Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween and Holy Sh*t

     Okay you guys. Just a quick drop to wish everybody a fun Halloween. Also, to post a quick two-minute vid that is singly the scariest shit I've seen and heard in the last five years. I don't give a fiddler's fart about the horror genre; blood and gore stopped being scary a long time ago. Hitchcock was right when he said that the scariest shit in the world (my word, not his) were things that were implied

     I promise no violence, blood or gore. But if this doesn't give you a primo case of the willies, you might just be flatlined. Thanks to Jenny Lawson over at www.theblogess.com for posting it first:




     I know, right? 

     Happy Halloween, you guys.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Birthdays And Sh*t

     So, it's my birthday. First, let me say thanks to the dozens of friends I have who took time out of their busy lives to type me a greeting on Facebook. I pray you get those seven seconds back somewhere today. Having said that, I will confess that, at my current age (47), my feelings about birthdays now run more toward Patton Oswalt's view of them. My point is, they just ain't that important to me anymore.

     Before you think I'm getting all depressed-middle-agey on you, let me explain. When you are a little kid, the birthday is the first memory you have in terms of a ritual that is centered around you. Family and friends celebrate the very fact that you exist. They bring presents. There is cake and ice cream. There is the crazy uncle who gets drunk and winds up in the pasture dry-humping the cow. We all have those great memories. What birthdays do for little kids is affirm to them that, yes, it's a good thing you're in the world. The rest of us are are very happy about that. 

     As we get older, though, one hopes that each of us begins to develop into a human being that is comfortable in their own skin and, over time, requires that particular affirmation less and less. Birthdays and birthday parties can still be fun (and we will continue to invite the crazy uncle, who's been sober for years now but still might go out into the pasture to dry-hump the cow), but we don't need the attention so much. I'm always a little wary of people who make such a big deal out of their own birthdays. I always wonder what's missing in them that they try very hard to recreate the kind of experience they had as children (except this time with booze). Don't get me wrong; I love a good party. It's just that some adult birthday celebrations feel... desperate to me. Am I making sense?

   
I asked for a guitar cake. I got a fucking ukulele.

     I remember some birthday parties as a kid with great fondness. The year I had my party at the Rainbow Roller Rink was awesome, mostly because all the cute girls I invited actually showed up. But then there was the year my mom could only afford a party for me at McDonald's, and I was past the age of thinking that was a good idea, and we did it, anyway. Oh, and I should probably point out that my sister, who is four years younger than me, has the exact same birthday as me. No shit. So for years we had to "share" a party, and by "share" I mean "hate each other's guts because we didn't want to have just one party." Every little kid should have their own party. 

     But today? My daughter wants to take me to dinner. (Please don't let it be Chick-Fil-A. Don't misunderstand, I looooove Chick-Fil-A, but it's my birthday and Chick-Fil-A doesn't serve booze, and they have frowned at my repeated attempts to smuggle in my own vodka to add to their delicious Sweet Tea.) She wants to celebrate the fact that I exist, and that's plenty for me. There will be no pinning the tail on the donkey, no couple's skate, no ukulele cake. And I'm okay with that. I'm okay letting go of that ritual, because I'm (mostly) comfortable with who I am.

     I do, however, miss my crazy uncle. And his cow-humping antics.
     

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fu*k You, Time Travel

     If you’ve never been in therapy, you may never have heard the following question: If you could travel back in time and meet your ten year-old self, what would you want to tell him/her? If you have never been to therapy and have had one of your friends ask you that question, they are either very deep thinkers or very creepy. Maybe both. I have been in therapy, and also I have friends who are deep. And, sometimes, creepy.

     So this is a question that, unlike a lot of my life, I have actually thought through. The first thing I’d worry about is introducing my 47 year-old self to my ten year-old self. At ten, I think I could absolutely accept the possibility of time travel. But maybe not the possibility that the old guy claiming to be me from the future wasn’t one of those guys that likes to kidnap boys and keep them shirtless in a dungeon. I wouldn’t be able to prove my bona fides by talking about where we got the chin scar, because ten year-old self is at least a year away from getting hit by a car while riding his bike, the accident that produces said scar. One thing I could mention, that nobody else would know, is that “we” (ten and forty-seven year-old selves) used to watch tv while sitting in the toybox, often with our younger sister, in the trailer home we lived in after Dad faked his own death and abandoned the family. But then I'd worry that’s too much to lay at the feet of a ten year-old kid, especially as his father is very much alive and kicking, and back with his family, and working at the carbon black plant.

