Tuesday, March 23, 2010

LA Marathon: Running Down A Dream

Yay! Sunday was the Los Angeles Marathon... :)

I'm a huge fan of marathons - mostly because they remind me of my mother. She's run 10 marathons around the country (LA, Long Beach, San Francisco, Chicago, New York) and there's nothing I love more than cheering her on. I find it so inspiring.

Unlike previous years where the course just makes a big circle around downtown LA, this year the marathon went from Downtown LA @ Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica, traveling through many popular communities, as the "Stadium to the Sea" route.

My plan was to watch the elite runners go by Beverly Hills at mile 16, and then watch the regular folk wheeze their way along further down the course.

So that entailed me getting up super early at like 8:30. On a Sunday. (shudders). There's like no one up that hour. The streets were deserted.

Via Rodeo.


Along the course were dozens of bands and cheer stations. Mile 18 had a cheer alley - a cheerleading competition judged by Cheer LA. Playing at Wilshire and Rodeo in front of Bvlgari was Red Light Cinema. There wasn't a lot of (okay, any) people around this early in the race, but I'm sure that later on they were playing to a packed street.

Niketown had their own little cheer party going on. You could make signs...

... grab pseudo-cow bells

... or groove to the sounds of the Black Eyed Peas from the resident DJ.

Or if you are a tad more adventurous, you could have volunteered to be one of the Nike green people.

Folks began arriving with chairs, balloons, and signs to stake out places along the route.

I took the opportunity to do some window shopping...

I got a kick out of Barney's marathon-themed window display... someone should totally run in a Bottega Veneta gown next year.

And of course there were plenty of cute dogs in attendance.

Love this little guy.

When I arrived, the wheelchair racers were finishing up.

I waited for a while for the elite runners. I thought I had missed them because I couldn't wake up at the time I wanted and had to huff and puff my way to the race course. When we saw the helicopters hovering in the sky, we knew they were coming soon.

Here comes the women's pace car!

And there they go. Amazing. Honestly, I don't think I could run as fast as them if I started sprinting along the route with them. And they've been running for an hour and a half!

The men came next... I shot some video of them doing their thing.

The winner Wesley Korir is near the front of the pack in the orange jersey.

I found this great article about him detailing his early "training" in Kenya (e.g., running 5 miles to school before the bell rang and he got in trouble), his life in Louisville, and being exposed to tribal violence on a trip back to Kenya.

After the elite runners had passed, I went back home and got all my stuff together for my real spectating. I know a thing or two about Marathon spectating. lol I always like to station myself somewhere between miles 20-22 (aka The Wall). I borrowed a ipod boom box from my mom and a folding chair. I packed a backpack with drinks, food, snacks, noisemakers, and my camera. I carried balloons. And I made signs. Oh the signs.

I had inspirational.

I had funny.

I had colorful and artistic courtesy of Mr. Insom.

The night before I had perfected my Marathon ipod playlist:
  • "Gonna Fly Now" (Theme from Rocky)
  • "The Final Countdown" (another cheesy rock song, popularized by the awesome Gob in Arrested Development)

  • "Eye of the Tiger" (of course)
  • "I Love L.A."
  • "Let it Rock" (a new addition which worked out smashingly)
  • "Dancing Machine", Jackson 5 (this song allowed me to bust out my fly dance moves)
  • "Crazy", Gnarles Barkley (which is a catchy, upbeat song but I realized the chorus probably didn't work so well - especially the part that goes "I think you're crazy, maybe you're crazy" lol).

Once I got sick of those songs I added James Brown's "I Feel Good", and the Staple Singers' "I'll Take You There".

I was ready.

