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10:25 AM - 04.09.20

A Good Day In Pandemic-World

(Okay, I'm a little concerned - my laptop just made a horrible noise, went to a blue screen, then spontaneously shut down and restarted. And now just sounded like it wanted to do it again - but I'm going to press forward...)

While you'd have to make a concerted effort not to follow the news about COVID-19 these days - As in, not watch TV or go on the Internet - I've definitely "slowed my roll" in that regard. I'm not watching Cuomo's daily briefings (Or the word from LA Mayor Garcetti's office), and I'm definitely not watching the Trump shit-show.

But from what I've gathered "through the ether", there is some cause for cautious optimism; even though deaths apparently spiked in NYC in the last day or two, "social distancing" seems to be working to slow the rate of infections (There's a reason the optimism is "cautious" though - You don't want to prematurely drop social distancing and resume "normal activities", because there's a risk of starting the whole thing right back up again).

So at present, it seems like nobody knows exactly when things "go back to normal", or for that matter, what "normal" even looks like now (I'd imagine there are lots of people and entities that will be invested in adopting a "business-as-usual" attitude, in order to make that dollar. But by the same token, you don't want to be the person or entity that everyone then points to - "We almost had this thing under control until they fucked it up" - because that doesn't help you "make that dollar" either).

I shouldn't suggest the only reason anyone would want things to "go back to normal" is to "make a dollar". There is that, of course, but there's also just our human desire for equilibrium, wanting to know "things are going to be okay". But the people who will be publicly pushing for a return to business-as-usual hardest will be the people most invested in making money over anything else.

The two things I most hope change as a result of all this are, 1) The healthcare system, and 2) how we view - and treat - the "essential workers" in our society. Because this situation has really played-up how monumentally fucked-up those two things are.

Anyway, I could gas on about the current situation - I didn't touch, for example, my concerns about the negative impact this could have (And is having) on elections, or how badly Trump has fucked this situation up - but then I wouldn't really be talking about me.

Take out the uncertainty about where things are going to "land" after all this, and I continue to be doing okay.

Good, even.

Yesterday was possibly my best day since this business got started.

I woke up early, then caught up on Better Call Saul (The episode after the one I appeared on - BTW, have I even mentioned that in here? Episode #7 - "JMM" - Which I shot back in July? In any case, it aired a week ago Monday, to much acclaim).

Then I worked my regular WW meetings, which were fine, even if it's a little tedious to hear the same meeting twice in a day, and I wasn't thrilled about the recent edict that we now have to log on a half-hour before the meeting instead of fifteen minutes (But nevertheless, I felt grateful, once again, that I am working, meaning I have something that breaks up the day, provides at least some income, and gives me the daily "social contact" I'd be lacking otherwise, save for "social media" and communications with Jane R.)

After that, now that I think about it, was when I watched Better Call Saul (In the morning, I think I caught up on some of my other "stories", Better Things and Brooklyn Nine-Nine).

Then I did two Cameos that were in the pipeline, which were fun (And I was quite delighted to very quickly get a five-star review and a $15 tip from one of them).

(And I just booked another Cameo a short time ago - It occurred to me recently how this might be a really good time to "hawk my wares" in that department. Though I worried about coming off a little "crass", so I'm glad that it doesn't seem strictly necessary.)

Then I did my virtual Zumba class with Thea.

I've had pretty much continual problems making Thea's live-stream Zumba class happen, no matter what platform she's been on and no matter what device I've been on,

But while yesterday was no exception (I was using my phone in this instance), I hung on through the buffering and glitches, did the best I could, and was proud of myself afterward for sticking it out (And between my being woefully out-of-shape from not really doing it for weeks now, and trying to stay in sync with an often out-of-sync stream, it was actually still a pretty good workout!).

After that, remembering I'd gotten a notice that I was going to get a package, I decided to go downstairs and check if anything had arrived...but soon as I opened the door, I saw the package had been delivered right to my doorstep without my hearing anything.

I have a number of things "in transit",so I didn't know which package to expect, but it turned out to be the "monopod" Jane shipped to me, which she'd been told would arrive on Tuesday (Then when it didn't arrive Tuesday - to her great annoyance, since she'd paid an arm-and-a-leg to make that happen - she tracked it to someplace it Kentucky, and it told her it would arrive today).

"So Jim, what is this 'monopod' thing Jane sent you?"

A trend in "The Business" which was happening anyway, but has now been accelerated by our current circumstances, is casting directors asking actors to self-tape their auditions, rather than going into their offices.

I have been on record as really disliking this trend, for various-and-sundry reasons. But at that same time, I realize that no one gives a shit how I feel about it, so it's going to happen with me or without me and I'd better "get my mind right" about it.

Have already had one self-tape audition during "The Pandemic", which I took a shot at doing myself, before giving up and going to a place (Said place still designated as an "essential business").

But another one came up just recently, and the instructions specifically said we were not to have it done professionally (I think I've mentioned this already? How I imagined that provision was so actors didn't complain that they were being compelled to go out and risk infection to get this done?).

Anyway, I was crying to Jane about this, and particularly how I was going to have to spend money on this and that in order to make this new self-tape happen.

And thus, the "monopod", a piece of equipment Jane had that she wasn't using..

It's basically a camera tripod, but it looks more like a mic stand - Instead of three "legs", it just has three "feet" - and when I took it out of the box (Along with a number of other little treats Jane had sent along, bless her heart), it was love-at-first-sight.

I'm so easily frustrated by so much that any new program or device can be cause for anxiety, but the monopod posed no problems at all - got the "feet" to go down without any problem, easily figured out how to adjust the height, and screwed the little smartphone attachment I'd ordered into it with no muss and no fuss.

Then I played with recording a little bit (Ordered a backdrop and something to hang it off, that won't get here in time for the thing I currently have to do, so just filmed in front of my blinds, which I didn't think looked bad). And while there's clearly still stuff I have to figure out, I was very encouraged by what I saw - Basically, that I could see and hear myself clearly, which are the main requirements for a self-tape.

And with the sense of "possibility" this gave me, I was suddenly able to imagine one day getting a notice about a self-tape audition and not thinking "Fuck me...!". Instead, maybe actually being happy I don't have to schlep to a casting office, or go somewhere and blow - on average - $30-50 for a taping that, statistically speaking, probably won't get me the gig anyway.

In the past I've been downright resentful of having to do the extra work involved in a self-tape - "I'm an Actor...but now I've gotta be Camera Guy, Director, and Lighting Designer too? WTF?" - but if it gets to a place where doing the self-tapes feels like less work than the alternatives, and is cheaper to boot (After the initial outlay for equipment), I could live with that.

After playing around with the monopod and my cellphone camera, I called Jane, in part to thank her for the monopod and show her my efforts, but mostly just share my good day with her.

And it was a good day - It felt like a "full day" where I worked, had some fun, got some exercise, employed my craft a little bit, and moved forward professionally (Not just on getting this outstanding audition recorded, but on "getting my mind right" about self-taping in general).

Well, I could go on - I actually didn't get to the main point I'd set out to write about today - but my weekly call with Mark and Jane Z. is coming up quickly, so...

Till next time...


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