A Spoonful of Laughter

Copyright : Jacek Dudzinski (courtesy of 123RF.com

The curative effects of laughter are now widely known, and many people (myself included) thrive on humorous social media posts. From the time I was a small child, I gravitated towards comedy, watching Carol Burnett, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Dave Allen (does anyone remember this fella?) and Benny Hill faithfully, all the while leaving my mother puzzled by my intense interest in the funny television variety shows which were the order of the day back in the 1960’s and 1970’s. She became even more concerned when I picked up a copy of Eddie Murphy: Comedian in 1982 and laughed my ass off while listening to the album repeatedly. Eddie’s stand-up style was so off-color for my mother that she bitched and moaned about me listening to him, but I found him hilarious and kept on listening. I have the record album (yes, a vinyl LP) in my collection to this day.

My love of comedy has never waned, and though I don’t watch enough television to get drawn into current sitcoms or other comedic shows, I am in my car often enough that I have developed a habit of listening to comedy while I drive. I find it much more enjoyable to listen to comedy than music while I am in the car, and since SiriusXM has a number of comedy stations, I have them loaded as presets on my radio and rotate through them. I would much rather listen to a comedy bit by a talented stand-up comedian than to toggle through radio stations which often play the same tunes over and over. The fact that I can laugh while driving, especially in Los Angeles, is a godsend. It’s a great way to arrive at my destination in a relatively good mood, even if I have to sit through hellish traffic.

Even if you don’t have SiriusXM, you can catch some pretty amusing morning radio shows. In L.A., I like listening to Frosty, Heidi and Frank. Most large metropolitan areas host morning radio shows which are worth a listen.

Copyright : yuriz (courtesy of 123RF.com)

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Love Scenes

Depending on the typecasting which exists for an actor, kissing scenes or sex scenes may be a regular part of the mix. This can throw a wrench in relationships, and in some cases, result in their demise.

Performance kissing and lovemaking (or straight up nasty fucking, excuse the expression) has to look convincing and appealing. Many actors have stated that kissing and sex scenes for the film camera, television camera, or stage are rather different from regular intimate interactions. However, the intimate acts which actors must perform are still exactly that, intimate. It’s important for actors to build up some sort of relationship with their fellow actors prior to such scenes. And though the intimate act (be it a kiss, a fondle, or a full-on sexual act) must be performed in front of the entire crew, it’s still a shared moment which would make most people blush and squirm from the awkwardness.

I am also aware of the fact that actors might not be attracted to the other actor (s) in the scene, and that they might not even be the gender to which the actor finds him or herself attracted. Yet, as the saying goes, the show must go on. Then again, they may indeed be physically attracted to their co-stars. I have heard actors admit that they get an enjoyment, a charge, out of performing an intimate scene, because there is an exchange of energy between the actors, and the artistic process is in full force.

In addition, the actors must make the scene believable, which means the passion, the lust, the hunger, must all be generated from the actors’ past experiences. It’s all part of getting into character. So in that sense, the feelings are genuine. The question I have, though, is how fair is it to say that the character is the one in the midst of the embrace, and not the actor who is performing it? To me, that sounds like a cop-out. As someone who has had to endure a partner performing such scenes, I cannot accept the rationale that the actor is not the one engaged in the activity, and that because it’s acting, it’s perfectly acceptable. Call me a prude, call me narrow-minded, but the thought of my man swapping spit, grabbing an actress by the breast or ass, or grinding up against another human in the act of feigned copulation, quite frankly makes me sick to my stomach.

Actors will often offer this rebuttal: “It’s ACTING, it’s my job. It’s what I have to do. It’s my normal.”

It’s just work? Yeah, so is stripping. And porn. And prostitution.

And what about the feelings of insecurity and jealousy which I believe would and should naturally spark in an actor’s mate? If a partner cannot seem to adjust or accept the intimate performances which an actor may be called on to perform, is that partner being unfair? What about how the actor approaches his or her partner with the news that a liplock, a bump and grind, or nudity will be required for a scene? Does an actor have the right to wave the flag of “creative license” in the face of his or her boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse?

