeffers, a young, New York City couple suffering from chronic financial woes. Gerry decides that the solution to their money troubles is to split up, so she leaves Tom and heads to Palm Beach for a quickie divorce.

Broke and without travel fare, Gerry sweet talks her way onto a Florida-bound train populated by the drunken members of a hunting club. When her travel companions begin ginning up and taking target practice on the train, Gerry sneaks off and ends up in the company of unmarried millionaire John D. Hackensacker III (Rudy Vallee). Meanwhile, Tom has flown to Palm Beach to intercept Gerry in an effort to change her mind about the divorce. When he finally finds her, she has already been lavished with gifts by her new gentleman caller, whose frequently divorced sister (Mary Astor) has taken a liking to Tom.

I won't tell you how everything turns out, but I will tell you that it makes me smile just thinking about it.

Everything about The Palm Beach Story is a joy: Preston Sturges' sharp script and madcap staging; Colbert, McCrea, Vallee and Astor sparkling performances; even the music, which includes a beautiful serenade from crooner Rudy Vallee as the quirky millionaire to his beloved Gerry.

In the past you might have had to make a special effort to seek out a great old film like The Palm Beach Story. But now it's easier than ever.

Just last week Universal released Preston Sturges: The Filmmaker Collection, a box set of seven of the eight films Sturges made for Paramount between 1940 and 1944. In addition to The Palm Beach Story, this collection includes
The Great McGinty (1940), Christmas in July (1940), The Lady Eve (1941), Sullivan's Travels (1941), Hail the Conquering Hero (1944) and The Great Moment (1944). The only Sturges film of this period missing from the collection is The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944), which is available separately from Paramount.

I've already ordered two copies from Amazon.com for the low, low price of $41.81. The first one is for me and the second one I will be bringing to Florida when I visit my sister's family for the Holidays.

I plan on donating it to the Blockbuster Video in Ft. Lauderdale. By then they should have fewer copies of You, Me and Dupree on the shelf, and more room for comedies that are actually funny.

11.28.2006

THANKSGIVING AT THE MOVIES - PART 2

Next: For Your Consideration.

There are two types of people in the world: those who like improvised comedy and those who do not.

I fall into the latter category. And I speak from an informed perspective, having studied the art form for four "semesters" at the Upright Citizen's Brigade, the mecca of improv comedy in New York City.

I'm a writer. I like to commit words to paper (actually Microsoft Word, but you know what I mean). I like to labor over language. When I'm writing something funny I like to craft a punch line for hours, comparing one option to another, reciting it aloud to see how it sounds. For me, writing, particularly comedic writing, is an art form based upon empirical structure and style.

Improv, on the other hand, is all about freedom from the tyranny of the page. It's about being real and in the moment, creative in a loosey-goosey sense.
In fact, every single comedic improv teacher in the world will give the same piece of advice: go for the "truth" of a scene and do not -- under any circumstances -- try to be funny.

If the goal of improv is not to be funny, Christopher Guest's new improvised comedy film For Your Consideration is a barn-burning success. Unfortunately, this flat satire of the movie industry isn't truthful either. It isn't really much of anything, except an abject failure. I am truly sorry to report that this movie is a bigger turkey than anything you ate last weekend.

Guest is the comedic genius behind the iconic 1984 mockumentary This is Spinal Tap. I can't tell you how many times I have watched Spinal Tap wishing -- hoping -- that I would finally get the joke that so many others seem to get. But, alas, I did not. I enjoyed the characters and the situations, but a comedy is supposed to make a person laugh, not smile politely.

Nor was I particularly amused by Guest's 1996 improvised film Waiting for Guffman, the story of a small town machinations of a community theater group. The odd thing is that I have always loved Guest as a performer. I enjoyed his work as a cast member during the 1984-85 season of Saturday Night Live, arguably that show's finest season after the departure of the original Not Ready for Primetime Players. I also enjoyed Guest's wacky characterizations on comedy specials for Martin Short and Billy Crystal, and in various other forms.

So I gave him one more shot when Best in Show was released in 2000, and I'm glad I did. I enjoyed that film, and the follow up, 2003's A Mighty Wind. I didn't necessarily find them to be hysterically funny, but I loved the nuanced worlds that Guest and his troupe of improvisers created. A Mighty Wind also had the added bonus of some genuinely entertaining music (including an Academy Award nomination for Best Song), and extremely memorable performances by Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy as aging folk duo Mitch and Mickey.