And yeah. We totally did that. All the time.

     Even if I could somehow reliably convince ten year-old me that forty-seven year-old me was who I said I was: what in the fuck could I possibly say to him that would make it a good idea for me to have traveled back in time to meet him in the first place? Psychoanalysts have a name for this exercise, and I don’t know what it is. But I think it should probably be called Methods For Mindfucking Your Younger Self, Which Is The Only Thing That Could Possibly Happen If You Were A Kid And Met Future You. This exercise that therapists give to adults is for the adults where they are now, in present life. And I can kind of see the value in that. As a grown up (relative term), I can look back and let go of a lot of shit that, as a kid, I had zero control over, but I still felt guilty, or shamed, or angry, or burdened by it.
     But if I could actually travel back in time and talk to ten year-old me? No fucking way. Consider the possibilities: Well, first thing, dude, is that we don’t have flying cars, but we DO have digital music, which means no more record-skips ever, but then some nostalgic assholes are going to invent an app that allows you to lay album scratch and even skips over your digital music, so you can “listen to it like you remember it,” which is bullshit because I never once looked back with fondness over a scratchy record. Also, in about three years your parents are going to get divorced, and in the middle of it your dad is going to kill himself with a gun. You know the .45 he keeps in the bedroom? Bingo. And right after that your mom is going to crawl inside a rum bottle and pretty much stay there until after you are married yourself. Your teen years are going to suck, which is not uncommon for teens, but will be extra shitty for you because of the whole “father’s suicide / mother’s alcoholism” thing. Nobody’s really going to want to talk to you about it, because nobody will really know what to say, because your family is an embarrassment. Silver lining: all that tragedy you will mask with comedy, and you’re going to be considered pretty fucking funny all through junior high and high school. And because you’re going to continue martial arts, nobody is ever going to try and fuck with you, so no worries there. You’re going to make a solemn vow to never behave like your dad, and then you’ll get married and totally become your dad, in that you will cheat on your wife. Silver lining: you’ll never beat or scream at your kid. You’ll at least get that part right. You’ll fuck up in a lot of other ways as a parent, but not that way. Also, animated films are way awesome in the 21st century. Any questions?
     We all like to believe that, were we forewarned, we would make different choices if we had it to do over again. But I don’t see the upside to that. I never really learned anything from my successes. I have (almost) always learned from my fuck-ups, even though I have often then gone on to fuck up in exactly the same way. So, no. I’m not going back in a time machine (which the government probably doesn’t have but Scientologists might because they have shit-tons of money from all the celebrities they’ve brain-washed, and their messiah was a science-fiction author) to have a chat with Ten Year-Old Me. For better AND worse, the shit that kid had to go through made the Forty-Seven Year-Old Me; the one that is absurdly imperfect and often self-destructive. That kid is gone – even though I’m still trying to work through a lot of his shit.
     But at forty-seven, we don’t call that “mindfucking.” We call it “trying to heal.”

Friday, October 25, 2013

Thank You, Television.

     You know that friend who proudly (and sometimes smugly) tells you that he never watches television? Am I the only one who wants to punch that friend in the throat? Poo-pooing television is like talking shit about my favorite babysitter when I was kid – which is exactly what television was. I got into television in large part because I watched so much of it. I got into voiceover because I would literally watch cartoons all day on Saturdays, from 5:30 in the morning (This was when old Tom and Jerry shorts were running), right up to lunch-time (Scooby Doo, or The All New Scooby Doo, or Scooby Doo and Scrappy Doo). Six and a half hours of cartoons, every Saturday, and it was awesome. Here, in no particular order, are some of my all-time favorite cartoons, and why:




     *Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: The years 1930 to 1969 are generally considered to be the Golden Age of American Animation, and I grew up on a steady diet of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig, etc. What I loved particularly about these series was that they combined two of my favorite mediums: comedy and music. And the timing of Mel Blanc was nothing short of genius.


