Cruise Control and Politics.

With so many political things in the news right now, it would be easy to discuss quite a few subjects, but to keep my writings focused on myself and life in Las Vegas, I can still discuss one without compromising the other.

I’ve been appointed as a member at large to Nevada’s local SAG-AFTRA board. I’ve been a Union member since 2005 (though I made eligibility within my first two months of starting my acting career while living in Los Angeles). I never saw myself as overtly political (my Dad once used to call me “politically agnostic”), but I’ve garnered more an interest in the subject, much to his delight in his final years. It’s more of a question of doing what’s right, and doing things to make things easier for everyone, so if I introduce a few ideas that stick and helps people out, than what more can one ask for when in a position to affect change? Besides, we finally got film incentives passed in Nevada, so that’s got to bring some positives.

You’d be surprised how little of “based in Vegas” TV shows and films have in terms of authentic footage outside of casino exteriors, aerial views of the Strip, or some element that just can’t be replicated in a soundstage in Los Angeles. The shark tank swimming pool at the Golden Nugget, for one (and coincidentally one of my favorite shoots from CSI Las Vegas. What can I say? I’m a sucker for robot sharks).

Freelance work is just as quirky. I had to get up ass early in the morning to be at the Cosmopolitan for this tailor conference. Basically, I stood around while women tested out this new tape measure, by sticking it under my armpit, then measuring my arm up to my wrist. I’m sure this is a fetish to someone, somewhere. All the while this is going on, the Electric Daisy Carnival was in town, so a myraid of candy colored people were just staggering into the hotel after a previous all-nighter of getting their “oontz oontz oontz” on. I do love how diverse this town is: Professional suits can walk alongside some girl wearing nothing more than taped stars across her boobs.

I did get some comeuppance this morning. Vegas, being a transient town by nature, allows for some shiesty characters to come across your path and try to take advantage of you. For example, one business lost some fairly irreplaceable things from my childhood, and it took me from the Fall of 2011 to now to resolve. That’s nearly two years! Think about that! It became a running joke to me going into this place whenever I did to hear what BS lie they concocted as to why they still hadn’t resolved my issue. But sure enough, perseverance, and an overabundance of patience prevailed, and I finally resolved the situation as best I could given the circumstances. But honestly, if you’re a business and you treat customers like that, then you don’t deserve their patronage. But it’s not the only time. I’ve had people pull similar tactics over film roles, business clients and transactions, egos leading to self-important power trips, verbal deals…. I think people believe themselves immune to doling out bad behavior to no consequences, because one of the involved party is likely to skip town. I enjoy Vegas and the friends I do have here, but it seems that Zoltar struck here a la Big, as there are plenty of “children” that run around here in seemingly adult bodies. It sounds negative, but it’s more realism as a result of experience.

In any case, Summer is in full effect here with temperatures climbing around 115 by the end of this week. It’s the time of year where locals play “vampire” and hide indoors until sundown. It makes sense we’re a 24 hour town, doesn’t it? I already have a few Summer plans that I’m lining up, and if all goes well, one may involve a water park in my near future.

Not all “inner child” activity is necessarily a harmful thing.

On a side note, today is my Dad’s birthday. He would have been 76 today….

“Before”….

I don’t see this blog as a movie review page. In fact, I’d probably mention a film in passing as to whether I liked it or not. But we all have our favorite films, and in some cases, films that we believe speak to and about our own lives, the same way a book, a song, or even a video game can relate.

I saw Before Midnight this past weekend, a film by Richard Linlater, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. This… is an unusual film series, also like a sociological experiment where each installment (this film being the third) passes by for both characters and viewers over a 9 year period.

Before Sunrise was released in 1995, with the 23 year old Jesse and Celine meet for the first time on a train and then spending one full evening together in Vienna before they are required to part company and go their separate ways. Before Sunset was released in 2004, with Jesse having published a book on that one night and finishing his book tour. The two reunite after nearly a decade, the book serving as a way to find Celine in hopes that she would appear, and now facing the changes in two lives so long separated. Before Midnight revisits the two, and the difficulties faced with middle age, responsibility, guilt, obligation…. All the complex emotions that people begin to deal with as they get older and don’t really as deeply contemplate 18 years earlier.

Before Sunrise.

Before Sunrise.

And that’s where my part comes in. I wasn’t much younger when Before Sunrise came out. In the 1990′s, my head was full of all of these ideals and notions, and the thought of meeting someone from the other side of the world and spending a day getting to know them was frankly, intoxicating to me. And it was beautiful to me that a moment so fleeting could become so permanently impactful and defining on one’s life. And yes, there are indeed moments that ingrain, and to an extent, haunt you by a simplicity or depth so affected to the point that you still remember the shoes a person wore. This was even more compounded as the character of Jesse was a young writer from Texas. It was easy for me to draw parallels. And I had grown up on the idea of romanticism, from Casablanca, to Moulin Rouge!, to Love Actually. I wanted that great adventure of love, and it probably explains why it took me so long to “settle down” into a relationship. I was in my early/mid 20′s before I actually started “properly” dating someone.

