Oscars So Nice: Reflections of a Busker


 

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Oscar has left the building.  My neighborhood returns to relative Hollywood & Highland normal.  Before I head back out in the Vegas 90210 short shorts to protect Hollywood Boulevard from democracy and Jimmy Kimmel, I wanted to kinda sorta quickly share a few thoughts about last night’s notable Oscar’s ceremony.

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Keeping it real with LAPD brother law enforcers (one of whom appeared to be the last of the male Ghostbusters) at an undisclosed location in the vicinity of the Dolby Theater.

Bear in mind, I didn’t watch the whole ceremony in a pristine private screening room devoid of distraction.  I watched in a bar.  Because it was Sunday and that’s how Jesus would screen it.  As Chris Rock commenced the 88th Academy Awards, I manfully strode in my short shorts down a Hollywood Boulevard congested with star-struck tourists eager to catch a glimpse of what Joan Rivers is no longer here to assess.  (I took up some slack – “What Are Those” VIDEO).  Late I was, en route to my viewing party at Tinhorn Flats as Lt. Frank FFIREHS of Vegas 90210, taking photos with tourists from around the world delighted to behold the theatrical menagerie of nearly every iteration of law enforcement, from security guard to Secret Service … and yours truly in rainbow tactical leg warmers.  As frequently happens in my daily life, they wanted pictures with “Lt. Dangle”.  (Even though the real Lt. Dangle clearly distinguished me as … well, you’ll see shortly.)

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Mark Roman of Vegas 90210, snubbed by the Academy invite list, as seen in the The Hollywood Reporter Oscars Edition.

Because I’m that guy.  The one Thomas Lennon (aka “Lt. Dangle” of Reno 911!) calmly calls “bigger”.  The one with whom Nick Swardson (aka “Terry” of Reno 911!“) recently spread the news of sweat pants and Super Bowl Champion Minnesota Vikings glory.  The one Thomas Lennon (aka Felix #5 opposite the non-Academy Oscar of The Odd Couple on CBS) screams “MARK!!!” while doing a Wassup Drive-By on Hollywood Boulevard the other week.  As seen in The Hollywood Reporter.  That guy.  The smelly background actor busker guy who never had the decency to study at UCLA or USC film schools, frequent Julliard, or embellish the Bard with the likes of Sir Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren or Tom Hardy at The Globe (as directed by Shakespeare understudy Ben Affleck).

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We’re not gay and we make absolutely no case for it.  With Greg Proops (the Buddy Holly impersonator from Whose Line Is It Anyways?), after his live recording of The Smartest Man In The World podcast at the Bar Lubitch in West Hollywood.

With all due respect to Greg Proops (whose sober assessment of the vital impact of awards shows led him to retreat to San Jose for a vodcast), here’s a few quick thoughts and reflections, inadequately informed and hastily assembled, but without the Brian Williams compensation.

CHRIS ROCK EFFORTLESSLY ROUNDS THE BASES

VIDEO. Nuanced jazz, Chris Rock fired word picture bullets I expect to ricochet across the fruited plain.  Whatever seemed to to others to fall flat actually revealed and highlighted the very points Chris was making about race in America and what’s left to do for Hollywood to get better.  Too funny.  He killed.  As only a master comedian at the top of his game can.  Something I’m clearly not, as my freshman forays into the realm of Periscope (Mark Roman, Vegas 90210 – my handle) reveal.

LADY GAGA TAMES THE NOT SO ESCHEWED BARBARIANS

VIDEO.  When one earns their living in short shorts and rainbow tactical leg warmers, it is a rare opportunity to experience a tiny taste of what women (and some men) struggle with daily: unwelcome advances, sexist taunts and hate speech … to outright criminal assault and rape.  I notice in my daily conversations with other men that most guys are criminally clueless as to what most women have to endure daily.  With “Til It Happens to You” Lady Gaga demonstrated beautifully how art can heal, inform and inspire.  We only hope more men begin to grasp the message.  Men like the several passing strangers (unfit to be labeled “gentlemen”) last night making rude remarks about what they’d like to do with body parts of the elegantly dressed ladies in my Oscars after parties group.  The struggle is pervasive, relentless and real.  Gentlemen, we need rise above our primal urges.  Or withdraw from civilization.

REAL VEEP BIDEN CALLS FOR ACTION

Speaking of which, none other than the Vice President clearly stated HOW.  Not fictional VP Selina Meyer played by Julia Louis-Dreyfuss (behind whom you might notice yours truly in an upcoming episode) on HBO’s Veep.  ACTUAL Vice President Joe Biden.  A pledge is one thing.  Taking decisive action when the occasion requires is what saves lives.  It is how we all can Heroteer.

