Okay, so I have been active with the Screen Actor’s Guild in the past, but honestly can’t say that I have been super involved for the past few years. I believe it’s because I don’t know what to believe any more. I have such a hard time wrapping my head around actors and unions willingly f’ing over other actors and themselves in the long run with bad contracts and weak backbones… And yet, I’ve seen it over and over.

AFTRA f’ed actors over when they offered inferior contracts to TV producers a few years ago, undercutting the Screen Actors Guild contracts… So, AFTRA, a union that is SUPPOSED to care about ACTORS, F’ed all of the actors that belong to AFTRA that also worked SAG contracts. The same jobs for less money and benefits. And don’t even get me started on actors that are Fi-Core.

I have friends that are VERY PRO MERGER (team “if you can’t beat ’em, join them”), and I have friends that are NOT FOR THE MERGER (most of them seem to be for one union, but not without more clarity to the answers)… And I don’t know if I’ve ever talked with anyone that’s not for all actors being in the same union at some point…

I will publicly say that I have heard both arguments, and let me tell you something… I really don’t see a good clear answer yet… To me it seems there are too many questions still looming to make a clear decision… And this is not something that can be undone.

I will also say that what we have right now isn’t working very well either, that I wasn’t happy with the AFTRA contract when it was proposed to the membership, and knew it was a horrid thing, begged people to NOT LET IT PASS (here are three blogs I posted in 2008 concerning that contract: “For God’s Sake… No!” and “I Hope” and “More Saying No“). But obviously more voted for it, and we’ve felt the results since, and now we, the blue collar professional actors of Hollywood, seem to be making less and less each year for the same exact jobs…

If you’re looking for me to tell you HOW TO VOTE right now on the proposed merger, forget it. At this point, there’s no way I’ll take any responsibility for whatever outcome is on the horizon.

But I will say to all those actors that are publicly SCREAMING TO MERGE NOW… if it all goes to shit, it’s on you. Just like those of you that voted for that CRAPPY AFTRA CONTRACT a few years ago. And just like my “vote no” words from 2008 were captured in time, so will your words of “vote yes.” So if this passes, you better be right.

By the way a simple Google search will show you some of those individuals that publicly went on record to get that detrimental AFTRA contract passed in 2008.

There are repercussions to these contracts. Whether it’s going on strike, merging unions, accepting wage cuts… Whether you’re voting no, voting yes, or not voting at all.

I will read what’s sent to me, I will continue to read opinions from both sides…

Here’s the VOTE NO – MERGER page.

The PRO-MERGER SAG page can be found here.

And here are the SAG-AFTRA merger documents, which are on my “to read” list.

Again, I’m not trying to sway anyone, any particular way… This is a big vote. Huge. And I don’t think it’s as simple as “I think it’d be good to be in one union.” Or “one union one voice.” The answers and questions that really matter are in the details, and I’m still not convinced one way or another.

Poor decisions hurt for years and years to come…
“You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…”

So what am I saying… Don’t just listen to members and celebrities that tell you to swallow the pill or spit the pill up… Make smart and informed choices for yourself…

If I come to a definitive conclusion, as I have with many of the contracts in the past. I will post about it again.

Some say in life sometimes you just have to leap… And figure the rest as you fall. Because without leaping you risk never soaring.

But others, look before they leap, because they have been shown through experience that wings don’t have a tendency to form spontaneously. And they would rather have a hang-glider, bungee cord, parachute or crash pad in place…

And yes I do know there are people that no matter how many things you gave them, showing them how safe things were, would never jump.

Me, I like to minimize the risk, and know as much as possible before jumping… But when I’ve learned enough, and trust it’s the right decision… I will jump.

– Quiche Out

Oscars Vs Superbowl

What do you do for these super promoted shows? Do they excite you? Do they make you feel better about your life, or help you escape? Do you only watch them because they’re often tied into social events? Or because you love gambling? Is it because you have a vested interest (your friend or your project is up for an award)? Or is it because you like the commercials?

