Saturday, January 31, 2009

Griffith Observatory

The week I moved to LA, Griffith Observatory was having their grand reopening after spending several years closed for renovations. My first apartment was directly south of it, so every day I saw it there up on the hill, one of the prettiest sites in a city that's not always known for charm in it's architecture. Nevertheless, it took me over a year to finally go up there. I've since been back two more times.

I love that place. It's totally free to the public (unless you buy a $7 ticket to the planetarium show), and even if you aren't a fan of astronomy, it has the best view in all of LA. I've been lucky enough to see the sunset from there, and let me tell you, it's gorgeous. To the young and broke in Los Angeles, let me recommend it as a great date place too. It's unique and beautiful, and you won't be called a cheapskate for taking someone there even though it's free. Very good for doing stuff on a budget.

Every time I go I leave feeling better about LA. How bad can a city be when a guy named Griffith J. Griffith decided to donate a giant park on a hill and build an observatory so the public could see the stars for free? The story is that after looking through the telescope at the famous Mt. Wilson observatory Griffith said that if everyone were to look through a telescope, it would change the world. Now it's there for everyone to look up at the stars and planets, and little kids are excited to be there, and I feel much better about the future of this country.

As I've said before, I was an English major in college. That's not to say that I don't enjoy science. I do. However, I wouldn't have the patience to deal with the specifics of a given scientific field for my entire life. I like to think that I could write some good science fiction someday, and while I strongly support scientific discoveries being made every day, I know I won't be the one making them. I understand enough of how the universe works to know just how little I really understand, which is why I get angry with religious zealots who refuse to believe in things like Evolution or the Big Bang.

I would never be an astronomer, but I really like the people who pursue the field. After spending four years at Harvard I met a lot of people from a lot of different scientific fields, and most have a bit of arrogance about their chosen profession. Biologists who can genetically engineer a mouse to have gills are probably convinced that they really can do anything.

Astronomers are different though. Every day they are confronted with the vastness of the universe and how little we understand about it. They realize that compared to the billions and billions of other galaxies out there, our planet is just a spec barely worthy of notice. I can imagine that it has to humble a person. In my experience most astronomers I've met love what they do, but they have a good natured sense of of purpose, and a sense of humor about what they do. There isn't much fighting among themselves when someone else wants to do what they do. They're just genuinely psyched that someone else cares about the stars just like they do. Plus they stay up all night in quiet serene places with clear skies above them.

Mankind evolved looking at the stars, using them to navigate, to measure time, and to tell stories and fables that serve as the basis for all religions. We have a built in instinct to look above us at night and be fascinated. One of the things I regret most about city living is that with the combination of air pollution and the insane amounts of light we have on in the cities at night we can't really see the stars. Every time I'm out away from civilization I look up, see the Milky Way, and savor the moment because I always forget just how beautiful it is.

So in closing, go to the Observatory, look up at the sky, appreciate our little corner of the universe and how it inspires us to keep exploring and learning more. You can bet that when I have kids I'm bringing them there all the time.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Just saw Anne Hathaway get carded

I went to the liquor store by my office (see earlier post "Buying Wine, and Why I Suck at It") to pick up some Friday night beers for the office. Sometimes we crack one open after the bosses have left if it's been a crazy week.

I walk in there, and there's Anne Hathaway, making a purchase with a skinny white dude wearing a pastel pink shirt and sporting the barely there mid-20's white dude beard. I'm guessing she's going out with this guy since she gave him a kiss while I grabbed a six-pack of Sam Adams got behind them in line.

She bought a few bottles of wine and a magazine. The guy behind the thing asked if she had ID, she said, "I do, but I don't have it with me." He said nothing and let it slide, because he knew she was famous and we could all tell. The boyfriend then paid for his own separate bottle, saying something like, "I'd feel bad if I let you pay for everything." Anne amused herself while he paid by trying on sunglasses and asking him if he thought they looked good.

They walked out, and as they paid the guy behind the counter asked his buddy in the store what movies she was in, because he couldn't remember.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Down with Blago

Seriously, why did it take them this long to impeach Blagojevich?