So it was with cautious optimism that I went to see Guest's homage to Hollywood Award Season buzz, For Your Consideration, last weekend.

At the centerpiece of the film is the production of a heartwarming family drama called Home for Purim. Right there Guest lost me. If improv is supposed to find humor in truth, the core of this movie is a lack of truth. Anyone who has ever gone to the movies knows that no one would ever give a filmmaker any amount of money to produce a film about an obscure Jewish holiday.

You might say, "The film is a comedy. He's trying to be funny." Wrong. As with improv, all great satire has at its core an inherent truth. And there is no truth in the premise of this movie. Hollywood is ripe for a throat-slitting satire about desperate actors, unctuous agents and artificial buzz, but this is not that movie.

For Your Consideration wants to have and eat its cake. It's the most written of all of Guest's improvised comedies, but every obviously written joke falls flat. And the improv is not funny, because it is not based in truth. So it fails as a both a written comedy and an improvised one.

As usual Guest has populated the film with a wealth of interesting, amusing characters. His team of improvisors are all brilliant, engaging, witty talents, but their talents are wasted in this dull, unfunny, tin-eared film. Even the brilliant Fred Willard, whose performance as the TV announcer in Best in Show was easily worth the price of admission, is lackluster in his role as an Entertainment Tonight style reporter.

If you give a talented improvisor a well-drawn character, and a situation based in truth, yet still rich with comedic potential, they will give you something interesting. But Guest's cast seems unclear about the tone of the film, even about how to play their roles. Only British actor Ricky Gervais (as the head of the studio who wants to limit the Jewishness of Home for Purim) seems to have a clear sense of how to entertain us, and of where he fits in the film. Everyone else appears to be starring in his or her own little mini movie, an ensemble of one.

Of course, you may disagree with me. You may think This is Spinal Tap is the most brilliant comedy ever made. If so, I challenge you to go see For Your Consideration and think about how much funnier the film would have been if Guest had just kept it real and, maybe, written some funny jokes.

After all, comedies -- even improvised ones -- are still supposed to be funny, right?

11.27.2006

THANKSGIVING AT THE MOVIES - PART 1

I saw three movies during the long Thanksgiving weekend. One was a pleasant surprise, one was a disappointment and one was an absolute delight.

First: Casino Royale.

I know every red-blooded American man is supposed to go gaga for James Bond movies. Well I don't. Spike TV -- the basic cable channel that promotes itself as TV for Guys (or something equally witty) -- aired a number of the classic 007 films this weekend, and I could have cared less. I know this is sacrilegious, but I have never been a fan of the Bond series.

I think Sean Connery is great actor, but I can't get past his 1960's-era hairpiece. I find it very distracting. I'm always afraid it's going to pop off during a fistfight and cause the evil villain to laugh uncontrollably. A superhero with a bad hairpiece is not my kind of superhero.

The next Bond, Roger Moore, always looks to me like he couldn't beat up a gang of grandmothers, let alone international supervillains. In his younger days, as TV's The Saint (1962-1969), Moore had a certain lithe masculinity. But, by the time he became Bond in 1973's Live and Let Die, the forty six year-old Roger Moore was too old and paunchy to be believable as an international enforcer.

Of all the actors who have portrayed James Bond, I found the last one to be the least interesting. Pierce Brosnan is nothing more than a smirk in an Armani tuxedo. All he appears to have done is recycle his Remington Steele portrayal from TV and insert it into the increasingly silly 007 formula. The only difference is, Remington Steele was a parody, a comedy about a man forced into the role of an international hero. Brosnan's Bond always feels equally phony.

My favorite Bond is America's least favorite: Timothy Dalton. The only two Bond films I ever paid to see at the movie theater were Dalton's two go-rounds as 007 - 1987's The Living Daylights and 1989's Licence to Kill. After the elderly Roger Moore was finally put out to the U.K. pasture, Dalton took on the role with a refreshingly pragmatic humorlessness. His two movies were darker and played less for laughs than the previous crop, and that did the trick for me. It did not, however, work for the American viewing public, and Dalton lost his licence to kill after appearing in the film of the same name.

Now I have a new favorite Bond: Daniel Craig. Just as Dalton was the necessary correction to Moore's puffy campiness, Craig is the antidote to the annoying Brosnan smarm. But unlike the occasionally bland Dalton, Craig is a dark, brooding, highly watchable tough guy. Finally, we have a James Bond who actually looks like he can do more than beat the bad guys with a witty comeback and a stunt double. Craig's Bond most definitely can kick somebody's ass from here to Scotland Yard. This guy is built like a brick wall, and the movie eschews the cartoon gadgets and high camp for a more realistic, hand-to-hand action that I found to be consistently engaging.

