Pensacon.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a week and a half since I’ve gotten back from Pensacola.

For those that read my blog with any sense of regularity, I tend to go to Pensacola at least once a year these days. I grew up there for a while when I was kid, and have vacationed there for years since. It’s a place of good memories for me. Something new always happens there, whether it’s a day on the beach, revisiting my childhood home, or turning 40.

This time, it was all about Pensacon.

Cons are fun for me. While I’ve worked with all sort of celebrities over the last 10+ years, it’s fun to interact with them on the fan side as well. To be able to gush unabashedly about how much I love their work, how are they doing, etc. And I don’t really get starstruck meeting said “famous” folk, but there’s a side story to that later.

Getting ready for the convention kept me busy in itself.

Jen talked me into dressing up this ear, which I don’t really do. I was going to go as the Tenth Doctor from Doctor Who as I had the long coat from an earlier Christmas gift that Jen had given to me a year or so back. So I ordered the matching suit…. Which wouldn’t be delivered until I got back. So I opted to go as Mork from Ork to pay homage to Robin Williams. Not too bad….

Nanu nanu!

Nanu nanu!

I even had the buttons ordered with “guaranteed delivery” before we flew out…. But some mix-up had them shipped out the day that I was supposed to get them in. So I had two incomplete costumes , with “Mork” being the more complete of the two.

As the days passed to the trip, I went to meet a friend to see an early screening of Deadpool. On the way to the theater, I happened to duck into this little Disney art gallery at the shopping center, and by pure coincidence (for me) Paige O’Hara (“Belle” from Beauty and the Beast) was there. No lie: I crushed on Belle in my youth, as the bookish, independent girl was my idea of the “perfect” girl that I wanted to date, so admittedly I got a little giddy hearing that voice talk to me, and she was just an incredibly sweet lady.

One crush down....

One crush down….

Finally, the time had come to go to Pensacon. I have to give Pensacola full credit: The whole town gets into it, from the airport, to restaurants, to the entirety of Downtown. It all turns into one giant geeky lovefest. We ended up staying at the hotel we had stayed at last time, in the room right next door to where we had stayed last time. The manager even recognized us from last time. This is why I love small towns, to be honest. Well, that and the seafood.

When not at the beach, we were at the convention. The first day was rough, as we ended up getting there late, and we were supposed to have a photo op with Bruce Boxleitner (Tron). In trying to get to the photo area, no less than six volunteers told us no less than six places where the photo area supposedly was, and none of them were correct. We missed the photo I had scheduled. The last place put us in the place where the convention headliners were, so we did meet Bruce, and after hearing our story, agreed to do an informal picture with us. We also talked Tron for a while, so it was good experience all things considered.

Later that night, we went to Downtown Pensacola’s Gallery Night, which is a big art festival that they do Downtown, similar to Vegas’ First Friday, but larger in scale. The mood was lively, and we were supposed to attend a screening of Mallrats, but again, the Friday gods were not on our side. Friday had some rough spots.

Saturday turned out better. Heard David Prowse (Darth Vader) do a Q&A, attended some writing workshops, and we did have a photo op with the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) and the original Davros (Terry Molloy). “You’re my first regeneration”, I told Peter, to which he chuckled, and noted my Mork suspenders. To fully give a shout out, I have to commend Wolf Studios Photography. I told them about the previous day’s photo clustermess, and how everyone had led us on a wild photo goosechase. As it so happened, Bruce was doing another shoot at that time, so they let us jump in to make up for the confusion of the day before.

What was really weird for me was that while we were waiting, a guy dressed as Jack Sparrow nodded towards my direction, and I nodded back. “You look familiar”, he finally said. “He was in the second Pirates“, Jen replied back, to which his eyes went wide. “Hold on a sec”, I said as I fished out my phone and tried to summon the Facebook fairies. “The wi-fi here is shitty, but let’s see if I can call up my photos”. I found my Black Pearl/Flying Dutchman shots, and showed him “I thought I recognized you”, he said. “I was a little hairier back then”, I chuckled. He got his girlfriend, and introduced her to me, and I and Jen in return. We had a nice talk until my photo op was called. I don’t really get recognized like I used to, but it’s always nice to be remembered, and I do love talking to people and seeing them get excited.

