Yoga and My Inner Smart Ass

I’ve always been a stress-case. I stress about almost everything. I even stress about things I can’t control. I have no explanation why I’m like this other than it’s the way I’m built. Some have said that I need to get in touch with my inner-voice. What the fuck is an inner-voice anyway? I thought only schizophrenics and the satanically possessed have inner-voices. But, apparently, some blessed people, who must have a different nervous system than mine, have an inner-voice that they occasionally chat with from time to time, making them feel relaxed and healthy. I guess I don’t have an inner voice – maybe I need an inner-vention?

Some people that know me have say that I would benefit from meditation. Is it a coincidence that only one letter separates meditation from medication? (I find that vodka and prescription Xanax relieves stress reasonably well.) I’ve tried to meditate, but it was a disaster. It would be easier for me to negotiate peace in the Mideast. Meditation is like trying not to think of the elephant with polka dots. I just can’t do it. Sorry, Maharishi.

Yoga has often been suggested to me as a spiritual and athletic antidote to the stresses of the modern world. The first time I ever tried yoga was on Kenny Vs. Spenny, and it was hot yoga. Hot yoga, or Bikram Yoga is essentially yoga in a sauna. Now yoga in an air conditioned room is a bitch…in a sauna, it’s punishment. It’s hard to describe Bikram Yoga to the uninitiated. Imagine being in a 40 degrees Celsius (105 Fahrenheit) room, while a New Age-sounding instructor takes you through postures that you would only do in real life if you were in Cirque De Soleil. On top of that, the class runs an interminable hour and a half, after which you feel about as close to death as anything you can do on this planet that’s supposed to be good for you. My girlfriend, after much nagging, convinced me to buy 20 Bikram classes. I’m a disciplined person and was determined to work at yoga until I got the desired results; some sort of spiritual awakening and an overdue introduction to my inner-voice.

The first time I went I was surprised at one of the studio rules: Once class has started, you are not allowed to leave the studio. Period. The instructor said we may, if we’re having trouble, sit or lie down, but you absolutely can’t leave. I flashed on Jim Jones and wondered if we weren’t allowed out, whether the paramedics would be allowed in. I’m fairly certain the no-leaving rule compromised my civil rights, but it was supposed to be good for me.

The first five minutes of the class were decent. The next eight-five minutes, not so much. Forget GITMO, Bikram Yoga is serious torture. I think I’d rather be water-boarded. About a half hour into the class the thought occurred to me that a canister of Zyclon B could have been lobbed in and I might not have complained. You know those yogis that set themselves on fire…after a few minutes of Bikram Yoga, I kind of got those guys. During a particularly sadistic posture that would have made Dick Cheney smirk, my inner-voice finally introduced itself to me. Now I like to think myself a fairly nice guy. I screw up a lot, but I at least try to do the right thing most of the time. That’s why I was so surprised when my inner-voice tuned out to be such an asshole.

Here are some excerpts from a one-way conversation between my inner-voice and my Bikram Yoga instructor.

Yoga Instructor: Bring awareness to resistance.
Inner-voice: I’m painfully aware that my body is resisting the pretzel you’re trying to bend me into.

Yoga Instructor: What we do with resistance is a great area for learning.
Inner-voice: I’d prefer math right now… and I fucking hate math.

Yoga Instructor: How we deal with the resistance in our hamstrings, chest and breath can help us better understand how we deal with resistance in the world off of our mats.
Inner-voice: Are you saying that I’m going to be happy about the plugged toilet I have to deal with when I get home?

Yoga Instructor: Close your eyes and bring awareness to your breath.
Inner-voice: I’m aware that I’m breathing. I’m also aware of how much I hate that I’m paying for this. .

Yoga Instructor: Bring your hands together at your heart and bow your head. This honors the inherent wisdom that sits at the heart.
Inner-voice: Does hoping that the dude in front of me doesn’t fart in my face count as inherent wisdom?

Yoga Instructor: In yogic philosophy the aspect of ourselves, is referred to as the Otma, the highest self.
Inner-voice: I Otma call my attorney. .

Yoga Instructor: Listen to the highest self’s intention for your time on the mat today.
Inner-voice: Okay. I’m listening. My highest intention is telling me to strangle the instructor and never come back.

Yoga Instructor: It’s kind of a cool thing to learn how to take care of yourself in this practice of yoga.
Inner-voice: Kind of cool? It’s fucking 105 degrees in here, asshole.

Believe me, I mean no disrespect to the yoga people. I think they’re probably very nice and recycle. I honestly wish Bikram Yoga worked for me…I probably need it more than most. But I have thought of continuing the practice of Yoga, moving to Vegas and have my inner-voice become the new Don Rickles. Namaste, you hockey puck.

Celebrity Rehab

I won’t lie. I love Celebrity Rehab. I won’t even categorize it as a guilty pleasure. As someone who is capable of putting celebrity gossip in appropriate perspective, Celebrity Rehab is, oddly enough, as addictive as heroin. I sometimes actually pinch myself as I’m watching it. Can this really be happening? Are celebrities actually allowing me to watch them detoxify from horrendous addictions on my flat-screen television while I eat cheese popcorn and drink soda? Apparently they are, and I’d like to thank all those that made it possible. The evolution of celebrity gossip from gossip columns in newspapers in the 40’s and 50’s, through to the ubiquitous gossip magazines of today, has culminated in a little show called Celebrity Rehab…and I’m loving it. And for those of you who might think that I’m above enjoying Celebrity Rehab, that I’m somehow sickly gratified by the exploitation of addicted celebrities…think again.

As with my show, the elephant in the room is often the tiresome question: Is it real? I think Celebrity Rehab is real. I have no way of proving it other than it’s my gut instinct. For me, the most questionable moment occurred last week when country music singer Mindy McCready had a full-blown seizure in front of grizzled rehab veteran and former teen star Mackenzie Phillips. Like me, even Mackenzie thought she was joking around. But after seeing it dozens of times – as the moment was endlessly replayed in the teases — I’m going to suspend my disbelief and give Dr. Drew and company the benefit of the doubt. With few exceptions, the show, in general, feels very real to me. And if I found out that it was scripted, or fake, I’d still watch it. I enjoy it. I like to do things I enjoy.

I guess the anonymous part of AA got lost somewhere in the mix. I’m not exactly sure what motivates a celebrity to go on Celebrity Rehab. I’m sure the reasons vary from person to person. Some, I would think, have altruistic reasons, while others, I imagine, want the publicity. But I can’t imagine how that kind of publicity would help their careers. I understand the concept of there’s no such thing as bad press, and that the Americans love of second chances, but this show seems to stretch those concepts to the limit. I might think twice about depending on Seth Binzer to show up for tour dates, or on Amber Smith getting her shit together to get to a photo shoot on time. But that’s me. I guess, in Hollywood, some “heat” comes with cold turkey.

My grandmother, who read the Enquirer religiously, and denied it, would be busting out her grave if she could to watch Celebrity Rehab. I can’t help but wonder what this show would have been like in a different era. Can you fucking imagine? Jackie Gleason drying-out: “How sweeeeet group is!” Indulge me for a moment: Celebrity Rehab in the 1960’s and 70’s with Lenny Bruce, Foster Brooks, Ed McMahon, Freddie Prinze, Mama Cass, Keith Moon, Liz Taylor and Herve Villechaiz. I’m getting a boner just thinking about it. Let’s face it, the celebrities on Celebrity Rehab aren’t exactly A list. In fact, I’ve never heard of most of them. This begs the question: How much could being a low-rent celebrity impact their addictions? I know Dr. Drew digs into their pasts to uncover traumas, but consider Joey Kovar, whose entre into Celebrity Rehab came from a stint on MTV’s The Real World Hollywood. Joey, is it possible that the end of your Real World participation could have created a void in your life that only heavy partying could fill? — Just a thought from one low-rent reality TV guy to another. I, myself, am relatively grounded. I appreciate my celebrity and realize that at any time it could take a leave of absence, or disappear entirely. So, losing my celebrity aside, the triggers I have to worry about are the Toronto Maple Leafs and my mother. Anyone know any dealers?

There have been three incarnations of Celebrity Rehab, plus a Sex Rehab version. I love them all. Here are some of the celebrity addicts and moments that keep me tuning in week after week.

- Amber. Sweet Amber. She managed to be on both Celebrity Rehab 2 AND Sex Rehab 1. I suppose this is the Celebrity Rehab equivalent to a song and dance man. To be fair, Amber is a benign sex addict…what’s called a love addict. This is not to say that love addiction is not serious. It is, and I don’t remember the Beatles singing about love addiction – could the Beatles have been love addicts? In any event, I think Amber is brave. I also wonder if Phil layed the balls to her after they were discharged.

