Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ask Toto A Question #13

SPOILER ALERT! Do not read the following column unless you've seen Marley & Me! Don't do it! Don't!

@totothedog Question- why did I hate everything about Marley & Me but still cried like a baby @ the end? - @napiersmooth

Hi @napiersmooth! Our first twitter question! How exciting! You all know you can follow me on my twitter account, which is . A fascinating challenge to be funny in 140 characters or less. Also an interesting challenge if you have paws, such as myself.

BUT! The question is about Marley & Me. I actually watched this with Dorothy a few weeks ago. I totally agree with @napiersmooth, as I hated everything about Marley & Me, especially that evil pernicious threat called Eric Dane. He’s so smarmy! So cocky! Toss him off a cliff ASAP, because I can’t stand it when Dorothy sighs every time he comes on screen. What’s the big deal? He’s got a salt and pepper beard and ripped abs, so WHAT.

Did I cry like a baby at the end, as @napiersmooth did? Well, Dorothy cried, and that upset me. I hate anything that makes my woman cry. Especially blatantly manipulative cinematic techniques.

Because show me a movie where a dog dies at the end and you DON’T cry. Old Yeller? Fox And The Hound? Cujo? You’re a cold hearted freakazoid if you’re not bawling like a baby at the end of those movies. Because dead dogs = copious tears. Filmmakers know this, and they milk it for all its worth.

Don’t be ashamed of crying at the end of Marley & Me, @napiersmooth. Because nobody’s a cold hearted freakazoid. Unless you’re a cat.

Now, if only Eric Dane had died at the end instead of Marley. That would’ve been AWESOME.

Ask Toto A Question runs every other week until the questions run out. Don’t let that happen! Send Toto your queries at

Sunday, June 21, 2009


We finally found our second Munchkin, and she’s a girl! That’s right, it’s a two women Munchkin scenario. Sometimes, you have to think outside the box.

So here is our official cast for Say Goodbye Toto:

Toto - Joseph Porter
Dorothy - Renee Scott
Scarecrow - Mike Fallon
Tin Man - Grant Mahnken
Lion - Andres Ramacho
Cat - Tracy Eliott
Witch - Margaret McCarley
Wizard - Jake Elsas
Munchkins - Anna Quirino Miranda and Jordana Oberman

I’m very excited that the cast is locked and rehearsals have begun. Here’s Joe as Toto, taking his research seriously as he observes Renee’s dog Dilly, who was at a rehearsal last week. It’s not just throwing Dilly’s toy for her to play fetch, it’s watching how she runs, how her legs work, how her ears flop, how her head moves all over when you’re shaking the toy in your hand.

The first order of business on the production expense side was getting kneepads for Joe, since he’ll be spending roughly half of his time on his knees. Which sounds far worse than it’s meant to be, heh.

But at last we’re up and running. Or is it up and trotting? Moving forward! That’s what we’re doing, ha ha ha.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ask Toto A Question # 12

Ask Toto #12

Dear Toto,

I'm not normally the type to write in to columns like this, but things have been changing in my life and I fear I'm losing control of my situation. My neighbor, Bianca , said you gave her some great advice so I'm hoping you can help me too.

I have been living with the same two humans for over seven years now. At first it was great. She would take me on long runs where I could show off my athletic prowess and he would snuggle with me at night. I was always the top spoon in the drawer... if you know what I mean.

About four years ago, though, things started to change. Mommy (as I've grown accustomed to calling her) and I stopped running as often. I tried encouraging her by getting excited whenever she opened the drawer where her running clothes were, but it was to no avail. I also stopped getting as many "you're so cute" comments. Finally, one horrible Christmas, Mommy and Daddy (I can hardly even call them that anymore) put a stupid Santa hat on my head just so they could take a picture of me. I was so embarrassed! I did my best to be patient with them, but apparently it wasn't enough. The next year they brought home another dog to live with us. How disgusting! What's worse, they had the nerve to call her my sister!

Still, I was the patient one. I endured it when they started bringing her along on runs and went gaga over her athletic prowess. (So what if she can climb trees!) They think she's soooo cute even though she's not that smart. (She watches other animals on TV and thinks they're real. I've never been fooled by that. I realize that they aren't real. They're just actors... playing parts.)

Despite all this, I have taken the high road. I even look out for her. When they pulled the Santa-hat thing on her, I was all over it. I tried to save her reputation by pulling it off her head, but she just walked away from me. She even seemed to like the hat! What's up with that?

I finally hit my limit the other night when I came in to go to bed and found that the humans were snuggling with her... making her the top spoon in the drawer... if you know what I mean. That was it. I sat down with an harrumph and refused to get in bed. My "father figure" patted the bed behind him as if I was supposed to just curl up by myself over there. I responded by trotting around the bed and sitting down with another harrumph.

