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9:39 PM - 08.11.19

My Dad: A Very Nice Much Older Man Who Died A Long Time Ago

I'm writing this entry at the end of another week or so of shooting for the documentary (Acting Like Nothing Is Wrong).

Jane R. came in on the 26th and will be leaving Monday morning.

In my estimation, it feels like she/we have gotten quite a bit done - everything from solo interviews with Brett. (My former manager) Amy. (A coworker at WW), and Cary (A return visit, after she filmed the two of us together some time back), to dance sequences at the Hotel Normandie, field trips to The Last Bookstore and the Santa Monica Pier, and more of me talking about myself than we've done in quite a while.

While it hasn't all gone smoothly - Let's just say the shoot at the Pier on Wednesday was not my finest hour and leave it at that - I think we've ended this section of filming pretty enthused about what we got.

And it feels like...well, we're not finished yet - The two of us are getting together tomorrow to discuss a trip to West Virginia (where we're planning to talk to Gregg & Kelly, Tony and Lori, and Ashley and Brittany about what it's like to find out you have a Brother/Brother-In-Law/Uncle you never knew about) - but we're both starting to see the end of at least this stage of the project (Which is the only stage I'll really be involved in. Which isn't strictly true - I'll be attending some film festivals when the time comes, in addition to participating in any P.R. we can drum up to give the film a life beyond film-festivals - but which feels true at the moment).

Fri 8/9/19 (9 am)

Have a big audition in a little bit, for the now Julia Roberts-less Amazon show Homecoming (She's not in the second season).

I've gone over and over the piece in question - a five-page scene - and plan to go over it more before the appointed hour; I'm dying to book some more shit before the year is over, so I am very invested in nailing this thing.

And like my last gig, this feels like it could do me some good (Beyond just the money and credit and good feeling that comes from booking something) - In my mind, this role has a certain similarity to the other one.

Which feels like a good thing - It doesn't just give me extra confidence that I can book it (Because I just booked a similar role), to my way of thinking, it means that if I book it, next year I'll have two roles out there of me being "that guy"...and then I could become "that guy" to casting directors (As I recently told Jane R., I don't think I would have been happy about "typecasting" when I first came out here, but 18 years in, I'm moving toward the view that "being typecast is better than not being cast at all")

(And looking at my role on Shameless, there's some space between Kermit and the other roles in question; none of the roles provide the " emotional range" I fantasize playing but they do provide an opportunity to work. And that's not nothing.)

But speaking of acting, I'm feeling butterflies in my stomach, which are telling me, "Quit doing this and start getting ready...and while you're at it, go over your lines some more, because you can't know them well enough at this point" (These are very verbose "butterflies").

Sat 8/10/19 (8:10 pm)

Well, the audition went quite well - The words "perfect" and "amazing" were thrown around (And this time out, not by me).

But because I didn't hear I booked it by the end of the business day, which probably wasn't a reasonable expectation (And it was very unlikely I'd hear today...which I didn't), I'm feeling weirdly depressed, as if "the tide has turned against me".somehow.

That's one reason why I'm fighting the strong urge to explain/analyze exactly why I think the audition went as well as it did; even though the strength of your audition is only one factor in booking the job, I still feel like a loser if I gas on about how well things went, only to not book the job in the end.

But I will say this - After 18 years out here, I think I've hit my stride in terms of prepping for an audition (And I say that based on the strength of my last couple theatrical auditions); I have gone over and over and over (and over) the lines (Making good use of the voice recorder on my phone), while trying to put as little "spin" on them as possible (Which I still find challenging - For most of my acting life, I've used the time memorizing lines as pseudo "rehearsal time" - but really makes a difference "in the room").

In the waiting area, I got a little nervous when I saw some actors I recognized (Dot-Marie Jones, the transgender actor who was on Glee, and the guy who played "Kenny Bana" on Seinfeld, whose name I'm too lazy to look up).

Thought I was over being intimidated by that kind of shit, but apparently not - I did, however, quickly "get my mind right" by reminding myself that I'm a recurring on a show right now; for all I know, the two of them were thinking, "Oh fuck! It's the guy from Shameless...!".

Anyway, I was still a little nervous going in - I really wanted this thing, and it was a casting director I hadn't met, so I wanted to impress her as well - but as I've already suggested, it went pretty fabulously. (I was pleased she had us sitting down, since that made sense to me. And I was even more pleased to be in a scene where I could use my sides as a prop - In this case, they doubled for the computer screen I was supposed to be looking at).

So anyway, now I am...waiting.

It's not fun.

And I don't feel at all confident just because I know it went well; my Women Who Kill audition went just as well, with the CD and his assistant gushing over me, and all I got was another close-but-no-cigar "pin" (Was hoping for a return engagement based on that performance...but it hasn't happened yet).

But that scene, the one I booked, and now this one have done a great deal to renew my sense of confidence; give me an actual scene to work with, and I'll definitely "make something happen".

And I have to believe that, if I "make something happen" in enough rooms, it's eventually going to mean something.


(Sometime Sunday night...)

There are two rather important "family-related" things I haven't written about...

