Thursday, March 27, 2008

Acting and all that jazz

Well, I didn't get the Speed Racer spot, but at least I had an audition. I lost it to my friend Kiel who has been doing this for a while, so it doesn't make me feel to bad. He's had a lot of practice and knows a lot of people in the industry, so there is a slight advantage on his side of the table. This totally brings out my competitive nature though, and I am determined to book one. Now it's just practice, practice, practice. Luckily, I have another voiceover audition today, so another chance to prove myself. The rejection is part of the game, and hence why I have a thick skin. I will book jobs in voiceover, and that's all there is to it.

In other news, I went to see a neurologist finally about my arm, and I am glad I did. Turns out that in my type of case if it's not treated properly there may be permanent nerve damage. That freaked me out a bit, but the doctor said I should be totally fine with the treatment I am on. I will start taking a drug and doing some rehab including some acupuncture. I am glad things are moving along.

Life is strange. Events change and can directly effect your mood. Recently, certain events have completely brought myself back around to close to normal. While not totally 100%, I am getting close and it feels good. Still am not sure what the future holds, but I push onward to find out what it looks like. Life can only get better.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dangerous Speed Racing in Hollywood or Life as a Coroner's Assistant!

To be! That is definitely the answer to the question.

In the last couple of weeks the acting life has begun picking up. While it has mostly been auditions that have been coming my way, I have also had several paying jobs as well. On Tuesday I spent twelve hours on the set of CSI. Of course, most of the time was spent off camera reading, talking with cast and crew, and partaking of the large array of food provided on set. However, those times spent on set in front of the camera were so exhilarating that I it reassured me that I want to do this for the rest of my life. Even though so much time was spent waiting around for my scene, I still loved every minute. I was in my element and felt right at home. God continually shows me that this is the path for me.

I do have to laugh at the CSI filming though. My call time was at 7am at the Universal lot, so I arrived at around 6:40am, parked, and then headed to craft services for breakfast. After heading into the tent with my omelet and orange juice, I barely sit down when a pa is rushing in and asking for me. I find out that I am needed in wardrobe and then on the set. So I dump my food, get into costume, and head to the set and precede to sit and wait to be do my scene. I waited and I waited. Soon other people started trickling in for their later call times, and still I sat waiting for my scene. Well, we ended up breaking for lunch before I was used even though those who had a later call time had already been used. Of course, I wasn't complaining. I was just happy to be there and of course that I got paid by the hour. Anyways, I finally was able to shoot my scene, and it was awesome. Cameras everywhere and chatting with the director, I had a blast! During lunch I was able to walk around the lot and enjoy the day. Of course, the Universal Studios theme park was 100 yards away, so as I was walking the lot I could see people standing in line for different. It was a lot of fun to be on the studio side of the fence. Overall it was a great day.

Thursday I got to work on the new Minnesota Lottery commercials which was a blast, and then of course I had my Speed Racer voiceover audition that went really well. Sitting in the studio on the lottery gig was my first time in a sound studio which was definitely an experience. Monitors and computers everywhere and tons of sound dampening padding. Of course, free food and drinks were available on site, though the coffee was absolute crap. The directors had no clue what they were looking for so if I remember correctly we were on take 73 before we wrapped. I was still in my element and had a good amount of ad libs in there that everyone liked. Definitely an experience I would be happy to get used too. With the lottery experience being so good, I hope I can snag the Speed Racer gig as well, but being as inexperienced as I am I know it will be a tough uphill climb.

So I have a new band of the week, School of Language, which is Field Music's David Brewis. The debut album, Sea from Shore, was produced completely in Brewis' bedroom. Listening to this stunning album would make you think it was commercially produced. Brewis knows how to record and the make the most of his equipment. Having already sat down and had the cd play through itself twice, I came to the conclusion that this is a gem. While it's not perfect and a few spots in the album that I plan to skip past, overall I am quite pleased. Of course, I have no idea who Field Music is, but if David Brewis is attached then I'll have to check them out. If you are looking for something new and enjoyable try School of Language. That only goes if you have already checked out Vampire Weekend!

Well, life is definitely moving forward and California has become a great place to live. In my exploration of the Golden State so far, there is so much to see and do and enjoy and I haven't even touch a quarter of the state! It is like manifest destiny. Thank God I am here!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Boston tea party or...March madness and me!

Well, tonight is the first episode of John Adams; the short mini-series I was a part of for two weeks. While it's nothing to cheer about, it is nice to be able to tell people that I will appear on HBO today. It allows me a little bit of legitimacy in a crowd of under-worked actors. Speaking of legitimacy, I have started to work a little steadier and seem to have a good amount of auditions coming in which makes me feel better about myself. Also, on Tuesday, I had my first big "Hollywood" meeting with a voice-over casting director. A one hour meeting ended up being four and included a lunch and a great Mexican restaurant named Don Cuchos. There are several opportunities that will come from that meeting, and at the moment I am in the middle of two of them. They aren't completely finalized, but I am excited at what is on the horizon.

