Monday, May 29, 2006

Why Sayeth, "Bluetooth"?

Ever wonder why the the name 'Bluetooth' is applied to the system used to unite all sorts of wireless gadgets?

It comes from a Danish Viking and King named, Harald Blatand (long ago translated in english as 'bluetooth'). He lived in the tenth century and united (and controlled) Denmark and Norway. Hence the inspiration for the slogan, "uniting devices through Bluetooth."

The Cost of Being Catholic

Think the parking lot scandal at Hollywood & Highland is something? Read how Hollywood Thoughts may have accidentally uncovered how the Catholic church is recovering millions of dollars spent on legal fees for child abuse cases…

Being a good Aunt, my Wife decided to make the trip to downtown’s, Our Lady of the Angels cathedral to buy a gift for a nephew’s first communion (yes, like any of L.A.’s ‘themed’ venues, Cardinal Mahoney’s digs features a gift shop).

My Wife made her purchase, took our son on a small tour of the grounds, and lit a couple of candles for the dearly departed (two bucks a pop in case you’re considering a trip of your own).

A thought on the cathedral itself:

I don’t care for it. It reminds me of a U-Store-It joint on steroids. Sorta sad to think that they designed the place to stand for 500 years. I can only imagine the disappointment art historians-from-the-future will have when they uncover this uninspiring building.

Did I also mention how much I dislike the cathedral’s highly visible etched trumpeting-angels-on-glass? You’ve seen them—they’re above the freeway and look like a cheesy shower door appliqué.

I digress.

Back to my main point: My wife left the Cathedral after roughly two hours and headed for the underground parking lot. No, Cardinal Mahoney doesn’t validate (at least parking stubs--but perhaps he hands-out free back slaps and an, “Attaboy!” when your internal spirit is sagging).

Imagine my wife’s surprise when she discovered she owed the local archdiocese eighteen bucks for the pleasure of visiting the gift shop, and buying a couple of candles.

Yeah, eighteen bucks.

Now it can be said that the world finally knows the going rate for being a Catholic. If you’ve ever wondered how to calculate the cost of your faith on a minute-by-minute basis, the good Cardinal has the answer:

Three bucks for every twenty minutes.

How’d he arrive at that sum?

Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, had himself a cool pen and breastplate to receive “The Word”— but maybe Mahoney only need look as far as Five Star Parking to get an answer for this age-old question regarding the earthly burden of faith.

There’s more-- and here’s where the fog of scandal descends upon our story of the Lady of the Angels…

When my wife told me how expensive it is to go to church, I did a little research. Parking at the cathedral costs three bucks for every twenty minutes— up to a maximum of $14 dollars.

We were overcharged by $4.

'Big deal,' you say? Sure, it’s a small amount for one person, but in the big picture you wonder how many other folks get scammed. A couple of bucks here and there adds up pretty quick-- just ask the city treasurer about the hundreds of thousands that are missing from their Hollywood lot.

One parking attendant’s honest mistake? Could be… but how hard is it to remember what the maximum charge is?

With legal fees in child abuse cases mounting each day, the mind wonders if a poor Cardinal’s gotta do what a poor Cardinal’s gotta do… ???

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Monorail Ties Together L.A.'s Gems

Seeing that the NFL is still interested in doing business with the L.A. Coliseum, Hollywood Thoughts figured we'd throw-in our own two-cents on the whole shebang...

For a long while we've thought it would be a wise idea to create a 'golden triangle' of L.A.'s more interesting -- but less-utilized -- cultural and entertainment venues.

Specifically, we'd like to see an above-ground monorail built that would connect the L.A. Coliseum/ Natural History Museums to downtown's Broadway Street (home of the Million Dollar, Los Angeles and Orpheum movie palaces). Another spur could connect with the Convention Center (and the Staples Center Arena). Later extensions might link with the Music Center... LAX... or even Dodger Stadium. Eventually the whole project would be a way of uniting all of L.A.'s fun and interesting landmarks.

