Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Part II: In Which I Meet the Person Whose Mail I've Been Getting for the Past Year

I return with many things that are exciting, and things that aren't exciting but the way I tell them is a grade-A hoot.

To start off, let's talk about something that happened outside my apartment last week. As you may or may not know, my apartment is actually a 104-year-old house that was divided into quadrant units. Two on top, two on bottom. Three bedrooms per quadrant.

aka some straight up Madeleine shit.
If there's one thing Angelenos are good at it's packing lots of people in very small spaces. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. This one, fortunately, works. In fact, I hardly see or hear from my neighbors at all. The only major sign of life is the occasional pairs of boxers hanging on the drying line out back. It is indeed a relief to know that my neighbors wear underwear.

Anyhow, due to the nature of our arrangement mail often gets delivered to the wrong place. Our units are distinguished from one another with the addition of a 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 to the house number. I got the best unit insofar as I got the whole number, so I don't have to tack some janky fraction onto my address. It also makes me seem important and successful because on paper it creates the illusion that I live in an actual house. Which I do, technically. 1/12th of one.

The above information was hardly necessary, but it's the most math I've done in about 2 years so I'm not throwing that away. What I was getting at is that I often get mail for some fellow-- let's call him Edmund-- delivered to my apartment. Edmund lives in another unit. I leave the mail on the kitchen table, our landlady eventually scoops it up, and she passes it along to him. Now, in the 11 months or so months that I have lived in this apartment I have never once seen or had a conversation with Edmund. I long ago figured it was either a s7ven or a Gilbert Grape type situation.

Does anyone else ever think about what this casting call must have been like?
But lo and behold, one evening I was out on the front porch talking to my roommate and Edmund shows up to join the conversation! So now not only can I identify his face, I also know a bit about him. This is the exciting part-- he is also a comedy writer! Between him, myself, my cinematographer roommate, and the actress who lives to our right, our household is a hive of movie folks. Now all we need is a financier in the fourth quadrant!

"Jessica," you might be saying, "You silly, silly, bitch. This is true of virtually every other household and apartment complex in Los Angeles."

Well, I mean, yeah, but to go this long and not realize what resources have been at my disposal. Shit, what resources have been at all our disposals.

So many disposals!
These are opportunities for potential collaboration!

Unless they all suck. In which case, I will perpetually be "in meetings" until I move somewhere else.

So that long bit of nonsense isn't very exciting for anyone except me. Now for some more stereotypical excitement:

I went camping!







Bear? Where?!

In the Angeles National Forest, homez. It's a desert-y mountain region just past La Cañada in northeast LA. BTW, I'm just gonna throw it out there, La Cañada is an absurd name for a town unless we're talking about a Canadian "Little Mexico."

I went up there with one of my all time best friends and stayed at the Chilao Campgrounds. It was cool. The campsite is essentially on top of a mountain, so you can nab a site that overlooks a vast mountain range.
Damn it, Los Angeles, you really do have everything.

We spent our time hiking, playing Scrabble, drinking, and finagling this pretty epic little grill using nothing but our immediate resources:

Which were a rogue grill, some rocks, firewood, and the Lord's love.
It was a very peaceful intermission from the land of graffiti and and broken curbside furniture.

And finally, another recent experience was my first-ever wine tasting! My bomb (did I mention bomb?) writing group hosted it... which is to say the sole ringleader of the entire writing group organized it, and with much success. I dragged boyfran along with me and we were given a series of 8 wines to try along with our gourmet dinner. I ate handmade tortellini and may or may not have momentarily gone blind from how delicious it was.

That's an exaggeration. But it was damn good tortellini, and I got to spend a lovely evening learning things about wine that I have already forgotten. Boyfran even won a sandwich in a raffle, so, there's also that.

What I'd really like to do is end this blog on a downer, so tell me how you like these vag-sucking apples: I have gotten two parking tickets in the past two days. YEAH it's, like, super great. Aside from the double-helping of powerlessness and inconsolable private shame, I have to pay off TWO of these fuckers! Let's do a little more math tonight... $73 + $68 = I AM NOT CURRENTLY OF GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT. There go the next 3 weeks' groceries.

On a completely irrelevant note, if anyone can advise on how best to avoid paying a parking ticket partly or in full, I have a comments section and a broken heart.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Part I: In Which I Tell You About All the Places I've Been Farting Around To

And to think, one Tuesday ago I thought to myself, "Well. That's it. That's the last blog that I am capable of writing. I have been wrung completely dry of all recountable experiences and insights. Better go take my laptop out back and shoot it."

Fortunately this has not been the case. For starters, my landlady will not let me borrow her shotgun. Additionally, the past week has proven to be a whirlwind of new discoveries, explorations, and happenstances, to such an extent that I can't summarize everything within a single cohesive blog. Unless...


