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    Tuesday, August 26, 2003

    Things Going Down

    Work makes you busy.

    Iím going to try not to say very much about Ö that show I work on, because I signed this confidentiality agreement, and I donít wanna get in trouble or nothing. But, I will say this Ė the work is monotonous, the hours are long, the pay is very, very low Ö and I love it. I basically sit in the basement of the production office on the Paramount Studios lot and type out what happens on interview and B-roll tapes word for word. It takes a really long time to do, but the subjects are almost always interesting and hilarious, even if itís unintentional. Think of how great it is to see some of people you see on talk shows. Now, think of how great it would be to see completely unedited footage of those people Ė all the stuff THEY CANíT SHOW ON TV!!! UNCENSORED!!! CALL NOW!!!

    Ö

    Yeah, so thatís awesome. And on my last shift, I found the secret production office kitchen, which, while not as stocked as the ďMalcolmĒ kitchen, still has a lot of goodies to help me make it past eight hours, when I start getting time and a half, i.e. the only time I actually get paid a decent wage.

    Another one of the great things about this job is driving home through Los Angeles in the early hours of the morning. L.A. at night is nothing like L.A. during the day Ė the streets are mostly clear, itís cool, itís quiet, and the air is clean. Itís just me and my Accord, driving down Melrose Blvd. with all the windows down and some great music, and everything is right.

    I am still, however, looking for other jobs during the day. Thereís not anything specifically bad about the nonprofit fundraising gig Ö well, ok, there is. Even though itís for a good cause and everything, I still just hate calling people. It sucks to feel like youíre bothering people, even though the percentage of people I feel like Iím bothering is much lower there than at any of the other telemarketing jobs Iíve had. Thereís also the sort of emotional investment that you have to put into the calls if you even want a chance of succeeding. Unfortunately, when people tell you ďno,Ē it ends up registering as a personal failure on your part, even though itís not. So, a three-hour shift calling people makes me exhausted and sometimes angry at people, whereas a ten-hour shift transcribing is fun as hell. Unfortunately, neither of them pays a living wage, so until a better job comes around, Iím going to have to keep both.

    Of course, if I have to keep canceling fundraising shifts for interviews and transcribing sessions, I donít know how much longer Iíll be able to work, but I donít know of any other way to do this. It seems like the job hunt never really ends in this industry. Lame.

    Letís see, what else? The Bens still havenít been around, but the ants sure have. Right as I type this, theyíre searching through my designated food cabinet, despite the fact that everything in there has been wrapped in plastic. Theyíre also all over the living room, biting us every five minutes. Normally, Iíd launch a full out attack on them, but I just donít care anymore. Weíre signing the lease for our new place Thursday morning and will hopefully move in soon after that, even though Iím working pretty much all weekend. Then, Iím praying the only things Iíll have to worry about are where Iím going to get furniture and how Iím going to pay for it, and nothing related to ants or ant activities. Here I come, IKEA, and Iím bringing my credit card. I need a real mattress. This air version is starting to make my back hurt.

    And, in conclusion, some more 5 Questions from Hemlock:

    1) If you could only live ONE place for the rest of your life, disregarding employment opportunities, where would you choose to live?

    Money and employment are constant worries for everyone, which sucks. If I didn't have to worry about either of those, which would not suck, it would be a toss up between London or somewhere slightly north of San Francisco. London because a). it's English b). It's got amazing history and great architecture c). It's a huge city with so many opportunities and d). Despite being a huge city, it's got a lot of green space and a kick-ass mass transit system. L.A. sucks for tearing up their trolley lines.

    While not as big as London, San Francisco is probably the most beautiful city I've ever been to, and the natural environment around the bay is absolutely breathtaking. Also, there are a lot of wineries there.

    2) What is your greatest strength as a writer?

    I think my greatest writing strength is an ability to weed out weak areas of my own and others' writing, and think of constructive ways to improve those areas, while being able to get as excited and attached to someone elseís good ideas as I would for my own ideas. Working in a group environment, a la Slow Kids, this was what I tried to contribute most to the group beyond adding my own distinct style to the melting pot. I think it really helped everyone improve, and I hope itís something the remaining kids always keep in mind.

    3) What is the one thing someone could say that would make you instantly fall in love with them forever?

    Is there such a thing for anyone? If there is such a thing, no oneís said it to me, yet.

    4) What They Might Be Giants song has the most resonance with your life, and which one makes you want to get down and boogie?

    Flansburgh songs are the ones that get me up on my feet and dance like an idiot -- "Twisting" is the one I would pick if I absolutely had to pick one. I more often identify with Linnell's songs, though. Man, there are so many to pick from. This is what we get for liking such a prolific band. Right now, the one I would say that has the most resonance with my life is "It's Not My Birthday." There's something very fatalistic about that song, but it's offset by a bouncy energy and a slight sense of resigned hope. There's a control freak starting to lose it when things out of his control, but he seems to be saying, "Yeah, I know this whole thing sucks, but I'm just going to make the best of it, anyway." That's my life right now.

    5) What's your all-time favorite Slow Kids sketch that you had absolutely no part in?

    That's a toughie, especially since we started working more as a unit, with re-writes and such. If it's a sketch that I acted in, but didn't write, the first things that come to mind are "SlowKids Premium Gold" (although one of my characters independently found his way into the ending) for its inventiveness, intelligence, and amazing structure, "Birthday Party" just because it was so damn solid, or "He Did It For Love," because we really hadn't done anything like it before, nor have we since. "Live to Draw" was pretty solid, too. If it's something I didn't even appear in, then the first thing that comes to mind is "MCI vs. AT&T," because I think it was probably the best example of an "old school" sketch, and really let Ghengis' twisted genius shine. Those are the ones I'm thinking of now, but I'm sure there are others. I'm extremely proud of the corpus slowkids.

    And I have to apologize to anyone reading this who has no idea what the Slow Kids are.
    posted at 6:03 PM

    Monday, August 25, 2003

    A Little Something To Tide You Over

    Hey, everyone.

    I gotta be quick, because I'm gonna be late for work now. But here's a little something ... ok, a long something, for the meantime. I know a lot of you read this at work, and I want to support that bad habit as much as I can.

    This is something I wrote for Joey's magazine, but I don't know when it's going to come out, so here it is in webform.

