What follows is an account of my visit (with my brother and 3 friends) to a taping of the daytime talk show maury in what was formerly the Grand Ballroom of the Pennsylvania Hotel:
Let me start out by saying that I have rarely felt more out of place. The make up of the audience was 75-80% minority and 75-80% female. I am neither. It is amazing to me how an upper-class Jew like Maury has become such a beacon of hope and entertainment for mostly black and hispanic females. After waiting in line for about 30 minutes, we were each given a number and ushered through a metal detector into a dingy waiting room just outside the studio.
This was my badge of dishonor:
Being in the studio was like being in a different universe. Everything there was fake, from the bricks to the columns to the word "Aight" coming out of Maury's mouth. In addition, as Dan pointed out, it was like being inside a casino, except louder. With rap music blaring, lights everywhere, and not a clock to be found, it could have been any time of day from 8 AM to 11 PM (it was actually about 10 AM).
After we waited awhile, they asked a number of women to volunteer to come on stage and dance. Maury himself finally arrived on stage and decided to grind with 4 women before he even said a word. Needless to say, we loved every moment of it.
This was a lot introduction to the actual taping, but the action that followed was worth the wait. The first segment was called "I've got a secret." Here, a woman would come out and tell her long-term boyfriend or husband a terrible secret about herself in the privacy of Maury's studio, with only 200+ total strangers around (with who knows how many more people waiting to see her on television). Luckily for her, I think that these secrets were actually told to the men earlier, so that extremely violent reactions would not take place. Nevertheless, here is one example:
Woman: "[Insert name], I love you very much, but I have to tell you that I have been a prostitute for the past 5 years during which we have been dating."
Man: "Are you serious?!? And we were still so poor?"
Maury: "Now, hold on, isn't there something else that you want to tell your man?"
Woman: "Yes, [insert baby name] might not be your baby." (Man storms off stage, woman follows, camera follows)
It is a neat little formula. The final step involves Maury suggesting a 48-hour paternity test.
Which leads us to the second type of segment: the paternity test revelation. This segment was called "Who's your daddy?" In fact, while waiting to get into the studio, I had hoped that every segment would be known by exactly this name.
Here, the audience is told to cheer for the woman and boo the man at every turn until Maury actually reveals the test results. So, a typical segment goes something like this:
She says: "That deadbeat fathered my baby, I'm 1000% sure! He just don't want to take care of it. He be spendin' all his time with little 14-year-olds now." (Raucous cheers from the audience.)
Maury: "And now let's bring out [insert name]."
He says: "Y'all are crazy, I would never have a baby with that no good lowlife ho! See that little boy don't even look nothing like me." (He points at split-screen of himself next to the baby. More booing.)
Maury: "Alright, well, let's see the results of the test: (in huge bold type) [insert name] is NOT the father of your baby." (Crowd erupts in cheers. Man gets cell phone numbers of girls in front row. Rich and friends laugh a lot.)
The guy sitting in front of me says to his friends: "You know, I can't believe this, this is so terrible. Just think about the kids who have to grow up with these kinds of parents."
Welcome to America my friend.
Friday, September 30, 2005
What follows is an account of my visit (with my brother and 3 friends) to a taping of the daytime talk show maury in what was formerly the Grand Ballroom of the Pennsylvania Hotel:
Having just recently gotten HBO, I was not particularly familiar with this show. I had heard rumors of its greatness, but that was all. After watching it for a little while tonight, I discovered something incredible. Every week, Harry Kalas, the heir to the John Facenda fortune, narrates the highlights of the past weekend's games with incredible footage from NFL Films. This deep, booming voice is music to my ears and makes every game seem more important than the last. Fabulous stuff.
Posted by Rich at 12:50 AM
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Monday, September 26, 2005
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Nothing I write about this can convey to you how funny this man is (however, if anyone can tell me how to compress .AVI videos, you can see him in action).
