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 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.

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