    In short, "Dr. Phil" is amazing. The nonprofit place, I'm kind of sick of working for already. That's not a good sign. That's where I'm headed now. Ugh.

    More updates later.

    I promise.
    posted at 1:11 PM

    Thursday, August 21, 2003

    Learn About My Brain

    I can always count on Lee to give me something to do when she posts her online quiz results. If you'd like to learn about YOUR brain, go here.

    I had little luck calling shows again today. It seems like the PA Window is closed, and probably will be until midseason replacements come around or pilot season picks up again. That sucks, but at least I have a semi-decent TV job (decency to be decided upon after tonight's shift). I tried to get in touch with Bunim/Murray and DreamWorks again, but ended up leaving voicemail for DreamWorks and sending an email to B/M. No one's in their office today, apparently.

    Ants are biting my feet.

    I need coffee again.

    Your Brain Usage Profile

    Auditory : 46%
    Visual : 53%
    Left : 47%
    Right : 52%

    (side note: why is 2% of my brain not being used?)

    Casey, you exhibit an even balance between left- and right- hemisphere dominance and a slight preference for visual over auditory processing. With a score this balanced, it is likely that you would have slightly different results each time you complete this self-assessment quiz.

    You are a well-rounded person, distinctly individualistic and artistic, an active and multidimensional learner. At the same time, you are logical and disciplined, can operate well within an organization, and are sensitive towards others without losing objectivity. You are organized and goal-directed. Although a "thinking" individual, you "take in" entire situations readily and can act on intuition.

    You sometimes tend to vacillate in your learning styles. Learning might take you longer than someone of equal intellect, but you will tend to be more thorough and retain the material longer than those other individuals. You will alternate between logic and impulse. This vacillation will not normally be intentional or deliberate, so you may experience anxiety in situations where you are not certain which aspect of yourself will be called on.

    With a slight preference for visual processing, you tend to be encompassing in your perceptions, process along multidimensional paths and be active in your attacking of situations or learning.

    Overall, you should feel content with your life and yourself. You are, perhaps, a little too critical of yourself -- and of others -- while maintaining an "openness" which tempers that tendency. Indecisiveness is a problem and your creativity may not be in keeping with your potential. Being a pragmatist, you downplay this aspect of yourself and focus on the more immediate, obvious and the more functional

    posted at 3:01 PM

    Wednesday, August 20, 2003

    Very Quick Update

    So, working has made it slightly more difficult to update this thing as regularly as I used to. Whodathunkit? Oh well. Things at the nonprofit place are going well. In the past three days, Iíve raised almost $500 for the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, which just damn near makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. They also seemed all right with me not working the rest of the week while I work at ďDr. Phil.Ē Hopefully, the good Doctor will standardize his hours and I can work at both places Ė actually, what I hope is that a decent PA or Runner job opens up and I can grab it, then quit these other two jobs.

    But as that probably wonít happen for a little while, itís best that I have two jobs. Not only for monetary reasons, but for my sanity, as well. Iím not the kind of person whoís good at sitting down and doing the same thing for 8 hours in a row. I like to be kept busy, but with lots of different tasks. Itís the Gemini in me. That said, itís better to have two different monotonous jobs that I can split time between than one really long monotonous job.

    Aimee and I both independently drove by our new apartment earlier in the week, and we are both very excited. Not only is it literally right across the street from my favorite L.A. museum (I know, I know), but itís also got some great landscaping, a little front lawn area, and seems to be on a relatively quiet street. No longer will I be woken up by garbage trucks at 7 in the morning, thinking the apocalypse is upon us. Nor will I be kept awake by drunken frat boys who hang outside my window, giggling and chopping perfectly good street furniture to bits with axes. True story.

    In the interests of keeping this entryís title from becoming a misnomer, Iíll end it here. I will, however, leave you with another excellent link, courtesy of Lee. The siteís sentiments are especially appropriate right now.

    posted at 7:51 PM

    Monday, August 18, 2003

    Getting Close Now

    Hey, everyone. To those of you who asked me interview questions, sorry, but itís probably going to be a while before I get them up. Hopefully, within the next few days, so youíll have something to at work. See? I care.

    Today, I started work at the nonprofit place, and while I canít yet say I love it, itís a definite possibility. Itís by far the best telemarketing experience Iíve ever had. I think I might have been their only first-day caller to actually get a decent amount of donations, too. They said most people donít get them for the first two weeks, and I fucking cleaned house. I raised over $100 for a Multiple Sclerosis charity, and about the same combined for a pro-choice organization and two environmental groups fighting to keep developers out of Yellowstone National Park. I have to say it feels a lot better to say that after a dayís work than ďI sold three people car insurance tonight.Ē

    I also got hired as a transcriber for ďDr. Phil,Ē and it looks like, with a little finagling, Iíll be able to work fundraising in the day and transcribing at night. I already have my Paramount Studios ID badge, and itís going to be great to be working at a studio again (if I find the Paramount Studio Store, Iíll be able to get everyone their favorite Paramount DVDs at ridiculous bargain prices!), but it doesnít look like a job where Iíll be able to meet a lot of people or get production experience, so Iím also going to be looking for more TV PA work in the meantime. Iím seeking consul from my ďMalcolmĒ buds on the matter, but unless anyone sees any problems with me waking up early to prepare faxes, call TV shows in the early afternoon, do fundraising in the late afternoon, and transcribe from night to the early morning, Iím going to be doing just that. And not sleeping at all.
    posted at 10:26 PM

    Saturday, August 16, 2003

    Ant Optonaut

    So today I discovered that gas prices in California do not rise in increments like they do everywhere else, but rather in one enormous price hike. Today I drove into West Hollywood to the cheap Exxon station, where gas has been $1.61 a gallon ever since I got out here, only to find that it was now $1.81. On the drive home, I noticed most gas prices were over $2, and also noticed that it all happened practically overnight. I call bullshit on that.

    Later on in the day, I was sitting on the couch, admiring my new platinum Visa card, which has a beautiful painting of a Tahitian landscape that Iíll probably never see in real life. Aimee and I were chatting it up, as we often do, when I noticed a lone ant crawling along the couch toward my arm. I swept my arm toward it to brush it away, much as I have done to literally hundreds of ants since moving in to this apartment, when all of a sudden Ė pain.

