Saturday, April 25, 2009

DWBA: Driving While Being an Ass

In the near 8 months I've now spent in the darkest depths of hell...errrr...driving on the I-5, 405 and 101 freeways in Los Angeles, I've discovered a startling fact: exactly 66.6 % of the drivers in the City of Angels are complete ASSES.

Those guilty of DWBA, or "Driving While Being an ASS" (also known as "Driving Under the Influence of Idiocy") can generally be broken into two distinct categories: ASSHOLES and DUMBASSES. For your pleasure, I will now break down the characteristics of each of these groups - both of which elicit feelings of unspeakable rage from me on a daily basis, often prompting me to kick puppies and punch small children. And now...


The ASSHOLE has one clear objective in mind: to get to his/her (usually his) destination as quickly as possible without paying any mind whatsoever to the safety and general well-being of others on the road. Likely behind the wheel of his luxury car or Sport Utility Vehicle, the ASSHOLE is easily identified by his eagerness to weave in and out of traffic (often without using his turn signal) as if it's actually going to get him to where he needs to be significantly faster. His preferred method of communication is blaring his horn as long as possible to express his displeasure at not getting to his destination quickly enough. He is also often found driving 25+ miles over the speed limit and tailgating you despite the fact that you're already going 80 and despite the fact he could easily just go around you if he wanted. But he doesn't; he is, of course, an asshole. Need to merge over to the right or left to exit or enter the freeway? Well tough shit! - the ASSHOLE isn't gonna let you. He's got places to be (pronto!) and he sure as hell isn't gonna let your ass get him there .00001 seconds later! The high level of frustration he causes others on the highway can only be surpassed by...


Oh, the poor poor dumbass; he/she (more commonly she) just doesn't know any better. Behind the wheel of her coupe she is oblivious and lost, plain and simple. You know that person who insists on entering the carpool lane and then proceeds to drive slower than traffic in the non-carpool lanes? This is the DUMBASS at work. Often she may also be spotted in your blind spot (if you could even see her there!), directly in front of you (after she cuts you off), or driving 4-6 miles down the freeway with her turn signal, unknowingly, on the entire time. But she is perhaps most recognizable when blocking traffic: Driving down a busy street DUMBASS sees a person getting ready to leave their parking spot along the side of the road, so she flips on her signal and makes the decision to take it. To her this is a seemingly harmless decision... except for the fact that, in doing so, she has parked herself right smack in the middle of a congested lane. DUMBASS has now created a line of two dozen pissed-off drivers behind her who are now forced to wait for her to make a feeble attempt at parallel parking (They would try to merge over to the left, but ASSHOLE won't let them!) ...Oh, and you know those "Do Not Block Intersection" signs? Well DUMBASS simply cannot see and/or comprehend these.

So there you have it - the reason why I dread pulling out of my parking garage in Burbank every day. Should you ever have the misfortune of having to make the trek to L.A. in a motor vehicle, never underestimate the callousness and stupidity of the ASSHOLE and the DUMBASS, respectively.

...And, in some (dangerous) rare cases - the DUMBASSHOLE!

Monday, April 20, 2009

What is "common courtesy?"

**DISCLAIMER** In the following I am not directly referring to anyone that I even remotely think would read this blog, so no worries, y'all! That's not how I roll. Also, I've tried to make my last several posts positive and upbeat after noticing that I was reverting to snide and smart-alecky a bit too often. However, recent events have made this post necessary (for my mental health) to write...

Well, for starters, it's showing up for something to which you have RSVP'd.

What a concept, huh? Making a committment to other people that you will be at a certain place at a certain time, and then actually following through with it! Sure, unforeseen events pop up from time to time that prevent you from being at said place at said time. Such events are inevitable - you had to work late, you had car trouble, you felt like you were coming down with something, you had to wash your hair, what have you... However, when such things occur the courteous human being contacts the person to whom they have made the committment to let them know why they will not be at the event they have pledged to attend; the thoughtless individual makes no such effort whatsoever.

