“We Determine Our Own Success”

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The plan, as I drove home late last night, was to wake up this morning, and write about my evening on stage for anyone that was interested… However, when I woke and had received a lengthy email from a long time collaborator wondering about continuing the pursuit of writing, and I responded with a quickly dictated lengthy email of my own back…

I’m including it, though this has been “cleaned,” “fixed,” and “edited” a tad. Possibly I’ll write more about last night later…

 

There are always plenty of reasons to quit… Plenty of people who will agree with you… Plenty of other people who quit already… More will quit as I write this email.

Last night I sang at two of the more popular venues in town. Two of them. Vitello’s in Studio City and Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Feliz. Surrounded by other great, very talented performers in the house and on stage. These are two of the top small/midsize cabaret venues in the second biggest city in the country. And I’ve little doubt that each performer wishes they were making a super living as singers…

At homes, surrounding both venues, I’m guessing were hundreds of other former singers who would be all too ready to convince us all to throw in the towel. That it’s too hard. That they are just lucky to be able to sing on a stage, with people excited to see us perform.

Doing it or not doing… Doing it or not doing it… Is the only thing that matters. Producing or selling ourselves or finding someone else to produce scripts or sell scripts or writing stories that can be eaten, consumed directly by the masses without the fickle middleman only looking for easy sells and guaranteed box offices.

The business of it sucks. Worrying about other people sucks… Worrying about myself sucks. Worrying about money sucks… It’s the doing, the singing, writing, the acting… That I love. The doing. The meetings. The discussions. The problem-solving. The creativity. The doing. And very possibly I have devoted a very superficial and shallow life to all of it… But, seeing things created on stage, or working on them for an Internet audience, or TV audience, or festival audience, or even on something that may never be finished… And it was only the cast & crew that will ever appreciate it… Watching people react, or hearing them laugh, or hearing that they laughed or cried upon watching or reading something… Validation from myself and others is important to me.

I heard this quote the other day… Which I’ve heard many times before… “We determine our own success…”

I could look at last night as being incredibly successful, incredibly, singing at two of the top cabaret spaces in Los Angeles, among super talented, professional, Broadway singers… Or I could look at last night as being a failure… I didn’t get paid a dime, I spent money on gas, only did two songs… Blah blah blah…

“We determine our own success.”

Having a day job as an actor, who sings in his closet and in public venues, who wrote two novels, has had five screenplays optioned, who has dreams of being an artist creator on a superstar level, is all really ridiculous. But… I’ve already gone much much further and longer than most people ever, ever, would’ve ever bet on.

“We determine our own success.”

At this point I’ve seen hundreds of peers quit. I silently celebrated each and every one. Happy they made a decision. And yet, I would’ve been equally happy had they made the decision to stay and tough it out. It would be significantly less enjoyable and less productive for me and my career if you were to quit… As I have benefited from your knowledge, creativity and expertise. But… I would be no less happy for you than anybody else.

I am hoping he doesn’t quit… For my own sake. It would sadden me greatly, but his decision is up to him, and he will do what’s right/best for him.

I often consider quitting… So much so that an acquaintance of mine who I see at auditions from time to time called me out on it the last time I saw him…  “Maybe you should just quit, you’d make a lot of people much happier.”

Hopefully this inspires you a little, hopefully my original Email inspires my friend and collaborator… Man, it’s a tough tough long long bumpy bumpy road. But I personally don’t know anyone that has ever trained for and run a marathon, the fastest they possibly could, and said, “Wow, that was so easy.”

“We determine our own success.”

Over 50,266 people ran and finished the New York City Marathon in 2013… And yet there were only four people who actually “won” (male, female, male wheelchair, female wheelchair). Yet, I highly doubt that all of the 50,262 others considered their race, their time, their  accomplishment, their  training, their hurdles, their pain… unsuccessful.

“We determine our own success.”

I used to think that only meant, we were responsible for our own success… Now I know it also means, “We determine our own success.”

– Quiche Out

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_New_York_City_Marathon

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We Will Sell No __ Before Its Time

WMD-Official PosterApparently, just after George W Bush opened his library, this movie, WMD, that I was one of the main leads in, will finally be screened… The project was initially written, cast and filmed when “Dubya” the 43rd President was still making decisions in the White House. Yes, years ago. You know when American soldiers were still in Iraq and Afghanistan… Oh wait. Never-mind.