Casino Royale is Ian Fleming's first Bond story, and it's fun to watch the imperfect genesis of the character. Craig's Bond is a young hothead who blows the image of Bond as an aging smoothie. He has both a rough masculinity and a very realistic vulnerability that is entirely refreshing.

There are a few drawbacks to Casino Royale. First, its two hour and twenty-four minute running time is too long, easily by twenty minutes. The climax of the film is followed by a somewhat endless denouement that morphs into a second, weaker climax. The villain, played by the depressed-looking Mads Mikkelsen, is a bit underwhelming. And Eva Green as the duplicitous Vesper Lynd lacks that uber-fuckability that has traditionally exuded from the classic Bond girls.

But these are minor flaws in what is, overall, quite a good film. Of course, plenty of guys are going to line up to see Casino Royale, as always. But here's a tip for the ladies: Daniel Craig looks very good without his tailored shirt on, and the movie allows him plenty of opportunities to remove it.

Do with that information what you will.

11.25.2006

WILL McKINLEY'S DAY OFF

Every year I spend the day after Thanksgiving at the gym. And I'm not the only one.

While Obese America waddles to the mall for some pre-Holiday shopping, Black Friday at the health club is a long-standing New York City tradition. Many lucky Gothamites do not need to fly (or even drive) to visit family for the holiday. We hop on a train, sit down to dinner and hop back on the same train. Wham, bam, thank you Gram(ma). Our Thanksgiving celebration can be a no-muss, no-fuss, five-hour affair - door-to-door.

So while you are waking up the next morning in your in-law's guest room in Des Moines, the Day After for us here in New York City is an exercise in regret and sweat. And I do mean exercise!

There is a fierce desperation on the faces of the treadmill runners, weight pumpers and CrossTrainer treaders; a sense that if they just do just one more half hour, that pumpkin pie (with a dollop of vanilla ice cream) will be expunged from their permanent record. It's like the carrot and stick metaphor, only in this case it's carrot cake.

Why is it that weight-obsessed New Yorkers have to deal with this annual Temptation and Penance ritual anyway? All of us who care (and that's most of us) have constructed a delicate balance in our lives that keeps us in good shape. And then Thanksgiving comes and blows the whole thing to smithereens.

As a representative of in-shape New Yorkers, let me offer this entreaty to those family members who do not live in the Five Boroughs: stop trying to make us eat! Pie, ice cream, potatoes, gravy, butter, bread (did I mention pie?) these are things that we avoid like the plague; they are the Kryptonite, we are Superman and our $1,500 per month studio is our Fortress of Solitude.

Don't you get it, Aunt Betty? You can't be fat and live in New York City. Okay that's not entirely true. You can't be fat and live well in New York City. First of all we walk everywhere. You can't do that if you're fat. It takes way too long, and it's very tiring. There are far too many stairs here for fat people to deal with: subway stations, five-floor walkups, you even have to climb stair to get on the bus! (Yes it's cool to take the bus here.)

Also, everyone in New York is single. It doesn't matter how old they are. Just about everyone here is single and looking to get some booty. Okay, I admit that may be a slight exaggeration, but I think it's mostly true. I once met a married couple in their 20s at a party, and they were gawked at by all of us single New Yorkers like they were Chinese pandas. The poor couple (I think their names were Ping and Ling) had to defend themselves like they had committed a crime, which, in our eyes, they sort of had.

Maybe you, dear reader, are married and established in your career, the proud parents of an Honor Roll student with a well-stocked college fund. Maybe you are comfortable and relaxed and allow yourself the pleasure of a slice of pie every now and then. Well, I am not. There's nothing comfortable about living in New York City. Everything is one big fight. And that goes for every single one of us on this Island.

Yesterday I was at my local Equinox Fitness Club, sweatin' away on the Versa climber and watching the excellent movie Election on the flatscreen TV. Then I looked over at the treadmills on the other side of the room and there was none other than Election star Matthew Broderick, busting his ass to lose the middle aged paunch he grew for the not-so-excellent movie Deck the Halls. Sure he sold out and got fat for a shitty movie, but don't tell me you wouldn't do the exact same thing!

The point is, Ferris Bueller is now spending his Day Off at the gym. And I am too. And so should you you.

