December 31, 2007


After weeks of waiting, the Ford dealer finally contacted Emily regarding the car she'd won. So Emily made an appointment to visit the Ford Dealer in Santa Monica. I went with her to see how all this was going to play out. And it ended up being a surprisingly great experience.

While it was actually a 2008 Ford Explorer that Emily had won on the Price is Right, she had the choice of picking any vehicle she wanted (off the base price of the the Explorer she'd won)--- all she had to do was pay whatever the difference might be. And so after looking over the Explorer (average city mileage of about 13 mpg) vs. a brand new Ford Escape Hybrid (average city mileage of 30mpg)--- it wasn't a tough choice for her to make. She picked the 2008 Escape Hybrid.

Oh, I'm sorry. Was I parking too loud?

Personally I'm not a fan of American built cars, particularly Fords. But, I do know that in general American trucks and SUVs are highly rated, particularly the Ford Explorer, and especially the Ford Escape Hybrid. And I gotta admit, this Escape is a great looking mid-sized SUV.

Stop looking at my rack.

Getting a hybrid had less to do with saving the environment and more to do with saving $$ on fuel. But being "green" while driving an SUV helps limit the guilt factor I suppose. The Escape that Emily picked - this is the first one she saw on the lot - is loaded to the teeth with extras: navigation system, power everything, cruise control, sunroof, satellite radio, seat warmers, VIP lounge and monkey containment center. Okay, not the lounge, but everything else... okay OKAY, no monkey containment center either.

Be honest. Does this bumper make my trunk look fat?

So far Emily is really happy with the Escape. I've driven it quite a bit and I have to say I'm a convert, it's a great drive, a sharp looking truck, seems to have plenty of power, and it gets killer mileage - it's averaging 32.5 mpg. Woo-HOO!

But it could really use a monkey containment center.


A combative monkey can really mess up that new car smell.

Now I've got to convince Emily to go on Deal Or No Deal and go for the big bucks.

November 7, 2007

Emily on The Price Is Right!

Lotsa' pictures on this post and a video at the end.
This may take a minute or two to load, so you might
want to get yerself a cup o' coffee or a snack or somethin'.

If you follow my blog, then you know that back on October 16th Emily and I went to a taping of "The Price Is Right", and Emily made it not only to contestants row, but she also won a car! We were told by CBS that her episode wouldn't air until November 27th... well, barely three weeks went by and on November 5th Emily got calls from people in Florida (she's from Orlando) who had seen her on the show. So it was a frantic rush to try and set a recorder to catch the episode. Which we were able to do.

CBS was tryin' to be sneaky and air the show without us knowing. No wonder the writers are on strike.

Emily in the lower left, "OhMyGodOhMyGodOhMyGod!"

Contestants Row, careful... they bite.

Emily bids on... ugly bar set!

And wins!

Emily confuses Drew with a barrage of blather and double-talk.

But she gets to play for... A NEW CAR!

More blather, more double-talk, and now SCREAMING!

The "Hole In One" putting course.

Just put these in the right order of prices, lowest to highest...
(The products, not the girls.)

Emily checks with the audience... does a magical girlie dance...

...then makes her picks and Drew openly mocks her efforts.

She gets all the prices RIGHT! And putts right next to the hole!

It's an easy WIN!!!! She becomes airborne!

Okay, you can stop jumping around now. Really. You can stop.
Um... you're embarrassing me.

Emily won the 2008 Ford Explorer. After her win she got to spin the big wheel to see if she could get into the Final Showcase, but sadly that's when her luck changed. The wheel came loose from its mount and rolled across the set, injuring three camera men, and then it went into the audience where dozens of people were hurt and a woman later died... but it wasn't due to the wheel, she was hit by a bus on her way home from the taping.

Okay-okay... none of that happened. What really happened was Emily's wheel spin went over one dollar, disqualifying her from the Final Showcase. But if the wheel had come loose, that woulda' been cool.

Emily was jumping, hopping, and leaping about so much that she pulled a muscle in her neck/shoulder. She was actually relieved that she didn't win the wheel spin so she could sit down and relax. He neck hurt for a week, but that's a small price to pay for a new car. Unless of course you hurt your neck getting hit by a new car. In this case I think it was worth it though.

Anyway, here's the video of Emily's stint on The Price Is Right! So you can see for yourself.

November 1, 2007


Smile if you've still got skin!

