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[California Seething] Noir Springs

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NOTE: I started this post in Palm Springs on vacation a couple of weeks ago and am just finishing it now. In case you’re wondering what took so long, here is a picture of the Kirk Douglas Theatre filled with 3,000 boxes. Draw your own conclusions.

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Greetings from beautiful Palm Springs! Sure, I know it may seem counter-intuitive to live in LA and vacation in Palm Springs in August, particularly when LA is in the midst of a ball chafing heatwave and I’ve been whining like a Republican about the heat every time I go east of La Brea. Note for Republicans- saying “Black Lives Matter” Cal Seething- 090715- whitelivesdoes not constitute whining- petulantly insisting that “All Lives Matter” does. Look- I’m a 42 year old white man- I’m totally aware of how much my life matters. If anything, I’m a little embarrassed by it. I can walk into a police station and take a crap on the floor and the desk sergeant will apologize cause they don’t have Charmin. I get followed around stores, but only when they’re recruiting for management positions. Cab drivers slow down when I walk by, just in case. My FICO score is “Honky”. Cameron Crowe just cast me in his remake of The Joy Luck Club- to play EVERY SINGLE PART. I’m good. I get it. I TOTALLY FUCKING COMPLETELY MATTER. Now can we please move on to the more pressing issue of black people being murdered by asshole racist cops? Cause THAT’S the only thing here that really fucking matters.

So yeah, while I certainly don’t whine about how my life matters, I have been known to whine about the heat in LA, which makes it all the more mystifying that I chose to vacation in Palm Springs. It’s like living in Albany and wintering in Buffalo. But- hey, wait a second- people who live in cold climates spend their winters in even colder places all the time. Hell, my grandparents lived in upstate New York and spent much of the winters at their place in Cal Seething- 090715- bernieVermont- and we all know Vermont is only known for three things: Bernie Sanders, heroin and SNOW (also, Ben & Jerry’s, which is a hodge-podge of the three). Why would they do that? Wasn’t there enough snow for them in Albany? Were they just dumb?

Of course not- they did it because they wanted to ski (my grandfather did anyhow). They went to a place even colder than the one they lived in so they could perform a seasonal activity which they enjoyed. And it’s the same with me! I go to Palm Springs in August so I can float in the pool, drink gin & tonics and watch a Murder, She Wrote marathon on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel in air conditioned comfort. My favorite summer sports! And so much safer Cal Seething- 090715- sonnythan skiing. Look at Sonny Bono. See- look- he’s right over there! Hi Sonny! Anyhow, Bono was mayor of Palm Springs for four years and the worst thing that happened to him is that he ended up with a statue of himself on a park bench so tourists could take selfies. But he goes skiing once and BLAMMO runs into a tree and he’s dead as a Kennedy.

Gotta hand it to him for being the mayor of this town, though- that sounds like it takes a lot of effort and the sun here is a sledgehammer. It beats you flat like a piece of veal and roasts the ambition right out of you. I guess he was the only one willing to get out of the pool long enough to show up for City Council meetings. Me, I’d rather float on my back, stare up at the palm trees and contemplate film noir.

Palm Springs actually makes the perfect place to pontificate about film noir. Not only are film noir and Palm Springs both by-products of mid-century America, they both benefited greatly from the old studio system. After all, the same contracts which compelled actors and film-makers to churn out all those noir classics also required them to remain within a two hour drive of Los Angeles, in case they were needed suddenly back in Hollywood (or, let’s keep it real here, Culver City). And so a glamorous little resort town was born in the middle of the desert, a quick two hour drive from the studios (good thing traffic was better back then, or we’d be vacationing in Glendale today.) And the town that was created is the perfect embodiment of everything noir was reacting to. Row after row of one story houses- low slung and angular, sleek and Cal Seething- 090715- butterflyunburdened by history- like shiny new toasters lined up on the shelf of some long gone department store, just waiting for housewives to snatch them up in a desperate bid to outdo each other. And every house is complete with a shimmering blue David Hockney pool in the backyard, hard-bodied young divers and unspoken implications included.

It’s not an ostentatious place- just a place quietly confident of the permanence of its own improbable existence. A car in every driveway, a lawn for every house, a house for every family – plenty of oil, plenty of water, plenty of land- the finish line in the pursuit of happiness. Quiet, comfortable, climate controlled and cool- it’s the epitome of illusory American greatness during the brief pinnacle of our brief history. Hell, even the names of the neighborhoods simply drip with casual mid-century Hollywood glamour likeCal Seething- 090715- moviecolony a long string of perfect pearls– the Movie Colony, the Racquet Club. OK, well, just those two- but still!

And so, even though I’ve done no research on the subject and am much too lazy to do any, I can easily imagine the great noir screenwriters and film-makers sitting by the pool here and giving life to their darkest fantasies. Hell, I know every time I walk the dog through the silent streets and look over the neat little rows of perfect square houses to the towering mountains beyond I think- “man- what an awesome place for a murder!” OK, well sometimes I think “Seriously, Punky? You’ve got to poop now- right when we’re in the middle of crossing the street- you can’t hold it til you get to the other side?? Ooooh, you’re lucky you’re cute” or “Holy crap, Punky- that bicyclist is like three blocks Cal-Seething--100714--punkyaway WHY IN THE NAME OF GOD ARE YOU LOSING YOUR SHIT OVER IT????? Oooooh, you’re lucky you’re so cute”- but a lot of the time I think “man- what an awesome place for a murder!” Maybe it’s cause there’s never anyone around- just row after row of angular houses with closed doors. Blinds pulled tight to keep the sun’s heat out and the secrets in (eh? eh? pretty mysterious right??) A hot wind listlessly stirs the fronds on tall palm trees like slowly melting ice cubes in a pool-side vodka tonic. The only sounds I hear are the panting of the dog, the soft thump of my sneakers on the sidewalk and the screaming of the cicadas in the trees. Like a restless crowd in a play with no dialogue of its own, they continuously emit a relentless high pitched drone which scratches at my ears like a thousand tiny fingers. A million million hidden insects screeching out the unspoken anxieties of a quiet desert town. Or, you know, that’s what it sounds like to me- it’s probably some kind of mating call or their way of saying “shit, man- it’s hot as fuuuuuuck out here.” I don’t really know for sure, and I’m way too lazy to research it. That would take effort and ambition, and, as you know, it’s hot as fuuuuck out here.

Then again, it doesn’t matter what the cicadas are actually trying to say, because, just like film noir, perception is the important thing. Oh and- did I just transform a rationalization for my totally half assed effort into a perfect segue? You bet, I did! I didn’t get to be the second laziest B+ student to ever graduate from the University at Albany (right behind Steve Gutenberg) without picking up a few tricks. Gutenberg, sadly is also the most famous alumnus of the University of Albany. I know,right? We couldn’t even get Tackleberry!Cal Seething- 090715- tackleberry

But back to film noir, one of the great things is how the characters are most frequently undone not by the law or the mob but by their own twisted perception of the world they live in. And so, much like Republican women, they make terrible choices contrary to their own self interest, because of their warped perception of reality. Oh, I’m sorry- does the use of “Republican women” in that sentence offend you? In that case- please feel free to substitute: Black Republicans, Latino Republicans, Asian Republicans, Any Republicans not born in the United States, Gay Republicans, Transgender Republicans, Poor Republicans, Working Class Republicans, Middle Class Republicans, Young Republicans, Old Republicans, Middle-Aged Republicans, Republicans Currently Serving in the Military, Republicans Who Used to Serve in the Military, and Republicans whose Republican Family Members Went Off to Serve in the Military and Never Came Home Again. Pretty much the only two Republicans who are actually voting in a way that’s consistent with their own self interest are Charles and David Koch. Hell, even Cal Seething- 090715- trumpmexicoDonald Trump is voting against his self interest- I mean, sure he talks big about building a wall, but all of his suits and most of his employees are made in Mexico.

But hey, that’s America for you- always shooting off our nose to spite our face with 1000 rounds of armor piercing ammo delivered for free thanks to Amazon Prime. And, much like the American people, the men & women of noir are their own worse enemies- and in no film is this more evident than Nicholas Ray’s quiet masterpiece In A Lonely Place. Humphrey Bogart plays screenwriter Dixon Steele (real name Davidovich Steimtasky). He used to be pretty successful, but that was before the war. Ever since coming back- he hasn’t quite been the same. Maybe something was unleashed on the battlefield that he couldn’t quite figure out how to shove into the two car garage of a suburban tract home. Now he can’t focus like he used to, lacks empathy, is prone to violent outbursts and, worst of Cal Seething- 090715- bogartall, his movies lose money –to this day the only truly unforgivable crime in Hollywood.

Anyhow, late one night, Dixon brings a young coat check girl back to his Beverly Hills patio apartment – and no- not to have sleazy Josh Duggar sex with her. (Bill Cosby would also be an acceptable reference there. Jared Fogle would not. That prick got off too easy- if we really wanted to punish him, we’d make him keep eating Subway. Hell, he probably just pled guilty so quickly to finally make it stop. I know how he feels. I once had Subway for lunch for two weeks straight and I was one BMT away from being the Zodiac Killer.) Anyhow- like I said- he doesn’t want to do anything dirty- just for her to give him an oral….report (I said nothing dirty!) on a book that he loaned her, since he’s too lazy to read the book himself and has a meeting in the morning to discuss adapting it for a screenplay. This may seem strange to some of our younger readers, but you have to remember that before Wikipedia, if you were too lazy to read a book, it was quite common to bring home random restaurant employees to summarize it for you. Hell, I never would have passed Abnormal Psych if that friendly bus boy from Ground Round hadn’t broken down the textbook for me. At any rate, the coat check girl turns up dead the next day (same thing happened to my bus boy. Ahh Pablo, when I close my eyes, I can still hear you explaining schizophrenia), Dixon is a natural suspect, and the only person who can vouch for his whereabouts during the time the murder was committed is Laurel Grey (Gloria Grahame) his beautiful and mysterious neighbor who lives across the courtyard, and saw Dixon from her apartment as he sent the coat check girl on her way.

Anyhow- Laurel and Dixon fall in love, but the detectives investigating the murder still suspect Dixon and they plant seeds of suspicion in Laurel’s mind. Dixon pours a giant can of water on these seeds with his violent temper and crazy pants behavior and causes them to flower into great big blossoms of doubt (is it me or did this get weirdly Cal Seething- 090715-bogartandgrahmehorticultural all of a sudden?)

Anyhow- I don’t want to give away what happens in the end- but, come on, it’s a film noir called In A Lonely Place- so…you know…it’s not good. Her distrust leads to fear, fear leads to deception, her deception fuels his rage, his rage unleashes violence. By the time she actually finds out if Steele is guilty or innocent of murder, it’s too late- their future together is as dead as the coat check girl (or a doe eyed bus boy with a preternatural understanding of the DSM). It’s been poisoned by their toxic mistrust of each other, strangled by their choices and dumped off the road in a lonely place.

And that brings up one of the other great pleasures of film noir- the Film Title Drinking Game (invented by my wife. Copyright 2015)- wherein you do a shot every time a character says the title of the movie. In fact, there’s one movie called Tension which is worth watching for two reasons- there are a couple of scenes shot in and around the Culver Theater – 50 years before it was converted to the Kirk Douglas Theatre and 60 years before it was filled with Cal Seething- 090715- tensionboxes, and the fact that if you are playing the Film Title Drinking Game- you will get FUCKED UP. The hard-nosed cop played by Barry Sullivan even stretches a rubber band between his fingers throughout the movie just to make the point about how much TENSION (gulp) the characters are under and if enough TENSION (gulp) is applied, a criminal will sooner or later crack because of all the tensidi-tense TENSION (gulp. Vomit)

But of course, we came to Palm Springs to get away from all the TENSION (gulp) of Los Angeles and to soak up chlorine, sunshine and ambiance. And as the sun goes down, the ambiance intensifies. Palm Springs is even more deliciously ominous by night. The cicadas quiet down and the wind takes over as sound designer. And while the cicadas perfectly capture the simmering TENSION (gulp) that lurks behind closed doors under the burning sunlight, the wind brings out all the mystery and intrigue of the city in darkness. It whoshes through trees, tinkles chimes on porches and scrapes a dry leaf across the pavement, scraping the nerves as it travels along. Of course, the lighting helps too. There are no street lights- the only illumination is provided by sconce lights on houses. Some are cold new fluorescents shining through clear glass like hard blue eyes. Others are incandescents in aging plastic, cracked and yellow as nicotine stained teeth. Hell, we’re way past noir town here and heading for David Cal-Seething--090715--cowskLynch country. (The sconce lights on our rental house had the outline of a cow skull cut into them. That’s not really so much evocative of murder, unless it’s the murder of good taste and Georgia O’ Keefe is the primary suspect.) Even the names of the gated communities are evocative and mysterious- the Enclave, Sunrise Palms. OK- just those two- but still! Can’t you just picture a retired Dale Cooper living in a place called Sunrise Palms, spending his days talking into a tape recorder (actually a banana) and drinking sludgy coffee with dwarves (actually Filipino nurses)? “Annie’s just fine, Agent Cooper. You don’t have to keep asking about her. Why don’t you take your pills and have a nice nap? Maybe you’ll see your friend the giant!”Cal Seething- 090715- dale

Of course, in reality, nothing much evil is happening at all. The worst crime most people are guilty of in Palm Springs is pulling their white tube socks all the way up to their knees and walking through Trader Joe’s so…fucking…slowly. But that wouldn’t make much of a noir movie- I mean what would you even call it? They Shopped By Day? Push the Cart Slowly? The High Tubesocks? Fearful Flyer? Raw Deal….on Raw Cashews? The Big Schlep? “Look at you- shopping by day (gulp)- pushing the cart slowly (gulp) acting all high and mighty with your high tubesocks (gulp). You’re looking for a bargain- but all you’re gonna get is a raw deal on raw cashews (gulp). So go ahead- look through that Fearless Flyer for savings- deep down you’re just a fearful flyer (gulp) cause you know there’s no saving you. Someday soon you’re gonna take that big schelp (gulp) to the sky and I’ll be able to get the hell out of here with my Riesling and tortellini in less than 45 minutes and get on with my damn life.” So- yeah- not nearly as interesting in reality as in the imagination, but then- that’s reality for you. Fucking lame.

Still, all vacations must come to an end, so now I find myself in September walking the dog through the dusty backstreets of West LA past broken cacti and patches of dirt with receding hairlines of brown grass. There are no cicadas, just the oceanic roar of the freeway and the only mysteries to solve are “why does everyone dump their mattresses here?”, “is the guy in the Montero Sport, like, living in his car?” and “no, seriously – why DOES everybody dump their mattresses here?” and honestly, none of these are mysteries I’m really eager to solve since the answer is likely to be more depressing than the question. Even the street names are uninspiring- National, Robertson- well, OK, just those two- but still!Cal Seething- 090715- tshirt

But, we’ve still got a few noir movies on the DVR we haven’t seen which we recorded during TCM’s Summer of Darkness, like grey leftovers in the fridge that still smell sort of fresh, and I got an awesome Summer of Darkness t-shirt and TCM hat from my wife, who retains her title as Best Gift Giver Ever for the 17th year running as well as being my partner in crime (or crime movie watching anyhow) and most important person in my life. Happy Anniversary! Someday, when we’re old, we’ll get to spend all our time in Palm Springs, but for the time being, it’s just a two hour drive away (or was in the 40’s anyhow), in case the tension (gulp) of Los Angeles gets to be too much. And, meanwhile, if you want to find me, I’ll be at the former Culver Theatre, now the Kirk Douglas, hiding under a pile of boxes and dreaming of my next vacation. Oooh- maybe I’ll see my friend, the giant!

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Oh- and if you’re wondering what the deal is with all the boxes- check out The Object Lesson at the Kirk Douglas Theatre now playing through Oct 4. It’s pretty amazing- almost worth coming back from Palm Springs for. Almost.

[California Seething] Shark-noir-do

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SPOILER ALERT: This post may contain details and information that could spoil the experience of watching Sharknado 3. Then again, it would be hard to imagine I could possibly spoil the experience of watching Sharknado 3 Cal Seething- 081115- handsawany more than the bozos who made the movie already have. And therein lies the biggest mystery of Sharknado 3. No- it’s not whether Tara Reid lives or dies at the end- I guess they’ve just left that up to Twitter to decide- so do yourself and America a favor and hashtag “#AprilDies” on everything you Tweet – because the most believable part of her performance is her prosthetic chainsaw attachment which is the most human thing about her. But, anyhow, the biggest mystery about Sharknado 3 is – how did they manage to ruin something that was already so terrible to begin with? Look at it this way, any chef can screw up beef bourguignon- but it takes a special kind of incompetence to fuck up Ramen- and that’s exactly what the geniuses who made Sharnknado 3 did. How the hell did they manage that? All they had to do was take a cheap, pre-packaged shark movie, boil it in shlock til it was dumb enough to be funny but not so long that it was reduced to a brainless mush, and add in a shiny flavor packet of Gen-XCal Seething- 081115- ramen in-jokes (Ian Ziering is cinematic MSG) and voila- a Sharknado 3 that doesn’t suck. Just a tasty little movie with no nutritional value that’s even more delicious when you’re wasted. They followed this recipe and produced two perfectly good (or, let’s keep it real, perfectly bad) Sharknado movies- but they messed it up badly with the third one.

First of all, they overcooked it- going well past the “brainless mush” stage until nothing was left but a gelatinous glob of gore and idiocy. Then they emptied an industrial sized canister of celebrity cameos into the glob (David Hasselhoff is cinematic Cheez Whiz), deep fried the whole thing in product placement and served it with a side of cynical self-awareness- like oh oh oh- we know it’s dumb so that makes everything ok. Well, I’ve got news for you guys- it doesn’t. Dog shit with parsley is still just dog shit- and yes, I realize I just pulled off the extremely rare “metaphor inside a metaphor”- the blogging equivalent of the flashback inside a flashback. And, yes, I realize that was actually a metaphor FOR a metaphor- which is even more rare- as rare as a unicorn or a Lincoln Chafee supporter or a transgendered Republican reality TV star. Come to think of it- why isn’t Caitlyn running for president? I mean – Olympic champion, successful businessman, conservative Christian,Cal-Seething--081115--voltr pop culture icon and now a WOMAN??? That’s something for everyone! She’s a one woman Fox News debate! She’s five candidates in one- she’s GOPTron! Hell, she’s even got a black son in law (or, ex-step-son-in-law- close enough). Now if she can just get Khloe to marry Pitbull she’ll be UNSTOPPABLE.