Which helps segue nicely into my next point: wanna know how to make a good person feel like an asshole? Easy! Just ignore their attempts at communicating with you. Whether it's by phone call, text message, facebook message, snail mail or singing telegram, simply do not acknowledge that you received any of these things from the person you intend to make feel like an idiot...

(***Haha, oh boy. It should be noted that at this point in writing the post my cell phone buzzed, informing me that I had a message from the very individual who most inspired it. His/her explanation didn't exactly blow me away, but he/she did seem to show some genuine remorse and offered to make it up to me. I am more than willing to forgive and forget. Nonetheless, for the purpose of getting this grievance out of my system entirely, I will continue my rant...***)

...You'll leave them in an awkward state of total bewilderment, wondering "shit, did I do something wrong? ...was it something I said?" ...when, in reality, the only thing they actually did do wrong was making a genuine attempt to be friends with your inconsiderate ass.

I apologize for the bitter tone of this post, but carelessness in regard to the feelings of other human beings is very likely my biggest pet peeve in the world. I do not appreciate being made to feel like I'm an asshole because I know for a fact that I am not one. My mother taught me from a very young age what it means to be a thoughtful and considerate person, as I imagine most mothers did. And when I see this type of behavior amongst people that I really like and care about, needless to say, it troubles me greatly. Period.

......sooo how 'bout them Padres!?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Ex- Factor

They say "a picture is worth a thousand words." I wonder how many words this one is worth...

There aren't too many things pertaining to myself that I'm overly "proud of", per se, but one of the things that I do take a certain amount of pride in can be found in this snapshot. The fact that I'm dancing with not one but two lovely ladies on my 25th birthday this past weekend? No... The fact that the lovely ladies with whom I'm dancing just happen to be the very two women in my life that I've dated for periods of two years and three months? Yes.

Indeed, I'm simply overjoyed that I've been able to maintain close friendships with both Raechyl (left, May '03-Sep. '05) and Lisa Marie (right, Mar. '06-Jun. '08). Far too often I see friends on bitter and nasty terms with their ex's, often on a 'non-speaking' status. Such is not the case with these girls and me. I think the great respect we still hold for each other is truly a statement of how much we respected each other when we were together, which is very likely why things ended so well in both cases. It is for precisely this reason that referring to them as "ex's" often makes me cringe; "good friends (who I once dated)" would be the preferred label.

It also says quite a bit about the character of both women. I mean, the fact that they even showed up for their ex-boyfriend's birthday is pretty cool. That they then went out of their way to be cordial and make friends with each other is downright awesome. And the fact that they then proceeded to throw any potential awkwardness out the window and sandwich him on the dancefloor for fun is beyond-words amazing. It isn't difficult to see that these are two remarkable and exceptionally mature people who I'm very lucky to have in my life.

Several people in attendance got a good laugh out of this, and rightfully so - it sure ain't something you see every day, right? But, fortunately, in my case it is something I see every day: for the past 14+ years I've been blessed to have a mother, father and stepfather who have the utmost respect for one another and have continuously shown nothing but kindness to each other for the greater part of my life. This is likely the reason I don't find the superb state of my relationships with Raechyl and Lisa Marie particularly strange.

In essence, retaining past loves as best friends is indeed possible and I am very pleased to be a case in point... So how many words was that?

In other news, I find the inability of some people I consider friends to demonstrate the slightest ounce of common courtesy at times absolutely baffling. But that is a different topic for a different blog post, I suppose...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

That thing

Ever gotten a gift from someone that said everything? Something that was just so unmistakably you that you knew the person who gave it to you truly knew you and appreciated you better than just about anyone? I'm not necessarily talking about a diamond necklace or a Rolex watch (things anyone would enjoy), but more likely some little trinket that might cost next to nothing, yet is something you absolutely love or represents something you absolutely love; a gift so appropriate and special that, when thinking about the remarkable thought put into giving it to you, it almost brings you to tears. Only once do I recall having received such a gift.

