Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Ghost of My Dead Film Career

The Ghost of My Dead Film Career

Amargosa graveyard

What, with it being Halloween and all, I figured it was time for a little visit to the dark side. I mean the scary, ghostlike dark side, not the whole excessive body hair thing I usually dive into.

Like the time my sister and I came home from school and heard our dog, Sugar, whining. So we searched the house for her, thinking she got locked in a closet or something only to find out our parents had put Sugar to sleep earlier in the day. True story.

Or like the time I was making out in a parked car with my boyfriend and we heard a scratching on the car roof. We thought it was a tree limb but it turned out to be the disembodied arm of a murder victim whose fingernails were scratching the car.  Not a true story.

But this one is actually one of the true ones.

I’ve mentioned before the unfortunate decision I made years ago in going to the desert to film a movie with a lunatic.

There is a  special horror in being on the crew of a really bad movie. Some of you may have experienced this torture before and can attest to the exceptional pain and suffering involved.

We were filming in Death Valley Junction, CA which is an outcropping of mostly abandoned buildings in the middle of the desert with approximately 20 “living” inhabitants.  The only real attraction here, other than being the hottest place on earth, is the Amargosa Hotel and Opera House.

By the way, Amargosa comes from the Spanish word “bitter” (amargo). Don’t you love it when things line up so perfectly!

It was built in 1923 and was home to borate miners who worked for the Borax company for many years. It was abandoned eventually and almost disappeared into the graveyard of that desert but was saved by an eccentric dancer, Marta Becket, in the late ‘60s.

The hotel is famous not only for it’s Gloria Swanson-esque owner but because it is believed to be extremely haunted.

Some of the stories are of miners who lived in a section of the hotel, now abandoned, who haunt the halls of the area called “spooky hollow”.

Spooky Hollow

Spooky Hollow. Also looks a lot like the hallway in my first apartment.

Others are of a known hanging that occurred in one room that is now haunted by the unfortunate ghost of the man who died there.

And yet another story is that there is often the sound of a child crying when no children are in the hotel.

It’s owner is both a ballerina and an artist and covered every room and hallway in her unique 3-D style of art that only adds to the overall freakiness.

Sure, nothing creepy here….STOP LOOKING AT ME!

Fake headboard. Real air conditioner.

This fake armoire was in my room.

This room had a fake boa you could wear while listening to fake old timey music on your fake gramophone.

You can imagine my joy to find out we were staying in this haunted hotel during the shoot from hell. But really, I should not have expected anything else.

After a long, hot and dirty day of shooting we all checked into our rooms, showered, and hunkered down. I would guess I was asleep for an hour or two when I heard knocking on the door to my room.

I got up, opened it and there was no one there.

Assuming the dickhead sound guy who was staying in the room next to me was high and fucking with me, I cursed and went back to bed. I was just falling back to sleep when the knocking started again. Now I was pissed off and went to the door ready to tear his head off.

But again, no one was there. I looked down the hall in both directions and there was no one to be seen. At about the same time the sound guy next door clumsily unlocked and opened his door and stuck his sleepy head out.

“What the fuck. What do you want?” He said to me groggily. He had heard it as well but it was obvious he hadn’t done it.

Needless to say I did not get much sleep that night. It seemed every time I started to fall asleep I’d hear footsteps in the hallway, whispers or the knocking.

The next day most of the crew reported a similar night. One person said she decided to leave the light on in her bathroom but when she woke up in the middle of the night the light had been turned off.

All of this, of course, is totally explainable in some form or another. But, given the number of times guests tend to check out in the middle of the night, it does give you pause.

I was more than happy to be done with that shoot for many reasons. I was happy to hightail it back to civilization and away from the undead. And the ghosts were scary too.

And, I was ready to take a break from making crappy films. Maybe one day that break will be over….

Best Practices For The Remote Worker (Or, How To Avoid Being Creepy)

Best Practices For The Remote Worker (Or, How To Avoid Being Creepy)

I stopped going into an office every day 18 years ago, so I may be a bit of a pioneer in the field of remote working. At least that’s what I tell everyone because saying I’m lazy and anti-social just doesn’t have the impact I want.

