DUCK AND COVER!!!

July 30, 2008

“On July 29th 2008, at 11:42am, a 5.4 earthquake shook Los Angeles. It was centered near Chino Hills, about 30 miles South East of downtown L.A. Throughout the day there have been 50 aftershocks, the largest measuring 3.8 on the Richter scale. It was the largest quake in a populated area in 14 years. We’ll be keeping you updated throughout tonight’s news broadcast.”

As an actor in L.A. the best advice I was ever given was, “Make sure you have at least three skills under your belt to help get you through the hard times.” Because as an actor, there are LOTS of hard times.

I took that advice, and have become skilled at more than three things to support myself. Currently, one of those skills is in a field of construction called Seismic Retrofitting. “What is Seismic Retrofitting?” you ask. Well, it involves working in the crawl space of houses (i.e., crawling on your belly or back for 8 hours a day and digging a hole to piss in) and connecting the house to the cement foundation, thus making it current with California standards. For those of you who can’t – or don’t – want to picture the working conditions, I’ve included a photo of me at work.

Nice, huh? You get used to the spiders, darkness and the occasional dead, or – shudder – living things that you run into on a daily basis. This brings me back to the topic of “Earthquakes.” When the quake hit I was at work.

I started house bolting four years ago, and have been very fortunate to never experience this natural disaster that is synonymous with Southern California. I don’t know how many of you out there have ever been in an earthquake, but if you think it’s scary inside a house, try being under it.

Luckily, none of us on the seven-man crew were injured in any way, other than emotionally. Our boss gave us the option to “call it a day” and get paid for half a day’s work. Only one of us took him up on his offer: the one guy who had never experienced an earthquake before. He was so shaken up (no pun intended) that when he came into work the next day, he told me that he had gone home and done some serious “soul searching.” Earthquakes have a way of bringing up that kind of inner soliloquy. I’ve known many people in my 16 years of living out here who, after an earthquake, have just packed up and moved back to wherever they came from, leaving their hopes and dreams behind to pursue another day.  I, too, did some “soul searching” of my own after our little shake up. “Maybe it’s time to move on to another one of my many skills? Or maybe learn a new skill?”

Don’t get me wrong; my current job was shitty even before the quake. Everyday I feel as if all the creativity is being sucked from my body, oozing onto the ground I’m laying on, in a puddle for someone else to crawl through. Lucky them. The only reason I do it is for the same reason everyone else on the crew does it: auditions. We’re all actors, and as actors it’s hard to find a steady, well-paying job that not only allows us to come and go to auditions freely, but also allows us to take time off for the “golden ring”: the occasional acting gig.

Normally, I would’ve quit by now. But between the current state of the economy (thanks, George) and the fact that I have a kid on the way (thanks, fast-swimming sperm) I don’t think that’s the best idea. What to do? What to do? To be honest, I’m not sure what I’m going to do. But I do know that I want out from under the house more than ever.

I’ve thought about putting my acting on hold until things settle down with the Screen Actors Guild and the AMPTP (look it up) renegotiation’s. The writer’s strike really hurt us struggling actors, and we haven’t yet fully recovered.

What to do? What to do?

Time to think outside the box. My resume’ is available upon request.

Nothing like a good earthquake to provoke a little “soul searching.” (Thanks, geology)

Reporting from under a house… For now. I AM A Purple Dino Type.

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In Honor of the Opening Weekend of the “The Dark Knight”

July 21, 2008

I’m Batman! …Kinda’. Let me just say that playing “Flying Rodent* Hero Type” in the middle of summer in Los Angeles during 100 degree weather is not easy. Notice the thick black rubber surrounding my head and the ends of my appendages. Also check out the black turtle neck and black sweatpants that I’m wearing. Fun, fun, fun!!! I think I lost 10 pounds doing this party. I could start the next workout craze, “Earn $$ while losing weight! ASK ME HOW!” I do it all for the kids. Wait a second… The birthday boy is more interested in sucking on his thumb than hanging out with Batma… I mean… Flying Rodent Hero Type!

I already saw the new movie, “The Dark Knight,” (for character research purposes of course) and I highly recommend it. Looks like I’m going to need to get a new suit.

“I AM a Purple Dino Type”… Sometimes

* Bats are actually mammals, and such unique ones that scientists have placed them in a group of their own, called the Chiroptera (which means hand-wing). For more info on bats go to http://www.batcon.org


“Steven Spielberg and Cindy Crawford Know How To Do It Right”

July 12, 2008

“Don’t step in the elephant poop, Barney.”