So, on this weekend of excess eating and spending, why not spend less money at the mall and more on a gym membership? It's a better gift for your kids than the Barbie Dream House, or another slice of pie.

Matthew Broderick 1986: Thin

Matthew Broderick 2006: Fat

11.24.2006

LEFTOVER MASHED POTATOES...

Who can resist them as a Thanksgiving late night snack?

Not me.

I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving.

11.22.2006

BABY WATCH - THE FINAL CHAPTER

Kate Elizabeth
b. 11.22.2006
8 lbs 4 oz

BABY WATCH - DAY 7

Thanks to all the previously owned readers in South Florida who came out on Tuesday night to see my sister Missy's concert at the Sawgrass Lounge in Ft. Lauderdale.

It was a great show. Missy played an entire set of parenting-related songs, including Madonna's Papa Don't Preach, Harry Chapin's Cats in the Cradle and Prince's Sexy Motherfucker (with surprise special guest drummer Vanity).

When her overdue baby started kicking toward the end of the performance, my sister -- ever the consummate performer -- broke into her acoustic version of Hit Me Baby One More Time - with full choreography!

The club manager took out an ad in the Florida Sun Sentinel advertising Missy as America's only pregnant, South Korean folksinger. It worked! He booked her for two more shows tomorrow night, at 7:30 PM and 10 PM.

It's $15 Advance or $20 at the door. 21 and over only please (childcare available for an additional fee).

For more information visist www.pregnantsouthkoreanfolksinger.com

11.21.2006

GOODBYE ROBERT ALTMAN

Best wishes to film director Robert Altman, who exited this plane of existence last night at the age of 81.

I have enjoyed Altman's meandering, ensemble films since I was a kid, even using his technique of naturalistic, overlapping dialogue in corporate videos I have directed.

My favorite Altman film isn't really a film; it's a TV show. Tanner '88 was an HBO series featuring Michael Murphy as a fictional presidential candidate during the 1988 election season. It's a highly improvisational, faux-documentary that perfectly captured the modern political landscape and featured many of the well-known political figures of that period.

I was a 19 year-old sophomore in film school when I first watched Tanner '88, and the show inpired me in two ways - as both a first-time voter and as an aspiring filmmaker.

I also recommend Altman's last film, A Prairie Home Companion, released earlier this year (and just recently available on DVD). The film has an eerie, elegiac quality made all the more touching by the director's passing.

And if you really want to have fun, get high and watch Altman's musical version of Popeye, featuring Robin Williams as the singing Sailor Man and Shelly Duvall as Olive Oyl. It's a trip.

And of course there's M*A*S*H, Nashville, The Player, Short Cuts, Gosford Park, and many more...

Add any (or all) of these to your Netflix queue. You won't be sorry.


BABY WATCH - DAY 6

My "pregnant" sister Missy still has not given birth to this baby and I'm starting to think this whole thing is a big scam.

How do we know that there really is a baby in there? Where is the proof? Sure, she's gotten fat recently but - as previously mentioned - she has a terrible diet. Maybe 35 years of junk food is finally catching up with her.


Or maybe she's just wearing a pillow under her shirt, or a bowling ball. Sure, married women don't usually fake a pregnancy. But Cecile did it to Jamie on
Another World back in 1980, when she was afraid Jamie was going to divorce her and marry his beautiful secretary.

Maybe my sister is worried about my brother-in-law divorcing her, so he can marry his beautiful secretary?
This is a flawed theory, because I don't think my brother-in-law even has a secretary, beautiful or otherwise.

Or maybe he does, and we just don't know about her.

Dum...dum...DUM! (fade to black)

11.20.2006

BABY WATCH - DAY 5

And now a message from my sister Missy, from whom there has emerged no baby (as yet):

I loved those embarrassing photos you posted of me over the weekend. Please don't post any more pictures of me stuffing my face with pizza. It gives people the wrong idea.

What, exactly, is the wrong idea?

That my sister, who is thin as a rail (when she is not round with child), has the worst eating habits of any adult female I have ever met in my entire life? That, if she was any other ethnicity but Asian, she would be fat enough to make Richard Simmons throw up his jazz hands in pathetic defeat?

I live in New York City. The women here live on Diet Coke, Camel Ultra Lights and thinly veiled contempt. If a typical New York City woman witnessed my sister's normal, day-to-day eating habits they would have a heart attack. Then they would call the police and have her arrested for disturbing the peace. Then they would cry because they wish they could eat like her. Then they would go to the bathroom and engage in some self-induced vomiting.

