Saturday, November 29, 2008

I didn't drink the water...

At a Thanksgiving celebration at my grandparents home on Thursday, I didn't drink the water.

Why? Because one cousin is seven months pregnant, while the youngest of the cousins had his two week old baby there; another cousin brought his six week old baby and on our way home we stopped by a hospital to meet my new nephew, born the night before!

They're all baby boys, which offsets the slew of elementary school girls we have running around. I am the only able grandchild left to create great grands, so everyone tells me, "Just you wait!"

"Wait?" I reply. "Clearly, I AM!"

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Back in the Buckeye State!

It feels great to be home! I think the best part is that there isn't a looming departure.

In addition to enjoying the holiday season, there are lots of things I hope to accomplish:

1. Clean out storage spaces.
2. Pack up the house as much as possible.
3. Encourage the realtor to show the place A LOT, since I'm here to remove the animals.
4. Design and mail holiday post cards to industry folks.
5. Review and/or read the essential acting books. (Uta hagen, Stella Adler, Sanford Meisner, Michael Caine, Constantin Stanislavski... )
6. View must-watch films. (top films of all time, all the work of acclaimed directors and actors)
7. View Universal Studios Best Picture winning films and other movies filmed on the lot that I haven't seen ever, or in a long while. (Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, Psycho, Showboat, Pirates of the Caribbean, Winchester 73... the list goes on and on...)
8. Learn all things astronomy!
9. Take my niece to the Neil Armstrong museum and/or COSI - if I can explain things to her, I should be able to do my new job when I get back to LA.
10. WORKOUT! Using the equipment in our basement and guys motivation, I need to get toned up again and back on an exercise schedule.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Greetings from Chicago

I'm so close I can almost feel the warm embraces and taste the delicious Thanksgiving food! But, here I sit in O'Hare waiting for the flight that is supposed to leave in ten minutes to even begin boarding. It's a small plane that changed gates while I was in the air from LAX... As long as my checked bag makes it aboard, I don't mind!

As for the airport, it's no big deal. I had heard this one was large and difficult, but I have yet to feel that way about any through which my travels have taken me...

Friday, November 21, 2008

I am an employee of the city of Los Angeles...

... Pending a tuberculosis test, that is.

I thought TB was eradicated with polio; I mean, wouldn't a meningitis test be smarter? Perhaps I'm getting my diseases confused, I'm certainly no medical expert. Nor do I know much about astronomy, but I assured the Phd.'s at the Griffith Observatory that I am a very quick study. Lucky for me, they have learned that when filling their guide positions, it's easier to teach science to someone personable than to teach people skills to a nerd. I mean science buff. No... I mean nerd; I'm pretty sure they've embraced that term now.

I am now twice amazed to get such a wonderful position at an iconic Hollywood location, site unseen! I am very grateful to my Universal co-worker who not only recommended me, but also encouraged me to interview dispite my apprehensions. When I arrived at the Observatory Wednesday afternoon, I was awestruck!

It sits atop Mount Hollywood, within Griffith Park; the famous Hollywood sign can be seen just across the way, on Mount Lee. I called my beau to tell him I felt like I was literally standing on top of the world, with the recognizable buildings of Willshire and Hollywood in one direction, the downtown skyline in the other and miles and miles of city. I'm told on a clear day you can see the ocean. I arrived as the sun was a giant pink ball setting in the west and left with a new job and amazing view of endless twinkling lights. It's kind of a bitch to get to, but well worth it; once inside, it's just as beautiful. I swiped these pictures from various websites:

When I return in January I will work at the Observatory part-time. I will likely begin giving presentations to field-tripping fifth graders. Believe it or not, that's a slightly easier place to begin because it has specific topics and talking points. Although guides posted throughout the exhibits are open to any and all visitors questions, concerns and emergencies, as we walked through today the co-worker who recommended me for the position pointed out that guides aren't approached all that often. I think I already have the two most important lines down: "The restrooms are right this way..." and "The Big Bang theory, as a scientific explanation, is in no way meant to negate your religious beliefs."

