Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Day I Met Carrie Fisher

Tonight I saw Carrie Fisher's one-woman Broadway show, WISHFUL DRINKING, and it was excellent. Hilarious, honest, scathing and definitely worth seeing. But after the show is when things got really interesting....

As we exited the theatre (Studio 54, natch), we passed the stage door and contemplated waiting for her to come out so we could try to catch a close-up glimpse. We hemmed and hawed and were actually about to decide to leave, when suddenly..... she appeared! Just like that, I was just a few feet away from the woman who, once upon a time, donned a gold bikini and provided me with my six-year-old self with my first-ever feelings of.... well, I wrote enough about that a couple of entries ago. Granted, she's now 53 years old and has been through literally a lifetime of craziness, addictions of all kinds, etc.... but dammit, she's still PRINCESS FREAKIN' LEIA... and at that moment, I was more starstruck than I've ever been in my life.

Now, at this point, things started to move really fast and it's all kind of a blur. But to make what could be a very long, rambling story short: I MET CARRIE FISHER. Told her that the show was great. Handed her my Playbill, which she signed (with a Sharpie that she had on her, nice). Wanted to tell her that I've been a fan since I'm sure she can imagine when, but wussed out. Instead asked if I could take a picture with her, and she graciously said yes. Put my arm around her and smiled a huge, goofy smile as she put her head on my shoulder. I repeat: PRINCESS LEIA'S HEAD WAS ON MY GOD DAMN SHOULDER. Excuse me as I let that sink in a little more....................... nice.

Despite the fact that I was pretty much floating on air at this point, I managed to thank her and then moved out of the way so others could have their moment. Tried to save the picture on my cell phone and realized it was in "Send" mode, so frantically tried to send it to my girlfriend, Rachel (who, bless her heart, indulged my ridiculousness the whole time), to ensure that everything saved properly. While this was happening, heard Carrie Fisher ask someone if they had an extra cigarette. Looked up and realized that she was asking RACHEL, who gave her a cigarette AND a light. So not only did I meet & interact with Princess Leia... but SHE BUMMED A SMOKE OFF MY GIRLFRIEND! So surreal and so amazing.

And, well, there you have it. Carrie Fisher, thank you for being so nice even though you must have known exactly why I was there and why I was so excited to meet you. You are awesome! Gotta wonder, though... if I had been brave enough to say, "I love you," would she have replied, "I know?" I'd like to think so... :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Say it with me now, Mets fans....


I mean, goddamn... the Indians and Nationals clearly wanted him, seeing as how he was a finalist for both jobs... but both failed to hire him, most likely because he was just too expensive. This is getting too close for comfort. The Mets NEED to kiss Jerry goodbye & throw a pile of money at Bobby IMMEDIATELY. Don't wait for the team to get off to a bad start in 2010, because by then it may be too late. The Mets need a guy who can inject some fire into the clubhouse... who has the skill and knowledge to make the best of whatever roster and situation he is faced with... and who can generate some legitimate excitement amongst the disgruntled fan base with his mere presence. I'm NOT saying that the Mets would automatically win the World Series with Bobby at the helm -- but I AM certain that they would not have choked in '07 and '08 if he'd been there to light a fire under their complacent asses. He just wouldn't have allowed it to happen -- his influence would've been able to squeeze out the one or two wins necessary to make the playoffs. (Hell, it worked in '99!) Last year was a lost cause because of the injuries, but I have to imagine that he would have made the most out of what they had to work with, and at the very least made sure they continued to play hard to the very end.

Any team in their right mind should want to sign Bobby V -- especially those that are so tantalizingly close to contention. It's just that few can, because of the price tag (and, indeed, some might foolishly be scared of the baggage). Bobby is a true baseball genius and one of the most flat-out entertaining managers ever. I think it is understood everywhere (except, apparently, the front offices at Citi Field) that he and the Mets are a perfect match, and they are fortunate that no one has snagged him yet. However, if they keep sitting on their asses, their luck will eventually run out... and then the true extent of my fury will be unleashed.

Bring back Bobby V, and Mets fans will treat him like a king and savior. I guarantee that Citi Field will be rocking on Opening Day 2010 like it never really did in its dismal inaugural season. Bobby's mere presence will help banish some of the demons of the past few years and give the fans a reason to get excited again. So, fellow Mets fans, let's get a chant going and maybe somebody in the organization will pay attention....


