Saturday, December 17, 2005

December 17, 2005

A lot of actors have little tolerance or respect for extras. It's been said that the cast and crew of "Gilmore Girls" refer to their extras as cockroaches
(more than any other show, "Gilmore Girls" is the one background actors refuse to do. In fact, when I went in to register with my calling service, the recruiter specifically mentioned it as a show some of us might not want to do).

Then there are shows where the actors are friendly toward us. Of all the shows I've done, there have been few shows where the principles have been more cordial than on "The West Wing." I've done the show several times, and on two occasions, actor John Spencer has chatted with me like you would a genuine, honest-to-goodness coworker. The last time, he sat down and talked to me. A very friendly, down-to-earth man, he spoke about his career and what it was like working on RAVENOUS (and his difficulty in working with producer Laura Ziskin), and laughed when I told him of the fun my buddies and I had with the line "He was LICKING me!!" they played in all the trailers and TV spots.

I was saddened to learn today of Spencer's death at fifty-eight. He seemed in good health the last time I worked with him, and told me he still didn't know if his character (running for Vice President alongside Jimmy Smits) would win the election or not. I have only met or talked to a couple of celebrities who have died, and John Spencer I saw so recently that I thought it worth mentioning, especially because he was friendly to me. He was a good actor and a decent man.

I hope, when I am rich and powerful, with impunity ordering the deaths of scores of better men than myself, that someone will remember me as such.

Rish Outfield

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Bodily function-free post

December 14, 2005

I'm downtown, it's seven in the morning. I'm working on a Mastercard commercial. "Keeping your anal virginity throughout your stretch at Ryker's Island . . . priceless. There are some things home-rolled cigarettes can't buy, for everything else, there's Mastercard." The sun is rising right in front of me, casting a bit of warmth on this cold L.A. morning.

I had tickets to see KING KONG on Monday night, but I didn't get out of "House" in time. I was disappointed about that. But you know who was really torn up about it? Jeffrey Dahmer. The message he left on my answering machine was just heart-wrenching.

I did end up getting recalled on "House," and worked a fourteen hour day yesterday (I had free passes to see THE PRODUCERS that went to waste; seems like that happened a lot lately). But I had a good time--I played Spades for a while with other extras (all of them were regulars on the show, meaning they work every episode, getting called in by the production rather than having to call in themselves, scrabbling over the few available spots like starving dingos over the last morsel of Meryl Streep's baby), and had fun. My team not only won thrice, but an unrealistically beautiful young lady told me I was really funny. I'm bad with compliments, but she made me feel all toasty inside, comparing me to Steve Carrell (hopefully not just because my bed is empty).

Joel the A.D. made it a point to remember my name this time around, and that made me pretty pleased. "House" is a show where they really make use of the extras. I played a hospital visitor, an administrative employee, and an orderly yesterday, changing my outfit for each new scene. There's also not a lot of glamour on the programme, with young hot aspiring model/actresses on set, grabbing up the union vouchers and raising my already-strained heartrate. In fact, besides Lisa, the gorgeous Spades player, the only real beauty on the set was Jennifer Morrison, who plays Cameron on the show. To be honest, I don't watch the programme, but she's done a couple of horror movies, and if you know me, you know the only thing I like more than feeling sorry for myself is horror movies (it's a close race). I would've liked to have talked to her about the utterly mediocre URBAN LEGENDS 2, but alas, I didn't get to. Hung around with star Hugh Laurie for a minute or two, and either the guy is a consummate professional, or he isn't really British.

Two days in a row, the Fox studio store gave me their employee discount because I claimed to work there (I was in scrubs both times, which helped), so I bought a total of six DVD boxed sets and a MR. & MRS. SMITH. I might not have bought the newest "Simpsons" set, but the "Lisa The Vegetarian" episode was playing inside, and it was just too great to walk away from.

This morning, I am sitting outside (the sun has already gone behind a building since I've been writing this), with my jacket on, enjoying the fre--whoa, I almost said "fresh air" in Los Angeles--time outdoors. This is a huge booking, what's referred to as a cattle call, and I've recognized many, many faces (and at least one groin . . . hmmm). Cattle calls are bad, since you have to battle a hundred or more fellow background artists (tee hee) to get your voucher, or check in with wardrobe, or find a place to sit, or get a donut. Tempers tend to flare in these kinds of jobs, since there are always A-holes who butt in line in front of you, ex-cons get on the set, and much complaining all around. Oddly, though, this morning at six a woman beside the line grew incensed at a guy and threw her coffee at him (she claimed he'd pushed her). Most of it hit the guy, but some spattered on the poor extras in line to check in. I was next to one of them who swore in every possible colour and announced that his hundred dollar shirt was ruined. Not for nothing, but if you can afford a hundred dollar shirt, you should be off swimming in gold bullion with Uncle Scrooge and Daddy Warbucks, not making minimum wage plus lunch* with the starving artists. Of course, that's just me, constant nonexistent reader, you may have several shirts like his in your closet. If so, here's a twenty to light your cigar with.

Among the multitudes, I found my best friend among extras, Mark, who I call Hagopian (for reasons too stupid to go into). He's damned funny and good at bad impressions. (or maybe he's just bad at good ones), and we riff off each other like seasoned Vaudevillians. I really like this guy, though I don't know if we could hang out. We talk about "Saturday Night Live" and bag on the STAR WARS Prequels, but I wonder what we really have in common. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong and he'll be Best Man at my marriage to Lisa the Spades Girl.

For this commercial, we're spectators at a marathon, and it looks to be an easy day--in fact, we could be done before noon. Even if we aren't**, I'm in a pretty good mood, and though they didn't provide breakfast, I ought to skip a meal or two. Or ten wouldn't hurt.

Blog to you later.

Rish "Obi-Two" Outfield

*Whoops, no lunch was provided today.

**We weren't. In fact, the stupid thing went until after five (over eleven hours), when traffic was unbearable Downtown.

Monday, December 12, 2005

December 12, 2005

I’ve got some free time right now, might as well write a bit in The Notebook of Destiny, right?

Friday was the taping day on “According To Jim.” We were in only one scene and it was a short scene at that (don’t imagine they needed more than half of us, but I’ll still cash the cheque), so I figured it would be a short day.

We were playing gamblers/patrons in a riverboat casino, and I was sitting at a table with a dealer and other players. Instead of pretending to play, we decided to actually play something, and chose Blackjack, since you can play that silently. The dealer knew how to play even less than I did, so I didn’t completely suck at a sport/game/pastime for once. We had stacks of chips to play with, and I lost many of them, but it was fun.

We also got fed really well a couple of hours before the show started. I must’ve eaten something wrong, though (sometimes those dumpsters are just so inviting!), because my stomach began to ache as the day progressed. The taping started at 5:30, we were told, but by 6:30, we were still sitting around, waiting for our scene (which was the third on the schedule). I . . . how do I put this? . . . went to the bathroom once, twice, I believe three times during that wait, and when they finally called us in, around 7:00, I thought the worst was over.

As I sat, waiting for Scene B to end (we were C), stomach cramps began to pay me a visit. Small at first, they increased in intensity as the scene started. The scene before ours had been shot again and again--so much for "before a live studio audience"--and I hoped ours wouldn't suffer the same fate.

In between the first and second times through, my stomach did a violent clench and the time for a bathroom break had come. Painful and somehow humiliating, I held it in until it went away. Good thing too, for I was almost to the point where I was going to get up and run to the nearest restroom, regardless of my (incidental, at most) impact on the show.

Jim Belushi and Company came back in and started the scene over (I have no idea what they changed or didn’t get right the first time, since my attention was elsewhere . . . and we were still playing Blackjack, mind you). Partway through the scene, the stomach cramps came again, and I had to hold my breath, concentrating on my cards, and hoping the worst didn’t happen. Diarrhea is not our friend, kids, regardless of what the Bush Administration would have you know.

Thankfully, they only did the scene those two times, and then we were done. I walked very slowly toward the bathroom, knowing anything from a good jostle to a sneeze would doom me, and had to stop for a minute as the cramps came again, wondering if Jud Crandall was right and "Sometimes dead IS better."

Not to be too vulgar, but when I finally hit the bathroom, what I created was so vile the wallpaper shrivelled up and the ceiling turned black. I staggered out, had an allergy attack, and drove home listening to an old Sting album.

"What don't kill you just make you stronger." It was Gandhi who said that.

Bizarrely, I had no further symptoms over the weekend, except for a bit of melancholy, which I suspect was not diarrhea-related.

Today I am back on "House," one of my favorite places to be. I love the Fox lot, and the cast and crew all seem exceedingly cool. I would like to be a regular on this show. I'll settle for coming back tomorrow.

Rish Bromo-Seltzer Outfield

Thursday, December 08, 2005

According To Rish

December 8th, 2005

I'm on TV show "According To Jim" today. This is a sitcom, shot before a live audience, and when I did background work years ago, these were my favourite types of gigs. I did "Spin City," that ballbusting show "Dharma and Greg," and "The Norm Show" that I recall. This is the first time I'm doing a sitcom like this this year, though. Exciting?

I like Jim Belushi. I was too young to really know or appreciate who his brother was, and I started watching "Saturday Night Live" the year before Jim joined the cast, so while I haven't necessarily been a fan of his, I've always sort of appreciated that he exists, rather than resent his existence, as so many out there do. He actually shot a movie in my less-than-a-thousand-people hometown, and was reportedly nice to my then-thirteen year old sister. Good enough for me.