    Searing, searing pain in my left eye. Somehow, defying the laws of physics, my arm brushing the ant away from my body actually shot it directly into my eye, where it squirmed and bit and exploded its formic acid. A horrible fire raged in my eye as I walked into the kitchen. Aimee forged a makeshift eyewash from a cordial glass and I sat over the sink, drenching my face. Eventually, the ant slid out of my eye, and despite the continued burning sensation, I couldnít help smiling. Because seriously, who do you know whoís ever gotten an ant lodged in their eye? Well, now you know one person.

    This livejournal/blog interview thing is certainly taken off. Joeyís had a number of responses from his journal, and Iíve already done two over here. For some reason, the comments section isnít showing the actual number of comments, so click on the next entries comments to give it a shot and check out the questions Iíve posed. Good times. People like to talk about themselves. Especially people with blogs.
    posted at 6:54 PM

    Friday, August 15, 2003

    Bullet Biting

    Well, today I bit the bullet and called back the THQ people to ďrespectfully and regretfully decline their job offer,Ē as I put it.

    1). The round trip commute to THQ is over 60 miles. Thatís over an hour with no traffic, and during regular rush hour times, when Iíd have to go in, probably twice that. The round trip commute to the nonprofit agency is probably less than 5. Thatís at least a savings in gas money of $24 a week.

    2). The THQ job might have only lasted a week. If not that, it would have lasted 2 months to 12 months, with no guarantee of continued employment. The nonprofit job will let me leave at any time and will re-hire me at a later date if I perform well. Ideally, if I get a PA job, this would be great for keeping income during hiatus periods and, as Lee mentioned, if whatever show Iím working on gets cancelled, Iíll have a backup job ready to go.

    3). THQ pays $9.50 an hour, with overtime. The nonprofit starts at $7.25, and increases to $8 after 30 calendar days from my first day at work. It also offers commissions, which, while lower than what I was used to at my other telemarketing jobs, are apparently easier to get. And if my performance at other telemarketing jobs is any indication, I should be making much more than $9.50 an hour pretty soon.

    4). The nonprofit job offers full medical, dental, and vision care after 60 calendar days. I donít know if there were any benefits in the THQ job Ö probably not, because itís technically a temp job.

    Overall, the biggest reason was that I would rather be working someplace that would let me continue actively looking for work in TV than someplace that would offer more money for a limited time. Even if thereís only a 1% chance Iíll get a TV job while working at the nonprofit company, itís a thousand times better than the 0% chance Iíd have working at THQ. And if it means Iíll be making a little bit less money, and Iíll have to live a little slimmer, then so be it. As fun and rewarding as a job as a video game tester would be (and really, there couldnít have been a worse non-TV job for me to be in conflict about), I didnít work my ass off in school and move 3,000 miles away from home for money Ė I came here to follow a dream and get a job in TV, come hell or high water, and I know that I have friends out here who are actively trying to help me. It sounds idealistic, but I like to think I havenít been broken enough yet to lose all my idealism. Iím only 22, for crying out loud.

    I would like to thank everyone who left comments here, and everyone I talked to in the past day or so. This was one of those awful ďrock and a hard placeĒ situations that Iím really not very good at dealing with. Especially when thereís a very small window of opportunity. Hopefully, Iíll be getting some good news next week.

    In the mean time, has anyone seen pictures of Mike Myers in ďCat in the HatĒ makeup? Creepiest. Shit. Ever.

    Also, hereís a little game thatís been swinging around the blogging community. These questions are from Joey Ė here ya go:

    (1) What was the best thing about living with me?

    Hmm. That's a tough one. The first thing that comes to mind is the extensive music exchange that happened during our two years of alternately playing music in the room. I know I put a lot of indie CDs into my collection after hearing Joey play them -- Neutral Milk Hotel, Masters of the Hemisphere, Belle and Sebastian, among others. I don't know how many went in the opposite direction, but I was very happy to see a Talking Heads record in a frame hanging on the wall in Joey's apartment. There was also the instant understanding of great senses of humor, with things like the Sassatorium and Midnight Breakfast. Standing on chairs doing renditions of "Funkytown" is definately a highlight, too. Joey was an awesome roommate for the whole two years, and was a great way to get started in college. I would say, overall, that the best thing about living with Joey was getting to live with Joey. Does that work?

    (2) Who's the biggest celebrity you've seen in LA?

    Since I've been back, I haven't seen many celebrities. Really, only Michael Keaton, which was exciting. When I was out here in the fall, by far the biggest celebrity I saw was Tom Hanks. During one of the many days I had free time, I drove to the Westwood area, where I'm living for the summer, just to walk around and explore a little bit. I found a great record store (now defunct, unfortunately ... or fortunately, for my wallet) and got to know the lay of the land. When I got hungry, I discovered a "La Salsa" on the corner, which is a Mexican food chain out here that makes the best non-Burrito Max burritos. I walked in, ordered a burrito, and stood to the side while they made it. Then Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson walked up barely two feet to my left and ordered their food very naturally. Everyone was excited about it, but nobody made a big fuss -- no autographs, no picture requests, anything. I was struck by how polite people were. When they sat down to eat, they were in a booth pretty close to me. To my credit, that was the only time I've ever had the urge to call home with a celebrity sighting.

    (3) Talk about you worst hangover, you boozehound.

    There are so many to pick from ... Let's see, there was the one after the SlowKids Fall 2001 show, where the combination of alcohol, sleep deprivation, and dehydration from it being hot as hell in the Underground Theatre during our show made me quickly go from having a wonderful time to looking and feeling like I had cholera. There's the one the day after my 21st birthday, when I had to move out of the Student Village with a full on hangover. But I think the worst one has to be from my first beer hangover, when BU's own "French" Ben Monie and I downed a pitcher of cheap beer. The next day, a ton of us planned on going to an outlet mall early in the morning. I showed up on time, hunched over, groaning, wearing sunglasses and nursing a piece of wheat bread and ginger ale. Nothing can stop me from getting a bargain.

    (4) What do your parents think about your moving across the country with no job?

    They were pretty supportive of it, actually. I know they were sad to see me move away from home, but TV jobs in Connecticut are few and far between ... although they're apparently scarce out here, too. After that awful New England winter, though, I think they wish they joined me.

    (5) Are you a boob guy or a butt guy?