- Jeff Conway. Whoa. It would be difficult for me to put into words how both guilty and exhilarated I feel watching him. Is he the most fucked-up celebrity of all time? Does O.J. and Farah on Letterman count? I still wonder if he really has a bad back, or if he’s just faking it to get the pills? I have to think that he’s legitimately in pain….especially if he ever looks at his current acting resume. Nonetheless, he has raised the bar for celebrity train wrecks. He makes Tara Reid look like Michelle Obabma. I want to say bravo, but acknowledge that it would be entirely inappropriate.

- Then there is Kari Ann Penische. I have publicly sworn a moratorium against making Kari Ann jokes. That said, I will say seriously, that regardless of her past, which was horrible, Kari represents to me almost everything that is wrong with North American human beings, short of criminal aberrations. In lieu of the joke moratorium I will have to move on.

- I will admit to a mild obsession with Heidi Fleiss. I find her fascinating. She has a tough, street intelligence that I admire. But I feel badly for her. First, for going to jail for being the most successful Madame in the history of the world when she could have used those skills towards a great career in American politics. Second, I feel badly that she lives alone in the desert with a bunch of parrots. (To her credit, at least she picked an animal that can maybe one day talk to her. “Polly wants a hooker.”) But I agree with Dr. Drew. She needs to start trusting people again…and hopefully not Tom Sizemore.

- I’m still reeling from Mike Starr’s reaction to meeting Tom Sizemore. It was very strange. I guess he’s not bonding well with Dennis Rodman. Understood. But his seeming instant man crush with Sizemore was both pathetic and adorable. I hope, for Mike that Tom comes back…but not for Heidi.

- Honourable mention to Gary Busey. I love that he initially acted like he was there only to help the others, but came to realize that he was actually one of the patients. He’s a strange dude. I once met him in front of the Trancas Market in Malibu. He was standing outside in the afternoon drinking a bottle of beer from a paper bag. I was pretty young. It was right after he did “The Buddy Holly Story”. He seemed very cool, and fucked up simultaneously. It was great to see him on Celebrity Rehab.

- It was also great to see Rodney King outside of the “can we all just get along” media loop. I really hope he stays sober. He seems like a good man.

- I thought that Phil Varone, from Sex Rehab, was impressive. I absolutely LOVED that he brought up the fact that unlike the others he had a happy childhood and couldn’t understand why he ended up a sex addict. I hate preconceived notions, and his honesty in that regard, was fascinating to me. He also just seemed like a good guy. But he might want to get out of rock music and join a blues band. It will decrease the temptation unless he likes having sex with drunken men.

Did I mention that I enjoy Celebrity Rehab? So much so, that my producer hat is often percolating with spinoffs to the franchise. Dr. Drew, I would like to pitch you some ideas:

Celebrity Relapse

Celebrity Munchausen Biproxy

Celebrity Steroids (think Danny Bonaduce and Major League Baseball).

Celebrity Manic Depression (think Sarah Palin)

Celebrity Irritable Bowel Syndrome

I’m available for pitch meetings.

I hope that this blog isn’t seen as making fun of celebrity addicts. An addict is an addict, regardless of their career, or status in life. I’ve known and have lost a few friends to this disease. Ultimately, all kidding aside, whether Celebrity Rehab is real, or fake, or somewhere in between, I think the show is important. Like with “Intervention”, I believe that only positive things can happen from seeing addiction up close. It would be easy for me slam Celebrity Rehab, but that would be dishonest. I like the show, and I think if people are more apt to watch celebrities, then so be it. In the end, for me, Celebrity Rehab is about honesty, inspiration, humanity, courage and education. If that’s trash TV, then I’m all for it.

Chat Rooms

If Al Gore only knew the assholes he was creating by inventing the Internet, he might have been better off just sticking with global warming.  I recently received an email from a chat room moderator.  Perhaps I’m naïve, but its content surprised me.  Of course, it’s not nearly as disturbing as Haiti charity scams and Internet sexual predators, but I thought some of you might find it interesting.  

 

Hi there
I’m writing to comment on the new Spenny website that I just found out about the other day.

I think it’s great! It’s laid out very well. Loads of great reliable information, and it looks awesome. Whoever did the graphics and artwork did a spectacular job.
There have been so many fake Spencer Rice sites and bogus fan pages over the past year or two that it was impossible to get any valid information about “Spenny” unless you watched a television interview or read a news paper/magazine article.

I’m a chat moderator on a KvS chat room called KVSO. The number of impersonators that we get in the chat room is, honestly, sad. I’m not sure why people like to join the chat and pretend to be either Kenny or Spenny by making a bogus account, Googling a pic of either person for their avatar, and then searching Google for answers to questions that people ask them. I guess to look at it in a positive way is to believe that those people love the show so much that they actually want to be the people on it. Three days ago we had a person join pretending to be Spenny and he started answering questions and people really thought it was Spenny. Being a chat moderator, I can see the IP address of the computer that they were chatting from. This person then said they have to go for a while but will be right back to “answer more questions”. That person then logged back into the chat using a completely different name, and began flaming the chat room with hate speech and racism. I could tell it was the same person from the IP address of the computer they were using. It was really sad. When you have fans that enjoy you so much that they want to be you, I don’t know if that’s a good thing, or a bad thing. So a new source of valid information is greatly appreciated.

One thing I would really love to see on the “spennyinc.com” page is a “Guest Book” where people could leave comments or just say they visited the site. Or maybe a Forum where people could join in on some discussions.

Feel free to drop by the KVSO chat anytime. http://kvso.net/
If you do decide to join in the chat, I suggest you contact the webmaster Tianbo at web@kvso.net beforehand so he can get you setup with an account. The most active time to join the KVSO chat is on Fridays when the new episodes come out.

Matt Labrador
AKA – CanuckBoy
Nova Scotia,
Canada

 

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Sometimes maybe, but I’m not sure it applies to this malignant breed of the get-a-fucking-life set.  I knew that there were people impersonating me (and Kenny) but reading about the mechanics of these schizophrenic weasels is creepy.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not upset. There are plenty of things to be upset about in this world.  This is just pathetic. Nothing more. Nothing less.  I just wanted those that are interested to understand this ugly aspect of chat room culture, so they can take it at face value.  I have no idea what these vermin say in my name. Maybe some of the fake Spennies are decent and more entertaining than me — if so, I could use some time off.  Or, maybe it’s some sort of Munchausen disorder where they like to fan the flames of hatred only to sign in under another name and heroically extinguish it pretending to be me.  Or, maybe their like arsonists, who show up at the scene of the fires they created.   I don’t know. 

 

But what I do know is that there are some friends of Kenny’s that have nothing better to do than to sit at their computers trying to agitate the world through the anonymous loopholes of the Internet.  I know the pathology, and it’s truly pathetic.  Whether you like me, or think I’m a loser, I appreciate the vast majority of the fans. But the kind of idiots that are described in the above email are the true losers, and the really sad thing is that this blog will probably only encourage them.  Thanks a lot, Al.

I Got Mono

Is it possible to blog about the complexities and issues surrounding monogamy without readers making the incorrect assumption that I’m against it? Probably not. Defending Bernie Madoff would be easier…but what the hell. I believe that Western Culture has not been truthful about monogamy. With few exceptions, realistic discussions around monogamy are non-existent, or at best, very rare. It’s a touchy subject that pushes a lot of personal and cultural buttons…and with good reason. As someone who once lost my ATM card twice in one day, I don’t expect to offer a solution to what I see as a complex cultural dilemma. My goal here is to spark dialogue with the hopes that the romantic, ideal view of monogamy can be improved upon. We have successfully dealt with other forms of slavery…why not monogamy? Or maybe, our often hypocritical attitudes toward monogamy should be treated like the proverbial sausage factory…best we don’t delve too deep.

