Monthly Archives: April 2011

Day 68. Drag Queens, Garage Sales, and Books

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Today, I went on a bike/subway ride with my friend, Ross. I rode up to a subway station (yes, they have those in LA), put my bike on the subway car and got out and rode to a garage sale put on by a drag queen. If you’re wondering what a drag queen garage sale is like, it’s like every other garage sale you’ve ever been to. No one knows what to do with VHS tapes. We then rode back to the subway, got on, and went to the Festival Books put on at USC’s campus. It was like the Scholastic Book Fair, if the Scholastic Book Fair had wandered near his dad’s growing laser invention, like in Honey I Blew Up the Kid. I came home and took a hard, satisfying nap.

So, yeah, today was a drag queen garage sale and book festival sort of day. Typical.

I’ve been looking up other acting blogs. I stumbled upon a great post by Jenna Fischer, who plays Pam on The Office. It is about her journey from anonymity to being on a television show. It is really insightful. It’s on MySpace, which is kind of weird to know it’s still there. I feel like Myspace is a place that went through Armageddon, there’s nothing left in the desolate terrain except bands looking for water. They’re the only ones that survived.

Anyway, here is Jenna Fischer’s post.


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Day 67. He Ate My Uncle’s Glasses

Friday, April 29, 2011

“Where the heck are Kenny’s glasses?”

“I have no idea. At this point the only explanation is that Magic ate them.”

“No way.”

Way. Magic was the first family dog we had. He ate my uncle’s glasses. His glasses! He used to eat photos too. Our only proof of it came in the terds in the front yard that contained white glossy paper with “Kodak” emblazoned on the back. He was the reverse of a Walgreens Photo Lab. The poop scattered in the front yard scattered in a chain length radius from the post he was affixed to was like a CSI flashback revealing what was eaten on the other side of digestion. There were often brightly colored crayons, rubber bands, baseball cards, and whatever else he wanted.

Everyone was scared of him.

He had to wear a leash in the house because when he cornered some food it was our only hope of exhibiting some control over him and retrieving our Cheese Nips. We moved from a regular collar to a choke chain to a choke chain with spikes. There were countless instances where we would be up on the kitchen counters with a broom trying to pry some food away from behind Magic as he bared his teeth and growled. These warnings were taken seriously because he had bitten everyone in the family. For a time we experimented with cayenne red pepper powder when we were on the countertops, shaking it vigorously in his nose. This worked for awhile, but he eventually became impervious to it, just like he did everything else.

Magic was a beast.

Magic looked like this:

We were terrified of all 20 pounds of him. Now, before you mark the Houghtons as wimps just know you would have been too. He had bitten everyone of us. He was literally on steroids (for some kind of allergy). We kept him around like a bad boyfriend because when he wasn’t a terror he was the sweetest dog ever. “Hey baby, let me back, I’ve changed. I love you.” He ended up dying when I was a sophomore in high school. Of what you ask? Liver damage of course.

The beast lay on the table at the vet’s office fading, as he recounted everything that had been laid to rest inside his mighty jaws during his lifetime. Barely with it and motionless he looked up when my brother, Scott, the youngest, walked in. Magic raised his head, looked at him as they shared a moment, then drew his last breath, off to the doggie afterlife to terrorize Kujo.

Yesterday, I auditioned for a role that said, “must be comfortable around dogs.” Luckily, for me I had been rehabilitated from my Magic days. Michelle loves dogs as much as she loves humans and she really loves humans. We have two, Sammy and Lucy, and they taught me that dogs are great, and can be well behaved. I’m always amazed when they are. So, I’m comfortable around dogs now.

I arrive at the audition, which is in a space like I mentioned once before is like a doctor’s office with multiple rooms casting for multiple projects. There were a bunch of guys with short sleeve white button downs and black ties auditioning for Bud Light. I was auditioning for an insurance company. Eventually they called my name. I slated (said my name to the camera) and said my line after the woman.

Woman: “Nothing, sweetie, just looking for some car insurance.”

Me: “We just switched to _____ Insurance.”

Next spot. This is where the dog comes in, only for the audition there was no dog, only a gorilla stuffed animal.

Woman: Good student discount

Me (playing with a gorilla/dog on my lap): “Auto and Home discount. Saved another 20% overall!)

The gorilla/dog jumps off my chest out of screen

Me: “Whoa!”

The only problem is the gorilla/dog can’t actually jump. On my first take I tossed him too early. I got to do it again.

