Friday, September 29, 2006

One moment, please

Nine years and hundreds of shows. I knew it was time to move on.
Two hours, two sets of original scenes, seven of us, 70 of you, and one moment backstage that tells me what it’s all about.
The crowd murmured, the lights flashed, Joe announced: “Turn your cell phones and pagers to the more fun setting of vibrate.”
The lights lowered and the music started.
Da, da, da-da, da...da, da da!
It sends a rush of adrenaline through me before any show. It sends a rush through us all. But as we all softly moshed to the sound, jumped in place, nothing flashed past my eyes. No one entered my mind, no wishes, no thoughts, no regrets ... because right then, there was nowhere else in the world I wanted to be.
Not on television, not in a movie, not on-stage in New York, not on a date with Winona Ryder.
For those two hours, that one night, I was right where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to do.
I will miss it infinitely.
One moment, thank you.

Monday, September 25, 2006

If I Was into Guys, I'd Be into The PC Guy

Yeah, I know the Mac guy is younger and hipper. He runs all sorts of cool applications. He speaks Japanese. He doesn’t need to hide from spy ware. He makes better photography slideshows and handles media better. He used to be on ‘Ed’. But I’m just not that in to him. Not that I’m into guys – let alone guys who are acting as personifications of cold, inhuman computers – but if I were into guys, the Mac guy is just not my type. Sure, he’s hip, but he just strikes me as the type of person who rubs your nose in his own hipness. He comes off as the kind of pretentious jerk who says things like: “I can’t believe you haven’t seen this film yet” two days after the movie opened in limited release. He seems so full of himself. He’s so concerned about keeping up his own appearance of being on the cutting edge, that he cannot be bothered to care about someone else. Who wants to be in a relationship with a petty jerk like that? Not me, even if he does have all the latest things and has a broad knowledge of all the latest subjects of note. None of that matters because he wouldn’t really appreciate you. He’d probably be out all night with his Japanese friend and he wouldn’t even have the decency to call and make up a lie because he knows you’ve spent all night slaving over a hot roast. He’s a total jerk. Just look at how he treats the poor PC guy.

Ah, the PC guy, there’s the man I’d want to be with – if I wanted to be with a man, which I don’t. Just look at him. He has that hangdog expression, slightly awkward demeanor, and warm caring eyes. Sure, he isn’t flashy. He’s a little old fashioned. He’s a little befuddled. He’s completely adorable. Who needs the snarky Mac guy with his smarmy hipster charms? Give me the gentle PC guy. He’s the sort of guy who would really appreciate you. He wouldn’t take you for granted the way the Mac guy would. He may not be able to express himself as well. He may only have flow charts and spread sheets to tell you how he feels, but at least you would know that it was genuine, and from his heart. Plus, he’s totally huggable. Don’t you just want to snuggle up in his arms with a nice hot mug of hot cocoa? When he’s sitting in his box, don’t you just want to climb in, curl up on his lap, and take a gentle nap? I know I do – at least I would if I were into guys, which I am not. The Mac guy is good for a random night on the town, but if you really want to be happy and stable, it’s PC all the way. He’ll never leave you. He’ll never wander off with some hot new application. He’s the nice guy your mother wants you to end up with, but you don’t realize that’s what you want until it’s too late.

Now, this is in no way meant to show any preference to either computer. I know nothing about computers. I don’t even really care. But I do know a little thing about matters of the human heart, and my heart says PC guy all the way – at least it would if I were into guys, which I assure you I am not.

Shalom

Friday, September 22, 2006

Party Killers

I have not posted a blog in quite some time because I've been watching my life slip into obscurity: morally, financially, and in morale. So, good times all around. Recently, whilst recording the new Dodge Intrepid episodes for posting on the net, I brought up the party killer list again, so under advisement of James and Mike, and due to the impending Halloween party season fast fast approaching, I'm posting the things that I think kill a party.

1. Running out of alcohol
Outside of an AA party, or a wedding hosted by people who still believe prohibition is still alive and kicking, running out of hooch is a sure fire way to remind people of the made up things that were going to keep them from the party in the first place.

