Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Sound Advice

I think I've found me a good thing. When I originally looked through PerformInk for ads for voice coaching, I came across three options. The "big, monstro structured class" option, the "just do the damn demo" option, and the "individual coaching and do the demo when you're ready" option. After discussing this with Heidi, we decided on option number three: a place called Sound Advice. What I found there was something more than I had bargained for. They do voice coaching and demo, but they also are somewhat of a one-stop shop for marketing strategies and limited career management for the burgeoning voice-over artist, which is freakin' exactly what I need. It makes this much less of a crapshoot than acting generally is. I'm also feeling very good right now, because I just had my first workshop with other actors last night, some of which are working actors. It's good to hear Heidi tell me how great my voice is, as she knows sound. It's good to hear Kate (the owner) tell me how good my voice is, as she knows the industry. But these are people that have vested interests in me, being, respectively, someone who will eventually have to live with me for her whole life, and someone who's assessment will yield a sizeable chunk of money. When people who have no vested interest in me whatsoever tell me that I'm really good, or I can tell that I'm better than some of the working male talent in the room, this is a good thing. I don't want to compete with anybody, but it's good to know, so that I can get a running start.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Singin for dinner

We had Heidi's friend-birthday celebration last night (which was an interesting choice, because it also happens to be the birthday of three other friends of mine). There were a whole mess of Heidi's friends who I sort of know, my friends who Heidi sort of knows, and Matt, who we're both pretty close with (but has about 12 years more history with Heidi than I do). Fortunately, we're doing as pretty good job of making each other's friends our friends. Anwyay, this was done at a fun little Vietnamese place, that has cheap Asian knockoff Karaoke. It took them a while to actually bring out the English songlist, but we made do with what we had. I was a little uncomfortable with getting up and singing, but once I did (actually, once Lisa got up and did "Fame" very flamboyantly) the stopper was unplugged and I was in full-on ham mode. My best performance was probably "Sweet Child of Mine" with Dan, despite the fact that I don't particularly care for the song. Towards the end of the evening Matt sang a song he wrote called "You Have New Mail" sort of to the tune of "A Whole New World." He sang it intentionally off key, and it had been more fun reading the lyrics. But as Lisa was the catalyst to get the party started, Matt ended up being the catalyst to finish the evening at a reasonable time. But in all, it was a fantastic time.

There will actually be two more celebrations of Heidi's birthday, one with just her and me, and one with the family. I'll post more on those later.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

An Emotional Statcounter Visit

Someone recently came across my blog by doing a google search of "I'm a leaf on the wind, watch me soar." I almost cried. Those who don't understand the reference need to see Serenity, preferably starting out with all of Firefly. It's amazing how that one line can stop me in my tracks more than any other line in all of Science Fiction.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

How do they stay in business?

So after the crappy day I had yesterday, Heidi wanted to take me out for a distratction date. We started going to a movie, but we ended up going to GameWorks. For those who aren't familiar with GameWaorks, it's become sort of a trashy attempt at Dave & Buster's. Nobody who works there is happy about it, and in fact every employee who we interacted with at some point gave me a subtle look of frustration/disgust. Most of the games we played didn't work properly, the food tasted good, but gave us nasty stomach aches afterwards. I kept thinking, "It didn't used to be like this."

I remember back in the late 90's going to GameWorks in Ontario Mills Mall (out in Ontario California, between LA and San Bernardino). They had a much more limited menu, but the service was always fun, the food was always good, and the games were high quality and in good repair.

This got me thinking: this was the brainchild of Stephen Spielberg (I don't know if Dave & Buster's was already in existence at the time). It's slowly gone downhill from its inception, much like his previous retail experience, Dive! That was a restaurant which was fun, expensive and good food, but you couldn't really go there frequently. There was one in LA and in Vegas, and you could go there for an expensive but good sandwich or salad or whatever. The whole theme was that the restaurant was inside a big yellow submarine. The one in LA died around 2000, and I don't know how much longer the one in Vegas lasted. In any case, I think GameWorks is going the same way. I'd say it's prime for the taking by Dave & Buster's, but I think they use their semi-inconvenient locations as a tool to keep their rent down, so they don't go the way of GameWorks.

In any case, for future entrepeneurs, don't let a blockbuster filmmaker design your retail business. They're two very different media.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Car hassles

Y'know, this would be irritating if I wasn't in the process of paying for my half of a wedding. But in the past month, my car has required $1800 worth of repairs. It was the alternator a few weeks ago, now it's the brakes (yeah, that's partially my bad... all four rotors were screwed). Admittedly, the car is five years old, so it's getting ready to get some stuff worked on, but this is happening at a really bad time.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentines Day!

Indeed it is a happy one for me. This weekend (I'm not exactly sure when), Heidi hid a mess of valentines around my apartment. Most of them were little ones the size of a business card folded over, of a Star Wars theme. They have a headshot of a character, with an endearing Valentine's quote that that person would say: my favorite is the Emporer, saying "Together, we can rule the galaxy." Tonight we're heading out somewhere that will be a surprise to Heidi, and might be a surprise to me, too, as the place I chose doesn't accept reservations today.

But anyway, hope yours is happy, whether it's celebrated as Valentines' Day or it's just another Tuesday.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The "John Can't Sleep" Post

Can't sleep. What I'm about to write isn't what's keeping me awake, but I'm thinking about it, so I thought I'd write a fair piece.