I don’t know when the public will get a chance to see this film, how it came out, or if it will ever be made available.. But, anyway, the filming, and the process that followed generated so many classic stories that, at one point, there was talk of making a comedy, which would have told the story of the making of the film through the retelling of some of those tales by the cast and crew.  I wouldn’t be surprised if that still happens.

27695_407824696808_1304741_n-1So, WMD (the movie) is going to be completed, or it is finished, and in the email to the cast, inviting us to the screening, the production company mentioned that WMD will be screening during the Cannes Film Festival (I don’t have the details on that yet either)…

However, believe it or not, this here blog posting isn’t about this particular movie.

This blog is about patience… The marathon… And yes, I know, first-hand that it’s really hard to have patience when the rent is due at the end of the month, your car insurance bills are due on the 15th, and the waiter brings your check with a smiley face drawn on it as soon you put your fork down. But yet, some things, most things, take time… And, it’s not always easy to not rush things… As I was asked by some people last night, after singing two songs at an open mic, why I’m not more aggressive with my singing career… “Why aren’t you on Broadway…” “Why don’t you go on one of those TV singing shows?” I simply relayed, something to the effect of… “Because I’m still developing…” “Still learning…” “I’m getting in my reps…” “Because I went out of the gate too early the first time and got beat up, and ended up quitting singing publicly for a dozen years…”

If you’re interested in more of that story you can read some of it via the Closet Singer webpage (ClosetSinger.com)…

You may have heard the following story before, and the whole world will hear this story, in the future, when at some point things really really “go right” in my career.

Over fifteen years ago I moved to Los Angeles… On my way here, the five “LA friends” that I had, that I knew, that were all convincing me to move westward from New York, Actually all told me, while I was driving, I believe in Tennessee, in route, how it suddenly wasn’t a good week for them to have me to move to LA. They all had excuses why all of a sudden they wouldn’t be able to put me up… Although one of the five did come through, and she promised me that although her couch was already being occupied by her roommate (which it was), she would find places for me to crash (and she did), and that I should keep on driving west.

One of the first couches I crashed on, that she set up, was in K-Town, an upstairs garden apartment of a lovely couple that didn’t know me from Adam.  The two of them, that if you put them together I would still dwarf, Eric and Jeannie, opened their apartment up, and were generous with their couch to a complete giant stranger for a week… Unknown to me, three or so weeks after I left, and found my own apartment, another guy, someone I didn’t know, someone more mid-size, Paul, would be crashing on that same couch (more on that later).

Several months past and Eric who was also a writer asked me if I’d be interested in writing a screenplay with him and Paul (the other couch crasher)… Well, up to that point I had written plays and sketches and had some produced in New York City, but I had never tackled a screenplay, but we met, the three of us, and we pitched some ideas… We came up with a deal and we wrote. There were some bumps while we figured out how we best worked together… But what came out of it was a very zanny comedy. But more importantly Paul and I became good friends and really liked how we worked together, and he and I would continue to work on scripts.

Over the years since I move to Los Angeles I have had five scripts optioned, three of them being scripts I had CO-written with Paul. However, that script that brought us together, honestly, in retrospect, as it was, should have never been shown to anyone other than the three of us, and might have done more damage than good at the time. Let me explain that… A lot of times you get one crack at the bat. Let’s say you know someone that “is somebody” in showbiz… And they’ll read a script of yours or watch a movie of yours, or come see you sing… Well, if you’re not really ready… That’s the image they stick on you for a long while, and you’re probably not going to get them to read your next script, or watch your next show, or hear your next song… They’ve gone and silently labeled you already.

Okay, back to the story… Time ticked on clocks… Eric and Jeannie sort of loss touch with Paul and I, as they had children and developed successful careers outside of the film biz… You sort of know my story (I kept kinda true to the artist life with dozens of commercials and TV shows, some singing, photography, writing, publishing of novels…) And Paul… Well, Paul, was sort of a combination of Eric’s life and mine… Since Paul and I started working together, he’s added a wife and two kids of his own to his team. He was a struggling-writer-painter-bachelor living in Eagle Rock when we first met (at yet another friend’s house), then got married, got a job, had a kid, moved to San Fran to work with some music company (a day job), had a second kid, then he moved to New York to go back to school to get a MBA from Columbia (to be able to get better day jobs), then I think he was working in Boston as a consultant maybe, then he was living somewhere else doing something else (again as day jobs), then maybe Pennsylvanian, then he was in PA but working for a company in SoCali (flying back and forth bi-monthly), and now I believe while he’s looking for a place to move his family in Rhode Island, he’s currently living in PA driving back and forth weekly… Anyway… Those details are Paul’s to correct when the time comes.

