Monday, June 26, 2017

MORNING PSYCHO JOE

And I drink decaf, for God's sakes.
I've given folks plenty of reasons to question my mental stability, but now it's been proven by my breakfast routine:




Such a finding opens up a can of (paper-filtered) worms. Can Yuban be considered a murder accomplice? Would a trial for a crime committed while drinking Irish cream-flavored coffee be held in The Hague? Does slurping a Venti automatically carry a longer sentence than a Grande?

With researchers named Christina Sagioglou and Tobias Greitemeyer, I figured this was one of those let's-see-who'll-publish-this-nonsense hoax. Even the official title, "Individual differences in bitter taste preferences are associated with antisocial personality traits" sounded so serious as to be a gag. 

There's your proof, in black & white.
But no, it's for real, alright, running 24 pages (minus footnotes and pastry). Chris and Toby surveyed 500 people via Amazon Market Turk, which is described as "an online market labor marketplace", but is actually one step above indentured servitude. People completing the survey were paid 60 cents, which is comparable to most "jobs" offered there. 

What kind of person is willing to spend an hour filling out a survey for 60 cents? Probably someone pissed off enough that he needs the 60 cents so badly that he could just kill someone. So already the survey is skewed.

If only she noticed the coffee pot in the check-in area.
Now before you organic chamomile drinkers get on your vegetarian high horse, the study also finds that psychos enjoy radishes, celery, beer and tonic water, too. Had my wife known the reason behind my dietary preferences, I'd still be single, and she'd be married to the yoga instructor down the block.

Luckily, I have a few things on my side. If I'm breakfasting at a restaurant, I'll put cream or half & half in my coffee. I rarely buy celery, but only because there are so many pieces in a bunch that half of them wind up in the composting bag in our freezer. And as I think of it, I drink seltzer, not tonic, water. These caveats are enough for a good lawyer to get me probation. 

I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him.
And being a coffee drinker, I would throw him.
And if my mouthpiece were really on the ball, he'd explain to the judge that the study "confirms" that "Bitter taste preferences most robustly predict everyday sadism". I don't prefer bitter foods -- I simply enjoy flavors that shout, rather than whisper. Even if they're hot enough to make me shout. If anything, this smacks of masochism.

However, I admit to feeling an affinity for the phrase "everyday sadism", which will be the title of my forthcoming memoir.  It conjures up images of me examining my plantar fasciitis at the kitchen table, making threatening gestures at noisy children, and forcing my wife to watch any 1940s B-movie populated with fedora-clad yeggs and tawdry molls.

Does that make me a psycho? Let's talk about it over a cup of coffee. My treat. 

                                                         **************

Saturday, June 24, 2017

NO SEX IS GREAT SEX

Actually, it defied simple logic.
In the classic novel-turned-play-turned-opera-turned-movie Peter Ibbetson, the title character and his childhood sweetheart are separated due to circumstances beyond their control, yet visit each other in their dreams to continue their love affair until death.

A bittersweet concept, is it not? One that appeals to dreamy-eyed teenage girls, women tired of the Neanderthals they've been married to for 25 years, and saps like me who entertain the ridiculous notion that the supernatural is better than the real thing.

Wait, did I say "supernatural"? As in, "Impossible, I tell you!"? Well, it appears that I'm all washed-up as far as what we're supposedly capable of. And all it takes is a little training in astral projection. Gentlemen, start your cosmic engines!

Wikipedia describes astral projection as a willful out-of-body experience (OBE), a supposed form of telepathy, that assumes the existence of a soul or consciousness called an "astral body" that is separate from the physical body and capable of travelling outside of it throughout the universe. 

I predict a major jolt awake any second.
Ever have the feeling, when falling asleep, that you're drifting away, only to be jolted awake? I mean, other than when your spouse is snoring or elbows you for snoring.

Well, guess what. You've been having astral projection without realizing it. That's why the call it "falling asleep", because it often feels like you're falling, get it? Actually, that's not the real reason, but it's something I thought of first.

But now it's possible to take it one step further by having astral sex: sex without physical contact.

I hesitate to take sex advice from someone looks like
the lead character of  Better Call Saul.
Great! This is just what every guy has been dreading -- yet another way (i.e., excuse) for a woman to make no sex sound great. And we have a man to thank for it: Steve G. Jones, whose career as a $25,000-per-session hypnotherapist has apparently convinced people that no-sex sex is a good thing.

