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Evening - Thurs 11/09/18

My Life And Semi-Interesting Times

(Well, out of chronic guilt - that I make so much use of Diaryland, but haven't paid for it in years - I just now signed up as a "Supergold" member for the next two years. Probably won't mean much on your end, Anonymous Reader, except that I should now have a comment section, meaning you'll be able to weigh in on this shit if you so desire. And I can post pictures if I've a mind to. But anyway...)

It feels like a very long time since I've written - There've been deleted drafts, both intentional and accidental, but also a lot of time where I was constantly thinking about writing, but just couldn't seem to corral my thoughts enough to put a coherent entry together.

But keeping a journal has been such a longstanding thing in my life (38 years and counting) I feel very uncomfortable when I stay away too long...even if, at the same time, I sometimes feel myself avoiding it.

But enough preamble...!

I've been thinking a lot lately about how anxious, depressed, and angry I am about the state of the country.

Emotionally, it feels like we're in a constant state of emergency. A mean-spirited, narcissistic sociopath/wannabe authoritarian dictator is running the country, lying constantly, promoting racism, xenophobia, misogyny, using whatever divisive rhetoric he feels will keep him on top, and to my horror, a good chunk of the populace is totally on-board with that.

I'd hoped a decisive enough win for Democrats in the mid-terms would make me feel better. But while I'm relieved there will be some check on the POS-In-Chief, with the Democrats regaining control of the House, the overall results were not decisive enough, in my mind, to be the total smack-down of the politics of division and hatred I'd been fantasizing about.

(I don't want to go on and on about politics because, for one thing, I don't know enough. Which is something I want to work on. But if this journal is about me addressing what's going on in my life and how I feel about it, I have to deal with politics to a certain extent - I'm more angry, depressed, and anxious about the state of the country, on a daily basis, than I've ever been in my life. In the past, I'd never thought of the President, any President, as an actual, credible threat to our democracy...but I sure as shit do now.)

But moving on...

Kind of weird day yesterday.

Had a commercial audition last week that I thought went pretty well...and apparently, it did, because I had a callback for it yesterday morning (At a casting office near the WW studio in Santa Monica. So I was able to park in my WW space, then walk from there, which was nice).

Unlike the initial audition, the callback did not feel like it "went pretty well". There were me and another actor in the main part of the spot (With another actor doing a walk-on after I leave), but I got the lions-share of direction after the first take.

(While that ought not to be an issue - as a theoretically professional actor, it's my job is to take direction - I was already feeling "thrown" by the camera guy basically telling me before-hand not to do the thing I totally thought was the reason I'd gotten the callback in the first place.)

With at least a half-dozen points of new direction to consider, I promptly screwed up on the 2nd take - which was inwardly mortifying - so we went again.

Then that was it

We weren't in the room very long, and it didn't feel like anything amazing had happened, a feeling exacerbated, perhaps, by the fact that the threesome before us had been in the room a long time, before then being called back in, I think to read for a different/additional spot.

(After auditioning, actors were asked to wait in the lobby, as the decision-makers in the room discussed things with other decision-makers in New York. In contrast to the group before us, my group was not asked to read for the other spot and were dismissed relatively quickly. Which, again, added to the feeling that nothing had happened.)

So I went away feeling pretty deflated (I really want a non-Shameless gig to put in the "win" column before the year's out).

I went home for a few hours, then headed to my VO coaching session (Where, instead of my usual "homework", we were going to record my commercial demo).

As I got there, I was imagining telling Tracy about the disappointing callback I'd just had...when I got an email from JS (My commercial agent) telling me I was on "avail" for the spot, which shoots next Thursday.

I don't expect to book it - for whatever reason, an "avail" hasn't broken my way so far this year - but it does suggest my view of the callback was somewhat...inaccurate.

The most interesting part of that, to me, is my view of being directed/re-directed - Sometimes I let it make me nervous, as if I'm not doing something right, or I'm not "getting" what they want me to do.

But other times I have the excited feeling of "being taken out for a test drive" - They wouldn't be bothering to direct me if they weren't interested, so I'm "in the running".

In this instance, I think I let that initial "Don't do the thing you thought got you the callback" instruction throw me, and I've gotta work on that.

It can be tough because that's an adjustment you often have to make pretty much instantly (" best 'take' on the material isn't what they want.."). But it's what you need to be able to do if you're a pro, and you actually want to book work.

Mon 11/12/18 (9:00 am)

Thinking about the "emotional evolution" of my response to an audition "pin/avail"...

Early on, they were straight-ahead thrilling, because it was proof that I could be "competitive" out here (I wasn't insecure about my acting ability as much as I was about my age - at 39, I worried about competing with people who'd been out here for years, with a bunch of credits to their name. So "getting on the short list" - which is what it means to get an "avail" - was a sign that I could "mix it up with the big guys", so to speak. And that was very encouraging).

And it seemed like "avails" went my way more often than not, so getting one usually felt like a happy precursor to booking the gig.

Then I got used to the idea that I was "competitive", and it seemed like "avails" sometimes went my way...and sometimes didn't. So an avail was "pins-and-needles time" - I still liked getting them (And often said - I think in here - "getting an avail is better than not getting an avail"), but it could mean "The Thrill Of Victory" or "The Agony Of Defeat".

Now I'm older, auditions (Which I've never gotten enough of) aren't happening nearly as often as they used to, and "avails" rarely seem to go my way (And don't mean as much as they used to - My commercial agent has told me that newer casting people/agencies sometimes put basically everyone at a callback "on avail" because "They don't know what they're doing and they're covering their asses").

So "avails" have gone from something to be excited about, to something that now just feels depressing and borderline cruel.

