10 Years A Pirate.

It seems like a lifetime ago, when I was still fresh to Los Angeles, having moved there after my birthday in 2004. I didn’t start filming until 2005, but my story began in the winter of 2004. I had been extremely busy at the time filming episodes of Deadwood, and in between studios for All Souls Day and Red Eye. But in between filming, a general casting call had been put out for the second Pirates of the Caribbean film, and at the time, it was the big call that everybody in Hollywood wanted a piece of.

I went to the Ricardo Montalban Theater in Los Angeles where Sande Alessi Casting was doing the call, and hundreds of people were lined up to audition. After hours of waiting, it was finally my turn to stand in front of a panel to see if I had the look they were going for.

“Holy shit, you’re thin”, said one of the casting people when I walked on stage. This was something I’ve often heard throughout my life, but the tone was different this time. They sounded impressed. “Take your shirt off.” I was still getting used to the casual nature of the acting business, and this was years before my Burning Man days, so I still wasn’t quite comfortable exposing myself in front of people, especially not on stage in front of hundreds of people, but I complied anyway. “Your look is perfect”, she said. She then pointed at me. “From this point forward, you are no longer allowed to cut your hair. We will be giving you a call shortly in regards to your formal audition.”

A few weeks passed, 2004 turned into 2005. Eventually, they did call me, and I was asked to go to the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. So I drove to one of the places I had dreamed of seeing my entire life, parked the car, and walked into an office where they had the projector that they used for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on display. Pitted with four other people, we were asked to choose a weapon and improvise a scene: We were deep in the hold of the Black Pearl, and all the rum was gone… save for one tiny bottle if we could find it. We scoured the room and tore it apart. It was by chance that I spotted the bottle under the chair. It was also by chance that I caught a glance of those other would-be pirates taking my notice of my discovery, and were advancing upon me.

I did the only thing I could do: I rushed the largest guy of the group, climbed up on his shoulders, and tried to throw him off balance with a few smacks to the head. He took hold of me, and threw me across the room, where I hit the ground hard, sliding across the carpet, and slicing open my knee. But I still had the bottle. I immediately flipped to my feet, and caught the next advancing person with my arm. Shortly after, they called “Cut”.

They lined us up. I was disheveled, covered in sweat, and blood trickling down my leg. They asked us if we were truly sea-worthy and ready for this crew, to which I belted out something that I was, and then they thanked us, and saw us out.

Another week or so passed. I checked the “Pirates Hotline” every few days to see if any casting announcements had been made. And then it was one day in January (January 29th, to be exact) where I called the line, as they finally had the names. I listened through the various ships and actors, waiting for any sort of lead… and then: “Black Pearl… Guy Chapman.”

THE Black Pearl? I hung up and called again. I still couldn’t believe it, so I hung up and called again. Sure enough, I had been cast as a pirate on the Black Pearl! I was beside myself, and instantly called my Dad and sister, who both cried. Friends and family cheered for me. A few actors on various sets grumbled at my fortune. One went as far as to break and steal everything of mine that he could get his hands on, when he wasn’t sending harassing phone calls my way. But fortunately, a move to a new apartment later ended the majority of those issues.

Things really began to change for me at the time. I was in a HUGE Hollywood film, and I wasn’t sure where any of this was going to lead me. A lot of things changed. I had to go to Pirate Boot Camp, where I learned how to fire a cannon, swing a sword, and load a cannon. The make-up people fit me with hair extensions to match my already growing hair and beard. I was fit for prosthetic teeth to make them look as yellowed and nasty as they possibly could (I miss those teeth).

The classic shot.

The classic shot.

Arrr!

Arrr!

It was one day where Bill Nighy (Davy Jones) graciously introduced myself to me, and I met Orlando Bloom (Will Turner). They later fit me for a full Flying Dutchman costume as a secondary role.

Ol' Starfish Head.

Ol’ Starfish Head.

People were paying attention to me like never before, wanting interviews, and autographs, and photo ops. I was merely just a lowly pirate.

And then filming began at the Disney Studios, on the very soundstage where Tron was filmed. The crew and I were placed on a huge multi-level Black Pearl soundstage with gimbals that rocked the ship as if it were in the ocean. The crew and I had to “fight” against a to be filled in later CG kraken, so we had to react to an invisible enemy, and fire cannon blasts to a soundstage wall.

Between takes, I sat in the hold with the actors that played Pintel, Regetti, Gibbs, and my other pirates, and I looked around more than once, amazed that the moment was actually real and happening to me right then.

Pintel.

Pintel.

Ragetti.

Ragetti.

For lunch, I ate in the commissary, where Walt Disney himself has eaten, and looked around at the various soundstages. I bought a studio Christmas ornament from the company gift shop.

When it came time for the Flying Dutchman scenes, we shot those on a soundstage at Universal Studios in Hollywood. On another huge ship, we were constantly doused by stage rain to the point where my mask (I was one of the non-CG pirates) was steam up, and I had to be led off set. During one particularly grueling rainstorm, they called an extended lunch so that we could wring our clothes out.

