In Which I Have A Life.

It’s been no secret that I’ve all but disappeared off the face of the Earth these days. Working two gigs has meant less time with friends, less time at home, less adventures, less sleep… but it has worked out for getting through what are traditionally two brutal months for me. So here I am on the other side, and now that’s it’s Summer, back to brutal 100+ degree days. As I’ve said before in many an occasion: “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

But as things have so turned out, my adventures can’t stay away forever, and for that matter, neither can old commitments. My fifth year of working the Billboard Music Awards came around this month, and as always, was full of stories.

Back on stage.

Back on stage.

I’ve come a long way on this production from a time where it was speculated if I could pull this show off, to making it very much my own thing. I’m very comfortable in my position with the show, and being up on stage these days is more unnatural if I’m not, so it was a very fond return to something where I feel like I belong. And it was fun and interesting. I got to see perennial 1980′s band Simple Minds rehearse/perform “Don’t You Forget About Me”, and Kanye West’s stage? No, you couldn’t see out from it when standing on it, either. I don’t worry often about being set on fire, but when I do….

But the real highlight was Van Halen. Those guys are great performers. David Lee Roth really is a man of the stage, and he looks like he definitely belongs there. Nice guy. Jokes a lot. He looks like a man who enjoys every second of his life. Eddie Van Halen didn’t speak all that much on stage, but he did toss me this during rehearsals:

The Legendary Pick of Rock.

The Legendary Pick of Rock.

Rehearsals came and went, I took part in some great performances, and after lunch the last day, I ran into this guy again:

David Lee Roth and Company.

David Lee Roth and Company.

Again, nice guy. I got to banter with him a little over two days, and again he’s actually pretty inspirational. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone enjoy more what it is that they do in life. It carry over in his body language and attitude, and it gave me something to think about.

Oh, and I sort of crashed E!’s live broadcast the night of the show.

Strangely, this isn't the first time I've done this.

Strangely, this isn’t the first time I’ve done this.

Reality only returned for a brief moment before I was called back to Forgotten City, Vegas’ regional Burning Man event that happens every Memorial Day weekend. This came along at a perfect time for me for two reasons: This is the first time that I’ve had a true “all mine” day off to myself in nearly three months. There’s also the matter that I had really fallen out of the loop with a good number of my friends, and hadn’t seen anyone in months. My hospital visit, the holidays, and my ever-constant work schedule had me fall of the grid for months. This was a chance to catch up, run a little free, and most importantly, reunite with friends.

Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba! The Lion Car.

Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba! The Lion Car.

My fourth event. And while it may be strange to some to spend a weekend at the inside of a dirt basin, it’s also check full of great people. I spent more time not getting to any one destination because I would run into someone that I needed to catch up with. And you know, that was fine. I did everything from visit the bars out there, to relax at the “Electric Lazy” lounge, to cloud watching, or just simply laughing and catching up on old times. And all of it was exactly what I needed. I did, however, have to work Saturday night, however, so I may or may not have missed Daft Punk, which has been the ultimate in “Schrödinger’s Cat” equations. Ask anyone, and you’ll get a completely different answer. Still, even if it was merely a cover band, I do regret not seeing the experience, and writing to tell that particular tales (And if it really was indeed them, consider me PISSED, as I love me some Daft Punk).

The Cathedral of Souls.

The Cathedral of Souls.

Sunday night, the Cathedral of Souls burned, and it was a fantastic spectacle, complete with fireworks. However, once the final firework popped, the sky opened up and poured down rain. Seeing a mass of neon clad spectators scramble to find cover is as equally an impressive show in itself, and I spent a few hours hiding in a tent with friends until the storm passed.

I was a little sleepy after the weekend, but I felt revitalized for the experience all the same. It’s crazy, it’s insane, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything less.

The Man sees all....

The Man sees all….

Which in turn brought me to a conversation the following day. During one of my constant appointments, errands, and performances, someone said that “You have to love what you do in order to be successful”. And the words have been pressing on the back of my mind for the following days since. By that philosophy, I am simultaneously “successful” and “unsuccessful”. My life and all the adventures that I find myself in aren’t to impress anyone, nor are they done for anyone else but me. I do these things because I love them. And when I don’t “love” something, it affects my spirit in ways that don’t lead me to realize my full potential.

