Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Phone Call

Hey, I just got a call from one of the instructors of my Cold Tofu class. It looks like I've been invited to join the next level, which is the lab class.

I guess my delusions weren't so off after all....

Got Home Early

I left the office today around 5:30. I was running out of steam and, also, running out of stuff to do. So, I got on the 110 South and headed home. Passed through Chinatown easily and onto the 101 Hollywood freeway. Wow, that was a breeze. I need to leave work at 5:30 every day. I got home in probably less than 20 minutes, from start to finish. Amazing.

I decided to use my extra time to go take a walk down Sunset Blvd. and visit a store I've been wanting to shop ever since I moved to Hollywood: DNA Clothing Company. Halfway there, I passed the Guitar Center and made a mental note to take a peek on my way back.

The store was empty and soon I began gathering an armload of stuff to try on. This place used to be my favorite store when I used to shop it in the Venice Beach area on Rose Street. They always had outlet store prices on some really cool shit.

Today, it wasn't much different. It had been about 8 years since I last shopped the Venice Beach store. Some really cool shit at outlet prices. I ended up buying a T-shirt and a retro-looking sweater.

On the return trip down Sunset, I passed by a young black girl who looked familiar. In fact, it took me 2 whole seconds to figure out where I had seen her: at the bus stop in front of Ralph's, sitting next to her friend or brother. The only reasons I had remembered her was because she was looking pretty fly, and she must've been only about 13. Her friend/brother couldn't have been older than 10. For a 13-year-old, she was unusually well-endowed on top, or so it seemed. Anyway, all I remember was it struck me as odd. This young, skinny little girl with a shapely top.

I stopped into a pizza restaurant I had been wanting to try: Ruffalo's. There were a couple of them in the area and I always thought about going in to try my favorite pizza combination: salami and fresh tomatoes. I ordered a Beck's while I waited for the pizza and the lady instead brought me a Peroni, which I learned is an imported Italian beer. Embarrassed, she quickly suggested she would bring me a Beck's, but I insisted on trying the Peroni.

It was slightly sweet and tangy at the same time. It definitely had something Italian about it. But the lady was right. It most resembled a Heineken, especially that skunky aftertaste.

I decided to enjoy half the pizza at the restaurant, and so sat down near a TV and watched Entertainment Tonight and the Hollywood Insider. It's funny about these shows. I can watch one episode a month, and never feel like I'm missing anything.

On the way back, I passed by the young black girl, once again. She had already gone up and down the street. Sure enough, her brother/friend was sitting at the bus stop, her green and red jacket over his lap. He looked worried, as if some cop or bad man were going to give him a hard time; maybe even arrest him.

I felt bad for this young boy, more so than for the young girl. I don't know why. I think this boy saw this girl on the street and felt sorry for her. This girl decided to take him along and keep her company. Either that, or this boy was actually her younger brother, and he was there to make sure nobody hurt her older sister.

Damn, it makes me feel crunchy inside. Mostly because I don't really know what I could do to help them. Obviously, I could do something. But what that something is, I just don't know. Because I just don't want to do the wrong thing, and there's so many wrong things I can probably do.

The only thing I could really come up with was to give the boy some money and tell him to tell his sister to get off the street. I doubt that would send them any sort of message though. Because I'm still giving them what they're after, and probably not enough to make a difference.

Hopefully, tomorrow, I'll get off work at a regular hour, and not have so much time to go shopping on Sunset.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Don't know if I can do this justice, but I looked at my dashboard today, and I noticed I've been to three of Hollywood's major studios for different reasons. (I've got three different vehicle passes for three different studios on the top of my dash.)

On Wednesday, of course, went to Disney, which owns ABC. For those of you outside of this area, Disney is all over Burbank, and I went to one of their many buildings.

On Friday, I had a meeting with my short film group. I probably haven't mentioned this before, but some folks from my improv class started a short film group called Guy in the Corner Productions. During the first meeting, around Venice Beach, a guy was in the corner of this coffee shop, listening to our brainstorming session. So, we called the group you-know-what.