As we stood outside, we were right next to the theme park. One of the security guards asked if we wanted to warm up on the Backdraft ride, to which we gladly took him up on his offer. Once the ride was over, he told us to “Have fun”, and promptly opened full access to the theme park to us. Being recognized as film actors, lines were not an issue, as they escorted us to the very front of the lines. As a result, a whole row of us sat in full pirate gear on the Jurassic Park ride, swaying in unison and singing “Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life For Me!” while dinosaurs roared at us. We also first dibs to ride the (then) brand new Mummy rollercoaster. The experience was then topped off by a group of Japanese tourists who acted like we may as well have been the Beatles (though we never told them exactly what film we were shooting). To this day, that was the best outing I have ever had at Universal Studios.

While there had been talk of me going overseas and being in the third film, it just never materialized. I was called back for a reshoot of a scene later in the summer, but ultimately the reshoots caused a number of my scenes to hit the cutting room floor. You can still see me in the film, just not at the level as to what could have been.

The second look.

The second look.

But I was still busy with other parts. I had moved back to San Diego during the summer, and still did various pirate related things, like audition for a related commercial, and an interview here or there but my ship, it seemed for all intents and purposes had sailed.

My hometown interview.

My hometown interview.

I had largely put Pirates behind me as the years passed, but again, rumblings for a fourth installment surfaced in 2010, and damned if I didn’t get the “itch” again. But auditions this time were in Hawaii. Part of me felt unresolved after the last outing. Surely, my character was kraken food by the end of the second film, but what happened to the third one? I made a few calls, asked if Kauai was really the only viable option, then bought a ticket and hopped a plane to the Garden Island.

I waited in line yet again, though much smaller, and found myself once more face to face with the people to cast me the over five years before. They were shocked to see me there, but the reunion was a sweet one, and I was told I was going to Round 2.

My initial plan was to go, audition, and leave, but the process took longer than I thought. So I had to reschedule my flight, add my time to my hotel, and simply wait. And you know, there are worse places to wait than Kauai. I fell in love with the little island, eating fresh fish, drinking rum while lying on the beach, running through the rainforests barefoot and swimming under waterfalls…. I even ended up on the front page of their newspaper, as the casting made headlines on the island.

From the Garden Island newspaper.

From the Garden Island newspaper.

For business trips, there were FAR worse ways to go. Just when I was about to call it quits and write the event off, I got a phone call:

They wanted me for a proper audition… If I showed up on Oahu the next day. I deliberated it, but I had already invested money in staying longer, and couldn’t maintain this indefinitely. After talking about my options with Jen, I called casting and gave them my answer.

“I can’t believe I’m going to say this, as it hurts me to even think about it. I’ve waited five years and traveled 3,000 miles for this moment, but I can’t keep holding out for this. I’m sorry, but I can’t make it.”

“But you can’t give up”, the casting director said. “You’ve come so far, and you should at least find out if you could have made it or not. Besides, you already have the odds stacked in your favor for having acting talent.”

Wasn’t that the point of this entire trip, I remembered?

“You’re right”, I admitted. “I shouldn’t give up. I’ll find a way to Oahu.”

“No. No….”, the casting director abruptly said. “We don’t leave for the airport for another hour. Can you come to the Kauai Mariott? We’ll just audition you here.”

I raced full speed to their hotel.

I ran full force into the hotel and into the tower where production was being held. I nearly fell into the office gasping and sweating from running so hard. If they needed a disheveled look, I had that down in full. They let me rest and compose myself, and improv my scene. I didn’t have to fight off four other people this time, but they liked my audition.

Did I get the part? No. But it was a wonderful memory all the same.

Part Five is said to be in the works, and damn it all if I don’t admit to getting that itch again, but we’ll see how it goes. For a tiny part as a basic pirate, it changed the entire course of my life. I still get photo requests from time to time, and it may be one of the biggest roles I’ve ever done, but it was more than just a few scenes. It’s been a life of friends, memories, and I made my Dad proud of me. It really has been a pirate’s life for me.

I really can’t ask for more than that.

Going Home.

This week has been a busy one for me, and I thought I’d take a minute to write about some of it out before I get ready for the next leg of my destination.

This Monday, I turned 39. I am in the final stretch of my 30′s. It’s a bit strange to write that, much less think it. I can’t help but think of the long, strange journey that has led me to this point, and the inevitable question of what happens next. I had no idea what to expect, really. As I once told my Dad, life doesn’t come with a script or instruction booklet. You just have to make it up as you go along, and hopefully, you get more right than not. I have a sense of accomplishment about several things in my life, but there’s also a sense of when are some things going to finally come together. Maybe it’s the reflective state that I’ve been in. It’s hard to say. Regardless, my birthday was celebrated in the company of good friends and well wishers, and in comparison to birthdays where police boats disrupted the festivities, I think my room for growth and satisfaction is improving.

