After a “break” during the holidays, when I had too much stuff to do and couldn’t learn a new piano song, here’s our first duet of the year!
Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Friday, January 1, 2021
I used to work at a post production company. We edited trailers, did post production on low-budget feature films and various other things. One thing we would occasionally do is cut actor reels. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a compilation of little scenes an actor has done which they send out to agents or casting directors who might want a sample of work before working with someone. Tom Cruise doesn’t need one but the woman who plays a waitress against him probably does. Or at least, did in the olden days. I don’t know if they still make them now that everything is digital.
An actress who may or may not have been named Sydney, I don’t remember, was in our office having her reel cut. She was close to me in age, early 20s. She was slender and short. Tiny like many actresses or aspiring actresses. She had long red hair. But the most memorable thing about her was her catch phrase. Right on. “Do you want something to drink?” “Right on.” “I just need to hook up a different drive in this room.” “Right on.”
I wasn’t doing any specific work on her reel, but I’m sure it was my job to make copies of it for her when it was done. We chatted periodically when she would step out of the editing room. We got along well and she invited me to go with her to an acting class that week.
It’s always nice to make new friends, to quote Giselle in Enchanted. Maybe I’d learn something. Maybe I was making a new friend. It was free for me to sit in, so I agreed to join her. Then she told me it was in Santa Monica.
If you aren’t from LA, or haven’t spent much time here, you don’t know the horror of getting invited to an event “over the hill” from where you live. I lived in Glendale, over the hill from the office, which was in Hollywood. There was no point in me going home after work and then heading to Santa Monica because I’d never make it to Santa Monica in time, even though it is only about 25 miles away. At rush hour, that could be a three-hour drive. Work ended at six and the class started at eight. Driving there, finding it and parking would all take time. There was no such thing as GPS or map app on the phone. There was something called a Thomas Guide, which was a giant book of maps of Los Angeles that everyone kept in their cars.
I probably stopped to grab fast-food and headed out to the beach. I managed to find the place and find parking and still get to the class on time. The class took place in a small theater, with the audience seats rising up toward the back walls, so the audience looked down on the stage. I found Sydney. That night, everyone in the class was presenting monologues. Sydney’s turn came up.
“My vagina is angry,” she started. It was from the Vagina Monologues which burst onto the scene a few years earlier in 1996. Sydney was supposed to finish her lackluster performance and then remain on the stage while the teacher gave her notes.
She didn’t get very far before the teacher interrupted her. He wasn’t buying it. She had to start over. “My vagina is angry.” And over. “My vagina is angry.” And over. “My vagina is angry.” Until, finally, she started to cry. She wasn’t really connecting with the material, written by a woman in her 40s. The teacher told her to either keep working on it or present something different next time.
She must have been the last person to go, because she came back into the seats and sat beside me. She wasn’t done crying. By now it was late, anyway, so I went home. I don’t know if we talked about getting a snack after the class or not, but there was no way Sydney was doing anything that night but cry.
I don’t remember seeing her again. We didn’t become friends. She’s got to be in her 40s by now, so maybe she can finally understand that monologue. I was not inspired to be an actress or take an acting class, but I’ll never forget the one class I sat in on.
Thursday, December 17, 2020
After watching many interviews on late-night shows and day-time shows during the past year, I’ve become keenly aware of the old go-to stories that celebrities tell. Often, I don’t enjoy hearing the same one or two stories from people as they do the rounds on talk shows to sell their latest project. They usually have no variation. They have practiced the story dozens of times, pausing for laughs in the same places, even if no one laughs. (The one story I do enjoy each time I hear it is James Acaster’s Pin Drop band story. Look for that one if you get the chance.) But this got me thinking about what some of my talk-show stories might be. Here’s the first one.
After I had lived in LA for a few years, I started taking voice lessons. To what end? Who can say? We got the trades at work and I did see an ad in the one for variety acts for a local cabaret night, so I answered the ad.
I discussed the songs I knew with my voice teacher and we decided I should sing “Another Hundred People,” by Stephen Sondheim. The promoter who was trying to get the cabaret night together had hired a piano player, so I just needed to bring the sheet music to the audition.
I went to the audition, at the club, The Palms, in West Hollywood. I told a gay friend of mine that I was singing there and he asked me if I was sure, because it was a lesbian bar. Sure. No problem.
The audition was acapella and the promoter was sufficiently pleased that I got the job. It paid 2 free drinks at the bar the night of. I wasn’t doing this for the money, so that was fine with me. I left a photocopy of my music for the pianist.
I don’t remember much about before the show. I knew where the club was from the audition. I parked at a pay garage instead of driving around and around looking for a meter, so already I was losing money on this gig. There wasn’t so much a stage as one of end of the room with a keyboard and microphone. I sang and the piano player played…something. He certainly wasn’t playing the song I was doing. I probably starting singing faster and faster, just wanting to finish this weird duet of voice and noodling. It was excruciating for me. I don’t think the audience noticed, if they were even paying attention.
I finished the song and took the one step from stage to crowd. I made my way to the bar. I traded in one drink ticket for a coke. “You could have something stronger,” the bartender suggested. No, just a coke.
A woman, older than me by maybe 40 years, who can best be described as Popeye, sat beside me and started to chat me up. I was polite, but I don’t think I even finished my drink before leaving the club. Did I thank the promoter? I don’t know. Did I stay and watch the rest of the show? No. How rude of me. I left and was thankful that I didn’t have to walk far to the parking garage.
I don’t think I answered any other ads looking for singers after that. Not that it was a horrible experience, just that it wasn’t for me. I guess that’s why I’m not famous.
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
I have been writing a book for years. And I finally decided it is done.
If you have some money laying around, it would be the best Christmas present ever for me if you would buy a copy of my book.
Here's the cover, which is part painting by me (with soft pastel) and part electronic. I tried a version where I did the text by hand, but it was a mess and difficult to read. Having a title which people can't read didn't seem like a winning marketing strategy.
Sunday, November 15, 2020
Sunday, November 8, 2020
Sunday, October 25, 2020
Katherine and I did a new video. Her bell sounds appropriately nautical for this one. A favorite song of mine. I had a 45 of it that I would listen to every time I went “home” to Texas, where my record player resided.