Without getting specific, monogamy and my family history is like Kari Ann Peniche and the human race…they don’t mix well. Serial cheating was a way of life in my family. Infidelity was worn proudly as a badge of dishonor and certain members of my family made Tiger Woods look like a Eunuch. I instinctively knew it was wrong, but I love my family and refuse to judge them harshly. Sure they were monogamy-challenged, but I felt loved…admittedly some of the ex-wives were not as understanding. In fact, growing up in that environment led me on an internal culture clash that I’m still trying to rectify to this day. I remember the first time I heard Dr. Laura, a conservative talk radio with a Fascist-like penchant for moral boundaries. Given my upbringing, Dr. Laura offered a fresh perspective. Most of my friends at that time couldn’t believe I listened to Dr. Laura, never mind found her views interesting. One of my cousins, in a radio version of book-burning, actually told me I was not allowed to listen to her. But being a reverse-rebel, I did listen, and it took years of therapy culminating in the too-obvious-for-me-to-see insight that there was a huge gulf between the ideal, Dr. Laura-loving me and the actual me. A similar dynamic has occurred in my relationship to monogamy. Towing the culture’s orthodox line seems untenable. It’s not that I’m against monogamy, it’s just that with the divorce rate hovering over 50%, and who knows how many couples are living in abject misery because they’re afraid to leave the security and comfort of their relationships, it seems to me reexamining monogamy might be a worthwhile pursuit. The statistics are bleak and temptation is everywhere. I have to think of my Grandmother when I pass an American Apparel billboard on the street to keep from getting a public boner. By pressing a certain sequence of buttons on my computer I can access content on the Internet that would make Caligula uncomfortable. And thanks to exercise, improved diets and unhealthy consumerism, women are more beautiful than ever. Sexual cheating is rampant…and they don’t call it cheating because it’s honest. Even some top level religious leaders, whose job it would seem is to at least publicly control their baser instincts, get caught with their private parts in the nookie jar. Dishonesty has, and probably always has been, entrenched in our sexual escapades. It’s a fucking disaster. If society is going to evolve to a healthier place, monogamy needs a makeover…and badly.

First we need to define our terms. Much information about monogamy is anecdotal. Some feel that lifelong sexual monogamy is unnatural and unrealistic. Others feel that sexual monogamy facilitates intimate and lasting relationships. Confused? Not surprisingly, I am. There are presently four kinds of monogamy; social, sexual, genetic and marital. For clarity, I’m only talking about sexual monogamy…but even that needs to be defined. People can be monogamous outside the institution of marriage. Homosexuals can be monogamous. Some parasitic worms are monogamous. Easy access to divorce has given rise to serial monogamy. Apparently, one can have as many consecutive monogamous relationships as possible and technically call themselves monogamous…a monogamy loophole, if you will. But, what about plain old, old-school monogamy, where one has to have sex with the same person for most of their life? Isn’t that the monogamy that our culture promotes through religion, sappy poetry, New Agedness and romantic comedies? Dennis Prager, one of the more reasonable conservative loud-mouths, argues that chronic sexual infidelity a.k.a screwing anything that moves is not desirable because one can never feel satisfied…you’ll always want more. I believe the Rolling Stones had a hit song about this dynamic. Though not as sexy as Mick Jagger, maybe Prager is right, and for that reason alone, thinking rationally about monogamy could be a good idea. If so, is old school monogamy essentially dead? My guess is that people talk the old-school monogamy talk, but probably don’t walk the old school monogamy walk…or at least have unresolved issues walking the walk. Now I’m not completely out of touch. I know about the 14 year old blow-job parties (which sadly became popular after I graduated), and I’ve seen many movies that deal with infidelity, but when I’m out in the real world, I still mostly see the old school monogamy ethos rearing its ideal head. I get it. But (pardon the pun) here’s the rub: Sex feels good. With few exceptions, even bad sex feels good. Sex with someone new is exciting…can we at least agree on that? If you can’t agree with that, please stop reading and immediately seek therapy.

Much of what we know about monogamy and infidelity comes from what are called convenient samples such as volunteer college students and magazine readers. After witnessing a few Spring Breaks and seeing the kind of magazines people are reading these days, forgive me if I’m a tad skeptical about the results of these “studies”. Nonetheless, here are some “facts” that are probably short of the truth: 12 to 26% of women have extramarital sex, while 15 to 43% of men have extramarital sex. The majority of married people remain monogamous during their marriage, and generally women are more sexually monogamous than men. What does this tell you? Even if you take these studies at face value, there’s a tremendous amount of extracurricular sucking and fucking going on. Is that okay?

There are, of course, many alternatives to monogamy…but none have become accepted by the mainstream. There are swingers, prostitutes, polygamists, open relationships and the pragmatic wink and nod system of infidelity, which I understand is very big in Europe. I often envy these sexual hipsters, who have managed to merge sexual variation with honesty. (I believe this is what everyone secretly wants, but few have the balls/labia to live the wet dream.) That said, let’s not forget the seemingly successful monogamists; couples like Ron and Nancy Reagan and Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly. I believe on faith that extraordinary monogamous relationships can exist. But, unfortunately, if they exist, they’re very rare, and we shouldn’t create cultural norms around infinitesimal minorities because it creates unreal expectations, couple self-esteem issues and Harlequin romance. But there must be a compromise. Does it have to be a choice between Hefner and Dr. Phil? I believe there is still hope for the sexual monogamist…but hope can only exist with honest dialogue.

Men are pigs. Women are too…just not nearly as many. I can hear some women seething…can you hear seething? In any event, of course, there are women that are as horny, or hornier, than men. They scare me…especially after the third or fourth date. But, again, in a general sense, men are hornier. We are visually stimulated, yearn for multiple partners and are capable, and often prefer, sex without intimacy. Men are programmed to want to spread the seed. I’ve been told it’s in our evolutionary code. And it seems this need exists regardless of the culture’s preference for monogamy. So, either the beast must somehow be tamed, or I’m investing my cash in Hedonism Resorts. And therein lies, or more appropriately lays, our conundrum; the culture says monogamy is good, while some brave, honest men and women say monogamy is not good, or at least very frustrating and boring.

So, here are some unsolicited tips for couples, who, like me, want to be in a monogamous, long term relationships.

1. Blind yourself. (Please consult your physician.)

2. Learn how to sexual role-play without giggling.

3. If sex is getting boring as the years go by, consider having less sex. If sex is getting better as the years go by, stop lying.

4. Improve your imagination skills so you can visualize having sex with someone else, while you have sex with your monogamous lover. (Depending on your lover’s relative security, you may not want to tell them that you’re imagining having sex with Angelina Jolie or George Clooney.) No matter what the thought police people say, imagining you’re with someone else is not cheating.

5. If you ever feel like cheating, consider how it would hurt your partner’s feelings. If that doesn’t work, remember John Bobbitt and rent Fatal Attraction.

6. Try to not to let yourself go. Monogamy is hard enough without your partner turning into Katherine Turner or Elvis.

7. Don’t take steroids.

8. Consider signing a contract that stipulates if you get caught cheating your partner will get all your money. Apparently it’s been working well for Michael Douglas.

9. Practice self-control and pray for a pill called Monongamex.

10. Always masturbate. You don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

11. Try to delude yourself into thinking you’re somehow better than people who screw around.

12. If you find yourself bored and not attracted to your monogamous lover anymore, openly and sensitively communicate that fact. (Remember to wear protective gear.)

13. If sex is bad, seek sexual therapy. If sexual therapy doesn’t work, buy lots of ice and bubble wrap.

14. Try and get progressively kinkier with your monogamous lover, but time it so you don’t get too disgustingly kinky before you get too old to have sex. In other words, try to end your monogamous sex life before you turn your lover into a toilet.

15. Have tons of experimental sex before you get into your monogamous relationship. So, if you end up in a sexually dead monogamous relationship, at least you’ll have good memories.

16. Make sure you include intimacy in your monogamous sex life, but always be open sex toys, rubber gloves and heavy industrial machinery.

Well, there it is. I never promised any answers. My only hope is that monogamous couples and the culture will be honest about the challenges they face. Or, alternatively, we can continue down the path of lies and deceit, which might be the only realistic way to proceed at this point.

The Show Business Whisperer

Over the years many people have asked me for help on how to break into show business. I’ve even been invited to schools to answer student questions. I find it odd that people would ask me because my career path has been so unconventional. I’m not really an actor. I’ve never auditioned for anything except a commercial for a toothbrush where I was supposed to be a decaying tooth with a gruff New York accent…I didn’t get the part. I could suggest finding success in show business by exploiting the relationship with your sadistic, narcissistic best friend, and be willing to put really gross stuff in your mouth, but that would be glib and unhelpful.

So, before I continue, I must preface this blog with an important point: There is no one way to succeed in show business! How else could you explain Kari Anne Peniche. So, here is a summary of the sincere advice I’ve given to people over the years.

The first thing I ask someone who wants advice is simple: What do you want to do? It’s amazing how many people don’t know. They often have vague notions of wanting to be in the business, but that’s about it. Knowing what you want can give you a focused in-point to break into the business. There are many, many jobs under the umbrella of show business: acting, hosting, writing, directing, editing, producing, Network executives, sound recording, camera directing (and operating), production designing, hair, makeup, agents, managers, casting, distribution, publicity, special effects, set-building, publicity, stunt-work, craft service, grips, gaffers, sound, animal wrangling, transport, lawyers, etc… My father once said that TV shows and movies couldn’t possibly need all those names you see on the end credits. I believed him until I got in the business. Making a movie or a TV show is truly collaborative. There are a ton of potential jobs. So, it’s good to know what you want, but knowing what you want isn’t a prison sentence. You can always change courses. I initially wanted to be a comedy writer, but being an on-camera jack ass man-child is what naturally evolved. And it didn’t come quickly. Just because you know what you want doesn’t mean you start out there.