Don't get me wrong, I've been given some incredibly generous and thoughtful things from friends and family over the years on birthdays, Christmases, graduations etc... for which I am very grateful; everything from iPod's to GPS's to nifty cell phones to primo Padres' seats. (It also must be noted that I'm not even a fan of receiving gifts in the first place; they often make me feel awkward and I much prefer giving them.) But in recent memory, only once do I remember being given that one thing that was so astonishingly mindful and showed such a thorough understaning of me as a person that it knocked me off my feet.

It was from my great-uncle Donnie in St. Louis and he sent it to me for my college graduation. He is an actor himself, he has performed onstage and on-screen and taught acting for several decades, and was kind enough to send me his copy of Shakespeare's Complete Works from the 1940's. His notes from years long passed still scribbled inside, he had held it dear since being a young actor in the USO in the Pacific during World War II. There he befriended another young actor named Raymond Burr, who later earned fame and fortune as television's Perry Mason.

When you open the cover of my great-uncle's Complete Works, on the first page it reads,

To Don
Happy Birthday
Raymond Burr

It was a gift given to him from his would-be famous actor friend. He read it and cherished it for over sixty years, then he gave it to me because he knew how much I would appreciate it. And it is truly invaluable to me. The book itself looks like a Bible, and it has been my Bible ever since having received it.

With my birthday fast approacing, I've been wondering if there exists anything that could potentially have as profound an impact on me as Great-Uncle Donnie's gift. I've discovered that there is at least one thing that would. It's something that encapsulates several of the things I'm most passionate about and is something I've desperately wanted for quite a long time but have never gotten. What is it? It's nothing more than a movie... but a splendiferous one! Which one, you ask?

Well, if you insist...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ode to Natalie Portman

Oh Natalie, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

Not only is your beauty disarming and unearthly - enough to stop a man in his tracks and convince him that he'd just laid eyes upon a real life goddess, fallen from her celestial palace above...

and not only is your talent great - beautifully portraying complex, intelligent, vulnerable and strong women in films such as Garden State, Where the Heart Is, Cold Mountain, V for Vendetta and Closer, for which you were nominated for an Oscar...

and not only is your intellect sharp and unparalleled by any other woman in your field - saying "I'm going to college. I don't care if it ruined my career. I'd rather be smart than a movie star" and then graduating from none other than Harvard College with a degree in psychology...

and not only are you a portrait of elegance and class - managing to keep yourself off the cover of trashy tabloids and having once been quoted as saying "The moment you buy into the idea you're above anyone else is the moment you need to be slapped in the face"...

and not only is your heart in the right place - being an ardent animal rights and environmental activist as well a champion of the cause of women and children in Third World countries...

...BUT you also manage to still look hot with a shaved head!

Now dump that Yeti of a boyfriend and run away with me, already!!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Have a Nice Day

I was exeedingly nice to people yesterday. Why?

Well, I had the great misfortune of having to wake up at an ungodly hour and drive to the Vista Courthouse. There I was obligated to sit and wait an ungodly amount of time to appear in front of a judge to clear up an 8-month old fix-it ticket that has caused me nightmares beyond imagination. Needless to say, I felt like I was in a world of shit. But then something happened; the particular judge before whom I appeared just happened to be one of the most kindly, generous and compassionate men I have ever been fortunate enough to encounter.

He showed genuine empathy for every single downtrodden person in that courtroom, upstanding citizen and low-life scumbag alike. Even for those who had no good explanation for what offense they had committed, whether it be driving without a license or speeding through a red light while yapping on their cell phone, he was eager to help them through their ordeal and never once passed judgment on anyone... no pun intended. For those with financial hardships, he lowered fines and gave them several months to pay; for the jobless, he assigned community service instead. When I told him that I had forgotten about and, unfortunately, neglected my mandatory court appearance after relocating to Los Angeles, he said he appreciated my honesty and lowered my "failure to appear" fine from a devastating $700 to a much more reasonable $200. He then said "good luck to you" on my way out the door, as he did with everyone whose case he heard. That really said something to me.