    I can't believe you asked me a question like this. Don't you know my mom reads this occasionally? This is a crude invasion of privacy that I find distasteful, disgusting, and unsettling. The butt.

    THE RULES!
    1 -- Leave a comment, saying you want to be interviewed.
    2 -- I will respond; I'll ask you five questions.
    3 -- You'll update your journal with my five questions, and your five answers.
    4 -- You'll include this explanation.
    5 -- You'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed

    posted at 8:45 PM

    Thursday, August 14, 2003

    Tentative Decisions

    This morning started out great, got better in the afternoon, and quickly went downhill after that.

    As I mentioned in the earlier post today, I did get a call back for a tester position at the video game company THQ. I decided to take it, and managed to get the nice people over at Facter Direct (the nonprofit place) to let me skip the training session today. Then, knocks on the door brought a quick visit from Heidiís dad, who is awesome, and the landlord, who told me that he was showing some units next week and needed to clean up the porch areas. In his eyes, him telling me that anything that wasnít taken inside was going to be thrown out was a threat. In my eyes, it was an easy, no-hassle way for me to get someone else to get rid of the Bensí shitty armchair. Success at last!

    Before my interview, I spent some time talking to Hemlock online, my fellow nerd in arms. If anyone was going to encourage me to be a video game tester, itíd be him. That he did, and I wished him good luck with his phone call to a high ranking executive at Marvel, where he wants to get some comic books produced.

    I hopped in the trusty Accord and had a great ride to Calabasas, which is way the hell out in the country, but in a really beautiful area, with sharp mountains, brush, and cacti all over the place. I got there early, so I sat in the parking lot listening to the radio and taking in the scenery for a bit. Then, in a little cosmic sign, ďLove Hurts,Ē the ear-grating power ballad from our friends in Nazareth came on. Now, for those of you who donít know, which is probably most of you, ďLove HurtsĒ was the subject of a very long running joke between Hemlock and I. Our mutual appreciation of the God-awfulness of that song led us to break into painful renditions of our own, as many of our friends can attest to. It brought a large smile to my face.

    I went inside, found the offices and sat in the waiting room, which was full of PlayStation 2ís and GameCubes. I waited. I went into the interview, I dug my way through the questions, trying my best to be relaxed and funny, and at the end of the interviewÖ




    I got it.

    I got the job.

    Now, normally, anyone in my position Ė three months without work, out of food, almost out of money, and driving a car that needs a serious washing Ė would have been ecstatic to have two job offers in a single week. And I was, too Ö for a while. Then I realized that I wouldnít really be able to look for TV or film jobs if I was working full time. And a slew of other potential problems with this new situation, even though Iím very excited just thinking about working there.

    Now, Iím in a serious dilemma, and I donít know whether I should quit this job that I just got today and wonít even start until Monday. Iíve got to make a decision by tomorrow, and I hate having to do this, but I think Iím going to decline the offer unless they can offer some flexibility in their hours, which I canít see them doing. Iíd really appreciate any thoughts on this. If there was a time for you to comment here, itíd be now.

    VIDEO GAME TESTING JOB:
    Pros: Work with video games, relatively high pay, beautiful environment
    Cons: Long commute, wonít let me look for TV jobs, where I should be working, possibility of getting fired after a week of training if I donít pass a test, employment period from 2-12 months on a temporary basis

    NONPROFIT JOB:
    Pros: Very short commute, flexible schedule, feel-good work, stable backup job if I canít get a TV job, company only hires 3% of applicants, so they have to like me already
    Cons: Low pay, weekend hours, missed training so Iím going to be behind everyone else, work does not involve the playing of video games

    Ö I guess it really just boils down to money, doesnít it? Thatís awful, because money is the one thing I really need right about now. From the way it looks, Iím probably going to have to give up the video game testing job, and the undoubted jealousy of all my nerd friends, but Iíd still like to hear your opinions on it. I just got accepted for a $4000 credit card today (donít worry Mom, itís 0%APR until August, 2004), so I can at least use that in an emergency, even though Iíll hate doing it.

    ::Throws hands up in exasperation::

    When will this long national nightmare be over?
    posted at 7:00 PM

    So...Many...Inteviews...

    The Bens havenít been around much these past couple of days. This situation has many pros Ė no pot smoke, no sketchy vagrants coming in to the apartment, no rolls of toilet paper being devoured in less than a day. It also has some cons Ė not as many interesting stories to tell, mainly. But the ants, their thinking no longer impaired by the druggy haze usually hanging over the apartment, finally discovered the kitchen Ė the one room in the whole damn place where food is actually kept.

    Tuesday, I woke up early for another sweltering day of interviews to find ants crawling out of, over, and all around the kitchen sink. I washed away what I could and vacuumed the rest up, which apparently didnít dissuade the ants much, because they were all over the place again today. Fucking ants. The interviews I had were pretty interesting, though.

    Hollywood Boulevard used to be one of the least desirable places in Los Angeles to be. At any time of day. Now, most of itís been cleaned up and made squeaky-clean tourist-friendly, like the cleanup in Times Square a few years back. But there are a few seedy stores still peaking out from behind the Disney theatres and Hollywood/Highland mall complex. And the further east you go from Highland, the sketchier it gets.

    My interview was at a TV and feature documentary company about four blocks east of Highland, and was located four floors above a sex toy shop. As I climbed the stairs to the top, the stylish art deco furnishings looked like theyíd been literally covered in the slime and grime of this grittier side of Hollywood Boulevard. Iíd be lying if I said I wasnít a bit taken aback by this new environment, as most of the places Iíve interviewed at so far have been behind the gates of major studios. But Iíd also be lying if I said I didnít think this place was just a little bit more lively than some of the other places Iíve been to.

    The offices on the fourth floor were almost breathing, they were so alive. A totally open air floor, huge floor-to-ceiling windows, and a huge staff of people my age running around, looking busy but also looking like they were having a great time. Oh, and there were a few black labs running around, too. You know, for good measure. I met with one of the supervisors and he took me upstairs to interview me on the rooftop patio.

    This was pretty interesting, too Ö but it was also almost 100 degrees outside, which added just a little bit more uncomfortable-ness to the already adequately uncomfortable process of trying to convince people I could perform whatever menial and trivial tasks they wanted me to do efficiently and expertly, even though they mainly did films and I mainly studied TV. Does it really make a difference when youíre making copies all day? I think not.

