Friday, May 31, 2013

All Rude Revue

When I was younger, we got some video player. Could it have really been a VCR? Maybe it was actually a television. Anyway, what matters is the little throw-in that came with it. It was a book of Roger Ebert's reviews. It seems to me that it covered nothing more recent than Waterworld, and I read it until the cover came to pieces, at which time I repaired the cover with tape to ensure it lasted for more readings.

Something I found was that the bad review were a lot of fun to read. This was years before I heard such an expression as "schadenfreude", which is supposed to be a German word for the joy one takes in the bad things that happen to others. It's not a word I like, and enjoying negative film reviews is not something that I like tremendously much about myself, but there it is. It's a truth that I must come to terms with.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


I had a bit of a scare yesterday. I was watching my VHS copy of Tango & Cash. It was the third time in a row when suddenly the picture got weird. It was rather fuzzy and the VCR warned me how it might need to be cleaned. It does that sometimes. It bothered me that this all happened with that particular tape though, because it had been pristine, and suddenly it was so bad that it was barely watchable.

It did get better, and I think it's OK again, but it's a sad fact that VHS tapes wear down with use, unlike disc media. Those can obviously degrade if mishandled, but as the critical part of the disc is touched by nothing more than a laser, being played often shouldn't have any bearing on whether the disc lasts a while or not. When a disc goes bad though, it goes worse. The player skips past a bad section entirely, which I don't care for.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Career Beard

I have lately been going without shaving. As I may have said at some time recently, it began during that trip to Big Bear. It made little sense to shave on vacation, and moreover it was problematic to shave with the restroom being shared by an awful lot of people. On returning, I reasoned that there was no sense in shaving until something like an audition came up that compelled it, and so I have been letting it grow during a period of idleness.

Being an actor with headshots and audition tapes floating around puts you in a unique position. You depend on your look being a part of how you get auditions and how you win parts (and this, I should say, is the understanding of this humble novice). Consequently, I am not exactly at liberty to do whatever with my appearance as someone else could. Changing way I have my hair is not simply a way of expressing myself differently. It's a career decision.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

So, Lad!

As I have said plenty of times, diet is a concern of mine. It may not be one that I act on very forcefully or successfully very much of the time, but the fact that I don't improve much along those lines is no evidence that I lack the interest. I do care, and there are a couple of successes that I've had. I did give up canned ravioli, which may sound like an easy and obvious thing to you, but for me it was not. I also recently have been edging away from hot dogs.

Add to those triumphs a very singular incident born of that universal inspiration, desperate need. Now, I had a few things on hand that didn't quite add up to a sandwich. All that was missing was the bread, really. I had the meat, the cheese, the mustard (in addition to various packets of taco sauce, dressing and hot sauce), the peppers, the lettuce and more. I just couldn't do exactly what I wanted, which was a sandwich.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Down A Notch

The other day I was in downtown LA. I had finished improv practice, and decided before I went home that I would visit the nearby bookstore as I have before. On the way to that bookstore (where I bought another seven VHS tapes) and on the way from it to the subway station, I saw an awful lot of what looked like protesters. Indeed, I saw more of them even after I'd gotten off the subway back in my own neighborhood of North Hollywood.

They were carrying signs that appeared to signal their dislike of the Monsanto corporation. This is one of those things that I don't understand as well as I ought to, but many people probably do not let that get in the way of taking action. Anyway, I gather that people don't care for the genetic modification of what becomes their food. It seems less simple than that or than these people make it out to be, but I don't say they're wrong. They're probably more right than wrong.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A New Pastime Joins The Old

I have had the good fortune of coming upon some great live entertainment in Los Angeles. Through friends, I have learned of and enjoyed a great deal such things as improv comedy, pole dancing and burlesque. I have wound up doing a good deal of the first myself, and a bit of the second. Something new has come to my attention though, and I do believe I'll be seeing more, if not doing any. It's roller derby.

This may not be as new to others as it is to me. Really, I had heard of it, and I had the vaguest understanding of how it works. Luckily, a friend is on a local team, and with her encouragement, I finally made my way to a game. It was a doubleheader, and thank goodness for that. I might otherwise not have had enough time to really grasp the rules, which don't work out to be so complicated. I think I get it now.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Victory For Health

It has become more and more important to me that I eat healthily, but I have not managed all the time to walk the walk. I am perhaps doing better than I was, but it remains very easy for me to fall on bad habits out of some sense of ease or out of excessive frugality. I used to eat a lot of hot dogs, which I know is bad. I don't eat so many now, but I still eat perhaps a few too many. I like getting a hot dog or two once a week before my improv class.

