Shaw Dog Park

Hey Snootsketeers,

Sorry it’s been so long since I rapped at ya. I do, in fact, have a full-time job, I’m reticent to write about Idol since so many have stopped watching it (though I have infected not one, but TWO couples with the Idol bug this year), and it’s just easy to let things slide sometimes. But on Saturday this blog had its first-ever zero-hit day, and by gum, we’re gonna do something about it. I even have a post planned which will include the naughty, naughty cee-word… in its title. So stay tuned.

For today, I’ll bring you up to speed on Snoots. It took some time, but I think he’s gotten used to his new home here in Ledroit Park, in the shadows of Howard University. One of my roommates is typically home during the day, and he smokes, so Snoots hangs with him in the backyard a good deal of the day during cigarette breaks.

Orange Springs Farm is only ninety minutes away, so I’ve tried to treat him to as many trips down there as possible. Plus, I’ve spent a total of three weeks working out of town, and Snoots has stayed at friends who live five miles from the farm. So he’s had a good amount of rural snooting-around time.

Lounging at OSF

Recently I discovered the fenced-in Shaw Dog Park, not far from my home. It’s pretty packed during the 6-7 p.m. hours, and Snoots has re-discovered his inner rapist there. Tonight, he was completely obsessed with a smaller, faster pit bull pup. The pup was running around and around, while Snooty padded toward her, constantly changing his angle of attack as she flew around. Whenever she stopped to chew a tennis ball or drink water, bam. Humping.

As the owner/parent of a registered sex offender, whenever I see this happen, I’m rooting for the rapee to turn around, get out of Snoots’ front-paws clasp, and either get in his face or take off. That prevents possible contretemps from arising with owners who take it personally when their dog is thusly emasculated. Unfortunately, this dog simply took it for 15-20 seconds before finally making its move (leaving Snoots to do his patented post-coital air-thrusting). The owner was kinda okay with it, kinda not okay, so I couldn’t completely bury myself in my book, and had to try to keep Snoots’ dick in his pants. That takes the fun out of it.

But two weeks ago… oh Nelly. I did NOT have a book, and was just watching Snoots go to town on this other dog, and no one seemed to care, so I was having a good laugh… until I had a great one. The owner of the rapee was standing right next to his dog and having a conversation with another dog owner. The two of them were completely oblivious to Snoots absolutely going to town on the guy’s dog, and all the while the dog was just taking it. Adding to the comedy was the fact that this dog was a little taller than Shithead, so he had to really exert himself. The scene was absolutely priceless: Two men and a dog, all of them tragically unaware of the pounding taking place not two feet away from them. I tried to get up and pull Snoots off of the dog, but I was laughing so fucking hard, and tears were streaming down my face, that I didn’t even try.

Fucking Snoots. Literally.

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The Revoltening

Looking across the Tidal Basin.

This past weekend was a glorious one in our nation’s capital. Temperatures dared to breach the sixty-degree barrier, inviting only a respectful number of brilliantly whitened clouds to spend the daylight with. Snooty and I did a lot of exploring (driving, walking, and sitting) both days, stopping occasionally to read Revolutionary Road (it’s fantastic and you are guaranteed to love it*), or to poop.

At the Jefferson Memorial.

Our first planned target Sunday morning was a massive five-piece sculpture called “The Awakening” that I’ve been drawn to, for whatever reason, since 1987 (the time of my 8th-grade field trip to D.C., a period of extreme social sucking by the author).

“The Awakening” is best imagined as a snapshot of a 100-foot bronze giant being thrust out of the ground. So, far, far away from a giant head, there is an elbow, a forearm, a knee, and a foot. These five massive pieces were placed near the edge of an island in the Potomac and were essentially bordered on three sides by water. I remember staring at it with awe — and a cringe-inducing haircut — way back then as I listened to the Potomac lap the nearby shores. To paraphrase the youth of today, it fucking owned.

Hanging with Franklin and Fala.

So as I googled driving directions, I was a little shaken to read that it had been moved by some art guy to some harbor in Maryland. Whatever, I thought, it will still fucking own. I headed out to Oxon Hill, MD, to its new location: National Harbor.