Which gets me back to my original point- how did the producers manage to screw up Shaknado 3 so badly? The movie starts with a tornado full of sharks hitting Washington DC and destroying the White House- could there be any better metaphor for the election??? I mean, come on – 10,000 sharks hit DC and not a single one has Trump hair- how did the producers miss that? It’s like striking out at kickball. Sure, there was a tiny nod to political satire with Cal Seething- 081115- cubancoulterPresident Mark Cuban and Vice President Anne Coulter (easily the scariest part of the movie) but they could have done so much more. For instance: Obama orders Congress to evacuate- the Republicans refuse and are eaten by sharks. Trump says the sharks are murderers and drug dealers that are attracted by Megyn Kelly’s blood. Bernie Sanders has some great ideas but #SharkLivesMatter shouts him down at a rally which the mainstream media won’t cover. Jeb Bush claims he’s half shark, Fox News claims the science is still out on sharknados, Jimmy Fallon says the sharks can eat more than Chris Christie, Marco Rubio compares the sharknado to an abortion, and a shark eats some lion no one’s ever heard of in Zimbabwe and Facebook loses it’s GODDAMN MIND. Meanwhile Hilary hangs back and doesn’t say a damn thing cause she knows sooner or later the sharks are all gonna Cal Seething- 081115- hilaryeat each other and, when the storm clears, she’ll be the only one standing. Yup- that’s Hilary- President of a ruined nation, its institutions of government destroyed, standing knee deep in shark guts- but- hey- at least she got to be what she always wanted to be when she grew up- so the American Dream is still working for somebody. Slow clap for Madame President. Credits. And THAT’S how you make a Sharknado movie in Washington.

Sadly, though, that’s not what the producers of Sharknado 3 did. Instead, they expected us to believe that Mark Cuban is leader of the free world, an action hero and a passable actor- in ascending order of implausibility. Seriously, Cuban hasn’t been this unconvincing since he met with DeAndre Jordan. And then, after Cal Seething- 081115- iwojimaour heroes raise the American flag Iwo-Jima style in order to impale a flying shark, the worst thing to happen to Veterans in this country since the VA, the movie leaves DC for Universal Orlando- a perfect example of cynical corporate interests ruining something that pretty much sucked to begin with. Hey- come to think of it- you could say the same thing about the Republican party- so maybe this movie is a sly political satire after all!

Anyhow, back in Universal Orlando, Tara Reid is about to give birth to Ian Ziering’s baby (the Cal-Seething--081115--bodersecond scariest thing about this movie) and is hanging out with her mom, Bo Derek, who, in the movie’s only pleasant surprise, looks refreshingly human for an actress her age. Things just get dumber and bloodier from there and the whole thing ends up in outer space with Ian Ziering, David Hasselhoff – who turns out is a former astronaut (one of the less plausible things about the movie) and also Ian Ziering’s dad (one of the most!) and Tara Reid, who was fortunate enough to find a petite maternity space suit at the very last minute. Actually, that’s not really so surprising – what’s surprising is that they take the opportunity to do product placement “Finn- I don’t care if I am pregnant. If you’re going into space to save the world I’m going with you. And besides, I found the cutest little space suit at Pea in the Pod, and I’m just dying to try it out!”

Anyhow, they are launched into space by NASA on a secret space shuttle with the intention of creating a huge explosion which will somehow end the sharknado, which is TOTALLY PREPOSTEROUS. I mean, everyone knows if you want to blow something up in space you hire Space X. But anyhow, the explosion thing doesn’t work and they have to use the old SDI (“Star Wars”) satellites from the 80’s instead to fire a laser pulse into the heart of the giant storm. Well, before the ghost of Ronald Reagan can say “I told you so- wait- what were we talking about again?”, Hasselhoff leaves the shuttle to float out to theCal-Seething--081115--hoff satellite and hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete on it so that it can fire the laser- even though he knows it means he will die in space because the shuttle doesn’t have enough fuel to come back and pick him up. Which I guess is supposed to be heroic, and I guess we’re supposed to be inspired by his courage when one of the movie’s final shots shows him standing on the surface of the moon- but I have to wonder – if he could float 240,000 miles to the moon how come he couldn’t float 50 feet back to the space shuttle? But then again, I suppose I too would rather suffocate in the infinite blackness of space then spend ONE MORE FUCKING MINUTE ALIVE with Tara Reid #AprilDies.

Anyhow, sharks in space, something something something, space shuttle destroyed, Tara Reid gets swallowed by a shark, Ian Ziering goes in after her and she gives birth to her baby while plummeting to earth in the belly of an enormous flaming shark, ultimately slicing it open from the inside with the buzzsaw attachment on her hand (man, that thing can act!) and handing the mewling infant to Ian Ziering before slicing her way out of the carcass of the beast. And it’s perfect cause this is exactly what she wrote in the birth plan she gave her doula except for the Enya and aromatherapy candles.

Oh yeah, sharks also eat the cast of the Today show but spare Kathy Lee and Hoda because they’re in recoveryCal Seething- 081115- aprildies and at the very end of the movie, a giant hunk of space debris falls out of the sky on Tara Reid and, we, the viewers get to vote on Twitter if she lives or dies – and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AMERICA, I’m begging you once more to tweet #AprilDies. An America that doesn’t want to kill Tara Reid just isn’t an America I want to live in.

Alright, so, yeah, Sharknado 3. Total crap. The worst movie of the summer not featuring Planned Parenthood. I’ve already written 1500 more words than that fucking movie deserved. And maybe the reason I’m being so critical of it is that I’ve been obsessed all month with the TCM’s Summer of Darkness- DVR’ing 24 hours worth of film noir classics every Friday in June & July and slowly working my way through them. Now, some of you may not be aware of what film noir is or have any knowledge of classic cinema- and that’s OK. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being a culturally illiterate philistine wallowing in the excrement of your cinematic ignorance who thinks that being a sophisticated movie goer means spending $15 to see Pixels at the Arclight in Sherman Oaks. You know, per se. Hey, it’s your money (Mazal Tov, BTW, to the fast food workers of New York State for their recent minimum wage increase. They’ll be earning no less than $15/hour state-wide by 2021, which is perfect as it gives McDonalds exactly enough time to perfect the robo-cashier. Just hand over your money to the animatronic clown, kiddies, then never stop screaming in your sleep.) If you want to spendCal-Seething--081115--pixel your hard earned cash watching Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Josh Gad (add Jack Black and you’ve got the Mount Rushmore of Ugh) fight classic video game characters in a movie that’s been hacked to pieces so that it be sold to the Chinese (I suppose it’s only fitting. First we ruin Chinese food to make it palatable to Americans now we ruin American movies to make them palatable to the Chinese), that’s your terrible choice to make. Who am I to judge? (GUILTY!) Hey, we all have our taste in crap- I liked the first two Sharknado movies and I’m a sucker for the Fast & Furious franchise. But, sometimes it’s good to know that there’s something better out there and that’s when I turn to TCM. Because like Monterey Park hot-pot in a world of Panda Express- TCM has the real thing.

So what is this film noir thing anyhow? First of all- it’s important to know how to pronounce it- it’s not “Film New-ahh” with a silent “r” like it’s en francais or something – it’s “Film Newarrr” with the “r” pronounced American style. Cause while the name may be French, the film movement is as American as French Fries or French Dressing, although to be fair- the stories are actually told through the international language (film- what were you thinking?) Anyhow, there are a million ways to define Film Noir (or “freedom flicks” as Lindsay Graham called them in the mid 2000’s) but I like to start with this quote from Walter Neff, protagonist of Double Indemnity, the best film noir of all Cal Seething- 081115- nefftime:

“Yes, I killed him. I killed him for money – and a woman – and I didn’t get the money and I didn’t get the woman. Pretty, isn’t it?”

And, weirdly, enough, it is pretty. Cause that’s what film noir is all about- making bad choices while looking good. And while I realize that could also be the logline for Models, Inc, it’s nevertheless true of film noir. Now, some of these choices can seem innocuous at first- pick up the wrong hitchhiker, notarize the wrong document, go home with the wrong guy and, boom, just like that your life can be changed forever. In these movies, fate can seem arbitrary and cruel- like a pop-quiz from the universe designed to test your character.

But in most film noir, the choices are not so innocent. Take our friend Walter Neff. Now, Walter has things pretty good. He’s a charming, handsome bachelor with a good job that allows enough flexibility to go bowling in the afternoon (my lifelong dream) and an apartment in Hollywood with underground parking- which in and of itself is something worth killing for (“I killed him for off-street parking- and an open-plan kitchen- and I didn’t get the parking and I didn’t get the kitchen”- House Hunters Noir!)

But he is dissatisfied. He’s restless. We’ve all felt it. This country was founded on restlessness and dissatisfaction- it’s at the root of the American Dream. But it’s dangerous. Hell, there’s nothing more dangerous than restless, dissatisfied white people- just ask anyone we haven’t killed yet. Now for the first 150 years or so of this country’s existence the answer to restlessness and dissatisfaction was always “go west, young man”. But Walter Neff finds himself in sunny Los Angeles- as far west as he can go. I mean, technically, I suppose technically he could move to Santa Monica but then he’d have to give up his underground parking spot and THERE ARE LIMITS. So, what does he do? He goes slightly north-east instead to the home of Mr and Mrs Cal Seething- 081115- walterandphyllis.Dietrichson somewhere in the hills. He is hoping to renew Mr Dietrichson’s car insurance but ends up concocting a much deadlier plan when he meets Mrs Phyllis Dietrichson, a very sexy woman with a really unsexy name.

In fact Walter and Phyllis sound less like a couple of sex crazed killers and more like my grandparent’s friends from Congregation Beth Emeth. Sure, Phyllis hosted a killer Hadassah luncheon and Walter was a hoot at the Brotherhood breakfasts, but my grandparents had to cut them off when they caught Walter cheating at canasta. He couldn’t help himself. He’s no good. He’s rotten. That’s the reason why most noir heroes and heroines make the terrible choices they do in response to their dissatisfaction. They’re rotten. And it’s the only reason we viewers need- we don’t need to know about their terrible childhoods, we don’t need to hear about how they are victims of society, how they suffer from FFS (Femme Fatale Syndrome.) Everything we need to know about their backstory is wrapped up in this quote from The Hollow Triumph – “It’s a bitter little world.”

The men and women of noir have been kicked around their whole lives and so they are shitty people with poor impulse control who are likeable because they are so damn cool. It’s a blast to watch them try and get away with stuff the rest of us barely dare to think about and cathartic as hell when they fall on their chiseled faces with success just tantalizingly out of reach- tripping over their shoelaces at the finish line of the marathon. Or- better yet, they cross the finish line and feel warm and safe all wrapped in the shinyCal Seething- 081115- marathon insulated blanket of success only to fall into an open trench reaching for someone to hug.

And in the best noir flicks, what trips our heroes up is not their wickedness but their inconvenient humanity- the shot they can’t take, the heart they can’t break, the home they shouldn’t try to go back to but can’t help themselves, the lover they can’t leave behind, the betrayal they never see coming. And sometimes, it’s just the fact that they can’t live one more day with their horrible, rotten selves and so they jump in to that open trench with a crooked smile on their face and leave the rotten world behind.

As for Walter Neff- I won’t tell you exactly what happens to him. Suffice it to say he makes some bad choices and they don’t turn out well. He doesn’t get the money. He doesn’t get the woman. And he’s probably gonna lose his parking spot. A bitter little world indeed.

There’s a lot more I can say about film noir and, in fact, I’m going to say it! In my next post, though because I’ve already wasted your whole fucking lunch hour (sorry). Why not? What am I supposed to do instead of wallowing in the great films of the past- deal with reality? Seriously??? Have you seen that place? There’s random violence, Cal Seething- 081115- debatesanctioned brutality and a perfect storm of right wing lunatics gathering in the skies above Washington threatening to strike the White House in 2016 (GOPnado). And since Shitnado 3 was such a major disappointment and I refuse to gorge myself on the globs of orange chicken being vomited out in 3D from IMAX screens, I turn to noir for distraction instead- a cool, dark cafe away from the blazing sun. And you know what, it’s nice in here. I think I’ll stay awhile. I mean, just look at what’s waiting for me in the outside world- armed white supremacists marching around Ferguson,  Trump gaining in the polls, the Jets punching each other in the face- why not live in the past??? The present blows! But the sad truth is that sooner or later I’m gonna run out of noir flicks on my DVR and I’m going to have to return to the present- and in anticipation of that terrible day- allow me to just say one thing- #AprilDies. It’s the least I can do to make the world a little less bitter.

[California Seething] They Might Be Giants- But I’m Definitely No Rock Critic

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I was very excited when I read that Bloomsbury Press was looking for writers to write book length essays about Cal Seething- 072015- 3313iconic albums for their 33 1/3 series. Now, I’m not a rock critic. Or a musician. Or a person who really knows anything about music. Or a particularly passionate music fan- but still this sounded like the perfect opportunity for me – 30,000 words about an album? No problem! Who’s better at writing more about less than I am? Maybe Andy Rooney, but fuck him, he’s dead, it’s all me bitchez! So- emboldened by my confidence in my limitless verbosity I resolved to apply to write about They Might Be Giants’ third album Flood and set forth to write the first chapter, one of the many requirements for submission.

Well, I may not be a music person but I am a theatre person, so you would think I’d know all about hubris. But no, I arrogantly ignored the lessons of Oedipus Rex, Oedipus: Rise of the Machines and Oedipys Genisys in which Oedipus kills his father, marries his mother and then travels into the distant future where he makes an ill-advised deal with Goldman Sachs to temporarily conceal the extent of Thebes’ crushing debt load with catastrophic consequences for the global economy. Damn you Oedipus!! Why must you anger Merkela- Goddess of Austerity and Conveniently Cal Seething- 072015- merkelForgetting How Germany’s Economy Was Rescued By International Debt Relief. Yeah, that’s right. Talk about hubris!

But even the hubris of the hypocritical Germans doesn’t live up to the hubris I was feeling when I set off to write my trial first chapter about Flood. Let’s just say that, if banging his mom wasn’t enough to make Oedipus poke his eyes out, reading my efforts at music criticism sure would do the trick. OK, so maybe it’s not that bad (or, at least, maybe I shouldn’t say it’s that bad, cause I’m about to ask you all to read it)- but there’s a whole lot more stuff in here about me, and who I was in 1990 when I heard this album then there is about the actual “music”. Then again, if you wanted to read about some silly old album you could go to Wikipedia- but where else could you read about ME. Uh Oh. Here comes that hubris again! Well, before you put my skills as a music critic to a referendum, I encourage you to read the never-before and most likely never again first chapter to my unwritten 33 1/3 tribute to Flood.

Chapter One: A Brand New Album for 1990

In the grand and illustrious tradition of the American muscle car, only one black Pontiac Trans-Am has ever been purchased ironically- and that was the one that my friend Mark bought in High School. Now to be fair, I’m not sure if the purchase was intended to be ironic- but it sure as hell came off that way because Mark, like me, was a gigantic Cal Seething- 072015- hipsternerd. Now, I know some of you younger readers are saying “What’s the big deal? Nerds are cool!” Well, my millennial friends, you have to remember that this was 1990. A very different time for the American nerd. There were no cool nerds. No hip nerds. No bearded bowtied dot-com outdoor movie screening Decemberist fan blueberry acai craft IPA maple bacon artisanal Ho-Ho Portland Brooklyn Silverlake nerds. Hell no! We were nerds of the old school- think less Nate Silver, more Orville Redenbacher. Think Anthony Michael Hall before GNC and steroids (Joe Piscopo was his pusher) and Booger before he started working for Bruce Willis and fell hard for Ms. DePesto. Think computer camp and calculator watches. Think bad skin, BASIC and BIG plastic eyeglasses. Sure, nerds may be accepted, nay, even loved, today- but back then- we were social lepers eating lunch under quarantine. You remember that spot in the woods where everyone was always partying and drinking beer and Cal Seething- 072015- amhgetting laid- yeah- I DON’T. We were persecuted by the jocks who cheated off our tests. Last picked for kickball- first picked for lab partner. Sure, we dreamt of a better day- Revenge of the Nerds was our Django Unchained– but we knew our place (in the Video Lab). And while there were many things expected of us- high SAT scores, Golden Key National Honor society, wearing clothes our moms bought on sale at JC Penny- one thing that was not expected was to have a bad-ass car- especially not one as totally bitchin’ as a jet black Knight Rider Trans Am. But Mark bought one anyhow, and it was perfect- right down to the lights that flipped up (if you pulled over and sort of tugged on them a little.) And while we were in this car, it didn’t matter that we were nerds- we were as cool as anyone out there skipping gym to go to Dunkin’ Donuts and we didn’t care who knew it.

And so, it couldn’t have been more fitting that the first time I heard Flood, I was sitting in Mark’s Trans Am. Because if it was unexpected and unusual for a nerd to own a Trans Am, it was down right subversive for nerds to be rock stars. But were TMBG rock stars? Well, their second album Lincoln was so successful that Elektra picked them up to They Might Be Giantsrecord Flood, the “Dial A Song” service on their answering machine was a viral streaming-media sensation before any of those words meant what they do today and Tiny Toon Adventures used two of their songs for cartoon videos. So….if they weren’t bona-fide rock stars they were damn close. As close to being rock stars as any accordion playing nice Jewish nerds from suburban Boston were ever likely to get. Let’s just say they were a hell of a lot closer to being rock stars than Mark’s Trans-Am was to being KITT- and listening to them made us feel just as cool as being in that car.

I should add that, when we first listened to the album, we were sitting in Mark’s Trans Am all dressed in suits and ties parked on Krumkill Road in Albany, right outside Congregation Ohav Shalom and we were blowing off Yom Kippur services to listen to it. An act of defiance so utterly weird and dorky that only They Might Be Giants could provide the soundtrack.

