Friday, March 30, 2007

Hollywood's Burning

Hollywood's usual smoggy blue skies were covered in huge brown shit stains today. Amazing to see. I took a few pics with my cell phone camera.

Not great but I was driving at the time. Wanted to get the Hollywood sign amidst the billowing smoke, but I missed that pic around the Gower exit and couldn't go back.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

No. 336

Sometimes, you feel like just a number. Other times, you feel like "Asian guy No. 35." Today, I was No. 336 for a print audition. Stood in line among other numbers, of all different shells, listening to my iPod and playing a game on my cell phone.

A woman behind me kept urging me forward with her body language. How can I describe it? She stood off just to the side of me, but close enough so that I felt her vibrations, which made me want to move away from her. But if I moved to the side, away from her, then that would probably signal to her to move in front of me. Hmm, I wonder if that's how she drives...

The line actually wasn't so bad. It was finding parking at 3 p.m. around Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood that was insane. And forget plugging a meter. You'll never know how long the line will take.

Tonight, I'm celebrating at a fancy restaurant downtown called Windows. It's supposed to have great steaks, wines, salads and desserts. What for? Well, let's just say that, after checking my mailbox when I got home from the audition, I feel like a supermodel.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Like No Tomorrow

I'm sitting at The Coffee Bean on Sunset, just west of Fairfax, on the patio facing the Directors Guild building. It's 63 degrees and sunny, according to my Accuweather toolbar, but it feels like 53 in the shade. That's the thing about Southern Cali. It's warm in the sun, but in the shade, it's like a refrigerator. Good thing I brought a sweater.

A young lady in a slinky black tank dress and her friend are smoking away like no tomorrow. The friend is wearing a T-shirt and Converse tennis shoes, if that's of any interest. The woman in the dress is also petting a brown and white Chihuahua. So Paris Hilton, you might say. But I suppose this woman is pretty enough to get away with the spectacle.

I've just finished writing a chapter for my ongoing novel. It's a scene about my dad and a fire he started in the family home when I was a child. Most of the scene is true, but I added some dialogue to the scene that never took place. My dad, however, did say the words, just in a different context, and so I thought it would make for an interesting scene.

I have to pee like a racehorse after drinking a large iced coffee, but I don't want to lose my seat or pack up my things, which obviously includes a computer. Fortunately, my friend Chin Han just called and he's on his way. Chin Han hails from Singapore, but he comes to L.A. to produce some projects, one of which is the AXA Awards or the Asian Excellence Awards. The awards show happens in May here in L.A. somewhere.

Okay, now, I really have to pee. Where the frick is the guy? I'm starting to do the pee dance in my seat. Not good. REALLY NOT GOOD.

The driver in a car on the street just honked at the car in front of him, presumably because he's pissed at something like being cut off. That's L.A. for you.

Oh, cool, Chin Han just drove up. I tried to wave at him but he didn't see me. Apparently paying too much attention to a sign indicating how much it costs to park here.

The Coffee Bean has a wifi service with AT&T, by the way. I get their DSL service at home and the wifi privilege is an extra 2 bucks. Don't know why I'm plugging them. They're not exactly paying me. I did, however, work for an agency that had them as a client. I guess that means they paid me.

What a relief, by the way. I peed like there was no tomorrow.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Leonidas Chocolate Cafe

I'm in old town Pasadena right now, hanging out at the cafe across the street from the Apple store. It was absolutely dead inside when I arrived, but now there seems to be a steady flow of folks getting coffee and "if it's your first time here, your first chocolate is free." Tell them the Asian guy sent you.

Chocolate is pretty damn divine here, and there's an intermittent wi-fi signal from the Apple store that I can tap into from my iBook.

It's just beautiful outside right now, sunny and 70 degrees. People are just strolling by in their summer dresses and sleeveless tops. I'm inside the window, but I'm doing all the window shopping. The interesting part is, most people can't see me inside because of the tint on the window.

