Hell Is A Forever 21

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Hell Is A Forever 21

Your time has come. You head on up to those pearly gates to meet good ole Peter. You boldly state your name, he looks through his list, and examines you gravely.

“I’m sorry, ma’am. You can’t come in. I’m afraid you have to go to…the other place.”

Being the gentleman that he is, he gives you directions. On your journey, you begin to imagine the terrors of the potential scenarios that await you: the classic hellfire, or perhaps an eternity of hard labor? You envision desolation, unimaginable heat, a jail cell. But as you round the corner and meet your fate, you see that it is even worse than you could’ve possibly imagined.

Before you looms a massive Forever 21.

As you enter, for a moment you are fooled.
You think, “I guess I haven’t been so bad! I get to shop the latest trends and pay next to nothing for them! This might be fun!”

You wander into the first cavernous room. It is “festival” themed, with racks of flower prints, fringe, and tie dye surrounding you. It’s not exactly your style, but you think you might find something you like.

But then you take a closer look. The racks have no organization; random clothes are all mixed together. You find a shirt you might like, but alas: XXL. You glance around, thinking there MUST be a rack containing your shirt. You carefully begin to dig and sift, like an archaeologist trying to preserve a bone (because surely there’s an order to this madness, right?? Someone must have a plan here….right?)

You search and search, but it seems that is the ONLY shirt of its kind in this god-forsaken room, despite the fact that the room is enormous. You begin to grow weary. You’ve exhausted this room’s many racks so you wander into the next space: club themed.

Somehow, despite the fact that club attire is not at ALL your style, the devilish pull of the store takes over your body and you find yourself once again desperately sifting through racks, shelves, and corners. You begin to succumb to the feeling that surely there must be something in this room for you to try on. I mean it’s so BIG! There are so many options! In your sheer desperation to get to the dressing room, you grab several items in varying sizes close to yours, thinking “Well, I don’t really like this on the hanger, but maybe it’ll look really great on!”

This happens in room after room. Your arm grows weary from carrying so many items, at which point you get excited all over again. You think you MUST have something you’ll love in there, simply because there are SO many pieces! You begin to search for a dressing room. At this point, you are shaken from your concentrated stupor enough to notice the music: thumping, mind-crushingly repetitive pop music. Each song sounds exactly like the last, except that each NEW song is somehow WORSE than the last. You start to get a throbbing headache, both from the horrendous sounds you’re being forced to listen to and the sheer weight of the clothes you’re carrying.

You round the corner and FINALLY: you see a dressing room sign. You gleefully rush towards it and BAM, you get smacked in the face with the sight of a line so long it makes Disney World on spring break look like amateur hour. You hold back and join the end of the line.

Approximately 3,892 incredibly painful seconds go by as you stand there like a pack mule with your load. You have time to think about each minute of your life, each choice you have made, and wonder how you ended up in a place like this. Your head throbs, your feet ache. And just when you’re about to give up, you get a dressing room.

You walk down a dirty, dingy hallway and go into a small, cramped dressing room. The door’s lock is broken. Fluorescent lighting causes you to jump when you see yourself in the mirror: you look like an evil witch who did meth for 6 years. You take a deep breath and try on the first item. It fits terribly, with itchy fabric that somehow highlights all your worst qualities. Great. So now you’re a FAT evil meth witch. You try on item after item, each piece (like the music) worse than the last, until you’re utterly convinced that you were the most heinous creature to walk the face of the planet. The mirror becomes your biggest enemy.

And then: a tiny light at the end of the tunnel. An item that you normally wouldn’t think twice about: it’s plain, boring even. But it doesn’t make you look as bad as the others! Comparatively, you’ve never looked better and…look at that! Only $6.49, what a steal! Relieved your efforts were not for naught and energized by your “find”, you dump all of the other clothes with the pained woman manning the dressing room and find your way back through the maze of the store to the checkout. Hardly believing your bleary eyes, you are stopped in your tracks at the sight of (you guessed it!) another line longer than the Amazon river.

Brain about to pulse out of your head, with no self esteem left to give this terrible place, you decide maybe you should look around at the rooms you missed until the line dies down. You wander aimlessly into a room with western attire. And then one with workout clothes. And one with bathing suits.

…And you do this for the rest of eternity. Because hell is a Forever 21.

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Do The Time Warp.

