Friday, December 19, 2008

T-minus 4 days...

until I return home to New Orleans.
well, i go to Texas first- see the family there, spend a few days on the pops' Ranch and then to The Big Easy.

i'm pretty stoked.

after 5 1/2 years, Los Angeles is my home. but, my Home is New Orleans. I guess you could get technical and say that the South is my home, but New Orleans is where most of my family and my friends are.

it's about this time every year- that is to say first week or so in December- that i get burned out on Los Angeles. it becomes hard to work, hard to socialize, hard to even audition. it just gets to be enough. time to recharge, time to reboot, time to get back to the roots and have some relaxing time with the family. eat good food, catch up with the folks, play some tennis, watch how much the little brothers and sisters have grown, maybe do some shootin' on the Ranch (okay, so yes we are a little redneck).

Los Angeles...well, it is what it is. It's amazing.
But sometimes you have to pull the plug on it.

So, then i go home and when i return i am ready again. by the time i come back, i long for my own life out here again. I take the time I'm at home to forget about L.A. for a little bit--- but then after maybe the first half of the trip, is when I've cleared my head and I start to put together my Goal List for the year (both professionally and personally) and I write and I just find the motivation again.

The holidays have to be taken seriously.
You have to re-charge so you don't truly burn out.

That's an important lesson I've learned.

*I'll try to follow up with pictures of my trip, the ranch, the fam, the friends and so on...*

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I could never be President.

Senator, maybe. Congressman, most likely.

But, I'm too worried about making people like me. I'd get bought in a second if the lobbyist were charming enough.

But, boyyyyy do I like some Barack Obama!!!
Go youtube his Meet The Press with Brokaw from today.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


I've got my eye on you.
I've kinda let this go on too long without the
whatever you wanna call it
and now it's time for me to get ya.
Time for you to get me.
cuz, really, all this dancing around it
is just plain stupid.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Word From Your Friendly Server....

Ladies and gentlemen, the truth is this:
most of you suck.


Most of you suck when you come into restaurants to dine or drink or whatever the hell you come there to do (you'd be surprised).

Allow me to elaborate on some dining knowledge I have gained:
1) Stereotypes hold true. To avoid being pigeon-holed as this or that, I am only going to pick on one group: women. Ladies...when you come to a restaurant in a group, more often than not the servers in the establishment of your choice begin to draw lots to find out who gets fed to the Lionesses. That's no joke. You are generally FAR more high-maintenance and picky and likely to modify everything you order (including the tap water that we can't charge you for) and complain and if you don't complain to our face you'll complain when we're not there so we have no way of knowing that you are actually upset and then you take it out on us when giving what you call "a tip."

The behavior women exhibit in restaurants is more often than not appalling. And women belong in the Top 5, if not Top 3, of groups that do not tip well. So, you can imagine why we run from having to serve you.

There are exceptions to every rule.

2) Old people. Take a lesson from someone younger than you: things change. That's right, the world has changed. What constituted a generous tip in 1953 does NOT constitute as a generous tip today.

3) 9 times out of 10, if your food comes out wrong, it's the kitchen's fault. And we do not cook your food.

4) Servers also do not make your drinks.

5) If we do a good job, tip us. In many European countries, a service charge is included in your bill. There is no such thing as gratuity. Soon, that will be your fate if you continue to suck. Also, not tipping a server who deserves it is the same thing as me coming to your office, buying $1000 of whatever you sell and only paying you $800 cuz I just feel like that's what you need/deserve/what I want to do.

6) If we take care of you, you take care of us. Next time you charmingly ask me to take off a corkage fee or some other charge just cuz you don't want to pay for it and I do it, prepare to compensate me for the lost sale (that you have to tip on) or I will add the charge to your credit card after you leave.

7) Servers are there to serve you (which should be a good thing for you- one that makes life a little easier for you), not kiss your ass. Don't treat me like a bitch or, trust me, you'll pay for it.

8) We have bad days, too. And if you act like a cock on one of those bad days, you're probably gonna get bad service.

