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10:06 PM - Mon 1.28.19

Friends Come To Visit

So...what's going on?

Mark and Jane Z's visit was this weekend (Or more accurately, "Mark and Jane Z's visit started this weekend" - They left here today for San Francisco, are coming back Thursday, then leaving for MI on Sunday. They wanted me to accompany them to San Fran, but for various reasons, I opted to not).

Their flight was delayed just long enough to put them into rush-hour traffic, so by the time they got to me, they'd had a pretty long, stressful day, were hungry, and just wanted to eat something.

In addition to food of some sort, Mark had also expressed a desire for an adult beverage,

Since I didn't know where to go (I don't drink or frequent nice restaurants in my neighborhood), we wandered into a nearby hotel restaurant on Wilshire I assumed would get the job done.

It was a tragic misfire - Between the dim lighting and hard-to-read font, we struggled with the menu, and when we worked that out, the menu offerings were so fancy and eclectic we still didn't really know what we were doing (Seriously, it was in English, I think...but forget about finding something I might like - I was struggling just to find something I could order confidently and at least sorta know what I was getting ).

We also communally blanched over the prices - the dinners started at $50, which feels like a lot, particularly when you have no idea what you'll end up with..

So we dithered amongst ourselves, then dithered some more with the waiter. And eventually, we ended up bailing, even though we'd already ordered drinks (The waiter, getting that we were clearly in over our heads, was very understanding).

After getting to a sandwich place just as they were closing, we ended up at a Carl's Jr.

And, distinct lack of alcohol aside, it was just what we needed. The burgers were tasty, the music wasn't too loud (That's starting to be an issue for me - a desire for restaurants where you can actually hear each other talk), and we were the only ones in the place, so we could just relax and catch up.

Afterward, we went to their hotel - They were at the Hotel Normandie, just five blocks away from my place (And a place I can now recommend if you're ever in LA) - and chatted some more, before I headed home.

(I really liked them being an easy walking distance from me this weekend - They're in a different hotel this coming weekend, which still is pretty close, but I wish they'd been able to stay where they were at.)

Saturday the big event was seeing Wicked at the Pantages (They hadn't asked specifically to see that show, but they'd indicated they wanted to see something while they were here. And since I've never seen Wicked or been to the Pantages myself, that's what I landed on).

The tickets were crazy expensive (Apparently, it was sold out, so I ended up on some reseller site that stuck it to me good). I'm a guy who's never paid three digits to see anything ever, so to pay hundreds of dollars for three tickets (Between the tickets and assorted bullshit fees) just stunned me.

Initially, the plan was for me to buy the tickets and Mark and Jane would pay me back their portion, but a couple things changed my mind on that plan - 1) The way they responded to the $50 dinners at the hotel we stumbled into reminded me that, while I assume they're better off than me, they aren't exactly "rolling in dough" and likely didn't anticipate spending almost $500 on a single night's entertainment while they were here, and, 2) It was Jane's 70th birthday. And between that and the fact that I've ignored any number of birthdays and Christmases over the years, I owe her (And that's not just metaphorical - She floated me a number of loans early on during my time in LA, which I've never completely repaid, because I suck as a person).

So I sprang for the priciest "night-on-the-town" I've ever sprung for (Except I didn't pay for dinner - I'd sprung for Carl's Jr the first night, so they paid for dinner at the hotel before we Lyft-ed to the show).

And while I'm personally still in the camp where I can't imagine the live performance worth paying hundreds of dollars for (because as I not-completely-jokingly refer to myself, I am one of "the nation's poor"), it was a pretty special night. The Pantages is very ornate and impressive, and the show was very well done (The two leads were particularly noteworthy).

But more to the point, it seemed to really work for Jane as a "special event" to celebrate her milestone birthday. Which was the most important thing in my mind.

It doesn't make up for the fact that I suck as a friend...but it was something.

On Sunday, I did my usual work-thing, then mid-afternoon or so, they picked me up for a trip to Manhattan Beach (to hang out with Jane's cousin Bill, a retired doctor).

The drive was mildly nerve-wracking (At 82, I wouldn't say Mark is a menace on the road...but that's the direction where things are going), and we had a little bit of a challenge parking, but it was another good night out - We got some nice pictures on the beach, then had dinner at a seafood restaurant that I thought was quite good.

