Monday, March 20, 2006

I Have This Friend

I have this friend who keeps "threatening" to take headshots and give commercial acting a shot. She says she has the type of schedule where she can go off and do auditions, or take off a day or so to do the job. To me, that's the ideal situation. There are folks in this town who would KILL for that kind of situation.

And each time she threatens to do it, I encourage her, giving her suggestions on photographers (which to use, which not to use), how much to spend, etc. She knows I'm no expert, but all she really needs is a kick in the pants.

I thought I've been kicking her, every time she brings it up, but it's obvious I'm not kicking HARD enough. She keeps bringing it up and I keep saying something to encourage her. It's gotten to the point where I might even start DIScouraging her so that maybe she'll get pissed off and just do it to spite me.

I've actually inspired many a person to do things because I've said they couldn't or shouldn't do it. I guess Mom blessed me with that "skill." For instance, I apparently told a woman she'd never get married with her type of personality. She got married and had a kid, just to spite me. I'm proud of her.

Then there was the Internet startup guy who told me his idea and I told him it wouldn't work. He proceeded to get some incredible venture capital, perhaps, uh, just to spite me! I know it sounds vain of me to say all this, taking credit for stuff that I didn't actually try to inspire someone to do. But the end result does seem to justify the means.

So, I guess that makes me the anti-spark. By my suggesting they kill their dreams, they end up building them bigger than originally planned.

My mom once told my brother that since he only had a 2.0 high school GPA, he should go to a community college and study to be a mechanic, possibly at Boeing. Instead, my brother got into the University of Washington through what was then the Equal Opportunity Program, and graduated in physics. Who in the heck does something that crazy? In fact, he was working at Boeing in the same department he does now since he was a freshman at UW.

Let me see now. What did my mom tell me not to do? Well, she didn't want me to be an actor. That's an easy one. She didn't want me to marry my first girlfriend. Okay, I listened to that one. She wanted me to marry my second girlfriend. Didn't follow that advice. Um, not sure how this theory is working for me. Seems pretty hit or miss.

Anyway, if that girl should threaten me one more time to get headshots, I'm just going to tell her she's fricking crazy and should keep her day job. That oughta get her started.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


I used to think my mom was superpragmatic. Or, rather, overly pragmatic, I should say. She always saw through the bullshit, especially mine! And some of this rubbed off on me, although I can't exactly say I'm completely pragmatic, because that would be total BS.

But like I said, "I used to think" my mom was that way. That was until I started hearing little stories about her superstitious ways. Such as the time when my sister got accepted into medical school. Before that, she used to tell my sister to not have such high expectations or to try something else in the health services field. She always had this way of inspiring us to do something by bringing down our self-esteem.

When my sister got her letter of acceptance, my mom whispered to herself that "this will be a good year." You know, I don't even say those things, because, well, I HAVE said those things and ended up screwing up the rest of my year!! Now days, I will only say those things in retrospect, such as, "that was a shitty year."

About 10 years ago, my mom and dad paid a visit to me in Los Angeles. This was when I was living in South Central L.A. back in 1994, a couple years after the '92 L.A. riots. In fact, I lived on 41st and Normandie, which is some 15 blocks north of the flashpoint of the riots. They stayed at the house I was subleasing from another actor, who was a 3rd understudy for the Engineer in Miss Saigon on Broadway. (Not sure why I mentioned that.)

It was an unusual visit. I had just moved down about two years earlier from Seattle. I was also recently unemployed, collecting a weekly check of about $150. My place cost $300 a month, so I was really living in poverty at that point. They saw this and offered me assistance, which I turned down. I told them I needed to see what I was worth. Or rather, what I was made of. I was determined to make it without a safety net.

So then we went to Las Vegas together. My parents loved Las Vegas, and we drove there in my car. On the way there, my mom sort of mentioned the reason for her visit. She had been diagnosed with cancer -- her second time in her life -- but this time it was serious. Her prognosis wasn't good: 6 to 12 months. That's why the unexpected, unusual visit.

While there in Vegas, I spent through a couple hundred dollars of my parents' money, since I was broke. But the mood was light, and we were there to enjoy ourselves. Unfortunately, we ran into some familiar-looking folks in one of the hotels in the downtown area. They were a social group from Seattle, so my folks knew some of them. But there was one person, in particular, that my family knew all too well. His name is Art Susumi, the greatest salesman of mortician services in all of Seattle. My mom took it to be an omen. You could just see the sinking feeling in her body.

