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Here’s a blast from… er, a time long ago.

In 1991, I got to act in a few sketches for a Bridgewater, Massachusetts cable access show called The Cutting Room Floor, created by Bob Caron and David Almeida. Christian Roman wrote most of the episode. My B.U. friends Catherine, Synneve, Karl, and Seth were in the show as well. I did improv in college and then professionally in Boston with Seth and Chris, and professionally in L.A. with Seth after 1994. Catherine, Karl and I made A Pound of Flesh in 1993, in which Seth had a part. None of us had anything to do with Mr. Belvedere: The Golden Years in 1997.

Enjoy this ridiculous but often rather funny piece of local cable access TV history and read more about it on the official Vimeo page. You can also see the other episodes there.

Watching this now for the first time since 1991, I remember how Chris and I both loved Monty Python. We had re-created a couple of their sketches at the coffee house nights in Claflin Hall. You can see the Monty Python influence in the above, with props and themes that weave through the episode, and segues between skits.

Boy, it’s good to see this again!

UPDATE: David reminded me that a skit we shot was included in episode 2 as well. Here it is! Look for “Sleeping Through the Movies with Philip & Bean” at 13:05. And here’s the Vimeo link, also with interesting tidbits about the episode.

Mazel tov! I hope I spelled that right.

Below is my Monday post over at the Life from the Inside blog, reprinted here for your mild convenience.

* * * * * *

When Tanya and Robb brought me on board as producer for LFTI, they probably did not realize they were gaining a lunatic. Not just any lunatic, of course, but a font, typography, and typesetting lunatic.

I’ve always been fascinated by text. I spent lots of time as a small child trying to draw perfect block letters. I’d take the plastic, all-caps letters (yellow Futura medium) from both our copies of The Alphabet Game and tape them onto construction paper to make signs. I cut out matching letters and numbers from the newspaper to make my own Iran Hostage Crisis count-up sign. I hand-lettered every single one of my campaign posters for Vice President in 8th grade and President in 11th. One of the best things about the Mac when it came out was, for me, that its handling of text was much better than Print Shop on the IIe.

My love for type has never diminished. It served me well post-college, when I worked as a book designer at Birkhäuser Boston, right through to the present day, when I get to contribute to the “online conversation” regarding the fonts candidates use for their campaign materials.

Unfortunately for Robb and Tanya, it currently serves me well on Life from the Inside.

I am of the opinion that text, fonts, typography, and typesetting, while flying under the radar of the general public’s awareness, are some of the single most important elements in adding a sheen of professionalism and style to any project. Most of the quality we strive for in LFTI is applied to the usual concerns: camerawork, writing, editing, music… Very few people might notice if a font is improperly stretched, or if a wayward apostrophe has made its way into an pluralized acronym, or if the hyphens in a block of text are disconcerting to the eye though they may be properly placed.

Robb does 99% of the graphic work for the show, including all the titles, credits, graphic elements, DVD menus (yes, DVD MENUS!), blahdee blahdee blah. And I have to say that 99% of everything he does, text-wise, is fantastically great. Unfortunately, now that I have wedged myself into the picture, I’m here to catch the remaining 1%. If I see some kerning I don’t like, I’ll say so. If the leading between two lines is too tight, I’ll point it out. If there’s a space between a word and an asterisk, I’ll call for its death. If four fonts are being used where two will suffice, I shall champion the cause.

Sometimes, where text is involved, there’s a trade-off between correctness and aesthetics. To me, correctness should win out most of the time, because there is usually an aesthetically pleasing way to correctly render an awkward block of text.

If I’m going to prattle on about this topic, I really should give an example.

Robb had designed a bit of text on an upcoming DVD menu (yes, UPCOMING DVD MENU!) to fit nicely into a rectangular space. The word “jukebox” (yes, JUKEBOX!) had to be split, so he designed it as “JUKE” on the fist line and “-BOX” on the second. Now, the text fit beautifully, four characters on both top and bottom, but I could not stand the hyphen being tied to the second half of the word. That is simply not done. It gave me a case of the frownies every time I saw it. Since I am now tweaking and redesigning that particular DVD menu, I changed the layout to “JUKE-” and “BOX.” It made the text top-heavy, but it was correct. However, knowing that I was changing a very particular design choice that Robb had made, I thought I could compromise. I was willing to—GASP!—have the word split, but not hyphenated! “JUKE” and “BOX” would fit more nicely into that rectangle without a hyphen. Perhaps to some, this would have been the worst choice out of the three, splitting a single word into two sans hyphen. To me, I’d rather have the hyphen gone than have it on the bottom. And jukebox was probably two words at one time, anyway. It’s not like we were splitting “grottos” into “GROT” and “TOS.” Blech!

