Saturday, July 02, 2016

Where to go this summer vacation

The 4th of July weekend heralds the real beginning of the summer vacation season. Still don’t know where to go yet? Allow me to help while shamelessly pushing my book, WHERE THE HELL AM I? TRIPS I HAVE SURVIVED.   Order yours here.

WTHAI?TISH (as most people refer to it) is a ten year collection of my humorous travelogues. Here are a few excerpts to help you decide where to go this summer.

DALLAS – (most people’s first choice for August travel) On every corner there’s either a steakhouse or a church. One place called “Holy Cow” could be either or both.

LAS VEGAS -- We hit the beach. Yes, Mandalay Bay has its own beach. Unfortunately, the ocean was turned off. No waves. But Debby (my wife) and I took a long walk along the grid that serves as the shore and gazed out at the horizon to see the Lance Burton Magician billboard on Las Vegas Avenue.

MAUI – Did not see the sunrise at Haleakala. But did get a report from someone who did. A bus picks you up 2:30 in the morning. You drive an hour and a half to the top of this massive shield volcano. By top I mean 10,023 feet. You get out in your shorts, flip flops, and aloha shirt -- it’s pitch black, and 22 degrees (literally). When the sun comes up (two hours later) it will rise to 37. Finally the dawn. It’s breathtaking, awesome, and your teeth are chattering like castanets. You don’t want to even think about the possibility that there’s a YouTube video of this. You get on the bus and either go home or into shock.

For more fun you can bike down the outside of the volcano… like a rocket on a two-lane winding road that hugs a cliff that’s steeper than those in Road Runner cartoons. Bikers must also negotiate tour buses, vans, and tourists in unfamiliar rental cars. In 2007 there were three biker fatalities. Bike tours (when they’re not suspended) are $100 - $150 dollars. Bring a parachute.

But we did visit quaint Lahaina. Strolled past the charming Crazy-T-Shirt and souvenir soap stores. This bawdy whaling port has not changed in a hundred years.

For all the hoopla of Lahaina, we found quite a few other smaller, lesser-known little towns that were far more charming and KFC-free. Paia, for one. It’s advertised as a throwback “hippie” village. And I must say it took me right back to the ‘60s when hippies supported their drug habits by selling gelato.

Makawao is another quaint attraction. Up country, it’s a little cowboy town, specializing in glass blowing – just like Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid used to do. I kept looking for the jail and saloon but alas they’ve given way to art galleries and a market that makes fresh donuts. But get there early. They go fast. There’s usually a shoot-out in the town square for the last cruller.

PHOENIX -- This is a sprawling city of giant shopping malls broken up by sports complexes. Oh, and numerous aircraft bone yards. From rusted out WWII planes to 747s that haven’t flown since Braniff went under, they’re all here. Was hoping to swing by and pick up an L1011 fuselage but time got away.

To get anywhere in Phoenix – to work, a restaurant, the rental car outpost from the airport – you just get on the freeway and go 13.2 miles. Everything is 13.2 miles away. Except Circle K’s. There are two on every corner. How much beef jerky can this town chew?

DENVER -- Denver is the most sexually active city in America. Contraceptive sales are 189% higher within the city limits than the national average (sales of female contraceptives are a whopping 278% higher). Coincidentally, Denver also has the world’s largest brewery (Coors).

Things not to miss: The Butterfly Pavilion insect zoo, the “Mind Eraser” rollercoaster at Elitch Gardens, the giant cement slide at Bear Valley Park that looks like a vagina, the Buckhorn Exchange restaurant with 500 stuffed animals (it’s how I imagine Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s bedroom), the stone marker that claims to be the birthplace of the cheeseburger, and any CVS pharmacy for contraceptives.

ST. LOUIS -- St. Loo is famous of course for the Anheuser-Busch brewery. Although, locals insist it’s not the same now that the Busch family has sold it to Germans. They claim the beer tastes different. I couldn’t tell, but I did notice the Clydesdales goose-stepping in a recent parade.

