Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’

Here’s the deal. I got married yesterday. It’s a pretty good story if you’ve got a few minutes (actually, it’s a pretty good story regardless of how much time you have…how busy you are right now has absolutely no bearing on the quality of this yarn). I’m going to start where most of my favorite stories start – at the beginning.

I met Heather in high school. I could try and be really romantic and pretend like I remember the very first moment our eyes met, but I haven’t a clue. I can rarely remember where I left my keys, how can I be expected to remember something that happened in the late eighties? But we did meet there. Probably on the school bus as she lived less than a mile down the road from me. This was rural Virginia, so the bus ride to school each day was almost an hour – which left us plenty of time to date and fall in love.

But we didn’t do that. Instead, I focused on growing a mustache and writing my blog (unfortunately, blogs hadn’t been invented yet and this turned out to be a huge waste of time), and she focused on using Aqua Net to try to set the record for biggest hair in Nelson County. It was a simpler time. We were merely friends in high school who were in a few school plays together and then lost touch after graduation.

Twenty years passed.

I experimented with goatees, mutton chops and some McBee facial hair originals.

Her hair was reduced to a normal volume.

aqua

We reconnected via social media. She did some light stalking and I, having not been pursued by a member of the opposite sex since the Carter administration, remained completely oblivious to the fact that she was flirting with me. But I eventually caught on and we became a couple. One of our first romantic outings was a trip to Disneyland in 2012 on a rare day of Southern Californian drizzle. Southern Californians get frightened when water falls from the sky, so they mostly stay indoors until the meteorologist reassures them that the sun is back and will remain so for the next 207 days. Which meant that we had the run of the park. Splash Mountain had no line at all at one point and we rode it again and again without ever exiting our buoyant log. It was a fantastic day.

Other stuff happened.

We briefly tried living on the East coast (the water that falls from the sky there is sometimes frozen! Terrifying!). I asked her if she might like to get married. We ate lots of pizza.

So. We actually got engaged in February of 2014 (I planned a scavenger hunt that culminated in her digging a cylinder out of the snow between two pine trees in the moonlight – it seemed romantic at the time, but it ended up being fairly labor intensive for her…not sure that proposals should include manual labor, but it worked out in the end). We entertained various ways and times we’d get married, but little life things kept popping up and we put an actual ceremony on the back burner.

This past year, work became more stable for me and it was feeling like the right time to have the government officially recognize the fact that Heather and I were committed to getting the tax breaks that every heterosexual deserves.

We decided to just do a small wedding for ourselves. (We love our families, but they insist on living in the wilderness of Virginia despite the fact that it’s on the entire other side of the country and has really spotty wi-fi). Besides, neither one of us cared for the pomp and circumstance that often accompanies a ceremony. All too often the bride and groom end up overstressed and lose focus of why they’re having a wedding in the first place (to get the tax breaks every heterosexual deserves, duh…I’ve repeated this joke, just to make it abundantly clear that I find it absurd that any person should get any additional rights based on who they prefer to make out with). Above all, we wanted it to be fun.

We thought about Vegas. Have Elvis marry us. This sounded cool until someone informed me of the fact that Elvis Presley had died many, many years ago and the guy who would marry us was nothing but (and this is 100% true) an impostor! I don’t know how he gets away with it legally, but whatever.

Will Atkinson, an Elvis impersonator, in Oxford, Miss. on Wednesday, November 9, 2011.

                 But it looks just like him…

Then I remembered our trip to Disneyland. Why not get married in the happiest place on Earth? Well, I’ll give you one reason. You can only get married in Disneyland if you purchase one of their wedding packages that start at Way-More-Money-Than-I-Would-Ever-Spend-On-A-Wedding and go all the way up to Way-More-Money-Than-I-Have-Ever-Seen-In-One-Place-Except-For-In-Movies-About-Bank-Robberies-Gone-Wrong.

