Monthly Archives: January 2012

Day 343. Louis C.K. Explains How Pilots Are Made

Monday, January 30, 2012

Oh, Monday. Aren’t Mondays the worst? Well, they’re different for me now as I look for a job, they aren’t so bad. Not much happened today, so I’m going to post something that I didn’t write. I’ve been fascinated by the entertainment industry since my exposure in Los Angeles. There is so much behind the scenes that goes on from getting an idea turned into something that we view on television. It is a ton of work, requiring a ton of patience. Some of the shows do a really good job of making it appear as though they were written in 20 minutes, approved by a monkey, and splashed on to TV, but I promise you, they had to go through a lengthy process, seen by many eyeballs before finished product (which makes you scratch your head all the more, ahem, Cavemen).

Back in the day, before Louis C.K. was the Louis C.K., he was a guy trying to get a pilot shot for a show that is no longer on the air, not his hit, Louie. He wrote about it back then. I caught this on www.third-beat.com, through a Facebook friend’s post.

I’ve linked to his post. If you are squeamish about cursing, you may not like it. If you are squeamish about typos, you may not either, but you also read this blog, so your yused to )putting up with! A Lott.

Louis C.K. On How Pilots are Made

 

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Day 342. My Open Letter to the Mug Manufacturers of the World

Sunday, January 29, 2012

First, let me say, today, we had our 1,000 comment on this blog! The 1,000th comment award goes to Amanda, who shared this gem:

I think you and Jeff J need to write a screenplay (or regular play) about the two of you on a road trip.

And with that, history was made. It is fitting because Amanda used to comment on my old Mystery Hour blog as well back in the day. The prize for Amanda is a 1994 Buick Le Sabre, next time you see one, just hop on in and tell them that you won.

Things you do when you don’t have a job. Today, I got the urge to count how many mugs we have in our house. Go ahead, guess how many. Just take a shot. 26. We have 26 mugs. I don’t drink coffee, or very many warm drinks. I’m inspired to write an open letter to the mug manufacturers out there.

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Dear Mug Manufacturers of the World,

I think we’re good.

You have a nice product, really you do. I admire what you have done for the hot drink drinkers out there over the years. Boy, what would we do without you? Use thermoses? I don’t think so. However, I’ve got to say Mug Manufacturers of the World, your heyday has passed. Yes, the numbers still looks good for you, but no one has needed a mug since 1988. Sure, people keep accumulating mugs, but that is only because of banks at community fairs, white elephant gift exchanges, and by accident. The point is, your optimistic numbers are false, they’re inflated. No one has ever said, “Oh, you got me a mug,”in anything but a sarcastic, or feigned enthusiastic tone since the Reagan years.

I was prompted to write this letter because I counted the mugs in my house and got to 26, before I gave up, due to resentment. I don’t drink very many hot drinks, and I feel weird drinking cold drinks out of mugs, that means that most of the mugs are for my wife. Let’s be generous and say that I do use them, that means that there are upwards of 13 mugs for every citizen of the world. What scenario could possibly arise where 12 of my mugs are dirty? A hot cocoa party? I don’t think so, I don’t have 12 turtlenecks to accompany the drinks.

The mug trade is out of control and reckless, and threatening to bring down the entire drink economy, which is second only to the food economy in the Stuff You Put in Your Mouth Matrix.

Sure, you made some improvements and added new product lines over the years. To prove to you my knowledge, here is a chart of every milestone in the mug business.

-White

-Colors

-Maxine Comics

-Travel

-Realtor Logos

Someone has to say it, they have all reached their prime years ago, and now they’re just hanging on. The truth is, Mug Manufacturers of the World, if you stopped making mugs today, no one would notice, besides cheap bosses on Secretary’s Day. The world would go on spinning and the subject wouldn’t come up.

I know this must be hard on you, trying to come up with new innovations for a product that doesn’t allow for more innovations, but it’s okay. It’s not your fault. You’re great. Take a deep breath, you don’t have to pretend anymore.

We’re on your side.

My passion for this issue is hot, as it will remain in the future, much like eight ounces of tea in a nice, ceramic mug. Thank you for all you’ve done, you can turn off the kiln now.

Sincerely,

Everyone

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Day 341. The House Came Down!

Saturday, January 29, 2012

Well, it finally happened. I’ve been hoping for something for a long, long time, and it finally happened. I had pinned my dreams and aspirations to it, and it finally came true. No, I did not make it big in Hollywood, and no, I did not find a job. The abandoned house across the street got demolished, and I was here to witness it. I chronicled the saga with this house, here. To recap, there is a house across the street from us that has been abandoned for a few years, this was fine. Then, in September, they had some heavy machinery come out and gash two big holes into the side of it that were just left as is. When I arrived home in December, I was appalled that they were still there, so like any good elderly neighbor I called the city on them. In response, I noticed a piece of paper posted, designating it a dangerous building. Last week, I got very, very excited because some guys came over and sawed some trees down and left a big orange dumpster in the yard. So, I waited, and waited, and waited for an answer to what it all meant.

