Thursday, May 29, 2008

Writing jobs that are best avoided

I've always said there's really two writing gigs you don't want: sports writer and political reporter.

Days and, more importantly, nights spent interviewing athletes only to get a bunch of cliche quotes about "110%", "we got to execute better" and "team effort"? Whoopity-do. Can't wait to break that news. On the plus side, at least pro sports are played in cities and arguably no two games are alike. I mean, you could be a political reporter.

Weeks and weeks on end spent tramping around the less-than-glamorous parts of our country listening to the same thing over and over and over and over and zzzzzzzzzz, now I'm asleep. And all in the hopes that somewhere in Podunk, IA, the candidate makes some gaffe. Gag me with a tape recorder. I'd rather write pharmaceutical ads.

Well, not really. That might be the worst. Right behind Bush speech writer, of course.

The other night, Rob Riggle of the Daily Show filed a pretty damn funny report on a week he spent with the Obama campaign witnessing the tediousness first hand. Even Obama's spiel would be pretty boring if you had to hear it every day.

Check it out.

Score one for the Big Rig.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

In the news

Let's see, what's been going on...

Scott McClellan has come out of the Bush closet and finally told us all what we already know. Wait, wait, wait, so you mean to tell me the president led us to war based on false intelligence, propaganda and fear mongering? What's next, he's also too insecure to admit his failures? He looked out for his rich oil and gas buddies at the Jesus freaks' expense? Welcome to what the rest of us already know, Scotty. And keep an eye out for my new book, "Pizza is Delicious", which should be out real soon.

In other news, long-suspected terrorist Rachel Ray is, in fact, a terrorist. Which is obviously true. Thank god those paranoid nutjobs caught that one! Between Starbucks making me look at boobs and Dunkin Donuts making me want to blow up people, where's a conservative to get their morning coffee?

And lastly, in a sure sign we're just a handbasket away from hell, here's this little gem from a woman who clearly wants to be the one carrying that handbasket:

Unfuckingbelievable.

At this rate I'd give us about a year, tops.

Friday, May 23, 2008

She's just a shot away

Yeah, why would Hillary drop out before June and before the assassins have had a shot? I mean a say.

Unbelievable.

And to invoke a Kennedy no less. And of all weeks to do it!

Looks like someone's bucking for the Secretary of You'll Take Nothing and Like It cabinet position.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hell of a night for a ball game

Rather than watch Archie win the American Idol last night (boy was I wrong, right?) me and the boys hit the Dodgers game on some tickets I got from the recording studio. And damn fine tickets they were! Check it yo:


The Dodgers took down the Reds 5-2 in a pretty spirited little matchup and James Loney hit a dinger so that's always fun. Although I think the biggest cheer of the game came when they showed the Lakers-Spurs score.

Ol' Ken Griffey Jr. of course was there for the Reds and I couldn't help but think of all the wonderful memories he and I shared back in 2000-2001 when I managed the Nabisco sponsorship of he and Derek Jeter. Since the Reds dugout was like 30 feet away I thought a several times of yelling something at him in the hopes he might remember me as "the guy that made him do all that stuff on his days off" but I never did.

There was that big photo shoot in Orlando. And that big softball game in Orlando the next year with Steve Garvey and Ozzie Smith. And of course some more photo shoots (he loooooooved those, let me tell ya). And of course there was that time in Cincinnati where before one of his home games he treated a six year-old kid named Alex and all his friends to a little impromptu game of baseball. That was pretty fun. And then he hooked me up with his tickets to the game which was awfully nice of him. I got pictures of all that stuff somewhere at home in Austin.

Too bad he's had so many injuries over the years or he'd probably be giving Bonds a run for his steroids, er, money.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Takin' a dive


I'll come right out and say it: I kinda think David Cook took a dive last night on the Idol. I mean, covering hockey rock songs like Collective Soul's "World I know" may not win you the show (pickin' a kinda crap song from like 1995? uhh, ok) but it most definitely will win you hockey rock fans. Who, of course, will be buying the hockey rock albums you'll no doubt be releasing next year. Not a bad play. Nickelback, Yellow card, Switchfoot, etc. all would have had the same effect.

I could very well be wrong but I say let the little boy win while you go out the semi bad-assed "too cool for Idol" guy. It's a much better storyline. I mean, after all the two biggest selling albums of last year were "High School Musical II" and frikkin' Josh Groban. Gee, who do you think is more in that vein?

Oh yeah, speaking of poor choices...

Uh, Georgia, really? No, no, no, Seriously? It's 2008, ya know. Let's start with joining the 20th century. Then we'll go from there.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Smile

A couple of months ago I heard a song. I was driving up Centinela/Bundy near the Santa Monica airport where at that perfect time of day you can see the sun setting over the Santa Monica mountains and the whole sky is that beautiful burnt orange color. In scanning the radio I had landed on LA's semi-oldies station, K-Earth 101, whose playlist consists humbly of "The greatest hits in earth." The song they played wasn't new by any means but it sounded amazing.

