Thursday, April 20, 2006

Homer for President... again!

Wednesday evening we went to the library to see what turned out to be kind of a talk... really more of an 'appearance' by one of the writers of The Simpsons, Joel Cohen. Bob Ethington, the head of pop culture at the Summit County Library, a dear friend, bandmate, and all around good person, hosted the evening. As Soledad O'Brien was speaking at the University that night, my wife thought there might be a poor turnout at the library, so in support of Bob, we attended. We were wrong. It was exactly 87 people short of a throng.

The Simpsons are certainly historic. In many respects, the most successful prime time show in history. Certainly one of the most important, as a lot of folks would argue that The Simpsons singlehandedly kept the fledgling Fox network afloat... just as Professional Rodeo from Mesquite Texas was an important staple for baby ESPN... but more.

Joel Cohen is a funny, clever, sweet, geek of a guy who simply came to tell some anecdotes, and show a couple clips. No real insights. He offered a little auto-bio, and a not quite TV 101, telling us how many writers there are, talking about how smart they are, and how long it takes to turn out episodes. The most interesting thing is that, while entertaining, and again, very likable, he wasn't scary hilarious, he didn't tell us any great state secrets, he didn't send us off with much of anything more than we came in with.

But here's the interesting thing: the evening DID give me a hint of what a Trekkie convention is like. There were Simpson dolls for sale outside the auditorium. A friend we sat with, had a doll for Joel to autograph. There weren't any real crazies manifesting themselves in the Q&A but there was that odd query here and there by a questioner who clearly had studied every episode, knew the guys who wrote, animated, and voiced shows on a first name basis. This questioner clearly 'knew' some of these folks in an intimate way far longer than Joel had.

Point is, Joel knew his audience. He knew that the actual engine was the audience and his role was to provide something the cartoon characters of this show can't, a warm body from the Simpson's household to get close to, hear, and interact with. Demystifying details would actually be a bad thing. This wasn't by any means an educational event. This was for the fans.

So when the talk ended, me still not grasping the nature of this beast, we agreed that if everyone wandered off, we'd go hang a bit with Bob and Joel during their meet and greet. No need. As a matter of fact, I don't know how long it would have taken to even get to them by the time we filed out. Lots of dolls to autograph, lots of "Whatever happened to Joe Blow, one of the colorists that was credited for four episodes of the third season only, then disappeared from the credits?" querries. Pretty interesting pop-culture experience. Nice booking, Bob.

For my part, when Joel talked of the crazy creativity of writers meetings, it brought back sweet memories for me of working with Michael Patrick King , Jon Stewart, Louis CK, Suzie Essman, and Dave Attell on a series I did for A&E. Funny recollections came back to me of pitch meetings with host Colin Quinn and his 'Goodfellows' fixation, or later host Richard Jenny who would shrug and say "I don't get it" so very many times when pitched, EVERY time Jonathon Katz opened his mouth. Jonathon was given a writing gig for the show, a nice gesture for a really sweet and incredibly smart man, but... writing for Richard Jenny, the Crown Prince of the Lowest Common Denominator? I SO endorsed releasing Jonathon from his obligations when he got the Dr. Katz offer!! But hanging in a room and set with people who came up with vignette series like "Clown Therapy," "Viking Fun," and "Elevator Fears" is a remarkable experience.

When Joel mentioned writer Dana Gould, I turned to my wife and whispered "I know him," to which she responded, "Of course you do." I adored working with comics and comedy writers, which is, in essence, spending time with supremely talented, funny 12 year olds. In fact, I was surprised that Joel, when asked how to become a writer like himself, didn't point out that being a stand-up was one way to get seen, heard, and noticed. Later she said that if we're talking comedy on TV, I appear to know, in one way or another, 95% of everybody. As I've been back in Akron for 5 years, however my percentage of is probably down to about 80% now... so the evening made me a little wistful, and I probably laughed a little more often and a little harder than the average bear, as I was reminded of a 'home' I had in a smoky comedy club or 10 in a different life, one where the talent made me constantly crazy and the order of the day, every day, was laughter... and a percocet.

