$5 a Day is a earnest road-trip movie about a son’s reconciliation with his grifter father. The film opens with a classic Screenwriting 101 twist of fate: Just after our protagonist, Ritchie Flynn (Alessandro Nivola) gets fired from his job as a Health Inspector, his girlfriend (Amanda Peet) dumps him. This conveniently frees up his schedule for a wacky cross-country drive with Nat (the one and only Christopher Walken), his father, a con man from Atlantic City who claims to be dying. Along the way they come to understand each other, they scam various salesmen, and they hang out with Flynn’s old babysitter (an uncomfortably tan Sharon Stone).
So first of all, let me say that Amanda Peet is very good at seeming fed up. I have seen at least 43 movies where Amanda Peet is just miffed at something or other, and I feel pretty secure in saying that I think maybe she actually is just very disappointed as a human being. Or she is a disappointment pretending genius. She gets so fed up, that I feel like I personally, even though I am watching her movie on Netflix a good 5 years after she made it, am somehow watching it in the wrong way and offending her. I feel like I should pack up my bags and just go. Her frustration transcends time and media. Kudos to Amanda Peet. The Scrunchy Onion award goes to her, hands down.
Okay, nextly, let me say that even though I think of Alessandro Nivola as a poor man’s Sam Rockwell, or as the man who is lucky enough to married to Emily Mortimer, he did a pretty good job in this movie. Also, his name is like Tennessee; it had too many of the same letters in it. It makes me feel weird. But Alessandro-ness aside, he really makes Flynn a sympathetic chap, despite the fact that the screenwriters made little effort to provide actual events to explain his personal transformations. Kudos to you, Mr. Nivola. You win the Stoic Carrot award for your strong chin and your independent acting choices.
Now, as I have not yet gotten to the Walken in the room, I will say this about Sharon Stone: Her boobs look very nice, but she is orange. I don’t know if this was a movie-choice or a life-choice, but she has turned herself into an Oompa Loompa. If Orange is the new Black, then Sharon Stone wears overalls and works in a chocolate factory. ‘Nuff said? No Golden Globes for you this time, Ms. Stone. Go polish them orange ones instead.
So, yes. Christopher Walken is in this movie. And, yes, this is why we chose this movie. It’s Christopher Walken!! Not that he doesn’t make some stinkers, but, well, even when he does, it’s still a pleasure to watch. Hell, it’s a pleasure to watch him make a chicken. That said, he is really lovely in this role. He is subtle and detailed in his portrayal of Nat, and doesn’t rely on his affectations or odd mannerisms. He is so simple and honest that this movie is not really successful as a comedy. I’m not really sure it’s successful as a drama either. Walken hits one beautiful note, then sustains it for an hour and a half. One lovely, low note does not make a symphony, although Walken, true to form, dances as if it does. Yes, folks, there is a dance scene. I’m sure the C-Walks demanded it, and I was grateful. Mr. Walken, you win the Tab Award for Best Motorcross Robot built in a painting.
Off-topic, I would like to request that Paul Rudd and Chris Walken dance together in a movie. Hopefully, in a re-make of one of those “Breakin'” movies, where they play leaders of fighting dance gangs.
So, I don’t know, man. I was expecting a pile of poo or a surprising glorious moon, and this movie was neither one of those things. It was a solid, decent movie, but you don’t need to see it. I just don’t think it’s going to surprise you or make you think about anything. If I were you, I would just rent Seven Psychopaths. Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell. Plus, Martin McDonagh wrote it. But, back to $5 a Day. Listen, if we’re rating it on the Booby scale, I would give it two mid-sized boobies in a loose-fitting shirt. Solid, but not stopping traffic.
I get the fact that the father is thrifty (if not just a charming liar), but why is the movie called “$5 a Day.” I mean, I get it. They did strange things to not spend much. But there was no “We have to only spend $5 a day or we are going to A. starve, B. explode or C. turn into green aliens, making this a movie worth Katharine’s time. I mean, how am I supposed to play the “Drink when you hear the movie title” game if they never say it?!