Saturday was far better a day of adventure, which followed up with Fallout and Tron themed parties.

Meeting "Matt"....

Meeting “Matt”….

I also got a migraine that night, but that’s on me for mixing my drinks.

While Sunday was the final lap of the convention, I had one last photo scheduled….

Joey Lauren Adams.

This girl was the very definition of my ’90′s crushes, and I was enamored with her in Chasing Amy. From her cutesy, raspy voice to her big friendly smile, she had basically kidnapped my 20-something heart in the late 1990′s.

And I admit that I was good. I was looking forward to saying “Hello”, and getting the photo to have as the movie once put: “A shared moment”.

And then the curtain parted, and I heard her talking to the person that had been in line before me in that cutesy, raspy voice, and saw her big friendly smile.

All that boisterous “I don’t get starstruck” grandstanding that I had delivered earlier in this entry? Yeah, that failed. After years of Chasing Amy, she was standing right in front of me.

My heart started speeding up in my chest, and I felt that dopey, awkward 20-something twitterpation reemerge in meeting her. To credit, she was very sweet, and I kept myself collected well enough, but damn it all if I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for a while. Jen definitely had fun teasing me about that.

I have a good woman.

Photo ops from Pensacon.

Photo ops from Pensacon.

The rest of the time was eating, packing, shell collecting…. That mental preparation in saying good-bye, which is always hard for me. It was a nice event. Downtown was fun. People were nice. I even saw a few props from Star Trek: The Experience at one of the restaurants, so it was another homecoming of sorts for me.

And then we flew home….

Into the air....

Into the air….

The ride back was rough. A delay caused an extra stopover in our flight home, where some mouth breather coughed and sneezed all the way home, so guess who went all “Outbreak Monkey” after a few days? Nevertheless, I recovered, and I have been inspired to pursue some of my writing ideas again. Likely inspired by the convention, I ended up watching Kevin Smith’s “View Askewniverse” films, where the “Then Vs. Now” changes really hit me about video stores, malls being the primary source of commerce, and even something as simple as being able to greet someone at the airport without it being an issue. Things that are mostly gone. I saw Wes Craven’s cameo in Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, and I felt compelled to say a quiet “good bye” to him. He was, after all, one of the first people to give me a chance with my acting career by doing Red Eye, and I felt a rush of sadness mixed with gratitude seeing his face again.

It may be time to write my own stories. To get back into the writing that I excel at. What I do best. And that’s telling stories.

The future’s a funny place. It will be interesting to see where I end up.

Awards and Bohemians.

Just as I could stand no more of the “life hiatus” I had succumbed to in order to keep “The World of Guy” under control, my plans of being responsible rewarded itself with nearly two full weeks of adventures.

Every year in May, I do stand-in work for the Billboard Music Awards. Four years in now, I have grown accustomed to the long days of numerous performance rehearsals, award acceptances, and various given monologues.

I'd like to thank Me for all of the "Me" so far in 2014....

I’d like to thank Me for all of the “Me” so far in 2014….

The shows are largely a lot of fun (though it hadn’t been as much fun as the time I had spent dueling banjos with Ken Jeong), but this year was something a little more unique. For starters, I got to see Michael Jackson perform.

….

Well, sort of.

A full singing and dancing CG generated hologram. While it’s been fun reading the commentary on this piece, seeing it in person for over half a day, if I hadn’t known better, I’d have sworn that he was actually back among the living. Incredible technology. Television failed to do it justice (though quite good).

Another day of rehearsals.

Another day of rehearsals.

But it was four full days of watching numerous pop/rock/country stars prime for the actual show. At one point during the rehearsals, I got to present Jennifer Lopez with the first female “Icon Award” (though history may be remiss in noting that).

And I also got to meet Carrie Underwood, which was fun.

She's not as blurry in real life.

She’s not as blurry in real life.

The rehearsals were perhaps the best I’ve ever experienced while working this particular awards show. It was fun, interesting, and laid-back, which made the long days regrettably zip by faster than I would have liked. But with my role done, and the show starting, it turned out that I wasn’t quite concluded with my experience.

As my colleagues and I walked away from the MGM’s Grand Garden Arena, I got hit up for an after party. I normally am leery of such random invites, but the glance at the guest list I gleaned seemed legit, so I invited Jen and our friend Brenda to join us.