He was under investigation, they had him on tape bartering with people to put them on the Senate, and was arrested for corruption.

Why was he not impeached that week back in December? They just voted unanimously to kick him out and say that he can never hold public office in Illinois again. Was it really that tough for them to get their shit together?

If Roland Burris turns out to be a crappy Senator it's on the heads of these guys in Illinois. They should have done this a month and a half ago. Either way, unless Burris does a phenomenal job you know there's no way in hell he's getting elected to keep that seat once his term ends. I'd like to think the Democrats wouldn't even let him get through the primary. I guess only time will tell.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Doing more

Being bored by my current job has a silver lining. It helps remind me what I really care about and why I'm here.

Last night I had a meeting of my spec pilot workshop, and as I was making helpful suggestions on the other people's pilot ideas I really enjoyed myself. I like writing in the room.

Work is work. I'm not going to be here forever. I'm good in the room, and that's what I want to do, so the fact that I'm kinda meh about my current job reminds me that it's okay to make writing my top priority. This was not something I was able to do when I was getting broken in as a new assistant and driving from Los Feliz to Santa Monica and back every day.

So I don't feel guilty for reading pilots as research at work and devoting my weekends to my own projects. I have 3 nights a week locked up with writing projects every week, and I'm being a lot better about maintaining contacts with people that are also in my position, or people that were in my position once upon a time and might have some good advice for me. My off time is spent more often than not watching TV episodes and movies. Watching what works and what doesn't is helpful. When I watch a show that could have been more I analyze it and diagnose what I believe the problems to be (i.e for Studio 60: the best moment of the show happened in the teaser of the pilot and then that character disappeared for the rest of the series).

Someone on my tracking board just posted looking for writers and producers for a side project web series she's working on, so I emailed her that I was interested. Hopefully the show will be a worthwhile thing to work on if she's interested in my writing.

I'm just trying to churn out more volume, because I enjoy it and if I write enough stuff eventually some of it will get noticed and lead to a job in TV someday.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Great phone call

I'm working on a new pilot script. It's not the easiest concept in the world to explain, but I think it could make a good show. Like everything else I write I find that I'm making unexpected personal connections to it. In this case, I was trying to figure out exactly how to approach a certain character when it hit me like a ton of bricks that he's pretty much my college roommate/one of my best friends in the world. Now that I know the kind of guy he is, his voice will be very clear in my head and I think it will help the writing.

I wasn't sure if I should do it as a 1/2 comedy script or a hourlong drama/comedy script. I was leaning towards one hour, but I had that confirmed for me over a great phone call with a much more established writer that I met through my college alumni network. He said he'd be happy to help me with any other questions I had, and seemed pretty genuine, so I feel pretty good.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Almost too ridiculous to be funny

It's been lightly raining the past couple days in LA. Before that we had a week of sunny weather with the temperature in the mid 80's.

After just two days of slight precipitation, people in LA are like, " sick of this weather!"

I mean, honestly, it's like -20 in some places on the east coast. When I lived in Boston there were times when I didn't see direct sunlight for weeks at a time. People here are way too spoiled about their weather, and the sad thing is that it's not just the LA natives, it's also people who've been here for less than 5 years.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Friday Night Lights, rewriting history

People who have satellite TV have been watching Friday Night Lights for months now. For those like me who don't have a cable hookup and have to watch their tv on hulu or netflix, Friday Night Lights just came back after their last season was cut short due to the writer's strike.

It was a ridiculous return. They had to throw so much information at us it was insane.

First, WHEN THE HELL IS RIGGINS GOING TO GRADUATE? He was the best friend of the QB who got paralyzed, and they were both seniors in the first season. It was already kind of bullshit that he was back last year, but all of a sudden he's there again? How is he the same year as Saracen? The same goes for Tyra, although that one isn't as bad. I could see her as the sophomore chick that partied with the seniors in season one.