This birthday also marked another milestone. My 10-year anniversary into acting. It was September 29, 2004 when I stepped into acting as a career for the first time as a career. Oh sure, I got my true start by dabbling in a few gigs here in there with a site called , but that was the day I had freshly moved into Los Angeles, and stepped into the realm of film as an actual job. My first gig? A straight to DVD film called Max Havoc: Curse of the Dragon by director Albert Pyun. I played an airline passenger. Funny thing is, I’ve still never gotten around to seeing that film.

It was a surreal and bittersweet time in my life. I had gone to school for film directing and writing, yet here I was in front of the camera. Gigs expanded from there frequently and often. My crazy notion of becoming an actor was actually working. I played a zombie in All Souls Day, a cowboy on Deadwood, another airline passenger on Red Eye. I made SAG eligible in two months time. I really got my first steps on how to become a better actor via Ivan Markota’s school in Hollywood.

But it all culminated with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

I was living with a roommate at the time that, while we started as friends, we had very different philosophies about acting and film. I didn’t want to be a “star”. I wanted to be an actor. Our association collapsed when I was called for Pirates auditions and callbacks and he wasn’t. It’s hard to say what culminated during that time, really. He didn’t take it well that I ended up becoming a pirate for two of the ships crews on the film, and he was never called for an audition once. For all I know, he probably thought that I sabotaged his chances. We had our differences, but that wasn’t how I treated people. I did find, however, that he had a previously unknown sociopathic nature about him, which resulted in such “accidents” and “coincidences” such as getting wires cut in my car, artwork and movies destroyed, my phone stolen, my personal journal stolen, sent people to stalk my whereabouts after I finally had an opportunity to move out…. It wasn’t good. He predicted that my career would end without his direction. That was back in 2005.

And yet, Pirates, even though I only worked on the second film, was a remarkable experience. I met the cast, got interviewed by my hometown magazine, radio interviews, autograph and photo requests. It was all new and weird to me. And admittedly novel. But the days of being at the Disney and Universal Studios, while standing on deck of the Black Pearl or Flying Dutchman in full pirate regalia were the real experiences for me, and with every “conveniently missing” item I endured, that was something that could never be taken away from me. It was also fun running around in full pirate gear with my castmates at Universal, because we did get into a few “piratey” misadventures such as singing a “Pirates Life For Me” in unison as we rode the Jurassic Park ride.

Life has a strange way about it, and while my succeeding living situation wasn’t as threatening, it wasn’t ideal, either. I ended up moving back to San Diego, where I commuted for a good while, did a few projects, films, and skits. Some of my best work I ever shot apparently never left the editing bay. Others, like working a scene with Jim Carrey on Yes Man, did. And San Diego had its own work with Veronica Mars, and a series of cheesy telenovellas that were adapted for American primetime. Cheesy or not, I loved them. and I worked 6 days a week for months on end. I couldn’t have been happier.

But just like that, it was over.

Veronica Mars wrapped the series, and perhaps those telenovellas were a little too queso-gifted for their own good, as they had the plug yanked on them, and San Diego went dry. so I ended up moving to Las Vegas.

I found myself doing a lot of indie films and shorts and some other unusual pieces that were sent to me by casting agents. I started entering the stand-in arena, where my line of work put me side by side with music stars and beauty queens. I sat down and chatted with Cheech Marin while standing in for Tommy Chong during their comedy roast. Who knew that I would gain any sort of appreciation for country music? But when you work year in and year out with these people, it all becomes familiar, and in many ways comforting. I also found myself working with Jim Carrey again on the set of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. In 2010, I flew out to Kauai, Hawaii to audition for the fourth Pirates film. While I didn’t get the role, I did get a wonderful week of waiting for my callback as I laid on the beach drinking rum. There… have been worse auditions. Vegas has been an unusual place to try and keep a film career current and ongoing, but I can say that after nearly seven years, I have survived and made it this far.

I still get requests to hear more of my stories. Perhaps one day I will really sit down, pen in hand, and write out everything that happened in greater detail.

For now, I must get ready to drive to Texas. I am going to my 20th anniversary high school reunion. I haven’t seen my old school or many of these people in two decades. I haven’t been back to my hometown since 2009. I’m not sure what to expect, honestly. I see it as another means to “reconnect” with my past and origins as I did on my trip to Florida, and maybe that’s what I need right now: To remind me where I came from. It should be an interesting experience.

Off to pack my bags. Open road, here I come.

Another Month of Adventures.

And so, here I am with another month’s hiatus due to working every day for the month of June. In counting, there was actually not a single day off that I had when I wasn’t doing some gig, film, or other task.

The month started out promisingly enough. I got cast as the lead of some “super secret” television project that will supposedly air in September on A&E. While I can’t divulge on plot details as of yet, I did play a fictionalized version of myself adventuring around Las Vegas. And while the interpretation of my character wasn’t 100% accurate to my day to day outings, the alcohol certainly was enough (and the resulting headache the next morning.

Still, the ride for the outing was nice enough.:

LIMOZEEN!