PHILADELPHIA -- Meant to get out to the Mutter Museum, founded originally to educate doctors of the 19th Century and current HMO’s. Big attractions include conjoined twins and a catalog of foreign objects removed from bodies. Bring the kids!

This is the birthplace of two major revolutions – the American and shopping. It is in nearby Westchester that QVC is located, which is why I thought I saw Marie Osmond at baggage claim waiting at the carousel for 42,000 dolls to come down the chute.

WASHINGTON D.C. -- So much to see: the monuments, Gennifer Flowers’ apartment, Capitol Hill, Paula Jones’ apartment, the White House, Monica Lewinsky’s apartment, the Smithsonian, the DC Madam’s place, the Mint, Elizabeth Ray’s apartment, Arlington Cemetery, Donna Rice’s apartment, and the Watergate hotel.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Fisherman's Wharf is filled with colorful street performers: mimes and jugglers, etc. Most unique was the “Shrub Guy.” He hides behind a shrub in camouflage and when unsuspecting tourists stroll by he leaps out scaring the shit out of them. Meanwhile, other people observe nearby, laugh, and give him money. On a grander scale this is how Liza Minnelli now makes her living.   (Sadly, the "Shrub Guy" has moved on.)

BOSTON -- Swung by the Quincy Market. There we ran across the new second Cheers bar. This one, they claim, is set up exactly like the one on TV. Maybe if you've never seen the show. The bar is square and two or three of the pictures on the back wall are the same. Otherwise, the bar on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine looks more like the real Cheers.

MILWAUKEE – (on the road with the Dodgers) stayed at the historic Pfister. The Pfister is pfirst class. It’s an old regal downtown hotel that just happens to be haunted. Some ballplayers are so freaked they stay elsewhere, or sleep holding a bat for protection. Carlos Gomez of the Twins was getting out of the shower and his iPod suddenly went haywire, so instead of calling AppleCare (or Ghostbusters?), he raced out to the lobby without his pants. I shared a room with the Ghost of Christmas Future. He told me that “UFC Undisputed” will sell out quick this season so shop early.

One thing I’ve discovered about Milwaukee – it’s in a time warp. The buildings, the cars, the people – it’s 1956. Friday night’s postgame concert featured newcomers Buddy Holly and the Crickets. In an attempt to blend in I wore an “Adlai Stevenson for President” button.

FLORIDA – (business trip with my writing partner, David) If a studio was paying for this trip we would have stayed in Naples. But since it was our own dime, Bonita Beach was our Gateway to the Gulf home. In the ‘20s there was this cult, the Koreshans, who believed that Bonita Beach was the center of the world. It was a celibate tribe so unfortunately it no longer exists. (Darwin works!) There’s just a state park in their honor. And if I’m not mistaken, the Hampton Inn we were staying at is at the center of Bonita Beach, and room 229, just to our left, is the absolute DEAD center of the world.

No wonder the Holiday Inn across the street is proud. Their marquee proclaims “Number one guest rated shower heads.”

Favorite store name (maybe ever): “Master Bait & Tackle Shop” on Bonita Beach Road. Yes, I purchased t-shirts.

See? How can you leave home without this book???


Lin said...

Nothing to do with today's topic. Just thought you guys might be interested in reading an unproduced script by David Lloyd -- one of the masters of the genre -- written for the 1970s Valerie Harper series RHODA.

Thought it might be of interest, since questions seem to come up fairly regularly about how to handle stage directions, or other aspects of script writing. Sometimes it's helpful just to see how a pro does it.

I was amused to read comments on the script by people who have written, oh, just DOZENS of sitcom scripts themselves, I'm sure, who feel more than qualified to criticize Lloyd's script and tell us what's wrong with it and what he should have done to improve it.

Matt said...

