Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas always brings back memories of some of the best presents I ever got.

I still have one of my first toys; a train engine ride-on toy. It is jet black with a gold bell and a little bellows operated whistle I would pound on to announce my arrival.

To prove that I've always been a geek there was the year I got the GIANT 4 foot tall model of the Apollo 11. This was the complete Saturn V rocket that was taller than me that came apart in stages and had a separate lunar module so I could recreate an entire Apollo mission.

I have been scouring Ebay and trying to save a few bucks to collect another geek toy from my childhood; Major Matt Mason. He was a posable rubber action figure in while space suit and helmet. This was not as articulated or durable as a GI Joe because the rubber body was built over a wimple wire skeleton which would give out and poke out of an arm or leg after a few months use like a sickly broken bone. He had a cool jet pack, spider moon crawler, 3-story moon station and alien friend with a green see-through skull.

My belief that I had musical ability was probably seeded in the electric chord organ I got when I was either 11 or 12. An instrument that sounded more like and asthmatic bagpipe than a musical instrument, I would pound away "Beautiful Dreamer" for hours on. I was confused, years later, by sheet music that did not have letters and numbers in it.

The months of fall just before Christmas were Mission:Impossible time for me. I would search every inch of the house searching for my Christmas stash. My mother was done with her shopping my August so I knew that my gifts were wrapped and ready even before I went out Trick or Treating. I would set off on my safari armed with the double edged Gillette blade from my father's razor and a roll of tape. Once I would find my booty I would carefully slice through the tape just enough to either see what the gift was or, in the case of an anonymous gift box, slide the gift out to open and see the hidden treasure.

The other side of this was it was also honing my acting skills as each year I gave a stellar performance that would garner applause from Larry Olivier. OK....yes, I was a little shit about it and I did feel very bad the one year my mother found out what I had been doing. I was 16 and I was getting a 35mm camera. I was overjoyed to get it and it became one of my most used gifts ever. I don't remember how my mother found out but I clearly remember she was more upset that my father had been so excited about getting the camera for me. My feigned surprise that Christmas was an extra good performance not only because I really liked the gift but because the entire time as I opened the gift my mother's eyes were locked on me with a wild homicidal glare motivating me with simple self-preservation.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

My ex-wife surprised me today.

We were on the phone comparing notes about holiday plans when, for some reason she said, "Oh! I was thinking of you the other day! She said it with a smile in her voice so I knew it was nothing with legal entanglements.

"What?" I asked, still pensively.

"We're having our kitchen cabinets redone."

That was all she had to say and we both broke out into laughter.

Back in 1980 I was working at WHIM, a country radio station in Rhode Island. My ex and her family were regular listeners. Actually, that's putting it mildly; the were fanatics. On either my first or second day on the job I was told about her family and was quickly added to their list of DJ's they call on an almost constant basis.

My ex was in high school at the time and had a crush on almost every male on the air staff. Jim O'Brien was first; her pubescent heart skipped a beat at the mere mention of his name and I swear still does to this day. Mike Bessette and I seemed to be second choice, and we were happy to be; it was a safe place. Kevin O'Connor seemed to fall into the older cousin she wished really wasn't a cousin and they have developed a strong friendship over the years. Chuck Hinman was older and seemed like an uncle of sorts.

All of us, though, we constant targets of almost endless phone calls, meeting them at almost every remote broadcast and numerous visits to the station. Needless to say, our relationship ended up going a little further than that, but that was years after leaving that station and could be a whole series of blog entries on their own. All the time I was working there we flirted with each other. I was a little bit older and I'm sure the attention from one of her crushes made her feel good. One of the first times our relationship stepped outside of the radio station was when he mother was looking for someone to redo their kitchen cabinets.

I was making little money working part time at the station and was going to college so the offer of a few extra bucks for simple stripping, re-painting and lining of cabinets seemed like an easy enough job and I got to hang out with my ex; which, at the time, seemed like not too bad a thing.

I must have gone there a half dozen time and gotten about half of the job done. Then, something came up and I never got back to finish. It's been so long that I don't even remember but it eventually became a joke between my ex and I. Of course, our relationship ended up like the cabinet job and I don't think she's ever mentioned it before today.

It was nice to hear the nostalgia in her laughter. She seemed to actually look back on something in our shared past with affection. There have been times, since our divorce, when we could not be in the same room for more than three minuets without breaking into shouting matches of insults and recriminations. Suddenly, I was back in the cramped studio in East Providence talking with a giggly teenager 2 minuets and 30 seconds at a time in between country western records. The "passionate" love is long since dead and gone but I can honestly say that I do love my friend after all these years.

It was the nicest present she never knew she gave me.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Apparently, I'm gonna live!

Of course, the results were met with the usual response.

My friend, Sondra, from the health clinic at Shawshank called when the results came in, "I'm shocked and amazed!"

"What do you mean by that?" I asked.

"You numbers are perfect! You're in great condition. I never would have expected it!"

"Oh, you mean I only look like shit?!"

I still haven't followed up with my doctor but after going over them with the clinic staff and google'ing the numbers myself everything does look pretty much text book. Which is a great relief to me. My cholesterol is normal, I am not diabetic and my PSA numbers (the one I was really nervous about being my first test for this) were normal.

The reason I haven't seen my doctor yet is because he is waiting for the results from the heart monitor I had to wear for 24 hours. While it was annoying enough to have wires stuck to my chest and an over-sized tape recorded hung on my hip not to mention the joy of trying to sleep and not dislodge any of the wires and contact the real fun was removing the five glues on contacts.

I felt so sorry for the technician when I removed my shirt and she saw the contacts glues not only to my chest but the fur like chest hairs. If you've ever seen Robin Williams in "The Fisher King".....well, I could have been a body double for him! Knowing the pain it would inflict, the technician suggested I remove the contacts myself. Figuring the good, old fashioned band-aid-one-quick-tug-and-it's-over would work the best. The girl jumped each time I yanked a contact off with it's own little clump of hair attached.

It really wasn't that bad. I finally got the damned monitor off me but I was left with five little bald spots.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Last night was our company Christmas party. For the past few years they have held it under tents in our parking lot and have always had a fantastic set up. This year was no exception. However, they promoted it as a "formal" event. Usually, it is set as a semi-formal, I'm guessing, as a celebration of our being merged with a bigger company.

Still, I wondered, did they expect some of us to afford formal wear on what we make at our jobs. I searched high and low and was able to find just the right "formal" attire that would reflect a Shawshank paycheck.

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The gentleman in the photo with me is my pal, Mel. He and I are the two surviving members of our training class from 10 years ago. He and I now have more seniority on the job than ANY member of upper management. We have seen CEO's come and go and to go from a company of 200 employees in a privately owned company to 2,000 employees of a division of one of the largest pharmaceutical corporations ion the country.

It is amazing that a dope who wears a tux t-shirt has survived 10 years in the coprorate world!

Well, at least until Monday!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I gave in to my age to day and went to the doctor for the 50,000 mile check up.

It has been two years since I've actually been in the office and that was all I heard from each nurse, office clerk and the doctor himself. You'd think they'd be happy I've been healthy enough NOT to have to be there. I had been planning on this visit but have been experiencing an odd reaction to, of all things for me....eating.

Since my gastric bypass, every time I would have either pasta of dairy products I would experience a major fluctuation in my blood sugars, my hear would race and I'd end up taking a nap to let my body get back to normal. I've gotten used to it and it really wouldn't happen all too often. Occasionally, I would even use it as a cheat to get to sleep; a little Ben & Jerry's and I'd be off to la-la-land.

OK, not the best thing to do, but effective and lots cheaper then Ambien.

So I have had a couple of pints of blood drained out of me along with a few other bodily fluids and will be heading back to the doctor's office to get a heart monitor.

Ahhhhh.....the joys of being middle aged!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

It's decorating time again at Shawshank and I dove in as I usually do. There is something missing from my display this year....54 Santas. In moving a box crammed full of the Santas I have collected so far has been misplaced. It is my mission this weekend to scour the garage to find them.

Until then.....

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This year I was very Martha Stewart when it came to the wrapping paper. I spent a total of 2 hours matching the pattern.
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And I'm glad I spent the time.
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Now if I can only find those danged Santas!!!

Monday, December 03, 2007

If you're a Beatles fan you fall into one of two camps; you either like Paul or you like John. There's no middle ground. You either think Paul was a master songwriter and John was a trouble maker who went astray mixing politics and music or you think John was a poet and Paul wrote jingles.

As I was driving around doing some Christmas shopping today Paul's "Having a Wonderful Christmas Time" came on the radio. I was in just the right relaxed mood that I started singing along with it. Suddenly I started listening to the bouncy electronic piano and repetitive lyrics.