I’ll tell you this much: the idea of my man’s lips, tongue, hands, body on another actor bugs me to no end. Such activities are private, intimate interactions, and my strong belief is that they should NOT be shared with anyone else, even during an acting scene which is supposedly an artistic expression and completely make-believe. Pheromones are released during a romantic kiss, and can’t be avoided. And quite frankly, there have been enough stories about actors hooking up off the set because they discovered that there was a sexual or romantic connection, one that might be worth jeopardizing an existing relationship for.

The only other industries which require intimate encounters between humans are stripping, porn and prostitution. Perhaps the actions don’t have the same meaning as they do when the working individual is with his or her real-life love interest, but the activities are still very much occurring. Yes, I know those of you who are actors want to debate this, especially since you only feign sexual encounters. However, no other industry besides the ones I have previously mentioned even approaches the compromising positions and intimate encounters which acting does. For actors to be called upon to kiss, fondle and grind up against others, and to expect their mates to be completely okay with it just seems like the ultimate double standard, and I am not afraid to say that I find the whole thing rather unreasonable.

Here are a few admissions from actors which I found online:

“And when I kiss a woman, in my head, I WANT HER. I committed to whatever I was playing fully. This doesn’t mean I wasn’t professional and respectful, but as a young man making out with a young women (sic), I was thinking, THIS IS AWESOME!”

“Most of the answers here are very much along the lines of ‘it’s just a job’
However, I am what is often described as a method actress. I will look at my scene partner and think about what it would be like to kiss him, touch him, what he would look like naked, what he would do to me if we were alone, those sorts of sexy things. And also if we are working together for more than a day or so, I do tend to get a bit of a crush on my scene partner for a while. It goes away and I’ve never acted on those feelings.”

“It’s like running in the rain. There’s a certain point when you go, ‘[Expletive] it, I’m already wet. I’m not going to get any less wet, so I might as well just enjoy how this feels.’ I mean, sure, there’s awkwardness about being in a weird flesh-colored thong, bouncing on top of an actress. I am not a small human being. I weigh at least 200 pounds and I’m six-foot-two. And Wiig is a twig; she’s a skinny little thing. It’s weird and uncomfortable at first, but then all the awkwardness melts away and you think, All right, we’re doing this, so let’s have fun with it. You know what I mean? You’re in that moment and it’s happening and it’s not going to get any better, so you might as well enjoy it.” — Jon Hamm, on Bridesmaids

For more interesting quotes from celebrities regarding filming sex scenes, you can click on the link here:

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/entertainment/celebs/a31833/celebrity-quotes-about-filming-sex-scenes/

Fighting The Sirens

the-sonic-landscape-of-the-city-sirens-taken-for-wonder

Anyone who works in the entertainment field knows that audible distractions can really throw a wrench in the works while filming, recording, or taping. Interruptions on set prolong the time that talent and crew must be on set to get clean, usable takes. Otherwise benign sounds like a cough, jangling keys, or a barking dog will register on audio recordings, requiring the director and talent to pause until the noise has subsided, then re-shoot the take.

I have been on set for many different projects over the years and have been witness to various noise distractions. However, I had never experienced a nonstop cacophony of sirens and horns while on set until a couple of weeks ago, while I worked on a commercial set in New York City. Our first day on set was punctuated by a relatively steady stream of horns and sirens which added another ten minutes to our shoot day, since we had to pause for every single one, then launch into an additional take each time we had an interruption.

Day two was even worse, because evidently an “incident” in NYC right near the studio warranted a profusion of police vehicles, ambulances and fire engines at the site. In addition to all the sirens which blared for several hours, irate drivers on the road insisted on expressing their frustrations by leaning on their car horns. It’s no exaggeration for me to say that the steady interruptions emanating from the neighborhood added another twenty minutes to the shoot that day.

