Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Twilight Time

I wish I could say that I was excited about the whole "Twilight" phenomenon. It would seem to be right up my alley...vampires & werewolves fighting it out over the fate of a girl. Sounds pretty gripping, does it not?

Well, it's just not my cup of plasma. I know I'm not the target demographic (which, I believe, is alienated 14-16 year old girls who may or may not have a Hot Topic credit card.) Even friends close to my own age love it & I'm glad they do. It's great to have something to be passionate about.

But I think I'm over the "Sensitive Vampire Just Searching For Love." Because, if you peel away the monster mythology from that story it becomes "Nice Girl Tries To Change Bad Boy." Which is something that, in the real world, rarely ever works or ends well.

I know, I know...we can all point to examples in our real lives of Good Girls who dated the Bad Boy but were able to get him to mend his wicked ways with the power of their smooches. But those situations are exceptions to the rule. They're the small miracles that don't happen but once in a full moon (what, you thought I wasn't going to work in a werewolf reference? Silly you.)

Speaking as a male person, let me give any young lady who's trying to transform her very own vampire into someone she won't be embarrassed to take home to Mom & Dad or have to bail out of jail once a week: Give up. It's not worth the heartache & trashed credit ratings it's gonna cost you to find out that Vlad would rather suck your blood than write you moony poems.

Look, you should feel lucky if you can get a guy to change the channel, much less his entire lifestyle. I know guys who will sit through practically anything for hours if the remote is not in reach. If it's a choice between moving off the couch or watching the Shake Weight infomercial again, well, let's just say the Shake Weight will win every time.

Have you ever tried to get your significant other to throw out those sweatpants from college? The ones that are now 3 sizes too small & have a permanent funk that no amount of Clorox can burn away? The ones he keeps because he scored a touchdown in intramural football during his Freshman year at State? How well has that gone for you? That's what I thought.

Look, if it's "Twu Wuv" and you're in no physical danger, fine, don't listen to me. Go for it. You'll be the miracle cure for Snake's sociopathic, obsessive-compulsive, functioning alcoholic tendencies. You'll be the Buffy to his Angel (to borrow from another vampire-themed Good Girl/Bad Boy scenario.) I wish you all the best.

Just remember...some things that suck will always suck, no matter how much you wish they wouldn't.

Monday, June 21, 2010

No Day But Today...

As anyone who has taken the time to read any of these blatherings knows, I love the crazy make-'em-ups world of improv. A couple of times a week, I get the unique opportunity to get together with my friends and try to make people laugh. Some nights, I'm more successful than others, but thankfully I'm surrounded by people who are blessed with the ability to make me look like I know what I'm doing even when I don't.

I've often said that improv didn't save my life, but it sure did save my sanity. I think anyone who is involved in any one of the performing arts would say the same thing about their chosen field (and yes, improv is an art...even short form where things can get really silly really quick.) Any time you find a group of people who share a similar passion, you can't help but feel like you're part of something special, especially when being a part of something was never your strongest suit.

But I think there's a pitfall that's often overlooked...the fact that nothing lasts forever. Plays have a limited run, concerts and improv shows are (usually) one-night affairs and then it's over & time to move on to the next thing. It all goes by so fast that I'm afraid we don't take the time to appreciate what we have.

We should be enjoying the time we have right now, because it could all go away tomorrow. If you're given the chance to perform with talented, funny people and you're grateful for that...let them know. I'm just as guilty as anyone of taking things for granted & letting little things get in the way of the big picture. I forget that every show could be my last show. And if it were, while I'd want to make sure the audience had a good time, I'd also want the people I was onstage with to know what an honor it was to perform with them. I don't care if it's for a packed house, a group of 20 obnoxious teenagers or for 6 of our friends who showed up just because we needed them there to have a show at all.

I'm immensely grateful for the people I get to perform & practice with. They've made me laugh when we've been onstage and (at the very least) put up with me on days that I didn't even want to hang out with me. If you're one of these people, I thank you for that and so much more.