And can we continue to talk about Sharon Stone? I think we can all agree that she is a beautiful lady. But I think you can actually see too much of anyone. Sure, in theory anyone should want to watch Ms. Stone walking around in lingerie. Nope. That theory’s still sound. But why so orange?
I was about to go into a tirade regarding the different hues of tan the character could have be, but then realized that perhaps Ms. Stone is a genius. Her character is in the movie perhaps 20 minutes. Yet, what do we discuss? An orange Stone glowing in lingerie. Brilliant.
So what else do I remember of this film. Hmmm… The performances were good, the story was fine and glowing orange stones. Oh, and a Sweet ‘N Low car. Who I’m assuming sponsored a large portion of this film or at least donated the car.
But, it wasn’t bad. That sounds harsh. It was somewhat enjoyable? There, that’s better. Right? Alex?
Alex: *snorts, raises head from drool pool* Oh, hey! I agree that Alessandro and Chris give pretty earnest, genuine performances. They do their damndest with dialogue has all the novelty and nuance of a Meatloaf song, and politely ignore the blaring incidents of product placement that become monumental distractions from the wafer-thin plot premise (see Kath’s reference to the bright pink vehicle inexplicably plastered with the Sweet ‘n’ Low logo. They drive from New Jersey to Mexico in that thing. Chevron, HoJo’s, and Cadillac also make un-subtle cameo appearances). Sharon Stone shows up to chew some scenery and reprise her creepy cougar role from Broken Flowers (this performance was so similar, in fact, that I kept getting confused and wondering where Bill Murray was. Then again I wonder that while watching a lot of movies).
Some good stuff: I enjoyed the recurring humor of Nat’s black socks (he wears them to bed! and in the ocean!!), and that Richie kept thinking he was dead, and that the entire movie looked like it was shot through an Instagram filter. Plus, it was educational! As a result of watching this film, I know how to grift free room service, steal pubic hair, fake a paternity test, fudge a cancerous X-ray, and piss off my no-good son in the name of a few thousand dollars. I also need to start working the expressions “You’re pure flame!” and “I slept like a polar bear” into my vocabulary. (Imagine them spoken by Christopher Walken – right??) In light of its dubious hits and charming misses, I hereby award $5 A Day my gold-plated “Meh” rating.
Kath: So we all agree!! Here is our “We all agree” photo. Enjoy it more than the movie.
Now go get yourself a little treat, you’ve done some fine work today.
Hey Boys and Girls, this here’s a new feature on the Booby Hatch blog in which we review movies! Films, even! Maybe web shows and banner ads too! Get on board, Space Coasters – OFF WE GO.
Alex: I just wanna begin by saying that I felt sort of robbed by The Château, an odd little gem from 2001. Based on the movie poster (below) I don’t think it was unreasonable to expect a madcap parade of hilarious cultural misunderstandings involving farm life, saucy nudity, and the repeated mispronunciation of French – basically, Benny Hill in Bourgogne. What The Château delivers instead isn’t bad exactly but is certainly…not that.
The film follows Graham Granville (played by Paul Rudd), an aimless fuckup from Lawrence, Kansas and his adopted older brother Alan (or “Rex” as he is known, played by Romany Malco) as they travel from Los Angeles to rural France to claim a castle inherited from a recently-deceased uncle. After overcoming the initial language barrier and the fact that the staff (who still lives in the castle) wasn’t expecting them, Graham and Rex develop a tenuous rapport with Jean, the butler, and Isabelle, the demure maid, but are then saddled with the responsibility of either selling or saving the crumbling home. Rex, a practical neat freak, wants to sell it immediately along with the staff (what?? Are we in feudal France?), presumably to shore up his small business that specializes in “solutions for premature ejaculation” (yeah – not nearly as funny as it sounds). Graham eventually agrees, but closing a sale proves harder than they thought – cue a droll cameo by Donal Logue as un sac de douche Americain interested in buying the property.