Holy crap do I love Halloween! Always have, ever since I was a wee-one. It's my favorite holiday. And every year around Halloween the improv troupe I perform with (The National Comedy Theatre, San Diego) does our "Spooktacular" shows. Actually, in years past, our "Spooktacular" shows were 90 minutes of pure suck. It was our worst show of the year. Oh sure, we'd carve a pumpkin and hang up a bendy cardboard skeleton or two... but the vibe of the whole thing was never quite right. So we began to fear and loathe our Halloween improv shows.

Well, about 5 years ago I decided to sort of take over the duties of "Spooktacular" and really dress it up. We needed to embrace the horror of the whole thing. So every year, I plan on about a 4 to 5 day ordeal, preparing the theatre for the shows.

First off, we cheese up the performance. The team dives into the campiness of doing "spooky" improv games, and everything is themed to go with Halloween, even down to our big "Spooktacular" show ending... complete with dramatic music, the team killed off one by one with arrow shots, and then fog filling the theatre as we all return to life as zombies and shamble off the stage to Thriller.

Quick! See if you can spot when I turn on the fog machine!
(For some reason this video is kinda jerky, especially at the end, don't know why.)

It's haunting hokum at its best, or worst, depending on how you feel about it all.

Once we started to embrace the Spooktacular show, it quickly became our most popular show of the year. We've had a couple of slow years... like this one, with all the fires burning in San Diego. But over all, it's a good night and a lot of fun. And a big part of what Spooktacular is, is haunting up the theatre.

The poor man's Time Tunnel. (Yeah, look up that reference.)

Our normal stage is basically a black-box, with a big, yellow border around it. Why a big yellow border? You got me, but it's there and it's square. So this year I decided to cover it up as best I could. Over the past 5 years I've picked up a lot of Halloween props and decorations to use, and each year I add new stuff. This year I bought more black material! Woo-hoo-- DRAPES!

Who said this was a bare bones production?

The idea is to make it all look as much like a haunted mansion type thing as possible, yet still be a space where improv actors can perform. On either side of the stage, there are raised platforms. On the stage right side there is a platform we use as an elevated stage to add levels to scenes. On stage left is another platform that is used primarily for storage. Both these platforms are great for dressing up. Stage left is where I put the graveyard. Below is the entrance to the graveyard, it's what audience members first see when they walk up the stairs into the theatre.

Um... everything seems to have teeth here. I am NOT okay with this.

This year there was a TV on the platform. It was being used for a sketch show. Since it was there I decided to implement it into the whole Spooktacular theme. And what better way, than with my big fat head!

So, that's what a real headstone looks like.

I video taped myself as just a floating head and put it on the TV. All the head did was look around at the audience before the show. The head looks around, glares at people, gets angry, even falls asleep. There's 45 minutes of this video, not a loop. Eh, I had a free evening to sit and stare into the camera. Actually, I did it really late at night, so when I fall asleep on camera, I really dozed for a few minutes.

The other platform is where Mr. Bones sits and watches the show. This year, however, I gave him a family.

Mr. Bones, the Wife and Kid hanging out at the theatre.

Once the theatre's all dressed up, all we do as add spooky music, light all the electric candles, lower the houselights and presto! Spooktacular is ready to begin.

I performed in 5 shows over Spooktacular weekend. Two on Friday, both of which went great. Then three shows on Saturday. The first show was the best, the second was full of drunks, but still fun, and then we did a Midnight long-form show, our "Midnight Spooktacular". That's a free-form long form improv show where we can swear and take more adult themes.

Who's hungry for ribs?

And then on Sunday, I had to tear it all down again and the theatre returned to normal.

Spooktacular 2007 was officially over.

I'll have to wait a year for the next Spooktacular... but even so, I always carry a little Spooktacular with me year round. Well, not literally. I guess I'm just kinda' creepy.

October 19, 2007

The Price Was Right!

Tuesday was an interesting day...

Emily has always wanted to be on a game show and so she organized a skip day where we went to a taping of the New Price Is Right with Drew Carey. Our friends Rob and Terri also came along.

After arriving at the CBS studios downtown early in the morning, sitting around for a couple of hours, then getting processed, herded, interviewed, then herded some more, finally we were seated in the studio ready for the show to start. This was after nearly 5 hours.

Then the show began. It was lightning fast how quickly it all happened, and what occurred next was just a blur...

Emily was the FIRST named called out of the audience. She remained in "contestant's row" for two rounds, then on the third bid she won! A really, kinda' ugly bar set...

No wonder those stools are empty,
they'll get "fancy" all over you if you sit on them.