9) If you're a regular to some restaurant or bar, learn how to tip well. Or you might as well stop coming in.

10) My grandmother believes a correct tip means you double the tax. There are many reasons why this is wrong and stupid, but the only thing you need to know is it's wrong. And stupid.

11) 10%- not a single goddamm thing went right during your time at the place and your server
couldn't find his dick with a map and GPS system.
15%- things were fine but the server was rude/undesirable/smart ass/lazy.
18%- if you're being TRULY honest, your server was good. you don't even really have to be
in the mood to listen to him/her speak, or like him or want him around, but if he/she
did his/her job, 18% is what you leave. Whether you like it or not.
20%- your server was great. He was pleasant, charming, made good recommendations, and
most things went smoothly. What I mean by most is that everything the server
ACTUALLY has something to do with went well, or at least a genuine effort was made.
More often than not, we as servers don't really like you. But it's our job to pretend we
do. It ain't easy. If you don't help us out, don't come back.
*Over 20% is always appreciated and you will be totally taken care of next time you come
around. It's never expected, but believe me, you will be remembered and cared for next
12) Tip/gratuity is part of dining out. Might as well factor it in to your dining budget. In a time when the economy is in the shitter, if you can't afford to tip what your server HONESTLY has earned, stay home and wait til you can.

Cuz if you come in and get taken care of and leave a shitty tip, you're an asshole.
End of story.

Thank you for your time.

*This rant has been brought to you by:
My Temper.*

It's Nice To Be Awed Every Now And Then.

Can I share something with you?

I don't know how you people out there feel about theatre. More specifically, I don't know how you people feel about musicals. When it comes to theatre, I think a great play will trump any great movie any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

When it comes to musicals, I think they are so rarely done well that it's almost pointless to expect too much out of them.

But, if you're in Los Angeles, go see Spring Awakening at the Ahmanson Theatre. I am now 3-for-3 with shows I've seen at the Ahmanson and let me tell last experience was quite possibly the best experience I've had as an actor and supporter of theatre. It was natural, then, for me to expect something less impressive this time around. Especially considering SA is a musical version of a play that I think should never be produced at this place in history because it is dated and doesn't translate well to English (from its original German).

However, this production was simply amazing. The music has been in my head since I walked out of the theatre and the acting of the cast- though not the best I've ever seen- was extremely honest and inspiring to watch. The lights, the set and just the entire conceptualization of it is innovative and wonderful. All these things added together, plus having witnessed the show from the 2nd row, update the show in a way that its message is loud and clear and heartbreaking and uplifting and exactly what I think good theatre ought to be.

I rarely expend the energy to write what ends up free publicity for a play I'm not in, but this show totally deserves it. And everyone involved in its production deserves to have you go see it.

Spring Awakening, The Ahmanson Theatre, downtown Los Angeles, til December 7th.

Hell, I wanna go again. It's expensive, though...

anyone wanna buy me a ticket? :-p

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Trials of Ms. Keller

My 4th grade teacher, Ms. Keller, hated me.

She had it in for me.

I'm serious.

My 4th grade teacher, Margaret Keller, at St. Louis King of France School was a former nun. Overweight. Sexless in appearance. Drab clothes. Exactly what you would think a former nun would dress and look like.

She was strict. She was dogmatic. The nickname she had amongst the kids in school that I'd heard for her since the first grade was Killer Keller. Hearing this, of course, I prayed hard every day starting the last day of 3rd grade (where I'd had the most angelic sweet teacher, Mrs. Johnson- who also did voices for every single character for every story she ever read us, especially the Ramona Quimby stories) through that summer that I would get Mrs. Sherrell instead of Ms. Keller. Killer Keller.