National Harbor, as it turns out, is a nightmare. It’s one of those intensely concentrated, essentially pre-fabricated neighborhoods riddled with “Shops And Restaurants,” high-rise apartment buildings, parking garages, and an almost obscene feeling of urban cleanliness. There was nowhere free to park (and had I chosen to “test the waters,” as it were, a Segway-riding parking cop was sure to bust my cracker ass). The “harbor” stretched more than a half-mile in the distance when I finally parked, and I didn’t see any giant pieces of bronze along the coast. So I headed into the “city.”

I heard lots of kids playing… and there I saw it. Lying there, helpless, forced to bear witness to its own horrific fate:Like a once-ferocious lion living out the rest of its life in captivity, “The Awakening” now sits in a giant sandbox. Played on by children like the Boston Public Garden ducklings. Wedged between two shiny buildings and damned to a soundtrack of bad music piped outside by a  seafood restaurant. The look of shock on its massive face now betraying a sense of desperation and shame.

I took the picture above, watched for fifteen seconds, and turned around. Once Snooty shat, we were Audi 5000. Victims of a horrible crime known only as… The Revoltening.

_____________________________________________________________________

*Guarantee does not apply to anyone in a shaky marriage.

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SLO play

Howdy Snootsketeers,

We’re coming to you live from sunny Central California, a couple of blocks from the Pacific in a quaint coastal town called Cayucos, which is about 15 minutes outside of San Luis Obispo, a.k.a. SLO.  I’m out here for Nat Geo, halfway through a two-week shoot. And I’ve become one of those douchebags with a Mac Powerbook in one hand and his smart-phone in the other. The staggering cost of gainful employment.

Cayucos is the type of sleepy town where half the dogs are off leash. The first day I was here, I was biking along when a small dog started chasing after me as distant voices shouted out “NO COCO! COME HERE!” Being painfully well-versed in dog-running-away-dom, I started hauling ass after Coco, who had passed me. Not five seconds later, a second dog took off in front of me and ran alongside Coco, at top speed, down the middle of the street.  I held my breath as they approached the main drag, but it was their lucky day, as they banged a right and just kept trucking, with no cars in sight. Eventually dog number two got bored and turned around, but Coco led me on a trip through Cayucos until the little fucker eventually took me back to his home, nonchalantly running up the steps to his balcony and lying down.

Last night Dave, the producer/director of the show we’re working on, invited me to a small birthday party for one of his friends in an equally quaint/beautiful coastal town called Los Osos (Spanish for “Daaaaaa Bears”).  I was moderately excited to mingle with a bunch of Hollywood Phonies, but, sadly, everyone there was actually really down-to-earth and great.

Perro (left) and Bryan

There were ten grown-ups, five kids, and myself. Between mingling, I spent some QT with the dog of the house, a Benji-type dog named Perro who was totally into having his rear haunches rubbed. It turns out that Perro was a homeless-street-urchin-dog from Mexico who was rehabilitated by none other than Cesar Millan, a.k.a. The Dog Whisperer. The man of the house (and birthday boy), a great guy named Bryan, is the D.P. (director of photography) for “The Dog Whisperer.”  I had a nice heart-to-heart with Bryan, a dog lover who wears his heart on his sleeve. On a shelf in his home was a picture of his previous dog, and a small urn with his ashes. Bryan and his wife Karen (who made a great dinner that Dana/my Mom/etc. would totally approve of, including halibut and broccoli) spoke about the dog in somber, reverential tones. Quoting True Romance, we park our cars in the same garage.  [If he’s reading this now, perhaps Bryan would like to read a previous posting of mine called “Hoover.”]

Plus, it turns out that Snoots and Perro are only separated by two degrees of separation! As mentioned earlier, Perro was rehabbed by Cesar Millan. One of Millan’s first celebrity clients was Jada Pinkett Smith. And JPS is a Friend of Snoots, having fallen in love with him on the set of “The Women” in 2008. Amazing!  Yay, dogs.

[Below: the crew photo from said movie]

Seated, front row, center: Debra Messing, Annette Bening, Meg Ryan, JPS. Second row, fourth from left: Snoots.