Today, it finally came.

I had a few friends over to watch The Rock, for a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 style show we do with Nicolas Cage movies. Then, I saw it, some kind of manly machine pulling up, followed a short while later by another manly machine (painted teal). I do not know the names of these machines because I am only a man in anatomy. I kept one eye on Cage’s masterful performance as Stanley Goodspeed, and one eye across the street. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I ran across the street to talk to the guys. One of the guys was on the teal beast, so I approached the other one.

Jeff: “You guys tearing this down today?!”

Guy: “Yep, it’s his property, he just had me over to drink some beers, and help him.”

Jeff: “Cool. Don’t tell him that I’m the one who called the city.”

The guy in the teal beast waves excitedly. Everyone is excited for this place to come down. It just so happens that they were about to start the festivities. Luckily, since they weren’t real contractors, they didn’t care that we stood dangerously close.

Here is a photo essay:

I’m telling you, there is something primal about seeing something destroyed. I was excited because I had been waiting for it for awhile, and that I happened to be home when it happened, but also because of some deeper force that just wanted to see a machine force a building down with brute strength.

I even got video. You can see my excitement at the end, see if the excitement translates through the computer.

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Day 340. Maximum Effort for a Year

Friday, January 27, 2012

This morning, I woke up and went to work for my friend, Frank. By went to work, I mean, I went to his house, and talked to him at his dining room table. After that, I hurried over to an art gallery to interview a guy for 417 Magazine. After doing photography for years, which he still does, he decided to just start making documentaries too. He’s been very successful. I’ll post the article when it’s published. I often think about how much I would like to make documentaries, and then I also think about how difficult it would be to make one in terms of committing yourself to a project for a few years. But, I really like the idea of making them.

I have a friend, Doug, who also just up and decided to start making a documentary. Doug is a graphic designer/artist, and just decided a documentary needed to be made about the linotype machine, which is a machine that graphic designers revere, and was once one of the most important machines out there, but is now mostly relegated to museums, even though it was just recently very important. Doug set out to make the documentary with the help of my friends, Brandon and Jess.

The movie is now going to premiere next week in New York City.

Doug’s journey of uprooting his life mirrored mine in both audacity and timing. I haven’t talked to Doug real recently, but I have talked to Jess and Brandon, and they both said that although Doug is very excited, he’s also exhausted from the process at this point. I haven’t been working in a tunnel on one project, but it has been similar, and I too, am exhausted. Jess said something the other day about Doug having to put forth maximum effort for a year, and I can relate to that.

I look forward to relaxing in the real sense, not having free time when I’m not working, because, for the most part, my free time is spent working in some way. Sometimes, I need a vacation from my mind, or a vacation from my drive, or just money will do.

Here is the website for Doug’s film:

http://linotypefilm.com/

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Day 339. Heard Back From an Interview

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I got up this morning and drove back from Spencer, Iowa with Jeff J. Like a dad, Jeff said we should leave at 7:30. Like a kid, I said, “But I don’t wanna.” We compromised and settled on 7:30.

I heard back from the job I interviewed for last week. I did not get the job. I thought it was very nice that they called to say they filled it. I was hoping that they would call to offer it, so I would have the agonizing problem of deciding if I should take it. The job was to be the director of fundraising for the local library system. The interview went very well. I think I was a little under qualified experience wise, but I felt capable for it (you hear that future potential employers?). I charmed them in the interview, by the end of it, the interviewers were laughing as I told a story about falling asleep in the library in college (chronicled here). That’s the main point of an interview, right? Right? Well, one interview down.

Let’s update the scoreboards for the past year:

Springfield Job Search

Jeff: 0 The Man: 1

LA Job Search and Auditions

Jeff: 7 The Man: 643

But, as they say, fall down 7 times, get up 8. Which, makes no sense, unless you were down to start the proceedings.

I did get a part time job, sort of. I have a friend, Frank, who buys and sells things for a living. Seriously, he does. He’s savvy. He’s like a modern day Art Vandelay, fictitious importer/exporter from Seinfeld. A few years ago, a couple of motorcycle dealerships were going under, so Frank bought their inventory and fixtures and parts. You know, like people do. He has slowly been selling things from the heist, excuse me, I mean legitimate purchase, but he still has a warehouse full of stuff. So, I’m going to be taking pictures of things, writing ads, and putting things on Craigslist for him, or as I’ll say on my resume, performing duties as Director of Marketing and Advertising. The kicker? They’re all motorcycle parts. I know about as much about motorcycle parts as I do Apple products. The year of learning continues. As they say, “Necessity is the mother of doing a job you’re not quite qualified for.”

