Sunday, February 28, 2010


Valerie Harper as Tallulah Bankhead? Really?


You guys! It was completely enjoyable and I highly recommend it. People are tough on the simple fun of something like this.

First of all, did you know Valerie Harper can act? It’s disgusting that I ever questioned it. Or even more disgusting, never even questioned it at all! I was in a state of total dismissal. Why? Because I am as prone to media mood as anyone else. Worse than being talked about, she was just, sort of, not taken seriously.

Well…how wrong.

The play, written by Matthew Lambardo, was simply hilarious, smart and human. What’s wrong with that? There was a little maudlin dip in Act II (about the editor in the room) and you sort of go, “Eh, whatever. Pasted on for effect.”
But it’s all worth the ride no matter what the partially cheesy sentiment that invades at the end.

Plus, there is a hard edge thing going on (death, lonliness, addiction) that almost makes you go, “Okay, a little cheese is okay. It’s sort of post-modern winky to have all this negative stuff going on with a little bit of optimism thrown in—or forgiveness—at some point. Hell, why not?”

If you are in New York, see it. My gut accounting guts have this feeling that it is losing money. So, help that. Spend some money. You can get halfies, whatever. Dump your cash in this direction. There is something going on here: and it’s alive and it’s funny and it’s smart and it’s frothy. Jump in. Why not have an enjoyable night?


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Blizzard Hurricane '10

It began as a wet flocking. This picture is early morning when it was warmer. Now, the temperature has dropped and it is blizzarding. There's this sense of Nome, Alaska armageddon. It's wild and completely unnatural. It is Global Weirding.

However, I enjoy it. The aggressive attack is a reminder. Of something. But I am past it. But I am not.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Back Up

Every now and then I like to offer an important public service announcement:


Your job might soon be eliminated. Your food stamps might be late coming in. But you can control whether or not you have backed up your computer.

So please, get down that bulky external drive or stick in that monster USB Flash drive and get it all on there. Then store in a cool, dry place far from your computer.

He Very Well May Be Sacking It

Obama is taking charge of health care, finally. Because he knows it is time to MOVE ON.

And doesn’t it just make sense that he stand there, all tall and handsome and strong, and put it out something like this:

“These are the health care points. We are finishing this up right now because we have to get going on jobs. Anyone who obstructs this obstructs our economic future.”

An indictment of the Republican No-machine.

Fight hard, Obie-Am-Ma-Bama. Be the force of goodness.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Mathy Writer Am I

When I was a kid, I was not an advanced reader. I read comic books. Lots of Peanuts…I had about 32 Peanuts books. I would read them all, and when finished, start over. I liked the melancholic jokes. I was a bit of a sensitive stay-in-my-room type.

As a kid, too, I was years ahead in math. Well, about two years ahead of the other kids. Math just worked. It came to me quickly. And I liked it, mostly because it came to me quickly.

Then, Science came to me, extremely quickly. And then, well---there I was, all Science and Math. It was all so concrete and more importantly, it was FAST. I liked that I got it so fast and I was so facile. Got me a Biology degree.

Then, there was writing. I was not a good writer in high school. I was not a good writer in college. Simply put, I just did not understand it. I mean, I could spell and my grammar was fine. I could write a letter. I could write a paper if I had to. (But more often than not, if I had to write a research paper I would pretty much “borrow” someone’s old one from a few years before. I never understood why you would go to a card catalogue, footnote other peoples’ ideas to support your idea. Why couldn’t you just write, “The Great Leap Forward was neither great nor a leap. So they say…” ) But really, I never understood the fuss. Why were there so many books? And why were they all so dull?

It was all about being fast for me. And writing (and reading) was slow.

And then, slowly, I became a writer. And it is slow. And that is the worst part about it. Well, actually, that’s the best part about it. Because when you are writing, you slow down. You just do. And you catch thoughts and images and you think and you stir. And time stands still and all that “flow” stuff.

And then the math comes in. I set goals, which are numerical by nature. Time, number of pages, days. I have a deadline and I basically stick to it…and it keeps me from becoming a complete pothead drunkard.

(I once read about creative people in a self-help bookstore on Ocean Blvd. in Venice: You really only have two choices, you either create or you become an addict.)

So---I set my schedule and for days and days I write. I am in the middle of editing a screenplay right now. It’s taking twice as long as I had planned. Fine. My math is stretchy.

But it is the math, somehow, the math that keeps me a bit sane. It structures my time. It’s very grounding, while words are often simply wild.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010


From space, it must all look the same.

Beasts, human beasts compete and some lose and some win. Seems to be. No matter the system, democracy, theocracy, tribal, socialist, no system, you see the same thing.

So this is how it is. For many of us it is good. For many of us it is okay. For some it is awful. It goes.

