Monday, May 23, 2011

I Scream, You Scream

This is a long story, but not nearly as long as if you had to live it.

I saw an ad on craigslist that an ice cream shop in my neighborhood was hiring, and that they're looking for people who live nearby because there's no good places to park around their shop.

Come by between 6pm and 9pm, the ad said, and ask to talk to Jody.

So I went by between 6 and 9. The shop is really just a counter in sort of an outdoor food court. There was one woman working there, probably in her 50s with long white hair pulled back in a ponytail. Must be Jody, I thought.

Hi, I'm looking for Jody?

That's me.

She stares at me like she has no idea what I might be there for, like people come and ask for her by name for all sorts of things every day.

I wanted to apply for a job.

Oh, great!

She stares at me again. Her eyes seem to say, So apply already!

Do you have like an application to fill out...?

Well, who are you? Tell me about yourself.

Oh, great. She wanted me to just verbally pitch myself. I told her my name and where I live and talked about my work experience. I should have told her I worked at Baskin Robbins for eight years because she was obviously not checking any references.

Jody handed me a tiny scrap of paper to write my name and phone number on.

Okay great, great. Well... let me see... what else should I ask you? Do you smoke?

Nope. I don't smoke.

You can work weekends?

I can.

So you can walk to work... Do you own rain gear in case it's raining?

I do.

Okay, well, you'll need to meet my father. He's eighty-eight. His name is Bob. He'll be here tomorrow from 8 to 4. Can you come back then?

Fast forward to the next day. I returned to meet Bob.

Hi, I'm looking for Bob?

Oh, yes. Jody said you'd be coming in. So tell me about yourself.

I repeated my spiel for him.

All right. Well, you'll need to meet with Jody again, but she won't be here for another half an hour. Can you come back in 30 minutes?

30 minutes later...

Hey. So did you meet my father?

I did.

How was that? Did he seem encouraging?

Uh... yeah it went well. He said I should meet with you again?

Oh, well, I have to work right now. I'm covering for my father while he has his lunch break.

There was literally not a customer to be seen. It was a cold, gray day. I guarantee no one wanted any ice cream.

Can you come back in 30 minutes?

I actually have to run. (I had another interview to get to.) I could come back later tonight? Or tomorrow?

I'll be here tonight from 4 to 9.

Ok, so I should come back after 4?

You could do that...

I know I could do that, I wanted to say. Should I? Will there be any point to me coming back?!

Okay, I'll be back in a few hours.

I was being forced to show WAY more interest in this job than I actually had. After 4...

Oh, hey, great! You're back. Um... yeah, so, me and my father actually need to meet with you together, but he's not here right now. I'll tell you what, I'll give you a call and we can figure out a time for the three of us to meet.

I did not expect to ever hear from her. I was pretty sure she no longer had the receipt with my phone number written on it. But the next day I was surprised by a call from Jody herself.

Hey, sorry about yesterday. Things were kind of crazy.

At least she acknowledged that the situation was not normal.

Would you be available to meet with me and my father tomorrow morning?

Yes, my schedule is wide open tomorrow morning.

Okay, well, I don't know if I'm available. How about I call you tomorrow morning and we can figure out a time to meet?

That was four days ago. I haven't heard from her since.

But I don't mind because today I received an awesome job offer -- more on that later. So Jody and Bob can take their ice cream stand and shove it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

This Is What It's Like to Live in L.A.

When you live in L.A., conversations like this happen:

You know that song MoneyGrabber [by Fitz and the Tantrums]?

Oh, yeah. I'm friends with Fitz.

Then we looked at his facebook.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Are You Smarter Than a Blog Writer?

This blog desperately needs a face-lift. I don't live at the Y anymore, so the name is inaccurate and misleading. But I haven't been able to come up with an awesome new name. You know, something just as clever as "Living at the YMCA".

Fortunately I have some smart and witty readers. Can you help? I'm looking for something that really gives the blog a brand. Leave your suggestions in the comments. Or facebook/e-mail/text message/in person/smoke signals/send an owl.

