how I spent my summer vacation

August 22nd, 2009

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Summertime is coming to a close and it got me thinking about how I spent it.  Turns out, I haven’t done too many “Summery” things.  When I pondered it harder, once I left school, Summer hasn’t really meant the same thing.  My earliest memories of Summer vacay (that’s what we call it in the biz) were pretty dull actually.  I remember just trying to kill time at home while I waited for school (ie; my social life) to pick up again.  Then “family” trips started to kick in and I got to do things that I certainly can’t afford to do without the aid of my mom.  Aside from the dysfunctional (and not in the fun cute way) situations we’d end up in  as a result of being shoved into confined spaces with one another …it was a good time!  When am I going to be able to journey out to Hawaii, New York or …Jacksonville Florida on my own accord?  Not any time soon.  If it could have been “Mom and Ariel go on a vacation without a third party coming along to stir up animosity  and have a super fun time” that would have been great and I’d probably have very different stories to share.  You don’t always get what you want.

I won’t miss being shoved in some BS summer camp.  You’d think there would be singing by a fire and learning to kill a wolf with your bare hands.  It’s not like that at all!  I recall bathroom cleaning duty.  Hello!  Real camping is squatting behind a tree, which doesn’t sound like much of a treat either …but it beats cleaning a bathroom.  There was also the joys of dining hall duty.  We could have just learned to kill that wolf with out bare hands and toasted that, also an unpleasant option …but it would have gotten me out of dining hall duty.  They also would make you spend “rec” time in some unheated swimming pool where you’d splash around until it was time to get out and make a bird feeder out of a pine cone.  Couldn’t they have at least supplied a lake?  Lakes are generally warmer and give you that rustic Summer camp vibe.  Canoes in a swimming pool look pretty foolish and it breaks the illusion.  I remember liking the bird feeder building time but even that memory is tainted.  I got scolded for eating the peanut butter that was meant to be spread on the pine cone.  Like the birds gave two shits about a pine cone with peanut butter and seeds stuck to it!  They are wild birds in a forest, they’ll find a way to take care of themselves.  The bird feeder probably just confused them.  “Why is that disco ball hanging from that tree over there …it kinda looks like a pine cone ….”   I bet my mom could probably dig up amusing-in-hindsight letters I sent her from camp with dramatic pleas of “GET ME OUT OF HERE! I’M DYING!”  Basically, I wouldn’t have stood up to any real form of torture if tested.  But that’s not the point!  This was my Summer break and I was in some makeshift camp of misery that I didn’t find all that amusing.  I know there were good intentions for sending me to these places (or full time babysitting services, hmm…) but no thanks all the same.

I guess I don’t miss the “good old days” as much as I thought.

This Summer has been quite the dud, even without romanticizing the past.  Most Summers are lame because the basic idea is “what’s Summer?”  I’m too busy being cooped up at work to go do anything special.  This Summer, I’ve had more free time but that’s because my arm is injured.  Arm injuries hinder both the wallet and most activities.  I haven’t been to the beach …I haven’t even been next to the beach.  Wait.  That’s not true.  One of my best friends in the world came down from San Francisco and we did some bar hopping across the street from the beach, we might have even waved at it, I’m not sure …we were drinking.  That was a lot of fun and I’m pretty sure the fact that it was located in an area where people were wearing bathing suits counts for something.

I was at the cheap movie theater (you know, where they charge you $3. instead of your life savings and in return you get to see a movie that is due out on dvd the following week, the aroma of foot and a herniated disc from your worn down seat) on the 4th of July.  Wasn’t I supposed to be at a bbq shaking a sparkler around or something?  But hey, I was at a big Summer blockbuster flick, so that should count for something.  I’ve also spent a few lovely Summer evenings at Disneyland sweating it out in shorts and flip flops looking at fireworks.  I like wandering around the Disney property.  I certainly can’t afford a vacation, but it is the epitome of a resort so I get to pretend that I’m on one, if even for the day.  Most people can’t stand that sort of tourist trap environment.  Well, when you can’t afford to be an actual tourist, you take what you can get.  I’ve had my share of popsicles and sipped plenty of lemonade from the carton…

Hey!  Would you look at that?  I did have some Summer fun after all.  Though, after writing this I think I’ve come to a realization.  Summer has some swell ideologies but it isn’t really my season of choice.  I’ll cross the Christmas bridge when we get to it.