Please...take the time to savor the good things in your life. Don't take them for granted. We've only got today.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Helping Hand or Here To Be A Blessing

So, I've decided that I've just been to darn cranky & misanthropic lately. I need to be more mindful of my fellow man (and woman.) So, I'm starting a personal campaign to be more helpful. This is my Mission Statement or Manifesto, if you will. I hope if you find it inspiring, you'll join me in making the world a better place

  • I will endeavor to let people know, in the loudest, most direct way possible when they are behaving like a crapweasel. You're welcome, Crapweasels.
  • If I see small children struggling to pick up a tiny object so they can put it in their mouths and their parents don't see what's happening, I will aid said children by handing them said object and, if necessary, guide it to their gaping maws. You're welcome, Parents.
  • If a friend or family member is straying from the path of good taste by having the temerity to enjoy a different type of movie, book or television program than me, I will make every effort possible to guide them back to the correct path, even if it takes mocking them incessantly and thereby risking grave physical harm on my part. You're welcome, Friends and Family
  • If someone on the world wide web endangers their own credibility by choosing to have a contrary opinion than mine, I will use every resource available to let them know the error of their ways, thereby preventing them from being "pwoned" by "noobs." You're welcome, World Wide Web.
  • If someone is busting a quite clearly inferior move on the dance floor, I will show them how to get down with their bad selves, thus preventing them from getting "served" by other "sucker djs." You're welcome, Inferior Move Busters.
  • If I am asked "Do these pants make me look fat?" and said pants do, indeed, make the wearer look like he or she is trying to smuggle two frozen hams in the back of their jeans, I will reply with honesty & integrity from a safe location many miles away with a letter sent 4th class media mail. You're welcome, Husky People
These are just a few of the ways I plan to assist my fellow man (or woman) to make their lives better. You don't have to thank me. I'm just here to be a blessing.

Rock & Roll Fantasy

OK Rock Stars, sit down. You & I need to have a serious chat. There's something very wrong here and we need to get some things straight.

The disconnect began when I (very much against my will, but being a good spouse) went to see Iron Maiden. The show was what it was & I spent most of my time trying to figure out what the last song was going to be, which was no mean feat when you consider (a) I knew recognized about 2 1/2 Maiden songs in the first place and (b) there's not a lot of what you would call "Top 10 hits a band would close their show with" in the second place. ANYWAY...

Bruce Dickinson, Maiden's lumpy lead singer, made a huge point at the beginning of the show to point out that, "We're Iron Maiden. We don't date supermodels...we're all about the music!" I don't know if you've ever actually looked at Iron Maiden, but supermodels not wanting to date them didn't really surprise me. The look like they escaped from a Lord of the Rings reenactment. They looked very working class British. Basically, they're kinda homely.

But what threw me off was that Bruce was saying that they had no interest in dating supermodels. Quite frankly, if you don't want to date supermodels, what's the point of becoming a rock star in the first place?

And this attitude has spread. There was a time when the biggest press rock stars got was when they were partying hard, trashing hotel rooms & generally behaving badly. This scandalous behavior was noticed by 14 year old boys who seemed to think, rightly or wrongly, that it looked like a lot of fun & they wanted to do it so they formed a band & bang! Another generation of rock stars was born.

But today, most rock stars are talking about the causes they support or their efforts to save the environment or what we can do to enact change and make a difference. These are all noble & well intentioned and rock stars, let me say from the bottom of my heart, you need to knock it off.

Seriously...when you & your buddies got together and decided to become famous (whether you could play your instruments or not,) you entered into a social contract with me. The contract basically goes like this: You live the life that I can't & I'll buy your music.

It's that easy. I don't want to hear a lead singer tell me about recycling. I can recycle. What I can't do is party with strippers 6 nights a week. You're supposed to be doing all the stuff that we all secretly would do if we could. I'm aware that there's lots of bad stuff in the world, but the fact that you can destroy a room in the Dayton, Ohio Radisson and not go to jail for it somehow balances that out for me.