I have not finished the menu redesign, but I think we agreed to keep the hyphen on the top, probably because I whined enough about it.

So what does all this pain-in-the-assery get us? From my point of view, it gets us closer to looking great. When no detail goes unnoticed, when we can concentrate on the small things that most people simply don’t understand or don’t even notice, we can give everyone a better show. Then, if people do know and do pay attention, they will hopefully appreciate the care that was taken to make LFTI a top-notch piece of time-wasting entertainment!

I was possessed last night, around midnight, to pull out the collection of letters, faxes, and pictures I have from my time with Byron. I have kept them all together, in a neat stack, in the back of one of my closets. On top of this stack has always sat a little stuffed bear, wearing a sweater knitted with a British flag.

I was looking for one thing in particular, but once I had pulled out the stack, I was sad to see that the silverfish have been at it. Silverfish eat paper, I was told by the last exterminator who’d been to my place to spray, uselessly, for the buggers. The envelopes and papers were covered with silverfish droppings, and I knew I had to go through and try to shake out any insects and clear the dropping off the papers. I was hoping the bugs hadn’t eaten away too much of this history.

As I went through, I opened every envelope, reading some of what was inside. I really wanted to sit and read every single word, but that would have taken hours. Mr. Fear and I were wordy in our missives.

One of the first letters I skimmed through was his last letter to me, after we broke up, over the phone, 5,500 miles apart. I had told him I could not talk to him afterward, that I had to cut him out of my life until I could get over loving him. His letter was pained, discussing how he was deciding to get over his guilt at the breakup being his fault. It wasn’t ever his fault; there should have been no guilt on either side. But there is always guilt.

A couple letters down into the pile was the first letter he wrote to me, when I still lived in Boston, was not out yet, and had really only begun to ponder what it might mean if I were to maybe somehow potentially consider the remote possibility that I liked guys. It was a giddy, happy letter talking about his Boston trip and how he’d pretty much fallen for me during it. He was careful to try to get that across without scaring me away as a potential friend. I had fallen for him, too, but couldn’t admit that yet. It wasn’t until I’d moved to L.A. that one of my letters revealed to him that “my heterosexuality is not set in stone.” Yes, those were my exact words.

The rest of the stack was everything in between the tone of those two letters, blissful and sexual and pining and mournful and hungry and hurtful and silly. Bryon is an artist, so his letters were often illuminated with his trademark black ink drawings, precise and perfect. There was a small stack of sepia photos he’d sent me from one of his L.A. visits, when he and I and Catherine and Steve R. went to El Matador beach. There were stories and scripts he’d written. There were ridiculous but charming faxes both he and I had sent each other. There were comics he’d mailed me that he knew I loved at the time… Calvin and Hobbes and Mutts. There were the “bedtime tales” we wrote each other, from loving to erotic to pornographic, sometimes all within the same page.

By 1:00am, I had made my way through. I had only found two silverfish, but they did seemingly crawl out of nowhere, so I’m sure more are hiding in the stack. There was some damage to the paper, but nothing terrible.

Bryon and I chatted on IM not long ago about what our love was and how it is still, to this day, for both of us, the love to which we compare all others. He’s been with someone now for a couple years. They are in love, but Bryon said it’s very different. It is the same for me, when I have loved others since. None of my other loves have been as hotly passionate or so all-encompassing that I spend days thinking of nothing else but the other person, failing to get work done, failing to fall asleep because the other person haunts my every cell and neuron.

There are some clichés about all this that I sometimes go through in my head, those occasional times I think about Bryon and our love. Sometimes the cichés are brought up by other guys I’ve dated. I always smack each of the clichés down.

Bryon was my first true love, and nothing can match that. So far, this is true, but I know what the love was, and I know I can feel that way again about someone else.

The downy halo around the relationship is a product of time. With this, I completely disagree. I am keenly aware that there were problems, but those problems did not diminish the love itself.

I am clinging to the past. I do have very fond memories of he and I, but I don’t cling. I appreciate.

Carrying a torch for the love I felt for Bryon will taint any new relationships I try to have. I also disagree with this. I am not carrying a torch. I am keeping in touch, on occasion, with my emotional ability to love someone and what that ability has meant to me, as well as what it will mean to me.

I am still in love with him. This one is more difficult. I have seen Bryon in the UK a couple times in the last few years, and we e-mail and chat occasionally. I do still love him, but it is not the passionate love that got kindled in our hearts over a decade ago. It’s a love for someone who I still admire and with whom I’ve shared something amazing.

That final cliché is the most painful to ponder. I moved on from Bryon years ago, now. I knew that would have to happen when we parted ways, despite that knowledge setting everything in me shuddering from grief. Getting over a love like that happens only when you allow the hottest flame of that love to die out. It’s painful and cruel, doubly so because it involves someone else who will have to let that same flame die. The pain today comes from knowing that I have moved on, and the passion of our love is dead, something that I helped to kill out of necessity, but not out of desire.

