Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I've Been Otherwise Occupied, Okay?

So. Yeah.

     Because I'm getting divorced. That's where I've been. And, as it turns out, getting divorced takes up a lot of bandwidth. Not as much as algebra (at least, in MY case), but still. DRIVE IS FULL. I forgot my daughter's name twice this week. And I really like her.

    For  anyone who has read this space for any length of time (all three of you), this announcement probably doesn't come as a huge surprise. (If this is your first visit, jump to here immediately. It's way funnier. I promise. This one's pretty funny as well. All I'm saying is, give me a chance. Don't start reading this blog with the "divorce" entry, because you might get the impression that I'm all gloom and sadness and flannel shirts and medication, which, yes, I DO take medication, and I own a couple of flannel shirts, and yeah, I get gloomy and sad from time to time, and that should be okay, and writing about it helps, and who the fuck are you to judge me, anyway? Seriously? You read ONE post on this thing and you think you know me? Fuck you, new person. Unless you're not being judgmental. In which case, welcome, new person!)

     What the fuck was I talking about?

     Right. I'm getting divorced.

     The worst part is over, because the worst part was telling my daughter. I'm not about to say something to the effect of, "But, you know. Kids are resilient. She's doing fine." I've had friends going through divorce tell me that about their kids, and my response is always the same: that is bullshit on stilts. My daughter's family just got split right down the middle. So she is not doing fine. She is coping, and she's in counseling, and she has good days and bad days. On the good days she is adjusting to the new normal, and on the bad days I pull her out of school early, and she cries and we go get milkshakes. Because milkshakes make things tolerable, if not necessarily better. Especially milkshakes with whiskey in them, which, by the way, Chick-Fil-A frowns on, if you're doing that in their restaurant. I love Chick-Fil-A, but they are clearly run by fascists. (If you don't laugh at that, you're probably a fascist.)

     Now we're into the tedious process of unwinding nearly twenty years of shared life. That's the kind of thing that makes me want to go to sleep. But we're nearly done, and we're amicable, and we both just want to get to the end, so we can begin again. Friendly, if not friends. That'll do for now.

     Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I haven't stopped writing. Once I get settled into the new digs (I move on Saturday), and I get some shit hung up on the walls (because bare walls are deeply depressing), I'll likely be more consistent. To those of you who have been with me through this process, whether by calling, or texting, or buying me a lot of drinks, or sharing a meal, or literally putting a roof over my head - words are kind of puny to express my love for you. I have the most awesomest friends in the universe, and that is simply a matter of fact. Which is proof positive that, sometimes, jackasses get lucky. Not lucky enough to go to Vegas and win big.

     But still. Pretty damn lucky.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

This Is Some Glamorous Sh*t, Y'all.

     The following is an excerpt from my book, Making Sh*t Up: An Improvised Life, which no, I still haven't finished and, yes, I am trying to finish. Except that I've been binge-watching all eight seasons of 24, and even for me that's unhealthy. But it does explain why I haven't posted in a while. I'm almost done, I swear. With 24, I mean. Not the book. I'm pretty far along with the book, and what follows is, I hope, a fairly representative sample. Which means that you can basically decide right now whether you want to read it or not. Provided I finish it. Fuck, I'm rambling. Here's the excerpt:

     The first commercial I ever did I was dressed up as a giant green number 5. No shit. The Texas Lottery was launching a new game – or, as some would state it, a new way to take money from desperate people who had a better chance of being struck by lightning while being mauled by a grizzly than they had of winning the lottery. The game was called Pick 3, and some ad guys in a room somewhere, who drank way too much coffee and probably never liked actors, thought it would be a capital idea to dress ten people up in giant, foam-rubber Gumby costumes shaped like numbers. I was the fifth of those people.
Like so. Except I was Number 5. Also, I'm not black.

     I think we shot the commercial on the stage of The Majestic Theater in Dallas. I also thought the Majestic had not been paying its utility bills, because the A/C was off, and it was summer, and I was in a black unitard and wearing a huge foam costume that sealed in, rather than ventilated, heat. I later learned that the producers turned off the air conditioning because it was too loud, and it interfered with the recording of our dialogue. That there were ten of us in suffocating costumes, in an old theater in the middle of a sweltering summer, with no conditioned air, seems not to have bothered – or even occurred – to the director, producer, and ad agency folk. At least, not until a couple of the female numbers started to pass out from heat exhaustion and dehydration.
     I was the “spokesperson” for the spot, which meant I had the most lines. There weren’t many, as this was only a thirty second commercial. But I found it difficult to concentrate, suffocating as I was and about to drown in my own sweat. People who work on commercials very often have to solve problems on the fly, because when ad agency guys think up the crazy shit they want actors to do, they rarely pause in their brainstorming to consider potential problems. Example: Once we all got into our costumes (no easy feat), we soon discovered that mine had a problem. Picture the number 5 in your head. See that straight line across the top? That was resting on top of my head, and my face was poking out in the side wall of the 5. Except the costume was made of foam rubber, and so the top line of the 5 drooped on either side, making me look like a very depressed and sad number. What was needed was something to place on the inside of the top of my costume that would keep the foam rubber straight and true.
     Somebody’s ingenious solution? Glue a piece of two-by-four inside the top of the costume. And it worked.  The top of the 5 stayed straight and true. The problem (only for me, and nobody else) was that the two-by-four now rested on my head. And the costume weighed in excess of twenty pounds. And I wore that costume for ten-plus hours. I still have a groove in my head, in the shape of a two-by-four.
     I wasn’t the guy who got the worst of it that day. The dude who was Number 0 was asked by the director if he’d be willing to try a cartwheel across the stage – because what’s funnier than a cartwheeling 0? As we all wanted to make the director happy (because a happy director might remember you for his next commercial shoot), our intrepid number 0 said yes, he could absolutely do a cartwheel across the stage. So the camera begins to roll, and 0 takes a couple of halting steps (range of motion in these costumes was a joke), and begins a cartwheel, realizing too late that his arms are forced forward because of the costume, and he cannot get them over his head, and so what hits the stage is not his hands but the top of his skull. For one awful second he was frozen in that upside down position, before collapsing in on himself like a jelly donut with its filling suddenly, violently sucked out of it. Many hands rushed to the stage, to see if 0 was still alive, which would determine whether they gave him medical treatment, or whisked his corpse away to a rock quarry somewhere far out of town.
     0 survived the incident, and I think the first half of his failed attempt at a cartwheel actually made it into the final spot. I lost five pounds (mostly water), and required an IV drip to rehydrate, two numbers went down with heat exhaustion, and 0 sustained a mild concussion. All in the name of a lottery commercial.

     See? This shit is as glamorous as you think it is.