Friday, December 20, 2002


Boy, do I feel neglectful. I spent so much time and energy cultivating Piker this year and here I am just pissing it all away. Although it is no excuse, this week has been one of transition. My Girl and I flew down here to South Florida on Tuesday and have been adjusting ever since. Neither one of us are feeling particularly well physically, so the adjustment has been fairly difficult. Fort Lauderdale is nice and warm yet rainy. Hardly feels like Christmas, but then again, being a South Florida Jew, I've never known what Christmas has felt like anyway. Nice to spend time with the folks and my brother and grandmother though. I hope to see some local friends soon and I am anxiously awaiting this weekend's arrival of Henry (Don't Call Me Hank) Lazarus from the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Oh yeah, and I'm looking forward to seeing his parents too. Also, my Godfather and #2 Godmother and Godsister are coming down and we'll be spending our traditional North Miami Beach Christmas with them -- a movie followed by a wild goose chase to find a restaurant that's open and not that crowded and that everyone doesn't hate. I'm dreaming of a sunny and humid Christmas...

Some quick thoughts on entertainment:

ABOUT SCHMIDT - sad movie done with a lot of finesse and at a high level of quality. Once again, Nicholson provides another reason why he's almost everyone's favorite actor. And, if for no other reason, you have to see the movie because Kathy Bates gets naked.

24 - still pretty riveting, but growing increasingly difficult to explain the back story and subplots to new viewers.

SURVIVOR - crapola. For the second straight season, the finale has features two unlikable finalists. Good casting in Brian the used car salesman turned millionaire and Jake the 61-year old Southern gentleman and Erin the fake-boobed hottie who defied the stereotype, but other than that, I'm starting to think that either the applicant pool is extremely weak to yield the people who wind up on the show, or this show has just grown stale and boring and should vote itself off my television.

Thank God this week has finally arrived to replenish the theaters with movies I actually want to see. The last couple of weeks, you'd look at the listings in the mulitplexes and find twenty movies that you didn't give a hoot about -- Adam Sandler's 8 Crazy Nights, Die Another Day, Harry Potter, Treasure Planet, Maid in Manhattan, etc. Now I'm psyched to see Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Gangs of New York, Catch Me If You Can, The Antwone Fischer Story, and even Chicago.

I'm hoping to grow some patience, grin and bear the dial up connection found in Piker's Fort Lauderdale headquarters, and post more often while I'm down here. If I can't manage to do that, I wish everyone a wildly happy holiday season.

Friday, December 13, 2002


I saw "Rocky V" in the theater. It was a mistake. So was the greenlight that sent that project into motion. I plead with MGM to leave sleeping southpaws where they lie and abandon the idea of bringing a 50-plus Rocky out of retirement and back into the ring . Rocky should have hung up the gloves after defeating Drago and winning over a hostile Moscow crowd. Sure, it was heavy-handed, but "IV" was a lot of fun and the climactic fight scene at the end had me up and out of my chair just like that first fight against Apollo Creed did. The first four movies were Rocky quality, "V" was crap. Its existence insults the franchise almost as much as "Godfather III" does in its parallel gangster universe. "V" felt desperate. The writing was weak, the acting was wooden, the whole thing stunk like the gym where Mickey first taught Balboa how to box. I dread the thought of "Rocky VI." The once proud franchise has already gone one round past the point where it should have thrown in the towel, I beg and plead for it not to get up off the canvas wobbly-legged and cross-eyed and insist, "I can go on. Don't stop it. This fight ain't over." I'm calling it right now. It's over. TKO. To accurately communicate my true feelings about making another Rocky movie, I'll have to paraphrase a heartless Ivan Drago after he knocked Apollo unconscious in the ring, "If it dies, it dies."


I guess it's officially too late for me to become a wunderkind. I'm past the age of thirty, I have yet to accomplish anything of any significance, and nobody's wondering how I could be this good at such a young age. My story is in direct contrast to the one on display last night when ESPN2 televised a regular season high school basketball game and sent Dick Vitale and Bill Walton to cover it. The attraction: LeBron James. The result: An awesome display of precocious and unselfish bastketball by "The Next Jordan" in a twenty-point upset win over the number one ranked high school team in the country. The Hype had already begun, last night kicked it into high gear. LeBron is clearly a man amongst boys and I agreed with the announcers as they encouraged him to pass go, head directly to the NBA, and collect his $200 million. He has the body, he has the game, and he has the charisma to be an endorsement darling. Why should he risk an injury in college that could prevent him from ever even reaching the pros? Why shouldn't he collect a legitimate paycheck while learning the game? Vitale and Walton also stressed that young LeBron should get an education. He'll have every opportunity to get a degree if he so desires. And for a change, Walton actually said something that I liked... He insisted that the decision is LeBron's. No one should force LeBron into going pro or push LeBron into enrolling at a university. It's LeBron's life and LeBron's future. And the future for LeBron is more than bright, it's flat out blinding.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002


sloth - n 1: a disinclination to work or exert yourself [syn: slothfulness] 2: any of several slow-moving arboreal mammals of South and Central America; they hang from branches back downward and feed on leaves and fruits [syn: tree sloth] 3: apathy and inactivity in the practice of virtue (personified as one of the deadly sins) [syn: laziness, acedia]

I watched a lot of things this past weekend. The list is embarrassing. I'm not feeling particularly well and I don't have the energy to comment on each of the things I watched, but I probably will anyway.

First off, I saw "Adaptation." It is easily the most inventive movie of the year. I loved it. I want to see it again. I want to see it win awards. Someday I want to own it DVD.
On video, I watched "Changing Lanes," "Y Tu Mama Tambien," and "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." I did not care for "Changing Lanes" or for its two protagonists and would not recommend it. I really liked "Y Tu Mama Tambien" and would list it among my favorite movies of the year. "Hedwig" I had seen before and enjoyed it as much the second time as the first.

I watched a boatload of E! Entertainment Television, including multiple episodes of "The Anna Nicole Smith Show," "The Howard Stern Show," and E! True Hollywood Story. The E!THS on "Baywatch" was highly addicting. I learned that David Hasselhoff's ego is equal in size to the combined mass of every fake breast that ever appeared on that show. To paraphrase Kit The Talking Car's partner on "Knight Rider": "I realized there was so much more I wanted to do. I mean, I was always a theater guy. And musical theater at that. I have this huge voice." Speaking of ego, I watched the E! True Hollywood Story on William Shatner as well. E! is like televised crack.

I watched an incredible amount of football, both college and pro. Miami vs. Virginia Tech, Washington State vs. UCLA, and some of Georgia vs. Arkansas on Saturday. Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay, New England vs. Buffalo, San Diego vs. Oakland, and Minnesota vs. Green Bay on Sunday. But it wasn't until last night when the Dolphins beat up on the Bears that I actually got some sports-watching satisfaction. Ricky Williams is the man. A very fast and powerful man who may give the Dolphins a legitimate chance to take the wide-open AFC.

I watched "Saturday Night Live," hosted by Robert De Niro with Norah Jones as the musical guest. It stunk. The writing was total shit, De Niro clearly hadn't rehearsed or glanced at his lines beforehand, Norah Jones was boring, and after it was over I really wanted to give up on the show. There was one very funny episode this season and the rest of it has been forgettable tripe.

And finally, I watched the season four finale of "The Sopranos." I thought it was great. Emotional, smart, and twisty, while culminating several of the season's story lines and setting up others for next season. I'm not in the business of playing the spoiler, so I won't go into detail in case either of you reading this hasn't seen it yet. I think the season as a whole wasn't quite as good as the first two seasons, but, unlike the feeling I had after the season three finale, I was satisfied. The biggest mistake the show made was sitting on the sidelines for 18 months while "Six Feet Under" took over as the best show on television.

That's all I've got. I gave more than I thought I had. Now I have to go eat some dinner before "24" starts.

Thursday, December 05, 2002


I just spent the last couple of hours stuffing envelopes. That was a pleasure compared to the task I was assigned earlier in the day. Things are looking up.


This is the worst day of temping I've had so far. My job is to go through this huge stack of contacts and systematically call each starred entry to verify the person's information. Just about every call has some problem or another. The number is disconnected, the person no longer works there, my call cannot be completed as dialed, the office is closed, wrong number, busy signal, hang up, etc. I was instructed to try to establish another contact if the person no longer works there, but most of the time I'm searching for these people through an automated directory. Sometimes I call and they've never even heard of the person I'm looking for. Sometimes they tell me the person hasn't worked there in years. Other times I call and I get the person who inherited the extension of the person I'm looking for and although they're kind of pissed off, they politely tell me that they have no idea who the person is despite periodically getting calls for them. I've only been able to verify a handful of contacts. A few people I contacted have changed addresses A couple of people told me to remove them from the list altogether. The last person I called, clearly not someone at American Express where I was trying to reach, didn't speak any English.

This stack seems endless. I dread every call I make. I can't wait for this day to end. I'm counting the seconds. I miss my life as an unemployed bum.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002


I have been thoroughly entertained as of late. Some sizzling fast-paced television, a bunch of good movies, and lots of exciting sports have kept me happy. Maybe it's a wave of good vibes. Maybe I am easily amused. Maybe I have been enjoying all of this stuff because I have been avoiding the things I really should be doing. Whatever the case may be, this holiday season not only am I thankful for a great girlfriend, fun faithful friends, and a fantastic family, but I am also thankful for quality in cinema, art, music, books, television, sports, cyberspace, travel, architecture, hiking trails, pets, weddings, beach houses, central heat and air conditioning, and a very comfortable bed.