    So I think that interview went all right, although now Iím honestly at the point where I canít tell anymore. At one point, the Head of Production came up and said, ďI just need to be frank with you. Right now, among other things, weíre working on a documentary about VividĒ (which is apparently a really big porn company in the valley) ďand you may have to log porn tapes for us.Ē

    ďWell, thatís a first,Ē I thought. Seriously, how many job interviews do you go to where they tell you that thereís probably a lot of pornography floating around the office? I quickly lied, ďWell, Iím from New England, but Iím not a Puritan.Ē They chuckled. I still probably wonít get the job.

    The interview at Bunim/Murray went pretty well, too, and they said I sounded like an excellent candidate for a logger over there, which means Iíd be getting the unedited tapes from whatever show they were working on at the time, then write up summaries and help get things edited together. Itís probably the most writing-centric job Iíve had offered in the past month, so that might be good. What might not be good is me working in the dark until 4 in the morning.

    Yesterday, I started the training period at the non-profit fundraising company. It actually doesnít seem all that awful. Iíll be doing work for places like the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, Greenpeace, PBS, the Heritage Foundation Ö a liberal paradise. The disadvantage of this job versus other telemarketing jobs is that it doesnít seem like it pays as much. The advantage is that thereís a much higher upsell rate and I wonít go home at the end of the day feeling dirty and wanting to kill myself. Thatís always a plus. I also got a call back from the Dr. Phil show for a possible transcriber position (finally), and Iím going in for the interview on Friday. It would pay less than the nonprofit place, but itíd be on the Paramount lot and would be an actual TV job. So I donít know what Iíll do if I get both, but I wonít be presumptuous. Because I probably wonít get that job, either.

    Iím Ö you know Ö keeping optimistic or whatever. Because itís done me so well in the past, you see. The other day, I heard someone say that luck goes in four year cycles. I hope that isnít true, because I had pretty good luck through college and this job search is hard enough without having the extra yoke of superstition on my neck. But, if it turns out superstition is true, maybe Iíll make voodoo dolls of all the P.A.s whose jobs I want. Thatíd at least give me something to do during the day.

    Oh, holy crap, I just got a call back from some place that wants to interview me to be a video game tester. A VIDEO GAME TESTER. And theyíd pay a hell of a lot more than any other place Iím waiting to hear back from. Snap! Well, I just scrambled around my schedule to accommodate them, and Iím off to Calabasas this afternoon to try to land a video game job.

    If I get that job, should I take a full time job with higher pay, or keep the lower paying part time job that would let me keep interviewing for TV jobs if they miraculously came up? What would happen if a few of these places wanted to hire me? I donít know. Itíd be a mess, Iím sure. But if Iíve learned anything over the past few months, itís that you canít hold your breath waiting for one place to get back to you, because then you let a hundred other opportunities slip by. So, Iím going for it. Iíll let you know how it goes later on today or tomorrow.
    posted at 10:44 AM

    Monday, August 11, 2003

    "Bright Future In Sales..."

    Last night the FOX animated show ďFuturamaĒ slid quietly into oblivion, its final episode an excellent example of the funny, beautiful, and often touching series that was almost always overlooked by the general viewing public Ė due in part to uneven writing during its inception but mostly to FOXís constant schedule-shuffling and unpredictable NASCAR pre-empting. A written line at the closing of the opening credits reading ďSee You On Some Other Network,Ē is probably an indication of some sour grapes between the show and FOX. Deservedly so. The show is back running on the Cartoon Networkís Adult Swim lineup during weekdays, which should tide fans over until the Cartoon Network gets off its ass and makes some new episodes of its original Sunday night programming (and moves that awful ďBig OĒ to the back of the lineup with the other anime stuff where it belongs). R.I.P., Futurama. You will be missed.

    Today I figured out that I have sent out at least 56 rťsumťs and been on at least 14 interviews in the past two months. This is beginning to quickly approach absurdity. Quoth Heidi, ďIíve never seen anyone go on so many interviews with no response before.Ē Adding quickly, ďI mean, nothing personal or anything.Ē Heidi rules.

    I called DreamWorks today and talked with the head of the Story Departmentís assistant for a little while, and she told me that they had to quickly find a replacement for some other position, and theyíd get back to hiring the P.A. sometime next week. Iíve also got two more interviews tomorrow. One of these places has got to hire me, already.

    I also figured out that after my rent check for this month is cashed and my parking ticket is paid for, I will not be able to pay for my move-in at Park LaBrea without charging parts of it to my credit card, which I really hate doing. And so, today I signed a deal with my own personal devil and accepted a job as a telemarketer in the interim. I will eat these words later, but it doesnít sound bad. Iíll be fundraising for non-profit organizations that are pretty much along my political/ideological lines, and doing warm calls, which are infinitely less awkward than cold calls. I donít know how well itís going to end up paying me, but the hours are pretty sporadic, which leaves me time to continue my job search when Iím not working there Ö although I really hope that someplace hires me in the next week and all Iíll have to do at the telemarketing place is complete a paid training course.

    Speaking of hell, itís hot here. Unbelievably hot. Itís often hovering around 100 degrees now, and itís humid, too! Nobody told me Los Angeles was humid! Itís a desert! What the fuck? I was almost unable to move on the weekend, and only ventured outside after the sun was on its way down. But better here than New Hampshire, where floods have caused $3 million in damage to the southwestern part of the state. In an online article from Bostonís NewsCenter 5, I read this shocking paragraph:

    ď"One of my sons was looking at some rushing water and stuck his foot into a whirlpool and was sucked under the water by that whirlpool. He went into the duct work, went under his road and then came out the other side," Westmoreland resident Chris Aguda-Brown said.Ē

    Holy shit! This woman watched her son get sucked into a whirlpool, under the road, and shot out the other side?!? Pardon the excessive swearing, but that is seriously fucked up. I mean, just picture that happening.

    Daaaamn!
    posted at 1:16 PM

    Friday, August 08, 2003

    Sine Waves

    While spending the last two months looking for jobs out here, Iíve noticed that thereís an odd pattern of emotions that goes along with the job search. One week, Iíll have five or six interviews Ė Iím up early, driving around the city, wearing a tie, feeling useful. The next week, all six of those interviews reject me, and Iím wallowing in self-pity, wondering how Iím possibly going to make ends meet. Then, someone calls me back for an interview again.