Semi-recently, when Paul was traveling to Orange County for his day job, he and I met up and had one of our walk and talks… One of my favorite things to do. We were discussing various scripts we had written, which project we’d push, how we’d push it… Which project we’d attempt to get to agents we had no idea how to reach, and which project we thought we should work on next even though we had no idea who we would show it to after we would finish.

With much discussion we decided to take that very first script out of it’s dusty computer file and do a complete overhaul on it, re-building it from the ground up… Not having any allegiance to any part of it. So, me being the lead writer as I am, I did… I whipped that sucker out and got to work. Paul and I would discuss, we’d rip the story apart obviate characters and arcs and I’d re-build… Paul would read and suggest, we’d rip parts of it apart again, and I’d re-build… All in all it wasn’t that long of a process, perhaps a few months total before we were completely happy with our newest (yet oldest script)…

We brought Eric back in the fold and sent him a draft, to which he gave us a few notes that we implemented… And then after some more thoughts, work and time, the script went to it’s next reader… My new manager… And it was delivered with it’s new very smart and brief logline and new catchy title, and as a completely new high-concept script. My manager, who had read three other scripts of Paul and mine, and was shopping two of them to productions offices around town… But while we had been getting great feedback, especially about the sharpness of the dialogue, we hadn’t yet had a sale.

Well, this newest script, this big-budget, broad-comedy script wasn’t his style… He was more of a RomCom guy… with connections to smaller companies doing smaller films. However, to his credit, he smartly recognized the marketability of the genre, the potential in a big sale, the humor and funny contained in script, title and logline… With some discussions he got on board… I won’t go into all the details, but we collectively decided that we should add a literary agent to our team, and with the clout and connections that the big literary agencies have, we figured that with a script like we had, written by two unsold writers, we would all have a much better chance of selling it and making money.

Well… This past week our manager followed up some leads and made some calls, and happily, very happily, I can say that as of last Friday morning FIVE agents, at FIVE of the biggest, most influential literary agencies on the planet, have copies of our script that they asked for copies of.

We just need one of them to recognize the potential in the script and the project… And go out with it… If they do, Paul and my careers could change forever… And if they do, perhaps maybe in less than another fifteen plus years you’ll be seeing what three guys that have a couch in common came up with 15 years ago, in a theater near you…

Anyway, I thought you’d appreciate the story…

Patience and persistence. Hopefully one of those agencies will get back to us, and my next posting will be about that… And then after, I’ll post about the sale… And then about the casting, the production… And then the opening at thousands of screens around the world. However, if I waited till the “final result” to post anything, I might never post a single thing… Because really, there is only one final destination that I know of… Besides that there is only the constant journey, of the marathon of life…

– Quiche Out

“It took Beethoven four years to write that symphony… Some thing’s can’t be rushed. Good music and good wine…” – Orson Welles (in commercial below)

…It Can Take Years To Create A Day

BE3-mMMCEAAdOqLYou may have heard me talk about what
I feel is the most challenging part of my career apart from the
“not knowing” and the unpredictability… No, it’s not the acting
or writing, or coming up with ideas or memorizing… I truly
believe that the hardest part of my job is the down time, and
figuring out what to constructively do with it… By the way if
you’ve never read Viktor
Frankl’s, Man’s Search For Meaning,
I recommend it. Now
while you may be saying, “Oh I wish I had that problem… Too much
free time.” Yeah, it’s great, until it isn’t. Ever stay home from
school as a kid? It’s great, right? For a day, maybe two… Now,
try years of it… After a while you have to make figuring out a
constructive schedule part of your job. “The Price Is Right” isn’t
really a way to live each day… And unless your rich and can
travel the globe or are happy just laying by a pool, you have to
figure out reasons to get out of bed.

