Wednesday, January 17, 2018

This Date in History - January 17

Remembering the Northridge earthquake which happened on this date in 1994.  Mercifully, I was in my living room in Yonkers, New York.

38 BC:  OCTAVIAN DIVORCES HIS WIFE SCRIBONIA AND MARRIES LIVIA DRUSILLA, ENDING THE FRAGILE PEACE BETWEEN THE SECOND TRIUMVIRATE AND SEXTUS POMPEY.

I want to know more about this Sextus thing.

395:  UPON THE DEATH OF EMPEROR THEODOSIUS I, THE ROMAN EMPIRE IS PERMANENTLY DIVIDED INTO THE EASTERN ROMAN EMPIRE UNDER ARCADIUS.

At the Arcadius, can you play Pacmanius?

1524:  GIOVANNI DA VERRAZZANO SETS SAIL WESTWARD FROM MADEIRA TO FIND A SEA ROUTE TO THE PACIFIC OCEAN.

So how come the bridge goes to Staten Island?

1608:  EMPEROR SUSENYOS I OF ETHIOPIA SURPRISES AN OROMO ARMY AT EBERNAT.  HIS ARMY REPORTEDLY KILLS 12,000 AT THE COST OF 400 OF HIS MEN.

12,000 to 400?  That's like a New York Giants score this past season.

1773:  CAPTAIN JAMES COOK COMMANDS THE FIRST EXPEDITION TO SAIL SOUTH OF THE ANTARCTIC CIRCLE.

You know it's going to be cold there?

1799:  MALTESE PATRIOT DUN MIKIEL XERRI AND OTHER PATRIOTS ARE EXECUTED.

Somehow Tom Brady got away.

1880:  FILM PRODUCER MACK SENNETT IS BORN.

Hit somebody in the face with a pie.

1885:  A BRITISH FORCE DEFEATS A LARGE DERVISH ARMY IN THE SUDAN.

Those Dervish were sent whirling.

1899:  THE UNITED STATES TAKES POSSESSION OF WAKE ISLAND IN THE PACIFIC.

World War II battle to follow.

1899:  MOBSTER AL CAPONE IS BORN.

Chicago gun battle to follow.

1904:  CHEKHOV'S "THE CHERRY ORCHARD" RECEIVES ITS PREMIERE PERFORMANCE AT THE MOSCOW ART THEATER.

Book report to follow.

1912:  CAPTAIN ROBERT FALCON SCOTT REACHES THE SOUTH POLE, ONE MONTH AFTER ROALD AMUNDSEN.

What was this?  Season 1 of the Amazing Race?

1917:  THE UNITED STATES PAYS DENMARK $25 MILLION FOR THE VIRGIN ISLANDS.

It would been $20 million if they were the Non-Virgin Islands.

1922:  ACTRESS BETTY WHITE IS BORN.

96!!!  The password is "old."

1927:  SINGER EARTHA KITT IS BORN.

Santa baby, I'm gonna need a crib.

1928:  HAIR STYLIST VIDAL SASSOON IS BORN.

Oooh la la.

1929:  POPEYE THE SAILOR MAN FIRST APPEARS AS A COMIC STRIP.

Well, blow me down.

1931:  BASEBALL STAR DON ZIMMER IS BORN.

The metal plate in his head came later.

1933:  PUPPETEER SHARI LEWIS IS BORN.

Oddly, Lamb Chop was born the previous year.

1942:  BOXER MUHAMMAD ALI IS BORN.

Well, he was Cassius Clay on that day.

1946:  THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS ITS FIRST SESSION.

And immediately breaks for lunch.

1949:  COMIC ANDY KAUFMAN IS BORN.

Or so we're told.

1950:  THE GREAT BRINK'S ROBBERY IN BOSTON.

Two million dollars stolen from an armored car.  Which makes it a lousy armored car.

1961:  US PRESIDENT DWIGHT EISENHOWER DELIVERS A FAREWELL ADDRESS TO THE NATION BEFORE LEAVING OFFICE, WARNING PEOPLE AGAINST THE DANGERS OF MASSIVE SPENDING.

Meanwhile, when is tee off time?

1964:  MICHELLE OBAMA IS BORN.

Calorie count on that birthday cake:  850.

1977:  CAPITAL PUNISHMENT IN THE US RESUMES AFTER A TEN YEAR HIATUS, AS CONVICTED MURDERED GARY GILMORE IS EXECUTED BY FIRING SQUAD.

Glad they didn't miss.

1991:  OPERATION DESERT STORM BEGINS EARLY IN THE MORNING.

And was over six weeks later.

1994:  THE 6.7 NORTHRIDGE EARTHQUAKE.

And, to think, they're waiting for the one here that will be 7.3.

1998:  MATT DRUDGE BREAKS THE STORY OF THE BILL CLINTON-MONICA LEWINSKY AFFAIR ON HIS WEBSITE.

