Friday, November 25, 2005

These off years of Thanksgiving are always the odd ones. John is spending the weekend with him mother. We only have two "official" ones where are mandated to be together. I have been pondering recently how things are going to change when he turns 18. So much of our time together is on a schedule and because it is "supposed to" be our weekends together. Families that have not gone through divorce never have to worry about that; you just always and simply spent time with your family. I am a little nervous as to whether or not it is going to make a difference to him when there is no longer a piece of paper saying when we have to be together.

Yes, I miss him. Can you tell?

I spent the day at friends and ate more than I should have and definitely more that my bypass stomach should have allowed me to. Before heading over to dinner I saw "Zathura". Not to bad.

Today was the rough one. My friend Rosa had her father pass away on Monday and today was the funeral. I ended up as a pall bearer. I was honored to be asked. I've been adopted by her family as a "little brother" so it seemed almost natural.

I had flashback to the two other times I've been a pall bearer. The first time, at age 17 for my friend Tony and then for my Uncle Eddie. Even prepared for it, being a pall bearer has to be the most nerve wracking thing for a person to do. Any insecurities about your ability to do the job nags at you the entire time.

"Don't let me hand slip! Don't let me hand slip! Don't let me hand slip!"

That's all you think the entire time. Then you are either straining from the weight or feeling guilty because it seems a if everyone else is carrying the load and all you're doing is holding on and looking like a token pall bearer but not really doing the job.

And each time I have been a pall bearer I have stepped on the back of the foot of the guy in front of me. Not enough to give his a flat foot but enough to make my blood preassure spike and a curtain of flop sweat drop down my back.

My funeral is going to be very different than most. There will be music, laughter and an open bar. As I was sitting in the dour and depressing funeral home I had the thought of checking to see if my old home town would allow a service right out on the beach near where I grew up. At the very least, the funeral procession will drive through Oakland Beach en rout to the cemetery as a final farewell. I also see being lowered into the ground to the strains of Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky".

No reason why it should be depressing. Celebrate the life, not mourn it. Well, I've got time to worry about the details.

When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that's the best
When they lay me down to die
Goin' up to the spirit in the sky

Goin' up to the spirit in the sky - spirit in the sky
That's where I'm gonna go when I die - when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
I'm gonna go to the place that's the best

Monday, November 21, 2005

Instead of being a part of making movies this weekend, I went to see a few of them.

To distract myself from the fact I wasn't in Orlando Saturday, I did a double feature. I started with "Walk the Line". The performances by both Phoenix and Witherspoon were exceptional but it was no "Ray" or "Coal Miner's Daughter". There was nothing in the story to raise it above more than a simple biopic which could have been a Movie of the Week. I won't be surprised to see Phoenix getting at least an Oscar nomination out of it.

"Chicken Little" was just plain disturbing. This film was aimed directly at young children yet delivers an storyline scarier than anything in today's horror movies. "Little" lives alone with his father. It is implied that the mother has passed away. After a piece of the sky falls on him Little's father has to deal with the public humiliation and does all he can to sweep it under the carpet and pretend it never happened. When it happens again the father stands in front of the entire town and denies his son. He bows and scrapes to public opinion against his only son. What could be more terrifying for a child? Well, then there's the whole "War of the Worlds" story line built to explain why the sky is falling. If I wanted to see that I would have waited for the Tom Cruise DVD. Oh, wait! THAT'S an ADULT movie. Children under 10 should be steered away from this movie. Technically, it was well done. The CGI was a blend of the full blown "Toy Story" style while keeping the flavor of a 2-D animated film. The absence of Pixar from Disney is blaring in this film.

With each proceeding "Harry Potter" film it become increasingly evident that you HAVE TO be a fan of the books to really enjoy the series. When I walked out of "Azkhaban" I turned to a friend and asked, "Is that it?" During this film I was lost and bored almost all the way through and I feel it's only going to get worse with each installment.

Don't get me wrong; it was made well. The effects were fantastic. The acting was great. These kids keep getting better with each installment. There was humor which worked when it was supposed to and the whole subtext about teens dealing with the opposite sex for the first time was poignant. But over all it was scenes of great adventure interspersed between long boring exposition.