She went up on stage, met Drew, and played the putt-putt golf pricing game. She got all the prices right, and got to putt from about a foot away from the hole. And for that one foot she was Tiger Woods (I dunno any LPGA golfers to reference) and she made the hole, and won a 2008 Ford Explorer! The place went nuts.

I'm gonna drive over that bar and crush its fancy ass!

It was surreal.

She then moved onto the Big Wheel round, but ended up going out and not making it into the final showcase - which was fine, the Explorer was the best item to win that they had on the show.

The episode won't air until November 27th. I'll post more with images after it airs. But for now, it's still freaky and seems like it almost didn't happen.

But it did.

Oh, one last thing... before the show, while we were waiting to get herded into the studio, Emily and I were interviewed by 20/20 about The Price Is Right, Drew being the new host, etc.

Not sure when that will air, but I'm pretty certain that 20/20 will be showing clips of Emily jumping all over the stage when she won her car in addition to our interview.

I forgot to mention that Emily also won $500 for guessing all the prices correctly and won a year's supply of Oxyclean. Woo-hoo!

It was a good day.

September 20, 2007

20th Anniversary Party!

First off, lemme say that I'm an idiot... a dolt... a globe spinner... a cabbage hurler of the first order! For some reason (that I can't explain) I took very few pictures at the Live on Tape party! I must have been more interested in interacting with the friends that I hadn't seen in years rather than rushing around to capture Kodak moments. So I guess my lack of digital recording was due to "honorable" reasons... but now I'm really wishing I had grabbed more pictures. Live and never learn I guess... oh well.

A few days before the party, on Friday, Sean Leary did a really nice write-up that ran in the local papers regarding LoT. This was a nice way to lead-in to prepping for the party. There were a couple of days of set-up drama making sure the projector was working properly...

Um... are you sure this plays DVDs?

...and then running around to pick up food and snacks. But it all went smoothly. Thanks especially to Jeff Adamson (manager of ComedySportz) for being a huge help in putting this together with me.

Overall I thought the little reunion was a great success! We were scheduled to open up at 7pm, but when Jim Loula arrived at 6pm (thinking that's when the party started)-- he got roped into helping me and Jeff Adamson set-up. That's what you get for being eager.

The party was held at the ComedySportz theatre in Rock Island IL.

It may look small in the front, but it's big in the back.
Just like most hearty Midwesterners.

About 40 or so people attended, pretty much the number I'd expected - I'd hoped for more, but you don't always get what you want.

Aw CRAP! Looks like we're gonna miss the party.

There were those who had moved away, had job or family commitments - they were missed. All in all it was still a good turn out with most of the important faces present.

Where oh where, has all the hair gone?...
Janos "Arnie" Horvath, Tom "E.J." Hart, and Don "Clive" Abbott

Actually Don still has ALL his hair (damn him) he just shaved
his head for the party so
that he'd fit in... or maybe he's mocking us.

Scott "Bongo" Hoyt and Merlin "Zippy" Nelson

Brandon "Ron Dyne" Lovested and Don "I'll have my hair back in a week" Abbott

Monta "Many Characters" Ponsetto
Jeff Adamson lurks in the back, drinking and plotting...
"Vun day, zee vorld vill be mein!"

Barb "Paula Sanders" Engstrom

Nosey, kickin' back with a brew.

Most, not all, of the cast from Live on Tape - today.
Back Row - Nosey, Tom Hart, Janos Horvath, Brandon Lovested,
Don Abbott, Pat Flaherty, Jim Loula, Scott Hoyt
Front Row - Lora Adams, Patti Flaherty, Barb Engstrom
Monta Ponsetto, and Merlin Nelson Jr.
(Scott Tunnicliff, not pictured, was also present!)

My plan was not to sit and watch old Live on Tape episodes, but to have clips running and then everyone mingling -- however, the nearly two hours of clips I'd prepared kept everyone watching, and thankfully laughing.

Jim Loula, Jennifer Horvath, Janos Horvath, and Lou Naab... not
laughing when this was taken, but they were later, honest!

And that was a wonderful surprise, seeing that (after all these years) what we had done back in the late 80's still made people laugh. It was great. I ran clips, we mingled, we watched bloopers, we drank, we ate, we caught up - it was exactly what I had wanted, and hopefully everyone else had as much fun as I did.

Thanks to everyone, not just the cast members and those who'd contributed to Live on Tape, but also to the friends and family who were there- thanks for making it a great time.

