Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Surviving Passover

I had the pleasure of visiting the in-laws in Cleveland to celebrate my least favorite holiday in the world... Passover. In all honesty, who in their right mind wants to give up bread and pizza for a week to digest things like this?


(Awkward side note: What's the deal with dudes on Facebook posting pictures of food or checking into restaurants and typing the word "Yummy?" Unless your six years old or mentally challenged, who the heck says "Yummy?")  

As we were...

Typically every year Passover is a struggle for me, but this year ended up being a piece of matzah cake. (Get it? No flour. LOL!) Why was this year so easy you may ask? Because of three instances that occurred during my trip to Cleveland. 

  • After we landed, my father-in-law picked up me and the wife. When we got in the car, I could smell a very strong stench. Not a B.O stench, but more of a vomit stench. Apparently the night before, my wife's nephew got car sick and threw up in the car. They cleaned the vomit up, but did not spray any type of odor freshener because my mother-in-law is allergic to those type of products. Fantastic! That's not all folks...My father-in-law could have picked us up in his vomit-free car, but for some unknown reason he felt we were better suited for the Vomitmobile. 

Me on the 40-minute drive from the airport

  • For the final meal before the start of Passover, I had the pleasure of having dinner with my wife's 92-year-old grandmother, Grammy Grace. Given that my grandparents passed away when I was younger, it's wonderful to see Grammy Grace still kickin' it. I was very excited about this dinner because it was the last time I could stuff my face with doughy delectables. In addition, I had finally gotten over the vomit stench car, so I was ready to rock and roll. We went to this bar and grill type of restaurant and Grammy Grace decided that she wanted an order of chicken wings. This might not have been the best thing for a 92-year-old woman to eat, but Grammy Grace gets what she wants. And boy did she want those wings. She scarfed them down so fast, I think she might have swallowed a bone or two. I did my best not to watch, but just like a car accident on the side of the road, I couldn't myself. As I turned to her... This is what I saw... And let's just say I had to put down my cheeseburger after a few bites.  

A Young Grammy Grace

  • If there is one thing I enjoy eating during Passover, it's Brisket. My mom has always made the best brisket and not being able to eat it this year was a bit of a bummer. Fortunately, my bro-in-law picked up the slack and made a delicious red wine brisket. As I began to chow down, I noticed that my wife's family dog, Jefferson, kept on bumping into my leg and barking at me. Out of the 12 people at the table, Jefferson felt the need to focus on me. Jefferson, a Springer Spaniel, is 14 years old and recently had a stroke. I know that is sad to hear and I might come off as an A-hole, but he has actually made a strong recovery. The only issue is that he walks around and looks at you with his head cock-eyed to the side. For people that are weak and vulnerable like myself, this can be a bit of a disturbing sight to see. I politely asked if we could escort Jefferson out of the dining area because he would not leave me alone, but my mother-in-law adamantly refused to. She felt bad for him and wanted Jefferson to stay with us. For the rest of the Seder, Jefferson stared at me with his tilted head, while I had to say goodbye to my brisket.             

How's that Brisket Jonno?

If there is anything to take away from this entry... The way to survive Passover is not by eating matzah based products that make you horribly constipated. It's to experience things that make you so physically ill, that you have absolutely no desire to eat any sort of food. Not only will you walk away a stronger and more spiritual person, but maybe even a little leaner too. And that my friends is awfully "Yummy!"  


Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Low Talker

Given that my last blog focused on someone's butchy voice, I figured why not stay on the same subject and tell you about another unusual voice I encountered.  A few years ago I did a staged reading for a "Modern Family" script I wrote.(I'll wait for your applause) For those that care to know, a staged reading is where actors read a script rather than memorize lines and act it out. It might not be the most interesting thing for an audience to see, but it at least gives the writer a good indication about what jokes work or don't work. And as you can see from my blog entries, typically they don't work for me.  

I was excited about the cast I had put together for the reading. The actor I used for Cameron, actually auditioned for the role on "Modern Family," (#humblebrag) and had the part until Eric Stonestreet beat him out. The only role I was having trouble casting was for Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell.) My first choice was not available, so I had to find somebody else. I remembered seeing this one improviser totally kill it at a friend's improv show. He was funny, had great energy and even looked like a younger version of Phil Dunphy. I had my friend reach out to him and he agreed to it. I was psyched, I finally had my cast! 