So please, I'm begging you, stop taking Sting or Bono's calls when they want you to make a video about the plight of the Western Sea Otter. Fight the urge to make your tour bus solar powered. And for goodness' sake, if your Crib has a compost heap & a windmill, keep it to yourself.

Remember, when one of you dates Heather Locklear, we all date Heather Locklear.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Drinking With The Stars

It's been very trendy lately for celebrities to come out with their own signature fragrances. Because, really who wouldn't want to smell like Britney Spears? (Sidenote...I haven't actually smelled her perfume, but I imagine Britney smells like menthol cigarettes, tater tots & desperation.)

So this got me a thinking about what kind of signature cocktails would celebrities create to embody their essence in alcoholic form. So let's see what I came up with....

Kid Rock: Pabst Blue Ribbon, hot dog water and Mad Dog 20/20

Lady GaGa: Absinthe, NyQuil Wild Cherry and a handful of anti-psychotics

The Cast of Glee: Bartles & James Peachtastic wine cooler, spearmint schnaaps & 4 pixie sticks

Dane Cook: Royal Crown, grape Kool-Aid & 3 slices of Kraft American cheese

Justin Bieber: Yoo-Hoo, Zima & Pepto-Bismol

Mickey Rourke: Vodka, Jack Daniels and Antifreeze

David Hasselhoff: Meister Brau, Wild Turkey & 3 liquified Big Macs

There's a ton of money to be made from celebrity cocktails....and the subsequent bookings on "Celebrity Rehab." I anxiously await your call Hollywood.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I've been thinking about pop Divas lately, which is odd since I'm not all that interested in the music they produce. What intrigues me is how there only seems to be room for one Supreme Diva at a time...like for some reason pop culture and society can't handle more than one.

So, for me, the easiest way to figure this out is with the fatuous male analogy of relating them to:

Cyndi Lauper was the cool older girl that would still hang out with you. She was fun & you could hang out knowing there wasn't any chance that it would last. She was going to go off and spend like, 6 months at community college before becoming a bartender in your hometown that you'd see when you came home on summer break and would let you buy beer even though you weren't 21 yet.

Madonna was the first college girl you went out with while you were still in high school. There was never a chance that it would last, because as soon as she could she'd be dating a professor or some grad school guy with a cooler car. It was a relationship in your mind only that would flame out after a month with you much more in love with her than she ever was in you.

Whitney Houston was the good girl who dated bad boys. It was a relationship that had nothing but drama, because either they were still together, which meant all she would talk about is how she was going to change him (which, by the way, never works. If you can't convince a guy to change out of his sweatpants before a date, you're not going to get him to change his life...but I digress) or they had just broken up & she spent all her time crying about how he was misunderstood & you were such a good friend for listening to her problems. Eventually, they'd get back together & spend the rest of their time mutually destroying each other.

Britney Spears was the wild card. If you took her to a party, there was a 50/50 chance that she'd get wild & rip off her top or drink too much & spend the night in the corner crying because her daddy didn't love her or some other girl didn't like her or the nachos were all gone. The headaches weren't worth the fun.

Christina Aguilera seemed to be the one. Pretty, smart, just wild enough to be fun but not likely to go nuts. She was the one that you couldn't believe was actually going out with you, but you thanked your lucky stars she did. Unfortunately, you'd screw it up because of....

Lady GaGa...the crazy one. We're talking stone cold, batpoop, bouncing off the wall nuts. The art school/drama club girl who would do anything and I mean anything. She was just as likely to give you the greatest night of your life as she was to get you into a fight for no apparent reason. The girl that you would hide any and all sharp & stabby objects from when she came over. You knew it was a bad idea, but you couldn't stay away.

And this is the reason that Christina can't compete with GaGa today. She's settled down & had a child. Xtina still has the chops, but she's not dangerous anymore. For better or worse, the universe prefers crazy & talented to just talented, and GaGa has crazy to spare.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Save The Bandit With Time Travel!

