Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Master of Ceremonies: a True Story of Love, Murder, Roller Skates, and Murder Diary, Day 1, 8-25-08

by David Henry Sterry

The Olympics are over. I am sad and relieved. Sad because I won't get to watch Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt be superhuman anymore. But also because I love watching sports you never get to see, like team handball and field hockey and ping-pong. Holy balls, those Chinese can really play ping-pong. And put on opening ceremonies. One of the things I find disturbing about being an American is watching when individual American athletes are called upon to cooperate and play nicely with each other. It seems to affect both sexes equally. The men's sprinters and the women's sprinters both dropped the baton. They couldn't pass a stick. Me and Arielle were passing bottles of juice to each other today. One after the other we pass them. 12 bottles. We didn't drop one of them. And we never even practiced. And it was hard watching the American men play basketball. In moments of stress that just revert to who they are. They stand back behind the treat point line and hoist up these ridiculous long jump shots. While everybody else in the world is doing these wonderful backdoor cuts and intricate yet basic give-and-goes playing like, you know, a team. Not a bunch of lone gunman. It's just so fascinating how in the opening ceremony you saw so clearly how the Chinese are completely antithetical to this: each Chinese individual sublimates himself for the greater good. Seems, to my ignorant Western eye, to not have an individual identity. To work with everyone else to create something so much bigger than any individual ever could. There were so many moments in that opening ceremony where my jaw dropped in awe. The colors shapes and illusions; the drums rhythms, people flying through the air. But there was also something menacing about thing. Militaristic. Inhuman. Gave me the chills. In the best way and the worst way. I wish Obama would stop text messaging me already. Okay, okay I'm excited you found a white guy who's not too scary to be your running mate. Personally, I said from the beginning, he should've picked Tiger Woods to be his vice president. Now there's a ticket I can get behind. And as the world spins faster and faster hotter and hotter and attention spans get shorter and shorter I am engaged in the ridiculous activity of trying to launch a book without being famous. It's just hard to do anything without being famous these days. I guess that's why everybody wants to be famous. So I've carefully crafted letters to Oprah, the View, David Letterman, the New York Times, NPR, and of course, Howard Stern. I realize they have virtually no chance of even reaching the person they're supposed to, never mind resulting in my appearance in any of these places or with any of these people. Is this the definition of insanity? Engaging in an activity which you know almost certainly will fail? Or is this a noble struggle? Having belief that if you keep doing something long enough and hard enough and good enough that your voice will be heard, that you will be part of the global discussion, that you will be able to make the world a better place than you left it, and of course get paid doing it. (these amazing African women are dancing in the parade of athletes at the end of the Olympics. There's so lithe and alive and loose and fluid. And there is the biggest Chinese person in the world, yao ming. He seems so tall. And so Chinese.) I think that is what stops a lot of people from pursuing their dream. Because if you think for too long about how impossible it is to get on Oprah, you'd never sit down and write the letter. You have to suspend belief. Or you have to have belief. One of the other. Maybe both. But I've been doing lots of creative visualization. I've been watching myself on Oprah. I'm such an excellent guest. I look really good on camera, they did a great job in hair and makeup! And Oprah is so gracious and supportive and loving with me. We laugh. We cry. She raves about my book and gives away bunches of copies. It launches my tour, art of the memoir, and the head of Barnes & Noble events, who's been ignoring me like I am Black Death, as I've tried over and over again to contact her to try and get her behind this art of the memoir thing, I'm already doing it at five Barnes & Noble's, and you'd think they'd be interested in anyone trying to help them with their leaking ship, but after I'm such a smash success on Oprah, then the head of Barnes & Noble events has to come to me and ask me: Would I please do a tour of Barnes & Noble's for her. I have to check my schedule, that's what I say. It's fun to creatively visualize. I enjoyed immensely. It's just sort of thing that an overactive imagination can have a blast with. It's difficult not to turn it into an expectation which will lead to bitter disappointment and possibly drug addiction. But that is the balancing act for me, to make a vision of what I want and make it real and concrete. And then constantly readjust and remake the vision of what I want to be, while rejoicing in the good things that happen and not obsessing on the failures, which inevitably aren't failures at all, because that's how we move forward in life, these are the things we learn from, this is what defines us as human beings, what we do with adversity. What do you when Oprah doesn't call? Hey, maybe that's my next book right there. So anyway, on a nuts and bolts, soup to nuts pragmatic basis, I'm using the putting your passion and print method. I'm determining exactly what I want, I'm finding someone who can get a message to these people, then I am spinning a letter that demonstrates how my idea would fit right into each venue. Over the next couple of days I'm going to post each of these pitch letters. And of course I'm trying to get all my events lined up so that people actually come. This is one of the major drawbacks of doing an event. You have