L.A.'s Broadway Street is a real lost gem. Hollywood Thoughts feels strongly that the street should be blocked from automotive traffic between the Orpheum theatre down to the Million Dollar theatre. The pedestrian-only zone would be similar to Sanata Monica's Third Street promenade-- or Old Town in Pasadena. The three movie palaces -- along with the stores lining the street -- could be rennovated with the same sensitivity as that of the El Capitan in Hollywood.

Think of it: A family could park their car somewhere along Broadway, take a safe & fast trip to the coliseum, attend a football game (or visit one of the museums), and then return to downtown to have a fun stroll and a meal along one of L.A.'s historic streets.

Football's not your game? Fine. Take-in a show at the Ahmanson, and then have dinner on Broadway.

Same goes for our out-of-town visitors. Imagine the positive word-of-mouth L.A. would get from travel agents when they tell their clients to take a monorail from the airport to catch a movie at one of the country's finest theatres-- after a long day at the convention center.

By the way, Hollywood Thoughts thinks it's important to retain the Latin flavor that Broadway has had for the last several years-- some of the mercados should remain. Spanish films should still be shown... just as the classics (how about 'Double Indemnity' at the Orpheum!), and new releases, too.

Why a monorail?

Simple. Walt Disney had it all right. Subways are buried... you never think of them (out of sight, out of mind). Disney knew back in 1959 that a monorail whizzing overhead at sixty miles an hour was a damn good moving-marquee to a guy stuck in traffic. At some point you think, "I really should give that thing a ride." A monorail sends a daily reminder to go visit the pedestrian mall on Broadway... or that going to the coliseum can be a safe and hassle-free experience.

Also, monorails go up in half the time as a subway (read: they're cheaper to build and maintain).

Each of these locations -- when tied to one another -- stand strong as a draw to consumers. Alone, they die on the vine.

With sales of expensive downtown lofts skyrocketing, the city center's new residents will be clamoring for things to do that are close to home.


Think about it Eli Broad: dump a little energy into this idea-- it sure would add value to your Staple Center holdings. Hey, Casey Wasserman: wouldn't your Grandfather be proud if you got involved in a project like this? Message to Ron Burkle: stop wasting time on New York's trashy Page Six... and get on the same page for furthering urban renewal in your own backyard.

Get on board... and keep our 'lost' gems sparkling.

Friday, May 12, 2006

VW Jetta Ads Are A Double Negative

Anyone seen the (fairly) new VW television ads for their Jetta? Specifically we're talking about the spots where their cars always seem to be getting T-boned and totaled.

Call us old-fashioned, but when we went to film & advertising school (Pasadena's Art Center College of Design), we recall several of our favorite teachers drumming the message, "NEVER relate your client or your product with a negative" into our heads.

Admit it: have you seen these commercials and thought, "Wow. Those Jettas sure can take a licking! I gotta get me one."

We've NEVER had those thoughts.

In the first place, we don't enjoy seeing nice folks getting the stuffing knocked out of them while we're eating dinner. Secondly, we always chuckle to ourselves and think, "Yeah, right. Like VW would have the guts to tell us what REALLY happened to that car."

Well here's where it gets downright DiVinci Code-ish:

Get out your TiVo's, gang, and take a look at the very end of those Jetta commercials. Read the fine print.

Buried in the nearly non-existent sized font you'll see that VW actually backs-down from any claims that the Jetta is more safe than anything else running on four wheels. VW also makes it pretty clear (or as clear as you can in a teensy-weensy type that's only on-screen for a couple of seconds) that their airbags are as vulnerable to failure as anyone else's airbags (and they DO fail).

Yep. Now that VW got your attention, can they keep you safe?

Seems not.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

God, I Miss Vinny And Jerry

On our way home this evening, Hollywood Thoughts tuned-in the Dodger game on the car radio.