This is a milestone year for me with a lot of promisingly good change coming. It’s for that reason, now that I am entering a new phase in my life, that I have to stop doing things that don’t allow me to reach my full potential. I think I’ve reached the point in my life where I am ready to put to rest the things “that I have to”, and start focusing on the things “that I want to”. Because life really is too short. And it’s not worth stressing about the things that don’t have meaning to me. I’d rather focus on friends and family, and what makes me happy. Whether performing on a stage, or surrounded by a group of old friends out in the middle of the desert, “success” isn’t about having all the money or knowing all the answers. It’s about what you love. I’m finally back at the phase in my life where “because I have to” is going to be regulated to the backseat where it needs to be, and now it’s time to restructure a few things for both me and my life.

Speaking of which, wedding preparations are finally starting to commence after being put on “hold” for a few months. Tomorrow, Jen and I, along with our friend Brenda, will be hitting the road for a very different adventure for myself. It’s time to finally be a little more “respectable” these days, but you’re fooling yourself if you think that I’m not going to have a little fun along the way….

Eras End.

Writing. It’s become such a different thing to me these days. I love to write. If there’s ever a talent that is truly mine, this would be it. But it’s taken on such a different meaning. There’s been a lot of thought about where my talent would best serve me of late. Part of it is children’s books. The other part is just finding an RV and traveling the country to write travel blogs about my experiences. The quest for financial sustainability has been a very long and oft trying quest, but like any good gardener, the seeds that I planted some months back are finally starting to bear fruit. Then again, I don’t always get to speak in the colorful and theatrical manner that I’ve grown accustomed to. I am a writer, but I am a performer and storyteller as well.

I keep wondering if it’s getting close to “time” to write my first memoir, or just wait until I’m older, until I’ve gotten really boring and need to relive my glory days? A little bit of snark there, but I am considering timing.

In any case, as slowed as my life has become of late, things do still happen. One of which has been the loss of the Riviera, another one of Vegas’ classic casinos.

The famous marquee.

The famous marquee.

It’s a cold irony that the place celebrated its 60th “Diamond” anniversary this year, only to be shut down just last week. Vegas has a severe and irrational aversion to anything “old”, or as normal and sane people might call it: “History”.

I don’t have a huge library of personal memories of the Riviera. I reviewed a few shows there. I filmed for a night or two when the first Hangover shot there. Made a few friends in those halls. Went to a convention there once for classic gaming. But it was a pretty marquee, and like the Stardust, New Frontier, and Sahara before it during my time, it boasted a history that none of the new places could ever match. The sharpest blow is that the old place is being torn down for extra parking spaces for the Convention Center. I think that is a pretty accurate summation of how Vegas “values” its history. As it stands, the Strip, once known for quirky and iconic places, is now a breeding ground for timeshares, and multiple Walgreens/CVS stores every .09 miles apart. Cut, paste, repeat.

Farewell to an icon.

Farewell to an icon.

Perhaps it’s that understanding which has caused me to go out (with what spare time I have these days) to document the remaining “classic” Vegas history before it’s reduced to residing in some glorified junkyard at the edge of the universe. Perhaps it’s the new Vegas tours I’ve been doing of late. Or the unshakable feeling of homesickness I’ve been contemplating since last Fall. Maybe it’s a sense of regret that I never truly got to see the “early” days of Vegas, where a hallucinogen addled Hunter S. Thompson stumbled around Circus Circus, or where mob members discussed “business” in backrooms of tiny restaurants turned pizza parlors. Ironically, the most fascinating parts of Vegas have largely been reduced to fading memory, save for the Peppermill. They serve a fine Bloody Mary.

On a side note, I also think I’m overdue for a roadtrip somewhere. One with spinning teacups or a related beach.

Still for a break, I am going back to the Billboard Music Awards this week. I’ve come a log way since my 2011 debut standing in for Ken Jeong, doing exaggerated Elvis poses on stage. The call of returning to the stage warmed my heart. That line of work isn’t as prolific these days, but the moments that remain really are the sweetest. It’s a pleasant reminder and a motivator that if the work isn’t as frequent, then it’s time to get off my butt and do my own thing. I thrive in creativity. Anything else goes against what I am.

It’s also time for Forgotten City again, and while I may have a bizarre schedule for the weekend, I look forward to being with friends again for some long overdue absurdity.

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.

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.