The most significant information of the evening, of course, was this: Because it takes so long to produce Simpsons episodes, they are seldom, if ever, topical, which makes them pretty Evergreen. The Simpsons, therefore, in theory, can live forever. Good news for those of us who haven't been regular viewers. There are gonna be over 400 of them for me to catch up with, if I live long enough.


Her Name was... Anna.


There are these credit card promotions that, when one has a reasonable amount of CC debt, are worth paying attention to and using. Some offer 0% or 1% interest on a transfered balance for a limited time, some offer a somewhat higher, but still bargain APR for the life of the transfered amount.

We've had a Chase card for a while that we actually have carried no balance on since July of last year. So when their offer came, seeing our other cache of debt's promo rate expired, thus upping us to the usual crippling APR, I decided to move over money to Chase, smartly opting for the 4.99% APR for the life of the debt.

So today I pick up an envelope that arrived from Chase, and find that our first payment is 1.36 Trillion Dollars based on an APR of 387.69457%. This pretty much translates into us signing over the deed to the house this month, and selling Lizzie into white slavery while in Japan next month to buy more time to come up with a clever, life insurance proof, method of killing ourselves in order to ultimately offer our grandchildren (sadly, it's already over for our kids) a chance at running free and strong in this great nation of ours.

So I figure I somehow misplaced the first statement, and all is lost because I'm late. I do this a lot. It's not like we don't have the money. I think the novelty and joy associated with affording to, as an adult, pay bills as they come, has worn off. I'm fat and bored with the process and therefore screw shit up with regularity, based on my disgusting sloth. I panic and look for that pile of mail I think I may have let slide on the floor next to my office chair. Heart racing... nope, I was actually good this month and am, oddly, up to date with all our bill paying.

So what can it be? I look at the statement closely. It appears I'm 'OVER MY LIMIT.' The tricky thing with CC companies is that you simply can NOT be even 12 seconds late with a payment, nor can you be even 1 red cent over your limit, or they automatically (you can hear the heavy bolts, tumblers, motors all roaring into action here) rip any considerations away from you as if you are a piece of shit stealing all the baby furniture and citrus fruit from your poor Scurvy ridden neighbors, rickets be damned- upping your APR to the highest imaginable, a little extra high, known as their 'Prefered Crack Ho and Student Rate.'

So what's the deal? Well, it appears I wrote a transfer check for the full amount of our limit, not considering the ... TRANSACTION FEE.

So now we're $65 over limit, charged a $39 over-limit fee and upped to 13.74% APR.

I call - The first guy I get is interesting because he has an Hispanic name, but an unmistakable Indian accent. Like the guys at the Sushi bar who speak no English whatsoever, but are to be addressed as 'Joe' and 'Eddie.' But now, in a country with Hispanics making up a growing 24% of the population, odds are better, from a customer service vantage, for the guy from Bombay to take on the moniker of 'Pedro.' Cool.

aside :

Anyway, it turns out that while it's crazy, the contract DOES speak of a transaction fee, I know there's going to be a transaction fee, and yet write the check for our limit to the penny, and am thus over the limit before I get my first statement, thus voiding the promotional rate and placing us back in with the huddled masses with no recourse, except to sell off something in our portfolio (currently earning a nice rate) in order to get rid of this balance, the whole premise (in delusional 'high finance' think) of even keeping a balance on this card at the promotional rate to... right Pedro(?), "RIGHT!"

"Can I speak to a supervisor, please?"

"Hello, my name is... Anna. Is there some way I can help you, Mr. Gold."

"Hi Anna. I doubt it, but I have to try.

Breath sucks in and a pathetic 'I'm an idiot, but can you please help poor me?' tone of voice takes over. Empowerng her on the most intimate level is my only chance... and I have NO chance.