     *Johnny Quest: Are you fucking kidding me? A boy gets to travel around the world with his scientist dad, having adventures. Oh, and he also got to hang out with a bad-ass pseudo-uncle with one of the greatest action-hero names ever (Race Bannon), and his best friend, a diversity hire named Hadji. He even got to bring along his fucking dog. This was the life I wanted with my dad, knowing all the while I was never going to have it.


     *Schoolhouse Rock: I shit you not. To this day I still wouldn’t understand any kind of math AT ALL if it weren’t for Three is a Magic Number, My Hero Zero, Lucky Seven Samson, and Naughty Number Nine. I can trace my inner history nerd directly back to No More Kings, The Preamble, and I’m Just A Bill. Thank you, Schoolhouse Rock. You made learning not suck.


     *Hong Kong Phooey: You think you could get away with a title like that in our 21st century, over-sensitive, politically correct culture? I admired HKP, not because he was a clever, ass-kicking hero (he was a bungler who usually fell ass-backward into success), but because he had a ton of heart. He believed in himself, and that was all he fucking needed. Plus, he was voiced by Scatman Crothers, who was in real life a lot like his animated counterpart: a ton of heart.
     And in the 70s (and very early 80s), Saturday morning was also the time for live action adventure shows. Remember the Krofft shows? Sid and Marty Krofft were Canadian brothers who, in the 60s, must have done some truly experimental psychoactive drugs, because that is the only plausible explanation to some of the weird, trippy shit they dreamed up to put on television, which I ate up with the same spoon I used for my Cap’n Crunch. To wit:
     
     Four wacked-out talking animals ( but not Snorky the elephant) hang out in their clubhouse ALL DAY and make music. And you're telling me they weren't toking it up when the cameras weren't rolling?

     
     It is my firm belief that the Krofft brothers were telling us to our faces what they were up to here. A talking dragon named Pufnstuf, who lives in an alternate reality where things are glittery and bright all the time, and where a witch occasionally comes along and scares the shit out of everybody. 'Nuff said.

     
    
Motherfucking SLEESTAKS, y'all. I rest my case.

     I'm a parent now, and so I worry like most parents that my daughter is getting too much screen time. But that's because there are so many more screens. If you're my generation, TV was the only game in town when we were kids. And yeah, we watched a lot of it, but then we got up off our asses and went outside. Because after every episode of Battle of the Planets, or Superfriends, or even Land of the Motherfuckingsleestak Lost, I wanted to get outside, grab a couple of my friends from the neighborhood, and go be the hero in those stories I just saw. You know: make some shit up. TV used to fire people's imaginations, instead of what a lot of it does today, which is make people feel better about themselves after watching a half hour of "reality," and people who are willing to say or do or be anything producers want, just so they can be on TV. That's not really feeling better about yourself, in my opinion. That's just looking for a bar lower than yours.

     Give me talking dogs and falling anvils and, yes, sleestaks - any day.    

Thursday, October 24, 2013

There's All Kinds of Fearless

     So, right here you get one nearly perfect example of why I didn't have a lot of girlfriends.

     I initially posted this pic to my Facebook page, because I've pretty much jumped all in on the whole "Throwback Thursday" bandwagon. I've jumped on an awful lot of bandwagons in my time. I jumped on the parachute pants bandwagon (I'm sure I've got a pic of that shit somewhere), I jumped on the Transcendentalism bandwagon (Thoreau was my homeboy for a good while), I even jumped on the Jolt Cola bandwagon (which probably shaved a few years off my life, because that shit was probably toxic, but it was way cheaper than weed or booze). Later as an "adult," I jumped on the Clinton-Gore bandwagon, the Grunge Music bandwagon (which automatically put me on the Flannel Shirt bandwagon), and the Let's-Move-To-New-York-And-Have-An-Experience bandwagon.

     People jump on bandwagons for lots of different reasons: some cultural, some spiritual, and some because it's flavor-of-the-month (parachute pants). But I think that one underlying reason most people jump on bandwagons is to have a sense of belonging. Call it a club, a tribe, or a community; we all want to belong to something bigger than ourselves. And if I may be allowed to play armchair psychoanalyst for just a second here, I think another, more insidious reason people jump on bandwagons is fear. Fear of being excluded, shunned, rejected.

     And that's exactly why I posted this silly fucking photo.

