My Big But.

I promised this blog would be about my experiences as I matriculate – see I’m so much more literary already!

So today I start my first residency period at Rancho Las Palmas in Rancho Mirage, California.  So for the next ten days or so I hope to post pictures and a funny story or two about my journey – both literal and figurative.

Yesterday I flew from Newark to Los Angeles.  Montel Williams was on my flight so I figured there was no way God would let him die so my fear of flying wasn’t too bad.  Good start to the trip.

Then I drove from LAX to Palm Desert/Palm Springs/Rancho Mirage.

I stopped at the gas station, in Cabazon across from the outlet mall and the Morongo tribal casino, to see giant dinosaurs.  This wasn’t my first time here, but I feel compelled to stop each time I drive by.  First, because I love a roadside attraction, and second, because I love Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.  “Everyone I know has a big but.  What is your big but?”  I wanted to be writer, but … I was scared, I went to law school, etc., etc., etc.  But, then Mom and Dad challenged me to go back to school and just do it.  So here I am, in the desert, about to start my first residency. (And if you haven’t seen Pee Wee – do.)

Enough deep thoughts, here are some things I know so far:

  1. Climate control in the desert (115 when I got here yesterday) consists of boiling lava hot on the outside and frozen ice-y cold inside.  (Tip of the hat to Jim Gaffigan.)
  2. It makes me happy to drive on Bob Hope Drive, Frank Sinatra Drive, and Dinah Shore Drive; even if half of the locals drive giant black cars like my Dad’s and take up 1.5 lanes on said streets.
  3. While I usually get over jet lag pretty quickly, I am tempted to make as much noise this morning when I am wide awake at 5:30 AM as the people outside my window did when they were wide awake at 11:30 PM. (Side note:  They are already playing Earth Wind & Fire by the pool.  The pool that doesn’t even open until 8 AM.  Weird.)
So enjoy the pictures, and please, for heaven’s sake, do something about your big but.

Welcome to LAX!

I did warn you there would be talk of cheeseburgers


“Everyone I know has a big but.”

In The Trenches

A great colleague and friend used to say to me, “Be careful how deep you dig that trench.”   We worked in a very political corporate environment and being on the extreme end of any opinion, unless you were the boss, and in reality it was unless you were the boss’s boss’s boss, was a tenuous position indeed.  This was especially true with anything written down – particularly e-mail.

Now, I’m in an academic environment, where it seems that everyone is climbing all over themselves to dig their trenches as deep as possible.  I have seen the discussion board posts to prove it.  I think that some people equate having big opinions with having big thoughts.  And in school, big thoughts are the keys to the kingdom, right?

Maybe its my years of being both the target of corporate bullies and a spectator to some amazing career flame outs that I am yet to embrace this philosophy.  Sure, I have opinions and I hope I think big thoughts, but I’m not quite ready to draft a vitriolic blast and shoot it out into cyberspace.

So, for now, I’ll stay here up top a bit longer.  Honestly, I think the view is better from up here.

Set Up I'm watching and really enjoying the new show on HGTV called HGTV On the Set.  They visit the sets of TV shows and talk to the art directors and set decorators about how the sets were created.  I love hearing them talk about how they made choices in order to give the actors tools to use for the external development  of the characters.  There is also the technical bit for set ups, angles and lighting.  And also completely random stuff like the fact that the blue color in Alicia's apartment on The Good Wife was chosen because Julianna Margulies is pale with dark hair.  I think TV sets are particularly fascinating because they evolve over the life of these show.  Movie sets are more snapshots for one particular set of times and characters.  For a TV show, there are always those small things that accumulate that call back to prior episodes.  Things that a viewer can glimpse and make that connection.  Cool stuff.

Fun is where you find it

The mall up the road from me is a freak of nature.  It has a bowling alley, an ice rink, a ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, and multiplex cinema with an IMAX.  There’s also a post office, a gym and a dentist’s office.  There is even a small grocery store at the end of a long back hallway where they do market research for things like string cheese.  I mean, seriously, you could probably live here  – especially since they opened the 24 hour IHOP.

So it probably shouldn’t have surprised me a couple of months ago when they opened the comedy club upstairs between the Jamba Juice and the Outback Steakhouse.  When they were putting up the signs, I cast a very skeptical eye towards the stock pictures of very famous comedians.  Yeah, right, I thought.  Like any of those people would be caught dead here in this most mallish of malls.  But sure enough, as Darth Vader would say, “People will come.”  (Ok, maybe that’s a bit of a James Earl Jones cocktail, but you get the point.)  Really big names in the comedy world have been making their way through Levity Live (I’m not making that up – that’s really what it is called.)

Wayne Brady was here in February.  I had tickets but got the flu and couldn’t go.  The Wayans Brothers are here this weekend.  Tom Green, former beaux of Drew Barrymore and 90s MTV icon, will be here in April.  Even Tracy Morgan, one of the famous faces from those signs that I scoffed at, did a weekend during the winter.

So what does it all mean?  Is this a sad commentary on the state of American comedy?  I don’t think so.  For me it means that a paying gig is a paying gig and if its a nice place where people will come to see you, why not?  It is also a lesson that things don’t have to be slick and cool (because how cool can you be upstairs from the food court?) to be fun.  Art and creativity don’t have to be packaged and elitist – especially comedy.   I like that these well-known acts will head out to the suburbs and presumably leave their egos in the limo from the airport.

So I say, grab a Big Gulp and head out to the comedy club at the mall, the state fairs, and the Indian casinos.  Fun is where you find it.

Hello world!

Or at least, hello to my friends who have logged on to check out my new blog.  Watch this space as I talk about  my experiences as a full-time student after being a lawyer and a consultant, my writing, and of course movies and tv.  Don’t be surprised if cheeseburgers or diet Coke happen to come up once or twice.