Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jon Stewart, Them's Fightin' Words!

I am so happy that "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee" is back in season.  It has become my Thursday afternoon tradition, I get my coffee, plug in my headphones, and take a little break from work at the end of the week.  I've waxed poetic about the show plenty by now so I won't go on about that, but, rather something said in the latest episode by guest Jon Stewart.  I should preface this by pointing out that early in the episode, Jerry observes that Stewart has never lived in LA.  So with that in mind, here are his perspectives on the two cities.

On New York City:

...all these different cultures and they come together and the alchemy of it creates something really vibrant and new.

On LA:

it's all singular and that lack of bass tones and the treble tones...it's just too narrow.  It strikes me as like being in Vegas.  Everybody's tuned to the same frequency...

As is to be expected, my first reaction is to defend my hometown (or closest major metropolis) from the disdain of the East Coast invaders.  At least Stewart has never lived here so I don't need to get to riled up as to engage with my "GO HOME THEN!" speech.

Of course, what he's saying about LA is factually incorrect.  According to the 2010 Census, LA actually has a slightly higher percentage of foreign-born residents than NY (39.7% vs. 36%).  Don't get me wrong, I am not going to cherry pick demographic statistics to try and prove that the sky is in fact NOT blue.  Wikipedia informs me that the term "melting pot" was coined to describe the Lower East Side alone.  New York's long history of being an entry point for immigration to the U.S. and facts like this stand in the way of that...

The New York City metropolitan area is home to the largest Jewish community outside Israel.[20] It is also home to nearly a quarter of the nation's Indian Americans and 15% of all Korean Americans[21][22] and the largest Asian Indian population in the Western Hemisphere; the largest African American community of any city in the country; and has now become home to more than one million Asian Americans, greater than the combined totals of San Francisco and Los Angeles.[25] 

My point was only to say that LA is incredibly diverse, obviously more so than visitors may realize.  And that's where I cut Mr. Stewart a little bit of slack.  One criticism of LA that I still can't refute is its vastness, its sprawl, the isolating effect that has on its people.  No matter how much the Metro system has improved and expanded, driving around in our own little car pods is still and will always be the most popular way of getting around in this city.  For someone who comes into town as a visitor, they are going to have a far more limited and one-dimensional experience than a resident would.  It makes sense that they wouldn't get underneath LA's glossy surface of superficiality and detachment to see how people live outside Rodeo Drive and Sunset Blvd.  In my personal experience as a resident of Los Angeles, I feel I am constantly surrounded many different nationalities and cultures.  In my acting class, I, as an American, am usually the minority.  At my office, I work directly with an Irish citizen, a South African citizen, and an Australian citizen--and those are just the ones I can name off the top of my head.  At home, I live underneath a Brazilian-Finnish family, across from a Spaniard, next to Guatemalans* and our two buildings just had a huge, joyous paella party on my back patio.  The only thing "singular" about this City of Angels is our appreciation of great weather.  If your perception of LA is that it "lacks bass and treble tones," then perhaps you should take off your noise-canceling headphones and roll your windows down.  If "everybody's tuned to the same frequency," then why do we fight so much?  We're not exactly shiny, happy people holding hands over here.

Granted, what Stewart says about New York is valid.  Just based on my short time living there in college, I absolutely agree with his description and appreciation of New York's diversity and unique rhythms.  But LA does have that in spades itself, granted, less so than New York.  But a major, compelling reason for that is because, while in New York it smacks you in the face every time you step onto the sidewalk, in LA it requires the a little bit of effort and curiosity.  It doesn't help when East Coasters (even after they've lived here a little while) pass judgment without truly driving down the backstreets and stepping out of their cars.

Also, how dare anybody compare LA to Vegas**!  That's crossing the line, Stewart.


And still, it was a fantastic episode.

*I am not 100% sure they're Guatemalan.  I feel confident they're from some Central American country though and what's more fun than saying "Guatemalan?"

**Cue a Las Vegas blogger taking me to task for slighting their beloved home.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I'm Too Late...

Awwwwwww yeeeeeeeeahh.......

