Friday, January 30, 2009

The DMV Trilogy

The summer of 1999 was all about driving. After a full slate of horrible classroom sessions, on the road experience from Sears and practicing with parental guidance, at the end of August I was ready to take my drivers test. The only problem was that my town’s DMV had a long waiting list. The next available time to schedule a driving test was in the middle of October. I simply could not wait that long. I was already 17 years old and going to be a senior in just a few weeks. I opted for instant gratification instead familiarity, opting for a test the following week in Old Saybrook, a small town about 40 miles away. It was besides the point that I didn't actually own, nor have plans to get a car, I wanted to have the option to drive one if I was allowed.

There was no reason for me to doubt my abilities or to consider myself unprepared, even with driving on roads I had never seen before. I had been using my fathers bright red Acura Integra. It was a two-door car with a moon roof and small fin on the back, but more importantly, it was the older of my parents’ cars, which was why my sister and I both got to use it to train. The strict training regimen began with navigating an empty Caldor's parking lot on Sunday mornings and continued with my father setting up Rubbermaid trash cans in our street for me to attempt parallel parking between them. I hit the can on my first try, knocking it to the ground, but as I got better, I asked for him to move the cans closer together for more of a challenge.

The drive to Old Saybrook was long. My father drove, which in hindsight, it should have probably been me. I had been driving all morning and all weekend, and wanted to stay fresh, as if conserving stamina behind the wheel would make a difference.

An old man walked out from behind the counter holding an old fashioned wooden clipboard. He looked down and said "Lurie." It was my time to shine. The man was tall and lanky, probably in his 60's with a permanent frown. He wore a white short sleeve dress shirt with a dark tie. There was no small talk. In fact, there was barely any talk at all. He nodded towards the door and we walked to the car. Before I even had the chance to, he grumbled "seatbelt," while still looking straight ahead.

"Go left," he muttered, gesturing towards Interstate 95.

"There? On to I-95? Are you sure?" I said back nervously, assuming that sound actually emerged from my dry mouth.

He could sense my obvious fear. "Go left," he growled back in a more firm manner, this time while writing something down on his clipboard.

I had not thought that this would be included on the test, having never driven on I-95 during my practice sessions. Hamden was nowhere near not close enough to that highway for me to feel the need to try it. The closest I had come to highway driving was during my very first practice session at Sears, my instructor, Rosa, had me drive on the much smaller Wilbur Cross Parkway. The Wilbur Cross is a two-lane, 30 mile long continuation of Merritt Parkway (Route 15) from Connecticut to New York. No large vehicles are permitted and the speed limit caps out around 50 miles per hour. I-95 is a nearly 2,000 mile road from Maine to Florida with no limits of vehicle size and a notably higher speed limit.

I couldn't back down now. As I entered the ramp I knew that it was important to speed up so I could merge seamlessly. The intimidating highway drew closer, vehicles began flying by at speeds I had yet to reach. The white line to my left became dashed and I knew it was my chance to jump in, but for an unknown reason there was a fast moving semi-truck in the entry lane. Though I was still going slower than this truck, something in my brain caused me to believe I could outrun it, so I slammed down the gas. Blame it on pure inexperience or just never having been witness to the speed of a truck that large, but the race was not mine to win and I had to veer off into the breakdown lane. My life passed in front of my eyes at roughly the same speed of the giant semi-truck.

The instructor didn’t say anything, he just pointed forward as a gesture for me to continue. Once the coast was clear, that’s what I did. I made it to the next exit and followed his minimalist instructions. “Left. Right. Right.” He wasn’t much of a talker. When we made it back to the DMV I had to back into a parking spot with no cars on either side, and I nailed it. From the moment after the race against the truck I was flawless. Maybe he’d let me slide through and forget about my epic stupidity that could have easily killed us both. He wrote on his clipboard as I nervously waited. “Be more careful,” he said, the longest sentence he has spoken the entire day, handing me the failed test.

For my second try that November, I actually had more motivation to succeed. Homecoming was two weeks away. If I could get my license this time, then I'd be able to drive myself and my date to the dance. I had something to shoot for this time around, but still, my town had an obscene waiting list for appointments, so it was back to Old Saybrook. At least this time I wouldn't be going into it completely green. I took the wheel for this 40 minute drive to Old Saybrook, and though I was a little nervous, I was able to navigate I-95 without incident. When we arrived, I was thrilled to see a round, jolly man come towards me instead of the scary old robot. He clearly loved his job, making jokes and commenting on my fathers Marvin the Martian floor mats. He even told me to start the car while doing an impression of the character. I felt very comfortable with this situation. Perhaps too comfortable. The DMV brought was atop a hill which was at the apex of a near hairpin turn. This made seeing any oncoming traffic from either direction very difficult. After checking the oncoming traffic each way five times, I inched forward and a speeding minivan came around the curve, honking at me as it passed. The instructor yelled "Woah," and told me to stop the car. The once jovial man in my passenger seat then gestured to a telephone pole across the street. There was a large pink ribbon tied around it.