September 13, 2007


I've been woefully behind in keeping up this blog. Over a month has passed since I left my tale of frustration regarding the ever-smiling Care Bears and my attempt to see the movie I wrote... ah, but I've been busy - and aren't we all? For the past several weeks I've been preparing for a modest Live on Tape reunion that will be taking place this Sunday in Rock Island, Illinois. From 7pm to 10pm at The Speak Easy (aka ComedySportz) there will be a little gathering with former cast members, friends, and any fans who might show up. I'm not expecting a big crowd, perhaps 25 to 30 people... mostly it's just a chance to reconnect, visit with old friends, and watch some clips from the show.

Why the hell did we wait 20 years to do this?

So, for the occasion I've cut together a clip reel comprised from all the episodes of Live on Tape. It's taken me weeks to complete, and now I have it done! - nearly two hours of clips and bits from the show. No skit or clip runs past 3 minutes and most them are (thankfully) under a minute - that's the beauty of modern video editing, you can rework, reedit, and rethink. Some of the old skits were painfully long, but no more! I've trimmed, cut, and hacked them down.

Once this was a fine animal with lotsa' extra parts.
Well, I cut 'er down to just the tasty bits!

I went through all the shows (over sixty episodes) and picked not necessarily the
best moments, but moments that were memorable or stood out to me.

Um... this is a lotta crap, you know that, right?

I also tried to find clips that featured some of the people who might be attending the Live on Tape gathering. What I ended up with was a good cross-section of what Live on Tape was, and something that represents the spirit of what we did 20 years ago. Eh, I'm not trying to make it sound like any great thing (it wasn't) but a lot of sweat and innocent love went into putting the show together. It's nice to look back upon it now.

My goal with the party is NOT to have everyone sit around and just watch old clips or episodes...

Oh no... not another episode!

...but to have the video up and running while people wander in and out, catching a few moments here and there as they mingle and converse.

So that's been my plan for this very inauspicious 20 year "reunion". Well, now I'm here, back in the Quad Cities - I flew into Chicago and drove to Moline late tonight. I'm looking forward to Sunday and seeing people I have not seen in a long while. I also have a sense of impending "closure".

I've waited a long time for this...

Now maybe I can put it all to rest and leave Live on Tape as part of my history. It's hard to let go of the most fun I've ever had, however time does march on.

Aw, who am I kidding? I'll continue to update the Live on Tape website n' blog... I'll never let go completely.

August 14, 2007

Oopsy Does It!

(Okay, a bit of a long wordy post here... with pictures. May take a little while to load. Sorry.)

About a year ago, as I was just finishing up at Disney on Kim Possible, I got a call from my agent to see if I was available to "punch up" a script. I was reluctant since I was really looking forward to having some down-time to work on some of my own projects -- but it's hard to turn down work. So I took the meeting.

The script was for a new Care Bears movie and SD Entertainment (who was producing the film) wanted me to do a general punch up on the story. Trouble is, I don't generally write for the pre-school age group and I knew nothing about the Care Bears other than that their plush forms are in toy stores and their ever-smiling mugs are on everything from greeting cards to bed sheets.

The Care Bears as plush, blankets, bedding and kickin' it Broadway style!
Too much sweetness... can't go on... must look away...

So, I read the script, and I have to say that it was... um...

Ach! Heinrich this trip has been a flaming success! need of a lot of work.

I'm by no means a great writer, but from what I could tell it needed more than a "punch-up". There was no time to start over with it, so I had about a week to rework the entire thing, however I had to keep their original story. So I scrambled through a draft as fast as I could, and despite my lack of knowledge with the Care Bears and their world (I got their genders all messed up -- yes, Care Bears do have different genders - don't think about that too much though) SD and American Greetings (who owns the Care Bears) were happy with my draft. So it moved forward and on into production. That was a year ago.

Flash forward to August 4th - the Care Bears film "Oopys Does it" is released in selected theatres across the US. Well, any chance to see something you've written on the big screen is an event, so Emily and I picked a Saturday to see it.

Oh, if it were only that easy...

As I said, Care Bears was playing in only select theatres. So we had to sniff it out and see where it was playing. And the closest location to me was out in Rancho Cucamonga (about a 50 mile drive from my house in the Valley). It was showing at 10:30 in morning, so we got to the theatre at about 10am.

There were plenty of kids and their parents headed toward the theatre when we got there. Emily wanted to get a picture of me next to the poster for the movie. Trouble was... there was no poster for Care Bears outside the theatre... nor any mention of it on the marquee... not even any sort of sign or leaflet posted in the ticket booth!