As related by the New York PostThe astral sex guru believes that when two people are having out-of-body sex, the couple isn’t actually having a physically intimate moment.

"OK, what if we meet up near Jupiter, would that
be better for you?"
In other words, your souls, rather than the usual suspects, are penetrated, allowing for couples to experience "a deeper connection." 

Ask your average guy if "a deeper connection" is what they're looking for in sex. Most likely, they'll answer something like, "I've got your deeper connection right here, heh heh!"

Attract everything but sex.


As Jones explains, the welcome side effects are “no procreation, no STDs and no pregnancy.” This must be the first paranormal activity that lines up with the GOP platform: No sex, no birth control, no fun.

It may or may not be a coincidence that nowhere on Steve G. Jones' website or Wikipedia entry is there any mention of a significant other, leading me to believe that he wants everybody else to know what celibacy is like. There's gotta be better ways than putting that 25-thou per hour session money to good use. And I mean here on earth.

                                                        ***********************


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

PASSING OUT

If I look fed up, it's because I know that I have to eventually return
to the dumpster fire known as real life.
While my wife and I were hiking through Iceland last week -- and isn't that a smug way to start a sentence? -- I made sure to hit the Drudge Report every day just to make sure that the world was still hurtling swiftly to its inevitable demise.

Was I disappointed? Not in the least! Attempted assassination of a Congressman. A deadly yet totally preventable high-rise fire in London. An outbreak of Legionnaires Disease in New York's Upper East Side. Further missile shenanigans from North Korea. And there must have been a terrorist attack or two in there somewhere.

But from my vantage point, the creepiest thing happened last night, just 48 hours after arriving home. While perusing my Kindle Fire, I received a pop-up message informing me that someone in Reno, Nevada was trying to log into my email account.

This won't do my defense any good.
A divorce lawyer trolling for damning evidence of an affair to present to my wife, perhaps? Your honor, my client is suing TCM for alienation of her husband's affections by running Wheeler & Woolsey comedies. It's all there, right in their monthly newsletters! 

I prefer to think that I'm more worthy of being a target of people I've slammed on this blog. Obama, Trump, Putin, Mayor de Blasio -- all of them and more have felt the sting of my keyboard,  the slash of my syntax, the bite of my bytes. 

No matter. The pop-up advised me to change not just my email password, but all the others as well -- a daunting and depressing task, because it means trying to remember a half-dozen or so sets of absurd collection of words, numbers, and punctuation marks that are supposedly secure. Because, as the "experts" warn, you shouldn't write them down anywhere. 

I'm glad he's having fun.
Really? I can't even remember today's date. (Quick, can you?) Besides, other "experts" warn that a determined hacker can break any codes. You can download software to store your passwords, which is great -- right up to the moment someone hacks into your computer because they figured out your password.

Most computers offer to remember your passwords as you sign in to protected sites. That's quite handy, and saves you the problem of remembering anything more complicated than the name of your cat. But when your laptop crashes and has to be reset to year zero, there goes your open sesame.

Ready to take flight again.
And so this morning, I went through the unenviable task of changing all my passwords to ridiculous strings of letters and the like, hoping that finally, this time I'll be protected from nefarious bandits who want to do me harm, or at least comb through my emails in search of -- I dunno. More passwords? It makes me want to return to Reykjavik, where I can forget all this nonsense, and kick back with another glass of Iceland's legendary Gull Lager Beer.

Gull Lager Beer... Say, that sounds like a good password!
                                               
                                          *********************

Friday, June 9, 2017

LOWER END OF THE SPECTRUM, PT. 2

The other day, I passed by a dog-walker talking on her phone. She was more than a little irritated at whoever she was speaking to. Her exact words were, "The problem isn't the problem. You're the problem!"

I rolled that diktat around my head for a while, wondering just what it meant. Yesterday, my cable company explained it to me in a way that I hadn't expected.


Take a number, Jim.
I was planning on watching the Comey hearing on my Kindle Fire while doing a major housecleaning, carrying the tablet around from bathroom to bedroom to kitchen. Politics, scrubbing the toilet, collecting the trash -- it's all the same.


If only Spectrum Cable had been so agreeable. Tapping the app on my Kindle Fire (would that have made sense to you a decade ago?) brought me to a warning that I was unable to watch MSNBC at that time, and to return later.

