Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Drake... the world is less funny

While on vacation, I used the resort gym every day that I could. I’d mount the cardio machine looking like a city boy going camping. I had my walkman, towel, bottle of water, and an armload of Entertainment Weeklys that had gathered since Christmas.

While scanning a recent issue, I saw the name Drake Sather and immediately flashed back ten years. I was working as a writer’s assistant on a show called Empty Nest when Drake got his very first job as a writer. My bosses were psyched to add him to the staff. “He’s very hot,” they said. “We were lucky to get him.”

While delivering a new script draft to the show’s writers, a knock at Drake’s office produced no response. I moved on down the hall to the next door, only to hear Drake’s door creak open behind me, seconds later. This was our first meeting.

He was a lanky dude, like 6.5 or something, with tossed black curls, a droll expression and the humor to match. He squinted at me peculiarly. I had woken him up. A little odd for an entry-level writer to be napping at 11am – most are so eager and nervous, they’re walking around the office, looking for ass to kiss. “Got a script for you,” I said, handing it to him. I introduced myself.

I ended up being one of the only people to approach Drake with any real sincerity, and it was an acceptance that I think he appreciated. The show’s writers seemed to greet him with some skepticism. He was quiet. He didn’t play politics. There wasn’t really room for him at the writers’ table and they all seemed to resent having to squeeze in to make space for him. His joke pitches were hysterical, and I knew (as did perhaps everyone) that he was smart, edgy, and possibly more talented than many of the rest of them. When Empty Nest would be canceled, some of these writers would never work again. But for Drake, this gig was to be just a blip on his resume.

I used to kid him that his name had to be a made up. He’d come into the office and I’d bellow his name like some 40’s radio announcer:

“It’s Drake Sather, Private Eye!”

At the Nest Christmas party, Drake and his wife (girlfriend?) hung out a bit with myself and my then fiancée. His woman was gorgeous! I remember a magician circulated the crowd and a card trick got Drake to grin, uncharacteristically. He wanted the trick repeated.

Years later, I was on a show called “Mr. Rhodes,” and Drake had moved on to “News Radio,” a perfect match for his kind of outside-the-box genius. I ran into him a couple times around LA and he was always very encouraging as my own career started to develop. And when “News Radio” was done, I read many a sitcom pilot that had Drake’s name on it. He wrote the movie Zoolander and for the TV series Ed. Drake’s the real deal.

Now, on my Tahoe cardio machine, my feet stumbled out of the foot pedals as I read Drake’s name in the Entertainment Weekly. Drake was dead.

I gathered my balance, blinked and read it again. “Drake Sather, 44, of a suicide…”

This was unthinkable. Drake had money. Drake had success. He had all the opportunity any writer or comedian could ask for. He was a father with several kids that he loved. What went wrong? What could possibly have been so bad that a guy that talented would take his own life??

I’ve always been somewhat prone to depression, even when I didn’t know what it was. Still, I used to think people were plain idiots for killing themselves. How could anything possibly be that bad?? Life is such a gift, how stupid do you have to be to end it on your own?? Then, in 2002, my own world fell apart. My marriage ended. My career was over. I spiraled into debt and everything I worked for my whole life was gone… and I got it.

No, I mean I really got it.

This is what it’s like to die, I said to myself and wrote in journals. Everything I came into this life to do was completed, and had run its course. My life was done. Though I never seriously thought about suicide, I finally understood why people do it. You come to this place internally where you just know it’s over. Any voice telling you otherwise can’t be heard.

I credit the tenacious support of my friends for getting me through that time. That, and a deep rage at the world, ironically. It’s like I dared God to finish me off on his own so I could curse and laugh at the whole thing with some kind of haunting satisfaction. I wouldn’t do myself in, I just waited to be snuffed out by the relentless calamity that was already in motion.

Surviving that kind of Darkness immunizes you against it, I think. It’s also transformed how I view people who commit suicide. They aren’t stupid. They are lost souls, tragically overwhelmed by the world around them.

I once heard someone say that Steve Martin was “the saddest man in Hollywood.” What is it about comedians and depression? What is that gene that can make someone tragic and brilliant at the same time? Did Drake know how much a poor schulb like me looked up to him? Did he not realize what an incredible gift he had?

As I restarted the huffing and puffing on my cardio machine, I realized the true irony of this story: However bad it was for Drake, I can’t help but think I would have traded places with him in a heartbeat. All I know for sure is that the world, today, is not nearly as funny with him gone.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Tahoe Skiing: Spitters Assumed

While in Tahoe, I was able to get in one day of spring skiing at a place called Kirkwood, a beautiful resort beyond the south rim of the lake. I enjoyed Kirkwood quite a bit, but was disturbed to find too many of the runs going directly below the ski lift.

I dislike skiing under the lift due to the high probability that I’m going to be spit on by those who are dangling from the chairs. What better have they to do up there than play target practice on those below? Can’t say I really blame them. Because Kirkwood was actually very cold, I would suspect that any spit would likely have turned to ice by the time it hit the ground (or my head). Still, I’m not too excited to about being pelted with ice loogies either.

So intense is my fear of being spit on that, as a run swerves beneath the lift, my heart begins to pound and I become self-conscious. How’s my form? Is someone in that chair? Are they watching me, or enjoying the view? What if they start critiquing me? Why shouldn’t they, that’s certainly what I’m doing when looking down at them.

Falling on the ski run is common for me but a wipeout under the ski lift sends me into a total panic.

Get up! Get up! A chair is coming! AND THEY’RE SNOWBOARDERS! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET UP!!!

(hocking sound)

If a chair passes over and they don’t spit, I’m actually disappointed. What am I, invisible to you? Am I so unworthy of your saliva, Your Majesty?