When I inquired about Care Bears to the person in the ticket booth, they knew nothing about it. Emily insisted that they'd advertised it the paper. So the booth person asked around and eventually came back and said that "yes" they were showing "Care Bears". I bought two tickets. And then Emily noticed a stack of post-card sized fliers tucked off to the side in the ticket booth and asked the booth person for a bunch of them. This person seemed utterly astonished to see the fliers, as if he'd never before seen bits of paper stacked in such a fashion. He gave us a two of them. I guess that constitutes "a bunch".

One of the fliers, nearly actual size.
Try to read my name in the
credits at the bottom, I dare you!

So everything seemed on track. We had our ticket... well, it was really more of a receipt. It even said so at the top. I should have suspected trouble when instead of a ticket you get something that looks like you'd find at the bottom of a grocery bag.

Hey, where's my double coupon discount?

So, with receipt in hand we headed into the lobby. I showed my "ticket" to the girl taking tickets and she seemed utterly baffled. "Care Bears? We're showing Care Bears?" She looked at me as if I'd just grown a third eye and winked at her. So before letting us in, she had to ask around to find out which theatre the movie was showing -- eventually we were told to go to theatre four. Whew!

Well, the tough part's over. All we have to do is get to our seats and watch the movie. And we had our pick of any seat we wanted, because theatre four was completely EMPTY!

Please sir. No standing in the aisle before the movie.

Even though we'd seen a steady stream of kids and their parents entering the theatre, none of them were coming to see Oopsy Does it. Which makes perfect sense considering that the theatre didn't seem to even know that they were showing the film themselves.

So we took the prime seats in the middle. A few minutes later, a young mother with her little boy came in and sat down. So now there were four of us!

The previews started. I was actually getting a little excited about seeing the completed film - and on the big screen no less! The previews weren't really what I would consider appropriate for a young, G Rated audience before a film with pre-school sensibilities... but they were all trailers I'd seen on TV. Oh well, the theatre must show the same trailers in each of their theatres... must be automated or so I figured.

And then... IT happened.


What we all thought was just another movie trailer turned out to not be. It was the film Hot Rod and it was just starting. Within the first 30 seconds the words "ass" and "shit" tumbled out from the speakers, which prompted the mother to jump up, scramble to grab her little boy and get out of the theatre fast.

At this point I couldn't help but be amused at how incompetent this theatre had been, and I was pretty much ready to give up trying to see the movie. But Emily marched out into the lobby and she and the mother tracked down a manager. Apparently the theatre didn't realise anyone was there to see the Care Bears movie. But they agreed to stop Hot Rod, and start up Oopsy Does It.

And so... a few minutes later the movie began.

Look! I got top billing!

With the movie rolling finally, we settle in to watch it. Oopsy Does It is a 3-D CGI feature. It's not Pixar, but it looks really nice. MUCH better than I had anticipated. The animation is really good, the designs are bright and soft. Everything looks like cotton candy. The story gets a little wonky in a couple of spots, but overall it holds together fairly well as a sweet film for the little ones. It be a nice DVD gift for the holidays.

And then IT happened again! (okay, not the same "it" but a different "it).

In the middle of the movie, all the lights came on in the theatre. The movie kept rolling, but the lights remained on. This lasted for about 6 or 8 minutes, and then FWOMP, the lights suddenly went out again. Emily and I just shook our heads at how crappy this movie going experience has been.

Now I remember why I hate going to the theatre!

The movie ends. It was fun, despite all the difficulties, I really liked getting to see it on the screen. I wish there'd been an audience to see it with. The one little boy with his mother seemed to enjoy it. He did appear to get a little frightened when the villain, Grizzle captures a couple of the bears (Oopsy and Cheer). Which made me happy. Not that he was frightened, but that he a reaction to the film. Okay, maybe I was a little happy he was frightened, he probably deserved it.

After the movie there was time for a little Q & A with the audience.

Yes, you there in the green... you have your hand up.

No. I was just stretching. And DON'T POINT AT ME!

I let my production studio and American Greetings know how much trouble it'd been to try to watch the film. They were glad I was able to pass along the info, but not at all happy to hear about our experience.

I've got no pithy or clever way to end this post, so I'll just throw in a plug for what I'm currently working on:

I continue to story edit and write on the 2-D animated Care Bears series that will be on CBS this fall.

2-D Care Bears

And then after this I've been contracted to write another 3-D Care Bears feature. But this time I won't be heading out to Rancho Cucamonga to see it when it's completed.