Ding, dong, ding, dong
Ding, dong, ding, dong

The mood is right
The spirits up
Were here tonight
And that's enough
Simply having a wonderful Christmas time
Simply having a wonderful Christmas time

The word is out
About the town
So lift your glass
And don't look down
Simply having a wonderful Christmas time
Simply having a wonderful Christmas time

That last part of the chorus is repeated 10 times.

Compare that to John's Christmas song, "War is Over"

So this is Xmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Xmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Xmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
And so happy Xmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight

A very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Xmas
And what have we done
Another year over
A new one just begun
And so happy Xmas
We hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
War is over, if you want it
War is over now

Hmmmmmmmmm......Which song carries as much relevance today as the day it was written?

Damn, I miss John!

Paul sucks!

Friday, November 30, 2007

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A hero has died.

No one stands out more in my memories of age 9 - 13 more than Evel Kenievel. He was Superman brought to life. He had the super hero costume complete with cape.And THAT hair! He wore a damn helmet and still had a do that wouldn't quit.

He defined swagger. He looked at each stunt with as much fear as a normal man would look at walking off the curb. He spoke plainly and straightforward. He was also damned good looking. I had no real understanding of it at that age, but something in me knew he got all the girls because of the way he acted.

As I got older and learned more about him and how he lived his life I admired him more. Yes, he was flawed and yes, he made mistakes. But, he stood right up for each decision he made in his life; good or bad, and said to the world, "Fuck you if you don't like it." I like the fact he too a bat to the knees of the guy who wrote an unauthorized biography filled with nothing but lies. I like the fact he hired limos for all of the guys getting out of jail the same day he did to take them home.

This guy was chutzpah defined.

Thinking of Evel brings back other good memories from that time. In the 6th grade my friend, Al McCall and I were avid Evel fans. We watched every jump on ABC's Wide World of Sports. We has September 8, 1974 marked on our calendars from the moment the Snake River jump was announced. I can still picture myself planted in front of the TV watching the jump while playing with my Ideal Evel Kenievel "gyro-energizer" stunt motorcycle.

These wimps in the X-Games owe everything they have to Evel. As they make piles of cash from winnings and product endorsements for simply flipping a dirt bike 20 feet in the air they are riding on the back of a giant who hurtled himself 10 times that distance and speed.

All they while they yelling, "Party on, dood!"

Before each jump Robert Craig Kenievel would tell us to believe in ourselves and believe on our dreams.

Gee...which sounds better to you?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Food for thought about the writers strike.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The reason I haven't posted for quiet some time is, honestly, not that much has been going on.

Until today.....

I got a call from KC, the guy who runs the sound studio where I have been doing all my voice over jobs for the DAVE School. He had an outside job for which he thought I would be prefect. It is for a water taxi/tour boat business in the Virgin Islands. It has a pirate theme to it and for some odd reason when KC thought of pirates he thought of me!

This water taxi will ferry tourists around the Virgin Islands in an open boat decked out with all kinds of pirate artwork. As they go around there will hear sounds of pirates, battles and a scripted story will tour them around the area.

We had tried for the last week to work out a time which fit into my work schedule and with the holiday happening as well things didn't fall into place until this morning. To me it was a perfect sign of how much this means to me. I left an email for my boss telling her I wouldn't be in to work until late in the afternoon and would make up my hours. While almost any day I get ready for work at Shawshank I am dragging myself every step of the way; for this job I was up at 5:15 and out of the house and hour later for the 90 minuet drive to the studio. I even made it there before KC.

For almost two hours we created a world of pirate noises. From an evil pirate captain, to a drunk singing pirate on the dock, background people and 10 minuets of nothing but "Arrrggggggghhh's" and pirate laughter. And that's what it was, creating something. We tossed ideas around, twisted voices around and created a world to surround this water taxi.

I was in heaven.

And I got paid for it as well!!!!!!

I had gotten up before the sun, driven almost 200 miles round trip within 6 hours and still gone to my job at Shawshank...all to be able to do this recording session. When KC first offered my the job he couldn't get over the fact I was willing to do all this. I simply said to him, "Look, it's a job and I'm hungry for the work. This is what I want to do and if you're offering me a paid gig; I'm there." No, it's not the kind of job that is going to really build my resume but I have just proven to my first producer outside of the DAVE School my dedication to the work and maybe someday a casting director from Nickelodeon or Dreamworks will ask him about my work ethic and at least he'll be able to say, "Yeah, that crazy bastard will do anything for a job!"

It's something Billy West said the time he and I got to talk. He spoke about how some people are overwhelmed by the volume of work he has and the variety and number of jobs. He said, "There's never a job that isn't worthy. If someone is willing to pay for your talent and you're able to go there and create something, then it's worth it. It's always about the work."

That's what today was.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Gee, is that a shock?!

Again, this year I went all out. First was a party this past weekend. We had 15 people here; most from my Trek club and two friends from Tampa. As I said to them, "My friend's house is yours!"

We had a great time with food, costume contest, a showing of "Monster House" and lots of friendly conversation. For decoration we had come up with the idea of floating Jack O'Lanterns in the pool. It worked out so well. My son John and the neighbor's daughter did the carving and we put glow sticks in them for light. There were two of them that sunk down below the water with just the stems sticking out, but, because they had the glow sticks in them, they continues to glow under the water!I wore my "Planet of the Apes" makeup which meant another yearly shaving of the beard.

Here is a link for photos from the party.

Since I had already shaved off the beard, I decided to put that to good use since Halloween itself was a work day. Here is how I went to work today!

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As you can see, I was well within dress code and was allowed to stay in my outfit all day. The jokes flew all day of course. It is getting harder and harder to top myself each year. I'll probably need all year to come up with something.

I can just hardly wait for the damned beard to grow back in!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Well, here's something that hasn't happened in quite a long time.

I was sitting watching TV earlier tonight when the phone rang; it was Julie. No, that wasn't what I was talking about. As the conversation went along she asked what I was doing for the evening and wanted to know if she could take me up on an offer for dinner.

Up[ until now, due to work schedules, her kids, illness and more we have been doing little more than lunch together almost every day. While that isn't a bad thing, of course, it is little more than a rushed 30 minuets trying to digest and talk at the same time. No the best way to get to know each other.

I had occasionally made suggestions and we would have tentative plans but something would seem to come up. And just like I worried how much my son might have been drifting apart from me I also worried that things might never really take off with Julie. All those worries flew out the door the moment I got that call.

Well, the worries went out the door and panic took over!

We agreed on dinner and she ended up having to bring two of her daughters with her; oh, good....the kid test! I hung up the phone and raced through shower, shave and finding something to wear. I think I was ready within 8 minuets when it took her almost an hour to arrive. She had Olivia her 18 month old Gerber Baby of a child and Nicki, her 5 year old clone. A 2 foot tall carbon copy of her mother, she played the shy child, hiding behind her mother every step of the way into the house. The minuet she saw my Spongebob Squarepants throw pillow and all of the stuffed animals and doll house in the girl's room she was apparently sold on me.

We went to the local Carraba's when I continued to win Nicki over. The waitress gave her a pile of pizza dough to play with and we spent the evening making all kinds animals but somehow making nothing but animal's butts. She laughed out loud at using the word and with the twinkle in her eye a child gets when they can get away with something a little "bad" with the approval of an adult. Yes, I seemed to have won her over.

Julie, on the other hand turned red each time her daughter said the word "butt". My 16 year old parenting skills might have earned me some points with her as well.

Time will tell.

Something else that hasn't happened in a while was the first kiss. There's this wonderful moment in Woody Allen's "Annie Hall" :

Hey, listen, listen.


Gimme a kiss.


Yeah, why not, because we're just gonna
go home later, right?


And-and uh, there's gonna be all that
tension. You know, we never kissed before
and I'll never know when to make the right
move or anything. So we'll kiss now we'll
get it over with and then we'll go eat. Okay?

Oh, all right.

And we'll digest our food better.




They kiss.

So now we can digest our food.

I had something in mind to say. Not quite as clever as Woody Allen, but still, I thought, cute and humorous enough to break the tension of the moment. Or, so I thought.

What happened? Well, let's just say it may need a re-write. We talked about it a little and I hope there will be a chance to have a do-over for that moment. We both agreed it had been a while since we've dated and that may have led to some nervousness on both our sides.

Again, time will tell.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I can tell I am NEVER going to grow up.

On Tuesday I rushed to the store to buy Kid Rock's newest CD "Rock and Roll Jesus". One of the cuts on it is "So Hott". It is a heavy rock flavored song that kicks off with a thumping drum intro, rolls into screaming guitar and lyrics that are juvenile and sexist.

I sat there in my car with the music blaring as loud as I could make it. The speakers crackled as the sound overwhelmed them. The rear view mirror shook in rhythm and my seat vibrated with each hit of the drums. Kid's voice screamed and I'm sure I saw someone in the lane next to me sneering at me the same way I find myself doing at ghetto wannabe's with their bass boxes the size of Connecticut. This time, though, it was me being the noise nuisance.....and I didn't care.