"Y'see I have a card in good standing with Chase, my business has been banking with Chase for 20 years, I just moved over $..... into this account, a clean account in excellent standing, on a promotion, to the full amount of my credit limit. Yes, I know there was a fee, but I simply didn't think of it when I wrote in the amount of the check, and now I find myself having hit this (did not use the adjectives 'scandalous', 'insidious' or 'fucked-up' intentionally) tripwire that says I'm over my limit and can no longer avail myself of this promotional rate. Now while I cede all the information was undoubtedly in print, it would seem that customer service might see a red flag, call the good and loyal customer, just as every internet driven transaction would, and say "Hey , (you're about to blow it), are you sure you want to do this?" and give me the chance to do what it was I actually WANTED to do... but didn't. This hardly seems fair and seems in opposition to the spirit of the deal. Is there any way we can correct this. Is there any way you can help me? I'll pay the overbalance, I'll pay the penalty for the overbalance. I mean this is a higher rate than I had where the money was sitting before I moved it over. I'll do anything, but is there any way we can get the APR back to the promotion this was intended to be?" Exhale.

"OK," said... Anna,"You have to pay what's on your statement, but I'll credit your over limit fee, and put in the recommendation to have your promotional fee restored."

"Thanks so very much! I so appreciate this. I'm sorry, but what's your name again."

"'Anna,' Mister Gold. I'm an Account Supervisor here."

And then I opened my eyes, rolled over and said to my wives, Halle Berry and George Clooney, "I just had the weirdest dream..."

Thank you, Anna.

Monday, April 17, 2006

re: Friday's Post

I've removed the post from Friday, April 14th, as a sort of an immunity/5th Amendment kind of maneuver. Does this make me a coward, gutless, etc?

No, I tell you!!

As I'm committed to my Superhero Creed to protect the innocent and shave at least once a week, I must do this to protect those that might ultimately be victimized by my need to hear the sound of my finger(s?) hitting the keyboard.

I will, however, answer requests for a private e-mailing of it, as it has been saved for inclusion in my collection of blogsays, 'Gold'- As in The Color, Not the Metal due out as a Bantam Paperback, March of 2018.

Friday, April 14, 2006

6:46 AM Good Friday - the phone rings.


Come Again!!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I Have Too Many Friends Getting Divorced Who Either Made REALLY Bad Choices in the First Place or Did Some SERIOUS Shit to Create Some Nasty Mojo!

Ex 34b: My Accountant (Name changed - irrationally offending languge... um... dicked with)

mrpissynumbers: YO

mrpissynumbers: HOW'S DOLLY

BARKYBOY: good thanks. how're things?

(ed. note - he's clearly a jewish Acountant)

back at ya.


BARKYBOY: ok. but...

BARKYBOY: I haven't had a cup of coffee yet this morning.

mrpissynumbers: KK

mrpissynumbers: CIAO

BARKYBOY: try to have a nice day, k? I gotta go to the dentist this morning.

mrpissynumbers: enjoy

BARKYBOY: thanks.

mrpissynumbers: maybe they can drill into her w/o painkillers

BARKYBOY: Now THERE y'go! Using the material in front of you.Playing the house!

BARKYBOY: So I've also got to go to the bathroom now, at which point you say...?

mrpissynumbers: hope it is an easy poop and clean wipe?
(ed. note - people I've experienced in his situation, while very colorful, language and imagery wise, seem to be largely bereft of a sense of humor on this subject.)

BARKYBOY: No foo!! Yer supposed to say: "Wait, lemme get (HER NAME) so you can take a shit on her..." or something.

BARKYBOY: But thanks. Me too.