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a film I can get behind (I hope).

August 20th, 2009

I am psyched out of my mind for the release of this film!  Nope, it has nothing to do with the hype that it’s Heath Ledger’s “last” film.  Though I must say, between “The Dark Knight” and his Modest Mouse video he directed (you should check it out for yourselves, very cool stuff) the man was doing some very well done work at his sad premature end.  I have no doubt he’ll be great in this, as well as the other fabulous actors that are also staring in the role.  The fact that Terry Gilliam directed it was all I needed to know. I would have gone with no further information. It had got such a perfect storm of good things involved in this production.  I’ll be so utterly deflated if it doesn’t meet my hopes.  This is one of a very short list of things I am excited to see with the remainder of the year (let’s not forget the two week run of the the “Toy Story” double feature in 3D and “Where The Wild Things Are”). I have been more and more disenfranchised with the Hollywood machine. This might help turn it around for me. No pressure Doc.
Just two little interesting facts (you know I love ‘em) to help educate and excite:

*According to Terry Gilliam, the last line Heath Ledger spoke for filming on the set was “Don’t shoot the messenger.” When Johnny Depp filmed his role after Ledger’s death, Depp asked Gilliam if he could try a new ad-lib: “Don’t shoot the messenger”, unaware that Ledger had improvised an identical line. Gilliam was astounded, remarking, “Heath is still out there. Johnny’s channeling Heath somehow. I mean, Shirley MacLaine would love all this.”

*Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell (the actors, as we all know, signed on to take over Ledger’s role after some time off production to do some clever re-writes) gave all the income they received for this movie to Ledger’s daughter Matilda so that her economic future would be secure.

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I KNOW YOU ARE, BUT WHAT AM I????

August 20th, 2009

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Paul Reubens is returning to the stage as his famous character Pee-wee Herman for short run in November …what makes this news even more fantastic is that I have not one but two dates set to go!  The boyfriend and I will be attending the first production, or the preview.  That should be fun!  Fingers crossed for some good flubs and malfunctions, I bet he would handle it in some hilarious fashion.  The second time will be a couple of weeks into the run only this time it’s to celebrate my mom’s birthday!  It’s more than fitting.  I used to watch “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” religiously in my Pee-wee jammies, mom always joined me.  It’s fun for the whole family!  Hmm, perhaps the fun alters from age group to age group …but always fun! Reubens himself always said he figured the broad appeal was that for kids it was bright, fast and never spoke down to them while it reminded adults of the past …only better.

When Paul Reubens was arresting for jerking it in an adult film theater I was very upset.  Even at the age of ten, I found the idea of arresting a guy for getting off to porn nonsensical.  Are you supposed to go to these movies and take note of the character arcs?  The whole thing was just …stupid.  It could have gone quietly into history as just another guy doing his business in a naughty movie theater without tarnishing his iconic image to kids.  Honestly, I think it’s more disturbing for the cops and media to have made such a big deal out of it, skewing children’s views vs. simply letting him have a private life.

I proudly sported a t-shirt with his picture in a black and white stripted cap and shirt with his signiature red bow tie and it said “FREE PEE WEE” and on the back “SAVE THE PLAYHOUSE.”  As we all know, the playhouse was not saved.  I’d be pleased every time I saw him pop up in a project just to know he was out there working, but it wasn’t the same.

The tickets for the first performance of his adult stage show for Pee-wee Herman arrived today.  I literally hopped up and down a couple of times.  The word “YEE!” may have escaped my lips as well.  In honor of Paul Reubens and my appreciation for all the good lessons and memories he has given me, I’d like to share some news little tid bits I learned about him.  Mainly these are Pee Wee details, but occasionally I threw in something about the man himself.  Not the junky news we already know. (I will say he made some very poor choices, but I still don’t hold him up to some insane negative standard for it).  Y’all may already know some of these things, but I didn’t.