Monday, November 9, 2009

My PRECIOUS Connection

A couple of years ago, I returned home from a weekend in North Carolina and found a notice posted on my apartment door. Much to my surprise, it appeared that my neighborhood was being prepped for use as a location in an upcoming film from the producer of MONSTER'S BALL and THE WOODSMAN, starring Mo'Nique and Lenny Kravitz, among others. At the time, it was entitled PUSH, though it has since been changed to the clunky title PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL "PUSH" BY SAPPHIRE, presumably because they didn't want to get it confused with a sci-fi movie called PUSH that came out earlier this year (of course, nobody saw that movie, so it probably wouldn't have been an issue -- but I digress). Anyway, my building and immediate vicinity were to be directly involved, and we were warned about streets being blocked off, weather effects that would be going on, etc.

Now, at the time, I knew nothing about the movie or the book upon which it was based, so my first thought was, "WOW! A film crew in this part of Inwood! With a moderately reputable filmmaker and famous people! Clearly, this area really IS as up-and-coming a location as various publications and real estate forecasters have proclaimed!" But then I looked the movie up on IMDB and found the following blurb:

"In Harlem, an overweight, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction."

Based on this information, it became clear that the decision to film in my neighborhood had nothing to do with the fact that the area has been slowly but surely building up over the years.... but rather that this was probably the most ghetto-looking location they could find for their budget. Bloody hell.

In any event, I had the next day off, and when I awoke and looked out the window, sure enough, there was a full film crew with cameras and cranes and whatnot in the courtyard, and a fake snowstorm was taking place. It was pretty nifty. Later, I looked out the living room window and was surprised to find several pigeons huddled together on the windowsill. Amused, I figured maybe the film crew had scared them from their usual roosts. But then the director (or bird trainer?) lifted his arms, and the birds took off in a sudden burst. I was startled and actually reeled backward a few steps -- so, depending upon how skilled the editors of this film were, there's a good chance that you might be able to see me flailing around in the background of that scene. (God, I hope I was wearing pants that day... though since I was on a vacation day, probably not.)

Eventually, the crew departed this location -- but later, when I went on a bodega run, I found that they had moved right into my building's lobby! They added fake graffiti to the walls and everything. I weaved my way through the cameras and lights and made it outside -- but when I returned, they were filming right at the foot of the stairs I usually take to the second floor, and I was instructed to use the back stairs instead. Normally such an inconvenience would have royally pissed me off... but this time I let it slide for the sake of cinema.

And... well, that's about it. No jam sessions with Lenny Kravitz, nor did I witness any catfights between Mariah Carey and Mo'Nique, nor were there any Oprah sightings. So, I guess this whole story is kind of anticlimactic in that sense. Sorry about that. I have not actually seen the movie yet, so I can't even offer my review, but I hope to be able to do so very soon. And all of you dear readers should go see it, too... yes, because of the Oscar buzz and because it is supposed to be very good and emotionally devastating... but also because you can totally make a drinking game out of all the Ben Deutsch connections! Take a shot if you see my lobby! Take two shots if you see my living room window from the outside! And if you really do see little ol' me, pantslessly retreating from the window when the doves take off... man, I don't even know... take three shots, shotgun a beer and make a wish!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ben's Top 5 Most Memorable Childhood Movie/TV Moments

The other day on Facebook, I mentioned that I'd watched the original V miniseries over the weekend (in preparation, as it turned out, for the new series that premiered last night), and commented that the scene in which the evil alien commander, Diana, eats the guinea pig probably ranks as one of the top 5 most memorable movie & TV moments from my childhood. And that got me to thinking... what are the other four?? Well, I've delved into the recesses of my mind and found the five scenes that most affected me as a child and -- for better or worse -- helped mold me into the man I am today. Here we go....

5. E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982) -- You know the scene where Elliott's brother finds E.T.'s pale, lifeless body at the bottom of the ditch? I distinctly remember sitting in the movie theatre as a five-year-old and bawling hysterically. These were no run-of-the-mill kiddie tears, though. No, this was probably the exact movie moment that turned me into such a softie and made my heartstrings so damn easy for movies to pull. Thanks a lot, Spielberg!