THE BIG SHORT

VIDEO.  I’m in it.  In one of the Vegas conventions scenes I’m the featured suit on the down escalator.  Unlike Brad Pitt with all his Hamletesque dialogue, not letting Christian Bale, Steve Carrell or Ryan Gosling get a word in edgewise, I perform.  Without. Saying. A word.  Where’s my Oscar?  I’m also a recovering mortgage broker.  Unlike the dangerously accurate portrayal of mortgage broker douche bags in the film, I charged reasonable fees and become a mostly referral only business.  (I think there’s even a nice review somewhere on Yelp from a previous client.)  I didn’t make nearly as much money as some. But I made enough to be able to see and support my son on a regular basis (unlike the last several years).  And I was never really into it.  (Banking or sales or anything that makes the film Office Space so painfully funny.  And accurate.)  So when the events portrayed in the film unfolded (I remember vividly the day New Century expired), my new found poverty liberated me from sales and enabled me to pursue my passion.  Quite a full circle: to act in an Oscar-winning film that portrays the very industry I escaped … to become a performing artist.

CROWN PRINCE OF HOLLYWOOD:  LEONARDO DICAPRIO

VIDEO.  He’s earned the title.  Well played, sir.  Respect.

 

SPOTLIGHT AND A SPECTATOR

VIDEO.  Quite a compelling film.  It reminded me of All the President’s Men.  I’m a former student editor.  When I refused to stop publishing my independent newspaper I was expelled from college, defamed and put on the FBI’s Subversives List.  I’m also technically Catholic, practicing agnostic and recovering from the child abuse of religion (see “Son of Elmer Gantry’s Bitch“).  So this film resonated with me in ways several and powerful. And let’s not forget that Morgan Freeman not only announced the Best Picture winner, he offered this calm assessment of #OscarsSoWhite.

IN CONCLUSION

I’m so happy to be back in LA (since November), living in Hollywood, pursuing my craft.  The experiences my career continue to afford me only reaffirm that I’m in the right place doing the right things at the right time.  I may never be more famous than “limited-purpose public figure” per that federal judge in the Hillsdale College defamation suit debacle.  I may never be wealthy.  I may never again return to the income the State of Washington child support bureaucrats imagine I still have from a former industry of mine that no longer exists the way it did (as portrayed in a film that only just won an Oscar and was nominated for Best Picture).  I may not be able to do much for my son these days.  He may feel quite like the daughter of Bryan Cranston’s Trumbo in that clip during the Oscars.  And only for many good reasons.  But I can pursue my passion.  I CAN give my son that.  The example.

 

Who is FFIREHS? Tourists in LA & Vegas Have 50+ Answers


I  street perform (understood as a “busker” by the world traveler or the literate).  My months old character is FFIREHS, a Sheriff sporting short shorts, cowboy hat and Barbie walkie-talkie.  Apparently I resemble Thomas Lennon.  I doubt this occurred to either of us a few years ago, conversing briefly at The Hollywood Improv after Tom’s set.  About Marc Maron, naturally.
FFIREHS has a few video shorts on NerdoTV (“Do You Feel Safe?” and “Hollywood Tights“).  His interview with comic Dr. Brian King has 87,000+ views since November 27.  But who is FFIREHS?  Fair question.  But why ask the man himself?  As any crime scene detective knows, the testimony of eyewitnesses is often more diverse and entertaining than historical reality.  Who is FFIREHS?  As overheard near the man in question, here are the 50+ answers according to tourists and locals seeking entertainment on the streets of Hollywood and Las Vegas:
Reno 911!
Sexy Sheriff
Reno 911
Lt Dangle
Ef Fir Eesh
Super Troopers
Super Cops
Scream
Dewey
Doofy
Reno 90210
Cowboy
Naked Ass
Naked Cowboy
Non-naked Cowboy
Brokeback Lake
Sgt. Dangle
Deputy Dangle
ranger
Texas Ranger
park ranger
Parks and Recreation
Reno 901
Cop 911
Lt Dan

Fresno 911
Lt. Dango
Reno nine eleven
Doppler Dan
Dancing Sheriff
Mr. Reno
Roy Rogers
(Smokey and) the Bandit
The gay cop
Winter Policia
Borat’s brother
camel toe
Roscoe from The Dukes of Hazzard
CHiPs
The Incredible Hulk
Village People
Crocodile Dundee
Thunder from Down Under
“That’s like the worst one yet”
“Where’s the food court?”
“I thought that dude was dead”
“Are you real?”
“You lose a bet?”
“That isn’t real”
“Nice shorts bro”
“What the eff you see kay?!”
“It’s gotta be tough, man”
“Aren’t you cold?”
“Where do I catch the shuttle bus to the Hollywood Bowl?”
“The Flamingo is blocked,  where can I park?”
“Where can I catch a cab?”
“When is the next Bellagio water & light show?”