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Idol Thoughts

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Hey, I bet that not one person in the History of the World has ever uttered the following sentence,” then strung together complete nonsense?  I’m wondering if that’s what the graphics operator over at FOX was thinking when he/she typed in “Bartender/Autobot” for that Transformers guy who, quite frankly, ruled. (A tip of the cap to Idol for scoring his sad exit with “Drive” by The Cars.)

Another bigger tip of the cap for their usage — twice — of The Polyphonic Spree, one of those cool bands that only a few of us know about. (Seriously, they’re good) But a wag of the finger to them for relentlessly teasing/promoting the kid who went last. Excerpts from each of the episode’s five “bumps”:

“… one contestant whose story will bring you to tears… with a voice that’ll blow you away.”

Steven Tyler: “best voice I ever heard”

“… one of the most incredible auditions of Season Ten.”

Kid: “People say I get my musical talent from my dad… [crying] I’ll never know.”

“… the voice we’ve been waiting for.”

Jeez, guys, control yourselves. Eventually, we learned the kid had Tourette’s and/or Asberger’s, his rock-and-roll dad died when he was 9, he was poor, unemployed, and a father himself to boot.

Obviously, the guy was gonna be great — he was more than a little reminiscent of Adam Lambert — and the fact that he sang a song from Led Zeppelin’s first album didn’t lose points with us old-timers. But things couldn’t help but get dusty when, after singing, his facial tics — and tears — betrayed some sort of post-episodic release, and he told the judges that he went to some special place when he sang. It wasn’t just an audition, it was a paradigm shift — and we all witnessed it… on FOX.

(And when he was done singing, he ran elatedly through the throngs of other contestants, clutching his golden ticket and… WAIT. Wasn’t he shown several times walking through an empty waiting area in slow-motion, as if he were the last auditioner of the day?!?!? How dare you, Idol!)

Also:

– LOVED the other sob story, the girl from Arlington, VA (represent, bitch) who had that incredibly unique, olde-tymey voice that made me think of West Virginia coal mining, but not in the Loretta Lynn way;

– There was a girl named Lara Johnston in an early “these people made it” montage who was amazing; sadly, a little research turned up this. Hmmppphhh.

– We found our eighth-place finisher: Julie Zorrilla, the impossibly hot Colombian refugee whose birthday it was;

– When that goofy club kid channeled David Brent and said “people are always saying to me, ‘Oh, you’re so talented, what are you doing here?'”  I was devastated to learn he could actually sing;

– LOVED this exchange after some long-haired hippie type, who clearly thought he was God’s Gift, butchered “Oh, Darling”:

STEVEN TYLER: You sounded like these guys [pointing to Beatles t-shirt]. You made it. You’re in.

HIPPIE DOUCHE: Really?

STEVEN TYLER: No. Absolutely not.

– And this one, while the Ukrainian sexpot chick with the kiddie-porn-like “music videos” auditioned:

SEACREST [to small, meek-looking Asian guy] : You her husband?

S.M.-L.A.G. [gathering their coats] : Yeah.

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DC vs. Boston: Drivers

I was unaware — until it was too late —  that to have your car pass inspection here in Washington, you not only had to take it to a designated place, but that you had to schedule an appointment online… and that the next two weeks were booked solid.

So, I’ve been driving to work, which is only about six bucks more than riding the train ($2.20 each way for a mere four-station-long commute).  And I’d like to share my initial impressions on the distinctions between drivers here and the ones in Boston.

I have a fairly simplistic, albeit somewhat condemnatory, overall thesis about the whole thing. Okay: imagine two planes stuck out on the tarmac for six hours each. For whatever societal reasons  come into play in that situation, one plane’s passengers weather the storm with patience and reluctant understanding; in the other plane, though, federal marshals are restraining livid passengers and a flight attendant is bailing down the inflatable chute.

One set understands its circumstances, and recognizes its inability to fundamentally change the situation. The other (the fucking idiots) do not.

Boston drivers suffer horrible commutes, nightmarish winter weather, and insanely screwed-up traffic patterns with, all things considered, a decent attitude. Driving there is a sport, a way of life; and, like in sports or in life, you win some, and you lose some.