The extras around me are exchanging Jim Belushi stories. He's either a real sweetheart or a vindictive jerk, depending on the talespinner. I'm wondering if I should've brought my MR. DESTINY DVD for him to sign.

Two days ago, I worked on my first horror film. A dream come true, if you know me at all, though I neither got to kill nor be killed in it (which reminds me, I spoke to a girl for a while today who was a zombie in DAY OF THE DEAD 2 and also appeared in the forthcoming CREEPSHOW 3 . . . lucky stiff). It was a very low budget, very small crewed shoot, with the average age of a crew member being around twenty-seven. They worked fast and loose and it made me yearn to be among them. I played a uniformed police officer . . . again (a couple of years ago, I wondered if I could get hired on by the LAPD, until I came to my senses, that is), and it was old hat getting in the uniform and knowing where the badge, nametag, baton, and walkie talkie went. I got to pick my own nametag, and I chose Biggs, as in First Mate on the Rand Ecliptic.

I was involved in the final scene. In it, the police have broken into a serial killer's lair, only to find him gone . . . escaped. However, his last would-be victim is still there, and though she has been tortured (she's been forced to wear a creepy girl Michael Myers mask) and mutilated (both her hands have been cut off), she is alive. The cops call for paramedics and as she is wheeled out on a stretcher, the camera reveals that the paramedic is none other than the killer himself. Dum, dum, dum!

Then we went home--a short day--and I don't know if I've mentioned it, but an extra gets paid the same if he/she works two hours, five hours, or seven hours. So you want to work either a very short day, or a very, very long one, when you'll actually hit overtime.

You've probably heard this before, but it's who you know in this town, not what you know (another of ZuZu's teacher's sayings). To get anywhere, you have to be a persistent people person, one adept at the mystical art of schmoozing. I have never been--nor do I think I'll ever be--good at that (hence my lot in life, eh?). I only made friends with one casting agent ever, and her name was Sasha. I ran into Sasha on the set of SEPTEMBER, and gave her a call the next week. On Monday night, she booked me on this movie--a tiny shoot with only six or seven extras. Very small shoots are preferable to huge ones, since there's less mistreatment and much more visibility. One of the extras even got to say a line--"Is she alive?"--which not only pays a HELL of a lot more, but makes you not an extra anymore.

The film I worked on was called THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES, and is a LAST BROADCAST/BLAIR WITCH-esque flick that uses the videotapes the killer supposedly shot of his victims to help tell the story. I was surprised to see they have a sixteen day shooting schedule, but not having read the script, there's no knowing the scope of the film.

I love horror movies, and would be making them myself if I found ambition or won the lottery. The crew on this one seemed really tight and friendly, yet professional. The girl who played the victim was very cool with wearing a corset and lying in a coffin with a Michael Myers mask on.

An astounding thing about my own fractured psyche is that I hate not working, hate sitting at home watching DVDs and eating Cool Ranch Doritos. Yesterday, I was quite miserable, thinking about the many roads more traveled I have taken and pondering the difference it might have made to take the other one. But here I am, not even a full day later, on a set, sitting around still not accomplishing my dreams . . . and I'm happy as a clam. Heck, a BEARDED clam.

Jim Belushi just walked by. I know he'll never get out of his brother's shadow, but if "According To Jim" has really been on for five seasons, it's very possible that more people know who he is than know who John was. It's kind of strange, but possible.

"Don't wanna end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard."
Paul Simon

We sat around, watching them tape another segment of the show before ours. Courtney Thorne-Smith is pretty attractive. She sort of looks prematurely aged, though, as if a makeup artist made her look older than she really is for a movie part.

Today's was another short shoot. No way I'll be seen in the episode, but hey, the check's the same. I've never watched "According To Jim." This show seems pretty funny, but you know, they all do when they're right in front of you. Just like plays in the theatre seem more moving than recorded or in films.

It looks like I'm going to be coming back tomorrow for the show's taping. Those are great, and are a lot like plays, since they start from the beginning and go through the show in front of the audience. They only needed a handful of us back and when I asked to get onboard, the P.A. said, "I'm mostly looking for women, not men," I said, "Yeah, me too," and she laughed. A few minutes later, she told me to hang out with the recalled few. For all the jobs, classes, religions, and friends my sense of humour has ruined for me, there are actually a couple of times it's done me good.

Rish "The Tearful Clown" Outfield

Friday, December 02, 2005

December 2nd, 2005

I'm on "The Sopranos" today, which they say is a big deal, since they usually shoot in New York. So, it's a once-in-a-lifetime chance akin to a Smurf getting pregnant or seeing Catherine Zeta-Jones on a bad hair day. I don't care, since I've never watched "The Sopranos," but I'm in a pretty good mood. We'll see if that continues five hours from now.

This was a night shoot, so I had vast amounts of time to arrive, but just before I was ready to leave, it started to rain. Rain, you see, is like Kryptonite to a Los Angeleno, impairing their already retarded ability to drive and causing more accidents than bad baby formula.

I've never liked being late for things, probably because I so often am. I was due on set at 4:00, and around 3:50, with at least twenty minutes more of my fifteen minute drive to go, a strange thing happened: a sense of peace and well-being washed over me, a calming sensation like drinking your problems away or sleeping in your childhood bed again. As the minutes ticked by and I found myself no closer to my destination, instead of worry, panic, and rage, sweet, warm apathy covered me like Gramma's blanket. I just didn't care. When I parked my car, went into a building I thought was home base, and found out I was far from the right address, I shrugged and started over agai. When I couldn't get over to head west on Santa Monica Boulevard and the guy in the Beemer behind me actually SPED UP as I moved into his lane, a surreal sense of unimportance filled my being.

Finally, I found where the shoot was, but crewmembers ignored me when I asked where to park. I discovered the basecamp eventually, and made my way to the check-in point. By now, I was nearly an hour late, and I semi expected to get sent home, but didn't care about it one way or another. Well, they didn't give me a hard time, but one of the A.D.s laughed at me because I used the word "part" in conjunction with what I do. "Your 'part?' That's funny, kid," he actually said, and because I was in my good mood, I didn't call him a giant schlong, but laughed at myself along with him.

The shoot was pretty uneventful, though it was rainy, uncomfortable and entirely pointless. I mean, at no point did we encounter or interact with any of the "Sopranos" gang, but we couldn't even see the camera (and ZuZu's teacher always says, "If you can see the camera, the camera can see YOU."). There were a couple of insanely hot chicks there, more than one decked out in cocktail/premiere dresses. One poor blonde hottie had a black see-through dress that kept getting wet and stepped on. Her suffering helped me get to sleep that night, however.

I was playing a valet, but at no point did I park a car or even get someone's keys. Though we did a Kubrickian number of takes, it was all for naught, since we were far, far away from the action being filmed.

The highlight of the evening, besides staring, slack-jawed at a babe named Andrea, was learning how to play Spades with three other valets (or rather, re-learning how to play, as I was taught a few years before dinosaurs roamed the earth and I had forgotten). In the middle of the second game, a P.A. asked if anyone wanted to go home, and I and my Spades partner volunteered.

And that was it, I changed out of my valet's uniform, got in my car, and drove on home. Barely worth mentioning, really.

Carefree Rish Outfield

First of December

Well, already December, is it? November seemed to fly by, even without the week off I had for Thanksgiving. I certainly worked a lot this past month, but I doubt I made as much money as I did in October. Gotta do the math sometime.

Yesterday, I did practically nothing. No work, just lying around, doing laundry, playing some video game I shouldn't have bought, snoozing. No big deal except that I vowed I would finish three stories by New Year's, so I shoulda been doing that instead of the great pile of nothing I actually accomplished.

Tuesday I was on a commercial for G.E.. The director, Joe Pytka, I had worked with before on a demolition derby shoot, which was my least-favourite commercial shoot so far. This one wasn't nearly so bad--it was a music recital with little kids and I had to sit and clap a few times, then go home. Nicely, it was on a higher rate, as commercials always seem to be. There was an adorable seven year old boy who gets up on stage in front of us to play his violin and freezes. He only had to pretend to be nervous, but after take after take after take with the psycho Pytka, the kid no longer had to pretend. I remember him being crazed and angry on the delotiion derby shoot, but this was way worse. I suppose he is a perfectionist, but he spoke to his crew like they were idiot children, or non-housetrained puppies. Now I know what a James Cameron set might be like. To his credit, he held in his anger as best he could when he was around the child actors, but his intensity was daunting and you'd have to be an idiot child to not be intimidated by him. Even so, I guess the little boy wasn't giving him the nervous performance Pytka wanted, so he (quietly) instructed us to boo the child when he came out the next time. I felt somewhat bad doing that, since he was such an innocent, well-behaved little boy, but I felt worse when I threw a head of cabbage at him the next take.

Okay, that part didn't happen.

We were supposed to do more later--shooting at the beach--but most of us were sent home early. I think I just ended up going to sleep, but I don't remember. Oh, I looked up Joe Pytka on the internet to see if he'd ever done anything besides commercials. Turns out he directed SPACE JAM.

I also went and got a haircut. This was the first one I've had to get since the embarrassing head-shaving incident this past summer. This cut I like more.

Definition of insanity? I watched CAT PEOPLE on Tuesday and hated it. Then, on Wednesday, I watched CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE. Fool me twice . . . shame on me.

I am currently in an unhappy funk, partly because I realise this whole extras thing isn't working out and partly because I've had two days off this week. I guess I should be strong and move back into the bosom of my family's good graces, putting away my dreams and embracing the death that surely awaits me there. I'm still fighting it, though.