But then I thought…what about a covert Disney wedding? What about a covert Disney wedding while actually on the Splash Mountain ride? What about a covert Disney wedding while actually on the Splash Mountain ride with an eight-tier, vanilla hazelnut cake with chocolate ganache, pistachio mousse and butter cream frosting? Then I thought – it totally won’t work with the cake, but other than that – yeah. This could be epic.

Just one problem. Who would we get to officiate this wacky sneak wedding? So, back to the past for a moment. From 2001-2007, I worked in LAUSD classrooms. This was a great job because (a) I made a lot of awesome eight-year old friends and (b) working in an elementary school made me feel like a genius because I knew so many more of the answers than the students. I was lucky, because the school I worked at just happened to be full of mostly super cool kids. I’ve roughly stayed in touch with some of them through social media. One of these kids, let’s call him…Danny (because that’s his name), had posted a lot of photos of himself and his gal pal at Disneyland over the past year. So I ran it by Heather and we thought, what the heck – let’s call him up and say, “Hey, remember the tall guy sitting in the back of your grade school classroom that kept shouting out all of the answers with astounding accuracy? How would you like to get ordained online and marry that guy to his former high school cast member and stalker on a log flume ride in a super secret wedding in two weeks?” And the craziest part? He said sure.

So Heather and I got the marriage license. Danny got ordained. Alex (Danny’s girlfriend) probably said, “Okay, who is this again? And what are we doing? And…oh, we’re going to Disneyland? I’m on board.” Heather created some signs to hold for our wedding pictures courtesy of the Splash Mountain photo booth. I wrote the ten second vows for Danny to read on the thirty seconds of the ride that we could videotape before descending into the splash portion of the mountain. And we all giggled to ourselves – this is really fun.

And yesterday we did it. Alex hid the signs in her backpack. We got into a log with two other random people who are probably still saying to themselves, “Nah, they didn’t really just get married on that ride. Did they?” We went up the first hill and as our log eased into the water, Danny said, “We’re gathered here today in this log to celebrate one of life’s great rides – marriage.” Then he asked us if we took each other. And darned if we didn’t. Then we smooched. Then Alex said, “Wait, which button do I push to record?” Then Heather told Alex which button to push to record. Then Danny said his stuff again. Then Heather and I said our stuff again. Then we smooched again (bonus smooch!). Then the guy behind us thought, “What the hell is going on in the front of this log?” Then Alex grabbed the signs from her backpack and handed them back to us. Then we went down the first drop and we got unbelievably soaked – I thought our log was going to sink we were taking on so much water. Then I fumbled with my cell phone and managed to take three pictures of Heather’s shoulder, the back of my hand, and a dark blur which could be anything. Then we went up the hill for the big drop, readied our signs and this is what we got –

the-plunge

Sure, we could have walked down an aisle and had a bouquet and all those other things you see in the movies about beautiful weddings that take place before a bank robbery gone wrong…but I really like our story. It’s fun and quirky and unique. Yes, we all got drenched – but it’s certainly better to have cold feet after a wedding than before. Yes, our wedding photo includes a couple from Iowa (or so I tell myself) who have no idea why the rest of the people in their log seem to be operating with military precision – but I love the idea that our unconventional tale will spawn others. And, yes, we didn’t get a chance to register – but that doesn’t mean you still can’t send us a gift. Seriously. We’re accepting gifts.

So that’s the story of what I did yesterday. Feel free to share it with others. We are living in a world that could stand a few more stories of love and fun and generosity. All of which we experienced yesterday. Because when we take the plunge…we really take the plunge.

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Here’s the deal. I took on Patton Oswalt in my very first blog post back in 2011. I challenged Mr. Oswalt to a Google-off, a gentleman’s duel to see whose name would get more Google search results. In what some called a cowardly move (others referred to it as, “He doesn’t know who you are or what you’re doing”), he did not reply to my challenge. Undeterred, I began my quest to dethrone him. And a refocusing of my efforts is definitely past due.