I tried CNN. Fox News. The major networks, the affiliates, stations I had never heard of, let alone watched -- every channel gave me the same message. You are unable to access this channel at the present time. Please try again later.

It was a rather strange thing. This had never happened before. And it's not like the cable service was out. TV, Wi-Fi, and phone all worked fine. Only the app was inapplicable. And it all came down to two words: Market Place.


Uh, to the poorhouse?
See, while cable companies are thrilled to offer their customers a handy app for their tablets, they prefer you watch TV on TV. Because the more you watch streaming TV on another device, the more you'll think What am I paying this greedy cable company $150 a month for? I can get most of my channels on streaming services for 35 bucks!

Spectrum cut its app service for several hours knowing that there'd be a big audience for the Comey show. Once it was over, it returned fresh and clean. Just their way of saying You wanna watch this? You're going to have to sit down in front that big screen in your living room. 

And good luck trying to get phone and internet without cable for less than what you're paying now for all three. Spectrum's cable has become a noose.

But Spectrum isn't the problem; I'm the problem for wanting to watch TV on whatever device I want at any given time.

Or, to put it presidentially: TV is a friend. I hope you let this tablet thing go. 

                                                    *****************

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

STRICTLY ON BACKGROUND, PT. 11: GOTHAM

If you're a reader of the Drudge Report, you'll have noticed that New York is regularly referred to as "CITY OF HATE". God knows how it would describe Gotham City, which recently was overrun with a virus that drives people mad, a terrorist bombing of its railroad station, and a bunch of criminals with names like Penguin, Riddler, and Joker. Kind of makes the occasional mugging of Manhattan's senior citizens look positively fetching.

My first visit to Gotham City was to the aforementioned doomed railroad station, conveniently located at the Atlantic Avenue Station on the Q line, and around the corner from the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I had unknowingly dressed in perfect Gotham attire -- my retro trench coat and saddle shoes. Home at last!

There were at least 150 other people, dressed in clothing ranging from every decade from the '40s forward, so I knew that my screen time would be limited to something around zero. Therefore, I was happy to get called back the following week, this time to the Gotham City Bank. Knowing what the look required, I grabbed my leather jacket, fedora, scarf, a wide necktie, baggy woolen pants, the wingtip shoes, and set off for work. The only thing that would have made it complete was if the subway had cost five cents instead of $2.75.

This time, my destination was somewhere in Williamsburg, in a neighborhood about as Orthodox an area as you'll find in America. All the advertisements and business awnings were in Hebrew, and the residents were dressed in their religious finery. They probably regarded me as I did them: What year is this?


On my way to purchase War Bonds before
attending a broadcast of
The Fred Allen Show.
There was, you see, absolutely nothing about me that appeared contemporary -- even my eyeglasses were of a different era. The Gotham wardrobe people loved it all, but threw in a sweater to fill out my look. The only way you'd know from my selfie (left) that it was 2017 was that it was, y'know, a selfie.

The set was a genuine (now-shuttered) bank, the air pumped with dust to give it something of a film noir ambiance. We were taken to our spots and given instructions. I was placed at a tall desk, where the p.a. set the scene.

Gotham City, I was told, had been infected by a virus that drives people mad. I was to fill out a withdrawal slip, then go to a specific teller, with whom I was going to have an animated (mimed) conversation. I was to demand all my money, while he explained there was nothing he could do. The conversation would grow more heated, as I pointed out the window at the crazies running wild on the streets. A little old lady was going to pull a gun on another teller, forcing everyone to take cover.

While I calmly nodded, inside I went into total panic mode: You mean, you want me to actUp until now, I was always part of a crowd, usually doing nothing more than looking at the action or, in a real stretch, walking down the street.

Here, I was essentially on my own, and, more frightening, doing stuff. Didn't they know I was just a human prop? 


Fortunately, there was no dialogue to learn; too, I was familiar with the concept of filling out withdrawal slips and taking them to tellers, even if I was more used to using ATMs. 

For the first time since doing this work, I was doing something of a solo act. It didn't matter that I was looking down, or that I wasn't really a key element of the scene. I just knew that I was there.


And in another first, I was shot from the other side, too, as the old lady approached the teller. I'm looking toward the door nervously, hoping that the crazies don't break through and kill us all. The guy on the right is looking at me like I'm crazy. 


A moment later, I could be seen walking to the teller. Up until now, it appeared to me that the old lady would simply pull a gun on her frightened teller.