I was going to do that again the other day, but something was working on my mind. Early in the day, a friend sent me a link saying something or another about processed meats being bad. Now, this is nothing new to me. I know the hot dogs are bad the same way I know that binge drinking is bad, but you do bad sometimes because it's no fun to do good or it's too hard. No, the facts from this article really didn't sway me.

Friday, May 24, 2013

My Way Is Okay

The way that I think is definitely unusual. I am always quick to agree that it's good for me to be unique, since what I have is marketable, and would therefore be diminished if it was less scarce. Still, I do wish it was a little less scarce, because it can be lonely when no one has the same natural reaction to something. I guess I'll get over it if I make some money off it. Anyway, I had this thing happen that showed again how different I can be.

I was waiting at a security booth for someone to give me a pass onto a studio lot, only there was no one there. I was a bit at a loss as to how I should proceed. It occurred to me that I might go over to where some guards were wrangling a studio audience, but I shied away from the idea of going and making contact away from the managed process I was used to. I stood around looking helpless and examining my phone for a while.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pizza With Chemicals And Additives

The other day, I was doing some quick grocery shopping before going out to catch a late movie with friends. I often like to pick up something ready to eat (or nearly so) to have first thing after I get home, and there are a few options that I look to on that. One is a sandwich. Others include burritos and chicken, but on this recent occasion, I went another way. Specifically, I bought a frozen pizza. This one was supposed to be one of the good ones.

Indeed, it was better than most, and came at not too dear a price. Whimsically, I picked the Hawaiaan- style one instead of something more conventional. I wish I had not done so, although in the short term I was not sorry for my choice. The pizza was pretty good, with the pineapple and ham holding up fairly well. I had a couple slices, but then put away the rest for later. I figured by the end of the night I'd be ready for more.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

One Of Many

I've been doing more improv lately, some of which has been good and some of which has been bad. The sheer volume means that I'm getting better at a rate I never could just from practicing, but there have been some real clunkers. Then there was last night. My class team from Monkey Butler performed as the concluding act of a student showcase, and I have to say I think that it went fairly well. Maybe it even deserves a recap.

We have been working on a long form improv format called the "Improvised Movie". The idea is that the audience supplies three titles of existing movies. The improvisers pick one whose general theme is the inspiration for a performance. The audience then identifies two things that typically appear in that sort of movie, plus one that does not. Finally, they give a title for this newly-created movie, and at last the team is off!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I had one of those experiences recently that reminded me that I am in a select group. It's nothing I earned. It's just something I was born with, and there are plenty who it doesn't impress one bit, I'm sure. Certainly I myself find it more an irritant than a boon of any kind myself. It's nothing mysterious. It's just my hair, about which I've written in the past. Not too many have hair anything like mine, but there are some who do.

Those who do have hair like mine tend to have a shared experience of others trying to meddle with it. For my part, many people imagine they have the license to make a lot of suggestions on what I ought to do with my hair. I tend to bristle at that, as those with lots of hair tend to do. I also recoil when someone starts getting grabby with my hair. I don't react well to any sort of sudden touching, but that is particularly bad.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hadda Have It

I am, as I think people generally are, subject to fits of whimsy. Maybe there are people who aren't, or who manage to resist those impulses, but I am not one of those people. Sometimes I just feel the need for something and I go get it. This happened just a bit ago, when I decided that I really had to watch "The Matrix", and right away. I don't happen to have the movie, which was a bit of an impediment to fulfilling my wish.

My first thought was to see if it could be watched online. Tragically, Netflix does not have it available for streaming. I could have ordered it on disc, but that of course would not have been soon enough. I'm not one of those people for whom a movie doesn't exist if it's not online, but I just could not wait several days. I had to have the movie faster, and I was not into the idea of stooping to unsavory methods.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Gettin' Up Early? Yup, and I'm Surly!

I don't happen to love getting up early. I know that puts me in the majority, and I don't think it's smart to whine about things that everybody hates like that, but there it is. I do it when I have to, as I did yesterday. I had to be at a Toastmasters contest by 6:30 in the morning, and I found that I would have to leave home before 5 in order to manage that. As is often the case when there's pressure to be up by a certain hour, I slept poorly.