It’s difficult to maintain your cool when you land a perfect take, only to have a siren or horn blare right at the tail end of the take. Guess what that means? It means the take is rendered worthless because of the extraneous noise.

Everyone on set became increasingly irritated by the challenges to getting a perfect take. It became a bit of a joke as we kept rolling, launching into another take, only to have another siren assert itself and ruin that one as well. It was like a big F*&% YOU to all of us on set, and it kept occurring!

The clamor of alarms continued mercilessly, and our frustrations rose in direct proportion. Towards the end of the second shoot day, we switched to uttering expletives to more adequately express our increasing annoyance with the whole situation. The one positive note about all the interruptions and our reaction to them was that we all bonded even more during the project.

If you are planning to shoot a commercial, television project, film, music video or other entertainment related footage in New York City, and the studio you shoot in isn’t soundproof, you had better brace yourself for the probable onslaught of noise which will challenge the patience of everyone on set.

Cuss Words And Why I Like Them

profanity
There is tremendous power in profanity, which is part of the reason why I like certain words. I don’t want to give you the impression that I am a complete foul-mouth, but I am certainly not going to lose my mind if the random S-bomb flies out of someone’s mouth or my mouth. I am very careful in certain situations, such as when I am around someone who finds cussing offensive, or when I am conversing with the majority of my patients. But the rest of the time, I don’t hold back at all, and sometimes surprise myself with the long strings of expletives which can tumble out of my mouth when I am all fired up. However, in these instances, I am usually alone in my car or at home, where I feel safe enough to open up a fresh can of obscenities and fling them into the air.

Let’s face it, many people like cuss words because they have personality. Some naughty words are so full of texture that you could almost bite right into them. For example, the word “fuck” has dimension and color to it. It’s lively, energetic, and emphatic, and that is exactly why I dig it. And in most cases, “fuck” is so benign that I honestly don’t think it deserves such a bad rap. Besides, there is something delicious about off-color utterances which supports our propensity for pushing the envelope.

I always find it puzzling that censorship laws still bleep out certain words, yet the context of the scene and dialog usually clearly give away the swear word which was spoken. At least the FCC got hip to what the public can tolerate on late night major network television, and allowed certain words, like “shit” and “asshole”, to let fly on shows like Conan.

What it comes down to is that the “bad words” which have been demonized in our culture are just WORDS. They don’t hurt people unless they are used in a malicious fashion to insult others, such as racial slurs. As long as we avoid words which are inflammatory, or used in a destructive manner, we shouldn’t have to fear them at all.

Who Has Portrayed Superman?

Superman Logo

Superman Logo

With the new film Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice slated for release this March, I became curious about the actors who have been pivotal in forging the portrayal of the Man Of Steel over the years. I liked the summary on http://screenrant.com/superman-actors-trivia-list, portions of which I have copied and pasted here. I have omitted the actors who had a smaller impact on the Superman character for the sake of keeping this post manageable.

I don’t think anyone ever portrayed Superman as convincingly as Christopher Reeve did, so he will always be my favorite Superman. However, as a result of my decades-long crush on Dean Cain, I must have another favorite spot for him as well!


1. Kirk Alyn

In 1948, former Broadway actor Kirk Alyn was the first to don Superman’s cape in a live-action setting. Columbia Pictures’ Superman theatrical serial became an instant hit and young fans of the superhero were immediately mesmerized. For years prior, their imaginations did all the work based off a weekly radio broadcast starring the voice of Bud Collyer as Superman, but now they could see their idol in action!

The Superman serial was 15 episodes long, told Superman’s basic origin story, his job as a reporter at the Daily Planet and his friendships with Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen; in the final episode, he battled the villainous Spider Lady. In 1950, Alyn would reprise his role in another serial – Atom Man vs. Superman. This time around the villain is Superman’s main rival Lex Luthor who, as Atom Man, terrorizes the good citizens of Metropolis with his atom disintegration ray.

Kirk Alyn

Kirk Alyn


2. George Reeves

Notable Facts: First non-serial theatrical Superman appearance. First televised appearance. First televised color appearance. First fully-filmed take-off, flight and landing sequence.