Nonetheless, I will be doing a great deal of scientific study while I'm back in Ohio over the holiday. Lucky for me, I grew up about forty minutes from the Neil Armstrong Museum; when I visit again I'll actually force myself to read all the little plaques!

This means that so far I've gotten one out of my three Wednesday appointments. According to the breakdown, the TV movie is supposed to shoot this weekend, so I highly doubt I got the part. I did however accomplish my goal of building good report with the casting director. As for the emcee position at Universal, I'm a bit annoyed that we haven't gotten an email.

Scratch that, I'm really annoyed because they probably could have told us on the spot! It was a "live" audition, meaning we took turns being the emcee to real guests as they entered the studio tour area. What does that mean? You simply give people the following directions: To get on the tram, go to the left. Yes, you can take food and drink on the tram, check out the food cart behind me. This is a 45 minute ride, if you have to go to the restroom go back upstairs. Park your stroller over there... And to the people leaving you say goodbye and give them the times of other things going on in the park. Bla, bla, bla... Of course, you should do it with some personality and interact with the guests; asking where they're from or saying you like something they're wearing is ideal.

Anyway, about fifteen tour guides showed up for a rumored three or four emcee positions. I was surprised to see two veterans there, each with at least ten years at Universal! One is a guide and dispatcher, the other a VIP guide and trainer. I don't know if that's a sign of the bad economic times, if they're looking for a change of scenery or if they just wanted to fuck with the newest guides like me! Their seniority is discouraging, but while I like both of them as people I didn't really think they proved to be the best suited for this position.

Because park attendance was so low, we all rode up and down the escalator in the baking sun to give the person auditioning more people to talk to! Our two bosses sat on a nearby bench and often didn't appear to be listening, not that they needed to. We've all already proven we can speak and interact with people. I truly believe it's a popularity contest. It's less about what we did and said on Wednesday and more about the personality type they want. I will be flabbergasted if we don't find out today. I won't be upset if I'm not added to the emcee roster this time around, as most of you probably know from other things, I just get a little crazy when information is not distributed!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Star appointments: On the ground, in my eyes and up in the sky!

As my Wednesday calendar fills up, I can't help but think, "are you freaking kidding me?" And by that I mean, I'm happy, but all in one day? You see, I've had a whole lot of nothing on my plate for the past week or so. It would have been nice for these great opportunities to spread themselves out, but oh well, I'm just glad to have them...

I've known for a while that tomorrow Universal is holding auditions for the emcee position at the studio tour. Emcees greet guest when they come down the escalator into our area. More frustratingly, an emcee is on mic at the load line begging people to look down at the ground and make sure they're standing on a numbered star stamped in the concrete which represents a seat on the tram. People are so non-responsive, you'd think it was rocket science. Anyway, being a tour guide is better than emceeing, but if I can also get on the emcee roster it'll increase my possibility for shifts.

The emcee audition is at 1 p.m., then yesterday I booked an audition for noon tomorrow. It's a reenactment of actual events for a TV movie for the Discovery Health Network. I've read for both the casting directors in my acting class; I don't know if they remembered me from that, or if they called me in for my resemblance to the real person the story's based on. We have slightly similar roundish faces with brown hair and eyes, but they want someone size 8 or 10. I am smaller than that and frankly don't know how to approach this role - she's a fast food manager who goes to work, thinking she's been having bad menstrual cramps, but then delivers a baby in the bathroom toilet! Yikes! I've worked fast food and had cramps, but... Whether I get the role or not, the important part is that I make a great impression on the casting directors. Just getting auditions is the goal, then even if you're wrong for that part, hopefully they'll like you and call you back to read for other things in the future.

If the TV movie audition is not running on time or if there's traffic, I'll not make it to the emcee auditions, but that's just how it goes.

Then this afternoon I was asked to interview at the Griffith Observatory at 5 p.m. tomorrow! A coworker at Universal was kind enough to recommend me to his bosses there to do what he does - tour guide and present shows for the fifth graders who take field trips there. If the interview goes well, I'd have two jobs to come back to in January. Presenting and interacting with people is no big deal for me, it's the fifth grade astronomy that worries me!