I would guess that I got five or so hours of fitful sleep between the hours of 10 in the evening and 4:20 in the morning. I had meant to get up at 4, but somehow or another I overslept a bit. Worriedly, I looked to see whether that put me in big trouble, but was relieved to find that it didn't. I was glad that I'd had the foresight for once to get my clothes and things ready the night before. Every now and then, I show a little aptitude for organization.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


A good while ago, some friends and I watched the Sylvester Stallone/Kurt Russell film "Tango & Cash", and I enjoyed it. I then moved on and didn't think much about it, or at least I didn't until I found it someplace on VHS. I bought it and left it lying around at home. Eventually I watched it again, and I found that I loved it. I proceeded to play it continuously every day for a long time. Whenever I was at home and doing something where I could have that movie on, I did. I got to know it fairly well.

It's funny what repeated viewings of a movie uncover. I guess it shows poor viewing comprehension on my part, because there are things I finally notice after dozens of viewings, and I wonder how I didn't pick up on something cool or hilarious the very first time. It really does pay off to watch something a lot of times, but I sure wouldn't be doing it if I didn't love it from the beginning. I don't get the idea of watching something even a second time hoping to like it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Good Night. Good Night!

Last night I was at a burlesque show, and that was a pretty good time. I had not been to any in a while, but about three months ago I had a rare free Thursday night, and the show I attended then rekindled my affection for burlesque. What's not to like, anyway? There's fantastic dancing which really conveys a narrative, there's music, and there's comedy. Often the lines blur, or maybe that's the alcohol, of which I'm also fond.

Yesterday's show really was something. There was pole dancing, there was a comedian (or as some would say of a female comedian, a "comedienne") who I love, and I wound up incorporated in a performance myself. I attribute that to my penchant for dressing up these days. There's a certain quality of sophistication to burlesque that makes my usual grubby clothes seem unacceptable, and so I put on a suit.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Back On Top

I remain awfully fond of reading newspaper comics. I have not in several years not subscribed to the newspaper in print, but I read a broader and generally more rewarding cross-section of comics now than I did then. There's such a relentless flood of them that I cannot take much time off before it begins to be a prohibitive burdon to get caught up. In fact, I recently did have such an incident, and recovering was some task.

I'm not sure how it began that I neglected the task of reading them at first. It wouldn't have been more than a day or two that I somehow didn't have the time, but each day makes the next harder, and before I knew it I had a backlog hundreds of individual strips on multiple websites. I did manage to keep up on some of them, but the bulk remained to be read when I went on vacation. At that time, it was something like two weeks or so of strips.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ennui, On Me

Something is really bugging me. I have said how I strive to not let something I disagree with online take up too much of my time. Sometimes I do well with that, but today I don't know that I did. What happened is that a friend was excited by the news that a Robocop statue meant to be erected in Detroit is nearly finished. It has been substantially financed by that odious fundraising site, Kickstarter. Needless to say, I'm not a supporter.

I made my points about how Detroit needs plenty of things more than it needs a statue of a character from a movie that casts the city in a bad light and which was filmed in Dallas anyway. I was answered that the statue would somehow be an example of law and order and that public art is laudable. I disagreed and said no more about the matter, but I kept thinking about it all day long. I'm still thinking about it now, and I can't say I'll have let it go by the time you're reading this.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Notable Potable

I bought a bottle of rye whiskey. I've been meaning to buy some for a while. I think that the last time I had some liquor at home must have been at least a couple years ago, incredibly enough. I'd bought a bottle of Irish whiskey, and it was my intention to make a regular thing of having a drink in the evening while reading or writing. I'd like to think it was never an affectation. I do enjoy the whiskey, and it has a certain positive influence.

Anyway, this new whiskey is rather interesting. As I said, it's rye whiskey. Specifically it's Maple rye. Lest you think otherwise, I will stress that you can unquestionably taste the maple in it. The whiskey is a bit sweet by comparison with others, but it is definitely smoother than most as well. Other whiskeys can be rather harsh and difficult to drink on their own, but this one does fine without any help, I have found.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Birthday Boys

A curious thing happened on the train ride back from that evening of delights I described yesterday. Why should the return trip fail to be as eventful as the outbound one? This one was actually genuinely interesting, in that anyone would find it curious as opposed to just me. Now, by this time I had seen "The Great Gatsby" and bought two expensive drinks at a bar I had to wait in line to enter. Those are not things I choose to do, the movie excepted.