I met my cheerleading partner, AJKnightfan at the VA just after mile 20. She had brought along a chair, a cooler, and her adorable dog Vega. We set up camp and cheered our hearts out, ipod speakers blaring. The weather was perfect - overcast and not too hot/sunny - I didn't even need the baseball cap I had packed. :)

I had a great time. The runners loved our signs - many took pictures of us or posed next to our signs. The "Pain is temporary, Pride is Forever" was especially popular, as was the "If it was Easy, I'd do it!" They enjoyed the music - lifting up their arms in Rocky tributes, encircling their eyes during Eye of the Tiger, singing along to the Staples Singers, high-fiving us, thanking us for being out there, or just smiling.

I loved these guys. On the front of their t-shirts it said "Steven: The Son" and "Richard: The Father" ...

And on the back it said this...

Some people were having a real rough time, though. This guy spent a good 10-15 minutes lying down on the grass in major pain. A police officer checked on him to make sure he was okay.

I totally had to get a picture of anyone wearing Michigan gear. :)

And there's always someone in an outlandish costume. I saw Marilyn Monroe and Stitch, and this guy that really likes Fed Ex for some reason.

Of the 25,000 people who entered, 242,348 finished. Not bad! Wesley Korir had the fastest time (2:09:19) and received $25,000 for being the top male, but since Edna Kiplagat managed to cross the finish line first (women are given an 18 minute head start), she received the $100,000 Battle of the Sexes bonus. Last year Wesley won the Battle of the Sexes, so it's all good... lol

I was happy for Wesley - he won last year and he's the first back-to-back winner in eight years. And he had just gotten married a couple of days earlier to a former teammate on the University of Louisville track team.

I loved one of his comments at the end of the race... "I really loved the course; it was amazing. I couldn't believe I was running through Beverly Hills and someone was screaming my name. Somebody knew me in Beverly Hills!"

I wished that he was talking about me. :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

PaleyFest #2: Live action Curb Your Enthusiasm

NSFW warning: Assume all Curb Your Enthusiasm Clips have adult language

Sunday night marked the last of my PaleyFest panels. (sniff) Honestly, I feel as though I should be getting a special certificate of merit in Television Viewing after all of this.

Curb Your Enthusiasm
was the final panel and the evening opened with a series of favorite clips from the show. We saw Crazy Eyez Killa in all his glory, Cheryl escaping a car stuck in a car wash, Larry eating the animal cracker baby Jesus, Vivica Fox cussing out Suzy and slamming a door in her face, Larry clubbing a black swan, Larry picking up a prostitute so he could use the carpool lane, Leon having a discussion with Kramer... One of the largest laughs was from the ski lift scene.

On the stage were Richard Lewis, Cheryl Hines, Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Susie Essman, and Bob Einstein (Marty Funkhouser).

Curb Your Enthusiasm began as a HBO special that showcased the behind the scenes life of Larry David as he prepared for a stand-up show after a 10 year absence from the stage. Larry realized that his actual life was pretty boring, so he concocted a fake wife and manager. Because it was supposed to be a documentary, it had to be improv, he explained. Besides, Larry added, he hated the idea of memorizing lines and he once took an improv class and it seemed like fun. And with that, Curb was born.

Noticing that the show montage looked good on the large PaleyFest screen, the moderator's first question was if there was any talk about a Curb Your Enthusiasm movie. Larry's response: No, nada. I don't think so. No plans.

Okaaaaayyyy... Later on in the evening, we got a more receptive response about the possibility of a eight season - "pretty good chance... working on some stuff." Any changes in store for the show? "Zero. No change. They're going to be more annoying, more obnoxious."

Next up was a moderator question about whether or not the Seinfeld arc would be repeated in a future season. I cringed, knowing that this question wouldn't go over so well. lol I also didn't like the Seinfeld season too much - in fact, my favorite episode last season was the one country club that barely featured the Seinfeld crew where Larry kills the black swan with a 9 iron. But yeah - the question didn't go over well and Larry said that there will be no more references to Seinfeld, no more reunions, and that Seinfeld questions were not appropriate tonight. He was sort of joking, but I knew he was actually serious. lol

In replying to the "How'd you get on the show?" question, Bob innocently replies that he knows Seinfeld, which brought the house down.