Finally, I was speaking my mind. And I won! My little strike forced him to roll over and snuggle with me. It was so liberating!

And yet, I feel like maybe I've gone too far. Is this the kind of behavior that we should be promoting? Do I want other little doggies to see me act this way? I don't want to turn into one of those controlling, manipulative little bitches that get there way by pouting all the time.

What do you think? Am I doing the right thing?

Glendale, CA

Hi Ebony! Ah yes, it’s all fun and games and Top Spoons In The Drawer until they bring a new dog home. Sharing is so difficult, isn’t it? It’s why I’m soooooooooo glad I’m such an amazing awesome dog that I’m all Dorothy needs.

Here’s the thing about life that’s hard for us dogs to understand: Life changes. It what!? I KNOW! It’s crazy, isn’t it! Us dogs, we’re pretty much content to do the same things over and over again. We have no concept of time. Of course we don’t, we don’t wear watches, we don’t know what a clock is. We know when it’s time for a run when she opens the drawer where her running clothes are. We know it’s time for a run when they grab the leash. We know when it’s time to be fed when our tummy growls. We know it’s time to go outside and do our thing when…well, you know.

Humans are different. They get bored. They what!? I KNOW! What’s up with that!? So humans like to shake things up by training for half marathons, changing the furniture in the room, new paint on the walls, or bringing other dogs home, everything that throws our world into chaos because it’s not the same.

P.S., a special aside to all humans out there. DO NOT PUT A SANTA HAT ON YOUR DOG! Don’t do it. Just…don’t. You think it looks cute, IT’S NOT! WE HATE IT! IT SUCKS! IT’S UNCOMFORTABLE! No, we’re not gonna stand still for longer than three seconds. IF WE WERE SUPPOSED TO WEAR SANTA HATS ON OUR HEADS, GOD WOULD’VE MADE US THAT WAY! Did he? Did God create dogs with Santa hats already on their heads? NO! SO DON’T PUT THEM ON THERE!

Anyhow, Ebony, the point is that life changes. There’s very little we dogs can do about it, except remind our owners every single day how amazing and awesome we are (more so than our sisters), so they can’t possibly ignore us.

I also recommend you persuade your owners to buy a California King mattress. That way, there’s plenty of room for you all to be Top Spoon.

Thanks for the question!

Ask Toto A Question runs every other week until the questions run out. Don’t let that happen! Send Toto your queries at

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Not Your Typical Munchkin

So we’re ALMOST done with auditions. This is the longest it’s ever taken me to nail down a cast for any of my projects. A lot of people I wanted to call in can’t do the play because they’re traveling over the summer, others can’t take the time off from work. One actor turned down the role we cast him in, that was fun. Not.

I try to stay calm by reminding myself You want the drama in the beginning, not at the end. The beginning, not the end.

But we’re almost there, we’re just missing one Munchkin. Not surprisingly, our calls to Come Audition For A Munchkin Role! Have gone largely ignored by the greater Los Angeles Acting Population.

The problem is that these aren’t your average Munchkins. This isn’t a By The Letter retelling of The Wizard Of Oz, where the Munchkins show up in the first twenty minutes, sing a Lollypop Guild song, and disappear for the rest of the play.

There’s a line that the Wizard says in the second act that’s supposed to sum up anything you’d need to know about Munchkins: “Come ON, you know Munchkins! Completely capricious, they’ll worship anything new!”

We’ve taken to joking behind the scenes at auditions, “C’mon, they’re Munchkins!” almost in a “Forget it, Jake, It’s Chinatown” kind of way.

One of the themes behind Say Goodbye Toto is “What is the true meaning of love?” Because most of the characters have wrong ideas about what love is.

The Munchkins think love is utter devotion in the form of blind worship. And they think anything new is worthy of their praise. So whenever anything new shows up in Oz – a mild mannered guy in a hot air balloon, a house falling from the sky, a dog – they instantly pledge their utmost devotion to it.

But since they’re two of them (or there will be, after this last round of auditions) they’ve got a ragingly competitive streak to them. They want to be the BEST worshipper, which results in hopefully amusing ways as they constantly seek to outworship the other one.

But we’re not stopping there. Jamie, our fabulous director, has tons of ideas about how the Munchkins will be creating the environment for the other scenes. In the first act alone, we move from a ravine to a river to a poppy field. A standard set in a 45 seat theater isn’t gonna work for us.

But Oz is a fantastical place, and we’re going to have a fantastical set, most likely supplied through movement and improv, courtesy of our Munchkins.

It’s going to be wonderfully imaginative, fun, and not what people would expect a Munchkin to do.

Don’t underestimate these Munchkins. They’re not gonna be what you think.

And there will be no singing anywhere. ☺