Monday, January 31, 2011

Upcoming Audio Drama Work

I do a lot of voicework on the internet. Only one paid gig so far (thanks, Abbie), but plenty to keep me busy, and probably more if I want it.

For example, there were auditions held, a month or so ago, for an audio drama based on the the greatest television show ever, Joss Whedon's "Firefly." I leapt at the chance to try out, sending in three auditions in a single weekend, and felt really good about them. It took the folks a while to sort through them, and the verdict came in this afternoon. While I didn't get the part I really wanted, I am happy to be a part of the/a "Firefly" audio drama.

The funny thing is, I got that email from the folks behind that production today, and before I even clicked on it, I typed the above. A week or a month ago, I would've told you, "Oh yeah, that part is totally mine. I was born to play it, and they'd be idiots to cast somebody else." But when I saw the You've Been Cast email tonight, I just had a feeling that I fell short of my primary goal, but should be proud to have any part at all.

And I am. I enjoy acting, and just about every aspect of the making of entertainment. Fudge, I was proud to be an extra in a lot of the shows and movies I worked on (there was that Tara Reid movie, though, where I was a bit embarrassed even to visit the set of, but I shan't mention that here). I will continue to do my best, and take any part that is offered to me.

Perhaps I can get the part of Dracula on the "Buffy" podcast.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Stupid Thing of the Week

My cousin and I were in the toy section of Walmart today, and there was a Transformer there called Darkstream.

"Darkstream," seriously?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dying is easy . . .

In MY FAVORITE YEAR, Peter O'Toole famously said that dying is easy, it's comedy that's hard.*

I've really been trying to write steadily in this new year, both for myself, and for the podcast. It was sort of a resolution thing, and sort of a "Love Me, Daddy!" cry for attention. I do what I can to make each episode of our show interesting, from sound clips and adding echo or effects, to running gags and Barbie commercials. I've written up a couple of little sketches and comedic bits for upcoming episodes, and after transcribing one the other day, I looked over the full script and wondered, "Is this funny? Are people going to like this? Is this even worth recording?"

That spiraled into questions of "Am I funny?" and "Do I have a grasp on what other people find amusing?" And that spiraled into more absinthe abuse.

The first question is difficult to answer. After all, everybody thinks they have good taste and a sense of humor (as WHEN HARRY MET SALLY taught me). But as to whether other people laugh at what I say (or write), or whether I can identify what's funny to others . . . well, there's probably a definitive answer to that.

The other day I had an idea for a story in which a character (almost wholly based on me) is forced to do a stand-up comedy routine for a group of bored despots, knowing that if he fails to amuse them, they will have him killed. It felt like a brilliant story idea to me (still does), and the writing went smoothly . . . until.

Once the Me character gets up there and begins trying to make the rulers laugh, I realized that what I wrote absolutely HAD to be funny, or I was dead. I thought I had a good strategy for what the character would say, and how that would go over, but as I wrote it, it didn't seem very funny to me. I didn't know exactly how the story would end (though I figured I'd have to survive, since it's written in first person), but if the stuff he's saying isn't even funny to the writer, well, chances are he's dead meat.

Quite literally, in this story's case.

But that storypoint bothered me just as much as introspection usually does. What if I'm not as funny as I think I am? For the story to work, the nervousness the Me character feels makes him start to babble, and whatever comes out of his mouth has to be both hilarious and seem effortless for the story to work. Even if I kill him at the end, I want that section to be genuinely funny. And right now, it just isn't.

I'm not sure what I'll do (normally, it would be to abandon the project, but I'm not feeling normal today), but I'll continue to think about it, and see if I can't shoehorn some amusing one-liners and banter with him and his flesh-hungry audience in. At the very least, I've already found my title.

Rish "Soiling Oneself is Easy" Outfield

*Apparently, he was quoting a famous vaudevillian, but who actually said it (Edmund Gwenn, George Bernard Shaw, Donald Wolfit, Edmund Kean), is disputable.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Stupid Thing of the Week

The Golden Globes are being held this weekend, and not only is TOY STORY 3 not nominated for Best Picture . . . ALICE IN WONDERLAND is.

"Then the Emperor has already won."
Obi-Wan Kenobi

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Monday, January 03, 2011

January 2nd, 2011

I realized something looking at my siblings today that I’d never noticed before: we’re all fat. Except for my brother, who isn’t. Okay, maybe that means nothing.

Sorry, on with the countdown.

In the hotel room, we scooted the two beds together so that five people could sleep on them, but my brother and I volunteered to sleep on the floor. We may be more alike than I realized, because despite me announcing that whoever slept on the floor the first night should get to sleep on the bed the second, we both ended up in the exact same place the next night.