Cheryl admits that at first, she didn't think she was right for the part (Larry: Why, too pretty? Cue audience laughter.) because of the age difference.

Her agent told her to just show up - "maybe there's a role for a waitress or something" - but Cheryl liked Larry immediately and the two clicked. At the time of her audition, she was a personal assistant for Rob Reiner and when they asked her at the audition to stay to run through a couple more scenes, she was concerned about picking up his laundry. A mere four hours later, she had the part, which is virtually unheard of in Hollywoodland. Apparently, they were looking for an unknown and they liked how she was "sassy" in her audition. Now that she's been on Curb for a while, she's shocked at how actors work outside of the Curb universe. Everyone talks about everything, everyone has a process, and they're very serious about what they're doing - from why they're wearing high heels, to why they're walking down a sidewalk. ou have to stop yourself from ad-libbing

Richard Lewis has known Larry since he was 14 years old and describes their two minute meeting that began their time on Curb together.

Larry: We should work together. What do you think?
Richard: Fine.
Larry: Ok - I'll call you.

He then goes off on this tangent about how he surreptitiously spritzed himself with water during the scene where he's moving furniture for a blind man because he needed sweat. Larry jumps in - I would have let you keep the sweat. Richard: no you would have said it's too much... it's too much. Basically, it felt like we were watching a live action version of Curb featuring Annoyed Larry and Neurotic Richard.

Susie explains that she had difficulty at first calling Jeff a "fat fuck" until Larry pulled her aside and told her "he's my friend. I know the guy - he'll have no problem." Larry adds that he saw Susie roasting Jerry Stiller and that he knew from the clubs that she was "really filthy" and a perfect match for the show.

One of my favorite Susie scenes is when Vivica Fox cusses her out.

Larry mentions that it was the happiest days in his life to see that, but Susie disagreed saying that she thought Susie would have gotten in Vivica's face and not taken things so meekly.

Watching the cast interact with each other, it's clear that they are playing larger versions of themselves. Jeff Garlin is expansive with a truly infectious laugh - you can get a taste of it in the above clip. Richard Lewis is neurotic and whiny. Larry David is surly. Cheryl smiles a lot. Bob cracks jokes. Susie seems much calmer - so I guess she's the only one that's different. lol

The moderator asked the actors what scenes their fans mention as their favorites. This question kind of draws a blank. Jeff says that Curb fans pretty much just tell them that they like the show - that "they're not typical TV watchers, not stupid people. They compliment you and move on their way." Susie doesn't get off as lucky. People everywhere ask her to tell them to go fuck themselves, or to call them a fat fuck, a challenge because, she's "not always in the mood." Many times fans will quote lines from the show, which poses a problem because the cast doesn't memorize lines and often don't remember what specific words they've said. Case in point: one man in Canada asked Cheryl how her vagina was doing. (I didn't remember that episode either. lol)

The biggest problem is fans pitching show ideas - both Richard and Jeff have that problem. Jeff went as far to say that he's heard thousands of ideas and not one of them has been any good. Apparently, Larry is the main person that comes up with ideas. In fact, the only person that has come up with an idea that was used was Cheryl (the scene when her plane was going down and Larry told her to call back because the cable guy was at the house). But, she added, if I knew that phone call would be the reason for Cheryl leaving Larry I wouldn't have said it!

Susie says she hates it when people come up to her and say that they're Larry David. She wants to respond, "no, he's a genius and you're an annoying accountant from Great Neck." Jeff adds that sometimes men tell him that their wife is just like Susie and everyone in the theater goes ooooo!