2. Bringing out the guitar
"I think I know what'll pick up this party." And then the guitar goes on, complete with John Denver-esque strap. If you are John Denver or another professional musician, then playing music, thus giving a free concert is a viable option at a party. This is mostly because if you are a professional musician, the people are there to hopefully strike up a conversation with you in the first place. But if you are not a pro, leave the music to the pros. Put on a CD. Do not rock out with your drunk buds. Garage bands are just that...in the garage...alone. Ever seen a garage band? No, Is there anyone else in there? Yes, the girl doing the drummer, that's it. The guitar immediately alienates the others. This is actually waht usually kills the party. Cutting off a large group from the experience. Everyone can drink and make small talk and flirt. Cutting off a big chunk will kill the party. And mediocre playing of live music is a sure fire evening ender.

3. Playing video games or a movie.
Parties are interactive enjoyment. Movies make people sit down and be quiet. Boring. Video games, while very fun, are not party activities. Unless it is active, like Dance dance Revolution (or counter revolution in Cuba), which can be a party unto itself, don't pull out the PS2. I know there is a Mario Party, but it's not really a party. This may change with the inception with the Nintendo Wii, but I will stand by this rule. Because you can't have more than two or four people playing at a time, cutting off everyone else. Lame.

4. Having no people of the opposite sex.
Even if everyone at the party is gay, you need to have someone of the opposite sex there. It just makes it work. Gay guys, from my experience, like to flirt with girls too. (It's because everyone loves breasts. Everyone. Trust me. Ask around. You'd me amazed, but that's another short and offensive blog.) There is a reason bars and clubs have ladies nights. Women draw men. Parties are no exception. If there are no girls, then the party slowly turns into a night of Dungeons and Dragons without the dice. IF there are no guys, everyone just gets angry, drunk, and catty. So I've heard.

5. Starting too late.
Don't begin the party at midnight unless you're in Europe. People are not used to all night partying here. Neither are you. Trust me. Five AM sucks. And you want to be functional the next day. A party should not take two days to recover from it.

6. Having the music too loud.
If people can't talk, they won't listen and they'll get bored.

7. Having a super tight planned intinerary.
People like to do their own thing. Don't have everyone on a schedule. It's a fun time, not friggin school. Relax, obviously you need another martini.

So there you are. Keep those in mind and spread the low lit areas out as well as the food, and clean your damn house. Also, don't have enough places to sit for the entire party in one spot. Encourage movement and mingling. That makes the best party, with often sexy results.

Wishing you all get laid,
Mike the Tall

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Conversation Between James and the Kitten Laying on his Car's Tire

Me: Excuse me. You seem to be sleeping on the top of my tire. You’re going to have to get off.

Kitten: Meow.

Me: No, Seriously. I have places to be. I can’t leave with you stretched out on the top of the wheel like that. Well, I could leave. But you most likely would end up being horribly hurt or even killed.

Kitten: Meow.

Me: Yes. I know. You are adorable. That’s why I don’t want to hurt you. Well, that’s one of the reasons I don’t want to hurt you. If you were to be crushed by this tire, your little bones could stick up and damage the tires. So, that’s another reason I don’t want to hurt you. And it’s a very good reason for you to get off of the tire.

Kitten: Meow.

Me: Now be reasonable. I know you are comfortable. I know you are adorable. That does not mean I want to play any games with you. I have places to go. You are stopping me from leaving – at your own peril, I might add. I suggest you simply scamper back to whatever place you might call home.

Kitten: Meow.

Me: I’m sorry, but I am not going to pick you up. I am allergic to you. If I pick you up, I am going to be left with little tabby hairs all over my arms and clothes which are going to do nothing but make me sneeze and itch all day. Oh, now come on; don’t look at me like that. I can’t help it if I’m allergic. Would you please just get off my tire, and go home?

Kitten: Meow.

Me: I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were a stray. I didn’t know home would be such a touchy subject for you. I wish there was something I could do.

Kitten: Meow.

Me: No. No. Completely out of the question. I can’t adopt you.

Kitten: Meow.

