A six-year-old’s interpretation…

My 6-year-old Nikolas’ interpretation of a song – Green Day’s Holiday

My evening at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences

I went to the Academy of Television’s event honoring the TV sitcom ‘Hot in Cleveland’.  They often have these events for up and coming shows, mainly as a panel Q and A and a celebrity host/moderator.  This time it was the legendary Larry King moderating, asking questions and what he would call “making the crowd laugh”.  Since retiring from his long career at CNN, Mr. King decided to start doing stand-up, which doesn’t mean him actually getting out of his chair and trying to balance without the help of his 25-year-old wife, I mean actually performing comedy.  Yes, Larry King is going on tour to make people laugh…  As much as I admire his journalistic career and his longevity in entertainment industry, I will not be in attendance.

Back to the ‘Hot in Cleveland’ event.  It was to start at 7:30 p.m., therefore in my typical obsessive, compulsive fashion I left Orange County at 3 o’clock in the afternoon and arrived precisely at 5 o’clock at the doors of the Academy.  Again, the event started at 7:30…  There are no assigned seating, its on a first-come-first-serve basis, and having been late to a similar event for “Friends” many years ago, which led to having to sit in the green room because they ran out of seats, I was determined to never let that happen again!

I am not sure if any of you had noticed, but yesterday was one the hottest days in Southern California in months, I believe it reached the 80’s.  Where am I going with this?  I am going to the part of me sitting on a beach towel on the sidewalk, waiting for the Academy to open the doors, shwitsing under the sun, as the camera crews mistake me for the hired help, asking me to get my ass off the Red Carpet because I was blocking their way as they set up for cast arrivals.

Right about now, my husband will be getting very upset if I don’t mention that he was right there next to me, shwitsing his ass off too.  Here you go, honey:  My husband was right there next to me shwitsing his ass off too!

Not long after, we were joined by another compulsive soul who was utterly disappointed that we had gotten there first.  Relax buddy, the theater holds a thousand people, I am sure you will get your seat.  As I started chatting to this man holding an assortment of Betty white memorabilia, he divulged to me that he has been coming to these events for years.  Assuming that he is in the entertainment industry, and obviously a member of the Television Academy I asked him what show he works on.  “Oh, I am in financing.  Not in this business at all”, he replied.  A little confused about how one could get in to these events without being a member or knowing a member in the industry, I inquired.  Apparently, people that run these events are so used to seeing him there all the time that they just let him in.  Hmm, I started pondering about how many people I could have brought in with me…

Once we were inside, and the show started we quickly realized that this guy was not just a “fan”.  Something about Jane Leeves’ face told me that this guy was borderline stalk-ish.  I had never seen anyone take more pictures of a single person in my life.  He never put down his camera, and it became creepy when I could see how close he was zooming in to her face, legs and body!  But that was the security’s problem, not mine.  As hard as I tried to concentrate on people speaking, I just couldn’t take my eyes off this lunatic and his camera.

The Q and A part of the event lasted about an hour with clips of the sitcom shown before the cast arrived.  Mr. King had some good questions for the creators of the show, which most of them Valerie Bertinelli volunteered to answer.  I didn’t realize she was as much of a talker as I am!  She had something to say about everyone and everything, repeatedly interrupting King and the others.  It was cute to a point, after which it got a bit annoying since everyone’s microphones were already set really low, and made it hard to hear the responses with her butting in.  It was a disappointment when King announced that he had to leave halfway through the show, and the President of TV Land, Larry Jones took over.  Although Jones tried to ask questions, and be funny (and I use the word ‘funny’ in the loosest way possible), it was mostly the cast chiming in about how much they love, love, love this show and how lucky lucky lucky they are, blah blah blah.

Fast forward to the best part of the show when all were asked if they had actually ever been to Cleveland, which in my opinion was the most relevant question of the night.  Bertinelli blurted out something about her new husband being from Cuyahoga Falls, which automatically makes her an expert on anything and everything Cleveland.