Film school can be great because you get to make something. You also get the added pleasure of watching deliciously bad student productions. There’s nothing like watching a train-wreck student film. My favorites were the ubiquitous depictions of teen angst suicide and wonderfully botched attempts at making experimental art films. I made some God awful stuff in film school. One of my most disastrous student films was inspired by the Hare Krishna religion (no joke.) It starred my pal Bobby (he’s the guy whose pubic hair I ate and whose nipple I suckled for KVS humiliations) playing the King of Junk Food, who destroyed the planet with his bad gas. But you don’t have to go to film school to be successful. I’m a big believer in self-educating. Watching, reading, asking, volunteering and practicing are always good things you can do outside of film school. I volunteered at City TV cuing video tapes for Much Music. It was a good way to see things from the inside. It was also a good way to see all the pretty girls who worked there…for that alone, Moses deserves his genius status. If you want to make it you need to be hungry…and a little luck never hurt. You can’t be a dilettante. You have to be serious. Always be a student of your art, and don’t be too hip for the business part. Even someone like Paris Hilton works very hard to be Paris Hilton. Don’t let her image fool you. Being Paris Hilton is a full time job…and I respect that. But if you want to get paid and learn at the same time, a great place to start is as a production assistant (aka PA). That’s how I started when I graduated film school. I wanted to direct and write, but the real world put me where I probably belonged…at the bottom, getting coffee, picking up equipment, dropping off mail, driving producers, execs and talent, as well as doing both business and personal errands for the people I worked with. You’re first in, last out, and depending on who you work for, it can feel like a thankless job. Initially I was upset about being a PA, but soon realized that it was the best way to learn the business and develop relationships, which would hopefully pay-off later. In fact, I used to deliver mail to an executive who later became one of KVS’s executive producers. I didn’t make a lot of money as a PA, but I learned how production offices and sets are run. And most importantly one day I got to drive Nev Campbell home after an audition. Wow, was she ever cute. I get it, Cusack. I get it.

Much of the advice I give for show business success, for me, is common sense. You want to be a writer, write and read. And don’t just read the work of artists you admire, read their biographies and learn about how they approached the business. Both are important. There are lots of people who will give you advice. But unlike me, most will charge you for the privilege. There are countless how-to show business books out there. And for God sakes, and this is important, if you’re creative, always make something. It doesn’t have to be good. Making bad stuff is part of learning. Years ago Kenny and I shot a video with Bobby – he was our Devine. Back then, long before we ever were on TV, it was just the three of us running around Toronto shooting what was to become a feature length mock documentary titled “The Last Days of Toronto”. There was no pressure. Nothing was at stake. It was just fun. In retrospect, those early attempts at filmmaking gave me some of the best laughs and memories of my creative life. Somehow, no matter what, you have to make something. I was lucky because Kenny had old school video decks and he could shoot and edit. We used home video cameras and borrowed school equipment whenever we could. We asked friends and family for money…whatever it took. It was never a matter of if, it was always a matter of how. If you’re not serious or creative enough to figure out a way to make something independently, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing it…a little tough love there.

Selling is important to any business. You have to keep the shelves stacked, so to speak. Once you have something to sell, like a pitch for a show, or a script, you have to know who you’re selling it to…in other words, know the market. Learn what the Networks are buying. How? Read the trades, watch TV and watch movies. This may seem obvious, but most people that ask me for advice get a blank look when I ask them which Network would buy their idea. And know who you’re pitching. You don’t sell “Kenny Vs Spenny” to Disney. You don’t sell a movie-of-the-week called “Kathy Lee Gifford Story” to Spike. If you need an agent to get your work seen, get an agent. If you don’t know how to get an agent, ask someone who has an agent. If you can’t get an agent, keep trying, but never stop working. The more you work, the better you get. This ain’t rocket science, but it also ain’t easy. William Goldman famously wrote that no one knows what will sell. I believe it. Star Wars was rejected around Hollywood for years before it became a religion. Selling, unfortunately, is everything. Without it, how will people see your work?

Most of the advice-seekers who ask me for help are creative types; either they have a screenplay, or a vague idea for a television show, or movie. I always wonder what their motive is; money, fame, or a deep passion to tell a story? The first two are weak reasons to get into the creative side of show business. If you want to make money, become a producer…it will be a little easier. And that’s not put-down. Producers are very important. If it’s only fame that you’re after – and only you can judge that about yourself – my guess is that things probably won’t work out. The Internet and cable have made it easier for people to become famous. If fame is your goal, do something crazy and put it on Youtube…you might get lucky. But if you want a sustainable, long lasting career in show business, fame shouldn’t be your incentive…it should be about the work.

I see show business like any other business; the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. Like other businesses, it’s very competitive. Like other businesses, networking is important. Like other businesses, there’s no guarantee it will work out. There might literally be no business in show business. The main difference with most other businesses is the visibility if successful, and the myth that it somehow comes easy because you’re blessed with some elusive, magical talent. I’m not a big believer in talent. I realize it exists, but thank god the talented/gifted are not the only people who make it. Pavarotti and Shakespeare are talented, but sometimes I’d rather watch wrestling. (As an aside regarding talent; one thing I’ve consistently noticed is that so many of the creative innovators invariably had a parent, relative or sibling that exposed them to what eventually became their talent at a young age. It makes sense. If I was four years old and saw my Dad playing guitar a lot, it would, I think, to a certain extent, make the guitar less intimidating. That combined with a fierce work ethic, in my view, is what creates outstanding creativity. Sorry God.) I suppose you need some talent, but so much of the business is hard work, dedication and perseverance. I know many talented people who will never be successful in a business sense. The two are not mutually exclusive. And who you know can help too. I’ve had the benefit of knowing some great show business minds that have helped me get where I am. I admit that sometimes I’m not sure whether I should be grateful to them, or key their cars.

Passion is very important. Quick story. When I was in film school I took a course in documentary film. One day the Professor shows us Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will”. Before he screened the film he told us that the first sequence, where Hitler flies into Nuremberg, wasn’t directed by Riefenstahl. Nazi promoting aside, it’s an amazing sequence. Hitler is arriving in Nuremberg in a plane. The shadow of the plane washes over the throngs of Nazi admirers, giving the impression that Hitler was a God dropping down from Heaven. It’s high art propaganda at its best. Anyway, we watched the long movie and afterwards I realized that I had left something back in the class room. I walked back to the room and found the Professor, alone. He had re-threaded the first reel and was watching the opening sequence again. I’ll never forget it. This man was passionate about what he did. Without real passion for what you do, stay home. Creativity, in my view, should be a compulsion. Even when I worked landscaping, or telemarketing jobs, I was always doing something creative in my spare time. If, or when, my career dies, or dips off, I know that whatever else I do, I will also be playing guitar or writing that novel that I’ve never been able to write. If you want to actually see the passion I’m talking about, watch the documentary “Anvil: The Anvil Story.” I’m not much for heavy metal, but these guys have passion.

Hunter Thompson once famously said that “show business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.” There’s some controversy about what exactly Thompson was referring to, but if it was show business in the U.S., I think it’s a reasonable assessment. Thankfully, in Canada, it isn’t that harsh. One thing for sure, show business on any side of the border is not for the faint of heart. It seems like not a day goes by where someone doesn’t write something nasty about me. My favorite recent comment had someone calling me a “fucktard”. Years ago that kind of attack bothered me. These days I find it funny. Regardless, it helps to have a well-formed ego and thick skin. My advice might be obvious to some. I’m just trying to address questions that I get a lot. I certainly don’t have any magic answers. These are some of the things I’ve learned through the course of my career. But what do I know…I’m just a fucktard.

Tyranny of the Best and the Worst Lists

It’s the time of year when all forms of media come out with their best and worst lists.  Cursory research reveals such lists include almost everything; fashion, art, real estate…even sports uniforms. (Okay the Denver Broncos 50th Anniversary throwback socks are so bad that being on a worst list can safely be called an objective fact).  Sometimes the lists can be very confusing.  For example, Bernie Madoff was on a list of the worst money managers of 2009, but also was on a best list for Ponzi schemers. TV shows are also endlessly ranked. Kenny Vs Spenny is always on some best lists and some worst lists.  I honestly don’t know who to believe? I actually saw a list on the Internet for the best climate change — I don’t even know what that means.   The lists are endless and often collapse into themselves.  There’s a best car list, best chasse list, best navigation system list, best tire list, best mileage list, etc…. Can you be on the best car list and on the worst chasse list simultaneously?  (Seriously, I’m way too young to be sounding this much like Andy Rooney…I can feel my eyebrows bushy-ing)   I’m sure if I look hard enough I could find a list of best holocausts and a list of worst miracles.  I’d also like to see the worst, best list and the best, worst list and the best, best list and the worst, worst list…I think that covers everything.  Now I’m not completely lame. I understand the fun of ranking things.  It’s an interesting and gay way of reviewing the year with a qualitative spin.  It’s not that I’m anti-lists per say, but it does get to be a bit much if people actually take the lists seriously. 