Who broke the story about the ten others he screwed?

2003:  ACTOR RICHARD CRENNA DIES.

The Real McCoy.

2005:  ACTRESS VIRGINIA MAYO DIES.

Held.

2008:  CHESS PLAYER BOBBY FISCHER DIES.

Checkmate.

2010:  AUTHOR ERICH SEGAL DIES.

Death Story.

2011:  PRODUCER DON KIRSHNER DIES.

It's midnight again.

Dinner last night:  Baked ziti.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Good Movie About a Bad Movie

Yes, admittedly, that sounds weird.  But "The Disaster Artist" is just that.   A comical retelling of the making of perhaps the worst movie ever made.

The latter would be something called "The Room" and frankly I knew nothing about this.  But, from what I gather it is legendary with those Friday midnight shows that played to college campuses about ten years ago.  Not being a college student at this time, I can see how I missed it.

James Franco is the director and star here in a tour de force effort that really is impressive.  Backtracking a bit, "The Room" was written and directed by this mysterious guy named Tommy Wiseau who apparently has access to money despite being most certainly clinically insane.   Wiseau struck up an odd relationship with an out-of-work actor Greg Sestero.   Together, they embark on an adventure that thousands of folks in Los Angeles do---making their own movie.

"The Disaster Artist" is about all that with James Franco as Wiseau and his own brother Dave as the needy and confused Greg.  How a seemingly smart guy like Sestero came under the web of the clearly cuckoo Wiseau is confusing but the end credits tell you they are still working together.  Hmmm.

The production of "The Room" as depicted in "The Disaster Artist" is laugh-out-loud hilarious as you watch people making a movie who clearly have no business doing just that.  The crew knows Wiseau is crazy but they hang in there for the job and ultimately the amusement.  The cool thing about "The Disaster Artist" is that it is peppered with wonderful cameos from the likes of Melanie Griffith, Sharon Stone, and Megan Mullally.  Moreover, supporting roles on the crew are essayed by Zac Efron and Seth Rogen and it's hard to believe that I enjoyed a movie both of those guys are in.

Being a person living in Los Angeles, I got a lot of the inside jokes and I am sure this film will be huge box office amongst the show biz crowd.  I mean, I recognized two locations used in the film from my own experiences...the NoHo Arts Center and the Crest movie theater in Westwood.   But I also think that mainstream audiences can appreciate the comic misadventures of Wiseau and Sestero.  Everybody knows somebody who has a dream, regardless of how strangely misguided it might be.

You laugh a lot at the ineptitude of the folks depicted in "The Disaster Artist" and that's a good thing today when good genuine comedy is hard to find.  It works in this movie because it is real.  At the end of the film, you see the scenes from the real version of "The Room" against what was recreated for "The Disaster Artist."  The attention to detail is amazing.   And you are laughing all over again.

Now I want to seek out "The Room" itself.   How bad can it be?   Well, I'm guessing pretty darn bad.   But see "The Disaster Artist" because it is pretty darn good.

LEN'S RATING:  Three-and-a-half stars.

Dinner last night:  Cream of tomato soup.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday Morning Video Laugh - January 15, 2018

Idiots...regardless of the season.

Dinner last night:  Beef stew.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Sunday Memory Drawer - The Annual Fresh Start

It happens every year around this time.  The number of the year changes and everybody uses this artificial benchmark to turn over a new leaf.   Or forge ahead on something neglected.   Or make radical modifications to their bodies.  

Indeed, if the onset of a January is what prompting you to do these improvements, you are misguided.   You could easily have done this on November 13.

But that's the way human nature is.   It is why the biggest advertisers on TV and radio during the first week of any new year are diet programs like Weight Watchers or Nutrasystem.   Heck, I did this myself in senior year of high school---the very first time I addressed being a fat kid.  It is why January 1 is the one day in the whole year for the most new subscribers to Match.com or eHarmony.  

I myself used to fall into this trap myself.   This year, it turns out there were several days devoted to personal check-ins for yours truly.   I recall it in what can be called a Sunday Short Term Memory Drawer.

There was physical health day.   I had my annual examination with my general internist with the usual thousand bucks expenditure for blood work.   The good news?  Except for two creaky knees, I am in totally excellent health.   My bloodwork is almost perfect.   This is in contrast to the year 2015 where almost everything on the medical side for me went kablooey.   I walked out knowing that, barring a careening dump truck crashing into me on Wilshire Boulevard, I'm very good to go for a while longer.

