Monday, March 25, 2002

L.A. Non-Confidential

Greetings from La La Land!

First let's answer some of the most common questions: Yes I'm still alive, No I'm not rich and famous yet. Of course I'll keep you posted if either of these conditions change. Sadly, my life has been pretty boring the last couple of weeks, so this update will be pretty short. Now, on to the highlights!

3/12 - Found BJ's, a local brew pub/restaurant. Life is getting a little better, though this place is not as good as the late lamented Bank Draft, nor is the beer as tasty as St. Arnold's, but it's a start. It's more of a restaurant, and definitely some sort of local franchise, but still, how can you resist a place with a beer called the "Natural Blonde?"

3/13 - My roommate and cousin Marie bought me the coolest thing at the grocery store! Homer Simpson's Cinnamon Donut Cereal! Mmmmmmmmmm donuts. I'm not usually a big fan of sugar-coated sugar cereal, but I was willing to make a sacrifice in this case. Besides, it *is* a part of a nutritious breakfast that includes milk, orange juice, toast, eggs, ham, cantaloupe, a granola bar, and vitamin B 12 supplement. For a more detailed description of this Saturday-morning cartoon-watching sugar-rush-producing meal, check out this website:

Homer Simpson Cereal

3/15 - Found Chuy's! Yes, that's right, they have a Chuy's restaurant just up the street. What a relief! Now I won't have to gorge myself on Mexican food and tacky Elvis memorabilia the next time I'm in Houston! Hooray!

3/17 - Marie had been taking acting classes all week, and at the end she brought over a bunch of people from her class. It's not that important, but I mention it because I met a new PAP. His name was Diego, and even though he isn't an actor yet he had that air about him. I'll give him a half PAP point, bringing the total to an even 3.0.

Speaking of actors, you may be wondering how my lucrative career as an extra (or "background actor" as they're called in the biz) is going. Terrible! I'm being discriminated against because I'm a person of no color! Every day I call for work, and every day they are looking for something I'm not. It's not fair! I could be a drug dealer, homeless person, or transient! Also, apparently my long lustrous hair is not desirable either. Even though I had the measurements for the suit, they wouldn't let me be a fireman. I could be a fireman! I wanna be a fireman! sigh. Oh well. Maybe they'll have a casting call for a headbanger concert.

3/20 - I went to a taping of the Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn. It was pretty fun, but man they make you work hard! You can't just sit back and enjoy the show, you've got to hoot and holler and cheer and clap as though this was the best experience of your life. My voice was raw my hands were sore by the end of it. I wore a really bright Hawaiian shirt (surprised?) and tried to get on camera, but I think you could only see me if you had some of that FBI video software that allows you to crop and magnify images 100 times. But I was there! I'm going again this week because the guest is John Cleese. Maybe I'll keep shouting "Ni!" from the audience until they drag me out. That'd get me on camera!

3/21 - I went on sort of a job interview with a transcription company. It wasn't really an interview as much as an audition. The company transcribes the dialog from tv shows into written scripts because sometimes what airs isn't exactly what was written. Plus, interview shows and such don't have scripts. Anyway, they're testing out some new voice-recognition software, so that the transcribers don't type, they just speak into a microphone and the computer does the rest. They call it re-speaking, actually, because you hear the dialog in headphones, then say it again to the computer. It's very weird. I had to sit in this room by myself and have a conversation with a computer. On this test I was reading the dialog from an interview instead of listening to it. "And what did you do then questionmark new paragraph well comma it was comma you know comma kinda difficult period because we didn't comma you know comma have much food and stuff period new paragraph." I haven't found out if I got that job yet. I'm afraid that when they look at the work I did the script will actually say "And then we went two. No, not two, too. Go back! Backspace backspace! C'mon you stupid computer! This sucks."

Alright, that's about all I got this time. I'll try

LA Survival Tips - This Issue: Fast Food

Los Angeles offers a wide variety of fast food restaurants for the discerning palate. Here are some of the local favorites.

