Art Imitating Life, Only Not as Fat

This year for their annual spring “operetta,” my daughter’s school decided to stage a musical called “Kate & the Giant.” (Alternative casting aside, this change to a Jack and the Beanstalk production was necessitated by the fact that there are only four kids in the fourth grade, one of whom would have to be the star.) The kids (this year, Grades 1 through 4) work hard on the show for weeks, and then are able to perform it only twice, which causes a lot of post-show letdown in our house.

Over the years I’ve helped in painting and assembling sets, and by now, I’m the default guy for planning the whole job. I don’t mind–it’s a lot of fun trying to make everything functional yet lively, trying to make a backdrop of a stand-alone prop serve more than one purpose in several scenes, etc. Since the writers of this play had some kind of food obsession and had the Giant at one point stuff himself comically with food, I had to devise supersize portions of various tasty treats. Papier mache did the trick, turning 2-liter pop bottles into chicken legs, an old detergent bottle into a baked ham, and balloons into fruit and vegetables. But one of my proudest creations was a nice big juicy cheeseburger. For some reason, I just couldn’t see the play going on WITHOUT a cheeseburger. I even brought it to school once to show the kids at dismissal, and their enthusiasm for the play spiked to new heights.

Here’s what the fabulous cheeseburger looked like:

Now that’s a damn tasty burger, as Jules Winnfield might say. The pieces were made and painted separately, then glued together. My plan was to make a burger so hugely humongous that people would split their sides laughing as soon as they saw it. But when I glued all the pieces together, I had a nauseating revelation: As big as this burger was, there will be a countless number of REAL EDIBLE burgers at least this big being served all over America this summer, either at a beef festival or at some Texas roadhouse with a money-back guarantee deal attached to it.

The very next day, as I was thumbing through Smithsonian Magazine, I found a pic of a guy wrestling a platter-busting burger for a festival in North Carolina.

Once again, no matter how big you can make something for comedic/satiric effect, real life will always outstrip it.

Occupational Movie Spoilers

You know how sometimes you go to a movie with someone who has a certain occupational specialty, and that person cannot enjoy the movie because of the huge gaffes spotted by his trained eye? The worst situation is going to a scifi flick with an engineer, who will happily show off his knowledge by telling you (and everyone within earshot) that X couldn’t have happened because it violated the scientific principles of Y and Z, and besides, the torque and stress on the lateral support couldn’t blah blah blah. This can happen when you bring a lawyer, a doctor, or even a fishmonger to the movies.

(Of course, one example of some gaffes that EVERYONE in the country should’ve gotten was that romantic presidential comedy Dave, starring Kevin Kline, in which the president (Kline) has a stroke and so the evil chief of staff recruits a doppelganger (also Kline, but more rakish and friendly) to fill in for him. And somehow, this faux president was able to pass legislation on his own, without any mention of Congress or the courts. Sort of a benign dictator, although still rakish and friendly, so I guess it was okay. What a steamer that was.)

But that’s a long way around the fact that I saw Spider-Man 3 last weekend, and spotted two ridiculous errors regarding Kirsten Dunst and her acting career. So, I guess I’m going to be one of those insufferable know-it-alls.

1. First, after a disastrous opening night, Mary Jane is replaced in her B’way musical the very next day. She even finds out by showing up at the theater to discover a new actress doing her number! Oh, the pathos! In reality, if this were a B’way show, Mary Jane would’ve had a solid contract that would’ve guaranteed her X number of performances if the show was being staged, and if she were replaced, she’d be paid a big severance penalty. Nobody’s ever heard of Actor’s Equity??

2. And during her performance in said musical, the camera zooms in on Mary Jane up the center aisle of the theater. Trouble is, there aren’t any center aisles in theaters, of any kind, movie or legit. Think about it. Those are where the good and expensive seats are. Additionally, I can’t remember a single NY theater I’ve ever been to that has had any kind of aisle at all, let alone a 12-foot-wide freeway down the middle (though I could be wrong on this point).

And on another subject: If the Sandman cries, like he does at the end of this movie, shouldn’t parts of his face wash off or something?

Other than that, 2 webs way up!

Book Drought Ends with Massive Outpouring of Beer and Support

Well, that was quite an exhausting evening, and quite wonderful. Many thanks to all the friends and neighbors who came to Feed The Beast last night to help launch Recut Madness. The food was great, the drink was plentiful, my iPod was cranking Bootsy Collins over the sound system, but the people are what makes a party work. My mother, Aunt Pat and Cousin Ginny came down from Milwaukee to lend their support, and I got to visit with my cousin Celeste’s daughter Erin, who just moved to Chicago. And old work pals and friends from school and neighborhood, and friends of friends and…… I’m a lucky and blessed fella for having such people in my life.

It actually felt more like a wedding reception, seeing people and catching up. I apologize to those folks I didn’t speak with enough, but I hope you understand. Busy busy busy. I appreciate your support of the book, and of the Belle Center, which got a portion of the proceeds.

I hope to put up some pictures on Flickr, as soon as I can find where we put the camera. UPDATE: Found the camera, here’s the pix.

And the biggest thanks of all goes to my ever-lovin’ wife, for indeed being ever-lovin’, as well as a terrific hostess. We had almost 100 people in that little space, and she made sure there were introductions and laughter all around. There’s where I’m most truly blessed.