Amusingly, though, at some point during the night, the mattresses began to separate, and my big sister started to fall through the crack in the middle. I don't know if that's funny or not, actually.

My brother did not feel well the next morning, but despite my back complaining about the floor, I felt alright. My cousin is a doctor, so she's used to getting up after no sleep, and proceeded to open the curtains to welcome the rest of us to the morning. Now I know how Dracula feels.

One by one, people got up and showered, and when it was finally my turn, there were no towels left. I still had to take a shower (that's just how I roll, kinda like a normal person's necessary cup o' Joe), and of all the towels thrown in a pile on the floor, I picked the least-wet one.

I assume it was my brother-in-law's towel, because he's bald.

My cousin's friend had relatives in Vegas, so she left us to visit them. Then there were six. My brother was too sick to go out for breakfast, so that left five. We walked out into the chilly Vegas morning, and went to Denny's on the Strip, but it was so busy they were making the customers wait outside before a table became available. There was another restaurant nearby, but you couldn't get in the door because of the crowd, so we decided to go to a food court by the Riviera, despite my cousin claiming their food was "shitty."

I was surprised how far away it all was, since the night before we walked at least that far, and I didn't notice it. That's mornings for you.

My sister and cousin decided to go shopping at a couple of Vegas-only stores, and that left just three of us. So, my brother-in-law, my sister, and I got in the car and drove over to the Treasure Island to see how people at the more upscale hotels lived and shopped. We basically walked outside and through casinos, sightseeing and talking.

There was a Sony store in the Forum Shoppes, and I got to try out one of those 3-D televisions people used to talk about. It sort of worked, the way that 3-D option on Excitebike used to sort of work for the Nintendo. We also went into one of those signed memorabilia stores and looked at the signed items. They had a REVENGE OF THE JEDI poster signed by a bunch of the stars (including Harrison Ford) for two thousand dollars. If I had made the correct life choices, I suppose I could buy something like that.

The three of us must've been having a good time because we started talking about coming back for St. Patrick's Day, another popular Vegas weekend. Thank Joss my sister didn't want to come back for Valentine's Day--ick--but my guess is, that's an even bigger Vegas weekend than St. Patrick's.

My family has relatives in Vegas (my mom's mother lived there until she died a few years back, and I used to visit her or my uncles pretty much my whole life), so a few calls were made and a bunch of us got together at a Mexican restaurant just a mile or so from our hotel. The food was good, and not very expensive, but my cousin bought everybody something called apple shots, and they ended up being over a hundred dollars. Yikes.

Distressingly, we discovered several incorrect items on the huge bill that came to the table at the end of dinner. My guess is, they figured with a group that big, we wouldn't notice a few "extra" items. The bastards even charged us for hot sauce and guacamole.

There was a bit of bickering at dinner, and my two sisters are on shaky friendship ground to begin with, but no knife or broken bottle fights broke out, so I guess we did okay. One of the cousins who came to dinner with us agreed to come back to the Sahara for gambling, but the others all had to work or ____.

We spent some of the evening in the karaoke section, and it wasn't just me that got up and sang this time. My brother-in-law sang "I'm Too Sexy" and the girls (well, three of them) got up and sang "I Like Big Butts" (or whatever the real Sir Mix-a-Lot title is). One thing I really liked about the way they did karaoke there was that once you had gotten up and sang, your name was in the rotation for the rest of the night, so you could put in a song title for your next turn or just go gamble and come back and sing when you'd lost your money. I did a Men At Work song, a Manfred Mann song, and a Journey song (but that pretty much wiped out my voice for the rest of the night), but the others decided not to get up again.
My brother didn't get up at all. He much preferred winning money at pretty much whatever game he chose to play. I don't get that, but hey, karma may be repaying him for childhood good deeds. Most of the others joined the Roulette table and wasted unbelievable amounts of money putting chips on various spaces, knowing that they only had to get one of them right to win it all back. I bored easily watching them (and didn't feel like joining in), but I did play some Blackjack with my brother when I wasn't singing along with whoever's turn it was to karaoke.

Midnight came, and their idea to do another countdown and hug and make out with Asian dealers never really came to fruition. I know a lot of dudes hit on the girls, though, so it came as no surprise that my brother-in-law was the first one to retire, followed by my sister, then my brother and me.

I don't know if I've mentioned this, but I didn't do a great deal of gambling on the trip. Partly because I prefer to watch others gamble (I was always that way as a kid with video games too), and partly because I had lost nearly all the money I'd set aside for playing the games.

