Monday, July 12, 2010

Letter to the Idiot Girl From the Gym

Dear Girl,

I apologize for such a cold address, but I never caught your name. It could be, perhaps, because I never asked for it, but let's pretend that I did and it was too hard for you to get through due to your inability to process simple concepts. I say this, not from a sense of entitled prejudice against blonde high schoolers, rather the actions – your actions – as I observed this evening.

Here's a tip: When you walk up to the backdoor of the apartment building's gym and the door doesn't open, because it is an exit-only door, might I suggest you walk the thirty feet to the other side of the room and enter through the front door, which is not only open, but is conveniently located at the front of the gym? I understand that you may have felt that your idea, repeatedly tapping on the glass until I, the only other person in the gym, got off of my stationary bike and walked over to the door to let you in, was a fantastic plan worthy of the patent office, however, I feel that under proper scrutiny, my proposal holds more water.

I write this letter not to judge, reprimand, or belittle you. Rather, I write this to bemoan your offspring. For, as we've all learned from the Theory of Evolution (also known as "Darwin's Magic Joke Book" at your local Pentecostal bookstore) your brood is likely to suffer in the "natural selection" lottery as they will, more than likely, die off in freak hammer-to-head and let's-see-how-long-I-can-poke-this-rabid-hyena accidents.

For them, I am truly sorry. For you, I am only slightly annoyed.

Well, I suppose not slightly. I am writing this letter after all.

Well-played, idiot girl. It appears that you, truly, have won.

Cody Melcher
(the guy on the stationary bike on the other side of the gym whom was watching a tv show on his phone and was thus able to pretend that he couldn't hear you for five minutes while you continued to stand there tapping on the glass with one finger as if the other door weren't plainly visible)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Update on Life

Hey Folks,

Things have been hectic (not exactly in a positive way), but this sudden maelstrom has brought about order from chaos, and as I piece things back together, I'm slowly gaining more control and understand about things around me. One thing, specifically:

I am going to save over $1,000 a year just by cancelling my cable. "How?" You ask. Here's how:

My case for leaving traditional Television: Cost of cable $100/mo Cost of iTunes TV show Season Pass: $30-$40/30 min or $40-$60/hr (Standard Def - HD). Cost of cable over average TV Season: $800-$1,000. Equal to 26-33 Half Hour & 20-25 Hour TV Shows. Considering I usually only TiVO/watch about 10 shows, (rough estimate of 6 half hour and 4 hour) I save $460-$660 a year (not incl. 2 mos outside normal TV season). On top of monetary savings, also gain mobility (Laptop, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV) as well as ownership of the TV Season (no need to purchase DVD after, i.e. savings now doubled). Not even including saving $13/mo on TiVo, which adds $104-$130 a season to savings. All-in-all, saving $790-$1,016 a year (not including a savings of $410 not purchasing DVDs of iTunes-purchased shows). I think the numbers speak for themselves. Sorry, Time Warner. Oh, and saving $25 a mo cancelling my Home Phone I never use. That's another $300/yr.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

California Dreamin' (Part VII)

Hey Folks,

So wow, this is WAY overdue. It’s been almost a complete week since I saw Götterdammerung, the final chapter of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, and I’ve been promising to do a wrap-up since that very night. So, for dropping off of the planet, I apologize, but aren’t you proud of me for at least keeping this up pretty regularly? I mean, just scroll through my history on this blog and you’ll see my track record for longevity, so this is pretty “impressive” for me.