In 2004, I was living in San Diego when Before Sunset came out. I was older, supposedly more experienced, and nursing a broken heart from someone who had recently left me for someone else. And of course, that film opened a series of thoughts and emotions and memories from me, including a girl I had met and lost in 1997, the grief I was going through then, and those feelings of what if my life had been different, and had ended up with someone else, wondering where my life would have been had certain dreams been realized, and hadn’t ended up the way they were going right then. The questions of finding that love that all the great books and movies encompass, and the songs that musicians pour their heart into. And when you fall in love, you want to believe that life will remain that “easy” forever.

Before Midnight was a bit of a shock to me. You would like to believe that certain loves can last forever, or time can’t change things, or won’t feel the frustration when ideas from long ago still aren’t realized, or maybe you don’t really change in who you’ve believed you are your entire life. And I watched them now, and realized how long this series has been around in my life, and how close it resonates. There was a “movie marathon” this weekend to catch up to date before watching the third film, and what seemed subtle before, was abrupt in that short a time span.

That’s not to say I’ve reached the point where the characters are in Before Midnight. In fact, I described it in conversation as almost as a “Ghost of Christmas Future” in the fact that I don’t want my relationship to be like that, or feel that frustrated, angry, or unresolved. It was fascinating, but uncomfortable, and the thought that crossed my mind was that “Is this what I have to look forward to?” And I don’t think so. At least I hope that never comes to pass. I don’t want to believe that the “fairy tale” that is love that can end like that, even with hardship. But in some cases, I know it can. But I don’t want to become jaded or cynical by my own life.

The three movies are thought provoking, real, and intelligent. You sit in on the lives of two people doing little more than talking, and it never feels forced, but more a window into the life of someone else. And if you grew up with them at the same age as I have, they take on a different meaning than someone who simply watches them. Before Sunrise now in an anomaly. Could you imagine a present day film where they text friends, or update their Facebook status with photos, or use Google maps instead of finding their own way, uninterrupted? They even mention in the film that they are separated from reality, having created their own private, separated moment that few young lovers today may never experience thanks to technology.

If you watch the new film, make sure to watch the other two first, and if you can, give yourself a moment to process them, and that time in your own life. It’s still remaining “food for thought” for me.

Showtime!

When we last left Guy....

When we last left Guy….

It’s been a busy few weeks for me of late, what with the constant influx of beauty pageants, films, and conventions that have rolled into town all at once. That’s one of the biggest problems of Vegas: Weeks will go by where nothing will happen, and then BOOM! 80,000 various events all spontaneously occur. That happened a few years back when Barenaked Ladies, Flight of the Conchords, and a Star Wars concert all rolled into town in 2010. I was torn… TORN, I tell you. But ultimately, I chose Bret and Jemaine because… wouldn’t you?

It's business time....

It’s business time….

In any case, I had to miss the Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con as I was working with Miss USA that week. I even had tickets to meet Stan Lee, but I had to give it up. I couldn’t do both, and work is work. Oh, the pain that is my unabashed geekery….

But longtime followers know that I roll with the beauty pageant scene these days, and as pre-show host, I had my duties to perform.

Featuring your (sort of) host....

Featuring your (sort of) host….

So... much... pageantry....

So… much… pageantry….

It was a good year, though I felt a little nostalgic from the last time I stepped on stage from Miss Universe, and the people I had met there. I did my usual announcing bit, ran into Olivia again (the current reigning Miss Universe)….

Nick Jonas, Olivia Culpo, my colleagues, and I.

Nick Jonas, Olivia Culpo, my colleagues, and I.

Got involved with one of the musical rehearsals:

It's just like Devo!  JUST.  LIKE.  DEVO!!!

It’s just like Devo! JUST. LIKE. DEVO!!!

Somehow, I got embedded in some giant cleavage....

Somehow, I got embedded in some giant cleavage….

And met current Miss Teen USA, Logan West:

Karen, Logan, and I.

Karen, Logan, and I.

But the show went well, Conneticut won, Miss Universe will be in Moscow, Russia, and I ended up at the afterparty.

The red carpet.

The red carpet.

The afterparties for these things are perhaps not my style. Decent food, a few drinks, the DJ wasn’t bad, but something about these parties just don’t gel with me. I’m not expecting people swinging from the chandeliers like some kind of wanton party from the Moulin Rouge, but for a “fun” event, it’s a bit too “see and be seen” for me.

I didn’t have much time to ponder this recent chain of events, is it was time for the licensing convention that I do every year. This year, I played a piece of candy from the insanely popular Candy Crush Saga on Facebook.