Again, I am not complaining. Thank goodness things have come up, because I've been going crazy! Things have slowed up here in LA and I am very anxious to go home for the holidays! In the mean time, my sleep schedule is again backward; I easily stay up until 7 or 8 a.m. and sleep the day away, thus I'm concerned about getting to sleep tonight and having energy tomorrow.

I've spent my evening learning how to say "welcome to the Universal Studio Tour" and "for the love of gawd, stand on a damn star!" in multiple languages; thinking about what it would be like to not know you were pregnant then have a baby instead of a side of fries; and finally brushing up on the difference between a solar and lunar eclipse... Hopefully I deliver the right information at the right appointment!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I thought of witty titles, but they seem inappropriate...

Yesterday I didn't smell any smoke from my balcony; today is a very different story.

I drove to the grocery instead of walking because, although the smell here isn't that bad, it doesn't seem smart to breath it anymore than I have to. This seems insensitive, but it's nice, as smoke goes, like a camp fire smell. There is a haze in the air, but I can't see billows of smoke coming from a specific area, nor can I see the flames at the end of the cross street like I could the other night.

More Fires...

My sleep schedule is once again up-side-down, so imagine my surprise when after sleeping the day away I turn on the TV to hear there are fires in Orange County. Orange County? That's southeast...

I am still in no danger, but sadly many multi-million dollar homes "behind the orange curtain" are going up in flames. It's unbelievable; the news coverage is devastating, yet impossible to turn off.

Last nights fire in the hills to the north of me burnt over 8,000 acres; tonight's Orange County/Chino Hills fire has already claimed 5,000 acres and neither is close to being contained. One of the worst stories so far is of 500 homes lost in a pre-fabrication / middle class mobile home community.

Click here for an updated map. I'm at point A; last nights fire was above point B and moved westward and point C is the newest area of fire.

To answer a commenter below, I wasn't out and about today, but I did not smell or see any smoke from my balcony, nor do I hear sirens. These are brush fires along the hill and forest areas; I live in the city, so unless fire starts on the Hollywood Hills, I think I'll be okay. It has caused me to think about what I would do if I did have to evacuate... The only good part of having virtually nothing, is that I could easily pack it all back in my car and drive east! I'd only be out a mattress, cheap desk, leaky refrigerator and stiff love seat, only totally around $650. I am flying home for the holidays; I guess I'll be packing my favorite and most valuable clothes and hoping everything else is still here when I get back...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sylmar Fire in the Northern San Fernando Valley

Over 10,000 people have been evacuated since last night.
The fire has burnt over 2,000 miles.

Fire fighters are saying they've never seen a fire behave like this
and the conditions are dire.
I am not a rubber-necker. When it comes to things that I can't help or that don't effect me, I usually walk on by. But not last night...

I ran an errand late last night. I was about to turn back on my street when the road opened up in front of me and it looked as though lava was surging toward me! I was mid-turn, but like a moth, I was compelled to drive forward instead. The wild fires that are actually 15 miles north of my apartment looked like they were just a few miles away! I drove a few blocks, trying to capture a photograph, but it didn't work and I turned back, confused by why I'd driven forward in the first place.

I've been up all night watching the live TV coverage and it's very frightening. The trouble is that we're experiencing "hurricane-force" Santa Anna winds. Speaking of hurricanes, much like the idiots who choose to stay with their coastal homes, the news keeps interviewing people armed with garden hoses, refusing to evacuate. What the hell!? Hurricane victims might be able to hunker down, then float, but these morons are just going to burn to death!

The fire has now jumped not one, but TWO highways - The 5 and the 210! It's spreading much faster than anticipated. The fire is crossing major power lines; entire communities in the main area have lost power and it's likely the entire Valley will experience outages. Also, they're warning people with respiratory problems to stay indoors, as the air quality will be poor across the entire city.

At this point it's moving westward along the mountain side. It would be catastrophic if it turns south to the miles and miles of flat residential and business communities. If it were to make that jump, I have no idea how quickly it would move or how long we would have to evacuate! Again, it's fifteen miles from me and moving in the opposite directions, but I am certainly paying attention to it. It began above the city of Sylmar and is moving toward Santa Clarita; I live in Studio City. MAP

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Too... tired... to type...