I don’t know what to do about it. And righteousness is silly. Pet the fur as it goes by?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Four Day Work Week

China is a mess.

The U.S. is a mess.

Greece, a mess.

Why do I feel so happy?

Because it’s supposed to be forty-two fucking degrees tomorrow and that’s gonna feel like Hawaii.

As one walks along the sidewalks of Manhattan and Queens, framed by filth-crunch, that frozen snow and dirt that hardens in hillocks along the edges of roads and Toyotas, one wonders, “Could this really be how people live?”

Okay, I know it isn’t Lagos with people sleeping slumped over their bicycles in 110% humidity.

And it isn’t frigid Yellowknife or Barrow, Alaska.

But still. Filth-crunch is Mother Nature’s little way of saying, “You are a dirty people. And you live in frozen garbage.”

But why do I feel so happy?

Because tomorrow, it is going to be forty-two fucking degrees and that’s gonna feel like the inner thigh of a twenty year old girl in a Hula skirt.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tea Parties...

Look, it’s simply too early in the election cycle for tea parties.

But what is interesting to me is this---they’re really just hippies in their own strange way. Albeit, not communal types. But counter culture nihilists for sure.

Why are these conservatives (Okay, libertarians) always decades behind?

Look at Sarah Palin’s glasses. Didn’t your groovy aunt wear those fifteen years ago?

I do not take them seriously, these celebrators of caffeine. In fact, I welcome them since they are going to split the Republican party into jittery pieces.

But let’s not be dismissive of this movement. These people are screaming about the government getting out of their lives because the government, from their point of view, is simply not working. They have a point. But, the government is not working because, well, you heard Evan Bayh—our government is completely dysfunctional.

Now, I am not a complete critic. I am a problem solver. But solving this mess? I think there is only one way to do it: Our president must sack up, become a bit of a tyrant, and stop this mamby-pamby consensus stuff and lead. Hard.

In any organization I have ever had the fortune and misfortune to be a part of, there are always strong differences of opinion. And these opinions are heard—and felt---as ripples. But the main thrust, the main energy, comes from the top. And that is the stabilizing force.

So let the tea party dress up and run around and have their own version of The Summer of Love. And let the super lefties get all righteous and cry in their milk. And let the regular Republicans fart on and on about lowering taxes. And let the Democrats quibble about policy until the God of Tedium decides enough is enough.

But let the president look at all of this and see it for the folly that it is and start smacking down. If that lunatic Bush could smack us down into insane actions, surely, this cool, smart man can smack us into sanity. Sack up and smack down, Obama.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I would like to introduce you to my friend Jeff's Dog....OZ.

What a pooch! What a punim! What a collar...

Nothing like a brown dog. A plain brown dog. Okay, there's a tidge of the bull in there. But mostly some sort of other-terrier-who-knows-what.

Brown dogs. They need homes. We hear this dog is exceptionally sweet.

AH! Doggies!

Enjoy him, Jeff.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

What Does Friday Feel Like to You?

Friday is my favorite day of the week. I am unoriginal. But there are big, distinct reasons why I like Friday. It’s the day when I would never try to conduct any business. It is the day for doing some errands and writing. That’s it.

No great decisions are ever made on Fridays. Some big decision, yes (like firing people), but not great decisions.

On Friday, you can feel your humanity seeping in. Any of that work-a-day alienation or getting-ahead self propulsion, they can take a rest on Friday.

And isn’t that what you’ve always wanted? To feel like yourself, without being ramped up? To just be.

I feel more in the moment on Friday. I feel like it is the golden hour, all day long, as if the sun started to set at 10AM and hung right about there until midnight.

I am all for Friday, Freitag, Vendredi. How do you feel about Friday?

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Winter From Our Window, "Blizzard" '10

Greetings from "Blizzard '10- NYC"---

It was a pussy blizzard. I had a feeling the hype was just that. It was a wet warm one. So really, it was more messy than anything else.

However, it was worth the walk in Central Park. Kids and dogs were out-of-their-minds with happiness.

It is nice when mother nature takes over anything at all.

I hope you are enjoying your weather wherever you are.

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The Church Yard

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The Lake

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The Snow is Wet

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Snow 2010

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The List of Blizzard '10

Everyone likes Pigs in a Blanket, no matter what the season.

It is 4:04 AM in Queens, NY. It is snowing. Hardly anything viscious.

I sometimes get jealous of others. Jealousy is really just a lack of confidence.

I think Earl Grey tea might be a little too floral for me these days.

I finished, yes, the first draft of my screenplay, tonight, about ten minutes ago.

A lot of people make puns. I live by them.