Until they get up close, that is. Then they stop picking their noses.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

CBS Radford

Third interview (second callback) at CBS went pretty much without a hitch, but I have to say I don't feel nearly as comfortable as the first callback. I have to think about the reasons why, and the initial thoughts are disturbing to me.

Observation 1: First audition had 2 or 3 other Asian guys on the roster. When there's a bunch, my odds go down. When there's just a couple others, I'm pretty confident, not just of the odds, but that I will probably "win" the job.

Observation 2: Second audition had no Asian guys on the roster. In fact, I've never seen another Asian guy in the waiting room, period.

Observation 3: The guy who signed in before me was auditioning for the same role as me. He was white. That worries me... a lot!

This is a common reaction for me, at all my auditions. When I'm going against Asians, I don't feel competition. It's when I'm competing against white guys, I get antsy and contemplative and start to change the way I deliver my lines, etc.

Is this some sort of self-hate or unconscious stereotyping on my part? Well, yes, according to Malcom Gladwell, author of Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, which is a sociologist-economist view of the world.

In one chapter in the book, several hundred people were tested for their perceptions of black people via a speed test conducted on a computer. Associations were drawn between, for example, good and black, or evil and white; and then changed on other associations, such as honest and white, or deceitful and black. Nearly all the participants showed a statistically significant lag time in speed when black was paired with a positive attribute. The interesting thing is, all these participants were... black.

So, obviously, I have a prejudice that Asians are less qualified as actors than white people. And I think I'm not alone. White folks, perhaps, also have that perception. Some people manage to compensate for their lack of acting talent with their presence and/or confidence. The problem is that what I have in presence, I definitely subtract in confidence. That's something I need to really study about myself and, also, work on.

Either that or go see a hypnotist. I know a particularly good one in Glendale, as a matter of fact.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Second Callback Tomorrow

I had a callback for that theatrical casting this morning. I got there exactly on time and went in and did my thing without a hitch. It must've been a decent read because they called me right away (well, an hour or so later) and asked me to come in for a second callback tomorrow evening.

But here's the catch. They said I'd have to go "core." I won't spell it out because it seems SAG is looking out for folks on the Web who are talking up this status. For the record, for all you "core haters" out there, I highly doubt I'll be doing much of any kind of theatrical acting in the future, so you can forget about me being an active union buster.

I just finished reading through some websites about going core. Sounds simple enough. The folks at SAG do try to steer you away from it, though, and for many good reasons. In fact, they "scare" you into not doing it with their various scare tactics.

Me? I'm just a schmuck who's out of work for the moment and in need of some paying work. I don't care to do a bunch of non-paying non-union films or reality TV, either. And no, I don't bus tables or care to be a fricking waiter. That's for bigger schmucks than me.

Monday, March 12, 2007

3 Times Around the Building

My audition at CBS got changed to Monday—this morning—at 10:30. I didn't even know CBS had a lot in Studio City, so as I walked through, I found it amazing, even though it looks like a miniature-sized version of either Universal or Warner Bros.

For some stupid reason, I left my driver's license at home, so I had a somewhat difficult time of it getting into the gate. I finally showed them my Costco card for picture ID. No, they didn't want to see my headshot, if you were wondering.

They gave me a map and pointed me toward the direction of the building, which is a good couple of blocks walk from the gate. So I passed by some sound stages, one of them for "Will & Grace," and others that must be in development because I've never heard the titles before.

I did see a parking space for a new show in development called "Fugly," and a name on the ground (on a piece of taped paper) marking the parking space for Quan Phung, whom I don't really know but I know who he is. I think he was at Fox before, or something like that. Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't fugly mean "fucking ugly"? I'm starting to wonder if there's some sort of "Ugly Betty"-themed show, possibly for an Asian guy.

So I found the building, which is a fairly large one with many suites built into the two-story structure, but couldn't locate the room number I was told to go to. So then I proceeded to walk around the building, and then walk around it again, and then walk around it once more, just to make sure I didn't see the right suite number.