"That ribbon is for the last person who didn't check for oncoming traffic," he said solemnly.

In my mind, having the instructor yell out "Woah" and telling me that I was seconds away from reenacting a telephone pole memorial was not a good thing. I put him on the spot and asked him straight forward, "Did I just fail?" He said back to me, "Let's keep going."

I took a deep breath and exited the DMV parking lot. He informed me that it was time for a rematch with my old nemesis, I-95, but this time I was ready. It was the Rocky II of driving exams. I didn't accelerate or try to pass someone while entering - I was patient and more aware - I nailed it. I did everything perfect for the duration of the test. When we got back to the DMV I backed into the parking space perfectly, shut off the car and turned to the instructor.

"You failed right at the start," he said, handing me a familiar piece of paper.

For my third attempt, I finally got an appointment at my hometown DMV. It was now January. At this point I had already been accepted into college before getting my license. If I had anywhere specific to go, it woud have been embarrassing to rely on people for rides.

The day of the appointment the weatherman correctly predicted a huge snowstorm. I was scheduled at 3:00 that afternoon and the snow began to fall at 1:00. I went to the DMV with Dad about an hour early just to be safe, finding out that many people had either canceled or not shown up for their appointments. I was able to go out for my test at 2:15, in the midst of the wintry mix falling outside.

The instructor reminded me a little of the second test, except more straight forward. He wasn't as business-like as my first try, but I think he knew the snow was going to get worse before it got better.

Then came the shortest driver's test in history. We left the DMV, turned left, then right onto a rural street. Halfway down the street he asked that I perform a three point turn and head back to the DMV. I was told to back into the parking space, but due to the snow none of the lines were visible. The instructor told me to do my best. I figured as long as I didn't back up on the curb I was going to be fine. I backed in, not coming close to

The instructor opened the door and said, "Would it be really mean if I shoveled off the line to see just how accurate you were?" My jaw dropped as he started to laugh. He handed me the same sheet I had gotten every other time, except for the result. I had passed. Walking into the DMV, I found my father was the only person remaining. It was not even 3:00, and all remaining appointments were canceled and I was the last test done.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Blue Plate Special

I did not get on campus housing for my junior year of college, so I was forced to search for an apartment. During the initial process, I went to take a look at an apartment my friend Rami had with two guys soon to be moving out. My future roommate, in a show of confidence for all of the appliances, provided a demonstration that each of the oven burners worked. One by one he turned them on and off, explaining which knob corresponded to which burner along the way. What he forgot was that he was in the midst of a defrosting a package of chicken breast on top of the left rear burner, which briefly caught fire when the flame hit it. The plastic and Styrofoam packaging had a small dark burn mark, but the chicken remained in good condition. Despite this unknowing show of pyrotechnics, I still decided to move in.

A few months had passed and move in day was approaching. It was the end of August, and both Rami and I were returning from our second summers staffing USY on Wheels. Rami’s two previous roommates had already moved out, having found a new place, leaving behind various pieces of furniture and other messes. Two other guys we did not know, Ryan and Ian, were also moving in to the apartment, sharing the largest bedroom in order to save some money.

One of the bigger factors involved in my moving in was the way Rami partied. He was a champ. I had gone to one or two of his parties during the previous year and found them to be pretty wild. Lots of alcohol, loud music and tons of people crammed into a moderately sized apartment. Everyone who came through that door knew his name and they also knew just how good a time they were in for. It wasn’t long before the first party of our regime occurred; in fact, it was the first Saturday night in September.

Sometime during the post-party week, we noticed a smell. The kind of smell that isn't overbearing, but still, it doesn't exactly come off as fresh. Someone probably spilled a drink or some salsa that we missed during the traditional after-party clean up session. These sessions usually involved someone taking the Swiffer and creating one lane from room to room. The worst area was the dirt-black floored foyer known as “the dank,” gaining its namesake from everyone tracking in snow, dirt and mud on top of the spills of one thousand beer pong games. But I digress - back to the odor at hand.

It was hard to say what kind of smell, but it wasn’t terrible. Our initial solution was to open the two windows we had in the kitchen and let it be. Any stench would be taken care of by the cool autumn breeze and we’d be back to normal in no time.

It did not go away. Four men in the midst of achieving college degrees could not find the source. There were times we just walked around the kitchen, sniffing out different areas, hoping to pinpoint the location. In some areas it would get stronger, but others it would get weaker. No specific pattern could be made from tracking the smells, so again, the windows were left open. Full bottles of Fabreeze were dispatched in hopes of slaying the stinky giant, but it was to no avail. Had the bedrooms not been located on the complete opposite side of the apartment we probably would have had bigger problems dealing. It became something we lived with, trying to avoid being near the kitchen as much as possible.

