Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"Well, if I was on patrol, maybe..."

A cop just said the above to me. After he handed me a $150 ("Well, the State sets this, not us.") ticket for running a stop sign.

I had asked him, very politely, after he brought the ticket back to me, why, given that I had slowed down at the 4-stop sign intersection, and given that I did put my foot on the brake (though my car never did stop) and given that there was NOBODY anywhere else in the intersection, and given that I had stopped at that intersection EVERY TIME about 50 times a week for the past ten years, given all that, I asked him, did he, or anybody who wears the uniform he wears, EVER consider the possibility of, MAYBE, suggesting to me that, hey, i know there was nobody in the intersection but, hey, you know, guy, you do need to stop. You know...a WARNING. I know they give WARNINGS. And I, the milquetoastiest of drivers, would be the first to be SO GRATEFUL for a WARNING, that I would think sometime, somewhere SOME COP would consider just giving a guy a WARNING just to see what GRATITUDE is like.

But this is what he said when I asked him if they ever just gave warnings in simple, harmless situations like these:

"Well, if I was on patrol, maybe I would. But I'm on traffic detail."

"Oh! So your entire point is to catch me?"


Look, I know the life of a policeman is a dangerous one. I know that I would not be comfortable in a town without a police force. I know the good police do.

But GOD.

A hundred and fifty bucks, not because I did what I did, but because the cop was WAITING for me to do what I did, even though there were no other vehicles anywhere near me, and nobody was in danger.

I think, maybe, a four second conversation with me before writing out the citation would have convinced this guy that I'm not a $150 criminal.

However, I think (and now I get really pissed), this guy was on a training program.

Because as soon as he stopped me, another cruiser drove up behind him and waited until he was finished. When I drove by the same intersection later on my way home, he had stopped another car, and the second cruiser was driving up behind him again.

I hope he got $150 worth of training.

I will get over this.

But the next time I see a police car take a right turn onto Moore from Andrews Street, at the stop sign, without stopping, which happens ALL THE TIME...

Well....Well...I'll be darned angry.

I wish I drank.

It's (Not That) Complicated

So, with the new HDTV and Blu Ray player in place, I hardly ever go OUT to the movies anymore. I mean, I have something like 125 movies in my Netflix streaming queue, some of them in HD. My God. Why spend ten bucks or more to see something I will be able to see more comfortably in, say, three months time at home?

Well, sometimes you just hafta, you know what I mean?

If there's a movie opening in December and it features Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, with a supporting role played by John Krasinski, going to the multiplex automatically appears on the agenda.

Nancy Meyers, the writer director of IT'S COMPLICATED, has some cred. PRIVATE BENJAMIN, the remake of FATHER OF THE BRIDE, SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE. Pretty decent stuff. And the cast. Come on. Heavy hitters.

And that's...almost the problem here.

Not that there's a problem.

Well, there is. But not a huge one.

It's about a 20-minute problem. Somewhere in IT'S COMPLICATED is twenty minutes of film that needed to be left on the cutting room floor. Or, these days, in the "Save It For The DVD" file on the Mac. The great cast is a problem because they pretty much make those twenty minutes, wherever they are, interesting. Just as interesting as they make the other hundred minutes of the film. So when you look at the twenty minutes, you say, what's the problem? Then you get home late for dinner, and you see the problem.

No ground is broken here. Unless you consider an adult film made and performed by adults ground breaking. And you might.

Meryl and Alec are divorced. They are the parents of the three MOST WELL ADJUSTED GROWN CHILDREN IN HISTORY. They are so well-adjusted, one of them is going to marry Krasinski, who is KING of the well-adjusted on film and on TV these days. Alec has married a hot Latina (her kid is named Pedro and she is dark and beautiful, so I take the leap) who is twenty-five years his junior and who broke up with him once to go have her kid with another guy. We know Alec is not going to succeed here. Meryl is succeeding as a restaurant owner and chef. She is adding on to her house and Steve Martin is her architect. Alec wants to come back to Meryl, Meryl is hot for Alec but likes Steve, Steve likes Meryl and he's going through the throes of divorce. We see plot points coming at us from miles away.