Suzanne Martin, one of the creators of the show brought up the fact that in the beginning they kept getting hate mail from people in Cleveland, and even the Cleveland Plain Dealer called her to find out if the show will ONLY be focusing on the negatives of Cleveland.  Her response was that its the complete opposite, they are making Cleveland to look like Heaven!  I am paraphrasing of course.  As much as I love the people of Cleveland, I am not sure that there are any positives to living there.  Is it the constant below zero temperatures, the snow, the lack of any decent sports team, the utter disrespect to the city by certain athletes that shall remain nameless in order to refrain from starting a riot, again?  Of course the people are much nicer than anywhere else in the country, they truly want to know how you are doing when they ask: “How are you doing?”.  That’s pretty unheard of  in California.  Sure people ask all the time how you are, but not one of them actually expects you to tell them how you really are, or bother to stop and hear the answer!  Its a form of saying “Hello” here in California; you say it and you move on.  I stopped answering that question many years ago, because as soon as they ask you, they have already checked out.  They are gone.  I’ll be standing there with my mouth open, ready to tell them how crappy my day has been, as they walk right past me.

back to the show.  In the past, once the Q and A portion of the show is over, typically the actors will stay and mingle with us regular folk, pose for pictures, sign autographs, etc.  Not in this case.  Security rushed all of them out of the theater faster than I could get out of my seat!  The only person we saw left on stage was Jon Lovitz, who by the way is a lot cuter in person and just as funny as he is on TV.  He was one of the only ones making people laugh all night, well him and Carl Reiner too.  But God knows who the hell Carl Reiner was talking to anyway, half the time he was answering other people’s questions, and telling stories that no one asked about.  Don’t get me wrong, he was absolutely hysterical and charming as ever, but at times I wondered if he and Betty White even knew where they were!  She took at least half a dozen naps during the event, only to be elbowed by Wendie Malick when the host asked her a question.

So, my point is I absolutely love the show “Hot in Cleveland”, it is much better this year than it was the first season, however I have to say I was a bit disappointed by the lack of meet and greet afterward.  Why was poor Lovitz the only putz out there taking pictures and signing autographs?  All of the actors should have to endure that pain!

Tooth Fairy money and other useless artifacts of choice…

Apparently, The Tooth Fairy is going through tough economic times too.  10% of children did not receive any money this year, and 7% received less than a dollar.  Are you kidding me?  First of all, I don’t understand the whole “Tooth Fairy” thing as it is.  In what messed up world do you get rewarded with nothing less than MONEY for losing your baby teeth?  This has got to be the dumbest idea a non-parent has ever come up with!

When I was a kid, not only was there no such thing as a Tooth Fairy, but we didn’t have “Fairies” of any kind.  Forget getting rewarded for losing a tooth.  You know what our “big reward” was?  Pulling the damn tooth out yourself, so Grandma didn’t tie a thread to it and the other end to a doorknob, and then yank the door to pull that tooth out.  You were given a simple choice, do it yourself or Grandma will do it for you!  Forget money, forget going for ice cream afterward, forget parents saving the disgusting thing and giving it to your spouse on your wedding day.

You think I’m kidding?  There are people I know that got a bag full of goodies on their wedding day.  Their future spouse’s baby teeth, hair, even molds of their crooked teeth before they got braces on!  I was surprised to hear that it didn’t contain their baby finger nails, and penis foreskin from the guy’s circumcision…  Somehow I have a feeling that those parents might have that somewhere as well, stashed far far away…

As much as I love many American traditions, I think this particular obsession with saving every tiny, mundane and useless piece of childhood is completely foreign to me and maybe even other non-Americans.  I could be wrong.  I mean, take a look at my parents.  Not only did they NOT save my baby teeth or hair, but have thrown a lot away.  Not just MY artifacts, but their own as well.  My parents don’t keep anything, their house is the most immaculate piece of art I’ve ever seen.  There isn’t a single piece of paper out of place, much less an occasional baby tooth laying around.