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Inexplicably, when I was a wee lil child, my dad decided to teach me how to do The Time Warp. For those of you who don’t know (shame on you), The Time Warp is a dance from the cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show. This one-of-a-Kind movie musical features a sweet transvestite, a Frankenstein (of sorts…) and more sex jokes than you can count.

Just the perfect soundtrack for a 4 year old!

To be fair, he only ever let me listen to The Time Warp and I couldn’t understand what they were saying anyway. See below to understand fully.

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Time Warp Video Click Here

Naturally, it became my favorite pastime. We’d put on the record (yes, the vinyl record) and dance like the fools that we were (and still are.)

As I got older, we Time Warped less and less. All but stopped, even, until one night my junior year of high school. I was studying for an AP exam I was positive I was going to fail, sobbing into my notes out of frustration, exhaustion, and teenage melodrama. All of a sudden, from my second floor bedroom, I heard the faintest of tunes rocking up the stairs.

Could it be?

It got a little louder, that old favorite tune of mine. I couldn’t help but smile. I crept down the stairs as the volume got turned up further and further (it was LITERALLY shaking the house) and couldn’t help but laugh. I peered around the corner to see my amazing, ridiculous father doing The Time Warp with total abandon in the middle of our living room. Exam forgotten, we danced our hearts out, singing along at the top of our lungs, waking up the neighborhood and just generally looking like total loons. By the end I was out of breath and out of worries.

Today was a terrible day at work. I had people yelling and running around and putting pressure on me over the most absurd things (“go to CVS and get the CEO’s daughter sprinkles for her ice cream party!!!”…yeah. I’m serious.)

Feeling beaten down, I walked out of work with my head hung low and opened Spotify on my phone. I was looking for music that matched my downtrodden mood when what to mywondering eyes did appear but the Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack.

I did it. I put The Time Warp on and strutted down the street, giddy from the memories this song summons and the sheer lack of care that inevitably comes along with it. I literally Time Warped back to good times and not caring about sprinkles or expense reports or interviews.

Find your Time Warp. Blast it right now, no matter where you are or how stupid you look doing it. I dare you.

 I bet you’ll feel like a new person afterwards.

Stirring the Pot…A Rising Tide Lifts All Ships

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10 PM Easter Sunday, I’m lying in bed with a book on my chest.  My mind about to punch out for the evening jars when the phone rings.

“Hello”

“Hhhhhhi Daddy”

“What’s the matter kid?”  I know when my daughter says the word “Hi” in just that way, that Mission Control has to come up to high alert; fast.

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“My Toilet is backed up and when I flush the water is coming right to the top of the bowl and I am scared it is going to overflow.”

And all I can think of is the old cliché, “A rising tide lifts all shits.”

Being as she is on the top floor walk up of her building and it is Sunday night, I can’t help but think how I might feel, were I her neighbor in the apartment below and knew a real nasty storm was a brewin’ above.

“You need to get a plunger, NOW.”

“What’s a plunger?”

Whilst never setting the phone down, she finds the plunger.  Plunger in hand and on the ready, I give her the three step plan for maximum impact with minimal splash.

As she is attempting to thread the gauntlet I hear sounds of howling laughter, utter horror, and  reflexive gagging.  After a minute or so of running commentary, it becomes clear she’s accomplishing little but stirring the pot.  I should have realized earlier that trying to plunge a toilet while talking with a phone to one’s ear increases drag and reduces the plunging coefficient by at least 50%.

In my calmest voice I say, “Kid, hang up the phone, use both hands, and txt. me after the deal goes down.  We hang up.

Problem solved within 30 seconds.

Upon receipt of the txt three things occurred to me

  1. Funny how the phone always seems to get in the way of getting things done.
  2. The greatest gifts a father can give to his children are, time, knowledge, and a sturdy plunger.
  3. For once I wasn’t the guy with the plunger.

God, thank you for your son, my children and for letting me be a dad.

Why was i such a ________ in high school?

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I am sure there are plenty of folks who might ask, “why are you such a ________ now?”  Work in progress maybe?

I recently participated in a flash reunion of my high school class.   As we  are in an “off” reunion year, someone had the idea to see if there was interest in drinks over the holidays.  So we hit the social media button, and poof, we were able to get the word out to a good chunk of our classmates.