"The Sopranos" episode on Sunday was simply awesome. Quite a rebound from the weak segment a week ago. I have wickedly mixed emotions about the finale. On one hand, I am anxious as hell to see what goes down. There have been so many fuses lit, I can't wait to see which ones explode. On the other hand, I am dreading the emptiness I'm positive I will feel following the 75-minute season ender.

"24" is a show on fire. Kiefer Sutherland continues to blow me away with some of the most astounding acting I've ever seen on television. And, like last season, the show becomes more fun to watch as the plot unravels one hour at a time. I don't know if anyone else has noticed or not, but Elisha Cuthbert, the girl playing Jack Bauer's daughter Kim, has blossomed into a fine young woman. Dennis Haysbert has improved his acting in playing President David Palmer. But it's still hard to buy this presidential regime in light of the great lengths "The West Wing" has gone to in cementing Martin Sheen in my mind as the ultimate Leader of the Free World.

Speaking of Dennis Haysbert... My Girl and I went to see "Far From Heaven" this weekend and we both thought it was outstanding. Actually, "outstanding" was my description. It was sort of my word for the weekend. But My Girl definitely liked it a lot, as evidenced by the fact that she cried at several key points during the movie. The first time, I turned and asked incredulously if she was crying. She get a little mad because she thought I was making fun of her, but I wasn't. I was just surprised that she was crying so early into the movie. I wasn't sure that the movie had earned that much emotion yet. Apparently, it did for My Girl. I thought it was beautiful to look at, full of rich performances, most notably by Julianne Moore, and in all facets, a director's movie. The attention to detail was impressive. From the way the title splashes across the screen to the period costumes and cars to the melodramatic story to the end credits, this movie was a heartfelt homage to the fifties. Kudos to Todd Haynes. And Dennis Haysbert wasn't half bad.

My Girl and I also watched "Harold and Maude" on DVD this weekend. While the movie ranks near the top of my all-time list, My Girl had never seen it before. Well, after she watched it and liked it very much, she remembered that she had seen some of the movie before. She speculated that she tried to watch it in college while under the influence and fell asleep. I love that movie more and more every time I watch it.

I also watched Escape From Alcatraz" on DVD on J-Yoz's strong recommendation. First time I had seen it. I liked the intensity a lot. It's such a straightforward story without much in the way of subplot. Eastwood gets sent to Alcatraz, the Warden's a prick, no one's ever escaped, Eastwood comes up with a plan to escape, gets some help from his buddies, and busts out. However, it is gripping, and I noticed a bunch of little things in the movie that were used later in "The Shawshank Redemption". I think a lot of younger people hold "Shawshank" in such high regard without knowing its lineage. To those people, I would recommend "Alcatraz" and another of my favorites "Stalag 17". I'm wondering, did they close Alcatraz because the real Frank Morris broke out? Did Morris and his buddies escape successfully or did they drown?

Wednesday, November 27, 2002


Since the beginning of the year, a group of friends of mine have been performing as a comedy troupe called The Ministry of Unknown Science. They are extremely irreverant and snarky and, most importantly, funny. I attended a dress rehearsal of their new "experiment" last night at their headquarters downtown and, as usual, I laughed my ass off. If you want to see them, they are performing this Saturday night at LOSCON 29, which if I heard correctly is L.A.'s largest science fiction convention. If you want to read about them before you see them, follow me... Or you can pick up a copy of the L.A. Weekly when it hits the stands tomorrow. The buzz is just beginning. Jump on this bandwagon before it rolls out of town.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002


I have watched a ton of sports over the years and yet I saw something last night that I've never seen before. Monday Night Football showcased the San Francisco 49ers against the Philadelphia Eagles. Last week, the Eagles superstar quarterback Donovan McNabb broke his ankle on the third play of the game, but somehow managed to limp his way through the rest of the game, throwing four touchdown passes in the process, and leading the Eagles to a big win. However, post-game x-rays revealed the fracture and McNabb will most likely be lost to the Eagles until the playoffs. Enter Koy Detmer. The Eagles backup QB was in the national spotlight last night, making his first start in three years against the west division-leading Niners. Detmer proceeded to play a near-flawless game in helping to stake the Philly boys to a big lead in San Fran. But, destiny had something else in store for Koy Detmer on this night. Late in the third quarter, Detmer dropped back to pass and, as he had done all evening, hung tough in the pocket to complete a 24-yard pass play. But he paid the price, taking a shot to the legs from defensive end Chike Okeafor, who threw him down to the turf. Detmer extended his left arm to brace his fall, and in a moment reminiscent of the famous scene of Joe Thiesman's leg getting bent back and broken on a hit from Lawrence Taylor on Monday Night Football, the quarterback's arm twisted awkwardly under the pressure. When they showed the replay repeatedly, you couldn't help but wince, imagining the pain he must have been in. And Detmer showed his pain too, wildly kicking his legs and flailing as he immediatly grabbed his left arm. The referee was compassionately holding him down with one hand while urgently motioning for the trainer with the other. When the trainers finally set the arm in a makeshift cast, helped Detmer to his feet, and sat him down on the cart to be wheeled off, something amazing happened. In a display of nothing short of love, the entire Eagles roster swarmed Detmer with encouraging words, pats on the head, and pure appreciation. Two weeks in a row the Eagles have witnessed tremendous courage and ability from their top two quarterbacks in the face of adversity, and their leadership has helped define the team character of the Eagles. Koy Detmer is known to be a very popular player on the team, one who knows the offense so well he teaches the coaches a few things. But this went beyond popularity. This went beyond being a good teammate and a likable person. Hell, the 49ers defensive team that was on the field wished Detmer well too. No, this was more than just a moment in a game. This transcended sports.

Monday, November 25, 2002


Is there a subtlety to Lorraine Bracco's acting that I'm not getting? Is she some sort of genius and I'm the only one who doesn't see it?


Not that it happens very often, but I was extremely disappointed in "The Sopranos" last night. Granted, I had just watched "Citizen Kane" on DVD right before it started, but last night's episode entitled "Calling All Cars" was weak.

Entirely too much screen time was devoted to the Janice-Bobby Bacala-and-his-kids storyline. We've seen manipulative behavior from Janice before, so there was no jolt of surprise in her sending a haunting anonymous IM to Bobby Jr. in order to more solidly entrench herself in their lives. In fact, it was predictable that she was going to pull a stunt like that and it felt repetitive. The seance with AJ and his little hottie and the Bacala kids was long and uneventful, the scene with Bobby and Janice eating dinner in the mall was all right, but in the end, who really gives a shit about Karen's last ziti? I like the character of Bobby and I usually get a kick out of Janice, but maybe I just don't care enough about the subplot to feel much of anything.

You know what else there was too much of? Lorraine Bracco. To paraphrase James Spader's Steff character from "Pretty in Pink", her acting was, is, and always will be nada. She sucks the life out of every scene she's in and that's quite an accomplishment considering most of her scenes are played against James Gandolfini, who expertly continues to craft one of the most fascinating characters in television history. Melfi's a terrible shrink and Bracco's an abominable actress. Kudos to Tony for ditching the therapy! After sitting through yet another session of Dream Analysis 101 and suffering through the most deliberate delivery in the history of acting, I would've hightailed it out of there a hell of a lot faster than he did.

The most interesting stuff involved the escalating tension between the New Jersey family and the New York family, but there just wasn't enough of it. A short scene with Carmine and Johnny Sack and then an uneventful dinner scene with Little Carmine... That's it? Oh, right, a couple of conversations with Silvio about keeping Florida secret and Paulie Walnuts. Not a memorable scene in the bunch. I'm not saying I don't like where this story is headed, but I do feel as though the moments we saw last night could have been used to lay the groundwork for something that took place in the same episode.

The dream sequences were strange and kind of creepy, but we've seen stranger and creepier from this series. They didn't seem to add up to too much either. Of course, we have to assume their purpose is to set up some big revelation in the last two segments of the season. But that's just it, the whole episode felt like setup. Besides finally eating Karen's fuckin' ziti, Tony cutting the therapy cord was the only concrete thing that occurred. But even that feels unfinished. It was as if the producers needed to stall for a night so they could flood the final two with, what I hope will be, the same intensity as the one where Ralphie got whacked. I guess it boils down to the disappointment of knowing this was one of the final three episodes of an otherwise scintillating season.

No Christoper in rehab... No Adrianna... No Meadow... No Furio-Carmela scenes... No Heshie...

It pains me to admit, but as far as I can remember, last night was the first time I was little bored while watching "The Sopranos."

Friday, November 22, 2002


It seems former boss, Seinfeld alum, and dare I say friend Carol Leifer has been quite busy since we last worked together on "The Ellen Show". Makes me feel lazy. But as always, I wish her the best of luck in all her endeavors. By any chance, you hiring, Carol?


"The Simpsons"
"All in the Family"
"The Larry Sanders Show"
"I Love Lucy"
"The Wonder Years"
"The Dick Van Dyke Show"
"The Mary Tyler Moore Show"


Thursday, November 21, 2002


Now that I've completed "Portnoy's Complaint" at long last, I'm finally getting around to all the reading I've been ignoring in the interim. One of the pieces I had been meaning to read was the article on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" in last week's LA Weekly. Right off the bat, it became clear that I was meant to read these things in a particular order:

LARRY DAVID IS THE PHILIP ROTH OF situation comedy, unafraid to reveal just how devious, petty, annoying, argumentative, selfish, boorish and insensitive he can be.