LIMOZEEN!

As the month progressed, and the days got hotter and hotter, I did have my usual assortment of adventures.

I saw two tribute bands at House of Blues: “Super Diamond” (Neil Diamond), and “Fan Halen” (Van Halen). Entertaining enough, I learned a few things whilst I was attending these two shows:

1.) I do not know these artist’s back catalog as well as I thought past the “Greatest Hits” fare.

2.) Older women were freaking out and having religious moments about these acts like they were the real thing. It wasn’t so much that they would have thrown their underwear at them per se, but I think if given the opportunity, they would have thrown their very eggs at them instead. They were getting REALLY hot and bothered about these acts, becoming a whole new level of the show itself.

Outside of the pounding biological clocks on display, the Neon Museum crew and I got up at some ungodly hour to gamble in a pop-up trailer and celebrate the brief reopening on the Moulin Rouge, which was the first racially integrated casino back in 1955.

The gang.  And doughnuts.

The gang. And doughnuts.

To be honest, there’s not a lot left of the place. Multiple fires have razed the property to the ground, and what’s left is in a bad neighborhood with only the merest of hints that something historical actually existed there.

The Moulin Rouge property.

The Moulin Rouge property.

Moulin2

But it was still interesting to see all the same.

E3 came and went, another year that I haven’t gone (and I’m getting the urge something terrible to go again), and in the midst of all the video gaming chaos held in Los Angeles, I did get to finish the pond in my backyard.

Stardust models the goods.

Stardust models the goods.

Then came the Licensing Expo, where I worked with one of the big video game companies, and was fitted for another huge costume (I like to call the bulky suits where you can barely move the “Tank Edition” of costumes).

I played this giant creature from some Pokemon/Digimon style game, while my gig partner Christal played a more recognizable character. The costume didn’t have much to offer in the way of visibility or mobility, but the client was really nice and cool to hang out with, and once the gig was over, we were free to tour the show floor.

Among our many travels we met the creator of those little “Homies” vending machine toys. While he thanked Christal for owning some of the toys over the years, he just naturally assumed that I wouldn’t own any. I found that to smack of stereotyping. Come on now, for all he knew, I could have dedicated the west wing of my home into a shrine for Homies, complete with ceremonial candles and a tambourine. Don’t tell me I’m not the targeted demographic.

….

Okay, so I’ve actually never owned any Homies, but I can still pick and choose where to be outraged.

I did, however, meet Grumpy Cat:

No.

No.

Also No.  And I fear that I am veering dangerously close to "duckfacing".

Also No. And I fear that I am veering dangerously close to “duckfacing”.

She’s so tiny! Eeeeee!

As the month of June wrapped, so did Mall Cop 2, leading into periodic acting opportunities for the last two months, and a solid number of days on set. One of the shoots even gave me an chance to check that new shopping area beside the Linq, and I have to admit: It’s actually nicer than what I was anticipating.

The final days have been trying to find ways to improve my general attitude for myself and for the immediate world around me. That’s a whole other post in itself, but I have been really rethinking about how I want to help people or improve life around me. Someone had pointed out earlier in the month that I seem to derive enjoyment out of helping other people, and I think there’s some truth to that. On the other hand, it’s also finding a way to maintain a fine balance out of “helping others” versus “being used”, because that line can be crossed very quickly here. I’m trying some new things. Let’s see what happens.

Today marks the first day of being off for a month. I think I’m going to spend the rest of my day doing… well, nothing, really.

The Vortex.

Of which I’ve been in one.

It’s amazing how busy my schedule has been of late, part of my mostly ever shifting work schedule, and a series of films and other projects that I’ve been working on. “Secret” projects seem to be a recurring theme for this this year, as I am held to not really discussing the majority of the films I’ve been working on, but having a few films and award shows to work on (and celebrity weddings, for that matter), this time of year has made for a pleasant Spring. I cleared the Academy of Country Music Awards a few weeks back, and Billboard Music Awards is this week.

In addition to work and filming, there’s also been the matter of starting my own travel company: Adventure Ears Travel Company. I’m now adding “travel agent” to my expanding list of job skills, and am planning my first tour this Fall. I’m going to start taking classes in the next few days so that I can become a certified “Disney Genius”.

Home life has also been as busy, with doing a lot of renovations around the house and yard. It’s been quite a process the last few weeks, but the changes have been welcome (if you can pardon the dust). I have finally been getting the patio/garden sanctuary area I’ve been wanting for years closer to completion, and one more project will be completed. That’s one of the things about homeownership, and I believe that it was my sister that told me: You’re never really done. There’s always something that needs to be worked on. The deeper I get into these fixings, the more accurate this becomes.

One of the biggest changes, however, has been this little girl:

Enter Stardust.

Enter Stardust.

You know how it goes: You browse the dog adoption sites, one catches your eye, you find that they are running out of time, and so you end up with a yapping, chomping, crazy ball of fur in your lap.

Hello, Stardust.

Post grooming, and less matted hair.