I am pretty sure that as soon as I moved out of their house, in my very old age of 21, the very same day they packed up all my crap and threw it away.  They don’t even wait for neighborhood garage or yard sales, they just throw everything out.  Their garage looks like someone’s living room, you literally could live in it, it is that clean.  The other day I was rummaging through their garage looking for my old journals and books.  I didn’t find either of those things, however I did find a nice collection of classic books…  all in Russian.  They literally filled a giant boat FULL of Russian books when we immigrated here.  Nothing else, just books.  I am not sure if some genius told them that in America, people will pay millions for those books or what…

So, as you can tell my views on saving baby’s foreskin, locks of hair and other artifacts is a bit skewed, although per my husband’s request I have been saving my kids’ first teeth and hair since they were babies.  Only for him to throw it all away ten years later when he found strange hair, teeth and what looked like the remains of an animal that died from suffocation, at the bottom of a plastic container titled “KIDS CRAP”

A Letter to My Neighbors…

From the Messy Closet of Julia Beynart-Bendis

My Dearest Neighbor:

How are you?  Hope this note finds you well.  Remember the party your threw last weekend at your house?  I wanted to thank you for it, unfortunately somehow I did not receive the invitation.  Therefore I wanted to ask you if next time you could please hand deliver it directly to me.  You see sometimes I don’t check the front door and my kids end up playing with notes and papers they find laying around there.  You know the same front door that your lovely children play “Ding Dong Ditch” game with, and leave me fart-bombs?  Yes, that one.  I am sure that’s the reason why I didn’t get it, but no worries because guess what?  I heard the whole party through my bedroom window, and when I sat in my backyard it was almost like I was right there with you!  Yes, it was fantastic all the way til midnight when your drunken guests poured out of your house and into the street!  My children certainly enjoyed listening to your infectious laughter, and many, many age-appropriate conversations that went on for hours.

I was also very happy about your teenagers’ music selection and that you let him be in charge of it all night long!  That Katy Perry Firework song heard for the third time through your speakers facing my bedroom window was awesome.  How did he know that Lil Wayne was one of my favorite rappers?  So cool!  Although I have to say, he could have thrown in a bit of Eminem in there, maybe some of TuPac, Alicia Keys would have brought the energy down a bit towards the end there, Nora Jones would have calmed the shit out of the lovely, screaming children running around barefoot up and down the street.  Just some suggestions for your next party.

On a different note I am so grateful for anyone that throws a party after 10 p.m. in my neighborhood, including you.  I’ll tell you why.  The acoustics are amazing since we live on a cul-de-sac, and every house sits apart from one another only by about a foot, so it makes for a wonderful night.  As you can imagine every neighbor within a-100-yard-radius can hear the wonderful sound effects, including my favorite, can you guess what it is?  No?  Alright I’ll tell you.  BASS!  Love it!  It’s almost like using a vibrator but with the positives of not having to hold it myself!  Can you imagine that?  Pretty incredible.  Aren’t we so lucky to be living in the suburbs where ten homes sit where only two should be?  We have the joy of having such wonderful and carrying neighbors that give each other the heads-up about a late-night party.  I don’t know about you Dear Neighbor, but I truly feel so blessed!

Anyway, wanted to let you know that I will be having a Summer Blow Out Party next weekend in case you wanted to come over.  Oh shoot, I just saw my dog eat your invitation.  Crap.  I’m so sorry, but don’t worry you can still hear all of it since I will be placing my brand new giant speakers in the backyard for all the neighbors to enjoy.  Just FYI, we have some strange friends so if you see some of them frolicking around nude, please don’t be alarmed.  Its just a side effect of Ambien, Cocaine and alcohol, and the good news is that it doesn’t seem to last very long.  My friend Tatyana is usually done with the nudity side effect within a couple hours.  Now my other friends Moshe and Haim have a tendency of bringing this strong Israeli weed with them to every party they attend, and I have a hard time controlling their temper.  They usually whip out their Krav Maga skills and tend to break a few things, so if you hear glass breaking please don’t be scared.  Again, that doesn’t last very long either.  Now the other thing I’d like to warn you about is in the very early morning hours, my children like to blare “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round” right in the back yard.  It really helps them to get their energy on for the day.  I promise I won’t let them start before 6 a.m.

Otherwise, it should be an awesome party.  Hope you enjoy!

If you have any questions or concerns, please address them my way and leave it with the neighbor to the right of me.

With lots of love, kindness and mutual respect!

Sincerely,

Your Neighbor Julia

XOXOXOXO