Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sweeped Away

Maybe I would be cuter if I had a brother?

Have you been watching reality television this year?  Cute brothers are this year's competition reality raison d'etre.  Which, quite frankly, is a welcome change from the standard issue "token gay team," "inspiring handicapped contestant," and "sweet old people who make it further than you think they would but still lose."  Thankfully, they haven't totally pre-empted the "couple on the verge of marriage who clearly aren't getting there because he's an abusive dick or she's a totally manipulative whiny bitch."

Because that's the reason I participate in pop culture to begin with.  Well, that and special moments like Sarah Palin's book.  Really, am I the only one who expected it to be a Pop-Up book?  Wouldn't that have been fun?  Like, you turn the page to the Chapter on Foreign Policy and there's Alaska and you can tug on the Aleutian Archipelago (string of islands that make Alaska look like it has a tail" and a Russian castle appears with Vladimir Putin waving at Sarah.

But more about television later.

This week has been all about agents.  First, I spent a lot of time negotiating with real estate agents over a house we saw last weekend that we're trying to buy.  I think half the reason I want to buy it is the crash in the real estate market.  Usually I get involved in something five minutes before its market tanks (I starting working at international software company SAP one month before the tech bubble burst. )  For once, I feel like I have a chance to get in after the damage has been done and prices are at or close to rock bottom.

So, of course, after we negotiate our way to a deal, my agent calls me to tell me the seller wants to raise the price.  You'd laugh and think this is uncommon, but this is the second time we've tried to buy a house only to have the seller try to raise the price.  Call me crazy, but isn't this basically the equivalent of going to a restaurant, ordering dinner, and then having the waiter saw, "Yeah, I know the menu says $14.95, but we decided we want to charge you $19.95."

Oh - and the best part: the seller owns multiple properties and lives in a penthouse on the Upper East Side.  So there was no way we were agreeing to a price increase.  At the end of the day, she stuck by the deal, but not without spending needless cycles getting right back to where we started.

I also dealt with theatrical agents.  First, trying to get one for myself, as I find myself getting more and more opportunities in hosting and developing television shows, and knowing less and less about how to protect myself and represent my own interests.  Thankfully, some good friends have helped me get in touch with the agents they work with and trust, but one experience stands out.  An agent who had passed on my portfolio a few months ago was contacted, since his agency does a lot of hosting work.  Despite the fact that I wasn't even asking him to fully represent me, just freelance for one project because I'm fairly far along and don't understand the process.  He wouldn't even take a meeting.

I know I'm supposed to be stolid and confident through all of this, because there are always more "no"s than "yes"es in this business, but stuff like that really torpedoes my confidence.  I mean, if I can make it fairly far along a casting process for a pretty major network and still not generate interest, what the heck do I have to do?

And finally, I dealt with gate agents.  I had to fly to DC on Wednesday morning.  You'd think that US Air Shuttle, with 15 flights from New York to Washington every day - on the hour! - would be a little more efficient in moving people through the airport.  I don't know why they even both to have four security lanes when there's never more than one open at any given time.  I mean, if they aren't opening additional lanes during the morning and evening rushes, when people are flying in for a day's worth of meetings and the line is nearly a hundred people deep, when the hell do they open it?  2pm when soap operas are on and they want to move people through so they can find out if Nicole is really Fred, the former Navy Seal who had a sex change after finding out his psychotic twin brother fathered a half-Cambodian girl that Lisa served gruel to at a soup kitchen before conscripting her into a prostitution ring run by Freemasons?

By the way, in the shuttle departure lounge at LaGuardia, you can always tell who is going to Boston and who is going to DC.  The Boston passengers are generally younger, maybe students, a little edgier and interesting.  The DC passengers are the ugly people in suits.

I spent my day in meetings, then came back to New York (miraculously leaving downtown DC at 5:15 and making it to National Airport in time to clear security and board a 6pm shuttle.  Which somehow left on time.  Evening flights NEVER leave on time for LaGuardia.

When I landed, I called Neil and we agreed to meet at one of our favorite restaurants on the west side, 44andX, at Tenth Avenue and 44th St.  44 and X is a New American restaurant that's been in Hell's Kitchen since long before it was the trendy place that young homos moved to because they could no longer afford Chelsea.

Neil and I shared the chopped salad to start - a Mediterranean inspired salad that includes hearts of palm, avocado, chickpeas and feta.  We were both also really intrigued by the pork, so we got the same dish: an ancho chile rubbed pork tenderloin served atop an almond polenta.  The pork was perfectly cooked, and the nuttiness of the polenta - which was creamy and slightly sweet - cut the salt an spice of the pork perfectly.

We go to 44 and X quite a bit.  The owner and manager, Scott Hart, has been in the neighborhood for years, contributes to local charities particularly those involving the Broadway community, and is always working the restaurant making sure his customers are happy.  He's an excellent host - check out his restaurant.  And for brunch, try the sister location, just up the block, called 44 and 1/2.

Which brings us back to television.  Isn't November sweeps month?  Why did nothing happen on any of my shows this week?  Project Runway had the dull Tim-goes-to-visit-the-finalists-at-their-homes-and-has-dinner-with-their-supportive/skeptical/charming/crazy/old-world-families.  There's always a wacky best friend or a distant father, as well as Tim looking concerned over some piece in their collection that isn't fit for a pet boutique, but other wise the episode is always a total dud; nothing but filler.  BO-ring.

How I Met Your Mother was a snore where Neil Patrick Harris and Cobie Smulders spent the episode in fat suits and old-age make-up, stumbling through the paces of "old married couple" jokes.

Even Melrose Place was low on the suds this week, with some sappy storyline about David taking his little brother to the amusement park.  After the kid gets hurt, his dad, the ever-nasty Michael Mancini is pissed, but becomes tender and touched when David says he just wants to spend time with his little brother.  This is the same guy who once left his psychotic wife to develop a brain aneurysm so he could take advantage of a vulnerable cancer patient. Thankfully, that cancer patient was Amanda Woodward, and she's back next week.

Which leaves us with the only things worth watching this week: on Top Chef, the Chefrechaun and the Hot Brothers were once again on top, while crazy Robin, who lasted a few weeks past her level of competence, was finally the victim of a mercy killing.

And on the Amazing Race, we have the first-ever team of gay brothers: Sam and Dan McMillen.  Sam and Dan brothers from Missouri who recently came out to each other (and 15 million viewers) and decided to run the race.  Once is more introverted, one is a model, and both are born-again Christians.



Do This, New York:

Check out 44 & X.

Stick with Top Chef and Amazing Race

Don't Do This, New York:

You can pretty much dump everything else from this past week's TiVo.  Feh.

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