“And thanks
to YOU, I am working on a video of my own to showcase a little art
project that I’ve been working on. One of your blog entries made me
think about the realities of what I would like to do creatively and
all the reasons I throw up against myself to sabotage the process.
So this time when I had an idea for an art project, I allowed
myself to follow through, make mistakes along the way, and keep
pushing on. …It has been so rewarding to see this thing come
together…and I blame you!” – A friend of mine

Yesterday was an awesome creative day…

  • First
    I electronically delivered a PDF re-write of a feature I’m working
    on with my main collaborator of a dozen years. It’s exciting as we
    keep getting closer with it.
  • Afterwards, I
    went out for a walk and took photos, and wrote a blog
    for a photo challenge
    that surrounded the shots I had
    just captured…
  • Somewhere in there I got a
    message from a friend about how I inspired him (posted above),
    someone else wrote me to compliment my acting work on “Breaking
    Bad,” and I had a few conversations with my manager.
  • Then I worked for seven hours on an odd quirky indie film
    called She’s
    Allergic To Cats
    , playing a messed up exterminator on the
    edge… Delivering a twisted monologue and going off the emotional
    rails on camera. It was nuts.
  • After being
    emotionally spent, and ready to call it a full day and go home to
    look at a script that I had waiting for me at home (for a Monday
    audition), I got back in my truck and sang five songs at an invited
    open mic…
  • And while I was there, singing,
    listening, chatting, and working on the nine new pages of sides, I
    received an email from a friend about
    an amazing review of my novel, Sympathy For The Devil

    that one of his friend’s apparently had just posted…

A pretty amazing creative day that I am incredibly
thankful for… And one that I realize, as I’m writing this blog,
one that took years of work, self-motivation, discipline, and time
management to make happen… Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a day
to plan. If you’re interested in more information; the indie film,
TV, film or singing appearances, reviews, blogs, thoughts… Please
subscribe to this blog, follow on Twitter, “like” on Facebook… –
Quiche Out

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Angels?

Okay, let me just say, I didn’t know what to call this entry… And some of this entry some of you may have already heard. Let me also say that I edited this sucker, but wordpress, for some reason decided to publish an earlier draft! And I honestly don’t have the time to go back and remember all the changes I made this AM. So, I apologize if there are errors. I really liked some of the changes I made… Oh well, maybe angels wanted this version published.

—–

Way way back in my NYC days, one evening I had enough of the life of an actor, and had made up my mind that I was done with it all. I was on my way back to my apartment from a series of city crap. And I didn’t look, before stepping off the curb. Inches from my shoulder a jacked up truck stopped short, and I looked over and in my face, I swear to you was the truck’s bug screen which said either “Keep on trucking,” or “Never give up.” It was so surreal, like a dream. To this day it was one of the odder moments in my life.

This past week, I sang at an open mic, and after I sat back down, a man came over to me, looked me square in the eyes and said… “Whatever your dreams are don’t give up…”

It wasn’t based on anything I said at the mic, he and I had never spoken before, and my songs had nothing to do with quitting or anything specifically.

Click on this image to see the actual post I made on the Closet Singer Facebook page…

Three days later I was singing at a karaoke joint, and when I left I said goodnight to the bouncer sitting just outside the open door, and sitting next to him was a long dark haired, dark skinned woman, whom I had never talked to before… The highly spirited lady would not let me leave without demanding a series of high fives, and making her promise her, as she clutched my hand, that I would not give up, no matter what… I’m not kidding you. The doorman’s name is Adam, I had talked with him many times, but her, never.

Like the man a few days earlier she spoke of a passion she felt or saw inside of me that she could hear from outside… Again, I said nothing on the microphone about anything, and the songs that I sang that night were just songs. I think the last one I sang that night was Always On My Mind.

Odder, was that when I assured the woman that all was good in my life, that I just published my first novel, I had three shows coming up… She looked at me and said something that now a few days later I wish I could remember what it was… But it was something more to the effect of “Don’t give up…” And something about that she was picking up something about me, and that while things are hard, I had to understand that I was on a path with greatness.”

I wish I had written down what she said, but I didn’t because just a few days earlier I made that Facebook post about the guy, and I didn’t want people to think I was making stuff up or boasting. And big deal two people said practically the same thing a few days apart, a two different places, after they heard me sing.