    As I ride this continual sine wave between hope and hopelessness, today seemed to turn on the upswing after the trough of yesterday. I now have two interviews scheduled for Monday and Tuesday Ė one with Bunim/Murray and another with a telemarketing firm that actually sounds like it wouldnít be that bad. The guy I talked to said they only fundraise for non-profits, theyíre warm calls, and a lot of the organizations he told me they call for sounded like places Iíd donate money to if I had money to donate. He was also really funny, so thatís a big plus.

    I called back the lady from DreamWorks, who apparently was out for the day. And her assistant told me that before Iíd even said who I was, so I know she wasnít lying. Also, the assistant didnít say theyíd hired someone yet, so in this case, the absence of hopelessness will work as a fine substitute for actual hope.

    Good tidings also arrived courtesy of the United States Postal Service, in the form of a letter and small financial donation from my grandmother, and a package from Barnes and Noble. A few weeks ago, in one of my more depressed states, my brother took it upon himself to send me a $50 Barnes and Noble gift card, knowing too well how much I enjoy buying CDs. With this gift card, I was able to pick up Gillian Welchís ďRevival,Ē Wilcoís ďSummer Teeth,Ē Gorkyís Zygotic Mynciís ďHow I Long To Feel That Summer In My Heart,Ē and The Kinksí ďSomething Else,Ē while still having enough left over to pay for most of my copy of ďDon Quixote.Ē This should speak not only to the awesomeness of my brother, but also to my ability to stretch dollars when CDs are involved.

    And the last thing I got in the mail, just now (roundabout 8 PM) was a box from Stonington, CT containing two bottles of Connecticut wine, courtesy of my parents, who think I'm a wino. There's a chardonnay and a "Seaport Blush," both of which I'm excited to try but probably won't open until we move into the new apartment or I get a job. Whichever comes first.

    On another note, our apartment building apparently has an amateur DJ living in it. Because there has been a nonstop wall of shitty techno music blaring for three hours, now. I can't wait to move into Park LaBrea. Check it out. We're moving into one of the 2 bedroom townhomes. It's gonna be sweet.
    posted at 7:08 PM

    Thursday, August 07, 2003

    ďIf It Wasnít For Disappointment, I Wouldnít Have Any AppointmentsĒ

    So Ö still no job. The rote mechanical site update for the day.

    I got a call back from Outerbanks, telling me theyíd gone with someone else, and the person I talked to wasnít even one of the people who interviewed me, so I couldnít try to find out if I was doing anything wrong in the interview. On a masochistic whim, I tried to call back Weller/Grossman, only to find out that the job was given to someone else weeks ago, and they were surprised no one had called to tell me. I was surprised, too, considering only two or three other people even interviewed for that job.

    In an act of desperation that should really signal the low Iíve hit, I called two telemarketing companies today to try to suck up my sense of self-worth and get a job. One of them said they wouldnít hire me because I donít have experience selling home improvement items (despite the fact that I knew next to nothing about the stock market or auto insurance at my other telemarketing gigs), and the other company had a weird voice mail interview, that asked me to leave my name, number, and proudest accomplishments at work or school. What the hell is that about?

    So yeah, that got my day going real good. I spent a few hours moping around, resisting the urge to put on a Smiths CD because it would just make the moment a bit too melodramatic. Instead, I read some more of ďDon Quixote,Ē which is excellent and hysterical so far, and then picked myself up and sent out five more rťsumťs. Tomorrow Iím going to bet that the DreamWorks lady wants me to call her back (another weird mind game) and give that a shot... Although Iím not very optimistic about that situation, either.

    So, although it feels like I have been looking for jobs forever, and itís something I could very well continue doing for a long time, the harsh reality of economics has set in today. While burning through several pages of note pad paper devising a formula for future rent divisions based on square footage of personal sleeping areas (yes, I do things like this), I saw that after I pay this monthís rent on the place Iím in now, and pay the initial monthís rent at Park La Brea (using credit cards for parts of it), I will be honest to God flat broke. No money. Since Iím seemingly unemployable, maybe Iíll pick up panhandling. Does anyone know how welfare works? Or if thereís anything left of it? Maybe I should just put a paypal link up here and ask people to donate spare change. Is that legal?

    In other ďWorld Turning On Its HeadĒ news, Gallagher has joined the carnival sideshow of California gubernatorial candidates. Thatís right Ė the guy who made a living smashing watermelons with a hammer is now trying to run for the highest office in the state, along such other noted luminaries as Arnold, Gary Coleman, Larry Flynt, and several strippers. What the fuck is wrong with this state? Honestly.

    Well, what can you do? Me, Iím going to go read some more and draft some desperate begging letters to everyone I know who knows someone who knows someone who works in TV. Iíll also probably gear myself up for more spirit-crushing rejection tomorrow by drinking heavily.

    But hey, in the mean time, you should read this, written by Slow Kid alum Oz. Itís the funniest thing Iíve read in a long time. Go, read it, and tell him I sent you.

    Then mail me a check so I can eat.
    posted at 9:57 PM

    Wednesday, August 06, 2003

    "And let's also not forget--let's not forget, Dude--that keeping wildlife, an amphibious rodent, for uh, domestic, you know, within the city--that isn't legal either."

    Hey there, handsome. Notice anything Ö different? Hmm?

    Hallelujah and rejoice, for the Archives have been fixed. Now you can go all the way back to May 20th, 2002, when I was an idealistic 20 year old, starting a blog out of summer boredom and incorporating it into an actual web site after recovering from the hangover of my 21st birthday. Yes, I am the kind of person who wants to work on personal web site design when Iím hungover. Did you expect anything else?

    Perhaps this breakthrough will lead me to update a few other aspects of the web siteís design. Iíll probably put more accessible links to old favorites like the Fleetwood Mac Quiz and Berlin Blight Tour. For your enjoyment, of course. See, Iím always thinking about youÖ and thereís a lot of you, apparently. On a whim, I checked my Tripod site stats, and found that my lilí olí blog got 5877 hits this month. This is unbelievable Ö and probably wrong, but still. Wow. So, I have two things to say to everyone: 1). Hi! 2). Why havenít any of you gotten me a job yet?