FREE SHEZ! Jailed for making funny video.


FREE SHEZ! Jailed for making funny video.

Thank you Thomas Lennon for the tweet!  This makes me livid.  As someone who was kicked out of college for refusing to stop publishing a student newspaper, this crap gets my attention.  I was put on the FBI’s Subversives List, but never sent to jail.  Yet.  This bullshit needs to stop NOW, across the globe.  Stop suppressing speech, governments, corporations and schools!  Stop jailing comics.  This is 2013, not the Dark Ages.

I signed the online petition, liked the Facebook page, and followed the Twitter page.  I also made a new flag for my Barbie monitor, so tomorrow everybody on the Las Vegas Strip and at the Fremont Street Experience who get a picture with me as FFIREHS will have the Barbie monitor flag reading “#FREESHEZ FreeShez.com”.

Now you know.  What are you going to do?

Health “Credit Card” Dangers, the “Interest” of Convenience, Ignorance


Hannah Seligson’s The Pre-teen Girl Mystery on The Daily Beast caught my attention, and is apparently not the first news story on bisphenol A.  Further reading on the Wikipedia page for bisphenol A is eye-opening.  Of course a Google search yields obvious plastics industry spin.  It got me thinking, not just about a particular toxin or the health of some people, but about all toxins as they affect every human . . . and what can I do to stay healthy?

I’m not a big fan of government action.  America started with the allegation its government could protect life, liberty and property.  Until the Feds get a handle on murder, theft and infringements on liberty, I’m in no rush to suggest any new business.  I also object to the notion that some outside institution or entity is responsible for the quality of life of every individual, beginning with me.  So I’m not advocating some spectacular new politics to keep us all healthier.  Why wait for an “act of Congress” with all the urgency that suggests when I can choose to do something NOW?

I choose to think a bit more about what I ingest on a daily basis, and make consumer choices that reflect my conclusions.  Take microwaves.  Some science and stats help (1, 2, 3).  But intuitively it doesn’t make sense to me that eating something I just “nuked” will lead to a happy ending.  I hate microwaves.  When I cook at home, I use ovens and stoves.  When I eat out, even fast food I prefer microwave-free, so Baja Fresh, Quiznos, and the Whole Foods deli are popular destinations with me.

Sometimes I can’t help myself to a bag of microwave popcorn or the quick McD’s cheeseburger.  But when I do, I believe I’ve just sliced off a few moments of my health and/or life.  It’s like I just charged to my “health” credit card an act of eating for the sake of convenience or taste or short-term “savings” that will cost me “interest” in the form of a complex web of known and unknown future health problems.  That is my thought process.  I’ve chosen to deliberately live healthier.

Canned food is another problem for me.  With the issue of food quality, nutrient levels, and freshness, I really didn’t need another reason to avoid mush from tins.  Now apparently there could be an issue of toxins in the plastic resin involved with the sealing of the can.  Shocking.

I don’t need a doctor or health official to tell me that sticking my hand in a pool of molten lava might negatively impact my health.  Is it a crime for me to choose to slightly enhance such health knowledge?  Not if I am a free, thinking citizen.  So here is what I choose to do, for the sake of my health and the health of anyone who might be watching me (yes, whether we admit it or not, we all see actions in vivid technicolor despite the noise of words):

  1. Trust my instincts
  2. listen to and learn my body at least as well as I do my technology
  3. remain curious, ask questions
  4. use the web, social networking and real world networking to discover and learn
  5. qualify sources, especially when they boast titles, degrees, licenses, or government authority
  6. notice trends, patterns

Many students just graduated.  Unfortunately most of them will look for a job because they were trained to follow and not question or think.  My education BEGAN when I was expelled from college for publishing a newspaper.  My health is tied to my education, which is a lifelong journey.

Floods, Elmer Gantry and The Office Space Nation


So my latest residence flooded.  I awoke last Sunday at 5am, not to some nubile honey begging for more (which would have been unusual if not refreshingly delightful, given my Spock-like adherence of late to my Twelve Step Program to Remain a Single Guy), but to the gentle sound of the thunderstorm in the kitchen, fed by a growing pool of water in the master bath (and bedroom) above.  The water pressure out of that broken toilet would make your average firefighter jealous.

Now half the house is under construction, which ain’t that bad . . . if you don’t need a kitchen.  Besides, eating is over-rated, or so the brain trust “beauties” who populate runways these days tell me.  And the occasional crunches are not tightening my abs quick enough, damnit!