I am obsessed with my weight. I go to the gym regularly. I watch what I eat. And I live on Diet Coke, Camel Ultra Lights and thinly veiled contempt. But when I go to visit my sister and her family I feel like an alcoholic at a wine tasting.

My sister has more snacks in her house than a college dorm vending machine.

For example:

1) Eight(!) different boxes of sugared breakfast cereal;
2) Chilled cans of Sunkist Orange Soda, Ginger Ale, Pepsi and Mug Cream;
3) Three different kinds of ice pops;
4) Capri Sun juice boxes;
5) Bowls of Halloween candy spread all over the house (and her car);
6) Chips and salsa;
7) Oreos;
8) Pringles;
9) Fresh strawberry shortcake;
10) Individual snack-size bags of Lays, Doritos and Cheetos;
11) A plate of homemade Rice Krispie Treats.

Every day I was there I would chug Diet Coke hoping to suppress my appetite enough so that I would not be tempted by the smorgasbord of snacks. But then, when everyone had gone to sleep and the Diet Coke had worn off, I would casually walk past the kitchen and all of my self-control would vanish. I grabbed handfuls of Pringles and Oreos and stuffed my face until I felt sick, bloated and self-hating.

Then I would fall to my knees on the kitchen floor and engage in the kind of emotional self-flagellation that would make Rev. Dimmesdale blush.

I'm sure you're thinking, "Will. Your sister has two little kids. Of course she's going to have a lot of snacks!" Wrong. She's been eating like this for her entire life. I think it has to do with the fact that she spent the first two years of her life in an orphanage in South Korea, eating nothing but rice. Ever since then she has vowed to eat as much All-American junk food as one human being can possibly consume.

And plenty of Rice Krispie Treats - just for old time's sake.

I, on the other hand, snacked last night on oranges, edamame and low-fat peanut butter.

And I still feel guilty about it.

The pregnant belly also doubles as a convenient snack table.

11.19.2006

BABY WATCH - DAY 4

On Saturday afternoon I got tired of waiting for my sister's baby to come, so I decided to split town and head back to New York.

I think four consecutive days living in the same tiny house with my entire extended family is my limit. One more day and we might have lost some family members before we gained the new one.

Anyway, I have to go back to work today. I don't think the baby is going to pay me a day rate to hang out in Florida waiting for her arrival. Most babies I know expect you to take care of them for free, just for the fun of it! What a scam that is.

Before I left I dropped my sister off at her OB/GYN office in Ft. Lauderdale.

Unfortunately, they were closed for the weekend.

Luckily, we brought along a lawn chair and a brown bag lunch. All she has to do now is hold the baby in until Monday morning at 8 AM when the office opens up again.

You can do it, Sis! Make us proud.

11.18.2006

BABY WATCH - DAY 3

Day Three of the Baby Watch and still no baby.

Of course, there is a baby, but that baby is still inside the womb. And really, when you think about it, wouldn't you stay in the womb as long as you possibly could? It's warm and cozy, It's all you can eat/drink. And you don't have to wear any clothes.

Being inside the womb is like being on vacation at a Swingers Resort in Cabo, only without the creepy, middle-aged guys trying to have sex with you.


What does this baby have to look forward to when she finally comes out, anyway? 16 years of schooling? The new O.J. Simpson book? Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes getting married? If I were her, I'd stay in there until somebody dragged me out kicking and screaming.

Can you actually evict a baby from your uterus if she won't leave on her own accord? What kind of paperwork would be involved with that? Where would you post the eviction notice? It all sounds very complicated to me.

So, on Friday evening, with nothing to do but wait for the eviction paperwork to be processed, my sister, brother-in-law, two nieces and I went to the movies.

It was $33 for five people -- three adults and two kids. Not bad, right? But who cares? My father paid for the tickets.

My parents are flush with cash because they sold our house last summer. I never saw a cent from that transaction by the way, and I don't expect that I ever will. But at least I can say I got a free movie out of it.

Thanks Mom and Dad!


We went to see an animated movie called Flushed. Have you heard of it? It's a British film about rats living in the sewer.

Flushed has been a bit of a box office disappointment, but I thought it was an inventive, witty, enjoyable film. It was made by the same studio that produced Wallace and Gromitt, and I found it to be just as much fun for adults as it was for kids.

Have you noticed that animated films are much smarter, funnier and better written than live action films nowadays? Why is that? I don't know, but that sounds like a good topic for a blog post after the kid is born.