The driving strength and raw quality of the song energized me. I felt adrenalin in my blood like I hadn't in a long time; and then, I remembered. Kid Rock had tapped into a memory from when I was a hormonal teenager listening to Kiss' "Flaming Youth". It was a little know track buried on the 2nd side of "Destroyer" that was released as a single but only got to #73 on the charts in 1976. To me, though, it was an anthem. It was as close to pubescent rebellion I had gotten at 14. Every time I had some disagreement with my parents I would close the door to my room and put "Destroyer" on the record player dropping the arm on "Flaming Youth". Whatever my seething anger aimed at my parents was channeled through that song.

My parents think I'm crazy and they hate the things I do
I'm stupid and I'm lazy, man, if they only knew
How flaming youth will set the world on fire

As I sat there in my SUV with Kid Rock shaking my car the each side on every side of me, I felt that same adrenalin I felt back in the small bedroom with the light blue walls covered in Star Trek and Kristy McNichol posters. In some posts I have bemoaned the fact that I am not in the same position in life that others my age are. As I sat there swinging my shoulder length hair to such a ridiculous song it didn't matter to me. I was alive and a piece of music had revived a primal reaction. There are some in my life who haven't had a primal reaction in years. I felt sorry for them and reveled in what I was feeling.

On a side note, "Rock and Roll Jesus" is easily Kid Rock's best work. There is classic rock, hip hop, country and heavy metal all mixed together proving that this guy is a real artist. To see how far he has come from scratching beats in Detroit clubs to such a well rounded musician is amazing. If this doesn't get an Grammy there is something wrong in the universe.

If you'll excuse me I'm going to go driving around in the car listening to the CD an annoying as many people as possible.

Monday, October 08, 2007

I apparently have a new addiction.


I can't stay out of the pool. I have been in almost every day since moving in. Even on days when it rains I try to get some time in the pool. The weather here in Florida does make this easy as day time temperature is still in the 90's. However, the times when it rains more than one day in a row the water temperature does chill of a little.

But still I go in.

I have taken some days to lounging in the jacuzzi with a cigar. I use an old SPAM tin as an ash tray. If balanced just right it floats upright in the water.

I have learned to look before getting in the pool. After all; this is Florida. I went to get in the Jacuzzi recently and there was a small land crab sitting at the bottom. After some careful manuvering hand skimmer I had lifted him out of the water and tossed him over the hedge in to the canal. I'm sure he was pissed off. Not as pissed off as he had been if I hadn't noticed him before sitting down in the Jacuzzi!

Julie says she is expecting to see my hair turn blonde any day now. Another friend at work was kind enough to point out that "the grey hairs don't turn color like that any more!"

My son even had the last word about the pool recently in a conversation that brings into question the odd of his reaching his 17th birthday. He was supposed to come up here this past weekend but had to cancel at the last moment due to ROTC obligations. Since it was school related I was the understanding father but took advantage of the opportunity to bust his chops.

He took advantage of the conversation to prove genetics.

ME: That's OK. I'll just stay here this weekend and relax in the pool.

JOHN: I have a pool, too.

ME: Mine is bigger.

JOHN: Yeah, but I have friend to go in mine with me!

My only consolation is that he is so much like me it must drive him mother nuts!

Monday, September 24, 2007

So...what do I do in my spare time?

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Used to be a time when I would come home from work and unwind with an episode of General Hospital. Now, weather permitting, I don't even get to GH until after a good dunk in the pool! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh........

This weekend hasn't been good for pool time as we have had a lot of rain come through the area. That makes most of the water cold rain water and no sunlight to warn the water makes for quite a chilly swim. Not as if that has stopped me much!

Believe it or not, I was even upset at the nasty weather this weekend which stopped me from mowing the lawn again. Yes.....I WANTED TO mow the lawn.

There goes my father laughing at me again. You'd think he'd get tired of that!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I that every time I go to Orlando I come back talking about some sort of epiphany I have. Well...tonight is no different. Tonight I met one of my heroes. I met a guy I wish I were. I guy I want to be. I met voice actor Billy West.

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Billy does about a million voices, most notably Fry on "Futurama" and Ren from "Ren and Stimpy". He had done work on the latest project at The DAVE School. (More on that later) As we waited to get into the theater I was introduced to Billy, gave a basic fanboy response and then said, "I think I have the same genetic defect you do because I want to do what you do!" He smiled, laughed and then dove into a 10 minuet dissertation on just the defect. We spoke the same language; and it only got better as he talked about the greats of today he works with; Rob Paulson, Maurice LaMarche and others. Google the names if they don;t ring any bells. For Billy and me, we were talking about some of the most creative and talented people on the planet. And it was just him and me. My idol, Dawes Butler, dies almost 20 years ago, but if I had had the opportunity to meet him I am sure it would have felt much as it did as I sat there talking shop with Billy West. He was attentive, funny and, most importantly, encouraging of my interest in getting into voice acting.

To add to this whole thing, the graduating class project I was there to see was a mock episode of "Tofu, The Vegan Zombie". This is the project which my friend at the DAVE School is trying to sell to Nickelodeon.

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To see the characters come to life along with a killer theme song was just another adrenalin boost to the evening. The possibilities for this seem even clearer and clearer. I know not to get my hopes up as there are hundreds of pilots pitched every day but the energy and momentum building on this seems too good. A toy of Tofu will be in the stores by November and there are negotiations brewing for a comic book. The next step is a trailer for the show which will include my character. More on that as work progresses. Tofu may be coming to a TV near you soon!

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Last night was the prefect counterpoint to the funk I've been in over work at Shawshank recently. Billy talked about sitting across the table from people with absolutely no ideas in their head and then being around and working with people who had some of the most imaginative ideas possible only made me think of Shawshank. Each time I pass my hand through the hand scan time clock I mutter, "Nickoledeon". With every mindless business email I get I whisper, "Tofu". While it doesn't make it easier to suffer through a day there it does give me hope for the day I can finally shake off the mausoleum dust of that place off of me and do what I am feeling more and more that I was meant to do.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The sound you hear is my father laughing!

I have just finished mowing the lawn. I have not mowed a lawn since somewhere in the 1970's. Granted, it was a little easier with Jason's self-propelled mower. Although, we didn't have the 30 degree sloped swails in my yard or the 90 degree heat either! I figure it's a fair trade for staying here rent free.

Yes, the one thing that made up for it all was being able to drop on the pool as soon as I was done.

The reason I'm doing this is one of the other bits of news that has happened since my move.


She is a 27 year old single mom who works in my office. A few weeks ago we started talking and I finally got up the never to offer my phone number which she happily took. We have gone out to lunch once so far and she is supposed to come over for a swim sometime today.

It's very early on and only something very casual at this point but I still had to make the place presentable to make an impression. Speaking of which....I have some dusting to do.

DAMN! There goes my father laughing again!!!!!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Today is something of a significant day for me.

#1 I am officially no longer residing in my trailer in Jensen Beach.

#2 It was ten years ago I started working at my current job.

The reason I have not blogged in so long is that I have finished moving into my friend Jason's house. My landlord made me stick to a strict 30 day notice for moving so I was paid on the rent until today. I had spent 6 years and 15 days in that trailer. As I took a last look around I had memories flood back. The Christmas mornings with my son, friends visiting, evacuating from the hurricanes...yes, as usual, I got nostalgic. OK, so I won't miss the water damage from the hurricanes, the cockroaches or the occasional ignorant neighbors. Overall, it was a nice place to be and, if necessary, is on my list of possibilities when my stay here is done.

My son, to prove his genetic link, walked in to the house with the last box, set it down, looked around the living room as big as the old trailer and said, "Nah! Dad, let's take all the stuff back. This place ain't good enough!"

To further prove the genetics, I had the opportunity to meet his girlfriend, Sara. I shook her hand and said to her, "You let yourself be seen in public with him?!"

She turned to him and said, "Why does everyone say that to me?!"

She is very pretty and they seem to have a really nice relationship going. They have been dating for almost 6 months; a lifetime at 16.

I had a hell of a time with the phone company during the move. They didn't get the service transferred when they said they would and left me without a phone over the Labor Day weekend. They also left me without DSL. Even though I had DSL and Jason had DSL because of the limited availability of nodes in the area as soon as both of our services were moved I was effectively put at the back of the line of a waiting list. So, I now have DSL with a local cable provider and am about to switch my regular phone over to Vonage and tell Bell South to kiss off.

I have made the place my own by putting put my pictures and nick nacks. I have spent time in the pool every day. The house is about 5 times the size of my trailer and I thing I spent an hour my first night here just walking back from one end of the house to another. I called Jason after my first night here and told him that I had already decided he can't move back!