Although I watched the Superbowl this year, I can’t remember the last time I watched an award show… The Oscars, Grammy’s, Emmys, Tonys, Golden Globes, SAG Awards…

Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a personal investment in it (neither myself or close friends). Maybe it’s because it reminds me too much of High School popularity contests, or how far away all of it remains from me… Perhaps it’s because I know a deeper truth about what most people in show biz go through – and that there are brilliant actors, writers and directors wearing polyester black tuxedo catering pants only miles away from the Kodak theater setting up for after parties. It’s also possible I don’t watch because I’ve never been one to ogle over what people are wearing or talking about on red carpets, and don’t put any emotion behind the drama of who wins or loses. They’re all winners if they’re getting that sort of worldly press, and if they don’t have people calling and agents jumping for them, they soon will. And it could also be that I often completely disagree with who/what wins and who/what is nominated.

I will look at who is nominated, and consider watching those films (if I haven’t already), and on Monday morning I will read the results, and if there’s an acceptance speech or story of an actor or filmmaker that’s particularly inspiring, I will seek it out… I am happy for the people that get to play in the bright lights, for the people that have come out of the shadows, who have worked their way up through the ranks… Who have overcome adversity, or long roads.

Yes, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have envy or jealousy, that I didn’t hurt a little inside because not only was I not considered for an award this year, but I didn’t even get an opportunity to audition for even a one line part in any of those films… I do suppose the closest I’ve gotten to an award is the Emmy Awards for Breaking Bad seeing I was fortunate enough to do 4 episodes of the amazing show… And since they’re all awesome over there, and the show is amazing, I’m happy for them. But, I don’t really think my character Clovis had much to do with that, but who knows, maybe in the final season they’ll bring me back, and…

Maybe that’s it. Maybe I don’t watch them because it hurts too much to dream, to want, to repetitively not get what I most deeply desire. Perhaps I’m so focused on the pitches coming at me for the last 20 years in triple A ball, that I can no longer imagine standing at home plate in Yankee Stadium, let alone winning the MVP award for a World Series. Yeah, I know I should have used a football analogy given the title of the blog, but… Okay, another too honest confession is that I have an easier time daydreaming about being a “lights out” pitcher or home run hitter for New York, or an MMA fighter, then I do imagining walking the red carpet on Hollywood Boulevard with a prepared speech in my pocket.

Perhaps I should watch them, or write out and practice my acceptance speeches. I’ve often heard of people doing this, and perhaps that’s another reason why people watch these shows… Substitution… Do you watch the presenters, and when they call Meryl Streep’s name, do you pretend that it’s you standing up from your seat? Do you pretend or fantasize about shaking hands with all the Pop Culture Royalty?

I’m interested in your thoughts, and your feelings… In the shows. In what you do during the shows. In your beliefs about the positiveness of picturing affirming futuristic visions. What you day dream about.

– Quiche Out

“You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…”

What is Hollywood? What is your town? What is your neighborhood? How are you connected? How do you define your hood? Is it geography? Is it the people inside the borders? Is it the businesses? Is it the people that come out of it or stay inside of it?

These are not new questions…

In part, it’s a debate I’ve heard in recent years as big corporate discount box stores blitz and annihilate “mom and pop” stores from main streets throughout America.

And now, as we all know, while change is imminent, it’s not always for the better. Bigger does not always equal better, nor necessarily cheaper. And cheaper doesn’t always lead to less expensive.

I’ll give you quick example, my local hardware store is a bike or walk away (no gas required), I know all the faces that work there and they know me… The moment I go in, I’m offered help (time and frustration saved). They always seem to have what I’m looking for, and if not, they’re quick to let me know, and they also have always offered advice and better ways to do what I’m trying to accomplish (money saved in not buying the wrong things).