It's also funny to see what characters they got rid of. For example, the Santiago guy that was living with Buddy Garrity. As well as the rest of the Garrity family. They got rid of all them, and just had Lyla living with him now. I get that. Although, she's another one that should have graduated by now. It is interesting that they dropped the hardcore Christian thing she had going for her before and now she's just banging Riggins again without the added rush of cheating on a paralyzed guy.

All in all, the episode was rife with a ton of information coming at us all at once so they could start over and try to pretend that their previous season wasn't a complete mess. I think it also goes to show why high school shows have so man problems after their first season, because high school changes every year as people mature and graduate, but on TV shows you have actors under contract and characters that people love so you're forced to do all kinds of ridiculous things like having everyone go to a previously unknown college right in their home town.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Update on MissCrazy

Sorry I posted a rant about work yesterday instead of something joyous about the inauguration. Trust me, I'm psyched about it. Yesterday started as a great day, but then the annoyance of work stuff made me crash from the good and it drove me nuts.

So with MissCrazy, I'm pretty much back with her. Except I haven't seen her since the night she stayed over when we made up. Over the weekend we were supposed to hang out multiple times, but it never happened. I kept offering to do stuff, but she kept passing, saying stuff like how she was staying in for the night. To be honest, it kind of annoyed me.

My gut tells me that she was probably having the same kind of freak outs she'd been having before, and chose to just hide away rather than break up with me and regret it again, which is at least a step in the right direction, because if she pulled that again I'm gone, and she knows that.

She got to go to the inauguration, and so for much of yesterday afternoon I was getting these text messages from her when she was totally wasted on "Obama-tini's". She was using all caps, and kept saying how much she missed me. I think just being at a wild drunken party made her want to hook up, and therefore wish I was there.

I'm proceeding very cautiously. I don't know why the sudden mood swings with regards to me are happening. I don't know if she was seeing some other guy when she was supposed to be hanging out with me.

In all honesty, I know this girl isn't the one. I have fun when I hang out with her, but one time she referred in passing to something that would be happening a year later and I had this passing thought, "No way we'll still be together at that point." I think I'm just holding on for a more natural break off point, not the crazy shit that happened before.

It also didn't help that over the weekend I hung out with an old friend of mine from college who also lives in LA. I only see her about once every couple months, and every time I do I'm reminded that I have a crush on her. I know she doesn't like me like that, because it would have happened by now if it did. I've just found that there are times when I'm casually seeing someone else, I hang out with her, and realize that I'd rather be with her than the girl I'm dating.

I know that's a sign that I'm not with "the one".

In other news, I just started my new program to write an original spec pilot to use as a writing sample, so hopefully someday soon I'll be able to get staffed on a TV show or something and have the work life that I want, which will hopefully allow me to get closer to the personal life I want.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Quick venting...

My boss asks me to act as a messenger during my lunch hour even though I'm going nowhere near that place because he doesn't want to pay as for a messenger service, and he gives me shit for not reading a script after work every night and not finding out everything going on in town while reading 5 scripts and two novels every weekend.

It's not even possible to read as much as he wants me to read when I'm staying at the office this late, and I don't get overtime or benefits. I can't afford to get drinks with these people he wants me to network with, even if I had something to offer them to get them to want to meet with me.

And to top it all off, I don't want to work here forever, or become just a producer, so when I have time, I keep up with what's going on in TV and I try to write, because that's what I actually want to do out here.

It really pisses me off when I work my ass off and still get called a slacker.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Got back with MissCrazy

So since I can't call her "NewGirl" anymore, and Madame FlipFlop of FlipFlopia will just be waaay too long to write over and over, I've decided on a simple new nickname: MissCrazy.

She took me out for a very nice dinner last night, and was very groveling and apologetic, and then we went back to my place. She said she didn't mean it, and I believed her.

So I'm back with her I guess. But I'm going to always be a bit more cautious with things, and be ready to bounce if it's not working. I also told her that the next time she has momentary insanity and says she doesn't want to talk to me anymore I'm not going to come back when she regrets it in the morning.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

More evidence that people are fucking idiots

So we now have a similar situation to the "Beverly Hills Chihuahua as a sign of the apocalypse" thing.