The Jewish comedy chain is taking on a certain clarity for me now. I know Philip Roth didn't invent Jewish humor. Far from it. From Vaudeville to the Catskills to the Friars Club, Jewish comedians have fueled American comedy for over a century. But I believe I can now pinpoint a seachange in the history. Lenny Bruce ushered in a new era of Jewish humor that is much darker in tone and content. Philip Roth built on what Lenny Bruce had started, Woody Allen pushed it even farther, and now Larry David has taken it to yet another level. As the Weekly article colorfully states:

Larry is a one-man universe of bad karma, a human banana peel

I actually have a personal anecdote about a real-life encounter with the eccentric Curb creator and Seinfeld co-creator that illustrates why his show is simply a heightened version of his friction-filled day-to-day existence. In February of 1999, Columbia Pictures was celebrating its 75th anniversary with a film festival at The Cineramadome. "Lawrence of Arabia" was the opening film, it was only running for the first two nights, and I had never seen the classic. So, despite the fact that I didn't have a car at the time, I vowed not to let the opportunity pass me by. I hopped in a cab and had the driver drop me off in front of The Dome. I anxiously walked up to the box office only to discover the show was sold out. Now what? As I was prone to do at the time, I lit up a cigarette and milled outside the theater hoping against hope that I would find some way in or they would release more seats or something. Puffing away, who do I spot but Larry David also milling about outside the glass doors. Somehow I instinctually gleaned from his body language that he was caught in the same predicament I was, only he most likely had a car to make his escape in. As he paced by me, I casually said "Hey, can't you pull some stings and get us some seats?" He grimaced and shrugged and I pushed it a little more: "Just tell them who you are and I bet they let us right in." He said he didn't feel right doing it and I, having nothing to lose, kept nudging: "Then slip 'em a twenty." Larry scoffed, "No, it's too embarrassing." Although I was broke and couldn't even afford to own a car, I countered: "I'll do it." Larry perked up: "Really? You'll do it?" I said "Yeah, I'll do it." He considered it for a moment, then neurotically backed off: "No, we can't do that. We'll get caught." Barry: "We won't get caught" Larry: "No, I can't do it. You do it if you want to, but I can't." Larry strolled away, but stayed in the immediate area, purposefully peering inside. Minutes later, he wandered back over to me and engaged me in a little chit-chat. "So, what do you do? You a writer?" I told him we knew a lot of the same people because I used to work at Castle Rock and I worked in sitcoms and yada, yada, yada... we had established a rapport. We wished each other luck on getting in and that was that. Or so I thought. A few moments later, I see the usher escorting a handicapped person and their companion inside through one of the secondary glass doors. Right behind them, Larry David, sneaking in under the pretense of accompanying the handicapped person. Classic George Costanza. Emboldened by Larry's enterprising delinquency, I decided to make a play of my own. Without a ticket, I approached the usher at the main entrance and pleaded my case. "The box office is sold out and my friends are inside with ticket for me. Can I go in and find them?" After some additional coaxing and desperate facial contortions, the head stickler usher called over a subservient usher named Mario to escort me into the theater to find my friends. As Mario walked me in, I whispered: "Even if I can't find my friends, will you let me stay for the movie?" Under his breath, Mario replied: "Yeah, that guy's a dick anyway." We walked into the The Dome and almost immediately passed Larry David in the walkway between the front section and the balcony. I said, "Larry, hey, you got in?" Larry shot back, "Hey, you did too." Apparently, Mario thought that Larry was the friend I was looking for and left me alone. I asked Larry if he found his friends, he said he hadn't but he was staying for the movie anyway. I found a seat in the balcony, the lights dimmed, and pleased as punch with myself, I watched the first half of "Lawrence of Arabia." At intermission, I saw Larry once again, approached him and queried: "So, what do you think?" "You know, I couldn't sit through the whole thing when I was a teenager and I can't sit through the whole thing now. I'm taking off. I'm going home." Shocked and amused that he went to such great lengths to sneak into a movie that he couldn't even sit through, I laughed and gave him some shit. After a few more minutes of chatting, Larry asked me my name again and wished me luck as a writer. We shook hands, Larry threw his signature scarf around his neck and left the building. I returned to my balcony seat and watched the second half of the 217-minute masterpiece. Still riding the high from my very own Seinfeldian episode, I walked all the way back to my apartment on Formosa from The Cineramadome.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002


I finished reading Philip Roth's 1967 classic "Portnoy's Complaint" this morning. It very well might be the funniest book I've ever read. The sexually-charged novel about a man in his thirties relating his life story to a psychiatrist is not only a highly influential work in the realm of modern Jewish humor, but the experts consider it one of the century's hundred best novels. Frankly, it surprises me that "Portnoy's" made the Board's list, considering the book is filled with some deeply dark sexual material. But it's a pleasant surprise, as I have no objections to this book being recognized as legendary. I found the neurotic revelations to be both courageous and hysterical, an obvious forefunner to the comedy of Woody Allen and "Seinfeld". I rarely laugh out loud while reading, but this book cracked me up on many occasions and even contained something most comedies fail to deliver, a formidably funny punch line.


Doughty: hey dude
Langerado: tsup...
Doughty: not much, been busy
Doughty: you working same place as last week?
Langerado: yeah. today's the last of it.
Langerado: but, the guy i'm working for called me into his office before the end of work last night and told me how much he likes me and wants to help me out
Doughty: sweet, just remember to ask for the money up front
Langerado: right-o
Doughty: how funny was the Curb finale?
Langerado: i thought it was all right
Langerado: that show doesn't make me laugh that much
Doughty: "You fucking car-wash cunt, I had a dentist appt"
Langerado: i don't find jeff's wife funny
Doughty: you are telling me that you didn't laugh when she walked in as Cheryl was cursing and she went off?
Langerado: too much of a coincidence
Langerado: not organic
Doughty: every episode is like that...completely inorganic
Doughty: always stupid, but always funny
Langerado: i don't love it
Langerado: i want to love it more than i do
Doughty: better than any other sitcom
Langerado: i'm usually left kind of disappointed
Langerado: i watched "raymond" last night for the first time in a season or so -- worst one i've ever seen
Langerado: watched "mind of a married man" on sunday after curb -- could not believe how bad it was
Doughty: that show lost me after about the second one
Langerado: state of comedy on television is dreadful
Langerado: i think this may have been the first "mind of" that i watched in full
Doughty: so this guy gonna hook you up?
Langerado: not necessarily
Langerado: just said he would if he could
Langerado: nice guy
Langerado: very encouraging about writing and the like
Langerado: hey, i had this crazy dream last night about a huge birthday party thrown in my honor
Doughty: and...
Langerado: the dream didn't seem that imporant. what was important was that my eyes popped open at 6:20 to end the dream and while trying to get back to sleep I couldn't shake the feeling that i should get back to acting
Doughty: back to?
Langerado: well, i originally came out here to take acting classes...
Langerado: i continued with the groundlings until i had to give up the class to work in the mailroom at castle rock
Langerado: i've been away from it ever since
Langerado: when i say back to, i mean the idea of acting for a living
Doughty: sounds like a screenplay
Langerado: how so?
Doughty: like a character in a script
Doughty: tossed and turned through the Hollywood carousel
Langerado: maybe i'm too close to it
Langerado: give me an arc
Langerado: or don't...
Doughty: gets lost in the near-miss writing/producing gigs...lands in a dead-end asst position, only to be cast as an out of work srcreenwriter in a perfectly cast spot, finally finds some contentment -- working-class actor
Langerado: not too bad
Doughty: eh
Doughty: you hear anything about Adaptation?
Langerado: buzzing like crazy
Doughty: that's good right?
Langerado: i think it's going to be a great one
Langerado: did you say you loved "igby goes down"?
Doughty: Being John Mal director?
Doughty: liked
Langerado: spike jonze
Doughty: right
Langerado: and writer -- charlie kaufman
Doughty: he did Adaptation?
Langerado: both
Langerado: writer comes off a big hit and is hired by studio to do adapt a book into a screenplay. writer can't do it, winds up writing himself into the screenplay.
Doughty: you think of Shelly Duval song yet?
Langerado: story becomes writer trying to adapt book instead of the book turned into a movie
Langerado: i told you i never recorded it in my brain in the first place
Langerado: i thought igby was pretty awesome
Langerado: snappy dialogue, great cast
Langerado: at the beginning, the tone reminded me of "harold and maude"
Doughty: gave it a 1+
Langerado: that's 3.249999 stars, right?
Doughty: can range from 3 - 3.49999
Langerado: pi?
Doughty: would place it at 3.2
Langerado: igby>pi
Doughty: touch more
Doughty: Mark Cuban on ESPN radio, pretty funny
Langerado: funny because he's legit funny or because he's ridiculous?
Doughty: trying to hold on to gains for day
Doughty: legit
Langerado: isn't that what you try to do every day?
Doughty: no sometimes I am trying to fight out of hole
Langerado: called into office -- chat later
Langerado: peace
Langerado: love ya
Doughty: back atcha

Monday, November 18, 2002


I feel cultured today. And it’s not just the juiced vegetables and fruit smoothie I had for breakfast this morning. The theme for this past weekend was perspective. Various seemingly unrelated activities conspired to remind me of the existential context in which I live my life.

