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12:29 pm - Fri 2/21/03
My Vacation, by Jim Hoffmaster

My Vacation, by Jim Hoffmaster


Thu 2/20/03 1:10 pm

Continuing difficulties getting/staying online, at least as of last night; After getting home from work, I spent probably 45 minutes trying to stay online long enough to check my Hotmail account (Of course, when I did, it was all junk).

Feeling like if I don't get to this soon, a journal entry on my recent week off is going to go by the wayside. So as quickly as I can--I have an audition this afternoon, then work, so I want to sneak in that precious "nap time" beforehand--here's my vacation week in review...

I didn't think I was in any serious danger of blowing my recent windfall during this past week off (Jokes about spending it on "hookers and beer" aside), but that said, I was still pretty happy with myself for keeping the extraneous spending to a minimum. I went to one movie (The new Pedro Almodovar movie Talk To Her), had fast food once, and spent maybe 5 or $6 on junk food throughout the week.

I know I was crying in a recent entry about my rapidly disappearing wardrobe--Particularly pants--so it was nice to have the opportunity to shop for new clothes (New to me, anyway; My first outings were to Out Of The Closet--Or "The Gay Goodwill", as I think of it--then to the actual Goodwill).

At Out Of The Closet, I bought two pairs of pants--A blue pair of Dockers (Not "navy", not "periwinkle", but something in between), and something in the brown/rust continuim. Basically, they were the first two pairs of pants I found in my size, because I found myself quickly getting frustrated and overwhelmed by the ton of crap I was having to wade through.

At Goodwill, I bought a dress shirt (Bringing my dress shirt total up to "two"), and a sport coat I was very happy with (I didn't know how I was going to describe it in here, but later, on an outing with Cary and Kay--which I'll get to in a bit--we determined "herringbone" was probably closest).

On Sunday, I shot Missing Breath, the student film I've been involved with for a couple weeks now.

I was somewhat less than professional in my preparation for the experience; I procrastinated till Saturday about going over my lines--I hadn't looked at them since the last time we'd rehearsed, two weeks before--then, while I went to bed at 10:00 pm (The shoot was scheduled from 7:00 to 11:00 the next morning), I got up at 11:30 to watch Jennifer Garner guest-host SNL.

But all that aside, I got up at 5:45 that morning (I always gave myself more time than I needed to get to the rehearsals--consistently getting there early--so I didn't want to blow it on the most important day of all), and drove to a liquor store a short distance from the college (Cal State-Northridge) for my "location shoot".

Initially, I felt like an outsider; The crew were, I assume, classmates, and in any case had been working with each other for the length of the shoot (Aside from pickups--establishing shots of locations and whatnot--this was the last day of filming).

But at the same time, I also felt the excitement of being "the show"; All those people, all that equipment, was there to record my work. I must admit, I got a kick out of that.

I got there probably a half hour early, and we started over an hour late, because the owner of the liquor store didn't show up till his regular opening time of 8:00 am (Here's a "sobering" fact; This guy opens his store at 8 am Sunday mornings...and has customers. He was having to turn away people while we were shooting. I was pretty appalled).

By my perspective, aside from the late start, things seemed to go fairly smoothly. There was some tension--between Keith (The Producer) and Leor (The Director), and between Leor and "Robert" (The Lead, whose real name I can't think of at the moment)--but most importantly to me, there wasn't any "tension" between me and anyone. I just hung out while they were setting up, and tried to keep myself entertained (I almost bought one of the lighter/stiletto switchblades that were sold there, but then I thought, "What the hell are you going to do with it, Jim? Knife someone, then have a smoke afterwards?").

When the time came to actually shoot the scene (Two scenes, actually; there was the main scene of the day, but also a "flashback" to my character's initial introduction to "Robert"), I thought it went quite well; We rehearsed it a few times, shot it (The flashback in one take, the big scene in two, or maybe three, takes), and after a bit of a wait to see if they wanted me for one more shot--they didn't--I was on my way.

Two things I came away with from the experience...