 

The obvious issue is that most lists are subjective; the worst dressed, the best restaurants, the best underarm rashes, etc… But, beyond the subjective issue, our obsession with lists, to me, makes life less fun.  Why?  If the “experts” in the media say that some such movie or restaurant is the best, then less people might check out other restaurants and movies that they might like better.  I fear that it’s a form of limiting choices. How many #1 blockbuster movies have I been sucked into only to leave saying, “fuck, the bastards burned me again!” And I still don’t understand the cocksucking Matrix!!!! Lists, to me, are essentially hype…and it’s a sophisticated hype.  I think media sophistication should be taught in public schools, and not just in some colleges and universities.  I meet people who don’t get that there’s bias of media. Some don’t even get that MSNBC leans left of Ed Begley Jr., or that FOX News leans right of Attila the Hun.  (I realize that most people who would actually read this ADD-laden blog of mine understand this stuff, which makes me wonder why I’m wasting my time writing it.) In any event, there’s no way around it; listing the best and worst is a tradition.  And a special shout-out to the Entertainment Tonight/Access Hollywood-like shows whose grotesque obsession with what’s hot and what’s not nauseates me to no end.  I usually can enjoy watching TV I despise, but those shows make me depressed.  Their slickness and high production value entice us into a mind-numbing submission.  Now I’m all into watching drivel on TV.  Jesus Christ, look at my show.  But these shows are pure evil. I’ve met Ben Mulroney on a few occasions and he’s a really cool guy. Ben, I beg you…stop the cheesy, entertainment magazine host thing.  You’re better than that.  You’re destroying your acting and political future by participating in super-superficial television that actually destroys the human soul.  Do you want to end up like Pat O’Brien, hiding at parties talking dirty into a cell phones?  Actually that doesn’t sound too bad. I’m praying for you, Ben.

 

Art, more than anything, except maybe spirituality, is something that shouldn’t be rated on a list.  For example, “Two and Half Men” consistently rates number one among sitcoms on US Networks, but personally I’d rather watch Judge Judy remind me why I don’t date Jewish women.  But that’s me.  So, the most popular sitcom is actually, for me, the worst sitcom.  My occupation (if you can seriously call it that) depends on ratings.  In fact, my ability to negotiate financially depends on ratings.  The problem with the ratings (Nielson ratings) is that I think they’ve become irrelevant because of DVR’s, DVD’s  and the Internet.  (I haven’t done any serious research on this, so I apologize to the Nielsons if I’m wrong and you’re actually relevant.)   That said, I fear my earning power may be based on a false system.  How come I don’t know one single person with a Neilson box?  Is it a secret society like the Free Masons?  Do you have to have the last name Nielson?  I’m not comfortable with any of it.  I walk around the city and I know more people watch KVS than what the ratings say, which thank God are good.  But, I’m almost certain they didn’t count my Uncle Julie, who watched the show last Friday to see what an ass his nephew is making of himself on television.  Here’s a worst list for you:  The Worst TV Rating system: Nielson.

 

Sometimes lists make perfect sense.  There’s no point to sports if there’s no scores or standings.  And, of course, we need beauty pageants; where would we be without national representatives who look good in bathing suits? And, unfortunately, we need to rank our political leaders — that’s called democracy, and until I see something better than elections to choose our leaders, I’m okay with it.   Even though, in my opinion, the electorate’s choices can be totally renarded (that’s not a typo…it’s a nicer way of saying totally fucking retarded!!!) But who doesn’t agree with the majority?   Personally, I always liked the idea of a benevolent despot.  I think if Dr. Drew grew a pair and kicked -out Kari Ann, he’d make a good benevolent despot.  We also, unfortunately again, need winners and losers in the justice system.  There has to be consequences….though not always just ones.

 

Orson Wells made a wonderfully bizarre documentary called “F for Fake”.  It’s great.  There’s a lot going on in it, but I love the part about experts in the art world.   Who decides what painting should hang where and be worth what? And who makes that person worthy of such an honor?  The truth is that experts don’t really matter…we make them important by listening to them.  Experts are essentially useless, except of course for MacLean’s Magazine which rated Kenny Vs Spenny one of the top ten Canadian shows of the decade!!!

Retro Email

(I wrote this to my close friend in 2002, while I was living in Venice, California.  It was written just before we shot the Kenny Vs Spenny pilot for USA Network.)

Paddy,
Well, I think the honeymoon is finally wearing off as far as LA is concerned.  I’m bored.  It’s lonely.  I think that’s why it’s easy to get laid here. People will fuck anything if they’re lonely enough.  Well, maybe if we get a series the next level of show biz pretension will make me shallow enough to sleep better.  I must say that it’s especially depressing researching Chomsky for that character in my screenplay while living in LA trying to make it show business.  It’s like reading Bukowski if you’re in AA.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy here.  It’s just that the longer I stay, the more people I meet whose hearts and dreams are teetering on implosion; reminding me that there for the grace of God go I, and God ain’t that graceful in Tinseltown.  Even tonight, a Dutch girl named Katya came over.  She’s attractive, with an accent, but in Darwinian LA terms, she’s past her prime.  She wants to be an actress.  She’s been here three years (illegally) and just finished a how-to-make-it-in-Hollywood course at USC.  Next week she says she’s going to make 200 phone calls, trying to get meetings.  I wanted to cry for her.  Katya recited some of her poetry for me.  It was good, but that somehow only makes it worse.  She’s just too pure for this place.  Or another guy, Bob, a brilliant comic — three years ago he appeared on the Future Comedy Stars episode of Oprah, and nowadays is doing stand-up for free at a pub in Santa Monica with novices like me.  Or Fern, still hosting at a restaurant, all but given up on her acting dream…and she’s good.  Underneath the beauty of the beach, the mountains, the sun, the women…this town is ugly.  Suck em up and spew em out.  LA’s like heroin.  It’s the best thing in the world until you realize you need it to get out of bed in the morning. Living in Venice has been disturbing.  Tension.  Mistrust. The police are everywhere. The other night I was drunk on my bicycle with no lights and a quarter ounce of weed in my sweat pants.  I got pulled over.  I was so petrified that I nervously farted as I was being frisked.  It stunk bad. The cop screamed, “Did you shit your pants, son?” I told him I did and apologized like a good Canadian.  Luckily, he didn’t find the weed.    Imagine if I got caught and deported.  It might have been the defining moment of my adult life.  The cops are everywhere in Venice  Even if I’m standing outside my place, they’ll stop and check me out.  I can only imagine what the blacks go through.  I’m getting so paranoid.  And I’m starting to dream about the kinds of things that Kenny will do to sabotage me in the pilot.   Kenny thinks there are no rules, which is a definite disadvantage for me.  There’s a gag order on us talking to each other about what we’re going to do in the pilot. I only hear the stuff they won’t let him do. Apparently, he wanted to somehow give me cholera. Nice. It’s the final countdown and I want to go on record that I will try with every ounce of my tension-soakedf body to win.  The loser has to go to movie line-up and give away the ending of the movie.  I really don’t want to have to do that.  I could get shot. I suggested that the loser should stand on a chair with a boom box and rap without stopping for an hour.  USA Network preferred the movie line stunt without any justification.  Welcome to the wonderful world of dealing with US executives.  My latest battle with Abby is over the length of my hair.  She wants me to cut it short before we go to camera because she says I look younger.  I’ve been growing it out, and prefer it longer.  When I told her I refused to cut it short she said — like the mother I never had — “I’m going to put my foot down and call the Network over this.”  (I say the mother I never had only because my mother never put her foot down… in recent years, literally!) Beyond my hair, I’m also concerned about my face ballooning from salt intake as I eat my way through the competition.  I’m worried that in my television debut that my face will be retaining more water than the Hoover Dam.  One day I’ll look back at all of this and laugh…or cry. Too late.

Tiger

A tiger penis might be an aphrodisiac for some idiots, but for Tiger Woods it’s a whole heap of trouble.