Going to the movies is one of my favorite things to do, pregnant or otherwise. I particularly enjoy the over-priced snacks. And apparently so does my sister.

Remember, my sister is eating for two. That explains the bucket of popcorn and the two large Sprites that my she consumed during the 89-minute movie.

By the way, I surprised her when I took this picture after the movie. That's why her eyes are wide and buggy. Normally my sister's eyes are squinty, like most Asian people. I wouldn't want you to think that she was a self-hater.

Last week was our parents' 50th wedding anniversary. I can't even imagine being married for half an hour, let alone half a century. But my parents are living proof that it is possible.

They are also living proof that two mismatched people with absolutely nothing in common can live together for 50 years, and not kill each other, even though most of their conversations involve yelling at each other.

Way to go, Mom and Dad!


Of course, we had to get my parents a present to mark the occasion. Somebody (me?) came up with the idea of getting them a gift basket, like you get when you are a guest of The Maury Povich Show (my lifelong dream).

So we went to a store called Crown Liquors, because my parents enjoy an occasional alcoholic beverage. And by occasional, I mean every day for my entire life.

Those of you who have been following the Baby Watch story will remember that this is my pregnant sister's second trip in two days to buy alcohol. I love shopping for booze with a pregnant lady. Tomorrow we're going to buy a carton of cigarettes at the gas station.


We got home and gave my parents their gift basket, which they enjoyed very much. My father immediately opened the bottle of Chianti and poured himself a glass. And then another. And then. (Well, you get the idea.) Ever since that article about red wine being good for you, Dad's been chugging the vino like a freshman at a Frat rush.

Go...go...go...go...go! Yeah, Dad. High five! Ain't no party like an elderly party cause the elderly party don't stop!


After the gift giving, my sister decided that she was hungry. Again. So we ordered a pepperoni pizza and put on the DVD of Cars.

If you're scoring at home, here's what my sister had to eat today:

1) Movie Theater popcorn (tub)
2) Large Sprite (2)
3) Nestle Cruncha Buncha (shared with my niece)
4) Sour Patch Kids (shared with my other niece)
5) Pepperoni Pizza
6) Sunkist orange soda
7) Miscellaneous other crap that I lost track of

I think this baby is going to be born with a real taste for junk food. Or maybe Type 2 Diabetes. Wow! Who says you have to eat healthy when you're pregnant?

Not my sister, that's for sure.


Of course you could blame my sister's poor eating habits on the hormones. But that would not be accurate. She pretty much eats this way every day, pregnant or not. Thank God she has an Asian metabolism. My sister eats like a pot-addicted college student, only less well.

But I'm not exactly one to talk. I have a weakness for snacks too. And I'm not even pregnant.

At least, not that I know of...

11.17.2006

BABY WATCH - DAY 2

No baby yet, so it's time to go shopping.

(left to right) My father, niece Emily and sister Missy at Publix.

Usually a trip to the wine aisle leads to pregnancy, not vice versa.


But this is Florida. The rules are different here.

11.16.2006

BABY WATCH

Yesterday I arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where my sister Missy is expecting her third child.

The due date was Wednesday. So, after I finished work on my corporate meeting in San Diego on Tuesday, I hopped on the redeye and flew all night to Chicago, where I changed planes and grabbed a flight to Ft. Lauderdale. My brother-in-law picked me up at the airport and we raced back to the house, where we found my mother and father sitting on the couch watching TV. But no sign of my pregnant sister.

"Where's Missy?!" I yelled. "Is she at the hospital having the baby?!"

"No, she's at the nail salon having a pedicure," my father answered.

"What do you mean she's having a pedicure?" I said. "I just traveled non-stop for thirteen hours so I could be here to watch her have a pedicure?"

Can you believe this? I raced all the way across the country to see this baby being born, and the baby decides not to show up. That is some bullshit.

Now we're all sitting around. Waiting. Me, my father, mother, brother-in-law, and two nieces are all staring at my sister's stomach, trying to will the baby to come out of it.

Everything is ready to go.

The onesies are hanging in the baby's closet.

The changing table is all ready for the removal of soiled undergarments.

And the crib is all made up, with pink Disney princess bedding.

But still, no baby.

It's reminds me of that old adage, "A watched uterus does not expel a newborn infant on a schedule that is convenient for the infant's uncle."

So until this kid decides to show up, I will be sleeping in her room.

I'm just keeping it warm for her.