I don't know how long it's been now, but maybe a month or so ago (?) Jane R., who was a professional researcher at one point, found out that Griggs Hoffmaster was almost certainly not my father.

Now, here's the deal - My mother originally said that Griggs Hoffmaster wasn't my father ("Your father was a very nice, much older man that died a long time ago").

So when Gregg, who is Griggs Hoffmaster's son from another marriage, contacted me online to inquire if we might be related, I said, "Almost...but not quite"

But when I finally met my mother, some 20 years later, she told me Hoffmaster actually was my father, lying to me before, I guess to spare me the shame of being the son of a scumbag.

So I then went back to Gregg to say, "Remember that 'almost...but not quite' thing? Well, I've got some news...!"

But it's almost certainly not the case.

Because Jane found out something I never knew - Not just that Hoffmaster had been in prison (I knew that), but that he'd been in prison twice (Once before marrying my mother and once - the time I knew about - while they were married).

And she had the dates.

And that second stint in the pokey began on July 1, 1960....ten-and-a-half months before I was born.

Jane also noted that, while my mother had - in writing - described my biological father as being six-feet-tall, Griggs was a comparatively diminutive 5'8".

You could say that's not definitive evidence - Maybe West Virginia was surprisingly "progressive" about conjugal visits in 1960, and she had simply lied about the height thing for whatever reason...but it smells pretty convincing to me.

And my only counter to that evidence - My brother Kelly (aka "Poor Dead Kelly") the son of Hoffmaster and my mother, looked a great deal like me - can be explained away by his not really being Hoffmaster's son either (He could certainly have been Hoffmaster's son...but there's no reason we couldn't have both been fathered by the same "very nice, much older man who died a long time ago").

While finding out, again, that Griggs Hoffmaster wasn't my father isn't blowing up my world the way it did the first time - Back then, I was really thrown by the idea that "even my name doesn't connect to anything.." - it does have one disappointing repercussion; It means my brother Gregg (Who would technically be a half-brother)...isn't.

And while I was busy losing that brother, my brother Chuck died (About two weeks ago).

(To Be Continued...)

(This stuff gets complicated, so to clarify one point - Before Jane's stirring of the pot, all the "brothers" I reference but "Poor Dead Kelly" are half-brothers. Now it looks like Gregg is actually not my brother and Kelly may have been another half-brother, and not the sole " full-on brother" I thought he was.)

Around two weeks ago I got an early morning video-call from my niece Brittany, one of Chuck's daughters.

It was early enough in the morning that I assumed it was a butt-dial - I'm not anyone's "early morning emergency call" (On top of which, we don't have a "calling each other on the phone" relationship) - but it was not a butt-dial.

She was calling to tell me that Chuck had died.

I was shocked, and couldn't think of anything to say but "I'm so sorry...I'm so sorry..." (It was a pretty short call because her grandmother called while we were on the phone).

She didn't know what happened (Which seemed strange), and in the time since, no one has said anything, which somehow suggests to me that this wasn't a "died in his sleep" death.

But in any case, the news left me sad for his kids (who'd just lost their father), and vaguely sad for myself, though I'm not sure why: I hadn't spoken to him in years, had no plans to see or visit him and had basically reduced him to a conversational punch-line (Telling people how, in my "original nuclear family", with my brothers being, respectively, a heroin-addict ex-con and a dead teenager, I was clearly the big "winner" of the group).

Now I'm uncomfortable for making him a joke - In my estimation, he had a tougher life than me (Unlike Chuck, I didn't know the mother who gave me up, I think he had it rougher in foster care than I did - He certainly didn't have a Mrs. DeHaven - and my big addictions have been TV and food, neither of which ever landed me in prison).

And I have no idea who he was the past number of years (His kids seemed to have loved him dearly, and I've seen a couple of people speak well of him online).

I tried to connect with him for a while, but it was literally hard to do - I often couldn't understand him, we'd chronically lose the phone connection (Often because he would have dropped the phone or hit a wrong button), and I suspect he was in "an altered state of consciousness" pretty much every time we spoke.

Still, I regret that the chance to meet is gone now.

I have a feeling it would not have been dull (He once invited me to come visit to "shoot guns and drink corn liquor". I think that would have been an epic Diaryland entry if I'd lived to write about it).

I would have written about the "family stuff" sooner, but in both instances, there were things preventing me from making any public statements - I needed to talk to Gregg before writing something in here (Well, let's be honest - First I had to confer with Jane about how to deal with the situation, then talk to Gregg), and in Chuck's case, I needed to wait until the entire family had been notified about his passing.

All this - plus the fact that I learned today that my brother Tony does not want to participate in the documentary - apparently we're not as far along in our "road to healing" as I'd envisioned - makes me feel like I've got more "family stuff" going on than in...well, maybe forever.

Which should make for an interesting trip to West Virginia (Which Jane has begun working on). Certainly a more interesting trip than the "I don't know this place" journey I'd originally imagined it being (I hope Tony will have a change-of-heart about participating - I was genuinely disappointed to hear he wasn't into it when Jane debriefed me on her conversation today with his wife Lori - but if he doesn't? Well...we'll just put that in the documentary.

And on that note, I think I've said what needs to be said.

So, till next time...


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