The first lesson in perspective came Friday night while watching “Dancing Outlaw”. Apparently, this 1991 short film about tap dancing hillbilly Jesco White is a cult classic. Previously, I had never seen nor heard of the infamous hick flick. Growing up in South Florida didn’t offer too many opportunities to experience real backwoods folk, and even though I went to school in Gainesville, life revolved around the college and my relatively sheltered experience was extended. Shortly after my Gator tenure came to an end, I moved to Los Angeles. Thus, I am admittedly unfamiliar with the ways of the hayseed. Frankly, the extreme brand of bumpkin freaks me out. It’s so foreign to me. So unlike the existence I’ve known. And while I appreciated “Dancing Outlaw” as a bizarre and entertaining documentary, when confronted with such a pointed portrayal of the reddest of rednecks, I cringed and squirmed and my eyes got heavy. But, for the sake of cultural awareness, I vow to give it another look, with open eyes and an open mind.

“Igby Goes Down” continued the cultural lesson. The bittersweet story of a prep school malcontent provided a glimpse into the world of the rich and dysfunctional. Being neither rich nor particularly dysfunctional, once again I found myself a stranger in a strange story. Poor Igby receives no love from his mother or brother and the only member of his family capable of showing any affection, his father, cracks under the pressure of his weighty life and goes insane. After getting booted out of numerous prep schools and escaping from military school, Igby lands a gig working for his prototypically successful godfather (a polished and slick Jeff Goldblum) in New York City. While in New York, Igby encounters an array of apathetic characters who perpetuate the feeling that nobody gives a shit about him. During the course of the film, Igby gets his ass kicked on three separate occasions and is betrayed in one way or another by almost every character in the film. Aided by a stellar performance by Kieran Culkin, I couldn’t help but feel for Igby. It’s as if you, as an audience member, are responsible for giving him the affection that everyone in his world refuses him. The movie is filled with no less than eight excellent performances by the likes of Claire Danes, Jared Harris, Amanda Peet, Ryan Phillippe, Bill Pullman, and Susan Sarandon, in addition to those previously mentioned. Clearly, these actors were directed well, as no single performance stands outside the story, and it didn’t hurt that they had some really sharp dialogue to work with. It’s a testament to the movie's effectiveness that I left the theater with such compassion for a spoiled little rich kid.

Late late Saturday night, after watching a horrendous episode of Saturday Night Live, My Girl and I stumbled upon an unexpected gem. PBS had signed off for the night and instead of turning into a pumpkin, it became The Discovery Channel, which was rerunning special entitled “Deadliest Job in the World”. It turns out the deadliest job in the world is crab fishing in the Bering Sea during one of the worst storms in eighteen years. Hellish conditions, off-the-charts risk factors, eighteen-hour days, weeks without sleep, and an ever-present threat of death combine to crown this job the champion of shitty jobs. But hey, the money’s good. You want to talk about perspective -- I’m sitting here answering phones for a handful of dollars per hour and I’m thrilled, now that I’ve seen the extreme alternative. Granted, you have to be a thrill seeker to even sign up for the gig in the first place, but some of the behavior these guys were displaying, I don’t know… Forty-foot waves crash down on them, eighty-mile-an-hour winds toss them around, and heavy rains pelt them in the face, while these ultra-rugged macho men stand on the deck trying to maneuver these large cages of bait and crabs in and out of the water. I understand that time is money, but for godsakes, take a break until the storm passes. Time and money don’t really factor into things when you’re dead, do they?

Yesterday was a full day of complete cultural immersion. My Girl, Young Goodman Brown, and I went downtown to the MOCA at California Plaza. Before we entered the museum, we strolled down the street to take in the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, still under construction but nearly complete and fully spectacular. Right off the bat, the museum bested expectations. The permanent collection starts with an exhibit called "Conversations" which is structured as a dialogue between several contemporary artists, including Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. In my humble opinion, Johns' painting "Map" was the highlight of the exhibit. After disappearing for some time, Young Goodman Brown came back to retrieve us and make us skip ahead to this surreal section where an entire room was dedicated to a work called "Proposal For Monument at Frienship Park, FL". The facade of a wood cabin and it's porch has rocking lawn chairs where you can sit and sift through an extensive collection of southern rock records and then play them on turntables. Of course, being the DJ and all, Young Goodman Brown had to do a little scratchin'. Seconds after he turned to me and said, "Look, man, I'm scratching," the security guard purposefully walked over and stuttered "You can't do that." YGB apologized, but I think he underestimated how much it bothered the stuttering security guard, whose every utterance sounds like a scratched record. In the same room is a bunch of fake rocks and a trash receptacle in the middle with speakers planted inside to play the southern rock records. The most intriguing exhibit was a collection of photographic works by Thomas Struth. There were perspective pictures of roads and cityscapes, stunning shots of nature, and ironic images of people in museums looking at great works of art. While browsing through the exhibit, My Girl wished out loud that there was a movie made up of great shots of buildings and nature set to music. Young Goodman Brown said "There is and tonight's the last night it's showing at The Egyptian Theater. It's called "Baraka".

"Baraka" is breathtaking. The film contains some of the greatest cinematography you will ever see and it's larger than life in 70mm. I know this may be a cop out, but I find the experience incredibly difficult to describe. Shot in 24 countries, the film is like a visual tour of the world, its peoples, and its cultures, and it's quite overwhelming. Suffice it to say that My Girl got exactly what she wanted.

In addition to feeling cultured, I feel well-rounded and literate. I feel like I'm a part of the world. I feel whole. How long can I make it last?

Friday, November 15, 2002


Doughty: Qiuz Show / Cape Fear / American Beauty / Being John Malkovich / Eight Men Out / Midnight Run
Langerado: gimme a sec, i'll nail this one
Langerado: 1. American Beauty
Langerado: 2. Midnight Run
Langerado: 3. Being John Malkovich
Langerado: 4. Eight Men Out
Langerado: 5. Cape Fear
Langerado: 6. Quiz Show
Langerado: love the top four
Langerado: like the bottom two
Doughty: similar, but I have one major difference
Doughty: 1. Am Beaut
Doughty: 2. Cape Fear
Doughty: 3. Mid Run
Doughty: 4. Being
Doughty: 5. Eight
Doughty: 6. Quiz
Langerado: you love the cape fear?
Doughty: what's not to love?
Doughty: a movie that has you sympathizing/rooting for a sicko
Doughty: Nolte's finest hour
Langerado: i liked it a lot, i just wouldn't put it that high on that particular list
Langerado: coun-se-lor
Langerado: did you see that clip with the fox news guy screwing up?
Doughty: where he says "blow job"?
Doughty: heard on Howard I think
Doughty: that what you're talking about?
Langerado: yes, that's the one
Langerado: you want me to forward it
Langerado: it's a huge file
Doughty: nah, don't have much room on pc at home
Langerado: cool that
Doughty: true that
Doughty: one more list eh?
Langerado: sure, i've got time for one more before lunch
Doughty: should we venture into "3" territory?
Langerado: whatever you like
Langerado: what were the other ones?
Doughty: 2's except for Overboard, dr det list
Doughty: ok we go to the big boys...
Langerado: midnight run a 2?
Langerado: american beauty a 2?
Doughty: that means 3.5 out of 4
Langerado: lil
Doughty: right, agreed both are strong 3.5's
Langerado: lol
Langerado: lal
Langerado: okay, your system is fucked up and needs to be revised
Doughty: 4-star reserved for all timers
Langerado: fine. but things need to be clearer
Langerado: 2 means 3 and a half stars
Langerado: i don't use math for a living
Langerado: or anything else for that matter
Doughty: doesn't seem so tough
Doughty: yes 2 means 3.5
Langerado: unnecessarily confusing
Langerado: 1 means 4 stars
Langerado: 2 means 3.5 stars
Doughty: no 3 does
Langerado: 3 means 3 stars
Doughty: other way
Langerado: there is no 4
Doughty: 3 is highest rating
Doughty: jeesh
Doughty: you forget that I know you are no dummy in the math world
Doughty: as much as you'd like to be an English freak and nothing about math makes sense
Doughty: can't fool old friends, amigo
Langerado: okay, so 3 is 4 stars
Langerado: 2 is 3.5 stars
Langerado: 1 is 3 stars
Doughty: right, with the caveat that the 1's have two ratings
Doughty: 1 and 1+
Doughty: guess which is higher
Langerado: 1+ is a 5 star movie
Langerado: top of the heap -- all time great
Langerado: a number one
Langerado: plus
Doughty: no
Langerado: 1+ is a 3.25 star
Doughty: yes
Doughty: whew
Doughty: we'll tackle some 3's
Langerado: okay, i just got the okay to go to lunch, so hit me with one more list
Doughty: Goodfellas / Close Encounters / JFK / Manchurian Candidate / Raging Bull / Schindler's List / Wall Street
Langerado: wow
Langerado: big hitters
Doughty: see the difference?
Langerado: yeah
Doughty: and I left out the real heavys
Langerado: 1. Raging Bull
Langerado: 2. Schindler's List
Langerado: 3. Manchurian Candidate
Langerado: 4. Close Encounters
Langerado: 5. Goodfellas
Langerado: 6. JFK
Langerado: 7. Wall Street
Doughty: 1. Schindler
Doughty: 2. Raging
Doughty: 3. Goodfellas
Doughty: 4. Manchurian
Doughty: 5. WallSt
Doughty: 6. JFK
Doughty: 7. CLose Encounters
Langerado: tough list, man
Doughty: not too far off from each other
Langerado: not too far at all
Doughty: wall st last huh?
Langerado: relative to the others -- but i still love the movie
Doughty: ok pikage
Langerado: going to grab a philly cheese steak now
Doughty: have a good weekend
Langerado: u2, buddy
Doughty: adios