     Facebook is a community to which a lot of people belong. Like, seriously, over a billion. What's cool about it is that, for me, I get to regularly connect with people who are not in my immediate social circle, but who were (and in most cases, still are) important to me. A lot of my friends from those days are going to look at that photo and say, "Yep. That's Larry." They will smile quietly to themselves, because they will remember that I was a goof-ball when I was 16 or 17. But some folks who know me as Middle Aged Larry might look at that photo and be slightly disturbed. Maybe more than slightly disturbed, especially if they knew me when I was on the Church bandwagon. I posted that pic on Facebook for Throwback Thursday as a thumb in the eye for anybody who thinks that, just because we happen to currently be on the same bandwagon (Throwback Thursday), they are somehow empowered or entitled to pass judgement. I honestly and truly don't give a shit what you think. This is for me, and for all of my friends (near and far) who remember me fondly as a clown. I'm still a clown; ask my daughter.

     I'm an individual who is not afraid of bandwagons. (Except maybe Nazis. Those fuckers are scary.) Neither am I afraid to be thought a fool - because I am often a fool, and often not by choice. There's all kinds of fearless, and I hope you know what yours is, or that you will take a personal day off from work to look for it. Because it's important. Fear is not a bandwagon, but it is often the rope that pulls us onto one. We need a place to belong, a place where people will accept us as we are, underwear skid-marks and all. But let's not jump on because we're afraid of being left out, or judged for NOT jumping on. Let's be fucking fearless.

     Happy Throwback Thursday, y'all.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Some Sh*t I made Up

     I've been making shit up all my life, and occasionally I get a paycheck from it. (I'm not about to send you to a Pintrest page - because I don't make artsy-fartsy crafty shit, and also because I have no idea how Pintrest works and it intimidates me.) I've made a LOT of commercials. But back in the 90s (which to me still doesn't seem all that long ago, except that just yesterday my daughter and I were in the car listening to SiriusXM's Hits One, and some pop star in her song referred to the 90s as the "good old days," and I'm all like, Fuck you, pop star, I was already an adult in the 90s, a 'long time ago' for you was last month when you still had your oh-so-outdated phone that you had purchased only the month before THAT. Come to think of it, you probably didn't even purchase that phone yourself, because aren't you, like fifteen? Holy hell, you're not even old enough to DRIVE yourself to the phone store, much less purchase a phone and sign a two-year usage agreement, and anybody who isn't at LEAST three decades old should be legally forbidden to talk about "the good old days," because you haven't had enough DAYS, period, for any of them to be OLD. So fuck off.)

     What was I talking about? Oh yeah.

     Back in the 90s I worked on a TV show called Wishbone. And what I loved about working on that show (aside from the paychecks, which were pretty sweet considering we aired on PBS) was the fact that I had lots of opportunities to make shit up. Case in point:



        You can watch the whole episode if you like; it's pretty good. (Plus any geeks who read my blog will see a cameo by the one and only Amy Acker. Yes, THAT Amy Acker: Angel, Alias, Law & Order, Justice League, The Cabin in the Woods, etc. She started her TV career with us. And she won't return my calls these days. Probably because she's so successful, or maybe because I don't actually have her number and have never even tried to call her.) The point I'm making, though, starts around the 4:50 mark. The dog was supposed to wake up, grab a spear in his mouth and run out the door, only that totally didn't happen. So I had to make some shit up. (I should probably point out for the two of you who aren't family that I provided the voice for the dog in the show. That's NOT me in a tiny little dog suit, though if it was we'd have won all kinds of awards for costuming, and probably for defying the laws of physics.) In show business this is called improvisation, and it's a pretty good metaphor for how I've lived my life.

     Here's some more shit I made up:

video
   
     Every one of those classic movies scenes that we parodied was made up on the spot. We didn't eat any of that food we grilled, either. It tasted like shoe.

     Anyway, this is the kind of thing I've done, in one form or another, for over twenty years. It's pretty much always fun, except for the times it's a total ass-whipping, which makes it just like every other job in the world. The difference is, if you point at me and laugh at my job, that's okay. Try that shit in your own office with a co-worker, though, and it's all hostile work environment and sensitivity training. 

     So yeah. No thanks to that. You can keep pointing and laughing at me. And I'll keep making shit up.