So yeah- They Might Be Giants were strange- but that didn’t make them unique. After all, they were hardly the first band to embrace stangeness. It’s how they embraced strangeness that set them apart. You see- usually when bands choose to be “strange” they take the cool, mysterious, elusive route- often conflating “strange” with “difficult” and even “inaccessible”. Lyrics are mumbled, screamed or distorted – as difficult to discern as they are to comprehend. The music is “experimental”-  more punishing than entertaining. These bands place themselves on a pedestal of weirdness, where they may only be reached by an enlightened few who are willing to ascend to their level or, at least, Cal Seething- 072015- eyeballfake their way through it in a vain effort to get laid. It’s the Salvador Dali approach to weirdness- a voyage through a grotesque and willfully bizarre dreamscape – music screaming from the subconscious like a knife slicing an eyeball.

They Might Be Giants, though, take a whole different approach. The music is light and bouncy- Nouveau Polka with a drum machine and Casio keyboard. The lyrics are sung clearly, easy to make out, perfectly comprehensible- the listener can hear them well and make them out perfectly so there is absolutely no doubt about the fact that they make no goddamn sense. It’s like looking at a painting by Rene Magritte. Look at the canvas and you know exactly what you see. It’s a man with a bowler hat and an apple floating in front of his face. Very straight forward, totally clear, and utterly impossible.Cal Seething- 072015- appleface

And it was exactly this wonderful strangeness which drew me to them, because they fit in so well with my other obsessions at the time- Monty Python, Kurt Vonnegut, David Lynch, Douglas Adams- all the high priests of wonderful weirdness that made a nerd’s life worth living. Because, you see, as a nerd- I didn’t have much going for me in high school. I’m not talking about grades, or AP classes or SAT scores- I I’m talking about the stuff that really mattered. Despite all my best efforts, I was useless at sports. If the EU was a softball team, I would be Greece. (Hang in there, Greece! I know what it’s like to be up at the plate in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, the tying run on first and the global economy at stake while Germany and France just sit there in the dugout burning holes in your back with their eyes. You’ve just got to figure out the economic equivalent of getting hit by a pitch on purpose and get yourself on base- worked for me!) or getting girls (my teen stand up comedy nickname was Platonic Man- sort of like Superman but Lois Lane just wanted to chat. Shockingly enough, the joke didn’t really improve my situation with the ladies) I knew I would never compete in the nightmarish preppy Wonder Bread abyss that was Bethlehem, New York (“Where Suburbia Meets Dystopia!”) with its packs of roaming cheerleaders and jocks who looked down upon Cal-Seething--072015--collathe likes of me from the lofty heights of their popped collars, the alligator on their chest embodying the cruelty in their hearts. And, so, like so many other freaks and misfits I said “fuck it”. Who wants to be part of your stupid club anyhow? I’m building my own tree house, inviting my friends in and pulling up the ladder behind us so you can’t reach us (an elaborate metaphor for skipping gym to hang out in the Video Lab with Mark and other nerds, before we could just take the Trans Am to Dunkin’ Doughnuts).

And, I was hardly alone in this. There were numerous groups of freaks and rejects – probably more of us than there ever were “cool kids”, each group with our own special way of responding to the “normal” order of things and a corresponding soundtrack. If you were angry about normalcy, you could listen to Metal, if you were sad about it, you had The Cure, and if you just wanted to drop out of it, the Grateful Dead were waiting to envelop you in their patchouli scented, hairy armpit embrace. And if, like me, you just wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it all, then They Might Be Giants were the perfect band. Because life may be nothing but a meaningless joke, but at least we were smart enough to get it and we had artists like TMBG who were cool enough (or, let’s face it- uncool enough) to get us. Most days, that was just enough to make our adolescent lives worth living. These artists reminded us the world was a bigger, weirder and more wonderful place than Bethlehem Central High School and that we could have a lot of fun in it if we could just (as the band said) “hang on/hang on tight….just to keep from being thrown from to the wolves”.

OK- so- yeah- there you have it. Everything you need to know about Flood. Except for any information or insight into the music. Or the band. Or the record itself. But- hey- that’s what the rest of the book is for- I’ve got 28000 more words to go- I’ve got to save something for the rest of it! So, read on and enjoy chapters like “I’m Your Only Friend: Alienation, Despair and Building a Birdhouse in the Dark Night of the Soul”, “Istanbul Was Constantinople- A Satiric Meditation on the Psychological Disorientation of Shifting Geo Political Boundaries in a Post Cold-War World?Cal Seething- 072015- traingle Nah. Not So Much” and “What Did Particle Man do to Triangle Man, Anyhow?”

But really, the most important thing about a great album is how it can take you back to a very specific point in your life. And for me, whenever I hear Flood, I’m right back in Mark’s ludicrous Trans-Am, listening to freshly unwrapped gem of nerd culture, laughing our assess off and waiting for one of our dads to come drag us back to Kol Nidre. Ahhh. Good Times.

And, besides, Flood has never been more relevant- hell, the Fight for 15 could use “Minimum Wage” as their anthem. The ocean levels are still rising, though most scientists no longer think TMBG are responsible (Jeb Bush isn’t sure and Donald Trump blames Mexicans); thanks to Facebook, everybody knows they have at least one racist friend, and, most importantly of all, despite all our differences, what all Americans really want deep down is just a rock to tie a string around. Or maybe it’s prosthetic foreheads on our real heads. Who the hell knows for sure?

So there you have it, more or less everything I have to say about Flood. Hopefully, this makes you want to listen to it again or discover it for the first time. It sure deserves a book to be written about it…by somebody. As for me, I’m gonna stick to writing about stuff I’m better at- like the T-Rex sized crapitude of Jurassic World, the “Summer of Darkness” noir festival on TCM I’ve been obsessed with and the unfathomable buffoonery of Donald Trump. After all- I do know a thing or two about hubris. But of course, the real tragedy is how many people would vote for that shithead. And wait wait wait wait wait- I almost forgot- Sharknado 3 is premiering this Wednesday- now there’s Cal Seething- 072015- sharnado2something I can really sink my teeth into. Ha! Sink my teeth! Wow. That was terrible. They Might Be Giants really dodged a sapphire bullet of true love by not having me write more about them. OK, OK, I’ll cut it out. The next time I get going, just tell me “don’t let’s start”.

Enjoy Flood! I’ll be watching Sharknado Week on SyFy. Oh, hell yes!!

 

[California Seething] Take. The Flag. DOWN.

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Damn my slow writing! I was so disgusted when I saw that the Confederate Battle Flag was still flying over the South Carolina statehouse after the Charleston shooting that I decided to write a FURIOUS SCREED demanding it’s IMMEDIATE REMOVAL. But then- then then then then then- you know what South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley did? Do you know do you know do you know??? Before I could get a chance to finish my post, clean up the more wildly incoherent run on sentences and fix 78% of the more egregious typos- she CALLED FOR THE FLAG’S REMOVAL. Can you believe that? Damn those evil Republicans! Always one step ahead of me. Just look at her there hugging black people.Cal Seething- 062315- nikki Now I’m all pissed off with nowhere to go. This is worse than the time my internet wasn’t working and I called Time Warner just frothing with rage and ready to spew the full Eric Sims all over them and do you know what those unconscionable bastards did??? Do you know do you know do you know??? THEY FIXED IT. Yeah! In like, two seconds, by like…resetting or something. Can you believe it?? Those BASTARDS!!!!  There I was with a mouth full of wonderfully delicious morsels of juicy rage and I had to swallow them all down with a cool glass of bile and be NICE to those fuckers. Damn them!!! There’s nothing worse than Catharsis Interuptis. Anyhow- I wrote the fucking post, so you might as well read it. And the point still stands- there’s all sorts of racist bastards out there still waiving the flag, even though they can’t buy it on Amazon Prime anymore. Plus- not for nothing- the flag is still flying over the statehouse there while they debate it, despite Nikki Haley’s hugs and Bree Newsome’s heroics.  Hey- think about it- Gavin Newsom was the first mayor to legalize gay marriage and on this, of all weekends, Bree Newsome takes down the Confederate flag? COINCIDENCE? Yes. Absolutely. It’s totally meaningless. Still- a Newsome and Newsom ticket for 2016? Eh? Eh? Watch your back Bernie Sanders- they’re coming for you! #keepitdown

So- as you all know nine people were murdered recently in a terrorist act perpetrated upon an African American church in South Carolina. Dylann Storm Roof is the terrorist or, sorry, “troubled youth” as we’re obligated to refer to Cal-Seething--062315--dylanhim because he’s white and not a Muslim. Seriously, you guys, isn’t being white the best? What was Rachel Dolezal thinking? White people get away with everything! (except being black) I’m surprised the cops even arrested Roof- I mean, it’s not like he’s really dangerous or something, you know, like a teenage girl in a bikini or a dude selling loose cigarettes- now that’s scary!

So, yeah, regardless of what the media says- this was a terrorist attack – and the bowl cut, racist, murdering, cracker ass, terrorist piece of shit behind the attack proudly displayed a Confederate flag on his license plate- the same Confederate flag that’s still flying high and proud over the South Carolina statehouse. How is that ok?? Did the Massachusetts statehouse fly the ISIS flag after the Marathon bombings? Fuck no.  And, sure, I know Cal Seething- 062315- isiswhat they say in South Carolina “That’s not a racist symbol- it’s proud reminder of our Southern history and heritage. And- you know what- they’re partially right. It’s true that it’s a reminder of Southern history and heritage- but that is absolutely nothing to be “proud” of. I mean, come on , Southerners, let’s keep it real- you’re ancestors were terrible, terrible people. They seceded from the Union and waged a savage, brutal four year civil war all because they wanted to keep being able to POSSESS other human beings and the rest of the nation thought that maybe, just maybe, it was about time that they should STOP. Is that not the ultimate example of white privilege and entitlement? You snatch people from their homes, chain them up, throw them on a boat, schlep them across the ocean, sell them at auction, rape the women, beat the men, sell off the children, and work them in the fields til they are broken and spent. And after more than two hundred years of getting away with this absolutely repulsive behavior, the rest of the country is like “hey- you know that whole Cal Seething- 062315- slavery‘owning people’ thing you’ve been doing for, like, fucking ever? Yeah….so….could you stop? Cause we were all just thinking- and I’m just spitballing here- that maybe, you know, just maybe, it’s not really all that cool to FUCKING OWN HUMAN BEINGS ANYMORE.” And instead of being like “OK, you got me. I’ve been committing unspeakable atrocities for 200 years out of pure greed and selfishness. My bad.” you have the AUDACITY to act like YOU’RE the victim. Like YOUR liberty is somehow been impinged upon because you can on longer impinge on the liberty of others. Get over it! It’s like clubbing someone over the head to steal their wallet, and then screaming “burglary!” when the police make you give it back.  And it’s the same crap white people bust out when they talk about Affirmative Action or Diversity. And, most recently, it’s what we’ve been hearing from white actors as they whine about how the “PC Police” will no longer ALLOW them to play certain characters of other ethnicities. Oh, the humanity!!! My heart goes out to you! You’ll just have to find a way to content yourself with the other 99.9% of all roles ever written for TV, film and stage cause you can no longer play the fucking King of Siam. Learn a British accent, play Henry Higgins and shut your actor hole.

But, of course, if the professional douchebags of the American right agree to take down the flag, they would be admitting that the shootings were racially motivated- and- well- they just aren’t willing to jump to that conclusion quite yet. Sure- Dylann Roof had white supremacist insignia proudly displayed on his jacket and his Facebook page and a Confederate flag on his car and posted a hideously racist manifesto online and said that black people “rape our women” and spat out racist invective over the bodies of one of his murder victims- but what does that REALLY prove? Surely this is just one of life’s great mysteries, an accident, a tragedy, an inexplicable situation that just…kind of…happened- you know- just one of those things!

Yes, all of those pundits who were able to look so clearly into Dzokhar Tsanernev’s heart and see the pure evil within are suddenly mystified by Dylann Roof’s motivations- as if they are blinded by the glow of his whiteness. “ Terrorist?” They say “How could he be a terrorist?? Look how blondCal Seething- 062315- jtt and moppy his hair is! Why no one with Jonathan Taylor Thomas’ haircut could possibly be a terrorist! Surely this is just a mental health issue. Yeah- mental health- that’s the ticket! Dylann Roof just needed more…you know….mental health…uhm…stuff. The real problem here is that he didn’t get the care he needed. Yeah – that’s it. If only Obama would just pass some sort of  “act” so that people can get better “care”. Wait- no, nevermind. Oh oh oh- I’ve got it! Go with me on this one- Roof killed a bunch of people in a church- right? So….despite everything he said and did and wore and posted on Facebook and had on his car and explicitly wrote about in an online manifesto – this WASN’T about race- this was an attack on…..wait for it…..CHRISTIANITY! BOOM!!! That’s right – it’s just another blow in the FEROCIOUS War on Christianity- I TOLD YOU no good would come of saying “Happy Holidays” – but did those Godless Liberals listen? Nooooooooooo. So, clearly, this attack has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with race and is all about Christianity, and it’s just a total random crazy coincidence that all the people in the church that this Anti-Christian terrorist chose to attack just HAPPENED to be black. Yup. That’s it exactly- and that means that black people have nothing to complain about and we white Christians get to be the real victims- HURRAY!! Victimhood is my favorite. There. Mystery solved. Clearly we’ve proven that racism doesn’t exist in America any more. It’s just something our Muslim Black African President uses to rile up the Jews and the Mexicans.” It’s brilliant, really- a classic Republican stratagem. Ignore the obvious for the expedient. Hey- if it’s good enough for climate change- it’s good enough for domestic terrorism! (it’s not for either).

And so the pundits and politicos obfuscate and confuse. They say “this is a complicated situation with no easy answers”. But we all know that’s a load of shit. It’s a very straightforward situation with painfully simple answers – we just don’t want to hear them because they are, well, painful. So we shake our heads and wring our hands. Another shooting – another moment of silence. We try absolutely nothing to fix the problem and are then astonished when that doesn’t work. And more people die. And more moments of silence and I say enough. No more obfuscating no more hand wringing and no more goddamn moments of silence. Fuck silence- that’s what got us in this mess to begin with. Silence in the face of the gun lobby. Silence in the face of the hatemongers. Silence when confronted with reactionary racists who dress their ugly ideology in Confederate chivalry, petticoats and lace. Let’s do away with the moments of silence- let’s have moments of being UNBELIEVABLY LOUD instead (and not just because I’m better at that). The next time someone gets shot- – no you know what, fuck that- this time – I say we take a moment to scream at the top of our lungs – NO MORE GUNS, NO MORE HATE- AND TAKE THAT FUCKING FLAG DOWN!!!! Sure it’s easier said than done- but, hey, if we don’t start saying it, we ain’t never gonna do it- and more people will silenced permanently.

Reverend Clementa PickneyCal Seething- 061815- victims
Reverend Sharonda Singelton
Myra Thompson
Tywanza Sanders
Ethel Lee Lance
Cynthia Hurd
Reverend Daniel Simmons Sr.
Reverend DePayne Middleton-Doctor
Susie Jackson

May your memories be for a blessing all.

Dylann Storm Roof (which is totally not even your real name). May you die alone and forgotten and be erased from memory. May your acts of terror expedite the demise of the hateful flag you venerate. Awww- it won’t be so bad Southern white people- you can just fly the rainbow flag instead. After all- THAT’S the flag of winners.

Cal Seething- 061815- rainbow

 

 

[California Seething] FIFA is Terrible And So Is Everything Else

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Ahhh, the Swiss. Early in the morning of Wed, May 27, Swiss police descended very politely upon the 171 year old Baur du Lac hotel in pristine downtown Zurich to arrest a number of high ranking FIFA executives on corruption charges. As bundles of newspapers were dropped on the front steps, and the hotel’s marble floors were being buffed and polished, nattily dressed detectives walked through the hotel’s revolving doors, quietly approached the front desk, presented documents and asked for the room numbers of select guests. A concierge quickly called up to one of the rooms and said: “Sir, I’m just calling to say that we’re going to need you to come to your door and open it for us or we’re going to have to kick it in.” Seriously? Are you fucking kidding me withCal Seething- 060315- ray this shit? In my mind a police raid should be wild, chaotic, dramatic affair- a fantasia of Scorcese cliches, if you will. Fed burst in, guns drawn, doors smashed, barefoot Ray Liotta with shirt half tucked in thrown to the ground by agents in FBI logo windbreakers, a grim faced Leonardo DiCaprio restraining a big haired, coked out, blue eye shadow wearing Lorraine Bracco as she screams and claws the air, Gimme Shelter blaring on the sound track- now that’s a fucking raid! But oh no- not in Switzerland. Nooooo, they don’t want Scorcese directing their raids- they prefer a Wes Anderson approach to mass arrests. You know, police quietly approach perfectly constructed 3’ scale model of the Baur du Lac (only for some reason, this one has a funicular), all of them dressed in suits except Officer In Charge Edward Norton who is wearing a dress Alpine scouting uniform including a small green hat, which seems to remain on his head despite all the laws of physics with a yellow feather protruding at a suitably jaunty angle. He approaches Owen Wilson at the front desk, and shows his papers (a calligraphied scroll with a large gold seal). Owen calmly calls up to F. Murray Abraham’s hotel room and explains the predicament and, a few minutes later, F. Murray Abraham appears in the lobby, resplendent in tight black turtleneck, immaculately tailored, but slightly worn, muted plaid jacket, herringbone grey slacks and bright white loafers with a small gold tassle. He is surrounded by agents and led out the door by Edward Norton in slow motion,accompanied by an obscure Kinks song performed in Portuguese (natch!), as Mysterious Hotel Guest Bill Murray, wearing a rumpled grey suit and trench coat looks on intently, a single tear running down his cheek for reasons that will never be explained. And they leave the hotel with such great discretion that not even the orphan girl deliveringCal Seething- 060315- mendls pastries from Mendl’s is aware that something is out of sorts. Oh, you Swiss. Well, what can you expect from a country who’s most sophisticated weapons system has a removable toothpick.