Me: Because I’m allergic. I thought I went over this already. If you moved into my apartment I would be miserable all the time. I wouldn’t be able to breathe…Now, please. I’m not trying to be mean. Stop looking at me like that.

Kitten: Meow.

Me: No, I don’t know what it’s like out here on the streets. But I simply can’t adopt you. It would never work. I’m hardly ever home. Who would feed you? Plus, whenever I would be home, I’d feel physically awful. Now, please. Can we just talk about this later? For now, can you just please get off the top of my tire…Thank you. See was that so hard…Wait. Where do you think you’re going? You can’t go out under the car. You’re right next to the tire. You’re practically under it. This is probably even more dangerous than being on top. At least if you are on top you have a chance to scamper off if I start slowly. Where you are now, if I move one inch, you’ll be crushed.

Kitten: Meow.

Me: I do not believe you’ve studied the writings of Thoreau and the lives of Martin Luther King Jr., and Gandhi. This is ridiculous. What exactly are you trying to prove?

Kitten: Meow.

Me: I’m just one man trying to get to work on time. This is hardly the time or place for such grand gestures. For now, I just really want you to get away from the car, so I can go to work with out the guilt of killing an adorable kitten to get here.

Kitten: Meow.

Me: I am not going to pull a Tiananmen. But I do need to get to work. I’ve got bills to pay. Something you would not understand because you’re a kitten.

Kitten: Meow.

Me: You know what, fine. If you want to play hardball, I’ll play hardball. You see these. These are the keys to the car. Look at me. I’m opening the door. I’m putting the key in the ignition. I’m turning the engine on. Do you here that? That’s six cylinders of pure 100% American made kitten killing goodness. There goes the parking brake. I’m putting it in gear. I’ll just let it roll a little forward. Ha. There you go. Bound up to the sidewalk, you yellow piece of trash. No kitten’s going to try and call my bluff. Looks like I won this battle of wits. That’s right. James: 1. Kitten: Nada.

Kitten (from sidewalk): Meow.

Me (driving away): You too buddy. You too.

Shalom

Monday, September 18, 2006

Adult Decisions

I've recently come to a point in life where I've realized that I am, in fact, an adult by legal standards. Unfortunately I am an adult by those standards only. So with much soul searching and a forty, I decided to more closely resemble an adult by society's standards. The first step, learning how to make adult decisions. Now this is a timely process to say the least, and I didnt want to over do it right off the bat. I decided that in order to learn to make Adult decisions I should set some goals along the way, and stick to them. So, I elected to make one adult decision everyday and gradually build from there. Day one complete.

Having freshly acheived my goal, I looked forward to the possible adult decisions I may be faced with on day 2. So much potential for adultery or is it adultmanship, either way. The next day day I found myself driving to the rehersal on route 60. I was moving along at a good clip when i noticed a car speeding up on my bumper. I increased speed so to allow a bit more of a buffer zone between his camaro and my 1992 toyota camary, but as I accelerated he did as well. this continued for a few more miles until i realized i was well above the suggested speed limit posted on this particular highway. I thought to myself "ok you wanna see how fast we can go, lets do it," I was fairly sure i could give him a run for his money, my speedometer could do 140, Im not sure about the car . Fortuneatly , it was at that moment i recalled my recent commitment to become more adultish. so rather then put the hammer down, I simply decelerated and waved him around, giving the douche bag the finger as he past, not only preventing a speeding ticket, but also fullfilling my promise of one adult decision per day.

I'm on day 27 now and things are looking good, last friday I even managed to make two adult decisions, cause I new I would be too drunk to do it saturday night. Planning ahead, another step closer to adulthood.

joe eoj

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Panda Dies; A Boy Smiles

I usually do not think of myself as being a particularly sick or cruel individual. Still, every now and again I am surprised at the malice which springs from my own heart. This morning I read the awful news of how Ya Ya, a panda in captivity in China, accidentally killed her own cub. Apparently Ya Ya hasn’t been sleeping or eating properly and accidentally crushed her young child. Now, according the MSNBC report I read, Ya Ya is in a state of extreme mourning. Now, most people would read this and feel sad. They would feel bad for Ya Ya and her loss. They would feel bad that a young member of an endangered species has died such a senseless death. Most people are saddened by such bad news. Me on the other hand…