Post grooming, and less matted hair.

She’s been an interesting addition to “The Great Terrier Reef” that has taken over the house. She chomps as a means of communication… when not running around the backyard like an idiot. Still, with all of her insanity that she brings to the table, she’s quite affectionate and eager to be accepted and loved. And she certainly gives Frodo a run for his money.

My resident parrot.

My resident parrot.

For what little free time I have enjoyed, I managed a trip out to Kingman, Arizona to sate my Cracker Barrel food lust (where a tire in the road nearly caused an RV to flip over on me, damaging my bumper in the process), a jaunt into Free Comic Book Day and May The 4th Be With You, culminating with a solid round of Cards Against Humanity, which tends to break down into moments like this:

Cheers!

Cheers!

But the last few weeks been a time of not having as many roadtrips and social outings. Even just meeting up for a free night out has become something of a rarity for me. But I expect that will change as Summer comes about. Surprisingly, I’ve had a lot of people become angry with me for my lack of social free time, but I really have no answers for this. It’s not personal, it’s not out of spite, and it’s not that we aren’t friends anymore. It’s just that I am busier with smaller windows of opportunity to go out and do things. And believe me: No one misses that more than myself. There’s always a bigger picture.

And with that, I sign off to go recover my yard after the last windstorm swept dirt and debris all over the place. Getting a face chock full of grit truly was like Burning Man all over again.

The Vortex.

In which I’ve emerged from mine.

It’s been an exceedingly busy few weeks with work, a conundrum that truly is either “feast or famine”. I’ve been working since the beginning of October on this writing assignment that is a lot of technical jargon, but the people running the project are incredibly nice, and they pay immediately. In my line of work(s) where waiting up to three months for a check is infuriatingly common, the fact that they are so respectfully efficient nullifies the feelings of loss over most of my social life.

If it’s not that, it’s been working conventions. If not that, it’s been pouring booze all over the city, from the airport to the farthest reaches of Vegas. And there’s the matter of two films having come into town over the last week. And union meetings. And the usual day to day living that I try to fit in there somewhere.

The things I do for a living.

The things I do for a living.

In my greatest role as an all-night casino employee....

In my greatest role as an all-night casino employee….

I can honestly say it was nice getting new glasses after six years. The old pair, with the loose frames and scratched lenses, were on their last legs, and after the update, it was nice to actually, you know… see again.

Easily one of the more exciting aspects of October was the Halloween parade. Being a board member for SAG-AFTRA led to my involvement with the float, and with my past pirating experience, I got recruited to be involved. Problem was, after working so much, I had zero time to prepare any sort of costume. And so, on the day of Halloween and two trips to Savers later, I threw something together:

Arrr....

Arrr….

And away we went!

March, march, march.

March, march, march.

They’ve been updating Downtown a lot over the past few months. Some of it I think has been long overdue. Other parts, they’ve been tearing down blocks of old buildings, further adding to the demise of what little “old” we have in this city, and some of the changes are a little too single-minded in vision especially defacing signs with “in-jokes” and the like. I suppose those who have the most money, are the ones able to call the most shots in their favor. It’s not surprising, but it’s still a little disappointing when changes like this come for the good of personal gratification, and everyone else being able to enjoy it is more of an “I guess that’s okay too” afterthought. I could be wrong on my assessment, but we’ll see. In any case, it’s nice to see Downtown cleared up, and the city doing something with all of those closed buildings and empty lots. I may be hoping for too much to have another Deep Ellum, but I’d certainly welcome it.

The Halloween Parade and resulting party was great fun. It has taken a few notes from the Burning Man community and involvement, so the crazy costumes, sculptures, art cars, and Dancetronauts are welcome additions.

Fast food at its finest.

Fast food at its finest.

The greatest costume of the evening.

The greatest costume of the evening.

George and I mid-festivity.

George and I mid-festivity.

After the Halloween Parade was over, I was thrust father than ever into work assignments. So much so that I’ve actually had to keep a schedule of late just to keep me organized and accounting for all of my time! That’s fairly unheard of for me. Even what meager socializing I did had to be carefully scheduled in!

Still, the efforts have paid off, and this weekend, my schedule wasn’t as backed to the wall crazy. I even got to go to the Venetian/Palazzo yesterday for fun instead of for work for a change, though the Rock ‘N’ Roll marathon is in town, which grinds five miles of the Strip and Downtown to a screeching halt. This also happened to me two years ago, and I can’t help but wonder how the casino employees and escaping vacation tourists feel about it. No one gets in or out, and if you try, prepare for a several hour wait.

Hadouken!

Hadouken!

But today, I sit, rested with a full day off. No work, no plans, and no writing. So how do I spend my first free time off in over six weeks?

Writing in my blog.

I’m a sick, sick man….

Another Legend Gone.

I found out yesterday through one of my Pirates alumni that one of my first acting coaches, Ivan Markota, passed on.

Ivan Markota.

Ivan Markota.