And, of course, we, as Americans get to read about these doofy Swiss and their wacky distaste for police brutality, as well as the staggering level of corruption at FIFA and snicker with detached amusement. Hell, that’s the whole point of world news- to make us feel better about being Americans by making the rest of the world look worse (which is also how the Swiss feel when they read about Baltimore, Rick Perry and the Kardashians. Congrats BTW to Caitlin Jenner on her fabulous Vanity Fair cover. Not only is she the hottest of all the Kardashian women, she’s also had the least work done. I know a lot of people are having a hard time getting used to this- but, seriously everybody- it’s not that hard. Instead of saying “oh, that Bruce Jenner- he’s such a cheesy, fame-grubbing, reality show whore” you say “oh that Caitlyn Jenner, SHE’S such a cheesy, fame-grubbing, reality show whore” – you see- it’s who you are on the INSIDE that counts.) I mean- sure, the NFL is so absurdly hypocritical that they spent millions on a campaign addressing violence against women the same Cal-Seething--060315--jameiyear they selected a known rapist as the number one pick in the draft, so they’ve had to change the name of the campaign from  “No More” to “Oh, Maybe Just This Once” but they can’t approach the level of corruption of FIFA. Hell, if the NFL were as corrupt as FIFA, they would mysteriously choose Branson to host the next Superbowl over Phoenix and Miami (after Roger Goodell received a series of mysterious enormous bank deposits from a mister “Y. Smirnoff”),  in the dead of winter in the Ozarks in a brand new 250,000 person outdoor stadium built at a cost of 45 billion dollars and 5,000 Guatamalan lives (as an eerie silence descends over the parking lot at Branson’s only Home Depot), which will never be used again – probably a good thing because the bathrooms aren’t hooked up.

So yeah, sure- I’ve been following this story closely- can you blame me? Feeling good about America in comparison to other countries is my FAVORITE, hell that’s the only reason I watch the Olympics, but and lately America’s been making it just SO…FUCKING….HARD. We’ve got anti-vaxxers on Cal Seething- 060315- joshthe left, climate change deniers on the right and the TLC Network like a 24 hour infomercial for the decline of the American empire. Come on, TLC executives, don’t deny it. You’ve just had two of your biggest hits taken off the air cause of child molestation. 19 Kids and Counting and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo- TWO! Most people in your position would be like “huh. This isn’t good. Maybe I should seriously evaluate my programming choices”. But not TLC! You guys are probably thinking “Hello- SPIN OFF!! Josh Duggar and Mama June’s molester ex-boyfriend move to the big city- and they have to share an apartment in the only building that will take two sex offenders. It’s The Odd Couple meets Megan’s Law! We can call it 19 Allegations and Counting– logline: ‘Show me on the doll where TLC touched you’- BRILLIANT!” Alright, maybe they wouldn’t go that far- but they sure as hell didn’t wasteCal Seething- 060315- bates any time finding a shiny new family of fertility obsessed religious fanatics to replace the Duggars just as soon as Joshie’s indiscretions couldn’t be covered up anymore. Seriously what the fuck? The Duggar and Bates families are dangerous religious extremists with a terrifying ideology- and yet, somehow, we’re just supposed to overlook their hate-mongering, misogynist, repressive views because of the cutesy antics of their disturbingly numerous kids???? Only Christians could get away with this. This would never fly if the shows were on Al Jazeera and they were called “Daddy’s Lil Jihad” or “Blowing Up Bates” (firing rockets of love into living room every Thursday at 8). And that’s cause this is America- and we like our extremists the way we like our half-Chinese, half-Hawaiian female lead characters in Cameron Crowe movies: WHITE. Look, I feel a little bad for Emma Stone- she’s a talented actress and seems like a totally lovely person but she really should have known better. This is 2015 people- if you’re a white actor and someone wants to cast you as an Asian character – JUST SAY NO. Seriously, Emma- if you want to be ethnic so damn Cal Seething- 060315- rachelbadly, just work for the NAACP and be done with it. You’ll certainly get lots of media attention! The Rachel Dolezal story is so big that Caitlyn Jenner has changed her name to “Shaniqua”.

Of course, I’m acting like this FIFA thing is just some crazy story about wacky foreigners that has nothing to do with the U.S. of A- but that’s not really true is it? Cause the U.S. is actually responsible for the investigation that busted these crooks- and they’re gonna be extradited back here and tried on American soil. That’s right- we may not host the World Cup- but this is the next best thing. Hell, it’s better, cause this we might actually win! You see, there have been rumors swirling for decades that FIFA officials are corrupt- accepting bribes from countries to host the World Cup, taking kickbacks from sports marketing companies for preferential treatment, misappropriating funds- all that nasty stuff. And most countries have chosen to deal with these allegations by looking FIFA officials straight in the eye and asking them three tough questions:

  1. Hey- are you one of those FIFA officials that take bribes? If so- let’s talk!
  2. Come on, dude, you can tell me, I’m cool. You’re one of those officials that takes bribes right? Right? Right?
  3. Ok ok ok, fine. I get it. You’re NOT one of those officials that take bribes wink wink. So…OK….let’s just say hypothetically I had a gigantic 600-00954719briefcase full of money, right- just hypothetically. And let’s say I left this hypothetical brief case full of money on the table- you know- right here- and then, oh, I don’t know, let’s say I walked out of the room for, oh, let’s say…three and a half minutes while you were still in here. And- you know, when I came back, this hypothetical brief case was just, like, gone. You know, POOF magically disappeared into thin air. So…yeah…my question is…you know, hypothetically, how much money would I have to put in this brief case so that I could HOST THE MOTHERFUCKING NEXT WORLD CUP???? You know- just hypothetically. Wink wink.

But not the U.S.- no siree Bob. In the grand, American Interventionalist, who-asked-you-guys tradition of George Cal Seething - 060315- shatnerBush, James T. Kirk, John Wayne, and George Bush, the U.S. decided to clean up FIFA. Because if there’s one thing we can’t stand in this country it’s INJUSTICE (elsewhere). So we investigated our little brains out until we had enough info to charge in and drag 7 of the top FIFA scumbags out of their comfortable five star Swiss hotel beds and into, slightly less comfortable, five star Swiss jail beds (the Aryan Brotherhood leaves a mint on your pillow. A Junior Mint, which is ironic, cause it’s half black- but I don’t recommend you tell them that.). And, it’s not even like the U.S. had to make up some reason for going in, like, oh let’s say, lying about the fact that these guys had a secret stash of yellowcake Uranium (a Weapon of Mass Deliciousness). No- these FIFA idiots actually conducted their dirty business on U.S. soil- and funneled their money through U.S. banks. Seriously- how stupid do you have to be?? I mean, I know these guys are aware of a little country called… SWITZERLAND- did they not know there are banks there??? What- did they think all the billionaires just come for the cheese and chocolate? Cause they needed to replace the tiny tweezers on their knives???? Maybe a shiny new cukoo clock for their underwater lair so they have a kitschier way to count down the seconds until they launch their Doomsday Device and end the world (appropriately signaled by a hearty “koo-koo!”)???? No- they come for the banks. Because the Swiss still value “Privacy” and “Anonymity” – concepts which in the U.S. take a backseat to “Homeland Security”, “Counter-terrorism” and “Adding bacon to foods that previously did not have bacon incorporated into them, with mixed results”. And, actually- Privacy and Anonymity don’t even get the back seat- they’re shoved in the trunk, bound and gagged, and dragged to a CIA black site in Buttfuckistan and as a result the U.S. Government knows everything these FIFA scumbags were doing here and so do the Chinese.

A word, if I may, about James T. Kirk. How did this guy break the Prime Directive (“No interference with the social  Cal Seething- 060315- kirkdevelopment of the planet. No references to space or the fact that there are other worlds or civilizations”) every single goddman week for three fucking years and never get in trouble for it? Seriously- dude- is it the Prime Directive or the Prime Suggestion?? Other Starfleet officers must have hated that guy- they must have been like: “Oh, sure, I end up on a planet full of freaky ass mountain people wearing fake fur who worship the U.S. Constitution for some baffling reason even though they don’t understand what it means and can’t even pronounce all the words right, and I’ve gotta be all like ‘Cool. OK. E Plemnista. Sure that’s what it says. Whatever you say freaky Mountain Man.’ But not old Jim – he’s all like ‘Oh, you silly little Mountain folk- it’s not E Plemnista it’s WE THE PEOPLE – and this is what the rest of it says, and this is what it means, and this is why every single thing that you hold dear as a civilization is wrong. Cool? Right- gotta go back to space- later gator!’ It’s ridiculous! ‘He’s all like blah blah blah I’m James Kirk I’m gonna undermine the entire basis of your civilization and then drop the communicator and beam away and totally get away with it blah blah blah’ What a dick.”

And yeah- I know I’m talking about a 50 year old TV show- shut the hell up before I start dropping truth bombs on Twilight Zone. Seriously- there’s an alien race from a distant planet that flies all the way across the galaxy Cal Seething- 060315- aliento the planet Earth- to do what now? Turn off the power in a few suburban neighborhoods and watch us turn into assholes??? Is that, like funny to them? I’m seriously asking here- is space really as boring as that? Cause maybe if those dicks spent a little less time developing intergalactic hyper-drive and a little more time developing Netflix they could just binge watch the new season of Orange is the New Black and leave us the FUCK ALONE.

So, sure, we rounded up some of the top crooks at FIFA, but the King Rat himself, FIFA president Sepp (short for “Septic”) Blatter (short for “Bladder”) is still at large. How do we know Sepp is a rat? Well, I could go on and on about his sexism, racism, homophobia, and countless allegations of bribery, corruption, kickbacks, nepotism, abuse of his power, shady electioneering, vindictive behavior and general assholery- but, suffice it to say, that the only Cal Seething- 060315- vladprominent world leader who spoke out on his behalf after the arrests was Vladimir Putin and, by some totally strange and random coincidence, the next World Cup is in….you guessed it- Russia! Which- if I were Sepp, I’d be kind of “thanks, but no thanks” about- cause- let’s face it- even under the best of circumstances, a character reference from Vlad is like a babysitting referral from Josh Duggar- but with the World Cup being in Russia- well, it’s hard not to be just a teensy wit cynical about Vlad’s agenda. Look, Vald- I get it- you paid good money for the World Cup and you want to keep it- but honestly dude, you’re not helping here.

Of course, Vlad may have a point by suggesting that the U.S. was trying to influence the FIFA Presidential Election. Let’s keep it real- it can’t be a coincidence that this scandal broke a few days before the election, and the U.S. was supporting Blatter’s opponent Price Ali of Jordan, who had campaigned long and hard to be the very first ever character from Aladdin to be president of FIFA (“It’s a Whole New World for FIFA with Prince Ali”) . The FIFA election, BTW, is a mysterious process- similar in many ways to the election for Pope. Delegates gather from all over the world in a single location and cast their vote in a series of secret ballots. Then, if Sepp Blatter wins, the world finds out by seeing the U.S.’ chances of ever hosting the World Cup again go up in smoke.

Or….maybe not- cause after winning the election decisively and pledging to clean up FIFA, ole Sepptic Bladder resigned as President…so- hey- maybe he was serious about cleaning up, FIFA after all! And, even though he’s not actually leaving office for a few months he is COMMITTED to WORKING HARD to reform FIFA- and to prove the point- he posted THIS Instagram photo of himself WITH A PEN.

Cal Seething- 060315- sepp

Wow! Look at him go! I know I’m inspired- Here’s me working hard on getting in shape for summer:

Cal Seething- 060315- mepen

And here’s me working hard on finally cleaning out the shed in the backyard

Cal Seething- 060315- mepen

And here’s Punky working hard on not freaking out like a tiny adorable furry idiot every time someone goes by the house on a bike. Or a skateboard. Or a scooter. Or on foot. Or AT ALL. OH MY GOD – WHY ARE YOU FREAKING OUT ABOUT EVERYTHING??? CHILL THE FUCK OUT! HOW CAN SOMETHING AS ADORABLE AS YOU BE SO TERRIBLE?? Oh don’t look at me like that. You’re so adorable. You’re so cutey-wootey-wootey-wootey. You don’t have to work hard at changing anything at all. Which is good. CAUSE YOU’RE NOT. But here’s what it would look like if you were.

Cal Seething- 060315- punky

So – what does the future hold for FIFA? Who knows? And- more to the point- who cares? The fun part of the story is done- time to move on to the next big thing and forget all about it- we’ve got escaped convicts to worry about! I mean, come on- did Malaysian Air improve its radar guidance systems? Are we in Arab Summer now or is it Arab Fall? Is Ebola still, like, a thing? We don’t know cause we don’t care. Hell, we don’t want news, we want NEWS. If we really heard about what was wrong with the world, we’d never stop crying and stockpiling some canned goods- so BRING ON THE RUNAWAY CONVICTS!

Even ESPN- which covered the entire FIFA Presidential Election live while pumping Bob Ley full of all the black coffee Cal Seething- 060315- bobthey could find to keep him from seeing pink elephants and drunk texting pictures of his balls to his ex wife (“nothing deflated here, you ungrateful whore :) :) :)”) has downgraded the FIFA story to a mere item on the crawl at the bottom of the screen- right between Stanley Cup scores and Tiger Woods’ latest round of futility. It’s been a bit sad, by the way, to watch Tiger Woods struggle so mightily at the game that once came easily to him, but then it’s also kind of inspiring and uplifting to all of us who aren’t all that great at anything and fucking hate people who are. Ha! Fuck him.

Still, for the billions of people around the world that live and die by the beautiful game – I do hope that FIFA can cure it’s nasty case of Seppsis and find a way to move forward without corruption. And for the thousands of World Cup players – I do hope that they move the 2022 World Cup the fuck out of Qatar cause otherwise you’re all gonna die like a bunch of Thai workers. Oh- and – all of you bloated, corrupt fat-cats at the IOC – you’re next bitchez! Sleep with one eye open in your comfy Swiss hotels- cause Edward Norton is, very politely, coming for you.

Cal Seething- 060315- edn2

Right- that’s enough blogging for today- time to get to work!

Cal Seething- 060315- mepen

Special Thanks to Geoff Rice- I stole the idea for the Wes Anderson police raid from him. I know, I know. I’m like the Sepp Blatter of unpaid bloggers.

[California Seething] Confessions of a Clipper Fan- 2015 Choke Edition

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Here’s the new stuff- added May 25, 2015

It used to be that I could wear a Clipper hat and no one would say anything. Well, to my face anyhow. Behind my back- it was all “Is that guy wearing a Clipper hat???” and “What is he trying to be funny or something???” and Billy Crystal“Wow, Billy Crystal’s really letting himself go.” Then, after carefully assessing the situation, most people would just assume that I was some sort of dimwitted charity case who had gotten the hat for free and didn’t know any better, like a Haitian kid in one of Sean Penn’s refugee camps (Are those my Haitians in there? ARE THOSE MY HAITIANS IN THERE???) with a brand new World Champion Seattle Seahawks t-shirt.

But, then, a few weeks ago, everything changed and suddenly my Clipper hat was a magnet for conversation- and it was great! People would say: “Do you really think we can beat the Spurs?” and I would say “The way Blake is playing- anything is possible.” And then, a week later they would say “Oh my God- did you see Game 7??” and I would say “Holy shit- I can’t believe Chris hit that shot!!! Amazing!!!” And it kept getting better after that. They would say “Dude- we’re seriously killing the Rockets!!!” and I would say “The way we’re playing- we could go all the way!!” and then a week later they would say “Are we gonna close them out tonight?” and I would say “Hell yeah- the Rockets don’t stand a chance!!”

And then, then, then…..well, things took a turn. First it was “Oooh- did you see what happened last night?” and I was all “Yeah- no big deal- we’ll finish them off at home.” And then it was “How did they manage to lose last night??” and I was like “Wait- what? They lost? They were up by 19 when I went to bed??? What the fuck?????” and then, finally it was “Oh my God- did you see Game 7?” and I was like “Oh yeah. We looked like shit. I can’t believe DeAndre blew that dunk. Embarassing.”

And now. Well. Now they don’t say anything anymore. They just give me a sidelong glance of pity, like “can you Cal Seething- 052515- tattoobelieve that guy actually paid MONEY for that hat?” like I’m the grinning putz who actually paid money for a Seattle Seahawks Back to Back Champions tattoo “He must have thought the Clippers had a chance. Ha!” and then they go right back to talking about who the Lakers are gonna take with the #2 pick in the draft.

Well, listen here, smug Laker fan a-holes- first of all- unless the Lakers use the #2 pick to get Doc Brown and a Delorean and go back to 2002, they’re still gonna be a fucking lottery team next week (or Loteria team, as they say during NBA Hispanic Heritage Month) and the Clippers are still gonna be one of the best teams in the grueling Western conference. It’s sort of absurd, BTW, that to get to the Finals in the West teams need to go through the Spurs, the Warriors, the Rockets and the Grizzlies- which is like pushing a peanut with your nose up a mountain made of pepper, and all LeBron needs to do in the East is beat the Chicago This is Some Bull-Shits, the Atlanta Pigeons and the Solomon Schechter Day School All Stars (Celtics) .

Anyhow- just to set the record straight, I’m not some bandwagon jumping Clipper fan. The Clipper bandwagon, BTW,Cal Seething- 052515- dadip is officially the Least Jumped On since the late 90’s campaign to make Da Dip the new Macarena and the Tiny House movement. Speaking of which- I think we can all agree that the people on Tiny House Hunters are absolutely THE most loathsome and repellent of all the House Hunters idiots, since they combine the usual House Hunters overdeveloped sense of entitlement with a noxious level of smug self righteousness- a combination not usually seen outside of a Millennial Lives Matter March (there’s no such thing, of course. It’s never been called into question that millennial lives matter AND THAT’S PART OF THE PROBLEM RIGHT THERE.) So, yeah- in order of doucheyness, it goes: Tiny House Hunters, Island Hunters, House Hunters International (but, like, the ones with the Americans who are looking for a vacation house and seem totally shocked that houses in the Nicaraguan rain forest don’t have open plan kitchens, spa showers and a view of the beach), House Hunters Off the Grid, House Hunters (just, like regular House Hunters), House Hunters International (but, like, the ones with the Europeans who are just super-duper excited to find a fifth floor walk up with such amenities as “bedrooms”, a “shower” and a view of “nothing”), and House Hunters Renovation Cal Seething- 052515- tinyhh(because we get to watch them suffer a little, and that’s always gratifying. Ahhhh the suffering of others. That’s the stuff.)- with honorable mention given to Caribbean Life and Beachside Bargain Hunt cause fuck those people for wanting a cheap house near the beach. Who do they think they are, anyhow?