Thur 1/31/19 (2:30 pm)

Mark and Jane will be getting back from their sojourn to San Fran this evening (The plan is to meet with them when I'm back from work, around 8:30 or so).

The big "event" of this weekend will be doing the Paramount Studio Tour on Saturday (Doing a studio tour while they were here was Mark's request). The tour's a couple hours, then I imagine we'll do dinner somewhere nearby after - I expect fun will be had.

In other news, got official word today that Shameless is renewed for a 10th season (Realizing this sentence makes it sound like someone told me the news personally...but they did not. A friend forwarded me a news article about it, and I've since read it on other entertainment websites as well).

Sun 2/3/19 (Evening)

So Mark and Jane left for Michigan this morning.

Yesterday we did the Paramount Studios Tour,

With yesterday's rain, I was kinda wishing we could cancel. But the tickets were "rain or shine" - And beyond a little wetness right at the start, the rain gave us a break and let us do our thing in peace.

(As for the tour itself, I thought it was fine. Mark and Jane seemed to enjoy themselves, which was the most important thing. And after I got over my disappointment over not getting the pretty blonde tour guide - our guy did a nice job - I enjoyed myself as well...though I felt a little "buyer's remorse" afterward, wondering if I shouldn't have went with Warner Bros tour instead. I think there might have been more of interest there - The jewel in the Paramount Studio crown seemed to be Dr. Phil, which says a lot).

After the tour, we had dinner at Louisa's Trattoria on Larchmont.

And then they dropped me off, and that was our time together.

It was good to see/hang out with them in person. I'd been stressed about it going in - worrying about this, that, and the other thing - but it was nice hanging out with these lovely people who really wanted to hang out with me (Because, for whatever reason, I don't have any "hang-out" friends. It feels like no one really wants/needs my friendship, except in the most casual way).

And it seemed a positive sign that we were plotting my visit to Michigan at dinner - Suggesting we were parting while still wanting to see more of each other (I don't know if that would have been the case had I gone with them to San Fran - Maybe...but maybe not).

One thing we did this weekend that I wasn't looking forward to - but ended up really enjoying - was they came over to my place and we watched one of my SAG screeners (Can You Ever Forgive Me?).

(Seeing my place had been on their agenda. So when they suggested seeing a movie Friday night, I suggested watching one of my screeners instead, because the things they wanted to see were either not such good movies, in my estimation, or were things I didn't want to pay a premium for...since I had the aforementioned screeners.)

I'm extremely embarrassed over how I live, so never ever entertain company. But once they got the very brief tour of my grungy digs, we settled in (They'd brought wine. And happily, I'd recently purchased some WW wine glasses, so I didn't have them drinking out of jelly jars), I turned off the lights, and we watched The Pie Lady Of Pie Town, Jane R's doc, then "our feature presentation" (Which we all enjoyed).

They hadn't seen "Pie Town", so I was particularly happy to share that with them. And like me, they were quite impressed with it, to the point where they were giving me a little good-natured grief about my thing "living up" to it.

...which, being who I am, was something I was already worried about.

But honestly, the finished work "living up to some other thing" is not really my problem. That's Jane R's thing.

And while I can gin-up a "down-side" to doing this project - did I mention I worry about things? - there really isn't one, not for me. We do this, Jane gets it into as many film festivals as she can, it does whatever it does, and that's probably it (We've joked a little about Netflix and Academy Awards and the like, but I don't think either of us are taking any of that too seriously).

I think the best way to view this is simply as "an interesting, fun thing to do". The pleasure and satisfaction is going to come in the doing, and if there end up being any tangible results of said "doing", that's gravy (I'd like Jane to at least be able to recoup the money she's putting in - which reminds me, I need to figure out a video for fun-raising purposes - )

I'm glad I said yes to it. It's been a fun conversation piece, it's giving me something to do/think about while the year gets off to a very slow start for acting (A couple VO auditions, but no commercials and no theatrical), and I'm getting to have an experience relatively few people have in their life - someone is making a movie about me!

That's not nothing.

And that seems as good a note as any to close on, so

Till next time...


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