Recently, I saw this "60 Minutes" segment on this savant-like man who could do calculations in his head very fast. He was also very literate and had most of his social skills intact, unlike most savants, the number of known ones totalling around 50 in the entire world. I'm not going to define "savant" for you here, but for shorthand, I'll just refer to the guy whom Dustin Hoffman portrayed in Rain Man.

So they take this savant-like guy and bring him into a casino. Oh, wait, it wasn't "60 Minutes" where I saw this bit. I saw this bit on a British-produced TV show I found on YouTube. I think his name is Daniel Limmett, but I'll check on that.

Anyway, the guy plays blackjack against a dealer and splits a pair of 7s against a dealer showing a 10. He gets another 7 and asks to split that as well. If you know a couple things about blackjack, you know you don't split 7s against a dealer showing 10. So the guy proceeds to get 21s on each 7, beating the dealer on three hands.

Now, the point of this is that the guy, just using math and probability, couldn't win any money. In fact, he was down most of his chips. To clarify, there are a set of rules blackjack players generally follow that give them the best odds against the dealer. This guy memorized those rules, and then proceeded to play. The problem was, you just can't play strictly by the numbers, or your cards will be dictated purely by the luck of the draw, limited by a given set of probability plays.

He then decides to use his imagination and sixth sense, along with his innate ability to count cards and figure out probability. He wins using this strategy.

So, finally—I know it took a long time to cross this bridge—I decided to snoop around and actually walk into one of the suites, and lo and behold, there was a sign-up sheet with actors waiting around to audition. The casting lady didn't even check the sheet and called me in next. Guess she knew what role she wanted to see next. And I did the lines once, she made corrections, I did it again, and she said, "Congratulations, that one earned you a callback. Can you come back tomorrow?"

She also asked about my union status and I said I'd be willing to go "core," and she made a note of that. Anyway, I walked out of that room feeling like I'd just been dealt three 7s and I beat the dealer showing a 10.

Whew, I don't know how I managed to make that little anecdote work after all.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Oh Lard-o Here

You know, I don’t know when it was I became such a lard ass. It must’ve been sometime between my 30s and 40s. The exact time and date eludes me, however.

I started doing this cleanse on Monday and now, what, three days later, I’m down by about 6 or 7 pounds. Yeah, I know this is mostly water weight, but I’m surprised by how much weight I’m down, yet I STILL look like a lard ass. Particularly in the torso. There’s just too much blubber down there.

I was working out in the gym today, pretty hard actually. I worked out yesterday, too. I don’t do too strenuous of a workout. Usually, it’s just a 20-minute ride on the cycle to warm up the body. Then I head to the free weights area for a light circuit training routine. And when I say “light,” I mean Heineken Premium Light. We’re talking about 5 sets of dumbbell press and butterfly press using 20-pound weights; and 5 light sets of rows on the Cybex machine, followed by 5 light sets on the lat pull. Then I’ll finish off with either some light tricep pulls or chest press on the machine.

I always end with sit-ups and 20-25 minutes on the treadmill, mostly just fast walking. Today, I felt good enough to do some light jogging, but I really just enjoy the fast walking.

My cousin in Seattle gave me some good tips on working out, particularly in doing a balanced workout. He said if you just concentrate on chest, it’ll throw your back out of balance, and vice-versa. So, I tend to do both areas on the same workout day. Since I don’t use very heavy weights, I’ll even do the same workout two or three days in a row. Plus, I never know when I’ll be able to get to the gym.

Right now, I’m writing this from my girlfriend’s downtown loft, which is equipped with a pretty nice gym, not to mention being empty most of the time. My membership at Bally’s ran out in September and it couldn’t have been sooner. That place is just too crowded for the money you pay. Plus, I got my wallet stolen from a locker. It’s just not worth it for me to pay to get ripped off and frustrated.