“Droll” really is the key word here, in its most literal French sense – the humor is…subtle, hinging on differences between the brothers (Graham leaves his shoes on the train- ha!), between France and America (much is made of Graham’s veganism, which the French clearly don’t “get” – at one point they serve him an entire boar’s head, hair and all), and between the respective languages (the dead uncle’s surname is Leconte – get it?? HOURS OF FUN.) I can say I enjoyed The Château, mostly thanks to Malco and Rudd’s respective charms; it just would have been easier if I hadn’t been expecting National Lampoon’s Gallic Vacation. The entire film is shot in a dim, grainy glow – it reminded me a lot of Watcher in the Woods – and I wouldn’t have been surprised to see an elderly Betty Davis lurking around the castle instead of Isabelle, whose moony eyes started to creep me out. Maybe the cinematographer was trying to set a mood (I get it! The South of France is really brown and twiggy!), but the effect was less “art house comedy” and more “middle-period George Harrison music video”. There are some charming moments, to be sure: Rex yelling “Je suis le roi du château!!” and beatboxing with Isabelle, or every time Rudd attempts to speak French, but overall The Château suffered from a severe international identity crisis. Ladies?
Kath: They had me when Rudd said, “What am I going to do when I get to France?.. Love the ladies!” They lost me by playing bad porn music during the montage of Rudd and Malco driving up to the Chateau. They had me when Rudd started speaking English in a bad French accent since he knew few French words and they used English subtitles anyways. They lost me when Rudd went from charming dork to a cautionary tale you tell your daughters to avoid. I wish I could tell you it ended well, but I don’t actually remember. I blame the wine I drank.
Sabrina: As someone who has stayed in a town near Lawrence, Kansas,* I can assure you that Paul Rudd does a really funny, weird dance-walk as he and the guy who was also in The Forty-Year Virgin stroll through the village in France. Remember when Paul Rudd danced on The Daily Show ? This scene was JUST LIKE THAT, except if the Daily Show studio was a village in France, Jon Stewart was that other guy, and instead of having a really good camera and a professional crew, I just shot it on my iPhone. Totally worth the price of admission!!!!** I laughed; I cried; I doodled a picture of Paul Rudd’s smile on a napkin.
Oh, I can also tell you that it took me about half of the movie to figure out who the other guy (Romany Malco) was. I honestly can’t tell you anything about the first part of the movie at all, because I was too busy yelling, “Wait, who IS that guy? I know him from somewhere!” Finally, my husband told me who he was as he rolled his eyes and finished the last of my peanut-brickled iced cream. It was then I realized that I have become an eighty-year old woman.
So, if you would like to see Paul Rudd do one of his silly and charming dances, and you would like to get in touch with your inner grandmother, I highly recommend watching this movie right away.*** If you would like to see Paul Rudd get his dance on, but want to skip the flick, check this out!
*Kansas City. I do have a friend who lives in Lawrence. I think he just directed The Odd Couple. Now that’s a movie!! Hey, maybe they should just remake The Odd Couple with Paul Rudd and the other guy from this movie.**** I bet that would be pretty good. They should probably get a new camera though. And some lights.
**I watched this movie for free on the Netflix, says this grandmother.
***I just remembered that the end of this movie kind of makes you say, “Wait, hey, why did that happen? That doesn’t make any sense at all.” And then, if you’re me, and/or you are eighty, you will spend the next twenty minutes explaining why that was a terrible way to end the film and going over the 47 reasons why. This is the reason I am no longer allowed to watch Brewster’s Millions or The Money Pit.
****That guy was in Weeds? Yeah, I guess so.
Kath: The Forty-Year Virgin!! THAT’s who that guy is! Jay-z-us, that took years off my life. I still don’t remember how it ends.
Oprah & Ebert-style Book Club G-chat:
Sabrina: So do we want/need a rating system? 3 boobies up?
Kath: That’s a great idea! I give it 1/2 a wormy boob.
Alex: I give it one boob with stretch marks.
Sabrina: I give it two old-lady boobs out of five nice 20-year old boobs. Wait…what’s the scale?
Alex: I thought it was outta three.
Sabrina: Oh, ok, then it’s one old boob.