BARKYBOY: I'm gonna run. Just don't let any governments take my life away from me because they mistakenly still think I owe them money, K?

mrpissynumbers: i'll let them take (HER NAME) first

nah they charge you additional for pain and suffering

BARKYBOY: Now THAT's how WE roll! Cheers, dude. Have a nice Pissover.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Gene Pitney RIP

The first record I ever bought was at a joint on Mill Street, between Main and High in Akron, called Record Mart. It stood across the street from another Record Store called Edfred's. Edfred's was run by a big old guy that would, for a 10 year old and his or her attendant list of cultural references, pass for a Kentucky Colonel or, as we all now know it to be, Colonel Sanders. He was only cool in that he was surrounded by vinyl, just as O'Neil's department store was only cool because it had high tech listening booths where you could table an LP and put on some HEADPHONES and listen it up a bit, aka killing time in a really space age jet pilot kind of way.

Record Mart was, on the other hand, cool in all the right ways. The balding guy with the Maynard G. Krebs style beatnick Van Dyke. The jazz that was playing all the time (as opposed to the large portion of country/western across the street), and the... yes... myopic, eyepatched, cooler than cool black guy!!! This was 1962, folks!! He even had Wayfarers!

So my big brother Larry and I go in. He buys "She Cried" by Jay and the Americans. Big Tympani, big tears. I cried every time I heard it. Me? I bought a 45 RPM single by my favorite band: Mister Gene Pitney (My fave girl band was, of course Miss Lesley Gore).

"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" written by... Burt Bacharach! Who knew?

When liberty valance rode to town
The women folk would hide, they'd hide.
When liberty valance walked around
The men would step aside
Cause the point of a gun was the only law
That liberty understood.
When it came to shootin' straight and fast,
He was mighty good.

From out of the east a stranger came,
A law book in his hand, a man.
The kind of a man the west would need
To tame a troubled land;
Cause the point of a gun was the only law
That liberty understood.
When it came to shootin' straight and fast,
He was mighty good.
When it came to shootin' straight and fast,
He was mighty good.

Many a man would face his gun
And many a man would fall,
The man who shot liberty valance,
He shot liberty valance,
He was the bravest of them all.

The love of a girl can make a man
Stay on when he should go, stay on.
Just tryin' to build a peaceful live
Where love is free to grow;
But the point of a fun was the only law
That liberty understood.
When the final showdown came at last
A law book was no good.

Alone and afraid she prayed that he'd
Return that fateful night, that night.
When nothing she said could keep her man
From going out to fight.
From the moment a girl gets to be full grown
The very first thing she learns
When two men go out to face each other,
Only one returns.

Everyone heard two shots ring out,
One shot made liberty fall
The man who shot liberty valance,
He shot liberty valance,
He was the bravest of them all.

This arrangement had the weirdest, most plaintive, whining string section I ever heard, or have heard since.I cried when I heard this song too. It was the harbinger of things to come:

Sitting in front of a black and white TV in front of my dad, watching Ed Sullivan as the Beatles played and I CRIED LIKE A BABY, I was so excited. But that's another thing altogether, cultural upheaval, coming of age, hormones, etc. etc.

But get THIS!!! My mom and dad took me to the movies to see "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," what was going to be the seminal moment of my life, my favorite song of all time and forever and ever, starring Jimmy Stewart, my favorite Charles Lindbergh, Mr. Smith All American favorite actor of all time and forever and ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I got all popcorned up (with real butter, my friends), properly Raisinetted, and gloriously Goobered, only to find this Nonpareiled moment of my life stopped dead in it's tracks, cause... THE SONG BY GENE PITNEY AND BURT BACHARACH WASN'T IN THE MOVIE!!!!!

I can't talk about this anymore. He did 'Town Without Pity' and this was a big deal, along with some other stuff, but this was the watershed, this was the defining moment, and... I can't talk about it anymore.

Gene, I loved ya. R.I.P

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

My God, What Have We Wrought?

Harvey’s been claiming to be so damned busy these days. What’s he doin’? Glad you asked. I’ve been dealing with what everyone deals with at the workplace: Frustration.

Warning! Tech Talk! Who cares? I do, dick, cause it’s making my life very Goddamned crazy!

