Saturday, October 31, 2009

In The Quiet And Stillness

Nothing to report today. After a big day like yesterday, much time is spent reflecting while perusing documentary photos and videos of the transpired events. I also watched the Florida Gators handily defeat the Georgia Bulldogs, dispelling a number of concerns in the process. Lastly I continue to enjoy the new sheets I bought for my bed before the party. There may something of substance to say tomorrow, but don't bank on it.

Halloween Birthday

I had known for some time that my roommate Marcus had a birthday party brewing, although I think I was not entirely conscious of its proximity to Halloween. As the party drew closer, I began to consider more a lot of the logistics of it from my end. I had to get there from where I was, spend a minimum amount on food and come up with some kind of costume. I've been the one who shirks the serious responsibility of dressing up on Halloween before, and that's at least one social "No-no" that I won't be repeating.

Really, I didn't do anything about any of the things on my mind until around three hours before the party. I knew very well that, already being unhappy about spending twelve dollars on the party itself, I had not intention of spending more than a pittance on my costume. I had noticed a pop-up costume booth had materialized at a gas station down on the corner of the nearby major crossroads. I had some idea of picking up something cheap on my way to the party and changing in the bathroom. Luckily, I instead went to check it out right after I showered so that I could change at home. As I was browsing, a young girl came to help me. First it was "Can I help you", and then she had a recommendation: "For you we have 'Axe Murderer". She looked right at me, sized me up, and determined that to be the best costume for me. The costume was a jumpsuit plus a mask of Michael Myers from the film 'Halloween', who is known at Latino-run costume booths as 'Jason'. At a price exceeding forty dollars (for an axe murderer costume which did not include an axe) , I declined.

Friday, October 30, 2009

How Class Went

Last night was the first class since a series of new directives have been handed down concerning the location at which we meet. Now it's 7:30 to 9:30, although the important thing really is just that we're all the way out of there by 10pm.

Since we didn't have any musicians, the last week of our musical improv block has been pushed back to next week. Today, we did a few things, with the bigger part of it being the "Slacker". First, however, we did a movie trailer game. In that game, three people act out a movie trailer while two others take turns providing narration that guides the action. We did two of those. In the first, a hard-boiled female detective struggles to hard boil eggs. In the second, a battle between nerds and jocks raged in a school while a plucky youngster tries to raise the money needed to keep the school open.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tuesday and Wednesday

I have not historically been someone who spontaneously gets called up to hang out, but that kind of popularity seems to be developing. After we finished shooting the movie I've been on Monday, I was advised that such a hanging-out session was in the works for the following day, and that I should expect a call. That remained in the back of my head, but come that evening my conscious plans were to watch the opening night of the NBA season. When the chance to go out and do things comes along, however, I know that the healthy thing to do is not to pass them up in favor of privately watching basketball games on tv at home.

Therefore, I went down to Hollywood to meet my friends at their place, where we placed bets on when the last confirmed member of the group would show. I had no confidence in his capacity for promptness, so I went with a later time than anyone, and won with 10:05pm. In fact, he did not turn up until 11:20, and then only at the bar we went to rather than the apartment. It was a good time, although one wonders what sort of Hollywood recreational establishment closes at midnight.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Elaboration Nation

To go into greater detail regarding the final three days of the film shoot I was a part of: Friday was my final day on the shoot as an actor, but as before, I found myself to be a PA any time I wasn't on camera during a take. I might have objected under other circumstances, but I had come on board as a PA, the shoot was under the auspices of good friends and other actors (who were also producers) were in more or less the same boat.

It can sometimes be difficult to take pleasure in one's work, even in the film industry, but such was not the case Friday. I did enjoy carrying about an attractive and sprightly blond actress who was dressed as a mermaid. The scene was your basic poolside frolicking routine, and was over far too quickly for my liking.

