Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Joan and Melissa (Part 2)

So back to Melissa Rivers.

Whenever I watched those awards shows, I'd be filled with a certain amount of sadness. I felt sorry for Melissa, because it seemed that either her mother was pushing her against her will to become a TV personality, or that she was pushing herself because she felt like it was the only way to win mom's approval. Either way, she came across as a sympathetic character -- a nice girl in over her head.

"Celebrity Apprentice" has changed all that. It turns out that in addition to being a no-talent horse-face, Melissa is also a petty, nasty, spoiled little bitch.

Wikipedia perhaps sums up what happened best in its entry for the younger Rivers:

[Melissa] was fired during the episode airing April 26, 2009, in what appeared to be one of the most dramatic and classless exits in the history of The Apprentice.

I hesitate to go into a detailed account of what transpired, first because I'm getting the sense that there's very little interest in this topic among my readers, and second because it's just entirely too tedious.

Fortunately for all of us, E! Online has posted a video. To set this up, all I need to tell you is that the two contestants featured in the clip (besides Joan and Melissa) are Playboy playmate Brande Roderick and professional poker player Annie Duke. Melissa had become convinced that Annie and Brande were conspiring against her (which was actually a paranoid fantasy on her part).

I can't embed the video, but click here to watch it. Enjoy. (Seriously -- you'll be glad you did.)

(While I wait for you to finish watching it, here, for no particular reason, is a photo of my two favorite Evangelical Christians, Heather and Chris Quimby. Never let it be said that this blog doesn't offer something for everyone:)

Praise the Lord.

OK, you done watching the video? CRAZY, RIGHT? Honestly, I don't know that I've ever seen tackier on-camera behavior by a celebrity (again, applying that word loosely). And Joan's isn't much better; I'm not sure saying that all poker players are "worse than white trash" is going to go over so well with her Vegas audiences. Clearly, when it comes to her daughter, Joan loses her usual good sense. But again, it's one thing for Joan Rivers to act like an asshole. She's JOAN FUCKING RIVERS. But who the hell does Melissa think she is acting that way?

Interestingly, the most consistently impressive person on "The Apprentice" is Ivanka Trump. Ivanka actually seems a hell of a lot smarter than her father (who always strikes me as something of an idiot savant), and she takes the show seriously without taking herself seriously. She's articulate, cool, calm and collected.

Also, unlike Melissa, Ivanka is beautiful.

I'm not sure what the moral of that is, other than that once again, God isn't always just. (Apologies to the Quimbys.)

Homo outraged.

Joan and Melissa

"Celebrity Apprentice" is one of those shows I keep watching without any good reason. It's tedious, trite and tired, and most of the "celebrities" on the show (Jesse James? Brande Roderick?) are about as famous as I am. There was something initially fascinating about watching Dennis Rodman, Andrew Dice Clay and Tom Green, three individuals who were once at the very top of their game, struggle to regain some kind of revelance by appearing on this silly reality show competition, but all three were voted off early -- Rodman, for being an incorrigable drunk, Dice and Green for being irritating assholes.

No, my primary reason for tuning in was and continues to be the presence of Joan Rivers.

Saint Joan.

A disclaimer before I say more: Joan Rivers is one of my personal heroes. She became one of the greatest comedy stars of all times against insurmountable odds and has continued to reinvent herself over the decades in spite of some very tough knocks -- including the suicide death of her husband and manager, Edgar Rosenberg, and getting majorly shit on by Johnny Carson (who is not one of my personal heroes).

I've seen Joan perform live three times, and each time she's knocked it out of the park. Yes, she's a bit long in the tooth (and crazy looking from all the surgery), and a lot of her humor is hack, but she's still a genuinely entertaining performer. One night at the Duplex in NYC, I saw her ditch her set and go into 20 minutes of crowd work that would rival that of a comic one-third her age.

