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7:02 am - Sat 11/01/03
Jim Is My Name. Defying Death Is My Game

Jim Is My Name. Defying Death Is My Game.

Some more-or-less interesting factoids about Yours Truly:

1. I have never been on unemployment.

2. I didn't learn how to tell time till I was in junior high.

3. I once spent two weeks in a "mental health facility".

4. For a total of about six months, I worked with "developmentally disabled" adults (First in a summer camp, then in a "day treatment facility").

5. For one semester in college, I was an "Education Major".

6. I once had a brief stint doing "Gorilla-grams" (I did four or five before quitting).

7. I didn't learn how to drive till I was 27.

8. My first public performance was singing "Peter Cottontail" in a bunny suit, when I was six years old.

9. The first competition I ever won was a spelling bee in second grade. The prize was a deck of "Old Maid" cards.

10. My head is so big that, according to one Lansing costumer, hats at a number of costume shops in town were marked as "fitting Jim Hoffmaster".


On Thursday, I saw Elephant with Pat.

It's the Gus Van Zant movie about a high school massacre--a la Columbine--that won a prize at Cannes (I forget if it won the grand prize or the directing prize or what, but it won something).

It reminded me of the first time I saw Star 80, the Bob Fosse movie about Dorothy Stratten, the Playmate who was eventually murdered by her psychotic boyfriend; Since you know how the story ends, the entire movie is blanketed by a sense of grim foreboding (Auto-Focus, the movie about the life--and death--of Bob Crane, would be a more recent example of what I'm talking about).

But beyond the inherent sadness and tension of knowing what's going to happen, I didn't think there was much to Elephant at all. Real "Emperor's New Clothes" stuff, if you ask me.

In a way, it reminded me Van Zant's shot-by-shot remake of Psycho, a project that mystified me with its utter pointlessness.

I didn't come away from Elephant with any new thoughts on Columbine. I didn't have a new understanding brought about by seeing the movie. Granted, it "stirred me up", but so did the videotape that was recently found of the Columbine killers target shooting in the weeks before the massacre (In fact, that's actually more chilling than anything in Elephant).

In short, I came away from the movie thinking "what a terrible tragedy...". But I kind of already knew that.

I wasn't sorry I saw the movie, but I just didn't see it as being especially necessary.


After the movie Thursday, I came home--I wanted to go out to eat with Pat afterwards, but was afraid I'd end up pressed for time if I did (I had an audition in Studio City at 5:25)--and hung out for maybe an hour and a half before heading out on my bike.

I'd decided to ride my bike to the audition rather than drive, because I didn't want to deal with rush-hour traffic, then having to find a place to park when I got back home.

This turned out to be a mistake.

A big mistake.

I've been to this casting place a few times before, but have always drove, and always taken the freeway; I wasn't familiar with the surface streets along the way. And while I knew it was a longer ride than my usual jaunt to work--almost nine miles, while work's about five-and-a-half--I thought if I just gave myself plenty of time, I'd be fine.

And things were fine, at least till I got onto Cahuenga. Then the ride became a lot more uphill than I'm used to dealing with, and I started seriously worrying about my heart attacking me (I had to get off my bike and walk at one point).

And then I started getting confused over my Mapquest directions, and felt the panic start to rise on that front (I thought I might end up not just being late, but missing the audition altogether).

And then the sidewalks disappeared, and Cahuenga seemed to become basically an entry onto the freeway, with a steady stream of cars going 45 miles an hour (Cahuenga eventually turns into Ventura, where the casting studio was located).

But thankfully, I'd given myself more than enough time to get there, and actually arrived five minutes early, emotionally and physically drained, but still alive.

(The audition was for some cell phone service, for a commercial airing only in Spain. I don't think I got it.)

By the time I got to the audition, night was falling, and I knew going back the way I'd came would be suicidal (A fact emphasized when my headlight batteries died. Of course, I had no replacements in my backpack, because I'm an idiot).

At one point, I considered calling Cary, but out of embarrassment or not wanting to be a nuisance or whatever, opted not to.

Then I actually got out a map and tried to figure out an alternate route, but couldn't work it out--Again, cause I'm an idiot--so then I stopped at a car repair place and asked a group of mechanics there if they knew how I might get back home without killing myself.

(Essentially, they gave me directions that amounted to going back the way I came.)

If anything, the traffic had gotten more intense than on the way there; At one point, I waited at an intersection through a number of light changes, till I realized there was never going to be a "walk" signal (When things slowed down as much as they were going to, I took the red blinker light off the back of my bike, held it aloft, and dashed across the street).

In short, the ride home from the audition made the ride there seem like a spin around the block by comparison! I was equal parts exhausted and terrified--I was really just lucky I didn't get myself killed--and tremendously angry (I guess my thinking was that I should have known this was a bad idea).

It was the single worst time I've ever had on a bike, and the worst time I've had here in L.A. since my early days trying to negotiate the freeway.

But the important thing is that I lived to tell the tale.

Well, I know you'd love to hear more tales of derring-do, but it's time for Jim's mid-morning nap...


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