Boldly Going.

With going from two jobs to one, I am readjusting to a more “normal” schedule again. I’m getting used to the idea of not checking my clock all times of the day, and being able to actually commit to plans again. It’s a weird, but welcoming feeling. It does, however, give me more time to devote to my primary job, and all the potential benefits that they can offer, such as time off, for one. I can take time without feeling guilty or like I’m inconveniencing anyone. With my birthday coming up next month, the timing is perfect for my next roadtrip…. Car willing, that is.

Plans upon plans….

With all the “free time” I’ve been experiencing, the missus and I went to the Star Trek Convention at the Rio. It’s fun checking out the various props, costumes, and general geekery that goes on at these events (though I never really buy anything, now that I think of it. Whoever is in charge of Star Trek these days needs a better marketing/creative team). It’s fun for me to go, and despite the Tribbles and Darth Vader Borg assimilated costumes, there are larger reasons why I enjoy it.

A few years back, I made a post about geekery and what it means to me. Like I said, I grew up with The Original Series and Next Generation. As a kid, I’d watch these shows with my Dad, and the characters were heroes to me. And now seeing them as actors, they just seems to enjoy the love they get from fans and are by and large just warm and wonderful people to talk to. They seem very settled and very content with their place in pop culture, and yes, I do have a small bit of envy to have lived a life being involved in something that enduring. But I suppose that one can argue that I’ve had my moments as well.

But there is something deeper that goes on in just watching the fans of things like this. This really is “their” place. You can feel the comfort from fans because they’re among like-minded daydreamers and believers, and getting a chance to see their heroes as well. And the moments that people connect… to watch it really happen, you really “get” why people love the worlds that fantasy and fiction create.

Sir Patrick Stewart did a talk on one of the stages. He remains one of my favorite actors due to his presence and versatility, so Jen and I went to watch him speak. Of course there are the standard questions of “In this episode” or “In that movie” that come up, but you see moments of realness that goes far beyond scripts. One young girl wanted to know what Mr. Stewart thought about domestic violence (you may not realize that Stewart is an advocate and a patron for preventing domestic abuse), and certainly the mood changed as she revealed that she had been sexually assaulted, but the elegance and grace that Mr. Stewart conveyed to her during their discussion, expressing sympathy and reiterating that violence is never the answer, and that it starts with men to make the change. You could feel the support for the message and the girl, and how it takes a level of bravery to admit such events in a room full of hundreds of strangers.

Another woman had a disability and claimed that would be the one and only time she would ever see Steward in person. She just wanted to talk to him, and her responses were forward and funny as her candor clearly caught him off guard. But at the end, because of her disability and uncertain future, all she really wanted to ask of him is if she could have a hug. And to that, he stepped off the stage and gave her one. Other moments were light teasing back and forth between fans and Stewart. Another was a child that loved X-Men, to which he responded how much fun those roles of Xavier and Picard were for him. You can see why people see these characters… these people… as heroes, because very often, they turn out to be so in reality. Some just see a television show. For others… they see hope. And ultimately, that’s the very message of the show outside of all those props and make-up. It’s about people trying to make a difference.

It wasn’t all contemplation, of course. We did get to meet George Takei, and as you can imagine, he’s a pretty awesome guy.

Oh myyyy....

Oh myyyy….

I’m trying to get better about updating my blog. Perhaps shorter posts, but a little more insight in my life. As always, I tend to post more spontaneous moments of my life on my Instagram, so it you want to see a few more photos of the event there, then there you are.

And so wraps up my entry for tonight. I’d like to say that I’m off to do something deep and introspective, but really, all I want to do is play Goat Simulator on my Playstation.

The fourth decade and I are going to have to have a long discussion next month….

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.

A Pirate’s Life For Me.

As I’ve learned over the years, this always comes out eventually, so I may as well get it out of the way now:

Arrrr!

Arrrr!

I was a pirate in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.

The second one, actually. Dead Man’s Chest. Largely in the scene where the kraken attacks the Black Pearl. You see me in the film, but they did some reshoots, and I lost part of my scene. Still, I had my “15 minutes” from the experience. I still get recognized from time to time.

Which leads into this entry, and where that backstory took me.