I will put the letters in a plastic box to keep out the bugs. I do not want them to vanish by vermin. Time alone will eat away at the clarity and brilliancy of my memory, so to keep these physical reminders safe is as important as protecting any history that shapes, steers, grows, transforms, lifts, enlightens, and devastates.

Hey, today is leap day! And though I could be blogging about one of my two recent and very destructive car accidents, my ski trip to Utah, my break-up with Fuz, or how I’m now a producer on Life from the Inside, I’m going to instead waste my currently-precious time to write this:

Hey, today is leap day!

What, Robb already beat me to it? Son of a Beyoncé! I should have known! And I didn’t start blogging until May of 2004, so I don’t have a cool old leap-day post to send you to.

So never mind. Go read Robb’s post. His is more informative and useful anyway. Mine just says:

Hey, today is leap day!

You may be interested to see my friend John Singh in this silly Conan O’Brian ILM sketch:

Tripping the Bridge Fantastic

Yes, this is Fuz. While it would be unfair for me to partially blame him for my lack of posts lately, it’s true. Which, I suppose, means that it would not be unfair at all.Every single time I’ve started a new romance, I’ve forgotten what happens: you lose time! In this case, as I grow to love Fuz more each day, I am losing more time than usual. We are together often, ever since we met in February, and when I’m with him, the last thing I want to be doing is posting to my blog. It simply means that I need to blog more at work. I’m sure they will be amenable to this arrangement.

Fuzzy Hugg

One thing I like about Fuz is he’s capable of socializing and being fun and silly. It’s hard to find someone like that whom you don’t also want to strangle out of annoyance.

Robb and Fuz and Me and Strangulation

Fuz and I just got back from a weekend in Palm Springs. It was wonderful. I’m used to going away with boyfriends for a weekend and fighting most of the time. This was the complete opposite of that, whatever that means. Oh, I think I know what that means. Er, never mind. None of your business.

Reservoir Puppies

These pictures are from a trip we took to Disneyland with friends from Life from the Inside. (What’s Life from the Inside? Oh, you’re just being funny. Ha ha ha.) David Beall is the magnificent picturographer. Thanks to him for letting me steal them!

Golden Hour

That I can recall, I have received two phone calls from my mother that, thanks to surrounding events, had me panicking in the seconds between the “Hello?” and the moment I was finally told what the call was about.

The first call was some years ago. I had just gotten back from Vegas with my boss. We’d been there to do one of our A/V events, and my folks just happened to be staying there. They delayed their departure for one day so they could watch me do my job, which, even to this day, is not easy to explain to people. Upon leaving, my boss and I drove back to L.A., and my folks drove back to Colorado, planning to stop in Mesquite overnight.

Soon after I got back to the office, my cell phone rang. It was my mom, hysterical. Hysterical. This was the first panic.

Days before, my sister’s husband had told her he wanted a divorce. It was horrible. She was sad and depressed, as were we all, I think. I remember getting her call about it. I was driving into work, and when she told me, I almost literally burst into tears. It was a sight, I’m sure, me driving on the 101, crying and talking into my headset, trying to pay attention to traffic, which suddenly was the least important thing in the world.

So I panicked when I got my mom’s hysterical call post-Vegas. My mind went to all kinds of horrible places. Was my sister okay? Had something happened? I couldn’t understand my mom. She was incoherent. Panic. I finally had to yell at my mom to shut up (yes, I think I actually said that!) and tell me what happened, and once she calmed down, she told me some… rather excellent news. Very excellent news, in fact. News that I have promised not to write about on my website. Bummer, because it’s a doozy!

First panic unjustified.

Yesterday, my sister went in for gallbladder surgery. My parents are in Nashville now. They got to spend some time with sis on her boat, then helped her with all the logistics of the surgery. Everything went well, and my sister returned home, out of it thanks to the pain killers.

This morning, not long after 6:00, my iPhone rang with the new old-fashioned phone ringtone I’d just assigned to my family. Odd timing. Fuz had already gotten up to get ready for work, so I was already partly awake.

I poured out of bed to answer the phone, and the second panic was now starting. Had something happened in the night? Was Laura okay? I answered and my mom was shaken. Not hysterical, but shaken, holding back some tragedy. I could not think of any good reason she’d sound this way, but I had been wrong last time. Maybe this was a good call…? No. The only thing it could be was complications with my sister’s surgery. Full panic time.

I did not have to yell at at my mother or tell her to shut up this time, but I did have to ask her what was wrong.

My sister’s townhouse burned down in the night. (More coverage here.)