I had also met up with a friend who was in the area, and we headed home to our shared apartment building around 1am. Trains that late are either raucous party trains or they are trains right out of "Death Wish". This was the former, as we found ourselves right by some young guys celebrating a birthday. They were young enough to have a good time drinking Bud Lights, which signify not such a good time to me.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Head To Head

There I was, on the subway train and bound for a movie screening whose purpose was to celebrate a friend's birthday. Because the movie was the recently released "Great Gatsby", the idea had been conceived that we dress up in fancy Jazz Age-appropriate garb. I complied as well as I could, putting on the suit generally reserved for the likes of weddings and funerals. On a hot day, it maybe looked a bit out of place on the train.

I was listening to a podcast and playing "Angry Birds" when a family got on. There was the mother, the father and the child in a stroller. I thought the child was a little old for that, but it's not my business. The child was also playing "Angry Birds", which made me question my behavior. How could I, a grown man wearing a fancy suit, be playing the very same game at the same time in the same place as this apparently slow child?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Movie Night By The Lake's Moon Light

Yesterday, as I said in yesterday's item, I returned from my trip to Big Bear Lake. On our final night before going, we had a little movie night. There was a general consensus that a scary movie had to be watched while we were still in such ideal circumstances for one. A variety of ideas were bandied about, including "Cabin In The Woods" (obviously) and "Videodrome" (which was an idea heavily endorsed by me), but the group decided to go another way.

Specifically, it was resolved to watch the 80's cult classic "Re-Animator", which I had seen. It was also resolved to watch each of the two sequels, which I saw as an undertaking perhaps too ambitious for the group. You see, it's my experience that the core of the group in question frequently has movie-watching ambitions which are not matched by its movie-watching abilities. Often has it been promised that a movie was to be watched only for me to find two or three hours later that nothing has happened but unrelated drinking games.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Something More

I have finally returned home from my week at the lakeside cabin up north, and as a consequence I have the wherewithal to write about things that are not directly related to the activities of the last day or so. That's not to say that I'm through with writing about the vacation, as there are a number of other ideas from it that have yet to be exploited. Today though, I have something else remarkable to consider, although others may not agree.

As long as I have been doing improv, little routines have developed around the time and place that I have gone to class. It used to be that we commonly got frozen yogurt after class. This was a weekly thing that seldom was modified or canceled. More recently I have had my own little thing. Because I can't rely on the bus to get me there on time, I set it so I'll arrive early or on time instead of on time or late. When I'm early, I get a hot dog or two at the 7-11 next door.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Trail Of Learning

Years ago now, I worked at a Boy Scout camp in the Nature Lodge. I believe I wrote about this some time ago. Among the tasks which fell to me were leading nature hikes. You lead a group of people around a short circular trail, stopping at various points to describe the flora of the area. I led that hike many times, and it got ingrained in my memory. That's passed though, and I would be rather rusty if I tried again today.

Still, I remember one or two things. That was evident when we took a similar self-guided hike here in Big Bear Lake, which I expect to have left by the time you are reading this. The trail was not as varied as the one I led, but I suppose it made the most of what lay in the area. It had sixteen items on it, which I think may have been fewer than the one I had led. Really it was rather informative, providing plenty of information that I hadn't known.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Key Moment

I'm still in Big Bear Lake (as I understand the town to be called), and small matters just worthy of being written about continue to pop up. Yesterday we made a second visit to a brewpub. We drank and ate. The place was running some kind of a special, and so there were cheap drinks, hot dogs and fries. Naturally we partook of those things. Because a friend who ordered before me went with two chili dogs and a basket of fries, I of course had to get one chili dog and two baskets of fries.

I observed the first time we went there that the chief server bore a striking resemblance to Jennifer Lawrence. I didn't mention it then, but I did so to one of my friends, who mentioned it to the server in question. This sparked a brief conversation about her feelings on the matter, which were not especially favorable. She did say she liked the novels on which "The Hunger Games" and its soon-to-be-made sequels are based. Jennifer Lawrence is the star of those films, of course.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


For the first time in a long time, I went bowling yesterday. As I told someone, I used to bowl a bit during summers when working at Boy Scout camp, as they had a bowling alley in the nearest town. Outside of that, I have seldom had cause to bowl. Certainly I'm not going to do it alone, and friends have not expressed much interest until now. Suffice it to say that I am out of practice, or I was going into the evening I'm describing.