A much poorer attitude pervades the spirits of DC drivers. No matter how oppressive the traffic, they seem to lose not only their manners (which is somewhat expected) but also all semblance of rational thought (which is depressing).

I really only have one pillar on which to base this massive generalization: the way drivers here pour into an intersection — even though they obviously “won’t make it” by the time the light’s turned to red — during rush-hour traffic. Boston was the first city where I ever saw this disgusting ritual performed, but only occasionally. Here, everyone cruises right into a blocked intersection like it’s their fucking birthright.

Example: Thursday morning traffic in a BIG area of downtown DC came to an absolute STANDSTILL for several minutes (I’m guessing the President was in the neighborhood). Traffic was simply not moving. Imagine hundreds of drawbridges and jersey barriers popping up throughout our nation’s capital; that’s what it was like. After about 5 minutes of this, I decided to make a U-turn and find a different way in. Going against traffic, I came to intersection after intersection where traffic going the other way was threatening to cause complete gridlock. At one intersection, I had to laugh when some guy driving a Canada Dry truck, 25 feet or so in length, had apparently driven right into stopped traffic and was occupying more than 50% of the intersection’s width.

But it’s not just this practice that is so horrible; it is, more so, the outright meanness that these drivers wield while driving their awful deeds. To wit:

– A woman angrily waved me to turn left in front of her; by letting me go she postponed her rush to the stopped cars 20 feet in front of her by at least three seconds.

– Some guy behind me was honking the INSTANT the light turned green, for four consecutive lights, even though we were sitting in third-degree rush hour traffic;

– Some really scary dude clearly mouthed the word “MOTHERFUCKER!” when I made a wrong turn then tried to correct it.

And this is just in the course of one month. So say a little prayer that you’ll never be stuck on a runway for a long time… especially if you’re flying out of Washington.

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Idol Thoughts

Hey Snootsketeers,

As most of you know, I have, over the course of the last few weeks, started a new job and moved to Washington, DC.  You would think I’d have a lot more to blog about than tonight’s episode of American Idol. You would think that.

This was only the second installment of the new, “rebooted” version I’ve caught, and it left me wondering if either (a) they should have been doing this all along or (b) tonight’s batch of Austinites was a freakish outlier of auditioners. If it’s (a), then the producers can be accused of brutally misleading and deceptive editing (that still really worked). If not, then tonight’s show included no fewer than four people who initially came off as being complete asses (and, in previous years, were being set up for a merciless beratement from Simon) only to open their mouths and suddenly become brilliant.

The first was a 17-year-old piece of jailbait named Courtney, the type of girl more often visualized in the works of Nabokov or Proust than actually viewed in reality. In years past, her idolatry (as it were) of Ryan Seacrest — not to mention her completely brilliant, irony-free Chicken Dance –would have led into a disastrous audition. Instead, she nailed her song, told Randy (who voted against her) he was still her boy, and was congratulated by her family, including her even hotter sister. I liked her.

Next we had a young couple named Nick and Jacqueline, (initially presented as being) annoying as much for their good looks as for their complete into-each-other-ness. They even consented to be filmed doing such ridiculous stunts as the iconic “boat scene” from Titanic and the old “spinning and laughing in a field” shot. Then, they, too, went in and absolutely kicked ass — both of them (setting us up for the inevitable One-Will-Make-It-And-The-Other-Won’t scenario).  And as if that weren’t bad enough, we had a shot of the guy with tears absolutely pouring down his face; things got suddenly dusty in the living room of my new, subpar apartment.

But the producers were saving their biggest rug (to pull out from under us) for the last kid, a 19-year old who came across as an autistic Seth Rogen and was told (by the FOX interviewer) that he more resembled a Fraggle Rock character (Zing!). The fact that he toted around a melodica wasn’t helping. And yet he, too, could absolutely blow, Dawg, flame-throwing some Ray Charles number and sending us hard-cores rewinding our DVR’s.

So… deceptive editing? Or just a randomly dense pack of “weird but talented” auditioners? You tell me.

Also:

– They split one audition (the blonde girl who was crying uncontrollably) over two segments to further tease us. That’s a new tactic, right?