2013 Ends.

On New Year’s Eve, I find myself sitting down in front of my computer writing. However, this is one of the rare times I’ve been able to do so for myself.

I did manage a few adventures since my last writing, including getting back into the Downtown scene. The new Container Park opened up, and will undoubtedly be another place for me to spend a weeknight once my schedule gets under control again.

Just like Burning Man.

Just like Burning Man.

Thanksgiving came and went, in my own signature way….

Googly eyes makes everything funny.

Googly eyes makes everything funny.

And work outside of writing non-stop has been just as busy. I’ve entered back into the “museum” field, having joined up with the Neon Museum. To be honest, I missed the museum life, and the new place has been treating me very, very well. I actually have felt rejuvenated after my last run in this line of work, so in hoping for a promising future, I look forward to becoming more settled in this new role. I did the American Country Awards, where I stood in for Trace Adkins.

Another show under my belt.

Another show under my belt.

He told me to lay off the steroids.

There were other social obligations during the course of the month. Another trip to Disneyland:

With the Pumpkin King.

With the Pumpkin King.

Santa Rampage:

Gabezilla.

Gabezilla.

And various other acting, Burner, museum, and friend gatherings that popped up throughout the month. I had to carefully schedule my days to fit everything and everyone in. I started feeling like I was more playing Tetris.

It wasn’t all work and play this month. A dear friend of mine, Tom Deishley, was killed this month. Someone broke into his home and took his life.

Tom and I in 2008.

Tom and I in 2008.

Tom worked as General Motog the Klingon in Star Trek: The Experience. I was fortunate enough to stay friends with him once the Experience closed. In character, he was gruff and honorable. As a friend, he was kind and inspirational. I greatly respected him, and was devastated when I read the news of his passing.

At the wake, family and friends came together to remember Tom. A lot of the Experience actors were there, as well as others from the many facets of Tom’s life. It was bittersweet seeing so many familiar faces together again, but it reminded me what I loved the most about the Experience: It wasn’t the costumes, or the various alien species, of the food or drink (though the Warp Core Breach remains high up there), or the souvenirs, or the rides….

It was the people.

It was the people that kept me coming back, made me feel welcome, and made STTE one of my favorite places to stay. It too became a family. One that even passed around a Warp Core Breach for good measure as we laughed, cried, and remembered. What I loved the most about the Experience then still goes on now, and will never truly go away.

The official Star Trek site did a lovely tribute of Tom.

And so Christmas came. And it was a weird one.

Perhaps as weird as this.  Who can say?

Perhaps as weird as this. Who can say?

From a carsick Frodo, to a broken out of box Wii U (got it fixed), the whole experience, coupled with a rush-rush-rush feeling that didn’t allow any real enjoyment for holiday left me wondering if this year was going to be a bust. But the day did regain control, and I ended up having a relaxing holiday.

Which leads me to now. At the end of another year. 2013 has been a year of great loss and reclamation. I lost my best friend this year. I’ve had to reevaluate friendships. And career decisions. I got some things restored to default. And to somehow try and find an ordinary life within a never-ending influx of work for the past three months.

And now it’s time for change.

I thought about that even as the Doctor Who Christmas Special came to an end, and the Eleventh Doctor made this little speech:

“But times change and so must I. We all change when you think about it, we’re all different people, all through our lives, and that’s okay, that’s good you gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day, I swear.”

I’ve worn so many titles in my life. Held so many faces. I’ve lost a number of inspirational souls this year. I’ve been disappointed by others. I found a little furry friend that helped me heal. And I’ve stopped for a moment to take stock of who stood by my side when I needed someone there. But now at the end the 2013, I am ready to let go of some things that have held me back so that I can face 2014 as a new man. Still very much the same at the core, but a little more of a “factory settings” version of me… with a few all-new perspectives.

But I’ll never forget the parts from this year that have made me who I am….

Farewell, my friend.

Farewell, my friend.

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.

Another Strange Month.

2013 had been giving me constant warnings that this was going to be a strange year.

Bear Force 5!  Engage!

Bear Force 5! Engage!

I wish it had been “Ha ha” strange, however.

I worked a few days on the TV show House of Lies over at Caesars Palace. Another pretty standard shoot, and the crew was nice. It was interesting in that they positioned me all over the scene, so I might not just be in the scene, but possibly everywhere at once. I’ll be really curious to see how the final scene ends up. At least it was a fun scene.