My default response to "avails" used to be "Cool!" - Now it's more like "Goddammit! Just fucking hire me already!".

I went through the rest of Thursday and all Friday not hearing anything - Which, to me, almost certainly means it ain't happening.

But...the shoot is Thursday, so theoretically, it could still happen.

And since today is a Federal holiday, it's possible the casting agency is closed.

So even though I'm "almost certain" I didn't book this, I still get to twist in the wind awhile longer...

Anyway... as I mentioned earlier, recorded my VO commercial demo after Thursday's callback.

Recorded a half-dozen spots, which Tracy will now edit down to maybe a minute, over the next week or so.

And after that, I guess I put it up on Voice 123 and the like, send it to VO agents (Reminder to self: Check and see if BBA, my theatrical agency, has a VO division - JS, my commercial guy, does not), and start trying to make VO happen.

Anxieties aside - about the money I'm laying out (The equipment, the demo, and signing up for Voice 123 will total around $1250, and I imagine there are more expenses in the future), my ongoing technical fears (I'm still ducking becoming more conversant with Audacity, though I can do basic recording at this point), and the sense of uncertainty about a new venture (And I want this to be the thing that eventually allows me to quit my day job and embrace acting full time, so there's a lot riding on it) - I am enjoying working on the VO stuff.

(Just hearing about the death of Stan Lee. Saddens me, since comics have been such an important part of my life, especially as a kid.)

I was talking to my date Saturday night - more on that in a bit - about how most challenges I've faced in recent years have felt imposed on me, things I didn't want to deal with that just made me think, "Why does life have to be so hard?", but with VO, I have the first challenge in years that I feel kind of invigorated by.

I don't think the importance of that can be overstated.

And it is proving to be a challenge - I don't mean the technical stuff about sound programs and the computer and whatnot, but the actual performing of VO pieces.

The biggest issue/challenge for me seems to be to "act" the pieces (As opposed to just reading them well - I can be a little too worried about the sound of my voice, apparently, from some of the feedback I get from Tracy. Which might come from both a lifetime of being told I "have a nice voice", and a natural tendency - according to VO actor and coach Bill DeWeese - for us all to slip into "performer/announcer mode" when we get in front of a mic, when what's required in this day and age, most of the time anyway, is something more authentic and conversational).

And I have, more than once, felt chagrinned when, after recording something, Tracy has basically told me, "You read it well, but you didn't really act it" (One of the other "challenges" to acting these things is that it's just you - no sets, no soundstage, no other actors, nothing. In effect, you don't have to just create your performance, but every other thing that's going on as well. That's not something I've had to do much in the past).

It's a challenge...but one I feel motivated to engage in, probably because, ultimately, I'm confident I can master it (Doesn't mean I still don't sometimes feel like I'm dogging it - not working as hard as I could/should - but that I fully expect I will hang with it until I get it, and start experiencing some measure of success as a result).

This past Thursday was a big day - Did the callback, got the avail, recorded the commercial demo, and in the evening, called a woman about a date (And she said yes) - and it would all seem to be pretty positive shit - so it was disconcerting when I was hit by a pretty huge wave of depression I still feel like I'm wrestling with.

(I don't want to get deeply into this, because I'm running out of time and want to finish this before I leave to meet up with Jane R., who just got to her hotel a short time ago, about the documentary - but I think what happened was that the callback didn't feel good, the avail just felt like a cock-tease, the commercial demo was fun to do, but cost me $400 when not that much money is coming in, and at this point in my life, there's a higher stress level when a woman accepts a date from me than when she doesn't.)

Cynthia is the woman Mia wanted to fix me up with when she opted out of going to the Shameless wrap party (That I ended up going to with my friend Katie instead).

There was a period of time where I thought nothing was going to happen - I'd friend-requested her on Facebook, per Mia's suggestion, then texted her, and had gotten no response for weeks. We then had a brief chat where I discovered she's something of a Luddite and doesn't text or do much on Facebook. But when I said, in that case, I'd call her soon, she never responded back - but then the day before the midterm elections, I downloaded this app to send texts out to my friends/contact list making sure they voted, and she responded back with her number and words to the effect of "Let's do it" (Which I assumed meant "Yes, let's go out", not "Yes, let's participate in our democracy by voting in the midterms").

The plan on Saturday was to go to a SAG screening of the Nicole Kidman movie Destroyer, then go out to eat afterward.

But I took a Lyft, and made the mistake of economizing by doing the "shared ride" option - As a result, I was a good ten minutes or so later than I'd intended, and we were turned away (Along with a couple dozen other folks) when the venue was full (They overbook these things, which is why it's a good idea to get there earlier rather than later).

And I hadn't thought about where to go after - and was nervous that Cynthia, as a caterer, would blanch at Subway or the like, which is the level of "restaurant", as a WW-er and a poor person, that I'm most comfortable with - but we ended up eating at the restaurant at the ArcLight in Hollywood, which seemed fine.

I'm not sure how old she is, exactly, but she looked age-appropriate to my eyes (She could even be older than me, it's hard to say), and I'm happy to say, I found her attractive - She's Greek, slim, with black hair, maybe 5'3" or so.

The talk was easy enough, we seemed fairly comfortable with each other, and we seemed to agree afterward that a second outing would be warranted.

I'm not without concerns - the main ones being a suspicion that she's "fancier" and more "adult" than I am - but as I was thinking that a strangely mature thought popped into my head ("Well, that's not up to me to decide, is it? That's up to her").

And there's more to write about, but I'm pretty much out-of-time.

So, till next time...

(Hopefully, when I publish this, a comment link will be at the bottom, so if you want to weigh in, please do...unless you took issue with the political stuff and want to make a case for Donald Trump, in which case, you can keep it to yourself. Thanks!)


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