Alex: But seriously, were you two as confused as I was about like…what the hell kind of movie the director wanted to make?
Sabrina: Was there a director? I thought someone just used a flip cam. Paul Rudd’s wife maybe.
Alex: *puts on research goggles* It was directed by Jesse Peretz, who at the time was best known for directing that Foo Fighters video where they pretend to be in a Mentos commercial? Also THIS, which I will admit to enjoying.
Kath: I don’t “do” links. what is it?
Alex: Our Idiot Brother – Jesse, you’re alright with me. You’re like pizza and funerals. You bring people together.
Kath: The Château had potential… then went wackawoo.
Sabrina: It’s crazy. The butler guy who is his uncle pretends to die, then for SOME reason, this makes them not sell the house and give it to the hot maid, then she goes to Barcelona on a train with her toddler ?????? (oh wait did I just reveal one of the big reveals? not really)
Alex: Yeah, how are we supposed to feel when she takes off? “You go girl”? Cuz I was confused.
Kath: The writer couldn’t figure out how to end it.
Alex: I agree. Or they ran outta money.
Kath: They should have put endings in a hat and just picked one, instead of giving us a wet fart and a handshake. Example: lots of talk about how the black and white dudes were brothers, but no back story.
Sabrina: Yeah. I felt like they thought they could get a lot of mileage out of that hilarious joke.
Alex: Ok, so in a prequel who would play Graham and Rex? Jaden Smith?
Kath: Please no.
Sabrina: And Fred Savage?
Kath: Maaaaaybe his son…if he has one. That dude is our age.
Sabrina: Martin Short, dressed like a kid?
Kath: I vote Martin Short!!!
Alex: Oh sure; Jaden Smith could totally act opposite Martin Short and hold his own.
Sabrina: Does the prequel begin in a karate school or is Peter Falk reading to them?
Kath: Peter Falk is teaching karate!
Alex: Ok, anything else we wanna say about The Château?
Sabrina: *tries to make loud fart noises so that Kath will have to shhh me*
Alex: *begins the ever-popular “armpit fart”* Beans I’m totally editing this into the post.
Sabrina: That’s the stuff! We are the best. I want to marry us.
Kath: *actually farts*
I had just the greatest idea for a post, but then I had to do some stuff, and after I did all that stuff, I decided that I should take a shower, and then it sounded to me like a scary thunderstorm was building up inside the shower head, and that has never happened before, well, I mean, it’s never happened to ME before anyhow, although it might have happened to my husband, but I wouldn’t know if it had or hadn’t because he hasn’t been sharing much with me verbally, and by that I mean he hasn’t really been talking to me at all since the whole “baby incident” (which I realize that in this context sounds like I am implying that there was some sort of incident with our baby or with someone else’s baby or maybe that I am referring to a news story about a baby trapped in a well or a baby who acquired superhuman strength and lifted a bus off of his mom or something, some kind of story that particularly affected him in some way, rendering him less communicative, like some kind of third-degree form of PTSD, and I apologize, because I don’t mean to imply that at all, because what I meant by the “baby incident” was just that we had a baby, but since I ended up explaining all that anyway, now I am thinking I should have just written “since we had a baby” in the first place, because that would have saved me from realizing that I misspelled the word “acquired,” I mean, you wouldn’t have known it if I hadn’t just outed myself, because there was a red line under it, and I thought, “Well, that’s silly. That’s not how that’s spelled,” and I quickly added a “c,” but I really originally typed “aquired” without even thinking, because my lazy brain sounded it out, and it seemed like a “q” would be enough to make a “k” sound, the “cq” seemed like overkill, although I guess if you were to separate the syllables, the first one would be making an “ak” and the second one would be making a “kwiored,” but still, that kind of thing is not something I think I would have done before the baby incident, or even since I had the baby, but maybe I would have because I haven’t been reading much lately, I mean, I am almost done with Tina Fey’s book, but I don’t think that counts, because she makes me laugh, and there are funny pictures and there is really big print, you know, the kind that editors probably suggest the publisher switch to when someone is supposed to deliver a book, and he/she only turns in 115 pages after working on it for almost a year, well, I mean, after saying that