Friday, May 28, 2004
I just returned from a meeting at a large studio. As I drove up, I had a small wave of excitement rush through me, but not because of the meeting.
It just so happens that this studio is where I had my first job when I moved to LA a few years ago. A behemoth media company owns this studio, one of the big ones. They shoot many, many movies here. They tape lots of television shows here. I’ve seen way more than my share of celebrities here. I got to walk on the set of my favorite TV show here and poke around.
When you drive past the guard shack you can see an outside set which looks like a New York or Chicago neighborhood. They’re all facades, but it looks amazingly real. Many times I would take my sack lunch and sit on the stoop of some fake apartment building as if I was hanging out in Brooklyn.
All this made me thing of that first job. It wasn’t anything fancy or glamorous – I was someone’s assistant – but it was Hollywood, baby. I had arrived. I remember doing assistant-like things: faxing, taking phone calls, sorting mail and spending a large amount of time at the copy machine.
Not long after I started, I was at the copy machine, making 1000 duplicates of some letter that needed to be sent out that very night. I just stood there watching the machine copy, collate and staple. Copy, collate and staple. Normally, this would be a mind-numbing experience, but at that very moment, I was giddy. Giddy as a schoolgirl. I was working in Hollywood and it didn’t matter that I was making copies. This kid from a small town in the Pacific Northwest was working at a large studio where they made movies.
Youthful optimism. Here’s to hoping I never forget what it feels like.
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Yes, I’ve been away and now I’m glad to be back. A word of advice: If you wake up in a dark room and find that you’re tied up with a ball gag in your creepy downstairs neighbor’s apartment, it pays to have a little Swiss Army knife keychain.
My job has been more of the same. My nemesis came by and talked to me yesterday, but only because it was mandatory. I shouldn’t say nemesis though, right? That just brings up the whole competitive thing. Then again, doesn’t every great story have a protagonist squaring off against an arch nemesis-rival-antagonist? Today there’s another meeting where we’re supposed to show up with ideas and concepts. During the last one I wanted to stab myself in the eye with a pencil, so we’ll see how this one goes.
I’ve also been testing the waters about other employment opportunities, which means I get to feel insecure about any work I’ve ever done because now I have to show it as proof of my creativity.
On a lighter and more positive note, my wife purchased me a book that she said was just up my alley, but only because I’m always picking things up off the ground. The book is called “Found” and it’s a collection of things people have found: Pictures, notes, letters, etc. It is awesome. There’s even a website here. My favorite found things are the photos. There’s something about random pictures that give me lots of ideas for stories.
Friday, May 21, 2004
I found out that something I wrote and produced is a finalist for an award of some sort. Hooray for me.
The season has pretty much wrapped for the dating show, so there won’t be much to post about that in particular. In the meantime, I’ll be put on other projects. One of these projects is a new show, which premieres in the Fall. Many of my co-workers are in a similar situation.
One of these colleagues has an office next to mine. I’ve known this person for quite some time, but our creative paths don’t cross very often since we write for different shows. Right now though, we’re both part of a stable of writers pulled in to work on this new show.
Today, I walk by my neighbor’s office and I hear them (loudly and clearly) on the speakerphone talking to another person about ideas for the project all three of us are working on. There is a meeting in a couple of hours and we’ve all been busy writing and conceptualizing.
I figure, “Hey, brainstorm session!” So I step one foot in this person’s office. This is not unusual. I occasionally stop by and say hello, and they sometimes do the same to me. This time though, the phone is quickly picked up as if the conversation is top secret. I get a verbal “What do you want?” and a visual “get the hell outta here.”
I know when I’m not wanted, so I do not reply. I just walk out and go next door to my office. I slam my door shut to express my displeasure and then sit down to spew out some of the best damn writing I’ve ever done.
This kind of competitive bullshit really pisses me off. There is no reason to be working against each other. This isn’t a race. There’s no trophy.
I’m not surprised. I’ve known for a long time that this person is always looking out for number one and will throw you directly under the bus if necessary.
I guess I’m not surprised at my reaction either. As my wife once said, “All you people who work in Hollywood suffer from narcissism.”
Let’s see… Excessive love or admiration of oneself. Check. A psychological condition characterized by self-preoccupation, lack of empathy, and unconscious deficits in self-esteem. Check.