Not that I wasn’t busy at home. I was nursing a monster cold as I worked on the pilot for a TV show called The Odds, and a trip to Los Angeles to finalize a decision I was making for the month. I did, however, make a point to visit some friends:

Rayko, Rain, and I having dinner.

Rayko, Rain, and I having dinner.

Before my decision was made, however, I did a few more adventures in Las Vegas. I watched The Lion King musical at Mandalay Bay, did stand-in work for the American Country Music Awards, and went to a very unusual “garage sale”.

Star Trek: The Experience was supposed to come back. Some wealthy businessman in Dubai bought EVERYTHING, right down to the carpet and wall fixtures, and was going to reopen it on Fremont Street. But that never happened. So he decided to sell his unused collection of everything in a public sale. The stuff had seen better days since the closure:

*sniff*  It was like Star Trek III all over again.

*sniff* It was like Star Trek III all over again.

Bridge seats.

Bridge seats.

Of Birds of Prey....

Of Birds of Prey….

And Borg Chambers.

And Borg Chambers.

I did pick up a few chairs from the restaurant, which I now use as patio furniture. I like having things with a backstory.

But as for the previously unmentioned “Big Decision”, I decided it was time to return to the high seas, and attempt to set sail with Captain Jack Sparrow once more.

I was flying to Kauai, Hawaii to audition for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

So I booked a plane ticket and was on my way:

Taking to the air.

Taking to the air.

To land in Kauai.

To land in Kauai.

Kauai wildlife.

Kauai wildlife.

From the desert to a tropical paradise, the transition had… improved.

My hotel looked like something out of a 1960's postcard.

My hotel looked like something out of a 1960′s postcard.

The beach at morning.

The beach at morning.

An old driving bridge.

An old driving bridge.

The scenery was incredible.

The scenery was incredible.

My last big acting adventure with Pirates ended five years before. While I knew that particular chapter had closed, I felt that the overall story wasn’t over just yet for me. I knew that when the time came, I would find a way to see it continue. And in standing on the island, it seemed that I had made good on my word.

I made the front page of the local newspaper.

I made the front page of the local newspaper.

So early one morning, I made my way down to the place where casting was held, along with a much smaller casting call than what I experienced back in Los Angeles. After doing a brief orientation, I dropped my headshots off to the casting director, who was pleasantly surprised to see me.

“Well, I’m back”, I said, greeting her warmly. “Think I have a shot?” “We will see you for the next round of auditions in a few days”, she smiled back. We chatted for a brief moment, then I was left to my own devices. The casting call even made the local papers.

You never leave me to “my own devices” when stranded on a tropical island.

But I did have to extend my stay for over a full week to compensate, which was awful, given the perfect weather, the copious amounts of rum and fresh seafood, the perfect weather, the friendly people, the perfect weather, the coffee plantations, the perfect weather….

It was Hell on Earth, and I was stranded.

At the beach.

At the beach.

In the rainforests.

In the rainforests.

Shave ice became my new dessert love.

Shave ice became my new dessert love.

Hanapepe is where they based the town of "Lilo & Stitch" off of.

Hanapepe is where they based the town of “Lilo & Stitch” off of.

Incredible waterfalls.

Incredible waterfalls.

Kauai is one of those places where you drive around, and see things that you thought only existed in books or from another time. You see how they do and approach things in such a simple manner, and you start to realize that people tend to overcomplicate things in their daily routines at home for no real reason other than for a false sense of control or power. And standing in the face of a huge waterfall, or the mouth of a cave, or so high in the mountains that the clouds play across your face, or watching a sunset go down over this ocean, the genuinely raw power of this changes you. I felt so different spending moments out there with no real time schedule.

The ocean.

The ocean.

Head most literally in the clouds.

Head most literally in the clouds.

Kauai at sunset.

Kauai at sunset.

The week and my stay were drawing to a close with no word on… anything. As much fun as I was having, I was starting to mentally write the process off.

Then the call came.

On that Thursday, casting wanted me for a proper audition… if I showed up the next day or Saturday on Oahu. I deliberated it, but I had already invested money in staying longer, and couldn’t maintain this indefinitely. I couldn’t stay any longer. I had already exhausted enough options as it was. I could afford to island hop.