So March madness has started and like this past college football season, I have become swept up in the "madness". I think there are several reasons for my change in heart of watching sports. The first is that both my roommate and several of my friends are big sports fans and so as the social guy that I am I join in the fun with them. With this social experience, I begin to find the enjoyment in the game for myself and becomes something that I like myself. Second, with the recent relationship events and her hatred for all things sports, I take a little joy in the fact that I can sit and enjoy a good game of basketball and not hear any crap about it or how much she hates sports. Thirdly, when I was in highschool I played a lot of basketball and used to watch ESPN religiously for the NBA highlights and scores, so I do have an enjoyment of the game (definitely playing it more than watching, but hey, it's fun to be able to chat with the guys). The benefit of this year's March madness is that I actually have watched several games and know some stats which helps me bullshit my way through a conversation, which has given me more extended conversations with a certain lovely lady. Anyways, while I have never been anti-sports, I have never been truly pro-sports either. It's always been something that has never grabbed my interest, but it may be changing. I still would rather watch a movie, but the I won't turn down a good Wisconsin Badgers game either! Though UNC will totally win.

My arm is still half-numb and sore from the electrocution, so I am seeing a neurologist to make sure that the damage isn't completely permanent. After seeing a couple of doctors about it, I have been told that the jolt may have been even more severe than what they first thought. The last doctor told me that I may be looking at a couple months to a year of my arm being at this half-numb, tingling sensation. It's not fun at all. The other night, when I went to wash my hands the water was cold to my left hand while hot to my right hand (the one that got zapped) which freaked me out a bit. I hope that it's just nerve damage and nothing to do with the circulation. If this keeps up, I don't know what will progress with Starbucks.

Oh, I have to promote this guy Gabe Soriano because I saw him on Thursday night at a bar and he was phenomenal. I also have his two cds and I have been listening to them frequently since Thursday. He's got a good mix of influences and the tracks are good listens and I find myself tapping my foot or bobbing my head to his music. It's nothing out of the ordinary, but it's just good classic music. If you are looking for something new to listen to check him out, or of course check out Vampire Weekend since I am still listening to them.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Electric shock therapy and Death Stars!

Well, it definitely was an interesting weekend. I rolled into work around 7:30 am on Saturday to begin my long shift for the day (of course, after being there until 11:30 pm the night before!), and at first I just thought it was going to be hell. However, due to the fact that I both of the assistant managers on the floor were busy elsewhere, I assumed control of the floor. Ah, power in the workplace leaves me with such a heady feeling and brings the phrase "drunk with power" into reality. Though I am definitely a benevolent dictator, but I made sure things got done. By noon, I was walking the newest barista through the process of mopping the floors (the ones behind the counters, we don't do the lobby until close of course), and part of the process is to mop underneath the movable milk fridge that sits underneath the espresso machines. The unfortunate thing is that the cord for the fridge is too short for it to be moved, so every time it is moved the fridge is unplugged. Well, since it an enormous pain to plug it back in, especially if you have never done it before, I decided to show the new barista how and where it needs to be plugged into the wall. Unfortunately for me, having collected some water while it was sitting on the ground, when I plugged in the cord electricity arced through the water and shot up my arm. Now I have been shocked many times, but I have never been hit this hard. It felt like my arm swelled to three times its size before I was able to release the cord. Needless to say, there was a yelp of pain (ok, maybe a scream, but I won't admit to it, you'll have to ask the witnesses) and then me huddled up against the fridge clutching my arm for a solid two minutes. My arm felt both like it was on fire and that the entire Los Angeles Dodgers decided to practice there swings on my arm. Luckily, my arm went numb after about four minutes of this pain, and while my arm felt "weird" at least it wasn't hurting. Unfortunately, my arm "woke up" and it began to hurt and feel, the only way I can describe it, fiery tingling. I have never been one to treat electricity lightly, so after filling out a work injury report, I hightailed it to the urgent care and saw a doctor. Well, after calling me a lucky punk, he said that since my heart rate was normal, I had no burns, and my muscles weren't spasming that I should have no long term damage. He did however say that my arm would hurt and feel "weird" for the next week. Even today, my arm still hurts and is about half numb like its constantly in a state of sleep. Of course, now it's time to deal with worker's compensation which will not be fun.

In other news, I read an article today about the universe's true Death Stars. While the conclusions are typical alarmist journalism, it was a fun read. First off, 8,000 light years is a long distance and the chances that the pinwheel is perfectly aligned with the Earth to receive any of the death rays is slim to none. From that distance even a millimeter off from dead center would mean that rays would pass harmlessly by Earth. Second, the "short fuse" of this star is at a few hundred thousand years. Yeah, that's a guess if I ever heard one, but it does sound better than, "We have no idea." While this was definitely an interesting read (for one who loves astronomy, like I do), it definitely reminds that the general public is just not that interested in the Final Frontier when it takes this kind of story to make any sort of news.

Well, life as a whole is pretty decent. While I still have ups and downs, they have become easier to deal with and their strengths have lessened (well, the downs anyways). I still have many unanswered questions still ponder at night, I am making progress which is encouraging. Also, new openings have happened for the acting career, but too soon to really report anything quite yet. Hopefully in the next week or so I will have some big news.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Karaoke, Chavez, and the fate of global warming again!