Behold, Paul Reubens/Pee-wee factoids …if something is off, go blame Wikipedia:

  • Reubens was a member of the Groundlings in the 1970s.  He was a member for six years.  This is where he met and became friends and work partners with Phil Hartman (Capt. Carl).
  • His mother was a teacher and his father an automobile salesperson who had flown for Britain’s Royal Air Force and for the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II, later becoming one of the founding pilots of the Israeli Air Force during the 1948 war of independence.  At the time of his birth, his parents were the owners of a lamp store.
  • As a child, Reubens would frequent the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus, whose headquarters was in Sarasota (where he was born) during the winter. The circus’ atmosphere sparked Reubens interest in entertainment and influenced his later work. Reubens also loved to watch reruns of “I Love Lucy”, which made him want to make people laugh. At age five Reubens asked his father to build him a stage, where he and his siblings would put up plays.
  • In high school, he was named president of the National Thespian Society.  Northwestern University accepted him into a
    summer program for gifted high-school students.
  • While he went to Boston U, he attempted to apply to various acting schools.  Julliard rejected him.  Carnegie-Mellon rejected him twice.  California Institute Of The Arts accepted him.
  • In 1982 Reubens put up a show about a character he had been developing during the last few years. The show was called “The Pee-wee Herman Show” and it ran for five sellout months with HBO producing a successful special with it. Pee-wee became an instant cult figure and for the next decade Reubens would be completely committed to his character, doing all of his public appearances and interviews as Pee-wee. (I never knew the actual origins of Pee-wee, now I do)
  • In 1985, Pee Wee made “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” with Tim Burton.  (I never knew the first movie came before the television show …as a child one just assumes whatever they discover first, came first).
  • From 1986 to 1990, Reubens put out the Saturday morning kid’s show “Pee-wee’s Playhouse”  not to be confused with the adult show he performed on the club circuit in ’82.  “Big Top Pee-wee” came out smack dab in the middle of the television run in 1988.  (now I have my time line straight.  In other words, he was no longer even filming the show when he got in his infamous trouble with the law, he was on his own time …his re-runs were pulled).
  • Since the 1990s, he has worked on two possible Pee Wee films—one dark and adult, dubbed The Pee-wee Herman Story, and one a family-friendly epic adventure called Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Movie.
  • Pee-wee’s voice originated in 1970 when Reubens appeared in a production of “Life With Father”, where he was cast as one of the most obnoxious characters in the play, for which Reubens adopted a cartoon-like way of speaking that would become Pee-wee’s.
  • Pee-wee’s name is a mixture of a one-inch Pee Wee brand harmonica Reubens had as a child while Herman was the surname of an energetic boy Reubens knew from his youth.
  • The first small grey suit Pee-wee ever wore had been handmade for director and founder of the Groundlings Gary Austin, who passed it on to Reubens, while “someone” handed him the “little-kid bow tie” before a show.
  • Reubens auditioned for Saturday Night Live for the 1980–1981 season, but Gilbert Gottfried (ew), who was a close friend of the show’s producer and had the same acting style as Reubens, got the place. Reubens was so angry and bitter that he decided he would borrow money and start his own show in Los Angeles using the character he had been developing during the last few years,  PEE-WEE. (in other words, SNL fucked up big time …they would have owned the character of Pee-wee, not to mention a far superior entertainer).
  • Reubens appeared as Pee-wee in “Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie”  (America should have known man….)
  • In the interest of making Pee-wee as real a person as possible to the public, his parents would only be known as Honey Herman and Herman Herman.
  • In 1984, he performed as Pee-wee to a sold out Carnegie Hall.
  • “Pollyanna” is Reubens’ favorite film.
  • In 1987, Reubens provided the voice of REX, the main robot in the George Lucas produced Disneyland attraction, Star Tours.
  • The “Playhouse” show earned 22 Emmy awards.
  • when CBS asked Reubens about the possibility of a sixth season he declined, wanting to take a couple of sabbatical years, he was burnt out.  Understandably.
  • A star on the Hollywood walk of fame was given in 1989.
  • Being a heavy smoker, he went to great lengths never to be photographed with a cigarette in his mouth, he even refused to endorse candy bars and other kinds of junk food, while trying to come out with his own sugar-free cereal “Ralston Purina Pee-wee Chow cereal”, a project that died after a blind test.
  • SpongeBob was created through the inspiration of Paul Reuben’s work.
  • In early 2007 Nike released a collection of Nike SB sneakers called “Fallen Heroes”. The collection was loosely inspired by Milli Vanilli, MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice and Pee-wee Herman. Pee-wee’s sneakers use a grey and white color scheme with red detail, and an illustration on the insole of a man in suit sitting alone in a theatre with his hand on his lap.
  • Reubens has since appeared in multiple films and television shows, but I don’t care about listing them as I wasn’t crazy about much of it …HOWEVER, he is worth checking out in “Reno 911″ “Blow” and Tom Goes To The Mayor” (and for one second as the moon in “Tim And Eric’s Awesome Show Great Job.”
  • Yes.  Johnny Depp has been in talks with Paul Reubens to portray Pee-wee Herman.  Seriously.