Most important, Joan is a truly lovely person. I've spoken to her one-on-one several times, including once when I conducted the pre-interview for her first appearance on Fox News Channel's morning show, "Fox & Friends," for which I was working as an associate producer at the time. Of the dozens of celebrities I pre-interviewed working for F & F , none were warmer or more personable than Joan. (Michelle Lee ran a close second. Kate Jackson was the world's biggest cunt. I can't even go into it here. Another time...)

Miss Jackson... and she's nasty.

On the day of the show, Joan sent word down to the newsroom that she wanted to meet me. No particular reason -- I was just a lowly AP who had interviewed her on the phone. But that's Joan. Two years later, she came back to do another appearance on F & F. I was no longer on the show, having become producer of the 9 a.m. "Fox News Live" hour. One of the production assistants came down from the green room to look for me: "Joan Rivers is asking for you. She wants you to come up and say hi." Truly amazing.

God, was I young.

So given my love and respect for Joan, it pains me, it truly does, to have to finally say to her what no one else will:

Joan it's time to cut the cord from that that no-talent, horse-faced daughter of yours.

Yes, friends, not only is Joan Rivers on "Celebrity Apprentice," but so is Melissa.

Those of you who watch awards shows -- that is those of you who are women or gay men -- are no doubt all too familiar with the void that is Melissa Rivers. For more than a decade, she joined her mother on the red carpet for what is arguably the easiest job in the universe: interviewing celebrities on their way into the Oscars, Emmys and Golden Globes.

That Melissa had zero talent and even less charisma was no surprise. Why would we expect someone to be entertaining just because her mother is entertaining? What was surprising is that through the years, Melissa never got any better. Ten years in, her interviews were still awkward and stilted at best.

"Now you've been nawwwwminated before," she'd bray to an all-too-patient star, "but this time you're just presenting. Does it feel different to you?"

'Please feed me a carrot.'

Oh, shit, I just accidentally published this before I was done. And now all of you who subscribe to my blog via feeds are going to be notified. No time to finish right now, so stay tuned for Part 2.
Homo out for now.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

RIP Beatrice Arthur


A true American original... she will be greatly missed.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tale of the Tapes

At the age of 10, I was part of the world's greatest comedy team. It consisted of myself, my friend Mike and a tape recorder.

While other boys were outside shooting hoops or throwing spirals, we, a drama fag and a music geek, sat holed up in a bedroom for hours on end, recording our little audioplays and laughing ourselves sick.

Now, I'm sure lots of other little boys (and not a few girls) played with tape recorders during this same period in American culture -- after the invention of cheap, lightweight boom boxes and before video killed the radio star. But the difference is, Mike and I were truly, hysterically funny. Our humor was rude, ribald and politically incorrect to a shocking degree. This was no-holds-barred comedy, limited only by our 10-year-old imaginations. We had a devoted audience of two -- ourselves --and we killed every night.
God, I miss those.

Our greatest creation was called "Degenerate Hospital," a parody of the most popular soap on the air at that time. The cast of main characters was as follows:

Dr. Sexfiend
Dr. Wimpy
Nurse Easy
Nurse Tightswalker
Tyrone, the orderly

Shakespeare it was not.

To give you some idea of what we were up to, here's one bit of dialogue I remember:

TYRONE: (voiced by me in horribly offensive Step-and-Fetch-It dialect) Damn, Nurse Tightswalker. Your tits are gettin' smaller every day!

TIGHTSWALKER: (voiced by Mike in a sort of fusty, Margaret Dumont voice) I know, Dearie. I shrink them in the washing machine.

I cannot tell you how funny we thought this was at the time, and I confess that it still makes me giggle all these years later.

I also recall now that anytime Nurse Easy, our slutty femme fatale (voiced by me, of course), entered or exited a scene, Mike did a high hat-cymbal sound effect like "tss-t-t-tss-t-t-tss-t-t-tss..." to emphasize her curvaceous presence.

Drs. Sexfiend and Wimpy's personalities were fairly self-explanatory. Mike was the lecherous Sexfiend, using his regular speaking voice, and I did Wimpy as a sort of Elmer-Fudd-meets-Huckleberry Hound.