11.15.2006

VETERAN'S NIGHT

Last night I took the redeye from San Diego to Ft. Lauderdale, by way of Chicago.

In the O'Hare Airport food court at 5:15 AM (C.T.)

Most of the passengers on my flight were soldiers returning home from Iraq, via the military base in San Diego. Have you seen an American soldier recently? They look very young to me. I think the military may have extended their recruiting efforts to Cub Scout packs and Little League teams.

They all slept on the long, overnight flight, these young American heroes. As I made my way down the center aisle of the plane mid-flight, I looked at the sleeping faces of these kids who had already battled the forces of evil and lived to tell the tale.

Like all Americans, I have great respect for their service. But I lack respect for the flawed system that puts a disproportionate amount of responsibility on the economically disadvantaged young people of this country.

We all know what John Kerry meant when he made his "botched joke." But, regardless of his denials, there was a Freudian truth to his slip. For young Americans that are not able to afford higher education, military service is often the only option. These are the young kids who are getting maimed by I.E.D.s in Iraq. Whatever your political affiliation, or your position on the war, you must agree that this is a flawed system.

The balance of responsibility should be shared equally by all people, in all economic classes. Until then, the dirty little secret of the American military will always be that those who can't afford "to study hard" will be stuck doing the job of those who can.

I saw two dozen of those brave young people headed home last night -- beginning their transition from fighting men back into sleeping kids.

And to them I say, belatedly, happy Veterans Day. And thanks.

11.14.2006

HOLY HEINEKEN!

Today I finished work on my corporate meeting in San Diego. After the show I decided to walk back to my hotel and I passed an interesting building.

Did you know that there was an actual Hall of Justice? Well, there is, and it's located at 330 West Broadway in San Diego. I would have expected it to be in Metropolis, or Gotham City. But what do I know? Maybe they got a good deal on rent.

I walked inside to check the place out and saw some familiar faces.

A few minutes after I took this picture, Robin puked all over Supergirl's skirt. It was very awkward.

I LEFT MY HEART IN SAN DIEGO

The one and only Tony Bennett performed at our corporate meeting tonight in San Diego.

He's 80 years old but he can still belt out a tune with the best of them.

I'm not at liberty to tell you what we paid Mr. Bennett for his appearance, but he deserved every penny of it.
The audience was starstruck throughout his brief, five-song set.

Unfortunately I didn't get to meet him, but one member of the crew who did said he was just like "your cute grandpa." I don't remember my grandpa ever flying in his own private jet to perform for a crowd of adoring fans, but I knew what she meant.

There is something so joyous about Tony Bennett and the way he presents himself. This is the third time I've seen him live, and each time he seemed thrilled to be alive and singing after all these years.

I've always thought that that is the secret to life. Find something you love and do it until you keel over.


11.13.2006

DON'T HATE ME BECAUSE I'M BEAUTIFUL

It's time once again to open up the previously owned mailbag!

Today's letter comes from Abby Stone of New York City who writes, "Happy Birthday Will! I can't believe you're 38 years old! How do you keep your skin looking so young and healthy?"

Well Abby, I'd love to say that my secret to young-looking skin is good genes, but that is clearly not the case. Just look at my hair, or lack thereof!

Obviously I am genetically lacking.


No, healthy, young-looking skin is not a genetic gift. It takes hard work - and a little help from the fine folks at Neutrogena.

Every day since 1985 I have been a proud user of the Neutrogena line of skincare products, to maintain that appearance of younger-looking skin.

Each morning after shaving, I slather on a generous amount of Neurogena Intensified Day Moisture™ to sooth and protect my skin. And each night before bed I apply Neutrogena Light Night Cream™, for all-night skin hydration.

The result is softer, smoother, younger-looking skin - even for an oldster like me!

So thanks Abby, for acknowledging more than two decades of work at my skin-care regimen! And thank you Neutrogena, for helping me to defy my genetically inferior DNA!

11.12.2006

THE EQUATION

Room Service + Mini-bar + Hotel Room Porn = Birthday Fun in San Diego

The San Diego sun sets on my 38th birthday.

11.11.2006

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME

Today I will be celebrating my 38th birthday on a plane to San Diego, where I will be working on the production of a corporate meeting.

Is that safe -- flying on your birthday? The whole thing makes me very uneasy.

11.09.2006

SALE #3

I sold my third story in three weeks. The piece is a review of LOL, a gay and lesbian comedy show that I attended on wednesday night at Comix, a new comedy club in New York City.