I guess somewhere deep in my being I wanted to throw this “dog.” I don’t know where that urge could have come from.

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Day 66. The Starbucks Tour

Thursday, April 28, 2011

If I spend too much time in the Beautiful Starbucks in a day I get depressed. Not because everyone is super good looking and I’m just really good looking*. That’s not it. Sitting in one place looking at a computer hoping that my Naked smoothie keeps supplying me with nutrients to stay awake just puts me in a funk. This used to happen to me in my old job when I would be in the office all day.

Since I have a new Starbucks gift card and a bike, I decided I would do a Starbucks tour. I would work on one thing at one Starbucks, get on my bike and head to another one. I started with one on Wilshire Blvd. I wrote my blog post and looked for jobs. This Starbucks was not nearly as good looking, I felt like I belonged. There was even a crazy guy next to me at the communal table who would frequently get up and cuddle his dog that he left outside on the other side of the glass. While I was looking for jobs on Craigslist I stumbled upon a Comedy Writer position for the show, Ellen. I applied. Wouldn’t that be cool? Yes.

I hopped on my bike and headed to the next Starbucks, but first I made a detour to El Pollo Loco, a fat food restaurant, where they apparently just put like twenty whole chickens on the grill in front of you. I continued riding to Koreatown and landed in a Starbucks there. They didn’t notice me walk in because it was busy, so I just sat down without ordering anything. Here, I worked on the start to a screenplay.

I get back on my bike, turn on some Black Keys in my headphone and ride back home. I love riding my bike in the city. I feel like a bike messenger who is delivering granola bar wrappers, because that’s what’s in my bag.

I had to hurry home because I was meeting up with a friend. No, not a friend of a friend like usual, someone I was actually friends with before I got out here. Matt “lives in community,” meaning that he and his wife have an apartment of their own in a complex of other people they know, where they eat dinner together four times a week, and have meetings together. I’ve always thought that the best way to live would be to have an apartment and have friends live in the other apartments. They’re living it! I had dinner with the group, I mostly talked to a four year old and a two year old. Best quote was win the four year old told me, independent of anything else, “There is a bush behind you.”

Matt and his wife, Katie and I hung out in their apartment and talked, you know all old fashioned and stuff. We talked life and theology and comedy. It was just people connecting and talking and one of them periodically checking on the draft picks of the Kansas City Chiefs on two computers. Two.

*very debatable


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Day 65. Failed Audition Notices, Round 2

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I spend a lot of time on the computer looking. On some deeper level I spend time looking for more than the internet can provide. On a surface level I’m looking for opportunities to either work, or act, or a work that is acting.

A lot of my time is spent on LA Casting, one of the major websites where you can submit yourself for auditions. As I have posted before, some of the opportunities are interesting and fit me, and others, not so much.

Here are the ones for which I don’t fit.

Failed Audition Notices

They didn’t like my DJ name, “DJ Nilla Wafa”

Obviously, I’m more of an AC Slater

I don’t believe in the cause

My body is too good for this role

The fact that I don’t have a peanut allergy does not omit the other qualifications

Okay, this one I actually, clearly qualify for. Right, Dad?

I would be too in awe


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Day 64. Jeff Wakes Up and Reads the Funnies Ep. 2

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

So, this is the latest in the day I’ve ever posted. My apologies to my fan. I’m really learning how much of a long haul this whole process is. I’m not expecting to be acting right away, but I do desire small victories or small hope, or small hopetries more often than life is willing to give me right now. I think it’s a good lesson to learn to be okay with that. I’m happy for the process and I don’t like the process.

I think it’s probably good when there aren’t any other options. In the past, if one thing in my life was not going well, I would find a distraction and throw myself into that until it wore off, and then find something else. Here, I can give myself small distractions, but I know that I just have to keep plugging away at finding income and pursuing acting.

Last night I had a great surprise. My former coworkers sent me a care package. It was a lot of stuff like granola bars, and candy, and a Starbucks gift card. It was a big box. I just stared at it for a long time, both for the fact that I will eat and the kindness of it.

I went to an awesome park and read for a few hours during the day. I’ve been reading a screenwriting book. I finished it and I am now going to start in on an idea I’ve had for awhile. My friend, Nate, and I got a good start on it, and now I’m going to sit down and actually do it. I really like screenwriting and I really like this idea Nate and I have.

Since I took so long publishing this post, I will give you a bonus. It’s the next episode of Jeff Wakes Up and Reads the Funnies! This time with a special guest star.