I was fortunate enough to work for a company that was definitely on the cutting edge of working with virtual teams around the world. And, while that company has since turned into a behemoth monster that could rival government entities in its utter lack of innovation, I still am loyal because they made my slacker lifestyle possible.

(That company is Microsoft, in case any of you are neophytes in my universe.)

If you are thinking of becoming a Remote Worker, otherwise known as “self-imposed shut-in”, then you need to know the reality. Because, boy, it can get pretty ugly.

You probably have a picture in your mind that looks something like this:

 This well-coifed go-getter is taking no prisoners from his sunny,
IKEA-outfitted home office!! Is that the Grundälstŭp desk? Man, this guy is rockin’ it!

But this is where you may end up if you aren’t careful.

 This young man, fresh out of college, is currently programming the
next release of the hottest new app but he will never get a date again.

So, I feel like I should pass some of my lessons and observations along to the next generation of self-starters, social misfits and multi-taskers. Take heed, people. It can all be a slippery slope.

Try to take a shower at least every other day if for no other reason than to keep your sheets clean. Plus, at some point or another all of us have to make an occasional trip to the mother ship, be it your company or a client. Consider taking a shower a fire drill for when you need to be in front of people who will judge you.

Always look as if you are about to go on a run or are just finishing with one, neither of which is usually true.This is a way to dress only half a step beyond pajamas. It’s a cheat, to be sure. But, you never know, maybe you actually will go for a run…..I know, that was silly. You aren’t going for a run.

Attempt to have some sort of exchange in person with other humanoids, even if it’s just the cable guy. You’d be surprised at how quickly you can forget how to speak and interact in a real-world setting. You don’t want people to think you have a meth lab in your basement.

On the flip side, don’t scare the mailman by talking his ear off and asking him to come in for a beer. He may think you have some sort of human skin factory in your spare bedroom and run screaming. And, there is the added risk you won’t receive your unemployment checks.

Avoid video conferences. Period. But, if you must do it, set up your environment as if you are about to shoot Kathy Bates in a sex scene. Some Vaseline on the lens does wonders.

Add a small fan to create a windswept look.

Finally, the perfect camera angle is key to ensure they don’t see that you have only dirty underwear on from the waist down.

I took longer to get ready for my first video conference than I did for my wedding.

Go for something along these lines. 

Try not to get too distracted. This is a really tough one to master. Between porn and cat videos, you can sink yourself quickly. If you must, create a schedule around your internet trolling. But, if people can view your schedule, be sure to use code words.

For instance, instead of 11:00-11:30 – Troll Web for porn, try 11:00-11:30 – Research SEO for women’s issues.

Finally, the holy grail of remote working – get thee to the Coffice.  Having a place to work remotely from your remote job is imperative and has saved many lives. You can then call in sick to your home office and actually work at a super groovy coffee shop instead, thereby taking advantage of yourself and your lax people management style.

I cannot impress upon you that a change of scenery could save your life. And ensure you don’t scare your UPS driver half to death.

Go forth now, and conquer.

I Was Plucked By The Original Jersey Girl

I Was Plucked By The Original Jersey Girl

So, with all the woes of the world, let me tell you the issue I am most outraged by and feel there needs more public awareness around.

My eyebrows.

I realize this may seem like a small issue to many of you but we all need a cause and mine is that weird strip of hair over each eye that most of us have.

I have a hate/hate relationship with my eyebrows. I wish it were the style to just shave them off – I’d be first in line for that fashion trend. I know that it would be like not having a belly button though.  We’d all look like something out of Alien Autopsy.

See, even Anne Hathaway looks creepy as hell.

I started out with nice big bushy Gorbachev eyebrows that met enticingly in the middle of my forehead.  Regrettably, this was before the whole bushy Brooke Shields look was totally awesome so I felt like a caveman amongst a sea of thin browed goddesses.

My 6th grade school picture.

As it happened, one summer my mom’s older sister came out to Oregon to visit from New Jersey. Let me just give you a little snapshot of Aunt Del.

Her real name was Ismania De La Parra. Really. But, justifiably hating her name, she went by Del.

She was about 4’10 with breasts that probably measured about the same. And she was what the word flashy was invented for.

Aunt Del had unnaturally pitch black hair with two streaks of gray shooting out of her temples. And, she played it up by having a ultra teased bouffant style that added at least a foot to her 4’10” frame.

