Thursday, August 17, 2006

Fishing with Dan

Ok it's been nearly two months since I've posted and I APOLOGIZE to all my devoted readers (if there are any left) who have been going through withdrawl. To catch you all up, I'll zoom through the highlights of the last seven weeks. This promises to be a long post so strap in.

The most sginificant thing is that I've been getting even more vampirish over the last month or so, rarely getting to sleep until the sun is well into the always-clear-and-blue California sky. My clock getting reset to post-dawn was mostly the result of a fishing expedition I took with Skylar and a couple of other guys four weeks ago. Fishing, as many of you know, has been a part of my life since I was a little kid, when I would fish with my grandfather on Lake Erie and up in Canada with my Dad and my brother. I absolutely love being on the water, being outside, eating ham sandwiches on Wonder Bread, drinking Pepsi or beer, looking at the wildlife, just the whole experience of it. But while I'm in it for the experience, most people are in it to actually catch fish. Catching fish, however, is not something I have a lot of experience doing. For some reason, I never catch anything when I go, and I've puzzled over the reasons why and I've come up with this conclusion: I'm a shitty fisherman. But that hasn't detered me and didn't deter me when I left work at 4:00 a.m. and went and picked up Skylar, Chris, and Jason. Our destination was Lake Castaic in Ventura, about 30 miles northeast of Hollywood. Lake Castaic is where the world's record largemouth bass was caught, and apparently there is a bounty on the next record fish of $1 million, so we were feeling pretty good about hauling that sucker in and quitting our jobs by noon. We arrived at Lake Castaic around 5:30 a.m., joined the line of cars and boats and the Vietnamese, Mexican, Armenia, Thai, black, and white fishermen awaiting entry to the park. We finally got on the water around 6:45 a.m. in a couple of beat-up rented aluminum boats with outboard motors, complete with a cooler full of beef jerky, ham sandwiches, bottled water, pork rinds and a case of beer. We rushed out to the "hot spot" the guy in the bait shop recommended, rigged up our poles with rubber worms, and got set to reel in the million-dollar fish.
Nothing happened at first, but fishing is all about patience, so we kept at it. Then a group of guys appeared on the shore close to us, and within minutes they were hauling in fish. Thinking we had a bad spot we tried another, then another, then another. Nothing. Not even a goddamn nibble. Perhaps one of my problems as a fisherman is that I don't have enough faith, so after about 45 minutes of no action, I turned my attention to beer, beef jerky, and watching the San Gabriel mountains flow down to the edge of the lake. A female mallard made our acquaintance, and I indulged her by feeding her pieces of Wonder Bread. Note: ducks do not like pork rinds. We also saw a great blue heron and some interesting blue birds I'd never seen before. But no action. After awhile I went swimming and lay sunning myself on the boat, still keeping a line dangling in the water just to keep up appearances. Around noon we headed back in, dropped off the boats, and tried our luck from shore with frozen sardines instead of rubber worms, with the exact same results. I went swimming again, ate a ham sandwich, and played with the giant Rambo knife Mike had given me for Christmas. When all others' faith had been completely exhausted, we packed up, drove home, and I got to bed around 3 p.m. All in all, I'd have to say it was an excellent fishing trip.