We got Death Star!  DEATH STAR!

We got Death Star! DEATH STAR!

The Sugar Hill Gang.

The Sugar Hill Gang.

I suppose I owe it to myself to check out the game, as people were going nuts over the characters, saying what level they reached, and all that. And when you get exposed to something like this, you start noticing the subject matter more. People really DO talk a LOT about Candy Crush Saga on Facebook. I played the blue candy, which looked like the Death Star on legs. It was an easy costume, far more gentle (and less hot) than the polar bear getup from last year.

Regardless, the event was fine, though some weird drama pervaded with an on-set “Diva” that just caused some unnecessary issues, but nothing unmanageable. What I was more worried about was getting to my call on time. I’m paying the IRS this year, and some stupid technical issue forced me to call them this morning, so I got up crazy early, called, waited 20 minutes, got hung up on, called again, and waited/spoke to a rep for over an hour. By the time the call was done, I was running out the door, down the freeway, into the casino, through the convention center, and gasping for breath at the front entryway, but I made it, right on time.

The licensing convention is all your favorite things that you love, collect, like to watch and buy, etc, but it’s all just business meetings despite the brightly colored and overly cheerful surroundings. There’s not much to really “play” with, per se, but there are a few giveaways. The various conventions I’ve attended over the years have provided anything from basic pens and keychains, to toys and in one case, actual video games.

But sometimes, you just hit some dead ends. Case in point when I went to the Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures booth. I’ve been a Pac-Man fan since I was five years old, and I was hoping that they had some fun little giveaway item, or even a sales sheets. I walked up, waited until one of their reps were free from discussing actual business, and inquired if they had anything to give away, and that I am a huge Pac-Man fan. “Oh that’s nice” she said in a very dismissive tone, the kind that a friend of some parents might adopt when a toddler walks up and says “I make pee-pee in the potty.” She then told me they had nothing (despite the wonderland of merchandising on display), then walked away. Still, there were a few highlights:

Seaworld brought a few animals in:

Ride in the pouch of a red kangaroo!

Ride in the pouch of a red kangaroo!

It's too damn hot for a penguin in here!

It’s too damn hot for a penguin in here!

Unlikely his name is Sam....

Unlikely his name is Sam….

You can license the likeness of the Pope!

How could you not high five this man?

How could you not high five this man?

And other assorted fun to play with:

Oh my God, the Bronies are going to lose their shit over this.

Oh my God, the Bronies are going to lose their shit over this.

Coming soon: The movie for girls... and 30 year old men.

Coming soon: The movie for girls… and 30 year old men.

Go, go Power Rangers!

Go, go Power Rangers!

Spoiler alert: This is how the series ends.

Spoiler alert: This is how the series ends.

In any case, it’s a series of all new gigs tomorrow, as a fellow has to hustle to keep the work and money in. And so, my night is at an end.

American Idle.

And so, I was called out to Pahrump again last week to sing for a contest. I thought it was over the weekend, but it turned out to be on a Thursday, so I dropped what I was doing, picked up George, and headed into town. After all, there was prize money on the line.

I had no idea how the event was going to turn out. For starters, I didn’t know it wasn’t held at the Coyote’s Den. It was held at this place called Maverick Saloon and Dance Hall, a very country bar, right down to line dancing classes, all of which which factors into this tale later.

Secondly, I didn’t know there were teams. Three representatives from nine bars, and I was representing the Coyote team. Candidly, I didn’t even know Pahrump actually had nine bars. It’s a weird town to drive in: Nothing, nothing, house, nothing, nothing, nothing, gas station, nothing, bar…. I was surprised to see my name on the competition list, or that there were going to be 26 other competitors.

We got our photos taken for the local paper (though I’ve not found the article as of yet), and off we went for nearly four hours. Going in to win, I chose selections from Michael Jackson, as I can do a pretty credible MJ when singing, and I figured range, difficulty, and a bit of showmanship were key. I even put on a white sparkly glove for Billie Jean, for crying out loud. I was playing to win. Ultimately, I think my song choices were wrong for the venue, as I didn’t even place, and my chances to win the coveted $450 were gone before my eyes. What limited country I do know wasn’t guaranteed that they had it in their music archive, and it was too late to change. Besides, I want to go with my strongest titles.

Maybe I’m just not good at contests. My ill-fated chicken eating contest back in January didn’t land me in the winner’s circle, either.

Otherwise, it’s been working a lot. Writing assignments that actually pay me in a timely manner, and another night on set of Think Like A Man Too. Call time was 1:30 in the morning, which is “going to bed” time, not “starting your day” time. I did good until about noon, then started to fade. Going to lunch/dinner with friends after the shoot pushed me into “No Man’s Land” of exhaustion. I went home and slept like a champion. Maybe I need to enter a sleeping contest instead….