The meeting took place on the Paramount lot, in the Jerry Lewis building. A girl from our group, apparently, is interning or working (I'm not sure which) at Paramount and we got to use one of their conference rooms. It's actually a cool environment for this sort of thing. More on that later.

That night, a guy was listening in on our meeting on the speakerphone. I didn't know who this guy was, but he was talking like he was actually there, giving feedback here and there. After the meeting, he suggested a "meet and greet" at his office, which is on the Universal/NBC lot in Studio City. So, at 9:30pm, a few of us went there for a "drive on," which means they give the security guard your name and they take your ID and let you drive onto the lot. We had to have one for the Paramount meeting, too.

We went upstairs of the 5225 building, otherwise known as the Owens Bradley building, and had a short meeting in the conference room that is normally saved for the folks who do "Crossing Jordan." I like this show, especially the woman who plays Jordan, who also was on "Law & Order" for a number of years.

The guy we met, it turns out, was a PA on the show. Actually, the correct terminology is Office PA, which apparently is a step higher than production PA.

You know, really, there's a lot of bullshit with these titles, and the guy admitted that. But he said he met a guy who said he worked on "ER," but really was just a production PA, and not a head production PA. Lot of bullshit, I tell ya.

I parked in the space reserved for the production designer of "Crossing Jordan." Then we had our meeting with this real geek of a guy who admitted he was just there to make the contacts. Other than that, he spends 16 hours a day in the office, often going in on weekends.

That night, we decided to meet the next day, which was Saturday. We went in at 1 p.m., again getting the drive-on credentials, and I parked in Ron Howard's spot at the Imagine area. Didn't know I was parking there at the time, but a tree happened to provide shade from the afternoon sun, so I took it.

A tram from Universal Studios Amusement Park drove by and I waved the obligatory wave to them, much to their excitement. (I've been on one of these and believe me, it's exciting when one of the execs on the lot waves to you.)

We then went in to the downstairs lobby and sat at a coffee table and had a 4-hour writers' meeting. It was actually very productive and we hammered out the "beats" for the first half of the short.

At 5, I had to go and get ready for my Cold Tofu appearance at 7:30, so we adjourned the meeting, which eventually took place upstairs in the "Crossing Jordan" office, just outside of the conference room we were in the night before.

There's not much to this office, really. Just a bunch of offices. Lots of offices. No cubicles. A secretary's desk. Many posters, awards, dry erase boards announcing the week's accomplishments such as moving up in the ratings. At some point, I went to the bathroom and noticed there was a shower in it. Apparently, a lot of people spend nights there.

Throughout the afternoon, a lot of the staff from "Crossing Jordan" brings their relatives and friends there for little tours and to show off. We saw about 7 people who were doing this. The guy we were there with kept explaining to the visiting staff that we were just waiting for some friends before heading off to lunch. Anyway, that was the story. We got a lot of work done, and hammered out the first half of the outline for our short. This guy (who works for "Crossing Jordan" as an office PA) is actually pretty good at outlining these things. I guess he sits in on a lot of these sessions. So, we got a lot done, in a short amount of time.

I think I liked the Paramount lot the best. I actually worked there last summer on a Ford commercial in the New York lot, and the entire studio really feels like a studio. Universal looks like an amusement park, and it seems the staff at Universal agrees. Every few minutes, a tram passes by, often playing some theme song for a famous movie, always at the same exact spot.

Then I went home, showered, took some herbs to make me feel spiritual (can't really explain this right now), and then drove to the Little Tokyo area where we have our Cold Tofu appearances. I always check the sigalert.com website to see how traffic was doing on the 101 freeway. It was bad, but getting better somewhere around Sunset.

I got on the freeway around 6:32, but was supposed to be at the Cold Tofu place at 6:30. Who cares? I'll be ready when I have to be, I thought. Sure enough, once I got there, I waited for about 20 minutes before we all went into warm-ups.