Toward the end of the night, I decided to drag my sister before she went up to the room to watch me play my last twenty dollars on the game that I thought was the most fun of all the ones we played, which was virtual Texas Hold’em with a dubiously hot CG dealer. I guess I should've been paying more attention, because I accidentally hit the wrong button and put ten dollars on the Trips space. The Trips space/square is a side bet hoping you get a special win, like a Straight or a Three of a Kind or a Full House (or Family Matters or Perfect Strangers, while we‘re at it). In addition to the normal Ante and betting, you have the option of putting money on that space, but I NEVER put more than two dollars on it, and had just put ten there.

Well, I figured I could fix that, so I pushed the button again, and now I had twenty dollars on the space (despite having only two in the real bet). I had no more money, so I pushed the button again, hoping it would reset, but it didn’t, my twenty dollars was on there permanently. So, I played my hand . . . And ended up getting a Straight. Which was lucky, but the big-breasted, unreal dealer got a higher Straight, and I lost.

The neat thing was, however, that that only mattered for the eight bucks I had riding on the game; I still had a Straight, and win or lose, the Trips still paid me off, and suddenly I went from having nine dollars left to having $149 left. By accident.
Well, I’m not one to press my luck (which may be why I remain dateless on this, the most romantic weekend of the year), so I cashed out and left the table. Probably never to return.

I ran over to my brother, still playing Blackjack (he hung out there so long, he knew all the dealer's names and national origins), to tell him the tale. He congratulated me, but he was making more than that with every winning hand now. Still, that was a cool way to actually win a little money, by pressing the wrong button. I’m sure worse things have happened (and if I had had one more dollar in the machine, it would have bet thirty dollars instead of twenty).

I sat with my brother for a couple more hands (he had to go to the bathroom, and told me to watch his chips, so I sat down to guard them, and the dealer said, "You no touch chip! You no gamble!" Which I initially found insulting, like I was going to steal from my own brother, but I figured was just her looking out for him), but he started to lose again while I was there, so he cashed out (with almost a thousand dollars, men and boys), and went up to the room.

I told the three remaining girls goodnight (my Vegas cousin had long since gone home) at around three-thirty, and went back to the room to sit down and blog a little. An hour or so later, I got in my sleeping bag and was almost asleep when the three girls barged in and decided to continue the party until five-thirty. My brother, bless his soul, managed to sleep through it.

Morning came not long after, and I tried to snooze while everybody showered and ran their hair dryers and packed up. We checked out of the room and started the voyage back to our normal lives. I only managed to drive four hours or so before I started drifting, so I switched places with my brother-in-law and slept the rest of the hours home.

So, it's a new year. I'm supposed to make a couple of resolutions, aren't I? That's everybody's tradition, and I'm a sucker for tradition.

The trouble is, I don't want to make any resolutions. I hate setting myself up to fail, and certainly hate introspection (which amounts to the same thing), but the point is just to examine what can go better, and what to focus on.

I joined a Facebook group consisting of writers who are vowing to write twenty-five stories in 2011, which amounts to 25 stories in 52 weeks. When you put it that way, a story every other week seems like nothing, and I've committed to doing it, but we'll see how motivated I am.

More than just writing, though, I really need to submit my work more often, but saying it means nothing.

The Vegas trip was a lot of fun. True, I did get a bit annoyed with the three girls (all of whom are way too old to be called "girls"), especially when they stumbled in at five this morning laughing and shrieking and kept it up until one passed out. I shouldn't cast stones, though; I was told today that I sing in my sleep.

Rish "The Cooler" Outfield

Saturday, January 01, 2011

January 1st, 2011

“People get really drunk in Las Vegas,
They get wasted out of their mind;
People get really drunk in Las Vegas,
And that’s where I’ll be spending my time.”
Size 14

There was a lot of gambling and drinking last night. Immediately, the difference between my brother's luck and my own became apparent. Within the first five minutes, I had lost twenty dollars on the slots . . . and he won five hundred dollars. It was the first machine he played (a Wheel of Fortune slot machine that several of us played throughout the weekend, though never to the extent that he did at the very beginning). My brother-in-law won a couple hundred dollars too, but lost it in the end. My sister, cousin, cousin’s friend, and little sister all won various times.

My brother was the big winner, though, at pretty much every machine or table he went to, and at press time is up over eight hundred dollars. I think the highest I ever got was playing a virtual Texas Hold’em, where I won $160.00 before losing it all in the end. That was my favorite game of the trip, and the best time I had was when we each put twenty dollars into it and played for more than an hour (all of us were up over a hundred at one point), before finally going broke.

So, we went walking, sightseeing, out to eat twice (Chinese and Mexican), drinking, and gambling. Man, my brother is good at gambling, whether it’s slot machines, Blackjack, Roulette, or Texas Hold’em. I’d say the other, what, six of us all together didn’t win as much money as did my brother. And as far as losing money, we all lost more than he did too (myself included). But I’m so much bad luck at the tables (and slots, and craps and virtual Deal or No Deal) that I could play William H. Macy in THE COOLER 2. Sometimes I would just have to walk away or stop watching my sister or brother play and they would win, or they’d lose until I turned my attentions elsewhere.

