Look What I Found

August 4, 2008

Crawling under houses to bolt the house to the foundation is most definitely not a glamorous job. And it can from time to time involve digging. When we replace the concrete foundation it involves us having to jack the house up, secure it, and dig…a lot. We have to destroy and dig out the old concrete foundation only then to dig a trench around the house for the new foundation. This trench can be anywhere from 9 to 12 inches wide and 18 to 24 inches down.

I know you’re thinking to yourself, “That sucks.” And yes it does.

But every once in a while we find buried treasure. It’s kind of like being a modern day pirate (with a little less rum). But in our case we never know what we might find.

Today I was digging my ass off like a mole being chased by a rabid dog (not like a pirate because I like to change it up from time to time) and I stumbled upon something very interesting. (See Photo)

These two items were buried side by side about 5inches below the ground surface. Three thoughts came to my mind.

One, how long have they been here?

Two, how did they get here?

Three, what happened to the child that was playing with the Lego’s?

I have plenty of time while digging at work to come up with scenarios of what “might have happened.” I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on the subject. Have fun with it.

In the meantime, I’ll keep digging.

I AM a Purple Dino Type



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.

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”

Does This Make My Butt Look Big?

May 21, 2008

There I was, butt-ass naked on an empty construction site. As I was reaching for a replacement pair of underwear in my truck, I could hear giggling and smell burnt macaroni. It seemed that the construction site was a hang out for local teenagers to do whatever wickedness youngsters do these days. I quickly put on my underwear and turned around. About one hundred feet away was a gaggle of six or so girls in their late teens, passing around a joint and laughing.

“Nice ass,” one of the girls said exhaling, a cloud of smoke trailing after her compliment.

“Yeah, nice ass Barney,” another stoned girl added while pointing over at the dripping Purple Dino costume I had draped over my tailgate.

I smiled, waved and started to put on the rest of my clothes. “Thank you. Next show in five minutes.”

They chuckled some more.

“Do you luuuuv us, Barney?” a girl asked while taking a monster hit on the community spliff.

Normally, I would take the time to wring out my clothes after I change, but since I had an audience I did what any out of work actor would do: Perform. I put on my best Purple Dino voice for them and starting singing.

I love you.
You love me.
You’re very high, that’s plain to see.
So take another hit while I wave goodbye to you
I can’t think of anything else so koo koo ka choo.

While they were all laughing, clapping and yelling I loaded my still-soaked clothes into my truck.

I drove by them with my window down and could hear one of them yell, “You’re fucking awesome Barney! Thanks for the show!”

A few miles down the road it dawned on me that any one of them could’ve snapped a cell phone photo of my naked bootie.

My ass better not end up on anyone’s MySpace page. Literally.

I AM a Purple Dino Type

A Mother’s Day Tip From A Clown

May 9, 2008

“You’re such a nice and handsome young man.”

“Thank you very much. That’s very kind of you.”

“I have a grand daughter that’s available. Tell me sweetie, are you Jewish?”

“No, I’m not.”

The elderly woman took my hand, caressed it and said, “We can’t all be perfect.”

And this is how it goes every year when I do the Mother’s Day event at an elderly home here in Los Angeles. The day usually begins with us (the clowns) handing out corsages to all the elderly ladies while being escorted by some cute young volunteer girl. Another clown and I always start the day at 8am being escorted by a volunteer, that’s always a cute young girl, and handing out corsages to all the elderly ladies.

“They ALL try to set me up with their grandsons all the time. At least you only have to hear on Mother’s Day. I hear it everyday I volunteer. I had to stop telling them I was Jewish because once they that got that little nugget of info they never let up. But they’re sweet,” a young hottie volunteer once told me.

It’s a really fun gig to work. I have experience working with the elderly; I worked at a hospital that had a retirement home wing for six years in my youth. Some days when I would go to work I would bring my guitar with me and play and sing for them. It never mattered what I played, what was important to them was the fact that I was spending time with them.

I think that even if I didn’t hand out flowers to all these woman they would’ve just been happy to have someone, anyone, come in and wish them a happy mother’s day. So coming in dressed as a clown and bearing gifts made it all that more special. I love seeing the women’s eyes light up when I stroll into their room with a flower for them. Unfortunately, it can also be very sad. Some of the women are comatose, have Alzheimer’s, or dementia. Still, EVERY woman, patient or not, at the elderly home gets a flower.

