Wednesday, January 31, 2007

jefbot Rising

Things are moving along on the new website, so if all goes according to plan, I should be done with it and ready to launch sometime in the next two weeks! I've got lots of stuff planned for it, not all of which will be implemented at launch, but it should be fun! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ned

Here's a character I created for the day job. I needed to do an illustration for a "young, fastidious and nerdy... somewhat obnoxious" security officer, and came up with what you see here. I was really just trying to suggest Napoleon Dynamite, but he came out more declaration than that. Ah, well. Next up is animating him in Flash to change between five expressions (happy, sad, neutral, angry and furious) for an interactive exercise I'm working on. If I had that Cintiq tablet I ordered six weeks ago, I'd probably be done already.

My Acting Powers Grow Stronger

In the past week I've had a couple amazing casting director workshops. One was with Cathy Henderson, a casting director who has been around a long time - long enough to have cast Hawaii Five-O and Charlie's Angels (no, not the Drew Barrymore flick) back in the day. This was perhaps the best workshop I've ever taken part in. Not only did I receive the best kudos ever given to me by a casting director, but every scene (there were probably about 16 or so, in all) was rock-solid, which is very rare. Cathy cultivated a fun, creative atmosphere that put all of us actors at ease, and it really came across in the work. The other workshop was held yesterday with Lisa Essary, who brought some challenging scenes and also kept the proceedings very light and fun.

I've really gotten my groove back, lately. In the time since I filmed that AFI short, I was starting to feel a bit off my game, wondering if the demise of Dee Wallace's Acting Studio was affecting me adversely, but between all the workshops I've been doing, and the sporadic auditions I go out on, I feel I'm continuing to grow as an actor and with that is coming greater confidence.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Wii Wants It, Wii Needs It

The Wii is MINE, my precious!!!

During my lunch break earlier today, I made my regular call to the local Best Buy in Thousand Oaks asking if they had gotten in any more Wiis. To my surprise, the lady on the other end of the line said, "Yes, we just got in a few an hour ago, but they're all sold out now." I quickly called another Best Buy in Woodland Hills asking if they had gotten a shipment, too, and was told, "We just got five in. If you want one, you better come in now." I told her I could be there in 20 minutes. "Hurry," was all she could say.

Well, I pulled a u-turn, away from the Taco Bell I was heading toward, and motored as fast as I could to the Best Buy and my waiting Wii. After squealing into the parking lot, running into the Best Buy and finding the employee in the videogame section, I told him I was there for the Wii. He just goes, "Sorry. We don't have any," without even looking at me. I was about to go off, but I remained fairly calm (although out of breath) and said, "I just talked to someone on the phone who said you had Wiis here." Then, he got all red and was like, "Well, maybe. But I don't know if we can sell any of them. Let me find out. Who did you talk to?" "I don't know, a woman." "Okay." Then he bolted, and was gone for 10 minutes, at which point he returned, looked around to make sure no one else was listening, then whispered, "Follow me." Although a bit weirded out, I followed, and we silently made our way out of Videogames and through DVDs, to the Customer Service desk where he made eye contact with another employee behind the counter. He then pointed to me, the customer service guy nodded, and I heard, "He'll hook you up," in my ear before the videogame guy slipped away again. I've had drug deals less covert.

Anyway, after trying to upsell me service plans and congratulating me on scoring the Wii, I was sold the console, and was out of there and on my way back to work, which is where I am now -- with the Wii burning a hole in the trunk of my car. I thought about calling my boss after my Best Buy run and feigning sickness, but all my stuff was back here at work, so I would've had to put on quite a performance. *cough* *cough* I'm still thinking about it though... not sure if I can wait another couple hours to get out of here... Zelda's beckoning.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Call

I was totally freaking out since late yesterday when my doctor called and left a message saying he needed to speak with me right away regarding a blood test I took last week during my physical. I called his office right back but it went to voicemail. I left a message, dwelled on it all night, then called early this morning, but was told he was with another patient and would call me back. Another few hours passed and another few hundred awful thoughts went through my head until he called around noon saying my "special sugars" were a tad high and I should eat a piece of broccoli instead of a potato the next time I had the option, and to basically watch my carb intake. Greatly relieved, and happy to be alive, I celebrated by going to Numero Uno and eating a personal deep dish pepperoni pizza with fried romano bread puffs, dipped in garlic sauce and rolled in parmesan cheese.