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Day 338. Things Overheard on a Road Trip

Wednesday, January 25, 2011

Today, my friend, Jeff J and I drove up to Iowa to do an improv show. I had been excited to go to Iowa, but I went to the western part of the state, where I don’t know anyone. It was an event for about 1400 teenagers, who are the best people to perform en masse too. I was filling in again for the same group I went to Baltimore with back in December, right before I moved home. Basically, the event consisted of us doing improv, and a speaker. I think the speaker does pretty well for herself, she just flies around and speaks at things. People do that for a living. I think I could do that. I just need to figure out what I should speak about. I’m not really an expert at anything that I could speak for an hour on. I guess I could speak for an hour on these subjects: crackers, yogurt, smoothies, sinus infections, The Golden Girls, continuity mistakes in TV shows, sunscreen, and Iowa Hawkeye football message boards.

Let’s focus instead on the road trip. I love road trips. I love stopping off for gas. I love stopping off for snacks. I love not stopping for bathrooms (I prefer, instead, for a method I call, “Throw Caution to the Wind”). Caution equal urine in that saying.

10 Things Overheard on a Road Trip

-I’m going to try to attempt this without the obvious ones like, “Can we pull over?” or “I have to pee,” or “Brian took all of his clothes off because he imagined they were made of fire ants.”

1) “Here, hold my sleeve.” It is a fact that once driving your body temperature goes up 15 degrees, making the coat you were wearing now feel like an electric blanket. Successfully taking your coat off in the car cannot be done without the help of the front seat passenger holding the right sleeve of the coat while the driver wiggles out of it.

2) “Ooh, I love this song.” This is always said right before the alpha male, or female, changes the station, just to put you in your place. In fairness, the driver is the DJ of the car and the passengers are just people in the club making requests.

3) “Stop reading all the billboards out loud.” Everyone does this at some point. For me, it is from three minutes to one minute before I fall asleep.

4) “That guy was looking at us.” It is common road courtesy to look at the person passing you in the left lane. There is no real reason for it. Whenever we’re in the right lane we do it, and whenever we’re in the left lane we notice it and judge it. Rules of the road people.  Invariably, when it is done to you, it is done by a mustachioed man, who looks like a he might be a serial killer. Also of note, if you notice it, it means you were looking too.

5) “Which side of the car is the gas tank on?” If the road trip is long enough, the non-owner will eventually pull into a gas station during their shift. Jeff J and I joked that we just recently learned about the arrow by the gas gauge. The worst time this happened to me was a few years ago while driving to Colorado with my sister and brother in law. At about 4 in the morning, Bob, my brother in law, driving my car stopped to get gas. Instead of flipping the switch for the gas, he did the one for the trunk. I had to be woken up to remedy the situation, because we had two bikes on the trunk that I had spent a long time in the rain attaching. It was not my most polite moment.

6) “Can you reach that for me?” Not only is the driver the DJ, he or she is also the king, and the passengers are just the loyal servants. “Reach me that bag of beef jerky!” “Fetch me my bag behind your seat, no not that one, the black one, no the dark black one. Reach in the front pocket. No, the front one. Other side.” “Entertain me!”

7) “I almost remembered a pillow.” This will be the bane of your existence for the entire trip if you almost brought it, but didn’t quite. Everyone knows that a coat, or a sweatshirt feels like a pillow made of cushiony goodness for about 32 minutes, until it transitions into feeling like a piece of Earth made from igneous. Also, physics will not allow a garment to squeeze between your noggin and the window in such a way to provide you with comfort.

8) “Have you seen my debit card?” With all of the drive-thrus, gas stops, and paying for Runts, your debit card is in and out an inordinate amount of time. It’s usually just in a different wallet pocket, but occasionally, it’s slipped between the seat and the center console, where only women purely bred for such retrieval purposes can rescue.

9) “You need to get new wipers.” This is said by the passenger that you didn’t want to come, probably your friend’s cousin. He’ll say it a lot of the course of the drive.

10) “I wonder if anyone actually puts gloves in there.”

Any to add?

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Day 337. One Legged Man, Shower Caddie

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I was awoken by a one legged man knocking on my back door wanting to sell me a shower caddie. I was living in my favorite apartment at the time. It was an old brick apartment building that had just been renovated. There was a park across the street, and I lived on the other side of the park, where I admired what would become my apartment while it was being renovated. We had a porch in the front, and one in the back. The inside was nice, too. My roommate, Mike, even decorated the living room in a style he titled, “Oooh, say what, say what. Which apparently meant that it was suitable for wooing the ladies. I had never lived in a nice apartment before, so it was always a treat to look around when it was clean.