he or she or the robot worked on it for a year anyhow, but then only putting about two weeks into it if you added up all the hours it was writing and subtracted all the ice cream and bathroom breaks it took, and I don’t mean a break where you eat ice cream in the bathroom, but two separate breaks, although I guess if you were either really pressed for time or had a very traumatic bathroom experience, you might want to combine the two into one swift gesture, well, less like a gesture and more like an incident, but not in the way that the baby incident was a pretty solid “incident,” but–oooooouch, the baby from the aforementioned incident just bit my boob, and then he farted, but not just farted, LIFTED HIS LEG AND FARTED LIKE A GULL-DARNED ANIMAL (!!!), which reminds me that I really need to stop using such shitty language around my son, I mean, he can’t really understand language or even the idea of language, although maybe he’s starting to, because I did show him a “ball” yesterday, I mean, actually I guess I misused those quotation marks–thanks, Bossypants!–it was actually a ball, it wasn’t like a shoe or something that I held up in front of him while I said “ball” a bunch of times, because, well, that would be tricking my son, which, don’t get me wrong, I’ve thought about doing, but only in an abstract way, the same way I think about dressing him up like a bumblebee or a fat bear, but this time the ball that I held up was a real ball, and I held it up and said, “BALL, BALL, BALL,” and he looked at me like he didn’t like what I was getting at, and, anyway, according to the New York Times Magazine, if I was using bad language around him, he might understand that it was language, but he wouldn’t really know that it was “bad,” because he doesn’t really know right from wrong or good from bad, which is why I forgive him for biting my boob and lifting his leg to fart, although, don’t get me wrong, I am still plotting my revenge!!– no one that I know has done that, which means it never happened), and I guess the noise, which my husband may or may not have also experienced, really threw me off my game, because when I tried to remember what it was that I was going to write for my post, I had to think about it really hard, and nothing at all came to me, except the thought that maybe it had something to do with the bathroom, so I started brainstorming and thought about all the random things that make me crazy, which is where I usually start getting ideas for these posts (famous people, classic movies being remade, bananagrams, etc.), so I started going over all the things that make me crazy, like “facebook” and my husband telling me that Daddy Longlegs are arachnids but not “spiders” every time I point at a Daddy Long Legs on our bathroom floor and yell “SPIIIIIIIIIIIIIDER!!!” and make him smash it like the dirty spider it is, but neither one of those things seemed like things that other people would have feelings about, partially because they might not exist outside of my head, but mainly because they both start with the letter “f,” and neither one of them had anything to do with a bathroom, except the part with the spider on the bathroom floor (but that really seemed like I was forcing a connection), so I cleared my head and used the principles of “The Secret” (the movie, not the book) to awaken my mind to the manifestation of the original genius idea for my post, because I was pretty sure that it was the best idea that I’ve ever had.
Do you have more money than you will ever need? Do people give you too much attention? Does your celebrity status make you think that the world disappears whenever you close your eyes?
Whoo-ah! Tell me about it! I remember the days when not getting my picture in a magazine every time I left the house made me lose my mind. I mean, seriously, if I had a nickel for every nickel I have, well, I could buy a planet and start that outer space colony that my psychic has been predicting that I am about to start with a bunch of magical nickels and an empty planet.
So quit screaming, put down those pills, and just listen to me. I have a plan. We’re going to a little place that I refer to as CRAZY-ASS THINGS YOU CAN DO WHEN YOU ARE RICH AND FAMOUS TOWN. That’s right. Take my hand. It’s a sloppy left at the diamond rainbow and straight on past the big John Candy mountain. Yes, yes. That’s it! Right next to the Ferris Bueller Wheel and the body of your ex-wife. We’re almost there…
Please let that play under the rest of this blog.
Star-wipe. Cross dissolve to:
INT. CRAZY-ASS THINGS YOU CAN DO WHEN YOU ARE RICH AND FAMOUS TOWN
Here’s the thing. My theory is this: MOST PEOPLE ARE CRAZY.