Since the Dodgers are in the midst of a five game winning streak, we won't focus our angst on their (continued) need of a big, consistent bat in the lineup... or even for a set of better arms in the bullpen. Nope. We're focusing our whining on two of the guys that sit in the Dodger radio broadcast booth.

Let's make it immediately clear that you will NEVER see a negative word directed towards Vin Scully on this site. The man has always been -- and continues to be -- a broadcasting immortal to us.

We're talking about Rick Monday and Charley Steiner.

An admission: We have not caught much of these guys this season-- so maybe what we're about to write is what scientists call a, 'sampling error.' Maybe tonight was just a bad night for the duo...

We don't think so.

Here's the rub: Steiner did most of the talking-- and most of the talking had very little to do with the Dodgers or the game that was laid-out in front of his perch.

For the last three innings of the game (about forty minutes of airtime), here's what we heard:

*Nine minutes of talk regarding the
current quality (or lack thereof) of base-
ball bats (and how they seem to break
very often these days).

*Thirty-One minutes of talk regarding Roger
Clemmons (and how he played golf yester-
day and whether he'll return to the Astros).


If Steiner had anything to say about the Dodgers -- or the game -- it was limited to giving us the pitch count. As for Rick Monday, his contribution to the airwaves was of the, "Mmmm-hmmm," or, "Riiiight" ilk. It seems Steiner is mostly a one-man band.

We hate saying this as the Hollywood Thoughts gang grew-up loving Monday (he of saving burning American flags in the outfield and playoff clutch hits in Montreal).

Anyway, listening to Steiner prattle on about NOTHING related to the game at-hand reminds us of commedian John Camponera's classic impersonation of Cubs'announcer, Harry Carray(the MASTER of digression):

Camponera/ Carray:
"The count is 3-0.
Hey, did I mention last night I was in
a hotel room with a naked Samoan? Fouled
away, 3-1. So anyway, he starts chasing
me around the room, long drive, foul. 3-2.
And I'm gett'in scared. One more tipped away.
Count stays, 3-2, and I'm gett'in outta
breath runn'in 'round the bed..."

Ummm... Steiner wasn't too far off from that sorta rap.

God, we miss a nine-inning game called by Vin Scully and his longtime sidekick, Jerry Doggett. Give us Ross Porter, even.

Steiner and Monday should hit the Dodgers radio archives to see how Vinny can spin a story (ABOUT ONE OF THE CHARACTERS IN THE GAME HE'S WATCHING)... or set a mood (THAT DIRECTLY RELATES TO THE GAME IN FRONT OF HIM)... or impart a fun/educational/interesting tidbit of trivia (THAT DIRECTLY RELATES TO THE GAME IN FRONT OF HIM). We guarantee if Scully had been on the air last night, we would have been given some fascinating insight about the difference between Jeff Kent and Duke Snider's bats and how they were manufactured-- down to what forest the wood came from.

What's happened to the Dodger broadcast? How has the quality of the play-by-play and color commentary fallen so quickly?

We realize that because of his age, Vinny can't call the greater chunk of a game any more, but LA fans surely deserve better.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Lie Detector Expert Labeled A Liar: A Retort

We just noticed a posting on the LA Observed website that Ed Gelb, a prominent polygraph expert, was being labeled a fraud:

"The website says the city
of Long Beach has hired Intercept, Inc., a
Los Angeles company "headed by celebrity
polygrapher Ed Gelb, who fraudulently passes
himself off as a Ph.D. Guests who appeared on
Gelb�s television show, 'Lie Detector,' have
reported to
that the 'tests' he conducted lasted about
10 minutes from hello to goodbye, which
is sub-standard even by the low standards
of the polygraph community."

Well, gang, I can tell you that as the supervising producer of "Lie Detector," the folks at have their facts, as usual, all wrong.