That said, this Rodney Dangerfield of Park performers does this: He holds turtle races many times a day on weekends in Central Park near the Loeb Boathouse at 72nd Street. Here he is with one of his little guys:
Now I am not sure which turtle this is, but what I can tell you is that he has given names to all of his turtles (although he is not always consistent about which one is which).
Turtle Man (cue inspirational music): First, there is the little turtle with the big dreams and stars in his eyes I guess. His name, of course, is Engelbert Lump. If he can just win one race, he will reach the big leagues of turtle racing. (Turn off music) Then there is the turtle that swam to America all the way from the Soviet Union. He is known as Ivan the Terrapin! But his CIA code name is Red Octurtle. (A few audience chuckles, mostly from me) Is it so hard to get a laugh out of you people? I feel like I'm doing Hamlet out here! Finally, coming out of a steroid bath, we have the Kobe Bryant of turtle racing. Boo him if you must, here is Engelbert Lump's older brother, Engelbert Dump! (I laugh, no one else does)
This is the turtle fortress that they wait in:
Turtle Man: Ok, fine, if you don't think this is funny, then at least have some sympathy for the turtles and contribute to the St. Elmo's Home for Special Turtles in Rehab. Here I have a picture of the great Maximilian Shell, who has spent years here, improving his life. And now finally, it's time for the race! Let's turn it over to Chip Sepulveda for the call.
Chip Sepluveda (actually the Turtle Man) lifts up the fortress and the turtles take off: And they're off (turtles slowly start crawling toward the outer ring of the racetrack). What a race folks, what a race! Can you at least make some noise and cheer? Where am I, in Belgium? (2 minutes later) And that's it, the winner is: Engelbert Dump!
Turtle Man: Thank you for your time, and I could use your money. I live in Venezuela and I need to catch a cab home.
(Editor's Note: All of the above names, places, and events are entirely real.)
Posted by Rich at 6:42 PM
Starring Jon Voight and Scott Baio (2004). "The brainy baby brigade reurns in this fun-filled sequel to 1999's 'Baby Geniuses.' This time out, the pint-sized superheroes battle a megalomaniacal media mogul (Jon Voight), who's trying to take over the world using a mind-controlling satellite."
I joined the film near the beginning and the first thing I saw was a 6-year-old in sunglasses and black leather kicking ass and speaking in some bizarre baby language to the other babies. Although I am not sure whether they deserve to be called babies at this point since they are at least 5 or 6.
Rejoining the movie one hour later, I see Voight with an absurd haircut and mustache speaking in a German accent. He must have made some bad decisions with his money in real life. Next thing I know, babies are flying around the room and Voight is at a computer and speaking some mumbo-jumbo about a satellite.
In addition to the babies, there are some teenagers helping out. And apparently one of the babies got special powers from some green goo. It is considered by one user on IMDb to be the worst movie ever made. Voight's goal in the movie is to crack the code of baby talk. Scott Baio should have stayed with "Charles in Charge."
Voight just shrunk into a baby. This is too much.
Also, Vanessa Angel is in this movie. I wish "Weird Science" was still on. The head baby, the 6-year-old, named Kahuna, just left the world mysteriously. One of the teenagers just had a bizarre reunion with his mother in front of all the babies. And Scott Baio and Vanessa Angel.
Kahuna is back, flying away to Europe in a helicopter/dirt bike.
At least this movie and the original took good advantage of one my favorite expressions in the world, "Baby Geniuses."
Posted by Rich at 3:46 PM
Friday, September 23, 2005
Also known as the Villa Borghese, this fine park in Rome has everything a blogger could ever need: Wireless internet, masseuses while you type, and even outdoor squash courts. Bloggers love squash. Watch this video and learn all about it:
The bloggers at their leisure
Alright, you got me, there are no squash courts. But there are fantastic bicycles and fun times to be had by all, especially bloggers.