    No place has called me back yet. Tomorrow, Iím going to do some follow up calls, and most likely be sorely disappointed to find out every place has hired some other fuck up to do my job. Today, I applied to be a video game tester and a film producerís assistant. Tomorrow, itís telemarketing job time. Hooray.

    It was, of course, another interesting day in the ever-evolving world of pest management here on Roebling Avenue. I woke up around 8 (pretty good for an unemployed bum, no?), and had my usual relaxed coffee drinking, paper reading breakfast. Aimee was getting ready for work, but was taking a break to check her email. The door was open, a breeze was blowing. It was nice. Then, a ferret walked into our living room.

    I looked up from the paper as it sniffed around the TV. ďOh, hell no,Ē I said, standing up and grabbing some newsprint. I chased it out on to the stoop (no act of bravery on my part Ė it seemed pretty tame) and shut the door behind it. Our list now reads: ants, gnats, fruit flies, squirrels, ferrets. I canít wait to see whatís next.

    During the day, Iím the only one in the apartment, and after searching for job openings on line and sending out prospective emails, I need something to fill my time. Most often, this takes the form of cleaning, which is something I enjoy doing because it produces immediate, tangible results Ö unlike trying to find a job. I put ďWeather SystemsĒ on the stereo and got to work, figuring Iíd straighten up around the apartment, then move to the kitchen, then vacuum. The first part went all right. The second part, not so well.

    As I went into the kitchen to clean the breakfast dishes, I noticed the garbage had grown uncharacteristically high Ė even for an apartment containing The Bens. I walked over to the trash can, reached around the sides to remove the plastic bag, and immediately a thick cloud of fruit flies exploded in my face. I reeled, confused at first, disgusted quickly thereafter, but soon gathered myself enough to run outside with the trash bag, swatting flies out of my face by violently shaking my head from side to side while forcefully blowing air through my lips. I must have looked insane.

    The neighbors would have further questioned my sanity if they continued watching me through the windows, as I snuck in the other door, tiptoed into the kitchen (as if the flies could hear me walk), and silently peered around to see where the little bastards had taken their resting places. I walked into the living room, brought back the vacuum cleaner, attached the hose and plugged it in.

    The thing about fruit flies is that theyíre really lazy. They spend all day sitting around, and if they have to fly away from danger, itís only moments before theyíre loafing around again. This makes them easy pray for an easily-amused neat freak with a vacuum cleaner attachment. I switched on the vacuum and meticulously stalked the flies around the kitchen, chasing them if they managed to fly away. I did this for at least 15 minutes. And I had a great time doing it, too.

    The other big items of news today involved my BU Yearbook (nice, but kind of disappointing. Even my high school yearbook had color portraits. But it did make me miss Boston, the SlowKids, and a lot of BU alums for a while), an adorable emailed picture of my spoiled pooch Hunter playing at the beaches in Connecticut, an email from Sara with a transcript from a letter to the editor of our townís newspaper from our favorite local literary crackpot, and a phone call from the exasperated agents at the Park La Brea leasing office to let me know that our lease application had been approved. Aimee, Rachel and I will be living in one of these starting August 28th. Itís going to be wonderful. Hopefully, no one nearby will have a ferret.
    posted at 11:06 PM

    Tuesday, August 05, 2003

    "Yeah, That's Natural Lighting."

    Today I got the last of my mid-period Kinks CDs (ďSomething ElseĒ) via Royal Mail, posted from ďCookrup Farmhouses, Coln Saint Aldwyne, Cirencester, Gloucester GL7.Ē Damn, thatís authentic. You gotta love the British postal system, even if you donít understand it at all.

    In contrast, you know what I hate? People who talk when they watch movies, trying to use film terms they just learned to bemoan the obvious predictability of what theyíre watching. Especially if the people are 17 year old potheads sitting on the couch ten feet away from me. Guess who!?!? An actual comment from Little Ben, just two seconds ago, as the Oscar-winning ďMonsterís BallĒ played Ė ďYeah, thatís natural lighting.Ē How about you shut the fuck up and watch the movie? You donít know anything about film, and whatever you do know you smoke away in your bong. Oh, now itís over. Here comes the color commentary from the peanut gallery.

    I donít know if itís just being in a college envrionment again, but it seems like Iím surrounded by people who just sometimes say things that make my HEAD WANT TO EXPLODE. Later on in the evening, some people were here catching the end of the sometimes funny, often unwatchable ďSex And The City,Ē where Carrie was smoking marijuana. Like hippie moths to the flame on the end of a joint, the idiocy came aíflockin. ďOh, man! Carrieís smokiní a J!Ē ďNo way, man!Ē ďYeah, sheís got a blunt!Ē Shoot me in the face.

    So, as you can probably tell, I still havenít heard from any of the four jobs I interviewed for. Now, Iím trying to figure out what Iím supposed to do. Do I call these places, even though they said they were going to call me back this week? Should I wait until tomorrow or Thursday? Gah! Why wonít they just answer me?!? Somebody hire me, for crying out loud!!!

    I had to get a haircut this weekend, which is something I like to put off as long as I possibly can. Why, you ask? Because I have some sort of genetic disorder where whenever I talk to hairdressers, they completely misunderstand what I say. For instance, if I said, ďI like my hair long, please just trim about an inch,Ē they hear, ďPlease cut my hair much, much shorter than it is now, and please style it in a way that bears no resemblance to the way I looked when I walked in here.Ē So, my hair right now is a lot shorter than I ever wanted it to be when I realized I needed a haircut. And it wasnít even cut well, either. I need to fly my hairdresser from home out here. Also, some hats.

    Thanks, everyone, for the book suggestions. Iíve filed them all away in my Amazon wish list, which, combined with browsing on allmusic.com, takes up most of my job searching down time during the day, now. Unfortunately for everyone who recommended, I talked to Matt on the phone yesterday, who just read ďDon QuixoteĒ and loved it, so I picked up a copy. But all the books you suggested looked very interesting, and Iíll probably end up reading them next. So Ö thanks. I appreciate the response.

    Right now, the ďgardenersĒ for the apartment next door are here. They donít have much to garden, really, just a few moderately sized patches of grass and some bushes. To cut the grass, though, they use a weed whacker. For two straight hours. Right outside our window. Now, the thing is, if they had a little lawn mower, or even one of those old-school manual mowers, they could get the whole thing done in ten minutes tops. Instead, they decide to deafen our apartment with noise and fill the air with diesel smoke. And Iím sure itís all just to spite me.