I looked down to see a big steaming pile of shit right at my feet. “Thanks for the heads up.”

“Can you believe all THIS for a two year old’s birthday? Must be nice to have money.”

Judging by my surroundings I would have to agree that “Yes, it must be nice to have money.” Too bad it can’t buy common sense. At this particular party it wasn’t the elephant rides that seemed the most odd to me, it was what was next to the ten-foot tall beverage fountain placed inside a temperature-controlled tent: A life-size ice sculpture of the parents holding the birthday child. It was more creepy than impressive.

I’ve seen more people piss away boatloads of money throwing birthday parties for one and two year olds than the government spends on “defense” in a year. I mean really, come on people. I realize that out here in L.A. everything is a competition, and kids parties are no exception. L.A. has a gross abundance of peeps that make more money in a month than some countries make in a year. And if they don’t, they try to make it look like they do.

“Can you believe their last movie only made 75 million? Ours always make at least 150. And that’s not including international grosses.”

People of all tax brackets are catty. It’s just that us common folks’ incomes aren’t splattered across every rag mag for all to see.

Then these people feel the need to throw their kids a birthday party that rivals that of any state fair. I hate to break it to you folks, but your kid is never going to remember a single moment of the event. Let’s be honest with ourselves rich folks – and you know who you are – the party is really for you, so that you can show all your “friends” (and I use the term very lightly) the size of your dick… Oops! I mean the size of your bank account.

If you’re going to blow that kind of cash at least wait until the kid is old enough to remember it. (I would say “appreciate,” but very few kids nowadays appreciate anything. There are some that do, but they’re a rare breed and if you yourself have an appreciative kid, commend yourself as a parent on a job well done.) I was at a party once where the dad hired the gymnast from the U.S.A. Olympic Gymnast Team to come and perform. His son was turning eight years old and could at least enjoy and remember the party. So that was money extravagantly well spent.

I know it’s your right to spend your money how you want. It’s also my right to bitch about it. After one of these parties I would sit at home eating my watered down tomato soup and think “How the fuck are you people good at business?” Wasting that much money on a child’s party does not sound like very good business to me, unless of course you can write it off as an entertaining expense for business relations? Hmmm?

Thankfully, I have come across some publicly wealthy people that kept it simple for their kids’ first and second birthdays. Two people whose parenting skills I was truly impressed with were Steven Speilberg and Cindy Crawford.

For one of Steven Speilberg and Kate Capshaw’s daughter’s second birthday, he (and by “he” I mean one of his many assistants) hired me and a few others to be the four Teletubbies – oh, sorry, the four Alien Babies. We danced and sang songs while some of the kids watched and a few joined in. Nice and simple. I did get the opportunity on my break to discuss with Steven the intricacies and fascination that kids have with the Alien Babies.

“Why do you think that the kids love the teletubbies so much?”
“Well Steven, I have a few theories on that subject.”

I, of course, went home that night and updated my acting resume since I had discussed my acting strategies for my character with Steven. Plus, he was running his home video camera so technically, I was directed by him.
Purple Alien Baby with purse played by Jason Lassen – Steven Speilberg director.

Similar to the Spielberg’s, Cindy Crawford wanted to keep her son’s first birthday party simple and basic. Just how a first birthday party should be. Cindy had a small list of things that she wanted the performer to do: sing, dance, bubbles, puppets, parachute games, and Ring Around the Rosie. She was also nervous about having someone show up in a costume, but was willing to take the chance that her son would like Elmo, aka Red Monster, in person as much as he does on TV. Cindy requested that the performer be gentle, and more importantly, be able to do the Red Monster voice; two requirements that made me the man for the job.

Cindy was the best. She played all the games with us and insisted that “Red Monster” take a break halfway into the party. When I was in the kitchen taking my break she came in to visit me.

“You’re doing great. The kids are having so much fun, and my son’s not even scared of you. Take as long as you need before you come back out.”

And yes, she’s more beautiful in person than on TV or in any magazine, both inside and out.

It’s nice to see that some of the wealthiest people here in L.A. know how to keep things real. Small child equals small party. If I were rich would I throw my kids a humongous grossly overpriced and unrealistic birthday party? You bet your ass I would! But not until they were turning four or five, and might have a shot at remembering a thing or two about their party.

My final words of advice to parents of soon-to-be one or two-year-olds: Keep it simple. Family and close friends are all you need; there will be plenty of time to spend lots of money on your kids and their birthday parties. So save your money while you can, the bigger the kid, the bigger and more expensive the toys get.

“I AM a Purple Dino Type”