My sister got up to use the restroom at 4:00 this morning. Or did she subconsciously sense something? Whatever it was, she noticed an orange glow from downstairs, went to see what it was, and saw her back deck on fire.

Man, I don’t know how she did it, but in her post-surgurey state, my sister ran around, yelling and screaming, to get my folks and her dog awake and out of the house. Then she ran to the connecting townhouses and woke her neighbors. Everyone got out okay, and no one was hurt.

My sister’s house is destroyed. What is worse, beyond losing the home, is all the memories that are gone. The pictures and videos and all those things you can never replace. My folks lost all the stuff they’d brought: clothing and glasses and ID and credit cards and teeth. The things you kind of need.

On the second call this morning, just as I was getting on the 405 to go to work, my mom told me that the hydrant water pressure was so bad, the firemen could not get the fire hoses working properly. Upsetting. But she also got teary telling me about the Red Cross’ help. They gave my family care baskets, a hotel room and car rental for three days, and vouchers to go buy clothing and necessities. I actually get teary thinking about that because I thought we were beyond that kind of aid in today’s America.

At 6 this morning, because my mind was turning to the worst, hearing that everyone was okay actually made me calm. My absolute worst fears had not materialized, and I was immediately relieved for that, even though a different and very surprising tragedy had taken place.

Second panic justified, but, thankfully, not fully.

Robb as Detective Lamberto Cohen

This is Lamberto Cohen, chief detective of missingmajor.com. Yes, websites have detectives. Especially ones important to national security, like missingmajor.com.

I know a little secret about Detective Cohen: He moonlights as an actor! I have proof! Check out this high-quality, high-humor online sitcom, Life from the Inside. Our little detective friend plays Mason Harris, an agoraphobic who has a wacky collection of friends. In fact, a new and wacky episode is up, proving just how wacky Mason’s wacky friends are.

Lamberto is excellent in LFTI, and I wager he’s ready to dump his boring day job helping clueless college-bound or college-already-there kids figure out what they want to do with their lives. Yes, the life of an actor is much more exciting. Glamorous. And rewarding.

Take the plunge, Lamberto! Embrace the risk! You can do it! You can live your dreams!

NOTE: I wrote this on Thursday but did not get a chance to proof it and post it until now. I left all the timings the same.

Fuz, my new boyfriend, found out yesterday that a friend of his died. Ariel and his dad, producer/director Bob Clark, were killed by a drunk driver on the PCH.

Fuz told me this last night, late. This was following a major ordeal trying to get a huge-ass armoire Fuz had bought on Criag’s List up the narrow stairwells of his apartment building, which in turn followed a night of rehearsal on episode 5 of Life from the Inside. It was, overall, a tiring night.

We were eating Apple Jacks and Froot Loops we’d bought that afternoon at Costco. With vanilla Silk. It tasted okay. Fuz said, “I have something to tell you,” which means nothing really good.

It was difficult to know what to do. I was so tired, and this was quite some shocking news. I mostly just remained quiet, expressing my sorrow for him and commenting on what a horrible way that was to have to go. Fuz and Ariel had been trying to get together for a while to have dinner, but could never make the time, and were finally going to make sure they got together sometime next week. But now it won’t happen.

When I first started working at Disney, I was the receptionist in the foyer of a former warehouse which contained the Home Video I.S. department. I just sat there all day, answering some phones from time to time, greeting the rare visitor, and e-mailing my friends whose cubicles were just inside the door. I still have these friends today: Michelle, Carol, Marcy (who would come on the scene later), and Steve.

Back in those days, it was not unusual for a few of us to tool up the coast several times a summer to spend the day at El Matador beach. Steve and I took just such a trip one weekend day.

The traffic on the PCH was horrible, the kind of non-moving mass I was coming to learn was common in L.A. At one point, I turned to Steve and said, “I hope this is something like an accident. If I’m waiting in this kind of traffic, it better be for a good reason.”

Of course, it was a “good” reason. An accident. A horrible one. A completely maimed Mercedes convertible, mostly just a twisted wreck, and some other American car. A big thing. This was in the time before SUV overpopulation, so it was probably a Taurus or something. I can’t recall. Whatever it was, it and the Mercedes had hit each other head-on at high speed.

I felt horrible that I had said what I’d said. An accident like that rarely leaves anyone alive.

The traffic was still snarled many hours later, as we were driving back down the coast. I said nothing except maybe to comment on how incredible it was that one accident could cause so much traffic. Life and smooth traffic are both tenuous in L.A.

Back in the warehouse foyer on Monday, doing something no-doubt time-wasting but ultimately more creative than anything I do these days, one of the I.S. guys came in, someone I chatted with often. That morning, he was morose. I asked him if he was okay. He told me a friend of his had gotten killed in a car accident over the weekend, and he was very upset about it.