So last night's adventures were both surprising and entertaining. What began as a simple day off became a night of exploration. After a day of running errands and working out, I met up with Kiel to go to Barragan's for dollar taco night and pitchers of margaritas (which interestingly, I swore two years ago I'd never drink tequila again, but I had changed my just recently, which is another story). The tacos were good for a dollar and the margaritas were good and strong. Kiel's roommate Bert and my next door neighbor Geoff joined the two of us as well, and the conversation never lagged. After many tacos and 3 pitchers of margaritas we headed out (I was the dd, don't worry), and I dropped Kiel and Bert at home then Geoff and I headed to Michael's to meet his wife and a couple of friends for Karaoke. Now, I preface that this was like no karaoke place you have every heard. The people getting on stage had amazing voices, and it was a little intimidating. It almost seemed like the last few nights of American Idol (which I still have never watched...ever). However, after a couple of bourbon and gingers I decided to jump up and give it a whirl. For being a karaoke virgin, I did pretty well. Of course, I started off with a DMB song, which is difficult itself since Dave has such a distinct and different voice, but I think I handled it well. After that performance, I was able to just sit back and relax and enjoy the company and the night.

Well, on to more interesting topics.

Chavez is back to his usual blustering and fist shaking at everything American. While all the news stories are talking about a war happening down in South America, I have my doubts that this will go that far. First off, Chavez is cheap talk and doesn't have the balls to start a fight with Columbia. Second, he wasn't even offended in this transgression so he has no legs to stand on, and if he invaded then he would see a world of hurt descend down on his little "empire". The attack allows Chavez to look tough, however if he pushes to hard he may end up on his face and have lost some faith in his power hungry friends across the globe. Thirdly, when you take a glance at the different military strengths of all three countries, Columbia has a larger, better equipped, and better trained military than both Ecuador and Venezuela combined. It would not be a contest. Did Columbia have a right to do a surgical strike into Ecuador to kill FARC rebels? Of course! Raul Reyes, a high FARC leader, has been hiding out in Ecuador controlling his rebels across the border and making incursions into Columbian soil for the past several years. Also, with hints that Reyes had ties with Rafael Correa, the Ecuadorean president, and Ecuador doing nothing to help prevent this, Columbia did what was needed to help stabilize their country. It was a bold move, but that is what it takes in a war against cowards such as Reyes. This is a better world without him.

I know I have talked on it before, but I have to bring it up again that this whole global warming scare is a complete joke! In this article the founder of The Weather Channel talks about how much a fraud global warming is and how TWC has devolved into a platform for alarmists trying to scare the country. I have been saying it again and again that in ten years, maybe twenty, we will look back and wonder how we were all duped into believing Al Gore. Well, he did invent the internet, so he must be pretty smart.

Last note, it looks like SAG has begun starting talks with the different studios in an effort to stave off a strike in June. After the WGA strike, this town is weary and just wants for things to get back to normal. Here is hoping that negotiations are both swift and final.

Monday, March 3, 2008

To the top

There is nothing like a good hike to clear your head. After several weeks in LA, I was definitely ready to get out of dodge for a day. Granted I only had to drive 20 minutes to get to the Angeles National Forest, but you would never think that you were close to LA. The place was totally remote and was in the middle of the San Gabriel Mountains, so only occasionally I would see glimpses of Arcadia and LA County. Other than that I was in the wilderness with all the excitement and dangers that come with it. I had just recently gotten a hydration pack and I wanted to test it out as well, so it gave me a good excuse to go hiking (it worked great!).

So my roommate and I head to the pack station, which is about halfway up one of the mountains, park the car, and start hiking. We decided to do the full loop which brings us down into the canyon and then up and around the mountains surrounding the canyon. Once we got into the canyon, I felt like I had been transported back to the East Coast. With the streams running everywhere and all the green, I could've been in any forest and it seemed to really cleanse my thoughts and mind. The canyon seemed to calm the nerves and soul. At one point later on, Ben and I sat and relaxed on some rocks as we looked over the canyon and were silent. The quiet that descended seemed to just pull you into the unspoiled region we were in. All we could hear was the wind and the rustling of the trees. No cars, people, horns, or city life could be heard. That alone did wonders for both of us.

As we climbed out of the canyon we came to a fork and decided to reach the summit of Mount Zion and take a look into the canyon. While it was only a little over a mile to the top, it was definitely a grueling climb. We changed our elevation by about 1200 feet in that short span of distance. Granted, both of us haven't done any real hiking for a while so we were definitely pushing ourselves. However, the effort was worth it. The view from the summit was beautiful and we decided to rest there and eat our clif bars and trail mix. At 3575 feet in the air you can see a good distance, and the haze wasn't too horrible so we could see for a good while.

After a short break, we headed down (much easier!), and continued on the trail and ended taking circling the canyon from the mountains above. It was awesome to look down below and know that just a couple hours before we were at the bottom climbing our way up. Conversations would start and stop as Ben and I both would just be awed into silence and look at the world around us.
After about 5 hours of hiking we were back at the car and ready to get home and cook some burgers and rejoice in a good day.