Yup. That’s it. Most people are crazy, but most people lack the means to fully indulge their craziness, and most people don’t get their crazy put in magazines and on ET, so we don’t know about it unless they are our neighbors or family members. Rich and famous people aren’t particularly insane, they are just like MOST PEOPLE. For example, I would be a FT out-of-control crazy, but I have things I need to take care of, and I can’t afford to buy an island.
But, what if I could?
Ripple dissolve. Fade to:
INT. SABRINA’S MIND
A hummingbird lands on a tumbleweed, setting both things in motion. Imaginary Katharine appears and waves from inside of a swimming pool filled with sweet berry wine and giant chunks of fruit.
Katharine mentioned in her Birthday Blog that if she were rich she would get a massage every day. EVERY DAY?? Come on, Katharine! That’s not crazy-thinkin’! That just sounds nice. You gotta up the ante. Why not get a massage every hour? Why not get a tiny masseuse and attach him/her to your body with some kind of really expensive harness so that he/she/the robot can rub you ALL THE TIME??? Yeah, make it a tiny robot. And a dog masseuse for your dogs!! And by “dog masseuse,” I mean a masseuse who is a dog. A robot dog.
Imaginary Katharine rolls her eyes and gets on a pony. She and the pony fly away as Imaginary Alex appears. I.A. is holding a martini glass and is dressed up like Robert Goulet.
I mean, Alex has the spirit! She wrote in one of her blogs that she wanted to buy an island and create a man-goat to be her best friend! Sure, Brando did it first (and I’m not talking about the movie), but so what? One ticket to CRAZY-ASS THINGS YOU CAN DO WHEN YOU ARE RICH AND FAMOUS TOWN!! ALL ABOARD! CHOO CHOO!!!
Imaginary Alex shakes her head, opens her mouth, thinks about it, then shrugs, gets on the tiny train from The Jerk and rides off.
So, here’s what we do first: think about some things that rich and famous people have already done and decide what kind of crazy things we would or wouldn’t do. It’s like one of those fancy frozen yogurt stores, except instead of toppings, you can choose from a wide variety of crazy. Spousal abuse or paranoid raisins? Everybody wins!
For example, I wouldn’t murder someone. Really. Or even hire someone to murder someone. I fear karma too much, and I hate the sight of blood, but I would get drunk and rob a bank. I would NOT, however, drive while intoximacated (see above re karma and blood), so I would have to get one of Katharine’s robots to take me.
I wouldn’t build a big ranch with an amusement park and two train lines so that I could invite children over for a sleepover (see above re karma and blood), but I would buy a big ranch and turn it into a town named after me. Then, instead of adopting some kids from impoverished areas, I would adopt a whole village full of people and let them all go on the bumper cars and play video games. Like the Jacksonian, I WOULD get a ton of crazy portraits and statues of myself made and put them up everywhere. In fact, each household would get its own effigy of me doing weird things. Remember good old Yipes, the Fruit Stripe gum zebra? Yeah! Just like that, but in oil paint and gold leaf!
I would not pull a Brando and get hugemongous. As tempting as it would be, because food is just delicious, especially rich people food, I would get cranky hauling around an extra four-hundred pounds, especially in the Tahitian sun, because I would pull a Brando and buy an island in French Polynesia.
I am also a fan of the Brando attitude. One million dollars for being in Superman for a couple of minutes? Showing up to the set of Apocalypse Now with a ton of extra weight, a shaved head and none of his lines memorized? After that he would get all his lines read to him through an earpiece? I’m not saying the man couldn’t be a serious ass, but at least he did it with style!
I wouldn’t get a ton of plastic surgery (oh, don’t get me wrong, I would get some–a bunch, just not enough to qualify for crazy status), but I would make people uncomfortable at awards ceremonies and on talk shows. I don’t know if I’d be on pills or drunk or pulling a Benigni , but I would be wearing some crazy swan outfit doing the Lindy Hop until somebody escorted me away. Say…what about that? Has anyone ever done an acceptance dance? I know that Rudd dances on talk shows, but it’s more cute than crazy. I would really like to bring it over the line. I mean, maybe it would start off cute, but it would just go on way too long. WAY WAY WAY too long.