Saturday was all right. I spent a great deal of time guarding the equipment left outside near the street. This really meant that I was reading my book and eating snacks. It was an agreeable enough way to pass the time, but I missed being with some of the cast and crew I had become quite fond of. This would be remedied when the crew moved to a new setup on the sidewalk opposite the apartment building we were shooting at.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fin De Semana

Not a whole lot to say right now in spite of how much has happened. It's still mainly cogitating. Friday and Saturday were largely fun and productive shooting days. Friday I was acting some again, but Saturday it was mainly crew duties. I had the contribution of making lunch In-N-Out, so I felt good about that. I feel pretty good all around, as I seem to be doing well with the responsibilities I'm getting, and about everyone seems to love me on the set. Who doesn't like being liked? Tonight we're shooting from 10pm until 10am Monday morning. That should pretty well mess me up for a few days.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Latest

Wednesday and Thursday I had a fair amount of activity. As nearly always, I had my movie night over at a friend's house. It was perhaps the most poorly attended one so far, but the two gentlemen and I who partook got into it and enjoyed it as we always do. The movie- 'And Then There Were None' did not really live up to my expectations, but one learns from the lesser ones as much as the true classics. That was followed by bible study, which was fairly nice. I neglected again to bring my bible, but coped.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bonus Shoot

As part of the shooting schedule, we had planned to shoot some comic bits that we had thought of during the day. The idea was that they would comprise a trailer for the movie during the movie. This trailer would possibly play during the credits of the real movie. Unfortunately, we ran out of time Sunday night. Collectively, though, we were so enthusiastic about the idea that we picked yesterday to come back and film those bits while the pirate ship set was still there.

Sunday I had gone with the director, but it turned out that getting there on the bus was easy. I got there just as the director of the trailer got there, and we were the first to arrive. Unfortunately we lost one of the actors, but managed to adapt. It may have been an hour or more before we were ready to shoot, but we moved pretty quickly. Most of the comic bits sprang from my suggestions, but it was all in a spirit of collaboration. I found that coming up with ideas was easier than acting them out. It gives you greater appreciation for that end of things. We did end up getting everything, including a pirate sea shanty which I wrote in my mind on the bus ride.

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Second Day Of The Shoot: A Star Is Born

Again, I wanted to write last night, but it was just another case of actually living life getting in the way of writing about life. Yesterday was awesome. It started with me waking up way too early, accidentally calling one of the producers instead of voicemail and watching some tv. I got pretty anxious watching the Florida-Arkansas game on tape, but SNL relieved that. It was the best episode of the season thus far, in my opinion. Don't hesitate to watch!

After that I got ready and ate some leftover craft service food from yesterday for breakfast. I left the house a little after 7 to meet the director and head to Sun Valley where the camera truck was. There wasn't much to do there, so the aforementioned producer and I went to get some water and head to the set. There was none of the kind we needed at the first place we went to, but luckily a new PA had already been charged with the responsibility of getting water, so we just headed to the set. I then did what I could to get what food we had prepared.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

On The Set

Much as I wanted to share an account of my first day on my latest shoot right away, my body failed me when I got back last night. Here it is: My call time was 1pm. I left home for the set in Hollywood a little after noon with the expectation that I would get off the subway at Hollywood and Vine about 12:43. The train turned out to be four minutes late, making me hustle to get the rest of the way on foot. I could have taken a bus the rest of the way, but wasn't about to risk being late so that I could catch a bus I would be on for only two minutes. I got there a couple minutes after 1, but was praised for being on time due to a likely discrepancy in the accuracy of timepieces.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Song In My Heart

As I said I would, I went to improv class last night, and it was great indeed. I found out upon revival (but ought to have realized beforehand) that we would have a pair of substitute teachers in the absence of our usual teacher. These two are members of the improv program's musical improv group. This was good, as we are in the midst of studying that very thing.

I can't quite recall all of what was done, but we had some good stuff. There was Doo Run Run, wherein participants improvise new lyrics to the tune of the Ronettes song 'Da Doo Run Run'. We've done that a number of times, and it's always fun. There was also Limerick, which is just a group of several people quickly improvising a limerick. There were others as well, but the big thing was doing the musical scenes. You start out a two person scene as normal, leaping into song midway.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Quick Hit

Might not get a chance to write later tonight, so here's something very brief:

Movie night was one of the best ever. We watched Tropic Thunder on Blu-Ray and had rousing rounds of trivia and discussion.