I dislike the filthy air of Vegas casinos. There's always the reek of cigarettes and cigars, and back in the days where you won coins instead of paper vouchers, there was always a grey film on your hands (and arse) from playing the machines. I asked my sister (who dislikes smoking at least as much as I do) why they don't have a non-smoking gambling area, or a whole smoke-free casino. Sure enough, during our drive to the Treasure Island the next afternoon, we saw a billboard for a hotel that had a cigarette-less area.

All of us were sharing a room, and that was interesting, since it probably was intended for three, maybe four people. The rooms at the Sahara (or at least the one we were in) were kind of a wreck. But my sister figures that people come here for a cheap place to crash at the very end of the night when they’re done gambling/partying, and spend so little time awake in the room that it doesn’t matter to them.

My sister and her friends annoy the hell out of me when they’re drinking. But they annoy the hell out of me when they’re sober too. They’re just annoying. And loud.

I'm not really a drinker, so the idea that waitresses will bring you free drinks if you are sitting at a machine is pretty awesome to me. And in case you're as ignorant as me, you can order stuff like water and Pepsi too . . . and it's all free! Kind of like that band said, "The liquor's always free, as long as you pretend that you're gambling."

Unfortunately, my brother pointed out the down side to that, when he ordered a beer, and played while he waited for it. When the waitress finally came, almost a half hour later, he had lost over a hundred dollars on the machine. "Most expensive beer in history," he told me. Dang.

To my delight, along with many ways to gamble, the Sahara also had a karaoke room on the casino floor. This really handsome Patrick Swayze clone was the DJ, and tried to maintain a lot of fun for everybody in that section whether they were singing or not. There was a fat black guy first up in the rotation, and though his singing was pretty bad, he was just so bloody jolly that I never groaned when he got up again and again. Apparently, he is a regular, and shows up three or four nights a week, between nine and two, singing multiple songs despite his almost Miley Cyrusian inability to sing.

I got up and sang one song, and wanted to do it more, but it was New Year's Eve, and we were all planning on going outside to do the countdown and watch the fireworks. My cousin had told me that people tend to just go crazy on the Strip for New Years, throwing themselves at whoever is nearby, and debauching with the best of them. She told me that her friend (and attractive female friend) went the year before and vowed to make out with ten guys before the night was through. And apparently, she doubled that.*

That appealed to me, and I was hoping we'd go outside at 10:30 or 11:00 or so, and get in on the fun. Unfortunately, the three girls (my sister not so much) took over ninety minutes to get ready for the night (despite having been dressed and gambling with us throughout the afternoon), and by the time we finally went downstairs to ring in the new year, it was half-past eleven.

The Sahara waitresses were handing out noisemakers and partyhats, and all of us got one. They may look silly, and in this photo I look stupid, but I was a little disappointed when everybody in our group got a hat but me, and was relieved when another waitress came along and gave me one.

I was itching for everyone to go outside, since there were gonna be fireworks and the aforementioned debauchery. But (and I'm sure I mentioned this yesterday), it was insanely cold in Vegas that night, at around thirty-four degrees, and nobody particularly wanted to go for a mile-long hike in it.

The crowd outside was really sparse compared to my brother-in-law's description of the last time he was there, fully to blame on the cold, but there were still thousands of people heading South down Las Vegas Boulevard, which had been shut down to traffic for the night. People were tooting their horns, laughing, and drinking, but I saw no making out, let alone participated in it.

We had only been outside for ten minutes or so before the fireworks started, and I was bummed out that the huge crowd wasn't even counting down to midnight. Guess we were just too late. Several of the big casinos had fireworks going off at the same time, and though I tried to take a couple pictures of it, they didn't much come out.

Maybe I spoke too soon. That one of the Stratosphere looks pretty good.

Because it was so chilly, the crowd started to disperse as soon as the fireworks stopped, and we trudged back to the Sahara. I guess I expected something more along the lines of the Santa Monica Boulevard Halloween parade I went to several times in L.A.. Only with less exposed scrotum.

Ah well.

Some of the others were disappointed too, and suggested we do a countdown of our own the next night at midnight. That seemed fine with me, and we continued the festivities inside the casino, pretty much doing what we were doing before the hoopla.

Rish "Mister Anti-climax" Outfield

*Jeez, just imagine what it must like to be attractive. Seriously. I cannot fathom an experience like that, as I can't muster up an orgy in even my sexual fantasies.