$40 is not enough compensation for the ass whooping I just received and impending national public humiliation! Never trust a perky blond with a two inch waist, armed with a tiny workout machine that does a million different exercises!!!

Working-out as Work!

Have you ever wondered who those people were in the background of workout infomercials? You know, the ones gleefully using the machine, gadget or what appears to be a child's toy, while a frighteningly muscular guy tries to sell you the equipment?

Answer: ACTORS!

This morning I will be filming a workout infomercial. I have no idea what I've gotten myself into!

I submitted for it a day or so ago on the booking website I subscribe to. Because I only have headshots, not a full or even half body shot, I really didn't expect to hear from them. I mean, you'd think they'd want to make sure people have the right physique, but I guess not... The breakdown was as follows: "Men/Women for fitness class and testimonial shoot. We are taping a first time users class with Hot LA Fitness Trainer Ashley Marriott for use in a commercial for a new at home fitness product. I need 20 people attractive, 20 to 50 years old, any ethnicity and good bodies. Shoot is Sunday November 9 approximately 5 hours. Be ready to work out and take a fitness class and then give testimonial regarding the class and the product. There is no pay."

When I submitted for it, I figured, "what the hell!" At least I'll get a free workout session out of it, as I'm in desperate need of something to get me exercising again. As it turns out, I'll also get $40 for travel. A few months ago I came very close to doing an acne product infomercial. They were offering a years worth of free products (no, I don't remember what kind, I don't think I was told), but because it would be shown nationally, my acting teacher said I should absolutely not do it without being paid money. The casting director told me that it is unethical to pay someone who gives a testimonial. Free products would have been nice, but I opted not to do it.

Forty bucks isn't much, but in this case at least I'm getting some cash. I have no idea where this commercial is being distributed; if it's national, this is a pretty raw deal, but at least it wouldn't be featuring my unflattering zits! :)

I asked what type of product it is and what muscle group we'll be working; I was told it's like a mini BoFlex with 12 exercised for various parts of the body. Although we'll only workout for about an hour, I have to be there from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to give before and after testimonials.

I'll need to be up by 7 a.m. at the latest, but I've been going to sleep around 4 a.m., so this will prove interesting...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Bittersweet everything...

My guy was in town visiting Sunday to Thursday, thus my lack of blogging. It's always wonderful to see him, but I have to say this was probably his best visit. We saw Wicked at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, partied after the election and went on a hike in the beautiful mountains. I'll try to write about all of that in more detail; for the time being though I'm feeling that all to common emptiness.

As for the election, I am so excited that Barack Obama won!

However, I am deeply saddened that here in California Proposition 8 passed (barely). Earlier this year the state Supreme Court ruled that everyone could marry, but Prop 8 reinstates a ban on gay marriage. I truly don't understand. This country has fought discrimination time and time again, yet we never seem to learn from those battles. We are no better than the societies that enslaved blacks, would not let women own property and imprisoned innocent Asians. Plain and simply, by not allowing all people to marry, we are restricting rights just because we see some as "different."

Many use religion as an excuse to discriminate, which only confuses me further. This nation was founded on the separation of church and state by people who wanted to escape persecution based on their beliefs. How then, are we still doing just that? As one of the “No on 8” advertisements said, it does not matter how you feel about marriage, yes on 8 was D * I * S * C * R * I * M * I * N * A * T * I * O * N!

For the past few days protesters have been rallying on the streets of Hollywood, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. They have been mostly peaceful, but horribly affected street and highway traffic; if there’s one great way to get attention in LA, it’s fucking with the already awful traffic!

California is not the only state to pass gay marriage bans, which makes this election so bittersweet. I am elated to see our country has moved beyond race and gender when looking for a President, so I have to believe I will also live to see a society that does not hate based on sexuality.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Don't forget to vote today!

Although California has some propositions that I am very passionate about, I elected to vote via absentee ballot in Ohio, where I feel my presidential purgative is more valuable.

I don't want to get political on this blog, so I'll let some funny pictures do the talking for me. After all, in an election this important, our heads will explode without a little humor. (Most of these are from the political page of my favorite guilty pleasure, the LOLCats blog.)