Toastmasters was good. Big, busy meeting, with me taking notes for the recap as well as in the capacity of ah counter. Beforehand I helped the club president with another table topics warmup before she takes part in the next round of the contest.

Just about to leave for improv class, where we have the third week of musical improv. Should be fun, and I hope to improve on my showing last week. It wasn't bad for a first try, but I have a lot of improving to do. I'll be sure to report on that some time thereafter.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Evaluating others is most difficult. It seems to me that I hadn't been compelled to do so in any real way until fairly recently when I started Toastmasters. People are there to get better as speakers and expect greater success in life as a result. Therefore, one must take seriously the responsibility of offering a critique of someone's speech. Firstly, you must be honest and clear about your assessment of what's good and why as well as what's bad and how it may be fixed. Secondly, you must be conscious of the specific person in question and how you may sensitively convey things that could hurt feelings or ruffle feathers.

All that is a challenge for the best of people, and becomes even harder if one is personally insecure and thinks a lot about throwing the first stone, as the Biblical story goes. When I offer an evaluation, I remind myself that I'm speaking not as the world's greatest public speaker, but instead merely as an objective observer giving an alternative perspective to that which comes from the speaker themself.

I'm glad that I have been through some of this, as I am now being called upon to do the same thing in the "real world". Hopefully I am somewhat the wiser for my experiences in Toastmasters and manage to genuinely help those who seek my counsel.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rain, rain: Should it stay or should it go now?

One might think that someone accustomed to a very low frequency of rain throughout his life would have little to say on the matter compared to someone of an opposite background, but I do have some thoughts. It has been raining about all day here in Los Angeles, which is the obvious explanation for "Why rain, why now?". I suppose that most people don't experience it the way I do. Of course, if it happens when I'm inside, then it is the same. I hear it constantly and occasionally glance at the window. It substantially influences my mood and state of mind in a way that can be good or bad. Ideally I don't have to go out in it, but that isn't really practical.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Procuring Supplies

Grocery shopping is an anxious activity for me. Shopping of any kind is tough, but doing so for food happens the most often. There are a few places I do it, and none of them are terribly satisfactory. My primary place is Ralph's. For the most part, it's a good chain, but the one near my home is not a good one. It's not incredibly nice in there, and they lack a good selection in some areas. My main problem is with their bakery, such as it is. It's just not good. I like buying and consuming french bread. White is ok, but I like their wheat better. The trouble is that they have one or two loaves in stock at best, and frequently have none. Sometimes even the white is out of stock. Not cool.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Pair Of Trifles

Recent weeks have brought with them the delightfully cooler weather of Autumn. Much as the activities of summer are to be enjoyed, one can grow weary of the heat when not using the AC at home. There are plenty of measures to help the situation, and they range from judiciously using the shades to drinking cold water all the time. In spite of all those things, though, it's rather brutal.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Deportes de Calder

Today was a pretty big day in terms of sporting events in which I had an emotional stake. In the midst of countless other games, my focus was on two in particular: Game Three of the National League Divisional Series featured the LA Dodgers (beloved team of my adopted home) and the St. Louis Cardinals. Perhaps due in part to their protracted struggle to finally clinch the NL West, the Dodgers were set as an underdog in the series by most prognosticators I heard from. This just goes to show that anyone who goes by that designation knows less than nothing and is lucky to be engaged in any employment more desirable and lucrative than digging ditches.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Aventuras En Comedia Improvisational

As part of my current series of long posts on the ins and outs of my social activities, I thought I would touch on improv. I have written one lengthy recap of an improv show I was in as well as scores of brief notes about classes and things, but have not exactly written a big picture posting, so here we are: According to my records, I seem to have gone to my first improv class sometime in the month or so before February of this year. I did not make a point of going regularly for some time, but do think that my regular attendance may have begun some time in the spring. Just about at that time, the teacher who had been doing the class left for a lengthy trip, making way for the current teacher of the class. There has been a difference, but not one of quality.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

More About Toastmasters

The last time I looked, more of my posts bore the keyword "Toastmasters" than any other word. Perhaps that's the narrower focus I've sought for this blog from the beginning (It's been my observation that the leading blogs are devoted to a single subject, eschewing my scatter-shot approach). At any rate, today I felt compelled to go back to the Toastmasters well again.