Posted by Rich at 6:57 PM
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Incredible landing by this guy. It is impossible to imagine how much pressure he had on him. First, he was thinking about his own life being in his hands. Then he had to think about the other 145 people on the plane. Then he was thinking about his family and friends, and the how the big disaster would affect them. Then he was thinking about what would happen to the company JetBlue if this plane crashed. But he performed perfectly and will now be a national hero. A rare great feel-good story with something for everyone. The only thing missing from making this a reality-TV dream would have been some shots of distressed passengers onboard.
The TVs were turned off, not surprisingly. And the moment of landing was the most riveting moment on television this year.
Posted by Rich at 9:22 PM
Last night was Tuesday Night Trivia for this young blogger. This is a fun exercise for my mind that I usually attend every week or every other week. There are not usually enough blogging or zombie-related questions for my taste, but I make do with what they give me (Tom, you would be happy to know that in the visual round there was a picture of Felix Frankfurter...he looked a lot like Harry Truman).
Every team has to come up with its own witty and topical name. The more tasteless the better. So in honor of the various storms that have been ravaging the southern United States and the light of the lives of Actual God and Nostradamus, I named my team "Topical Storm Terri Schiavo."
Sadly, the winner for best name was "Everybody Tolerates Raymond."
The woman in charge pissed me off to no end when she actually announced my team name. She said, "Topical Storm Schiavo (pronouncing it SHEE-a-vo)". Not only did this woman mispronounce Terri's last name (correct would be SHY-vo), she left out her first name entirely! She ruined the T.S.T.S. symmetry and made the whole thing sound less lyrical. I am convinced that if the masses had heard the entire name, they would have demanded satisfaction and ensured that I won best name.
Posted by Rich at 2:00 PM
Since that time, the Chicago White Sox have completely collapsed. When they were still playing well, I was going to write about how they would end up being like the 2001 Seattle Mariners, a team that won 116 games in the regular season, then fizzled in the playoffs. But now the White Sox might not even make the playoffs (they are still about 85-90% favorites to get in, but there is a chance that they won't).
Despite my earlier laziness, I have been saying all season long how overrated the White Sox were. Even if they are a good story, they are a mediocre baseball team that got lucky for the first half of the season.
Posted by Rich at 1:54 PM
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Many of you may not know this about me, but in my younger and more vulnerable days, I once auditioned for the role of Maximus in Gladiator. I knew that it was a longshot, but I thought that if I could win the part, I would be able to make the movie more epic (and better-acted). Watch this:
Rich auditions for Ridley Scott
Now don't tell me that you think Russell Crowe did a better job. (And yes, that is the Colosseum.)
Posted by Rich at 4:39 PM
Who says that Big Ben Franklin should be on the largest denomination of circulated currency in the United States? I for one think that we should bring back the Grover Cleveland $1,000 bill. (Some people might think we need to go higher...) Imagine how many fewer wads of cash Alex would have to carry around.
On the other hand, if our current President does not want to make such a large increase in the biggest bill so quickly, he would probably encourage the adoption of this alternative.
Posted by Rich at 2:58 PM
Monday, September 19, 2005
...are an embarrassment. I thought that the idea of the Emmys was to reward the best television performances of the past year. After watching tonight, I guess that is not the case. Instead, the Academy decided to give everything it could to the same people who always win. It was especially pathetic that Everybody Loves Raymond won so many awards, including Best Comedy Series, just because this was its final season. Note to the Academy: It was never a good show, and even if you thought it was, I can't imagine that the last season was one of the best. That is never the case, especially with a comedy series. Desperate Housewives obviously deserved to win this award and the fact that it didn't just shows how silly these awards are.