   

   

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

First Post, or How I Said "Sh*t" in my Web Address and Got Away With It

Hi. I’m Larry. I make shit up. Most of the shit on this blog is not made up. Though some of it may be exaggerated for comedic effect. Or if exaggeration makes me look wise, brave, or attractive. I really am a working actor. I really was on a 90’s era family television show called Wishbone, and that show really did win a George Foster Peabody Award, The Television Critics Association Award (twice), and four Emmy Awards (though, to be truthful, they were Daytime Emmys, so take that into consideration). I’ve really been in more commercials than I can remember, mostly for my ability to look confused, or defeated. I really did start doing stand-up comedy at age 16, three years after my father honest-to-God blew his brains out in a shitty little trailer in Conroe, Texas.I really was the class clown in every grade and in every school I attended, because humor (or so I have been told by people with letters after their names and couches for you to lie on) was, and remains, my coping mechanism. And whiskey. Good whiskey. Why did I start this first post with “I make shit up?” The first reason is it’s an attention-grabber. At least, it is in my head. The second reason is that making shit up is how I survived childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. I even wound up making a living at it. When your life starts to suck at an early age, the two things you need most – even more than comic books and rock n’ roll – are humor, and a hell of an imagination. The humor allows you to have something akin to a social life; people are more apt to let you hang around if you’re funny. (Counter-point: you wind up being “friends” with girls when you’re funny, which guarantees that you will at least be around girls, even while you are not getting laid by those girls.) And the imagination gives you some place to go. Some place that cannot be invaded, or conquered, or dismissed by any person, or any event. Humor and imagination. These are the seeds of a life. So my understanding among the blogosphere, which is a word that I just learned is an actual word, is that bloggers follow blogs because they want something. They want to learn something, or be part of a community that is for or against something, or simply have a laugh and realize that there are people in the blogosphere waaaaay more fucked up than they are. Which makes them feel better about themselves. And their porn habit. What's on offer here, dear reader, is a life that has been lived, and is still being lived, by the seat of the writer's pants. I think it's funny, except for the parts where it's God-awful and tragic, which are still interesting and, as mentioned, might just make you feel like you've got your shit a little more together than some of us.
Except I've ridden a llama, motherfucker. I hope you'll think I'm funny, and that I have some interesting things to say, and a particular voice. And, yeah, I use swear words. I'm not trying to be edgy or shocky, and also I'm well aware that "shocky" is not an actual word, but if Subway can call their cheese "melty" then it's all over with, anyway. It's just that swear words are part of my lexicon. If you're easily offended (and here's a quick test: shitfuckdamnpisshell. If you're reaching for your mouse, this isn't the blog for you), then you should probably not only NOT follow me, you should tell your friends that I'm evil, and probably Democrat, and almost certainly gay. At the very least I'll get a quick bump in hits, and might even get a couple more followers. That's if I'm understanding "negative publicity" correctly, which I'm probably not. All I was really trying to say was I swear sometimes. If it bothers you, go check out this guy. He probably never swore in his life (though if "philatelist" doesn't sound just a little like "phallus" to your ear, you maybe should get them checked. Or maybe I should stop looking for words that sound like "phallus.") I'm by nature an optimist. My catch-phrase, if I had one, would probably be something like, If you can't be a shining example, you can at least be a cautionary tale. I can't promise you'll learn anything from regular visits here, except what NOT to do a lot of the time in your own life. (Example: cumin is not an acceptable substitute for cinnamon when your daughter asks for cinnamon toast.)I'll be on as often as I can, as I still do the acting thing, and all that other shit that we all do every day that constitutes a life lived. And I almost forgot the most important thing, which is how I got away with saying "shit" in my web address. When I tried www.makingshitup.blogspot.com they said "no fuckin' way," not those words exactly but you knew that's what they meant. But I'm part (okay a LOT) Irish, and we spell that word just a little differently. So, if you go to www.makingshiteup.blogspot.com, you will find my blog, and not, as some may presume, the website for the Irish National Tourism Board.(Though that would be awesome, and I would totally sell them my web domain name for cash and some Jameson.) So there you go. I am brand new to this endeavor, which means I don't know a damn thing about how to make a blog look interesting or exciting, or simply not sucky (see "melty"). But I'll work on it. Until then, enjoy me riding victorious upon a llama.