Longer story less long,  I’m looking for a new place to live . . . again.

Ever since I started down the path of a recovering mortgage broker in the late summer of 2007, my housing has been a plot to create material for my stand-up act.  I have slept in an office boasting just enough square footage to accommodate a desk, a chair, and a double size sleeping bag.  Apparently that “double” bag was from the Target for little people.  I have slept on floors and couches and in vehicles.  I have been the human additive to an apartment of cats.  I have rented a room in a house that was foreclosed . . . and PG&E shut off the gas and electric . . . so I relived my Boy Scout days cooking bath and oatmeal water on a camping stove for two weeks.  As I suspected, my definition of “camping” remains lodging half a star above Motel 6 (thanks Boy Scouts and my parents idea of “vacation”).

My residential odyssey of the last few years has required me to recruit ex-US Marshall buddies to serve restraining orders to major metro ex-cops and to pay multiple deposits to a real estate broker landlord who ended up filing for bankruptcy (guess how much of my deposit I got back).

Nothing money couldn’t solve, but when you switch to the entertainment business mid-life, I’ve noticed it takes more than two years to start earning decent coin from the endeavor.  I could pull the family strings, given my parent’s involvement with that 80’s marvel Up With People.  However, given their “born-again” loyalties, the best they can do for my entertainment career is help me research a role for a remake of Elmer Gantry.  But I already did my childhood.  And my parents spent the college, film school, and “help our kids” money on a few decades of membership in the Spokesperson for Jesus of the Month Club.

So here I am, with $30 and lint burning a hole in my pocket.  What am I going to do?

I am going to start Office Space Nation.  My passion is to make love to the nearest movie camera or bored audience.  And apparently one or two people out there have lost their job, fear they’ll lose their job, or hate their job.  They need my help.  I understand.  I have the street cred.  And I am the eternal optimist entertainer who refuses to see the dark side of life.  I have no idea how the business side will work.  One of you does, and needs the work.  I’m just the ideas guy behind the microphone and camera.  I’ve got my plate full.  (Seriously.  You don’t want me anywhere near a spreadsheet.  A wormhole might develop and William Shatner will end up living in your kitchen for the next five years.)

Hi.  My name is Mark Roman.  I am your Socratic Entertainer.  So what’s your passion?

I’m happy to amuse you, unlike classic Joe Pesci


Classic clip . . . and because I proudly amuse you people, make you laugh and act like a clown.  Just don’t ask me to christen your kid.

Oh, and if any one of Carlin’s seven dirty words offends you, you need to get out more.  Take a break from getting gooey over Sarah Palin and go see some local live stand up comedy.  Remember, Jesus is a cat who turns water into wine and “pals around” with girls who sleep around.  At least that’s what a translation of a selection of after-the-fact recollections approved by committee under the order of an emperor claims.  And who can argue with that?

“Average American Debt” blames Gilligan for Thurston’s charges


Today I had another economist in the back of my limo lecturing me on the reason for our national financial mess:  greedy people spent beyond their means.  In other words folks were living like Thurston Howell III on Gilligan’s salary. Economists practically parade around in sackcloth, lamenting the enormous debt of the average American. Problem is their math creates an “average” not found in reality. Virginia Postrel‘s recent article in the Atlantic exposes the nudity and lunacy of this imperial vodoo math.  Money quote:

If the rich are getting richer, it makes sense that they’re also running up more debt. They can reasonably expect to pay it. These affluent families also account for half of the outstanding consumer debt. So the $10,000 average that Obama cited isn’t in fact owed by the “typical” family with an average income. That figure is calculated by spreading the much larger debts of the rich over the population as a whole.

I perform comedy in bars, so let us put this in drinking terms. Consider three members of my audience at a table. Gilligan, the Professor and Mary Ann each charge a $5 drink and Thurston charges drinks totaling $85. If the “average” price of drinks is $25 a person, Gilligan might ask “Professor, where are my other four drinks?.”

Furthermore, would we blame Gilligan, the Professor and Mary Ann for the “debt” of Thurston Howell?  And if Thurston pays the “debt” off when he gets his statement from his frequent boater credit card, what are his charges doing in our “debt” equation in the first place?

Screw politics.  Stop voting and start laughing.  Yeah, I know Gilligan and his crew won’t show up at one of my comedy gigs anytime soon.  But what’s your excuse?  It’s not like you’re stranded on a deserted island.  Apparently you have internet access (you’re reading this blog post, right?).  Go to your local comedy club and stimulate the economy by supporting local live comedy.  And don’t forget to tip your server!!!