Usually on Tiny House Hunters, there’s some bug-eyed dad in the throes of a midlife crisis who decided to buy the tiny house only after reluctantly turning down that sweet winter caretaker gig at the hotel in Colorado who is dragging his put-upon squeaky voiced buzzkill of a wife who’s all “blah blah we need indoor plumbing whine whine no composting toilet nag nag nag” and their 47 kids into his Tiny House nightmare. This poor, misguidedCal Seething- 052515- zoo fool watched We Bought a Zoo one time too many on TNT while he was waiting for the Clipper game to start and popping Abilify like Mike and Ike’s and now he’s convinced the tiny house will bring his Minecraft-at-the-dinner-table family together, when really, all he’s doing is providing source material for his daughter’s inevitable one-person show Tiny Fun Home, opening August, 2021 at the Complex, which, of course, will be filled with one person shows since that’s all anyone will be able to produce. Thanks, Equity! Meanwhile, throughout the whole episode, their “Keep it Real-tor” spends the episode rolling her eyes at the couple’s idiocy and seems less concerned about selling these dingleberries a house than trying to convince the viewing public that she isn’t the crazy one by saying stuff like “normally, I would never think of showing a house like this for a family of six- but- hey- this is what they wanted so…..good luck to them”. And invariably at some point in the episode the husband looks around one of the houses and says with dismay “wow- this is really small”….cause…yeah…it is small….it’s tiny…it is, in point of fact a “tiny house”…which, if I’m not mistaken is EXACTLY WHAT YOU IDIOTS Cal Seething- 052515- tarantulaWERE HUNTING FOR. I mean, if the show was called Tarantula Hunters you wouldn’t be all like “Ewww- what are all these fuzzy spidery looking things?” No- you’d be like “Oh hey- look at all these tarantulas. I am happy to see so many tarantulas here because that is EXACTLY THE THING I AM HUNTING FOR.” And THAT’S why Tiny House Hunters is the worst of all House Hunters shows. I rest my case.

Except, wait, that wasn’t the case I was making. CRAP! Worst lawyer ever. The case I was making is that I’m not some bandwagon jumping Clipper fan. Hell, I’ve been going to Clipper games since the Michael Olowokandi days, since they were giving away free tickets with a $25 purchase at Foot Locker, since the best players on the court were the 5th graders playing at half time, since they were the NBA’s equivalent of the Washington Generals and they actually made the Knicks look the Globetotters. That’s right- I chanted MVP for Elton Brand, Cal Seething- 051514- shawncheered when we gave Chris Kaman a big contract, and watched my hopes shatter like Livingston’s leg as he went up for an uncontested layup and came crashing down right along with the Clippers’ season. Oh-what? I’m sorry? Are you confused? Don’t get these references? Have no idea what I’m talking about? THAT’S RIGHT- BITCHEZ!!! Because you’re not a real Clipper fan and I am? And is that something to be proud of? OF COURSE IT’S NOT- why would it be? They were a fucking embarrassment. But because of some….totally cryptic reason, I’m proud of it anyhow. I can’t explain it.

And also- just to be clear- yes, yes, yes, I do, in fact own a Tiny House BUT I DIDN’T DO IT BECAUSE IT WAS FASHIONABLE. I did it because we wanted to buy a house on the west side of Los Angeles and the types of houses available to us were limited to “tiny” or “van” – and, clearly, we weren’t about to try and live in a van – not with the parking in our neighborhood. Though I am excited for an all new season of Van Hunters (“she wants a 1970’s Cal Seething- 052515- vanairbrush design of a coyote howling at the moon and he’s looking for a classic dirty white kidnapper van”).

So- right- like I was saying- I’ve been a Clipper fan for a while- and, as proof, I offer you the post below, written in the depths of last year’s Donald Sterling mishigos. And, if you still don’t believe me you can read this post from the old Fierce & Nerdy days in which I pay tribute to the two cities that co-exist in Los Angeles- the ritzy-glitzy Lakerwood- epicenter of rhinestone jeans, selfie sticks and cornball California cliches and, the hard-working apartment villages of Clipper City- where dusty jacaranda blooms mingle with Carl’s Jr. cups on the sidewalks, every dented beige Toyota Corolla on the street has a hood streaked with pigeon shit and the guy selling corn on the cob out of a shopping cart causes a sensation that sends all the chihuahuas on the block into an absolute yapping frenzy. That’s the Los Angeles where I live- where my tiny van is proud to park- Clipper flags, pigeon shit and all.

And here’s the old stuff- from May 10, 2014

One of the hoariest clichés of male/female relationships is that women are attracted to men that are bad for them and that they just want “nice guys” to be friends. Now, I don’t know if this is true- though, I have to say there were so many girls in High School that just wanted “to be friends” that my first stand-up name as a teenager was “Platonic Man” – “sort of like Superman but Lois Cal Seething-050514-platonicmanLane just wanted to chat.” Wow. I just realized that if that joke were a person, it would be in grad school by now. Huh. Excuse me for one second (midlife crisis related crying jag) OK- I’m back!! Want to see my Corvette? Ha! Kidding, of course- no way I’ll ever be successful enough to buy a Corvette. Huh. Excuse me for one second (midlife crisis oh my god I’m a failure what have I done with my life midlife crisis related crying jag.) OK- I’m back!! Got Testosterone in my armpits and Just For Men in my hair and I’m ready to rock!! Ha! Kidding, of course. I don’t have nearly enough hair to be worth coloring. Huh. Excuse me for second (male pattern baldness oh my god I’m a failure what have I done with my life midlife crisis related crying jag).

Anyhow- like I said- I don’t know if this “Good Girls love Bad Boys” thing has much truth to it. Probably not- it’s just one of those remnants of the patriarchy something something something white male privilege something something bad (who’s got two thumbs and just read a scathingCal Seething-050514-nick critique of rape culture on Jezebel- THIS GUY!) but if it is, I can certainly relate because I’m a Good Fan who loves Bad Teams. I’m Molly Ringwald giving a diamond earring to the Knicks to piss off my parents. I’m Mallory Keaton waiting for the Jets take me away on their motorcycle to a 7-9 season. I’m Kelly Taylor in a torrid Beverly Hills romance with the team owner who wanted Paula Deen to cater his NAACP Awards Banquet. I’m Mindy Kaling who…uhm…has that guy she likes….you know….that guy….who’s kind of a…. jerk….you know…uhm….Excuse me for a second (totally out of touch with pop-culture male pattern baldness oh my god I’m a failure what have I done with my life midlife crisis related crying jag crying jag.)

And speaking of Sterling- I know V. Stiviano insists he’s not really a racist- but just look at what he makes her wear to bed:

Cal Seething-050514-mask

 

Come on. If you can’t hang out with a mixed race girl without making her look like Boba Fett- you’re a fucking racist. Actually, I’m not being fair. The mask was Stiviano’s idea- she was inspired by all those Clipper fans who were also embarrassed to be fucked by Sterling.

Cal Seething-050514-clipperbags

It was nice, though, to see Sterling express some genuine regret when he said “I should have just paid her off”. The most touching expression of remorse since Marion Berry’s “Bitch set me up” and Hitler’s “Scheisse! I knew we shouldn’t have filmed everything. Now we look like dicks”.

Anyhow- this isn’t all about Sterling- even if he did give out white hoods as yarmulkes at his son’s Bar Mitzvah and only invited Koreans. It’s a larger trend, a problem I’ve had my whole life. Show me a winning team, with humble players, a brilliant coach and a classy owner and I’ll be calling them “cocksuckers” and screaming at the television. How about you? Are you a Good Fan who loves Bad Teams? Just take this quiz to find out.

  1. This season, I’m totally psyched for:Cal Seething- 050514- Tim
    1. The Superbowl!
    2. The World Series!
    3. The Finals!
    4. The Draft Lottery.
  2. Watching the San Antonio Spurs is like:
    1. Poetry
    2. Ballet
    3. A symphony
    4. Death
  3. Derek Jeter is  Cal Seething-050514-jeter
    1. A great team captain
    2. A true champion
    3. A class act
    4. Douchey
  4. This offseason, I’m looking forward to:
    1. Getting some quality young players in the draft
    2. Getting healthy after a long hard season
    3. Adding more weapons on offense
    4. No new indictments
  5. My favorite part of going to a game is:
    1. Watching top athletes performing in their prime
    2. Cheering the home team to victory
    3. The emotional roller coaster of a hard fought battle
    4. NACHOS. Duh.
  6. Tom Brady isCal Seething- 050514- brady
    1. A leader on and off the field
    2. One of the great NFL success stories
    3. Handsome and charming
    4. Oh my God such a douche
  7. Word Association- when I say “butt” you think:
    1. Tush
    2. Ass
    3. Rear
    4. DAMN YOU SANCHEZ!!!!!
  8. My favorite AFC East team isCal Seething-050514-butt
    1. Patriots
    2. Patriots
    3. Patriots
    4. Losing to the Patriots
  9. The owner of my favorite team is
    1. A noted philanthropist
    2. An internet billionaire
    3. Not James Dolan
    4. Banned for life
  10. Peyton Manning is:Cal Seething-050514-peyton
    1. A brilliant offensive mind
    2. One of the top 10 QB’s of all time
    3. Still playing at an extraordinarily high level
    4. All of the Above. And such a douche

Give yourself 1 point for every “D” answer.

BONUS Questions:

Subtract 1 point for each piece of team attire that you wear unironically.

Did you download the Samsung LeBron James App? Subtract 10 points. Also, you’re dead to me.Cal Seething- 050514- bronapp

Add 1 point for every Ohio based team you like. Not from Ohio? Add 5 extra points. Also- seriously??? Are your parents from Ohio or something?? Did you go to school in Ohio?? Do you hate yourself?? Cause, I love underdogs, but everything from Ohio is crap and Johnny Football can’t change that.

Have you ever spotted Jack Nicholson at a home game? Subtract 2 points.

Have you ever spotted Billy Crystal at a home game? Add 2 points.

Have you ever spotted Tony Romo at a home game? Add 1 point. Was he starting at Quarterback? Add 5 points.

Do you like Tiger Woods? Subtract 5 points- unless you only like him cause he’s a sex addict, in which case add 2 points.

Are you secretly disappointed when a player you like thanks Jesus? Add 2 points.

Are you a Cubs fan? Add like a gazillion points. Seriously, dude, you should have said something- you could have skipped the whole Cal Seething-050514-cubsquiz. I mean, you just washed a handful of downers down with a pint of vodka- don’t waste the time you have left reading this.

 

Results:

1 – 3 points: You’re reprehensible. A star-fucking fair weather bandwagon jumper. A Duke fan. God, I’m jealous. It must be GREAT. I can’t even download the LeBron app on my BlackBerry.

3 – 5 points: You are knowledgeable and informed fan. You like teams that “play the right way”, players that are humble, and coaches who value hard work and discipline over flashy play and superstars. You refer to the golf course at Augusta at “hallowed Cal Seething-050514-whiteground”, put your hand over your heart during the national anthem and actually think it means something that “team” isn’t spelled with an “I”- even though, seriously, how would you fit an “I” into that word if you wanted to? Teiam? Teami? iTeam?? All terrible. You love Kevin Costner, U2, How I Met Your Mother, hamburgers and Disney. You are… the least interesting man in the world. You don’t always drink beer, but when you do, you always make sure someone else is driving and never have more than two Michelob Ultras. When comedians do their impression of white people- they’re actually doing you. If you were a flavor of ice cream, you’d be slight lactose intolerance. It’s actually boring me to write about you so I’ll stop.

5 – 8 points: You’re cool. Whatever.

8+ points: You have a problem. You don’t actually enjoy sports- you use sports to atone for your sins. And based on the teams you choose, you’ve got a WHOLE lot of sins to work off. Seriously, it’s all about masochism for you- hell, you don’t need a throwback jersey for your team- you need a hair shirt. The only joy you ever do get is cheering for the downfall of the teams you hate. This makes you an incredibly unpleasant person. Because you are a Good Fan who loves Bad Teams, like me- and we both have a serious problem to deal with.

I don’t really fall for teams that are consistently terrible- teams who fail miserably year after year and who are out of contention after the first month of the season. Those are the teams you elope with when you’re young. Everyone tells you that they’re no good- but you don’t care cause you know they just need the love of a good fan to make their dreams come true. But then, the years pass and failures mount and they just sit on the couch watching the playoffs and talking about how unfair it is that the calls never go their way and how great they could have been if they could have just stayed healthy and how maybe they could actually amount to something if they just got a little support and encouragement from the fans for a change instead of being criticized by the press all the time. Meanwhile that team you used to cheer for a little in high school wins championship after championship and opens a successful chain of hardware stores while you watch on your crappy old TV/VCR in the kitchen clipping coupons for Eggo Waffles and sobbing silently.

Cheering for those perennially terrible teams is like being an American during the Bush years. Yeah- sure, it’s embarrassing and Cal Seething- 050514-bushawful- but what did you expect? All you can do is hunker down, laugh it off and pray to the God of your choice that he doesn’t go to war in Iran.

No- I fall in love wiht teams with POTENTIAL, with EXPECTATIONS. I’m talking about teams like the Knicks- teams with talent and experience and money- teams that are just about to break through, just about to compete, just about to turn it around and to reward all of their miserable fans for their decades of pointless support. I’m talking about being an American during the Obama years. Cause this was supposed to be our time, our moment- the pendulum was swinging back and everything was finally going to change for the better, Democratic President, Democratic Congress- how could we fail- bring it on MOTHERFUCKERS! And then…..nothing. Well, OK- that’s totally not fair- he did a lot: ending Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell, the Affordable Care Act, ARRA, ending the Iraquistan wars- it’s just we wanted so much more- comprehensive immigration reform, major climate change legislation-  hell, he took us the Playoffs- but we wanted a RING. And now it’s only a matter of time before they blow up the administration and everything goes back to shit again. Huh. Excuse me (Horrible state of the world crying jag). There’s nothing worse about losing when you should have won. Just think of the Buffalo Bills- they make it to the Superbowl four years in a row and come away with nothing but a shitty Vincent Cal Seething-050514-buffaloGallo movie that makes them a metaphor for failure. Or ask Mark Jackson- dude guides his team to their best record since…well…. the Buffalo Bills were relevant (hello insult- meet injury) and gets fired for not going further in the playoffs. Or ask me- I got a fucking B- in French and my parents were all up in my shit like I should be doing better or something. You know, 25 years ago. It hurt, man. Having potential sucks. That also happened so long ago the Buffalo Bills were actually relevant. Sorry Buffalo. But you know you suck. You’re too close to Ohio not to. But I’m just lashing out. (Not living up to my potential and also not speaking French very well crying jag.)

And then, of course, there’s the other type of “badness”- bad behavior. Now- this is a tricky area- we all have our own deeply personal sense of right and wrong informed by upbringing, belief system, cultural norms and life experience. Fortunately, we don’t need to rely on any of that crap because we have ESPN and Twitter to tell us what to be mad about! #PitchforksandTorches So- for example- decades of discriminatory housing and employment practices- no problem- but an audio recording saying some vile hateful shit about Magic Johnson (NOT MAGIC!) Banned for Life! Cause everybody knows words speak louder than actions. And then there’s Jameis Winston- a few months ago everyone was all rape charges, shmape charges- but now Cal-Seething--050514--crabthat he’s been caught stealing crablegs?? THE MAN IS A MONSTER (he said the crab legs were asking for it) I mean, it’s not really a shock – women’s rights have always lagged behind seafood rights in the South- hell, Louisiana gave crawdads the vote in 1894. But still – it’s a new low, even for Florida.

Anyhow, there are bad teams and there are bad people and then there are the Clippers- a horrible team owned by a horrible person. The Clippers aren’t just bad, historically- they’re the best at being bad. They’re the William Shakespeare of Bad, the New York Yankees of Bad, the…well LA Lakers of Bad. And Sterling? Well, Dylan Farrow just picked him as the Worst Jew Ever. And Shelly Sterling’s no better- they’re the Bluths of basketball. But I don’t care- I love that team. I loved them when they really sucked, I loved them when they just sort of sucked and I love them now that they just might be good enough to win the honor of being crushed by the Heat. Blame Star Wars if you want. How am I supposed to cheer for the Evil Empire – no matter how well coached and organized they are (Darth Vader cuts the sleeves off his robe) when there’s a rag tag bunch butt fumbling rebels on the other side? So maybe it’s not really Bad Teams that I love, but Good Stories. Stories like Allen Iverson- who threw his body around like it was rented as he willed his Sixers into the Finals. Iverson- who was so good at being great and so bad at being merely human. And the 08 Celtics – three aging stars sweating blood for the only title they were ever going to get as they battled through three seven game series en route to beating the Lakers in six. I mean- come on- just look at how happy Kevin Garnett is?

Come on- ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!!! Doesn’t that make you tear up a little?? Hell, I started to cry just embedding this link into the post. How could you not love that unless you’re a Laker fan in which case suck it.  How can you watch this and say that you’d rather watch the Heat win year after year so that LeBron can exhibit his Samsung McJoy??  Cause to me, that’s the best part of sports. Not the statistics but the raw humanity on display- and speaking of humanity- if Sterling’s audio recordings made you lose faith in it- Kevin Durant’s MVP speech might just restore a little bit. Wow. I know. That’s inspiring, right? Do you know how hard it was to cheer for the Clippers to break his legs after watching that?? But I did it- because I’m a Good Fan- and someday- someday I’ll find myself a nice team that really appreciates my support and rewards me with consistent victory. But, you just know that when I do- I’ll probably just want to be friends.

Meanwhile LET’S GO CLIPPERS thump thump thump thump thump LET’S GO CLIPPERS thump thump thump thump thump.Cal Seething- 050514- clipperd If you think Clipper Darrell is happy now- wait til you see how psyched he is when Oprah owns the team. Celebrities in the stands, banners in the rafters, sold out houses night after night. Huh. Sounds terrible. Maybe I’ll become a Laker fan.

 

 

 

[California Seething] #Pro99 and Proud

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In recent days you might have heard about the controversy over Los Angeles’ intimate theatre scene- specifically the “99 Seat Plan” which currently allows members of Actors’ Equity to effectively volunteer their services to theatres with 99 seats or fewer in exchange for a small stipend while receiving certain basic union protections and having the freedom to take better paying jobs as they arise. As one who has followed this closely- I’d like to offer you a detailed, thorough and unbiased perspective. I’d like to but I can’t, cause I’m me- so here’s an angry screed instead.

