Actor Steven Seagal Not Dead. Also, Not An Actor.

You know how they say a key step to having a successful blog is to write haphazardly & on a catty-wompus schedule for several years, and then go COMPLETELY DARK for almost two years while you go off and actually live a more interesting life? And then when you come back to the blog you’ll try to write about the goings-on of the extended hiatus, but then you’ll sit down and have no clue where to start? And that this all makes your blog the Most Awesome Blog?

You know how they say that, right? They do. I heard ‘em. They talk loudly in small spaces.

It works just like in the movies. They do an amazing first run of something, then go completely silent with no rumblings of ever coming back … and then, when they surprise everyone with a sequel, it will be even more amaze-balls (to wit: Rush Hour 2, City Slickers 2, Look Who’s Talking Too, You’ve Got Mail (c’mon, that was basically Sleepless in Seattle 2: Sponsored by America OnLine)… but somehow the sequel ALSO makes the first one that much more enjoyable?

So… welcome to Most-Awesome-Blog: Back From Action And Back In Action!

… we’ll be right back, after we’ve written a decent treatment for what may sort of be good enough to at least be the first eleven minutes of the first act, including one exciting incident.

Let’s All Go To The Lobby!

Psssst… you just missed the exciting incident! Now it’s all just exposition & deep background! Hope those nine dollar Twizzlers were worth it!

As I was saying.

I spent 9 months in action, completing the exaggeratedly-named One-Year Program at the American Comedy Institute. Over the course of those 9 months, I finally did stand-up. Several times. I co-wrote & co-starred in a pilot for a web series. I co-wrote & produced a spec episode of a late night talk show. I performed in three scene nights & three improv shows, and a sketch comedy showcase. I learned audition techniques. I learned on-camera techniques for commercials. Oh… and did I mention that all of this took place outside the ol’ day job? and in New York City? while also still being a decent-but-with-room-for-improvement father to a five year old & husband to a three-peat entrepreneur?

In short, while the hiatus was long, it was nothing if not action-packed, and I’m certain this is the place to return to for an in-depth analysis. Like when Steven Seagal took a hiatus from being Buddhist – he made a shit-ton of amazing (for their time, for my adolescent perspective) action films with the perfect amount of gratuitous nudity, but when he was done, Buddhism was so glad to have him back. Buddhism was like, “Okay, did you get all that out of your system? I sure hope so because your pillow is getting cold & the monastery needs a good sweeping. Yes, yes, we all want to hear what you learned, but you’d better have a push-broom in your hand the whole time, Brother Ponytail!”

Over the next umpteen posts, I’ll try to explain the what & the how of all that action, as well as try to summarize it in some scholarly fashion so that my kids (both of them – R is due in Feb with a baby boy) can learn from it before my still-nascent-but-looming dementia robs them of the whole shebang.

But for now, let me leave you with this: I spent a year exploring various comedic pursuits, and while I still don’t know what the future ahead will look like, I do know that it’s highly unlikely that any one thing, role, or job is going to define that future. The number of people that can fill a lifetime being only one thing is ridiculously small… and the ones I’ve met that have relegated themselves to that goal are mysteriously unfulfilled and SHOCKINGLY UNINTERESTING.

Along the way I’ll try to weave in other source materials – as much content as I’ve created since my last post, I’ve also consumed a whole bunch – to fill in some holes & round out some analogies. In essence, then, the blog itself will cease to be ‘just’ a door found on your way down a rabbit hole, but it will become a rabbit hole itself.

… Okay, okay, I hear the pretense. I’m just saying there’s a shit-ton of stuff that I’m going to shoehorn into your peepers, so if you’re here with the expectation that this is the same blog it was two years ago, well, think again, Watson. More info, more insight, but still the perfect amount of 90s pop culture references and 80s-level gratuitous nudity.

Because boobs.

But up next will be a post on tonight’s show at the Schimmel. I will be in the audience. Will you?

I Made This About Bras

Comedy’s not really where my head’s at right now.

This is still hard for me to do regularly, as you can tell, but it feels good when it happens.  I let it all out in writing so much easier than I can do it in speech, or when I’m worried about comic intentions or being hilarious.  It’s nice to return to this format.

We’ve been thinking a lot.  And talking a lot.  About everything.  We still don’t KNOW anything… which seems to be particularly uncomfortable for us, as Type A humans, but we’re spending more time with that sort of feeling & trying to get comfortable with it.  In fairness we’re a lot more comfortable in that discomfort than we were 2, 3 or 5 years ago.  So the thinking and the talking is where it’s at.  And we’ve been doing so much of it together that my need to do it here, alone, is not nearly as chronic as in the past.