Doughty: rank em:
Langerado: go
Doughty: worldcom, sprint, at&t, mci, pacwest, verizon
Langerado: this isn't my genre, but i'm going for it anyway
Langerado: 1. AT&T 2. Verizon 3. WorldCom 4. Sprint 5. MCI 6. PacWest
Doughty: Worldcom has to be last -- bankrupcy
Langerado: sorry
Langerado: what about the rest of the order
Doughty: Freckles, Dimples, Beauty Mark, Bedroom Eyes
Langerado: well, i know you'd have to rank freckles #1
Doughty: rest was swell
Doughty: actually last
Langerado: i'd say...
Langerado: 1. Bedroom Eyes
Langerado: 2. Beauty Mark
Langerado: 3. Dimples
Langerado: 4. Freckles
Doughty: right on the mark
Doughty: you watch 24?
Langerado: no
Doughty: wing?
Langerado: had a busy night
Langerado: no
Doughty: boococky?
Langerado: wrote with jeff bye for a couple of hours, then hung out with alvarez and my friend drea who is moving back to brazil next month
Doughty: back in a bit
Langerado: giddyap

Thursday, November 14, 2002


JODIE: hi ! how are you
Langerado: good. how are you, jod?
JODIE: great!
Langerado: well, that sounds good. why so great?
JODIE: going out for dinner tonight w/ chaunce (he's on howard stern a lot) ya know of him?
JODIE: he's kind of a piker
JODIE: loving Calvin kleain
JODIE: klein..oops
Langerado: how long you been there now/
JODIE: a month...getting so much free clothes!!!!!
JODIE: just came home today w/ 2 jackets
JODIE: what's going on with you?
Langerado: not too much. temping at New Line today.
Langerado: it's been very inconsistent though
Langerado: this is the first day this week i'm working
JODIE: yikes!
Langerado: kind of hard to establish a regular schedule
JODIE: how is your "lady"???
Langerado: but, i've been writing and running and i feel like i'm moving forward
Langerado: she's pretty good -- a little stressed about making a living while she's writing her novel
JODIE: forward is better than backwards
Langerado: yup
JODIE: going to see Rules of Attraction on your recomendation
Langerado: i hope you can handle it
JODIE: you see 8 mile yet? it was pretty good
JODIE: oh i just heard that you haen't seen Reg for a dream yet
JODIE: requiem
Langerado: i have not seen requiem. i meant to see it in the theaters, but i didn't, and i haven't really watned to rent it since
Langerado: but i did see 8 mile and thought it was pretty good
JODIE: i love emenim's cd
Langerado: i never liked his music, but that song from the movie is pretty damn good
JODIE: i'm sorry mama
JODIE: rank these albums
Langerado: go
JODIE: outfield play ball
pretty in pink
brian adams..summer of 69
some kind of wonderful
bat out of hell
surfer rosa
JODIE: as per jace
Langerado: some kind of wonderful soundtrack?
JODIE: true that
Langerado: and is summer of '69 the name of the album?
JODIE: c'mon...don't be a piker
Langerado: seriously
JODIE: i think it is
JODIE: go on Amazon
Langerado: the album is called "Reckless"
JODIE: you still at work?
Langerado: ok, here we go...
JODIE: oh yeah
Langerado: yeah, still at work, it's only 4:15
Langerado: 1. Pretty In Pink
Langerado: 2. Surfer Rosa
Langerado: 3. Bat Out of Hell
Langerado: 4. Reckless
Langerado: 5. Play Ball
Langerado: 6. Some Kind of Wonderful
JODIE: correct
JODIE: good going
Langerado: really? is that actually the RIGHT answer?
JODIE: yes nice job
JODIE: look it up
Langerado: i'm confused now
JODIE: look in the Almanac
Langerado: in order of quality, right?
Langerado: isn't that subjective?
JODIE: quality yes
Langerado: give me more
Langerado: but, be warned, i may publish this conversation on the blog
JODIE: be right back on doughty acct
Langerado: is this jodie or jason?
JODIE signed off at 4:20:36 PM.

Doughty: yo
Doughty: jodie now
Langerado: was that jason?
Langerado: or you?
Doughty: jace is looking through cd's
Doughty: it was jcae
Doughty: now jodie
Langerado: you guys are out of your minds
Doughty: he'll bwe right back..mking lists
Doughty: he is crazy list boy
Langerado: no kidding
Doughty: lists are EVERYWHERE
Doughty: sports rankings, movies, cd's
Langerado: typing LOL is extremely cheesy, but i just laughed out loud
Doughty: just for fun he writes lists
Doughty: lists by his bedside, on the coffe table, in the kitchen (no not in the kitchen..)
Doughty: bye bar..getting in trouble
Langerado: bye jod, thanks for making me laugh
Doughty: Nevermind
Blood Sugar Sex Magic
Nothing Shocking
Achtung Baby
Siamese Dreams
Live Through This
Langerado: 1. Nothing Shocking
Langerado: 2. Achtung Baby
Langerado: 3. Nevermind
Langerado: 4. Siamese Dreams
Langerado: 5. Blood Sugar Sex Magic
Langerado: 6. Ten
Langerado: 7. Live Through This
Doughty: wrong, thx for playing
Langerado: WRONG?
Doughty: 1. Nevermind
Doughty: 2. Nothing Shocking
Doughty: 3. Siamese Dreams
Doughty: 4. Blood Sugar
Doughty: 5. Live Through This
Doughty: 6. Achtung
Doughty: 7. Ten
Doughty: as much as I hate that murderer C Love -- that album is good
Doughty: hell it was written by Kurt Cobain and Billy Corgan
Doughty: Elizabeth
Eyes Wide Shut
Glengarry Glen Ross
Malcolm X
Saturday Night Fever
Taxi Driver
Thirteen Days...all "2" rated movies from THE list
Langerado: 1. Taxi Driver
Langerado: 2. Glengarry Glen Ross
Langerado: 3. Malcolm X
Langerado: 4. Bugsy
Langerado: 5. Thirteen Days
Langerado: sorry, scratch that
Langerado: 5. Saturday Night Fever
Langerado: 6. Thirteen Days
Langerado: 7. Elizabeth
Langerado: 8. Eyes Wide Shut
Doughty: 1. Sat Night Fever
2. Taxi Driver
3. Bugsy
4. Eyes Wide Shut
5. Glengarry
6. Malcolm X
7. Elizabeth
8. 13 Days
Doughty: interesting
Doughty: Saturday Night Fever pretty low
Doughty: admittedly I like Eyes Wide Shut more than most
Doughty: let's try some 1+'s shall we
Doughty: Sexy Beast
This Boy's Life
Remember the Titans
Slums of Bev Hills
You Can Count on Me
Doughty: there?
Doughty signed off at 4:53:14 PM.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Monday, November 11, 2002


At long last, it's that time of the year again. Typically, the last two months of the year contain more quality movies than the rest of the year combined. This year seems to be dutifully following the pattern. I've seen four films in the last week and, in one way or another, I enjoyed them all. That's not to say that they were all great movies, but I found something to like in each of them.

Jackass: The Movie
I haven't laughed that much in a movie theater in a long long time and I've definitely never cringed as much. These guys are easily the most balls-out group of friends around. Most of the stunts and pranks they pull off are things only idiots would try. But these guys really aren't idiots. They're actually quite adept at coming up with schemes to push people's buttons, shock others (and often themselves), as well as challenge the notion that something simply cannot be done. Although I'm defending these lunatics by claiming they're not idiots, I'll call a spade a spade: They are out of their friggin' minds. I was talking about the movie with a fellow film buff and he said it felt like he was watching it in his basement with a group of rowdy friends. The audience audibly reacts in every conceivable way -- howling, screeching, yelling, shrieking, doubling-over, gagging -- and can't help turning to the person sitting next to them and asking "Did you see that?" The film buff said it's the only movie he's ever gone to see where his cell phone rang and he answered it, confident that carrying on a conversation wouldn't bother anyone.

Punch-Drunk Love
I like this movie. I use the present tense because the more I sit with it, the more I like it. It's original in that Paul Thomas Anderson way where the supernatural is present in every day life. It features a unexpectedly layered performance by Adam Sandler as Barry Egan. The movie has Philip Seymour Hoffman and Emily Watson, a couple of actors who are always at the top of their game. The amazing scene with Barry's overbearing and overwhelming sisters all together under one roof is all the character development you need to know why the guy is the way he is. The film, like all of PTA's work, is beautifully shot with incredible music and has that unique element of spontaniety that leaves you with no real clue as to what's going to happen next.

8 Mile
Not a great movie, but a pretty damn good one. Eminem is great in the movie because of two things: he has an abundance of charisma and he was directed extremely well. I flipped over Curtis Hanson's last two movies, LA Confidential and Wonder Boys. What's on the screen reads as a good performance because Hanson did an outstanding job of asking Eminem to do what he was capable of doing and nothing more. The controversial rapper was able to draw on the considerable star quality he already had rather than struggle with the transition to a new medium by having to craft a part like some sort of method actor. And he came out of it smelling like a rose instead of wilting like a half-talented pop star with only handful of acting classes under his belt. I don't even like his music, but "Lose Yourself", the big hit single off the soundtrack, is catchy as hell and accurately frames the movie. The storyline is basic and there are some weak spots, namely a couple of the friends characters and most of Kim Basinger's dialogue, but like Eminem himself, the movie is constantly engaging and forces you to keep watching.