Before the staged reading took place, I did a quick run-through of the script with the cast. Everyone had their character down pat, except for the actor playing Phil Dunphy. It wasn't that he was bad, he just didn't have a whole lot of energy. After the read-through, I politely gave him a few notes. If anything the conversation was more awkward than helpful, because I am horrible at giving any type of pep talk. 

Jonno: Hey there buddy. Great job. 

Phil Dunphy Actor: Thanks. 

Jonno: (Stammering) Just a quick note. The character Phil Dunphy is a lively and happy guy. So maybe try to have a little more energy. 

Phil Dunphy Actor: Oh okay. I've never really seen the show before, but I gotcha.

What? He never seen the show before? I wasn't asking this guy to pull a Daniel Day Lewis and go method. I mean you would think at the very least in this day-in-age, he could do a Google search of Phil Dunphy and watch a one minute clip of him.

It's now time for the performance of the staged reading and it is a packed house. Most of my peeps came through to support me and the other actors brought their friends as well. I felt confident about my script, had a talented cast and a lively audience. For once in my life the stars were aligned for me to shine and nothing was going to stop me. This was going to be a big night for Jonno! His big break-through night!    

The reading starts and I'm standing in the back holding a script. Phil Dunphy delivers his first line and it is a little quiet. I figured no biggie, my boy is just getting a little warmed up. His next line comes and he speaks even quieter. It was almost as if he was whispering. I thought about yelling from the back of the theater for him to talk louder, but I didn't want to disrupt the performance and bring more attention to it. 

I seriously couldn't understand what the actor was doing. Was he purposely doing this to get back at me for giving my critique earlier?  Or was he pulling some sort of Andy Kaufman B.S. and purposely bombing? Or maybe was he just that bad of an actor? All I could wonder where was the guy from the improv show that I saw, who was running around the stage like a maniac and doing back-flips? I wanted that guy back! Not this friggin low talker!

"But, I don't want to be a pirate!"

Throughout the rest of the reading the low talker whispered all of his lines without any emotion. I was totally irate. His character by far had the best lines than any one else in the script. I wanted to attack the stage and strangle him, but unfortunately I am too much of a wuss to initiate any sort of physical violence. 

The show ends and I get some feedback from my friends. They thought the cast was great and they enjoyed the script, but they said they could not understand one single word the low talker said. I mean these were people who were literally sitting in the first row! Practically inches away from him! 

The day after the reading, I decide to send the low talker an email to politely tell him that the audience could not hear any of his lines and it might be something to take note of for future performances. He did not respond and instead de-friended me on Facebook. I was hurt that our social media friendship had come to an end, but I understood it could not continue any longer.

Even though the low talker messed up my staged reading, I am happy to announce that he is doing absolutely great. He is currently starring in a one-man show called "The Man Who Forgot How to Talk and Ruined A Writer's Career."  

I'll tell you the name of my one man show.... A 6-Piece Chicken McNugget! 

1. Speaking of fast food... The other weekend the wife was out of town, so I picked up some Fatburger for myself. Very rarely do I get to eat fast food, so it was a bit of a treat. Right as I pull into my parking spot my neighbors (a friendly married couple) pull in right next to me at the same time. All I could think was God Damn it! Now I have to have a conversation in the elevator with these people about my FatBurger. I could just seem them saying "So, what do you have there?" "Oh, that smells good." "Are you eating this by yourself?" In order to avoid the awkward conversation, I decided to wait in the car for an extra five minutes and act like I was talking on the phone. (And yes, I'm fully aware I have fat kid issues.) 

2. This has been a tough week for wrestling. First the Undertaker loses at Wrestlemania, than the Ultimate Warrior passes away... I mean what's next? Is someone going to tell me that wrestling is fake?   

3. After watching "Dallas Buyers Club" I am convinced of three things... A) HIV is not a good thing B) Matthew McConaughey is one of the greatest actors right now. C) If I saw Jared Leto in drag at a night club, I would totally make-out with him/her. 

The New Girl?

4. Pitching a game show set in LA called "Fireworks or Gunshots," where contestants have to guess what just occurred. 

5. Leave it to us Jews to find a way to feel guilty for eating bread.

6. Since this week was National Sibling Day. I have to give a shout-out to the best twin brother someone could ask for. Terry, I love you! 

I'm on the left