A quick refresher. Simply put, Patton Oswalt is me with a five year head start. He was born in 1969, five years before me. He graduated from the College of William and Mary with an English degree in 1991 – I did the same exactly five years later. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue a comedy career in 1995. Guess what I did in 2000? In 2005, Oswalt married Michelle Eileen McNamara, I married her in 2010.

Okay, that last one isn’t true. But the rest is 100% accurate. A little crazy. No, I wasn’t following him around (not back then, anyway). I discovered all of this only when I started this blog. And it’s very difficult to achieve success as a humor writer when someone else is living your life five years before you can. (I’m tempted to do more research on what Oswalt is doing this very moment, so I can see what I’ll be doing five years from now, but I don’t want to screw with the space-time continuum).

When I started this blog, Patton had just published his first book. A few months ago, his second book – Silver Screen Fiend – came out. I know what you’re thinking, and I can’t believe it either. I’m losing a Google-off to a guy who can’t even spell friend.

patton

Look – the Google logo is in the background. They’re in this together!

And I’m here to tell you, this new book of his is no prize pig. Here is an actual excerpt from the first page – “Copyright 2015 by Dagonet Inc. All rights reserved, including the rights to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever…” And so on. Snooze fest. Sorry to say so, Mr. Oswalt, but no one cares about your precious copyright laws, how about writing a book where something actually happens? (Side note: by quoting the part of the book that says I can’t quote part of the book, did I again just screw with the space-time continuum?)

So, let’s all double our efforts to make me at least as famous as Patton Oswalt. (If you don’t happen to know who Patton Oswalt is, please do not Google him to find out…that would only help his cause. Come to think of it, maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned his name forty two times in this post). I can only defeat him with your help. This blog needs to be tweeted about, facebooked to death, and myspaced until that site is no longer relevant. Those of you reading this right now – you are my allies. And I need you now more than ever. Remember, a fiend in need is a fiend indeed.

Here’s the deal.

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
No computer was stirring, no printer, no mouse;
But WordPress was typed into Google with care,
In hopes that a new post soon would be there;
The readers were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of versus danced in their heads,                                                                                                                                                                              And Ma in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap –
When out on the laptop there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to Windows I flew like a flash,
Typed in http followed by colon double slash.
The moon on the screen created a glare,
And a sense of magic hung in the air,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature blogger who wrote like Shakespeare,
He sprang from my hard drive, with vigor and glee,
And I knew in a moment it must be McBee.
More rapid than eagles his blog posts they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Versus Gum! Versus Sand! Versus Cross Country Races,
“Versus People Who Take Up Two Parking Spaces;
“Versus Flip Flops in Spring and Sporks in late Fall!
“Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
Up to my desk-top the blog posts they flew,
With amazing content – and great comments too.
And then in a twinkling, my screen grew yet brighter
with the clicking and clacking of one little writer.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Through the internet Makya came with a bound:
He was dressed all in sweat pants both purple and pink,                                                                                                                                                            And his clothes were all tarnished with white out and ink;
A bundle of fresh blogs were flung on his back,
And he tried as he might not to look like a hack:
His eyes – how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And his long white beard was attached with velcro;
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old blogger,
And I jumped when I saw him – as if I were Frogger;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his pen
And I knew that his writing was about to begin.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Making fun of everything like an internet jerk,
And with one keyboard stroke, he decided to post
Showing the world what, this week, he’d decided to roast.
Then he sprung back to his Kia, to return to L.A.,
And he started the engine and left right away:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight –
Happy Christmas to all, now it’s time to rewrite…

Here’s the deal.  I started this blog on March 10th and I soon settled in to a schedule of writing a new post every third day.  Two days off, one day on.  Sure, there are those who post every day.  And there are those who go weeks between updates.  But I had found a rhythm I was comfortable with – not too taxing, but not sporadic enough to lose interested readers.  And so it was for many months…

Until today.