to get people to actually come. This is not as easy as it sounds, and it doesn't sound easy. I just found out today that Philip Lopate can't do my New York event at the Strand on September 22. Which I'm very disappointed about. He has two novellas coming out but he had to teach that day. I would love to do something with him. I might try to do something with him at the Y on 92nd St. But I also got a letter from Kathryn Harrison and she said she would do the event with me. How cool is that? I'm a huge fan of hers. It's amazing what people will do if you ask them nicely and make it easy for them to do something. I'm shocked over and over again by how generous people are. I'm extremely lucky that James Levine at Levine Greenburg literary agency, is doing that event with me. He is truly an amazing human being and a most excellent agent. In fact I feel so grateful to have such amazing people to work with on this tour. Chelsea handler, in Los Angeles. Alan Black and Beth Lisick in the Bay Area. Laura Schenone and Arielle Eckstut here on the East Coast. I'm really looking forward to book passage in Corte Madera October 13.. It's only about 5 miles from where I used to live and I miss that part of the world so much it hurts. I also met with a viral marketing guru who's going to be sending me a proposal for how to get the seven short movies I made of me performing from Master of ceremonies, (cut in with a bunch of 80s music and hunky studmuffin loverstudguys) and blow them up huge global worldwide. Its funny, if I said the phrase viral marketing guru 10 years ago, you would've thought I was talking about some sort of infectious disease genius or something. I just love how language changes so fast. So I sent also a copy of the DVD I made of the seven short movies to media people all over America. I sent a copy of a DVD to hundreds of bookstores all over America. On the outside of the envelopes I stuck stickers from my vast sticker collection, which I have of course had to replenish. Everything from Alice in Wonderland to the incredibles to Edward Gorey to Snow White to Bart Simpson to Monet and Manet and van Gogh and all this crazy Victorian shit, I really have some amazing and goofy stickers. I already got a very nice note back from Peter Maravelis, the most excellent book fellow at city lights books, where I'm doing an event on October 14 in San Francisco, saying how much he enjoyed watching the movies. So that was quite creamy. I also saw three movies this weekend. The dark Knight. Tropic thunder. Pineapple express. O heath ledger poor heath ledger we barely knew ye. The Joker was one of my all-time favorite movie characters. And I just think when you combine that with brokeback mountain, what a fucking actor this guy was. Makes me so sad that he's dead. I can't even still believe it. But also I have to give credit to the screenwriter. There were some great lines in the dark Knight. About how there are some people who just want to see the world burn. Sometimes I feel like that. I just want to see shit burn. I think that happens when you yourself get burned very badly. Metaphorically of course. There was also this great Joker riff about schemers who are always scheming. And the anarchist Chaos meisters who want to show the schemers that there schemes are all pitiful smoke and mirrors. That life is what happens while you're busy making other plans. And I also love when the 18 wheeler gets flipped upside down. I love that shit. And frankly it's a joy to get to watch Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman work in the same movie. I wish they had some scenes together. I also wish Aaron Eckhart were a better actor. I thought he was good in the first half of the movie, but I just didn't feel the soul when he was broken after he becomes 2 face. And poor Maggie gylenhall. She's such a stellar actress, but all she gets to do in this movie is look cute, get a knife shoved in your face, look sad, and get blown up. I would definitely cast her in my movie. I would like to have sex with her also. Which I suppose often amounts to the same thing sadly. Tropic thunder was one of the best satires of Hollywood I've seen in a long time. I just loved loved loved those trailers that started the film. Ben Stiller and his screenwriter really got those right. They were spot on hysterical. And the ridiculous efforts of the action hero to become a respected actor. Playing a retarded person. And then Robert Downey Jr.'s character explaining how you can't be a full on retard. Just a partial retard. It was so perfect and cynical in the best way and above all funny: in an old-fashioned satirical, court jester holy foole kind of way. I thought the movie lost its way a couple of times in the telling of the story, and Jack Black's storyline of being an addict was weak I thought. He didn't seem like he was doing a very good job of being a heroine addict Jonesing, or making fun of that. Whereas Ben Stiller storyline was fantastic. With a little touch of deer Hunter when the character and believes he's found his place in life performing in front of these crazy native drug manufacturers led by their tiny teenage lunatic. And the fact that he does it playing his retard character, who they idolize; instead of Russian roulette, well, I had no choice but to laugh hard. I thought the guy who played the beard dude in knocked up, did a fantastic job in a thankless role. He was that character in every Hollywood movie who's called upon to be the straight man/purveyor of information/exposition giver. I would definitely cast him in my movie. I guess I would have sex with them too if push came to shove. He is very cute. I would not say Tropic thunder was a great movie. When I think of the great great comedies, like Sullivan's travels, and the great dictator, and spinal tap, and Annie Hall, and Monty Python and the holy Grail, and the graduate, this movie does not add all the way up. But I did think Robert Downey Jr. gave one of the great performances in a comedy in a long time. That