Other appalling decisions included Brad Garrett beating out Jeremy Piven for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. What a joke. Piven is inspired as Ari Gold, clearly the best character on Entourage, one of the most-talked about shows in the business. Meanwhile, Garrett is tall and has a deep voice. I was also extremely disappointed to see James Spader win Best Actor in a Drama Series for his role on Boston Legal. I needed an advertisement on the back of a bus today to tell me that this show was still on the air. Spader, who won last year as well, beat out Kiefer Sutherland (nominated for his role as the ultimate badass, Jack Bauer), Ian McShane (nominated for his role as the ultimate badass of the Old West, Al Swearengen), and Hugh Laurie (nominated for his role as the ultimate badass doctor, Gregory House). Do these people even bother to actually watch television?
Finally, there was Best Drama Series, a category won, ironically, by Lost. I was rooting for either 24 or Deadwood, but at least the Academy made a reasonable choice in this case. I would think that since the Academy clearly does not care about picking the best shows or best actors for its awards, it would at least consider the health of its own industry when choosing the winners. Maybe I'm wrong, but I would think that it would help to encourage increased audiences for new shows if they were Emmy Award winners. Sadly, I think at this point, anyone who owns a television knows about Everybody Loves Raymond and won't care if Doris Roberts wins her 5th Emmy or not. On the other hand, while a show like 24 might be critically acclaimed, it is not as popular as it should be with viewers. So perhaps an Emmy for Kiefer Sutherland might help keep a good show on the air. Whoops, I guess the Academy would prefer to continue having the airwaves polluted by shows like Boston Legal.
Posted by Rich at 12:02 AM
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Walking on Park Avenue today, after having a long discussion with my assistant about how my father works there, I looked up and noticed something interesting. A woman and her husband were walking down the street with two young children in tow. One was in a stroller, the other was in his/her mother's arms...and at her breast. Breast-feeding is perfectly healthy, but while walking down Park Avenue? Well at least she was letting all the boys see boobies...
Posted by Rich at 6:42 PM
Friday, September 16, 2005
If it is anything like what they most recently thought of, we the people will be very fortunate. For you see, my loyal readers, while enjoying a slice of pizza yesterday I glanced up and saw the top of a taxi cab. And what did I discover my droogies? The point spread for this weekend's Jets-Dolphins game (Jets -6 for those interested). Yes, that is correct, they now show point spreads on the top of New York taxis. This means that you can be walking anywhere in the city, see this information, and have a bet placed with your bookie before you reach the next street corner. What a wonderful world.
Posted by Rich at 12:16 PM
Thursday, September 15, 2005
...some of my local high school establishments have changed their names. Oh the horror! I thought it was over senior year when after 5 years of near-daily attendance, La Mia Pizza became Roma Pizza, but now other stores are following suit. Ray's Pizza is now Mike's Pizza and Farrell's Smoke Shop has become News and Smoke Hut. What's next? 88 Lex Grill officially changes its name to The Smelly Deli? On second thought, change could be a good thing...
Posted by Rich at 11:42 PM
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
I hate the NCAA. It is an incredibly hypocritical organization that clearly does not have the best interests of college athletes in mind. At this point I do not want to fully elaborate on the NCAA's numerous flaws, but rather call attention to the most recent actions. President Myles Brand has said that athletes from Katrina-affected schools will still have to sit out one year if they want to transfer to another school (upholding the current rule). As usual, this makes things more difficult for college athletes. The players who would transfer are probably the better athletes with potential for professional careers, so this ruling is particularly bad for them as it essentially robs them of a year to develop their skills. The NCAA needs to be entirely reorganized and made to look out more for the very athletes who support the organization.
Posted by Rich at 2:27 PM
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Obviously every woman is a Jewish grandmother (minimum age of 65)
Mildred: Oh my gawd, did you hear that my granddaughter is going to Australia for her next semester!?!
Ethel: Oh, you must be so proud of her Mildred, that is so special.
Mildred: Maybe she can find some cute boy there.
Sharon: Better make sure he's had his Bar Mitzvah. No goyim. Now where is that melon we ordered? Don't we pay these people to serve us and tell us how cute and smart our grandchildren are?