It wasn’t intentional.  The story is actually about as boring as it could be…I just forgot.  Not that anyone would notice.  Everyone’s busy stuffing themselves with stuffing.  I doubt anyone set a place at the table for my blog and is wondering where it is.  It’s just that, in my mind, I’m late.

And I don’t like being late. 

For me, moving to Los Angeles took some adapting.  There is a social interaction equation here that I was not familiar with…t = (i + 45)f…where t = the time at which one is expected to show up to a social gathering, i = the time at which you were invited to show up and f = the level of fame of the inviters/invitees.  That is to say, if there are no famous people involved, and there’s a party at 7:00, the earliest you can show up is 7:45.  If there are any famous people involved, that number grows, exponentially.  If, for example, you invited the Baldwin brothers to a party at 7:00.  Daniel would show up at 8:30, William would arrive at 9:15 and Stephen would roll in around 10:00.  (Alec wouldn’t come).

An American-style crossword grid layout

This practice, of course, is in stark contrast to the way the rest of the country behaves.  I grew up, mostly, in Virginia. Where, if one is invited to a party at 7:00, one shows up sometime between 6:57 and 7:03.  Do that in Los Angeles and you’ll guarantee yourself a nice, uncomfortable hour or so with just you and the host.  And, because, nobody wants to be the first person to show up – the arrival times have been consistently pushed back over the decades. 

I’ve lived here for eleven years and I still can’t get the hang of it.  The truth is, I keep a book of crossword puzzles in my car.  Why?  Because I still like to show up to places on time.  I still do it.  I can’t stop.  So, I usually end up sitting in my car for an hour trying to come up with a five letter word for late…ohhh, “tardy.”

And no matter how many times I arrive at a destination (it’s not just parties…I mean, I’ve been to like, three parties in the past decade…it’s also dinner, coffee, court appointments…) before everyone else I still can’t get over the notion that if you tell someone you’ll be someplace at some time – it seems rude not to.  I keep thinking I’m going to make someone wait.  And I don’t terribly mind being that guy.  The guy that gets there on time.  After all, they say the early bird gets the worm. 

No wonder people in LA run late…what kind of incentive is a worm?  Maybe they should change it to,”The early actor gets the three-picture deal.”  Or, “The on-time performer gets the Emmy nod.”  Or even, “The early bird doesn’t get the worm.”  I mean, that’s preferable to getting the worm, right?

I guess what I’m trying to say is…sorry I’m late.

And, on behalf of myself and all of the Baldwin brothers, happy Thanksgiving.

Here’s the deal.  Most of my best friends are movie characters.  My only enemies are cinematic villains.  And some of my best memories are times when I’ve confused reality for a scene in one of my favorite films.  Therefore it should come as no surprise that I also anticipate the future that movies have predicted for us…and it’s going to be a tough seven or eight years.

The Postman takes place in the year 2013.  It’s a post-apocalyptic world in which war lords rule over a desolate landscape, humanity struggles to maintain some shred of hope for their future, and Kevin Costner has been forced to take a job delivering mail.  So I suggest that if you have any really important packages, you get those sent in the next fourteen months – Kevin can only handle so many parcels.

If we survive that world, two years later we’ll have to deal with crime-ridden cities the only way we know how…with a half man, half machine police force.  That’s right, 2015 brings us Robocop.  I know, cyborg law enforcement sounds ideal.  But believe me, it’s anything but.  Have we not learned anything from the 4,869 versions of Frankenstein that have been written and filmed over the years?  Has it turned out well even once?  Do we ever, in these movies, hear the protagonist reflect, “Hey, look, I played God and created life…and it’s turned out to be a really positive experience.”

Barb Wire (film)

No Laws.  No Limits.  No Plot.

At the same time, according to the cinema, we’ll be facing even more trouble.  2015 is also the year in which Back to the Future II is set.  And, with the exception of those cool hoverboards, this is not a pleasant reality.  Biff Tannen has all the power.  Yes, that Biff Tannen (boy, if you don’t watch many movies, this whole post is not going to make a lot of sense).