Of the 185 or so members of the class of (it really doesn’t matter what year it was), we had a showing of about 15 folks.  Not bad I suppose for a rainy, busy, bustling holiday evening.  It was a nice, time, very laid back, with all the angst of high school long swept away.  Well at least it was for me.

After I got home, I reflected upon some of the conversations I had with my former schoolmates, some of whom I likely never spoke with in high school.  Lamenting in my youth, I did not get to know some amazing folks.

And I am grateful for occasions to re-meet them.

Now this blog (or at least this particular posting) is not intended to be a confessional or self-expose of the __________ I was in high school.   Merely an opportunity to reflect.

The “_____________” is for all of us really.  We all have our own stories.  Our own adjectives.  Our own insecurities. We all suffered the many paper cuts of our youth.  And with the exception of a few friends lost along the way; we all grew up.

I would like to say thanks to the class of _______(insert your year).   The years enable us to replace the goggles and blinders of the _________s we were in high school for clear vision of what we are today.

What do a cake, a booger, a goat, a tourist, 5 dogs and corn have in common?

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Today, I have lived in New York City for exactly one year. To celebrate, I spent the day thinking about some of the most delightfully amusing and bizarre moments of my time in this city. They are many and varied, but each one has given me enough pause to physically write them down so I can look back at them later and laugh.

1.  An entire birthday cake smashed in the middle of the sidewalk.

A classic. Blue frosting and cake pieces were splattered all over the sidwalk and the walls of nearby buildings like some sad (but delicious) crime scene. I like to imagine the scenarios in which this happened, including but not limited to:

  • “Mommy, can I carry the cake for Grandma home?!”
  • A pigeon frantically flying out of nowhere, causing the carrier of the dessert to fling it in defense and terror (which is what would happen if I were the person)
  • Getting a “Dear John” text from the intended cake recipient mid-walk home and smashing it on the sidewalk as revenge
  • The bottom of the cake box falling out unexpectedly (admittedly the most likely scenario)

 

2.  A man picking his nose while he rides a delivery bike in the 24 degree weather.

This is perplexing on many levels to me. First of all, the amount of coordination and concentration that likely went into the excavation of the booger in question is applaudable. Riding a bike with one hand amidst New York City traffic is also worthy of a gold star. But braving the cold and wind mid-winter on a bike is the craziest part about this one. I am also revolted by the fact that said man was also (at some point) handling someone’s food. I dined in for the next month and a half.

3.  A tourist on the street (mid-day, totally sober) saying “Which way is     straight?”

Honey if you don’t know that, there’s no hope for you.

4.   A butcher happily pushing a shopping cart containing the full body    of a dead goat down the street.

Did I mention this was at 7:30AM? On a Monday? What a way to start the week.

My question is…where the hell was he taking it? Out on a nice stroll around the neighborhood? Did the goat want to see the sights? Enjoy the summer sunshine?

Or does the butcher home-deliver? You hear a ding-dong, open the door, and see a nice…side of dried goat??

5.  A woman walking down the street in a enormous neon pink sweatshirt and giant cat eye sunglasses. Beaming gleefully.

With 5 dogs.

Weiner dogs, to be exact.

In matching hot pink sweatshirts.

Two of whom are walking on leashes.

Three of whom she has strapped to her chest in a baby carrier, legs and heads lolling about.

6.  Last but not least, my very favorite thing I have seen in New York City is this:

A teeny TINY 85 year old woman pushing a baby stroller FULL of corn.

I have so many questions for this adorable old woman. Most of which I had to bite my tongue to keep from blurting out as I passed her by.

Why do you need so much corn, ma’am?

Was there a sale? Because if so, I’d like to jump on it.

Did you know about the sale and brought the baby stroller in anticipation?

Or was there a baby in the stroller who you are now forcing to walk?

Perhaps you make corn husk dolls?

Did you buy one ear of corn for every year you’ve been alive?

Are you going to eat it all yourself?

Have you heard about the dried goat guy cuz I think you two would be friends?

The list goes on and on….

Bottom line is, New York is full of crazy, wonderful weirdos. And after a year, I can state with confidence I fit right in.

So You Wanna Make Movies? The 12 Step Program.