Anyway, Götterdammerung. I used to consider this my favorite of the Ring Cycle, because it mixes what I like most about opera and classical music as well as, I think, has the quintessential Wagnerian “BOOM” that his music is oft recognized as. However, after seeing all four, I have to say that Die Walküre is, by far, my favorite. That’s no slight against Götterdammerung at the LA Opera, at all, but rather the experience of Die Walküre was, for me, hard to beat. Götterdammerung was just as amazing as the rest of the Ring Cycle at the LA Opera. It’s hard to say anything new about it in my over-generalizing way (because there’s no reason to get too “techy” about it. If you’d like a true review of the LA Opera’s production, this would be a good place: Götterdammerung was powerful, beautiful, and everything I expected it would be. As the apocalypse loomed, the production got even more Brechtian with the stage literally falling apart. I don’t want to give too much away about the ending, but it was awesome (in the traditional sense that little outside of post-post-modern Wagnerian operas can deliver). I feel like that’s all that I can really say about it, only that if you can, you really must go see it for yourself.

Now, a little more generic about my experience at the LA Opera and with the Ring Cycle. It was amazing, inspiring, and life-changing. Seriously. For as long as I’ve been listening to opera (I can’t even remember when I first heard Vesti la Giubba being sung by Herr Pavarotti, but I know I was in elementary school) Wagner’s Ring Cycle has been the pinnacle of what I consider majesty and beauty in music. I even plan on having a quote from Wagner: “Imagination Creates Reality” inscribed on my tombstone right above my own words: “What he said”. I’ve purposefully stayed away from all video of the Ring Cycle, because I’ve never wanted to taint the image until I could see it, and see it all, live and from the same company. To find that in LA, and to see what I consider one of the greatest artistic interpretations (from what I’ve seen in pictures and video since I have now allowed myself to look around) was revolutionary to me. AND, to see who I consider to be the world’s best Wotan, Vitalij Kowaljow, brought me to tears several times and I’m never ashamed to admit when art makes me emotional, because that’s what it’s for. Finally, to top it all off, because of Twitter, Jean Oelrich (I hope I got that right, sorry Jean!) from LA Opera contacted a bunch of the people that were tweeting about LA Opera’s Ring Cycle and got us together during the breaks of Götterdammerung, which brought the finale of my experience to an amazing end! Truly, truly, one of the greatest experiences of my life. Not only did I get to interact with fellow opera and Wagner lovers, which are rare in Austin, Texas and in the college crowd, but I got to meet the conductor, Maestro James Conlon, and director, Achim Freyer, who brought this dream to life. And all because of Twitter and Jean Oelrich. Joy can be so astounding sometimes.

The LA Opera “Twitterati”: L-R Jonathan Caves (@joncaves), Me (@EccentricGent), Katherine Talley (@KatherineTalley), Maestro Conlon, Philip Horvath (@philiphorvath), Charlise Tiee (@operatattler)

Myself and director Achim Freyer

So, now that The Ring is over… I’ve had to try and return to my normal life. However, this week, the LA Improv Festival has been happening down at iO LA, so I took two days off of work (thanks boss!) and went to a few workshops that were also very revolutionary. I’m still unsure as to where I’m heading, but now I have two very distinct tracts of either being a straight-out writer (performance secondary) or a performer (writing secondary) and that makes me feel a lot better. The workshops were great in both fields and I feel much more confident about my future either way. Amazing how Los Angeles has really been changing my life in huge strides and in only 4 weeks… Oh! And I meet Eric Stonestreet (Cameron from Modern Family) and Danny Pudi (Abed from Community). They taught two workshops I went to on Wednesday and they were great. Amanda Philipson also taught a voice over workshop on Thursday which made me really want to get into voice over work (apparently I have a very sincere voice that relates that I care, and I also have the same vocal range as the voice of Bravo TV. Interesting).

At the end of the week, it’s hard to imagine where I’m going from here, but at least I know that I’m ready for it. I also need to work on not using the word “amazing” so often. If someone would like to count how many times it’s used in this post, please let me know. Hope you all are enjoying yourselves as much as I have been (enjoying myself… not you. Not that I don’t enjoy you, it just sounds a little naughty).

le grá,


Sunday, June 6, 2010

California Dreamin' (Part VI)

Wow, so much has happened since Wednesday, I almost feel like I need to split this up into two posts, however, I want to talk about it before it all becomes too old. In saying that, I apologize for the length of this post, but I tried to include pretty pictures for the magazine readers out there. First, on Thursday night, I saw the third installment in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (Ring Cycle), Siegfried. And let me say, with each opera, the LA Opera is raising the bar. I can’t even imagine what will happen tonight, with Götterdämmerung, but I’m excited.