To even further screw with my circadian rhythms, my wonderful employer has placed me on a temporary third shift, thus making my working hours the surreal midnight-9 a.m. I have been assured that this is temporary, but frankly my enthusiasm for the job has plummeted in the wake of recent events. Two weeks ago on a Friday, Jason, the day supervisor, requested some volunteers to take the third shift. Jason is a good guy who works hard (also a member of the fishing expedition), and since he was in a bind and asked me personally to help him out, I agreed. This was on Friday and I was to start the new shift on Monday. So I came in on Monday at midnight, already a little discombobulated from the new schedule, and upon my arrival I was informed that earlier that day I had narrowly avoided being fired. Apparently on Friday I forgot to back up a project, and when that project was found to be corrupt on Monday morning, they went to find the backup and none existed. Corruption happens, and yes, I should have backed up the project. However, a quick survey by me later that night found that half of the projects had not been backed up, so mine was not an isolated oversight. What pissed me off was that, after nearly three months of service, making no mistakes and getting rave reviews from my producers and editors, AND volunteering for the shitty third shift, I should be threatened with termination for what seemed to me a minor mistake. On top of that, the head of my department, a 20-something highly-strung punk rocker, insisted on "writing me up," which means I had to sign a confession of my error that went into my personal file. That pissed me off even more, and I told him under no such circumstances would I sign my own scarlet letter, at which point he said sign it or lose your job. I had a 48-hour inner struggle, debating whether or not to sign or just leave. All of my fellow night-shifters were sympathetic, but basically said forget about it sign the damn thing and move on. So I did, but I did not feel good about it. The hypocrisy of that move was not lost on me, as the boss's girlfriend is also the tape librarian, and the same week she somehow lost a John Tesh interview tape that caused a huge problem with a show that was to be delivered to the network. Her punishment? Her and the boss went and got drunk during work hours and then went home and I assume had punk-rock sex. That'll teach her to lose valuable company property. But the intellectual rewards of the work clearly offset the difficulties and lack of adequate pay. After finishing the Gay Husbands show (husbands who come out of the closet after 20 years of marriage) I moved on to the Perez Hilton show (about the self-proclaimed gossip queen of LA. Check out his juicy blog at for all the latest news on Lindsey Lohan, Tara Reid, and Tom and Suri Cruise), and am now working on Sex Change Hospital, which, you guessed it! is about men going through the final stage of becoming the woman they've always wanted to be by having "genital reassignment surgery." So you can see that all of my intellectual needs are being met at work, and there really is no need to pursue learning or creation outside of the job. Fuck books, I've got Sex Change Hospital!

The fucked-up schedule has made it harder to have a social life and see other people, but I've been doing my best. I got out of town a few times, once to my high-school reunion in Columbus and just recently to Richmond for my sister's 40th birthday, my other sister's baby shower, and to see my new niece Ruby. The reunion was actually pretty fun, getting to see a bunch of friends I hadn't seen in years. Most people have kids and giant houses in Powell, some are still single, some are gay, and some are mentally ill. Everyone seems to be doing well and enjoying their lives, but of course at those things everybody puts their best face on and hides the fact that they're either being hounded by the IRS, are beating their wives or whatever else. I prefer to think that people's lives are what they appear, because that provides a sort of baseline of life as it should-be-lived against which I can compare my own life. It always comes back to our lives, doesn't it? The new niece is a doll, and my twin Carrie is due in just a few weeks.

Within the confines of LA I went to a Dodger game thanks to Billy Goldberg, and met a bunch of guys my age who are all working as producers, writers, or development execs for Steven Speilburg or NIckelodeon or selling pilots to Fox. Rather that get me down by way of comparison, I was energized by the success these guys displayed, especially since they all seemed like relatively normal guys, not much different from me or the people I've been friends with all my life. I also went to a show at the Hollywood Bowl with Lisa and Milo. Milo, an employee of the bowl for three years now, scored us some front-row seats in the president's club for free, so we brought in our picnic basket replete with wine and salad and cheese and spread the whole deal out on a table with a white table cloth and watch the show in style. Zero 7 and the Gotan project performed, both sort of electronic hip-hip/trip-hop groovy performances complete with multi-media shows. I especially liked the fact that the lead instrument in the Gotan Project was a squeeze box played by a guy in a white suit. I also went and saw my dear friend Lisa Vining down in Tustin, which is in Orange County. Lisa is a friend from Columbus who now lives in New York, but she grew up down in Tustin. Her mom just passed away after battling cancer for years, so this was Lisa's first trip back since that. The house she grew up in is quite a trip, an arts and crafts bunglaow built in the 30s that sits on more than an acre of property right in the heart of Orange County. Lisa's dad is an extremely interesting guy, having run a nursery business that grows all sorts of palms for years.
Lisa calls the property the "Sanford and Son" of Orange county, due to the surplus of aging items and equipment filling the ailing barn, green house, and backyard. Just my kind of place. I also got to see Lisa and Jordan's daughter Georgia, who is growing into a beautiful happy little girl. I've also been playing basketball regularly on Sundays, and with the basketball crew went to my first Hollywood party a couple of weeks ago, complete with two DJs, a live band, and all sorts of characters wearing ties and sweater vests with fedoras.

So that's news in a nutshell. I'll try to stay on top of things in the future. It's good for me, keeps me feeling somewhat sane. This weekend I'm going to a bar in Westwood that plays the Buckeye games and see if I can't make some OSU friends out here. Sunday I'm supposed to go to a scouting mission to a stand-up comedy open mic with my friend Julie Cohen. She's done stand-up before, and if we feel inspired, we may go back the next week and make asses out of ourselves and actually get up on stage and perform. Just part of the mission to do as many LA things as possible in the hopes of maybe landing the million dollar fish.