Item #1:

Formats are ever changing in our biz. Just like Betamax yielded to VHS ( NOT because of quality, but because of the number of hours you could safely leave it alone in the house with the pets), vinyl to CDs to MP-3 downloads, the broadcast video world does the same, with some nasty ass wrinkles. It takes years of schizophrenia to settle in on a standard format to shoot in out of the millions that will go by the boards. For example, one that CBS goes with for their news divisions across the country means… nothing to the rest of the universe. Mark, my bandmate bought a gorgeous D-9 camera with broadcast lens for $14,000, only about $5K more than the lens alone was worth. How’d he get such a good deal? NOBODY in the industry went with D-9. No one edits D-9. He bought a beautiful Edsel.

So class, we’ve got standard definition (ntsc), what we’re all watching on our Trinitrons tonight, and the new fab Hi Definition of the future. But what does that mean? Well it means if you turn to a Hi-Def broadcast on a Hi Def set, you can get 1080 lines of interlaced beauty. Zits will never look the same in this resolution.

But how do we, the pros, capture the image that gets edited and broadcast? For 20 years, Beta SP was the pretty much universally recognized broadcast video format. But this, along with a handful of others are all standard definition, and while there’s still tons being shot Standard Def, well…

Sony has the 1080i format of Hi Def, which is really what all conversations lead to. Panasonic has the Varicam that really thrives at 720. Then there’s HDV, a smaller format using a different digital recipe or codec that delivers the right number of lines, but uses smaller chips, at least in the cameras we've seen so far. Then there’s Digi-Beta, a standard definition format that looks REALLY good, so some are still shooting with that and transferring it to Hi Def for broadcast.

The latest trend, however is to shoot stuff in 24 frame progressive scan modes that pull frames out in a systematic way from the 30 frame a second modality of ‘regular’ video. This gives the picture a glossy, herky jerky, “film” look. Everyone’s shitting over it. Features are being shot with it. It’s the ‘look dujour’ but probably with a reasonably long life. I mean we’ve been doing full blown, better yet… full PRICE shoots using, not our $40,000+ Betacam (which we have now rid ourselves of), but the $3500 Panasonic that shoots 24p. So now THAT becomes a factor in all this. Sony, while leading the way in High Definition missed the boat and didn’t buy into the 24p revolution, but they ARE Sony, so… they have a new Hi Def cam, that may have a nice new (for them) 24 Frame function, but it records the material via blue laser onto these discs. Cool… but who has the playback decks (fancy drives) in their edit rooms for hired guns like us who, for the most part, shoot, and hand off the shot material to the clients? Dunno.

So we start by buying a Canon XL H1, HDV camera that will provide both 1080i in 24f, 30f, 60i, AND standard definition ntsc in 24f and 30f and blah, blah, blah+ a nice fruit salad of ‘whatever he says’ cool features, yes?. Cool. Nice lens. Only $10,000 when all is said and done. Get this and sit back and wait for the next $40K ish investment that will define the next decade, right? Yeah, but THIS camera opens up worm after worm concerning time code, compatibility with the Sony and Panasonic DV and HDV playback decks, and on and on and on and… at the end of the day, what camera did THESE rock stars use?

No really:
D-Mom thinks it looks like “One of those cars that changes into a dancing robot.” Check out the REALLY IMPORTANT music.

Item #2 is under consideration. Let me float this one:



who had nicer boobs?
a) ann-margaret
b) liz tee
c) Sophia el
d) Marilyn

Tough choice.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Time for bed...

... but this chair IS comfie, so, as a response to the lovely welcoming note I received from Mombi, let me first say "Thank You."

Also in response to a suggestion from Mombi, I have joined my alter-ego, the love of my life, my better half, the best thing to happen to me outside of smoked salmon... yes... The Dollimama, as her co-host for what is now called "Notes From Castle Gold," at Takes the pressure off.

So, from this point on, I'll absolutely respond to comments, may occasionally post something too objectionable for our little rec room in space, but will probably be spending more of my time over at her joint.

So thanks for coming. remember, tip your Waitress, and...