When I first started acting… really acting in 2004, I attended a few of his classes at the Van Mar Academy in Los Angeles for a few weeks.

I liked Ivan and his teachers a lot, and here’s why: He was on the level. He was part of the “Old Hollywood” crowd, where the “craft” of acting meant more than the allure of celebrity. He was very direct, no-nonsense, and in your face with his views and opinions, but when you did well, he made sure you knew that too. And you felt great about yourself when he did, because you “understood”.

Despite the length of time, I took what he said to heart. He taught me about emoting in a moment, finding my mark, just understanding the role I had to play within a scene. It served me well, because I didn’t want to be “that idiot” when I walked on a set. If I was going to take the job seriously, I had to act professionally. I’d like to think it served me well over the years.

Whenever I write about “the old days” when I first started acting, it does take me back to that time in my life of living in Los Angeles. That experience was simultaneously one of the best and worst things I had ever done. I was never happier than being in an acting class or on a film set somewhere. I loved walking down Hollywood Boulevard, looking at all of the autographs in the cement walkway of Mann’s Chinese Theater, and being excited that I was a part of, however small, all of that life now. Those moments really pulled me through a difficult time in my life, when I didn’t exactly know where my “next step” was going to take me. It was a shame part of that early experience got compromised by a sociopath, and another with a penchant for self-destruction. In any case, I’m content to say that Van Mar and Ivan were most definitely one of the “good” things that I’ve kept with me over the years.

2013 has been far too much death of good souls for my liking….

The rest of “Since We Last Left Guy….” has been working at a convention helping with set-up/tear-down, etc. Not too different from my E3 days, except that I have no idea what this convention was about. It was not unlike a flea market or discount mall, filled with toys, clothes, decorate house things that you might have in your house if you didn’t have to pay for them… and bongs. If anything, the selection was more than diverse. The work was easy, the hours were long, and the pay was respectable. If I actually hadn’t been hit with a massive bout of insomnia last night after a 12 hour day, I might actually be more alert, but today is simply just a “mush brain” sort of day.

Oh, but I did create a Tumblr page this week, full of enough eccentric images to make my relatives shake their heads in confusion.

Lazy November.

After all the excitement of the last few months, November turned out to be a lot more low key.

Certainly, I was saying something profound.

Certainly, I was saying something profound.


Sure, I still hung out with my friends at parties, and did karaoke without the concern of police boats:

More singing with George.

More singing with George.

Viewed the usual odd mishaps:

This fly didn't take too kindly to shots.

This fly didn’t take too kindly to shots.

And had a bit of acting work for the month. First on CSI Las Vegas:

Late night crowd scene.

Late night crowd scene.

I was quite alarmed.

I was quite alarmed.

I also worked on a few films, such as Last Vegas that placed me close by Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, and Kevin Kline. I’m also got to work on Hangover 3, which was my second of the three films to have worked on (Part 2, being overseas obviously didn’t happen). Both sets were very nice and laid back to work on. With the Hangover 3, it snowed one of the days during our outdoor shoot, which resulted in watching a good part of the cast and crew take a break to play in the snow until the storm subsided.

Thanksgiving for the year was small, but we got the tree up, and it turned out really well:

O' Christmas Tree.....

O’ Christmas Tree…..

Like I said, the month was actually pretty slow as far as misadventures and mishaps go, but the next month turned out to be something just a little more special….

Year of the Space Whale.

2012 was set to be “The End of the World” since the Mayan calendar dictated as such. I don’t see why all the fuss over the apocalypse. People get so excited for it, like they actually want it to happen. Then again, people like “duckface”, so I’ve never claimed to understand everything. As for me, if we were going to go, I kept hoping that the world would be devoured in one gulp, because frankly, I’d be proud to have that on my tombstone.

2012 started out quietly, first with me doing CES. As with the previous year, I handed out show dailies, and the company I worked for was pleasant enough, though always mindful of being “on” at all times. Personally, I don’t find CES “the show” very exciting, which is strange considering how techie I am. I’ve been to E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) a number of times, and that focuses on video games and computer software. Granted, they’ve neutered that show over the years, but it’s still interesting. CES is a lot of 3D, touchscreens, and motion control. But it’s also interesting to see which useful (and useless) gadgets make the scene.

Another CES sort of morning.

Another CES sort of morning.

As far as acting went, I worked on The Incredible Burt Wonderstone with Jim Carrey. This sis the second film I’ve worked with Jim, but I was realistic in not expecting him to remember me from the infamous “orange scene” from five years ago.

The scene was easy enough (but ungoldly cold) to do on Fremont Street, and I was able to get a photo with Jim once shooting was concluded, despite two inept photographers:

When did my hair grow out?

When did my hair grow out?

Seriously, one couldn’t snap the photo fast enough to go fawn all over him, so I got a picture of her leg, and the second got starstruck, and I literally had to beg him to just press the “Take photo” button. Stardom is a weird thing.