Arguably, George Reeves was the most popular actor to every portray Superman and his alter-ego Clark Kent, in both the feature-length film Superman and the Mole Men and the subsequent TV series Adventures of Superman.

Reeves is the only actor to ever play Superman in both a theatrical release AND in a TV series. He would entertain audiences for six seasons, with the first three seasons broadcast in black and white. While the remaining seasons were filmed in color, they wouldn’t be broadcast that way until the show was syndicated in 1965.

George Reeves

George Reeves


3. Johnny Rockwell

Notable Facts: First non-comic appearance of Superboy and Lana Lang.

Adventures of Superman was canceled in 1958, followed by the passing of George Reeves in 1959, so when ABC decided to reboot the show in 1961, actor Johnny Rockwell was chosen to portray Superboy. The project never made it past an unaired Superboy pilot titled “Rajah’s Ransom”, even though twelve full scripts were completed for the show.

Alas, the general public would never see Rockwell dressed as Superman, but footage from the pilot stills exists (it comes with the 62 DVD collection Smallville: The Complete Series) and a small clip from the show can be found in the documentary Look, Up In The Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman.

Johnny Rockwell

Johnny Rockwell


4. Christopher Reeve

Notable Facts: First full-color, feature-length Superman theatrical release. Significant upgrades in flying SFX. Introduced most classic version of costume. First “evil” Superman.

Superman: The Movie was first conceived in 1973 but wouldn’t see a theatrical release until 1978 with Christopher Reeve starring as the titular superhero. Superman I and Superman II were filmed simultaneously at the total cost of $109 million. Superman I proved to be the more popular of the two bringing in $300 million at the box office, while the sequel only brought in $104 million.

Over the next few years, Superman III and Superman IV, both starring Reeve and Gene Hackman as Lex Luthorn (who skipped number 3), would come and go in theaters with very little public support – together, both films only grossed $85 million on a $46 million budget.

Even with poor box office performances later in the franchise, Christopher Reeve’s name would become (and still is) synonymous with Clark Kent and Superman – arguably even more so than George Reeves.

Christopher Reeve

Christopher Reeve


5. James Haymes Newton

Notable Facts: First TV series ever produced by Disney/MGM. First in-depth look at Superman’s teenage years. First appearance of Mr. Mxyzptlk.

Only a year after Superman IV: The Quest for Peace entered theaters, producers wanted to once again tap in the the lucrative TV market with a Superman show – enter Superboy starring James Haymes Newton in 1988. Newton would only sport the red cape for the first season due what the producers consider a lackluster performance, combined with his demand for a raise and a DUI arrest.

The show debuted during the 50th anniversary of Superman character and ironically, the actual character of Superboy had recently been removed from comic lore in The Man of Steel retcon by comic artist John Byrne. This was the first time the teenage years of Superman were explored. The show followed Clark Kent and Lana Lang as they reported on weird happenings for their college newspaper, The Shuster Herald (get the reference?).

James Haymes Newton

James Haymes Newton


6. Gerard Christopher

Notable Facts: First appearance of villains Bizarro, Metallo and Toyman. First exploration of The Death of Superman storyline.

The second, third and fourth seasons of Superboy (re-titled The Adventures of Superboy in season three) saw many cast changes – the most notable being Gerard Christopher replacing Newton as Clark Kent/Superboy. The series also started taking on more “mature” storylines as time went on, including having Clark deal with the return of his Kryptonian parents, Jor-El and Lara. The series left the slightly-campy feel of season one behind and started placing Superboy in many perilous situations – becoming darker in tone with each new episode.

The producers, planning for a fifth and sixth season, had delved into “The Death of Superman” storyline at the end of the fourth season – even filming the demise of the superhero for the season’s finale. However, Warner Bros. placed a lien against the show and the series was canceled. Parts of the final episode were re-shot to tie up the series by revealing that Superboy had faked his death.