Friday, January 19, 2007

House Party

I did a casting director workshop a couple of nights ago with Michelle Adams, casting assistant or director for a number of television and film projects including Moesha, Bad Boys II and some John Singleton pictures. Not sure if I'd actually have fit into any of those projects, but it was a fun workshop nonetheless, although the venue left something to be desired. Actually, the place itself, a large estate in the Studio City hills, was amazing and had a great view, but about 20 of us actors were scrunched into the dining room where we took turns doing scenes in a tiny space between the dining table and the bar, with Michelle about two feet from us. Throw in the owner of the house audibly snoring on a couch in an adjacent room during our scenes and you can see how things quickly turned comical. Less comical was the fact that the bathroom was out of toilet paper and soap after about 20 minutes into the workshop. Someone volunteered a small pack of Kleenex, but fortunately, I was able to keep things contained. Others weren't so lucky. Ah, actors can be a dirty bunch.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tales to Tell

Although this blog will be changing soon (new look! new name! new url!) it will still chart what's going on with me as an actor, something I've certainly been remiss about here, lately. I mean, this freaking blog is named Tales of a Working Actor (in progress) and I rarely do any entries about acting. So I'll be changing that. Probably through short notes like this one:

Last night, I did a workshop for a casting agent, Marc Chancer, from Origin Talent Agency. He seemed very cool and genuine, and hopefully I'll get a call from him soon, especially now that pilot season's underway. That'd be swell. When posed the question, "Do you really work and push for your clients?" Marc answered that he couldn't understand why an agent would ever sign an actor if that wasn't their intention. Tch. Believe me, it happens all the time. My last three agents signed me, then let me collect dust on their shelves for months. I almost blurted that out, but I kept my cool and was like, "Mm. Yeah." So, an agent that would work and push for me would be just peachy.

The sketch above is for the "acting" section of my new site. I've always had this image of Hamlet meets Terminator in my head, and I finally got it out of there and onto paper. Seemed the perfect image for the site. Anyway, if all goes smoothly, I'll be done constructing it in the next month or two. I'll be updating my progress here leading up to launch day for sure.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Rude Awakening

During the working week, I tend to wake up 15 - 30 minutes before my clock radio/cd player goes off. I usually go in and out of sleep during this time or tend to think about personal or work-related projects that are going on, before reluctantly getting out of bed when the CD starts playing (currently the soundtrack for the Tenacious D movie, which is not as awesome as it should be), which acts as the alarm. As usual, I woke up this morning ahead of "Dude, I Totally Miss You", and stayed in my "think state" for about 30-40 minutes, before looking at the clock to see how much time was left before I had to get up... only to discover it was 2:50am. I went to bed a little after 1am, so I couldn't have been sleeping for much more than an hour before waking up. Weird. I'm usually starved for sleep and it always takes a great force of will to get me out of bed. What's going on?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

iWant

I've had my Treo 650 about a year and a half now, and have been very happy with it. Lots of cool phones have come out since, some with a bunch of neat features, but I haven't really thought about replacing my Treo. That is, until now. Today was the day Steve Jobs unleashed the iPhone on the world during his speech at MacWorld Expo in San Francisco. And, wow. It's incredible.

The iPhone is basically a touchscreen iPod, cell phone and Mac all rolled into one device. It syncs to your computer just like an iPod, bringing over music, videos, Calendar, email and other data while it's charging. Since it uses OSX as its operating system, it also has widgets you can place on the dashboard - for clocks, weather, stocks and fun stuff. You can also surf the Internet in a way that isn't gimped like other cell phones, since you're using a version of Safari. The thing doesn't use a stylus or buttons either. It's designed so using fingers should never be a problem, and actually only has one button, the "Home" button which sits below the screen.

The iPhone can detect whether you're holding it vertically or horizontally, so automatically switches between portrait and landscape modes when you're watching videos or surfing the internet or even playing music. The screen can also detect more than one input - when looking at photos, for example, to zoom out of a picture you would place both fingers apart on the screen and bring them together in a "pinching" motion. To zoom in, you'd do the opposite. I think you can zoom in and out like this when surfing the web, too.

Basically, it looks like it'll do everything my Treo can do and more, and do it better. The only things I don't quite like are that it only comes in 4gb and 8gb models. Guess I won't be storing a bunch of videos or music on it. Wish it had some sort of memory card expansion slot like the Treo, too. A built-in GPS would've been nice. Also, I do a lot of text messaging while I'm driving just by the feel of the buttons on my phone - with the touchscreen, that ain't happening. Fingerprints, scratches and smudges are a concern with that huge, beautiful screen, too.

Other than that, though, I think I'll be switching from Sprint to Cingular (which has exclusive dibs on the iPhone for a couple of years) when the iPhone launches this June. I've been contemplating getting a Mac for the past couple of months, and while the iPhone is surely cross platform, I think this news, along with appletv and Boot Camp have finally tipped me over the edge.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Totally Wiik

Ever since the Wii (pronounced, "We"), Nintendo's new gaming console, launched in November, I've been casually trying to buy one, to no avail. I call a few Best Buys almost everyday, but always get the same response (if I get anyone to answer their stupid phone line, at all) - that they don't have the Wii, and don't know when they're going to get anymore in. I refuse to camp out for it, or to pay more than its MSRP, so hopefully I'll get lucky soon. I've bought a couple accessories for it though, including an extra "Wii-mote," and a Classic Controller. I got The Legend of Zelda : Twilight Princess, too. Unfortunately, they sit, unused and forlorn, in the corner of my room, waiting to be brought to life. I'm sure I'll pick up Rayman Raving Rabbids and Trauma Center : Second Opinion, sometime this week and add them to my pile of unplayed games.