In Episode 2, Yoda is wailing on Count Dooku, until Dooku telekinetically squeezes the base of that tower, and send it crashing down onto Obi-Wan and Anakin. Yoda stops, drops everything, and doesn't just push the thing out of the way, but has to use both hands to telekenetically grab it, and then push it out of the way. Note that Dooku pretty much tossed off his telekenetic squeeze, and Yoda showed visible strain with his telekinesis. Dooku escapes. All is well with the burgeoning Empire.

In Episode 3, Yoda is wailing on Emporer Palpatine (I don't remember if he's the Emporer yet, actually), but they're fairly evenly matched with their lightsabers. Then Palpatine starts throwing those pod things around, and Yoda has to stop everything to grab them. Note that Palpatine is whipping these things around like they're frisbees, Yoda has to drop everything, use two hands, and shows visible strain.

In Episode 5, Luke needs to get his X-Wing out of the water, and tries really really hard to do so, but just succeeds in loosening it from it's precarious hold on the bottom, and it sinks further. Yoda mocks his effort, throws a good little lesson about the force in, and then gets really showy, and picks up the entire ship with one hand and gracefully guides it over to a safe place.

Here's what I'm thinking (and no, I don't think George Lucas puts this much thought into his characters; I think he says, "This'll look neat" and this serendipitously came out): Yoda was this incredible force master, but his big weakness was his telekinesis. Everybody knew it. They knew that if you wanted to stop master Yoda, throw something big around. Sure, he can pick up his lightsaber without thinking, but the guy uses a freakin' CANE! Very few people were on par with him in one-to-one combat, but they knew how to stop him if it came down to it.

So when he's in exile, thinking about how he could have saved the Republic and ended the Empire before it started if he'd only been able to push things out of the way better, what does he do? He studies it. He thinks, "I should have done it this way. That would've showed them." Sure, he's meditating and reaching out and watching what's going on "outside," but he has a lot of spare time, and evidently a lot of work to catch up on.

That's my theory. I doubt Lucas shares it, but y'know, I don't care so much what he thinks.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The blog tag post

So Jane "blog-tagged" me. Evidently the process of a blog tag is to put down 5 random facts about you that nobody knows. Well, I'm pretty open, so there's not really anything that nobody knows about me, so I'll give you stuff that I just don't mention to a lot of people.

1. I'm epileptic. I've only had a few seizures in my life, so it's not enough to be a major inconvenience, but it has kept me out of the armed forces, and I can't get a pilot's license (at least not in the United States). The biggest effect it has on me is really expensive seizure medication that I should take daily, and a few impressive-looking scars.

2. In college, I was in a play in which I had to grow my hair and beard out much longer than I'm comfortable with. After the play was over, I wanted to shave my head completely bald, but a friend of mine talked me out of it, because "she had to be seen with me" (which was weird, because we never hung out in the two months it would have taken to grow back to normal).

3. I'm a bit of a cheese snob. I have paid $18 for a 1/2 pound of cheese before. It really wasn't worth it, but I have to fight to remember that lesson when I'm in a store that has fancy cheeses.

4. I secretly harbor a regret that I didn't major in Astronomy in college. I've always felt that that would have been an interesting life, studying the stars professionally, going to Hawaii or Colorado to look into the biggest telescopes on the planet. Admittedly, if I had gone into Astronomy, I'd probably harbor a regret that I didn't major in acting and film.

5. I'm unusually flatulent.

There ya have it. John in a bloody great nutshell.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The 40 Year Old Virgin

I just rented The 40 Year Old Virgin and watched it last night. Now I feel like a jerk for not seeing it in the theatres. I had heard that it was some stupid sex movie, on the same order of Porky's or American Pie, and I really don't see the value in that type of film (if you do, cool, but it's not me). Boy, was I mistaken! This film was freakin' hilarious, and told a great story. Most of my readers have probably already seen it, but if you haven't, this comes with one of my highest recommendations. I've also been recently TiVo-ing The Office, and I'm quite impressed with Steve Carell. I previously thought of him as just "the guy on the Daily Show," but he's an impressive comic talent. Admittedly, he's been cast in some very well-written shows (although it seems like The Office is mostly improvised), but his performance is always top-notch. Way to go, Steve.

Note: I also watched the British version of The Office, and like them both about the same. They're different, but similar shows, both created by the genius Ricky Gervais. I somewhat like the main performances better in the British version (Ricky Gervais plays the part that Steve Carell does here), but the supporting performances in the American one are much stronger.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A New Hope

I just had my orientation at Sound Advice. Wow. I had no idea how much I didn't know, or just how far I had to move. Well, it's good stuff. One of my strengths is my flexibility, and I can adapt to doing what I've always wanted to do, but I have a lot of work ahead of me. Fortunately, they have a good track record, and work with their clients to empower them to do the work necessary to get their careers going. It'll be a lot of work, no question about that, but it'll be a lot of work that I think I can do quite well, and with a lot more passion than what I'm currently doing. Whew. Scary, but cool.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Goal Update

Since I recently posted my goals online, I thought I'd maintain the accountability, and, on the first of the month, tell you how I'm doing:
  1. Get Married: Moving along quite nicely, thank you.
  2. Move to a new place: Not sure where yet, but it'll happen
  3. Get a different job: Done
  4. Get back in the gym, and establish a regular routine: Thought about it.
  5. Get at least one Voice-over gig: My first coaching session is tomorrow, which will ultimately lead to a demo, which will ultimately lead to a gig.
  6. Brew at least three batches of beer: Thought about it.
  7. Travel at least four times: 1 down, 3 to go.
  8. Write a script: Haven't even thought about it much.
  9. Read the Bible from beginning to end: At this rate, I'll have a lot of reading to do come December.
I like the idea of having the goal update at the beginning of each month. I think I'll keep that up.