I think my wife may be on to something.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
I met yesterday with a suit-wearing man, and was made a pretty darn good offer. I'm still going to look around and see what my options are, which means I need to hold my cards close to the chest for the time being. More on this later.
And speaking of my chest, I just came back from the doctor, having a mole removed. I can only say this: There's nothing quite like the smell of burning flesh, especially when it's your own.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
I don’t know if you can tell from what I’ve written here, but I actually do like my job. I’m also in the last option of my contract, which expires in July.
This poses a dilemma.
The first part of the equation involves my current employment. Where I work, they make you sign outrageous contracts that not only make you promise first born children, but also any bodily fluids that might be released, henceforth. These contracts give the company all the power and all the options, while giving me… A check I can cash at the bank.
What it boils down to is that they can pretty much release me at any time, but I can’t leave until the term of the contract is up. I’m not complaining, mind you. This is my first job where I actually get paid to write, and the salary is… It pays pretty well. However, since it was my first writing gig, I’m not paid nearly as much as other people in my position. And I’m okay with that, being a newbie and all, but now it seems time to pony up. I’ve proven myself.
My boss has made it perfectly clear that he doesn’t want me to leave and said he was working on some sort of deal to “make something happen.” This means more money, I assume. What comes with this, however, will probably be another long and blinding (I mean, binding) contract. I have a meeting scheduled, so we’ll see how big this “raise” actually is. It might be flattering, who knows.
The second part of this equation has to do with jumping ship and going somewhere else. I know that if I become employed elsewhere doing the same job, there is a good chance of me earning a good deal amount more money, and maybe more prestige. And there’s a good chance there won’t be a contract at all.
Everything seems to point to option two, right? It’s not that easy.
I don’t want to do this kind of writing forever. I want to move on to bigger and better things and my current situation has afforded me the time to devote to other projects (including this blog) while still making a paycheck.
So, what do I do? Do I go for more money, knowing I’ll have less time to devote to things I’d really rather be working on? Do I stay where I’m comfortable, making less money, but having the luxury of time to work on other projects?
Monday, May 17, 2004
Time for a little bookkeeping:
1. I shaved off my beard and cut off all my hair. Granted, I did have a mohawk last night for about an hour, but that was quickly taken care of by the clippers. This can only mean one thing. Yes folks, yours truly has completed his first feature-length screenplay. Everyone else in this town is doing it, so why shouldn’t I be another lemming to jump off the cliff?
2. I am experiencing my first bout with mild carpal tunnel. Ouch.
3. The “ask me one question and I’ll tell you an outrageous lie” contest is now closed, if only because I’m running out of lies. I have to save a few zingers for when the cops pick me up, right? That, and the damn carpal tunnel. Ouch. I will notify everyone personally when the competition is open again.
During one of our get-it-all-out-in-the-open conversations the other day, my cat told me in so many words that he was a little miffed about being left out of this blog.
So, without further ado, here is Elmo.
Maybe I’ll let him guest blog someday.
Friday, May 14, 2004
Apparently, I'm a genius.
That, and I might be a millionaire today if I weren't so damn lazy. You see, someone in Sweden has produced a product that a friend and I conceived about 10 years ago.
And I just bought one of them. Two, actually.
I suppose a bit of back story is in order here. Back when I was in college, one of my best friends and I would frequent a little dive bar that was about halfway in between our houses. During the warm fall and summer nights, we would ride our bikes and meet up to throw back a few.
You might wonder why we would ride two-wheeled contraptions that require balance and agility to a place where large amounts of alcohol would be served. See, we went to a very liberal university in the Pacific Northwest and everyone rode bicycles. It had to do with the environment or something.
Since we rode at night (and were safety conscious) we had these detachable headlights that were mounted on the handlebars. We would always take the lights in with us because if you didn't, they would be stolen and you'd have to buy a new one. Being poor college students, we had priorities on where the cash was to be spent (i.e. beer).
One night, well into a few drinks, but not before the bartender cut us off, the lightning of ingenuity struck. One of us, and I honestly can't remember who did it first, took a bicycle light and put it under a glass of beer, shining a beam of pure, white light into a golden-brown microbrew. This was not only funny, but it also looked really cool. We thought about this for a while and came up with an idea.