All I can come up with is being a wacky island dancer in a town filled with pinball machines? Lame. Well, maybe I would have an army of trained penguins! What about that? And I would have a special house built that was 2/3 the size of a normal house, so that I would feel taller. So there! And…and…um, well, I would have an astronaut kitchen and only eat in zero gravity! With penguins! Robot penguins eating astronaut ice cream! BOOM! And maybe, just MAAAAYBE, I would buy myself a really nice pair of boots. They might even be some kind of crazy color, like YELLOW! HA HA HA HA HA!! I did it!! Yellow boots! Take THAT, America!
Now it’s your turn. You can press replay on the muppet show clip if you need some inspiration.
The Cos knew it.
Galifianakis sure had something to say about it.
Hey, there’s no denying it. Kids are funny. They really do say the darnedest things (especially when you’re writing the script–ZING!!)! I discovered this about a year and a half ago, and I’ve been trying to exploit, er…enjoy the rich and delicious blend of kids and funny ever since. It’s so much easier than making my own grown-up funny.
One problem: Where do you find the kids?
Well, sit down there on that log, son, and I’ll tell you. It just so happened that I was doing a production of Christmas Carol a year and a half ago. And what does Christmas Carol have, aside from one heartwarming and noble truth? That’s right! Cratchits! Kids o’ plenty! I immediately saw a future comedy genius in little Tiny Tim. He had a great audition, a sassy smile, and his mom brought a giant bag of M&Ms and a picture of a dinosaur to the shoot. HIRED!!
A few weeks earlier, I had met the man who would (later) become my husband and (slightly later than later) father to my son (oops, I ruined the punchline). Kris and I shared a love for making our combined powers of funny even funnier by using fresh, young talent. We were like sketch comedy vampires! We had crossed oceans of time just to make youtube videos! And guess what? Bonus was, Kris had already made a child and already made her funny!
So, we went ahead and got married. But that wasn’t enough, see? We needed more material. More kids equals more funny!!! Right, Bill Murray?
So, after doing some stuff and waiting and doing some other stuff and yelling, Benjamin Prometheus Stoker was born on May 12th at 12:17 in the wee bitty slice of a rainy morning.
(I am writing this with one hand Ben is asleep on me. He just started farting. A lot. Big noisy ones. Does this kid know from funny or what?)
Kris and I have been a bit tired these past few weeks, not sleeping much, getting pooped and farted on, removing umbilical cords and learning how to knit, but pretty soon this family will be selling a show to Comedy Central. It will be called “Get Stoked!”, and we’ll have a sassy maid and a wacky neighbor and we’ll have to adopt a new baby in about five years when Ben isn’t so tiny.
Until then, here’s something to hold you over! Remember: we made him for your enjoyment!
Our secret to success? UNITARDS!!!!
But myths aside, flashing my own cultural achievement scorecard is not the purpose of this post. Instead I’d like to eulogize the many, many milestones that I wish I could say “I was there” for. Regret is healthy and it’s honest. instead of leading people to believe that my world-weary, Sam Shepard-esque, taken-by-the-wind brand of sexy cool is anything but the result of years of practice and wishful thinking, I can come clean with exactly the kind of square I am. So here are my regrets, in reverse chronological order, and spiked with a jigger of professional jealousy:
January 2011: P. Diddy graces the stage at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre New York
I will confess upfront that I’m not a huge fan of Diddy, Ciroc, or the crowded, smug conditions in the UCB basement theatre, but I am a fan of comedy stunts, and feeling like a cool kid. So it was with MUCH regret (and some loud ranting that disturbed my cats) that I awoke the morning after enjoying a friend’s sketch show at UCB, to the news that I had missed Diddy’s heavily rumored and tweeted-about surprise appearance on the Chris Gethard Show by AN HOUR AND A HALF. (Ah, so that’s why the UCB staff shooed us out after the show like feral cats – DIDDY WAS IMMINENT.) Had I faked hysterical paralysis and refused to leave my seat, I might have caught a glimpse of Puff the Magic Mogul. Alas.