But the best was yet to come.

After we returned from lunch, there was now someone on set dressed as a security guard. Not just any someone, mind you, but a stunt man who was going to earn his pay that afternoon. 


One of the side effects of the Gotham virus was giving its victims superhuman (or at least supernormal) strength. When the guard tried to stop the robbery, the old lady sent him flying over the desk where I'd been a moment earlier.

Without giving away any trade secrets, the stunt was done without any CGI magic -- he really went over that desk for several takes. And in the unlikely case they used the first take, then my stunned reaction is real, because I had no idea what was going to happen. Call me a reactor.

On set, the scene lasted about two minutes. But it was edited to about half that, so you never got to see me scurrying for cover. Too bad; I scurry pretty convincingly when needed.

This particular Gotham episode marked my sixth season finale of the year, the others being Bull, Law & Order: SVU, Younger, Billions, and Homeland. I hope they remember me when production starts up again in July. My fedora is ready when they are.

                                                     *****************

Friday, June 2, 2017

WITHIN YOU, WITHOUT YOU... WHAT'S WITH YOU?

There are reasons to question the hype over the 50th anniversary of Sgt.
And best of all -- resold for $117!
Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
. Isn't it a little dated? Is it really the Beatles' best album? (I vote for Revolver). And when are you goddamn baby-boomers getting off the stage already?


You could probably throw in a few more of your own (like How many more times are they going to repackage this damn thing?) But I guarantee you, nothing you could come up with would be as egregiously, indubitably, spectacularly stupid as the one made by Salon's clichéd I-see-anti-female-conspiracies-everywhere feminist columnist Amanda Marcotte.

The Beatles congratulate each other for pulling a
fast one on girls everywhere.
The problem with Pepper, according to Marcotte, is that it's too good for girls to enjoy. Starting with the tired trope that the 1964-era Beatles appealed almost only to teenage girls' unbridled lust (with the group's talent and wit apparently nowhere to be found), her thesis continues:




See, it wasn't like the Beatles were growing as composers, musicians, and humans. Nah,
Marcotte's vision of
Lennon & McCartney.
they just thought girls were icky. But then she takes it one step further:


So according to Marcotte, girls aren't capable of enjoying pop music more sophisticated than, say, "Be My Baby", "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter", and "Do the Freddie". This is a feminist?

Amanda Marcotte reminds me of those idiot teenagers on American Bandstand in 1966 who didn't like the videos for "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane" because the Beatles had moustaches and the songs themselves were more advanced than "She Loves You". Even at the age of 10, I couldn't figure out why those kids were so square. Weren't these the people I was supposed to look up to? 

If only they could have stayed like this.
Amanda Marcotte seems not to have gotten the memo that the feminist movement came out of a desire for women to be, among other things, taken seriously, treated with respect, and be encouraged to grow intellectually. Kind of like the Beatles, in a way.

Now, it could be that she, like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Kathy Griffin, is merely trying to be "outrageous" in order to gin up controversy and, more importantly, get more "clicks" and advertisers. If so, it worked. Google "salon sgt. pepper marcotte" and you'll find over 10,000 links. Congratulations, Amanda, for proving that you can be cynical with the best (make that "worst") of them!

However, if Marcotte is indeed serious (which is the more likely case), then her homestead Salon might as well change its name to Saloon, because she sounds like a drunk at the end of the bar who thinks she's making an important point after her ninth Jägermeister. Hey. buddy, did you know that Sgt. Fucking Pepper is a secret plot to destroy little girls' sexuality by making them think? No, really. Buy me another drink, and I'll explain it to you. 

Or, as Marcotte herself says, "Sgt. Pepper was the point when rock stopped being the music of girls and started being the music of men."

Did I say Saloon? Make that Saloony.

                                                    *********************


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

NOT OUT OF THE WOODS

I look the same way at 3:00 a.m.
In the continuing story of the longest freefall outside of Felix Baumgartner stepping from an aircraft 26 miles in space, Tiger Woods celebrated Memorial Day by getting arrested for a DUI at three in the morning. 

Woods has since used the official "unexpected reactions to prescribed medications"® excuse beloved by celebrities everywhere.

Judging by his mugshot and refusal to take a breath test, we can assume that his behavior was caused by his medications reacting with a bottle of Grey Goose.