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you CAN go home again!

August 20th, 2009

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I was browsing news stories this morning.  I’ve been doing that a little more than usual lately.  I’ve always enjoyed a strange tale, been fired up over certain topics, reveled in filling my head with random facts, been drawn to visuals …but since I have been working on my blog here I’ve been consciously and unconsciously internalizing life a little more than usual.  I people watch with more attention to detail, browse through more articles, even the most mundane things go through a filter in my brain.  If you could see in my brain, there would be actual storage boxes (clearly labeled, of course) containing various topics, ideas, memories and even one that’s larger than the others with a giant “?” on it full of things I have yet to figure out but are definitely worth storing for another time when ready to be brought up.

I may have found my problem with getting a good night’s sleep.  My brain is swimming in a storage unit of …stuff.

Regardless of all the different things I take in every day, I sometimes find myself just being “blah.”  Nothing sparks.  I was browsing news stories and then I found my delight for the morning.  I came across the good old Novato Advance, the trusty periodical from my home town of Novato, CA.  I can’t even tell you how I got there.  I’m seldom wondering what shenanigans are going on in the thriving metropolis aside from what’s happening with the actual people I know there.  I am now starting to think I have been denying myself a comical goldmine.  These stories speak for themselves.

“Men Attempt To Rob Ice Cream Truck …They Brandish Beer Bottles As Weapons”

“Burglars Break In At Bistro, Taqueria …Store Owner Was Sleeping Inside To Thwart Crime”

“Police Plan Crosswalk Sting Operation”

I don’t think I need to elaborate or list any further, you get the idea.  I shouldn’t be mocking.  I’m actually glad that there are places out there that have the burden of keeping crosswalks kosher and beer bottles for drinking …not …being brandished as weapons.  Like everywhere else in the world, Novato has some really sad/scary stories under its belt, but for the most part all the paper has to report is “the high school cheer team went to practice yesterday!” or “two teenagers were found scribbling on a wall with a sharpee …and they may have been making out and in the possession of a six pack!” **GASP**  Oops, I’m mocking again.

Roughly thirty minutes south of this land of debauchery is the hum drum land of San Franciso.  Amazing. I don’t think I’ll be visitng this particular news site regularly.  However, it was reassuring that my little sister stands as good a chance as I did at growing up safely.  Plus the bonus that there are people that ridiculous wandering around for the citizen’s amusement …assuming they have the proper perspective to find it funny.

Actually, it brought me back to a time when I was busted in the back seat of my high school boyfriend’s car harmlessly parked on a quiet out-of-the-way suburban street.  There wasn’t even the typical recreational pack of Coors involved!  I didn’t even like beer in high school.  Then again, who did?  That wasn’t really the point.  So there we were.  Parked on this side street having a heart attack because a cop was spending twenty minutes of his time shining lights on us, questioning and proposing absurd threats.  To make the matter even more ludicrous, we knew the cop …by name!  When not paroling the mean streets he was a fixture at the school gym during dances to keep the hooligans in check …or a constant lunch time presence to make sure nobody was ditching or down the street sneaking a smoke in the bushes.  Rest assured, I couldn’t look the guy in the eye after his backseat bust.  He did his job well.  I have a first hand idea of how the town spends its resources.  For those who don’t, the local media has it covered it would seem.

Ah, nostalgia.