I must say this rarely-before-seen concern for other people inspired me, and I then made it a point to be as warm and amiable to every soul with whom I encountered that day. Working at the clerk's desk was a large black woman who clearly hated her job passionately. When I returned to her after my appearance to take care of my paperwork, I greeted her with a smile and a joke in reference to the large check I was about to write her. This simple gesture seemed to brighten her day, and she quickly loosened up and laughed and conversed with me over the next five minutes as we signed legal documents. I then proceeded to act in the same manner with the sassy old Asian lady who made my smoked turkey sandwich at Whole Foods, the casting director who auditioned me for an industrial film, the quirky Eastern European man who blended my protein smoothie at LA Fitness, and the affable young woman who sold me my upper reserved ticket Petco Park that evening.

It's amazing what a smile and cheerful greeting can do to a complete stranger. It allows them to let their guard down, and you usually end up learning things about them that you otherwise never would have. I often allow life's B.S. to make me lose sight of this simple fact.

Thank you, Judge Whateveryournamewas, for reminding me how rewarding it can be to show genuine kindness to fellow human beings for no good reason at all. Now if only more folks decided to make a habit of this...

Monday, April 6, 2009


Happiness is many things to many people. Often times it exists in the form of the simplest things: a dog, a baseball team you love, a favorite book you've read 100 times, painting, surfing, playing the guitar etc... Everyone has at least one little thing that has the capability of elevating their spirits to new heights whenever it's around. For me, that thing is The Beatles. And last night happiness was rocking out to the Beatles cover band "No. 9" with Lisa Marie at the British pub Britannia.

For some reason, having a couple Guinnesses in me, singing every word to every obscure and not-so-obscure song they played, and dancing without a care with other Beatle-freaks, young and old, at a non-pretentious LA bar (for free) made me happier than I've been in ages. From "Run for your life" to "Norweigan Wood" to "Hey Jude" to close out the show, it was pure ecstasy from start to finish.

This particular version of the Fab Four was just great great great great. They didn't exactly look like the Beatles, and they weren't exactly the same age as the Beatles during their heyday, but they obviously knew their stuff and knew it well. They had the voices, the cadences, the personalities and the sharp-witted sense of humor of the boys down to near perfection. Not to mention their versions of the classic songbook certainly did justice to the greatest band of all-time.

When, around midnight, they interrupted the Beatle set with a 2-song David Bowie interlude that included "Suffragette City" and "Ziggy Stardust", I reached a level of elation I have only experienced a few times in my life... Did I mention it was great?

And then there was this girl. Stunningly beautiful, brunette, probably around my age, and looking impossibly cute in this little yellow sundress (perhaps to pay homage to "Yellow Submarine"?) She knew all the words and bounced around the dancefloor like a teenage girl in 1964 would have. I had never seen her in my life but I could tell just by looking at her that she was sweet as can be. It was love at first sight. I wanted to introduce myself, make a clever Beatle reference to break the ice, ask her to dance, and twist-and-shout the night away with her.

Then I noticed who she was there with. None other than... her boyfriend. Of friggin' course. (Every great night has to have at least one dent in it, right?) So I picked my heart up off the floor, dusted it off, swallowed my pride and quickly let the music raise me back up.

"No. 9" plays at Britannia every Sunday night from 9:30pm-1am. I'll be back next week. Yeeah!-Yeeah!-Yeeah!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Undercover D-bag: A Study

My mission tonight was simple: to observe and report the behavior of a fascinating and not-so-rare breed native to the greater Los Angeles area, the D-bag.

I learned of an establishment in Santa Monica that was just pretentious enough to not display it's name anywhere on the premises. It was also so ultra-swanky that it required a password to get in, so I knew D-bags would be abounding. In order to blend in to the D-bag's natural habitat, I grabbed my finest V-Neck t-shirt and set off to begin my study...

Upon entering the nightclub, I was thrilled to find myself surrouded by young males attired in half-way unbuttoned button-up shirts, popped collars, useless ties, beanies, scarves, fadoras and a variety of designer $40 V-Neck t-shirts purchased at local Abercrombie&Fitch, Hollister, American Eagle, Von Dutch and Ed Hardy retailers. Success! I was in the right place...