When they spit, I’m a victim. When they don’t, I’m paranoid. Don't make me crazy. Spit away.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

And I thought the Trekkies went overboard! Check out Obi-Shawn and his suped-up H-Wing convertible.


Saturday, April 24, 2004

Back and Scrubbing Poopie

I returned from Tahoe today to a happy cat. She meowed and purred immediately when I came in.

She then proceeded to spew semi-solid liquids from both ends.

What a greeting!!

She doesn't like it when I leave like that. I'll try to hide the suitcases until I head for Tassajara in June. Shhhh!

Saturday, April 17, 2004

AFK... brb

Departing for vacation this morning and not sure I'll be able to blog. I hope to come back refreshed and with new solutions to my old problems. Meanwhile...

When I was little, we'd blow up model cars and space ships with firecrackers.... or melt those little green army men on the stove or the sidewalk. Today's generation has new toys and new tools to destroy them.

Case in point is this site I found that celebrates destruction with a microwave.

He-heh... cool!

Friday, April 16, 2004

Hail to the Peeps

Those cute, seasonal mashmellow chickies need our help. The folks at Peeps are forcing their young'uns to endure brutal animal testing!

Take a look, if you dare, and see what happens to Peeps in a vacuum, subjected to extreme heat, severe cold, and solubility testing.

Oh sweet Easter horror!

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Post-Vegas Pre-Tahoe

Coming off the high of Vegas and having my buds Stu and John around. Sure is great to see old faces... I've known Stu since 2nd grade -- only family goes back farther!

I'm barely rested but already need to be doing laundry and packing food for Lake Tahoe, where I'll be heading on Saturday. This will be my annual trip to the mountain where I try to figure out what I'm going to do with my life. It's profound life-strategy stuff and I'll ask myself if I'm better off now than I was one year ago. The answer is an enthusiastic yes. Even if it does look like baby steps...

Meanwhile, with Easter on the way, I've got a couple of links that are timely. Well... maybe this chicken in the first link doesn't have anything to do with Easter, but it is pretty fun to tell him what to do. I won't say how long I spent ordering him around last night.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Pig Brother

In a salute to the latest edition of "Big Brother" in Germany, a webcam has been set up inside this habitat of wild boars.

Who knows what kind of trouble those pigs could get into? LIVE!

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Vegas concluded with a little time by the pool this morning and a stop for lunch. It was a far out success! Stu and John will be in Los Angeles the next two days so we're hoping to converge tomorrow in Pasadena.

A moment well-caught below by Mac with the camera. From l-r, that's Mike, Stu, John C. and me.

I returned home to news from PrettyWitty... my article got mentioned at this site. Pretty cool. My congrats to Steve for doing an excellent job with PW.

This weeks link... place your bets on these boxing fruit flies courtesy of Harvard Medical School. You can even watch mini-movies of the action and pick up a few boxing pointers.

Can't they all just get along??

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Vegas Baby!

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Internet Blues

Have you ever been in one of those phases where you think you're the only one coming up with the really good ideas? Lately I've been complaining about the internet and how some things just ought not be happening...

1) First, enough with the email worms! I receive at least two emails from strangers every day with those mysterious short messages. You know the kind. "I got it" or "Is this it?" or "You're the best."

They think they'll catch me in a weak moment and I'll be so caught by the blase nature... so accepting of the friendly brevity of the message that I'll open the attachment enclosed. Of course, the opposite is true and their email might as well scream:


Do these morons have no idea their email accounts are being hijacked? I blame them, but shouldn't it be impossible to forge email from someone else? Email from a certain provider should ONLY be able to come from that provider/account. I wouldn't think it would be that hard to implement.

2) While I'm on the subject, I should be able to "BLOCK" email. Yes, Outlook Express has a block feature, but you're not really blocking it, it just gets filtered right into your Delete file.

I want to program Outlook so that it sees mail from a particular address on my server, then automatically bounces it back to the sender with a maze of codes and strings that can only translate as "The Receiver Has Refused Your Message."

3) Next up is job searching. I'm constantly trolling job sites. Careerbuilder and Monster are the two most known, and wouldn't ya know that marketers have found a way to break in there too!

I should not have to scroll through eight pages of "Work From Home Make More $$$!" identical job spam. I don't know if its vitamin supplements or some pyramid scheme, but after seeing just one of those, I should be able to click a button that says "Filter out this job" and make all those "jobs" disappear from my search.

Come on, computer geeks! Do I have to come up with everything? Am I the only non-moron visionary forward thinker?

So tonight I checked my email and found three "returned" pieces of mail. Odd... I never sent mail to these people!! Someone has hijacked my---!

Hey! Wha? Who--? Gaaah!!

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Sleep Now, yes?

It was a week of non-stop activity, capped with my friends Gordon and Jenny stopping by on Friday for a little mischief, then worked for my bud Scott (the photographer) yesterday. It's been sweet, sweet rest ever since.

Doing a three-day weekend in Vegas next weekend with Stu (New York), Crisp (Kentucky), "The Colonel" and hopefully Bri and Nina of Santa Monica. Certainly nothing special about Vegas... it's the peeps you go there with!

As a salute to April Fool's Day, here is the Top 100 April Fool's Pranks of all time. I haven't had time to view them all, but so far I'm loving the "Taco Liberty Bell."

Friday, April 02, 2004

Had to recheck the calendar to make sure it's not April Fools Day...

Brawl Breaks out at Anger Management Assembly

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Mac "The Colonel's" comment on the Tag Board is perfectly timed. Prettywitty's new April issue is out and features this piece I did, inspired by someone's simple question...

What does LOL mean?

The Colonel would call this more kismit.