You can imagine my disappointment, then, when I found my name on Ms Keller's roster the first day of 4th grade. So much for constant praying...maybe once is enough? Anyhow, Killer Keller didn't seem to like me from the start. Within a month, Ms. Keller had decided she was going to fix the way I sat in my desk chair. Which- like many young hyper kids- was on my legs. She would stop her lesson right in the middle and call me out in front of all the other kids and say things like "We'll wait, Nate, until you get off your haunches" or "You know, you're going to cut off the circulation in your legs and have a heart attack if you continue to sit like that."

Once, she even threw chalk at me- which I thought was awful and terrible until my later years when Coach Frazier used the same tactic in High School Biology class sometimes 2 or 3 times a class to wake up nappers. Then I realized Chalk Heaving was a well-known educator tactic in New Orleans.

No other teacher before or after ever called BOTH my parents as much as did The Killer. This was especially dirty...cuz my parents were divorced. So, she would call one- make that one angry, or worse, disappointed- then she would call the other one, just to make sure it got back to me. I actually got the sit-down talk from the parents AT THE SAME TIME telling me I need to straighten up.

As the only child of divorced parents, I was NOT used to being scolded by them BOTH at the same time. My mom yelled with those hot, angry Italian eyes burning into me and making me hurt all over and my dad just glared at me while biting his lower lip--- a sign that my usually cool, calm and collected mellow dad was PISSED. That was perhaps one of the only times in my life that I thought I was going to have to actually physically fight my parents in order to see tomorrow.

But, I think the worst offense came one day during lunch detention. She gave me many of those during my tenure in her class--- I think throughout the whole year, I had maybe 6 complete lunch periods. I remember standing in the back of the class as we were supposed to, hearing the laughter and shouts of my free comrades outside- playing football or kickball or, shit, hopscotch. Point is, they were free and I wasn't. In detention with me was Ben (someone who was as bad as I was and who was often in detention with me) and Hamilton (a very quiet kid who I was surprised was on the teachers' radar enough to be in detention) and one other kid, though I don't remember who.

At some point, I remember- with literally 2 or 3 minutes remaining in detention before I could go eat and enjoy maybe 1 or 2 minutes of recess- Ben farted. Yep...that's right. In the prescence of Killer Keller, Ben ripped one that was loud enough for us to hear but not her. Being 4th grade boys, we all burst out laughing whilst simultaneously gagging. Killer wasn't happy. In her eyes was the fury of a thousand suns, as she scanned the back of the class to see who she would pick to go down.

"Nate," demanded Ms. Keller. "What's going on?"

Through tears of laughter: "Nothin' "

"Nate, tell me." More laughter, my stomach was killing me. "Nate..."

Remembering the Frizzell version of The Geneva Accords that had been held earlier in the year with my parents, I tried to pull myself together enough and managed to say: "Ben farted."

"He did what?"

"He farted." Everyone burst out even harder. This must have been embarassing for her...

"Nate, the correct term is flatulated. Breaking wind is also acceptable, though crude. The rest of you may go to lunch. Nate, you will stay until 5 minutes before the end of lunch."

Even now, I want to find her and somehow make her understand the embarrassment that made me feel. That was the apex of her unfounded disdain for me. That proved to me what students since the creation of school have been trying to prove...that she had it out for me. That whatever it was- something along the way painted a target symbol on me for her. Seriously...HOW ELSE do you expect a 9 year old boy to respond to an occurence like that??? So, I just let it be- though I was furious and tried to stay out of her way for the rest of the year.

Though an interesting thing happened...St. Louis King of France School gave out Student of The Week to a boy and a girl every week of the school year. And Student of The Month to each every month of the year. While I had received many Student of the Weeks during my 8 year residence at SLKF, I only received Student of the Month once. Once....

in Ms Keller's class.

I don't know why or how. But I know that, for whatever reason, at the end of the year- maybe as a reward for putting up with Killer Keller and never really blowing my top in her prescence, I was called up during Morning Assembly and named Male Student of the Month by Ms. Margaret "Killer" Keller.

And I looked back at my classmates- most were amazed, some were happy, some didn't give a shit. But Ms. Keller, way in the back, had the closest thing to a smile she could give written across her face.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Now don't break our hearts...