The plot escapes me entirely. I know that all the guys wanted to bang Nurse Easy, and that Tyrone was always having to clean up after patient accidents. ("Scuze me, I gots-a go clean up a big pile 'o shit!" was his trademark exit line.) I seem to remember there being a murder committed -- this was a soap opera, after all -- and Mike recalls an interrogation scene in which I, as Dr. Wimpy, say: "Dr. Sexfiend, kindly state your first name," which, for some reason, broke him up completely. Beyond that, my memories, like the tapes themselves, are gone.

Mike and I were not above blatant plagiarism from a variety of sources. We were both devotees of "Mad" magazine, and many of our jokes, including the title of the piece, were ripped directly from those pages. I got the name "Tightswalker" from Valerie Perrine's character, Miss Teschmacher, from the original "Superman" movie. And certainly the rampant sexism and racism we employed in our humor was a product of our white, upper-middle-class, early 80's environment. (Curiously, neither I nor Mike, who was and is as straight as a line, thought to inject any homophobia into "Degenerate Hospital." Even our sissy character, Dr. Wimpy, was a red-blooded hetero.)

For some reason, I was kind of obsessed with her.

But what strikes me most looking back on our little tapes is how fucking creative we were. Mike and I worked entirely without a script or outline, improvising every line and plot development off the top of our heads. Our characters, while little more than cheap stereotypes, had distinct, recognizable voices and personalities. We kept things moving, too. Anytime a scene began to drag, another character would pop in and change direction. And while we often broke character -- bursting into laughter so severe that we'd end up in tears -- the beauty of audiotape was that we could simply stop and re-cue the tape without breaking the flow.

Above all, we were fearless. There was never any thought to what we should or shouldn't say, or of what others might find offensive or silly or simply unfunny. We entertained ourselves, and that was enough.

How I wish I could be that kind of comedian today.

Homo on tape.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Driver's Ed (A Rare Saturday Posting)

When I was 16, I took driver's ed with Mr. Ahearn at Summit High School. Mr. Ahearn was one of the school's gym teachers, and he was uniquely qualified to get behind the wheel with brand-new teenage drivers in that he was one of the most unflappable, mellow individuals on earth. He spoke in low, dulcet tones, standing in front of the class uttering things like: "You're on an icy road... you feel yourself losing control... what are you gonna do? If you slam on the brakes... you're probably gonna die."

Unlike my memories of driving with my father that year -- episodes which invariably ended with his screaming at me and my telling him to fuck off and die -- my afternoons driving with Mr. Ahearn were placid almost to the point of sleepiness. We would drive through the frigid streets of Summit and the surrounding towns in near-silence, the whoosh of the heater in the ramshackle old driver's ed car the only sound. Occasionally Mr. Ahearn would murmur "watch your speed," or "I think you may have hit a dog back there," but for the most part he seemed completely unconcerned with my driving.

However there was one thing about which Mr. Ahearn was nearly passionate: "When you see a red light in the distance," he'd instruct, "ease up on the gas. Let your car naturally slow down. Then, by the time you're at the light, it'll turn green, and you won't have to use the brake."

I don't know why this mattered to him above all else. Perhaps he was tired of getting whiplash from student drivers who slammed on the brakes every time they hit a traffic stop. But for whatever reason, this lesson has stayed with me for 22 years. I still ease up on the gas every time I see a red light in the distance, and I still flash back to those hushed winter afternoons behind the wheel with Mr. Ahearn, watching my speed and looking out for stray dogs.

Homo behind the wheel.

In the next installment... 10-year-old Adam and his friend Mike make filthy comedy tapes.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Grammar Queen

I'm a language snob; I admit it. If people don't speak or write well, I judge them. Harshly.

I inherited this trait from my mother. Phyllis reads about a book a week and has done so since childhood, so she has a frightening vocabulary and a stunning command of grammar. I'm not nearly the reader she is, but my brain is hard-wired for language. Errors jump out at me and jab like tiny needles. I nearly always have to stifle the urge to correct people.

