Hey Man, I’m Just Talkin’ About SHAFT

Moved to Los Angeles.
Despite overwhelming odds, managed to get job in entertainment industry.
Despite overwhelming odds, found soul mate in fellow performer.
Despite overwhelming odds, both of us got steady work as performers.
Got engaged.
Next year, we’ll be married and finally earning a good living as performers.

[opens Hollywood Reporter]

Study: New Tax Bill “Shafts” Working Entertainers But Stars Are Untouched | Hollywood Reporter

A married couple, both performers, who earned about $65,000 (or about $32,000 each) paid $1,228 in taxes but would have owed $4,535 under the new law, an increase of $3,307 or 269 percent. In other words, their taxes nearly quadrupled.

Well, shit.

Can’t Sleep. Mud Will Eat Me.

can't sleep

I heard something both fascinating and horrifying today.

I’ve been listening to “Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History” podcast lately and today I finished part 5 of his 6-episode WWI series “Blueprint for Armageddon”. Near the end of the episode, he started talking about the “Battle of Passchendaele” and how the rain had turned the barren battlefield into thick, soupy mud in which many soldiers ended up drowning.

He then quotes the following passage from Adam Hochschild’s “To End All Wars“:

A party of ‘A’ Company men passing up to the front line found … a man bogged to above the knees,” remembered Major C. A. Bill of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. “The united efforts of four of them, with rifles beneath his armpits, made not the slightest impression, and to dig, even if shovels had been available, would be impossible, for there was no foothold. Duty compelled them to move on up to the line, and when two days later they passed down that way the wretched fellow was still there; but only his head was now visible and he was raving mad.”

I’ll just be over here having nightmares.

My Top Songs of 2017

I was recently inspired by a few bloggers sharing Year-End lists of their favorite books and movies and I wanted to do the same here but, while this past year was great for me advancing at work, sadly, it wasn’t the best for watching movies or reading books.

I suppose I could go back through my Netflix history to see what all I ended up watching but, if nothing is immediately coming to mind, it certainly doesn’t seem worthy to blog about. Even worse was how few books I finished in 2017. At the start of the year, I shared this “Reading for Fun Challenge” with my fiancé and, while she’s halfway through her last book on the list, I didn’t get a single check mark. Embarrassing. I know I can’t be a good writer if I’m not reading so I’m really hoping to make that a focus in 2018.

But, one thing I DID do this past year was listen to music. A lot of music. Records and MP3s and a few cassettes and, according to an email I got recently, just shy of 40,000 minutes on Spotify.

While I don’t love the direction that Spotify has been going this past year, ESPECIALLY with their iPhone App, I have embraced having such a large library of music at my disposal. So, let’s review what, according to my listening habits on Spotify, were my Top Songs of 2017!


My Top Album of 2017:  Struts – Everybody Wants

I realize this album originally came out in 2014 and was reissued last year but I only discovered it this year (thanks to my brother) and couldn’t get enough of it.

My Top 10 New Songs of 2017 (in no particular order):

My Top Song That I Didn’t Discover Until 2017:  Hall & Oates – It’s Uncanny

My Top Movie Score of 2017:  John Ottman/David Buckley – The Nice Guys Score

My Top Audiobook of 2017:  Jocks Willnick – Discipline Equals Freedom

Spotify made me a playlist of my top songs but it was full of tracks that were work-related, movie scores (which I use for writing) or were audiobooks. So I’ve made a playlist of just songs that I started listening to in 2017.


The Dead Zone

Well, the good news is that I’ve been keeping up with these daily blog posts. While they’re not great, they’re not bad. And, more importantly, they’re being completed. So, yay me!

Also good news is that, the more I do these, the more I’m realizing what my limits are as a daily writer. I’m discovering which times of the day/week I’m more successful and which times it’s pretty much pointless pretending I’m going to write. After work is one of those times. No matter what I do, I can’t help but just grind to an unproductive halt when I get home. It’s rough because I don’t want to get up any earlier in the morning to write (I’m already up at quarter to six and that time is for my Morning Pages a la “The Artist’s Way”) and I don’t like writing these right before bed – like I’m doing tonight, and like I did that last few nights – because it gets my mind going and that’s the last thing I need before shutting the lights off.

I just don’t know what to do. If I try to nap when I get home, I’m out for an hour or 2 and it throws off my sleep schedule. If I have a lot of coffee after work, my brain wakes up but my body is still sapped of energy. No matter what I do, I lose 2 or 3 hours after work because I shouldn’t sleep but can’t find the energy to be productive. I suppose I could watch TV but that feels like I’m giving up on being creative. I don’t know.

I’m hoping that these post-work slumps are only so bad right now because I’m getting over whatever I had the past week but I worry that this is just how it’s going to be from now on. I’m just going to be worthless for a few hours after work, 4 or 5 days a week.

Maybe that’s not a bad thing?

Stockpiling Information

Seeing as we are now on the precipice of a significantly less open and more expensive internet, I figured “Hey! What a great time to share with you all some of the many benefits of having an LA library card!” (Why, it’s the Best Card in LA!)


Aside from the always remarkable ability to check out and read actual, physical books, you can also check out most of those very same books in e-book (and audiobook!) format through Overdrive! Read them on your eReader! Or your computer! Or through your ear holes!