(I suggest you to play the music embedded at the bottom of this blog post, while you read further…)

But, I’m not writing about economic value today, and I’m not writing about some big warehouse store… Today I’m writing about the character of a neighborhood, and the characters in a neighborhood.

At breakfast this morning, I found out the dinner in which I’ve had many a-breakfast, that has been open in Hollywood for years and years, may not get their lease renewed, and they’re asking customers to sign a petition in hopes that a list of signatures can help them stay open.  And while it may be a futile attempt to stop the owner of the building from evicting them… Perhaps it won’t be.

I’ve been going there, on occasion, for a dozen years, and it’s been open far longer than that… And when you visit, that’s exactly how it feels. I often wonder which movie star or failed screenwriter sat in which booth or on which stool, and while that may be the same in other establishments around Hollywood, that doesn’t take away anything from the experience I have in this particular greasy spoon.

I’m all for corporations doing what they do, but if you gave me a choice between a national chain, where I could go in to one in any part of the world and have the exact experience that I would have in any other part of the world, and a “mom and pop,” where there is only one joint like it… I’ll take the different individual joint 90% of the time.

Last month I heard my barbershop was closing down and moving 2 miles away…  Because the strip mall is being demolished… Tony has been there for decades, and some of the characters inside, equally as long. And sadly there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it. And today I found out that Angel’s Coffee may no longer be there after April (2012)… As an establishment I’ve been told that’s been there for around 50 years, and the current owner has owned it for about 22.

You’re welcome to read my Yelp review that I posted back in April 9th, 2010… And while I stand by my 3 stars (though tempted to give 4), and the fact that it’s not the “best” food or service that you’ll ever have in your life.  It is an experience that I enjoy being able to have… Whether it’s the characters sitting next to me at the counter, the old pictures on the fridge, the staff who I always enjoy seeing and saying hello to, or the slightly off kilter, worn stools and booths.  Angel’s is one of those joints that I know many have gone to on hung-over mornings, and one of those joints that I have taken several people who are visiting from out of town.

Like my barbershop, I will miss having this in my town when it’s gone, or if it goes, so I’m asking you, if you’re in the hood, stop in, have lunch or a coffee to go, sign the petition, and at the very least, see a booth that 50 years of Hollywood history may have sat in before it no longer exists.

Angel’s Coffee Shop 5420 Hollywood Blvd, 90027

“You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…”

– Quiche Out

Some day I may cover this Joni Mitchell song, but until then… Here’s the Counting Crows’ version.

…Needs To Be A Constant Continual Reminder

Courtesy Of Jack Kusler

Perhaps I post too frequently for you to read them all, and/or for them all to be great blogs postings, and/or they’re all about similar topics, but as I’ve promised myself and my craft to write a little every day, when I’m not punching the keys for a specific project, this site is often the lucky recipient of my writing time.

Last night a waitress I had not previously met noticed me as I was sitting at the bar writing. With a playful tone and sweet smile the cutie dressed in black flirtatiously asked if I was writing a poem for her.

“Give me a few minutes and maybe I will,” I answered back rather flatly.

A few minutes later I asked the bartender for a piece of paper, and jotted down a second draft of something that I had just scribbled in my journal.

While it was probably not at all what she was expecting, nor was she most likely expecting anything, I handed the 4 X 4 inch scrap to her on one of her many passes from her seated tables, to the bar.

She never said more than “thank you,” about it… And if she did I can’t tell you what it would have been.  I’m not sure she ever read it, or if it just didn’t end up soaked and stained with bused calamari sauce and raspberry martinis inside a kitchen trashcan.

The important thing wasn’t her reading it, it wasn’t her praising it, loving it, or hating it… The important thing for me was writing it. And though I don’t have that draft, it doesn’t at all matter (not that it was anything much of anything)… The doing is what should matter. The pleasure from doing. Not the reaction of an audience of one.