My language snobbery is not something I'm proud of. Judging a person by how well he speaks is as valid as judging him based on his math skills or how well he plays an instrument (two areas in which I am essentially retarded). But I can't help it. It's an involuntary reaction.

I thought about this as I attended training sessions for my job this week. One of the trainers kept using the word "conversate" (sic).

When you conversate with people in the office, you need to always be professional...

And so forth. Each time she said it, I felt my balls tighten. It wasn't just that she didn't know the correct word was "converse." It was that she kept saying "conversate" when "speak" or "talk" or "chat" would have worked just fine. One of the things drilled into my head in J-School and working in TV news was that simple and straightforward is always better. No one in real life ever says "motorist" or "resident" or "evacuee," so it's ridiculous when an anchorman or reporter uses those words.

"Orientate" (sic) is another one that makes me insane. "Between you and I," an over-correction of the worst kind, gives me hives. And at my last job, when the trainer kept pronouncing "asterisk" as "ass-ter-ick," I had to leave the room.

BW worries about my language issues. First of all, because he doesn't want people to think I'm a pissy little bitch, and secondly, because he thinks I'm going to similarly judge him for his language foibles. In truth, BW speaks and writes very well. The only mistake he consistently makes that I can't help correcting is in his pronunciation of "nuclear." Like our former esteemed President, my boyfriend says, "NOO-cyu-lur." He tells me this is a common pronunciation for members of the military.

I have never understood this error. The word is pronounced exactly as it's spelled. And I can't help feeling like the mispronunciation is intentional. Like if you're a proud, patriotic ass-whuppin' Republican redneck, then by God you're gonna say "NOO-cyu-lur," not like those candy-assed liberal Democrat pussies with their fancy pronunciations. (For the record, BW leans left, as I do. Which is not to say he hangs to the left. But I digress.)

BW's concerns notwithstanding, some of my linguistic habits are rubbing off on him. We were watching Bravo's "Make Me A Supermodel" the other day, and he exclaimed, "That gown is absolutely hideous."

Something tells me they don't conversate that way in the military.

Homo snobby.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

My New Look

So I got tired of staring at a black screen and updated the look of this blog a bit.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sunset at Blacks Beach: A Photo-Blog

But first, a bit of happy news:
Vermont Legislature Legalizes Gay Marriage

A bit of sad news:
NBC Effectively Cancels "Kings"

And a bit of news no one cares about:
Fake Lesbian Who Used to Be An Actress Breaks Up With Real Lesbian DJ

And now, the photos:

BW watches as the sun begins to dip.

Adam tries not to fall backwards off a cliff.

A naked Bigfoot sighting! (Blacks is a nude beach.)

Having fun with different shutter speeds.

Greetings from San Diego; Wish you were here.

Awww... pretty!

Going... going...

All gone.

Homo awed.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Catching Up

OK, I'm back. And I apologize -- not just to you, my readers, but to myself. To go this long without posting a blog is a form of self-abuse because all my creative muscles atrophy, and I become a zombie, capable only of eating, sleeping, going to the gym and watching countless hours of reality TV.

There is no real excuse for my absence except that I've been working at a new full-time job for the past month. It's non-comedy related -- non-creative in any way, actually. In fact it's pretty mind-numbing altogether, and it occupies nearly all my waking hours. But I am grateful to have found ANY job given the current economy, especially here in California. Truly, utterly grateful. Also on the plus side, my job requires that I occasionally drive a golf cart. And so there are times when I'll be doing so and I think to myself, "I can't believe I'm driving a golf cart through the streets of suburban San Diego. How did this become my life?"

As for the comedy... it's more or less over for now. And I emphasize for now because I believe I'll go back to it if and when time and opportunity allow. But my priorities have shifted. I am building a life with a wonderful man and doing what I must to stay afloat economically, just as the rest of America is.

That said, if anyone out there wants to offer me my own TV show, I still wouldn't say "No."