If Severus Snape were saying "Unless..." this is how he would look.
I go for a two-part blog.

I think we're ready. Do you? Well, now isn't really the time to be having doubts about our relationship.

So for part I let's just go over the places I went. 'Cuz there are a lot of them.

Places I Went
1. Good Luck Bar. Been here before. Pretty sure I've talked about it before. Magical Silverlake bar with a low ceiling and hyper-stimulating clash of patterns everywhere. Boyfran hadn't been there before so I forced him to consume fruity drinks served in funny shaped ceramic cups with me.

Acid tabs available at the door.
2. Jay's Bar. Stop number two on boyfran and I's Silverlake crawl night. This bar is humbly tucked away in an otherwise unassuming/unappealing little strip mall. But if ye dare enter said strip mall, which is an iffy feat if you're trying to "have a Silverlake kinda night," you will be pleasantly surprised to find a trendy little bar with great atmosphere, prices, and beer selection. Looked like people were also eating bomb food.

"...For who could ever love a beast?"
Forgive me, strip mall! I should have seen your inner beauty all along!
 3. The Black Cat. Swankier bar and restaurant. I was too drunk and tired to really appreciate the place. I did, however, appreciate their cat-decked doilies enough to throw one into my purse.

4. Angel City Brewery. AKA the coolest thing you didn't realize is happening in the arts district. Or maybe you did and you were a dick and didn't tell me. This is one of those "warehouse" bars a la Villains Tavern which I have posted about in the past because it's also the tits. The difference? ACB brews nearly all of its stuff, and has fun games and artwork interspersed everywhere. I cornholed. Yes. Digest that sentence.

From warehouse to funhouse.

OH YEAH AND DID I MENTION THE EPIC INDOOR SLIDE that they don't let you climb on.

Just a couple of friends cornholin' it.
 5. Bar 82. You've heard about it. You didn't know this is what it was called. You thought it was located in Koreatown but that's a different one. This is the recently opened ARCADE BAR. It's exactly what it sounds like, and to answer your question, yes, they do have the Simpsons game. The line is pretty long to get inside, unless you are a sneaky mofo like us and get there before the rush.

Is that building stoned?
6. Handsome Coffee Roasters. My friend asked to meet here today. As with most places in the arts district, I drove around sketched the fuck out for like 5 minutes, nervously parked, and entered an otherwise inconspicuous building to discover that things are thriving in there like bioluminescent fungus. For the textbook coffee snob, this place is textbook coffee snob. It's in the arts district. We all knew what we were getting ourselves into.

Portlandia doesn't even need to parody this.

7. High Rooftop Lounge. Most excitingly, my aunt is visiting from Hawaii... affording me the priceless opportunity to go out and try new places. The two of us met up with her friend and friend's-friends for drinks atop this lovely roof in Venice. From there we sojourned on to #8 for dinner...

CAUTION: Prolonged exposure to rooftop lounges may result in "Yurtle the Turtle" complex.
8. Mao's kitchen. Um. I am changed. AMAZING Chinese food, great veggie options, super affordable, and smack dab in the coolest part of town (besides the drum circle). Just in case you need another reason to envy the citizens of Venice Beach.

I Mao Mao here and I Mao Mao there
Looking to post a part two in the near future. Stay tuned for more information about the trivial details of my very existence!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Recycle, Reduce, Rewrite

As I continue to be insufficiently employed I have returned to a lot of the homebody activities I did before having a job was a real thing. Reading, feng shui-ing my room, "trying recipes" at dinner... is this what retirement feels like, minus the ungrateful grandchildren and dementia?

Of all the things I've spent my time on, wouldn't you believe it, one of them is writing! Now granted, we are not talking some romantic ideal like, "Jessica saw her unemployment as an opportunity to finally devote all of her free time to writing. During this crucial point in history she wrote 12 to 16 hours a day and completed what would eventually become the most critical piece of literature of the century, 'Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei'." Not at all. It's more like I am so deprived of distractions that I have no choice but to actually write and work on stuff again.

Actually, it's not even that. It's that I finally drug my pilot script's ugly, gimpy ass to the 1st draft finish line and am at last able to go back and work on 2nd and 3rd drafts. It differs from writer to writer, but for me personally, I am a more productive and motivated writer when I'm editing and revising rather than starting from the very beginning. Many of the folks at my writing group talk about how much editing and revising stresses them out, but I honestly find it relieving.

Pictured above: the great-grandfather of BuzzFeed.
Why? Because the pieces are already there. Look, you've got a torso, a couple arms, some fingers, a spinal cord... and hey! Even if they're far from fully assembled, they're at least partially put together for you. All you gotta do is go from this...