4. V (1983) -- I was only six when V was unleashed over the TV airwaves, but I distinctly remember watching it with my cousins and freaking out when Diana ate that damn guinea pig. Granted, it didn't turn me into a superfan, and in fact I didn't watch it again in its entirety until a few days ago... but it was one of those things that stuck deep into my subconscious mind and would pop up to the surface every once in a blue moon and I'd shiver at the thought. Definitely one of the greatest and scariest revelations in TV or movie history.

3. POLTERGEIST (1982) -- Jeez, take your pick of the scenes from this movie that have haunted me throughout my life: The evil toy clown. The scary-ass tree. The guy ripping his own face off. But the one that always gets me is the big corpse-riddled climax. "YOU MOVED THE HEADSTONES BUT YOU DIDN'T MOVE THE BODIES!!" To this day, this movie (and this scene in particular) is pretty much my standard by which all scary movies are based. I've spent most of my adult life practically begging horror films to scare me as much -- but so far, nothing has come close.

2. FAMILY TIES (1985) -- Remember the episode where a tuxedo-clad Alex P. Keaton races to the train station where he hopes to intercept Ellen and stop her from marrying another guy? And when he finds her there, he pours his heart out to her for the first time and discovers that she feels the same way and they get together? Well, I do. As a kid, I loved FAMILY TIES and idolized Michael J. Fox -- and not only do I believe this to be the defining moment of the show, but it was a defining moment of my young life. In many ways, the buildup of their relationship, highlighted by their emotional dance (with "What did you think / I would do at this moment..." playing in the background) and culminating with Alex's dramatic outpouring of emotion, directly influenced my own romantic views and, occasionally, actions throughout my life. (Not to mention the fact that Alex & Ellen's relationship was the product of a distinct thunderbolt, since Alex initially planned on dating her roommate, only to be knocked for a loop when he met Ellen!) So, girlfriends past and present, now you know what to blame!

...and finally....

-- This one should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me... and if you are a heterosexual male child of my generation, it may be your #1, too. I'm referring, of course, to Slave Leia. Carrie Fisher as Jabba's prisoner wearing the gold bikini was the hottest thing I'd ever seen in my young life, and it filled my six-year-old loins with my first feelings of lust before I even knew what it all meant. The moment that particularly gets me is after Leia kills Jabba and joins the battle. Luke instructs her to "Get the gun! Point it at the deck!" She circles around to the nearby cannon, and in doing so, her skimpy loincloth flutters up just enough to glimpse some serious skin. How much of an impact has this had on my life? Let's put it this way: Petite, curvaceous, dynamic women with long dark hair have long been my physical ideal. Coincidence? I think not!

Honorable Mentions:

THE NEVERENDING STORY (1984) -- Lots of important moments in this movie, ranging from Falcor's flight to the Rock Biter's lament ("They look like good, strong hands... don't they?") to Gmork's revelation... but Bastian's encounter with the Childlike Empress is the most notable for me, for one reason: If Slave Leia gave me my first feelings of lust, then the Childlike Empress was my first crush!

BUILD-UP TO WRESTLEMANIA III (1987) -- Hogan vs. Andre is widely considered to be the most important match in pro wrestling history. But to me, even more memorable than the match was the moment on Piper's Pit when Andre shocked the world and officially turned heel. As a nine-year-old who worshipped Hulk Hogan and loved Andre, watching the Giant join forces with Bobby Heenan, rip Hogan's shirt and gold cross and throw them to the floor, and seeing Hogan drop to his knees in sadness was almost too much to bear!

RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983) -- Yes, again. I mean, really, I could break down this whole movie scene-by-scene and determine how each was memorable -- it was the most-watched movie of my childhood and remains my favorite STAR WARS film. But the final duel -- Luke vs. Vader, with the Emperor looking on and dispensing his memorable taunts -- is the greatest sequence in movie history, and fills me with as much awe today as it did when I was six.

Ah, time is up... how much do I owe you for this therapy session, doctor? I mean, um... there you have it! Now let's hear some comments, criticisms, etc. -- which scenes would make your lists?