While I know there will be film experiences that will be more "technically challenging" in my future, I was happy that, at least in this case, acting in front of a camera didn't seem a whole lot different than acting anywhere else.

I had a good enough time, doing this no-budget, no frills student film, that I think when you add a dressing room (It would have been nice to have someplace to retreat to while they were setting up. That was pretty boring), and a paycheck afterwards, this really is going to be the life for me!

When the shoot ended--Not that much later than scheduled, considering the late start--I drove directly over to Cary and Kay's (Right before my vacation, I'd called Cary to tell him I'd be having the week off, hoping we'd be able to find some time to get together).

I was concerned about my energy level with Cary and Kay, afraid I'd be overwhelmed with fatigue due to my early wake-up time, and thus not much fun, but between my happiness at finishing my first student movie, and my usual pleasure at being in their company, I had a great time with Cary and Kay's.

(To Be Continued...)

Fri 2/21/03 9:55 am

(Just got back from moving my car. I had an audition yesterday afternoon, so I drove directly to work afterwards, and it took forty-five minutes to find a parking spot when I got home last night; I ended up about six blocks away, in a spot where I had to move before 10:00 am today in order to not get a ticket. But I applaud my relatively calm, restrained reaction to the ordeal--I only screamed curses at the top of my lungs twice).

Anyway, where was I...?

There was a very nice surprise waiting for me when I got to Cary and Kay's on Sunday; They had visited--I think I'm getting the story right here--the frame shop where Kay used to work, and while they were there, the owner asked if they wanted a poster of Amelie (It was supposed to be framed for someone, but somehow it had gotten slightly damaged, with very minor "imperfections" on the left-hand side; If you aren't looking too carefully, they could easily be mistaken for part of the background pattern).

Cary and Kay saw Amelie and weren't particularly knocked-out by it--Unlike Yours Truly, they were apparently immune to the charms of Audrey Tautou---but they said "Our friend Jim would really like this...".

And their friend Jim really does (Adding to the "coolness factor", it's a French poster, to which I say "Ooo la la..."). It now occupies a place-of-honor above my "work table".

(Adding to the "Xmas in February" feeling, they also gave me a floor fan they weren't using, which will come in handy as things heat up over the next couple months.)

We had talked about going to a movie in the afternoon, but a quick scan of the paper revealed there were only a few things worth seeing, which I had already seen, and a lot of crap (I would have been game to see Chicago again--I've been tempted to every since I attended that free screening, and still might--but Kay doesn't like musicals).

So we went to Wendy's for lunch, then went shopping (To Marshalls, Ross, and Best Buy).

(I wondered for a time if this was strictly for my benefit, but quickly realized that they wanted/needed some things, and Cary probably knew from reading Diaryland that I was looking to add to my wardrobe as well.)

While Kay looked through the women's stuff, Cary helped me work my way around the men's section; I ended up with two pair of dress pants--one black, one gray (Both of which will work very nicely with my new sportcoat)--some undies, and a new pair of Rockports (I'd be a great spokesperson for Rockports, by the way; I was having major trouble with my feet before investing in my current pair, which I've had for years. I've had them re-soled twice, and only bought this new pair because my current pair are finally starting to wear out on top; There's now a small hole over the right little toe).

It was a great help having Cary there, not to mention just making the experience a lot more fun.

And I finally learned my correct sizes (I've been "guess-timating" on my commercial audition "size sheets", and it turns out I've been consistently "guess-timating" I'm not as fat as I actually am. My suit size is "48 regular", not 46, my neck is 17" (Maybe even 17-and-a-half), and not 16-and-a-half, and I'm afraid we are back up to the dreaded 40" waist (Though one source of frustration for me has been how not all "38s" are created equal; I've got a closet full of "38s", and some fit fine, while others cause me to lose sensation in my legs when I try to squeeze into them).

One sad note during this experience that I'm still recovering from; I'm in definite need of a dark suit for auditions, and we saw a suit that would have been perfect--Black, with very subtle pinstripes--but it was one size too small (That's when I discovered my real suit size, thanks to Cary's keen eye), and it was the only one.