Also, I got a call yesterday from Travis at Central Casting, offering me work. He said the production of "House" (the same guy who called me Tim, I have no doubt) had requested me personally to come in and reprise my role as the kiosk vendor. I was very excited, because a) it shoots at Fox, which is near to me; b) I always get cheap DVDs at the Fox studio store, sometimes making a bit of money reselling them; c) I like "House;" and most importantly, d) they had asked for me, which could mean a regular gig on the show and/or union work. All good things.

Well, my excitement didn't last, because I soon found out that my booking agency had me on some never-heard-of show in Woodland Hills (wherever that is) and wouldn't let me do "House." Travis from Central never called me back, so I guess there's a bridge burned on that one. Similar to what they did to me on SPIDER-MAN 3, except I'm not completely foashed*, since I still have a day's work on something else.

But the only time Central has ever called me, and the opportunity is blown.

I might not post this one. It may have been a mistake to start this blog altogether.

Now I'm working a show called "What About Brian?" With a title like that, I don't know how good it can be. I'm a patron in a nice restaurant, and later I'll be a driver getting groceries. Eventually, I'll get over my "House" What If, but for now, I'd rather be a kiosk vendor.

Still, it's a beautiful day today. Seems like there have been a lot of them lately. As it's probably my last December, I ought to take a moment to appreciate the warm sun in the blue-grey sky and the cool breeze that feels like the sweet breath of a woman blowing on the back of my neck. Green trees and orange leaves flutter in the breeze, and though we're not far from the city, I don't hear any city sounds. No horns honking, no tires screeching, no Hip-Hop thumping on the speakers of human excrement, no yelling (in Spanish or English), no one talking too loudly on their cellphones . . . just the occasional hiss of air brakes, car doors closing, planes passing overhead, a leafblower, and the sound of a nearby generator. Okay, to be honest, since I started writing this in my notebook, I heard a car alarm go off, an idiot on his cellphone, a belt sander, and a dude playing his stereo too loud. But it's still perfect weather outside.

I know myself well enough to recognise that, somewhere down the road, when I'm worse off than I am now, I'll look back on these past weeks doing extra work with fondness, nostalgia, and a wish that I could be here again, when everything was great.

Of course, everything is not great. It's never been great. And I'm not stupid enough to harbour hopes that it ever will be. But it's always through the window of memory that we see the good times as truly good, the fun moments as being the norm (not the exception), and the struggles as being not so bad. I'll reflect on the days of driving from one set to another, appreciating the newness of it all, not knowing where I'll be tomorrow or for how long. I'll remember how every day there was a chance to write, and read, and meet new people, and every week I got to do something I'd never done before. And though it doesn't pay a lot, it does pay, and sometimes very well.

Am I jealous of those who have an office job to go to, with the same desk and same routine every single day, always predictable, always secure in knowing what tomorrow brings, and next week, and next month?


Should I be?

Probably not.

In the three months I've been doing this, I've gone all over the county, in studios, buildings, clubs, and restaurants I'd never otherwise see. I've played a lot of parts, some of them even interesting. And got to work with Jim Carrey, Alan Alda, Bill Paxton, Sam Raimi, Bob Newhart, Jason Lee, Jimmy Smits, Clint Eastwood, James Spader, Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland, William Peterson, Steven Soderbergh, Candace Bergen, Oliver Stone, Thomas Haden Church, Brian Cranston, Carla Gugino, Alec Baldwin, and William Shatner. Oh yeah, and your mother. Not terribly shabby.

It's a few hours later, the sun has gone down, and I'm sitting in my car. It turned suddenly pretty chilly outside and it's warmer in here. Right now, we're at a Gelson's parking lot (that's an upscale grocery store). They're not using me anymore, but they ARE using my parked car, which means that I'm still on the clock, even though I'm only sitting around. Hey, it beats the hell out of real work. I just read a Batman comic and I'm sort of getting paid for it. Was I complaining before?

I do wonder, though, why it takes so long to do these productions? I really don't get it. This show, which took place in a restaurant and out of doors, had no stunts, no special effects, no dinosaurs or lightsabers or chest-bursters, yet it took, what, fourteen hours, to shoot the day's work. And the crew consisted of a massive collection of assistant directors, sound people, makeupers, costumers, lighting guys, grips, gaffers, transportation, and craft services . . . easily fifty people, and maybe more like seventy.

I just found out that Wendy Jo Sperber died. I was a fan. If I were making my own movies, instead of lurking in the background of other people's, I would surely have given her a part.

Today was quite a long day. I ended up getting home just after midnight, now hopped up on so much caffeine I may still be awake when I finish typing this. I'm a little less blue now than I was earlier, but don't worry, I'm sure I'll have plenty more to complain about come tomorrow.

Rish "Mister Sunshine" Outfield

*There's that word again, "foashed." Why are things so clogged in the future, is there a problem with your butt's sanitational pull?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Charmed, part 2

I'm back on set, back in uniform, doing "Charmed" my second day.

I was late for work today--guess traffic is worse because of the holiday tomorrow--but it was no big deal. I've lived too long as an irresponsible git to change now.

Like I said yesterday, I wasn't really wanting to be at work today. Nothing against Paramount or "Charmed," but I had to get to Vegas by three or four. I was kind of freaking out, because if my ride left without me, I'd be . . . well, foashed, as my pal Merrill used to say. I guess he didn't want to use the word "scragged" in mixed company.

I mentioned in yesterday's entry that I was the only cop working with a moustache and goatee. One of the guys asked if anyone had given me a hard time about it, and I said no. He said, "I woulda thought they'd kick you off the set lookin' like that." I explained that without my facial hair, I look like a twelve year old boy. That must've been why no one mentioned it yesterday, right? Either that or extras are human props and even in a close-up, like I got yesterday, we're never really looked at with any interest.

Oh, right, unless you're the aforementioned hot chick.

I worked with Holly Marie Combs today. I don't know if she's good-looking or not. Shoulda brought a slide rule.

They had a little kid on the set for a couple of shots. He was seven, and had no lines, but made more than I did all week.

I had a rubber gun today, whereas yesterday I had a nice-looking Heckler & Koch 9mm replica. Actually, I know nothing about guns, but it was heavy and made me feel like a man when I held it.

At one point during the morning, I was placed at the door of the SWAT vehicle, in charge of securing the door once the SWAT guys run out. Then one of the principles (again, that means "actor with speaking lines") asked me if I'd hand him the bullhorn when he negotiated with the bank robber, so they replaced me at the door. Then, after rehearsal, they decided the negotiator would already have his bullhorn, so I was S.O.L.. But THEN, there's a part where the bank robber calls the negotiator on a cellphone, so they had me run up and hand the cellphone to the negotiator ("You want my blood, take my blood!"). We rehearsed it again, and this time he handed me the bullhorn and traded it for the cellphone. When we actually shot it, the negotiator ("I'm a stranger to you, you have no idea what I am capable of.") took off his jacket and dropped it on the ground when he tried to do the trade-off. On the next take, I took both the bullhorn and the jacket. We shot that three times . . .

And then I heard some words that chilled my very blood. It was the director, a sour-looking man with a grey beard, and he said to those next to him, "You ever see a street cop with a goatee before?" I raised my hand to cover my face, but the damage was done.

I told the director I had my razor and could run and shave it off. "Do," he said, with less humour than Collin Quinn. So, I tore off running, nightstick flopping, to the nearest bathroom, and used liquid soap as shaving cream to lose the goatee. It was rough going; either soap is a bad idea or the razor is dull. I considered shaving my moustache as well, but every cop I know has a moustache (heck, even the one in the Village People, right?), and I left it.

I ran back to the set, and they had already moved on. Travis, the handsome extra I called a chingaso yesterday, had replaced me and done the trade off. And gotten the girl too, with my/his luck.

Well, I went back to controlling the crowd for the next scenes. One of the A.D.s told me to shave the moustache as well, and I did, a lot slower and a lot less happy, since I wanted to go home by then and it was clear I wouldn't make it to Vegas in time.

I came back. We had to pretend the helicopter was flying over, since they only had it the one day, and turned on a wind machine to simulate its presence. Among the onlookers was a very intimidating black guy with a bald head and a cool brown trenchcoat. He didn't fit, and hadn't been here yesterday, so I approached him and beat him with my nightstick (hey, he was black, wasn't he?). No, actually, I asked him if he was a bad guy or something. "I'm a demon," he said. We talked for a few minutes. The guy's name was Gary and he was really cool. Especially for a demon. I asked him if he got fan letters from horny women, like the murderers in prison do, and he said, "Oh, you have no idea." That was pretty neat.

Right around then, a prop guy saw me and said, "Didn't you have a beard yesterday?" "They made me shave it," I said. "Well, that's gonna f**k up continuity. Didn't you tell them you'd already been established yesterday?" I didn't know what to say, so I did what people in Los Angeles do when you ask them directions: I pretended I didn't speak English.

Okay, that's a lie, I just apologised and went about my business.

Which was only for a few minutes more, as they wrapped us around quarter of twelve. I called my uncle as I was changing out of my uniform and he said he'd wait a little while more for me. I went immediately to the freeway (which was, like, a half hour later, since this is L.A.) and ended up stuck in slow-to-stopped traffic when I hit the I-15. I cursed with a sore cursing, as the guys used to say.

During the drive, I listened to a lot of Eighties tunes and thought a great deal. I came up with an idea for a neat little Sci-Fi short I could shoot over Christmas with Merrill and at least one other person. I got pretty excited about it right around Jean, Nevada, even though it'll probably never get made. But it's great to have dreams.

