Monthly Archives: July 2011

Day 159. Moping, History, Homelessness, Flakiness. An LA Day

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I was kind of mopey for much of the day. Then, I bucked up and turned it around and it ended up being pretty interesting. 

While home I got plane tickets to go to Springfield for a wedding in September, I sent out some e-mails I had been dreading, and I called to get prescriptions filled to conquer this sinus infection. Getting prescriptions filled when you don’t have prescription coverage is a far different thing than if you do. Have I mentioned I hate our prescription drug care system? Yes? Good.

I got on my bike, did some errands and rode downtown on Wilshire. It is quite aways away, but I love the ride. If you want to bike in LA, it might be better to have a mountain bike, the streets are that bumpy, especially the edges. I went by a little park commemorating Bobby Kennedy that also has an impressive looking school. Apparently, it is the site of the former Ambassador Hotel, which was the fanciest place on what was the fanciest street in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, it is also where Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in 1968. I also saw the Westlake Theatre, a big old theatre that is now a swap meet. Plus, I stumbled upon a carnival in MacArthur Park. I walked through and was the only gringo in sight.

I got downtown and, man, I just love old buildings. I can describe what it is, but it just inspires awe in me. I was exploring all around with a goofy smile under my helmet.

Then, I happened upon Skid Row, the infamous homeless area of Los Angeles. It was breathtakingly sad. The sidewalks were completely lined with homeless people laying up against buildings, standing, or slowly walking around. It’s hard to describe. I got to the next intersection and it was the same thing going both directions of the cross street. I rode around for awhile and it was like nothing I have seen before. The blocks of storefronts would look like a ghost town, if not for the homeless people milling around. It was rattling.

The homeless problem in LA is something I can’t wrap my mind around. There are so many, that it feels entirely daunting as a problem. A fix seems impossible, yet, it’s there, and to ignore feels worse. This is something I ruminate on quite a bit.

After that, I hopped on the subway to head to the Comedy Store, to pick up tickets for my next show. The guy I was supposed to meet didn’t show and didn’t return texts, so I sat there for 2 hours before I found the guy who had the tickets. People talk of an LA flakiness, and every once in awhile I encounter it.

All in all, it was a well rounded LA day.

Michelle had a pretty good day as well. Her sister came to Springfield to be with her for the weekend, and Michelle loved the company.


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Day 158. The Heavy Suitcase

Friday, July 29, 2011

Michelle mailed some of her things home so she wouldn’t have any extra weight charges for her luggage. She had a big suitcase on rollers and a smaller one for her carry on. The big one was too heavy for her to carry down the stairs, so she left it near the top of the stairs.

After I finished brushing my teeth, in my now half empty room, I grabbed her heavy suitcase and lugged it downstairs. It really was heavy. Michelle gave a goodbye hug to Debbie and we walked to the car. Again, I carried her heavy suitcase through the doorway and down the small steps to the sidewalk. We threw the small suitcase in the backseat and I swung the big one into the trunk.

As we drove to the airport we talked about the normal things we would talk about if we were just driving around town, attempting to make it seem like I wasn’t driving her to the airport. We snaked our way through the airport traffic and I pulled up to the drop off point. I popped the trunk while Michelle got out and grabbed the luggage from the back seat.

Reaching down I strained getting the heavy suitcase out of the trunk and put it on the sidewalk. We hugged for longer than you’re supposed to in the dropping off passengers parking. Then, we had to step away and Michelle was left with her small suitcase and the big one that was too heavy for her.

That’s what I was thinking about as I was waving driving away. Michelle was left to go with both suitcases, and one was too heavy for her.

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Day 157. Stand Up Contest, The Results Are In

Thursday, July 28, 2011

As a comedian or performer you just know that there are some people that you won’t please. Not everyone is going to get your stuff and think it’s funny. That’s fine. Unfortunately, for me, that group of people is other LA comedians.

Tonight, I performed in a stand up contest at a seafood restaurant in Long Beach. The highlight of the night might have been when we walked in. In an adjacent room, there was a heavy set older guy playing keyboard and singing Billie Jean while old people danced. That would be the most entertaining portion of the evening.

As the crowd started piling in, I could tell it wasn’t going to be great. Why? Because the crowd consisted of the eight comics, five of their friends, and one couple who soon regretted their decision. Fifteen people does not a stand up show make.