The rich of the world love to help Africa. I don’t blame them. But isn’t it weird to have this American culture where people are always, “Pull your own self up by your own boot straps, son,” yet, when they look at Africa, it’s all, “We have to help these people—aid, aid, aid?” They do need help and I’m all for helping. However, to have this rich country play around with one set of rules within its borders—a very Calvinist affair-- only to then play with completely other rules in a bunch of other countries---a very Catholic or Communist affair, isn’t it just so bifurcated and weird? I think there must be a third way---where we accept that everyone on earth suffers---some to a greater degree, obviously---but the idea to me would be to get super collective around the whole planet. The idea of someone getting very rich in our country so he can go play God in another one sort of turns my stomach.

Cucumbers are so unique. I think they must have a lot of alkaline qualities.

I would love to lose 15 pounds.

I hear a salt truck going by.

Why are ducks so funny?

We are all together---one organism---in some weird way. Don’t you feel it?

My screenplay is at least 30 pages too long. Editing is fun, though.

It is so important to work at something. That could mean working at not working at all.

I bet I would be good with embroidery. But there’s no need for the finished product in my life.

I miss California---it’s decadent and filled with goofy cool nuts. Work and time, there, are elastic. I like it like that.

I did not get the H1N1 vaccination simply because I did not get around to it.

Unemployment is decreasing, I keep telling you.

So many relatives that I really loved are so fucking dead.

I cannot control almost anything.

Discipline is great, when it is practiced. But upon considering it, it reminds me of mortality, how you have to put yourself (an animal) into a groove in order for it to thrive.

I have so much to read. But what I really want to do is dance.

I drink cheap wine. I have stained teeth.

I have many friends. Most of them are happy. I hope this is a reflection on me.

I have been through at least eight hard drives in my life.

I can sleep anywhere.

I fear for Obama. He better start wishing for some good luck. What the world needs now is luck sweet luck.

Gays are so ’07.

Sarah Palin is hilarious. Let’s keep her around, just not in any position of governance.

Good appliances really do make a difference. Drat.

I believe in ever lasting life---for things that live forever.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Who's Crying Now ?

It is 5:48 AM, E.S.T.

But I’m not crying!

I finished every scene but the very last one of my screenplay.

This long night has pretty much been emotionally neutral. You know how the end of movies everything has to come together? The characters, certainly the plot, the theme, you name it? All the loose ends have to collide in a satisfying way (that might even be surprising). So, when you are writing the end, you have to keep your brain scanning all these components (and your treatment) to make sure they land on the page.

It’s just work. Kind of like being an air traffic controller. Except you can get up and nuke your tea as often as you need to, see what your friends are up to on Facebook, surf around the web, sometimes you might even check out the porn. I mean, you kind of deserve it.

Writing is not glamorous.

I feel like I had a day’s (night’s) work. Which feels very sober and good.

It helps to spend an enormous amount of time with friends, so when you are alone for long periods of time, it doesn’t feel so freaky. In fact, you look forward to it.

Dry eyes. Sun soon.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Here He Goes Again

A convergence, a necessary step, the whole thing is happening:
Looks like gay people are going to have their day(s).

Between the military finally saying, “Aw, hell, just be yourselves,” and the court case in California that is surely going to fall on the side of, “Aw, hell, just be yourselves and get married,” I believe, finally, gay people will finally have their day. And it will be no big deal.

The silly squeamish are all getting old and are losing the fight. Plus, they have all this tea party stuff to attend to.

I wanted it all to go down in a certain order (as things are presented to me). I get stuck on things. I would rather we get the health care first, the gay care second. But if it is gay care first, well…so be it!

These are trying times.

More good news. Unemployment rates are decreasing. Okay, only by .3%, but that is better than increasing by .3%.

And now:

A note to Obama: We’ve already had our Jimmy Carter years. Rock it hard, baby.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

People Are Greedy Lunatic Pigs

There is no other answer. And it is infectious. (No wonder Zombie movies do so well.)

Somehow, our grabby gene is really big.

Georgie W. really wanted all that oil under Iraq. He wanted it so bad. His friends wanted it. Dick Cheney demanded it. What a greedy push.

Corporations, in an effort to max-max-maximize their profits (okay, I know, that’s what they’re supposed to do)---hired the cheapest employees they could find, sending the customer service and manufacturing jobs far, far away.

Any loose cash that was left was Hoovered up the chain of command.

And now---look at us.

I say lunatic, because it is a madness. Anyone with any sense of math knew this setup-mess was unsustainable. Why did we let it happen? Because we are greedy, lunatic pigs.

We are not to be condemned for our avaricious, insane, porcine ways. We are to be forgiven. But we also have to learn how we went wrong. With a cold eye and a warm heart.
(And a flat nose and a curly tail).

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Let's Talk About Gays in the Military

There are gays in the military. Have you noticed?

And what’s the problem?

Apparently, none.

It was all homophobia.

And the younger you are, the harder you don’t care about any of it.