The rest of this week has been Miss USA, and prepping for another mascot outing next week. Frodo’s also taken it upon himself to eat one pair of my shoes a day, which has forced my hand on replacing (and hiding) any and all replacement shoes. I can’t look like a homeless person around 51 beauty queens, you know….

World's Happiest Dog.

World’s Happiest Dog.

Films and the Forgotten.

It’s been a busy few weeks, so as always, there are stories involved.

I’ve actually been doing a lot of film/media work lately, which has been phenomenal is dispelling the whole “work drought” thing. Not that it ever goes easy, of course….

The first night, I worked on a film called Think Like a Man Too as a valet. It was one of those late night time confirmations/early night calls on set, meaning that I had to be there at 2 A.M. – I don’t care how you slice it, but when you usually go to bed just before that time, and are expected to function, it’s hard. And sleep didn’t happen.

As soon as I went to bed, Frodo jumped up and started licking my face. “Oh, come ON“, I sputtered, as I fought the incredibly happy dog off of me. I was just drifting off to sleep, Sophie crawled under the bed to start gnawing loudly on a bone. “Oh, come ON“, I groaned, as I chased another goofy dog away. As I drifted back to slumber, a power generator exploded in the neighborhood, killing the block’s power. “Oh, come ON“, I gasped, startled awake by the explosive noise. And then when it came time to leave, the power was still off, meaning that the garage door wouldn’t open. “Oh, come ON….” I whimpered sadly, as I had to manually override the door in my sleep deprived hysteria.

Thank God they were laid back on set….

The rest of the week was a car commercial, and Billboard Music Awards. Among the highlights of the show were this incredible performance by Bruno Mars:

And Prince, which I don’t have to describe because… it’s Prince. And he is a God. Seriously. Hearing him perform live, lightning could have hit me at that point, and I’d be content with my life, having reached all necessary life goals.

Stylin' it up on Billboard's "red" carpet.

Stylin’ it up on Billboard’s “red” carpet.

But no electrical storms were in my specific forecast, which is just as well, because fate summoned me back to Forgotten City. My friend Gabe was kind enough to provide me a ticket, so I spent time with my campmates… and no police boats.

Shannon and I while dressed as a bear.

Shannon and I while dressed as a bear.

Late night snacks with George and company.

Late night snacks with George and company.

A lot of my friends were there, but I’ll focus on some of the usual delightfully quirky stuff you see at these events:

Sadly, the Piranha Plant never receded so that I could explore the pipe for coins.

Sadly, the Piranha Plant never receded so that I could explore the pipe for coins.

Pirates, you say?  I know a thing or two about that....

Pirates, you say? I know a thing or two about that….

The return of "Disco Banana".

The return of “Disco Banana”.

Amazing painting.

Amazing painting.

Fire spinners.

Fire spinners.

The burning.

The burning.

Burning by moonlight.

Burning by moonlight.

I was glad to be there among friends. After the brutal last two months, I needed good company, good food, and LOT of karaoke. Flight of the Conchords was well sung and represented that weekend.

Otherwise, it’s been a lot of writing work, which has been respectable work, and a decent replacement for the other job that could have happened, but didn’t pan out. In between writing, I’ve been doing more film work, on the upcoming Heat, which was another overnight shoot.

Last weekend was a blur. I did my usual skating with my group, then Jen and I went off to KISS Monster Mini-Golf. I mentioned it a few months back, and it is still badass. Frankly, who cares if you like KISS or not, because this is amazing golf:

I want to rock and roll most nights, and part of every day.

I want to rock and roll most nights, and part of every day.

I am a rock/golf god.  Perhaps in that order.  Your choice.

I am a rock/golf god. Perhaps in that order. Your choice.

The Psycho Circus.

The Psycho Circus.

The final hole.

The final hole.

After that, it was over to Todd English P.U.B. – I’ve been on this Bloody Mary kick of late, and they are said to have one of the best around, filled with sliders and buffalo wings. When you start putting mini hamburgers and chicken wings around my beverages, then baby, we need to have a discussion. Heck, the one at Frankie’s Tiki Room has spam and a hard boiled egg as a garnish (Dear lord, so good).

Be somebody!

Be somebody!

And then it was out to Pahrump as I am entering a karaoke contest this next weekend for money (Oh, the things I do to pay the bills). It was little place called Coyote’s Den, a small town watering hole filled with the region’s locals, but also my friends George and Shannon, which made the long drive worth it to spend time with them again.

I couldn’t stay too late as I had to get up early to exercise with my skaters (I’m working out these days, who knew?), then over to Leone Cafe and Cantina Laredo at Tivoli Village for breakfast and drinks.

In other words, it’s been a busy few weeks. And with Summer here, I only expect it to get busier….