Warning to supporters of Equity’s idiotic proposals: In the spirit of the 99 seat debate- this post contains  gross incivility, blatantly manipulative emotional appeals, counter-productive use of sarcasm, inappropriate comparisons of Equity leaders to famous dictators from history, offensive memes using civil rights leaders, petty childish name-calling, vulgar language, crude insults, emotionally overwrought language, repeated use of the word “ass-hat” to describe those with whom I disagree, selective omission of information that doesn’t support my case, flagrant disrespect for the opinions of others and- most frightening of all- factual information that proves you’re wrong. Wrong wrong wrongidy wrong (BOOM! FLAGRANT DISRESPECT FOR THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS). It’s my fucking blog and I’ll write what I goddamn well want- if you don’t like it- you’re perfectly free not to read it- though, I realize that, as a supporter of Equity’s proposal, you have a really hard time accepting that full grown adults should be allowed to make choices about how they spend their time without first getting approval from Mommy and Daddy Union back in New York. Ass-hat. (BOOM! USE OF THE WORD “ASS-HAT” TO DESCRIBE THOSE WITH WHOM I DISAGREE). And- hey- if you hate this post- feel free to troll me mercilessly on all forms of social media- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Meerkat, MySpace, Friendster, Classmates.com, CompuServe, Prodigy, bathroom walls in North Hollywood, KaKao, Ello and, sure, I guess even Google Plus. Hell, I can even recommend some hashtags- #EricIsAnAEAsshole, #CaliforniaShithead, #HasBeenGoingNowhere – bring it on, motherfuckers my site could use the traffic. (BOOM! VULGAR FUCKING LANGUAGE. FUCKER.)

So….there used to be this ice rink in Culver City (wait, wait, this is going someplace I swear. I’m not just putting this in here because I’m a shameless civic boosting whore who has to always make everything about Culver City- although- hey- did you guys watch the big fight at RUSH STREET this weekend? Mayweather may have won a Cal Seething- 050415- icerinkdecision- but those truffle fries are a KNOCKOUT!) And, back in the day the ice rink was a vital center of family activity. Kids played hockey, teenagers went on skating dates, Olympians even trained there. Over time, though, the ice rink faded in popularity – losing the battle to MTV before losing the war to the iPad. And so the ice rink fell into disrepair and neglect. And, eventually, the building was sold and the once thriving ice rink faced closure. Suddenly, there was an outcry from the community – petitions were circulated, editorials were written, rallies were held- every single person in Culver City was showing up at City Council screaming with outrage about the death of their beloved ice rink. And I couldn’t help but wonder where all of these people were over the past few decades as the ice rink slid into neglect- because they sure as hell weren’t ICE SKATING.

Now- I’m not comparing the bustling, vibrant and dynamic intimate theatre scene in Los Angeles to a neglected and dilapidated ice rink. Well- maybe just the “dilapidated” part a tiny bit. I mean, well, let’s just say that, in almost every 99 seat theatre there is a sign in the bathroom with very specific instructions about how to operate the toilet: (“Hold the handle for 10 seconds!!!!”, “Jiggle the handle and count to three :) :)” “TP Only! No Paper Towels! No Feminine Hygiene Products! EVER!!!!!” ) all of which are signed rather ominously by “The Management” – Cal Seething- 050415- cancerwhich is meant to evoke a shadowy and omnipresent figure of menace- Cancer Man, if you will, or Dick Cheney- but really were written by some poor, pathetic schmuck with an MFA in one hand, a plunger in the other and “Artistic Director” on his resume. You’ve gotta feel bad for this guy as he watches his lofty ideals about running a theatre go down the drain….or at least they would be going down the drain if anyone could READ A FUCKING SIGN!!!! JESUS FUCKING CHRIST PEOPLE WHAT DID I TELL YOU??? NO FUCKING PAPER FUCKING TOWELS NO MOTHERFUCKING GODDAMN FEMININE FUCKING HYGIENE PRODUCTS!!!! Who needs Equity to kill theatre in Los Angeles when we’ve got a bunch of fucking morons in the audience who can’t seem to wrap their tiny little useless minds around the enormously complicated and difficult concept of JIGGLING THE FUCKING HANDLE AND COUNTING THE FUCK TO THREE!!!!!!! ONE – TWO – THREE- PEOPLE!!! YOU’RE KILLING ME!!!!!!!!!!!! (BOOM! EMOTIONALLY OVERWROUGHT LANGUAGE)

Sorry, sorry, sorry about that- a little PTSD from running the Powerhouse (Post Toilet Stress Disorder). Anyhow- I’m certainly not saying that 99 seat theatres are bereft of activity like the ice rink- far from it- but as far at the media is concerned, they might as well not exist. Ten years ago, if you were producing a show in LA, you wouldn’t be happy til you got reviews in the Times, LA Weekly and Backstage- and now, you’re lucky to get a mention in the Tolucan Times- and that’s if you buy an ad. But- as soon as stupid poopy moron face Equity Executive Director Mary McColl (BOOM! CRUDE INSULTS) announced her Cal Seething- 050415- marybrilliant plan to kill the 99 Seat Plan in Los Angeles, media outlets started falling all over themselves to cover the controversy- NPR, Huffington Post, the Wall Street Journal. McColl may be a god-awful union boss but she’s one hell of a publicist! Hell, there was even a cover story in the New York Times on the subject. I know  – crazy right. And if you think that’s incredible – the lead theatre critic for the LA Times, who shall remain nameless except I’ll just say his name rhymes with “Fartles McButtly” (BOOM! PETTY CHILDISH NAME CALLING) actually wrote THREE whole columns about the subject- which brings the grand total of columns he’s written about intimate theatre in Los Angeles in his career to….three! I mean, sure, he took Equity’s side- but, come on, let’s be reasonable here. To understand the perspective of LA’s intimate theatres he’d actually have to set foot in one and that’s simply too much to expect. It was a lot easier for him to just talk to Equity since he was in New York to cover the Tonys.

Anyhow- my point here is that if LA’s intimate theatres (a euphemism for “99 seat theatres” that sounds like we’re doing Hamlet in our unmentionables) got as much media coverage for their work as they have received for this controversy then maybe it would be easier for them to accept Equity’s efforts to dismantle the 99 Seat Plan in Los Angeles. Perhaps if the media was this enthusiastic about reviewing and supporting the work being done in these theatres, there would be somewhere near enough revenue to cover the increase in labor costs of approximately 4000% that would result from Equity’s mandate that all actors be paid at least the prevailing minimum wage for rehearsals and performances rather than the current minimal performance stipend. But probably not, because even with all the media coverage in the world, Equity’s proposal just isn’t economically viable. In fact, that’s what I first thought when I heard about their idiotic ideas. Ahhhh, I remember it like it was yesterday.

There I was, just relaxing on the veranda of my palatial beach-side estate in Bora Bora, where I was able to retire after running the Powerhouse for 5 years. I was just kicking back in a throne made out of the bones of the unpaid actors on whose backs I made my fortune (backbones, natch) sipping a Bloody Mary McColl when my monkey butler, Nick Wyman brought me a telegram from Los Angeles. “Well, it was bound to happen eventually” I said to myself “good thing for me that while I was running the Powerhouse I was able to squirrel away literally DOZENS of dollars in my Cal Seething- 050414- scroogeSwiss bank account (which is what I call my underwear drawer ‘cause everything’s got holes.)” It was infuriating- why, I got so wound up that I had to take a  dip in my vault full of gold coins in a comical 1920’s style bathing suit to unwind. (BOOM! COUNTER PRODUCTIVE USE OF SARCASM)

Here are just two little stories from my tenure at the Powerhouse that might help illuminate the economic realities of intimate theatre:

STORY #1: Around 2006, the synagogue that owned the Powerhouse Theatre decided to raise the rent by 30% without any prior notice. Andrew and I, the two Jews running the place at the time, balked at this, to say the least, since they had been of absolutely no use the year before when our sewer line failed, provided no upkeep or maintenance support to the facility, and refused to give us an updated lease after the initial lease expired. After a brief meaningful rent strike, the temple staff decided to bring in the Nuclear Option- they sent the Rabbi to meet with Andrew and me hoping that in his infinite wisdom and pomposity he would guide us lost sheep back to the flock of suckers.

Anyhow- we met with him at the theatre and we spoke at great length about the award-winning shows we produced , our long-standing relationship with the community, our educational programming, creative partnerships and the legacy of the artists who worked in the space- starting with Ed Harris who helped build the stage with his bare hands. The rabbi listened, stroked his beard, and thought carefully about everything we said. When we were done, he looked at us with great kindness in his eyes and, after a long period of silent deliberation, he spoke in the gentle voice Cal Seething- 050415- rabbibefitting a spiritual leader, saying “That’s all well and good, but if we could get three times as much by renting to a whorehouse, we would.” So…yeah. It was the proudest moment in my life as a Jew- right up until the day Bernie Madoff got busted. We were outraged. We were incensed. We were FURIOUS. And so….we furiously pulled out the checkbook and gave the fucking temple every penny they wanted. Well, what choice did we have? The theatre was booked. People were counting on us. We knew full well at that moment that we would just end up giving those bastards every single thing they wanted….right up until the moment when the rabbi got his whorehouse (or gastropub. Same diff)

STORY #2: OK, so a few years later, we lost out on an Organizational Support Grant from the City of Santa Monica which we had received for many years and grew to count on. Mind you, it wasn’t because the City didn’t like our programming- they loved it! And it wasn’t because they didn’t value us as a cultural organization in a part of town largely bereft of other arts organizations- they fully realized that and acknowledged our importance in the community. No- it was because the City had begun using the California Data Project as a part of their grant application process and we were unable to get our data compiled and loaded into the system in the timeframe required. Now- we tried to make the case that this was precisely why we needed as much goddamn organizational support as we could get our hands on, but for naught. And so we lost out on an Organizational Support Grant because we didn’t have the organizational support to get it.

Does this sound like an organization that could have absorbed a 4000% increase in labor costs?

Now, of course, not all intimate theatre companies are hand to mouth operations. Why a number of them have annual budgets over $500,000- and that number is….two. Two lousy companies. Out of 180. Two. And those are the companies that Equity points to whenever they want to make the case that plutocratic producers are making their fortunes on the backs of actor-slaves. Those two. Out of 180. It’sCal Seething- 050415- snowball like bringing a snowball to Congress to debate climate change.

Of course there are a handful of companies in the $200k – $500k annual budget range. Equity loooooves to point to these as proof of our horrendous greed, like we should be ashamed of their success- but allow me to clarify something. These theatres are not the secret shame of the 99 seat community- they are its motherfucking crown jewels. These are companies created by artists who had a burning desire to make theatre- and, since the regional theatres weren’t providing any artistic penicillin to cure this burning sensation, these companies made their own medicine. Over many years, they pretty much willed themselves into being full-fledged cultural institutions- notable not only for the amazing work onstage but for the significant impact of their community programs (student performances, prison outreach, educational programs) and for the economic boon they provide to surrounding businesses. Of course, Equity doesn’t want to hear any of that. Sure, they sit and they listen- they even stroke their proverbial beard- and then, after a long period of silent deliberation, they Cal Seething- 050415- rabbispeak with a gentle voice saying “That’s all well and good, but if actors could make minimum wage working at a whorehouse, they should do that instead.”

And look, I’m not saying the plan is perfect. Sure, there are companies that can afford to pay a little more to actors- and certainly if a company’s gonna spend six figures on a show, they can spend more than $9/show for the actors, but Equity’s proposal goes way too far. They’re using Chemotherapy to treat a head-cold- and then looking on in amazement as the patient gets sicker. Oh, but I know what Mary McColl would say- it’s a Naaational issue- LA needs to be consistent with the rest of the nation- it’s about the naaaational theatre scene. OK- well, let’s take a look at that scene- aging audiences, diminishing subscriber bases, regional theatres going belly up, union actors in cities around the country unable to practice their craft because all the small theatres can’t afford to hire them, a NON-UNION tour of a Broadway musical (Bullets Over Broadway) coming to the largest goddamn theatre in Los Angeles and major venues around the country- and somehow,  Equity decides that 99 seat theatre in LA is the problem? It’s like theatre in America is a guy who’s been in a car accident and practically every single bone in his body is shattered except for his thumbs. And yet, somehow, he’s managed to pull himself down the road by his thumbs, just hoping he’ll come across someone who can help- and, lo and behold, Ms. Mary McColl appears like an angelic vision before him. “Help me” he says “Why, of course!” she responds, pulls out his sledgehammer and smashes his thumbs so that they are consistent with the rest of the bones in his body. “Problem solved!”

So, sure, Mary McColl may have a point- this plan might not work nationally- hell, it probably doesn’t work in New York – but you know, I had Thanksgiving dinner outside wearing shorts last year and I bet that doesn’t work in New York either. So what- am I supposed to shut myself in a room all winter out of “solidarity” or just slap on my flip flops and do what works for me here in LA? And the fact is the current plan does work for LA. It gives actors the ability to do amazing creative work while they’re not using their MFA to audition for Exploding Corpse #5 on Bones, and the flexibility to miss rehearsal or Cal Seething- 050415- corpseperformances should they actually be lucky enough to book that super-awesome student-loan paying Exploding Corpse gig. And, overwhelmingly, actors in LA support it- hell, they sued the union to create the plan in the first place. And their support has been clearly demonstrated through public statements, social media, rallies and – oh right – a vote. That’s right, Equity put their asinine little “it’s minimum wage or nothing” proposal up for a vote by LA members and lost- badly. 66% to 34%. And in response to this vote they chose, after much beard stroking and deliberation to ram through the proposal anyhow with teensy little modifications. It’s utter fucking bullshit. When Bush lost to Clinton, the GOP didn’t get to say “OK, my fellow Americans, we get it. We’ve heard your concerns and listened to your feedback we want to assure you that under no circumstances will President George Bush wear a red tie during his next term. God Bless America!”Cal-Seething--050414--senat

And not only do Ms. McColl and the Equity Councilors (think “Imperial Senate” with headshots and resumes) stomp on the will of the people- but then they have the fucking GALL to email LA members and be all “hey- whoa- sorry you guys are all mad and stuff cause we totally ignored you. But we think it’s time for reconciliation and healing” Seriously????? Fuck you guys and fuck your healing! (BOOM! GROSS INCIVILITY) That’s like Putin texting Ukraine to ask if they can just “hug it out”.  (BOOM! INAPPROPRIATE COMPARISON OF EQUITY LEADERS TO FAMOUS DICTATORS) As far as I can tell, stage actors in this town don’t even have a union any more- they have a clueless douche boyfriend who gets caught cheating and then says “What’s your problem? I seriously don’t see what you’re so mad about. Now give me a blowjob and mop the floor- hey, don’t complain- you’re getting minimum wage!”

And, sure- the vote wasn’t binding, just “Advisory”- but when you’re running a membership organization and TWO THIRDS of your members in a region “Advise” you that your plan is complete shit- that’s a piece of advice that you’d better goddamn well take. Cause if you keep ignoring your members, the only advice you’re gonna get is from HR about how to apply for COBRA and Unemployment benefits. We can only hope.

OK, well, I could go on and on (COULD????) about all the shitty things Equity has done here. Like the fact that Equity used unpaid volunteers to call actors up and tell them that it’s illegal to volunteer their services, reaching NFL levels of hypocrisy. Or the fact that Ms. McColl suggested that the voter turnout for the advisory vote (45%) called its legitimacy into question. Never mind the fact that 45% is approximately 4.5 times higher than the voter turnout for the average Equity election- this is a “democracy” and in a “democracy” when we have a vote, we count the number of votes received and then decide who wins. We don’t count the number of the votes received and then just assume that every one who didn’t vote probably would have voted for whatever side we support. Sorry- that may be Cal Seething- 050415- maohow Mao Tze McColl does things in the People’s Republic of Equity (BOOM! EVEN MORE  INAPPROPRIATE COMPARISON OF EQUITY LEADERS TO FAMOUS DICTATORS FROM HISTORY. IT’S THE FUNNEST!) – but it’s not how a vote works in “AMERICA” where we just vote for whoever the Koch brothers paid the best. OK, never mind, bad example. But I’m sure there is a democracy that works some place- isn’t there? (isn’t there….isn’t there…echo).

But instead of focusing on all this crap, I’m gonna do what Equity isn’t doing and focus on the work. So- a couple of weeks ago I went to the Loft Ensemble’s production of She Kills Monsters. I’ll be honest, I went mainly because a friend of mine was in it and, honestly, wasn’t sure what to expect. The show was delightful- a smart, funny and touching exploration of grief based entirely on Dungeons and Dragons. That’s right. Can you imagine a Cal Seething- 050415- killsshow like that in LA without the 99 seat plan- with it’s large cast of extremely talented actors, ingenious designers making highly creative use of limited resources and a director with a very specific vision for bringing it all together?? No? Well that’s because it couldn’t happen.

If you do want to catch this show- it’s still running- along with dozens of other remarkable (and, let’s keep it real here, atrocious) productions all around town. And if you do your homework (I recommend stageraw.com and bitterlemons.com in particular- skip the Times unless you want to know what’s playing in New York), keep an open mind and follow the instructions in the bathroom VERY carefully, you might just have an incredible theatrical experience. Sadly, not at the Powerhouse. The rabbi got his whorehouse after all (or wood-oven artisanal pizza bistro- same diff). But there are still a whole bunch of intimate theatres you can go to – and I hope you will. Before they all go the way of the Culver City Ice Rink- and Equity leaves us with nothing but memories. Plus, if you don’t support intimate theatre in LA, Punky will be sad – andCal-Seething--050415 nobody wants that.  (BOOM! BLATANTLY MANIPULATIVE EMOTIONAL APPEAL)

For more information about supporting intimate theatre, visit ilove99.org (BOOM! FACTUAL INFORMATION THAT PROVES YOU’RE WRONG IF YOU SUPPORT EQUITY’S PLAN)

Oh yeah….and – SELECTIVE OMISSION OF INFORMATION THAT DOESN’T SUPPORT MY CASE- not pictured.

But- we do have:

Cal Seething- 050415- meme

BOOM!