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Day 63. Accidental Groping

Monday, April 25, 2011

When Michelle and I were first dating, I lived in a small town in Iowa. I stayed in the top floor of an old building on the main street. It was a great place that I quickly trashed with my inability to clean up after myself. But when Michelle would come up to visit it would be sparkling.

We would spend most of the weekend sitting on my couch cuddling as we kind of paid attention to what was on TV. Sometimes, it would be quiet while Cheers was on in the background and Michelle would say something that you don’t ordinarily hear from two people just dating.

“Jeff, your hand’s on my boob.”

Strange, right? There are only two possible explanations. One, that is a warning for a guy who is getting too assertive. Two, It is a statement of fact alerting they guy of something he didn’t know.

It was the second option.

I can’t feel very well with my left hand. It’s always been this way. It’s hard to explain, my left hand functions pretty normally except for the fact that I can’t feel very well, and I can’t manipulate my fingers individually very well. I can feel pain and heat and tell when I’m touching something, but I can’t feel two things at once, so I can’t feel changes in texture. Basically, this means I am very right hand dominant. I went to a neurologist last year to finally find out what it was. She said I had a small stroke in the womb. Crazy. I don’t remember it.

Practically, it means I can’t go left in basketball, junior high typing class was a nightmare, I keep everything in pockets on the right side of my body, and occasionally I would accidentally feel up my wife when we were first dating.

The other way it can be a disability is in the situation where I apply for a server position at a fancy catering company that follows strict fine dining rules that require dexterity with both hands. As many who have followed my saga chronicling whether I actually had a job with a catering company know, last week I was set to go in for my real Skills Assessment test on Wednesday.

But, I wasn’t sure if I would physically be able to do it. So, last Wednesday afternoon I snuck downstairs and grabbed some plates. I brought them back up to my room to see if I could actually hold two plates in my left hand like the guy had shown at the seminar I had crashed accidentally last week. I put one in my left hand and the other on my left forearm. It was precarious to say the least. If there had been chicken marsala on those plates, there would have been chicken marsala on the bed. I tried telling my left hand what to do to no avail. I’ve waited tables before, but we had trays and didn’t worry about the fancy proper rules. Even if I passed the Skills Assessment, this would have been really stressful for me. It just wouldn’t work.

I e-mailed the Fancy Man at the catering place and told him I wouldn’t make it to the Skills Assessment test.

I didn’t want to eventually spill something expensive on someone expensive.

Nor did I ever want the Fancy Man to say to me, “Jeff, your hand’s on my boob.”


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Day 62. The Newest Blogger

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My grandma, Joan, is one of the most curious people I know. I think this is fascinating because she is in her eighties. I don’t know too many people in their eighties, but most of the ones I do know aren’t that curious anymore. They’ve done most of their living and are content to let the curious come to them now. They look back on their life with nostalgia as if they’ve finished a book and are recalling moments from different chapters.

Not Grandma Joan. She’s continuing to write new chapters. I guess I don’t know what has made her so curious. Maybe it was her father’s influence, who was the editor of a small town newspaper in Iowa. Maybe it was going to college for journalism in the early 1940’s. Maybe it was her life with my grandpa, Bud, where they were exposed to a wide variety of things as prominent people in town. Or maybe it’s the totality of her life, living through the Depression, living with her future husband away in WWII, raising a family, followed by another generation of grandchildren, or taking care of her husband as he dealt with Parkinson’s toward the end of his life.

I don’t actually know if she was that curious long ago. But now, she’s had a curiosity explosion. She lives in a retirement community and takes advantage of all the offerings available from classes to social activities, to closely following current events. It has been neat to see someone her age take on life like a college freshman new to campus.

We were talking on the phone last week about writing because she’s always had an interest in it, and has read my blog faithfully. In recent years, she has taken on writing again. She likes to write  commentaries on things in life she finds interesting. She usually then e-mails them out to the family. We were talking and I said, “Hey, what if I started a blog for you? I could post the pieces you send out to the family.” She said she’d think about it. While she was thinking about it I just went ahead and made a blog for her. I think she loves it and has started sending me her pieces for me to post.

You need to check it out.

She’s really good.

She’s got pieces about topics that range from  shopping for a bra as an older woman to new slang terms, to making awkward conversations at a table. She’s sent me more I’m putting up occasionally, and she’s writing more all the time, so check back.

So, no, she’s not a typical octogenarian.

She’s an octogenarian with a blog.

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