Now, though, I’m approaching the meta state.  So much talking & thinking is going on that I feel the need to think & write about all the talking & thinking.  Why?  Because, in all honesty, I think we’re really pretty frikking great at it, and no one else around us seems to have it buttoned up quite the way we do.  Yes, that sounds very braggardly… but honestly we may be the Kim & Kanye of Dealing With Ourselves in a relationship.  We’ll name our next kid Yeezus as a result.  Or at least Kate’s first dog.

There are some more experienced couples we know that are good at this – a few may even be better at it than we are – but we’re coming up on just our 7th anniversary, and I feel like we’ll never have something we can’t talk through.  Most of the professional counselor contacts we’ve talked to give us a lot of praise, in a surprised tone, for the way we handle our marriage at “such a young age”.  I put that in quotes because I don’t really feel it’s a justified classification.  We’re adults, and we’re only a decade away from being middle-aged adults… so how is that “such a young age”?  If they’re talking about the age of our marriage, I call statistical baloney – the median length of a marriage for men & women in the US is only eight years, per Wikipedia.  Even if you control for idiots that keep the Vegas altars in business (funny how none of the non-Vegas altars are viewed as participants in business, but for all the marketing religions have done), I sincerely doubt it doubles to 16 years, so we’re probably approaching at least the median age of a marriage.   So while I doubt you’d look at someone who’s uber happy by age 39, at half the average life expectancy in the 2010 census, and say they’ve figured out life at such a young age, alas, they applaud us for being so damn good at this, and are surprised when they meet us in person vs. hear our stories over the phone or in writing.  Apparently they picture Warren Beatty & Annette Bening without knowing any better.  (That is one side-by-side I can live with.)

Let me clarify for those of you who will wonder at what I have wrought:  we are fine.  We are great.  But many, MANY, of our friends & peers & Twitter followers seem to have challenges in this area.  So I wanted to create an on-demand resource, borne out of the conversations we have during which we try to give our advice on a piecemeal basis, that might save a few marriages around the interwebz.  That’s all.  No big whoop.

So in complete ignorance of the typical capitalist habit of somehow protecting a patent on a productive partnership, though I’m sure others have tried, let me break down how this shit works.  Below are the details of our… habit, I suppose, is the least controversial noun – less so than “practice” or “method”, which I feel are being usurped by advertisers & those schilling their wares.  A habit is still negative enough to be outside the sphere of copywriter opiates.  It’s a set of circumstances, which usually arise in something of a sequence/cause-effect chain, in which each step generates an action & each action therefore generates the next circumstance.  That, in fact, is all anything really is.  If you want to understand why your boss/spouse/child/vegan soy vegetable soufflé isn’t treating you the way you want/listening to you/rising in the oven like the damn paleo diet ebook said it would, sit down & understand these basic elements of circumstance, action & reaction.  Newton, Leibniz, Fermi, Fermat, Fibonacci… all the other F guys… the so-called “natural philosophers” knew what the hell they were doing.  Observe, Analyze, Report, Repeat.  You do that for your marriage, then you create a positive relationship & can keep it moving in a positive direction.

How To Create & Maintain Positive Momentum In Your Marriage

(Like how I’m expressing that in copywriter opiates?  Blech.  Practically screams SEO Google AdWords.  I’ll bet it asks you to click it later, after that third drink.)

STEP 1.  Be honest about what you’re actually thinking / feeling / doing.

STEP 2.  Communicate that clearly & then stop talking.  I read recently that you should spend 3/4 of the conversation listening to the other person, and 1/4 of the conversation talking.  Mathematically, when you both stick to this rule, it can’t possibly be a one-sided conversation, because you’ll both shut up before you feel like you’re getting to 50% of the talk time.  I am summarily disgusted by things that don’t make mathematical sense, such as fad diets, skinny jeans, and Fox News, but the numbers here would lead to a satisfactory outcome, so I won’t quibble.