Things will get even more dire in 2017.  Criminals will be forced to fight for their life in an ultra-violent game show.  If you thought Richard Dawson was creepy making out with all of the women on Family Feud, wait until you see him making out with convicted felons in The Running Man.  Yes, people, we’re only a few short years away from a future where electricity-blasting, bounty hunters stalk the criminal and innocent alike for the entertainment of the masses, and, strangely enough, they’ll simultaneously be singing opera.

Two years later (for some unknown reason, even numbered years are relatively safe), Los Angeles will be torn from the continental U.S. and turned into a penal colony.  In the year 2019, LA will be a dangerous place ruled by the world’s most deadly criminals, and only a one-eyed Kurt Russell will be able to save us (What is Escape From LA, Alex).

And, should we be fortunate enough to survive the war lords, the late mail, the robotic police, Biff Tannen’s greed, Richard Dawson’s ire and being exiled to a land of degenerates…we’ll be faced with the most frightening future of all.  In 2022, Soylent Greenwill be available at your local grocer.  And if you don’t know what it’s made out of…you need to join Netflix.

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I survive the next decade of cinematic apocalyptic doom?  Luckily, I’ve seen all of these movies, so I know precisely what is required to stay alive.  There is only one upcoming futuristic movie I haven’t seen, and it is perhaps the most frightening of all.  It is the one that fills my heart with dread.  It presents a future that I simply don’t know how to deal with.  In a few short years, we’ll be in 2017, where the movie Barb Wire takes place.  The most terrifying vision…the one sure sign of the apocalypse…the one future we may not be able to survive…a world where Pamela Anderson is a movie star…

Here’s the deal.  You know those lines painted on the pavement in the parking lot?  Those are there for a reason.  They mark the boundaries of an individual parking space.  Your goal, as a driver bringing your car to a rest, is to guide your vehicle into that spot, so that your car is betweenthose two lines.  If your car is overlapping one of those lines, you are officially taking up two parking spaces, throwing the whole system off, and destroying society.

Cover of

Clap if you believe in parking correctly

Sure, maybe your kindergarten teacher, in an attempt to make an excuse for your below average dexterity foster your creativity, told you it’s okay to color outside the lines.  That was all well and good for coloring in Tinkerbell’s wand in your Peter Pan coloring book, but we’re not in Never Never Land anymore.  This is the real world.  You’re an adult.  Keep your car between the lines.

I understand that this may not be a big issue for everyone.  My parents and siblings live in the wilderness like the Swiss Family Robinson (and, yes, some of them do live in trees with a complicated series of pulleys and levers…I applaud their ingenuity but the internet service is sketchy at best) – when they park their cars the nearest adjacent car is typically six to seven miles away.  But I live in Los Angeles, where there are nearly ten million people and just under eight thousand parking spots. 

Parking is serious business here.  Typical street parking signs read like a novella with restrictions based on time of day, day of the week, side of the street and phase of the moon.  And (this is not an exaggeration) it is not uncommon to pay upwards of six dollars per fifteen minutes of parking at downtown garages.  You often need a calendar and a calculator (and a second income) just to figure out where you can park in this city. So, clearly, following the rules of parking is important here.  And when I see a vehicle sloppily spread out over two parking spaces, I want to take a chainsaw and sever off the part of the car that is overlapping and pile that scrap metal into the one parking space…but I rarely do this.  Usually I just grimace. 

I have no idea what makes a person think they are special enough to take up two spaces.  I don’t know if it’s a vision problem or just a complete indifference to where other people put their cars…either way, I don’t want to have anything to do with these people (I would, however, welcome them as competitors in a Tetris tournament).