This was about the same scenario as the only time I’ve ever really bombed.

Each comic got up there and did their thing to the sound of an empty room. There were some laughs here and there, but mostly to the self deprecating jokes the comics were making. I said to Michelle, “See, now you understand why I don’t go to open mics.” It was a contest, but really it was just like an open mic. There were mostly comics, and not many of them. Comics don’t laugh at other comics, it encourages them too much. I would like to change that, but I’m not a big laugh out loud guy, when I do it sounds made up.

It was excruciating.

After Suicide Jimmy, Seven Blessing, and other comics with awesome names, it was my turn.

I stepped up there. Nope, this is not going to work. I think with my style, if people don’t get it early on, then they’re just left trying to figure out what I’m doing. But, I plowed through it. The only laughs I got was when I used a laugh track. While the others were going I had downloaded a laugh track app on my phone. I played it into the mic after especially bad responses. I skipped through half my stuff and jumped off stage. Each comic did not get many laughs, but Michelle, agreed, I was near the bottom of that.

The top four comics would move on to the next round and it was up to the audience voting. I did not vote for myself. I did not move on. I did not want to come back.

Here’s the thing. The disparity between how my act goes in front of a small room of other comics to how the same material does in front of a large house at the Comedy Store is astounding to me. The last two times I performed was at the Comedy Store and killed. Regular people think it is hilarious and unique. Comics think it is boring and boring. I think it’s because it’s too far outside the box for them.

I will say, it is great to have one person, Michelle, understand why I hate open mics, and don’t really go to them anymore. It is also nice, that I have some good shows under my belt here, so it doesn’t really rattle my confidence anymore if it goes bad.

Regular people good. Comics bad.

Billie Jean by Michael Jackson good. Billie Jean by old guy behind a keyboard better.


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Day 156. Two Types of Hikes

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

In 1873 a survey group slashed their way through the growth moving upward in the San Gabriel Mountains. They got to what they hoped was the highest peak only to realize that there was another, higher peak now visible nearby. To commemorate that moment, they named the lower peak they stood on Mount Disappointment, while the other peak became San Gabriel Peak.

I think that there are two approaches to day hiking.

1. You start up higher and make your way downward overall moving amongst the trees and making a lot of stream crossings. You may travel up sometimes, but it’s never too strenuous and there is always an equal down slope accompanying it. This hike is more about enjoying the moments around you as you walk.

2. You start lower and make your way upward hoping to get to the top of a peak. This hike is all about the challenge and the reward of a great view at the top. This hike sacrifices the enjoyment of the moments for the payoff of the accomplishment of working really hard and getting to the top of something.

Michelle and I hiked the San Gabriel Peak today. The San Gabriel Peak hike is the second kind of hike, and I chose it. A couple of weeks ago we had hiked a place called Switzer Falls which was a beautiful first type of hike, Michelle chose that one.

I have to admit, the hike today was less than pleasurable, mostly due to bugs. I thought we left those swarms behind in Missouri, I was wrong. They were everywhere and Michelle was having none of it. But, we stuck it out and got a great 360 degree view up top, from the highest peak in the area, even Michelle said it was worth it.

This hike was eerily analogous to our approaches to our lives and to this particular adventure in our lives. Michelle is altogether Hike 1, she wants to enjoy what is around her, go up and down a bit, but would choose not to make things hard. I, on the other hand am completely Hike 2, when something is hard and daunting is attractive to me. I will like something just because it seems hard and I like the challenge of it. I’m very willing to sacrifice the present for the sake of peaking a challenge down the road.

This is where we stand now.We’re in the middle of a Hike 2.

This is all about the challenge and is all about sacrificing the present, for the sake of something bigger down the road. Our perspectives on this approach is the essence of why this is harder for Michelle than it is for me. I looked at the guidebook and chose this hike. We absolutely talked it through, but this is my type of hike.

Our lives before I moved was definitely a Hike 1, and it suited Michelle better than it suited me. This is not to say, that I wasn’t happy with it, I like those hikes, but I also think, “Yeah, but where is the crazy challenge?”