My 10th anniversary with my company is a little bitter sweet. It is nice to have been somewhere for so long but with the way the company had changed its not the celebration I had thought it should be. I had my annual review right on the day of my review and there were subtleties in there that proved my point.

In the same breath that I am praised for always offering suggestions on improving my job I am berated for taking too much time in making those suggestions and taking away from my production time. "We want you to make suggestion but we don't want you to take the time to do it!" There was a time when I really enjoyed my job and I'm not sure I can say that anymore. As I looked through my past evaluations I can see that I did the best when there was an element of training involved. So, in an effort to try to salvage my career there, I will continue to steer myself towards the training department.

Of course, I will keep on hoping for Nickelodeon to come though!!!!!!!

Speaking of which, I am headed up to Orlando again Wednesday for another DAVE School graduation. This will give me the opportunity to hound the people working on the series they are pitching to Nick. Also, I will have the opportunity to rub elbows with someone who is doing what I want to do, Billy West. He did the voice of Ren on "Ren and Stimpy", Bender on "Futurama" and about a thousand others. I am dying to have the chance to pick his brain about breaking into this kind of work.

For now, though....back to the pool!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Last night was another wonderful night and I'm still exhausted. I was the co-host for our company talent show. This was the 5th annual show and my friend, Kenny and I were the emcees. It was an amazing night.

Occasionally there have been acts that were just slightly on the lame side, but this year was exceptional. We had musical acts and each one of them were right on the money. There was a sax player who had the house in the palm of his hands. There were two comedians including one guy who was less than perfect last year but hit every joke perfectly and had timing and pacing that had the audience laughing all the way through. I did help him a little by tightening up with writing but the material is only half of the ability; he was really funny!

I had my moment, not only as co-host but in a mini-set by myself at the beginning of the second half of the show. After the intermission I came out and told some of my older material that a lot of the audience had never heard before and it all worked as well as it did five years ago. The best moment of the night was when I led the audience in the Spongebob theme song. Last year I had tried to get them to do our monitor statement in unison and it was luke warm. Funny, but still didn't work as well as I had wanted. This time I came out and talked about how I had wanted to sing a song myself but had not been able to get the music together but if anyone had ever seen my desk at work they would know what song I had settled on.

With that I did a perfect Clancy Brown/Mr. Crabs impression yelling out, "Are ya' ready, kids?!"

And the audience immediately screamed back, "Aye, aye, captain!"

I swear almost 95% of the audience was singing along in perfect unison!!!


Between traveling through two time zones over the weekend, working and then rehearsal and the show I was spent by the end of the show. We didn't get out until 10:30PM and I don't think anyone had noticed that the show had ended up at almost 3 hours.

I am looking forward to plenty of sleep!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Karma is such a wonderful thing.

When I returned to work today I went to where I had just moved my desk as part of our department's move to a different part of our building. When I got to what I remember being my cubicle only to be met by a completely empty desk. My first assumption was that they had decided to move me around again while I was gone and simply lugged all of my crap for me. Standard procedure when someone is away on vacation.

I went into the office of my department head and asked, "OK, I give up; where's my stuff?"

She looked me straight in the eye and said, "We'll give you your work for the day....and then we'll talk."

This, apparently, was the moment when all the blood left my face because she immediately said, :Come here, let me show you." She led me to an empty office where all of my belongings had been hidden. She had a big shit eating grin on her face for successfully playing her part.

Yes, I had fallen for it; hook, line and sinker.

As my heart began working again I immediately put together a hit list of possible suspects. My first choice, the girl to whom I had done the newspaper wrapping gag, denied any part in it. She had been "invited to the party" but found out too late.

"PARTY"?!!!!! This had been a group effort apparently and it was all masterminded by my "friend", Crystal. When she heard how well it had played out she walked around for the remained of the day with a smug grin on her face. She would occasionally stop my and giggle or, at lunch, just look at me with a self satisfied smile that she had beaten the master.

Of course, this only means that now it's my turn again!

Monday, August 13, 2007

The next few posts are done after the fact as I've had a very busy week and a half since getting back from Denver.

WOW! Denver! What a beautiful city. My flight there was hassle free and I got in early enough to do some sight seeing. The best difference from Florida was that while it was 93 degrees I was able to be outside without sweating my ass off. There is a pedestrian mall right outside of the hotel and I spent the afternoon walking around and taking the free bus from one end to the other.

Friday was the ECAB meeting. For those not Starfleet affiliated, this is the annual board meeting of our organization. It is a mix of tedium, procedure and bullshit. This year was highlighted by some old business involving some nasty politics and personality conflicts within the organization. You would think that an organization based on such a forward thinking concept as Star Trek would be devoid of childish personalities, backstabbing and just plain idiocy. At times, it seems to run rampant. Luckily, I was able to help broker a deal on one of the problems and, unfortunately, had the other problem slip between my fingers due to a number of factors all hitting at the same time.

I have been in Starfleet international since 1986 or 1987 and have seen all matter of butt-headed goings on. I have seen people steal from the organization. I have seen two faced liars in positions of responsibility. I have seen and endured some of the most frustrating and immature people pretending to be more important than they really are.

In the same breath....I have made some of my best friends in Fleet. I have done some good works. I have been to interesting places. I have met the actors I watched as a kid and made close friends with some of them. Fleet may even be the doorway to the career of I have always dreamed.

I have stayed with it for all these reasons and more. It is more than a devotion of my appreciation of a TV show. There is a heap of political bullshit happening now in the organization; it's part of the beast. Now, that it is election season, it is simply piled a little higher than usual. The organization will survive and probably proser. There are indications that many more people are getting more and more tired of some of this bullshit and are trying to make changes in the nuts and bolts of the organization in order to save it.

Wow.....how did I get on THAT soapbox?!

The rest of the weekend was OK. There were some organization and planning problems with the conference itself but I was able to have enough fun, meet enough people and drink enough alcohol to make up for the bad parts.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

This weekend I am headed off to Denver Colorado for the annual Starfleet International Confrence. Yes, it's a geek fest! Yes, it's an excuse to drink. It is also our annual Board of Directors meeting mandated because we are a non-profit organization. The rest of it is just a perk.

My return to Florida on Sunday will be the start of some major changes around here; the biggest is that I am moving.

My friend Jason, who is soon to elevated to the level of "saint" is married to an unbelievably patient woman who works as a cardiac ultrasound technician. This is a VERY high paying job which is in great demand. So much so that there is a whole network of these techs who travel around the country working months at a time from hospital to hospital. Each job pays extremly well along with living expenses, food stipends and travel money. While they are doing this they have to maintain a permanant home residence; that's where I come in.

For the next year they will travel the country and I will be caretaker of their 4 bedroom, 2 bath, pool and jacuzzi home rent free!!!!! This little move will allow me to catch up on a number of bills and debt and also save a bundle of money which should put me in a better living situation.

Not that Sunny Acres has been all that bad. Come September 1, the day I am supposed to move, it will be 6 years exactly that I have lived here. In that time I have locked my door only when going away for an extended period of time. I have made some friends and I have had as close to a home as I have had since moving here. It is a relatively quiet neighborhood and the people around me are good.

The landlord is another matter. But, I'll save that part of the story for another post since I have to go pack for Denver.

Monday, August 06, 2007

There have been no blogs in a while? My son was here for a week....what do you expect?

It was a great week. Before he got here I had been obsessing, in the deep dark recesses of my mind, that he had turned ultra-teenager and simply didn't want to be around me any more. That was completely dispelled. Each day was so natural and easy between us, as if he lived here all the time. We had discussions about trivial matters, TV, movies but also had deep discussions about his future and family.

Part of this discussion was that he had an interest in becoming a police officer. I swear the picture of my father in the living room smiled more when he said that. Ya' see, it's genetic. His grandfather was a cop, his aunt was a cop, his godfather was a cop, I worked for my police department for 5 years and his step father is a cop. His step dad didn't seem too supportive of the idea and I will admit that it threw me for a moment. I talked over with his the good and bad of the job but reminded him that, ultimately, the decision was his.

I talked to him a little about parental expectations. How, no matter how hard we fight not to be our parents that is exactly who we end up being. That we see that little infant in a diaper and imagine him addressing a joint session of congress or curing cancer even before he is able to control his own bladder. I told him how excited I was when he was looking into animation or cartoon work; imagining him designing a cartoon or computer game and he doing voices for it. But I again reminded him that it is his life and no one else's.

I felt very Ward Cleaver when it was over.

The best part of this whole weekend was that I began to feel that I was no longer talking to my "child" but to a man. We talked on an even level and it was an exchange of ideas and emotions. I used to enjoy walking along the river near here with him on my shoulders. We would debate who was the better superhero, Superman or Batman. When that was done we would invent superheroes of our own making; mixing and matching superpowers and imagining what Super Dog Man would look like. I miss those days but I am so happy and proud of the man who sat beside me this weekend and told me where he sees his life headed.