My print agent just called and asked if I had a theatrical agent. I said no, so she gave me some info on a casting for tomorrow. It’s nonunion but since I’m not doing anything very productive, I might as well see what it’s about. And hey, if it pays anything, I can always renounce my union membership, or what is called “Financial Core.” This just means you are declaring yourself both a member and independent of the Screen Actors Guild. You still pay the dues, still get any residual income you’re due, but you don’t get voting privileges. Who cares about that?

This past award season, I hardly got any freebies such as DVDs and screenings, so I don’t really care about that stuff. Anyway, we’ll see what this casting is all about tomorrow. It’s at CBS.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Celebrities without Makeup

J. Lo and Diana Ross are my favorites on this thing.

Spring Cleaning

We're heading into spring soon and I thought I'd get a jump on it by doing my annual Master Cleanse. To tell you the truth, I think I skipped last year, but I know that I had at least intended to do it.

I know I've been due for a thorough cleaning. My torso is nothing like it used to be, and way bigger than it was just one year ago. That cruise I took was an all-you-can-eat obesity fest and, to make matters worse, I just went to Todai last weekend for all-you-can-eat sushi. Actually, I did pretty good at Todai. I just stuck with sushi, sashimi, crab legs and a small bowl of hot rice.

My goal is to shed about 6-8 pounds of fat, so I'm aiming at losing a whopping 12-15 pounds of general weight including water. Not easy to do. I've reduced the amount of maple syrup by one-third.

If you're interested in this sort of thing, go to this link for the pdf and read the entire thing before considering the fast. Then, if you need more info, I can direct you to some other resources and also give my personal experience on it. My current cleanse is my 4th one, fyi. I'd share my experience here but since it's my 4th, I'd probably roll over a few details. It's much better to document your first time.

I know a couple people who promote this cleanse like it's a miracle diet, but I must be truthful here: It's no walk in the park. The thing is rough to do. It takes a couple weeks to mentally prepare for it. You need to go out and buy all the ingredients, and if it's your first time, it's like an Easter egg hunt trying to find everything.

Then there's the bowel movements. You folks know I don't mind talking about my BMs, but these BMs are all-consuming since that's what this thing is all about. You want to shit and shit and shit, and when you think you've shit all you can shit, you try to shit some more. Your tongue gets pasty white, your body stinks, your hair gets stringy, and you become paranoid that you might wet your pants while driving to work in the morning.

These are the bad things. The good things are many, but you have to read about them in that pdf.

I once sent out an evite to about 40 people to try this thing one summer. More than half of those tried it with only about three having to quit a few days into it. But afterward, nearly everyone agreed, it was something they needed to do and they were glad they had the opportunity to do it.

Of those who didn't do it, some went on and did it on their own time, or in their own evited group. And then some of those who did it with me went on to pass it on to their groups, meanwhile forgetting to invite me to do it with them. (Don't you hate not being invited for things?)

But here I am again, this time alone, doing the cleanse. Why? Because my body has been telling me, "It's about time, dude."

Friday, March 02, 2007


I watched a samurai movie called Sanjuro last night on DVD. It's a Kurosawa film and stars a couple of my favorite samurai actors, Toshiro Mifune and Tatsuya Nakadai. I've been watching a lot of samurai flicks lately, mostly because I rented one on Netflix and then they kept recommending other ones I'd never heard of. Whatever marketing program that is, it's pretty effective on me.

But there is another reason I've been watching, and I thought I may have mentioned it on this blog before. Apparently not.

For the last couple of months, I've been studying what's called tate, or samurai techniques. Tate is not an art or do, but rather a couple of katas (forms) and some action sequences we learn for the stage or camera. In samurai movies, there's generally always a main samurai fighting a bunch of hoodlums. Rarely is there a one-on-one duel, but in a typical samurai sword fight, it's over after about 3 moves.