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I wouldn’t mind death by Disneyland …just not by idiocy at Disneyland

August 19th, 2009

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It is no secret that Disneyland, in my book, truly is the happiest place on earth.  I’m not sure where it came from.  Let’s just say my mom was no fan of Disneyland, playing board games or watching most films unless they are on the Independent Film Channel or AMC…and I think she has only seen five or six movies more than once:

  • Gone With The Wind
  • The Wizard Of Oz
  • Field Of Dreams
  • The Nutcracker
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • Fried Green Tomatoes
  • Bad Santa

….I stand corrected, seven.  I am so far off the point.  The idea is, I’m not sure where my deep rooted love of Disneyland comes from.  I was not raised to cherish it, or most things I really enjoy.  But I do, and I’ll never ever know the why or how.  Perhaps I was hoping by that introduction that someone would throw insight my way.  Loving Disneyland to pieces is a form of rebellion? Hmm.

Anyway,  I love all things Disney and Disneyland.  So I’d like to pass along those things on my little soap box here.  I came upon a swell morbid/fascinating article from “OC Weekly” about the nine deaths that have occurred at Disneyland since its opening in 1955.  Truth be told, that’s not a bad track record all things considered.  Even more importantly, a majority of the accidents occurred to the “guests” being straight up retarded.  I’m sorry.  That was inconsiderate.  Retarded people cannot help how they were born and you won’t find any specially abled folks on this list.  Unless, of course, they went undiagnosed with some sort of exceptional cause that made them think these were great ideas.  Drugs are bad?  I don’t know, just partake in the new useless knowledge:

Let’s get the really ugly one done first.  The only accident that can be determined as insufficient ride maintenance happened on Christmas Eve in 1998, aboard the large sailing ship Columbia. A rope carrying a metal cleat came loose and sailed through the air where it sadly met Luan Phi Dawson and his wife. Dawson was brain dead for 11 hours following the accident before he was taken off life support.

A thoroughly intoxicated Philip Straughan, 18, of Alberquerque, New Mexico, drowned in the Rivers of America on June 4, 1983 after sneaking into an off limits Cast Member Only area and taking a joyride on one of the maintenance boats. Since Straughan couldn’t exactly maneuver the small rubber vessel, he ended up hitting a rock and getting tossed into the water. His body was located an hour later.

In June 1966, Thomas Cleveland, 19, of Northridge, climbed the 16-foot fence that surrounded Disneyland in an attempt to slink into one of their many Grad Night celebrations for high school students–only he winded up standing right on the tracks of the Monorail. What happened next? Yup: A train was coming right for him. A guard yelled for him to jump clear of the track but Cleveland didn’t quite make it… his body was dragged 30-40 feet by the monorail.

Another Grad Night accident Ricky Lee Yama, 18, of Hawthorne, hopped onto the tracks of the now defunct People Mover in Tomorrowland in August 1967. Yama jumped from vehicle to vehicle, lost his footing and was run over by an oncoming car. Thirteen years later, Gerardo Gonzales, died the same way on June 7, 1980, exiting the ride and attempting to maneuver from car to car. Only this time, it’s reported that no one noticed–and his body was supposedly dragged for hundreds of feet before a Cast Member noticed. Since then, Cast Members and guests have reported ghost sightings on the People Mover. Other rides at the park that are supposedly haunted include Space Mountain and, of course, the Haunted Mansion.

Another attraction responsible for taking its fair share of lives at Disneyland: The Rivers of America. The most tragic story involves 18-year-old Bogden Delaurot and his younger brother who had stowed away on Tom Sawyer Island past its closing time. Rather than risk getting in trouble and asking for assistance, the pair decided to swim for it instead–because the younger Delaurot could not swim, Bogden decided to carry him across on his back. Halfway across, Bogden went under water. The younger brother managed to dog paddle until help arrived. Bogden’s body was found the next morning.

Mark Maples, 15, of Long Beach unbuckles his safety belt and stands up during his ride aboard the Matterhorn Bobsleds in May 1964. Choosing to do this exactly near the summit of the attraction, Maples lost his footing. He landed on the tracks below him and suffered a skull fracture and several other internal injuries. He passed away three days after the accident. In January 1984, Dolly Young, 48, of Fremont, died in a similar manner inside the Matterhorn, though it cannot be confirmed whether or not Young had purposefully unbuckled her seatbelt.

I didn’t see the accident that occurred on Big Thunder Mountain a while back or the cast member dressed as Pluto that died via being run over by a float in the parade …but still, crazy information.

What did we learn kids?  If you don’t possess the common sense to attend the park, don’t go and save a life.  Or, pay a little more attention and listen the pre-recorded message asking you to permanecer sentados por favor.

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