Ward Cleaver never had it so good!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Boy is here!

Well, ok.....to call him "The Boy" seems sillier and sillier as he is getting older. Now taller than me and sprouting a pubescent attempt at a goatee he hardly fits the title of "boy".

But since he is mine.....I'll keep using the title!

My friend Jason drove me down to pick him up and then we went to see "The Simpsons Movie". It was pretty good; I'm sure it would have been much better if it had been written years ago when they first started talking about a big screen adaptation, but it was funny. Technically, it was amazing. Crisper and clearer than we have ever seen them before and in the wide view of the movie screen it seemed as if you were driving along with them as the rode the streets of Springfield.

Afterwards we had dinner and then Jason let me borrow the car for the remainder of the weekend. It has given John and me chances for long talks. I asked 1,001 questions about his girlfriend and marveled at his reactions as he answered each one. He smiled at the mention of her name and his eyes laughed as he thought one story about her after another. It is amazing to see those emotions coming from him.I kept coming up with question after question because I was enjoying watching him answering them as much as I was enjoying learning more about the girl who had caused such emotions.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My son's visit this week has been delayed by a day due to his mother's health. She is having some major thyroid issues and John helps out watching his younger brother and sister. What a good boy!

This extra day has given me the opportunity to stage a fantastic practical joke on a friend of mine at work. Theresa is on vacation somewhere in South America. In the days and weeks leading up to her vacation we were treated to an almost daily countdown to her departure. I decided to make sure her return to work was just a memorable and wrapped her desk in newspaper.

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EVERYTHING on her desk; telephone, radio, keyboard and wrist support...

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Even all the little knick-knacks.

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As I sat there , after I clocked out mind you, and was just about to finish having only some manuals and her chair to cover; corporate stupidity hit. I was approached by a supervisor from my department who brought a message from the manager of my friends department; I was being asked to stop where I was. I had anticipated some reaction from management which is why I did not completely wrap her computer; I did not want to be accused to creating a fire hazard or damaging company equipment. I have no idea exactly what the manager's complaint was and decided to play nice and go along with the request. This was going to have its desired affect anyway.

This is, of course, another example of the corporate head being so far up its own ass. I did this not only to bust chops on a friend but as a morale boost for other workers; to bring a little smile and laughter into Shawshank. We are so hammered into walking in, clocking in, logging in and not having interaction with co-workers that everyone needs to be reminded that there are other people around them.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Eaton Car Mojo continues!

Last night I had dinner at my friend Jason's. After dinner we piled into his car to take me home. We stopped for a moment to get something at a convenience store; a quick stop and back on the road. We weren't on the road more than a few hundered feet when he starts tugging at the wheel.

The car had died!

It lost all power and the dash was lit with all kinds of warning lights.

"I didn't do anything!" I said putting my hands up.

We rolled to a stop in a driveway to get out of traffic. Jason tried over and over again to start the car but there simply was no power there at all. In the summer warmth, even at 8PM, the car began to turn into a sauna and his 3 year old little girl in the back seat began getting antsy. He called his wife and eventually we switched off cars, AAA was called and the car went off to the garage.

When the mechanic called the next day even he was amazed at the cause of the problem. There is a switch on the fuel pump which feeds fuel into the fuel line. This little switch was broken and was, as the mechanic described it, ready to fall off. It very rarely happens and the entire garage staff had no explination as to what caused it to break.

Of course, the mechanic had never met ME!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Today my son turned 16. That was the last year that I had with my father. As John passes this year I will be in virgin territory. There are experiences I never had with my father that I will have with my son. And I am looking forward to each and every one of them.

I try to think back 29 years ago to what my father and I were to each other when I was 16. While I spent every day with my father and there was little he didn't do or let me have because of his health we were distant. In one of my journals back then I had written of how I would spend hours away from home just to avoid being around him. His stroke had affected his personality. While I can't recall specifics at the time I can clearly remember the hours I would spend sitting at school between the last bell of the day and chorus rehearsal. I would sit by my locker either reading or doing my homework all in an effort to avoid being at home alone with my father.

From about 10 years of age on my father and I always shook hands good night. I don't remember who's idea it was but I can clearly remember the first time it happened. I suddenly felt grown up. Kissing was for babies; I was a "young man" now and as I took my fathers hand for the first time I felt as grown up as he was. But that was the extend of a physical display of affection I ever got from my father. I can't remember him ever hugging or kissing me.

Don't get me wrong; I love my father and miss him every day. He still affects my life almost three decades later. Someone once said that the thing they remember most about my father was how his big, loud laugh would fill a room. Almost immediaetly I made a conscious effort to alter the way I would laugh and to this day take a moment to make sure I'm putting the right amount of effort into a laugh and drop my voice down an octave before even a snicker leaves my lips.

I use these experiences as a guide to my relationship with my son. I end every phone conversation with him with the words, "I love you". When he is here, or when I drop him off, I always hug and kiss him. I can't do alot for him financially right now, but I try to make up for that emotionally. I guess, after all, that's the more important anyway.

I never drove my father anywhere. I never cooked for my father. I never bought my father a bourbon. I never watched my father dance at my wedding. I never introduced my father to his grandson. I look forward to my son wiping out each one of those statements.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


That is the number of Drunken Dialing Calls I received last night from my friends at Shore Leave. I even got one conversation in from the one member of the crowd who seemed to have been the most pissed off at me; I am sure it was because of the rum that she even got on the phone with me!

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Friday the 13th Effect that has plagued this year's trip to Shore Leave seems to be waning. Through a last minuet email from a friend in that area I was able to hook my friends up with a room in the Hunt Valley Inn for Saturday and Sunday night. This being most important, since Saturday night is PARTY NIGHT at Shore Leave.

I can already tell that the guys in the group have gotten over it for the most part as they we have talked over the phone and they are joking already with me about the whole situation. I am sure they still want to use their tazers on me, but they have moved on. My other friend....we shall see.

Meanwhile, I sit here trying to plan a financial strategy to be there next year no matter what. Of course, if that series gets picked up I could possibly be there as a guest next year!!!!! Yes, some people have career goals in the entertainment industry of fame and awards; I want to be a convention guest!!!!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

There has been a curse on this years trip to Shore Leave and today was the worst.

Each year, in anticipation of the convention I call the hotel early in the fall to reserve at least three rooms. I do this in case there are other friends who want to go or if some in our party end up with enough money to want to have a room to themselves.

Two weeks ago I had called the hotel to release the two unneeded rooms. Since I was not going this year I decided to make things a little easier on the ones who were attending to have as many little details taken care of as possible. One of these details being a mini-refrigerator for out diabetic's insulin. I started to get into an argument with the person at reservations as he kept insisting that the hotel did not have mini-fridges. I was at work and could not get into the full shouting match I usually do with hotel staff so I let it go. Until today.....

I called the Hunt Valley Inn to change the name on the reservation over to one of my friends attending. I gave them the reservation number. After a few moments of silence, "Sir, what is the name on the reservation?" I gave her my name. More silence, then, "When and where is that reservation?" I answered her to which she stated, "Sir, that reservation is for a hotel in California in November!"

I think I could actually hear my blood pressure drop.

Did I mention the convention is THIS WEEKEND!!!!!!!!

I went back to me desk and did some research and here is what appears happened. I had looked up the phone number for the Hunt Valley Inn using whitepages.com. The search did pull up the Marriott Hunt Valley Inn but it also called up the Hampton Valley Inn. I copied down the wrong phoine number and called and made my reservation. While I would swear that I specifically asked about Shore Leave and the room rates were what I expected. So, I happily went along my merry way the past 10 months secure in the knowledge I had reservations for this weekend.


I immediaetly called my friend JIm and broke the news to him. If he had not been surrounded by a dozen or so PAL kids I am sure he would have let fly with a number of colorful metaphors. OK, iot would have been enough to make a sailor blush!

I feel like absolute shit about this. I feel as if I have let my friends down. Friends who have each, at one time or another, helped me when I needed it. I know it was accidental but it does not take away from the nasty feelings I have over this.

I try to point out the positive side of this in that the mistake was found before they arrived or else they would have had to search around blindly for another room. This way, they have a room....although a mile from the convention.

With my cancelling, my son not attending, and the airline changing reservations twice; this has been one for the books. I have not talked to any of the others who are going since I dropped the bomb on Jim. I have also put pout a call to anyone with a last minuet cancellation so, with any remaining luck, something might happen to change things.