But like my brothers and sisters, being inspired by lowered expectations, she ended up fighting her prognosis for three years. So you see, she was superstitious, and then showed what human will could accomplish at the same time.

I have a few superstitions myself. I always see the numbers 333, just about everywhere I look. But I don't know what it means. Because nothing necessarily good happens. I think it's just sort of a sign that I'm on the right path -- route 333, if you will. The other sign I have is actually a dream. It's called the shit dream, so named by my ex, who said that if you should have a shit dream, or rather dream of taking a shit, something extremely fortuitous would happen. Usually, it would be money or a new job.

Over the last 4 years since I met my ex, I've had a few occasional shit dreams, and each time, sure enough, I was presented with unexpected windfalls in cash. Not just little bonuses here and there, but bucketfulls of cash. Last night, I woke up after an unusual dream involving shit. It was gross, to say the least, and I usually wake up after a disturbing dream. And then I relax, knowing that I just had the golden, treasure-laden shit dream.

This morning, after my alarm went off, I went to the bathroom as usual and then remembered that I had a shit dream last night. I was much more conscious of it and it triggered some thoughts about what could happen. To be honest, there was only one thought I had, and about a half hour ago, I got a call from my agent. I booked the Microsoft job. It's also on a Saturday, so there's no problem with scheduling, etc.

I won't talk about the year ahead, but the last few months, I must say, have been pretty good. And that's the pragmatic side of me talking.

My Pornstar Name

Your Pornstar Name is:
Fernando Lipz

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Sunday, March 12, 2006


As in hotel, that is. And yeah, it's pretty wow. What a beautiful suite those Verizon folks had.

It was a very painless fitting session. Got paid for it, too. That's a nice little bonus. But did I get the job?

Today, I got a call that I was still on "strong avail." I thought it was kind of weird since they kept the suit I brought in, along with my shoes. I thought that was a pretty good sign it was a done deal.

So I mentioned that to my agent, and a few hours later, it was confirmed. I got the job.

Unfortunately, booking jobs now presents a bit of a problem for me at work. I'm on salary, not hourly. So I'm supposed to be in the office. Fortunately, however, this office doesn't need me there every minute of the day. As proofreading goes, the job isn't as demanding as many other jobs I've had, both with time and the work involved.

Still, though, I've only been there about a month and I'm already asking for a day off. They said I could take a day of "leave." Which is fine with me. I don't expect to get paid for a day I didn't work. But then I brought up the fact that I was in an airport on a Sunday morning on my way to Texas a couple weeks ago. Does that not qualify for a "comp day"?

When I asked that question, it was like I had said something taboo. I guess salaried workers aren't supposed to get comp days. But it was just a question and it seems I opened a can of worms for the HR dept. Not what I had planned.

This really isn't that interesting to talk about, nor read, I know. But it's just what happens when you try to work a day job and have a side career in acting or modeling. There will always be situations that have to be worked out.

About 15 years ago, I caused a problem at an old job at a TV station by taking a leave of absence. I ended up getting canned for it. That was a rookie mistake, in my opinion. I learned some big lessons. For one, there's a way to do things, and there's a way to get fired. I don't plan on getting fired from my job. Not yet, anyway.

Personally, I'm mentally done with the modeling anyway. I could give it up in a heartbeat. Maybe that's why I'm auditioning so much. When I'm hoping and praying for work, I never seem to get any. Now that I don't need it or want it, I get busy in it. What a stupid life I lead. I'm not saying I'm superstitious, but it's just how it always seems to happen for me.

On the other hand, I'm not that desperate for my office job, either. I like it, but I've never been one for office politics or having to make my office job the most important thing in my life. That, to me, isn't what life is about. But I do enjoy the day-to-day challenges this job and my side stuff present to me. It's all about how to handle the situation in front of me.

Next week, I go back to Texas for a couple of days. Then there's the possibility I may have to work that Microsoft gig. Even though it pays very well, I'm sort of hoping I don't get the job. One dilemma a month is about all I can handle right now.

Sometimes, I wish I could just go run home to Mom.