Then I experienced financial health day.  This was important as I have a new cadre of financial experts dealing with my portfolio which, as a free lancer, becomes more and more important to help me exist.  There's almost a portion of such a meeting where Len needs to be reassured that his portfolio is still very strong and growing.   This year, there was a more serious discussion of what to do with my revered, but less needed New York residence.  Do I sell?  Do I sublet?   An open-ended issue that will get further investigation when I go back there for a bit in March.   In reality, I doubt that I will still have it three years from now because, after all, no one spends the third act...or, is it the second half..of their life living in Yonkers, New York.

The aforementioned third act of life is a notion that a writer-friend mentioned to me recently.   If you look at everybody's life as a plot line or a story arc, you realize that each of us represents a work of art.   Again, I'd like to think that I am still in the second half as opposed to the final third.   But, as I myself look at the month of January and hear that my physical and financial future is relatively secure, I ponder a more important question.

Why do I resolve to do next?

Oh, not a resolution like losing weight or dating more.  Every year, I pledge to read more and invariably don't.  It's more of a coming-to-terms with writing and leaving some sort of creative legacy for others to behold.

It's no secret to close friends that I've got a lot of balls in the air on the creative front.   One long-developed project has inexplicably stalled suddenly due to the lack of energy on the part of another.   It is badly in need of a major swing from a bottle of Geritol, if that even stills exists.  I vow on January 1 to find that source or person, even though, in reality, the true energy needs to come from me.

There are other projects buried in my computer.   One half-written screenplay about my childhood.   Another half-written screenplay for a mystery love story that my friends would be shocked about how much sex is written into it.   Two pitches for magazine articles.   A germ of a sitcom idea.

The first week of January found me glued to the TV in my first instance of procrastination for 2018.   But it was not ultimately wasted time.  I was binge watching a new comedy named "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," which was so old-fashioned and formulaic but still hilarious.  It bowled me over.   It made me want to create.

Again.  

And was exactly the energy I need to act on my creative resolution.

So, yes.  As much as I scoff at those New Year's resolutions, I realize I had one of my own.   So I am gleefully no different than anybody else.

Yep, the future is bright.   I am opening one of those files right now.  After all, it is 2018.   The beginning of a new year.   And the next act of my life.

Dinner last night:  Southwest bacon cheeseburger at the Arclight.


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Classic Newsreel of the Month - January 2018

Sixty years ago and nothing has changed since.

Dinner last night: Beef knockwurst and pickled beets.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Your Friendly Neighborhood Yard Sale












Dinner last night: Beef with noodles.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Doubling Down on Stupidity

Ever wonder what the rest of the world thinks about America?  Trust me.  It can't be good these days.  Our political system has made us the laughing stock of the universe.   And the above notion would just add to the guffaws.

Unless you have been living under a rock (and frankly that is the safest place to be these days), you are aware that an "Oprah for President" groundswell has started.   It was, in large part, spurred by a speech she gave to the half-drunk sycophants assembled at last Sunday's Golden Globes egofest.  The liberals in the crowd went nuts.   Could you just imagine her debating Donald Trump in 2020?  Oh, the ratings!  Oh, the hysteria!  Oh, how she would trounce him in a general election.

Sadly, most of that would be true.   And America continues swirl the rim of the toilet bowl.

Yeah, let's follow up a grossly inept unqualified TV personality/President with another grossly inept unqualified TV personality/President.  Oh, sure, she cleans up better and knows how to present herself in public.  But, come on.  You don't elect her because she gave a powerful speech to a bunch of inebriated suck-ups.  PS, none of these people ever write their own speeches.   I am never impressed by that.

If Oprah ever wants to go this route (and I really don't think she wants to take the pay cut), she should start smaller.   Be a Mayor.   Be a Senator.  Hell, Al Franken's seat is open.  

But, whatever she does, Oprah should learn to be civil to the people around her.  Remember all the talk from former Harpo employees.   You can't make eye contact with her.  Don't approach before noon.  Etc., etc., etc..   And she certainly won't get a lot of votes from flight attendants who have labelled her one of the most difficult passengers ever.

The one mildly amusing prospect of such a campaign would be the ego blow felt by Michelle Obama who apparently hates Oprah.  Now there's a debate I would like to see.  Those two.  Hell, forget the political discussion.  Let's just throw them both in a vat of mud and watch them go at it.

Of course, in all seriousness, when did the office of President of the United States become such a joke?   When I was a kid, it was a position you respected and held in reverence.   Then you get the likes of Bill Clinton paying saxophone with Arsenio Hall, George W. Bush being a lunkhead, and Barack Obama regularly making the circuit of TV's late night comedy shows.   Wherever they are, the likes of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and even Millard Fillmore are laughing their heavenly asses off.

Yeah, let's make bad even worse.  Oh, and to also demonstrate what a phony Oprah is, don't forget who one of her best buddies used to be.
The first thing Orpah should address in any political campaign is how come she never spoke when everybody knew what Harvey Weinstein was doing to women in Hollywood.

Mike drop.

Dinner last night:  Steak and caramelized onions.