My study proved to be fruitful. Among my most captivating findings: the D-bag's mating call ("Yeah we're having a kickback back at our pad after we bounce here, you and your friends should totally cruise on by..."), the manner in which the D-bag displays his dominance over the rest of the herd ("Yeah I'm raking in at least 100 g's now..."), and the D-bag at play ("Yeah I'm all about the weekends. I'm a weekend warrior! Who's down for some fuckin' Jagerbombs?!")

The D-bag was clearly a master of his pompous domain. To my amazement, the local females were completley enchanted by them. But what was it that the finer sex found so irresistable? Perhaps it was the plastic smile, the exorbitant amount of hair product and cologne, or the ever-so-clever sense of humor ("I'm gonna head to bathroom, don't slip anything in my drink while I'm gone... actually, please do.")

One noteworthy deficiency of the D-bag that intrigued me was his striking ineptitude when it came to quality music, which often left him bewildered and unsure of himself ("Fuck yeah! ...Sex Pistols!" - upon hearing the opening riffs to "Blitzkrieg Bop" The Ramones.) However, when more familiar tunes were played, the D-bag was naturally in his element ("Fuck yeah, Lil' Wayne!")

Ah, the D-bag: an enigma wrapped in a paradox... wrapped in a bag of douche.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Girls, Girls, Girls...

I took a nice girl out on a nice date last night. 'Twas the first date I've gone on in several months. Truth is, since I moved to L.A. last September I haven't met any women (in L.A.) I've even considered dating. Actually that's not entirely true; there was one waitress in Hollywood that I gave my number to, but in our first text-versation she weirded me out so much that it became the last text-versation we ever had. Granted, it's not like I've been "on the scene" very often... or even at all. I work most weekends and my hitting up the town is done only on rare occasion. When I do, it's almost never at hip and trendy "hot spots" and it's usually with certain female best friends with whom I have somewhat of a history. I've found that, for some strange reason, these girls serve as terrible wingmen!

For a guy who bounced from long-term relationship to long-term relationship to yet another long-term relationship for six-and-a-half years, I've been very un-Dylan-like of late. I've been accused in the past of constantly seeking validation from women. I do admit that for many years this was not inaccurate. I have, however, improved upon this character flaw quite a bit over the last several months, I think.

L.A. has reminded me just how overly picky I can be when it comes to women - indeed, almost Seinfeld-esque at times. I often find myself searching for shortcomings to justify my not being interested (i.e. "Well, she's cool and really cute but too immature/we don't have anything in common/her attitute bothers me/her second toe is longer than her big toe, etc...") Though there have been a few occasions in my life in which I've met a girl who gave me absolutely no reason to not want to ask her out, no matter how hard I tried to find one. A girl that stimulates me so profoundly (and I'm not talking sexually) that she begins to constantly penetrate my thoughts in such a way that I become completely infatuated. Unfortunately, be it 'cause of fate or just plain ol' bad luck, it has never quite worked out with any of the girls of which I speak.

So yeah, I finally went on a date and had a great time. Who knows? Maybe I'll even go on another one some time soon. I presently feel no "quarter-life crisis" compelling me to go out and find that "certain someone" before it's too late! ...but I am eager for more conversations like the one I had last night at Harney Sushi (best sushi place ever, by the way.) Now what's with these darn sort-of boyfriends? Because for Dylan it sort-of sucks! Hahaha.

***As a completely unrelated side note, Neil Young's "Hey, hey, my, my (Into the Black)" just came on the radio and made me very very happy***

Friday, April 3, 2009

Don't be a Darryl

I was at the gym today. I wanted to work my arms and chest with cables; however, they were being used so I waited patiently for those using them to finish their sets. After a few moments, a guy completes his set and leaves the cables open for the taking. I don't know this guy, but I'll call him Darryl for the sake of the story. As I'm starting my second set, Darryl returns - clearly perturbed. It appears Darryl had only left to go grab a swig of water, and now Darryl wants his cables back! But apparently Darryl doesn't know proper gym etiquette; if you leave a machine that you're not finished using, you leave a towel or a water bottle or your keys or a plate of oatmeal cookies or anything you happen to have on you at the time next to or on the machine to notify other patrons "I'm not quite finished with this just yet." Darryl, of course, left not a damn thing.