Aside from all the other problems that need fixing, scientists need to get on making time travel a reality ASAP.

"Sounds like a great idea," you're thinking. "It would be great to go back & fix history before it ever went wrong." While that is a noble thought, if we've learned anything from Doctor Who it's that the past is fixed & no about of mucking about is going to change anything. In most cases, it would in fact make things worse.

What I want to do with my personal time travel device is very simple & would fix the future. I want to go back to, say, 1977 and grab Burt Reynlolds, Jerry Reed, Dom DeLuise & the whole gang and bring them to 2010 so they can keep making Smokey & The Bandit movies before Hollywood decides to remake them.

I admit, this is a purely selfish move on my part. But when you get your own time machine you can do what you want with it.

Look, it's only a matter of time before some dim-bulb studio executive gets the dim-bulb idea to remake all those great car chase films of that era. And when they do, the law of averages says that they're not only going to get it wrong, they're gonna get it horribly, horribly wrong.

I have a recurring nightmare where they remake Smokey & The Bandit with Gerard Butler as Bandit, Larry the Cable Guy as Snowman, John Goodman as Sheriff Buford T. Justice and Megan Fox as Mouse. All of the chase scenes are CGI and they get somebody like Rascall Flats to cover "Eastbound & Down." Of course, it makes 100 Gajillion dollars, so they go ahead & remake Hooper and Cannonball Run, screwing them up beyond all belief and I wake up screaming.

Were any of these truly landmark works of cinematic art? Of course not. But they were fun. Remakes of them wouldn't be any fun at all. They'd be prepackaged & market-researched to within an inch of their lives. Director Hal Needham didn't need a focus group to tell him that audiences love to see cars get smashed up reeaaal good. Everybody loves that.

Are there drawbacks to my plan? Of course. If history follows, Burt & company will eventually have to make versions of Cannonball Run 2 and Stroker Ace. But you've got to take the good with the bad and quite frankly, I'd rather watch any version of Stroker Ace over any 5 minutes of The Fast & The Furious franchise any day.

So get me my time machine Science Guys. We've got a long way to go & a short time to get there and I sure don't want to make that trip with Shia LaBouef.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ain't That A Kick In The Head?

Apparently, the World Cup started today. Apparently, this is a big deal to 90% of the world, 5% of Americans who love soccer (and I bet I'm being generous with that number,)and 4% of Americans who feel the need to shout "USA, USA" in a large crowd. The other 1%, of which I'm a proud member, couldn't care less.

If you love soccer, more power to you. Have a ball (no pun intended) for the next month. Go nuts. As for me, there's not a device on the planet that can measure my indifference to the game.

I've heard all the arguments: "It's the most popular sport in the world. It promotes goodwill & teamwork. You just don't get it." You're not gonna change my mind.

Look, any activity where you can run for 90 minutes & still wind up with a 0-0 tie is not a sport. It's enclosed cross-country. It's the worst high school gym class ever.

People have been saying for 40 years that soccer's going to be huge in America. Its not. It never will be. Except with that special breed of parents who drag little Caitlin or Katelyn or kate-Lynn out to the field every Saturday for 6 months to watch her run around in circles so she'll get a trophy for "Participation."

This is supposed to be "Character Building." I suspect if you got these same parents slightly buzzed, they'd admit that having little Mackenzie or McKenzee or Beulah sprinting around just wears them out enough so Mom & Dad can catch a nap.

So fans, enjoy the spectacle of the World Cup. Drink it in. Savor it. Just don't be offended by my indifference. It's not that I'm apathetic...I just don't care.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Funny Business

Just some random opinions (and please read that word veeery slowly...oh-pin-yuns, 'cause if you disagree that's all they are) on what I think is funny.