Del Taco

Open 24 hours, I think of this as the Whataburger of California, except with Mexican food. Obviously the menu is more like Taco Bell, but all the combo meals come with french fries. I don't exactly understand how fries fit with tacos, but okay. Their fries are the best. They also sell hamburgers to stay competitive and offer a wider variety of items.

Carl's Jr.

This is a hamburger joint, and all the hamburgers come with cheese. Period. This is the home of my personal favorite, the "Six Dollar Burger" which costs $3.95. Their fries are okay.They also sell tacos and burritos to stay competitive and offer a wider variety of items (see Del Taco).

In & Out Burger

The most famous fast food restaurant in the western states. There are five things on their menu: Burger, Cheeseburger, Double-Double, Fries, Shakes. The drive-though menu is very large and clear, having only five things on it. Plus, when going through the drive through instead of asking if you want to super-size it, they ask if you'll be eating in the car. It seemed like a dumb question to me at first, but then I found that they put your food in a neat little tray so it's easier to eat! Cool! Sadly, In & Out has by far the worst fries I've ever tasted. They apparently replaced the word "fried" with "soaked."

Movie Quote Trivia:

Last issues quote was from The Shawshank Redemption, written by Frank Darabont. The line was spoken by Red, played by Morgan Freeman.

The first to correctly answer was Joel "Swiftest" Swift, followed closely by Kevin "Hit the Mark" Marcus, and Tonya "Where's the Bar" Barnett (who was also the only one to also name character and actor).

Now, I heard from everybody that the last quote was too easy. The unfortunate thing about trivia is that you either know it or you don't, so it's difficult to say what is hard and what isn't. However, I will try to be a little more obscure without being impossible. I'll also give two, just 'cause I wanna. These are pretty easy, I think, but I haven't had time to research some really hard ones. Movie title is sufficient.

Number 1: "Looking at the cake is like looking at the future; until you've tasted it, what do you really know? And then, of course, it's too late."

Number 2: "You stay. We belong dead."

Good luck! I'll talk to you later.


Movie Quote Answers:


Dale Prasek was the first to correctly identify both quotes.

Quote #1 was from Excalibur, screenplay by John Boorman

Quote #2 was from Bride of Frankenstein, by William Hurlbut

And a clarification about the previous issue's quote. The screenplay was written by Darabont, but the original story came from Stephen King, just as "Bride" came from Mary Shelley.

Second place prize goes to Dan Perez.

See you next time!


Monday, March 11, 2002

California Dreamer

Hello and welcome to the Giant-sized first issue of my L.A. Newsletter (official title still pending)!

Every other Sunday I'll send out an update highlighting my adventures here in La-La-Land. I've got a lot of ground to cover this issue, so this one's bigger than usual, please bear with me just this once.

First, some apologies:

-I'm sorry that this is the first communication I've had with 90% of you. I know it's rather impersonal, but it took me a while to get settled and I thought this would just be easier.

-Also, I'm sorry for those of you who didn't get this e-mail first-hand. I tried to get as many addresses as possible, but I'm sure I forgot some. Those of you reading this please forward it to anyone who didn't get it but would be interested.

*IMPORTANT* If you would like to add an address, change a current address, or remove yourself from the list entirely (it won't hurt my feelings I promise), let me know.

-Lastly, I'm sorry again for this one being so long. I hope it's entertaining, but I promise the rest won't be so long.

Okay, on with the show!

2/1 - Had a great party at Saint Arnold's. Check out the photos:

Note to self: Photo links no longer valid. Replace later with working links.

2/2 - 2/18 - Loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly. Hills, that is. Swimming pools, movie stars. Extra-special thanks to my folks for helping me pack and storing so much of my junk.

2/20 - Met my first real screenwriter, Bob. He sold an *idea* to Paramount for $40,000. I need to come up with an idea like that.