Indie 103.1 fm is not just the best indie rock station in LA. It's pretty much the only true indie station I've ever heard. Rolling Stone named it the best radio station in the country.

So today pretty much everyone I know was shocked to hear that Indie was going off the air, switching to an internet only station. Apparently their ratings weren't high enough to make it on their own in this age of corporate radio.

This is why ratings suck. Fucking CSI is the most popular show in the country even though it's pretty much drivel in every single god damn episode. Crappy movies like this "Bride Wars" thing coming up will make tons of money while fantastic indie movies never even get promoted.

I don't know who these raters are. I don't know who has the Nielson boxes on their TV's. But they must be fucking idiots, and they certainly aren't people like me.

Every person I know in LA listens to Indie, and loves it. It's my favorite radio station. It felt really cool to hear fantastic music there before anyone else would, laughing when everyone on the east coast made a big deal about a band I'd been listening to for six months.

And now it has to go off the air, to be replaced by another shitty ranchero music station.

This really fucking sucks.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


So Madame FlipFlop of FlipFlopia has decided that she didn't mean it when she randomly told me to fuck off and never talk to her again. I was still a little righteously pissed this morning, so while I thanked her for her apology, I told her that with this pattern of her repeatedly dumping me, forcing us to say mean things to each other, then taking it all back a day later wouldn't work for me.

She was still upset, felt awful, wanted me to reconsider. She even had a friend (whose name I don't even know) email me to talk to me about it.

So rather than say "Sorry", block their emails and move on with my life, I kept talking to her, and I'm probably going to at least meet her for a coffee so we can talk about why exactly she freaked out on me and where we go from here, since she still wants to be with me.

I hate when that shit happens, when someone totally fucks you over, and when you're justifyably mad they apologize and suddenly you're the asshole for staying mad.

As you can see I don't do well with guilt. Probably why I always try to be the nice guy.

P.S. On a positive note I finally got that bonus my bosses owed me. Granted it was 24 days late, but at least I got it.

This is perplexing

Somehow between 7pm and midnight tonight a girl that has been really liking me the past two months went from inviting me to go on trips with her to telling me to stop contacting her and blocking me on facebook.

Reading that I would assume I had done something. All we did was send a few text messages back and forth, and those weren't even about anything. Then all of a sudden she was hostile and cranky. I figured she was just in a bad mood, waited a couple hours, then sent her a text with a funny observation. She then started the crazy stone-wall tactics.

This makes no sense whatsoever, but I guess the silver lining is that if she was this crazy now I'm probably dodging a bullet by not getting more involved with her.

So I'm chalking it up to experience and moving on with my life. It'll make great material someday I'm sure.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Google is taking over the world, but we could do worse

I just used Google Docs for the first time today as I tried to put together a phone sheet for my boss that could be accessed from multiple locations at once, and holy crap, it's pretty cool.

It reaffirmed a believe that I've had since college when gmail and Google satellite maps came about. Google is eventually going to conquer the entire planet. Not in the "my army vs. your army and then I plant my flag" conquistador kind of world domination. They aren't Napoleon or Genghis Khan.

Instead they're conquering without holding land. Everything they create exists in the ether, but it's a part of our daily lives. I go to a Google site to write this blog, to check my email, to get directions when I'm driving somewhere, and even to check the street level map before meetings to find out the best place to park.

They have enormous power, and while Google is far from perfect, they haven't really abused that power too much. They're a young and idealistic company that treats their employees incredibly well, even giving them $5K toward buying a hybrid car.

As companies get larger and national boundaries become less relevant, it's only a matter of time until a company achieves total world domination.

If it has to be someone, I'm glad it's Google. We could do worse.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Rule Number One

There's a rule that my brother and I have dubbed "Rule Number One". The more life experience I have, the more I'm convinced it's true.

Rule Number One: All women are crazy.