The Rules of Attraction
Brutal, merciless, dazzling. A must see for anybody who loves stylish filmmaking and doesn't require a main character to identify with and root for. Scenes rewind themselves, montages are shown in fast forward, and the entire movie turns out to be a sort of wicked flashback. One character is in love with another character who is in love with somebody else who is in love with yet another. The movie has sex, drugs, and 80s tunes to spare and is by far the most visceral of the three Bret Easton Ellis adaptations. It's a shame this movie was given a wide release and is now considered a bomb because it was never meant for the masses. Lion's Gate should have marketed "The Rules of Attraction" as an art-house film and released it that way so it could generate some buzz instead of being considered a flop. Because now the onus is on the DVD and video release to attract the audience that should have seen this movie in the theater.

Four movies in a week and I liked them all. But, none of them were as good as last night's episode of "The Sopranos".

There are still a multitude of must-see movies in current release and coming soon. Here's my updated list:


Igby Goes Down
Far From Heaven
Spirited Away
Auto Focus
Roger Dodger
Bowling For Columbine


Catch Me If You Can
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
About Schmidt
Gangs of New York
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
The Antwone Fischer Story
The 25th Hour

Thursday, November 07, 2002


Television is doing some serious sweeping right about now. The first week of the fall sweeps has been chock full of quality programming. Granted, I have stopped sampling the rather large crop of first-year shows and solidified my viewing schedule by watching shows I know I like, but those shows are currently operating at a very high level.

Saturday Night Live was actually funny this past week with Eric McCormack hosting and Jay-Z as the musical guest. The cold opening with Darrell Hammond as Rudy Guiliani taping his endorsements for the election had a brilliant punchline and set the tone for a particularly irreverant episode. A spoof of "The Bachelor" provided some solid laughs, and I cracked up at a fake commercial for ABC's Tuesday night lineup which features Bonnie Hunt, Jim Belushi, and John Ritter, dubbed "Last Chance Tuesdays." My favorite bit of the night was a skit with three couples playing Celebrity, a game which I've played several times recently with friends whereby everyone writes the names of celebrities and fictional characters down on slips of paper and puts them in a bowl. The couples then take turns giving and receiving, a la "$25,000 Pyramid" and unselfish foreplay, trying to get their partner to say the name of the celebrity. My Girl and I have played twice in the last month or so with the same group of people, but neither one of us had any idea that the game was known outside this little circle. The SNL skit acutely captured the nuances of people's behavior while playing the game, eventually amping up the unavoidable competitiveness for great comedic effect. Both of Jay-Z's performances were excellent, the first one a duet with Lenny Kravitz, the second one a duet with Beyonce Knowles with Lenny on guitar. I was only marginally familiar with Mr. Z's music and was thus highly impressed by the talented rapper. Eric McCormack did a good job, with his best work coming in a courtroom sketch in which he silently played a defendant who keeps interrupting the witness by sounding a bullhorn, pissing off the judge, who was played by Will Forte, an SNL newcomer who I know from my sitcom days.

Sunday night was a tremendous night of television. "The Sopranos" episode entitled "Mergers and Acquisitions" was an outstanding one after a subpar effort last week, appropriately titled "Watching Too Much Television." Carmela strikes back after finding a female fingernail in the house and correctly assuming that Tony is having an affair. Tony hesitates to commit to the affair beyond a one-night stand because he feels like the woman is tainted goods for having slept with Ralph. But the more Tony investigates whether or not the woman slept with Ralph (she claims she didn't), the more it becomes apparent that Ralphie is a hardcore sexual deviant. "Curb Your Enthusiasm" followed "The Sopranos" with its funniest episode of the season, called "Krazee-Eyez Killa". The title character refers to Wanda's professional rapper fiance, who Larry interacts with at a barbecue. In what may be the most hysterical exhange in the show's history, Krazee-Eyez Killa reads Larry some rap lyrics he wrote that morning and asks for Larry's opinion. Larry suggests Killa change a "motherfucker" to "bitch," and the unlikely pair forge a bond, with Killa asking Larry, "Are you my nigga?" Krazee-Eyez confides in Larry that he loves eating girls out and can't get enough, despite the fact that he's engaged, and makes Larry promise not to tell Wanda. In another storyline, Larry tries to replace a sports jacket he wore while filming an earlier scene in the Scorsese movie. Having no idea the jacket was a part of the movie wardrobe, Cheryl threw the jacket out, and now Larry needs it to wear while filming more scenes. In another outrageous scene, Larry goes down to Mitchell's on Melrose to acquire another jacket and miraculously finds an identical one. But, he pisses off the anal retentive store owner, who then refuses to sell him the jacket. Once again, Larry has a stroke of luck when he finds another identical jacket in Krazee-Eyez Killa's closet while taking a tour of his house. At the end of the hilarious scene, Killa gives him the jacket. Larry is so excited he asks Killa, "Are you my caucasian?" Wanda finds out that Killa is cheating on him, even though Larry told Cheryl and Cheryl did not repeat it to Wanda. Krazee-Eyez assumes Larry spilled the beans to Wanda and comes over to the house enraged. Larry tries to hide upstairs, but Killa hears him stepping on bubble wrap and calls him out. Larry insists he didn't say anything, but Krazee-Eyez Killa doesn't believe him and demands Larry give him the jacket back. Seemingly unfazed, Larry performs oral sex on Cheryl and gets a pubic hair stuck in his throat. Larry shows up on the set of the Scorsese movie without the jacket he needs to wear, but the wardrobe woman bails him out by having a backup. Martin Scorsese is left muttering "This guy's gonna kill me. How many more scenes we got with him?" In the middle of filming his scene in the movie, Larry again gags and chokes on the pubic hair.

Instead of recapping Tuesday night's episode of "24" in detail, I just want to comment that the pace continues to be relentless. Kiefer continues to carry the show on his back, but seems to have more help this season. Now that we've been to hell and back with Palmer and Kim on Day 1, there isn't as much of a lull when we leave Kiefer to check in on the secondary plot lines. Apparently, I'm not the only one who feels the show has improved.

Last night Democrats got their fictional revenge for Tuesday night's beating by electing Jed Bartlett to another four years as POTUS on "The West Wing".

I missed "American Dreams" on Sunday night, probably because I started to get bored with the show and my desire to watch it has waned. I still think it's a great premise, but the execution feels soft. However, it appears NBC has great confidence in the freshman show.

There's much more to life than TV though. That's why I badly need TiVO.

Birthday shout out to the most passionate and loyal TV viewer I know and a best friend since fourth grade, J-Yoz. Happy Birthday, Wizard of Yoz!

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Tuesday, November 05, 2002


Nothing is wrong. I just feel blah, that’s all. Where is it written that I have to be upbeat and funny all the time? Nowhere, that’s where. I suppose I hold myself up to that ideal, because, really, it’s more fun for me. Once again, I am temping this week at a certain Hollywood studio with a knack for turning Little Creatures and Little People into pots of gold. I’m comfortable here, but there’s a limit to just how comfortable one can be as a temp. I can never really settle into one desk or department or assignment. Every day and every week has the potential to be one of transition. Consequently, the larger issues are weighing on me: Where is this going to lead? Is this helping my career? Do I have a career? How have I managed to work in this industry for almost eight years and not have a career? How am I going to work my way out of debt making ten bucks an hour? The smaller issues are nagging at me: I’ve got to get back to eating right. I’ve got to resume my running regimen. I’ve got to write every day. I’ve got to finish something. But, in actuality, nothing is wrong. I’m working pretty consistently. I’ve been having a lot of fun lately. I’m reading a great book. My relationship is going really well. My ideas are good. I just haven’t been as strict with my diet and exercise and I’m not writing as much as I’d like. I can turn that stuff around in a hurry. The other stuff, the big stuff, may take a little time to straighten out. Temping seems perfect for me right now, during this period of plotting. I can bounce around, try a bunch of different things, but not be tied to any one of them. Sure, I’m going to have to get a permanent job soon, there’s really no way around it. But, taking my time and methodically maneuvering into position will hopefully ensure that I’ll land in the perfect place.

Monday, November 04, 2002


Rattling around in my head today is the question: “What makes a party great?” As a social being, and with all the special occasions this year, I’ve often felt like a professional party attendee. I don’t blame these party-throwers one iota for inviting me, as I am a damn good guest. I’m pleasant, entertaining, and I can handle my liquor. But, my presence is only a small fraction of what it takes to make a fun fiesta transition into a barnstorming bash.

First things first, you need to set the proceedings into motion. That means, at the very least, you must provide the basics: namely alcohol, music, and people. Without these, your party doesn’t even have a chance to get off the ground. Now, to get the thing to spread its wings and soar, some other element must be introduced into the mix. This very slippery X-factor is not so easy to get a hold of.

THEME: If the gathering coincides with a holiday or a birthday, you’ve got yourself a theme, and that always helps. Halloween lends itself particularly well to creating a unique atmosphere, but nothing says you can’t have a costume party at any time during the year. If no holiday or event, like the Super Bowl, can be attached and you really want some sort of theme, you have to get creative. You can come up with a concept – 80s, Day-Glo, rave, nitrous tank, pajama, etc. – but, honestly, it’s not entirely necessary. Great parties don’t need to be theme parties.

ALCOHOL: You can never have too much.