She wore entirely too much makeup, tight clothes and high heels. She had a terrible temper, swore like a sailor and did it all with the purest Jersey accent you have ever heard.

I believe she was the Chilean predecessor to Snooki’s guidette.

My father barely tolerated her, my mom sighed and rolled her eyes a lot (which she did a lot just in general), but to me she was an exotic flower that made my heart beat fast.

One weekend while she was visiting we went camping. And, because I used to get car sick on these trips, my parents gave me some motion sickness drug that would knock me out for most of the weekend and wear off just in time to clean the fish they caught while I was comatose.

I still don’t think I ever had motion sickness. I believe this was their version of pharmaceutical babysitting and forced servitude.

At any rate, we piled into the station wagon with Aunt Del’s steamer trunks and headed to the hills. I promptly fell into my usual stupor.

Next thing I really remember was climbing out of a fuzzy drug-induced sleep on a cot in our tent and seeing Aunt Del stooped over her make-up mirror putting on fake eyelashes.

She looked over at me, shook her head and said “We have got to do something about those eyebrows, honey.”

I was still very groggy and confused as she started to go through her tackle box and finally found her tools of choice – a small scissor and a huge tweezer.

She pinned me down and went to work. It was an excrutiating experience that felt like it took hours. There was a lot of brow geography to cover. I sneezed a lot, yelled, squealed and teared up. She was relentless.

When she was done I felt like someone had taken a lawnmower to my forehead. She threw a mirror in front of me and I gasped. I had two barely visible lines over each eye. This was not a subtle change.

This “after” picture also perfectly captures my sense of confusion and dread.

When my parents got back to the campground after fishing, they took one look at me and shrieked. My father was livid with Aunt Del. A loud Irish New Yorker vs. a shrill Chilean Jersey girl. Trust me, it could make your ears bleed.

Everyone got over it eventually. Everyone but me that is. My eyebrows NEVER GREW BACK.

And now, we are back to the full brow look and here I sit, woefully inadequate and never being able to time the brow zeitgeist correctly.

And thus ends my tale of woe as I wait for the day someone discovers a cure for the thin-browed of our world.

Think I’ll hold a telethon.

Celebrity Vomiting: Bad Food Choice Or An Evil Plan For World Domination?

Celebrity Vomiting: Bad Food Choice Or An Evil Plan For World Domination?

None of you can possibly think that I could pass up the opportunity to comment on the rash of celebrity vomiting we’ve seen in the past two weeks. It would be no more possible for me to stop the flow of snark than it would be for them to stop the flow of spaghetti and milk they had before going on stage.

I’m sure Bieber and Gag (sorry, forgot that second “a”….what was I thinking?) are not the first to toss their cookies in public. Hell, a lot of them throw up while laying down and end up dying so….just putting a positive spin on the whole thing.

I have a few theories about what’s going on with all this spewing.

It’s highly possible that retching is the new re-hab. I’m really hoping this is not going to catch on as some sort of publicity stunt like anger management or anti-Semitism. I’m waiting for the moment Mel Gibson pukes all over a CHP officer. Though, I highly suspect that may have already happened at some point.

I have a fairly healthy case of Emetophobia, which is a fear of vomiting…which I just looked up because I literally have information at my fingertips, thank you Bill Gates and the Google Guys! But, doesn’t EVERYONE on the planet “suffer” from this perfectly reasonable disorder?  I don’t get why we need an actual word for it.

If you don’t suffer from Emetophobia then we have a whole other blog topic right there.

I just pray we don’t get inundated with reality shows like “Celebrity Horking” or “Hollywood Vomitorium”. Cuz’ that would just be wrong….yet possibly profitable.

(Dear TLC, call me.)

I also think it could be a new terrorist strategy. Forget the Zombie Apocalypse because this is WAY more frightening than slow-moving brain-eaters. It’s a sadistically brilliant plan. They are making a mockery of our cultural icons which in turn will break down our entire social structure. I’m not sure how this all links up because I am not a brilliant terrorist mastermind. But I trust they have a good plan.

I believed their first test run of this new strategy was the incident with Bush Sr. and the Japanese Prime Minister.  But, we’ve all had bad sushi so I’m going to let that one go.