  • While the secret of comedy is timing, the second secret of comedy is confidence. You've got to believe what you're saying is funny or nobody else is going to. Even comics who's character is based on having no confidence at all (Woody Allen is a good example) have confidence enough in that character to make it funny.
  • A bad joke told well is funnier than a good joke told badly. There's nothing more fun than having a joke that is so cheesy or corny and telling it to a friend like it's the funniest thing ever.
  • Puns are awesome. I know people who hate puns & think they're the lowest form of humor. These people also hate puppies & kittens. It takes skill to come up with a really good pun. A
  • Men who say that, "Women aren't funny" are not to be trusted and are suffering from a condition known as Rectal-Cranial Inversion. Don't date these men & certainly don't marry them. They wouldn't know funny if it kicked them in the junk.
  • Things & people that are always funny (to me): Tim Conway, Mel Brooks, Carol Burnett, The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Love Lucy, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Patton Oswalt, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Craig Ferguson, Bob Newhart, Don Knotts and Hee Haw (What? Hey, make your own list & don't judge me) to name just a few
  • Things & people I don't think are funny, but others do & that's fine by me: Larry the Cable Guy, more than 5 minutes of Steven Wright, Sara Silverman, Richard Lewis and the ending of "Titanic." (Where the old lady throws away a gazillion dollar necklace, not when DiCaprio drowns 'cause I laughed my head off when he went under for the last time.)
  • Yes, I left many people off of the first list that I find hysterical. I left some people off the second list that I don't like either. But here's the thing, you could switch the titles for each of them & they'd still be valid. Funny is subjective and it's better when it's shared. I've seen movies in a crowded theater that I laughed my head off at that didn't make me crack a smile when I saw them at home by myself.
  • That being said, I do believe there should be an Oscar for Best Comedy. The great actor Edwin Booth said, "Dying is easy...comedy is hard." He was right. It takes a special gift to make people laugh. If you're able to do it, you should be thankful. Laughter brings people together & it let's them forget about their worries for a while.
So, if you make people laugh professionally or as a hobby, onstage or outside your cubicle, I salute you. You've been well & truly blessed.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Oh Robbbbb!

DISCLAIMER: This post popped into my head when there was a brief online rumor that Dick Van Dyke had passed away. Thankfully, this wasn't the case. Mr. Van Dyke is still with us as of this writing, but all points made below are still applicable. END DISCLAIMER

With the popularity of Mad Men, I'd become more convinced than ever that I'd been born too late. I would have loved to have been a part of advertising or television back in the late 50's and early 60's when it was truly in it's heyday.

But the more I thought about it, I realized that I didn't really want to live in that era. For better or worse, I'm a child of the late 20th Century, the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation and while I sometimes miss having only three networks, the minuses by far outweigh the benefits. After careful consideration, I came to an inescapable conclusion. It wasn't when I wanted to live...it was who I wanted to be.

I wanted to be Rob Petrie.

Rob Petrie, if you don't know (and shame on you if you don't) was the main character in "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and was played by (duh) Dick Van Dyke. Rob was the man. Stylish, classy and funny, he was the head writer of The Alan Brady Show which was an homage to series creator Carl Reiner's tenure on the various Sid Caesar comedy-variety shows of the 50's.

Who wouldn't want to have Rob's life? He wore snappy suits to work. He spent all day writing comedy with Buddy & Sally, then went home to the ridiculously beautiful Mary Tyler Moore who made a pair of Capri pants & a sweatshirt look like a million bucks. Sure, there were irritations: Show producer Mel Cooley was a pain, son Richie was kind of annoying and there was always that stupid ottoman to contend with, but Rob pretty much had it all.

I know it was a sitcom & bears no resemblance to real life then or now. But it all looked so fun. I can't imagine a better job than being paid to be funny all day long or to occasionally put on talent shows with your friends. It was a more innocent time.

I'll probably never get the chance to meet Carl Reiner or Dick Van Dyke and tell them how much creating that world meant to me. It was one of the reasons I decided to go into television and even later improv. While my experiences haven't been the same, I can say that for the most part, they have been fun.

So I raise a glass to Carl Reiner, Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam and Richard Deacon. I'm going to trip over an ottoman every once in a while in your honor.