Friday, May 13, 2011

"Flowers are so inconsistent!" - The Little Prince

This post has some adult content, so you may want to put the kids to bed before reading.

You'll recall that I've been trying to find work as a film extra. Unsuccessfully.

Sometimes I see posts on craigslist looking for extras. I never wanted to respond to these ads because they usually don't have any details about the gig, and that's suspicious.

But one day I decided to just see. The ad pretty much only had the date of the shoot, and asked you to send your phone number and a non-professional photo. I sent.

Here's the response I got:

Thank you for your submission! Before we go any further, let me tell you: we shoot both mainstream and adult entertainment. Our adult work offers competitive rates at same-day pay. Would you be interested in doing extra work on an adult shoot? You would not be asked to be involved, but it would help if the subject matter doesn't make you uncomfortable. Let me know, I look forward to hearing from you!


So that explained the lack of details in the ad, but raised a whole new set of questions. Questions like: why do they need extras for porn? Are there a lot of bustling marketplace scenes in porn? Courtroom scenes? Family reunions?

I thought long and hard about my response to Rose. My gut reaction was a resounding no. But then I thought about how fun it would be for the blog. The things I do for you, beloved readers.

Although I was nervous about someone I know spotting me in the background of a threeway at the airport, I decided to tell Rose I would be comfortable doing extra work for an adult shoot.

This was Rose's response:

Awesome! What experience do you have / who have you shot for and what would be your limitations on-camera? Sex, handjobs, blowjobs, solo/mutual masturbation, threesomes, anal, gay sex?

In order to be considered, please submit your full legal name and age along with location, (city and state is all I need!), and your contact info (phone and email).

Also, AND THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: Would you prefer to be in a gay or straight scene?

Please send me one current full-body nude photo, holding today's date on a post-it or piece of paper!

Also, what tattoos and piercings do you have, if any?


First of all Rose, you're a big fat liar. What happened to "You would not be asked to be involved"?

No no no, Rose. Your e-mail is making me blush, and I think that disqualifies me for this type of work. This humorous experiment suddenly got way too real. And scary.

Thus ends my correspondence with Rose, and my brief foray into the world of adult entertainment.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Now There's Even More to Hate About Job Interviews

I really don't like situations where I have to come up with something on the spot. I don't like doing improv. I don't like any kind of role-playing.

Take this blog for instance. I spend a ridiculous amount of time on each post trying to give it a spontaneous and off-the-cuff air. I like to have time. I need to be prepared.

I had an interview last week at an assisted living facility to work with seniors who have Alzheimer's and dementia. As part of the interview, I was handed a piece of paper and asked to "take a minute" and compose a letter to the daughter of an imaginary resident ("Mrs. Smith"). The letter was to tell the daughter about what her mother did for Mother's Day.

This must just be to see if I can write coherent sentences, I thought.

"Spelling and grammar doesn't matter," the interviewer said. "We're not looking to see if you can write well."

Well then what the hell are you looking for, I wanted to ask her in an angry voice, but didn't.

Can I go home and brainstorm and come back tomorrow with ten different styles of letters, I wanted to ask her, but didn't.

Dear Daughter of Mrs. Smith,

Your mother spent Mother's Day wondering where you were. It seems like if you were ever going to visit her, Mother's Day would be the day to do it. Not to worry. She won't remember who you are much longer. Abandoned by her children, she no longer has a tether to her life as she knew it - her mind is slipping further and further every day.
At Mrs. Smith's request, I won't be writing you about her daily activities anymore. She considers it an invasion of her privacy.

Dan, star employee

I think I actually wrote that she had pancakes and sat outside for a while.

Here's another one. Yesterday I interviewed at Bubba Gump, the restaurant chain based on the movie Forrest Gump. It's a great location right on the beach.

It was a group interview, me and two girls. The interview was very short and then we were asked to "take 5 minutes" and come up with a commercial telling people why Bubba Gump is the best place to work.