No love for Seattle? You called games here. 😎

YEKIMI said...

the giant cement slide at Bear Valley Park that looks like a vagina. So is it the Bear Valley Park that looks like a vagina or the slide? If it's the slide I bet the line for it is about two hours long and mostly men [and a few lesbians] are waiting to go down it.

Circle K's....near where I work there are four of them less than a mile from each other. At one of them you can go out to the sidewalk and look down the road and read the sign on the other one to see how much they're charging for gas. If it's cheaper, hop in your car and away you go. They're on opposite sides of the road but it's not like it's a 30 lane highway that you have to cross risking life and limb to get from one to the other.

Mike Barer said...

Not on your list:
Walla Walla You can't whine about the wineries except too many to visit on one trip.

Seaside OR Because it is as the name suggests.
Nearby Cannon Beach, boring to kids who love Seaside, but artsy and adult oriented much like Carmel By The Sea.

Penticton,BC Two lakes instead of an ocean with a big casino resort.

Unknown said...

Hi Ken, I sent you a private message on Facebook about the episode of Almost Perfect with Marie Osmond. I was hoping I could purchase a copy from you!! Thanks, Dave

Donna said...

Thanks, Lin, for posting the David Lloyd script. I wasn't a fan of the RHODA series, but it was interesting to read.

I noticed that Lloyd's stage directions were very lean. There when they needed to be, and they said what they needed to say, but no more. In a screenwriting class I took, one issue that came up was that a lot of us had trouble keeping our stage directions to a minimum. We had a tendency to turn into control freaks, writing lots of detailed directions to the cast, director, etc., specifying exactly how our masterpieces were to be handled. A lot of the rest of the cast tended to go in the opposite direction, putting in so little direction that, reading their scripts, you'd sometimes find yourself a little lost about exactly what was going on. They were too vague to be able to visualize what was supposed to be happening, and it wasn't always as obvious as the writers thought.

All of which is a long-winded way of asking, Ken, is handling stage directions in scripts one of those learning curve things? Is it one of those things where, the more you write, the more you get a feel about what you do need to say in terms of direction and what you don't? Ken, how do you handle stage directions yourself? Do you prefer to keep them to a minimum? How do you decide whether they are or are not necessary? Do you look at stage directions differently as a writer than you do as a director? Has directing changed how you look at stage directions?

was amused to read comments on the script by people who have written, oh, just DOZENS of sitcom scripts themselves, I'm sure, who feel more than qualified to criticize Lloyd's script and tell us what's wrong with it and what he should have done to improve it.

LOL. Doesn't surprise me. The world is full of people who can't or won't create squat themselves, but are only too willing and anxious to tell the people who are trying to create what they're doing wrong. That's probably why there are always more network executives giving notes than there are script writers.

Unknown said...

What? No mention of Chicago? You can review the hospitals after getting shot.

Fred said...

Oh, the guy who runs the site that posted the RHODA script drives me nuts. A friend of mine directed me to his site, but I stopped reading it pretty quick. He's one of those types who feels perfectly qualified to pick apart CHEERS, THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, ALL IN THE FAMILY, I LOVE LUCY, and other classics, season by season, and tell us what they all did wrong and what they should have done to have fixed things. It's a damn shame that brilliant people like him are wasting their time posting to the web when Hollywood would doubtless pay millions to him and others like him to sit back and tell them what's wrong with all their TV shows and movies. Oh, wait. For him to be able to fix things would mean he'd have to be able to spot the problems ahead of time. His specialty, and the specialty of people like him, is playing Monday morning quarterback, and sitting back thirty-five years later and telling us what was wrong with the final season of ALL IN THE FAMILY and how they could have made it better. How very helpful.

And kindly sharing with us what was wrong with David Lloyd's RHODA script and what Lloyd should have done to made it work is presumptuous as hell. Not that David Lloyd was infallible. But he had a hell of a good track record. What the hell has this guy ever written that gives him the right to correct Lloyd and say, "Well, this is okay, but you needed to have done this and this and this to make it really come together."