...to this:

And then occasionally to this:

One hot potato.
 It's a lot harder playing god and having to figure out what sort of pieces we're even working with. For me, anyway. I don't know the first thing about building bodies.

...Probably because I don't go to the gym!


This energetic burst of (re)writing is coming at a perfect time, since August is when the semi-finalists for a couple of the fellowships I applied to receive notice. By that I mean they are blindsided with an intense phone interview during which they will be asked if they have any other scripted material. If the answer is no, you're out of the game. On the atomically thin chance that I am asked to be a semi-finalist, I would at least like to be able to say with a coy little inflection, "Why, yes, I have an original pilot and a second spec script, thank you so much for asking. Would you like to read them?" And then boom. Champagne and bitches.

To wrap things up, I wanted to mention that this past Fourth of July is the first one I ever spent out here in LA proper. I did the same thing I do every year, which is barbecue at a friend's house and watch someone else's fireworks, so I have no comments upon the unique experience of an LA Fourth of July. It was just as wonderful as every other year. Thanks for not dropping the baton, Los Angeles.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My Fair Life-y

Last week's post was absentee because I was absentee from the world of writing, being pulled in last minute on a short film as the 1st AD and production designer. These are big jobs to do simultaneously, especially when you're prepping everything one week before the shooting date. However, when the only other thing you're doing with your day is rearranging the toilet paper rolls in the bathroom and checking every so often to make sure your grapes haven't gone full-raisin, you find time to do these things.

And thus... the 7-10 minute film "Taking a Chance on Love" was designed and assisted.

With obvious flair.
The project was short and sweet-- a total of 3 days and we finished early each day. That's quite a step away from the last project, which lasted 3 weeks and only avoided overtime perhaps two times. Can I get a round of applause for realistic time frames?

Not to mention when you break down the hourly rate I was being paid more than twice what I was paid on the feature film... for less time and considerably less hair loss!

I have officially determined that it's great when life is fair.

Though according to this guy it's not the fairest of them all.
Some exciting news to accompany this exciting news: I am now going to be an assistant to the director... indefinitely! Which, in case you didn't know, is flippin' awesome. She's nice, reasonable, and as we've already established, fair. Not to mention it's mostly telecommuting, enabling me to live out my lifelong dream of working while naked. After all, there is no other profession in the world where such a thing is possible.

It is, however, part time, meaning the job hunt continues.

Let me tell you a little story about that.

Last Friday I went in for a job interview. I was given no details other than I had applied online, it was for a position in marketing and working live events, and I would be interviewing with a few other people.

FLASH FORWARD: I pull into a Sherman Oaks strip mall. I am dressed professionally and carry a hard copy of my resume in a translucent folder like I'm motherfuckin' MIB. As I draw closer to the address written on my Post-It I see there are a few other women lined up against the building... and by a few I mean at least 15 others.

"God damn it," I thought to myself. "A cattle call."

For anyone who has never had the pleasure of experiencing a cattle call job interview: fuck you. They're the worst. It's the art of degrading applicants by throwing them into one pile on the assembly line and giving them "the spiel" in one foul swoop so as to avoid any inconvenience on behalf of the hiring manager. If you recall, I got roped into one of these when I first moved out to LA and was invited to interview at a very fancy office building for an insurance broker position. I cry myself to sleep every night knowing that I could have led a life of wealth and suicidal boredom.

So a total of perhaps 20-25 young women all dressed professionally and carrying a hard copy of their resumes in a translucent folder like they're motherfuckin' MIB fill out applications and file into what appears to be a small theater space. The hiring manager tells us about what we'd be doing, which is essentially youth talent recruiting, and proceeds to interview us all one by one by having each girl stand up in her seat and use 3-5 minutes to sell herself in front of all the other applicants.

Are we having fun yet?

Perhaps the hiring manager was.
Over an hour I spent there, listening to young women talk about what makes them such a unique little snowflake. My interview was by far the shortest, so I figured I was at worst unappealing and at best unmemorable. As I sat trapped while a dozen women interviewed after me, I was specks away from standing up and proclaiming, "This is horse shit. Good day to you, sir, and your harem of applicants." I hated the idea of talent recruiting and I hated that I had been lured into this interview, even if it was decent pay for extremely part time work. I stormed away from the interview fuming when it finally ended.

And then they called and offered me the job.

I don't begin until next weekend. Who knows, it might be less effort than I thought, and hopefully less morally and emotionally degrading. I'll be the first to admit I got cocky with my work experience and merely assumed I would move on to something better. This is indeed a step backward, but it's not a step in the wrong direction.
"And it's money until something else pops up."
--the sandwich artist who has worked at Subway for eight years going on nine