2/22 - Bob showed me a pub (yay!) and I met his agent. Bob's agent was very young and had a striking resemblance to the guy who cut off the cop's ear in Reservoir Dogs. I'm not sure what the significance of that is. I also met my first aspiring actors (aside from my lovely roommate Marie). They were both very shallow and superficial, but the amusing thing was that they both claimed to hate "fake" people. I actually kinda believed one of them, but hey, he's an actor, I'm supposed to believe him. Anyway, I've started a list for these Fake-People-Who-Hate-Fake-People; I call it Phonies Against Phonies (PAP). Current PAP count:1.5 (I'll give the one guy only half because he may actually be telling the truth).

2/23 - Went to see a Murder Mystery Theatre show (for free) as a possible gig for Marie. Worst show ever. Learned valuable lesson: when there are a lot of actors in a town, there are a lot of *bad* actors in the town.

2/24 - PUPPET TERROR - This was my best "L.A." type experience. I found this one-night show in the L.A. Weekly, the equivalent of the Houston Press. It was a show to promote the release of a new magazine of the same name. I thought, "Cool, scary puppets!" Little did I know.

The hostesses and many guests were dressed as what I describe as clown-whores, or what I later heard called "Frankenfurter Chic." Imagine a woman with too much make-up wearing a bra and frilly panties with garters connected to brightly striped stockings. And not the sexy lace stockings, these are the black and green striped sock-like stockings like the Wicked Witch of the West wore. They liked to talk in falsetto puppet voices like Lambchop, but fortunately they didn't keep it up when they read aloud their pieces from the magazine.

But I haven't gotten to the weird part! The emcee who introduced the monologuists and puppet acts (yes, there were actually puppets, but more on that later) was accompanied by a sidekick. This co-emcee was a 3-foot tall female dwarf, dressed in the same black-green clown-whore outfit with strings leading up from her wrists and ankles to little wooden sticks. They lowered the microphone, the emcee marionetted her to it, and she spoke in the puppet-voice and introduced the next act. I knew then that I had just stepped into a David Lynch movie.

But what of the puppets, you ask? Outside before the show there were 20-foot skeletons in formal wear that attacked attendees in line for the show. They were cool. The first act was a guy using painted cardboard cut-outs on sticks to sing the story of a boy hit by a car crossing the road. Not bad, not good. Next up was Punch and Jimmy, a homosexual version of puppets beating the crap out of each other. Surprisingly good. Lastly, there was the Cinnamon Roll Gang. This was the topper. After a completely nonsensical intro by regular ugly hand-up-the-butt puppets, there appeared these 10-foot monsters that looked like 3D versions of a 3-year-old's crayon drawing. They danced around in a strobe light to the sound of some local techno-trash-punk-metal music for what seemed like 10 minutes. Terrible. The only way to describe it is "Muppets on Acid." Yes, I'm in L.A. now.

2/27 - Registered with Central Casting as an extra. The only amusement during this long tedious process was looking over the shoulders of pretty girls to see if they circled "None, Partial, or Full" on the question about their willingness to do nude scenes. Ah well. I'll be sure to let you know when I appear at the Warsaw drinking Buzz Beer behind Drew Carey.

3/8 - Went to Fry's for some computer equipment, saw two Buddhist monks shopping for parts. No comment here, just an interesting image.

Okay, that's the past few weeks. Still with me?

L.A. Survival Tips - This Issue: Freeways

-In the LA area, there are 27 separate highways and freeways.

-All freeway signs are designed not to help you, but to taunt you once it is too late to enter/exit/change freeways.

-All freeways have titles, such as the Ventura, Hollywood, San Diego, Marina, etc. This is done to assist the roadsigns in confusing drivers (see previous point). Also, if you are not using the freeway's proper title, you must preface the number with "The" as in "The 134" or "The 5." This is a sign of respect and reverence for the freeways that control your destiny as well as your destination.

-On- and off- ramps have the size and appearance of the driveway in front of your house.

-Much like the cliquish snobby neighborhoods and industries in L.A., the road system is designed to exclude outsiders and make them want to leave in frustration.

Lastly, movie quote trivia:

"I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. Still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my friend."

Name the film, and the character or actor who said it. First to respond with the correct answer wins a trip to LA, all expenses paid (by winner).

Thanks for reading, thanks for your well wishes, and I'll talk to you later.


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