Much has been made about how the former golfing great has seen his stellar career go the way of Beta videotapes, UHF, and Reese's Peanut Butter & Banana Crème Cups. (Sports Illustrated provides a handy timeline here.) As the legend goes, Woods' troubles were caused by sex addiction. 


Or we can just blame the dog.
An addiction, specifically, to trashy cocktail waitresses, porn stars, failed models, and at least one hooker -- all while married to the beautiful, classy Elin Nordegren, with whom he had two cute kids. Hey, if you're eating prime rib all the time, sometimes you just want some day-old Spam.

But wait. One of the major side effects of any addiction is a severe interference with work. Well, that and having a whole lot of fun.


Woods was carrying on with his chintzy chatelaines while he was the number one golfer in the world, and on his way to being the greatest in the history of the sport. Does this sound like he was "suffering" from addiction?

This should have been
 Tiger Woods' theme song.
Not to me, bub. Seems like he knew exactly how to claw his way to the top of the streak. (That's the word for a group of tigers, in case you were wondering.) Unlike a real addict, Woods was doing fabulously at work during his "sickness". It was only after his "cure" that his professional life went to hell.

I bet when Elin tried to brain him with a golf club that fateful night in November 2009, she had no idea that the Tiger Woods Gravy Train Express would be permanently derailed. Because ever since rehab, it's been nothing but losing, pulling out of tournaments, back surgeries and bum Achilles tendons for the now defanged Tiger. Perhaps it's time to start trolling those trailer parks for a little inspiration.


                                                              ******************

(UPDATE: Since writing this piece, Florida police report there was no alcohol in Tiger Woods' system at the time of his arrest. Instead, he had ingested several different drugs before going for a joyride at three in the morning. But since they were prescription meds, this makes everything OK. My apologies for assuming Woods has an addiction problem.)

Monday, May 29, 2017

PLASTIC PALACE PEOPLE




Throughout the past couple of years, this blog has occasionally turned its 5-watt spotlight on plastic surgery addicts who have done their darndest to resemble someone -- or something -- else. People like the Human Parrot, the Human Ken Doll, the Human Barbie. Ironic monikers, since none of them have the remotest connection to humanity.

This is all well and good, I thought, but what are they going to do with their new-found psychosis? Well what else?




Yes! People avoiding reality are getting their own reality show!




As if one Kim Kardashian wasn't enough, we've got to have a second siliconed, sandblasted, plasticized, brain-numbed creature wasting our increasingly precious oxygen, along with her brethren (and sisthren). Who had the bright idea to bring all these people together in one frightening space?


You know, it was bad enough when family members put Glen Campbell on the road when he had dementia. But now we have an entire agency to cash in on people with psychological problems. Hollywood: Progress is Our Most Important Product.

Sorry, girls, he's... uh,
actually, I don't know
what he is.
It isn't clear exactly what "talent" these people have, other than making your average person either look on in horror or turn away in revulsion. Is there a high demand for Jessica Rabbit or Ken doll tribute shows in Vegas, even in the free lounge shows?

Somebody must think so. Justin Jedlica (left) has insured his body for $500,000, perhaps in case he starts to melt in the California sun. As his website admits, "This self-professed 'artist' and 'pioneer of the modifiable male aesthetic' has no intention of stopping his surgical alterations."  Apparently, he won't be happy until he's mistaken for Daffy Duck in whiteface.

When not convincing surgeons to carve him up like a cow in a slaughterhouse, Jedlica is a consultant for people who want to undergo "revision surgery".

I was going to say that this is like Anthony Weiner advising people how to get ahead in politics. But if you want to look like the star of an Outer Limits episode, there's no one better to talk to than Justin.





You can tell it's Mattel,
it's swell!
Not to be outdone in self-regard, Rodrigo Alves (right), the Human Ken Doll, is insured for one million smackers. Rodrigo, stay away from any potential Human Barbies with dollar signs in their eyes!

Alves was willing to buy the pricey policy because he's spent almost as much on his surgeries -- which, if he has his way, will soon number 58. God almighty, 57 varieties was enough for Heinz!

The surgery he's looking at now, literally, is to change his eye color from brown to something called "light icy grey", despite the chance of causing blindness -- which is something I'd desire if I ever saw Alves in person. He's willing to take this risk because he's tired of wearing colored contacts. Too much time on your hands, Roddy-boy, too much time on your hands.