I have two main sports heroes: Wayne Gretzky and Tiger Woods. Like Nike, I will be sticking by Tiger through this difficult time. He is, to me, an athlete…an incredible athlete. The fact that he happens to also be a role model is a separate issue. I look to Tiger for stellar golf, not monogamy. It’s not like he’s Jimmy Swaggart or Jim Baker. Those hypocritical, prosthelytizing cry babies truly deserved their fate. I never saw Tiger in a pulpit. I know that Tiger has said in interviews that since he got married his family is his first priority, but to my knowledge he never pushed that ethos on anyone else.

I, of course, don’t condone his behavior, but his public humiliation is severe…and I’m no stranger to humiliation. Dealing with this kind of thing privately is hard enough. Dealing with it on the world stage has to be brutal. CNN has been having Tiger penis panels lately. I wonder how many of those judgmental pundits have cheated themselves, but just never got caught. Deserved, or not, it’s a horrendous pile-on. I know that some women will disagree with any sympathy towards Tiger, and would like to tee-up one of his testicles. I understand. Not even Mark Geragos could justify the scope Tiger’s philandering. Unlike his low golf scores, his cheating score is high. But my sympathy is only partially gender biased. I try very hard in life not to be judgmental. I simply feel for sorry for him. I also feel sorry for his wife, though for me, models are generally not sympathetic.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about tabloid journalism on my blog. I still believe that if you’re famous and get caught you’re going to have to pay the piper. It’s the chance you take being a superstar in the age of instant communication and ubiquitous meanness. I wonder how many pro golfers, who must be jealous of Tiger, or even downright hate him for his dominance, are reacting. Some probably secretly love it, while others are keeping quiet hoping their mistresses don’t jump on the dirty-laundry-for-cash-bandwagon. My hope is that most of his peers want him to somehow work through this and get back on the golf course, so that they (and we) can legitimately know who the greatest golfer is. I hope his departure from golf is short…and I’m sure so does the PGA. Without him, golf is in trouble. I love golf. I have argued on many occasions that pro golfers are incredible athletes, and that golf is the most difficult game to play consistently at a professional level. I suck at golf. If I play 18 holes and get two pars, I’m ecstatic. Tiger’s accomplishments in the game are super-human. As much I love Jack, I think Tiger will eventually obliterate his incredible records. It will be interesting to see how this debacle affects Tiger’s performance. My gut tells me that he’ll get through it, just like he gets through so many of the hurdles that the greatest golf courses in the world throw at him. I believe his tremendous discipline and focus will win out. Right or wrong, I’m rooting for him.

I admit that the ever-growing list of women who Tiger allegedly tapped is troubling. The sheer volume is intimidating. Tiger is making Mick Jagger look like a eunuch. Depending on how Tiger treated these women, it’s hard not to judge them…but I’ll try. We have to assume they all knew he was married. So, one cashed in and the others, like greedy lemmings, went public too. This deserves condemnation. It’s a sad world when you can’t trust star-fucking skanks. I suppose karma believers feel vindicated over this story.

I’m a person who believes in forgiveness and second chances. I also feel that monogamy in our culture is problematic. It’s the big horny gorilla in the room that no one wants to talk about. It’s not that I’m against monogamy; I think it’s the ideal, but one can’t avoid the statistics. So far I’ve only heard one pundit with regard to Tiger mention the monogamy issue in any complex, intelligent way. Perhaps the scope of his transgressions makes it impossible to spring board into discussing the issues surrounding monogamy in any meaningful way. I have no answers, and I’m certainly not endorsing open relationships, but I think there needs to be frank discussions about monogamy like there is with drugs, STD’s and Lindsay Lohan’s pubic hair.

We all know that Tiger is not the first man to cheat on his wife multiple times. He just got caught. Making it worse, golf is a gentleman’s game and he is the most famous athlete on the planet. If it seems like I have minimal condemnation for Tiger, I guess that’s true. If he was a murderer, a rapist, or Tonya Harding, that would be different. So far, to my knowledge, Tiger has done none of those things. I don’t love Tiger for how he conducts his life off the golf course…I love him for how he hits little white balls into slightly larger holes, on grass, outside.

Asperger Syndrome

Someone on Facebook thinks I may have Asperger Syndrome.  I’ve never been diagnosed with anything over a social networking website, never mind a developmental disorder.  I’ve been called nasty names, but this is different.  I think the Facebook “friend” was genuinely concerned about me.   I know I have some issues, so I checked Wikipedia (where else) to see if there was anything to the diagnosis.

Asperger Syndrome is either a syndrome or a disorder – they haven’t decided.  I hope syndrome wins-out.  I’d rather people thought I had a syndrome  than a disorder.   It sounds nicer.  (Holy shit. I’m turning into Andy Rooney.)

Asperger’s is found within the spectrum of autism — autism light, if you will.    I have an autistic cousin, so that might be meaningful.  Yikes.  Apparently Asperger is characterized by abnormalities of social interaction and communication that pervade the individuals functioning, and by repetitive interests and behavior. Jesus Christ! My picture could be beside that description. I think I have to go lay own.

Okay. I’m not panicking yet.  I was once diagnosed with genital herpes, but it turned out to be a flea bite I scratched so hard that it scabbed-up.  My hope is that not all psychological diagnoses’ on Facebook are correct.   Thank God it wasn’t on MySpace.

I’ll admit that some of my social interactions are not normal.   Sometimes I hide under tables to avoid social interaction.  Since I’ve become a celebrity I often walk down the street pretending to be on an important phone call to avoid social interactions.  I also have trouble communicating sometimes…especially if that communication requires any form of conflict.  I’m someone that gets into an argument and all my best points come to me the next day when the argument is long over.   That might not be a communication issue, but it bugs the shit out of me.  And then there are the repetitive interests and behaviors.  I think I need to go lay down again.   I have a few of those to say the least.  If masturbation counts I might as well check myself into a clinic right now.  I believe I masturbate a healthy amount…okay, a very healthy amount.   I also have a few ticks, and stay up late watching infomercials I’ve seen dozens of times.

Good news! It turns out that a lot people with AS are really good in math.  I’m terrible at math.  I hate math.  I always failed math in school.  I think I’ve been misdiagnosed.    And I just checked my Facebook account and somebody called me a “loser fuckwad.”  Phew. Things are finally back to normal.

FACEBOOK

Recently it was decided by my manager that after years of cyber-hiding I should have a web presence, which includes this website, Facebook and Twitter. It was, he felt, a smart business decision. Since I haven’t made a good business decision since the mid-nineties, I reluctantly agreed. This first go-round on Facebook lasted about 3 days before I closed my account…I have since reluctantly re-opened it. I feel that I owe an explanation to the approximately 300 people who in that short period became “friends”. My initial stint had me make the acquaintance of a stalker, an ex-girlfriend, some Spenny-haters, some fans and a woman I never heard of who claimed we had a relationship. Had I known this would happen, I would have purchased a case of Stoli. I have a feeling that being on television makes the Facebook experience a tad more intense. Perhaps I should have thought it through a little, but through-thinking has never been one of my strong points. I’m an emotional basket case, who likes to cuddle. Participating in KVS has put me in some bizarre situations both on and off screen. My least favorite off screen incident was at a Nickelback CD release party earlier this year when a Neanderthal KVS fan thought it whimsical to literally scream non-stop for ten minutes that I’m a loser and gay. Okay, calling me a loser is somewhat subjective and partially true, but I’m definitely not gay. Sometimes I wish I was, but that’s not how things panned-out. I’m used to taking all sorts of abuse, but this was truly horrific. I could have had the bouncers eviscerate him, but I don’t believe in violence, except in certain circumstances, and this did not sink to that level…but it was close. I was also stuck because the pal I was with became incapacitated due to a medication issue that I still don’t fully understand…but I digress. Please understand that I’m not complaining. I’ve brought the potential of these kinds of situations upon myself by choosing of free will and partially sound mind to participate in KVS. In the end, I have no one but myself to blame. Accepting responsibility for my decisions is important to me, but that doesn’t preclude me from occasionally bitching about stuff on my blog.

I have, in the past, at least initially, resisted every new form of technology. Almost everyone I knew had answering machines and cell phones before I did. Even the metric system pisses me off. I love my Blackberry, but I must admit that it has taken over my life to a degree that I find troubling. Ironically, it’s the same manager who pushed Facebook on me that privately fantasizes about a time long since past where the telegram was all you had to account for yourself:

I’m off to Europe (stop). Be back in 2 weeks (stop).

Love Spenny

Those were the days, my friends. I get horny just thinking about it.