Meanwhile.....I'm crawling under a rock.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Thursday, June 28, 2007

George Takei has told me there's an actors' superstition that you never talk about the details of a pending job until you actually have the job. If you are auditioning for a part, if there is a deal in development or they are simply considering you for a part that an actor will only talk in vague generalities until he/she is technically hired and the job is a reality. I am about to test the mojo on this particular quirk.

Last night I went to the latest graduation at the DAVE school and the premiere of my work on "Aurora"; the class thesis. The show came out great and was a thrill to see it on the big screen. My own personal little thrill came as my name scrolled across the screen.

There was a reception later at which I got to talk with Ron about the next step for me. During he course of the evening I also got to talk with one of the other instructors and he dropped some BIG NEWS on me.

He has a series he is pitching to a major cable network and wants me to play a role in it!

The words came out of his mouth and I heard each of them slowly; as if my mind raced to put the clearest definition to each of them and confirm what I was hearing. The meaning and weight of each word piled on top of each other and I could feel each neuron in my brain first register what was being said and then send an extra jolt of adrenalin into my blood stream as it confirmed what I was hearing.

I fought my best not to start swinging from the exposed roof beams and pipes in the ceiling; that wouldn't be professional, I thought. As he kept talking I kept waiting for the other shoe of my typical luck to fall; but as he kept talking my involvement in it was being solidified more and more.

"We thought of you for this one character immediately and want you to do it!"

OK, I thought to myself, I won't swing from the rafters but I could dance on the high tops over there!

How concept fits the demographics of this network, he has a most natural of merchandising tie in right from the start and is something that when I have introduced people to the characters have been an immediate hit.

True to an actors' instinct I lied to try to get the job. As he was describing the character I am to play he compared him to Dr. Claw from "Inspector Gadget" I chimed right in with, "Oh, yeah; sure. I can do something like that! Yes, definitely!" While inside my head all I could picture was the image of Dr. Claw's mechanical arm which was ll you ever saw of him. I was never a big fan of the show so I had absolutely no recollection of the voice. I was hoping the panic didn't show in my face as I kept nodding yes to my ability to bring voice the the main protagonist of the show.

So, until I have signed my name to my first professional contract the details of show name, character and network will remain a mystery to but two or three of my closest friends. I want to test George's superstition and see if it will work for me. I am this close to actually be working on a series I want to have as much positive vibe working on my side.

Next month we start working on the pilot.

Monday, June 25, 2007

My PC sits in the one spot in my trailer that has the worst air flow. There are no windows and the only way to get any air is to open the back door which sits directly to my right. To do this during the middle of that day almost washes out the monitor with the sunlight pouring in.

Why do I mention this?

I was all ready to sit at my PC on Sunday and do a bunch of work I had been putting off for a while. Some time in the middle of the night before the air conditioner failed. I woke up to a stuffy trailer and it just kept getting worse. Somewhere n the past few months the yard crew had continually been trimming the grass around the central A/C unit in the back of the trailer. As the weed whacker whizzed around it had worn away the insulation on the wiring leading from the thermostat inside to the controls outside. Then as the dew of the morning formed the moisture caused the wire to arc and shorted out the transformer killing the entire unit.

Of course it decided to do this on the one day of the week when my landlord could not either run out to a supply store to get one of reach his A/C guy. SO I sat and sweat the day away.

Actually, the day wasn't all that bad. I had opened the windows and there was a gentle breeze. I did take between 6 and 8 showers during the course of the day including one at 3AM this morning. This was no where near as bad a the three weeks without electricity after the hurricanes of a two years ago.

Like everyone around me, the park manager had some fun at me expense. I called him from work today to check on the progress of the repairs. He said, "Well, it's going to take at least three weeks to get your A/C replaced!"

I told him I was going to go get a new car just so I could run him down!

Monday, June 18, 2007

How do I post this without sounding like poor, poor me?

Father's Day came and went without a phone call from my son.

OK, I take into consideration that he is away on vacation with his part of his family. Do I feel a little jealousy that his step-father got his due yesterday? I'd be lying if I didn't admit it, but it's not eating me apart. However, a phone call or even a card would have been enough.

I do take into consideration that he is about to turn 16 and can remember these things on his own. It does not mean I am angry with him, am ready to disown him, or will hold it against him.

It does however, if Eaton tradition, mean that I will bust his chops about it for quite some time.. He is coming here for the month of July and I already have his first morning planned.

"Dad? What's for breakfast?"

"Breakfast? You know, I had breakfast by myself on Father's Day!"

You can feel the love!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

My friend Jason was headed home today from his vacation in Tennessee which meant I would be giving his truck back to him. So, I decided to check in with him on his way back today.

"Hi, Jason, how was your trip?"

"It was great! I'll tell you all about it when we get home."

"Where abouts are you now?"

"Just outside Macon, Georgia."

"Oh, when are you due to get home?"

"Around 7PM."

"OK, good. Oh, and Jason?"


"I was just wondering....do you have roadside assistance on the turck?"

"Ohhhhhnnnnnnnnnnnnnooooooooooooooo! What happened?"

"You were a sucker; that's what happened!"

Now the real question here is;

Is the funniest part of the joke that Jason fell for it so easily, or that he would simply assume because I was involved that roadside assistance would be necessary?!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Here's the poster and trailer for "Aurora", the DAVE School project I worked on.

Aurora Trailer

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Another great session of recording in Orlando and another great feeling of doing what I feel the most natural doing. I arrived promptly at 3PM and we dove right into it. We recorded some new dialog and fixed only one line from the original session. We also did one extra line for a blooper scene for me character. It's an in joke for the staff and students at the DAVE School; so, if and when you see it...while it may be funny not everyone will get it. We also recorded the voiceover for a trailer. This is not actually going to be produced, but as part of his mentoring of me, Ron is going to lay in some music and sound effects for me to add this to my demo reel. I got to stop in a the school and see the film in its almost finished state. I will get to see it completed at the graduation ceremony at the end of the month.

To add to the whole day was a typical moment at work just as I was about to leave for the day. They have started a "Quality Assurance" monitoring which assures that phone reps are polite and cover all the major points they are supposed to during a call. While I applaud the company's efforts on this they are also doing it wit their usual myopic sensibility.

I have consistently scored extremely well on this monitoring. After almost ten years of doing this job...yes, I know what I'm doing. Some at my job don't. I am surprised that some of the people I work with can even operate a telephone let alone carry on a pleasant conversation with a customer. However, even the slightest deviation is beaten over our heads. Even when that deviation leads to a more efficient way of doing my job. The company mind set is that you have t be focused 100% on the call at hand and absolutely nothing else. These rules and criteria were developed by people who have style over substance as the most important thing. The criteria for this monitoring is dumbed down to the lowest common denominator to insure that the worst of our phone people can follow simple instructions in order to do their jobs. On the other hand, I am able to walk and chew gum at the same time. While consistently providing my customers with the best service I can during the call I can also multi task and handle other parts of my job at the same time.

I could rant on and on over this and anyone outside of the company would be lost and are probably tired of my company rants. Suffice to say, I am damned good at my job and have customers commenting on how pleasant compared to many others in my office. I get defensive when the quality of my work is called into question and will be very vocal if pressed by management.

On the other hand.....

On my way back from Orlando I took a back road along the Indian River to get home. I rolled down the window and turned off the car's air conditioner. It had just rained and the humidity was gone from the usually scorching June Florida air. The scent of sea air filled the car and as the stereo blared Jr. Walkers and the All Stars I forgot less and less about how my day had started and reveled in how it was ending.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My friends Jason has going out of town for a few days and he has let me borrow his car while he is gone. Another great sign on what a good friend he is.

I picked it up lat night before he and his family hit the road. I got a call this morning at 7:45AM from Jill, from whom I've been getting regular rides to work since my last car died.

"So, did you get Jason's car?"


"Don't break it!"

My friends.....gotta love 'em!

Monday, June 11, 2007

This is me!

Well, this is the character I am playing in "Aurora", the project I am doing at the DAVE School. Meet Hunter! I am headed back there on Thursday to do some more recording. Included in this will be a trailer for the film, a commercial for the DAVE School and...the part I am dying to do.....bloopers for the film.

If you have seen any of the Pixar films you will be familiar with these animated bloopers. They are done to appear as if they were done as part of the "filming" of the movie in which the animated characters break out and do real person like flubs, gaffes and practical jokes.

When I did "Runners" we recorded bloopers but they were never used, which disappointed me a little. We did one really funny one with my character, a big, hulking rock creature, being caught at the craft service table sneaking off doughnuts and responding in a very effeminate voice. It would have been very funny. This director promises me they will get done this time.

Watch for more on this after the session later this week.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Time is running out for me to make my decision abut this year's trip to Shore Leave. I just got John's refund check in the mail and I may soon have to get my own money back. This really sucks. I had paid for these so early in the year and, at that point, I could afford the trip. Now, as time grow closer and I still don't have my airline ticket, it is looking more and more as if I won't make it this year.