Now, to elaborate, I'm not saying all girls are "bad crazy". Some are just a little nutty in a cute but harmless way. Others just tend to get irrational every once in a while.

But the rule is helpful to keep in mind because no matter how sane a girl seems, you know that eventually the crazy will rear it's head. If you accept that women will always bring out the crazy and that you have no control over it, it removes a lot of stress from relationships. You don't worry about whether it was something you did or not. You don't worry about trying to "fix it" when a girl becomes irrationally upset with you for no reason at all.

So Rule Number One, remember it. Your life will be better.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Bank tries to pretend that it's the 70's

The Bank of America branch near my office has lots of TV's set up. Until this week I never saw anything but the news on them.

This week I've gone in multiple times and every TV is tuned to the Game Show Network, showing reruns of 1970's game shows like Family Feud. It's as if they're trying to pretend that there isn't a bad economy, and that loan officers weren't the ones mostly responsible.

Like someone will walk in and think, "This economy can't be so bad, that woman with the really permed hair on TV just won a year's supply of Turtle Wax!"

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My new computer is super awesome

I love Dell. I know I've said it before, but seriously, they're fantastic. Sure they're only this great so I will retain brand loyalty to them for the rest of my computing needs in life, but you know what? It worked. I will remain loyal to them because as I said before, they're AWESOME.

They sent me a free new computer after Microsoft screwed up my old one with Service Pack 3. I was expecting the same basic computer, but a little shinier. What I got instead was the next generation up. I'm running Windows Vista, I now have a webcam and microphone built in, I have a number-pad on the keyboard.....there's just tons of stuff to love.

I can't wait to get home from work so I can finish putting my old music and movie files on it and play with it some more.

The moral of the story is to always purchase the warranty on your computers. It may have cost me an extra couple hundred, but I just got a new laptop worth over $3K for free out of it.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Starting the new year off with some righteous anger

New Year's Eve was fun. I'm staying with friends I haven't seen in a while in New York and will be returning to LA on Sunday, but sadly not all is right with the world in the dawn of '09.

I started my current job in February of '08. When I was hired, I signed an employment agreement which stated that I was to receive a "year end performance based bonus." This bonus is meant range from about 1-3 month's salary in amount. When you're a broke Hollywood assistant, this is huge. The agreement also stated that I was to receive this bonus no later that December 20th.

Well, it's been two weeks since December 20th, and I haven't seen a dime. I emailed my bosses about it days ago, but haven't heard jack shit from them. I don't want to pester them about it, because that would just make them arbitrarily decide that my "job performance" wasn't as good and that they could give me the minimum amount the agreement stated.

So I'm owed a chuck of money. And to top it all off I checked my bank account this morning and saw that the direct deposit regular salary I have coming to me has not yet arrived either, but that's probably just the payroll company being a day late because of the holidays (but if I don't get that soon I'll be really pissed).

The bonus is what's getting me really mad though. This isn't like I'm whining about not getting an extra christmas bonus from my bosses out of the kindness of their hearts. This is about me being denied money that was promised to me. This bonus was the reason I stayed with this job so long and never looked for another one despite the fact that I don't have any health insurance.

There were plenty of jobs I could have applied to this past year. I know because I took the postings and sent them to friends of mine. I even had someone offer me a job flat out when they connected with me through my college alumni network. I'm starting to think that maybe I should have taken it. I would have been working for more established people and gotten paid better.

So basically, no matter what my job search is going to kick into high gear now. I'm not going to quit my current job until I have a new one, but you can bet that I'm not going to be going the extra mile at the office until I get paid. In fact, I'll probably be doing things like posting on this blog and searching for jobs while I'm there.

In a way it's good. I've been looking to move on anyway, and this gives me the perfect excuse to leave. And if they're dicks about paying me what I'm owed, I can also let some people in the assistant grapevine know what my bosses are actually like, and that they don't pay their employees. They're two guys trying to get credibility around town, and you can bet that a rep for not being able to pay people will make you look pretty stupid pretty quickly.