(There's actually a Ross a half mile or so down the street from work--I've never went, because I thought they just sold womens clothes--so I may check that one out on my next day off.)

At Best Buy, I found myself hugely tempted by the cd players, but Cary talked me down, saying the cd-rom on the computer I'll be getting from him is in good shape (I'd like to have a three-cd changer stereo, but of course, don't strictly need one. Nevertheless, at some point, I will be wanting to get a CD/cassette boombox; At this point, I still have as many cassettes as cds in my music collection).

After all the shopping--and in a testament to my self-involvement, I can't tell you for sure what Cary and Kay bought (I think Kay bought some "yoga pants", Cary may have bought some white basketball shoes, and I do know that they bought a big pack of blank cds at Best Buy, because there was some confusion at the register about the rebate offer)--we went back to their place, where we made chicken fajitas (And I actually did "help"; I cut up the onion and pepper, and didn't lose a single finger in the process).

Then we basically just hung out, watching tv and chatting about whatever (We watched the beginning of The Music Man, with Mathew Broderick, which I had kind of been interested in seeing; We watched it through the "Trouble" number, but I wasn't too impressed. As much as I like Mathew Broderick, I think Robert Preston's stamp on the role is just too indelible).

They went to bed around 10:00, being actual adults like they are, while I stayed up till 3:00 am.

I'd asked Cary if I could borrow his computer, but I turned out to be in that "limbo" I often get into late at night--too awake to go to sleep, too tired to do anything too high-functioning--so I didn't end up writing the Diaryland entry I was thinking about doing.

I ended up just watching tv (That's when I saw the Michael Jackson thing, as well as a wonderful segment of Inside The Actors Studio, with the cast of The Simpsons), and having yet another piece of the delicious lemon squares Kay had made for dessert earlier.

Even though I went to bed hours after they did, I still woke up earlier, and thought about going into the living room and watching some more of that wonderful cable tv, but worried that I would wake them up, so I stayed in bed another hour or so, and by the time I got up, Cary was at the dining room table, reading the paper, and Kay was up shortly thereafter.

We had coffee and pancakes--Kay seems to have mastered the art of not burning them to a cinder, unlike certain novice cooks I could name--and chatted. It was nice (Sometime afterwards, one word popped into my mind to describe the feeling I usually have at Cary and Kay's--relaxed. I feel like I'm always stressing about something here--my money woes, my acting career, etc--and being at their place, where I'm so comfortable and happy, feels like a real vacation).

I would have been content to hang out for awhile, but something was telling me not to overstay my welcome, so I left fairly soon after breakfast, having a pretty uneventful drive home--Just me, my new clothes, my Amelie poster, and my fan.

As my vacation week began, I recall thinking, "This would be a perfect time for me to have three or four commercial auditions...". So of course, I didn't have any...until Tuesday, my very last day off before going back to work.

This was actually the source of some more-than-moderate upset on my part...

Checking my voicemail on Saturday morning, there was a message from JS, saying that they had tried to page me four times the day before, with no response, that I should check my pager, but that I had an audition on Tuesday, for Nutrigrain bars, at Westside Casting.

This freaked me out, because at no time on Friday was I separate from my pager (And even if I had been, it should have been "paging" me with the "unread" pages until I checked it). But in any case, after getting that message, I "paged myself" a couple times, and all systems seemed to be "go", so I called JS back, and left a message on the machine saying the pager seemed to be fine now, and that I was fine with making the audition on Tuesday.

The audition was not one of the kind that are my favorites; No lines, just being shuffled in in groups to be put on tape, while we answered the question "What's the weirdest job you ever had?" (My answer? A toss-up between "Belly Gram Escort"--accompanying a male belly dancer to bachelorette parties and such--and "Wedding Reception M.C.").

I don't like those kind of auditions, because it doesn't seem to have anything to do with acting, and even if the decision is always arbitrary and out-of-my-control, it seems even more arbitrary and out-of-my-control.

And that, my friends, was my week off from work.

And that seems like a good place to end this entry (I'll give you the scoop on yesterday's audition next time)...


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