character was so funny and he was so superb in it. Just balls out. Doing blackface. He was crazy great I met Robert Downey Jr. a few years ago, he is a fan of my book Chicken. This was just after he'd gotten out of jail and rehab and was on his way back up. But no one would even insure him at this point. He smoked so many cigarettes and drank so much coffee, he seemed like an addiction waiting to happen. But he was so lovely, he fed us (it was myself, former teen heartthrob Jonathan Taylor Thomas, and the wonderful and lovely Pilar demann, who was producing the movie version of Chicken), he told us stories, he charmed us, I was just so impressed by what a bright, quick, intelligent, funny, generous, alive, joie de vivrish fellow he was. He's just the kind of person you really want to succeed. I'm so happy that he has revived his career and his life in such a huge beautiful way. To have iron Man and then this in the same summer. Kind of shocking actually. And that brings us to pineapple express. How much Seth Rogan can one nation stand? I think the answer is, a lot. He's just such a lovable fuck up. Again, I would not say this is a great movie. Some of the action sequences seem like they can't make up their mind whether they're supposed to be funny or real. So they end up being neither. And again, in the Judd apatow factory, we have a love story between two menchildren. And again I found it funny, real and touching. It seems somehow inevitable given our evolution that they have had such success making romantic comedies with men. And I thought James Franco, unburdened of being James Dean or in spider Man, was really warm and endearing. It reminded me of when I saw Brad Pitt in that Tarantino movie, true Romance I think it's called, where he plays a stoner with a bong, he's only in the movie for five minutes at most, but he's really really funny. Parenthetically, I'm really looking forward to the new Coen brothers movie. I was doing some life coaching with someone this weekend, a very talented seeker named keni Fine, I was asking him, if he had no restrictions, what would he want to do. I realized when I asked that question of myself, one of the answers is that I would really like to be in a Coen brothers movie. So tomorrow I start figuring out how to make that happen. I'll keep you updated. Anywho the point is, I really like pineapple express. It had some very funny things in it. When they smoked the special mystical joint, that really made me laugh. And his riff about drug dealers, and his talk radio thing. I actually enjoyed the process serving part of the movie also. And I loved the third wheel fellow. the guy who keeps getting shot and ends up rescuing them in the end. That whole friendship was hysterical. They start out beating the shit out of each other, and in the end there is redemption. He has had a good summer also, that guy. He played the ammunition expert in tropical thunder. It's fascinating to see these guys keep turning up in each other's movies. One of the seven deadly sins just got committed in my head right now. I'm envious. I would like to be in that little circle. Like at the beginning of pineapple express, there's a little trailer in black and white that features one of their crew, in military outfit, smoking this incredible pineapple express weed. I found myself sitting in the movie theater wishing that was me. I think I would've done a better job than the guy did. I'm not that impressed with him, the guy who did that. As a comedian. He was in knocked up also, he played the guy who had the scene with Catherine whatever her name is, where she keeps puking. he was also the guy in super bad who was the other cop. I just think he isn't it funny. Seth Rogan is funny. Ben Stiller is funny. Robert Downey Jr., funny. I didn't find James Franco actually funny. But he was so endearing and lovable and was such a great screen presence. Whereas I don't find out about the other guy I was talking about. He is on Saturday Night Live or something. I haven't watched Saturday Night Live in so many years. I try periodically, but it hardly ever seems funny to me. I'm watching the Olympic closing ceremonies right now and holy balls, there they go again, these Chinese, there's wheels roll around and people with lighted baubles on their suits and there's millions of them they're everywhere little midgets munchkins I don't know what they are and then there's people twirling and whirling they're yellow and they're red, and now there's a bunch of dudes on pogo sticks and silver spacesuits and other dudes banging drums suspended from the ceiling, I get the feeling it's all supposed to mean something, but I have no idea what that would be. And there's just a sea of weird little people mincing around with all these golden tiny little balls on their heads and this huge bombastic music and here are some drummers with bicycle helmets on their heads for some reason, again I have this feeling of being in awe of the whole thing, and slightly uneasy, nervous, why that is? And now England is representing itself for the next Olympics, and here is old silver haired rocking Jimmy page playing whole Lotta love with some black chick standing in for Robert Plant, I wonder if he's sitting somewhere getting drunk going, Why the fuck isn't that me up there singing in front of the world? What a strange way to represent yourself as a country. A 60-year-old grandfather of rock. I read some official from England he was already saying, Don't expect too much from us, we're not going to be this good. Such a British thing to say. Oh and of course, here's David Beckham kicking a soccer ball into the crowd. And there are these really cheesy umbrellas with lights in them that look like they were used on the set of an Austin Powers movie. I have a bad feeling about the London Olympics. Oh shit, Obama just text messaged me again, I have to go. Well, that's it for me, that's my two cents worth. And with inflation, it's only one.

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