“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 beat up four other guys at once this time like in my previous audition in 2004, but they liked what I did here. They gave me a break for trying for this part as hard as I had, and let me hold a very fast, very accommodating audition.

Hula dancers.

Hula dancers.

The beard was starting to grow.

The beard was starting to grow.

I don't.... I don't even know.

I don’t…. I don’t even know.

But finally, it was time to go back to Vegas. It had been a very full week of lounging on the beaches, and exploring caves, waking up to watch the sunrise (thanks in no small part due to the legion of roosters on the island), and watched the whales in the sea.

But I had room for one more adventure.

Boat's eye view.

Boat’s eye view.

So I kayaked (first time, mind you), out to the middle of one of the rainforests, ran barefoot through the jungle, and had lunch under a waterfall.

Shoes are for wimps.

Shoes are for wimps.

Tragically, I didn't wait 30 minutes after I ate.

Tragically, I didn’t wait 30 minutes after I ate.

Big waterfall.  Real big.

Big waterfall. Real big.

Seeing as how I had already checked out of my hotel, I paddled back to where my car was, and drove right to the airport. I looked rumpled and very tanned as I boarded that plane, but whatever happened, whatever came of this casting call I flew across the globe for, I didn’t mind. It was an experience that I would carry fondly with me forever.

San Diego and Star Trek.

The month started with me driving to San Diego. The Hollows was ready for pick-up, and it gave me a chance to see Tim and Amy again.

The Cantors and I.

The Cantors and I.

The inscription.

The inscription.

The painting, however, was too big for my car, so I had to get it shipped to Las Vegas. So in the meantime, I had a lovely chat with my friends, and did something that I definitely can’t do in Vegas.

Go to the beach.

Casino beaches don't count.

Casino beaches don’t count.

Getting home, I absoltely had to attend the Star Trek convention at the Hilton. With The Experience going away, I wanted to get in all of those last few moments. I mean, where else could you order ribs and have them set on fire? Not enough places. Just… not enough places.

But it was fun. I met a few celebrities, such as Brent Spiner (Data):

He was selling a CD, you know.

He was selling a CD, you know.

And while not part of the theme, Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca):

I suggest a new strategy: Let the Wookiee win.

I suggest a new strategy: Let the Wookiee win.

Candidly, Peter is a lovely fellow. I met him some years back during the premiere of The Phantom Menace (a whole story in itself), and later had dinner with him and a few other of the actors from the Star Wars saga. He actually remembered me from the event in Dallas, and we had a nice chat catching up on that.

As for the rest of the event, I got to meet The Experience cast out of costume during a semi-closed event:

Tom and I.

Tom and I.

Tom played the older Klingon that walked around the restaurant.

General Motog.

General Motog.

After that, was a gaming convention where a friend of mine was working, so I got toe meet up with my friend Steve and his wife Kelly.

Classic Steve grimace #47.

Classic Steve grimace #47.

And of course, we had a Warp Core Breach.

So... much... rum....

So… much… rum….

Not to mention the usual hanging out with friends:

More of the old days.

More of the old days.

The final part of the month, however, wasn’t quite as simple. It seems my propensity for unusual moments was about to kck into full swing yet again.

I wanted to try out for a stage version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. I know the songs, and I can do almost all the lines in the voices. It’s one of my favorite all time movies, so when a chance came up to get involved, I wanted to try out. After all, I can sing, I can act, and I can be funny, especially with the “fun” characters.

So I watched the movie again today, and studied up on Lefou, brushing up on the “Gaston” song and captured all the flustered mannerisms. I practiced a monologue of Cogsworth, since he doesn’t sing as much as the others, and studied all of his snooty pretentiousness, and practiced his high-pitched British voice. I felt good. I was hitting the notes. I was ready to go.

So I went in early, and did “Gaston”. Felt pretty good. Hit all the notes. The voice wasn’t as close as I wanted it to be that time, but it was credible. I’m also a very harsh critic on my own work. They asked me to come back in an hour for more of the audition. Essentially Round 2. I felt good.