The performance was up and down. I had one really good scene. I'm tempted to say "great scene," but who am I kidding? It was really good, and I'm satisfied with that. However, I had one really mediocre scene which I'm still thinking about.

After the show, we went to Little Tokyo for food and libations. But at some point, I excused myself to head to Koreatown where my friends were entertaining some nice Korean girls. A few hours later, and $160 shorter, I left the parking lot. I didn't even get so much as a kiss from one of the girls. But that's to be expected. I didn't even get a phone number.

Now I'm home, exhausted, but not quite enough to pass out. I had a heckuva day. Writing, performing -- oh, and I bought tires from Costco.com -- and hanging out with some lovely women.

All in all, it wasn't a bad day.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


A lot has happened over the past 4 weeks. Where do I start?

I ended my contract job in hell. That was a relief. Have you ever been in hell? I've been there a few times, it seems.

Once, when I worked a summer job in a hot-ass bakery making 10,000 loaves of bread. I was 19 then.

Then there was the time I was in France with my ex. Well, it wasn't good. That's why she's my ex.

And now, there's my last contract job. Truthfully, I could've left the contract. They were expecting me to. Everyone was: my agent, the traffic manager, my supervisor, my friends, you folks reading this. Everyone. But then for some reason, I decided to trudge it out, slog through the knee-deep shit I was treading in every day. It was more an endurance test than a challenge. Maybe I was challenging my tolerance.

Today, I was told to fill in my time card for 40 hours a week, regardless of how many hours I actually put in. Apparently, it's in the budget. My supervisor told me so, and she just got a major promotion today.

I work at a big corporation that most people in America have probably heard of or even patronize. It's not my thing to reveal where I'm working at, so don't expect me to this time. But I'm so damn traumatized from my last place, I filed my last timesheet counting every single minute I wasn't in the office. They wondered why I had less than 40 hours. Okay, don't fight the system, I'm starting to understand. I guess they want to retain me for a while.

I started there the Monday after I ended my contract, which was on a Wednesday. I didn't quite have two days off. A friend/colleague of mine asked me to come in on Friday to work. I happily obliged, mostly because I'd do just about anything for her, and because I wanted to buy some new tires for my Explorer. Thanks to her, I can buy all four of them at Costco for about $500. Yeah, tires are frickin' expensive.

I've been at this new job for about 3 weeks now. The hardest part is staying awake, since the workload isn't so hard, and the damn fluorescent lights lull me to sleep. I hate cubicles. Actually, because of some back order on cubicle walls, I have to share a large cubicle with two other proofers.

Today, I went to lunch with some co-workers. It was a damn 2-hour lunch. I went back and thought about putting on my time sheet that I had a 2-hour lunch. Yesterday, I had an audition in the Westside. I work in Pasadena. It took me 90 minutes to get there and back. So, I was going to say I took a 90-minute lunch. Plus, I left work early, at 5 p.m., in order to go to an audition at ABC for a network talent showcase. Oh, that's what I wanted to mention.

A couple of days ago, I got home from work. I checked my mail and there was a check from Talent Partners, a payment processing company for the entertainment industry. I didn't know what the check was for. But whatever it was, it felt like free money. Sure enough, it was a standard reuse fee for some video footage I was in. I shot that over 3 years ago, in fact, and they're paying me a reuse fee. Damn! I wrote my agent a check for 10 percent, copied the checkstub, and sent it to them the next day. Some people wouldn't do that, but I'm just that kind of guy. They were my agents then, as they are now.

Then I sort of half-noticed I had a message on my answering machine. I don't give a shit about this answering machine because no one except about 3 people know this number and they all know how else to reach me. But this was from ABC casting, and they wanted me to read for this talent showcase audition the next day. They said where I could buy the sides.