I wouldn’t want to come across as a whack job conspiracy theorist after all….

This terrorist group probably knows that none of us will help each other out because the chain effect would be too devastating to comprehend. They are strategically using our nationwide Emetophobia against us. Classic divide and conquer tactics.

So in order to prepare for either of the above mentioned scenarios, I decided to look up all the different terms for regurgitation. Well, it was probably less about preparation and more because it would appear I’m a 12-year-old boy and it’s kinda funny and super gross.

Anyway, here are a few choice cuts.

You’re welcome.

  • Barffalo Bill
  • Buick
  • Chorkle
  • Chow shower
  • Chumming
  • Disembarking dinner
  • Gale Force Burp
  • Gurping
  • Hwark
  • Involuntary personal protein spill
  • Laughing at the ground
  • Liquid scream
  • Mouth crying (a personal favorite)
  • Rooping
  • Uneat
  • Vurp  (a burp with a little vomit, see also; Shart)
  • Yark

 

The Gays Will Rule The World

The Gays Will Rule The World

The Revolution will be choreographed.

Even this soon in my “career” as a “blogger” I have already pissed off several factions in this, the United States of Lack of Sense of Humor and Sarcasm. I figure there is no point in my stopping now.

So, I’ve been thinking about this lately and have come to this conclusion: The Gays are taking over the world. And, I for one, am happy to follow as I do think the world could use a serious make over, a few throw pillows and a fake tan.

Let me just name a few of the biggest power brokers in the coup d’état we are currently embroiled in.

  • Anderson Cooper, who, shocked absolutely NO ONE when he came out.
  • Ryan Seacrest – He has GOT to be gay. I don’t care what anyone says. No straight guy is that pressed and thin.
  • Ellen AND Portia –  A two-headed, well-coiffed Gaystrom (Gaynado? Gayquake? Gaynomi?) to be reckoned with.
  • John Travolta – Yeah, whatever Kelly Preston. Your gig is up, John. The rest of us do not get massages the way you, apparently, think we do.
  • Tom Cruise – No comment necessary.
  • The dude who does Glee.

As an aside: I hate Glee. I do and I am not ashamed to say it out loud. I’ll yell it from the rooftops – Glee is like an annoying yeast infection. By the way, I know the dude’s name is Ryan Murphy but the fact that I know that just annoys me further.

Lord knows I don’t want to piss off my girls. But you all know that I am not a gay man, even though there are times when I wish I were, so just step off bitches!

See, I’d make an AWESOME Gay Man.

So, back to my point….if I actually have one, which is almost always in question on these things.

White heterosexual Protestant/Catholic/Episcopalians are in deep shit. I feel sorry for them, really. Their time as the ruling class may be in jeopardy.

Plain old white males gave way to white males of a Mormon persuasion, which led to bigwig Jewish movie moguls, which ended up with big wig (literally) Gays.

I made out with a whole bunch of you before you saw the light at the bottom of the closet door. And, I always knew you were picturing Ricky Martin. But, you guys have such soft lips I went along with it anyway. And, by the way, still up for a good mashing session if you want. You all smell like a mix of spa robes and coconut oil. Yum.

Recently, I noticed another area in which they are clearly superior.

We all know the Jewish goodbye and have been victims of it. There should be some hotline you can call to get them out of the house in a timely manner. I’ve gone for an hour trying to disengage but they keep remembering new and fascinating details about the story they had been telling you for the past hour. Like the color of shirt they were wearing at the time and that they chose the asparagus over the broccolini at dinner and that was a mistake because the asparagus had this cream sauce with too much pepper and…stab me in the head.

I can say this for a couple of reasons – one is that I know and love many of God’s chosen people who know how I feel about this and second, most people think I’m Jewish.

I also would make an AWESOME Jew.

By comparison, parting with a Gay Man means many air kisses, a promise for brunch and then they vaporize in a cloud of expensive cologne because there are other fabulous events they need to get to that you will NOT be invited to.

Won’t it be an amazing day when we no longer have sexual preference as an adjective to describe people? What ever will we do as a society? We seem to need something to tag people with. How about “The world is run by people with Big Ears.”

I hope so because me and my large lobes will freakin’ rule!!