STEP 3.  Listen to what the other person is saying, in an active way.  Meaning try to ignore the voice in your head that is talking while they are talking.  You’re not in a rush here… unless of course you are in a rush, in which case you invoke The Emergency Rule, below.  You need to hear the words and then think about them – they are talking about their feelings & what you should DO about the circumstances, so if you want them to do what you asked them to do in step 2, you have to listen the fuck up & figure out what you’re going to do about THEIR concerns & circumstances.  Our own nature works against us here – instead of listening to their side & figuring out what we can do to help them, we listen to their side & never stop thinking about how we feel about it, so that when s/he is done we can talk more about our feelings to get what we want.  However, if you both want the conversation to take you to a place that is better than the one wherein you started the conversation, you will have to do both actions: a) Listen & Decide What To Do In Regards To Their Needs; b) Listen & Decide What Else To Ask For In Regards To Your Needs.  (The Capital Letters Are Important.  No They’re Not.)  This takes more time than the current socially-acceptable normal conversation with most people – i.e. you don’t have this amount of time when you’re telling the barista how many pumps of mocha it tastes like vs. how many pumps of mocha you really want it to taste like – but unless you’re Oprah you’re probably not in a deep life-altering partnership with your barista.

STEP 4.  Repeat the above steps until all your shit is aired out, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, unless invoking The Emergency Rule.

THE EMERGENCY RULE:  If you aren’t in a place, physically or mentally, where you can make every honest attempt at engaging in each step repeatedly until your conversation is over, this is how you handle it:  “{Personal Moniker}, I want to continue to keep moving through this discussion to get to a better place that meets both our needs, but the circumstances we need  are not what we have right now, so let’s come back to it at {Set A Specific Time, Preferably Before The Next Sunrise}.”  Make sure the Personal Moniker isn’t a loaded term – i.e. it shouldn’t be overly saccharine, nor should it be placating & of course not demeaning, and, if you ever want to have oral pleasures again, avoid anything sexually playful, i.e. Sugar Tits, Mr. Big, Lena Dunham, etc.

That’s it.  That’s the big damn secret.  Notice that nowhere am I explicitly saying any of them are easy.  Much like other lofty goals such as maintaining good nutrition, raising a child to be an upstanding citizen, and unhooking modern-day bras, knowing what the steps are, and understanding how to follow them in a sequence, is the easy part; actually doing it is where the magic is.  (Seriously with the bra thing:  show me one other piece of clothing that has that many impossibly tiny & implausibly strong hooks, and I’ll bet its intentions are much less innocent than simply keeping the girls covered up.  Talk about over-engineering safety for one guy’s mistake… can you imagine being the guy responsible for the bra?  Like, because of you, all of the remaining boobs, all of them, forever, all of them had to be covered up?  And by such a medieval device?  I want to know what he did to two boobs that was so bad we had to lock up all the other ones with tiny metal locks and elastic fabric that stretches unnaturally.)

HOW’S THAT FOR A CHANGE IN TONE AT THE END OF AN ESSAY??!??  Take that, Comp Lit Majors!  Enjoy your no job & weird spices & braless girlfriends!


That is all.

My Wife The Exponent

The Over-Due Online Ode To My Wife, The Exponent

Today’s our third wedding anniversary.  Do you know how many times I have thought the thought “She is beautiful”?  More than I can count, and I can count pretty high.  It’s an astronomically high number.  The thought occurs with great frequency.

But do you know how often I’ve said it?  Almost zero by comparison.  Infinitesimally Small.  The Number of Times I’ve Thought The Thought divided by The Number of Times I’ve Said It Out Loud is so small, it would undoubtedly return #DIV/0! in the Spreadsheet Of Our Life.

I can admit this due to three facts:  A) She is, in fact, beautiful, and knows that I’m thinking it constantly; 2) I am completely & unequivocally exactly the type of nerd who writes blog entries containing references to Life as a spreadsheet; and D) neither one of us enjoy Carrot Top.

There are, however, other maths on which I would like to pontificate, if the reader will so oblige.  Ahem.

Me + Her = Balance.

Me – Her = Lost Soul/Puppy/Boy, depending on my mood/haircut.

Me / Her = Less Than Half, and the Worse Half.

Me x Her = We Had A Baby.

But Me ^ Her = Best Of All Possible Members of the Set {Me}.  I am who I am today because of her (well, okay, the haircut is totally my bad).

She’s my exponent.

Happy Anniversary to my beautiful wife.  I love you, and I’m so happy we’ve created our little family & we get to put down some Nerd roots.

And Now For Something Completely F***ed

My Dad is not my biological father.

Yup.  News to me too.  And hot news; as of this writing, I haven’t even talked to my Mom about it yet, and it hasn’t been 24 hours since I found out.  I found out over a few beers with my cousin on my last night in San Francisco, my life literally re-defined by fermented oats served cold by a waitress with nose jewelry named Miranda.