Gimme a reason!!!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Why I'm here

OK- This all started with my young and beautiful spouse, the dollimama, creating a blogpot for not only herself, but one for Tin Huey, reachable through the Hueys site. She, in her announcement of this on her blog, implied that I, H. Harvey, could and would now blog away, now seen as joining all you rumpled literati in blogovalia.

As this wasn't my intention, I had to announce this, and did so as a commentary on her site. I'll reprint here as explanation:

Ok, first, I'm not planning on making the Official Tin Huey Bulletin Bored Blog my own private 'Dear Diary.' For one thing, it'll make managing the hundreds of thousands of visits from fans and such, over the next month alone, completely unmanagable.

Second, I have so little to say... at least anything that deserves to be memorialized in this fashion, why would I?

Besides, now that my sweet slimjim has her own blog, I can just Rattle and Hum on her time, whether it's worthwhile or not, alienating everyone and inviting disaster in my domestic life.

So hopefully I have corrected any bated breath expectations of my soul opening up before you at the Hueys Bored Board, unless properly baited, of course, and now offer up a couple of other notes.

First, this has been a great Sunday. Sometime in the early hours of today, while watching every Extra Feature available on the "Hustle and Flow" dvd, a really decent and smart film (especially for MTV Productions) with GREAT performances from at least two actors, thus most definitely worth watching and listening to- time altered on our own personal atomic clock , courtesy of Adelphia Cable, and the lights finally went off in our room at 4AM.

At about 6:30A I awoke to discover that once again, pulling the covers up to my face allowed the sweet smelling 3" coating of dog fur to send me into a resperatory panic. Let me here acknowledge that we have now crossed into the world of elderly folks who worry their kids sick, based almost exclusively on sacrificing hygiene for the love of something warm without thumbs, batteries, or a smart assed mouth.They don't sleep with us,mind you, but we HAVE decided to spend every waking (and napping, to be fair) hour of our lives at home now in bed with the dogs on it.

I responded to this choking by fetching a glass to prepare the Passover Airborn with the unleavened Chloraseptic Chaser.

As I padded pathetically into the kitchen to collect said glass, I couldn't help but notice what was a very early start for the Robin (a mid season replacement, it appears, for the Cardinal that preceded him), a male, with, according to my crack team of Susan Aylward, Audobon Librarian,a mating season 500 times normal amount of testosterone seething through his crazy assed birdbrained system, choosing to, in lieu of the pleasures of procreation itself... the point of all this joyous chemistry of nature (hence cementing the "bird brain" bigotry thing), attacking what appeared to be his mating nemesis in the guise of my dining room window.


This just ended 5 minutes before I started this entry. So, appearing that he would change his perch to accomodate the moving sun and it's attendant reflections in order to continue attacking his alternate universe self for a full 12 hours non stop, my conclusion can only be that if you have a choice, it's better to be captured and tortured by Cardinals than those crazed, insane Robins, clearly the more capable of our lovely northern Ohio bird species to carry out a proper Jihad.

When I'm done I'll go out and see if his punch drunk hulk is rolling around under the window... but I think not.

Having just interrupted this to let Eddie and Debbie in from the wilds, apparently out digging coal from the abandoned mine on our property, evident by the contents of Edweirdo's mouth discovered by D-Mom upon re-entry, I've completely lost whatever else it was I might have had to say. Inertia is a bitch...

So I'll leave my virgin blog entry as one written by a man who is clearly on the downhill side of... probably everything, and leave it with the movie recommendation, the cute Robin story, emblematic of my blatant invasion of the space my poor meek wife has carved out in a now somewhat sullied attempt to spread her wings, and go see if I can generate some sort of poop (or at least massive butt gas) story for later- seeya -----

aw shit! If I want to post, I have to do some stuff, and I did, and now I have my own blog!!!Wait! Now I see I didn't have to do that! It was my ego not wanting to post as 'anonymous' that cursed me. Arghhhhh!