Siegfried is a much happier, more uplifting and playful opera than the rest of the cycle, and it showed in the titular character through the superb acting of John Treleaven. The music was as powerful as the exuberant joy that shone through his movements and smile. However, I still have to say that my favorite, though this has always been my favorite part in the Ring Cycle, is Vitalij Kowaljow as Wotan, or as he’s known in Siegfried, The Wanderer. Wotan’s deep bass has always brought the power of the Ring Cycle to my heart, and Kowaljow is, in my opinion, the best Wotan I’ve ever heard. I may be limited in my exposure, as I’ve only heard recorded versions of the Ring, this being the first time I’ve ever seen my favorite operas live and in person, but Kowaljow brings a presence to the voice that rocks the very theatre. I find myself forgetting to breathe as I watch Wotan command the stage just as well as he commands the heavens.

I could go on forever about this production, but I’ll save that for the post on tonight’s Götterdämmerung, which is still my favorite opera in the whole Cycle, though as you know, LA Opera’s Die Walküre almost changed that. Now, verging on creating too long a post, the following day I went to work to find out that I was to travel around the city delivering things to studios and offices. I wasn’t exactly phased, as I felt it would be nice to get out and explore the city a bit and not be cramped in the office. The “amazing” part of this came when I found out where I was going. WB Studios, Ellen Offices, Culver Studios, FOX, agencies, etc. were my destinations and I finally got that “giddy” feeling one gets when they come to LA to see the stars and feel connected to the movies. I even got a drive-on pass to the Warner Brothers Lot (pictured below), where I, subsequently, got lost for half an hour and ended up in a movie set somewhere. Still, great experience.

That night, my friend Larissa asked me to join her for a screening of Killers, the new Kutcher/Heigl romcom (romantic comedy for the non-film majors), at her place of work. I was not exactly entering the theater with high expectations, as I’ve never particularly enjoyed Kutcher or romcoms. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Though the pair were very good together, what made this movie was the comedy and the supporting cast. Heigl’s parents were played by Tom Selleck and Catherine O’Hara, two actors whom I love in everything they do, and the rest of the cast was rounded out with former MADTV and Daily Show cast members. Really, if you even slightly enjoy a romcom or just want a good time or a date movie, then Killers is a recommendation I would give.

And that was just Friday. Saturday, I woke up and had lunch with Chris Baty, the Founder and Executive Director of the Office and Letters & Light, better known for their annual National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). He was an amazing guy, brilliant, insightful and genuine. Our conversation lead me to thinking a lot about my own work and even spurred me to want to get back into some avenues I hadn’t considered in some time. I HIGHLY encourage you to check out what they do and consider adding your own help or ideas to their pool. They truly are fantastic people who do inspiring work.

Finally, Saturday night, I went to the Downtown Comedy Club. OH, that’s right, I forgot to tell you that Thursday morning I actually accidentally bumped into Garrett Morris (pictured below), original SNL cast member, best known for his Director of the School for the Hard of Hearing bit, at my apartment’s gym. He gave me his business card and told me he does the Downtown Comedy Club on Fridays and Saturdays, so I decided to check it out and hopefully get to know him better. Sadly, he got sick Saturday, but I stuck around and watched everything from the open mic to the main events. The open mic was probably the weakest and bluest (meaning crass) open mic I’ve ever seen, but it gave me a bit more confidence in my own idea to try getting back into stand up, and knowing how accepting that venue is, I may even do it as soon as while I’m still in LA. We’ll see. However, the rest of the acts were very good and I left feeling great.