For someone who’s always struggled to identify himself, this news is both completely pedestrian and entirely shattering.  OF COURSE I wasn’t actually the offspring of that asshole who, even outside of this particular fabrication, lied to me for 27 years and then refused to swallow his pride and apologize for it (which was my requirement in order to ever speak to him again-which I haven’t done for 2 years).  It makes so much sense.  I don’t look like him.  I’m not shaped like him.  My skin doesn’t burn like his.  My hair curls when it’s long.  My palate wasn’t cleft.  Clearly I’m not a fiber in his fabric.  Duh.

But wait a tick.  If I’m not actually of his ilk, then there’s SO MUCH SHIT I don’t have to worry about any more.  I’m not genetically programmed to be as unhappy and angry as he was.  I’m not at hereditary risk for nerve damage, lung cancer, breast cancer, or becoming a pathological liar.  I won’t get addicted to pain & then drown myself in 30 years of narcotics and Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi.  His only (yet significant) impact on my existence was mere Nurture.

Nurture!  What a word.  I’d prefer inculcation or indoctrination for his particular brand of Terrible.  He’s a Ph. D. in Bullshit & Up-Fuckery.  And those are all things that, with time & some introspection, I can overcome.

I can be whoever the hell I want.  He has ZERO hold over me.

Do you get how significant & freeing that is?  I’m completely pardoned from my worries about repeating his mistakes, about feeling unable to control the risk of turning into someone that can literally turn the atmosphere of a birthday party into that of a funeral home without saying a word, about being obligated in any way to feel some sort of emotion for his plight.  Not my f***ing problems.

Not.  My.  F***ing.  Problems.

I don’t know anything about who my real father is, but according to my cousin, my sister & I are products of in-vitro fertilization by the same sperm donor from the same sperm bank.  My mom is actually my mom, as she did actually carry both of us.  It’s entirely possible that this guy-let’s call him Spanky to be glib-is also a ginormously horrible human being.  It’s also possible that he’s a sultan somewhere in one of those –istan countries.  In fact, as the product of his genetic material, the only thing I’m pretty certain he ISN’T is an underwear model.

Of course my world didn’t just immediately turn into sunshine sex & apple pie.  I still have to deal with the fact that at least four other people in the world have known this for quite some time & made continuous, repetitive choices not to share it with me.  I still have to deal with getting an explanation out of my mother – how this came about, her reasoning for not letting us know, how she sacrificed all of us for so long by staying with a husband with such a poisonous worldview – and figure out how to do it so that she understands that I’m actually just fine & just want to know the god**mn truth for the first time in 29 years.

And of course I have to decide whether or not I want to know Spanky’s actual identity.  If this were medieval times (or a sci-fi/fantasy genre story), I could be rightful heir to his legacy, potentially a primogenitor beneficiary of some oil field or rare book collection or ketchup recipe or Terabithia’s only unicorn stud farm.  But it’s 2010 and the likelihood of even being able to find out anything about the guy is miniscule, and I’m sure the last thing he would welcome (if I could find him) is to be confronted by the output of probably an unremarkable and all-too-brief masturbatory experience.  It would probably ruin his weekend.

I’ve told my wife, my sister, my boss, and my therapist.  I’ve also told you and the four other people who will read my blog before this posting moves farther down into the archives & no longer shows up on the first page, relegated to the thousands of “second layer” pages, like headstones with epitaphs of 1s and 0s.

As I work through this and there are further developments, I’ll come back & record it all here, of course.

They say comedy can be a sweet-smelling excrement of pain.  I may now be the funniest asshole in the world.

Except for Daniel Tosh.  That guy’s hilarious.


You learned that if you got paid to blog consistently, you would get fired and owe Blogger money because you continue to SUCK at doing this without any external motivation.

You also learned that you CAN get paid to help other people out with their budget woes. You’re capitalizing on what you & R already do on your own to help yourselves, and you’re taking that around to other people that need your help. And you’re making money doing it. Way to leverage your resources.

AND you learned that families, by their very nature, messed up, but that each one is messed up in its own unique way, and none of them are necessarily any worse off than any other. This is not a new lesson – more of a re-learning – but something that it doesn’t hurt to write down and remember.

Without promising consistency, you hope you’ve learned that this takes 3 minutes a day and you should just frikkin’ do it. Stupid.