“That’s so nice of you, young man, but I’m an old maid. I never had any children.”

“I’m allergic.”

“I used to be a man.”

It didn’t matter to me what the excuse was… They all got a flower.

It’s also not uncommon to do this event and not see the same faces as the year before.

“It’s really tough when one of them passes away,” a twenty-year-old female volunteer named Danielle, who was assigned to escort me one year, told me. “It’s sad. Really sad.”

We pass out flowers from 8am to 10am (we are always there until 10:30 or a little longer) then we drive to the main complex where the real party starts at 11am. From 11am to 2pm the families of the residents are all invited to show up for a free lunch, singing, dancing, face painting, balloon animals, and more flowers. It’s a big event and the local news cameras show up and cover the event. It’s so big that four more clowns show up for the 11am to 2pm shift. In total, there are six clowns running around entertaining everyone. The event crescendos with a great big sing-and-dance-along lead by a live band that even the elderly in wheelchairs join in on.

Sadly, some families don’t show up.

This is where we come to the reason why I am posting this before Mother’s Day (and I’ll try not to sound to preachy). Spend time with your mom if you can. I live 3000 miles away from my Mom (I moved to L.A. from the East Coast to be and actor) and can’t physically “see” her, but I always send her something and call her on Mother’s Day. If you are geographically close, take your mom out and treat them extra special. If you can’t do that, then spend time with them and let them talk about the “old days.” I noticed that the residents who were actually taken out for a few hours before the big party were always the happiest ones at the party. They love to tell us clowns how their son or daughter is so wonderful and how they went out for a “special” breakfast.

Moms are human. They will not always be there. Appreciate them while they are, and let them know you love them by giving them a little bit of your time.

And if you can, make them a flower bouquet out of balloons. If you can’t, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have a clown around to make one for you.

I AM a Purple Dino Type.

A Father’s Love Has No Boundries…Or Does It?

May 5, 2008

I hate being late to work.

I may have up to four parties in one day but to the clients it’s their ONLY party of the day. I’ve made it a habit to treat every party I work as if it’s the only one I have that day. Some don’t appreciate my thoughtfulness and still feel the need to bitch. On this particular day I was running fifteen minutes late.

At least I wasn’t a Purple Dino. I was dressed as my clown character, “Sleepi,” so it was nice that I could arrive, park, get to work, and not have to worry about changing and being even later than I already was. Did I mention that I hate being late?

I parked at the first space I found; oddly, it was closer to the house than one would think considering that there was a party going on. “Maybe a lot of the guests are late and the client won’t mind, or even notice, that I’m late? Excellent!”

As I got closer to the house I could see a bunch of kids behind a chain link fence playing and running around in the front yard. They all looked to be older kids, from seven to thirteen-years-old.

“Strange,” I thought to myself, “The party is for a two-year-old girl named Kim, and from what I could tell she was the only one in her age range.”

As I got closer, one of the older kids saw me approaching and pointed me out to the birthday girl.

“Look Kimmy! It’s a clown!”

She was petrified.

Kimmy hid behind one of the older kids, not even peering around him to gawk at me curiously. I prepared myself mentally for what looked to be the beginnings of a very looooooooong two-hour gig. What kind of kid doesn’t like clown?

I opened the gate and let myself in. I started to open my mouth to introduce myself but was stopped by a car racing down the street honking its horn. It drove slightly over the curb and stopped right next to house. Inside the lime green convertible Cadillac were three men covered in tattoos and wearing the same brand of dark sunglasses. If I had to guess, I would say they were around twenty-years-old.

“Hey clown! Come over here.” The guy in the back seat yelled over to me as if I were way down the street and not just five feet to the side of him. To emphasize his need to speak to me he motioned to me with his hand to come over.

I thought maybe they wanted directions so I went over to the fence to explain to them that I wasn’t from around here.

“No man, come here.” The guy in the passenger seat said and pointed down next to the passenger side door.

Isn’t this how some bad news stories start? “Clown abducted. News at eleven.”

I went over to the car anyway. What can I say? I like to live life on the edge. Like my cousin James always says, “If you’re not living life dangerously, you’re not living.”

“Hey clown dude. I’m Kimmie’s fatha’. Where da’ udder clowns at?”