MUSIC: A live band can lift a party to great heights if they get the revelers on their side, but it can also kill any chance for greatness by sucking up the joint and sucking the life out of the room. You run the same risk with a DJ, although you can always tell the person spinning to play something different, whereas you might not have that option with a band. If you’re planning a party on a budget, a few mixes can often do the trick, but they must be well conceived to sustain the energy level for several hours. The mixes can’t be too obscure, but they can’t lean on the standards either. I find the mix method to be more effective than simply throwing a bunch of CDs into the changer and letting things ride. Inevitably, after the initial batch of CDs gets played out, someone from the party thinks they know exactly what’s needed and takes over the stereo. Usually, they only know what music they’d like to hear and a power struggle over music control ensues. Then there’s always digital radio…

SNACKS: Not essential, but always welcome. Unless you're serving a five-course gourmet meal, keep it simple: Salt and Chocolate.

PEOPLE: The crowd at any shindig is a reflection of its hosts. Taking this into account, I suppose it’s only natural that you have to be a pretty magnetic person to attract an assortment of interesting individuals. Unfortunately, if you’re not such a person, you should probably hire someone who is to take the reins and plan your party. Very important: The logistics of the setting dictate how many people you can accommodate. So, whether you have a little tiny apartment or fantastic house with no available parking, you have to make sure you don’t invite too many people, otherwise you’ll find a big fat barrier blocking your bash from breaking on through to the other side.

The Halloween/Dia De Los Muertos Party I attended on Friday night at the home of Ken Layne and Laura Crane had all of the above in spades. There were costumes, oodles of booze, a campfire, Tarot card readings, a flying electronic bat, a huge bowl full of candy and mini-chocolate bars, live music performed by party guests, sing-alongs, and volumes of strange and interesting conversation. The hosts did an outstanding job of setting things into motion and the X-factor was present in a variety of forms. My Girl and I had to sneak out just before 5 am because we didn’t want to interrupt the circle of music, which didn’t seem to be losing any steam, to say goodbye. Nor did we get a chance to thank our gracious hosts, who stirred all these ingredients together to make a truly great party and a memorable night. So thanks Layne and Crane.

Friday, November 01, 2002


For the first time in a week I'm back at work, temping at New Line Cinema. This time I'm at a satellite location in the production finance department and there isn't much for me to do. It's extremely quiet here. Basically, I'm just a warm body occupying this desk in case the phone rings, which it has only three times so far today. My cell phone just rang for the third time since I've been here, equaling the total number of calls coming into this office. And answering the phone those few times has been the extent of my duties. Luckily, I ran into a friendly face, one whose house I've been to many times for little dinner parties. At lunchtime, we walked down Santa Monica Boulevard to Baja Buds, which I haven't had in a long time, and I got myself a delicious Quesadilla Grande. After being called in at the last minute this morning, I arrived here and realized by looking at the pictures on the cubicle walls that I know the woman I'm filling in for. So, although I'm in foreign territory, I'm never far from friends in the New Line Universe.

I've passed most of the time today reading news stories about Israeli politics and Jam Master Jay. I've also been doing the blog rounds, spending most of my time reading Tony Pierce, who posts more actually writing per day than any blogger I've found so far. He seems to love blogging more than anyone else, myself included. And I'm talking about the kind of blogging where the person actually writes stuff, not just comments on stuff other people have written and links to it. I have no idea what's going on with Ken Layne, as all the text seems to have disappeared from his blog. And let's face it, the text is the best part. His lovely wife seems to have abandoned her home in cyberspace as well. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to catch up with them this evening at their post-Halloween Day of the Dead party.

Thursday, October 31, 2002


As viciously as critics and movie audiences rejected Madonna and hubby Guy Ritchie's new film "Swept Away", those big bad networks have begun slashing struggling shows from their schedules as November sweeps approaches. Heavy-handed TV hitmaker David E. Kelley's new show "girls club" got the ax yesterday by Fox. Today, CBS killed off their Sunday night sitcom "Bram and Alice". Neither show was given much of a chance to find an audience, as "girls club" aired twice and "Bram and Alice" ran only four episodes. The cancellation of "Bram and Alice" is more painful on a personal level because a friend of mine got his first staff writing gig on that show and he and his wife just had their first child. I hope the wicked television tide turns in his favor and he surfaces on another show soon.

As far as good television goes, on Tuesday I watched the season two premiere of "24" and an outstanding episode of "The West Wing" last night. The premise for the new season-long day of "24" involving the threat of a rogue terrorist group setting off a nuclear weapon in Los Angeles is instantly riveting. The show has added a couple of new characters and the ensemble acting seems better already now that Jack Bauer's wife has been killed off. I had mixed feelings about watching the special season premiere episode presented without commercial interruption. On one hand, I love good television without commercials because it makes it feel more like a movie, (see The Sopranos and Six Feet Under) and I could easily see enjoying this show even more on a premium cable station. On the other hand, I like the breather that commercials give you while watching such an intense program, and "24" has that great gimmick of the ticking clock counting down the last few seconds to a commercial break.

Boo! Happy Halloween.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002


Finally, I had a chance to break out those dancing shoes my horoscope promised several weeks ago I would get to use. My Girl and I flew up to Seattle for yet another wedding weekend. Mercifully, this is the last scheduled wedding I will attend this year. I was invited to seven, went to five, and feel guilty about the two I missed, which were held in Oklahoma City and Cancun.

This one was another wacky affair, 70s-themed with a relatively silly ceremony and karaoke during the party. Each table was named after a different cereal and was represented by the corresponding bobble-head doll. Although I was seated at Cap’n Crunch, I staged a major coup by walking away with Count Chocula. The ceremony was brief and performed by a friend of the couple who they paid to take an online certification course to become an ordained minister of the universal consciousness, or something like that. At the beginning of the ceremony, the groom’s group of close college friends, ironically nicknamed The Stupids being that they’re all smart and attractive and eloquent and successful, stood up to say a few words. Their charismatic leader announced they would be reciting a hymn and the audience was asked to participate by joining in on the refrain “Skyrockets in flight, afternoon delight.” Each member of The Stupids read a verse, which consisted of the lyrics to a song from the 70s, and the tone for the wedding was set. The ordained friend shared a few humorous anecdotes about the couple, and then, like the wedding the week before, the bride and groom exchanged romantic vows they had written, then the rings, and within minutes they were married. The majority of the cocktail hour was spent seeking out the hors d’oeuvres trays and commenting on the ridiculous outfits, one of which I was wearing. Having realized I forgot my tuxedo as we were waiting to board our flight out of Los Angeles, My Girl and I had to scramble around Seattle’s vintage shops the day of the wedding to find something for me to wear. I settled on a tight silky shirt with a wide collar showcasing my chest hair. The detailed print features a scene from the shores of Venice, Italy. I found some polyester paints that blended nicely and we high-tailed it back to our lovely and quaint room at the Marqueen Hotel in the historic Queen Anne district of Seattle. We were a little late to the wedding, as the groom had told us it started at 6:30 when it was actually called for 6:00, but luckily when we got there, everyone was mingling and the ceremony hadn’t started yet. My outfit/costume was easily outdone by some of The Stupids. One wore a baby blue tuxedo with an orange ruffled shirt and had let his hair grow out for eight months so he could go with the afro for the outrageous occasion. A few of The Stupids grew mustaches and I even saw one person with a fake mustache. And, of course, many of The Stupids sang songs during the karaoke portion of the party, and they sang them well. Seemingly, The Stupids do everything well, unlike your favorite Piker, who chose "Luck Be a Lady" to showcase his lack of musical talent. Let me just say that the arrangement wasn't the Sinatra arrangement I was used to and threw me off my game immediately. After a verse and a half, the groom stood up and came towards me and mercifully cut the song short. In that moment, I identified with all of those losers who were gonged before they completed their act on The Gong Show. But, the groom gave me a chance to redeem myself with another song and I very appropriately chose "That's Life." Thank the karaoke lord that this arrangement was indeed the Sinatra one I was used to because I belted that thing out, not particularly well, mind you, but with enough gusto to get the wedding party audience back on my side using the subtext of having sucked up the joint on my first attempt to give the performance a dimension it would not have had otherwise. Kudos also go to My Girl, who volunteered for the always difficult task of singing the very first song, choosing Blondie's "The Tide is High," which is a fun song, but not a singer's song, and My Girl has a great voice that she didn't really get to use. But we did get to use those dancing shoes, as the band had us grooving to one soulful seventies tune after another, and the bar consistently fueled our buzzes to the bitter end while never getting us wasted. This allowed us the privelege of being among the faithful few left at the end to usher the blushing bride and glowing groom out the door and into the crisp Seattle night to begin their life together as a married couple.


Here's a little something I wrote on the plane Monday night flying back to LA from Seattle:

At the moment I'm at a cruising altitude of 37,000 feet on Southwest Airlines. This airline brings out the worst in people. But, in all honesty, it doesn't take much to accomplish that. Most people have no regard for other human beings. It's evidenced by the way the drive, the way they obliviously push their shopping carts around the supermarket with no concept of their bodies in space, and on Southwest Airlines, by the ruthless way they shove themselves into position to board the plane. Southwest does not assign seats. They divide passengers up into A, B, and C groups and board them in that order. First on, first choice of seats. I suppose the premise is designed to save time and hassle, but the reality is that it pits people against one another. This policy is a spiritually bankrupt one. Here in the supposed New Age, the idea, theoretically, is to learn to coexist peacefully and help each other out in order to come together as a people. But, there aren't too many folks who buy into that philosophy, certainly not the majority of those who fly Southwest Airlines. Here at Southwest you will find the ugliest American attitude of "I'll get mine... no matter how many people I have to step on" permanently on display. The Golden Rule is very simple: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I wish the person kicking My Girl's seat would think about those words for just a moment. How would they like it if the person behind them were doing the same thing to their seat? I'd also like the person next to me to be fair and let me have the armrest for a little while. Does he not know that there is one armrest for us to share? Of course he knows, but he doesn't care. He got there first and he's not budging. That's the Southwest Airlines way. People at their worst.