– It was nice for the other big tear-jerker (the “real cowboy”) to wear the same lime green shirt in his “home with the family” package as he did at his audition.

– One guy’s job was “Cook at Baseball Stadium.” Not just “Cook.”

– Whoever that dude was who sang “Rusty Cage” by Soundgarden, you fucking rule.

– Two commercials had great singing as well: (1) The Dodge spot with the Ting Tings and (2) Taco Bell’s commercial for their new Quad Burrito, featuring an overzealous lounge singer crooning couplets such as “We all say WOW/ That’s, like, a hunk of cow.”

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Munchkinfest 2010 + Unearthed 1988 home movie

Watching "A Christmas Story"

So, Snootsketeers, I was in Denver for a week over the Holidays, and (due to popular demand) brought back pictures of my niece, Wynne. I will share them here and try to write enough copy to spread the pictures out nicely. Also, make sure you read the whole thing through; at the end I am going to segue (effortlessly, per usual) to a link where you can watch one of the many SHOCKING home movies I participated in back in the 80’s.

New X-Mas outfit.

Wynne (a.k.a. Munchkin) is still in the 99th percentile height-wise (she’s never been lower than 99), but she is beginning to trend downward weight-wise — 82nd percentile or so these days.

Playing light-sabers.

She is at that point where her vocabulary is about to explode. Currently she has ~20 or so words (“Ty-Ty” being one of them), but she is babbling about everything and can mimic things you say (on the last night, it was “love you”).

On the trike I assembled 12/24.

She’s hilarious, and a big laugher, most of the time. When she isn’t, she’s just as hilarious. A couple of times before her bedtime, she had something she NEEDED to play with removed from her hands by Brad or Linsey, and then started

With a non-Mathers dog.

pitching a fit (I’m laughing just typing this) where she was crying/fake-crying on the carpet, WRITHING around and desperatley trying to get attention while Brad, Linsey and myself held a normal conversation and ignored her. A big SNOOTY SHOUT-OUT to Brad and Lins for excellent parenting.

And whenever she picks something up, she just knows how it works. Even with something as complicated as my dad’s briefcase (pictured), she was flipping through the numbers and pulling the switch.

(Starting to segue now), one day the four of us went to the Denver Aquarium, and my new Canon PowerShot camera (thanks, Santa!) fucking TOOK OVER.

[Football announcer] Hey, you wanna talk about MAKING MEMORIES?? You wanna talk about DIGITALLY PRESERVING the imagery of a BEAUTIFUL YOUNG FAMILY at the Aquarium?? Well, look at this! Right here!

At the Aquarium. Could you tell?

What he was alluding to was this little video I shot/edited of Munchkin’s day at the Aquarium. It’s quite cute, if I do say so myself.

After I cut that, I reflected on how much technology has changed since the days of my first movie-making. That Aquarium video was shot entirely on a $100 camera (that weighs one pound and fits in the side pocket of my Carhartt work pants) and edited in a matter of hours. Back in the day (namely, my teens) when I was making terrible horror “films,” everything was quite different. Things were shot on tape, on camcorders that cost TONS OF MONEY.

Most importantly, there was absolutely no “editing,” per se, whatsoever. That meant the entire movie had to be shot sequentially. And God forbid someone fucked up a take, because that meant rewinding the tape, waching it back in the viewfinder, and pressing “stop” at, hopefully, a satisfactory-enough edit point. If you were lucky, you wound up with something just this side of “unwatchable.”

Amazingly enough, only a few days after thusly waxing nostalgic, I received, out of the blue,  a message from Carter, one of my two best friends growing up. He had unearthed one of our old horror sequences and posted it online.

That's me on the left, avoiding being stabbed.

Here it is, in all its cringe-worthy glory. A couple of notes: (1) this is Carter’s bedroom/house  (2) Carter is behind camera; that’s my other BFF, John, trying to kill me (3) I was normally the one behind camera, but thankfully I’m not in this one, because you can hear how fucking high my voice was (I’m probably 14 or 15 at the time), and see what was going on with my hair back then, which wasn’t pretty. Enjoy!

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