(Mexican waiter arrives with melon)
Mildred: Oh yes, this, this is the best melon I have ever had.
(The ladies combine to eat 1/10 of the melon then ask to have it taken away)
Ethel: Now where were we?
Sharon: How are your grandchildren? My grandson just got into Penn.
Posted by Rich at 11:43 PM
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Friday, September 09, 2005
Alas, Astroland is closed after Labor Day (except on weekends), so there was no riding the Cyclone, Coney Island's rickety old treasure. But the arcades were still open. So after playing a little Skeeball and collecting about 20 tickets for our efforts, my friend and I decided to see what we had won. So we walked over to the prize collection area and checked out our options. Of course there were the usual hair ties and miniature playing cards for 10 tickets or less. There was even a pencil...but we wanted more. We noticed a box of small pink things and asked the gentleman behind the counter about them. At this point he became very excited and the following conversation ensued:
Gentleman: Oh these here are the fake teeth. These are great to wear to work and scare your boss. (Editor's Note: Too bad I have no job.)
Me (hesitating): Hmm, that sounds like fun....
Gentleman (taking the whole box from underneath the glass): Well, what's really great is that they come in two styles...full mouth or just a few teeth. Now I don't know about you guys, but I like to mix and match. So you see, I'll put the full mouth on the bottom, then throw in the few teeth on top and I have a great new look. Check it out:
Needless to say, he gave each of us a full set of teeth for free.
Posted by Rich at 1:06 PM
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Friday night was my first trip to Fenway in roughly 10 years and it was an enlightening experience. My trip to the ballpark began at the T stop in Newton, a suburb of Boston, with my friend Matt. We were immediately accosted by two drunken Red Sox fans on their way to the game in full Red Sox regalia. This would become a theme for the night.
We got off the T at the Fenway stop and started walking to the stadium. On our way we saw signs for the official hospital of the Red Sox, the official souvenir stand, and even the official Tae Kwon Do studio of the Red Sox. I was beginning to sense a pattern. By the time we reached our seats in the centerfield bleachers, I had seen so many Red Sox hats, t-shirts, and jerseys that I thought they were part of some government-issued uniform required to be worn on game nights (or every night) in Boston.
The game on the field was not the most exciting (the Red Sox lost 7-3 and rarely threatened, although the Orioles made a couple of fantastic catches in the outfield), but the atmosphere was fantastic. Keith Foulke, returning from injury for the first time in weeks, got a standing ovation simply for taking the field, followed by another ovation for retiring just one batter. The old ballpark sold out for the 209th consecutive game, and the whole crowd stuck around to see how things turned out.
After the game, Matt and I went to the Cask 'N Flagon across the street from the Green Monster and had some beers in what was still a festive atmosphere despite the loss. The next day, we played baseball in Matt's backyard, a mini-Fenway Park built for his nearly 8-year-old and Red Sox-obsessed brother Mark. This, of course, was after a lengthy discussion of the Red Sox over brunch that morning.
This past weekend I learned more than ever that the people of Boston eat, sleep, and breathe Red Sox baseball. The Patriots could win the Super Bowl in each of the next 10 years and they would still play second fiddle to the one team that truly unites the city.
Posted by Rich at 12:40 PM
Friday, September 02, 2005
Tomorrow night it is off to Boston to take in a game at historic Fenway Park. It will be only the second game I have ever seen there and I am very excited to see the defending World Champions. Hopefully my boy Papi
will hit another home run.
Meanwhile, the Mets will be heading to Florida and continuing the push for the Wild Card. Every game for the rest of the season is crucial, and it definitely hurt to lose the last two after taking the first from Philly in dramatic fashion (another game I was lucky enough to attend). Unfortunately I think that Houston has the edge in the Wild Card simply because their schedule is far easier than that of all the other contenders in the National League East who will beat up on each other. But I still say, "Let's go, Mets go!"
Posted by Rich at 12:45 AM