I also had to go drive to Los Angeles for an audition. Too bad the brakes went out on my car, so not only did I get to eat a huge bill, it put my audition at risk. Fortunately, I got to L.A. regardless, and made the audition on time.

On the way, however, I did see this at a Cadillac repair shop:

Ecto-1.  Busted.

Ecto-1. Busted.

Sometimes, I do so love Los Angeles.

Submarines and Horror Shows.

October was a little more subdued with the sheer number of hours I was working at Freakling. Playing a severed head day after day for the entire month really took a lot of free time out of my schedule. On the plus side, I did come into the Museum every morning with traces of fake blood and dark eye makeup, so that kept my kids quieter on the tour circuit.

"They tried to kill me!"

“They tried to kill me!”

But I had to do something before committing myself to nearly three weeks of non-stop horror: Porn Star Karaoke.

It’s true! This marvelous little discovery was found during a sandwich run, in which the neighboring bar had a sign for Mondays being karaoke night. But with folks from the adult film industry. I wasn’t sure what to expect, despite the bar not being really any different from the hundreds of other bars dotted about Las Vegas. I almost felt like I was about to walk into the “Star Wars Cantina”, but it wasn’t bad. What was surreal is that one of the bartenders recognized me. Walking up to buy a drink and being met with a “You’re Guy Chapman, aren’t you” certainly wasn’t expected, but I have gained a bit of notoriety for my misadventures.

But porn stars off their jobs (and off their “jobs”. Hey-O!) are actually very friendly, social people. Sure, they’ll drop their shirt to flash their tits during a conversation as normally as one would pause or clear their throat, but they were all very nice. Not to mention some of them have a pretty decent singing voice.

I sang Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You”, which caused those porn stars to actually drop their jaws at my singing voice. I do a pretty accurate MJ during singing, though my voice was a little trashed at the time, and more 75-80% what I can do. But one does not know accolades until they have been cheered on by a room full of porn stars. Sarah Jane sang “I Touch Myself”, and really played it up. As one of my newer friends, I find her endearingly funny due to her penchant for random misadventures like mine. Out of all the new friends I had made lately, she was one of the most fun.

The beginning of "The Sarah Jane Adventures".

The beginning of “The Sarah Jane Adventures”.

The other weird moment was this odd looking old dude sitting in a corner alone playing with his iPad the whole time, and then coming up on stage to sing a Backstreet Boys song. Er…. Creepy.

Meanwhile, I worked on a film called Eden where I played a human trafficker driving around in this creepy white van with a cage in the back that totally screamed “Rapemobile”. The most fun was driving around this HOA complex for take after take while this old lady was freaking out screaming “What are you driving around in circles for?!” It started getting funnier every time I did it. I was supposed to do two days on set, but the one time it rains here, and throws off the schedule. At least I got one day, though.

And just before my “free time” countdown went to zero, I got cast on a film in San Diego called Phantom.

Not a yellow submarine.

Not a yellow submarine.

I had to play a Russian officer from the 1970′s while being filmed inside a decommissioned submarine.

It's cramped in there.

It’s cramped in there.

We shot in the Gaslamp District area, by the Star of India. They have a Soviet B-39 submarine there at the side museum, and while the first day I didn’t do any set time (though they did serve fresh sushi for lunch), they cut my hair (which not only do you get a free haircut, you get paid for altering your physical appearance), and mostly just at around. After the shoot, I went over to my friends Brooke and Carlos’ place, and crashed.

The second day was much better. I finally got my very own action/stunt scene. I got to fire a gun loaded with blanks at a would be assailant, and kill him in my very own scene. This was the first real action scene I’ve ever shot in a movie, so I just really have to hope that it doesn’t get cut out.

Officer on deck!

Officer on deck!

And then the haunt started in full.

Moustaches before showtime.

Moustaches before showtime.

And somewhere, Halloween happened.

The new yard addition.

The new yard addition.

The year's pumpkin.

The year’s pumpkin.

Weddings, Divas, and Showgirls.

It all started with a bachelor party….

The movies are not always correct in that every pre-marriage soiree in Vegas ends up like a scene out of The Hangover, but it was time for Alex’s night out as he and Gina were getting married on the 4th of July (Besides, losing a tooth, or getting a facial tattoo both lacked a certain appeal for me). It was a night of eating, drinking, gambling, more drinking, and touring the Strip.

It didn’t prepare me for the next few days before the wedding.

One of my friends in another country committed suicide. I had no indication that anything that bad or drastic was happening in his life. I was left with only the question of “Why”, and no answers or clues as to what prompted his decision. On a much smaller scale, my favorite animal at the Museum, a bat ray which I affectionately called “Slappy” due to his penchant for slapping the side of the tank as he swam around, has mysteriously died. I usually would start my day with a greeting to him (and a quick pat on his head on the sly), as he swam over my way, and mooched for food. Two different types of deaths made the month a lot harder to begin.

But the Missus and I drove out to Pasadena to attend Alex and Gina’s wedding, which was a very light and fun affair, filled with a lot of great moments through the night. It was nice to support my friends through such a happy ceremony.