November 2007: The cast of 30 Rock performs an episode live on stage
The WGA writers strike was on, and this sweet comedy antidote was announced very quietly through a handful of comedy nerd news sites…which of course immediately spilled over to EVERY MEDIA OUTLET IN EXISTENCE. Tickets were sold online to the general public, but predictably, they sold out in a nanosecond. I had one or two strings I could have pulled to get in, which I now realize I should have not only pulled, but swung upon as if they were the bells of Notre Dame and I, Quasimodo. That I was too busy pining after a young gypsy dancer is the only excuse I can think of.
October 2001: Jane’s Addiction plays Madison Square Garden on their Jubilee Tour
Normally I would feel fine about missing this concert, since tickets were harder to get than a fingerbang at a Christian Rock show. Normally, that is – except for the fact that a group of my (infinitely cooler and better-looking) friends got in without tickets by a crazy stroke of luck. They had been waiting outside MSG in the freezing cold, with throngs of other vinyl-corseted freaks for hours. Then, straight out of a Rolling Stone essay titled I’m with the (Pidgeon-chested Guy in Eyeliner and a Wrist) Band, the stage door opened a crack, and a roadie beckoned for them to come in. Two of my friends managed to slip in before the door slammed shut, and they joined the teeming audience for a night of transcendent druggy mayhem. Granted, one of them left behind his girlfriend (later the mother of his child) without so much as a glance, but hey – in the pursuit of “I was there” stories, sacrifices must be made.
Early 1990s: Seattle Grunge/ Riot Grrl Music Scene
While I didn’t technically miss it, I do think it sucks that I lived smack in between Tacoma and Seattle during the years leading up to the scene’s explosion, and then we moved to the East Coast right at the moment when:
- The music was taking off, and
- I was entering my iconoclastic, moderately angry teen years, outfitted in clunky boots, Dad’s motorcycle jacket and a suburban scowl.
1985/86: Singing with Placido Domingo and the LA Opera
Ok this less a cultural milestone than a missed opportunity, but it totally fits the “Look Back in Anguish” theme. When I was ten years old our school choir auditioned to sing with Placido Domingo at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. I don’t remember which opera it was, but my mother, a HUGE Placido fan, was thrilled and kept talking about how proud she’d be to see me on stage with him. In preparation for the audition I rehearsed a french folk song with a friend, in addition to the ancient choral number we sang as a group. Although mostly on-key, my voice could at best be described as “reedy” – I was always being told to “Sing OUT!” by our enthusiastic music director. Nevertheless I had the optimism of childhood on my side, and I envisioned myself at the stage door after an exhausting performance, graciously smiling at my admirers while clutching armfuls of roses. At the audition, I did my best but was not chosen for the “angel choir” in the opera. I bravely put the snub behind me, until the day a few weeks later when I came home from school to find my mother glowing, with a letter in her hand. I had been offered a walk-on role in the opera with Placido!! I asked my mother what “walk-on” meant and when I learned it meant pantomiming in crowd scenes I immediately refused – I would have a singing role or nothing! Her disappointment in me eventually faded but I have felt like a complete, utter jackass for 25 years and counting.
1981: Simon & Garfunkel Reunion Concert in Central Park
Yes, I was six years old. And we lived in LA, and my parents were bigger fans of latin jazz than folk rock, and were never the types to fly cross-country for a music event, but I still resent them for not taking me to New York. The video of the concert shows TONS of blissed-out children on their parents’ shoulders – WHY NOT ME??? Oh right: my fear of heights meant I was too scared to sit on my Dad’s shoulders, and I probably would have spent the entire concert screaming. Sounds of Silence indeed.
So that’s my list of regrets, may they rest in peace. I could probably think of more if I wracked my brain, but I’m saving the real gems for my memoir, tentatively titled Fumbling Towards Mediocrity: My Life in Slipper Socks. And now I’m curious: what are your biggest cultural regrets? Let’s share. I showed you mine!