The party started at 10:00, and we were early. As we waited, this quartet of groupies were trying to get in, trying to push past us, and attempting to claim they were production like I actually was, by piggybacking on my entry. The problem at hand was that whatever guest list I signed up for had no mention of my name here. The doormen believed me, but I couldn’t get in without knowing the name of the party. I was afraid that the concession of defeat was looming nearer, but somehow, the groupies blurted out some name, and whether guesswork, luck or unknown insight, my expanded party of groupies and guests were let in. I turned to the pushiest of the girls, extended my hand to hers, and said “I appreciate the assistance.” “Likewise”, she purred, quite pleased that she had gotten past the gatekeeper as well. The user became useful.

Once inside a small lounge, it was an open bar, and as guests filled in, the DJ played nothing but Michael Jackson music, creating one epic dance party. I think I might have even got down with half of Florida-Georgia line along the way.

Best afterparty ever.

Best afterparty ever.

After a few hours, there was an after-afterparty in the club above, but when Jen and I took the elevator up, it was such a wall to wall clustermess that we looked at each other, went “Nope”, and opted for sandwiches instead.

Thinking I was going to rest in the days after, I was called to a 5:30 A.M. calltime for Mall Cop 2. I can’t turn a good work day away, so I dragged myself to set in preparation of a long day. But as it turned out, the shoot was only four hours, so I had a very pleasant day on set, and even more enjoyable once I crawled back into the shadows of my bed’s blankets.

Rest was short lived as I had to get ready for Forgotten City, Vegas’ regional Burning Man event. This was to be a challenge: A three and a half day party where I would have to take time off each day to go into work. And let me tell you: Those two elements make for an interesting combination.

My trusty battle steed.

My trusty battle steed.

I spent most of my evenings riding around on an electric fish with my friend Sarah Jane (delightful girl with a definitely NSFW blog) as we drove from dance camp to dance camp, bar to bar as the night grew later and later. Fortunately, the next morning’s jaunt on the fish yielded a traveler offering Popsicles, so that was a welcomed gift.

People also got into stuffed animal battles, because, you know, why not.

People also got into stuffed animal battles, because, you know, why not.

So three and a half days were spent between camping and working, and I survived both as best as one could hope for, which isn’t to say that I didn’t have a great amount of adventures with several of my favorite friends.

Prince Adam: The Later Years.

Prince Adam: The Later Years.

And of course, what event is without fireworks and setting structures on fire?

The start of the show.

The start of the show.

One of many fires.

One of many fires.

And yet, with everything going on, in a desert world filled with loud music, mutant vehicles, dancing zebras, and all other manner of oddities, I actually had a moment where I sat down amongst the chaos and just watched the stars and the mountains.

It’s been no secret that I am constantly busy, and my thoughts have become jumbled. People have thought my lack of a social life has been one giant snub towards being out and about as I had once been more prominently known for. But to be honest, things change. I’ve had to use the last few months to set up some new goals in my life. To set things right and make my life more for me instead of taking on every universal whim set upon me by others. It’s not a bad thing, but it was a needed readjustment for me. And it’s been successful. It’s made my life less complicated, and I realized, after Billoard, and now this Forgotten City, that these have been the best iterations of both events, not to mention several other things in my life, that it gets better. That it has gotten better.

So in the chaos of a world of lights and sound just a few feet away, I finally found some long overdue peace within myself. And with that, I rejoined the circle of my friends with a greater sense of belonging than ever before.

Art at night.

Art at night.

But once again upon returning home, I crawled into bed and slept like the dead.

With a few days off under my belt, I am lining up a few long overdue projects to take care of. A few things that I’ve put off for far too long. And in the midst of settling back into my routine, a little bird flew into the house with three dogs trailing behind him.

It seems that I have inherited my Mother’s affinity for corralling and taming animals. After a few minutes of chase around the house, and hoping that the bird wouldn’t poop on paintings, I scooped the little fellow up, and had a long talk with him about entering without knocking. He took it well, and hung out in my hand for a while before he finally decided to leave.

Don't you know?  Haven't you heard?

Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard?

And so ends two long weeks of escapades, just as Summer is coming along with its 100+ degree temperatures. Considering how hectic my Summers can get, I think this is only the first episode of my return to adventures.