This news makes me overwhelmingly happy. I am gleeful. I am ecstatic. After reading this news this morning, I am walking on air. I am smiling and waving to strangers on the street. I’m dancing. Well, not right now – at this moment I am typing – but I danced earlier. I may dance again later. I feel renewed. I feel at peace. The terrible news of a dead panda cub is a soothing balm to my embattled soul. The existential questions of who I am and where I stand in this world are temporarily on hold. These questions are rendered completely moot. The angst accompanying them is out the window. A panda has died. Better yet, a baby panda has died. Can there possibly be better bad news?

Yeah, dead panda cub stories make me happy. I’m not proud of it. Well, I’m not terribly proud of it. I guess maybe I am a little sick. Of course, there’s always the chance I am not alone. At the risk of being met with the cyber space equivalent of cricket chirps, I need to ask a very serious question: Who else is incredibly reassured, even made a little happy by this horrible news? I know I am opening myself up to a barrage of “How dare you assume I’m as sick as you. I love pandas. This is a tragedy.” comments – bring them on – but please, look deep inside of yourselves. Isn’t there some small part of you at peace right now knowing a panda has died? Would you really feel better if the news story was about a baby panda that was saved by a brave zoo worker at the penultimate moment? That would be a great story, a heroic story, a ‘feel good’ story’, but it would hardly register. Every morning I look over the headlines on various internet sites. I hardly click on most stories, but when I read the headline ‘Panda Mourns accidental killing of Cub’, I could not get my mouse moving fast enough. Now I don’t need to hear any answers, but I do want everyone to be completely honest with themselves. Which headline are you most likely to click on to read the full article: ‘Panda Mourns Accidental Loss of Cub,’ or ‘Panda Cub Saved from Peril’? Now, ponder your answer.

Walker Percy in his brilliant book ‘Lost in the Cosmos’ also wondered “Why it is that the self – though it Professes to be Loving, Caring, to Prefer Peace to War, Concord to Discord, Life to Death; to Wish Selves Well, not Ill – in fact Secretly Relishes Wars and Rumors of War, News of Plane Crashes, Assassinations, Mass Murders, Obituaries, to say nothing of Local News about Acquaintances Dropping Dead in the Street, Gossip about Neighbors getting in Fights or being Detected in Sexual Scandals, Embezzlements, and other Disgraces.” We all love stories of tragedies. They pierce through all the crap in our lives. They make us feel strangely good. I am heartened by the news of a defenseless baby panda’s death (can we at least all agree that, as animals go, pandas a terribly overrated and needed to be brought down a peg). So what? Aren’t we all a little heartened by this news? Or if we are not all heartened by bad news, at least I have a National Book Award winner on my side.

Shalom,
James

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

No, Mr. Palmer. I'll take YOU to the bank.

Herein lies a story originating from the Cellar Dweller's recent trip to Philly.

We had a great show at the 5 Spot in Philly. Nang is origionally from Philly so we, The Cellar Dwellers, let her and her family decide where we should go to celebrate our outstanding, sell-out performance. They told us of a great bar called Sugar Mom's on Church Street in the heart of Old Town, where the Atmosphere was livid and the Bubble Hockey was Free! (and if anyone knows the Cellar Dwellers, simply the utteration of Bubble Hockey sends us into a frenzy. A FRENZY)

While at Sugar Mom's, we had a few delicious beers with each other, friends we had not seen in years, and Nangles'. But it had been quite a long day, and many of us had not eaten since Pizza King teased our appitites with a jester-quality pizza. We were, simply put, famished. Another great thing about Sugar Mom's is that the Kitchen was open until 1:30 AM. By our calculations, it was merely 1:00. So we flagged down a waitress and ordered 2 fish sandwiches and a large fry. With turnpike tolls casting a heavy shadow on the pocketbook, I reached for the great American currency, My Debit Card, and proclaimed to our server, "I'd like to start a tab." With the night wearing on, and drinking becoming more frequent, we were finally able to manuever our way onto the bubble hockey table. We played until the joint closed at 2:00, and a kitchen employee shooed us out the door so cleanup could begin. Outside, we got directions off a drunk Nangle to Jersey, where our hotel was, and parted ways, happy and inebriated. (no worry officer, we had a designated driver)

It wasn't untill the next morning that I had realized that with the quick retreat from the bar, I left my debit card in the care of the server.