I'll say no more, as it's four in the morning and I need to get SOME sleep. I'll be sleeping in my childhood bedroom for the first time in . . . I don't know, twenty years maybe.

My mom was happy to see me. Nice that one woman does.

Rish "The Beardless Warrior" Outfield

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

November 22nd, 2005

Jeff talked to me about "Salem's Lot: The Illustrated Edition" the other day, so I bought one as soon as I could. It's very nice, even though I already have a hardbound "Salem's Lot" (anybody want it?), and includes some deleted portions from the first draft of the novel. Those were what I was most interested in (indeed, the only useful part of King's "On Writing" to me was his few pages about rewriting that awful short story about the haunted hotel room), and in skimming over them, I made a disturbing realization. What does it say that material deemed expendable from something King wrote at age twenty-three is better than ANYTHING I've ever written?

Something to think about.

Today I'm working "Charmed" at Paramount. Not a far distance from my place, I faced practically no traffic in getting here this morning. I must be grateful for the little things, as my grandma used to say.

I just called a real handsome extra I see a lot on sets a chingaso. He didn't seem to appreciate it when I told him what it meant. No big shock that my number of friends left in the world is now countable on one hand.

A leper's hand? my evil inner voice asks.

I'm re-reading "Harry Potter 4" on set. Another writer who's better than I'll ever be. But hey, aim for the starts, like they say, maybe you'll lose control and fly into the sun.

So, "Charmed." Another show I've never watched. Strange, though, since it's been on since 1998 (I checked) and that Alyssa Milano is one good-looking witch. Even if she used to have really bad teeth.

I haven't seen any of them, though. The girl from the John Ritter show that everyone said was so hot is on set. I guess we're doing 2nd Unit stuff. Holly Marie Combs or whatever is over doing First Unit.

Shoot, I just remembered I was gonna try to take that Harry Potter girl to the movie. She was pretty cute, but even more personable, and I called her "The Girl Who Lived" until I learned her name. I met her on "Desperate Housewives" and saw her a lot on other sets; she was friendly. I was going to ask for her number one night when we were both on FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, but she disappeared. A part of me says, "Who needs the aggravation? She never woulda gone for you anyway." While that might be true, she seemed like the type who could've been fun to hang out with. The sort who would call me too, if she wanted to do something.

"If only I could meet someone new. I guess my chances of that happening are somewhat diminished, seeing that I'm incapable of making eye contact with a woman I don't know."

This is much more of a stream of consciousness thing than an organized essay or journal entry. Sorry, kids.

On the show, I'm playing a uniformed cop again, this time a San Francisco P.D. officer. There's a patch on the arm with an eagle on it and the motto "Oro en paz, fierro en guerra." That's interesting, sorta. I have a beard and goatee for some reason, but nobody's given me a hard time about it. Don't know if it's allowed or not.

We're shooting on the New York street at Paramount, where a bank robbery is taking place. A car has driven through the bank window (good aim) and a helicopter has landed right outside its doors. A cadre of SWAT Team members are aiming impressive-looking automatic weapons at the copter, while the uniformed police like me are holding back onlookers behind sawhorses and yellow tape. A gruff, unconvincing dude has grabbed the "Eight Simple Rules" girl and is holding a gun to her head, dragging her to the helicopter to make his escape. The SWAT guys are a little more believable--they're all muscular and differing degrees of ugly--I have on good authority that they're really SWAT Team members.

In one set up, the policemen are in a stance, awaiting a move by the bank robber/kidnapper and have our weapons drawn. I asked one of the SWAT guys if he wouldn't mind showing me how to hold my pistol. He showed me the way real police hold them and the way movie cops hold them. I chose the former.

At the end of the day, for some reason, they singled out me and my partner (a bald black dude with a voice like Vanity Smurf) to be in a close up, two-camera shot. Amazing. I'd like to think that it's because I looked so professional. Or because I showed initiative. Or because I was the only one with a goatee. Or because my partner was so darn cute. Or because of some kind of kharmic retribution, but I'll give my kidney up on eBay if the shot actually makes the show.

They told us about halfway through the day that we would not be coming back tomorrow. At first I was disappointed, because a paycheck is a paycheck (as I think I've mentioned), but then I thought it was for the best, since I need to drive down to Vegas for Thanksgiving. Then, as they were sending me home, they changed their mind, and I do have to come back tomorrow. So, it's up in the air whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. But hey, like Sarah Conner's coworker said, "In a hundred years, who's gonna care?"

When they started up the helicopter, it made the coolest sound and caused a pleasant wind to kick up around it. The weather is absolutely perfect today, as it has been for a week. At six this morning, I didn't even need a long-sleeved shirt. Something I should keep in mind the next time I'm tempted to move back home.

Speaking of which, it looks like I'll be heading north on Wednesday sometime. I'll be hitching a ride with my uncle and spawn in Las Vegas. I should be happy to be going home and seeing my family, but I'm afraid they'll all look at me with disappointment in their eyes and ask how I lost my job and comment on how fat I've gotten.

At least HARRY POTTER was good.

I've really enjoyed doing this blog journal thing. Even though I doubt anybody but tyranist and the Spaminator ("try my evil new website!") are reading it, it's given me more of an inclination to write what's been going on each day. And because so much changes and I work so much, it'll all melt together in my memory, and soon the details will be lost, like a photograph left out in the sun.

Stephen King I'm not.

I think back to when I was first in L.A., and the extra work I did then. Would've been cool to read about those adventures ("Today I sat around on 'Boston Public.' They only used me in one scene. I wish I had died at birth.") on a blog. I guess I could go through my old journal entries and put them online. Don't know if anyone would be interested (even me), but it's sort of a posterity thing. Those future not-to-be children wanted to read it, maybe future nieces and nephews would too.

Heck, maybe I should tell my mom about my blog. She complains that I never write or call enough. Would she be interested to know I just checked out the "8 Simple Rules' girl's ass?

Looked pretty good, actually.

Rish "Not J.K. Rowling Either" Outfield

Sunday, November 20, 2005

September part 2

Today was more of the same, in the same location, same wardrobe, same makeup (although I got spattered with fake blood today and not yesterday). I was less tired today, since I got some real sleep last night, but they worked me harder. We started a lot earlier than yesterday, and Stone shot many, many takes of the same action as yesterday. I'd say I stumbled around, confused and dirty, for thirty takes today.

Nicolas Cage was indeed on the set today, and I was told that he was there yesterday too, though he was hard to recognise. The man seems to have lost a great deal of weight for the role (either that or he's just starting to gain it back from playing the skeletal motorcyclist in GHOST RIDER) and had a moustache. I was able to watch him psyche himself up for a performance (he jogged in place quite a bit), but didn't get a chance to talk to him.

Oliver Stone was wearing bright red today rather than pink. I had no interaction with the man, though I did bump into him yesterday, leaving something of a grey smudge on that hot pink shirt of his. Have I mentioned that I may be the least-coordinated human being on the planet?*

A guy named Nick, a police officer in Santa Monica, acted with me, guiding me through the crowd, and he was a real professional and a darn nice guy. He wants to do screenwriting, but can't get through his first script. But he has a black belt and is proficient with nunchucks.

Not much of note happened today. I did only the one scene, just shot from different angles and managed to keep most of the makeup and soot on my hands and face, though it itched and irritated my nose a little more today.

After a while, I just sat in holding (the sort of waiting/rest area for extras) and read my book (getting it supremely filthy in the process) and chatted with others (an Israeli and a German). I got into a discussion about Spielberg's WAR OF THE WORLDS, since it comes out on DVD on Tuesday with the guy from Israel. I really didn't like the film (to make a long story short: my face still hurts from that slap of an ending), but the friend I saw it with just thought it was so darn fine that it must have been my own black, corroded soul that tainted it for me. So I'm honestly curious what others thought of it.

As we were talking, a small, middle-aged woman spoke up. She plays an alien on the TV show "Invasion" and said that she refused to see WAR OF THE WORLDS for personal reasons. She then told us about Tom Cruise's crazed Scientology antics, how badly the extras were treated on set, and how he's another in a long line of homosexuals set up with starlets by managers and/or publicity teams. Clearly running the show now, she told us she had asked her agency not to book her on WAR OF THE WORLDS, and wished they had not booked her on this particular movie either.

"Oh, is Oliver Stone a gay Scientologist?" someone (might've been me) asked her.

The woman told us her reasons: she was from New York, had lived through September 11th, and out of respect for those who gave their lives and those survivors whose lives were torn apart from the events of that day, she didn't want to work on the movie. Not giving me a chance to ask her to clarify, she began to cry, telling us she was sorry to be there, where people were capitalising on the tragedy, but was booked on the gig before she had a chance to turn it down.

Well, I didn't wish to upset her further, so I let her change the subject to the opening of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and the part where the kids hide in the outhouse in SCHINDLER'S LIST, and then the German guy interrupted her to talk about the historical inaccuracies in those films, and how the World War II-era Germans weren't all evil, and how the Russians were the real bad guys. Somewhere in there, I got up and went in the other room, preferring to read my book.

But afterward, when it was time to go home, and all the sooty and/or injured extras were sitting together, I mentioned what she had said to the others, wondering if any of them knew what she meant about being sorry she was there, and the disrespect this film showed to those who perished on that awful day.