I arrived at my cube this morning to find this brand new little beauty perched conspicuously on my wall.  Some would consider this an even greater priveledge than having an office.  In the words of Dr. Emmett Brown, "DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?"  It means, thanks to this, my own personal Honeywell, I can control the climate in my area!!  I alone can decide whether it will be hot or cold!  And what hot and cold means is defined by me!  On the hottest summer days when I want to wear a Hawaiian shirt and sip chilled beverages, I no longer have to contend with an office temp more comparable to the Antarctic!  The summer is mine!  Come fall and winter, when it's time for the sweaters, blazers, scarves (??), and cords, I can drop this maybe down to 60 degrees!  Who knows, maybe even lower!  I'm basically like Storm now.  With great power comes great responsibility.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Potpourri (I love it as a word and even more as a Jeopardy! category)

I think I have Instagrammed about this, but Instagram is such a peripheral medium to me and you don't get to say much outside of the photo.  Also, I do not presume that just because you are reading this that you like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or watch (?) me on Instagram.  And now for my point!

I love those little bite-size Dove dark chocolates.  I keep a bag in my desk drawer at work and enjoy one after lunch nearly every day.  As if the the chocolate weren't enough, you know they have those little messages inside the wrapper--each one signed, "Love, Dove."  My message today--for the second time, mind you--was this:

You are exactly where you are supposed to be.

To me, those are very comforting words.  I think that one was the first Love Dove message I ever got and I remember I saved that wrapper for a while because I liked it so much.  That one simple sentence speaks to so many levels of my worries and woes.  I'm not sure I believe the fortune anymore, but it's nice to hear.

As much as I try to have faith that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, I can't help but think sometimes how I should be someplace quite different.  In those times, I feel like somewhere along the way, I veered off course and didn't realize it until I was 500 miles down the road.  Unfortunately, the metaphor has no application for "reverse."  When I feel off course like this, my fantasy become to start all over again--new city, new job, new life.  It's easy to think you can just move pick up your shit and start fresh.  I don't think I'd actually do it, not with so many friends and family close by.  But it's still fun (see distracting from your real problems) to think where I would go if I did skip town.  I don't know what it means that the places I come up with are cities I've never spent more than 2 days in if I've even been there at all.  Easier to fantasize about some place whose warts you've never seen, I guess.  Seattle.  Portland (OR).  Austin.  Burlington, Vermont.

Can we please, as a people, stop asking each other "How are you" all the time?  Eight times out of ten it's said in passing, piggybacking on a standard "hello."

"Hi.  How are you?"
"Good.  You?"

 I must endure this pointless charade 25 times per day.  It's beginning to drive me nuts.  Obviously, if we're talking about two friends who are really asking their friend how they are and they're prepared and hoping to get a sincere, in depth answer, that's completely different and in no way irritating.  It's all the other "how are you"'s I'm talking about here.  Enough is enough.  I think I'll start answering this question with more honesty and forthrightness than the asker is expecting or looking for.

"Hi.  How are you?"
"My inner thigh is chaffing something fierce."

We'll see if they ask ME how I am again!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

How The Mice Will Play

I took Nicole to the airport this morning at 5 a.m.  Today is Day One of fourteen of my summer pseudo-bachelorhood.  Let me preface this by saying that I will miss her terribly and hate it when she is gone for so long.  Having said that,  I do find ways to occupy myself and, of course, I do enjoy my alone time for what it's worth.  I am also taking this month off from acting class so I've got even more hours to fill.

I submit to you my bacheloresque plan for the next two weeks a.k.a, The Summer of John, including hype man accompaniment:

--Visit my ol' buddy Cruiser in North Carolina (Holla at you boy!)
--Shirt-ironing party! (Yeeuh!)
--Cook (Wha What Wha What)
--Crack my ankles.  A lot.  She hates this. (Fight the power, kid!)
--Watch baseball! (Oh dang!)
--Read.  The newspaper, a novel I've been trying to get to, plays I might work on when I go back to class, you name it! (True!)
--Meditate.  I was doing this daily for a while and I had just begun to really feel some results.  It just got to be where I didn't have time and something had to give.  Might give it another go. (Woopty woop!)
--Do some writing?  I've been thinking about trying my hand at a play, if only a one-act. (Plays is bomb!)
--Solvang trip with Conrad (Gangstas need wine too!)
--Watch movies!  Movies she hates like "Zodiac" and "Before Sunset" or go to the movies...like on a Tuesday!  (You crazy.)
--Sleep right down the middle (Awwwwww yeeeeeeeeeeeah!)
--Drink (Ooooo weeee!)