Yes, I'm bummed.

I have only missed one other year in the recent past and that was because of my gastric bypass surgery. Add to that, it was going to be my first year of attending without Johnny.


I'll get better.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Yeah...yeah....yeah. I'm finally posting. Are ya' happy now?

Today is the start of year 45 for yours truly and it certainly finds me in a familiar position.

I am without a car. The cost of repair finally got too much to consider and I junked her instead of throwing good money after bad. The Eaton Bad Car Mojo continues.

There is a possibility for a replacement on the horizon but the price is a painful one. A good friend of mine has offered to give me a car of his. The only down side of this is that when he does this it will mean that he and his family will be moving away. His generosity is Elvis level but I'd much rather have him and his family in the same zip code. If you've been reading this blog long enough you know how I just love those kinds of changes.

In a ying and yang kind of thing, another good friend is moving back into the area after an almost two year absence. Gary and his family moved away to Tennessee to get away from hurricane central. Now, a divorce brings him back. While I feel for him and what he's going through I am glad to have him back.

You have missed little moments over the past three weeks and I always meant to sit down but at this point even doing post dated entries would be a pain in the butt. So, we'll just move on from here.

The best present I got today was inadvertent, but one that I treasure. Over the past few months "The Other Person" and I have been talking and joking like it was old times. (Look back over entries from August to October of 2006) She was even nice enough to give me some gag gifts for my birthday. A fart noise making toy and an "Old Fart" ribbon to wear for the day. I had to laugh at the irony of her giving me that ribbon. I decided to take a chance and joke with her about it. Up until now I had decided just to be happy we had apparently salvaged our friendship that I didn't even want to look for any "closure" but could not resist making a joke about it.

I went to her and said, "You know, I could just enjoy the humor of this gift or look at it as a quiet form of retaliation for last October."

She look at me blankly, "What do you mean?" She had no idea what I was talking about.

I finally said, "Think of my blog from back then." The fog lifted and she started laughing. Seeing that she had taken it so well I said, "You mean all this time I was so happy you had forgiven me when all along you had only forgotten."

Then she looked at me and with a smile in her eyes said, "Well, maybe I had done BOTH!"

I couldn't have asked for a better present on my birthday.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

It has been proved to me that no matter how much something change they always stay the same. I found out today that I had been turned down for the transfer I had requested at work. To say words like disappointed and pissed off would be an understatement.

I had four members of management putting in recommendations for me in this position. The department to which I was hoping to move was putting emphasis on people with pharmacy division experience. Silly me; I had thought that being one of the very first sales people in the pharmacy division when it was only a test project might count as experience.

I talked with Human Resources and found out that when the department head reviewed my personnel file she found my history of "incidents" with management. She felt that these would not make me a good fit for her department. And she did this without even the courtesy of an interview. If she had interviewed me she would have found out that one incident was somewhat politically motivated and the other was ridiculous.

I do not want to blow my own horn or make it would as if I felt entitled to the job but how much more perfect could I have been for the position? Add to that the FOUR recommendations. What the FRAK does this woman need?!

I am taking the night to cool off but will be talking to her privately to find out the real basis for her decision. I don't know if there's a chance of changing her mind but I feel that I deserve an explanation.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Jack Car Curse continues.

Today my friend Jason offered to let me borrow his car for the weekend. The one hitch was that I had to get to his house to do it which is in the opposite direction my usual ride home heads. My co-worker pal, Clark, drives right by Jason's so he offered to drop me off on his way home. I would get the car and return to work to make up the time I missed being out of the office.

That was....until I got near his car.

Actually, this was his wife's car, which he is not all too familiar with all the bells and whistles on her BWM. We got out to the car and noticed a flat tire. Keep in mind that it was a bright, sunny and humid Florida afternoon in the low 90's. The idea of changing a tire in this lovely weather seems sooooo appealing.

Since Clark knew little about his wife's can and I knew even less we spent five minuets stumbling around in the trunk locating the tire and jack. I had grabbed the car's manual to help us clueless mechanics.

The jack was held on with a wing nut which was apparently tightened in the BMW factory with a pneumatic drill. Clark tried. I tried. Both of us grunted, groaned and slammed our knuckles into the immovable jack trying to get it loosened.We both realized that a tool of some kind would have made this much easier. Finally, Clark was able to get it loosened and was lifting the car off the ground.

"OK," Said Clark kneeling at the tire "Where the lug wrench?"

I searched the trunk. No sign of it. Clark got up and looked through the trunk. No luck. As CLark began cursing the Dutch auto designers I read the manual. It was something of a "V-8 Moment".

"Clark, look up." I pointed to an innocuous plastic lid embedded in the underside of the turnk lid. I unsnapped the catches and opened the TOOL BOX. Inside, we not only found the lug wrench but a shiny, unused wrench which might have come in useful 15 minuets earlier.

I began cursing the Dutch auto designers.

The tire was mounted and secured quickly and Clark began lowering the car. As it put its weight on the spare tire it continued lower and lower. Not completely flat but close enough to make a ride to the other side of town impossible. We threw everything in the trunk and limped across the street to the nearest gas station. However, as Clark held the air hose to the tire for two....three....four minuets there was no perceptible increase in its size. It was not holding the air; apparently, the flat was also bad.

30 minuets later, now almost 90 minuets since we first walked out the door of our office, a AAA tow truck arrived to bring the car to a tire shop and Clark's wife to bring me to Jason's.

During Clark's tirade against BMW he talked about how he had his eye on trading up from the BMW to a Range Rover. He stopped for a moment. Looked at the flat tire....looked at me and said,

"YOU get NOWHERE near the Range Rover!"

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I have officially been moved down the list of my son's "Important Priorities".I've been blown off because of a girl.

He missed the last weekend here because of my being sick. So, I was emailing him trying to make plans for this weekend. In particular, I pointed out to him that "Spiderman 3" was opening. I was hoping to use a major shared event like that as enticement.

To my offer, I got this response:

"Saturday is our 2 month anniversary and I kinda wanted to be here."

I immediately flashed back to being 15 and how important each of those month "anniversaries" were. At that age, you are Romeo and Juliet and there is no stronger love that what you are feeling. No one else on the planet has ever felt what you are feeling and no one else could possibly understand.

I also flashed back to June 1, 1983. This was the day that the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was released for the first time on CD. This was when CD's were first starting to break thorough into the market. they weren't as common place and you were still considered an audio buff if you were getting CD's. The record stores only had a CD section and they came in these over-sized cardboard boxes which tried to reproduce as much of the original LP cover art as possible. (This is all for my readers under 30 who don't know of the great time of vinyl and record needles.)

The release of "Sgt. Pepper" was big news; this was lending credence to the format. The greatest rock album ever was being released so that we could hear every nuance to every note and sound. Finally, the world could hear the intricate genius of the album without any snap and crackle. The CD format was being given the royal nod of approval from the Beatles. If they thought it was worthwhile then CD's would have to be the way to go. There were TV news stories, pictures of them piled up in the stores and every DJ was talking about it on the radio. This was a major event.

I rushed to my local Ann & Hope store (a local department store retailer in the days before Wal Mart) to got my copy. I felt like Indiana Jones as he beheld the Ark of the Covenant for the first time. This was right before I had to pick up my girlfriend after school. I was so excited to show her what I had, that I was able to secure my piece of rock and roll history.

Did I mention that June 1, 1983 was also our first year anniversary of when we started dating?

As I ready my son's plea to spend their two month anniversary together I could see the look in my girlfriend's eyes as she looked around for something other than the CD I held in my hand like a biblical relic. Flowers.....a card......something. I also heard, clearly and loudly through time the yelling and screaming that followed for the next half hour and the two days worth of cold shoulder I received.

So....we're making alternative plans to see "Spiderman 3".

Friday, April 27, 2007

You know how good yesterday was?

Well, that day's over with apparently!

I got up early this morning to take care of two very important appointments. One was with the county over an old issue which was finally being put to rest and the other was for my double secret probation plans to which I've been alluding recently. Both of these appointments have been postponed for one reason or another; the one with the county being more pressing given the legalities involved.

So, I got in my car with plenty of time to be at the county office just as the doors open and headed off down the road. When I was no more than a mile away.....the engine began to sputter and the car stalled.

Right at an intersection at a red light with half a dozen cars behind me smack-dab in the height of rush hour. Unable to start the car I pushed it off the road, crossing another lane of busy traffic and sat there waiting for the aneurysm in my head to explode to put a perfect cap on the morning.

The car would not start but the clock was still running. The person in the county office had already given me a two day extension on this meeting because I had to wait for pay day so as I was walking back to my home I was hoping his good mood was continuing and he wouldn't laugh at the tried and true "My car broke down" line.