Contrasting the scarcity of the Wii, I keep running into available Playstation 3s at the Best Buys I've been calling. After denying me the Wii, the employee on the line usually says, "But we have lots of Playstation 3s if you want one." No. Not yet. I'll wait until they figure out their hardware issues (scaler chip, anyone?) and have some games that a.) I want to play or b.) that at least look on par with the XBOX 360. Unless I just NEED a Blu-Ray player in the near future, I'm gonna wait. No doubt I'll get one, but not for awhile. I can only assume that the availability of PS3s means that demand for the console has taken a severe nose dive since Christmas, at least as compared to the Wii. Wow.

Speaking of HD players, I recently bought the HD-DVD add-on for the XBOX 360. I haven't bought any discs for it yet, but I watched some of the King Kong HD disc it came with and it looked, unsurprisingly, great. I'm not going to replace my DVD collection with HD discs (HD-DVD or Blu-Ray) anytime soon, but I'll probably trade in some of my recently bought, unopened DVDs (like Superman Returns and the latest season of The Sopranos, maybe), for their HD brethren, and buy HD-DVD discs for new releases from now on, when possible.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Not Cleared for Landing

Kinda old news, but still – According to the AP, a group of pilots and other United Airlines workers reported seeing a flying saucer hovering over O'Hare airport last November. It's getting press now because the employees filed a report back then, but have seen no action, either by United or the Federal Aviation Administration, to investigate the matter. In fact, the FAA denied ever receiving a report until being forced to look into their records by a Freedom of Information Act filing.

Normally, I'd be more skeptical, but there were over a dozen witnesses, including pilots, who would probably not risk their jobs over a hoax. Still, skeptic bells go off when, apparently, no video or photos were taken of the object. I mean, c'mon, these days everyone has, at least, a cell phone with one of those two capabilities. This can be explained by airport security precautions, but it is a bit much to buy that no images of the occurrence exist.

The FAA is not investigating the matter further, and is considering the sighting some sort of weather phenomena - something about lights playing off low clouds. Whether it's tricky weather, an experimental government aircraft or maybe an alien recon vessel with a faulty cloaking device, remains to be seen.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ring Out the Old, Ring In the New

Well, I hope everyone had a great time during the month of December. Christmas at Casa Schuetze was memorable as always. I got a bunch of stuff, including a JEFBOT stocking, made by my niece, which is really cool. Also received The Complete Calvin and Hobbes box set from my parents, which is just majorly awesome as C&H is probably my favorite comic strip of all time. Shoes, a new wallet, clothes from my aunt in Hawaii, and Guitar Hero II (thanks, Fig & Olive) were also under the tree. My sisters and mom made a HUGE breakfast which sated me for a couple of days. Homemade waffles, baked hash browns, egg caseroles, ham and pomegranate mimosas were just a few of the things on the breakfast table. Yum!

A Christmas Miracle occurred on December 23 when I drove to Newhall to see two, one man plays, known as The Santaland Diaries, starring my high school friends, George M. Chavez III and Erin Rivlin-Sakata. Both plays were written by David Sedaris and are laugh-out-loud funny. Erin was up first, and played a mother with problems and secrets that make the Desperate Housewives look perfectly Rockwellian. George was next, portraying an out-of-work actor who takes on a job as a not-so-cheery department store elf. Both Erin and George did outstanding jobs and were absolutely perfect in their roles. During the break, I ran into the director, Jenny Rennels-Magon, as I was waiting for the bathroom. She's another friend from high school I hadn't seen in years. We all went to BJs in Valencia, afterward and caught up a bit. A couple hours later, Erin, George and I went to Mulligans, a karaoke bar nearby to sing a couple of songs. It was a great night, and was fun to see friends I don't hang out with much anymore. I gotta do more of that.

New Year's Eve was a pretty traditional affair. Friends and family came over to my parent's house in Sun Valley for a ton of food, drink and merriment. My mom and dad barbecued teriyaki skewers and my sister made shredded pork, among other things. Guests brought an overwhelming amount of food and desserts. Again, I didn't have to eat for a day or so after. My dad set up a poker game in the patio, and my brother-in-law, Mike ran a trivia game for prizes. I set up Guitar Hero II and karaoke in the living room, which we all did for a little while until midnight. After the ball drops in New York, my family has this tradition for everyone in the house to ring this old, really loud bell out into the neighborhood, waking up any neighbors who might be sleeping. We've been doing this every year since I can remember, and this year was no exeption. Anyway, after another hour or so, when the party started winding down, and the guests made their way out, it was on. Alternating between 5 of us, karaoke reigned until about 6:30 in the morning, when the magic finally ended, and that was only because Mike, my sister Laura, and some of their friends needed to catch a plane to Vegas. Otherwise, it indeed could've and would've gone on longer.

So that was my End of '06, Beginning of '07. Can't wait to see what's going to happen this year. It's already going by too fast.