In addition to being a morally upstanding individual, Ed Gelb never spent less than a TWO HOUR PERIOD with any polygraph subject. There are strict rules that all polygraph administrators must follow as established by a governing board of polygraph experts. Ed Gelb never did less than follow the 'letter of the law' of what is considered the highest standards of testing.

So why would Antipolygraph make such a posting? Who would make these spurious claims?

I offer a suggestion:

People found to be lying.

Why wouldn't someone who appeared on the program -- and revealed as a liar -- want to continue the charade?

Additionally, I strongly suggest you research -- via a google search -- a brief background on the (disappointing) polygraph career of Antipolygraph's moderator.

Sour grapes.


A FOLLOW-UP (5/8):'s proprietor, George Maschke, states on his website that he has no "direct knowledge" of how my show, "Lie Detector" operated.

Wow-- a first published truth from this fellow.

In the eight months I spent as the supervising producer of "Lie Detector," I never once saw this guy on my set or in our offices.

Maschke also holds Bob Smitty up as some sort of highly-regarded source of "inside" information. Smitty appeared on our show with BOTH of his lawyers in-tow. Smitty appeared to be a nice guy. Unfortunately for him, he was shown to be 'highly deceptive' during a intensive (and extensive) TWO HOUR-long polygraph exam.

Smitty's lawyers, it should be noted, dropped him as a client almost as soon as their client was proven to be lying on national television. I wonder if Maschke questioned Smitty's lawyers regarding "Lie Detectors" policies? I'm guessing the answer is 'no.' Probably Maschke thinks all lawyers are liars, too.

It's the whole world that's lying, right, George? You're OK... it's the rest of us that have it all wrong...

Sunset-Gower Studio's Multi Million Dollar Expansion

Here's a Hollywood Thoughts exclusive:

Management at the Sunset-Gower studios (former home to Columbia Pictures) has just announced a multi-million dollar expansion of its historic property.

Beginning Monday, groundbreaking will commence on a new six-story office structure that will house Technicolor (the longtime film processor currently occupies space in an older and smaller building on the lot). The new Technicolor facility will be built on what is currently an uncovered parking lot that lines Sunset Boulevard (near the studio's main gate).

Construction will also begin on a new four-story parking garage to be built between the studio's main "A" and "B" employee parking structures. Currently this space is an empty lot on Gordon Avenue, and the new parking garage will connect the two existing parking structures.

Ownership of the historic studio has been spending significant dollars on improving and updating the landmark site in recent months. Many see these ammenities as an important step in keeping film and television production in Hollywood (KABC-TV is now located in Glendale, and KCBS/KCAL management have made it known they plan on leaving their Sunset & Gower property for the CBS-Radford lot in Studio City).

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Pierre Salinger's Eyebrows

Now that we've written about Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Washington-based journalist, Grant Rampy, how about another fun installment involving a capitol city heavyweight?

We interviewed former JFK press secretary, Pierre Salinger, back in 1995 and had a great couple of hours with him. He was a superb storyteller and a very cordial host.

One funny thing that sticks-out as I recall that day, occured just as we were about to roll tape on the interview.

Salinger had incredibly bushy eyebrows. They looked like a pair of the fattest, furriest, caterpillars that decided to nap on the man's browline-- and never move.

At times, 'the eyebrows' (I've placed them in their own special set of quote marks as they seem, to me, to be their very own living entity) would get a bit... um... disheveled.

As I looked at Salinger's face, I noticed that I could no longer see his eyeballs. 'The eyebows' had come unhinged, and flopped over to obscure the man's eyes behind a dense curtain of... ah, eyebrow hair. Ack!

Again, I emphasize: these were no ordinary eyebrows. The hair seemed thick-- like the sorta stuff that grows atop your head.

I momentarily panicked. How the hell do you tell a notable guy that you can't see his eyes because of HIS EYEBROWS?!?

With the fear of offending the man (and suddenly losing the interview), I decided to simply be honest.