I honestly don't know what she meant. I mean, movies are where we (Americans, at least) get our history, even more than classes, fever dreams, and Time/Life books. The vast majority of what we know about the Old West, the Great Depression, and the Dark Ages comes from movies, same with World War II, and do you think 90% of people under twenty-five would even know what The H.M.S. Titanic was without James Cameron's movie? I remember taking my little sister to see PEARL HARBOR a few years back, and afterward, she said, "Did that really happen?" I explained that yes, FDR really did stand up, kids really were playing baseball at seven a.m. on a Sunday, and indeed, Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett fell in love with the same girl back in 1941, among other things. She said, "Wow. I thought we fought the Germans in World War II." I said, "No, that was the Korean War."

But I digress. I wanted to know what upset her, specifically. Knowing nothing about the script, I thought maybe she thought SEPTEMBER would be another of Oliver Stone's conspiracy theory movies (like JFK), but I think she was opposed to the idea of ANYBODY doing a September 11th movie. Is it because it's too soon? Is it the idea that someone could possibly make money from telling the story of this particular event? Is it because watching it unfold on a big screen might reopen still-healing wounds? Is it because we were shooting in L.A.? Is it because filming it might cheapen the occurrence, make it into some kind of melodrama, or be historically inaccurate (like U-571)? Is it because of all the grab-assing I mentioned yesterday (and yeah, there was excessive amounts)?

If you have any ideas, I'm genuinely curious.

Professor Rish Outfield

*Katie Anderson, who once tried to teach me to waltz, could attest to that.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

September in November

I'm very, very dirty right now, and that's not just my strict religious upbringing talking.

Today and tomorrow, I am working on Oliver Stone's 9/11 movie, tentatively titled SEPTEMBER. Like on SPIDER-MAN 3, today is the first day of the shoot (in L.A., anyway), and like SPIDEY, Downtown L.A. is subbing for New York City. This time, however, we're shooting in a nicer, cleaner, more scumbag-free area of the city, and there are legitimate businesses on this street (like a Subway, Burger King, and Washington Mutual).

There are a handful of familiar faces among the extras, most of them from the set of SPIDER-MAN. Also easy to recognize is Oliver Stone, standing out in a bright pink t-shirt (an odd-looking man up close, he makes Sam Raimi look like Steve McQueen).

I am playing a New York pedestrian again, but as it's set in the summer and in the business center of the city, I am in a nice shirt and tie. Or I would've been, had wardrobe not changed me out. You see, besides the many firefighters, NYPD, paramedics, FBI agents, postal workers, construction workers and nudists, the crew asked for ten volunteers to be soot-covered survivors. There were twenty or so who volunteered, and I was among those chosen. I have always loved to put on makeup and pantyhos-- er, makeup and stage blood, so I was happy to be dirtied up for the production.

Another four volunteers were chosen to be walking wounded, and they got cuts and blood all over their clothes (which were partly theirs and partly wardrobe's). One guy was so blood-covered that he looked like an extra in a George A. Romero flick (and I was really jealous).

For me, they subbed out my shirt and tie, then put glycerin on my face, neck, and arms (to appear as sweat), then dusted me up with soot and ash (which I was told was actually flour, dye, and baking soda). It smelled like cake mix, and I got it all over my arms, hair, back, tie, neck, and face. I was fortunate or unfortunate enough to be one of the most filthy ones, and my normally brown hair has been grey ever since.

After we had changed and waited around for an hour or so, a new guy--someone I'll call Guido--joined us in the line. I guess he had heard of our volunteering and assumed we would be paid extra for getting dirtied up (a "makeup bump," I think they call it). Lots of times, there are people like Guido, who understand instinctively that the rules don't apply to them, and they always win in the end. You see it almost constantly, and not just in Los Angeles: he's the kind of guy who sees the Please Turn Off Your Cellphones message before a movie, and yet his rings an hour later. Guido's the guy who smokes his cigarette right outside your open living room window, so as not to stink up his own apartment. The guy who drives onto the soft shoulder of the freeway to get to the exit before all the cars that have been lined up there.

Well, this time, crime didn't pay, because the A.D. who asked us to volunteer had written down our names in the morning, and pulled him out of the line right before we finally had our makeup applied. Guido was cast out with the devil and his angels, and is now ducking over to craft service when it's time to go back to set.

Wow, that was a tangent, but it's either write this blog or sleep.

I'll make a confession to you: I'm happy to be working. I worked six days last week and six the week before, and it looks like this week will be the same. I don't have to work so often, but I choose to. I like overtime. It's gotten to the point where I don't even mind getting up at five o'clock. It beats the alternative: sitting around my flat, eating Cool Ranch Doritos, and pondering why I'm so alone, contemplated where my life went so wrong.

Now, on with the countdown. I was worried that it would never come out of my clothes, shoes, and backpack, but it's already gone from my pants and most of my white shirt, having simply fallen or rubbed off during the shoot and long downtime (if you're ever a film extra, ALWAYS bring a book to set; I usually bring two, as well as the notebook I'm writing this in).

The fourteen of us volunteers have had a very easy day so far: I and another sooter were used in one shot where I stumbled around, looking confused, while the police converge to decide what to do. There were many takes--perhaps ten, but the cameras moved onto various characters throughout, so it wasn't so bad/inefficient.

There are many extras--a hundred maybe, but none of the other dirty or wounded extras were used by the time lunch rolled around.

Or perhaps I should say "by the time lunch SHOULD have rolled around." In my last journal/blog entry, I stated that a production technically doesn't even have to give its non-union extras a lunchbreak, though it had never happened in all the times I've worked (they'll sometimes make you buy your own lunch, or will dismiss you before lunch comes along), but define irony--today seems to be just such a theoretical instance.

We started at 5:30am, and it's now 1:30, so lunch SHOULD have happened if it was going to. People are saying that the production doesn't want to lose the daylight, so they're opting to work through lunch. For those who are in SAG (the union that covers extras as well), the rewards will be great: for every fifteen minutes after working six hours, they will earn what is called a meal penalty, a payment in addition to their hourly wage that will continue to add up until they are fed or dismissed. Those lucky souls in SAG will make as much in meal penalties as I will for my full day's work.

'twould be nice.

Let's see, what else can I tell you, since I'm not doing much except sitting and getting everything I touch (this notebook included) filthy?

What we're shooting today involves several New York Port Authority cops and FBI, none of which I recognize. Well, there is one young, dark-haired cop that is familiar in an Italian-friend-of-Leonardo-DiCaprio's-in-TITANIC sort of way. But he seems like kind a tool, to be honest.

Wait, scratch that--I shouldn't say something like that about the man, just based on the hour I was around him. He's a pretty big tool, to be honest. How's that?

There was a lot of joking and horseplay among the featured actors (the "principles," as they are known in the industry), with dancing, fake fighting, singing, and more cursing than a visit to Dakota Fanning's dressing room. I understand that all actors can't be Sean Penns or Daniel Day Lewises, staying in character and professional through the entire shoot, but I did have to ask myself, as the papers and debris were raining down and the firefighters rushed into their unwarranted doom, if there was this much grab-assing on the set of SCHINDLER'S LIST.*

I'm a hypocrite that way, I know, but I've always tried to give these jobs my all--as much as when I was a real actor once upon a time--and when I see extras walking around the base of the soon-to-be ex-World Trade Center with dumb smiles on their faces like they got off the short bus to Disneyland, I wonder why I've never gone anywhere in this industry, and so many others sure seem to.

Maybe I'm being unfair, though. There were always some, even among my own friends, who were willing to do anything in one of our film productions (though none more than me, he said with absolutely no false modesty), and some were a little more hesitant to wreck their cars or jump into freezing water or make love to a giant spider puppet. Doesn't mean anything, I guess, just personal preferences.

There are always those who will succeed by getting around the rules or cheating their way to top, like our friend Guido tried. I can only hope that they end up being extras in my own productions once we all get to Hell, kids.

Rish Ramblin' Outfield

P.S. No more than a half hour after I finished writing the above, we got broken for lunch. I had already gone to McDonalds to grab a couple sandwiches, though. I was worried by how shocked people would be by my physical condition, but in asking the manager if it was okay, I was even more shocked that she didn't speak English. Regardless, the Union extras got eleven meal penalties when we finally ate, so they'll still get to cry themselves to sleep tonight on gold-lined pillows.

*Some of the actors playing cops were not actors, but real NYPD cops, and a few of the technical advisors (including the man Nicolas Cage is playing) were actually there that day. And I wondered how they felt seeing these idiots jump around like back-up dancers in an M.C. Hammer video.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

November 16, 2005

Not much to report on today. Yesterday I worked on "House," which I quite enjoy. Today I worked on "CSI: New York," which I'd never done before. I can't think of anything noteworthy about either shoot, except that the A.D. on "House" remembered me and kept calling me Tom. As Tom is not my name, I wonder if he remembered someone named Tom, or actually remembered me, just not my name.

In military terms, the extras are the lowest rungs on the ladder; the grunt privates used for cannon fodder. There's a hierarchy on a film set, from director (or producer in television's case) down to grips, or even lower, craft service. And at the bottom of the list, way down below pets of the crew, you find me.

I'm the guy who can get it for you.

Whoops, wrong production.

Extras, traditionally, aren't treated very well, and are respected even less. It's understandable, really, since a quarter of all extras are ex-convicts, scumbags, and alien replicants. Plus, the potted plant or the chair your actor sits in doesn't wander off the set or have to be given lunch.

George Lucas is notorious for not liking actors, preferring to create digital/puppet/miniature creatures, armies, and background players. And I imagine most directors, assistant directors, and P.A.s feel that same way about extras. I've worked several big gigs ("cattle calls," they're sometimes called), where cardboard cut-outs and/or dummies are used among the extras, or in place of them. And you'd never know the difference, except the fake ones don't complain about the long hours or need a place to smoke cigarettes.