So, that’s it for this last weekend. I’ll be back soon with a post on Götterdämmerung and a general overview of the majesty and wonder that is the Ring Cycle. Hope you all enjoyed your weekend as much as I did.

le grá,


Thursday, June 3, 2010

California Dreamin' (Part V)

Hey Folks,

So, wow, it's been a whirlwind few days. I went from bored and nothing to do to not even having enough time to get my laundry done. I don't know exactly what happened to all of my time, but it was fun losing it.

On Sunday, I went and took a magic lesson from a local LA magician through the Magic Castle. It was sort of slow and I basically only learned about two tricks and a couple of shuffles. It was a good start off into trying to get back into magic, but I don't think I'll be taking more lessons. He was a good teacher, but I don't have the time or funds. After that, I went to a seminar at the Magic Castle, to nail the point home that I learned more in a free seminar, and while I was waiting to go into the seminar, guess who sits down next to me? Mallory Lewis, of Lamb Chop fame (see previous post). We got to talking a bit, and she told me some pretty funny stories of behind the scenes and her travels, etc. The one thing I'll say here is that, apparently, all you have to do to wash Lamb Chop is take off the buttons and eyes and pop her in a washing machine.

After the seminar, I rushed over to the second opera in Wagner's Ring Cycle at the LA Opera. This was Die Walküre, and while I do love this particular opera, who doesn't like "Ride of the Valkyries"?, I've never considered it my favorite of the four operas in the Cycle. However, after this production, starring Placido Domingo as Siegmund, I may rethink that. It was stunning and I'll admit I wept at the end. It all began when Wotan, lord of the gods, casts his favorite daughter, Brunnhilde, out of the heavens for betraying his word, even though she insists she was being true to his heart. The exact moment was when Brunnhilde went to hold him and, at the very last moment, he moved away. She collapsed to the ground and he slowly walked away, one step at a time, then turned back and returned to her side. He outstretched his hand to just half a foot above her head, then turned away again... I was a wreck.

And that wrapped up Sunday. Monday started off slow, then with a text from a friend, we headed off down the road to the LA Zoo. As it was Memorial Day, the zoo was packed, so we decided to try our luck at finding the Hollywood sign. And thus began the more touristy day of my LA experience. We found the sign, got our necessary pictures, and then proceeded on to Hollywood Blvd where I took way too many pictures of random celebrity stars on the sidewalk.

After eating at the "famous" Mel's Diner, we returned to the apartment complex where I met up with some other friends and hung out at the hot tub for awhile. From the hot tub, we decided to go to the infamous Dimple's karaoke bar. It was a blast and, as I found out, they actually video record your first song... which, for me, was the Blues Brothers' SOUL MAN. So, that will be posted later. Also at Dimple's that night, for the Bravo watchers, was the Millionaire Matchmaker and her crew, which made my friend Melissa go crazy with excitement.

And that wraps up my Memorial Day weekend. I continued the fun into Tuesday, and today was my first day of work. I'll tell more later, but for now, you've got the skinny. Hope you all are enjoying yourselves even more than I.

le grá,

Friday, May 28, 2010

California Dreamin' (Part IV)

Hey Folks,

So, sorry for the delay in posting. The first few days it was due to lack of adventure and excitement, then it got busy. Well, I'm finally settling in, starting to get to know people, and it's becoming a little bearable out here. I had a day of weakness where I felt bored and tired of this whole LA game, but I'm giving it another shot.

On that day, I worked and attended a panel of television and web television executives and writers who basically had one consensus: "Don't bother getting into TV. You'll work your ass off for nothing and then the medium will die anyway." So, that was a lovely way to start off my time trying to get into TV in LA. Though I understand, and partially agree, with where they're coming from, my plans don't exactly take me down that same route, so I'm trying to keep my spirits alive.

Speaking of spirits alive, the one really awesome and amazing thing that I've been able to be a part of is the Magic Castle out here in LA.