Deep down, I knew exactly where this was going. Just as you do now. When I got up my nerve, I asked, as carefully as possible, where the accident had happened. Of course, it was the one Steve and I had seen on the PCH. The I.S. guy told me his friend had been riding in a Mercedes convertible. She had been riding with a guy no one knew.

The I.S. fellow’s emotions were particularly bruised because he hadn’t seen his friend for a while, and they were supposed to have dinner in a couple days. But now it wasn’t going to happen.

The coincidence was quite horrifying. Oh, it was exciting, too, deep down, but in a sickening way.

Steve and I related our story to our friends later that day. I told them that so-and-so actually knew one of the people in the accident. But Carol had one more twist to add to the story.

At the time, Carol had a fiancé named Mike, who had a buddy who worked at a car dealership. Mike’s friend had told Mike that one of the guys at the dealership had been killed in a horrible car accident on the PCH over the weekend. He was in one of the dealership’s Mercedes, and was riding with a woman that none of them knew.

I didn’t tell any of this to Fuz last night, even though it all went through my head while I was shoveling Apple Jacks into my not-really-hungry but bored maw. I also didn’t bring up Amelia’s death last year. I wanted to, just to kind of show that I understood what he was feeling. But a three-way coincidence and a child’s death weren’t really going to be helpful now. I know I can’t really do or say anything useful. I just need to be there for him if he needs me.

As for the now-vanished day trips up the coast, those newbie Angelino salad days long ago made way for a too-busy, same-old-grind lifestyle that keeps us from being more carefree. Maybe that’s what happens as you age and settle. You have to make up for it with more extravagant plans, like the upcoming weekend trip Marcy and Carol and Sven and I are taking to Austin to meet up with Michelle, who now lives in Connecticut. Flying to Texas for three days is our new El Matador beach day. Yet these sorts of get-togethers are still too rare, and I’m not exactly enthused about being aware that one day, every one of us will feel some pain over a loss made more bitter due to procrastination of friendship.

I know, I know… I have not been writing much lately. This can be blamed on several factors:

1. Heavy work on the sitcom. Yes, that’s the first time I’ve linked to it on The Wren Forum. Yes, I intend to add it to my home page. No, I don’t know when.

2. The CCPT benefit, in which I got to play a sneezer, a doctor, and a 19-year-old boy who does not know anything about sex. I am so horribly typecast…

3. Yet another sales meeting, this time with me being more “in charge,” whatever that means.

4. A new boyfriend. Er… man friend. (Thanks for that one, Chuck.) Yes, I’m talkin’ ’bout Fuz, whom some of you have met. He’s great. I have not gushed about him here because I don’t want to jinx anything. I mean, we’re both Piscean actor wannabes. With that pedigree, who can blame me?

So why am I writing today? Well, to provide yet another amusing video for you to watch. Jim Coughlin, with whom I’ve done improv and who was in Food Code, is regarded as one of L.A.’s leading standup comedians. That’s according to a J. D. Powers and Associates poll on the distribution and execution of disaster relief funds in non-hurricane-ready, earthquake-prone southern-Californian states.

See him do a funny bit about feng shui and cockroach birth control. And if you’re following this link far in the future, it will no doubt lead to a page containing more than just one funny snippet for you to enjoy. Or to a 404 page.

I have wonderful, thoughtful friends.

Following the escape of Chococat, I poured my heart out to everyone I knew. It was a trauma. A minor, insignificant trauma, but a trauma nonetheless.

Well, today, in the mail, I get the following note:

Chococat Note

Enclosed: a brand new Chococat bracelet! The note’s P.S. is unnecessary; I do have another, but I needed another one anyway. You know, for the sitcom.

Thanks, Teresa and Min! This is the best surprise!

My parents got a new puppy. My GOD, could anything be any cuter? I have some pics posted over in my gallery. Here’s a sneak peek:

Dad and Tucker Take a Snooze

Let’s ignore the fact that the newest version of WordPress broke my Wren Peeps and Linky Link Links and concentrate on the very, very cute and touching e-mail I got from Eddie and Nathan, Robbyn and Jeremy’s boys.

I always have a great time with all my Colorado friends whenever I get to see them, and now that some kids have sprouted into the picture, it’s made things even more special. Ed and Nate are about the cutest things in the universe (right up there with Cameron and Garrett), and the adventures we have together are certainly (nearly) making up for the fact that I do not have any kids myself.