And damned if I didn't hear "Don't worry baby" for what felt like the first time.

Sure, I'd reheard "God Only Knows", "Wouldn't it be nice", Pet Sounds and of course always appreciated the studio wizardry of "Good Vibrations" and all that—it's not like I just discovered the Beach Boys. But I don't suppose I ever really,really realized what a phenomenal song "Don't worry baby" is. It was a b-side, after all. How it escaped me all these years, I don't know. I feel ashamed. I think the truth is Sunkist commercials and tv and movie soundtracks turned the Beach Boys into background music for a lot kids my age. "Kokomo" certainly didn't help.

But man alive, this one.

Here, listen to it. Or listen to it later, but do.

(note how Brian looks like 11 years old)

Those wave break drum beats in the opening, those warm breeze harmonies, Brian's falsetto, that woodie guitar solo and those lyrics. Worry instantly replaced by comfort.

I later googled it and found one of those "song essays" on McSweeney's that Simon French wrote. While creating a musical education for his 18 month-old son, Little Ed, he was somewhere in the "B's" when it happened:

"...so we're halfway through side one of the record when a song started that I had never really noticed before? "Don't Worry Baby." It originally appeared as the flipside to the "I Get Around" single in 1964 and is a lesser song from Brian Wilson's best pop year, which makes it twenty times better than most songs you'll ever hear. It has a great falsetto verse, where the singer complains that he's been bragging about his car and now he has to race some local hoodlums to prove he's not a complete pussy. Real adolescent whining, tone perfect. But then there's the chorus: he recounts how his girlfriend tells him "don't worry baby, everything will turn out all right." The phrasing is beautiful, flowing freely over the lush backing harmonies, which are mixed almost criminally low. The contrast between the pettiness of the verses and the calm reassurance of the chorus is staggering.

I'm lying on the floor playing with Little Ed, listening to this track, and tears come to my eyes. I can't believe it. It has been years since a song has moved me to tears by its sheer beauty. I am whisked back to a conversation that I had with a friend during those angst-ridden early twenties. It was about 2:30 a.m., and we were drinking whiskey, playing Tom Waits records, and bemoaning the pitiful state of our respective love lives. She described her ideal vision of love. "I want to fall asleep each night with someone stroking my hair and whispering, 'Don't worry, everything will be alright,' and to really believe it." I understood that longing, just as Brian Wilson obviously understood it."

Amen.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Robyn. And stealin'.

Saturday night Whitney and I went with Melissa and Alex to see the Swedish "ex" pop star Robyn play at the Wiltern. I was a big fan of "Konichiwa, bitches" and her new song "Cobrastyle" and after seeing her on Letterman recently I expected to see something like this:

What we ended up seeing was more like a sugary pop-themed gay pride night. Like the Castro district mixed with West Hollywood mixed with Chelsea. Dudes as far as the eye could see. Lots and lots of dudes. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. But who knew she drew such a gay crowd. It could have something to do with Perez Hilton championing her. Or maybe she hadn't fully exchanged her pop cred for indie cred the way the press made it out to be. Or maybe I just read her all wrong. Hard to say.

Although I do know when she closed down the show with some song that involved a chorus consisting of the words "I wanna jack you off" it got a little weird. Come to think of it, the song was prolly called "Jack you off." It would have been a whole different vibe if, you know, half the room didn't have penises.

Anyhoo, I also know this much: the whole night would have been way, way better had they turned the lights out.

Apparently someone was using our ticket purchases to finance their filming of the show. Rather than shoot it like a concert they shot it like a tv show. With the house lights fully on. And the volume not that loud, presumably for sound purposes. Kinda bullshit if you ask me.

Oh well.

And here are this week's star-sightings:

Whitney sat next to Matthew Fox at dinner Friday night.

I saw BJ Novak (Ryan from The Office) at Starbucks yesterday morning and Reese Witherspoon this afternoon at the recording studio.

Life in LA!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Three Little Candidates

Once upon a time there were three little presidential candidates and the time came for them to leave home and seek their nominations.

Before they left, their mothers told them "Whatever you do, build your campaign the best that you can because that's the way to get along in the world."

The first little candidate built his campaign out of fear because it was the easiest thing to do.

The second little candidate built her campaign out of lies, intimidation and just trying to win the big states. It wasn't too hard to do and it was a little bit stronger than the one built from fear but still pretty crappy.

The third little candidate built his campaign out of actually telling the truth even if people didn't want to hear it, by courting the voters that others don't really care about, and by focusing on how to actually solve problems rather than just acting like some cowboy bad-ass in an effort to win over voters. It was harder to do and required literally tens of thousands of volunteers, but it was the right thing to do.