You can also get books through Hoopla! And that service also includes music! And movies! And graphic novels like “The Walking Dead” (which will help prepare you for the upcoming apocalypse)!


Curious about the news? I really wouldn’t reccomend it.

BUT, if you’re a glutton for punishment you like to stay informed, you can get a FREE daily pass to read the New York Times!

NY Times

Or, instead of folowing the news, perhaps you just want to leaf though some magazines to distract yourself from our not-too-distant dystopian future? Well, there’s a surprisingly good collection of digital magazines available – for free! – through RBDigital.

rb digitalPerhaps you’d like to learn a new skill or trade to help you when our economy crashes and burns? Try Lynda! (Just a head’s up, you can use the service through a web browser but not the Lynda app.)


Maybe you want some digital copies of your favorite songs before streaming music sevices start reducing their selection while becoming increasingly oppressively expensive? Try Freegal! You can download 5 songs per week!


Wanna learn another language so you can move to another country that’s not slowly repealing freedoms and dissolving into a totalitarian state? Try Mango!


And, once the internet finally collapses under its own weight, you can still get your information the old-fashioned way, by checking out genuine, honest-to-god books!

In fact, get a head start by using the Library Chrome Extension. That way, when you’re browsing sites like Amazon or B&N.com, it’ll show if the book you’re looking at is available at your local library!

If you don’t have a library card, are you crazy?? Fill out an application in person at any Los Angeles Public Library location, or download the application form , fill it out and take it in! Do it while you still can!

Don’t Disturb This Groove

I had 4 HOURS between my last set today and a company meeting this evening.

So, instead of driving home and back (and therefore dealing with LA traffic 2 extra times), I got me a large coffee at Voodoo Doughnuts, found me a nice quiet spot to write some blog posts and then proceeded to be interrupted every single time I got on a roll.

I don’t know what it is about my wearing giant BOSE QuietComfort Noise-Cancelling Headphones and typing intently on a laptop in a corner away from the world that says, “Hey! Come interrupt me!” but, as hard as I tried, I simply could not finish the post I was working on. People kept sitting down to chat with me.

Now I’m home and more-than-slightly drunk (giant company meetings full of fellow actors always stress the introverted hell out of me) and have decided to finish my post tomorrow. Until then…

star war

The Night Before Christmas (or After)

That didn’t last long.

Remember how I said that, after years and years of having to work on Christmas Day, I was finally going to get to just spend the holiday at home? Well, at work today, two of my managers caught me coming back from my set to ask if I could possibly be available on Christmas.

I told them I’d get back to them and, honestly, I’ll probably just end up doing it. Considering those managers played a huge big part in the scoring that moved me up the roster recently, it’s the least I could do. Plus, it’s nice to feel wanted at work (especially since I’m not Grinching it up this year) and, of course, holiday pay.

Besides, like I said before, I don’t mind celebrating the day before or the day after a major holiday. Still, I was kinda looking forward to this, especially since it felt like a badge of honor to not have to work. Also, I’m in the middle of trying to convince my Halloweencentric finance that Christmas isn’t awful (she hasn’t had the best of luck with it in the past) and this doesn’t make it any easier.

Perhaps that’ll be the way I’ll know I’ve finally “made it” in the world, celebrating holidays on the actual holidays.

Use That Momentum

Tonight’s win felt great.

And it looks like a huge part of it happening was thanks to black voters, particularly women, getting out to vote. (White people, we gotta get our shit together!) And a lot of the organizing that helped get out those crucial votes was done over the internet.

An open internet.

A… (chokes back distaste at this awful, awful term) “neutral net”.

So, naturally, once again, people are trying to kill net neutrality. I don’t know why this battle keeps happening but, my guess? Rich people wanna get richer as well as prevent others from succeeding. (Sound familiar?)

Well, the vote’s in 2 days so let’s use the momentum from this win and get the word out.


Go to Battle for the Net or Save the Internet for more information.

Don’t let the FCC kill net neutrality.


Sent from my iPhone

I’m trying something new today as well.

I’m currently sitting on my couch, cat in my lap, attempting to do a entire blog post by dictating it into the Drafts app on my iPhone, editing it with the onscreen keyboard and then sending it to the WordPress app.

Since I started blogging back in the early aughts, I always did it from a computer or laptop so composing this way feels completely unnatural, like writing with my non-dominant hand, but mastering it could really help increase my ability to post more often.

You see, aside from trying to get myself into the habit of writing every day again, I’m hoping that this “30 Days of Blogging” experiment will really get me comfortable with the WordPress platform (I’d always used Blogger in the past) as well as with how far technology has come in the past decade.

My ultimate goal with this is to use what I learn, and any momentum I get, to help me turn an unwieldy first draft of a book I wrote several years ago into a running series of blog posts, a serialized story of my first year (and perhaps beyond?) in Japan.

When my original goal was to write a capital-B Book and have it capital-P Published and have it end up on bookshelves at the bookstore, it was such a monumental, overwhelming undertaking that, no matter how much work I did, I never felt like I was making any progress. It was an old-fashioned approach to an old-fashion goal.

But, as time has passed, I came to realize that my goal was less about HOW my stories were told, and more THAT my stories were told at all.

So, much like my goals are evolving, so are my methods.