Here’s what they wrote (smileys here are mere approximations of the smileys I received):

Dear Steve Hat,
I hope you enjoy a picture that I’m going to send in a couple of days to you. I haven’t figured out what yet, but you will get it in a couple days. I’m planning to dig a tunnel to California because I don’t get to see you very much. I could sleep underground and then at day I would come and eat breakfast with you. And then I would go in and do some things while you are at work. Then at night I would come out and eat with you and do some fun things. Could you send me a map of the state and show me where you are in the state? I think we should move to California. Mom says we would miss our friends and family here but I said you are my best friend. Love, your friend, Eddie :sad: :oops: :cry:

Dear Steve Hat,
I wuv you and I wuv you bery much. I hope you have a good trip. Have a great day. Love, your friend, Nathan :-x ;-) 8-O

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Isn’t that just about the cutest thing you’ve ever read?

Now, the Steve Hat thing is not something I can explain. It’s not something I think any of us are able to explain. Eddie, when he was very little, started calling me Steve Hat. I do not know if I happened to be wearing a baseball cap one day and it stuck, or what, but there it is, and now I am Steve Hat. In fact, this last trip, on New Year’s Eve, Eddie divided all of us party revelers into groups. I, of course, was in the Steve Hat group, which also contained Eddie, Nathan, and, for some reason, Darren. Every group had their own style of Happy New Year hat.

A couple nights later, at The Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown Denver (much, much cooler than the ones here in So Cal, but not nearly as cool as it used to be when I was a kid), the ranks of the Steve Hat group were solidified: I was Steve Hat 1, Eddie was Steve Hat 2, Nathan was Steve Hat 3, and Darren was Steve Hat 4. Perhaps the next time I visit, Eddie will have a bandanna color chosen for our gang.

It takes a lot of energy to keep kids engaged. I always love it. I have a flavor of the unwavering energy it takes for parents to raise kids… but only a flavor. Robbyn and Jeremy, Michelle and Alan… I commend you and others. Kids take a lot of work.

I have been counting my time with kids as very special. Here I am, getting on 40, no prospect of a partner in sight, and so no prospect of kids beyond that. I’ve wondered, however cursorily, if I would be able to adopt a kid and raise it myself, kind of like Jay is doing. Could I do that? Would I? The way my life is set up now, with the apartment living and the easing into more acting and, maybe someday, away from Disney, kids might not be a good idea. But I would be very sad if I got through life and never became a father. When I think of never having a kid, I get a twinge of sadness, right there, where twinges of sadness tend to attack.

So I am very grateful and happy that I can be “Uncle Steve” to some of my friends’ kids. Even if it’s only a few days of the year total, being with them is a treat. If I never get to try the joy (and difficulty) of being a parent myself, at least I can get some good kid time by leeching off my friends. Thanks, friends with kids!

Hello, thundering hoards of readers!

Robb has posted some pictures from the 2nd episode shoot of Life from the Inside. I know, you’re just SEETHING with curiosity, aren’t you? What the hell is this? Why won’t I stop teasing you? Oh, why, why, why?

Hello, friends.

You may have heard just a tiny bit about “the project.” Which is called Life from the Inside.

Well, good news: Robb has posted some pictures from LFTI, whose second shoot was this past Sunday. Now you can get an idea of what’s going on. Though not much of an idea because, you see, no one wants to spoil the surprise.

The pics are straight from the video capture, so they are anamorphic. As much as I wish I had lost some weight before shooting, I’m eating Milanos as I type this, so the anamorphic is about as thin as I’ll be for a while.

The first shoot for the Tanya/Robb/Kathy project was today, and it was fookin’ awesome. I so want to talk all about it, but I won’t except to say that it was a fookin’ great day. I can not thank them enough for asking me to be a part of it.

I will also offer this picture, a little teaser of what’s in store.

LFTI Episode 1 Olive Spread

It was my privilege and honor to work with those olives, those pimentos, and that fookin’ great label. Robb’s created many fookin’ amazing labels for the project. Okay, so people got a little testy—in a completely jovial and light-hearted way—when I kept holding up the shoot to make sure my olives and pimentos were all in order. But I assure fookin’ everyone that it will have been worth the fookin’ effort.

Thanks again, guys, and congratulations on today. Here’s to all the fookin’ work to come. It’ll all be worth it.

As I have mentioned, I’ve been a bit too busy to properly post as of late. Yes, it’s “the plays.” What plays? Well, if you want to come see them, we open this weekend. Then you will know what plays. The info is below. I am in the first two, but not in the kids’ show. However, the kids’ show is right before my shows each week, and it sounds like it should be pretty good. So come out earlier and see it.