Beyond my issues with technology, I don’t possess a personality that lends itself to the Facebook culture. I’m shy and socially awkward If it wasn’t for vodka, I don’t think I’d ever leave the house. I’m also very paranoid. As previously mentioned, my three day stint on Facebook put me in touch with a woman claiming to be a former lover who I’m fairly certain I’ve never heard of. A one night stand, maybe…but a relationship? –that would be one hell of a black-out. That kind of mind-fucking only fuels my already high-octane paranoia. My life has plenty of drama without adding fictitious Facebook delusions. I also started to worry about past sins coming back to haunt me…I break-out in a rash just thinking about it. And on top of all that, there would be the inevitable onslaught of the homophobic, hate-speechin’ Spenny-detractors, who I generally find amusing, but combined with the phantom relationships and who knows what other insanity, could wind up with me drooling in a psyche ward asking for my blanky.

I’m being very careful not to slam social networking sites because like the space shuttle, I think they’re very cool, but that doesn’t mean I want to ride on one. That said, I’m a professional, and will try to do what’s right for my career, if not my fragile mental health.

Oh yeah, while I’m whining, another thing that bugs me is that Facebook only allows for a tiny amount of text, which unless you’re Oscar Wilde, tends to limit profundity. So, if anyone is interested in more than self-centered blurbs, you’ll have to come to my website and read this blog. Alternatively, I will be on Facebook trying to fit into the Internet phenomenon I’ve been trying to avoid for years.

The God Thing

Religion, which gets a lot of disrespect these days, is bang-on about one thing; we are sinful creatures. Now I’m not a religious man-child, but I wish God would somehow make Him/Her/Itself known to me. Any sign besides the proselytizing of obnoxious religious people would be welcome; perhaps a quick conversation, or an obvious answer to an obscure but believable prayer like please make my penis 16 inches long for a couple of hours would do the trick. Finding out, after prayer, that my mole is not cancerous isn’t magical enough…I need some raz-a-ma-taz. Unfortunately, it appears that one needs faith, and faith, for me, has not resulted in anything spectacular. Perhaps God doesn’t answer what He/She deems as a silly prayer. Unsolicited opinion: He/She/It should consider doing so for public relations reasons.

It’s very easy to say that God doesn’t exist. I call myself an agnostic, which for me essentially means a pussy atheist. I’d like to be an atheist, but something deep within me won’t let me. I think part of it is the arrogance. How dare I declare that God doesn’t exist. And what if God does exist, and God is of the all knowing, all seeing variety that decides whether I go to Heaven or Hell, or some other such places? Too risky for me. The other issue is that I believe there is a tangible human need for meaning in life. I know this because I have felt it and acted upon it. It usually happens when life gets too scary, or the Buffalo Bills are in the Super Bowl. I have no problem admitting that at certain times in my life I have prayed…not on my knees though. Sometimes in life it seems there’s nothing else one can do. And I refuse to declare myself an atheist and then secretly pray. That would be like saying that you hate reality TV but secretly watch Sex Rehab. Speaking of which, God I hope Dr. Drew kicks out Kari Ann Peniche. She is an idiot and is getting in the way of the other patient’s progress.

I look at the miraculous aspects of nature and human ingenuity and wonder how this all came to be? I know we are technically animals, but come on. Why can humans vaguely understand the universe while animals behave like… animals? I love animals as much as the next person but let’s face it…humans are much smarter. Even if we end up destroying the planet, we are still smarter than animals. And I don’t want to hear that whales, dolphins and elephants are super-intelligent. Until I see a spacecraft built by an elephant, or read a poem written by a whale, or watch movie made by a dolphin, with few exceptions, humans are smarter.

Why specifically are humans cursed and blessed with self-awareness? I don’t know. But here’s what I do know. Many of us like to believe in God. Many of the stories/legends/myths surrounding God are similar in the different religions. It seems to me that some of us, perhaps most of us, need to feel that there is a reason for our existence. Fair enough. But consider the possibility that the myths that explain our existence only make sense to us. In other words, they follow a logic and language that are distinctly human. Consider that the explanations, including the big bang theory, are ideas that only we humans understand, and our beloved rationality is irrelevant beyond our own intellectual traditions. Now I’m no intellectual. I barely got out of high school. The fact that I have a post secondary degree is because there was such a thing as literature and film school. Luckily, my years of watching television somehow paid off. All I’m saying is that if God exists, maybe we, as humans, don’t have the mental capacity to understand the big truths. Or, maybe the concept of truth is a human affectation, and meaningless outside our world. One thing for sure is that I have no idea what’s really going on.

So, although I’m fairly certain that God is a human construct, every once and a while I see or feel something that makes me wonder. So, God, if you read this, if you could get Dr. Drew to kick Kari Ann Peniche out of rehab, that would go a long way in proving your existence to me.

Mr. Rogers Rocks!!!

If I have a reputation for being lame, which I believe I do, this post might be considered the epitome of my lameness.  As a child I watched Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.  I loved him and his puppet friends; Henrietta “Meow Meow” Pussycat, King Friday, Daniel the Tiger and even the scheming Lady Elaine Fairchild.  I think my first crush might have been on Lady Aberlin.  Even today I wish Handyman Negri would pop over to help me hook up my DVD player.   I’ll admit that Mr. McFeely got on my nerves a little, but all in all, Mr. Roger’s neighborhood was a wonderful show that made me feel loved and safe. 

I realize in this age of MTV, computers and homicidal video games that Mr. Roger’s might seem out of touch, perhaps irrelevant, but for those of you who are open-minded and not completely desensitized, I implore you to watch the video link at the bottom of this post.  It’s truly remarkable that one can so clearly see such goodness and passion being demonstrated out of pure love.  The clip shows Rogers speaking to the U.S. Senate asking for public money for children’s programming.  There’s not much more I can say about it other than either this wonderful video moves you, or it doesn’t.   If it doesn’t, I’d say that you have emotional issues and should seek some kind of counseling to get in touch with your humanity.   I realize that I do a television show that would probably not have been on Mr. Roger’s playlist…he sadly passed away in February, 2003.   However, my idiotic career does not preclude me from appreciating Mr. Roger’s incredible commitment to this craft and the children he cared so much about.

Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXEuEUQIP3Q

P.S. Yes, I’m serious about this.

Celebrity Gossip and Drunken Stupors

I started noticing on planes that most young women are reading celebrity gossip magazines like Star, In focus, etc…

As somewhat of a celebrity myself, I have been the subject of a few gossip columns. Here is one example: http://www.zacktaylor.ca/blog/2009/08/spenny-spotted-drunk-off-his-tuchus.html

Zack Taylor is a scumbag and a liar. Drunk? When that picture was taken I was with my girlfriend’s nieces having just come out of a 3D animated movie about a team of techno savvy hamster spies. As happens to me often on the street, a couple asked me for a picture, which I gladly posed for. I try to accommodate fans whenever I can. I’m grateful to the people who like me and what I do. So, for the record, Zack completely fabricated the drunk angle. I understand that Spenny in a drunken stupor is a better story than Spenny takes his girlfriend’s nieces to a movie, but I wonder if the three people who may have seen Zack’s shitty column thought it was true. Now, believe me, I am no stranger to drunken stupors. In fact, I think a good drunken stupor every so often is healthy as long as no driving involved. But Zack, you need to understand that you’re a low life. You are trying to profit from a lie. If you had legitimately caught me in a drunken stupor, I would own up to it. Fair is fair. And what exactly a drunken stupor is, is open to interpretation. My criteria is reasonable: A drunken stupor should have aspects of belligerence and/or excessive affection, and/or violence and/or stupidity followed by a blackout. I’m sorry, if there’s no blackout, there’s no stupor. Clearly, my behavior on the night that picture was taken did not rise to anywhere near the level of a drunken stupor. It wasn’t even close. Zack, you are a two-bit, gutless, worm, and if I ever met you, I would most certainly give you a dirty look.

But I want to broaden this rant, if I may. Am I saying that all gossip magazines are bad? Though a part of me would like to yes, my answer is no. I like gossip magazines…as long as they tell the TRUTH!!!! I often leaf through gossip magazines at the iconic grocery store counter. I’m not proud of it, but I won’t lie. Sadly, I especially love to see pictures of cellulite-laden celebrities in bikinis. I find it funny. But, if I found out that the celebrity cellulite was doctored through Photoshop, I would be outraged. Good celebrity gossip is like a car accident…you have to look. Hasselhoff caught on tape in a drunken stupor is good stuff. Baldwin caught yelling at his daughter is first rate. Marv Albert wearing lingerie and biting a hooker is fucking Pulitzer Prize material.

Of course, I have a degree of shame about this. For me it’s a matter of being truthful versus saying the politically correct thing. For example, it’s easy to say that eating animals is wrong. If you’re a vegan, great, but I’m not a vegan, and as such, would have zero credibility pretending that I really care that much about animals. Obviously I don’t want to see animals suffer, but some animals are delicious. In the same way, though I don’t like the idea of exploiting celebrity misery, I have to admit that I derive some pleasure from it. Am I bad person? Perhaps.