But for me, the real fun was eating every day at the Bacchanal Buffet. It’s one of the newest buffets on the Strip, and it is chock full of gourmet food with an incredible dessert section to round out the last bit of room left in one’s stomach. I ate here every day of filming, and it was amazing.

February turned out to have a few losses. One of the most bittersweet was my friend Christie moving to California. She and her fiance Pete threw a small going away party with Pete’s last stint in the band Gin. Jen, Shannon and I said good-bye to our friends they went forward to start a new life out of Sin City.

The gang says good-bye.

The gang says good-bye.

After that, Jen and I went to Laughlin, Nevada.

Laughlin!

Laughlin!

Laughlin is a teeny tiny version of Las Vegas with a full strip of casinos located next to a nice little Riverwalk. Much like Vegas, where the city is positionaed out in the middle of nowhere, Laughlin is the same, but it is civilized. Missing the roadtrips of old (and having never been there before), we made a full day of exploring the new casinos, having a nice lunch, and enjoying the water. There aren’t many “normal” towns in the state of Nevada, so when you find one, you better take what you can get.

View of the river.

View of the river.

The Colorado Belle.

The Colorado Belle.

The Riverwalk.

The Riverwalk.

The Golden Nugget.

The Golden Nugget.

The final bit of enjoyment was being involved with American Idol. While NDA forbids me from saying anything about what went on, the results were televised, so any fan of the show already knows what happened. But it was a very nice three days of stand-in work. I will say that the talent from the contestants is quite real, and even though I’m not a follower of the show, it’s a little hard not to get invested in the hopeful progress of the contestants.

That's right.  I'm judging you.

That’s right. I’m judging you.

And with the weather warming, I was able to get back out in the year for some clean up work.

Discussing renovation plans with my sidekick.

Discussing renovation plans with my sidekick.

Life started to seem that it was taking a direction for me, and March was just around the corner….

Chicken and Scam Artists.

So 2013 started pretty normally….

Okay, actually, it didn’t. With a new year begun, I was on my way to see my friend Chanel who had rolled into town… and was promptly pulled over by the cops. For holding my cell phone.

As of this year, Nevada is completely “hands off” touching your phone. As in… at all. I was even sitting at a stop light fully parked, so they take it serious. I’m telling all of you this now so you don’t have to go through what I did.

But spending time with Chanel was nice. We hadn’t really seen each other since Kristin’s wedding, so it was really good to catch up over drinks and a nice lunch before they went home.

Chanel and I.

Chanel and I.

It was shortly after that I got called to various work gigs. With CES back in town, I was hired to be a driver for YouTube to take all of their execs and partners back and forth from the Strips hotel scene to the Convention Center. I was supposed to see one of my cousins while he was in town for the show, but it never happened due to timing. After that, it was straight to work for Miss America.

There he is....

There he is….

Unlike Miss USA, America is more of a “girls only” event, meaning that they usually don’t ask men to be part of the standard production, but through recommendation and reputation, I got on. Back to Planet Hollywood, as always. The humor was not lost on me that first morning as the stage manager told us to not even bother talking to the beauty contestants as there is nothing to be gained from it. At that point, all of my stand-in colleagues turned and looked directly at me with a very knowing look. “What? I haven’t done anything”, I whispered back, as I tried my best to hide my amusement over the comment, mentally disagreeing with that thought.

But the show went well, albeit quickly, with no majorly outstanding stories or adventures. If anything, it was just a fast, pleasant day of work.

The gang.

The gang.

It was just as well. Destiny was once again calling and the real matter of my January adventures was now clear to me.

So.  Much.  Chicken.

So. Much. Chicken.

I would go to Wing Bowl.

Wing Bowl is a chicken wing eating contest that was offering preliminary rounds at various bars and pubs until the culmination of the finals at the South Point Casino. I decided that if I was to do this, I would need a wing man of my own.

In this case, a wing woman.

Cue Sarah Jane.

After all, who better to join me after her epic spaghetti eating contest back in 2011?

So we began our eating adventure. The rules were simple: Eat as many chicken wings as you could in a 5 minute period. So away I went.

Even from the beginning, I knew I was out of my league.

Even from the beginning, I knew I was out of my league.

Don’t get my wrong: I love eating chicken wings. But I’m also a slow eater, and shoveling that much food down my gullet at once was overwhelming.