Time heals everything. Until, of course, the grand explosion. But we’ll be a digitally based or gamma ray species by then—

Of course, after the grand explosion of our sun, time will pass and there could eventually be the super-cooling-condensing that is the reverse of the Big Bang, to even things out, cosmically (which only makes sense—Jungian duality commands it)---but by then, maybe we will have become a species that can withstand condensing and then the inevitable see-saw neo-Big Bang explosion.

Or we won’t exist at all, soon enough, and there will have been a huge series of species that will have replaced us in unimaginable ways. And so time did heal everything, or something.

And there are gays in the military. Ho-hum?

Let ‘em breathe. Out loud.

Someone’s gotta translate all that Arabic between now and what will be.

First Drafts Are Disgusting

So here I am in New York doing a sort of reverse Barton Fink. As some of you readers know, I showed up here and about seven months ago had a reading of a play of mine at The Public Theatre with Meryl Streep and her kids. It was a fine time and the play is heading toward a real NY production…(Stop asking me when and where—as soon as it is set, you’ll know! And it isn’t with Meryl Streep.) Okay, you’re all caught up. But on the side, these movie people, yes, NY has some movie people, well these movie people who have made a bunch of movies, one of them is a movie that you’ve all seen—okay, why be coy. It’s called ELF and it starred Will Ferrell. So, they asked me to come in to pitch some movie ideas. Being someone with lots of ideas and being someone who is highly organized and has all those ideas in folders, I went in with my list of 26 movies, pitched 8 of them and they liked the one best that I liked best (which was, of course, also the one most thought out)—and so they said, “We’ll take it!” Which means, I am writing it. And if all goes well, they will sell it to one of their big ol’ Hollywood studios, make it, it does as well as ELF, I buy a big apartment in NYC and return to LA and buy a dog. Maybe a trip to Costa Rica. Or Greece.

Okay, that’s the easy stuff, the stuff you tell your mother, the stuff I usually don’t blog about much because it’s sort of like an accountant blogging about the day’s P & L’s and Balance Sheets. (Writer’s lives are so boring. I mean, even if you speed it up on tape---it just looks like a hunchback at a keyboard who keeps getting up to nuke his herbal tea.)

Okay---so then there’s the treatment. Which was actually completely fun to write. Lots of ideas. I have lots of ideas…so building a big sheet with big empty blocks and filling them in is easy for me. When people ask me, incredulously, sort of thinking-they-can-do-it-too-and-kind-of-want-to-if-only-they-knew-how “How do you come up with those ideas? What do you do when you sit to write?” My honest answer should be, “You just have to be one of those people who is loaded with ideas, if you are not, then don’t write. If you must, then pick one topic you are interested in, do a lot of research about it, take notes and write a nonfiction book. Make it about the natural history of warts, Malaysia or a really great cult leader.”

Okay—so the treatment is easy. Notes, notes, notes from the company. Wonderful guys. I love them. Best people I’ve run into ever when it comes to movies-TV-etc. Truly. Okay, so I have this great treatment, fine tooth combed. Needed one little plot tweak, we fixed that.

And then---then---then---“Now go and write it.”

Friends, I am almost done with the first draft. And it is a big, fat, sloppy, overwritten, pig pile! But I love it and I am glad that I barreled on and didn’t stop to fix the first 70 pages before I went on to write the next 70. I know, I know—140 page screen play? Okay, not quite that long. But almost. I’ll cut it. I swear!

But it’s been fun. I only cried four or ten different times---and that was only because I was wretchedly lonely. Watching a grown man cry is hilarious. I run to the mirror to see it when it happens. I look like an old Italian woman at her son’s funeral. My face crinkles up—and my eyes, fleshy pig-slits that they are now, fill up with tears but they don’t even run down my face---they just fill up my loose eye ball area with water and I just get really wet from the nose up. I don’t look like a movie star when I cry. I look like a very old, tired monster, surrounded by pink tile, I repeat, fleshy, and just sort of wet.

So then, I decided to solve my writing problem. I realized, “Hey, lunatic…get out of the apartment, see people.”

So, I have been making more plans and that is helping enormously. I am completely normal, or close to it, when I am outside with humanity. In fact, one might say I am decent company. I talk a lot, but I listen (I think) more than I talk. And I rather not control the subject matter (I think).

First drafts are monsters. I’d like to say you birth them out your ass—but that would be too pleasurable compared to what it really feels like—maybe a burning pepper through the sinuses or glassy vinegar pushed through the pores of your inner thighs.

You are not graceful during a first draft. You get really greasy. You certainly don’t get your hair cut. You do a lot of Google map searches and your friends (who thank goodness are generous with your personality tics) receive long emails about almost nothing--in detail.

And, of course, these long blog entries---to cleanse the palate.

Good luck with your first draft, if you are writing one. If you are editing—baby, you’re on vacation.

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