"Uh, Mr. Salinger? One quick thing before we roll..."


I leaned in, and whispered, "Uh... your... uh..."

With that, I made a mussy gesture with my hands that blurred and blended the normally separate and distinct space between eyebrow and eye.

To my everlasting relief, I needn't say more. The man 'got' it.

With that, he pulled from his jacket's front pocket the tiniest comb I have ever seen.

He then gave his brows -- and I'm not making this up, folks -- a quick makeover. Instead of brows with a heavy droop, they suddenly had a spunky, uplifting quality. The eyebrows were now lifted and spike-y. Salinger always seemed to have a certain Santa-like-gleam in his eyes, and now 'the 'brows' seemed to add to the mischevious look.

When he finished, he slid the specialized comb back into his pocket, gave me a wink, and said, "Happens all the time."

Monday, May 01, 2006

Harry Cohn: Get To Work!

This shot was taken not very far from where Hollywood Thoughts maintains its offices.

It's probably the nicest spot on the Sunset-Gower lot-- originally the home to Columbia Studios. Located in the oldest section of the studio (probably built in 1921) near the main administration building, it's a lush and quiet hideaway from all the lot's hustle and bustle.

Columbia Pictures was founded in 1920 by Harry & Jack Cohn, and during their 50-year reign, the brothers produced a mixture of B-movies (the Three Stooges) as well as classic features (such as Frank Capra's "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "It Happened One Night").

This intimate courtyard is ringed by spaces that used to house the studio's writers.

Harry Cohn -- from the rude, crude and loud school of moguls -- had a suite of offices that overlooked the patio.

As legend has it, Cohn would often throw open his window when he didn't hear his wordsmiths generating enough clacking on the typewriter keys and bellow, "I don't hear you bastards typing! Get to work you mothers, or I'll fire all of ya!"

Needless to say, the instantaneous clatter of typing was thunderous.

Current management has been spending bundles on upgrading and maintaining this historic site. Virtually the entire lot has been given a makeover with new paint and landscaping. Special bronze plaques have also been mounted to each soundstage honoring the cast, crew and pictures that were filmed in each.

Harry's window.


Other Columbia classics include: "From Here to Eternity" (1953), "On The Waterfront" (1954), "The Caine Mutiny" (1954), "Picnic" (1955), "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962), "Dr. Strangelove" (1964), "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (1967), "Oliver! " (1968), and "Funny Girl" (1968).

A Day Without An Immigrant

The day's first report:

Our normal thirty-five minute commute was reduced to twelve. Hmmm... can this become a regular event???

The Hollywood Thoughts staff is feeling a bit unappreciated these days, so we're spearheading a few other 'special days' (some may find them a bit self-serving):

*A Day Without A White Guy From The Valley

*A Monday Or A Friday Without Work If I Don't Feel Like It

*A Day Where I Still Get Paid When I March At The 'Day Without A White Guy From The Valley' Demonstration

Here's one for parents that feel under-valued:

*A Day Without Your Mom (or Dad) Whose Tired Of Picking-Up Your Crap

Come to think of it, I bet there's plenty of women out there that would appreciate their own 'Day Without Your Wife/Girlfriend 'Cause Then You'll Know How Much I Do For You, You Ungrateful Bastard'.

Some other nominees:

*A Day Without Paris Hilton

*A Day Where I Don't Have To Pay Sprint Because They Drop All My Calls

*A Day Without Some-Guy-Alone-In-His-Prius-In-The-Carpool-Lane

*A Day Where My Drive-Thru Jumbo Jack With Cheese Doesn't Get Read Back As A "Yumbo Yack With Jizz"

*A Day Without Parking Meter Maids

*A Day Without Traffic Control Cops In The Intersections Slowing Everything Down (see: Laurel Cyn & Ventura)

*A Day Without Mayor Villaraigosa At Some Photo-OP

Send YOUR nominations...