Yet even with those
ears, he can't hear
people say how crazy he is.
Undoubtedly, two of the most -- make that equally -- bizarre "talents" to be featured on The House of Dolls series will be Luis Padron and Vinny Ohh (as in Ohh my God, what is wrong with these people?!) Padron shelled out about $50,000 to look like an elf. Currently, he spends roughly $7,000 a month on creams, dyes, and other treatments. I consider myself outré by smearing a dab or two of Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream every day. 

If you're wondering why Padron goes to all this bother, it's because he was bullied as a child.  Yeah, looking like an illustration from a 19th-century British children's book should definitely bring them around your way.



My least favorite Martian.
As for Vinny Ohh (right) -- what can you say about a guy who's had close to 150 surgeries and "treatments" in order to look like, in his words, a "genderless alien"? Oh, that's easy: Yikes!



To give him credit, Ohh wants to keep his word by having his genitals removed. As he says, “I want my genitals removed because life would be easier, plus I’m also celibate.”  Gee, I can't understand why.

Surgeons informed him that this surgery would make it impossible for him to father children. There are only two things one can say: 1) That's the least of his problems. 2) Thank God! But Vinny isn't worried, because he plans on adopting three children.

Oh man, this guy just wants Republicans to keep getting elected. I am so waiting for a reporter to show Lena Dunham this photo and ask, "Do you support Vinny Ohh's right to adopt three children?" Whether she answers yes or no, it'll be a lie.



Let's go places!
While psychologists could spend a lifetime wondering what brought these people to this stage, my question is, How the hell do they afford all these surgeries, treatments, and monthly cosmetic routines? Other than Consultant to the Freaks Justin Jedlica, nobody seems to have any form of income. It's like I've always wondered about ISIS: Who's paying for all those Toyotas? 

There were times when the devolvement of society made me weep. Over time, as the strange became the normal, I merely threw up my hands and shrugged. Now I just throw up.

The saddest thing of all? When I read about the guy who put the agency and TV series together, my first thought was Why didn't I think of that?

                                                      *******************************





Wednesday, May 24, 2017

STRICTLY ON BACKGROUND, PT. 10: BULL

In early April, I traveled to Miami for a couple of days. All I had to do was take the Q to 14th, then switch to the L for the Halsey Street stop. What a wondrous age of travel we live in!

When last on Bull, I was sampling pickles at a greenmarket. For my second appearance, I was promoted to courtroom gallery spectator. Counting my previous spots on Blue Bloods and Law & Order: SVU, it would be my third time essaying this difficult role. Typecast already!

As you might have gathered, the Bull studio is located in Brooklyn. Still, there was that legendary Hollywood magic as we walked down a hall into a huge dark room, past flats, lights, and other TV accouterments, before entering... a courtroom with all the fixin's, right down to the official state seal on the wall.

But this wasn't just any courtroom. One look out the window, with the soothing azure sky, bright sunshine, and palm trees swaying in the breeze, and we were immediately transported to Miami.  And considering that in reality we were in Brooklyn on an overcast day in the low 50s, it was all rather bittersweet.

Like the leads on SVU, Michael Weatherly kept it light on the set. He took it one step further, however, by actually interacting with the extras between takes. (He even struck up a little conversation with me as we examined the breakfast offerings on the second day.) 

Much of the back-and-forth on set was of the "you hadda be there" variety, but it went a long way to contributing to relaxing the atmosphere -- to the point where some of us were still laughing when the cameras started rolling, for Weatherly is a funny, gregarious guy to the last second between takes. Fortunately, we weren't the focus of the scenes...

Except when we're looking for ourselves when the show finally aired. And, brother, I was all over the place. This was my most generous screen time yet, with two changes of clothes.

Here I am peering over Michael Weatherly's shoulder. Note how some other guy is doing the same thing opposite me, like we're those "good" and "evil" spirits you see in old Donald Duck cartoons. No wonder Weatherly appears to be in the throes of some serious tsuris.

In another shot, I got to show some real acting chops by walking into the courtroom. I'm the guy with the plaid shirt to the left of the woman in the white sweater. I forget how many times we did this, but, like Frank Sinatra, I nailed it on the first take.







And just to spread some love around, I also paid close attention to the Chris Christie-ish District Attorney on the other side of the room during the second day of the trial. If I appear stunned, it's because the D.A. has just lost the case due to a technical error. And I had such faith in him.