[California Seething] Madness Revisited

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As far as I’m concerned, there are three types of people in the world:

  1. People who get sort of excited about March Madness and kind of miss it when it’s done.
  2. People who REALLY get excited about March Madness and look forward to it with the eager anticipation of Cal Seething- 040815- heartparents awaiting their first child only without the accompanying dread of terrible baby shower games (can we go back to not inviting dudes to these? I’m cool with that little bit of inequality if it means I never have to worry about tasting fucking baby food.) People like me who, when March Madness is over, feel as though a couple of nattily dressed brainlessly burbling SportsCenter anchors reached into their chest and ripped out their still beating hearts Temple-of-Doom style as they endlessly jabbered on about Tiger Woods’ chances at the Masters this year and the Opening Day of the fucking interminable death march that is the Baseball season. I swear, it’s like the Trail of Tears with Vin Scully filling in for Andrew Jackson and nachos for smallpox infested blankets.
  3. Weird, freaky, pasty faced people with hateful little beady eyes who don’t enjoy March Madness at all but instead prefer clubbing baby seals, leaving passive-aggressive notes on their neighbors’ cars, and watching fucking baseball.

So- clearly you’re waaaaaaay to cool to be one of the THIRD type of people- right? Of course you are. And that’s why I’m pretty sure that you miss March Madness at least a little bit and yearn for those magical days of endlessly chasing the buzzer beater dragon – just hours and hours of “What are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing? Don’tshootdon’tshootdon’tshootdon’tshootdon’tshooot no no no no no no…..YES!!! yesyesyesyesyesyes IT’S OVER!!!!! IT’S OVER!!!!! Good game good game good game good game game. ” Come on- you know you miss it- and that’s why I’ve decided to relive the glory of the past month through the email updates that I, as the humble commissioner of my company’s TOTALLY for entertainment purposes only March Madness pool sent the participants in the pool. Join me as we relive the almost infinitesimal number of highs and all the many, many, oh so very many lows, as I take you from anticipation to devastation to the inevitable conclusion- with as much of the really boring crap cut out as I could manage (so, yeah, just imagine how much worse this would be if I left that stuff in!) Also- names have been changed to protect the innocent, profanity has been ramped up cause FUCK THE INNOCENT and I punched up a bunch of jokes cause I can’t stop myself.

Plus- as a bonus- you get all sorts of random and totally outdated jokes about current events- it’s as much fun as going through the old newspapers in your mom’s house when you’re putting together her audition video for Hoarders! Not that I have any idea what that’s like.

March 4, 2015

Subject: It’s March- And You Know What That MeansCal Seething- 040815- march

….at least- I’m hoping you know what that means, because if you’re getting this email it means that you participated in last year’s CTG March Madness pool, which means (unless you were only participating out of a sense of obligation or because somebody smacked you on the back of your head and took your money) that you’re as excited to get this email as I am to send it!! Or, OK, maybe not as excited because I’m bouncing up and down with glee- but, you know, pretty damn close.

Yeah, all the rest of this is just boring functional crap- you just need to know that the winner gets 75% of the pool and buys bagels for everyone, second place gets 25%, loser gets their $5 back and the Most Creative Bracket name wins some random prize. I say all of this like 10,000 more times and people are still like “now, what do I get if I win again?” People are dumb. Not any of you reading this of course- but, you know, OTHER people.

Let the madness begin!!!!

March 13, 2015

Subject: Selection Sunday is This Sunday- Can We Please Start Freaking Out Already?Cal Seething- 040815- obama

OK, so last week when I sent out the first March Madness message a whole WEEK AND A HALF before Selection Sunday, I was told by some people who shall remain nameless but are dicks that I was being overenthusiastic and premature (something which I was often accused of as a teenager- if you know what I mean. Yeah- you got it. Raising my hand in English class. Sigh #lonelynerd.)

But, can you really blame me? I mean, clearly March Madness is the most important thing happening in the world right now- hell, it’s so important that the President himself takes time away from testing the patience of Westside liberals by fucking up traffic on the way to do Kimmel (seriously?? Kimmel??? They’re closing streets so you can do Kimmel??? What’s next- declaring a national state of emergency so you can be a guest judge on Masterchef Jr???) to participate- although, 47 Senators did send a letter to the NCAA to ignore Obama’s bracket. Hey Senators- when you make the foreign minister of IRAN look like the adult in the room- it may be time to admit you’ve gone too far. It’s like the kid who eats paste telling the kid who eats his own shit to grow up and behave already. (OUTDATED CURRENT EVENT REFERENCE ALERT) Anyhow, you see my point- I mean what am I supposed to focus on if not March Madness- the 99 Seat Theatre fracas? That’s like a Civil War in the world’s smallest, poorest and least relevant country with Facebook playing the role of Gettysburg and Charlayne Woodard as General Lee. (If you think you’d like to learn more about the 99 Seat Plan controversy you totally don’t.)Cal Seething- 040815- 99

Well, anyhow- I held off on sending any further communication- but now- now- Selection Sunday is two days away, Conference Tournaments are in full swing and it is officially, incontrovertably and indubidably time to start FREAKING THE FUCK OUT!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA !!!!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   etc.

OK- so- if you are getting this message and you played last year, or have already registered for the group- then all you have to do is:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, boring stuff about how to participate- blah blah blah.

I’ll send another annoying reminder on Monday! If you don’t want to play – just let me know and I’ll bug you no more, though I will think significantly less of you.

March 24, 2015- Rounds of 64 & 32

Subject: My Bracket’s Not Busted and I’m Sort of Freaking Out About It

When I awoke on Saturday morning from uneasy dreams and ran to check my bracket I discovered something very troubling had transpired the night before and somehow, inexplicably, I was very close to the lead. You can see why I was disturbed by this. I mean, normally, when I wake up all excited on the first Saturday of the tournament and check my bracket, I find a terrifying bloody wreck and my excitement quickly turns to horrified dismay, like a kid waking up on Christmas morning and finding the mangled corpse of a goat under the tree- and if that hasn’t been used as the opening of a Criminal Minds episode yet- then WHY THE HELL NOT? They can use a line from Had Cal Seething- 040815- goatGadya for the opening quote. Eh- Had Gadya? Obscure Passover reference? Fellow Jews? Anyone??? Is this foreskin on????

Anyhow- my point here is that I’m used to looking at my bracket and seeing a ruined mess, so it was jarring to see it all neat and tidy. I haven’t been this freaked out since I visited New York after a decade away and saw what Bloomberg had done to the place- hell, I went down to Tompkins Square Park and there were actually KIDS playing in a sandbox….filled with…. get this…sand! Not syringes and puke, shattered malt liquor bottles and broken dreams- but pure, clean, wholesome sand- WTF???? THIS IS NOT MY CITY. Sigh.

You know what I’m saying right- New York isn’t New York without the junkies and the piss and the crime and March Madness ain’t March Madness without the agonizing failure, crushing disappointment and wave after wave of punishing self doubt OH YEAH – BRING IT, BABY- THAT SHIT’S LIKE HEROIN TO ME. Plus all of my picks were predictable and dull and if there’s one thing the tournament should never be, it’s predictable and dull (aside from the first day- that was great- but, of course, that was the one day I was way too busy with my stupid “job” thing to actually watch games. By the time I started watching on Friday, it was like when I showed up all excited for my first summer at camp and all everyone kept talking about was how awesome last summer was. Sigh.)  It got to the point that by Friday night I started cheering for outcomes wildly in conflict with my own self interest just in the hopes that something interesting would happen. So- Dayton over Providence- SURE! Michigan State over Virginia- WHY NOT??? NC State over Cal Seething- 040815- piccolo‘Nova? ABSO-FUCKIN’-LUTELY!! Score that upset! Bust that Bracket! Make that piccolo player WEEP- IT’S THE TOURNAMENT, BABY- IF YOU AINT’ CRYIN’- YOU AIN’T TRYIN’.

And yet, despite the massive upsets in the East Region my bracket still looks pretty good. And, you know what- I think I’m OK with that- hell, I’m in a big tie for third, and, who knows- maybe I could actually win this thing after ten years of heartbreak and despair- or, much much much more likely, I can get my hopes built up REALLY HIGH only to slide into defeat like a coach off a chair. Man, that guy loves his son. It’s kind of weird, right? The only time my dad cried when he talked about me was when he told people I was a theatre major. Kidding! Kidding! My parents have always been supportive of all my creative ambitions. So supportive that they are probably gonna read this post- hi guys! Thanks for always having my back, Dad and not crying like a bitch about it in front of the whole fucking country:

Anyhow- all of this is to say- we’re just one week into this thing with games starting up again on Thursday two more weeks of (hopefully) crazy action to go and anything can still happen! (within reason) So- good luck, have fun- and GO WHOEVER IS PLAYING KENTUCKY!

March 30, 2015- Sweet 16 & Elite 8

Subject: I Guess I Was Asking For It

Look, I’m no dummy. I know I was asking for it. Hell, last week I was all “ooooh the tournament is so boooooring” and “why hasn’t anyone busted my braaaaaacket yet” and “oh boo hoo hoo I’m actually winning this year wah wah wah” shamelessly whining about my First World Problems like a Food-Babe-reading-Whole-Foods-mom screaming at a minimum wage cashier cause she can’t find the right brand of Cruelty Free Kale Chips (there’s no such thing, of course. Kale Chips are cruel by definition). I should have known that my hubris would never be tolerated by the Tournament Gods Lundquist and Vitale (who maintains his youthful vigor by sucking the souls from insufferable Cal Seething- 033015- ashleyactresses, but the joke’s on him cause she traded her soul years ago to take Sandra Bullock’s role in Double Jeopardy. Then again, he was able to suck out a mouthful of used Botox and stale collagen- which makes his look younger and gives him the energy he needs to extol the virtues of clean living in between shooting Hooters commercials.)

Anyhow, the Tournament Gods let me have my One Shining Moment during the Sweet 16 while I was competing for the lead, before they smote me with a Mighty Hand and an Outstretched Arm (can you tell I’m getting psyched for Passover? Charoset in the Chouse!!) That’s right- in the very first game of the Elite 8 Wisconsin beat my super-brilliant pick to win the whole tournament: Arizona. Yeah, that’s right- Arizona. Gun totin’, immigrant hatin’, Jan Brewer electin’, MLK Day not celebratin’, Daylight Savings Time rejectin’, sun blasted, godforsaken, racist fuckin’ ARIZONA. Arizona- who’s only two attractions are a gigantic hole in the ground and an absurdly warm climate- making it, officially, the sweaty asshole of America. I mean, there’s a reason why Arizona was the last of the contiguous states added in 1912 after every single other territory had already been granted statehood- nobody wanted it! And do you think Congress was even serious about making it a state when theyCal Seething- 040815- carrie did? Hello no! It was like inviting Carrie to the prom- they were gonna dump pig’s blood on Arizona’s Senator on his first day of work (their all going to laugh at you, Arizona) but then they saw he was heavily armed and bat-shit crazy so they sad, “Screw it, we’ll keep the damn state. We can send baseball players there to train and old people there to die. Oh- and someday- someday maybe they’ll have an actual university. Yeah- and that university might have a basketball team- and that basketball team might get really, really good. So good, in fact, that some pundit might write an article about how in a large March Madness pool it’s actually statistically better to pick Arizona than the heavily favored Kentucky. And then, some complete and utter nincompoop with a beard who runs a theatre and sweats a lot will read this article and he’ll pick Arizona only to have them lose terribly in the Elite 8, blowing his bracket to smithereens while we laugh and laugh and laugh. Except of course, that we’ll be dead. Long dead. Almost as dead as that sweaty fuckwad’s bracket. Ha!” – and THAT’s the story of how Arizona became a state. It’s like Schoolhouse Rock up in this bitch.

And then- to add insult to bracket breaking- Notre Dame came within SECONDS of pulling off a gigantic upset and beating Kentucky in the second game on Saturday- which would have been awesome for a whole host of reasons, not Cal Seething- 040815- ndthe least of which being that everyone’s brackets would be a screwed as mine- only to lose in heartbreaking fashion in the final seconds of the game. Of course, it could be seen as karmic retribution that Notre Dame, which is located in Indiana, had their hearts torn out by Kentucky just days after the passage of the Religious Bigotry Act. Which, I know, is crazy when you think about it- when has Kentucky ever been the LESS bigoted state to cheer for? (OUTDATED CURRENT EVENT WARNING)

Alright- that’s all I’ve got- semi-final games are this Saturday and I’ll be watching on my phone during the Seder and trying not to yell out profanity during the Ten Plagues- or, at any rate, more profanity than is usual for our family Seder (come party with us!)

Good luck this weekend (to those of you whose brackets aren’t completely fucked)! Happy Passover (or Easter, whatever).

April 6, 2015 (Final Four Update)

Subject: Who Cares Who Wins? Kentucky Lost!

Alright, I promised myself I was gonna be gracious here. Be professional, be objective- just report on the facts. Not to Cal Seething- 040815- frankexpress my feelings about how ABSO-FUCKIN’-LUTELY AWESOME it is that Big Bad Blue Kentucky, led by coach John “Douchebag” Calipari  (hey, it’s not my fault that his parents named him that. It’s cause he was born with a full head of douchey coach hair- a rare congenital condition known as Pitino’s Disease. And also cause he’s a douche)  and his over-hyped gaggle of pumped up one-and-done, Happy Meal All Americans CRUMBLED  in the final seconds of the semi-final game like matzah under the weight of a Kaminsky-sized wedge of Wisconsin cheddar.

And, I’m sure as hell not going to talk about how TOTALLY AMAZEBALLS (is “amazeballs” still a thing? I’m very Cal Seething- 040815- ashley old) it was to see Ashley Judd and the rest of Big Boo-hoo Nation in the stands watching as their hopes and dreams for a history making undefeated season went down the toilet The “toilet”, I’m told, is a bathroom fixture that I eagerly look forward to revisiting just as soon as Passover is over. Just picture Wisconsin’s big men clogging the lane and you’ll have a rough idea what’s going on inside me. I know, TMI (is TMI still a thing? God, I’m so old).

Anyhow- like I said- I’m not gonna revel in Kentucky’s SOUL CRUSHING defeat (tee hee hee. Tee hee hee. Stop that!) – but I am going to report objectively and without bias that this has basically tanked just about half of the brackets in our pool- and has left only two players still seriously competing for victory. But in a way, we’re all winners- because whoever wins the tournament will be gracing us with the traditional Victory Bagels so that we can all share in the triumph. Except for me, of course, because Passover. And Kentucky because THEY LOST WOO-HOO!!!!! Sorry, sorry, sorry. I wasn’t going to celebrate. It’s OK Kentucky- you guys tried your best and it just wasn’t good enough. There’s no shame in that, unless, of course, you’re ashamed of being a bunch of fucking losers which, of course, you should be. Plus- it’s good for you to get used to losing- cause it’s all you’re gonna be doing in theCal Seething- 040815- jack NBA when you play for the Lakers next year. (All suck and no game makes Jack a sad boy. All suck and no game makes Jack a sad boy.)

tl:dr Kentucky lost. Wisconsin won. Everyone’s brackets are fucked and I’m inappropriately happy about it. (I know tl:dr is still at thing, cause it’s the most common comment on my posts. Sigh)

OK- to check all the standings please visit the site- and for any UK (and Laker) fans who want to punch me in the face- I’ll be out of the office til Wednesday. If you need to punch someone in the face urgently, please contact Charlayne Woodard immediately (though she’ll make you pay her minimum wage for the privilege  or, you can wait Cal Seething- 040815- randuntil Wednesday and punch me in the face when I return. And if you’re not following the whole 99 seat mess, you can just punch Rand Paul. Go on, do it. He’ll throw a little temper tantrum like a five year old who’s daddy took away his Fountainhead Lego set (build a towering skyscraper as a testament to human superiority and then smash it on the ground because it’s too perfect to exist).

Happy Final Game!

April 7, 2015- Final Update

Subject: Duke Wins. Oh Goody.

You know, I talk a lot of trash about Kentucky- but I really owe them a debt of gratitude. Because a few years ago, if Cal Seething- 040815- clDuke had won (oh, yeah, Duke won, BTW) I would have been full of piss and vinegar- all “entitled preppy white boys” this and “J. J. Reddick” that and “something something something cleaning my toilet with Christian Laettner’s stupid 90’s Lesbian haircut”. But now, because I find Kentucky so utterly loathsome and repellent – I’m totally fine with the fact that Duke won! Cause, you see, I take the same approach to sports that the U.S. Government takes to the Middle East- I just support whichever side seems less repulsive at the time (also a common strategy for U.S. voters and consumers of Passover desserts. Honestly, goyim- eat a goddamn macaroon and then tell me you don’t like Marshmallow Peeps.) It’s like- one year the Broncos are in the Superbowl and Seattle is the devil- and the next year Seattle’s playing the Patriots and I’m all “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, JUST RUN THE FUCKING BALL!!!!!” – and, of course, no matter which side I support, I end up losing- so…hey- just like the U.S. Government in the Middle East!

So- yeah- Duke won. Whoopi-dee-doo. I was cheering for Wisconsin cause they beat Kentucky (the enemy of my enemy is my team) but, whatever. And – of course, that means that the winner of our March Madness pool is….Steve’s bracket “Steve” (congrats, “Steve!”)- and the winner of the Most Creative Bracket Name prize is……pretty clearly NOT Steve. Actually- that goes to “Unexpected Value of Ignorance” which is the best bracket name to be taken from an Alejandro Inarritu movie title since “Basket-Babel” and “21 SLAMS!”. And, of course, the second place bracket is “Crying Boys” – or as they are also known “The Harrison Twins”.

Alright, that’s all for now- I hope all of you beady eyed, pasty faced seal clubbers enjoy your stupid baseball season while those who prefer our sports “entertaining” drown our sorrows in the NBA playoffs while we wait for the start of FOOTBALL SEASON!!! WOO HOO!!! Go Jets…or Broncos…or whoever is playing the Patriots- it doesn’t matter. You’re just gonna lose anyhow. Crap.

Meanwhile- while we’re waiting for the football season, we can enjoy the build up to the NFL draft. It’s especially heartening that the NFL is so committed to raising awareness about violence against women that they’re selecting a known rapist with the number one pick. Shame on you, NFL. If only you treated violence against women as seriously as you treat the risk of brain damage to players- oh, wait, never mind- you do! (SADLY, NOT AN OUTDATED CURRENT EVENT WARNING)

Until next year!