“There are no other clowns. Just me,” I informed him.

The guy in the front passenger seat chimed in.

“How’s it goin’ so far?”

“I just got here like a minute ago. Kimmie’s afraid of me.”

“Meet us up round da’ corner,” Kim’s dad said.

Once again, isn’t this how some bad news stories start? “Clown abducted. The stupid bastard went around the corner. News at eleven.”

So I followed them around the corner. I’m a sucker for anything out of the ordinary.

The dad was out of the car by the time I caught up with them. The better to grab me I guess.

“Yo, check dis’ out. I told da’ dude on the phone tha’ I wanted three clowns fo’ two hours.”

“I don’t know about any other clowns. My sheet shows that it’s just one clown for two hours. I don’t know what to tell you.”

“Dat’s cool. Tell ya’ wha’. You tell ya boss tha’ we all cancelled it and shit.”

“If that’s what you want…I can do the party. It’s not a problem.”

“No, no, no, check it out. I’m gonna give you dis’ here fiddy bucks. And yous gonna go back fo’ just fifteen mo’ minutes.”

“Did you already discuss this with the mom? Because I haven’t met her yet and no one told me anything.”

“I can’t do tha’ man. That bitch’s got a restraining order on me. I can’t go within one hundred yards of the house. I can’t go to my own baby’s party. Isn’t that fucked up?”

“Completely.” I agreed.

“We cool clown?”

“Yah, no problem.”

“I don’t think you understand clown. I SAID… we cool right?”

“We cool.” I said, as ‘cool’ as I could say it while being dressed as a clown and having make up on my face.

“Thanks man. Give ma’ baby anythin’ she want.”

I walked back to the house and was greeted by one of the children.

“Where da’ fuck you bean clown?”

Excuse me? When I left, these kids seemed happy to see me. While I was gone they turned into filthy mouthed little monsters. They must have abandonment issues, or else Kimmy’s not the only one whose daddy got a restraint order for Christmas. If you think about it, deep down inside don’t we all have daddy issues?

I decided to spend my fifteen minutes making balloon animals. With every passing second the children exponentially got more and more unpleasant. It was like the plague. One kid would get it and pass it on to another. Before I knew it they were all dropping the “F”-bomb on me. The two boys who started it all were the worst, AND THEY WERE EIGHT AND NINE YEARS OLD!

I’m glad I was only staying for fifteen minutes. I thought about leaving earlier but I could see Kimmy’s dad one hundred and one yards parked down the street. So that thought went right out of my head. It’s a long walk to my car. Long enough to get shot a few times.

“Ok, who’s next?”

One of my “shit starter” nine-year-old boys spoke up, “Me man. I’m next.”

“What do you want?”

“Make me a pussy, man.”

“Why do you want a pussy cat?” I asked knowing what he really meant.

“No man. I said a pussy. So I can fuck it.”

What do you say to that? “OK?” I don’t think so. I didn’t say anything and just shot him a disapproving look. Then he changed his request.

“Make me a woman.”

I tapped him on the head with a balloon and said, “Poof, you’re a woman.”

All the other kids laughed at him. The boy didn’t like that too much. One of the other boys spoke up.

“You’re my old lady, man.”

What does that even mean?

“I’m fuckin’ talkin’ to you clown.”

Am I on candid camera?

I gave them lollypops but they couldn’t care less. I was done with them. My fifteen minutes were way up. I glanced down the street and saw “Daddy” hold up a thumb to me and drive away. I kept my promise. I told them I was leaving.

One of the girls said to me, “You can’t leave until we say.”

“You’re wrong. I’m leaving NOW.”

As I was packing away my balloon pump to leave, the mother finally made an appearance.

“Where you goin’?” She asked.

“I saw Kim’s father and he told me he wanted to cancel the show.”

“That mutha’ fucka’!” She turned around and ran inside the house.

So that’s where the kids learned how to use the “F”-bomb.

The kids were all yelling obscenities at me as I was leaving. I closed the chain link fence door behind me, turned, and addressed the children. And by this point when I call them “children” I use the term loosely because it implies some sense of innocence. A quality lost on these little ones.

“By the way, you’re all a bunch of little foul mouthed brats.”

“Fuck you, clown.”

Oh, no…. Fuck you. “Have a nice day.”

I AM a Purple Dino Type.