At least, there's still "King Kong" and "The Producers" to look forward to.

Friday, November 18, 2005

I just wimped out on something which seems like such a natural and I'm trying to justify it as a "career decision". Saturday morning there is an open casting call for extras to be in the next two "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. It would be two months of shooting in the Bahamas. I learned about it two days ago and have spent the past 48 hours mulling over all of the implications of the possibility of getting called to work as an extra.

To many people it seemed like a no-brainer. I look like a pirate. Acting is what I want to do. Two months of getting paid to work on a movie in the Bahamas. DUH! I had my eight year career on my job to consider. I had my relationship with my son to consider. I had potential voice work to consider. My brain really hurt.

Then it seemed as if the cards were being stacked against me by mere circumstance. All rental cars in town were taken. My only way of getting to Orlando and back was limited to Greyhound. That would mean trying to come up with something to do wandering the streets of Orlando overnight. Not a good plan.

I finally decided not to go because of the voice work. There are at least two projects which are probably going to start off in the next month or two. If I were in the Bahamas I wouldn't be available for them and the voice work is where I really want my future to be.

When these two movies come out you probably won't want to be in the same theater with me "That could have been me!" "I could have done that!" It won't be pretty. Hopefully, I'll be able to say all those things while as a gainfully employed voice actor.

Johnny Depp will just have to meet me some other way!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I am so glad Elvis died young.

Last night there was a tribute to Johnny Cash on television. It featured a slew of country and pop stars in a concert of Cash's music with clips from the upcoming movie, "Walk the Line"; which I am dying to see. It was hosted by Joachaim Pheonix and Reese Witherspoon. OK, so it was a blatant plug for the movie, but the talent on the show was pretty cool. U2 performed and Kris Kristofferson performed "Sunday Morning Comin' Down" with the Foo Fighters. The act I was excited about seeing was a duet of Kid Rock and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Then I saw The Killer.

I thought I was looking at Jimmy Doohan again circa the last year of his life. While Lewis' playing was still there, he looked as if they had just rolled him out of the home for his weekend ride. He sat there, mostly immobile, with a strained and raspy voice. His eyes had that glossed over old-guy look to them. When you're used to seeing the stage explode with energy its hard to see him slumped over the keyboard straining to hit each note.

His hands still knew they way over the ivories. The music pounded as hard as ever. It was just very painful to watch. Then it dawned on me that he and Elvis were around the same age and I tried to imagine him if he were alive today.

Would he be playing the big rooms and still rocking like Jagger? Would he be retired and look a lot like Bruce Campbell in "Bubba Ho-tep"? Or would he have his own theater sandwiched between Yakoff Schmirnoff and Bobby Vinton in Branson? He may have been bloated and dazed most of the time near the end, but when he hit the stage he was still the King. "Better to burn out, than to fade away..." There does seem to be something to that.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Change really sucks!

As you may have read before on this blog, I do not deal well with change. For someone who has gone through massive change in the past 11 years that can really make for some tough times. A whole family of good friends just announced that they are making plan on moving by June.

“Just announced” is not really how to describe how they let the news out. Nagasaki was slightly more subtle. As sort of a side note to discussions last night during our chapter meeting about planning for next years’ Shore Leave, they off-handedly said, “We might not be here for that”. My friend Jim and I made exactly the same stunned “Whoa!” as the conversation quickly changed topic.

What is so fracking special about Tennessee? What is the special pull that is now dragging a second group of close friends away? I know they have their reasons and they all make perfect sense. But damn it, I love these people.

Hector has been open and friendly since the day we met. If I had to choose one word to describe Hector, it would be friendly. He will bend over backwards to help a friend and stand by a friendship with fierce loyalty. He has opened his home and heart to our club and made us all a part of his family.

Robert is amazing. If you were never told there were developmental issues with this young man I don’t think you’d ever know. He is the smartest and most intelligent kid his age I know other than my own son. He has amazed me on more than one occasion with his intellect. That’s not just brain power or school smarts I’m talking about but the way he thinks and how he approaches things.