We would be the inventors of: Beer Lights.
Beer Lights would be little coasters that lit up from underneath, illuminating whatever beverage you had set on it. It was genius. And we were going to be rich.
Of course, we never did anything except talk about it. We would still joke about it from time to time over the years.
Fast forward to 2004. I'm walking around Ikea with the Doctor (wife) and there they were: Our Beer Lights. I was stunned, I was crushed, and most of all, I had to have them. A two pack for $4.99 seemed a little chintzy for such a genius device, but the cashier would only take as much as was listed on the item.
Thinking about all the time we spent in that dive bar, I have to wonder if that little beady-eyed Swedish foreign exchange student sitting at the table next to us turned out to be a designer for Ikea.
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
So, I’ve been on a couple other blogs where people throw out the option of asking them three questions, and in return you get three honest answers.
Around here, things are different. You get to ask me one question, and I get to tell you an outrageous lie.
Go ahead, make my day.
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
I snapped a couple of pictures on my way home from work tonight. Why I’m taking pictures while driving, I don’t know.
Here is a picture of the intersection of Hollywood and Highland.
I like how this one turned out. It kind of reminds me of the photo portrait of Picasso where he sketches in the air with a flashlight, but I suppose I shouldn’t compare my work to such a prolific artist.
Speaking of work, it was very hectic around the water cooler today.
They shot a “tell all” episode of a very popular reality series that airs in a day or two. Security was very tight and there were more people than ever making lots of noise outside my office. Not a big deal. I’m used to it and it’s kind of nice to see some new faces running around.
However, let me just say this to one of the persons who’s back to “dish” about what “really went on”: I know you’re on a primetime show on a major network. I can understand that you like to strut your stuff up and down the halls like an omnipotent goddess.
But when you pull into the parking lot behind me driving a beat-up Honda Civic, it kind of diminishes your Diva status.
Friday, May 07, 2004
Well, it’s official. I’m a reality TV whore.
I’ve been pulled in to work on another reality show over the next few days. Thus, I’ll be pretty busy and won’t get to shave (i.e. I won’t have time to finish my personal writing project).
It’s actually a pretty good show, or at least funny, albeit a bit mean. I can’t really divulge what show it is, but can say this: It’s a primetime show on a major network airing in the next few weeks. It’s also a bizzaro version of an existing show.
And it’s a hoax.
Other than that, here is a picture of the sky above me this morning.
Thursday, May 06, 2004
To: The girl appearing in the show I was working on yesterday
No, I don’t think he thought your ass was volumptious. As a matter of fact, I don’t think volumptious is a word.
Please make a note of it.
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
Happy Cinco de Mayo from my dog Bob.
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
I’m beginning to look like Grizzly Adams.
For some reason, I vowed not to shave or cut my hair until I finished a certain writing project I’ve been working on. Could be some sort of Sampson complex I suppose, but now everything is starting to itch like crazy.
Yes, that was a lame segue into the following...
I have a window office, which is great, but it’s right near the restrooms. From my desk, I can see everyone coming and going. I know that so-and-so goes in there at the same time every day to snort coke and I think it’s enough to say that I know not to take a bathroom break right after certain people have been in there.
So I’m in the men’s restroom the other day and as I go to wash up, I notice something all over the sink and counter: Tiny little specks. Tiny little black specks. Tiny little black specks everywhere. Upon further inspection, I realize these are someone’s whiskers or shavings or trimmings or whatever you want to call it.
This is foul, nasty, and let's face it, uncivilized.
And I know who is responsible.
I realize that Mr. Reporter-for-an-unnamed-celebrity-gossip-show is sometimes in a time crunch and has to shave quickly before going on camera, but for the love of all that is clean and tidy, can’t you clean up after yourself? How about the makeup and dressing room? Or maybe take 5 seconds to rinse out the sink? I swear, of all the on-air talent I’ve known, it always seems to be the men who are the prissiest queens.
I taped a note to the mirror that said, “Please clean up your whiskers. This is disgusting.”
How positively passive-aggressive of me.
Saturday, May 01, 2004
Where I work, part of my normal day is getting notes from company bigwigs on the things I write and produce. Here is an actual quote from yesterday:
"I think there is too much pudding wrestling footage"