THE MADWOMAN OF CHAILLOT (FREE!)
Sunday, July 16, 23, and 30
Saturday, August 5, 12, and 19
2:00pm

THIEVES’ CARNIVAL (FREE!)
Saturday, July 15, 22, 29
Sunday, August 6, 13, 20
2:00pm

Kids’ Show: The Poet Who Wouldn’t Be King (also FREE!)
Saturdays and Sundays, July 15-August 20
12:00noon

All plays at Dr. Paul Carlson Memorial Park for FREE
Park is at Braddock Dr. and Motor Ave., south of Culver Blvd. and east of Overland Ave.
Just south of Sony Pictures Studios
Google Map Link (FREE)

Bring a blanket or some chairs, as well as some food to munch on (though there is a concession stand).

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I used to do work typesetting books for a publisher in Boston. That skill has come in handy quite often. I use it in my current job to make the text in presentations look good. I used it to create the program for the above-mentioned plays. And I used it to typeset both Sven’s novel and, most recently, my college friend Matt’s scholarly book.

I haven’t seen Matt’s book yet, but I decided to look for it on Amazon, and there it was. Then, while typing this, I wanted to see if Sven’s book is still on Amazon, and, lo and behold, it is. The typesetting for Matt’s book had to follow very specific style guidelines, so while I am proud of that work, it’s very, very dull to look at. Sven’s book, on the other hand, I am incredibly proud of. I think I did a bang-up job on the look and style of the typesetting.

Sometimes, tooting your own horn feels awfully nice.

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While doing the Amazon research above, I somehow mistyped “amazon” in my Safari address bar, and up popped this funny site: Wealthy Men. And I don’t mean funny ha-ha so much as funny what-the-hell?

Wealthy Men is a dating site for people who simply must have a significant other who makes over $100,000 a year. The site has a “Wealthy Men Verification System” to make sure the job, income, and pictures of each member are accurate. My first look around the site gave me the impression it was for straight guys and straight chicks with lesbian tendencies.

Yes, truly rich men aren’t gay, but truly rich men love it when truly rich women get it on together. Or something. It all made me want to reach for a Moon Pie. (Rich people don’t eat Moon Pies.)

Well, I could not let caste keep me from exploring this more, so I created a profile, lying that I make $100,000–$500,000 per year. (Why didn’t I lie big and say $2M+ per year? Because I do not think big. That’s why I’m a mere plebe.) Once in, I discovered you can put yourself down as straight, gay, or bi. What’s hilarious (and I don’t mean hilarious guffaw-guffaw so much as hilarious not-at-all) is that you can not do a search by sexual preference. Which, to me, is useless. I already fall for the straight guys as it is. I don’t need a bunch of rich straight guys messing with my head!

Aside from all that, it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Guess rich people don’t know how to write engaging profiles, either.

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While I was not a huge fan of Superman Returns, I was very pleased that they used the John Williams themes from the 1978 movie. I have been listening to that original soundtrack, enjoying how complicated but accessible but clever but awesome it is. Sadly, the CD I have was released back in the day when record companies were so cheap (glad to see that’s improved so much, guys!), that formerly double-record soundtrack albums, once brought to CD, were slashed down to fit on a single disc. For years, I never bought the Empire Strikes Back soundtrack on CD because it was missing a lot of music that I used to have on my album. That error was remedied a long time ago (and multiple times, I might add).

The soundtrack for Superman was always the same way. I put off buying the CD version for years because it had been cut way back. Finally, I broke down and bought it so I could at least listen to some of it.

Amazon to the rescue again! Yes, it seems a two-disc CD of the full soundtrack came out a while ago. The slightly flat, tape-hiss-laden version I’ve been listening to on my iPod is out of date; thankfully, the new one has been re-mastered and contains more music than even my double-album set from ’78. Hooray!

I am not going to buy it on Amazon, though. It’s $44. Gulp. I’ll wait ’til I get more credit at Amoeba. Amoeba to the rescue again!

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I really have to go to the bathroom. Thankfully, that will end this useless post.

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Yes, I’m back. And no, I haven’t gone to the bathroom yet. This was simply too odd to not include. It is both funny ha-ha and funny strange:

There are more of these on YouTube, but I haven’t watched any more yet. I simply had to put this up ASAP so I could go to the bathroom.

I just have to pass this one around, like a platter of Loddiswell Avondale:

During the surprising lightning storm last night—as rare and marvelous a sight in Los Angeles as a woman with natural lips and breasts—Robb’s power went out. Unable to use his computer, he decided to write his blog out long-hand on lined notebook paper. It’s a hoot. Go read it now.

It reminded me of that letter I wrote myself from 1990. Robb’s humorous entry, which pokes fun at the kind of notes one would have written back in high school, made me realize how grown-up I was in 1990, a sophomore in college, because my simple smily faces were, thanks to the nascent influence of my higher education, newly infused with social commentary in the form of anti-nuclear protestations. (Don’t forget, the USSR was still around in 1990.)