Postscript:Cal Seething- 040815- ihate

I was jonesing so bad for some March Madness action that I finally watched the ESPN documentary I Hate Christian Laettner and, hey, guess what? I HATE DUKE AGAIN!!! I knew I should have watched it before the Championship- just think of all the red faced sputtering fury I missed out on. It’s like when I forgot to watch Schindler’s List before Germany won the World Cup. It’s a good flick, though- best video I’ve seen about white privilege in ages that doesn’t feature the NYPD. Oh well, there’s always next year- and, who knows, maybe Wisconsin will actually win the championship and I’ll have to come up with a reason to hate them. Beer swilling, cheese eating, Scott Walker voting motherfuckers! Cal Seething- 040815- cheeseOh, yeah. That’s the stuff- ONLY 11 MONTHS TO GO TIL NEXT MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRCCCCCHHHH!!!!!!!!!

March Madness. Fuck yeah.

 

[California Seething] The Punky Chronicles- Rocky Mountain Why???

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When I was in high school in the late 80’s, my parents were friends with a couple who took their little dogs with them everywhereCal Seething- 030915- yorkie they went. Oh, how they doted on their precie-wecious little Yorkie-poos (the Yorkie being the Swatch of dog breeds). They gave them cutesy names and talked to them in baby talk and even, on occasion dressed them up in clothes. How I sneered at them from the frosty heights of my adolescence- throwing lightning bolts of cynical derision from the top of Mount Sourpuss. How absurd they looked to my perpetually rolling 17 year old eyes- how pathetic.

Cal Seething- 030915- fleeceAnyhow, I hadn’t thought of this couple in years, but I found myself suddenly thinking of them while I was  talking to my wife very seriously about whether we should get Punky little booties to go along with her new polka dot fleece in preparation for our upcoming trip to Denver to visit my in-laws. After all, it’s cold and snowy in Denver, and we have to protect baby Punky’s little footsie-wootsies from the snow, don’t we? And what are we supposed to do- get her booties that don’t match her fleece- now that’s crazy. This is a big trip for Punky and it’s important she look her best. After all, Punky’s never seen snow before- haven’t you Punky? Haven’t you little Punky wunky woodlie woodle? Who’s a little dog who hasn’t seen snow before? Who’s a little dogey wog wog who hasn’t seen snow before? PUNKY!!!

Oh oh oh oh- you’re gonna judge me, now 17 year old Eric. Seriously? Cause….uh…. I’m not the one with a half grown shitty teenage pornstache and a mullet. Walking around with a peace sign earring from Spencer’s Gifts and a tie dye. And not a cool tie dye- not like a psychedelic, Steal Your Face, spiral of shapes and colors and dancing bears and skeletons. No this is some piece of shit tie-die you made out of one of your dad’s undershirts at Camp Givah last summer that looks like you were feeding a baby Fruit Loops and mud and it threw up all over you. Seriously, dude- what was up with your hair? It’s like business in the front, party in the back- but the only business you’re in is the business of not getting laid and self respect ain’t invited to the party. Just look at that ridiculous hair. All that…luscious…curly….long…ridiculous hair. No baldspot like an ever expanding flesh-colored yarmulke. Hairline not yet receding like my youthful ideals. All that…hair. Sob. PUNKY! Make me feel better about my bald spot. Ahhhh. That’s the stuff.

Cal Seething- 030915- punkylick

Anyhow- like I was saying- my wife and I were headed to Denver and we decided that if we had to leave the sunny confines of LA in February and head to one of the Crap Weather States (you know- the ones where 25% of your Facebook friends bitch about the snow, 25% bitch about how annoying it is that the other 25% are bitching about the snow like it’s some new thing they’ve never seen before in their lives and 50% can’t post a goddamn thing cause their power’s out. AGAIN.) then Punky should suffer right along with us.

We had wanted to fly Southwest – in fact, we even went so far as to purchase the Official Southwest Logo Branded Under Seat Doggy Tote Bag. But of course Southwest, being the noncommittal jerkwad boyfriend of airlines, had a typically infuriating pet policy. You see, the customer can pay in advance – and they’ll take an unlimited number of pet reservations but they’ll only actually allow 5 pets on each plane- so you just sort of have to show up early and hope that you’re one of the first five. Confused? Well, here’s a transcript of my conversation with Southwest:

(Southwest is sitting on a tattered couch doing bong hits and playing Mario Kart. I enter and sit next to him.)

Me: Southwest- we need to talk.Cal Seething- 030915- brad

SW: Sure- ok- so…talk.

Me: Could you please turn the game off?

SW: (rolls his eyes, turns off the game with theatrical flourish. Sits back on the couch looking exasperated.) Happy now?

Me: Yes. Thank you. Now, the reason I wanted to talk to you is that my wife and I are going to be flying to Denver and we wanted to bring our dog.

SW:(relieved): Oh- cool- is that it? Yeah- sure, all you’ve gotta do is pay a little extra and then we can take up to five pets per flight.

Me: Great! So you only take five pet reservations?

SW: No- we take an unlimited number of reservations. We just only take five pets per flight. So, you’ve just gotta be one of the first ones there.

Me: Oh- well…can you check and see how many are already reserved on this flight?

SW: (rolling his eyes) Uh-no- but, you know, it’s cool- you’ve just gotta be one of the first five there.

Me: So- we could pay for the dog and then not be able to get on the flight with her?

SW: Yeah- I guess so…(turns the game on)

Me: (turning game off): I said- turn that OFF.

SW: Fine, whatever (picks up Details Magazine)

Me: So- there is no way that we can make a reservation and get some commitment from the airline that you’ll actually honor our reservation and allow us to bring the dog on the plane??

SW: Whoa whoa whoa- this is getting pretty serious. I thought we were just like, you know, hanging out, having a good time, flying to Denver and shit. I thought we like, you know, had an understanding. I don’t know- I mean- you’re a cool customer and all- but, like, I just don’t know if I’m ready to commit to guaranteeing that you’ll be able to bring your pet on board. I mean- why do you have to get all weird about it? What’s next- reserved seats? It’s cool- you know. All you’ve gotta do is pay now and then be one of the first five people at the airport with a pet.

Me: Yeah- but what if I get to the airport and then I can’t get on the plane with her? Then what??Cal-Seething--030915--fight

SW: Yeah- oh, man- listen, I’ve gotta go I’ve got, like, another customer on the line and it’s …uhm…an emergency….so just book the flight and I’ll, like, email you a confirmation- cool?

Me: Fine. Whatever. FINE

SW: Alright. Cool. You’re not mad right? Cause, Customers and whatever are like our number one priority.

Me: IT’S FINE.

And it was fine, we just decided to fly Frontier because they were willing to commit to giving us a pet reservation- and the fares were actually pretty good- until we realized that when you buy an airplane ticket on Frontier- that’s literally ALL you get- a “ticket” to board an “airplane.” Everything else costs extra. I’m not just talking about Bloody Mary’s for $7 and $25 for checked bags- I’m talking $2 for water, $5 for aisle seats, $10 for CARRY ON LUGGAGE, in case of emergency, oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling for only $5.75 and for $16.95- your seat cushion may be used as a floatation device. Seriously- how do they have the fucking chutzpah to sell me an airplane ticket and then charge EXTRA for bringing on luggage- like that’s optional- like it’s some crazy, decadent impulse purchase that only coked out millionaire Wolf of Wall Street stock brokers would ever dream of buying. I mean what do they want me to do??? Just wear all the clothes for the  trip at once??? Swallow a condom full of socks and underpants??? Who came up with this airline, anyhow- my Israeli contractor?

Frontier: You want to fly to Denver? Not problem! I make you very good price- $169.

Me: That is good- and we’ll just be carrying on….

Frontier: Oh- you want to bring luggage? No no no no no. For that, I have to charge extra- but don’t worry. Because we are friends, I make you very good price – $10,000- and I’m not make any money at all, I promise.

We quickly realized it wasn’t worth paying the “Classic” rate and paying for all the crazy, luxurious upgrades like LUGGAGE and SEATS separately and that we should go for the “Classic Plus” rate instead– which includes one checked bag, one carry on bag, the assigned seat of our choice and priority boarding. Though, next time we fly – I really think I’m gonna choose “Premiere” which includes a complimentary soft drink and shred of dignity.

When we paid for priority boarding, though, we didn’t realize that Frontier actually had come up with a whole new way of boarding a plane at LAX. They don’t “call people in by row” or “board by seating groups” – they just sort of open the door and let people board in the order that they realize that nobody cares enough to stop them. It’s brilliant! Such a refreshingly Cal Seething- 030915- paulsocial Darwinist approach to boarding a plane. Welcome to Fountainhead Airways – an airline only Rand Paul could love- assuming, of course, Daddy saved him an exit row seat.

In the weeks leading up to our flight, we debated whether we should sedate Punky before taking her on the plane, but all the info we found online said this was BAD. Like High Fructose Corn Syrup bad (aw shit!) Like processed lunch meats with NITRATES bad (daaaaaammnn!) Like giving your kid a peanut butter sandwich to take in their lunch to A PUBLIC SCHOOL bad (oh no you didn’t!!!!) So being responsible, 21st Century, enlightened pet owners we were absolutely, positively 100% certain that under no circumstances would we be sedating our dog, thank you very much, I say good day, Sir. Good day…until we brought her to the vet for her pre-flight health certificate and the first question the vet asked is “so- you wanna sedate her?” Now- this may be because the vet was knowledgeable enough to be immune to all the pseudo-scientific balderdash on the internet and knew that, from a medical and scientific perspective, the risks of sedation are extremely minor, and that the benefits of reducing flight related anxiety for the dog (and owners) through mild sedation far eclipse the risks. Or- it could be because the vet observed that Punky barked at EVERY SINGLE FUCKING DOG that walked into the waiting room and then, when the receptionists couldn’t take any more and moved us into a private exam room, she barked at EVERY SINGLE FUCKING DOG who walked outside the exam room door (Punky has a Cal Seething- 030915- shirleypenchant for barking at dogs that are exponentially larger than she is. In her mind she’s a cross between Rhonda Rousey and Uma Thurman in a yellow jumpsuit, but she comes across more like a coked up Shirley Temple with eyeliner running down her face screaming “Do you know who I AM?” at the bouncer outside Sky Bar who’s played by The Rock) Or- it could be because the vet observed that trying to get Punky on the scale is one of the more challenging rodeo events, right up there with Bull Riding, Obama Bashing and the Greased Jew Contest. At any rate, the vet quickly evaluated the solution and offered a cutting edge scientific solution- half a Benedryl for Punky, vodka and People Magazine for us. DONE.

And so, the day of the flight came- we Benadryled Punky down from “spastic” to “frisky” and shoved her in the Official Southwest Logo Branded Under Seat Doggy Tote Bag. As she smushed her sad little face up to the mesh of the bag, looking like she had Sarah McLachlan on speed dial, we boarded our Frontier Airlines flight in some totally random order, pausing briefly to pay our Jetway Usage Fee of $21. We took our seats Cal Seething- 030915- punkybag towards the front of the plane so that Punky could yap fiercely at every single passenger that walked by like they were celebrities on the red carpet and she was possessed by the ghost of Joan Rivers. BTW- I was shocked to discover this year that red carpet coverage is actually  worse without Joan Rivers. It’s a warning to all us basketball fans who’ve been cheering for Dick Vitale to drop dead- though football fans putting pins into their Chris Collinsworth voodoo doll should please feel free to proceed unabated.

We took off from LAX and headed out over the sparkling Pacific Ocean before turning east. I’ve never been clear why planes have to cruise out over the ocean first before heading east from LAX- sort of a dick move, if you ask me, like LA is rubbing it in- you know? Like LA is flashing it’s Cal Seething- 030915- kittytits in our face and saying that we can say goodbye to these cause it’s the last time we’re gonna see them. Anyhow, I must have dozed off because when I woke up we were heading into Denver and something terrible seemed to have happened. The only explanation I could think of was that there was some sort of terrible explosion at the doughnut factory because everything we saw was covered in powdered sugar. Clearly that was the only logical explanation because the other possibility- well, that was just too terrifying to be considered.

I suppose I was still in denial when we landed and I offered to take Punky out for a quick walk while my wife waited for the luggage to arrive at baggage claim….the luggage which contained my coat, hat, scarf and gloves. Still- no problem- I was just popping out for a quick stroll- how cold could it be?

So- yeah- how cold could it be? Oh, I’ll tell how fucking cold it could fucking be. Really cold. Really, really cold. Really, really, Cal-Seething--030915--snowreally goddamn motherfucking, cocksucking cold. So cold I saw three Eskimos gather around a witch’s tit for warmth. So cold I wanted to grab every person I saw, shake them by the lapels and scream “WHY DO YOU LIVE HERE??? DON’T YOU KNOW???  HAVEN’T YOU HEARD YOU CAN LEAVE???? I mean, seriously, dude- LA is like right over there- WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU STAY?? I mean- sure, I get it- you like legal weed and snowboarding – but get a prescription, learn how to surf and RUN FOR YOUR FUCKING LIFE- IT’S SO DAMN COLD!!!!!!”

OK- so it was cold. But surely it wouldn’t be too bad. After all, it’s not like I’d be spending a lot of time during my trip outside, right? Well- that’s what I thought, but then our adorable little Punky Wunky- our darlingest, dearest, cutest Little Punky Wunky Woodles who charmed the hell out of everyone she met with her relentless adorability (she’s like the Terminator of cute) decided that she wouldn’t go pee pee outside unless I was walking her. And so, ten times a day, I strapped her into her little polka dot fleece, roped her into her harness like a champion Jew wrassler and trudged with her into the Cal-Seething--030915--punkyicy misery of suburban Denver. At first, I thought this was her way of saying “hey- you dragged me out here, asshole, you’re gonna suffer, too” – but after a while, I realized what she was actually saying was- “ohmygodohmygodohmygod!!!!! Have you seen how AWESOME IT IS OUT HERE?????? Cause it’s AMMMMAAAAZZZZZIIIIIIINGGG!!!!! There’s bunnies and birds and squirrels and birds and squirrels and bunnies and ohmygodohmygoohmygod there’s all this SNNNNNOOOOOOWWWWWWW!!!!! WWEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! I can jump in it and run in it and roll in it and the best part the best part the best part the best part is when I pee in it turns yellow. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!! SNOOOOOOWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!  YELLOW SNOW!!!!!!! Can we go outside? Cal-Seething--030915--yelloCanwegocanwegocanwegocanwegocanwego????? Oh- and, chop-chop, cause in about 30 seconds I’m gonna take an enormous dump all over your father in law’s carpet so get to steppin’. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! I love SNOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!” Fuckin’ dog. Fuckin’ goddamn dog. Fuckin’ adorable little fuckin’ irresistible dog.

So, yeah, every two hours- or pretty much any time she asked I took Punky out to frolic in the goddamn snow. Now- – you may think that I faced my destiny without complaining. That I braved the elements with manly, stoic grace like a Jack London character. You may also think that leprechauns are real and that the snowball you brought to Congress disproved global warming- I can’t control the stupid shit you believe. Because, the fact is, I kvetched and moaned and complained every single time I had to go outside. The Eskimos may have 50 words for snow- but I’ve got a WHOLE LOT MORE- except most of them are actually the same four letter word said over and over again and conjugated a million different ways-  and you’d better fuckin’ believe that fuckin’ word ain’t  “snow.” What do you want from me? It’s my birthright to complain. Let me tell you something about my people: we don’t do home repair, we don’t do the Easter Bunny and we never, ever suffer in silence. Honestly, there’s nothing more goyisha than that. Hell, my ancient Biblical ancestors (if you believe in this stuff) were liberated from a life of slavery and oppression and delivered to freedom in the Promised Land where they could become a great nation- and they had the audacity to complain about the food- the FREE FOOD, mind you, that God just DROPPED OUT OF THE SKY in their fucking laps on the way- FOR FREE. I mean- what the fuck? They’re like  the original millennials. That’s like complaining to Harriet Tubman about your seat on the Underground Railroad. Anyhow, with that proud heritage of miserable ingratitude, you’d better damn well believe that if I have to go out into freezing cold weather over and over again, I’m going to bitch about it- EMBARGOED_UNTIL_3RD_NOVEMBER_DOWNTON_EP8_36.jpgand no fluffy little white Shiksa dog is going to change that no matter how loveable she is (she’s like the irrepressible canine Rose to my miserable, kvetching Atticus).

Horrible weather aside, though. It was a perfectly lovely trip. I would have liked to do more weed shopping- if only to win back some street cred with Teen Eric, but otherwise a perfectly fine way to spend a weekend freezing my balls off.

Of course, the best part of any trip to LA is coming home- and this trip was no exception. Punky was better behaved on the plane home than she was on the way out  (I guess we must have given her the good half of the Benadryl) and we had that wonderful moment, familiar to anyone whose arrived at LAX, when we first stepped out of the airport and realized that the temperature on the outside was exactly the same as the temperature on the inside- the only thing in LA, in fact, that’s the same inside and out. And as for the Punkster- well, she may have enjoyed romping in the snow- but, come on, she’s a California girl at heart and she’s totally psyched to be back in the warm weather and has no interest in ever going back to a snowy climate ever again. Or, at least those are the feelings I’ve chosen to project on her, cause, honestly, she’s a dog and what the hell does she know? And even if she does want to go back to the snow, well that’s just too damn bad because there’s no way in hell I’m ever going back to the freezing cold weather again no matter how much she whines….or whimpers….or how super duper cute she looks. Sigh. Get in the Official Southwest Logo Branded Under Seat Doggy Tote Bag, Punky- hopefully Frontier’s got great deals to Albany- as long as we don’t mind paying the State Capital Surcharge, the Cross Country Flight Fee and the I Can’t Believe You’re Going Back to Albany After You Vowed You Would Never Ever Ever Ever Ever Return Charge. Anything for Punky. Yeah, yeah, laugh it up, Teen Eric- the joke’s on you cause you’re gonna turn into me. That’s right, bitch-ass- feast your eyes on your future:

Cal-Seething--030915--sweat

That’s right- I’m old, I’m bald, I’m holding a dog wearing a red sweater with rhinestones- and LOVING IT!!! (also wearing a t-shirt with her face on it. Oh yeah.) And, hey- it’s not like we lost our minds completely- I mean, look- we didn’t get Punky the booties to match her polka dot fleece, did we? Cause, you know- THAT would just be nuts. I mean, please, this is Punky we’re talking about- it’s doggy Uggs or nothing.

Cal Seething- 030915- uggs

Hell, I told you she was a California dog.