That should just about do the trick.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

All I Have To Do Is Dream

I had a dream a few nights ago where I was talking with an old friend I haven't seen in almost ten years and haven't really known for closer to twenty.  I don't even know this friend anymore, but there she was.  The interesting that was how it was really her, not my estimation of her.  She wasn't saying things she used to say or things I wanted her to say.  Nothing could be more clear to me than the fact that this was not my subconscious putting words in her mouth, writing dialogue based on the person I knew twenty years ago.  No, this was really her, I swear it, funny, surprising, and aggravating.

It got me thinking about dreams and the subconscious.  I was talking to my boss at work the next day and she told me a story of her and some guy she had been acquainted with.  They really didn't like each other and fought whenever they crossed paths.  Then one night she had a dream that they were sitting on a staircase talking for hours.  The dream itself felt like it lasted all night.  The next time she saw this guy, shortly thereafter, suddenly the tension was gone and they got along great.  A little later, she told him about the dream and he swore he had the exact same dream.  Granted, my boss is a proud, card-carrying witch, so believe from that story what you will.  Regardless, I'll bet most people have a similar story of their own where a dream intersected with reality in a mysterious way, even if only slightly.

What if we can communicate with each other through dreams?  Is it possible we'll ever find a way to place those calls consciously or direct our subconscious minds to do it?  What if you can do it without the other person even picking up the proverbial phone?  I swear I've had dreams that were the equivalent of a telemarketer calling during dinner, some stranger I do not know and have no relation to suddenly showing up and bothering me.  Yet they have a specific face.  Where does that face come from?  There were some bad movies made about this, weren't there?

Anyway, obviously this is a very college-dorm, stoner topic, but hey it beats talking about the weather.  It's fun to think about though, even if it's a little crazy and there is little footing to be found.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Coffee Chronicles

I love coffee.  Really, really love it.  When I gave up booze for period earlier this year, the denial of my thirst for that drink only heightened my affinity for coffee, much like a blind person developing greater hearing.  Since going back on booze, however, the coffee cravings have not subsided.  Which is fine.  We're only talking about two cups a day here.

I got a Keurig machine for Christmas, which instantly solved one a crisis I was going through, the unreliable availability and terribly poor quality of the coffee served at work.  You could never tell how long the coffee had been sitting there, who made it, or when the last time the carafe had been cleaned.  Then I installed my trusty new coffee buddy right in my cubicle quad and began brewing hot, fresh, clean coffee on demand.

The next development was my realization that I was limited to the coffees available in K-Cups and to the costs of those K-Cups as well.  Per cup, it was much more expensive than buying a bag of grounds.  Also, there was the waste factor.  I feel guilty when I have to put anything plastic in the trash and when I thought about the Keurig revolution and all the waste it was creating worldwide, I had a moment of pause.

Then I made one of the great Target purchases of recent memory, the reusable K-Cup in which you load your own grounds.  No limits, no trash.  For months, I have been singing a happy tune come coffee time thanks to this wonderful invention.  Why couldn't I just leave well enough alone?  No one can ever truly sustain contentment, I suppose.

I began to wonder recently, whether K-Cups of any variety were producing a filtered coffee or something more equatable to a french press coffee, which, as still many people do not know, is very high in cholesterol.  Having been diagnosed with elevated cholesterol, I feared I may be begging a cardiac incident every time I scratched my coffee itch, which breaks down to 10 times a week at work.  I took to the Google and found that standard disposable K-Cups actually contain tiny little paper filters in them.  They're rather cute actually when you see the photos, kind of like those little doll-sized tents they display in the camping aisle at Target.  Anyway, my reusable K-Cup employs only a metal filter, which further research finds does NOT magically make the cholesterol go away like a paper filter does.

So I am left with a choice, pay more for the disposable K-Cups and toss more non-biodegradable waste onto the heap of the nearest landfill or risk cardiac arrest.  I'll tell ya, I'm in a real pickle here.