This week I had coffee with a lovely lass, someone I had wanted to meet up with socially for a while now… To find out more about her, face to face…

When she told me about the long-term boyfriend she happily lives with, while it would have been very easy to be disappointed, it really didn’t matter… It didn’t change anything.  She and I continued to be the same people, we continued to share, to laugh, the coffee shop stayed open, and the Earth remained on it’s axis…

Perhaps we become the best of friends, perhaps the next time we see each other in passing we smile that much deeper, perhaps the time with her today inspired this blog, and this blog inspires some talent in you, and you write the Great American Novel that brings the entire world to complete peace. Or perhaps… I become best friends with someone in her life, through her, and that person and I build a space ship that travels to another galaxy… It really doesn’t at all matter.

Once again, for me, the most important thing was the asking, and then enjoying the conversation and the moment. Though I guess one could crassly joke, “Yo, I thought you said, ‘it was the doing,’ and apparently you ain’t gonna be doin’ it with her.”

Nothing could prove the importance of the happiness of doing, and letting go of results, better than this past week when I recorded a Closet Singer for the first time in almost six months. (First written about in Neil & Me posted on Feb 17th, 2012)

I went into my closet to play, to sing, to work on my recording skills, to do a dry run of the recording programs and all the set up that goes into it.

When I then recorded the song, it again was just for fun, because what I was hearing was giving me pleasure…

When I decided to share the vocals with others, because sharing it would give me pleasure, I came up with the concept for the video on the spot which was enjoyable, and then it was all just fun to execute the filming.

Editing too filled my night with a warm feeling and smile, as it’s an activity that I really enjoy.

But then…

I posted it.

And all of a sudden things changed. All of a sudden not enough people were watching it. Not enough people mentioned anything about it. No one was forwarding it. Questions started coming up in my head… Voices of doubt. Voices on insecurity. Feelings… And not happy positive ones. Why weren’t people clicking on it? Why did I waste my night working on it? What was the point of recording it?

Why was I not getting any pleasure from it any longer?

Because I forgot the simple rule…

It doesn’t matter if it ends up stained with french fry grease unread, unwatched, under-appreciated, unsold, if she has a boyfriend, girlfriend, if 10 people watch it or 2,000,000,000…

I should not let any of that stain the happiness that I had in creating, recording, rehearsing, asking, shooting, singing, filming, editing, communicating, flirting… or WHATEVER!

Because when I do I get in trouble, it shuts me down, I start judging, questioning, feeling crappy, it gives me a rash of feelings that are so far from happiness… And when I do, it’s the biggest mistake I can make.

Perhaps that’s why so many don’t share what they write, or draw or sing… Because they don’t want to be shut down, because they don’t want those feelings, those internal conversations…

– Quiche Out

Imagine and Get Wet

This image with this quote was one of the first things I saw today… It resonated in me and I hope it resonates for years to come… What an awesome goal we should all aspire to achieve. It reminded me of a few childhood incidents that had me coloring inside the lines, because that was the “right” thing to do.

A few hours later I was hiking on one of my favorite waterfall trails with a friend, and we watched a young woman, walking a Black Labrador Retriever, and not letting the young pup do exactly what EVERY SINGLE Black Lab would instinctively want to do… Get wet, and jump in the water of a babbling brook and play…

She was willing to let the dog stand on the edge of the creek, but would not let the cutie touch the water. It seemed like cruel and unusual punishment. After all, why did this woman take on a life with a playful water dog, and bring the beauty to a place with a free flowing stream…

I did however get joy in the moment silently knowing that the dog would get plenty soaked only a few hundred feet up the trail, as the path would cross the creek three times, and lab puppies don’t instinctively rock hop.

If it’s true that John Lennon really said that to a teacher, what a claim to fame that teacher had for years… “I got schooled by a 5 year old John Lennon. I’m so happy he didn’t listen to me.”

and Get Wet.

– Quiche Out

Screen shot 2012-02-20 at 9.27.20 AM

Screen shot 2012-02-20 at 9.27.20 AM

Closet Singer Status