But two “Don’t give up” statements from two random people in one week, and a week where everything was going so well really made me wonder what was going on, and what was I putting into the universe… Well, then the phone call from my theatrical agents telling me they decided to part ways with me, admitting that they haven’t been able to get me out, and citing that I would be better elsewhere.

Not to recycle posts (read this if you care), but I was totally GREAT with that… But now, I have to admit that after a weekend, and a few days the thoughts of moving on to something else in the world, or to somewhere else, to quit, to do something easier, are incredibly strong.

And right now I really don’t know what I want to do…

As I wrote in an email last night…

Honestly, I’m not sure what’s next for me in life and career… I feel like I’m at yet another crossroads in my life, and can’t yet see even the streets to choose between…”

I really don’t know… This isn’t me looking for sympathy. It’s me sharing with you some really odd coincidences. It’s me making a record of it. It is me sharing my journey with those that want to ride along.

Talking with one of my collaborators on the phone this week, I really didn’t know anything.  He wanted me to tell him what I wanted to do next…

Write another screenplay to collect dust. Start on another novel, when I haven’t really sold many of the first yet… Make a movie by myself… I am incredibly excited about the Twisted Misters And Sisters show coming up, but I have this sinking feeling that no one will come. No one will come. No one will buy the book. No one will read the script. No one will sign me. No one will love me. No one… No one…

Yes, the wolves and demons are out.
I’m wise enough to recognize this.

In another odd coincidence, today a person I’ve only know thru Facebook, out of the blue reminded me of a saying that I concocted almost two years ago, perhaps during a period of time that I was reeling from a relationship gone bad or a tough week of whatever.

The phrase… “Snap Poof Lucky Me Bark Bark.”

Apparently this particular phrase devised out of a Facebook status I posted stuck with her all this time and today she send me a picture of it written on her driver side window.

With her help I looked up where the phrase came from, still remembering what the nonsensical thing meant to me.

That we can change our perception instantly. The barks are just cause they make me smile. Look at the date on this, and today she just happens to remind me of this random post?

Coincidence? Messengers? Don’t give up? Get up off the canvas? Stop eating spicy foods?

BTW this morning, just minutes before I’m about to send this blog into the E-niverse I received an email back from a friend who got the message I sent, she echoed “Don’t give up…” and included an image.

– Quiche Out

Wow… It’s Amesome To Have Press Like This

Yes, I’m a PR machine this week… And I could not have timed this particular interview release better myself… Why they came to me to last week to interview me is beyond my comprehension. All I know is, how perfect is this…

Would I have loved School & Board to be available to viewers… Yes, but… To be able to talk about the BOOK and the upcoming two shows!

Anyway, wow… It’s really flattering to have press like this. If you love the article make sure you let the people over there at Officially Plugged In know you loved it!

Here’s the direct link…

http://www.officiallypluggedin.com/news/2012/09/interview-with-tom-kiesche/

– Quiche Out

Facebook & Five Bucks (Extortion?)

With Facebook going public, and being on the market, it seems that every day I see how it’s doing with it’s numbers. Billions of dollars. Billions.

The other day I wrote something about this in a post entitled, “Monetization.”

Last night a collaborative partner forwarded me someone else’s blog called,“Facebook is People!: Why I Quit Mark Zuckerberg’s Online Collective Data Farm.”

I’m sure there are thousands of other mentions of Facebook in blogs and articles. But today I discovered something else…

As I went to make a post on one of my “pages,” Facebook generously offered me the option to “promote” my posting…

See full image below.

That’s right, to get word to (600 or 700) of my “fans” or “friends” on their free site, Facebook, who is apparently worth 100 billion dollars off of you and me to begin with, and our content and information, now is allowing me to send them 5 or 10 bucks per posting to get word out to the people that “liked” my page, to be kept up on updates.

Again, again, again, I have no problem with people or corporations making money… But this just seems wrong, overly greedy, and corrupt to me.

I had been wondering why my view counts and feedback number had been dropping lately. Wondering if it was something I was doing. If people were tiring of me and my postings or videos… But now, I’m not so sure it’s not because Facebook is choking out my feeds, or holding back my shout outs, in order to extort five dollar bills from me.

Or is “extort” too harsh a word?

What are your thoughts on this?

– Quiche Out

And yes, I know I apparently have a message to read… That just came in.