Mmm.... Greasy.

Mmm…. Greasy.

I didn’t think such a thing as “Chicken Madness” was a real thing, but I was being overpowered.

Chomp, chew, bite, pow ("Pow"?)....

Chomp, chew, bite, pow (“Pow”?)….

Make it stop....

Make it stop….

In 5 minutes, I ate 16, which is pretty good I think for someone who has never attempted this before.

Sarah Jane went up:

Go, WonderHussy, go!

Go, WonderHussy, go!

She did 15. Her vegan(!) friend Tanayaa managed to finished down 8. It was a greasy, wing-filled experience, but none of us came close to the 36 wings some guy ate.

The spoils go to the victors.  Or just being spoiled.  It was a lot of chicken.

The spoils go to the victors. Or just being spoiled. It was a lot of chicken.

I swore off chicken for a while after that.

My last gig of the month was with some “talent” agency that I’ve avoided for a few years due to their reputation, but I decided to work with them again for a bartending gig. I figured that it had been a few years, and I did have some booze pouring experience.

It was a convention party/event at the World Market Center. I showed up on time, set up, did my thing, and in the last hour, they dismissed me a little early. Nothing seemingly nefarious as the party was winding down, and they were being friendly about it. Three hours later, however, the agency sent me this nasty e-mail saying how I “greatly offended” the CEO of this furniture company because I wanted to look up the right measurements for a gin and tonic. As a result, the agency was refusing to pay me. I didn’t realize accuracy and wanting to provide good customer service was such a controversial issue, but the point stood that this scam of an agency basically skipped off without paying me. And they still e-mail me job offers all the time after this! If I can find a way to put a stop to this bad business practice, I am open to suggestions.

2013 was already setting up a weird tone. What I didn’t realize at the time is how off it was going to be….

Changes.

It was time for Miss USA again. My experiences with the organization are always very positive, fun, and busy, so I look forward to this time of year. Of course, the incredible number of staggeringly beautiful women does nothing but to enhance the experience.

Another year with the organization.

Another year with the organization.

But this year, among all of my usual hosting and announcing, is where I properly met Kelly Osbourne.

Kelly and I.

Kelly and I.

Lovely gal. Super funny. Amazing accent. My colleagues and I got on a discussion with her about weight, where I quipped that the only thing I’ve ever known is being thin, to which Kelly turned to me and said: “Shut up. You’ve never been fat a day in your life, you asshole.” Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been more charmed by someone calling me an “asshole” before.

With Kelly and my colleagues.

With Kelly and my colleagues.

But it was a good rehearsal, and I enjoy doing the pre-show hosting for the event.

Andy Cohen and me.

Andy Cohen and me.

But while I enjoyed the experience, I had my mind on other things. I decided that it was time to quit the Museum. I really did care for the Museum and a great majority of my co-workers and the volunteers that I had once coordinated. But I simply could not abide being disrespected by management increasingly month after month. As much as I wanted to stay (and Las Vegas needs all the help it can get when it comes to the art and culture scene), I walked into HR, left a long and detailed resignation letter covering my dissatisfaction and the hope that the Museum would use its resources to benefit the community, and walked out for the last time. After all, I thought, I did have another job lined up. And so I celebrated with Mexican food with my former colleagues by drinking margaritas of of a tiny man’s hat.

Ole!

Ole!

But work was work, and I did another licensing convention, where I dressed as a giant bear with a staggeringly heavy torso, as well as Mr. Bean from the British comedy.

I'm in there... somewhere.

I’m in there… somewhere.

Mr. Bean!

Mr. Bean!

The group that organizes these events are always really nice, so I never mind that at all. I was, however, happier when I was more Bean and less bear. I must have lost what little body weight I have that week.

And again, I worked the NHL Awards, this time under a different production group, but still familiar to previous years. I even got to touch the Stanley Cup as they unpacked it:

The Stanley Cup.

The Stanley Cup.

It was there that my back, still tender from the previous year’s injury, coupled with a very physically stressful month, decided to give out like it never had before.

I was down.

I also realized that the job that I had left the Museum for simply wasn’t working out in my best interests, and with my injury flaring up, I couldn’t justify coming in any more.

Besides, I had the whole “standing upright” matter to attend to….

Wine, Ducks, and California.

With the beginning of the month, came the end of the ACMAs.