The two bedrooms were in the back of the apartment, that’s why the one legged man on the other side of the wall was knocking on both my back door, and my bedroom door. I was startled when he knocked, regardless of how many legs I perceived the knocker to have. No one had ever knocked on that door before. I figured that it was someone that I knew, why else would someone be knocking at that door? I discreetly peered out the window and decided that I needed to answer. I opened the door.

Jeff: Hello.

The man: Yeah, hi, do you want to buy a shower caddie?

A shower caddie is like a fixture made out of metal wire that holds shampoo and soap and probably luffas. Immediately, I couldn’t care less about the shower caddie. I wanted to know this guy’s story. Here he was standing on my back porch, resting heavily on his crutches. He had shaggy black hair, a mustache, one full leg, and one that didn’t make it to where his knee should be. Where did he live? Why is he missing a leg? How did he get an extra shower caddie? Why is he knocking on my back door?

So, we stood and talked for awhile. It turns out that his name is Rick, and he lived across the street in a place called South Tower. South Tower housed a lot of people that needed help in various ways. They all had meager apartments, many were disabled, and most on some sort of government assistance. Rick was a good guy. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I remember scrounging up $5 and paying him for a shower caddie. I had no desire to have a shower caddie, but I had a desire to give Rick $5 as collateral so I could hang out with him again.

I went back into my room excited to tell my roommate about my crazy random experience, and expectant, waiting for my next opportunity to talk to Rick. My neighborhood had an eclectic mix of people. It was downtown and it was across from South Tower. South Tower is one of those buildings you don’t notice, until you see it one time and wonder how you had missed it all these years. The building had people outside of it a lot. I think it was filled mostly people who, for one reason or another, couldn’t work. There was the guy who didn’t have any teeth, had a worn out high voice, and who I wasn’t actually sure if he was a man. There was another man who wore robes and used to put three dogs into some sort of cart, wheel them into a grassy part of the park, spread out a sheet on the ground, pull the dogs out of the cart, and sit with them. Also, there was Rick.

After Rick sold me the shower caddie I saw him outside occasionally and would always wave and say hi. Sometimes, I would even call Rick up on the phone just to catch up. After reminding him on the phone who I was (This is Jeff, who bought the shower caddie from you), we’d chat. Eventually, Rick got a wheelchair, which must have been such a relief. Crutches are okay for awhile, or for some of the time, but for all the time is just about impossible.

Then, near Christmas time, I brought X-Men on VHS over to his apartment to watch it, something we had talked about doing for a long time. Rick met me on the ground floor, and escorted me up the elevator. On the third floor we got out and walked into this place. I guess you would describe it as a studio apartment with a bed in the living room, joining the entertainment center and two chairs. In kind of a separate room was the kitchen. The cinder block walls made the place feel a lot like a dorm.  A month earlier, I had gone on a trip to Spain, with my friend, John. While we were there I had taken some cool pictures and added some poetry to the pictures in Photoshop. It was when I was first discovering that I could kind of do both. I had decided to give them as Christmas presents that year, so I had one framed for Rick.

We sat and talked for awhile, Rick had family about forty five minutes away, a sister, who he occasionally sees. I got the feeling that outside of an occasional visit from his sister, that I may have been the only visitor in his place. Here was this handicapped man that I met because he was going door to door trying to sell a shower caddie, who if not lonely, was often alone, that was now hosting me in his modest apartment. None of that sentimentality got to me really. It didn’t really even get to me when he put my framed picture up on the entertainment center in a place of prominence. No.

What got me was the Christmas decorations.

It has stuck with me to this day.

Rick was a guy who couldn’t work. He was a guy relegated to hobbling across the street to sell a shower caddie to a stranger in order to supplement his meager stipend from the government. He was a guy who had a sister forty five minutes away, and that’s it as far as family goes. He was a guy without goals and dreams to pursue. He was a guy who just had an apartment and a small simple life, and, what got me, was this guy decorated for Christmas.

There was a chance that no one else would see those decorations.

But, he did it anyway. Rick was void of the things that make me take pride in things. I take pride in things because people might see what I do. I take pride in things as a vehicle to something better down the road. I take pride in things because people around me tell me I should. Rick didn’t have any of that.

Yet, he still put his crutches on the bed and awkwardly bent to the floor, reached under his bed to the place he kept important things. He grabbed the small Christmas tree and the lights and put them just so around his small apartment.

Something has just always struck me with that thought.

Six years later, I don’t really know what it is that strikes me so. There is something about pride when no one is watching, there is something about sadness in decorating for yourself, and there is something about the importance in things, even when people can’t see it, or can’t see the person at all. But, I don’t know the formula of the poignancy of that moment and the fact that it stayed with me, I just know it has.

I called Rick a few times periodically after that, but we’ve since fallen out of touch.

I imagine Rick still takes pride in things. I like that he is still probably decorating his apartment because it feels important.

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