"Without overstating, this is quite possibly one of the most important nights of my life."

I wrote that in my Book during some downtime at my internship on November 4, 2008. The first states had yet to be called. I was extremely nervous.

You see...against everything those who raised me thought I should believe in, I voted for Barack Hussein Obama. For the first time in my life, I challenged what my family and many of my oldest friends believe in and made a decision for myself.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. We all know what happened. Thousands died. Thousands more were left to fend for themselves in deplorable conditions while the President sat his ass on his ranch and figured out a shitty game plan. On a more personal note, my family lost the only home I grew up in which was my favorite place on the planet. In the days and weeks that followed, my entire political ideals changed. Finding no satisfactory action from either of our country's dominating political parties, I began to believe the way we do things in this country is wrong. That having a country where the extreme majority of its leaders subscribe to 2 political parties and have to adhere to its policies to either get enough money to run or to please the citizens- who, consequently, also subscribe to only 2 political idealogies. I re-registed in California as an Independent and swore I would never vote Republican again simply because it's how I was raised. Conversely, I would never vote Democrat solely because it was the only other viable option. I'd rather vote for someone who doesn't have a shot but who I believe in than vote only because it's the Lesser of Two Evils.

I honestly lost A LOT of faith in our government. In both parties. It was always the same shit.

Then, along came Barack Obama. I was skeptical at first. But, I began paying attention to him following his incredible speech at the DNC in '04. Despite disagreeing with him on a number of issues, I began to genuinely believe this man when he spoke. For the first time, I believe that this was someone whose ambition does not only include furthering his career but also means actually making a difference in people's lives.

Obama cut to a part of me that is idealistic and wants to believe in the people who run this nation. He gives me faith that really making a change takes intelligence and common sense but also humanity and compassion.

I don't think Barack Obama seems to be the kind of change this government needs- I believe he is. A change in the way we do things- someone not totally mired down and jaded by a political system that has a certain way of doing things that doesn't always include the good of the people or the best interests of this nation.

In short, he was the exact candidate my disillusioned self needed at just the right time.

And he won!

It really is an inspiring time here in this country! There is something in the air as you walked around in the days following the election- that people are amazed at the change that has happened.

Would it be overstatement to say 'excitement'? I mean, even the media has been kind of giddy at the notion that we've matured as a nation. That we've recognized there is a major problem with the philosophy of the last 8 years and have changed it- but also that we are grown up enough to put our ridiculous prejudices and fears aside and vote an AFRICAN-AMERICAN man named BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA into the Office of the President!!!!

It feels good.

Hell, change has already come- in a way. In the wake of the passing of California's Proposition 8, there have already been almost 10 protests just in my area from the gay and gay-supporting community. No one is taking it lying down!

It's actually pretty great to see people standing up for themselves and their rights. No more lying down and accepting what George W. and his abrasive administration have spoon-fed us. Time to get on your feet!

And I think Barack Obama has played a large part in making us believe that "Yes We Can."
There's a simple but wonderful moment at the end of Mike Nichols's film Primary Colors. John Travolta as the newly-elected President walks down a line of supporters and aides accepting their congratulations when a kind, goofy Southern lady that had worked his campaign reaches out, takes his hand, looks him straight in the eye and with a smile says:
"Now don't break our hearts."

It's something about the way she says it. There's such an honesty in that line- honesty in that she TRULY believes that this is man is exactly who she thinks he is. An elatedness that someone she poured her heart and soul into has a chance to make a difference in this wonderful country we live in. But, it's also said with a wink--- a confidence that, though, she's saying it- she doesn't truly believe there is any chance that Her President will ever, ever break her heart and that he is, indeed, capable of making a change in the world.

It's a beautiful moment- and it's exactly how I feel right now. Our President-Elect has a chance to do some great things in this country and in this world. And I, for one, believe it will happen.
If I could say anything to Barack Obama right now, I would reach out, shake his hand, smile and say:

"Now don't break our hearts."