I was able to get a friend who lives nearby to help me out. I made it to the county office and the county representative didn't bat an eye that I was an hour later than I had promised. Images of me throttling him with pieces of my broken down car flashed through my head but I figured if he didn't mind that I should let it go as well.

My other appointment was also as understanding although I could hear a tone in his voice similar to what I expected at the county office. I'm sure this will be counted against me during our double secret probation discussions.

As typical of my luck, of course, the car breaks down on a Friday, which basically strands me until Monday when my local garage opens again. Yes, I do see the one silver lining in all of this; at least it didn't happen in Orlando!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Today was fantastic! Every time I'm in a recording studio like this I feel so at home. I got to Orlando in time to read through the script and get an idea of what character I was playing. His name is Hunter. Hunter is a Lieutenant leading a Marine style, Roughnecks kind of strike force fighting a bunch of evil nano-technology badies that take over the Earth. Oh, and his big, muscular, bald and black; something of a young Vingh Raimes.

Ron Tornnton showed up and we immedieatly jumped right into recording and had it done within 20 minuets. OK, so it's only a 7 minuet film, but this was quick and easy. I did seem to impress Ron with how quickly I took to the script and we worked back and forth easily.

The finished project is scheduled to be completed on June 15th. I can hardly wait to see it. After the recording session I went to the DAVE School and got to see some of the early CGI work being done on it and even saw what I am going to look like, I look pretty good as a brother!

I also took the opportunity to pick Ron's brain about getting into this voice acting thing seriously. He agreed that I do have a talent for it and that I could have good chances for getting work. He suggested some avenues I had not considered; specifically while still being in Florida. Moving to Los Angeles might have to be a possibility in the future; something I have considered and do have on the list of things to ponder. There is some more work to be done on this project and Ron might be able to get me more exposure doing other projects for the school itself and will be working up some industry contacts for me.

Today was everything I had been hoping it was going to be. Am I ready to pull up stakes and head of to Hollyweird? Am I practicing an acceptance speech for a Annie or Daytime Emmy? Well, OK....YES! But I am also trying to make small, measured and intelligent steps towards those dream moments. For now, I'll be happy being a big, bad ass Marine Lietuenant!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

No posts in a while only because not much has been going on. That is, until tomorrow.

I head up to Orlando tomorrow to record another voice over performance for the DAVE School. As mentioned before, this is my first time working for real-live Hollywood producer Ron Thornton. been trying my best to keep a professional demeanor when dealing with him but I do have to admit a race in the blood every time he calls and I hear him leaving a message. The last time I got to the phone he commented on how out of breath I sounded. I played it off as simply running for the phone. If he had only seen me jumping from my chair at this PC, almost stumbling out of the chair onto the floor and racing to the phone as fast as I could.

It's not just the geekieness of being in the same circle as this guy but what it is possibly going to mean for a possible voice acting career. The rest of the cast had recorded last week but Ron had not been able to contact me in time. I thought I had blown my very first chance to impress him with a certain level of professionalism. He was very gracious and has scheduled this session for me to come in alone and do my part. I have not seen a single page of the script and will be flying by the seat of my pants on this. I'm hoping this will be an exercise in improvisation and acting skills that will impress him.

This is feeling like one of those "fork in the road" moments. Where I stood 25 years ago and could have gone further with using my voice to make a career I seem to have it being presented to me again. There were reasons for my choice back then and I had my own perceptions of how my life should go. It has been a long and convoluted road since then and it seems to have circled back on itself and I find myself at that same fork in the road. The road I originally took didn't seem to be the right one. We'll see where this path leads this time around.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

This is going to be a positive post about my job!

Yes, it has been a while and I didn't want you to be shocked.

For almost a year I have been trying to get into the Corporate Training division. I have come sooooo close so many times that it has bordered on ridiculous. All of the other trainers have been rooting for me to get into that department as they see me as a perfect fit. Granted, those in that department are professional trainers with scads more education in "being" a trainer, but I am a performer and have felt I could perform well in this job. I have been with the company longer than most and could easily handle orientation classes. I have had almost every one of the trainers give me assistance and advice on the sly as I go for one interview after another but have never made it.

Recently, there were two more positions that opened and I immediately put in my transfer request and waited for an interview. Then, one after another, the positions were filled. Then, I got a notice that the department head still wanted an interview with me. I thought, maybe she was actually going to offer me a position right then and there, so I kept the appointment out of curiosity more than anything.

And I'm glad I did.

It quickly turned into a mentoring session in which she and my pal Jim, quite possibly the best trainer there, told me of another position available which they felt would be a perfect career path that could eventually lead to a training position. It was the first time in a long time that someone took the time to offer help to guide my "career" in the company. These people were taking an active and heartfelt interest in the 40 hours per week I was putting into the business other than how many times I picked up the phone. They were opening a door for me towards something which would benefit me and the company as well but, quite clearly, the emphasis was on me.

I cannot describe the feeling I came away with as I left that meeting. For months on end I was feeling like a drone in my company; a company I felt was becoming less and less the same place I had made my home over the past decade. I suddenly had back some of the passion and "at home" feeling I had enjoyed for so long. Before I left the building I had filled out the transfer paperwork for this other position. It will mean another cut in pay and I am already prepared for the idea of working a second job to keep my budget alive, but it will be worth it if it can make my working day something I can enjoy again.

Am I still looking at my voice over work? You bet yer ass! Do I have other irons in the fire? Oh, YES. But at least, now I will be able to be happy at my job like I have not been in a while. That feels nice.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Last week was a wonderful experience as I fought my way through a nasty stomach virus. On Tuesday morning I started feeling something in my stomach and went to the clinic my company provides. The nurse there said there was something going around in either a 24 hour or three week variety. Oh, good! Something to look forward to!

As the day wore on, it got worse. I tried taking a nap in my car during lunch but after lying there for only 5 minuets, I knew I had to go home. By 8 PM that night it had hit with full force. I'll save you all the gory details, but by the time I went back to work on Thursday I had lost 22 pounds! Most of that was lost in a seated position......'nuff said?

To add frustration to it all, when I finally was able to wake up on Wednesday, at around noon, I tried calling my supervisor at work and was greeted with a completely silent telephone; no dial tone. Luckily, I still had internet; so, I IM'd a co-worker to make the notification for me. Ah! The beauty of the 21st century! It turned out, when the service was finally restored on SUNDAY, that there was some damage to a cable a block and a half away from my place.

So, yes, it's been a fun week. I'm hoping things will be settling down to some normalcy after a weekend of more sleep as by body continues to recuperate. The one bright spot to this is that I am now in the lead in our "Biggest Loser" contest at work with losing those 22 pounds. There are a handful of us at work who have put money in a kitty and the person who loses the most get the cash. Not exactly the best way to lose the weight, but $200 is $200!!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I have been wanting to say something about the whole Don Imus situation but every time I got something ready the situation kept changing. Simply, I think it can be summed up in one word:


Is what Imus said offensive? To some, apparently so. Is that he said wrong? To some, apparently so. But to cut off his career because of it is sooooo wrong. Yes, it touched a nerve. Is it at all possible that the discourse on the problem be better served with someone like Imus still standing there to bring attention to the problem better that shoveling him out the door because of petty economics and pressure from some social leaders who themselves have not have the cleanest of pasts when it come to sensitive public statements?

Is what Imus said about the Rutgers women any worse than what Rush Limbaugh has spewed out over the years? Why is there no clamor when he questions Barak Obama's ethnic purity? Why weren't women's groups looking to oust him when he called politically active women Femi-nazis? Why didn't the Jewish population cry out as well?

One of the Rutgers women said in their very powerful press conference that they were "not defined by such terms". Well, if you are not defined by such terms then what is the friggin' problem? If Don Imus offends you there is that little button that allows you to change the station.

And is there any integrity too CBS pulling the plug on his radio show? Only if they go after some of the rap and hip hop recording artists on some of their labels who put out what some may consider much more "offensive" material.

I am an Imus fan. I am hoping that, even though CBS dumped him, some other network is already knocking on his door. I was not listening last week when he uttered the words "nappy headed hos". So I cannot say if, in my opinion, it was either funny or offensive. He did accomplish getting the country to talk more about race relations. Did he go too far? Possibly. But so what. It's only words.

Lenny Bruce always said "it is the suppression of the word that gives it it's 'evil power'" and has no place in a free society.

George Carlin said, I get weary of this zero tolerance bullshit. It's annoying. To begin with, it's a fascist concept; it's what Hitler and Stalin practiced. It allows for no exceptions or compassion of any kind. But even more important, it doesn't solve anything. The use of such a slogan allows those using it to claim they're doing something about a problem when, in fact, nothing is being done at all and the problem is being ignored. It's a cosmetic solution designed to impress the simpletons. Whenever you hear the phrase 'zero tolerance', remember, someone is bullshitting you."