Club Hollywood

So I'm at this club tonight called Jimmy's, which used to be El Centro. Nice place. The patio area is really cool, especially if you're not into the hip-hop scene, which is what they play on the dance floor. Sometimes I wish I was still into it, because there's some hotties groovin' to it. But for some reason, probably because I'm more into electronic music now, I just can't swing it.

I'm there for a birthday party for, like, eleven people. It's a good crowd, I gotta admit. But I'd rather chill outside. Plus, I'm wearing a sort of "car coat" with a hood on the back. It's wool, and not the best thing to wear inside a club.

By then, I had already had three shots of Patron Silver, a few beers and some good BBQ at an earlier party. Anyway, I'm feeling it. I get inside and hang out with some Cold Tofu folks. There's a lot of them tonight, too.

At some point, I'm talking to one of my close friends and a guy comes up, taps me on the shoulder and says hello. He also compliments me on my coat.

This would be a non-story, but many of you have probably seen this guy in a few movies lately. In fact, he's been in all the American Pie movies and had his starring feature last year in a comedy.

The thing is, I've never really liked this guy. Many years ago, I had a party when I used to live in a loft in the downtown L.A. arts district. This same guy walked in, grabbed a beer from my fridge, opened the bottle, and proceeded to flick the cap -- now, I don't know how to describe the process unless you've done or seen this before -- across the crowded room.

I was pretty pissed, but because I wasn't into confrontation back then, I just fumed about it. Actually, I fumed about it for a number of years. But then I was done with it. I don't know when, but I met the guy a few times and really just let it go. But, still, the feeling lingers on in the back of my mind. I guess that's how I am.

So I say hello to him, thank him for the compliment, and that's that. Not much more to say. Except the fact that a lot of Asian folks think he's the shit right now, and that's just fine with me.

Apparently, however, a few people saw his little gesture to me, and then started to think that I might be more important than I actually am. That's pretty frickin' funny, if you ask me. But yeah, a few people started to pay more attention to me than usual. I guess that's how celebrity works, right?

It's 2:35 in the morning right now. I have to wake up in a few hours for that Verizon fitting. Oh well. Guess I'm just a Hollywood Asian sort of guy.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Kinda Freakin' Busy Again

A while back, I wrote about how I had very little time to think about anything. Well, I'm getting that feeling again.

As you know, I stopped the improv classes so that I would have more time to myself. But in actuality, I've only gained about 4 more hours per week. That's not much.

Tomorrow, I will have had my fourth print audition for the week. That's insane! I work full time! I can't be going out on auditions that much! But fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, my agent schedules all my auditions right around lunch time. So, all I gotta do is get ready in the morning for my lunch time appointments.

The other day, I had one for Verizon, and it looks like they want me. Well, almost. They've put me on a "strong avail," which is almost certain that I got the job. (Every "strong avail" I've had, I've booked the job.) And just to keep me interested, Verizon will pay me $300 to go in for a fitting this weekend at the W Hotel. It's in the Presidential Suite, baby. I don't think I've ever been in one of those before, especially at the W.

I'm going in for an audition tomorrow for Wells Fargo, as an arm/hand model. So you're probably wondering, what does an arm/hand model pull in for a print job? It pays $750. Probably will take 6 hours to shoot, tops. You don't even have to comb your hair for this one.

But the thing is, I'm still on avail for that Microsoft print job that's shooting between the 20th and 28th of this month. The Verizon job is between the 14th and the 21st. This hand job shoots on the 20th, I believe, and my agent knows there's a potential conflict there. But what she doesn't know is I have to be in Austin, Texas, on the 23rd and 24th. In fact, I just found out today. It's for work. Again. My second trip for work in less than one month. Now that's insane.

I finally finished one of my freelance projects. That's a done deal, thank you very much. And, I also finished editing most of the magazine that I work for on the side. This weekend, I have to go to a house party for some old friends, followed by a birthday party at a club for some new friends.

I don't have a lot more to say than just firing off all my crap for the week. But I will say this. I tried going to the gym after work three times this week, and every time, I ended up driving home. There was just no way. I'm physically and mentally exhausted as it is. I don't even bother making a schedule any more. My schedule is completely out of my control.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

New Job, Too

In addition to stopping the improv classes, I took on a new job at an ad agency. It's one that I've been freelancing with for the past 6 or 7 years, so I'm familiar with most of the folks I work with. Still, it's been tough these past 12 months. I've been going to new offices, learning new rules, remembering new names. And I HATE remembering new names. So, I have my work cut out for me once again. And I'm not even talking about my job responsibilities yet!

