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?