"Hey Look At Me!"

I've heard from many female friends over the years about just how annoying it can be when guys pay too much attention to them. I know they're not being arrogant; many men are, how shall I put this, overzealous when it comes to women they find attractive. There's never any excuse for any behavior that can be construed as inappropriate, stalker-like or just downright creepy.

That being said...I've never heard one of my male friends complain about unwanted attention from women. This is because (except in rare cases) to men there's no such thing as unwanted attention from women.

Every single achievement by men in the history of the world can be traced back to one simple idea that's hardwired into males from the moment of their conception..."If I do this maybe a girl will like me."

Does that make men look like simple, ignorant creatures who are only motivated by one thing? Well, that's because we are simple, ignorant creatures only motivated by one thing. We want girls to like us. No guy, no matter how enlightened or post-modern (whatever that means) will deny that fact.

There are countless examples throughout history that back this fact up. Julius Caesar got involved in Egyptian politics for Cleopatra. Columbus crossed the ocean for Queen Isabella. Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone just so he could get the number of the future Mrs. Bell.

What's the first thing a boy child shouts when he's about to do something stupid or reckless on the playground? "Watch me!" When a boy discovers the wonderful world of boogers, snakes and frogs, he doesn't show them to his buddies. He throws them at the girls, who, granted scream & run away, but hey, they sure will remember him.

Men crave attention from women. Men are willing to write sonnets, discover continents and (if You Tube is any example) almost set themselves on fire just to make you smile or roll your eyes or simply acknowledge their existence.

It isn't always pretty...but it's the way we are.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Socially Acceptable

For many years, the internet divided its time between being a wonderful research tool & an efficient pornography delivery system. Everybody had their own little corner of it & pretty much stayed out of each other's way.

Then, someone got the bright idea that everyone on the web should know everybody else. Thus, "Social Networking" was born. And, like all cool things, it was actually only super-cool for about a year.

But you're saying, "Chris...aren't you involved in social networking & isn't it a wee bit hypocritical to bitch about it?" The answers to those questions are "yes" and "no, it's not a wee bit hypocritical. It's hugely hypocritical, but I can live with that."

Look, I love (most) of Facebook & (much more) of Twitter. I can keep up with friends & family without having to make the effort to actually see them (don't look at me like that, you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about,) plus it gives me a forum to spout off at length about pretty much anything that crosses my mind. I'm all for anything that enables my narcissism.

But there's a lot of pressure there too. Any friend request I get, if I haven't seen them in the past, oh, 10 minutes or so, I've got to wrack my brain trying to remember just how I know him (and it's always a him. Women get a free pass because I'm a man in my 40s & the instances of women wanting to associate with me are getting slimmer every day.) Plus, there's the guilt of the ignored friend request.

I also spend an inordinate amount of time trying to come up with funny things to say so that relative strangers will like me. There's a pathology there that unnerves me sometimes.

Look, social networking isn't going anywhere anytime soon. People have figured out how to make money off it, so it's here to stay. But remember...it's supposed to make life easier & more fun. It shouldn't feel like work & it damn sure shouldn't feel like high school, even though it sometimes does.

Remember, there are real people out there who want to hang out with the real you. Maybe not me, but definitely you. Balance in all things.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sir Patrick

So Patrick Stewart went & got himself knighted...which is awesome. But you may not know there are perks that go along with the title. With a little digging & a heretofore unknown talent for hacking, I managed find a partial list of the benefits Sir Patrick will enjoy with this great honor...

#4 No longer has to flush the loo when visiting Buckingham Palace

#7 Can legally take possession of William Shatner's toupees

#9 Lays claim to official title of "Sir Patrick Stewart, Lord Locutus of Borg and Mack Daddy Daddy Mack of the British Empire Beyotches"

#13 Gets his own TARDIS

#17 May, without reprisal, take a Number Two on Number One anytime Jonathan Frakes is on British soil

#22 Gets Kate Winslet's home phone number

Congratulations Sir Patrick for a well deserved honor.