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Dear Student Filmmakers,

First off, allow me to say as a general note that I adore your ambition. As someone pursuing a similarly tough road, I know the struggle! It’s tough to be a fish swimming upstream. So many of you have incredible talent and promise, so much ambition and passion.RG_London_1985

Which is why I feel compelled to ask you WHY you MUST insist upon doing every single thing I am about to mention!! I read your posts advertising roles in your films for actors, I submit for your projects! I am NOT making these things up and I am completely baffled by every single one of them. STOP IT ALREADY! For the love of all things bright and beautiful, desist immediately. Listen up, pay attention, here we go.

  1. Calm down with the nudity. I don’t care how “tasteful” you think you’ve written it, I (and every other actor I know) skips right on along every time I see the words “student film” and “nude” in the same sentence. It blows my mind every single time I see a post like this (and I see them A LOT.) I always sit and wonder who the hell is sitting in their dorm room, gleefully writing a nude scene and imagining that actresses everywhere will immediately line up to strip down for them. You are not paying your actors, you are not Martin Scorsese. You don’t even have an EXCUSE, so move along please.
  2. Same goes with the estranged father and/or rape themes. This is no longer an original or moving concept. If I see ONE more student film with the description “emotionally distraught girl of 20 deals with her rocky relationship and turmoil following her rape, while also reconciling with her estranged father” I will scream. Not trying to be insensitive here, but you throwing your characters into terrible situations does not make you an artist. Sorry dude.
  3. Spell check your screenplays. And emails. And anything else in which you need to spell. One slip up is one thing, but if you’re confusing your/you’re, there/they’re/their, AND misspelling every other word, I have no choice but to question your intelligence.
  4. No more sci-fi student films, people! You have no budget. You have no set. You have no CGI. What about that equation adds up to a convincing sci-fi film?! I refuse to be documented in a movie where you’ve built a robot out of cardboard boxes. Next.
  5. Same goes for ghosts.
  6. And car chases with fiery explosions.
  7. No, we cannot come to an audition at 11:16PM tonight and film the project tomorrow. We are not merely sitting around twiddling our thumbs, desperately waiting for the next student film to come around! Think, people. Think.
  8. Do not take a scene or movie that is already famous, change the title and names of characters and expect me to submit for it. I don’t even need to go further with that one.
  9. Just because you’re doing it in black and white doesn’t mean it’s good.
  10. Just because you’re shooting on a fancy camera doesn’t mean it’s good.
  11. Stop describing your characters as “beautiful.” Liiiiike, I don’t know you, I don’t know what you find beautiful! You are also then putting me in the incredibly bizarre situation in which I have to sit there and size up my own beauty. Nope, try again.
  12. Get your shit together. Don’t schedule my audition and then change the time and place 12 times. Don’t show up to “set” without a plan. Don’t blame your laziness on the fact that “films take time”…If I’m ready, you should be too. And I say that with all the sass in the world.

If you follow these basic guidelines, every single actor submitting for you will give you a round of applause, a hug, and a cookie. Please. Make like Nike and just do it.

Sorry, But This Food Tastes Like Shitaki

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Tooth extraction, prescription meds, and a generally twisted sense of humor will do strange things to a blog.

Whilst sitting here half gorked out, not working, and generally feeling sorry for myself, I remembered when I was a kid how they used to sell fake Do Do at Six Flags. It was supposed to look like dog poop, but candidly looked about like what they were serving on cones in their “Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlors” back in the day.

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And then I got to thinking about how the Japanese have this thing for fake food; and how, when I was in Japan many years ago, I couldn’t get over the fact how it looked like crap.  In fact, the plastic displays were often pretty indicative of how the food actually tasted in the restaurants.  The display food was probably no worse than much of the stuff I choked down on my visit there.

Yuuuuuum! You know what on a stick.

Gag Reflex!  Insert your own sound effects here.

Hungry Man

Who the hell put the flash drive in my crab claw?  Now that’s taking a good idea and making it Tony the Tiger, GREAAAAT!.

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Excuse me…waiter…there’s hair in my spaghetti.

Yes, I’d like to order the eight piece bucket.  I don’t care if it’s chicken or not, just make sure it’s fried.

Where in the world did I put my necklace?  I can’t seem to find it anywhere.  Now let me think…I was making breakfast…

One tall stack please.  Butter and extra syrup.  Maple if you have it.

Anyone have a hankie?

Sir, will that be cash or American Express?

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Given the fact I am pretty much ewedsrcrayed in the food department for the next few days, all of these photos are serving as a good appetite suppressant.  It all pretty much looks like shitaki to me.  But maybe it’s the meds.

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