Show marquee.

Show marquee.

With the day of the show, the final rundown took place, which meant I got to see Reba again (who is just a delight in person), more Steve Martin (Yes!), and then I got to see a duet of Lionel Richie and Blake Shelton sing “You Are”.

Lionel singing that song is “The business”, and Blake Shelton is habitually a good-natured joker during rehearsals. “You Are” obviously being written as one guy singing to his love, but with two guys singing it, it becomes this very odd duet, where Blake started to flirt with Lionel to mess with him, mostly singing all romantic to Lionel, to which Lionel shot a confused look down in the area where my colleagues and I were standing. I just shrugged my shoulders and shook my head. And then I belted out laughing because it was bizarre and funny.

“I thought you were going to get down on one knee and propose to him”, said one of my colleagues to the pair. “No, they already have one wedding in the show”, I added. The two laughed at both comments.

Shortly after, in my litany of odd jobs, I studied for and became licensed to serve alcohol at events and such. In this case, it was for a huge wine event last weekend. Wine drinkers come in two waves, I learned:

There’s the general public which just wants to consume as much alcohol as they can in a three hour period. Being completely sober in a room full of hammered drunks is a good way to sour a person on the whole idea of drinking. It gets weird and a little sad.

The second group is the wine connoisseur (or “wine snob”). Granted, they appreciate the wine concept a little more, but you can’t help but wonder if the whole concept of “sampling” was just invented by some “popular” fellow in olden times as a joke to see if people would follow, and it stuck without ever realizing there was a punchline involved.

I understand smelling the wine. I understand sampling small amounts to try a variety of types. I understand savoring the taste. I understand cleansing your palette and glass with water to separate tastes.

I don’t understand swishing it around in your mouth like some sort of mouthwash.

Seriously, these people all but gargle the wine as they swish it around, culminating with a spit into a bucket like they are in a “Do Your Best Fountain Impression” contest. And they’ll spit it via a good 3-4 feet red or white arc from where they are standing into a bucket, no less. It’s not “fancy”. It’s disgusting. And then they dump the remnants in the bucket, wasting the rest of it. I also understand how long it takes to create a good bottle of quality wine.

I sat there and kept thinking that someone probably would have liked to have tried that, as some of the popular brands diminished over the course of the night. Watching these Listerine inspired spitters all night grossed me out. Of course, the aim got worse during the course of the night.

And of course, in the rush of the crowd, and in offering to help someone with a tricky bottle that was difficult to open, said bottle exploded red wine all over my new white shirt.

I looked like the end scene from Carrie fully drenched in a bottle of Cabernet.

“That bottle has been really difficult to open”, the woman offered as she took the bottle back. “Yes, I can see that”, I said as a droplet of wine pooled on the rim of my glasses and then dripped onto the mass of my shirt. That shirt was never salvaged. It looked like a Rorschach blot designed by a madman.

But Spring had sprung, and I bought a grill to start barbecuing. I grilled all sorts of meats to show off my cooking skills, and given my native Texan status, I’ve found over the years that I have three inherent abilities I never knew existed within me: Grilling, firing guns, and riding mechanical bulls.

Work at the Museum was focusing on the next Science Festival and hatching baby ducks.

Fun fact: This is the same breed as Scrooge McDuck.

Fun fact: This is the same breed as Scrooge McDuck.

Quack, damn you, you adorable little....

Quack, damn you, you adorable little….

I also worked on some film that didn’t have a name during time of filming, so in saying “Go see it”, I can’t. I’ve seriously no idea what this film is called. I may never know.

The end of the month prompted a drive to San Diego to spend time with friends. I spent time with Brooke:

Out by the Whaley House.

Out by the Whaley House.

And Chris, going down an impossibly steep hill:

Thus, "Jive Walking" was created.

Thus, “Jive Walking” was created.

We visited all manner of friends, the Cajun place where I used to cook (still love their gumbo), and even visited my old landlady during the time lived in El Cajon. It was a very sweet reunion with a lot of people, and I visited a lot of my old stomping grounds there.

We even went to Downtown Disney, and to an excellent Korean dinner in Los Angeles with my friends there:

The Los Angeles gang reunites.

The Los Angeles gang reunites.

It was at that point where I genuinely missed my life in San Diego and Los Angeles and realized that, even though it is no longer “home”…. In a way, it still is, and always will be.