But these actors are just so damned good.

And Meryl is the best.

She has to be, to carry off the somewhat fantastical fancies she has to accommodate in the screenplay. We stay with her because we know she can do this. Otherwise, we would go out for popcorn. Nobody but Meryl could play this character believably. Because hers is not really a believable character.

Alec is believable, because he's been written and seen a million times before.

Steve is believable because we just plain like him no matter what he does on film, and what he does here is restrained and honest and downright nice.

I've heard people recently say that Krasinski always plays "Jim," the character he plays on THE OFFICE. A legitimate critique.

Still--go find somebody who does this better than he does.

Jimmy Stewart never played a wide range of types in the movies.

And Stewart may have been the best film actor ever.

In the final analysis, IT'S COMPLICATED just isn't. It tries to be. But by the time we get past the 90-minute mark, the complications seem forced and impossible. I'm thinking this happens about the time Meryl lights up the joint. Yeah. There.

Still, you wanna see movie acting?

See it.

Wait till you get it at home, maybe.

But do see it.

And, if you can, see Meryl in JULIE AND JULIA. Then compare that to this.

She is the best.

Have I said that already?

Sunday, January 3, 2010


So I sign up for this online voice-over service. I had been associated with the service for a couple of years, but as the end of 2009 approached and I needed stuff to write off, I figured I'd sign up as a premium member and take advantage of the service in a more meaningful way. I mean, I have a relatively decent recording set-up at home and, what the hell, if this service could nail me a few tiny-paying jobs here and there, what's the harm? As soon as I paid the premium fee, I was sent a number of audition opportunities and I made the audition recordings at home and sent them out and hoped for the best. Just like everything else I do as a writer/performer, I was working ON SPEC. I'm used to it. Rejection is the Tonto to my Lone Ranger. Not all that helpful, but always there.

I've auditioned for maybe five V.O. gigs, with no results yet. Fine. No problem. As I say, it's easy to make a recording and send it out online. No skin off my nose.

Today, though, I discovered that one of the "premium" services I receive is that Voice Seekers are allowed and even encouraged to "tag" my demo reel. This means that a Voice Seeker can listen to my online reel, which is a professionally-made 2 minutes of me reading copy, and then "tag" my reel. Tagging simply means the Voice Seeker can apply a word of reaction to my reel, and that word is listed as a tag. The first three words I received as tags were "exciting," "professional" and "sense of humor," which is technically three words, but who's quibbling. I don't know where these tags originated, and for all I know, they just came from the service trying to make me feel good.

But about fifteen minutes ago, I received an email from the service titled, "Congratulations! You have been tagged!" This meant that another Voice Seeker had listened to my reel, and applied a tag to it. I checked it out.

There, in addition to "professional," "exciting" and "sense of humor," was the tag "irratating."

Think about it. There's somebody out there, who is seeking voice over talent, who, therefore, is a person in a position to hire people, to be the BOSS of another person, who CAN'T FRIGGIN' SPELL!

Listen, if you're gonna dump on me, at least, for the love of God, use spell check. Some words are not caught by spell check, but IRRATATING certainly would be.

Now, this incident kind of spills over into the rest of my work life.

There are, out there, people in CHARGE OF US, who DO NOT KNOW WDF THEY ARE DOING!

And yet, they are in charge of us.

They write things about us.

They write anything they want to write about us.


How did this happen, is my question?

Did this asshole who thinks my voice is "irratating" get out of "middel" school?

Full disclosure: the voice over service makes it very easy for "talent," which they tell me is what I am, to go into the files and remove tags we don't "agree with." Well, it's not that I didn't agree with the comment. I don't, but that wasn't my main reason for deleting the word.

I just couldn't stand the thought that somebody out there with the brain of a Ticonderoga Number 2 pencil eraser had the power to critique my work. I don't know who he or she is. He or she will never read this (or have it read to him or her). So all I can do is holler in the wilderness of cyberspace.