And for your information, I did not misspell “smiley.” I simply decided to spell it as I used to in elementary school, when I had created my very own troop of smily faces, each with its own stats page in an illustrative guide. That would be something to scan and post, and if I ever wrestle that big box of my ancient drawings from my folks’ place in Grand Junction to my cramped apartment in L.A., I’ll do so.

But in the meantime, go enjoy Robb’s Grade A Fancy Old-Tyme Blog entry.

Walt Disney is constantly called a visionary, so much so that I have become numb to hearing it. I’ve never particularly had any reverence for the man, though I have admired much that he created.

Well, thanks to EPCOT Central, the blog that has nothing to do with the guy whose name I can’t mention, I saw something that got me truly believing that, had he lived even another 10 years, Walt Disney would have impacted the American cultural landscape in much more far-reaching ways.

I’m going to steal that link from Jo— er, Epcot82′s blog, though you can read the post from whence it came here. The link leads to Walt’s purportedly last movie… last movie he was in. (I don’t say “purportedly” because I doubt that it was his last film, I say it because I like to confirm things myself, and I’m not going to go off and research that now because I should be in bed instead of writing this.) Ah, so, the link…

Here it is: Walt’s Last Film [UPDATE: This link no longer works. But the film is available on YouTube. This one is in pieces, but has better audio than the full one. —Oct. 1, 2010]

The movie is Walt announcing and selling Disney World and, mostly, EPCOT, to potential partners in its creation. It’s an astounding, broad vision, the kind of thing no one in their right mind could even begin to dream of today because the world is simply too wrapped up in itself and in money to allow for the actual execution of such a vision. Not that it wasn’t a huge endeavor in 1967, but if you think about how expensive and slow it is today to even get a stupid, cheap block of condos up, imagine trying to create an entire city. In 2006, it’d be impossible.

The movie is 24 minutes, but incredibly engaging. First, there’s the dated announcer and pace of the film. A movie like this would, today, be no more than 9 minutes long, contain more fancy effects and editing than content, and ask more questions than it answers (to, you see, engage the audience!). So the luxurious but non-wasteful meandering of the movie is worth seeing. But once the film gets past the history of Disneyland and a bunch of stats and puffery, it delves into EPCOT. And, holy cow, if this thing had come to fruition… my God.

Sure, there’s something creepy about a planned society. Certainly, the Stepfordesque Celebration that Disney, the company, finally did end up creating in Florida creeped me out because it was not looking toward the future, but trying to re-create the past. Disney does not own Celebration any more. Were the same fate to befall a planned city with a futuristic vision, disaster might ensue were it left to fall into disrepair. Futuristic dystopias tend to be more frightening than old-fashioned ones. (Here’s one of my favorites: High Rise by J. G. Ballard.) If Disney’s current inability to maintain its properties to the same standards it once held is any kind of indication, an old, worn EPCOT would be a depressing tragedy. Such neglect would be entirely assured had Disney sold the city off at some point.

Imagine, however, what might have happened if EPCOT had been created to Walt’s standards. Even if the city was destined to fall into decay 30 years later, a brand-new, shiny, successful EPCOT would have created untold bounty in the realm of urban planning. This is where the trickle-down effect really happens. A successful EPCOT city would have brought technologies and styles and concepts to many, many other places around the world. On a smaller scale today, look at what’s happening with Los Angeles: Mixed-use complexes are going up everywhere. Someone thought it would be smart to put living and work and commerce together in the form of condos, apartments, offices, and shops. The Grove is sort of this way, though the mall and the luxury apartments are across the street from each other. Both have been so shockingly successful that a trend has begun. West Hollywood and Glendale have already started their mixed-use projects. Downtown will have its own version, located, almost ironically in this sense, next to the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

The mixed-use idea is not new, just a re-hash of a very, very old practice that fell out long ago. EPCOT, too, is a version of the kind of planned cities envisioned by thinkers from long before Walt’s time. But Walt could have pulled it off. It would have been a huge kick in the pants, a jump-start for convenient, well-planned urban design.

And if EPCOT didn’t succumb to ruin and instead became what Walt described as an ever-evolving, always-updated, modern community? If Disney the company and its partners had stayed the course and continued to coddle and nurture and imbue EPCOT with attention, time, money, creativity, technology, and quality? Holy cow, that’s the thing that gets my mind going. That’s what gripped my imagination. That’s what made me wish that Walt had stayed on a while longer to show us things no one could have imagined. The Disney company today loves to toss around phrases like “beyond imagination,” but it’s all marketing. Walt might have been able to show us that you can keep reaching and challenging the norm.

Whether EPCOT worked or not, and whether or not I can buy into the unsettling notion of a community planned by a company, the fact that Walt had the dream and was poised and ready to go with it is as impressive a vision as I can imagine. I guess Walt was a truly unique visionary after all.