When I first met Savannah she would barely make eye contact and now shares barbs and jokes with me like a pro. Her joy for life is unbounded. I’ve watched her grow into a fine young woman and I envy whatever guy she will marry. OK, I fear for him as well, but that’s his problem.

And then there’s Danette. Most of you who read this have never met her and she’s very hard to describe. We share the same twisted sense of humor. We have common experiences. We are months apart in age. I look upon her as the sister I should have had. My “real” sisters are years older than I am and we have vastly different points of view. We get each other. Danette would have been the sister I would have grown up with and shared secrets with. She would have been the sister I tortured at home and protected from other kids at school. As I write this it dawns on me that she has filled the void left by my sister Elaine who I haven’t talked with in almost 20 years. And now that void is going to be opened again.

And that sucks.

Yes, I’ve said that before about change and distant friends. I still see and talk with friends from back home on a regular basis and that is always good. My pal, Gary, moved away a few months ago but we still talk on a regular basis and it’s always as if we had just met for a movie the day before. But it’s not the same as having that person within walking distance. Crystal clear telephone lines, instant messaging, emails and once a year convention get togethers just don’t equal having those people right there in your life.

I have about six months to prepare to my friends moving. I hope for the best for them. I know we will continue to stay in touch and our friendships will remain as strong as they are now.

But it still sucks.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Another successful weekend at a convention. Or at least what I can remember of it!

There is promise of more voice work which might lead to bigger and better things and....there was this girl. But, more on that later.

We bolted up to Orlando the moment I got out of work Friday night. Thanks to the generosity of friends I was able to keep the weekend's expenses to a low by crashing in their room and borrowing an ID badge the few times I actually had to go into a function room. The usual crowd of friends were there which always makes the major reason I attend these things.

My friend Lee Stringer was there and we had the opportunity to talk shop. He is moving to Orlando to work at the DAVE school. While there, in addition to the student work he will have time to do some personal projects for which wants to use my voice. These "projects" are potential pitches for TV shows. The adrenaline rush I got as we talked was fantastic. There's supposed to be some actor's superstition about not talking about a part before you get it...FUCK THAT! I am so excited about the potential that seems laid out before me that I just want to scream!

While we were talking he made reference to me as "the talent". I told him that if I ever refer to myself as "the talent" that he has my express permission to hit me upside the head. There's a bit in the movie "Goundhog Day" where Bill Murray's character refers to himself like that in the most pompous way. I would never want to get like that. Now I have a failsafe!

Saturday night was, as always, the night for drunken debauchery and this weekend was no exception. Without John there as my "designated driver" I was free to get an inebriated as possible and I excelled. There were moments from the evening and complete conversations I had reported to me the next morning of which I have absolutely no memory. We had a ball!

The best part of this was dancing with a pretty young lady named Daphne. We had met earlier in the day playing a card game called Dalmuti. When I saw her at the dance the inhibition evaporating effects of the alcohol I had consumed allowed to go right up and ask her to dance.

I barely left the dance floor after that.

Well, let me correct that. I did leave the dance floor a few times, but I had to be told about those the next morning.

When I was sober and coherent the next morning Daphne and I exchanged email addresses and spent a few more hours playing Dalmuti. I am not blowing this episode out of proportion other than it was two people who met and spent come good time together. I will email her and hope that I will hear from her again. Maybe it an introduction that could someday grow to something else but for right now it's just two people who met and share an interest.

I'll bet you're all taking bets to see how long that self imposed restriction lasts!

As far as the stars at this show; while they weren't the reason I went I did end up see almost all of them at one moment or another. Jolene Blaylock, Ethan Phillips, Robert Beltran, Anthony Montgomery and all shared a passing hello. And then there was Linda Park. She is the ONLY reason I stayed with "Enterprise" all the way to the last episode. This girl is gorgeous! A friend was ill and not able to stand in line for her autograph and by pure luck I ended up being the one to take her place to get Linda's for her. My heart melted when after signing the photo those beautiful and wide eyes of her met mine. I said "Thank You", hoping it did not come out like babbling and drooling of some kind. I think I was successful.

I missed my son some something terrible this weekend and I'll probably post about those feelings tomorrow after I get a chance to talk with him. Right now I am still fighting the terrible fatigue that always follows a weekend like this.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

And the suckage continues.