Richard for some reason tells a story about how Larry and him were having dinner at a restaurant. They'd ordered about 20 dishes and just when the food comes, Larry gets a phone call and runs out the restaurant, saying that Steve Martin had just called and that he was supposed to play poker with him. With no apology, Richard pointedly adds. Larry says something about how important it is to have that sixth person in a poker game, but when Richard continues complaining, he leans across Cheryl and dryly apologizes. Larry seems pretty annoyed right now and everyone on the panel is like WTF is going on. lol
An interesting discussion happens when the moderator asks Cheryl why her character loves Larry. Cheryl laughs and turns to Larry for the answer while Jeff butts in - Can I answer? Because it's in the script! Cheryl laughs and says that Larry makes her laugh, is intelligent and Larry butts in - people only see us fighting, but when the cameras aren't there, we really get along very well. Conflict creates comedy. Why do people need to see us kissing? Who cares.

Another question from the moderator: Is the show too offensive?
Larry: No. I do have a line - sometimes ideas don't make it in. The line's pretty far out though.
When asked if he had any examples of something being too offensive to make the show, Larry says no. Okaaaay then. Bob asked if he had problems with Jeff screwing his mentally ill sister on the show, and Larry responds that he had no problem with that.

Question from the moderator: Where did the role of Leon come from?
Larry: I heard people were taking in people after Katrina.
Okaaaay then. But then he adds, to the crow's delight that he thinks there will be more Leon next season. Excellent!

Two of my favorite Leon moments

and if you liked those, you'll probably get a kick out of this mega Leon montage.

One of the main themes of the night was describing the process of Curb. They don't rehearse, they don't have lines, and they don't discuss the scenes before hand. There's a basic paragraph of a couple of sentences that provides the structure (mostly describing major actions), but that's basically it. And sometimes, Jeff adds, they don't even know what the paragraph is until the scene is ready to be filmed. He remembers taking his place in a room, and right before the director yelled action, he asked the assistant director what was going on because he forgot the structure. Because of the fly by your seat of your pants structure, Susie commented that the actors have to listen a lot to each other.

Curb is sort of the anti-actor show. Larry admits to hating anything actorly. One guest star on the show started talking in character and wanted to discuss his character's previous motivations and Larry responded, "we don't do that on this show." Characters organically evolve without any navel-gazing by the actors. No scripts, no rehearsals, no Method. Jeff gushes, "I can't tell you how happy that makes me" because the entire process is "designed for the way I work." Most of the time on set he's thinking about what's for lunch (his words, not mine).

Bob tells some off color jokes, to the audience's delight, and Larry just sits there with a scowl. When Bob finishes, Larry asks Richard Lewis if he'd also like to do some of his act. Larry doesn't seem too happy - not sure if he's acting or if he's legitimately pissed to be here. Either way, it's fricking hilarious.

Time for audience questions! Not for the faint of heart, as folks get snarky answer from Larry and insulted by Bob.

Audience member #1: Where did Wendy Wheelchair come from?
Larry: Don't remember.

Audience member #2: (British accent) Are Cheryl and Larry -
Bob: Will you knock off that fake accent?
[audience laughter]
Audience member #2: (British accent intact) Are Cheryl and Larry going to blah blah blah
Larry: Oh, we don't know.

Audience member #3: (reading from notecards) Curb Your Enthusiasm makes it a point to showcase individuals of different race and ethnicities and explores the differences and similar-
Bob: Are you armed?
[audience laughter]
Bob: What are you reading?
Larry: She's prepared.
Audience member #3: - differences and similarities. Is it your contention that we need to foster a better sense of humor in dealing with each other?
Larry: Yes, I think we should laugh at ourselves. [He continues on this vein for 30 more seconds, but it's totally insincere. lol He doesn't really care, nor does he have any real desire to analyze his show.]

A couple of audience members get some good questions in that are actually given some answers.

Audience member #4: Can you talk a little about directing improv? How do you get everything?
Answer: They have two cameras filming at all times, sometimes three. One is always Larry. They try to cover as much as they can.

Audience member #5: Will you be featuring your Toyota Prius next season?
Larry: [pause] Point well taken.

At the end of the audience Q&A, security swarms the stage. Larry makes a beeline for the stage exit, and the other cast members sign autographs for a few minutes before leaving as well.