Tuesday, June 11, 2002

For All the Dads

EVERY YEAR, WHEN FATHER'S DAY ROLLS AROUND, I'm reminded of that classic anti-drug commercial from the late '80s or early '90s. You remember the one: Where the dad confronts the son about the stash of pot he found. (In a cigar box, as I recall. How obvious! No wonder he got busted!) And the dad says, "Where did you learn how to do this?" And the kid breaks and says, angrily, "I learned it from YOU, Dad! I learned it from you!"

Oh, the hilarity!

Anyway, instead of spending my time figuring out what to get my dad (a mind-bending process I must go through twice in two months, since his birthday is at the beginning of August), I've cobbled together this roundup of ideas for celebrating Father's Day, this Sunday (June 16). Be warned, however, that while these suggestions may not pack the poignant punch of the climactic scene of Field of Dreams, where Kevin Costner finally gets in a game of catch with dear old Dad, they're at least as warm and cuddly as the better moments Harrison Ford and Sean Connery spend together in Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade.

If you can't be with your dad, make sure to celebrate him (or any dad, really) in some way this weekend. Put on the tuneful stylings of Gay Dad (doubly perfect as June is also Gay Pride Month), the harder edge of Papa Roach or the folky fiddlin' of Papa John Creach.

If you're not all that fond of your Dad, you might take a moment to learn about the Haitian despot "Papa" Doc Duvalier. Compare. Contrast. Discuss.

If foreign policy isn't your bag, you could get all misty-eyed remembering the drag-racing career of Big Daddy Don Garlits (and visit his website while you're at it) or get teary-eyed at the droll Catholic comedy of Father Guido Sarducci. If you're feelin' all literary 'n shit, pick up a copy of Arthur Kopit's play Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling so Sad, or anything by Ernest Hemingway.

Even though you can no longer enjoy the sitcoms Make Room for Daddy, Father Knows Best or even Daddio, don't forget there are plenty of patriarchally themed flicks to rent, from Adam Sandler's Big Daddy to Bill Cosby's Ghost Dad. There are also good films, such as the classic Cary Grant-Leslie Caron comedy Father Goose or Father of the Bride (either the Spencer Tracy version or the Steve Martin update).

Whatever you do, give a shoutout to Pops. He deserves it at least once a year.

And never let him forget where you learned it.

Monday, June 10, 2002

Another Flight to Jersey

SO, I'M BACK FROM JOYZEE, and I must admit that, once again, a good time was had by all. I'm preparing a full report on the my corporate video adventure for a later posting.

In its place, I'll offer this story of racial profiling.

I'm not a big fan of flying. Most who know me know this. But I was doing pretty well on three of the four flights I had to take: from L.A. to Phoenix, Phoenix to Philly, then back again. However, on the final leg of my journey, during the boarding process, I looked up just in time to see a Mohammed Atta-lookin' fella walking back to his seat on the plane.

I chided myself silently for having such a knee-jerk reaction, especially one I've made fun of on this page. [See the February 4 entry.] So, I brushed it off and went back to reading William Least Heat Moon's River-Horse. Until I noticed the Atta-like feller sitting directly behind me -- in the exit row.

Because I am blessed (cursed?) with an active imagination, I immediately imagined a simple terrorist plan: opening the exit door while in mid-flight. Now, I am sure that someone more knowledgeable than me would be able to tell me that such a ploy wouldn't necessarily work. And I kept telling myself I was being ridiculous, but that didn't keep me from imagining it transpiring at least a half-dozen times.

Thus is my particular illness, you see.

Of course, he was not a terrorist -- at least not on THIS flight. Otherwise I wouldn't be here to pass on the story, right?

Unless this isn't really me typing right now. Perhaps the terrorists have won and they've taken over my website?

Makes ya wonder, don't it?

Wednesday, February 6, 2002

Stop Screaming!!

IN ADDITION TO THE GOOMBAHS MENTIONED BELOW, there was a totally inappropriate moment provided by one of the Southwest stewardesses on the flight back to L.A.

While telling us about the exits and how our seat cushions can be used as flotation devices and all that, the stewardess added that trademark Southwest "wackiness" when describing what would happen should the cabin suddenly lose pressure (not that they expected that, naturally).

Just after the part where the oxygen masks drop from the ceiling, she added, "Once you've stopped screaming, simply place the mask over your nose and mouth..."

And I thought, "Are you fucking kidding me? Lady, once I start screaming, it will continue unabated. And no amount of free peanuts in the world will stop me."

Monday, February 4, 2002

Flight of the Goombahs

JUST GOT BACK FROM NEW JERSEY, where I played the part of a real estate agent who was skeptical that Cendant Mortage (the parent company of Century 21, Coldwell Banker and ERA) was REALLY the company for all my mortgage needs. I did this not on the stage, as you might imagine, but in the context of a corporate video.

It was all kinds of fun, mostly because two of my former improv friends from Kansas City, Trish Berrong and John Cox, were involved as well. Trish was co directing the shoot and John was the "wise agent" trying to show me, the "dumb agent," how great Cendant was.

For instance, John might say, "Cendant's mortgage counselors are like other companies' originators. And they have a computer system that can handle loan approvals quickly through an online transmission with a combined credit report."

And I would reply with either "Really?" or "What?" or "Huh?" Which made my job probably a little easier than John's.

And then, of course, there was the drinking. You can't have more than two improvisers in a room without drinking being involved. It's a rule.

The weirdest part of the whole thing, however, was the flight out. It was my first time on a plane since September 11 and I was a bit edgy. You could tell the other passengers were too, especially when two New York goombahs got on the Phoenix-to-Baltimore leg only minutes before take-off and took an immediate dislike to the passengers on the plane.

They seemed specifically put off by the lone Indian gentleman who happened to be wearing a blue turban-like hat. Adding to their discomfort, I am certain, was the group of 25 or 30 migrant workers who had boarded with me in Los Angeles and filled up the back third of the plane.

Despite being the last two passengers on a nearly fully booked flight, the two goombahs seemed surprised that there weren't two seats together. So they walked all the way to the back of the plane before trudging back to the front all put out because they had to sit in the seats against the bulkhead that faced backwards.

Being in the third row, I had a perfect view of their displeasure. "Why, this will certainly be more entertaining than an in-flight movie," I thought.

"I don't like the looks of this flight," one goombah said to the other.

"Me neither," said Goombah #2. "Did you see that guy?"

"Yeah, I saw him."

"I got a bad feeling."

"Me too."

The stewardess informed them that they should decide whether or not they were going to stay on the plane RIGHT NOW, as getting their bags off the plane could delay the flight.

After a brief discussion, the Goombah Brothers decided to get off the plane. Which was great for me, because they were a big drag. But their departure caused a minor ripple of panic to reverberate through the first half-dozen or so rows. As people began to openly question, "What's going on? Why did they get off the plane?" And on and on like that. As if these two geniuses had some insight into what was going on.

One woman, a few rows in back of me, kept saying to the guy next to her, "They went all the way back to the back of the plane. Does the stewardess know they went all the way to the back of the plane? Tell the stewardess they went all the way back to the back of the plane."

Of course, once they were off the plane and the stewardess informed the panicky woman that the men didn't cleverly stow some nefarious device in the (non-existent, at that point) overhead space, we took off.

I guess the Indian man in the turban, turned out NOT to be a terrorist after all. Go figure.