There are exceptions, to be fair. When there are hot extras with big boobs and visible thong underwear, I'd imagine the attitude changes a little.

To be fair.

Rish "Human Prop" Outfield

Monday, November 14, 2005

Bounty Hunter show

As in many industries, the unions run the film business too. If you're in the union (the Screen Actors Guild) as an extra, you're in luck. They treat you better, feed you better, and you can almost make a living on what they pay you. If you're non-union, however, the kid gloves are off (it's possible that, technically, if you're a non-union extra, they don't even have to provide you with water).

Most extras want to be in SAG, especially those who hope to be real actors one day (oh, sorry, I meant "real" actors, P.C. fans). The three best ways to move up from non-union to union are:
1) Be a hot chick;
2) Make friends with the casting director or crew of a show; and
3) be a last minute replacement for someone who is in the union.

That's not exactly what happened to me today, but it's close. Still smarting from what they did to me over the weekend (which I won't go into for fear of looking even more pathetic than the stepkid of a homeless guy, or maybe his step-nephew), I was out of work today, about to read "Harry Potter" again, when I got a call to replace some guy on a TV show about bounty hunters. Would've been nice to work with Bossk and IG-88, but they didn't show.

Not even Dengar was around, just a guy who stunt doubled for Steven Segal, a soft-spoken tattooed long-haired dude, and the guy who played Vin Diesel in his death scene in FAST & THE FURIOUS: The DVD Edition. We were doing a reenactment (my first) about a team of bounty hunters who bust into a suburban house in the middle of the night to catch a fugitive, shoot the place up, tie up a couple of teenage girls, rape a cat*, and terrorize a little boy . . . only to find out they're at the wrong address.

I was playing a uniformed police officer (one of two) who comes on the scene afterward, questions them, checks their bounty hunting paperwork, and makes sure Zuckuss and 4-LOM keep their names straight. I guess they were going to do a firefight later, involving squibs and weapons with blanks in them, but alas, I didn't get to participate in that.

They cast another guy to play my partner, and he arrived really, really late. He explained that he had driven up from San Diego (about 170 miles) and had traffic problems. Sadly, they had already gotten someone to replace him and he had to go home. The guy they pegged to be my partner was about twenty-five, with long blond hair, and at least a week's beard growth. The man they'd gotten to advise on weapon use, special effects, and police procedure said, "If I was directing this, you'd be in the back of the squad car, not driving it." So they made him grease his hair back and shave (he had no shaving cream, but the man told him to use soap). Unfortunately, he cut himself pretty badly on the cheek, and spent half an hour dabbing at it with tissues. He still got off easy compared to the San Diego guy, though.

The production was small and there were few of us. They shot it all in and around a nice Burbank home in a casual and quick manner just like the best college film shoots. They had three hand-held digital video cameras that they used simultaneously, and I'll bet you could make a fine feature film just that way.

The real police came by at one point and said the neighbours had complained, so there could be no firearms (real or rubber) in the front yard. As soon as the cops left, the pistols and sawed-off shotgun came right back out. Also much like student film work.

The afore-mentioned technical advisor was a craggy ex-police officer who must've so doubted his own masculinity that he had to throw his weight around to prove he was the Alpha Male in the room. Even though I only had to stand there in my scenes, he took it upon himself to show me how to hold my baton ("Everybody in the movies gets it wrong"), where to place my badge ("You mean your target? A badge just makes a bright shiny target for perps to shoot at"), how to squeeze someone's fingers together when you're taking them in custody ("You can even squeeze their thumbs"), and how to hold your right wrist with your left arm while standing (That way, your right arm is covering your firearm, while your left arm is free to elbow the extra you're demonstrating this on in the stomach).

He then asked me, "You ever use handcuffs? Besides putting them on your girlfriend, I mean?" I guess I should thank Buddha he didn't say "boyfriend," but I wasn't feeling super grateful.

He showed me how to handcuff an arrestee, that you press the cuffs down into place, neither clasping nor slapping them on. Then, so the girls would REALLY be impressed, he pressed one of them on me. "I only did one of your wrists," he said, "So that you'll have the other one free to try and find the keys to those things." Well, he may have thought this was funny, but it might have really not been. Luckily, I was . . . "blessed" with having the wrists of a seven year old girl, and I simply squished my left hand and slipped it out from the cuffs. Otherwise, I think it's safe to say he would have been an asshole.

Oh, it wasn't all bad. It was a very short shoot, and there wasn't much traffic on the way home. This gig was unique because I got to do so darn much (on camera). The director said, "Talk to the family, let them know the situation and make sure everything's alright," and we got to improv our scene. We did two takes, and I got to basically be the Senior Partner, since I was better at ad-libbing than the other cop. And then we were free to go.

It's for the History Channel, which I don't have (of course), but I wouldn't care if it was for the White Supremacy Channel, the Sodomy Channel, Lifetime, or the Let's Make Fun of Ugly People Network: money is a good thing to have.

Rish Greedo Outfield

*Okay, maybe I made that part up. But not the rest.

Friday, November 11, 2005


I worked on "Scrubs" today and yesterday, my first time on the show (and second, if you have to get technical, sir). They shoot it at a closed hospital not far from where the 101 Freeway meets the 405, and it's pretty unusual. The bottom floor is waterstained and fairly unmaintained*, the upper floors are where they shoot and have dressing rooms and such, and are quite impressive. I guess they're in their fifth (and last?) season, so it's been a good investment for the production, or studio, or network, or whoever.**

I have never been in a more familial atmosphere on a show than I have on "Scrubs." There is a big twisting room that is for extras, and they have couches, and magazines, a radio, tables, and a television/VCR with several donated tapes to entertain them. People know each others' names, many actually have I.D. badges with their own faces on them, and the regular extras have been known to get to deliver lines from time to time. Also amazing was that each day, there is a new face among the background, that of a common person who won an internet auction to come and be on the show, hang around the set, and meet the people who make it, all for charity. The man I talked to today was from Connecticut, had paid his own airfare and lodging to come do the show, and had donated over six thousand dollars to charity for his one day's work (he can expect his check for fifty-some dollars at the end of the month).

I really like it when cast and crew eat together, and this show is no exception (and the food was excellent). Yesterday, I sat down for lunch at a table, with John C. McGinley at the far end, and no one else. Soon, however, three more members of the cast and today's episode's writer sat down there too, filling every seat. I felt like a fly on the wall to their banter, conversations, and shenanigans, but a little uncomfortable, since I clearly wasn't one of them and never will be. Still, they seem like a close-knit group, a family of sorts, and I'm SURE that fans of the show would kill to be where I was on that.

Later on, they picked me and another guy to be paramedics, and we acted in a scene with McGinley, one that I screwed up two takes on. The first was, in pulling a stretcher out an elevator and toward the camera, the stretcher ran over my foot. The second was more embarrassing, as I pulled the stretcher into the room, my butt hit the Steadicam. D'oh.

Even so, there was no yelling, and I was still asked back the next day, where people continued to hang out and be extraordinarily friendly to one another. And me, as a couple people shook my hand at the end of the day, and one of the actresses (she who was on the stretcher) actually gave me a hug.

Often, as an extra, you don't know what you're going to be from one day to another. For example, my last week's gigs have been as
1) a restaurant patron ("The West Wing")
2) a New York City pedestrian (SPIDER-MAN 3)
3) a courtroom observer ("Boston Legal")
4) an airport traveler ("Malcolm in the Middle")
and 5) on "Scrubs," a hospital visitor, a bathrobed patient, an orderly, an EMT paramedic, and a surgical intern.

It beats the order entry job I had in '02-'03, where every day was almost a Xerox copy of the day before (the only variances were my colour of tie, where I'd eat lunch, and what salesgirl I was infatuated with each day). Not in pay, of course. Or hours. But who's counting?

Today was also unique in that, to my knowledge, it was the first day I've ever had my name on the call sheet. Even when I was a stand-in, years ago, I think it was a last minute thing. But there it is, first and last name on the sheet, which maybe I'll take home to remember. Should be a bigger deal, I guess, but since I'm still making Taco Bell wages, name on the call sheet isn't quite so glamourous.

But it could be worse.

Rish Scrub Outfield

*Actually, after writing this, they shot some on the bottom floor too, so I was wrong.
**I also didn't find out until after I wrote this, but the show isn't even on the air anymore. They're a mid-season replacement coming on in January after my pal Jeff's favourite show, "My Name Is Earl."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

An Extra Effort

I got word from a future son of mine that he'd like to hear more about what his father was doing prior to killing himself, thus robbing him of his singular existence. Or was I murdered? I wasn't really paying attention. Heck, it might not have been a future son at all, but a kid selling subscriptions to Martha Stewart Living. And where's my wallet?

Regardless of the reason, I thought it might be a good idea to write up a semi-regular report on what I'm working on lately, since it's marginally more interesting than what I used to do (and that was only slightly more interesting than what, say, Hume Cronyn is doing right now). And since I, at one time, had an internet blog, I thought maybe that would be a good forum for it.

Oh, and it helps that my worst pal tyranist mentioned yesterday that he'd discovered my now-defunct web blog. The bastage.

I moved to Los Angeles, California some years ago, with the dreams many small town kids share of working in the greatest industry in the world, telling my stories, and being paid an honest wage to do something I love, as well as dating ridiculously young, drugged-out former child actresses.

Unfortunately for me, I was born with no ambition (and, incidentally, no left testicle, but let's keep that between us), and I went nowhere literally before I started, and found myself looking for work. Having been a Theater Arts major once (and also wanting the chance to work on "Star Trek"), I decided to try extra work and called up Central Casting.

