Financial Plan B - Game Shows!

Blame it on the fanatics cluttered around the gates of CBS Studios, but I realized that living in Los Angeles is like sitting on a goldmine of potential funds - game shows!

Americans come in droves from all over the country on a cash pilgrimage that could change their lives, yet to most of us Angelenos, it never even crosses our minds. The Price is Right has a kitschy cult following, and if one demonstrates an unhinged enthusiasm, they have a better chance of getting in. Cameramen even slide by the awaiting lines, giving people their one chance to shine on tape. Desperate fans camp out overnight on the dicey sidewalks outside of CBS Studios. I see them every time I drive by. Families from Wisconsin don giant plastic hats made to look like cheese, Masons arrive in red hats with black silk tassels, and Jersey moms show up with perms and day-glo acrylic tips to match their fanny packs.

I tried getting in to The Price is Right, but my inability to rise at 4 am combined with a general lack of excitement bordering psychosis ruined my chances. If I came with an entourage of manics in matching ensembles, you bet I would have made it.

I'm pretty good at Trivial Pursuit, so I went after Trivial Pursuit America Plays, the television equivalent. Except that it's not. I've played every manner of Trivial Pursuit; the 20th Century Edition, the Genus Edition, I've played drunk, sober, and angry. But what's played on T.V. is not the same.

Every potential contestant goes through a screening process in which they're handed a questionnaire. Instead of asking questions about, say, American history, sports and film, more than half of the questions covered pseudo-celeb reality stars such as Kim Kardashian, and really bad T.V. shows such as Veronica's Closet and The Apprentice. It turns out that if you're not glued to the tube, and pre-dawn hours of the tube at that, you don't stand a chance. When our contestant "quizzes" were graded by the show's employees, they said to remain seated even if we hear our name called. They rattled off a long list. My name was called. When they finished, they said, "If your name was called, you are not qualified to play. Please leave the premises and have a nice day." Slowly, we rose. All of us who knew of botany and international food, music composers and geography did the walk of shame off the studio lot.

If sitting in front of the television all night while the world is happening all around me is the only way to score a few grand, then count me out. At least the show was honest about the type of content it covers: trivial. Now I wonder if Wheel of Fortune tapes in L.A....


Oh No She Didn't

Yikes! Freedom of speech rears its ugly head.

But that's alright, Miss North Carolina trumped our California princess and is free to do the stiff hand wave perched on many a backseat convertible. I mean, strive to achieve world peace.

Per my last blog regarding those hilarious anti-gay commercials, there have been plenty of spoofs to keep our spirits up in California and beyond. We've got Steven Colbert, Funny or Die even really bad homemade ones have been blasted all over You Tube, bless their hearts!


Oh So This is How We Lost Prop 8

When Obama and Clinton were campaigning for Oval Office, I rode the wave of high spirits on the left coast. It almost didn't matter who won. What mattered was that Americans were being fearless. The status quo was being challenged, and not by a novelty woman and a novelty black guy; the democrat ticket had some quality names. When McCain gave his concession speech, Los Angeles suddenly erupted with the sound of car horns. I stepped out onto my front lawn and was overwhelmed by the roar of the city. It came from as far as the freeways to as close as our block. You couldn't help but get swept up in the feeling.

Then Prop 8 passed. Crickets! The balloon popped. We were puffed up with too much confidence in our fellow citizens. For weeks we stumbled around, scratching our heads, wondering how it was possible. California is filled with artists, the educated, and people who fled the oppression of their hometowns. We became suspicious of everyone.

But perhaps we weren't brought down by farming towns and Orange County. I uncovered THIS! This commercial has been boring into soft skulls all over the country, and went online to California. There's a whole series of them. Fake lightning flashes, stiff actors stand like poles waiting for their lines, which they seem to deliver from teleprompters written in doctor scratch.

Halloween seems a million years ago. It was right before the heated election, and we all knew that Sarah Palin was only up for her 15 minutes, not a vice presidency. We threw together our Sarah Palin Halloween costumes before the world forgot about her. The photo to the right is myself at the Gay Pride Halloween Costume Carnaval. We were all so excited about the country's changes, and had no idea we were about to be blindsided by Prop 8. Gay couples are dealing with a violation of their human rights. Me, I'm just straight and embarrassed. This post is for them.


Hotel del Hype

Where I grew up, everyone was surrounded by battlefields, colonial homes and historic landmarks. My old friend found a Civil War coin in her creek. Another used to camp out beside the Revolutionary War trench in her backyard. We were surrounded by the romance of history and the possibility of hauntings. I lived just outside of D.C. in Virginia, and every school made the pilgrimage to the reportedly haunted Ford Theatre. Alcohol also feeds the curiosity, and when away at college down South, we crept around abandoned plantations and old corn fields, just to see if we could feel something.

Here in Los Angeles, there isn't much left standing that could spark the spirit of adventure. Mexican battlefronts are now paved strip malls, gone are the crumbling, moss-covered graveyards and nearly all Victorian homes have been razed, eliminating even the appearance of a haunted house. But we do have the Hotel Del Coronado just off the coast of San Diego.

Legend has it, the ghost of Kate Morgan haunts the hotel, and her visage has been seen by staff and guest alike. Kate was a young woman who checked in over Thanksgiving weekend in 1892 under the alias Lottie Bernard. She stayed a few days, and the staff became increasingly concerned about how upset she seemed. After taking a street car into San Diego to buy a gun and ammunition, she killed herself on the steps of the hotel leading to the ocean. Other guests at the time reported that Kate seemed to be watching and waiting constantly, as if expecting someone to meet her at the hotel. No one ever came.

It's not that I'm insensitive to the plight of Abraham Lincoln, slaves and suicidal Victorian brides. My love of history mixed with the fact that I like being scared force me to seek these things out. I can't help myself.

My husband and I flew down the freeway to Coronado Island, just off the coast of San Diego. As we approached the infamous hotel, I was reminded of the repeated images I had seen in many a dragged-out History Channel documentary. You know the kind, with the creepy music and the promise to unfold the mystery right after the 18th commercial break. I wanted it to feel cavernous and lonely inside, like the hotel in The Shining.

It was beautiful. The dark, wood-paneled interiors had vaulted ceilings. The elevator was an iron cage. The darkness was contrasted by the white beaches outside. But I felt nothing. I ignored the signs and trespassed down the hallways, especially by room #3327, where most of the activity is said to take place. Nothing. I stalked the gift shop, where things were reported to have flown off the shelves. I lounged in different lobby enclaves, sinking into overstuffed antique furniture. Still nothing.

But all is not lost. Any East Coast transplant dying to escape the yawn-worthy architecture of Los Angeles should take in the place. Hollywood hails Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall as a masterpiece, but after seeing the Hotel Del Coronado, they'll be astonished to discover they've been brainwashed. Upon returning from the "Hotel Del" as locals call it, Angelenos will realize that Mr. Gehry's creation is but a giant replica of crumpled tin foil.

Besides, what would I get out of seeing a reportedly depressed ghost? Terror and sadness? Why do I seek out such things? I can get terror and sadness locally. Trolling the streets of Watts, I can blast country music, heckle idiot gangsters and they can make a ghost of me.