So I came back, and this is pretty much where any chance I had of surviving went down akin to an apocalyptic meteor planet destroying crash. Dancing. Again, I’m not a bad dancer by any means, but you aren’t going to see me kicking my legs over my head, and doing crazy foot twitters while leaping in the air. I don’t do ballet. Nothing against it, but it’s simply not in my background. I checked the flyer again when I got home. NO indication of what happened next.

A very fancy dance instructor came out, and wanted to teach us a few dance moves. Okay, fine. I was doing fine, and then it was announced that these were not moves for Beauty and the Beast. He was teaching us one of the harder routines from A Chorus Line. One of the hardcore musicals about musicals. Basically, the dancers all strive to be the best of the best in the show. See where this is going?

I might have been able to learn it past one or two times, but at that point, he deemed us all ready, and kicked into full production mode. I hadn’t learned it. I had no idea still how to do these moves, much less a full routine. The confused look of a few people around me conveyed that they were wondering the same things as I was. And the only thought going through my mind as I leapt, spun, snapped, and kicked is: “Why the fuck are they making us learn the dance routines from A Chrous Line if we’re auditioning for a completely different play?”

It’s like teaching someone poker, then putting them in front of a crap’s table. It’s like taking your teenage son out for their first driving lesson by putting them behind the wheel of a stock car and releasing them on the Indy 500. I’ve never seen A Chorus Line, so I was completely lost. Two quick run-throughs was not enough. And then of course, they stick us out there with two partners to go full speed with no help. I did six moves, then none, two more, then none, and then the final step. I’ve never seen the stage version of Beauty and the Beast, but I’m still calling “bullshit” if someone tries to tell me Belle or Lumiere are going to be doing “jazz hands” and high kicks over their head.

Needless to say, despite my final little “hop” at the end, I didn’t get the part, and walked away wondering what exactly just happened.

And It Begins.

To say that the first four months of life in Vegas were “not ideal” may be the understatement of this blog. At least with this month, I can finally say that we are getting to the “good” part.

While life was still very much about therapies and lawsuits, Spring was in the air, and I was getting more outgoing in wanting to see what else Vegas had to offer. I was also in some dire need of “fun”.

Junie loves Easter.  And probably hates me for doing this to her.

Junie loves Easter. And probably hates me for doing this to her.

In any case, I flew Toby out from Texas to enjoy a week out on the town. Toby and I have had a long history together as friends, and our adventures are fairly the stuff of local legend. It was time to take it to Sin City.

After some sightseeing, we made our way to the Beatles’ LOVE

All you need is....

All you need is….

Our friend Glenn was one of the stage managers for the show, so we got to go behind the scenes to see some of the sets and costumes up close:

Little walky drum, rum pa pum pum....

Little walky drum, rum pa pum pum….

And after the tour, we met up with our friends Bryan and Martha. It was like a mini Texas reunion, that was… not in Texas. It’s a terrible analogy.

"The 'Can'" Returns....

“The ‘Can’” Returns….

Among other highlights was Star Trek: The Experience, this amazing bar/restaurant/ride in the Hilton that was the only place in town where you could drunkenly argue with a Klingon.

To boldly drink....

To boldly drink….

Gum does not fight alien breath or cavities.

Gum does not fight alien breath or cavities.

As much fun as Toby’s visit was, he eventually had to return to the Lone Star State, so the “House of Chapman” was left to new entertainments. Enter Sophie:

Junie was THRILLED to have a new sister....

Junie was THRILLED to have a new sister….

Another rescue like Junie, we took her in, much to Junie’s dismay. It didn’t help much that the Missus had both arms in casts, and Junie thought it would be hilarious to suddenly adopt a limp around the other lady’s yard as we introduced ourselves to Sophie. That lady must have thought I was an abusive monster.

Still, I went back to acting work, appearing in an indie short called My Demon World, part of a 48-hour film festival, where I met up with my first real cast of friends after moving out here.

The cast, and simpler times.

The cast, and simpler times.

And back at Planet Hollywood Resort and (well, you get the gist of it)…. I worked on the set of Race To Witch Mountain, my first return to a Disney movie set in years.

I played an alien, if that wasn't obvious.

I played an alien, if that wasn’t obvious.

And it was here, where life in Vegas finally began….