But then, rather than wait for the big bad wolf to come do it, for some reason the second little candidate decided she'd go ahead and try to blow down the other campaigns. Weird right?

But rather than start with the logical choice of the weakest campaign she went after the strongest one. Even though he was her neighbor. And while she was so busy trying to blow his down hers completely fell apart. Ironically, in the process she might have even made the weakest campaign even stronger.

But that didn't stop her. Oh, no. She kept on blowing and blowing and blowing and blowing and blowing. And she's still blowing.

Still.

Even though everyone knows it's over.

Everyone.

Except, of course, the blatantly racist.

But the strongest campaign survived and eventually figured out if you just ignore her maybe she'll just go away. Maybe.


The moral of the story: either by blowing or being blown, the Clintons are gonna fuck something up.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

American Idol Presidential Candidates Week


RYAN: This....is..... American Idol, Presidential Candidates Week!

Ba-na-na-na-na-naaaaa-ahhh-ahhh!

John McCain

RYAN: First up, John McCain.

RANDY: Yo, dawg, you's old. Like real old. I'm just not feelin' it. I mean, this is the top three, yo! I expect you to come with more than just promises of more right-wing justices and 100-year wars. I don't know, dawg. I don't know. But you is old. I know that much.

PAULA: John, I like you. I've been a fan of yours for years. But you've changed over the past 7 years. Remember when you were the maverick? Remember when you didn't vote for Bush in 2000? Now you'll do just about anything to win this thing. And lord knows your healthcare plan ain't gonna make my pills cheaper! I'm sorry honey, but it wasn't good.

SIMON: John. I don't even know where to start. You look like you just walked out of the Men's Wearhouse, your face is all jacked up looking on the side, and it's clear you love war. I think you are dreadful, awful, talentless, and a suck-up. What? It's true. He is. You cleary detached your ball sack about 4 years ago. All so you could have a shot of winning this thing by convincing scared, old, white, poor, —did I mention scared?—people that you can somehow get them back to a simpler time when wars were fought between armies and everyone got married at 19. Maybe 30 years ago, but not now, John. I'd be real nervous if I was you. But hey, do me a favor and raise your arms over your head. See, you can't. What? It's true. He can't.

RYAN: Ok, not a good week for John. Up next, Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton

RANDY: Yo, yo, yo dude. Man, I'm not feeling it. America's not feelin' it. The world's not feelin' it. You're all over the place. One week it's gas tax cuts, the next it's doing shots, the next it's talking in the back of a pick up truck, meanwhile you can't work a coffee machine but all the while you're a mega-millionaire. It was off key,it was pitchy and I don't even know what you did to the melody. I'm sorry, but it wasn't good. Not good at all.

PAULA: Hillary, you know you're my girl. But something's missing. You're not right up here [points to her head]. You're so desperate to win you're not having any fun. And neither are we. No one is. In fact, I kind of want to kill myself when I see you. Then again, it could be pills. But I'm pretty sure it's you.

SIMON: Hillary, I'm gonna make this simple. I do not like you. You are desperate, you are petty and everyone here and at home can smell it. Listening to you talk on and on is like nails on a chalkboard. Only they're not just scratching, they're scratching out that dreadful Macarena song. Only they're not just nails they're those nails from the Guiness Book that are like three feet long. Only before they were scratching they were picking out belly button lint. From Mike Huckabee's belly button. Back when he was fat. So it was deep. And real linty. Like he'd been wearing a navy blue sweatshirt for like a week. What? It's true. It was dreadful. It was a disaster. I'd pack my suitcase if I was you. It's over.

RYAN: Wow, it's gonna be tough to come back from that. Ok, next is Barack Obama.

Barack Obama

RANDY: Dawg, that was the hot mad vocals! That victory speech in North Carolina was the bomb! You my dawg! You killed it! You're the man to beat as far as I'm concerned. The booooooomb!

PAULA: [already crying, heavily] Barack, I've loved you since you stepped on this stage. You give me more hope than pills ever could. I love you, I love you, I love you....[cut off by Simon]

SIMON: Barack, you not only beat the competition, you crushed it. You are a star, you are an inspiration and you were born to be president and if America does not get over their racist tendencies and see the light enough to elect you I am gonna go back to England. And Howard is probably going with me.

HOWARD: True dat, dawg. We don't vote this guy in and I am done with this place. Oh and happy birthday, mom!

RYAN: Join us next week when we find out who the final two will be. Or maybe the next week. Whenever Hillary figures out what everyone else already knows: she's not the next American President.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Lost in the supermarket

Missing at the sandwich counter at the Bristol Farms on Lincoln: periods and line breaks.

It's like the world's worst haiku.

And while we're here, I've had several of them there paninis (grilled, of course, at their recommendation) and none of them have been what I'd call an "experience." I'd go with "lunch" or "sandwich" maybe. But "experience?" Hardly.

And in keeping with birthday week at the Hill house, happy birthday Dad!