For those of you far from the pretentious and over-caffeinated, an extra is a person hired for a film, television show, or commercial, who has no lines and fills the background of any given scene. Basically a human prop, they move to and fro, inconspicuous, to flesh out the universe of filmed sequences. They are called Non-lined Actors, Atmosphere, Environment, or even Background Artists, but you know them as Extras.

The first work I did as an extra was on "The X-Files" (actually, a couple years earlier it was "Touched By An Angel" first, but let's also keep that between us), and there's a pretty good story about that day (maybe I'll tell it sometime), and I actually did extra work full time for a few months (my last work was on Fox's "Boston Public," remember that one?) before going on to . . . well, less fanciful pastures.

Years passed. The world turned, and suddenly, it turned back to where it was before. And hey, so did I. I'm back doing extra work again, and I've had several fun and unique experiences (and gained fifteen or so pounds, I reckon), from the first show ("24") to today's ("Scrubs").

I don't know how long this will last, but if I write about it, maybe I can make the best of it.

With a little extra luck, that is.

Rish Hollywood Outfield

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Boob That Broke the Camel's Back

Over the weekend, my pal Jeff and I went to a Tom Petty concert. It was an outdoor venue in Irvine, and was really enjoyable, if you don't mind cigarette smoke and thousands of sweaty, stumbling strangers.
I think you and I will all agree: people are scum. Seeing my peers in a public setting only reinforced this belief, as I saw people pushing, cursing, shoving, groping, arguing, fumbling, and spilling beer on each other. And talking on their cellphones (but hey, that's a different rant).
About halfway through the intermission, the cluster of youths to my right started getting even more vocal, and I looked over to see what was causing the commotion.
Turns out there was a girl, around nineteen, standing up the way, that would turn and face them (and us) and flash her ample bosoms.
When she did this, the guys would cheer. Then she would turn around and go back to her business. She was cute-ish, blushing and whooping, and I thought it was kind of neat. Hey, boobs are cool.
The guys would shout at her to repeat the act--maybe one of them missed it, maybe they didn't have a good vantage point, maybe they didn't have enough short-term memory to remember, I don't know--and eventually, she would turn around and do it again.
I'm not exaggerating, I counted seven times during the next half hour that she pulled up her blouse to reveal her assets.
An odd phenomenon occurred: somewhere along the line, I went from titillated at the sight to satisfied, then from satisfied to mildly annoyed. Finally, I went from annoyed to feeling sorry for her.
The drunken and/or stoned dudes lounging around her called out for more, screaming it, whooping when she'd show them, then calling her a whore when she put them away.
Does it make sense that I felt sorry for her?
While fairly ignorant, I guess I understand some of her motivation: hey, boobs are cool, everybody likes to be center of attention, and every girl wants to feel attractive. But what might have been a funny, daring act, quickly descended into exploitation Girls Gone Wild style.
Didn't she know that she was no longer a person to these guys? Did that not bother her? That there was no respect, no consideration, not even admiration for her sizable feminine attributes?
Well, I wanted to go over there and bitch-slap each and every one of those guys, and bastard-slap the girls with them for being with them. But more than that, I wanted to go over to the girl and put either a blanket on her or my arm around her and say, "Hey, kid, call it a day. Let's proclaim you the winner by TKO. Gather up your pride and don't turn around again." Of course I did no such thing.
I guess I'll commend my pal Jeff, who neither commented nor stared as this went on. Granted, the guy is happily married and libidinously flaccid, but I respect him nonetheless. He's a good man, and there aren't a hell of a lot of them out there.
I'm reminded of a party I went to last year. A girl I didn't know was there, she was attractive, and she clearly had esteem issues from a (brief) conversation I had with her.
We were all dancing to some godless Hip-Hop song or other when a bit of commotion drew my attention. It seems that the girl (I'll call her Belly Dancer, because that's how she was costumed) had lost her top in the midst of the dancing. Embarrassed, she was telling people to step back so she could retrieve it from the floor. And what did the big drunk bloke she was dancing with do to help her? He pulled out his cellphone and took pictures.
Now, clearly, this guy was a lowlife, but who did she end up screwing later that night in the bathroom? Same dude.
He came out afterward and all his moron friends hooted and gave him five. Belly Dancer drunkenly swayed on the dancefloor for a while, then, when the dude got it up again, he led her into the bathroom (a place of much pissing and puking that night) to nail her again.
Even though I gladly would've hit the horse at this guy's lynching, some of the blame has to fall on the girl. It has to. We are all individuals, with consciences and brains, and must be responsible for our actions. I think all that is part of the definition of adulthood.
Doesn't mean I don't feel sorry for her, though. Almost as much as I do for myself.
Wow, if I ever had a point, I think I lost it somewhere on the trail.

Rish "Angels In The" Outfield

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Hair today...

I haven't gotten a haircut in a while. While it hadn't gotten too long in the back, in the front it was getting unmanagable, and when I awoke or rode my bike, it was starting to look like Austin Powers's. So it was time.

I went to the same cheapie Mexican hair salon I always go to, riding my bike down the street. There were no customers getting their hair done or cut, just two large women sitting around. The more rotund of the two sat me in the chair, not even pretending to speak English to me this time. I always tell them the same thing: "Bien cortito atras, un poco menos en frente," and ask for it to be spikey on top. In fact, I'd memorized what setting I liked on the clippers. Hey, I'm easy.

So I said it as usual and she went to work, shaving the back of my neck and moving the shears up. Maybe she was in a hurry, I don't know (after all, the TV was on, and commercials don't last forever). She moved in front of me and pushed the razor over my forehead, blocking the mirror I was facing. Then she stopped, for some reason (it is in my estimation that this is when she realized she made a mistake, but of course, there was no admission of this). She moved out of the way and I was shocked to see a bare swatch of skin running through the front of my head, like the trail a lawnmower makes after waiting too long to mow.

I gasped. I said, "I said spikey," then said it again in Spanish. She said, "Si, si," as if everything was fine, and proceeded to shave the rest of my head. I thought maybe I was overreacting, that I had just waited so long that I wasn't used to short hair, but I did ask her if she had it on the right setting. When she unblocked the mirror again, I stared with horror at the bald, goblin-like creature reflected before me. A sense of surreality washed over me, the sensation I get when get in a car accident, see U2, find I have killed a homeless person, or recognize that my friendship with the cast of "Growing Pains" has all been a dream. Never, not even when losing a bet in 1993, had I had so little hair. I looked like a cancer patient with my discolored scalp. I looked like Doctor Evil with my misshapen nose. I looked like Gollum with my protruding ears. I looked unhappy.

"Ay, está tan triste," the woman chuckled to her friend, still sitting and watching the proceedings. To her credit, the other woman did not laugh.

I am not a vain person--quite the contrary--but my hair is my only physical attribute I take pride in (mostly because my maternal grandfather is bald as as a Telly Savalas character and everyone said I'd start losing my hair in the mid-Nineties). And it was gone. Not just short, not just shaved, but gone. Unlike Bruce Willis (who looks cool bald), or Eminem (who looks tough bald) or Kevin Spacey (who looks menacing bald), I looked like one of the aliens in "Galaxy Quest."

The woman said, "At least you won't be hot now," in Spanish, and I tried to come up with some retort. The best I could do was a weak "Or get a haircut until January." She told me I'd surely come in again before that, and, perhaps anticipating that I would never return, said, "Oh, but the girls will be all over you now." Staring horrified at the badly-processed clone in the mirror, I tried to say, "Or the army recruiters," but didn't know the word for recruiter.

As I rose from the seat, I was tempted to just walk out, or at least berate the fat woman. What would Uncle John do? What would Batman do? What would Sigourney Weaver in "Alien 3" do? But instead, I just pouted, stewing in my hairless juices. I gave her a twenty, and she went into the backroom to get my change, leaving the twenty on the counter. Again, the impulse came over me to just leave--to take my twenty and get the hell out of there--just to prove a point.

But if you know me, you know I couldn't do that. I took my change and walked out the door.

I showed my head to nobody. I now wear a hat in public. I was given one at work yesterday and I might sleep in it till my hair grows back. Otherwise, I might scare the children.

Oh, and the Jews.

Rish "Cueball" Outfield

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Please update the site, Jeff.

This has become my mantra of late.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Enter: Old Age

"Everybody knows it sucks to grow up, but everybody does."
Ben Folds

Getting old is a real drag, kids.

You probably already knew that, having grandparents or neighbors or lovers who have gotten brittle and gray, sent off to a nursing home, a bad-smelling bedroom, or the grave.

But it doesn't really suck until it starts to happen to you.

Last week, I went on a big, irresponsible trip to Indianapolis, Indiana, to attend the Star Wars Celebration III, a place where gr'ups pretend that they're still like Miri (how about that for crossing my Sci-Fi references?). It was an expensive, uncomfortable trip, and I found myself really cynical of the next and suspicious of the upcoming last "Star Wars" movie. And is it the last, when there's a hundred episode television series in the works?

Many children ran around, swinging lightsabers, and even more adults did the same. I found myself frowning, watching it all and feeling out of place, feeling grouchy about the lines, about the latest attempts of Lucasfilm Ltd. to get my hard-earned money. I was much more interested in the gorgeous model-type dressed as Leia than the guy with the working General Grievous costume or the dude with the anamatronic tauntaun. I was more amped to find a place that sold allergy medication than for seeing George Lucas in person. On the flight home, I was much more occupied in hoping someone hadn't broken into my apartment (again), than if Episode III would be a fitting end to the saga.