Fine Dining, Ghost Cars, and Childhood.

Spring is slowly starting to creep back to Las Vegas, meaning that I am not having to wear the requisite 2,783 layers of clothing outside anymore. And no “Death Flu”!

But it’s that time of year again: “Gig Season”. This means that I’ll be back to doing conventions, award shows, and auditions again. Trying to balance all of that with work, the search for more freelance writing work, remodeling the house, and revitalizing my social life can be a little taxing, but that’s just part of my usual litany of odd jobs, and the life that goes with it

Due to work, I had to sit Valentine’s Day out, or rather, postpone the event until later. Undoubtedly, Hallmark was crushed that I had to delay the becarded festivities, but it all worked out in the end.

Jen and I went to Pamplemousse Le Restaurant, an off-Strip dining place that I’ve been wanting to try for years. It’s one of those “old school Vegas” places, looking like something out of another era, when Vegas was more than ferris wheels and shopping centers.

The food was… well, I’ll let my review on Yelp speak for itself. Nestled in this little alcove, we had a five course meal of various French delicacies, all served to us by our waiter, Keifer.

Post-Valentine's was way better.

Post-Valentine’s was way better.

It was about as good as it got, and perhaps one of my “Top 3″ restaurants in Vegas. Gifts weren’t too bad, either. I got Jen a book from Frankie’s on how to make their Tiki drinks. I got a copy of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. I’m an easy sort to make happy.

With all of the life upgrades, it’s also been time to get my car fixed. A shorted out headlight and a few weird noises from the engine. I finally had free time to fix the car, and so when I took it into the shop, all noises and defects stopped. Of course they did. This left me unable to prove the phantom noises, so I’m waiting for everything to return so that I don’t get confused looks from car mechanics.

I don’t talk a lot about “celebrity deaths” on my blog, because it doesn’t relate to my life, but one happened yesterday that deeply affected me: Harold Ramis of Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day fame passed away.

Groundhog Day is a personal favorite of mine when it comes to films as I like the concept of doing something over and over again until you get it right. Not only just the act of “perfecting” a day, but the lessons and improvement of one’s self. I personally would love to have one day to relive repeatedly to get all trivial issues out of my system, or to sit down and have the time to really master a craft. Or several. To have the chance to work out the best and worst of oneself until I could become the person I want or need to be is appealing, as is the time granted to do so. I admit that I am not the best in using my own time, and more than once would I have liked a “do over”.

Ghostbusters found its way into my life when I was eight years old, and has remained since. As a kid, it was at want of being a hero and exploring dark and spooky places with a giant laser strapped to my back. As I grew up, it became the finely crafted use of wit and humor. As I got older still, it became more of a question of what else is out there. To be honest, it’s hard to say what’s to believe, but that’s not to say that I don’t want to. There are simply too many weird and unexplained out there to rationalize everything as natural phenomenon. For a brief time, I even joined a paranormal investigation group until they abruptly shut their doors. In any case, I find it presumptuous to assume that life as we know is the only form of existence there is. I may try that form of answer finding again when I find a group of more like-minded individuals.

Harold Ramis has done a lot of brilliant work in the related field that I also call my own, but these two films made me think about something more than just myself. To find stories that make one think about the life we have now (and life beyond) that is told in a very humorous way is something I hope that I can one day capture with my own voice. Losing Harold is losing a part of my childhood. He was one of my heroes growing up, and I regret that I’ll never get the chance to meet him.

You will be missed, Harold.

Good-bye, Harold.

Good-bye, Harold.

Tomorrow is a day that I have to come to terms with every year: The anniversary of when my Father passed. To this day, Dad remains one of my best friends. He was a funny, kind, caring man who sometimes carried a facade of a gruff exterior, but was an old softie at heart. As I’ve gotten older, I realized that I’ve unintentionally embodied a lot of qualities of my Dad, which tends to be comforting and isolating all at once. It’s funny that one would think old wounds would eventually heal, but some never do. But I can look back and say that I was very grateful for the life that he did give me.

Happier times....

Happier times….

You never forget those that touched your life the most. I went out to Lake Las Vegas to have a little bit of personal time for myself. It’s still beautiful out there, but it was disappointing to see the casino closed again, among several other shops. All the more reason to appreciate the moment that we are in.

“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.