Along the way we’ve had plenty of steep parts, and plenty of slippery parts, and a surprising number of bug swarms. We’ve also made our way up Mount Disappointment plenty of times. Sure, the bugs bother me, but I’m thinking about the view when we get to the peak. The bugs annoy Michelle more and she would rather we were enjoying ourselves in the present moments.

So, we have to talk things out, a lot. We’re both happy to do it. Each time we do is like a little opening in the trees where we get to stop and enjoy the view.

Michelle goes back home on Friday. This has been an awesome time. She has gotten so much in during her time here, it’s been amazing. She’s loved it and I’ve loved it. It’s hard, it feels like we’re moving apart all over again.

At each point like this we have to decide which hike we want to be on.



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Day 155. 12 Things You Should Know When Moving to Hollywood

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I had weird tasting bacon today. I didn’t like it. Not much else happened today. Weird bacon was the highlight on a day that I saw Captain America.

I’ve been thinking about things I would want to know if I was starting over and moving out here to try to make it in Hollywood.

1. It takes awhile, it just does. Getting “discovered” in a mall or something is more of a longshot in my mind now, than it was before I moved and was living in the Midwest. Getting “discovered” after putting in years of hard work seems like more of a possibility than before I moved out here. Make sense?

2. Have a reel. A reel is your video resume. It doesn’t have to be a lot, and it doesn’t have to be from feature length movies. You can write a scene and film it as if it’s a part of a longer movie. The rule with a reel is that you don’t want to put anything of questionable quality on there, even if you really like it. Less is more.

3. Get headshots. Surely, you know someone that can do these for you. Don’t wait until you’re out here, it’s more expensive, and you don’t know which ones are scammy.

4. Find connections. Make a list of friends of friends and friends of friends of friends.

5. Get into a class of some sort here. Do it so you can learn, but also so you can meet people. The sooner you do it, the sooner you get past the lonely phase of moving here. People here are happy to make friends.

6. Do things that make you feel uncomfortable, until they are comfortable. I’m not talking about nudity here. I’ve met a lot of people that are here to act or write, but don’t really do much. I think you can really stand out if you’re the one who is willing to put yourself out there, surprisingly, some people with the same goals aren’t willing to do that.

7. Make mistakes. Again, I’m not talking about nudity. It can be paralyzing to wonder what steps to take when there is no one holding your hand guiding you. Just make some choices, it’s okay if they aren’t the right ones.

8. Look at yourself as a student. This keeps you from the urge to appear like you know what you’re doing. You shouldn’t know what you’re doing right away, it’s okay. It will come.

9. Learn how to be comfortable accentuating your good side. You know how you talk when you’re in a job interview? “Yes, I began the social media program at my current job,” means, “I got on Facebook a lot without my boss knowing.” Here, you’re interviewing a lot, whether through auditions, or meeting people. It’s okay to talk like you started the social media program. I’m still learning this.

10. Sign in when you get to an audition. A friend said she had someone tell her this when she first moved, and then she relayed it to me. I wouldn’t have known it and would have just sat in a waiting room never getting called had she not told me. There is always a sheet for signing in.

11. Write yourself a letter explaining why you are going for this and why you are good enough. I have not done this, but it seems like a great idea. Here’s the thing, you’re confidence goes up and way down all the time. I’ve always thought of myself as pretty consistent in terms of confidence, but that was before I started putting myself out there all the time, now it’s more of a yo-yo. You will need a reminder every once in awhile.

12. The casting directors on the other side of the table in the audition want you to do great. They aren’t Simon Cowell, they’re Paula Abdul. If you’re not great, the audition lasts the same amount of time.

Get in, get out, and go get yourself some regular tasting bacon.


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Day 154. Game Show Audition. Dual Climate Control!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Today, I auditioned for a game show with my friend, Jeremiah. Jeremiah had found out about the audition and had to have a partner for it. Michelle dropped us off at the place in El Segundo and then she drove to the beach. Somehow, we arrived like a half hour early, which is rare. We got up to the room and it was empty. It was a long room with a lot of offices and looked like a business that had been undergone downsizing.

The show is one where they drop two people into a movie set sort of thing and they become the action stars in a movie and have to figure their way out of it while overcoming crazy obstacles.