To make matters worse, I was more looking forward to being back at work than another day waiting in line for something.

When I got back to work on Monday and a coworker asked me about my vacation, I told her how nice it was to get a full night's sleep, away from allergies, snoring roommates, and a lumpy alien mattress. She told me, "You know what that means? You're getting old."

As Unca Vader suggested, I searched my feelings and I knew it to be true. It had finally happened to me.

A good friend of mine considers himself a sixty year old man in a twenty-one year old's body (with the libido of a 70 year old), but me, I've always been the opposite of that. Immature as hell, to the point where I was asked to play a middle school student at twenty-seven years old, I have prided myself in being much younger than my calendar age.

When my friends stopped playing with toys and began playing with themselves, I still tried to collect all the Predacons to make Predaking (was that really his name? Talk about lame). When my pals started dating on Friday nights, I used that time to get to know the inner workings of Charles Xavier's mansion for mutants. When my buddies were standing at altars, gazing at their soon-to-be-wives, I was discovering the joys of late-night computer gaming. When my amigos were popping out children, I was creating the world's worst DVD collection.

But now it has happened to me: I am old.

It's about time, really. When I first moved away from home, my father gave me the briefest of talks, something he only did when I was in the worst of trouble. During this two minute exchange, he told me it was time that I grew up "and put away childish dreams."

I dwelled (dwelt?) on that admonition for a good long time, half resenting him for saying it and half resenting myself for deserving it. I had played the Peter Pan game for longer than anyone I knew, daring to extend childhood not just a year or two, but well into my twenties. I played a good game for a long ole time, but here I am, ready now to settle down, to get married, ready to begin to really live.

It took the final Star Wars Celebration to show me that.* A clue should've been given me when I awoke the second day at six in the morning, and instead of leaving to get in line with my roommates, I stayed in bed until nine or so, preferring a chance to let my body recuperate rather than be the first to buy lightsaber replicas, Sandtrooper statuettes, and Naboo Royalty tampons. Another hint that I had grown old was when I wanted to ask the pretty babe at the Cincinnati airport for her number way more than I wanted the autograph of the chick who plays blue Twi'lek Jedi Aayla Secura. I guess I could go on and on (and it looks like I am).

My coworker was right. I got old.

How does it happen? I ask the calendar.

Though I don't expect an answer, it responds:
When you start to choose comfort over excitement. When you watch a show about children or teenagers and relate to the parents instead of them. When you think of the good times and the best days of your life as being behind you. When the things you used to do for fun, maybe for years, now seems like a waste of time.

"Thanks," I say to the calendar. Then grab a book of matches.

Rish Outfield

May 2nd, 2005

*There's talk of a fourth Celebration to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of Star Wars in a couple of years. I just don't know if I have it in me, though. It's like Admiral Kirk said, "Galloping around the cosmos is a game for the young."

Monday, April 11, 2005


I just realised something I could do here. I keep a dream journal for some reason (maybe it's to show the review board at my weekly psyche evaluation . . . they seem to get a laugh out of it), chronicling the latest sick tangent my subconscious took me down. But instead of writing about werewolves surrounding my childhood home while the power was out there, I could write it here.

Hmmm. Maybe that isn't such a great idea.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Jon Lovitz: The Adventure Continues

I ran into Jon Lovitz on Saturday night. We went to the Westwood video arcade (which, like noble buffalo, once roamed this land in numbers too great to count, and now dwindles to scattered, dying populations foraging for food and trying to avoid white man who slaughter them for their horns and tongues), and there he was. He looked great, and was in much better shape than the last time I saw him. He was with a young guy who I thought might be his kid. Well, he looked to be in his late teens, but also looked about as non-Lovitz-like as possible, so I don't imagine it was his son. Might have been, though. He was playing that great mini basketball game Denise Ching Curtis and I used to play until two in the morning, and he was really good.

I was going to approach him, and then I froze. I don't know why, exactly. I've met more than my share of celebrities since moving to L.A., so it can't be that I was starstruck. But that's sort of what it felt like. I thought, "I'd like to say something really funny and/or poignant to him, since he may not have the fanbase he used to nowadays." My mind stayed blank, though. But I remind you: this was no Harrison Ford or Halle Berry or William Shatner or Tom Bosley . . . dude, this was Jon Lovitz. I once had a conversation with Arnold Schwarzenegger, for heaven's sake.

In the end, right before he left the arcade, I just went up to him and said, "Jon, I gotta tell you, before I met you I was nothing, nowhere, nobody." He sort of chuckled, but I don't know if it was because he was genuinely amused, or if he was just being polite. And then he was gone.

I've thought a lot about my turning into a silly stammering schoolgirl, and the best I can come up with is my experience back in 1998 when I first ran into him. He was one of the first celebrities I ever met, he was in trouble, and I did nothing. Well, technically, I guess I didn't do NOTHING; I did write my best friend's wife (who is very religious) and asked if she would pray for Jon Lovitz. I mean, he was one of my favourite "Saturday Night Live" stars when I was growing up, appeared in Big and Mr. Destiny, and seemed like the kind of underdog I could really root for. I don't know, I'm rambling.

My encounter with Lovitz really stuck with me, much longer than it should have, and I thought about it a lot, wondering what I should have done, wondering what a friend would've done in that situation. I even wrote a story based on that experience, and with time, I put it behind me.

It's no big deal, I guess. In fact, I'm wondering if I should even post this. But since I'm still of the mind that nobody reads these things, I'll just let it lie.

Rish Outfield

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Is that Bowling For Soup song really that good?

Okay, it was mildly amusing the first time I heard it. But they play it every hour on 98.7, with more regularity than the most devout Islam. I submit to the jury that the song is not all that good. And the more I think about it, the more I think the band is actually making fun of my generation, and that its lyrics are being misinterpreted.

Besides, the name of the band does a disservice to intelligent people everywhere.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Cynical Trial (Part One)

The other day, I saw the first trailer for "Fantastic Four," the big-budget 20th Century Fox adaptation of the Marvel comic book with a "The" in the title. While not a big fan of the series or characters, I anticipated the film and expected it to be pretty entertaining.

Until I saw the trailer. And now, I don't really feel the need to see the movie.

Man, it was a weak trailer, with a machine gun barrage of images, uninspired special effects, unfaithful images, and worst of all, a septic tank-scraping Hip Hop song playing throughout. That's all it took to guarantee (in my mind) that "Fantastic Four" will suck.

I wasn't always so cynical. Honest. My favourite part of going to the movies used to be the trailers, which offered up an assortment of potentially-great future films engineered to keep me from killing myself. Heck, if my perpetually-tardy friend Rhett made us too late to see the previews, I'd often get tickets for the late show, or not go at all.

But somewhere, something changed. I no longer expect movies to be great, not after shelling out hard earned cash to see "Ghostbusters 2," "Hook," "Highlander 2," "Godzilla," "Freddy's Dead," "Dragonheart," "Alien: Resurrection," "Battlefield: Earth," "Batman & Robin," "Tomorrow Never Dies," "Father's Day," "Star Trek: Nemesis," "Hulk," "The Avengers," "Die Another Day," "Armageddon," "Van Helsing," and "Blade: Trinity" on their opening weekends. All these movies sucked (though some more than others), promising greatness (or following greatness) and failing to deliver.

Life is a lot like that.

I have a hateful, grizzled, embittered Irish friend who recently observed that I was "a f**king cynical bastard." Granted that he recently got a girlfriend, so his world view has changed, but it was quite a shock coming from the most jaded person I've probably ever met (except for my crazy drugged-out uncle who claims he fought in Vietnam when he was really thrown out of the Army during basic training). It was something of a wake-up call, and I had to look a little bit at my life.

When did I change? Where did I go wrong? Why did this happen to me? Was it my upbringing? Growing up on the back stretch of nowhere? My choice of friends as an adolescent? The fact that I didn't start shaving until I was nineteen? A chemical imbalance? Moving to the big, big city? The deep dark secrets creeping around the lower levels of my twisted Frankensteinian psyche?

Maybe none of those things. Maybe all of them.

Years of disappointment and dashed expectations have caused my hope muscle to atrophy, little by little, until I became the empty shell of a man you see before you. I no longer think that maybe next summer will be different, that a silver lining is hiding on that cloud, that next Valentine's Day will not suck, that it's always darkest before the dawn, that January holds the promise of a Happy New Year.

This movie trailer thing is an easy parallel to life. Take "Batman Begins," for example. That movie MIGHT be great. I couple people I know are sure that it will be. But I can't accept that. I'm sure it will disappoint, just in different ways than the last Schumacher Bat-films did. "War of the Worlds" has the potential to be fantastic, what with Spielberg and Koepp in charge. But it probably won't be. "Fantastic Four" already sucks muskrat. And for "Star Wars: Episode III?" Whoa, I don't even want to get my hopes up. I'd much rather sit and complain about computer-generated characters and meaningless, clunky dialogue, than get excited about who will kill Mace Windu, what the Wookiees will sound like, the new themes John Williams might think up, and whether or not Kit Fisto will survive.

I was going to attempt a sort of positive spin on all this, but I can't quite manage it right now. Maybe I can continue this rant on a day when I'm not certain I'll die alone, unfulfilled, and soon.

Back in the almighty Eighties, cartoonist Gary Larson proposed that there are three kinds of people:
1) those who see the glass before them and proclaim it as half full;
2) those who see the glass before them and proclaim it as half empty;
3) those who see the glass before them and proclaim, "Hey! I ordered a cheeseburger!"

That joke sure seemed funnier on the other side of the comic strip.

Rish Outfield