Noam Chomsky talks about the rise of gossip culture being tied to the ever increasing isolation and fracturing of our social life. Not so long ago we used to know our neighbors and gossip about them. Now, for most of us anyway, we don’t know or even like our neighbors, so we gossip about celebrities instead. Makes sense? If so, it seems to point to an inherent need we humans have to know and talk about other people. Celebrities have become the local community that has disintegrated with modernity. As a low level celebrity that is the price I have to pay for being famous. Obviously, I think it’s worth it. Of course, I’ve yet to be caught biting a hooker while wearing lingerie. I guess I just have to be careful. I have to accept the game if I want to play. But even with something as tawdry as celebrity gossip, there needs to be ethics. The gossip journalists, like all journalists, need to tell the truth. And it works both ways; if Britany Spears has a breakdown and publicly shaves her head, I don’t want to find out it was a publicity stunt. It’s bad enough that I want to read this drivel…at least make it truthful.

So, Zack Taylor…you’re a low-life maggot. You make Perez Hilton look like Walter Cronkite. And for future reference, if you want to catch me in a drunken stupor, I recommend catching me on St Paddy’s Day or Keith Richard’s birthday, but not coming out of a kid’s movie with my girlfriend’s nieces. Fuck you.

Why I love Professional Wrestling

When I was a little kid my cousin Jonathan used to take me to see professional wresting at Maple Leaf Gardens and Buffalo Memorial Auditorium. At the time I was young enough to believe that everything was completely real. Certain wrestlers scared the living shit out of me. Two of them, The Sheik (Ed Farhat, not the Iron Sheik) and Abdullah the Butcher, were madmen foreigners that invented what is now known as hardcore or extreme wrestling. Their matches were filled with blood and mayhem (especially in Buffalo) and as an impressionable eight year old, my mind was blown, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that wrestling was really my introduction into show business…and I loved it. Wrestling at its core is theater with athletics mixed in; a passion play between good and evil…or at least that what it used to be. I won’t blather on about how wrestling has changed for the worst over the years, but I will demand that anyone interested MUST see the movie Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows. I can’t recommend this movie more highly. Its content supersedes wrestling and is, dare I say, a parable for what has become modern world. It’s a wonderful documentary. Enough said.

Wrestling for me was always scary but it was also comical. Managers like Ernie Roth (The Wizard, The Weasel and Abdullah Farouk) and Eddie “The Brain” Creechman were funny on par with the zaniest characters from SCTV. Even the matches themselves could become hilarious. I remember Adrian Adonis (when he was Adorable) caught up in the ropes being spanked, which got a laugh that Woody Allen or Will Ferell would envy. But the funniest match I ever saw was between Jessie The Body Ventura and the morbidly obese country bumpkin Uncle Elmer. The pre-wrestle posturing was interminable. It went on so long that the crowd, wanting to see some action, started booing. Finally, after what seemed like a half hour, the bell rung and Uncle Elmer ran to his corner, grabbed his cowbell and hit Jessie over the head with it. You could hear the flat dong of the bell in the cheap seats, and Jessie did a hilarious Chaplin-esque drunken head bonk dance before collapsing to the mat. The stretcher was brought into the ring and Ventura was laboriously carried away. I don’t know if one of the wrestlers didn’t show up and they had to kill time, but it was one of the funniest things I ever saw. And while I’m at it, Andy Kaufman’s foray into professional wrestling resulted in two movies: “I’m From Hollywood” and “My Breakfast with Blassie”. “My Breakfast with Blassie” is worth seeing if, like me, wrestling is in your blood. Blassie’s reference to the waitresses’ ass as a “keester” is in my opinion worth the viewing…but that’s me. “I’m From Hollywood” however is pure comic gold. Kaufman wrestling Jerry “The King” Lawler in a series of matches in Memphis is a high water mark for inventive comedy and classic wrestling. This movie is must-see! Period.

I have been to many live wrestling shows over the years. I’ve seen everything from Wrestlemanias to small, independent shows. But one of the greatest nights for me was in Keswick, Ontario where I met the legendary Bobo Brazil. I couldn’t have been more than 9 years old. Bobo was HUGE and amazing. That night I also met Hartford and Reginald, the tag team heels known as The Love Brothers. They reluctantly signed an 8X10 I had of them and were assholes about it. I realize now that they intentionally remained in character after the match for the fans. Years later I used to hang out at a Chinese restaurant called Sai Woo where many of the wrestlers would go to eat after a show. I once saw Andre the Giant there. Unbelievable. God I love wrestling.

I was lucky enough to experience wrestling first hand in Season 5 of KVS. I created a character The Nice Guy and got to train and wrestle with Textbook Tyson Dux as well as meet the insane The Iron Sheik. It was an amazing experience…especially getting suplexed. I got a taste of what it’s like to actually wrestle and I have nothing but respect for the craft/sport. In many ways I find KVS to be a comedic reality take on classic wrestling: Kenny being the heel and me being the baby face. The comparison brings a rare smile to my face. I still watch wrestling, but mourn for the days when the audience was unsophisticated, there was a clear delineation between good and evil and wrestlers were funnier psychopaths.

Read This Fucking Book!!!!!!!!

I have recommended reading The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker to many of my friends for many years. As of late only two have actually read it. I have pushed the audio version on my non-reader pals with no luck. I even bought two copies for Trey Parker and Matt Stone as a gift when they were in Toronto and was told that they threw it away at Pearson Airport after reading a page or two. I can maybe understand people who don’t want to watch wrestling or old movies, but a book that won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction that in my opinion gives the most truthful view of the existential dilemma of human beings should at least try to be read. I would be remiss if I didn’t use this blog to push it. Come on people. READ THIS FUCKING BOOK!!!! I realize it’s not an easy read and it might make you think about a difficult aspect of life…but isn’t that good? I know I sometimes must come across as a self-righteous intellectual-type. I’m not. I swear. I wish I was…believe me. I literally force myself to read because I’m fairly certain that watching television as much as I do damages my brain in many ways. Trust me. Denial of Death is challenging but a lot of it accessible. You don’t have to understand every insight to get something out of it. Okay. I’m done. I will try not to push this book anymore. In fact, I’m starting not to give a shit.

Sympathy for the Zeppelin

Last week a series of interviews featuring Stinky and I were printed in the National Post. Each day we argued our opposing views on such weighty subjects as choice in underwear and our preference for dogs or cats. One of the subjects debated was Led Zeppelin Vs. The Rolling Stones. I unequivocally and unapologetically dig The Stones, man. Originally the Post tried to get us to choose between the Stones and the Beatles, but neither of us would dare badmouth the Fab Four. In fact, I’m fairly certain that our mutual love of the Beatles is about all Sir Stinksalot and I have in common these days.

I just want to set the record straight because I’ve been taking some heat from my Zep-loving girlfriend. As a pseudo-rebellious youth, I, often with Kenny, lost countless brain cells and formative months sitting in the Roxy Theater watching “The Song Remains the Same”. I not-so-clearly remember vials of hash oil and that guy who seemed to be at every screening yelling out “show us your eyes, Jimmy” and “shit bird” at choice moments during the movie. For the record, I own almost all Led Zeppelin’s music and can say they’re honestly one of my favorite bands. But the KVS ethos always has to have us at odds with each other and some who read the interview – does anybody remember reading? – might think that I don’t like Led Zeppelin. Not true. I love Led Zeppelin…just not as much as I love The Rolling Stones.

My main issue with Zeppelin is the lyrics. Both Page and Plant either did too many drugs, or I didn’t do enough, because most of their songs seem to be about a magical world that I haven’t been stoned enough to access. It’s the same problem I have with Rush. I can’t relate to “May Queens…stairways to heaven….overlords …Angels of Avalon, etc…” Is this rock’n roll or Lord of the fucking Rings?

Kenny falsely said in his interview that The Stones have become fat and rich. Rich for sure, but fat? Mick looks like he hasn’t eaten since Altamont. Keith has a bit of a paunch lately, but staying thin for Keith is probably banging smack and not a membership at Jenny Craig. I’d rather Keith be a little paunchy than dead. But have you seen Jimmy Page lately — he’s been eating a whole lotta food. And I have no problem with old, ballooning rock icons…after all, most of them are almost human.

This tyranny of pitting Kenny and I against each other may make for salacious copy, but there’s a big part of me that would like to leave the KVS contentiousness with the show and not let it overflow into every aspect of our civilian tastes. The truth is Zeppelin is amazing, and there’s room for everyone in the rock pantheon…except all of the shitty big hair metal bands from the 80’s.