I had a lot of trepidation over taking the class at first. I didn't want to look bad, of course. And it turns out, I'm not half-bad. It's probably the Jeet Kune Do lessons that came into play, especially because Bruce Lee borrowed some things from samurai that I wasn't aware of before. For one, the basic footwork of JKD is all samurai, while the JKD onguard stance is either from fencing or samurai, which is about the same.

Anyway, I've decided to move on in my learning to now find another, more advanced samurai class. Not sure where to look, but I'm pretty sure I'm ready for it. Another class I'm planning to take is something called kyudo, or Zen archery. Apparently, a teacher from Ojai, Calif., is visiting L.A. for a one-day intensive.

Next on the list? I'm hoping for sashimi lessons. Is it because I want to train to look like an authentic sushi chef? Or maybe I want to take on a different vocation or even start a business? Nah, I just purely enjoy cutting fish. I've taken part in dozens of sushi parties. I just want to learn to do it right.

After all, the great Musashi instructed young samurai to make a thousand strokes a day. I might as well make mine while cutting lunch or dinner.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

One Explanation

I was on the Mexican Riviera last week for a post-Valentine's cruise with the girlfriend. It was great. She paid for it, too. Can you believe that? I'm a pretty lucky dude, methinks.

We stopped first in Puerto Vallarta and went on a 4-hour "expert hike" through the Sierra Madre mountains. It was somewhat difficult, but with the help of Chinese herbs, plenty of water, Nike Dri-Fit clothes, and a couple of bananas, we did pretty freakin' well on it.

The hike was behind a poor Mexican village at the skirt of the mountain, and it was strange to get so close to it, since most of the homes were constructed—how should I say it?—without homebuilding skill. Apparently, from the bus tour, many of the buildings in PV are built by using mud and bricks. That's pretty scary.

We hiked over a ridge and then down to the valley where a river ran through it. Now here's where I think it's weird. We had to walk across the river a couple times, in our bare feet or with our shoes. I didn't want to ruin my shoes, so I took them off and attempted to walk on my feet. Oh shit, those rocks hurt. I could barely get across it. Meanwhile everyone, except this overweight Asian guy and me, had crossed and had already put their shoes back on. Oh, I should mention that most went across with their shoes on. Wusses.

Before the trip, I insisted to my girlfriend that I needed to bring aqua socks. She didn't know why, since Mexican beaches aren't rocky like European ones. After some debate, I decided she was right. Well, it turns out that aqua socks would've really come in handy. She knows how delicate my little feet can be. Anyway, that's the only weird thing about it. I know, it's not that weird, so I'll get over it already.

After the second river crossing, we got onto a waiting bus for the drive back to the ship. Then after showering and getting dressed, we went into town for a shrimp dinner. Dinner was great, but the service was slow, and I believe it's because we're not white Americans. Asians are either terrible customers, or they don't tip much. We tipped them about 10%, so that makes us typical.

Our next two stops were in Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, both really beautiful port cities. I'm not sure which one is better, but they made me not want to go back to PV ever again.

At Cabo, I went snorkeling in front of a resort hotel. We also drank several beers, ate some more shrimp, and had chips & salsa. On the way back to the ship, we had the bus drop us off in the shopping area where we bought some souvenirs. I insisted we have a round of tequila shots and share a dark beer. When I sucked on a lime wedge, my girlfriend pointed out that it was wet with water. That worried me quite a bit. And sure enough, about a couple hours after getting back on the boat, I got the shits. Major, major shits, man. I shit all night. Couldn't even sleep more than 10 minutes without worrying if I shit in my pants.

Later on, after taking some diarrhea medicine, I got major, major farts, all the friggin' time. Oh, it was major. Later, after watching some information on TV in our room, it seemed like I may have gotten a stomach virus called norovirus, which is common on cruise ships since it's so contagious. One of our servers in the main dining room got sick on the third day of the cruise, and I think it was her who may have infected me. It takes 24-36 hours for norovirus to fully affect you. Symptoms also include headache, nausea and light fever. I had them all.

Anyway, I'm not saying this was my shit-dream-come-true just yet, just an early explanation for it.