It's funny: Now that it's been weeks since I performed or blogged, I catch myself writing material in my head without even trying. (This is what used to happen in the years before I ever tried stand-up.) I don't know if it's necessarily GOOD material, but it's material. Like I was watching "Liza With a Z" (which is both awesome and incredibly disturbing) on one of the movie channels the other day, and I thought:

"You know, lesbians must love Liza Minnelli. Otherwise, why would they all have her haircut?"

Seriously: That's some pretty dykey hair.

As I write this, I am at work and being interrupted every 30 seconds (this is not the kind of job with a lot of down time), so I'm not sure how long this post is going to be. Nevertheless, moving on...

I do feel particularly blessed to be living where I am right now. The erstwhile iPod thief notwithstanding, it's a truly lovely home in a truly lovely city. I took some photos:

The view from our balcony. Everyone says it looks like "Melrose Place."

On the way back from the pool. Stupidly, I forgot to take a picture of the pool.

The yellow rosebush I planted on the balcony. I have officially become an old queen.

Our living room, as decorated by Catwoman. (Speaking of old queens.)

My favorite part of the kitchen.

Even Carmen has her own underground parking spot!

Pretty sweet, right? And the irony is, people in San Diego love to bitch about how expensive it is to live here. My living expenses are a fourth of what they are in New York, and I'm living in a friggin' palace, comparatively. (Did I mention the hot tub?)

A question for any of you cyber-geeks reading this: How can I move photos around this page without fucking up all my spacing? I use a PC, and every time I upload a photo to the blog post, it appears at the top of the page, and then I have to drag it to where I want it. Doing so messes up all the text -- creating extra lines of space. Then, when I backspace to close all the gaps, I somehow permanently delete all the hard returns and can't get them back. The result is that my blog often appears as a giant run-on sentence. This is a MAJOR pain in the ass for me. And the few times I've used BW's Apple, it doesn't happen, because on the Apple version one can cut and paste the photo rather than dragging it. Is the Blogger program simply incompatible with PCs? Help me, Obie Wan!

Some quick takes on what's on TV these days:

Favorite new show: "Kings" on NBC. Love it. Love everything about it. Have no idea what's going on half the time and don't care. It's sexy and weird and totally intriguing, and there's a hot, closeted gay prince on it. Plus, it's the only show BW and I both enjoy and is thus very important to the continued success of our relationship. Therefore, please tune in.

Homoerotica? You're soaking in it.
Still lovin' more than life: "Friday Night Lights." I can't fathom how this show remains on the air when there are exactly three people in the world who watch it: Myself and my dear friends Amy and Seth. But regardless, this season is the best one yet. After Coach and Tami discover Julie's been having sex with Saracen and then Tami has her mother-daughter talk with Julie and starts crying and Julie says, "Why are you crying?," and Tami says, "Because I wanted you to WAIT!"... well, I don't mind telling you all that I started bawling like the little girl that I am. Try watching it and then tell me you don't do the same.
Sort of over it: "American Idol." Yes, I'll continue watching it til the bitter end, but it just feels tired. How many times can we hear the judges talk about song choice before it becomes white noise? And I never thought anyone could make Paula more likable, but Cara DiaWhatsHerFace is somehow accomplishing it. It's obvious that gay chorus boy Adam Lambert will be crowned this year's idol, and yes, he deserves it, but... I don't know, I'm just over it.
Still, "Idol" is not nearly as tiresome as "Hell's Kitchen." Every single episode goes the same way: The chefs totally fuck up dinner service (making the same dishes -- risotto, beef wellington, and something called John Dory), and then Chef Ramsey loses his shit. Honestly, there is no variation to this pattern, and I for one am sick of it. (I do like it when he calls the women "stupid cows," though, just because no American would ever dare.)
That's all folks. I could go on -- it feels good to write again. But I can't deal with the constant work interruptions anymore. Love and good wishes to all, and I'll be back again as soon as I'm able.
Homo employed.