As we sat, more and more pairs of people arrived. There was the super buff middle aged bouncer pair, the hot girls in matching boots, the brother and sister, the neighbors, two I can’t remember and us, the doofusy guys in their early thirties.

On the wall was a sign saying, “Be prepared to share the three minute story involving you and your partner.” Uh oh. Jeremiah and I don’t really have any good stories together. We met at the Skinny Improv and have hung out a handful of times since I moved here. We started brainstorming, could we tell the story of when we went bowling? What about when he hid under the stage for and hour for a Mystery Hour bit? Could we just make one up?

We decided that we would tell the story of his drive out to LA when he moved. I wasn’t there for it, but his friend Nate was. In this story, I would be playing the role of Nate. Using our improv training we would tell the story as if I was there. Jeremiah told me the story, and I tried to remember it.

They guys from the show got up in front and told us they were mostly looking for personality and at the end of our time they would have a couple of pairs stay a little longer so they could get some more information from them. They stressed that this doesn’t mean that the ones who stayed moved on and the others were eliminated, which in Hollywood speak means, the ones who stayed moved on and the others were eliminated.

The hot girls got up first told them about themselves and then shared a story about a farm in Wisconsin. They were good. They were our competition. Other pairs got up, many of them not showing any personality at all. If you want to get on a game show, you have to show some energy and personality. I should know, I almost got on a game show once. 

Then, it came to us. We bounced up there with high energy and then told “our” story. I lead Jeremiah lead. The story was about how when he drove to LA with Nate, and Nate’s wife his car broke down and then the rental car broke down. I figured I would just add random details making it sound like I was there. 

Here are some of my quotes:

“1999 Buick Regal”

“Dual Climate Control!”

“My wife, Michelle, drove over the parking barrier.”

“Jeremiah and I aren’t together like that, I’m married, to a girl.”

“Then, I had to get out and fix the tire.”

“It was so hot out. Like 117 degrees.”

“I was there, honest, I was.”

After everyone went, the judges left and confered. I was whispering to Jeremiah that we were in for sure. We clearly had the most personality and we were fun and charming. Our only competition was the hot girls on Team Boots.

After a few minutes they came back to announce who they wanted to talk to more. They first announced Team Boots. Okay, fine, one more to go. Then they announced they wanted team brother and sister.

No go.

We left with our heads hung low and waited for Michelle to pick us up. I should have added more details to the story.

Then, we went straight to a taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live. It was fun and loooong. Plus, I sat right behind a camera man and couldn’t really see they show. However, when Jimmy is announcing the musical guest, you can definitely see me behind him making faces. Check it out. It’s right after the last commercial break.

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Day 153. Ridiculous Search Engine Terms

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The search engines have really finally found this website. So, I’m going to do another installment of Ridiculous Search Engine Terms. These are actual searches people have done on the internet to get to this website. As always, I will post the terms, then add a comment, then create a disappointment scale appropriate to their term that they felt upon arriving at this crappy website that was surely not what they were looking for.

“help me communicate i am condescending” Well, isn’t that cute? Looks like somebody had to go to the internet to find out how to communicate. Congrats, my six year old niece could do that. Disappointment level: The same as what the people you are communicating with feel.

“best late night talk show 2011” Google is a fan. Disappointment level: Same as the TV station ad revenues for picking up the Mystery Hour.

“who was the first celeb to say “this is where the magic happens” Arthur and Molly Weasley. Disappointment level: You brought the hat, but forgot the rabbit backstage.

“bradley cooper -how tall” About this tall. Disappointment level: Figuring out that Hangover 2 was the same story line.

“polite way to start a letter with a few women as recipient” Hey, chicks! Disappointment level: Finding out the suffrage movement was a good thing.

“is my girlfriend a moocher” Yes. Disappointment level: Realizing she ate the last of the sorbet.

“kirk cameron superhero” You are darn right he is. Mike Seaver could get away with anything, except writing the answers on the bottom of his shoes to cheat on a test. He learned the information while writing and didn’t have to use his shoes to cheat, but he got in trouble anyway. Disappointment level: Having a best friend named Boner. Seriously, Boner?!

“accidental feel up” How did that get someone here? These better not start getting gross.

“hotel lobby naked” Dang it, internet, I thought you were wholesome.

“the magic castle porno.” That’s it, I’m done. You lost your privileges.

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