Drag Queen Lady Bunny and the cast of "LOL @ Comix."

Click here to read the story!

11.08.2006

ERECTION DAY

Every election season, desperate politicians do their best to convince American citizens that our beloved homeland is engaged in a culture war. It's us versus them. You're either with us or with them.

This is a bi-partisan dilemma. Democrats rail that their opponents are too conservative. Republicans bleat that their opponents are too liberal. And you probably think that one side is totally right and one side is totally wrong.

For example, if you were to believe certain (soon-to-be-unemployed) Republicans, liberal bastions like San Francisco and New York would like nothing better than to infect our God-fearing nation with indecency and hedonism.

As far as social conservatives are concerned, my hometown is no less than a modern day Sodom.
Why do they think that? What possible reason could they have to believe that New York City is a hotbed of immorality?

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that my polling place was in New York City's Gay and Lesbian Community Center.

Actually, that's not entirely accurate. My polling place was in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center. I apologize to the bi's and the trannies for leaving them out -- and to the lesbians, who somehow got top billing. (I would have loved to be a fly on the wall during those negotiations.)

So I voted at the gayest place in New York City. Who cares? I'm a New Yorker. It's no big deal for me. Most of my friends and co-workers are gay. And, although I myself am not gay, I am entirely comfortable voting at the Center

One great thing about it is that I get a chance to dispute the social conservative's notion that being gay is all about S-E-X. Boy are they wrong!

Case in point: Before I did my civic duty, I wandered the halls of the LGBT Center and I discovered a very interesting bulletin board.

Of course, there were some postings for gay dating services.

And, of course, there were some advertisements for wholesome, All-American parties that gay people might enjoy attending.

But -- make no mistake about it -- the homosexual agenda is NOT all about sex!

For example, I found a community service posting for those that are interested in something called frottage. As I'm sure you know, frottage is sexual activity that takes place entirely without penetration! And, as we all know from certain politicians, sex without intercourse does not count as sex!

So there, social conservatives!

You think all the gays in New York City are spending all their time engaging in unnatural acts in the nether regions of the body? Well you are dead wrong! Some of them are just rubbing their genitals up and down another dude to induce orgasm! It's totally different. It's practically olde fashioned!


And guess what else I learned? The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Center is not all about dudes.

It's also about the ladies!



And, I ask you, what man -- Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative -- what man thinks that there's anything at all wrong with two hot chicks getting it on?

No man! That's who.

Frankly, I was inspired by this advertisement for bi-monthly meetings for trailblazing young women who enjoy the company of women just as much as they do men. That is so beautiful and inspiring.

In fact, it really made me want to grab hold of my lever and yank it as hard as I could!


And that's just what I did.

And I voted too. Congratulations America! Let the hedonism begin.

11.07.2006

JUST DO IT

11.06.2006

THIS POST IS FOR CUSTOMERS ONLY

New York is a city of signs.

Signs tell us what to buy, what to do and where to go. Most of them are pretty mundane, but every now and then you see a sign that simply transcends the medium.


One such sign can be found downtown, near Battery Park City.

On the corner of Greenwich and Rector Streets there is a small deli/restaurant called Cafe Bravo.

Cafe Bravo is a popular neighborhood spot, the only restaurant in the area that is open 24 hours.
Cafe Bravo has a small seating area, where you can enjoy a hot meal at any hour of the day or night. But that's not the best thing about the place.

Cafe Bravo also has a fancy new Plasma TV!

On Sunday morning I sat in Cafe Bravo watching
Meet the Press while enjoying an onion bagel (toasted dark, with butter), eggs (scrambled) and bacon (which apparently is made from pigs -- did you know that??)

I was only halfway through Meet the Press when I had finished my breakfast. I wanted to stay and watch the end of the show, but unfortunately that wasn't possible.

Once I had finished my food, I was no longer a customer of Cafe Bravo.

Ironically, you don't have to be a customer to use the bathroom at Cafe Bravo. But if you want to watch Meet the Press after you've finished eating? That is a different story!

I guess bathrooms cost less than Direct TV.


After a productive day of napping, going to the gym and napping, I stopped by Cafe Bravo again around 7 PM, but I didn't go in.

I did, however, watch 60 Minutes from the sidewalk. Outside. Without buying anything.


I learned two things on Sunday:

1) It's hard to enforce a Television is for Customers Only policy when the walls of your store are made of glass;
2) 60 Minutes "humorist" Andy Rooney is much funnier when you can't hear what he's saying.