The other day, I helped cast a print job by inviting about 5 of my friends. They were looking for a specific type, not too model-like, but nice enough you could buy a product from. I guess that's my description, too. Except I'm a little too old for the job. (They told me so, in so many words.)

Not to worry, though. I've been going through some crazy castings myself lately. Almost all of it has been for print jobs for computer or tech stuff. Don't know if I'm being typecast as the IT guy. "It" guy wouldn't be so bad, but why IT guy? Probably means I'm not model-like, and borderline nerdy.

Once again, I'm on avail for a pretty big job. This one for Microsoft. By "big" I mean it pays decent bucks.

Tomorrow, I have another print audition. I think it's my 12th one this year, which is unusually busy for me.

My latest dilemma is that I think my hair is getting thinner. You wouldn't believe how much stress this brings me, which probably causes me to lose MORE hair.

Since I've taken on the new job, I thought I would have more free time. After all, these guys are no longer my freelance clients. But there's something to be said about "emptying your cup." It seems I'm busier than ever with the freelancing. I'm getting calls from people I've met only once, and that was years ago.

Don't know about the void being left from leaving Cold Tofu yet. I do want to take another class. But I feel I could really use the time to work on myself. Well, that and my hair. Hmm, I wonder if my health insurance covers Rogaine?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Forsaken, But Not Forgotten...What???

So, I haven't been keeping up with this in a while. Basically, I'm juggling way too much crap. In fact, I made an important decision last week. I stopped going to Cold Tofu lab.

A couple months ago, our lab class was told we would get to do this once-a-year lab members performance on a nice stage at the Japanese American National Museum. It's the same annual show that I went to last year and signed up, on the spot, for the beginning class.

Naturally, I thought this was a great story. Here I was, three levels and one lab class later, about to perform in the same show I had been an audience member of a year earlier. I felt a sense of accomplishment. Triumphant, if you will. And so I proceeded to advertise this show to everyone I knew. I even told family members about it, and they're way far away.

About a week before the show, I was told that I wouldn't be in the show. Why? Well, the official explanation is that there weren't enough women in the class, so they had to limit the number of men. The other reason is that I had already done a "show" in 2006, which was the stupid 10-minute warmup our lab class sometimes does before Cold Tofu's regular monthly show.

But those 10-minute shows are hardly worth inviting people to watch, so I never do. I have friends who want to see me perform, but I want to make it worth it for them to make a 40-minute drive to Little Tokyo.

My first reaction was shock, then anger, and then my usual Bruce Lee/JKD-induced reaction: KICK THEIR ASSES! Well, not really. But I wanted to just shoot from the hip and call them and give them a piece of my frickin' mind. I mean, I told frickin' 300 people I would be performing. THEY told me I would be performing. What the hell???!!!

But lately I've noticed that going with that first gut reaction isn't always the best practice. Call it maturity, okay? This time, I sat down, had a shot of vodka, had another shot of vodka, took a drag off a cig, and then politely emailed them that I would have some explaining to do to my friends and family. But I let them know I wasn't pleased with it.

I then put my iTunes on random and the first two songs that came on were from the musical SPAMALOT. The second song to play started out "Always look on the bright side of life..." and instantly a smile came to my face. I even whistled along for a while. This, along with the vodka and nicotine, helped me to deal with a major disappointment. And so I proceeded to email every friend and family member whom I thought would come to the show that I would no longer be in the show...but thank you for your support and love, etc., etc.

The cool thing was that I received some of the most supportive, understanding emails from every one of them. I couldn't believe it. It was truly touching, and I will forever remember that moment. One friend even said that it was like I didn't even have to perform to find out who my biggest supporters were. That's true! And besides, I really could've sucked that night. So maybe I dodged a bullet on this one.

Anyway, a few days later, I went to our regular Wednesday night class. We did our exercises, scenes, routines and whatnot, and the decision came to me strong and fast: I need to leave this group.

But I'm glad I waited to think about it first. It's like a samurai (yeah, I still fantasize about being one) who won't strike someone when he's angry. He'll wait 'til he's feeling sorta Zen, and then he'll kill the muthafuckin' asshole...