Any plans to spend the weekend with my son have gone down the toilet. Plans were to go to a convention in Orlando. The details of getting him back and forth might have been a little tight but I was really hoping to have him join us. When I called to try to iron things out he informed me that he had plans on going to a pro football game with his aunt, uncle and other family members.

There is so much about this whole situation I want to talk over with him, but the aggravating thing is that I do not want to do so over the phone. He is old enough now where we can talk on a more mature level about the emotions involved in all of this and how this is more than just a weekend away for him. Maybe next weekend.

My only consolation is the major amount of alcohol which awaits me in Orlando. While not the best excuse in the world, it will take my mind off everything for a while.

The repairs on the van ended up topping off at $270 dollars. Thank God for pay day advances.

The other day I went up to the young lady at work and started the conversation by telling her we had an anniversary coming up. She got a strange look on her face as she tried to figure out what I meant.

"Well, it's been almost two months since I first asked you to dinner and we still haven't gone out!"

She laughed, she smiled.....but she failed to come up with a possible date.

Her birthday is coming up this weekend and my "sponsor" and a few other women I've talked with are all suggesting I play the hard to get angle right now. That I not get her a gift or even a card. I can be as desperate all I want in private but in no way should I let it show. I am at least looking forward to finding out exactly how old she is.

I know I am going to have a good time this weekend. Through the generosity of friends I won't have to pay for the hotel or to get into the show. There will be piles of free food and I haven't paid a dime for drinks at these things for the past year so I'm sure portions of the weekend will be missing from my memory once Monday morning comes. I'll try to keep notes and possibly an embarrassing photo or two.

Monday, November 07, 2005

This past weekend sucked and the suck-age has continued into this week.

The only good note so far is that my back is almost back to normal. Remember, this is "almost". I still have twinges of pain and spasm from time to time and all the damned darvocets are gone!!! I can at least move around and get my place back into to order for the first time since the hurricane.

And I had plenty of time to clean over the weekend because my van busted a hose from the radiator to the water pump and didn't move all weekend. To add insult to injury, I did get a ride into work this morning leaving my keys and AAA card in the van waiting for the tow truck to arrive. The park manager was more than willing to meet the tow truck when it arrived; so it seemed like a great plan. However, AAA didn't see it that way. Which means I have to try scheduling getting the van over to the garage and getting a ride to work all at the same time.

Oh, and did I mention a bit over $100 for the repair?!!!!

Add to that the continued problem with the fuel injection, I have come up with a name for my car. Cameron. This is in honor of the Alan Ruck character from "Ferris Beuller's Day Off". He is Ferris' good friend who sits in the car debating with himself whether or not to give in to Ferris and go to his house. Much in the same way Cameron hesitates so does this van when the fuel injection doesn't work right.

"I'll go. I'll go. I'll go. No."

That's exactly how the van sputters. You can almost hear the engine saying those exact words. I'm just hoping, much in the same way the character of Cameron comes to find himself by the end of the movie that Cameron the van will soon be firing on all cylinders.

But first, we get this radiator hose problem out of the way.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A better life through chemicals! While my back is still bothering me, I did go to the doctor on Monday where he filled me up with muscle relaxants, anti-inflamatories and pain killers. I am still walking around slowly and hunched over. That should continue to get better over the next few days.

What really sucks about the whole thing is that I missed out on going to work in costume. All the money for a costume had to go to the office visit and medication. That means that next year will be even better. I finally have found a resource for doing a costume for the office I have always wanted to do. I'll keep you guessing until then.

The other disappointment is that tonight George Takei is performing with a symphony orchestra near Orlando. I so wanted to go not only to see him perform but to surprise him with my weight loss. He had I talk a couple of times during the year but it has been almost five years since I saw him face to face.

There has been a lot made in the media aver his "coming out" as a homosexual. Big whoop! To me, a person's preferences matter little to the kind of a person he is and George is one of the best I have ever met. While the stigma attached with being openly gay has diminished over the years, I still applaud him for going public. There are probably still, even in these "enlightened" times, those who feel they have to hide who they are. I hope George's example will prove that the days of fear are over.