I swear I almost shot myself. Here's what we came up with. (You have to picture us doing this in the middle of the crowded restaurant with enormous smiles and Vanna White hand gestures.)

Good food! Good friends! Good fun!

At Bubba Gump, it's not only a party in your mouth, but a party at your table!

Where going to work is a day at the beach!

Mama always told me, Life is like a box of chocolates... and this is the piece I chose!

Run Forrest, Run... to work at Bubba Gump!

The interviewer said we were the best group he had seen.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Read All About It

The job market is in a sorry state. At least it's sorry here in L.A., and maybe it's sorry where you are too, cherished readers.

So I've decided to try to work as a film extra. Oh sorry, they're called background actors now. (Although that name isn't wholly appropriate either, because sometimes they're in the foreground.)

It seemed like a fun L.A. kind of thing to do, and a way to make some rent money. But I guess a lot of other people had the same idea, because I haven't been able to book anything yet.

I registered with a casting agency. To get work I have to call in all the time and listen to recorded messages asking for specific things. Here's one from their facebook page:

Annie is looking for Caucasian men or women for the show "Weeds" working 5/5/11 in the L.A. area who MUST have a small european car (such as a citroen/smart car) or a Vespa (or something similar) If this is you and you are OK to work on Thursday the 5th please call and submit to [phone #]. Thanks!

If I fit what they're looking for, I call the number in the message. They pull up my photo that they have on file and give me a yes or no. If it's yes, they give me another number to call to listen to another recorded message giving me the job details.

This is all hearsay by the way because so far they haven't been looking for anything that sounds like me. Except this one thing--

Late one night there was a message that one of the casting directors was looking for "laughers". She said they often had trouble finding really good laughers, so she was putting together a file of good laughers that they could pull from in the future. Call in and laugh for me, she said, if you have a hearty, spontaneous laugh and you're between the ages of 18 and 40. (Apparently laughs from the over-40 crowd are useless.)

I'd like to mention that I have no idea what this is for. Is this like for people in the studio audience? People on camera laughing? Just to perk up a dull Tuesday night for this casting director? No idea.

But I had to call. Because it's the only thing that I could call in for so far.

I was nervous. This is why I'm not really a performer anymore. Actors have to be willing to make fools of themselves constantly. I don't have the constitution. Too proud.

It was late at night and Roommate was already in bed, so I couldn't do it from my apartment. I didn't even want to do it outside the house. I didn't want my neighbors to witness this shameful deed. But I live in a crowded city, so there's nowhere I could go to be totally alone.

I walked about 5 blocks away from my house. I had to practice first, warm up my voice, get that laugh just right. I kept moving so I wouldn't be laughing like a psychopath outside one person's open window in the middle of the night. And I held my phone to my ear so that all the people I imagined were watching me would think I was having a raucous conversation.

Finally I felt ready to call. This conversation is the quintessential L.A. experience to me.

Ring ring. Ring ring.

(answers phone)
Laugh for me.

HA haha hahaha hahahaa ha (about 15 seconds).


Dead silence.

Somewhere Candace Bergen drops a pin.


...How was that?

Can you go on a little more for me?

Sure. HAHA HAHAhahaa ha --

Dogs are barking. In the distance a baby cries.

HAhaha hahaah haha ha (about 45 seconds) --

Okay, who are you?

[Name and agency ID].

Thanks. (hangs up)

I quickly flee that neighborhood, never to return.

But I think I may have made it into the laughers file.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Living at Not-the-YMCA

I wasn't sure I was going to continue. I mean once you move out of the Y, what else is there to say? What else is there to life?

But tonight Roommate convinced me that I do have more to say. My life isn't quite the train wreck that it was two weeks ago (I live in a home now), but signing a 12-month lease with no employment to speak of is its own kind of entertaining disaster.

Stay tuned for posts about:
- the new apartment
- exploring my neighborhood
- the job hunt
- living thrifty
- looking for work as a film extra
- living the dream

As we transition into Phase 2 of the blog I'm making a promise. As long as you keep reading it, I'll keep writing it.