The Magic Castle is a dinner and show club for magicians and their associates to go out and have some drinks, enjoy the company of other magicians, and see a few shows that rotate in and out of the club. I recently became a Magician Member of the Castle, due to my work in magic when I was younger. Last night, I went with my friend Samantha and, after enjoying a lovely meal, she and I went to the main showroom and got to see a childhood favorite of mine, Lamb Chop, with her creator's daughter, Mallory Lewis. It was a funny show, very vaudevillian in style with jokes intertwined with musical numbers, and I was impressed by her abilities. She wasn't as good at looking like she wasn't talking as her mother was, but she had much more variety to her act, being able to have both of them talk at the same time, singing, etc. It was great fun, and a real treat to see Lamb Chop live.

One of the acts along with Lamb Chop was a British card magician who was amazing. He was quick, witty, and brilliant with his act. One of the greatest card acts I'd ever seen. He, single-handedly, got me back into card magic, and so I've added that to my list of "To Do" while in LA this summer, now making the list:

1. Get in shape
2. Start painting again (I need a relaxing hobby)
3. Finish out my Netflix instant watch (it's gotten huge)
4. Write a novel (well, this is more for by the end of the year)
5. Narrow-down career options (easier said than done)
6. Relearn magic and become better at it (if only to impress people at bars)

So, this is already looking like an exciting summer ahead. I only hope I actually stick to all (or most) of this and don't wuss out like I sometimes do. I'll keep you updated. In the meantime, Labor Day weekend's coming up. I hear some people are going to the beach, I might tag along. What are you going to be doing?

le grá,

Sunday, May 23, 2010

California Dreamin' (Part III)

Hey Folks,

So today was a pretty slow day. I woke up pretty early and just watched some TV, then I decided to get up and read my little "welcome to your apartment" packet. In it, I found out some pretty interesting things, like how to do laundry, where the nearest shops are, oh, and that I have asbestos in my ceiling.

For those of you unfamiliar with asbestos, according to the little "welcome" packet: "asbestos is a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer." That's right. And it's in my ceiling. It also tells me that if I accidentally start knocking stuff off the ceiling that I need to tell them. The problem is, while moving in yesterday, I was putting stuff away in the built-in cupboard and brushed a bunch of the ceiling off with some pillows I was shoving into the top shelf. So, I walk over to the office to inform them of my imminent demise and see if it's possible for me to get a discount on my room if I'm to die partway through my stay. The guy at the front desk tells me that I should be fine as long as I don't poke actual holes into my ceiling or... and get this... I don't eat any of the little chips from the ceiling. As if I, a grown ass adult, would go "What are these, paint chips? Well, don't mind if I just try one for a little snack. Oooh, it tastes like cancer. Delicious." Who does he think I am, Ralph Wiggum?

Anyway, so, I spent the rest of the day sort of wandering around the complex, enjoying the weather in Los Angeles (warm, but with a gentle breeze, as opposed to Austin's stale with a gentle microwave). Then, I wasted away the rest of the day watching Mean Girls on TBS, Facebook stalking people, and trying to force myself to write an overdue script. All-in-all, could have been more productive, but it's the summer, so screw me.

That's pretty much all for today, it was slow and relatively boring, and sadly tomorrow will be as well. I don't actually start doing stuff until Monday when I meet with the personal trainer to find out how sexy I'll become and then go on a few studio tours. However, I'll leave you with this passing point of interest:

Yesterday, as I exited the freeway to get to my apartment, I passed a Junior Achievement center. What this is is a group that basically gets professionals and connects them with kids in schools to teach them about the business world as a way of preparing them. Sort of reversing the "take your child to work" system, and bringing work to the kids. However, what was odd about this Junior Achievement center was that it was located in an isolated area off the freeway, on its own side street, away from everything else except: a mortuary and cemetery. That's right, this center that's supposed to help inspire children to great heights in their futures is, literally, surrounded by death. What a great motivator. "Alright, Billy, you wanna succeed in life or do you wanna end up like one of them?! Dead?! No, no apple juice! Juice is for closers!"

Well, goodnight folks, hope you enjoyed your Saturday.

le grá,