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I teach these people how to park?  I have an idea for a new type of parking lot with what I call hot spots.  If a car’s tires are parked on the line, this will trigger a hidden, underground heating coil so that, when the guilty party returns to their vehicle, they’ll find that the tires that overlapped into the adjacent spot have been melted off of their car.  I’m guessing this will only have to happen to a person once – they’ll probably be a little more careful next time they park.  It might sound drastic, but I can’t take any more of these ridiculously common and utterly thoughtless parking practices…if this plan doesn’t work, I might just have to move in to my sister’s tree house.

Here’s the deal.  I haven’t addressed a reader’s suggestion in some time, so I wanted to take a moment to apologize for not having versused all of your ideas.  There are a couple of reasons I won’t be able to get to all of them.  Firstly, I only take on small issues.  There are plenty of big, scary problems in the world.  And there are plenty of people writing about them.  That’s not my bag.  Rather, I take on the seemingly inconsequential and blow it all out of proportion so we have even more to worry about.  But at least, with my topics, we have the illusion of some control.  There’s not much any of us can do about the big issues, but it’s pretty easy to stop buying candy corn.

Secondly, I’m not always bothered by the things my readers suggest.  I know what you’re thinking…is it, “What, you have readers?”  Well, that’s a silly thing to think.  You’re reading this right now – do you doubt your own existence?  Wait, I know what you were actually thinking – “Why don’t you just pretend to be bothered my all of the reader’s suggestions?”  Well, that would go against my blogger’s oath.  I can’t just feign ire.  Come on.  I’m a journalist.  Kind of.

In some instances I don’t even know what it is that’s been suggested.  David suggested burpless cucumbers.  I didn’t know such a thing existed.  I didn’t even know that regular cucumbers made people burp.  This type of subject is way out of my league.  R. Washington wanted me to take on McDonald’s oatmeal.  I didn’t know McDonalds sold oatmeal.  And while I do enjoy my research, I was not willing to eat at McDonalds – even in the name of kind of journalism.  Heather suggested movie ghosts that move too fast.  I have to be honest, I just don’t know how fast ghosts are supposed to move.  Should ghosts move slowly?  What if it’s the ghost of an Olympic sprinter?  The topic just raised too many questions that I couldn’t answer.

So, I hope the fact that I don’t get to all of them, won’t stop you from sending them in.  Any time something bugs you and you think I might be able to tackle it, just let me know.  This week’s suggestion, by the way, comes from Wes and I think we all know what he’s talking about.  Reality television is notorious for drawn out, over-dramatic reveals.

Host of American Idol, and numerous other radi...

Image via Wikipedia

If you want to find out which top model is toppest, who will get the last rose, how much weight was lost, who’s being voted off the island, what the extreme makeover will look like, who’s being evicted from the house, which one is the mole, who thinks they can dance, what the next stage of the race will be, who will be fired, which comic will be left standing, who got the least votes, which housewife will win the hair-pulling battle, or which part of America has talent…you’re going to have to wait until after the commercials.

What bothers me most about these slow reveals is that the reality show “stars” and the audience still fall for it.  When Ryan Seacrest says, “And the person going home is…to be revealed, right after these messages,” the audience moans as if they somehow thought he was going to announce it right away.  For some inexplicable reason, they’ve all forgotten that he’s done this 3,489 times in a row – there’s a pretty strong precedent here.  If I were one of the idols, I’d just head back to my seat as soon as he started talking…seriously, we all know he’s not going to announce it before we squeeze in one more spot with someone using AT&T service as they sip a Coke from the back seat of their new Ford.

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I stop them from teasing us with, “the most dramatic rose ceremony ever,” and drawing out every little, five second decision for forty minutes?  I’m not going to stop them.  I love this stuff.  You see, I just remembered that I live in Los Angeles and am trying to break into this business.  Seacrest is a gatekeeper, friends.  And if it works for Seacrest, if works for me.  Sorry, but I’ve gotta let this one slide.  You don’t go against the idol maker.  Come on, you saw what happened to Dunkleman.