"Damnit," I told my fellow Dwellers, "I left my card at Sugar Mom's."

Words of encouragement were uttered for its safe return,
"No problem, we'll pick it up after breakfast at the Chinese Buffet."

Yea, no problem. We have to go back to Philly to pick Dave up from Nang's sisters house anyway. Nang was staying for the week, so Dave was riding back home with James, Joe, Larry, Big Matt, Danette, and myself. The plan was, BM, Danette and I would go in my car to Sugar Mom's and get my card while James, Joe and Larry would take the other car to get Dave. We would meet at the first rest stop outside the city. Simple plan.

Herein lies our dillema. Sugar Mom's doesn't open till 6pm on Sunday. Plus they weren't open on Monday's or Tuesday's at all. We had a whole road trip planned for the way home (including the worlds smallest church and Tiny-Town,) and this didn't figure in to those plans. The phone number was on the sign out front, so I jotted it down and we got back in the car. Defeated, we drove for the worlds smallest church. I figured there was nothing I could do untill 6:00 so I enjoyed the journey. After dinner at one of the Rest Areas, I called Sugar Mom's to inquire about my card. The conversation went as thus:

Ben: Hi, I was in last night and I think I left my card there.
Employee: Were you at the bar or in the dining room?
Ben: The Bar.
Emp: (pause) ...Yea, I got it here. You can come pick it up.
Ben: Well, I'm from Pittsburgh, is there anyway you could mail it out to me?
Emp: ...Um...you're probally gonna have to talk to a manager, they're real protective of people's cards that have been left.
Ben: Is there someone there now?
Emp: No, you'll have to try back later.
Ben: Can I leave my Info and have someone call me back when they get in?
Emp: Yea, no problem.

Knowing full well I'd never get a call in return.

Dave, who was in my car at this time, suggested that I talk to Nang about her maybe being able to pick up the card this week sometime. She was, in fact, staying in Philadelphia all week. So on Tuesday night, I told Nang I would call them in the morning and see if she, or one of the nangle clan, could stop by and pick it up.

Ben: Hi, I was in on Saturday and left my debit card at the bar.
Emp: ...Yea, it's here. You can pick it up anytime.
Ben: Um... I live in Pittsburgh.
Emp: Oh.
Ben: I do have a friend staying i Philly this week, is there anyway she could pick it for me?
Emp: ...Jee, uh, I'm not sure. You'll have to talk to a Manager. She'll be in later this afternoon.
Ben: Can I leave you my number at least.
Emp: Sure.

Well, I went to work that night and forgot to call back.*sigh*

So Thursday comes.

Nang was heading home today, so I could no longer utilize her as a debit-retrieving source. I had to take a stand.

Ben: Hi, is a manager in?
Emp: No, but Is there something I could help you with?
Ben: I left my debit card at the bar this past weekend.
Emp: ...Oh yea, I've seen this here... Yea, man, we got it. You can come by anytime and pick it up.
(pause)
Ben: ... um, I live in Pittsburgh.
Emp: Oh. uh...
Ben: Look, this is the 3rd time I've called this week, is there anyway that someone could just mail it out to me? I'll return the postage, or whatever, I'd just really like my card back.
Emp: Let me take down your name and number, my shift ends at 6:00, I promise someone will get back to you before I leave.
Ben: Thank you.

20 minutes later, my phone rings.

Ben: Hello?
Mom: Hello Benjamin, this is Mom from Sugar Mom's.
Ben: Hey mom.
Mom: Look we'll get you're card out to you right away.

Yes Success!!!!!!!!

Then came Friday.