So, I was damn excited. I didn't even submit for this showcase. I was supposed to, but blew it off. I don't know why they would call me. I don't have a resume worth bothering about. Anyway, my friend was going to pick me up in a few minutes to see a screening of "Capote" at the DGA, sponsored by the Editors' Guild.

Damn good flick, I say, even though I know squat about the author or the period. I didn't even know a female author wrote "To Kill a Mockingbird." Anyway, Phillip Seymour Hoffman is frickin' fantastic.

After the movie, I downloaded the sides and began to study the part. There were 6 pages of dialogue, all with another character. I tried to run the lines as best I could, but I knew it wasn't very good or natural. So, I got a tape recorder, read over the other character's lines, pausing (silently) enough for my lines. I then played this recording over and over, trying to get the dialogue to sound natural and memorized. I wanted to make sure I was off book for this audition, and I knew I'd have to work all day and not get a chance to work on it.

I began doing dishes, cleaning up, preparing my clothes for the next day, all while doing my lines with the tape recorder. The next day, since I had an audition around lunchtime, I had to wear something that would fit both auditions.

That's the trouble with working a day job, folks. Most actors I know can prepare all day for the audition. Me? I gotta get ready early in the morning, figure out my audition clothes, and look my best from the moment I get into my car to go to work. By the time I get to the first audition, I'm already looking worse. By the time night rolls around, I'm worn down and my clothes are wrinkled. I'm not bitching, just stating the facts.

On the way to the first audition, I played the tape and went over my lines a few times. My mind was totally on the drive, so I barely concentrated on the scene. Which is what I wanted. On the way back, I did it a few more times, being careful not to over-rehearse the scene. (It is my theory that you want to hit the audition when the lines are not quite locked into your memory, so that you have to still think it out while the lines are being said.)

Oh, the lunchtime audition was a print job for Verizon, which reminds me, I had an audition for a T-Mobile commercial the week before. I totally screwed it up. It was a sorry-ass audition. But then they called me for a callback last Friday. I had a second chance...to screw it up again. Yeah, I'm a screw-up. They liked me and I screwed it up. They gave me a second chance and I just spit it back at them. I'm a loser, okay?

So, this week, I decided to make up for that. Besides, if I did the commercial, I probably wouldn't be able to do the audition for ABC, since it was supposed to shoot this week. Also, I didn't want to get in trouble at work so early in my career there.

Anyway, I got to ABC, went up to the 9th floor, checked in, looked at my lines a few times, went to the bathroom, peed, washed off my sweaty palms, didn't even bother to fix my hair or clothes, and then went back to the waiting area. They called me, I sat down, and we went into it, full steam ahead, all pistons blowing. That guy didn't stop for nothing. It was all back-and-forth banter, bam, bam, bam.

Amazingly, I kept up with him, all the way. I had my script on my lap, but only looked down once to see where we would be starting the scene. I said thank you and walked out. I wasn't sure I had done the whole thing already, since it was so fast. Okay, maybe this guy was just an intern, and they were just going through the process for some diversity program ABC has. But still, I made a small little personal leap that night.

Later, I went to my last official Cold Tofu class. I'm officially graduated from Level 3 now. We have a performance this Saturday. I'm not really telling people about it, though. I'm still not thinking I'm worth the price of admission, which happens to be "pay what you can." Some day, though, when I think I'm worth it, I'll be telling people, and they'd better show up.

There was an evaluation of everyone in the class, and then we did some exercises in preparation for this Saturday's performance. We're doing something called 60-30-15-5. You do a scene in 60 seconds, then the same scene in 30, then 15, and then 5, each time breaking it down to just the heart of the scene for the amount of time allotted. This is fun as hell, and I think fun to watch too.

The instructors have always been vague in their evaluations of me. Not very generous of their assessment of me. But they've always had no doubt about putting me in the next level. They're not kind to me because they don't want to see me relax and stop my learning curve.

Well, at least that's what my delusions are telling me. I converse with them every day.