The bowling alley was in what looks from the outside like a barn. It was called the Bowling Barn, and I don't know if it was a renovated barn or a fake. I hope it was the former. When we walked inside, we found it was all lit up with bright colors but otherwise subdued lighting. I feared it was one of those "cosmic bowling" situations where you are supposed to pay more because of the various concessions they've made to youth.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Quiet, Alone, Content

As I write this, I remain at the cabin where I have been the past few days. We have had in that time steadily deteriorating weather. We started out with a sunny 70 degrees, and assumed we could count on a week of the same, but such has not been the case. It has not gotten so bad as to descend into the depths of a storm, but it has gotten colder, and that's not all bad. It is, of course, easier to appreciate that stuff from indoors.

We've gotten fog now. It's a hell of a thing for me, having grown up in Phoenix, but perhaps it's commonplace and mundane for others. Advised of the fog's arrival, I eagerly rushed outside with others. I was alone in my group of friends in seeking to see more, however. I walked down the steps from the second floor balcony of the cabin, down the driveway and across the street to the dock where a pontoon boat, two kayaks and a canoe have all lain at our disposal.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Stick To Principles

While on a trip to Big Bear Lake (which is ongoing), my friends and I took a little walking tour of the town. There is fairly little to it, or so I gathered from the experience. There were some rather neat shops that we looked in on, one of which was a thrift store. They had little of appeal, outside of one or two things. One friend bought a trophy that was evidently made for some TV show, and I bought something of my own.

It was a pair of buttons for a political campaign run by one Jane Camp. A cursory internet search turns up no evidence of a Jane Camp or her run for governor (which seems to have been successful, as the second button lobbies for her reelection). The possibility that Jane Camp is fictional suggests itself, but whether she is real or fake, there would seemingly be some hits from internet searches. It's inconsequential, anyway.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Bar Vulture

Some friends and I were at a bar last night to celebrate a birthday. It was that sort of place where the wall and ceiling are plastered with dollar bills, and this happened to be karaoke night. I did manage to sing, although I have had better performances. In any case, the karaoke is not what I found chiefly remarkable. There was something about the service there that rubbed me the wrong way, although I'm sure I would be alone in this.

We got dinner there, and the food was good enough. Certainly there was an awful lot of it. I hardly got halfway through my burger before I'd had enough, and there were nachos and fries as well. The food is not at issue. It's the guy who came around looking for completed dishes and empty glasses. That's a necessary thing, I'll grant, but I won't agree that one need be as as aggressive as he seemed to be in his task.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Extolling "Death Proof"

Yesterday, I spoke of my affection for the 50's classic "Executive Suite". Maybe that is only a classic to me, but I'm not about to bend to the feelings of others on this point. There are many films that are like that to me, and many are far more contemporary than that film. Another film which I feel that I must be relatively alone on is Quentin Tarantino's "Death Proof". I don't want to have it to myself. I wish everyone loved it, but it is evidently his least loved film.

It was the first film of his that I can think of where he opted to split the film into two self-sufficient stories, and I have not liked it when he has done that since, but in this instance it worked. It was a surprise, being the first time, and I feel the story also warranted it. Perhaps I'm telling something someone reading may not be aware of yet, but the first half of the film concerns a group of women who stumble upon a murderous former stunt driver. The conclusion of that half dispenses with them.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Extolling "Executive Suite"

When I was entertaining the idea of writing about a favorite film of mine, "Executive Suite", I realized that I might have written about it before. While I don't work as strenuously as I once did to avoid repeating myself, this was a time when I decided to check. I found, happily enough, that I had mentioned it in passing twice, but never really got into. I was glad, because I knew it would be a pleasure and I hate scratching an idea for any reason.

It really is a great film. I was turned on to it by a teacher during my charter school days. He got those of us in his class into a whole range of things, from chess to computer animation to computer networking to films. Executive Suite was one of them, and I think his idea was to impress on us sound business practices or some such thing. The film concerns the executive vice presidents of a furniture company, a number of whom are jockeying to replace the suddenly deceased company president.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I Walk, My Skin Crawls

The other day, I found myself going to an audition in Beverly Hills. I've been to auditions in neighborhoods dodgy enough that I wondered whether I had the right address, but this was obviously in the other direction. I knew I was going to the right place, but still somehow I wondered, because there seemed to be little reason why a casting office need be in such a ritzy locale. There's a middle area.

From where the bus let me off, I had to walk for around fifteen or so minutes to get where I was going. Along the way, I saw what there was to see in an outdoor mall while seeking a restroom to use. All in all, I got my fill of the area. As I think I've made plain, such upscale districts are not for me. There is some kind of insecurity that I have about that sort of thing. I get the idea that I'll be sniffed out as insufficiently well-to-do or classy and asked to leave.