Thursday, October 24, 2002


Last week I watched “In the Heat of the Night” for the first time. Great movie. And, although some may say it’s outdated, the movie is very representative of its time. Smack dab in the middle of the civil rights movement, here’s this story of a racist southern sheriff who needs the help of a Black homicide detective from Philadelphia to solve a murder case. The role of Bill Gillespie, Sparta Chief of Police, won Rod Steiger an Oscar for Best Actor, but it’s easy to argue that Sidney Poitier was just as good, if not better as Detective Virgil Tibbs. By now, even those who haven’t seen the movie are probably familiar with the movie’s most famous line, “They call me Mr. Tibbs.” Not only is the movie a first-rate murder mystery with outstanding acting, writing, and directing, but is culturally significant as an allegory for Whites and Blacks learning to live and work together, as well as respect each other. By the film’s end, Steiger’s bully of a police chief grows to kind of like Mr. Tibbs and I believe admire him for his skill and intelligence as a police officer. “In the Heat of the Night” very deservingly won the Academy Award for Best Picture for 1967 by vividly capturing a very specific time and place in our country’s evolution. It’s a highly enjoyable film and an extremely important one. I’m just sorry I didn’t see it sooner.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002


How strange that my horoscope on Friday instructed me to put on my dancing shoes. At the time, I felt like it was right on the nose, being that I had a wedding the next day and all. But, as it turned out, there was no dancing. Sure, I twirled My Girl around the lawn a few times just for kicks, but it wasn’t sanctioned dancing. There was, in fact, no dance floor. A band played for the first couple of hours of the lavish affair, but they were packed up and gone before the party really got going. Make no mistake about it, this was a fantastic wedding, it just didn’t include dancing, which my horoscope had specifically prepared me for.

The ceremony began with a comedy sketch performed by a group of friends who happen to be an irreverent up-and-coming comedy troupe known as The Ministry of Unknown Science and their interns, on a balcony off the sprawling Italian Villa in Sierra Madre, high above the grounds and the assembled. On the heels of laughter, the eclectically dressed and numerous wedding party (about ten on each side including My Girl on the bride’s side and Me on the groom’s side) made their way down the elaborate stone steps and settled on the stage overlooking the vast lawn filled with over two hundred guests. The bride and groom chose one of their very good friends to officiate the wedding, and he made his grand entrance to “Pure Imagination”, in character as Willy Wonka. He wore a custom-made purple velvet coat, brown top hat, crazy vest and bow tie, and strutted down the stairs using the signature Wonka cane as a prop. The bride and groom began their descent together from the top of the stairs, split up at the landing, then reconvened at their rightful places in the middle of the stage. Led by Willy Wonka, the ceremony struck the perfect balance of comedy and heartfelt emotion. The Ministry added another bit, with their interns passing out onions to the crowd to generate more tears, before the bride and groom read the vows that they had written to each other. The bride set the bar high with her piece, as she eloquently and beautifully related that in the groom she had found her Fonzie, sweetly tearing up at the end of her reading. The groom intoned “What’s the point?” before saying his peace. He said he left the ending blank hoping that inspiration would strike at the precise moment he needed it, but there were no magic words, he was just happy that he found someone who made him a better person. Willy Wonka instructed them to repeat some words after him, they exchanged rings, Wonka pronounced them husband and wife, they kissed, and then lip synced “I Found Love” as the wedding party backed them with a doo-wop shuffle. The audience cheered, blew bubbles, and shook their gigglehammers as the newlyweds began the recessional back up the stairs. The wedding party followed and the ceremony was complete.

Not only was there no dancing at the reception, but there were no assigned tables and no formal dinner, which made for a free-flowing mingling get-to-know-everyone affair. There were food stations around the grounds, including a table with a cheese fondue which seemed to contain some sort of addictive substance, seeing as the same group of people congregated in the area and refused to leave. Others would fill up their plates, go back to where they were, and inevitably return to the cheese. One station offered several varieties of soup, while another featured finger sandwiches of delicious roast beef. Then there was the dessert table of chocolate and caramel fondue, and a wedding cake made up of layers of scrumptious cupcakes. The only structured portion of the reception was a series of toasts and performances. One couple sang a song from “The Jerk”, the bridesmaids listed the top ten reasons why David should marry Apryl, and the best man channeled the groom’s deceased father in the first half of his toast and brought the house down with the second half. The Ministers did one final sketch as they made their collective toast, picking on one of their members who delivered a weak speech by detailing how much everyone else was willing to do for the married couple. Judging by the amount of effort and coordination put forth by so many in executing this grand wedding, it was obvious the people close to this couple would go to the ends of the earth for them.

Monday, October 21, 2002


Not surprisingly, there will indeed be a Season 2 of summer's smash hit "American Idol." Apparently, nobody involved with the production thought that it needed to be improved much. All three "American Idol" judges will return to the show. A fourth judge will be added. Frankly, I think three was the right number of judges, but two of the seats were filled by the wrong people. Paula Abdul is too emotional and too nice to judge anything and while she's pretty and all, she's not... how do I say this... smart. Randy Jackson, while serving to balance the judges demographically, is not eloquent or entertaining enough to be on television. Both of them should have been replaced for the next go-round of "Idol." As for the show's bumbling co-hosts, Ryan Seacrest is set to return, but in a shocking announcement, Brian Dunkleman has said he will not be back. My guess is the producers were going to can his candy ass, but gave Dunk the chance to save face by sending out a press release making it seem as though it was his decision. Of course, it'll be hard for him to save face now, being that we've already seen his ugly mug on camera and we're well aware of how painfully unfunny he is. I just can't shake this feeling that this guy is going to continue to get work in showbiz. Look no further than Keanu Reeves for proof that it can be done. Honestly, I don't even know why I care about this crap. The show got worse and worse as it went on and I hated more and more each week. As I was watching a number from the "American Idol" Reunion Performance, I vowed never to watch anything associated with the show again. But, it still catches my attention when I'm scanning headlines. And, when Tamyra Gray's album comes out, I'll probably buy it. P.T. Barnum would have his way with me.

Friday, October 18, 2002


Gemini Horoscope for Fri Oct. 18, 2002 by

It is time to put your dancing shoes on, dear Gemini, because the next few weeks are going to be filled with a great deal of social activity that you won't want to miss. Today is the start of a planetary transit in which you will experience a greater boost of energy in the department of love and romance. Connect with others for events and gatherings that make you feel alive and young.

Now I'm not sure if this is some sort of cosmic coincidence or not, but tonight marks the beginning of another two-weekends-in-a-row wedding run for My Girl and I. The festivities kick into high gear this evening, as The Spludsterns, the very close friends who My Girl and I met through, hold a rehearsal for their entertainment-filled wedding and a fiesta in their fantastic gigantic hotel suite. The wedding takes place tomorrow afternoon and I'm sure it'll run late into the evening and will be full of surprises and all sorts of weirdness. The mod design-obsessed couple sent out highly-stylized invitations in the form of a 45 record jacket and disc, easily the most creative wedding invitations I've ever seen. They are calling for a dress code described as "vintage cocktail attire," and while I don't remember the exact defintion they gave, I know it included the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Elvis (both thin and fat), Twiggy, and the Rat Pack. Even at this late hour, I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to wear. I suppose I'll use my existing tuxedo as a base and try to funkify it a bit. I promise juicy and colorful details of the event next week. Mazel Tov to the happy couple!

Big shout out to Young Goodman Brown, Piker's most loyal reader. He checks the stats more often than I do.

Thursday, October 17, 2002


I finished reading "A Separate Peace" by John Knowles yesterday at work. It was strange, usually the phone rings nonstop in that office, but for the majority of the late afternoon, after I began reading, it was quiet. The phone rang maybe four or five times and I was able to cover the last seventy pages. Maybe the universe was conspiring to give me a moment's peace to finish "A Separate Peace." Somehow, the novel eluded me throughout middle school and high school. Honestly, I never even heard of it until this summer when My Girl and My Mom were talking about while I was rereading "The Catcher in the Rye," which was one of the few books I actually read when I was in school.

I don't think I can say unequivocably that "A Separate Peace" is a better novel than J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye", but I submit that I enjoyed reading "A Separate Peace" a whole lot more. I didn't identify with Holden Caulfield's alienation nearly as much as I felt a kinship with Gene Forrester's bout with insecurity and desire to live in a bubble. When I think back on "Catcher", I get a wintery kind of feeling of cold and isolation. On the contrary, remembering "Peace" brings up summery thoughts of warmth and comraderie. Salinger's novel is dark in tone, with Holden rejecting nearly everyone he comes in contact with by labeling them phonies, and a jolting reveal at the end that Holden has been narrating his experiences from a sanitorium. Knowles' story has dark undercurrents, such as war both external and internal, and heavy themes, like fear, jealousy, hatred, and insecurity, but is essentially an exercise in nostalgia. Obviously, I dig nostalgia. Otherwise I wouldn't be reading two classic novels set at prep schools that are routinely assigned by grade school English teachers.