OR(!) do I think outside the cup and get innovative?  I realize, I am foolish to publish this, but I think I just....yeah, I just had an idea.  I have instructed my research & development team to cease work on my Pie Crane and devote all manpower to the K-Cup sized paper filter for use inside the reusable K-Cup apparatus.  This could be a game changer not just for me, but for all of coffee-drinking mankind.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mental Dump Wednesday

I'm growing my beard out.  Mostly out of sheer boredom.  When I get the itch to go shopping but find it absent from the current budget, I guess I respond with facial hair.

The Cold War of today is the constant battle with office temperature.  Employees and the A/C or furnace that rules them have been embattled in this bitter feud for decades.  When the weather is cold, people wear warm clothes, and vice-versa when it's hot outside, of course.  The Office tries to play nice but the problem is it seems to have only two options in its arsenal and both of them are nuclear.  In my current situation, there is a vent twenty feet above my head that blows directly at my head and face with an arctic blast jet stream.  I'm currently wearing fingerless gloves.  Tomorrow, I'll be bringing a scarf to work...in June.  It's only at my particular desk.  I can hold up my hand and feel the breeze of icy, robotic air blowing against it.  Six inches to the left, nothing.  I would complain, but I fear rocking the boat could lead to my banishment to the newly opened 4th Floor with it's cruel and unusual short-walled cubicles.  It's Hell with a view up there.  No, I think I'll just keep adding layers and taking my vitamins.

Post-Class, Angels Game Live Blogging

Sorry I'm late, but as I type this, it's still Tuesday and the Angels are going to the bottom of the 14th inning.  How weird is this...Over the broadcast, you can hear the voice of a young boy cheering on the team.  I have heard that same exact kid at a game I went to earlier this season.  I know for a fact it's the same kid not just because of the sound of his voice, but also by the fact that he chants "Let's go Angel," as in one Angel, singular.

One out, nobody on....

It was a really good class tonight.  I had been struggling a bit finding a way in to my new scene because it's written as very...opaque.

Two outs, nobody on....

Anyway, there are a thousand things I love about acting, but tonight I was reminded of a few particular reasons.


One is how studying a character and a scene is like figuring out a puzzle of human behavior.  Why does this character do what he does?  What is he thinking when he says that?  What does he want from this other person?  Often, they are not very challenging puzzles; the motives and conflict are crystal clear.  With my current scene, however, it's been difficult to get a handle on.  Tonight, I found the soft spot in its armor and I broke through to the core.  I get it now and it's really creatively inspiring.  It's that challenge, that process of looking at it from all angles over the course of maybe several days or a week until you finally make that discovery that I really love...

It's funny, they dumped the Gatorade on Cowgill.  They'd already ripped his jersey off so he's standing there doing an interview in his Dri-Fit undershirt, soaking wet.  Dude is friggin ripped because you can see his six-pack through his shirt.  He looks like the Chris O'Donnell Robin right now.

Batman_forever_robin.jpg (360×450)  Displaying photo.JPG

Anywho (BIG WIN, HALOS!).....The other thing that came to mind tonight was how in the process of taking on this puzzle of human behavior, you really learn about yourself as well.  You can't help but find some way of relating to the character or to what he's going through.  Even if the character could not be any more different from you or even if the choices they make in their circumstances are the opposite of the choices you'd make, simply examining their differences or similarities to you brings you a greater understanding of yourself.  And that, in the broadest sense, is the essence of the whole big tamale, isn't it?

Thank you, Halos.  Goodnight and let's sweep tomorrow.

Monday, June 09, 2014

This I Vow To Thee

I hereby declare to post something on you, dearest blog, every day henceforth or at least Monday through Friday, excluding major holidays.  I owe you that commitment and, let's face it, I could use the company.  I can't promise every post will be of any certain length or value, but I can guarantee it will show up.  That's what matters, right?  Here we go!