Now Darryl could simply have said, "hey man, you mind if I do one more set?" or "dude, is it cool if I work in with you?" and I would have kindly obliged him. Instead, Darryl huffed and puffed and pouted and moaned and groaned and sighed and snorted and stared and scowled and made his very best effort to make it crystal clear that he was upset! without ever actually using the English language. At one point while I was between sets, he even stood in front of one of the cables to physically block me from picking it up again. 'Course the manner in which Darryl was acting did not sit well with me, and there was no way I was gonna let this superdouche get his way. I nonchalantly stared right past him, hands on hips, not acknowledging his behavior in the least. I then went about finishing my sets. Darryl moped a little more and finally walked away with his tail between his legs.

Out of sheer coincidence, the exact same thing happened five minutes later on the pectoral fly bench (in a completely different section of the gym). I finish my first set and whose face greets me when I look up? None other than that of my good friend Darryl, giving me that 'I-can't-believe-you-forgot-to-put-the-toilet-seat-down-again' look. "I just started here", he mumbles after an awkward moment. Whatever... I get up and leave the baby with his rattle; I'm through with this toolshed. Hey, at least he spoke this time...

I absolutely can't stand it when people expect you to know what they're thinking. I would much rather have someone tell me that he/she thinks I'm an asshole than to have the person leave me guessing as to what their true feelings about me are. The point of this seemingly pointless story: if you have something to say then, for Christ's sake, say it.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Dante & Me

This is Peter Dante. You might remember him as the quarterback of the nation's worst college football team in The Waterboy, as the looney drug-dealer in the stoner-smash-hit Grandma's Boy, or as Adam Sandler's friend in Big Daddy and Mr. Deeds and The Wedding Singer and Little Nicky and... well, basically every other Adam Sandler movie (he's in the Sandler posse with Rob Schneider and the like.) He's also currently staying in a Deluxe Suite at the Beverly Hills Plaza Hotel where I (kill me) work... and the guy is cool as shit.

Dante (as he likes to be called) and I first met on Saturday when I brought him a mini-bar key. He and his buddy were hotboxing the room at the time (I soon learned that they were hotboxing the room all the time) and he smiled, thanked me for the key and asked me to never call him "Sir" again. I knew at that moment that I was gonna like this guy...

Dante first asked me to come up to his room and smoke out with him last night over the phone when he called down for an internet password. I was uneasy about the idea and respectfully declined. You see, I was recently suspended from my job for a week for, well, let's just say lameass reasons, so I was somewhat skating on thin ice with my superiors. I didn't want to risk being caught and, undoubtedly, terminated. But then I grew a freakin' pair and thought, 'Hey, you only live once, right?'

I brought he and his buddy a gift of chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joes that an employee from the previous shift had left. This was very much appreciated, as you can probably imagine. Dante, in turn, quickly offered me a beer and a hit of the stickiest of the icky. Over the next 90 minutes, I helped sing "Happy Birthday" to the buddy's love interest, was joined by another dude (a friendly ex-con on probation) with two more girls, watched Will Ferrell's HBO special and Family Guy, and received Dante's invaluable (stoned) insight into both the movie industry and the bud industry. He told us that he was 39 (according to IMDb he turned 40 last December), had accomplished everthing there was accomplish in Hollywood, and in doing so had become a comedic icon of the big-screen. Despite being blazed exaggerations, I had the utmost respect for the name he has made for himself over the years and, therefore, took all of what he said to heart. He encouraged one of the girls to go back to college and get herself an education. He also encouraged her to get naked several times as well, but that's beside the point... For me, he suggested reading books by Uta Hagen and Stanislavsky and offered to help me find a good acting class with name-recognition amongst industry-folk.

After 3 Bud Lights and 1 unforgettable hour-and-a-half, the effects of the bowl were wearing off and, alas, it was time to make the trek back to Burbank. Dante gave me a lovely parting gift: a t-shirt that reads "Peter for PresiDANTE". I cherish it. He asked me when I'll be back. I told him Friday night... But do I really risk losing my job again to kick it with Dante?

You bet your ass I do.