Gerard Christopher

Gerard Christopher


7. Dean Cain

Notable Facts: First time the love life between Lois Lane and Clark Kent is explored. First series to keep Clark’s parents alive. First time Superman’s costume is explained.

The lien and resulting cancellation of The Adventures of Superboy were actually a plan by Warner Bros. to establish a series of their own called Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in 1993 starring Dean Cain as Clark Kent/Superman and Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane. The show proved to be a whopping success with audiences and had a run of 87 episodes over the course of four seasons. The third season proved to be the most popular, drawing in an average of 15 million viewers a week.

Unlike previous television series, Lois & Clark (as its name implies) focused heavily on the love interest between Lois Lane and Clark Kent. While Superman showed up in every episode, he wasn’t typically the focus of the show, as series creator Deborah Joy LeVine wanted to explore more of Clark’s life. To that end, Clark’s parents were kept alive (unlike the Silver Age of the Superman) and he visited them frequently to discuss pressing issues. The show also addressed how Superman got his outfit – his mom, Martha Kent, made it for him – awww.

Dean Cain

Dean Cain


8. Tom Welling

Notable Facts: Longest running live-action Superman series. Introduced several live-action versions of popular DC Comics’ characters. Only version of Clark Kent not referred to as Superman, doesn’t appear in costume.

A few years after Lois & Clark ended, writers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar produced Smallville for the WB/CW, starring Tom Welling as Clark Kent. The show ran for ten full seasons and initially drew in 8+ million viewers – though those numbers reduced dramatically as time went on, eventually only pulling the attention of 3 million viewers for the series finale.

Smallville took a “no flights, no tights” rule per Gough and Millar – audiences can only see Clark fly once and only briefly see him in a cape in the final moments of the series finale. It did, however, introduce many members of the Justice League and brought to life several villains never before seen on TV, such as Darkseid and Doomsday.

Tom Welling

Tom Welling


9. Brandon Routh

Notable Facts: Updated the look of Superman’s costume. Introduced Superman and Lois Lane’s son.

Almost twenty years passed since a live-action Superman movie was released in theaters, until Warner Bros. decided to pump over $300 million in Superman Returns starring Brandon Routh.

The story involved Superman returning to Earth after a five-year trip to Krypton to see if any of his people survived. Lex Luthor is once again the villain (like the original Superman movies) and he absurdly wants to create new land using crystals stolen from Superman’s Fotress of Solitude. The film’s “twist” – that Lois and Superman had a child who inherited his father’s super genes – brought on more jeers than cheers from audiences.

The movie was a disappointment to both critics and fans – many of whom also disliked the sleeker costume hip-hugging style briefs and a much smaller “S” on his chest. He did have the signature curl in his hair, though.

Brandon Routh

Brandon Routh


10. Henry Cavill

Notable Facts: First modified appearance of classic costume. Replaced Jimmy Olson with Jenny Olson. First shared universe for DC Comics. First Superman film in 3D.

Henry Cavill is the latest actor to play Superman in director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel but he certainly won’t be the last. After the underwhelming Superman Returns, fans of the character were holding out very little hope that they would ever see a good, modern version of Superman in theaters again. For the most part, Snyder quelled those fears.

Man of Steel, with all its super powered, action-goodness, wasn’t without its drawbacks though – erratic scene cuts, weak character development and a longer-than-necessary running time, make the film drag in some areas. Most critics and fans agree though, the film is a far better than the previous attempt.

DC Comics has been behind Marvel in the shared movie universe and Man of Steel is their first (weak) attempt to fix that situation. A sign attached to satellite high above the earth reads “Wayne Enterprises” and is the only thing tying Superman to Batman. It could have been stronger but at least it was there.

Henry Cavill

Henry Cavill

The Shows I Have Been Watching

Jim Gaffigan

I am not much of a T.V. person, mainly because I lack the free time to sit in front of the television and watch shows. However, I usually have one or two shows which I will follow for a while, then stop watching. The two new shows which have caught my interest and held it so far are Impastor and the Jim Gaffigan Show. Since I can’t watch them when they originally air, I have my DVR set to record each new episode.