Mmmm, Leftovers

Because the lifespan of a post on The Huffington Post is about 5 hours, and many people are away from their computers for such lengths of time (not me, though), I’ve decided to take any of my posts from there and publish them as pages over to the right. That way, you won’t have to go hunting all over for my philosophic gems, and can return to this column for detritus and juvenalia, like me cursing out the 17-year cicadas. Crawly little sumbitches.

On Notice

I’m so sick of hearing about the 17-year cicadas already this summer. Noisy, noisy, blah blah. If any cicadas come into my hood, I’m gonna fuck wit em, big time.

“TOTN”? Dead to me.

I got word yesterday that the “Talk of the Nation” interview that got bounced around last week is officially dead. It appears that, even though I did a boffo pre-interview and had the exec producer’s OK, the host finally took a look at the book and decided he wasn’t interested. Which stinks, since they had insisted on being the first interview for the new book. Not very professional of them, so next time you phone in to their show, make sure you just give them a Bronx cheer and then hang up. That’ll learn ’em.

But there is better news on the horizon. Today I did a kick-ass interview with Steve Edwards of WBEZ’s “Eight Forty-Eight” show, and they should be able to edit out my pauses and coughs by sometime next week. Real professional place, that WBEZ. Thanks Steve–that order of smoked lake trout is on the way.

And here’s something even cooler: I should have a post up in the next 24 hours on The Huffington Post! Keep an eye out for my balding head and snarky expression on that site. They even asked me whether this was a one-time thing, or would I like to be a regular contributor. Let’s see: They don’t pay, but they get six million hits a day. Hmmmm…..decisions, decisions.

“TOTN” Postponed

My appearance on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” tomorrow has been postponed to an indeterminate date. Apparently the host hadn’t had enough time to read the book. Now, I thought NPR was more on the ball, but I have mixed feelings about it. At least it shows that maybe the host will be prepared for the show.

That’s always a gamble when you’re out flogging a book. You don’t know what it’s like to bite your tongue when some morning deejay holds your book in the air and says something like “I haven’t had a chance to look at it, but I’m sure it’s great–I only wish I’d written it.” And all that goes through your mind is, “You unemployable gasbag, you’re on the air three hours a day, which includes commercials, and you have interns and assistants who open your mail and answer your phone. And you didn’t bother to even crack my book, which is all of 150 pages, which may be intimidating to even such a voracious intellect as yourself, but you didn’t bother to take the damn thing out of the envelope, and you’re telling me that you think you should write books now, too? Is there a special holding tank for people like you? Do they let you out of the building unescorted? Do the authorities let you drive unsupervised?”

This is never the case with NPR, of course, as this postponement obviously shows. I love those guys to death. And at least their listeners buy books, unlike the Morning Madhouse type crews. Man, they crazy.

Whenever there’s news, I’ll post it here.

Talk of the Nation–That’s Me!

For those of you who are near a radio in the afternoon, tune in to NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” this Thursday at 3:45 Eastern time. I’ll be on flogging the new book (Recut Madness, which should be on shelves everywhere now) and ladling out the charm like canned gravy.

Remember. Thursday. 3:45 pm Eastern. “Talk of the Nation.”

And make sure you keep talkin’.

A Sense of Foreboding

I have just been informed by a friend with impeccable academic credentials that this Sunday morning, at 3 minutes and 4 seconds after 2 A.M. , the time and date will be:

02: 03: 04/ 05. 06. 07

Cosmic coincidence? Hardly. Get ready for an invasion of three-eyed alien dames carrying old camera bulbs.

Thanks Pete Tiglechaar

The Silver Lining

At the request of the beguiling Max S., I submit my newest composition for BardBall:


My wife has up and left me,
Once the object of her lust.
Now she’s hitting the clubs with a biker named Dubs,
–But at least the Yankees lost.

My company’s being audited.
My future’s bitten the dust.
You can forward my mail to a federal jail.
–But at least the Yankees lost.

We’re spreading our democracy,
Whatever may be the cost,
Or whether the others are given their druthers.
–But at least the Yankees lost.

Atmosphere’s been heating up,
Melting the permafrost.
The polar bears lately can’t count on their safety.
–But at least the Yankees lost.

Famine, wars, disease and hate—
Our poor world is tempest-toss’d.
I cannot tell you why we must suffer and die.
–But at least the Yankees lost.

Trekking to a mountain wise man,
I registered my disgust.
“Dear pilgrim,” said he, “what will be will be
–But at least the Yankees lost!!”

Rupert Murdoch Denied the Journal

Looks like Rupert Murdoch’s surprise bid for Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal was shot down in less than an afternoon. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Something about the man instills fear and revulsion in the hearts of even staunch capitalists like those who own and run the Journal. I wonder what that could be?

Must be just a gut instinct.

American Sideshow

A friend of mine–actually the wife of a friend of mine–but that doesn’t make her any less of a friend–at least I don’t think it does–unless he beats her and she somehow blames me for it…..

I’ll start again. A friend of mine down in New Orleans runs a pretty funny website called “American Sideshow.” Near as I can tell Diana runs the whole shootin match. She recently printed the adventures she had with a con man who was asking her for money to start a branch of a company in China. Under the guise of sexy Russian agent Svetlana Petrokov, Diana pranks the evil internet would-be thief Mr. Chang. Read both installments–it’s terrifically funny just watching Mr. Chang refuse to give up on the fish he thinks he’s landed, even though he’ll have to deal with renegade Soviet spies and chimps with radiation poisoning. Check it out here.