I live in an apartment in a pretty nice neighborhood.  There's a few things to walk to, but it's also nice to just walk around the residential streets.  I've done that a few times over the last couple months and it's really got me thinking about lifestyle, expectations, the future, etc.  Growing up, I never lived in a house, yet it still seemed to me a very normal, regular thing that just kind of came automatically with adulthood.  This was in Long Beach, not LA, and all of my friends lived in houses.  No one struck me as particularly wealthy, just normal, middle-class people with decent jobs and kids.  Walking around my neighborhood now, with the exception of the occasional huge, mega-house, it reminds me a lot of those same Long Beach streets I played wiffleball on and chased the ice cream man down.  I have a decent job now and feel mostly like an adult, and yet even the average 2.5-bedroom, 1000-sq. ft. house is utterly unattainable.  The house that I knew to be home to a single-income household of a cop or a factory worker here and now costs over a million dollars.  Unless my career trajectory takes an unexpectedly sharp new incline, that's never going to be possible for me.  Not here.  It's a humbling, glass-ceiling type of feeling to realize that the middle-class American dream of a modest house with a tree in the front yard, a basketball hoop over the garage, and a relatively safe school nearby is now the life of the millionaire.  I feel like going door-to-door to ask, "Excuse me, what do you do?"

Sure, I could move, and maybe someday I will, but in the meantime, it feels somewhat surreal to live in my neighborhood and at the same time feel like a complete outsider there.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

It's Just Wrong

We have a problem here.  We have a very acute contrast that needs to be corrected, quickly.

I just paid a visit to the office men's room.  I'm standing there at urinal station two, everything is going great, no turbulence to report.  So I'm relaxed.  About three seconds into the process, the overwhelming smell of the room invades my nose and consciousness.  It's not what you're thinking.  It's not even remotely related to what you're thinking and that is the problem.  Our men's room smells like fresh, hot-out-the-oven vanilla cake.  Not just vanilla, mind you, because that's a popular enough scent in candles and incense and such as to be innocuous by now, but rather, warm vanilla cake.  If you're going to load the scent dispenser in a men's room (and please, please do that), you need to be using your pines, your ocean breezes, your sandalwoods.  Hell, I'll even give you "clean cotton" because, as we all know, at least that is related to what's happening in a restroom in the opposite sense.  But in no instance anywhere, ever should there be a food scent fogged into a men's room where all hell has been known to break loose frequently throughout any given 60 hour work week, especially not a food as specific and delicious and emotionally-provoking as warm vanilla cake.

Sure enough, just as I was hurrying along to finish and escape this gas chamber of horrors, some nameless of pair of feet gave us all a jarring blast from its ass, seemingly just to drive home the point.  Warm vanilla cake in a men's room is a scent confounding to the senses, a senseless choice made by an obviously sadistic mind.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Square One

There is a lovely kind of peace to the new year.  After the holiday crescendo of Christmas, there's a quiet lull, like that moment in flight after a steep takeoff where you level out and settle in, overlooking an endless blanket of clouds.  For a brief period, the calendar is blank, the bank account is bare, and there is the opportunity to consider the potential for the year ahead before it's begun to take shape on its own.  What do I want to happen this year?  What will inevitably happen that I never could have imagined?  What's more fun than possibility?

This weekend will be the second in a row in which I will "do" very little and yet I am as excited for it as I would be to go to Disneyland (Okay, almost).  Sleep in.  Have a relaxing breakfast and read the paper.  Open all the windows and play those albums I'd been meaning to give a second and third listen.  NFL Playoffs on TV.  Have a beer or three because, why not, I'm not going anywhere.  Take a walk.  Take a nap.  Walk down to the grocery store and forage for dinner.  Cook!  Really, actually cook!  Play more music.  Dance.  Watch a movie.  Or two.  Sunday: repeat, with the exception of a show Sunday night, because it is good to get out amongst the lively, in small doses. (Please forgive my stylistic writing there, I was just not hearing it with commas.)

Someone asked me today about doing something in the near future and while I appreciate how nice of a gesture it was, part of me wants to fervently defend my lack of commitments.  If I were being completely honest without consideration, I would say, "No.  I have no plans and don't wish to make any, thank you very much."  But I try not to be such an arse.

I write about having no commitments as I'm an hour away from starting my acting class again.  Hypocrite!  I am truly excited about getting back to it.  Like the Avett Brothers' sing, "Now I'm rested and I'm ready...Rested and I'm ready...Now I'm rested and I'm ready to begin."  I think the month off (less than that really) was a wise choice.  I needed a break just to live in my own skin for a few weeks.  Plus, a fresh start is almost always great idea if you can do it.  I feel open, very unset in my ways at the moment and am looking forward to finding my way through a new scene.  And, on that note, I must now go prepare my traditional, never-to-be-skipped-or-deviated-from peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Hypocrite!

Happy New Year.