And of course, since we were already there, we stopped over at a stop to Disneyland/California Adventure to check out the revised Star Tours. But with fun aside, I got back to Vegas just in time for the air conditioner going out yet again, and Vegas’ version of “monsoon season”.

C-3PO pilots.

C-3PO pilots.

The horror of robotic mice at Chuck E. Cheese.

The horror of robotic mice at Chuck E. Cheese.

The film scene was keeping busy with another film called My Mother’s Curse starring Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen. Production gave us enough advance notice that it was going to be a long night, but I don’t think anyone really factored in that it was going to end up being an all-nighter.

I was initially cast as a bellman for Caesars Casino, which was funny because tourists thought I was the real thing and kept asking me to take their bags until I corrected them that “I’m not a bellman, I just play one on TV.” But after the meal break, I was recycled as a tourist for another scene.

There was a scene in which the camera panned over to Streisand planning a slot machine and cheering over her winning. That scene lasted all night long. Take after take after take after take of the same thing. The crew was thinking 4:30-5:00 A.M. We wrapped at 7:30. I wouldn’t have minded the late hours so much, except that I had work and an important meeting at 9:00 A.M. I drove home and went to sleep for an hour (and immediately regretted that decision), only to stumble into the Museum to guide this meeting/facility tour of a 25-30 volunteer team. I had been trying unsuccessfully for days to have this group come in on the weekend when we needed them more for the Museum’s 20th anniversary event, but they insisted they wanted in on a Friday, and I reluctantly agreed without knowing I would be cast for the film or how late it would run.

Not only did I had to train these people, I had to simultaneously run a 9:30 tour of children. In order to make everything work, I had to rush the training, drop some factoids to a group of kids (I can’t remember what I said, but the teachers assured me that I was brilliant), and then deal with the angry volunteer supervisors from their agency that they didn’t get what they wanted from the experience.

So our Education Director and I sat down with them, where they looked at me, half-crazed from no sleep for 32 hours, and said that both I and the experience were not what they were expecting. I merely smiled in reply. When I am overly tired (or have had a few to drink), I can be remarkably candid. Though sober, I felt a remarkable combination of both exhausted and punch drunk.

“I accept responsibility that this was not a ‘normal’ experience, though nothing around here ever truly is”, I offered. “We’re a small organization, we could have found more use for your people tomorrow, where I could have devoted more attention to them instead of coming in before one of my tours, I’ve had a completely shot computer all week, one hour of sleep, and frankly, I’m amazed I’m sitting upright right now. It may not have been what you wanted, but I think we can sort this out. I assure you it will be better, and you’ll find more of the experience that you’re looking for.”

They looked at me for a moment and agreed. “I think you handled that just fine”, our Education Director said as we saw them out. “Really”, I asked. “I barely remember what I said to them.”

It was lunch time by then, where I ran into the Museum’s Director in the break room.

“I’m sorry I was twenty minutes late this morning”, I offered. “The film I was one lasted much longer than expected, and really, if anyone is to blame for me being late, it’s Barbra Streisand.” I looked my Director squarely in the eye. “And I defy you to find a more original excuse than that today.”

My Director looked momentarily surprised, then began to laugh. “These things only seem to happen to you.”

“I’m glad you agree”, I said, slumping to the ground, “Because I am really tired right now.”

I went home and right to bed shortly after.

Life mellowed out again, with wine and cheese events at Lake Las Vegas, and having to rush Junie to the vet for an injury she got. I worked CSI: Las Vegas at the Golden Nugget again, and while there were no robot sharks involved, I did get to briefly meet Ted Danson. And of course, I ran into Carrot Top again, bring my total meetings to four.

Lake Las Vegas.

Lake Las Vegas.

Return of the cone.

Return of the cone.

Danson, Danson, Danson machine....

Danson, Danson, Danson machine….

Another late night on set.

Another late night on set.

During one of the down times, and a particularly long scene, one of my friends introduced me to an older woman by the name of Kim Krantz. Kim had to have been in her seventies by now, but she was a showgirl from when Las Vegas really became Las Vegas. She started telling me a lot of her own personal history, watching the mob and their effect on 1950′s Vegas, the first topless show being at the Dunes, not the Stardust, the year she spent living in Mexico, her time in Hawaii, how things in Vegas have changed from then to now, even when she learned to be her happiest when she stopped caring what other people think. It wasn’t even halfway through her conversation when I was already sitting on the floor just listening intently like it was storytime. She even showed me a picture of when she was a showgirl at the Riviera. Good Lord, what a knockout.

This was the closest photo I could find of her back in the day.

And yet, through all my strange experiences in Vegas, I was truly starting to feel like I was settling in and making this place “home”. It provided me a constant string of adventures, my own house, and still the closeness of California so I could keep all of my experiences and friends there. For all my constant on the go schedule, I was finding myself strangely content.

Yes....  It's a man dressed as Minnie Mouse.

Yes…. It’s a man dressed as Minnie Mouse.