Around 12:30pm I recieved this call:

Ben: Hello
Mom: Hello Benjamin, this is Mom from Sugar Mom's
Ben: (confused) Hi Mom, what's up.
Mom: Oh, I've been looking for your phone number all morning. See, someone broke into my car last night and your Debit Card was stolen. It was in the envelope, all ready to be mailed, and they took it right out. Left the envelope, but took your card.
Ben: ... ... ... Oh.
Mom: Yea, It happened sometime after 10:00 last night.
Ben: Uh, Ok
Mom: Well I'll talk to you later.

W.T.F.

After days of not getting ahold of the right people, then when I finally do, Her car gets broken into. So I went to the bank and had them cancel my card. Luckily, therer were no outstanding charges thath I couldn't explain, so I caught it in time. It was just such a hassle. I should have just said, "Destroy it" on Sunday, I'll put in for a new one. It would have saved me much less of a hassle.

Here is where I thought the story was over. The following Saturday, I got an envelope from Philadelphia. Inside were 4 poker chips, each emblazoned with the letters MOM'S and accompanied with a note.

"The Mom's Chip is good for 50 Cents off each and every item prchased at either Mom's location. The Chip is good for life, use it each and every time you visit Mom's. If you forget to bring your chip or lose your Chip just ask for another... It's Mom's way of saying "you're special!"

A hand written note was also included:

"Since I still had the envelope, I figured I'd send you something. -Mom"

Thanks Mom...

Anyone up for a road trip to Philly?

-Ben

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Blog Blog

In recent years, the gullible movie going public has been inundated with an appalling glut of crappy movies. Among the lamest of these pathetic excuses for film making are the ‘Movie’ movies. If you’ve been paying attention to the megaplexes you surely have noticed the ‘Movie’ movies. These so-called comedies are hastily made spoofs of current films, generally focusing on a single genre. Then, instead of coming up with a clever title, maybe a jab at another movie, these movies take the easy way out and simply name themselves after the genre they are anemically riffing on. Hence we have ‘Scary Movies’ and ‘Date Movie’ and ‘Teen Movie.’(Yes. I know the teen movie was actually called ‘Not another Teen movie’, but the neither the title nor the film benefited from the inclusion of the negative clause. The cruelest irony of course is that ‘Not Another Teen Movie’ was, indeed, down to it’s very core, just another teen movie.)

Now, even people who have been fans of these franchises in the past – are you out there? – must admit they are running on fumes. The makers of these ‘Movie’ movies are running out of fresh ideas. And that, dear reader, is where I enter the scene. I have noticed these films running in circles, getting no where fast. I have new directions for these films. All they need is to think outside the proverbial box. There are many film genres and sub-genres which have not been exploited. Why, the ‘Movie’ movie potential scenarios are practically limitless. Here is just a short offering of ideas these filmmakers have yet to touch upon:

Merchant-Ivory Movie: A repressed English butler (Leslie Nielson) is overcome with the arrival into his controlled world of an eccentric American female gardener (Monique), an Indian Hindu priest (Abe Vigoda), and mysterious Italian Heiress (Jenny McCarthy). Hilarity ensues.

Elvis Movie: A good ol’ boy, Hawaiian shirted Vale ski instructor and night club performer (Rob Schneider) woos the daughter (Denise Richards) of the town’s richest man (Leslie Nielson) while out-skiing and singing a posse of California pretty boys. Hilarity ensues.

Industry Training Video Movie: A hapless new employee (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) is taught OSHA regulations and the rules of life from a mysterious janitor (Howie Mandel) while avoiding the factory’s eccentric owner (Leslie Nielson). Hilarity ensues.

1950’s Disney Live Action Movie: A young Oklahoma farm boy (Jonathan Lipnicki) and his talking dog (Shaquille O’Neal) are whisked away into the wilderness by a pair of bumbling bank robbers (Anthony Anderson and Randy Quaid). The boy returns home to his homesteader father (Leslie Nielson), shoots his dog, and becomes a man. Hilarity ensues.

Snuff Film Movie: An unsuspecting young women (Kathy Griffin) meets a bizarre trio of ball-gagged men (Charlie Sheen, Ralph Macchio, and Leslie Nielson) at a Red Carpet Inn. Hilarity ensues.

Shalom.