Some of you may be wondering why I became curious about these particular shows. First of all, I tend to watch syndicated sitcoms on TV Land, so I saw previews of both shows there. Here are descriptions of each show:

THE JIM GAFFIGAN SHOW:

Jim Gaffigan stars in this comedy series inspired by his real-life struggles to balance his family life with his stand-up comedy career. Gaffigan plays Jim, who is married to offbeat Catholic wife Jeannie, whose ex-boyfriend and confidante Daniel is Jim’s biggest critic. Also in Jim’s life are friend Dave, a single, aggressive comedian, and the family’s priest, Father Nicholas. The New York-based comedy series features a lengthy list of celebrity cameos, including comedian Chris Rock, actor Steve Buscemi, TV host Keith Olbermann and actress Janeane Garofalo.

After watching several episodes of The Jim Gaffigan Show, I am intrigued enough to keep watching. Jim Gaffigan is such a likeable guy, and I have always liked his stand-up comedy, which is completely clean most of the time (a rarity in the stand-up comedy world). His show has good writers, and the cast is filled with comedic actors. I love the fact that Jim has such a big problem with food, and the dynamic with his T.V. wife is amusing to watch.

Impastor

IMPASTOR:

New series Impastor centers around Buddy Dobbs, who is in a rut. The slacker has a gambling debt that he’s trying to escape, which leads him to a bridge that he is getting ready to jump off. Before he does, however, a reverend shows up and talks him down. Things take a turn after the reverend slips off the bridge and falls to his death, leaving Buddy the opportunity to steal the man’s identity. Buddy begins to settle in to his new life as a pastor in a small, tight-knit town with the help of his preppy new assistant, Dora, alluring church treasurer Alexa and enthusiastic secretary Russell. He takes to the new gig quickly, because curing sex-crazed teenagers and stealing weed from young people are right up his alley. Despite Buddy’s quick assimilation into the role, church president Alden Schmidt senses something isn’t right. Back home, Buddy’s ex-girlfriend, Leanne, is forced to clean up the mess he left behind.

The premise and the first episode of Impastor grabbed me, and though I am not as riveted with subsequent episodes, the plot twists are so outlandish and hilarious that I will keep watching this show as well. I thoroughly enjoy how irreverent and blasphemous this series is, and am curious to see where this series goes. The writers definitely push the envelope with delicate subject matter and strange social juxtapositions.

My TV Is More Like A Radio

TV
Though I usually have the living room television turned on while I am at home, I rarely glance at the screen, so it functions more like a radio, providing background noise while I work. One of my roommates likes to turn the channel to the Cartoon Network, so the audio is usually quite lively when he is home. He has the same habit I do, in which he turns on the TV for background noise but doesn’t actively watch it. Before you assume that it is a crappy old TV, let me clarify that it is a 47 inch LED TV, the screen size of which I lamented for no good reason since I rarely actually watch programs or movies on TV. I recently stated that with the rather large living room we have, it would make more sense to have a 65 or 70 inch TV (which I am nowhere near being able to afford), but I seriously doubt that a larger set would inspire more active viewing. That would be a pretty massive and expensive radio!

Even right now as I sit on the living room floor with my laptop on the coffee table (this is what I normally do despite the fact that I have a huge and very comfortable leather sectional sofa), the TV is on, dialed into the Cartoon Network, with American Dad airing and the sounds of cartoon voices at a low volume. Every ten minutes or so, I look at the screen briefly, to rest my eyes from staring at the computer. When my roommate isn’t home and I turn on the television, I usually do a bit of channel surfing to find something that isn’t too loud or annoying. I have been more drawn to tattoo shows lately for some weird reason, maybe because the bleeped out profanity captures my attention while I am writing. There is a certain comfort I get from sitting in the living room with the TV on as opposed to sitting in complete silence, which explains why I almost automatically turn on the TV before I begin working.

Does anyone else have this habit?