    Hey, what does everyone think about the Democratic candidates for the upcoming primaries? I know itís a long ways away, but Iím really excited about Howard Dean, myself. I saw an interview with him on CNN last night, and I was really impressed with him, all around. He seems like a very intelligent, competent, honest politician Ö which probably means heíll lose the primary to Kerry or Lieberman, who always look like theyíre two minutes away from taking a quick nap. Any thoughts? Interesting political insights? Dirty jokes?

    Well, I was going to start ďDon Quixote,Ē but since thereís some ridiculous Tuesday night party going on outside, itíd just be drowned out by shitty techno music, fratboys urging shrill women to continue drinking, and the sounds of beer bottles smashing on things that are hopefully not my car. Instead, Iím going to pop a few sleeping pills, turn on the Kinks, and go to bed. I will also hope that someplace will call me with a job tomorrow.

    ... but first, some pointless quiz results, courtesy of Lee... and people smoking "A-list weed" right next to me. God, that stuff smells like ass.


    What Flavour Are You? Cor blimey, I taste like Tea.Cor blimey, I taste like Tea.


    I am a subtle flavour, quiet and polite, gentle, almost ambient. My presence in crowds will often go unnoticed. Best not to spill me on your clothes though, I can leave a nasty stain. What Flavour Are You?

    posted at 11:57 PM

    Sunday, August 03, 2003

    I Came, I Saw, Ikea

    The past couple of days, itís been unusually clear here in the greater Los Angeles area. To give you an idea of just how all-pervasive the smog/haze is here, while I was driving around on Saturday afternoon, I saw a pretty huge mountain range that I had honestly never seen before Ė and thatís including the three months I spent here last fall. As you can imagine, then, this weekend was really beautiful here, so I tried to spend as much time outside or looking outside as I could. But not enough thatíd Iíd get heat stroke Ö itís fucking hot here.

    This weekend was pretty laid back, as are most days in California when one canít actively look for a job. Flourteen Alumni Tara came in to town and became the latest Nueva Californian, and Aimee and I went with her and Mikey to putz around Santa Monica, browsing for choice garage sales. There were a few nice ones, a few lame ones. Aimee and I picked up two very nice blue stained glass candle holder thingies for $5, and there were a bunch of awesome antiques I wanted to get, but couldnít justify as I have neither a job nor a real apartment to put them quite yet. I did manage to relay an obscure antique bottle dating technique my mom must have taught me when I was like 5, though, so that was a nice fun fact for the day. (The higher up a bottle seam goes, the more recently the bottle was made. If it goes all the way up, it was made by a machine instead of by hand.)

    I also finally got to see Lee in Studio City, which was very nice. Sheís currently slaving away as an agentís assistant at CAA, but manages to find time to record interesting events on a work blog, and still find time to make lasagna and pasta for guests. What a gal. When our apartment gets settled, Iíll have to return her lasagna favor.

    Of course, before we could think about that, weíd have to think about Ö furniture! Thus, todayís trip to Ikea, which I honestly think is the closest a furniture store can get to an amusement park. It certainly was about as crowded. But man, two enormous floors of efficiently-designed, quality Scandinavian furniture and accessories? I was in geometric heaven. We didnít actually buy anything yet, but we found a lot of very nice deals on beds, tables, couches, etc. After that, itíll be time for conflicting home interior decorating designs!

    Despite the Bens being gone for most of the weekend, the ants appear to have become bolder in their attempts to invade our apartment. No longer mounting full-scale assaults, the ants are now content to send out just a handful of annoying scouts that, for some reason, congregate around, on, and in my bed. And they bite now, too. And it hurts. One of them woke me up this morning by biting my elbow. I donít know, maybe I smell like ant pot roast or something. But their new tactics have made it much harder to control them. Before, weíd just attack them with the vacuum cleaner and then spray Raid all over wherever they were crawling out of. Now I have to just spray the Raid around the corners of our rooms and be constantly vacuuming. Not that I wouldnít be doing that anyway, you know, cleaning up after the Bens and all.

    Oh, Iím also done with ďJohn Adams,Ē now, and Iím the market for another good book to read. Iíve had ďA Separate PeaceĒ suggested, and that looks pretty good, but itís short, so Iíll need something else. I really want to read ďDon Quixote,Ē but I want to get a good translation. Anyone have any suggestions? Or any other books?
    posted at 6:29 PM

    Friday, August 01, 2003

    CTRL-C, CTRL-V

    Well, my car finally came in last night, right before we were supposed to leave to meet up with some Malcolm crew for dinner and drinks in Santa Monica. The car works great, the meal was excellent, and seeing our old officemates again was wonderful. I found out a little more about what happened with the whole job situation over there, which was good to know just so I stopped trying to figure out what went wrong. Iím not going to say anything about it here, except that I feel a lot better about the situation now, and I really would still love to work with the writersí office staff sometime in the future. Ah well.

    For someone who, for the most part, enjoys going to work even when Iím not really fond of the job, being completely jobless is a big drag. I spend most of my days just sitting around the house, trying to motivate myself to look at classifieds, send emails and read the paper. Now that I have my car here, I find that I donít stay in because I donít have a mode of transportation anymore, but rather because once I find a parking spot I donít want to give it up. I had to wake up early this morning and drive around for 40 minutes looking for a spot so I wouldnít get another street cleaning ticket. What a pain in the ass.

    Iíve been unusually spazzy for some reason over the past twenty-four hours. I had beer accidentally sprayed on me at the restaurant last night, got a parking ticket because of a very confusingly written street sign, spent 40 minutes parking in my pajamas this morning, stained a T-shirt blue while I was bringing colored cardboard boxes from my trunk to my room, and just spilled salad dressing all over my pants. I guess I shouldnít fool around with that streamroller tonight like I was planning, eh? Oh, also, ants have been biting my feet all day. Good times.

    Hey, has anyone seen the pictures the government just released for what Saddam Hussein might look like now? Looks like someone in the FBI just figured out they had Photoshop on their computer. My favorite is the one where Saddam is wearing one of those traditional Arab headdresses. It seriously looks like someone just cut and pasted his face into some clip art from Encarta.

    posted at 5:51 PM