There were several other shots with my face sticking out from the background. If Bull were a Quinn Martin production, the narrator would have given me one of those solemn "And featuring..." credits for sure.

I can't end this without mentioning that Bull had, without doubt, the best food of any show so far -- and I've had some great meals.

Imagine walking into a room one cool, cloudy April morning, and being greeted with your choice of breakfast foods. Now picture the room having the square footage of your average suburban home. Pancakes, waffles, bacon, eggs -- made to order! -- ham, cold cereal, hot oatmeal, fruit, granola, fresh juices, coffee, a dozen kinds of tea... I had already eaten breakfast at home, but there was no way I was passing up this layout.

Then lunch -- steak, chicken, pork loin stuffed with chorizo, stews, soups, salads, veggies, sushi, king crab legs, four kinds of dessert... God almighty! And there was more! If I worked on this show regularly, I'd gain 50 pounds by the end of the season.

And they encourage you to bring some home with you. Let me tell you, my wife and I had a couple of real good dinners that week. They held up well during that trip from Miami, too.

                                                        **********************

Monday, May 22, 2017

BILLIONS OF OFFENSES

You might not believe there's a connection between my daughter entering middle school a decade ago, the recent season finale of a cable drama, and the downfall of journalism. But come wade in the weeds with me, won't you?

In their first day of Current Events, my daughter and her classmates were asked by the teacher to take a quiz regarding their opinions on, among other things, abortion, guns and the death penalty, in order to see if they were Republicans or Democrats.

I thought it a strange, not to mention simplistic, assignment, when she brought it up over dinner that evening. Were these the kinds of topics to bring up with 11 year-olds? By the time I got to dessert (or the third class of Chardonnay), however, it was forgotten.

Andrea Peyser scans a
menu for something that
makes her sick.
Eight weeks later, Andrea Peyser -- the air raid siren that walks like a human -- wrote about the quiz in her New York Post column. In case you've never read her work, Peyser craves to be offended the way a dipso craves a bottle of rye -- and my school had inadvertently gifted her with an entire vintage case of the stuff.

In case you're wondering why this was suddenly news two months after the fact, Peyser timed it to run the day of the school's first parent-teachers meeting. This was like trying to start a war between two other countries who didn't know there was a problem.

My daughter and her friend -- who took the same quiz in a different class -- were appalled not only by the column, but how Fox News amped it that evening up by claiming that kids felt intimidated to answer the questions in the "correct" way. No one, they swore, was pressured to answer in any particular way.

To add insult to injury, the Fox News piece was accompanied by file footage of a suburban school that looked nothing like hers. From that day on, she stopped believing anything she saw on the news. And this was long before the "post-truth" era.

Flash forward ten years to the headline in last Saturday's edition of the Post: Critics outraged over use of 9/11 memorial in ‘Billions’. The piece goes on to say:


The three "critics" quoted by the Post are the mother of a fireman who was killed on 9/11; a fire-science professor at John Jay College; and someone who lives seven blocks from the site. And it took two weeks to find them.

While I'm not going to stop the parent of a first-responder who died at the site from saying what she wants, just what did the other guys do to warrant their opinions? Especially when the sister of one of the Flight 77 pilot was OK with it?

How dare those insensitive bastards from
Billions smile!
I did a Google search to see if there were other "critics" who were "offended." And all I could find were reprints of the article on sites with a few more readers than mine, along with the UK Daily Mail and Fox News -- like the Post, Murdoch-owned businesses.

I have a personal interest in this alleged outrage, because it was one of several episodes of Billions I worked on last season. And I promise you, we were fully aware of the gravity of the location; there was no goofing around that day. If you were able to lip-read what we were saying, you'd have seen us sadly reminisce about 9/11, and how heartbreaking the memorial was.

We learned that Billions was only the second production crew ever allowed to shoot at the Memorial. All of us felt like we were taking part in something special, not some exploitative trash. As the p.a. warned the actors playing the FBI agents, "I can't emphasize this enough: do NOT take your prop firearms of your holsters. The 9/11 Memorial is the last place in America where you want to be seen waving a gun."

I cop to being a fan of the New York Post, and watch the roundtable segment of Fox News' Special Report news program. But goddamn, if they don't like to gin up "controversy" where none exists. They're getting as bad as the lefties who get offended by Halloween costumes, pronouns, and taco bars. C'mon, guys, you're supposed to be better than that!

Well, no they're not, but I didn't want to offend them.

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