As secretary, my primary duty is to write a report about each meeting and submit it to the group email list for the purpose of encouraging attendance at future meetings. Without patting myself on the back, I think I can say that I have to date expended much energy toward that end, and in so doing have made the weekly recap bigger than past secretaries have. As I said, I don't mean to belittle their efforts or to praise myself. My approach to the task is simply different. I probably wouldn't say anything of the kind if it hadn't already been said to me by others.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Movie Night: Ten Weeks In

Some time ago I wrote a post announcing the first meeting of my Movie Night group. The post properly reflects the group's nascent nature at that time:

I had my first movie night tonight, which I would say was a success. We had a good group of people, there were plenty of snacks, and after the film we had a nice, intelligent talk about the film. Picking the movie took a little time. We had a series of votes, and came up with "Son Of Rambow". It's a good movie, and seemed to be well received, albeit with reasonable criticisms. I look forward to future meetings.

A number of changes and refinements have occurred since then, and I thought I would revisit the event at length.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Acting Lessons

A couple of months ago, I signed up for an acting class on a whim. It was being put on by the same organization that does the improv comedy teams and classes which I'm involved in. Mainly it seemed like a fun thing to go out and do, but I have had more and more interest in performing.The problem of getting to class in Pasadena and then back to North Hollywood quickly emerged as a problem, but that has been solved with little difficulty.

I was happy to discover with the first group email that a number of people I know would be in the class. Thusly, there was a very good mix of familiar faces and new people to meet. There has been fluctuation in the group with each of the first four of six classes, but a solid and wonderful core has emerged.

Monday, October 5, 2009

TV Night Y Mas

For quite some time after coming to Los Angeles, I knew few people, and had little social contact even with them (I've alluded to that more than once on this blog). Happily, this has substantially changed upon meeting a whole swarm of friends largely in the last year or so.

During that time I have engaged in no small number of activities and endeavors, and even have drawn people into a few of my own. Never having felt much like the life of a party or the driving force in a group of friends, it has been rather gratifying to have the experience of announcing a social event and having people show up because I asked them to. The main such thing has been my movie night group (to be fair, it has become as much Adam's as mine, and I am glad for this).

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Last Game

Last night was another fine night out for someone who has had difficulty in the past leaving the solitude of his bedroom. Now, for the last week, the Los Angeles Dodgers had struggled mightily to win a game. This is most unfortunate, as winning a single game would have clinched the division, granting them home field advantage through the first two rounds. It also would give them a first round matchup against St. Louis instead of Philadelphia, but there is relatively little significance in that. It would perhaps mean something if the rules of Major League Baseball allowed them to play the wild card winner when that team comes from their own division. Really, though, playing Colorado in the first round would be as much a challenge as the other teams.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

My Kind Of Friday Night

I believe I've written about the Peace Gathering before, but felt I'd like to do so again, as the nature of this most recent one seemed to call for it.

I had only started going during about the last year and a half after meeting and befriending the guy that puts it on, but it goes back to 2003. Unfortunately, this was the last of the Peace Gatherings (albeit perhaps in the way that the Rolling Stones have had their "last" concert tour more than once). That being the case, it was akin to the farewell episode of a beloved tv show, with long-absent participants returning one last time to see it out. It was rather interesting for me to meet such people and to see the place where it began.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I don't know what to call this.

Part of growing up and maturing is learning that your parents and other elders aren't as perfect as they seemed before. I heard or read that years ago, and I think that there probably is little dispute about the truth in it. I recall very well when I realized that my father wasn't an infallible memory bank with a recording of anything done or said in his presence. Of course, he's only human, and no one remembers everything. For other people, such a realization about their parents comes regarding a more severe and serious failing.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Other Film About Shipwreck Survivors

There are many tv channels available to the discerning media consumer. Aside from the major television networks, there is a panoply of niche cable offerings for one to fritter away lonely hours with. For me, perhaps the foremost TV succubus is Turner Classic Movies. At virtually any hour of the day or night, you will find them broadcasting a film which entirely lives up to their name (not the 'Turner' part, but the other two parts). Just the other day, I was watching a movie that blew me away.