A full three week after it first became barely noticeable, it was now hard to avoid. Rami contacted the realty company to complain about the mystery odor. The landlord told us that it was nothing to worry about. He explained that it was probably just a dead rat underneath the refrigerator or oven. To this day I disagree with the idea of a dead animal in our kitchen falling under the heading of “nothing to worry about".

It was now October. We were preparing for another party that weekend and we all decided that the smell could not be included on our guest list. The kitchen was a huge part of having any party - drinks, food, ice - we couldn't have everyone gagging anytime they ventured near that side of our apartment. It was time for a full overhaul. All cabinets were opened and dug through, drawers were opened and emptied, the fridge was taken apart and scrubbed. Still the smell lingered.

At our wits end, I said "What's the deal with the stack of newspapers on the counter?" The large stack of newspapers, magazines and mail resided next to the sink. Nobody knew why, but each of us had assumed they belonged to someone else and decided it wouldn't be right to throw them away. It had been there for as long as I could remember, possibly since I had moved in. I asked the other roommates and nobody had a problem with tossing it out. When I lifted the newspapers that had seemingly occupied the kitchen counter for an eternity. In that instant I had unleashed the full potency of the smell, multiplying the existing odor by at least 500 percent. What we found was a plastic Stop and Shop grocery bag with a receipt sticking out that had the name of one of the old tenants, dated July 17th. After retrieving and examining the receipt, we knew what we were dealing with: a package of chicken breasts. Had we not read the paper, there was no way anyone would be able to identify what was in that bag as anything that ever resembled chicken. It was the color of Superman’s hair – a regal looking black with streaks of blue at certain light. The bag was filled with a watery translucent liquid that had accumulated during its tenure on top of the kitchen counter.

Rami ended up drawing the short straw and had to get rid of it. He snapped on some heavy duty rubber kitchen gloves and held the bag an arms length away. The rest of us pulled our shirt collars up over our noses to open the door for him as he sprinted all the way out of the apartment to the dumpster, leaving a clear liquid trail along the path. We bombed the counter with Lysol, Windex, Comet and anything else we had, creating several dangerous chemical reactions. As bad as it was to breathe in kitchen chemicals that don't get along, nothing could have been worse than what was lingering on our counter for nearly three months.

I would like make sure everyone knows that the initial problem of leaving chicken out was not our fault. I'd also like to say that this was a turning point in our lives, that we all became much cleaner and more responsible around the house. We didn't. It would be nice to say that I never had to tell one of them his sandwich bread had blue spots on the side closest to me. Or that during a cleaning session later on in the year, one of the guys opened a severely outdated bucket of cheese balls, smelled it, and uttered the following words: “Cheese doesn’t go bad, does it?” It was a year full of great memories, stupid moments and a lot of fun - though a lot of it was lost in the flow of keg beer and punch from a giant red bucket.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Blind Subletting

As my last semester of college began to wind down, it was becoming pretty obvious that I was going to stay in Los Angeles. Before that could happen, I had to go back east for a several weeks. While it made no sense to get an apartment – I hardly had the money to throw away rent on a place I wouldn’t set foot in until the middle of June - I did need somewhere to live when I got back. A sublet was the answer.

I had been in contact with University of Southern California Hillel about attending services, but that never panned out. However, those contacts led me to a school message board where I found a girl named Katie* who had a room available for July and August. Even though I had lived in L.A. nearly four months, most of that was isolated to the Valley. I had no actual idea where USC was. For now it would have to do. The timing and price was right, so I agreed to take the place without once stepping foot anywhere near it. I’d graduate in May, stick around for a while I packed up and head back west in the middle of June. My cousins had already offered to let me stay with them until the room became available on July 1st.

I flew back to the east coast, drank too much, graduated, and my parents threw a tandem graduation party for my sister and I. Then I packed up and returned to California. I spent the next two weeks at my cousin’s house looking for work, which I found at USH. When the time came to move into the sublet I was thrilled about the idea of not living with two kids under the age of six.

The new place took two highways to get to and was just a couple of exits short of a third. I could describe my location as directly south of central Los Angeles. As I turned on to my new street, it was difficult finding a trendy angle-in parking space. Making one more loop around, I found a parallel spot nearby. The neighborhood seemed nice enough at first, but there was seemingly nobody around, lots of nearby construction and loud music coming from various windows. When I got to my building, I stood out front and this is what I saw**

Most buildings on the street were traditional white, brick or brown. My new building was pink, (coral or salmon, depending on who you ask). Someone was leaving as I was going in, and they held the door open for me. Perhaps this should have viewed this as a sign of friendliness instead of a concern for lack of safety. I made my way up two flights of creaky stairs and knocked on the door - it was opened by a heavy set, dark haired girl. Katie* had mentioned there would be others subletting for May and June, so I guessed this was who I was taking over for. The heavy set girl did not say a word; she just opened the door and went back to their room where she was studying with a friend. I walked along the off-yellow colored living room rug and part of me wondered if that was the planned color or one that been achieved over time.

“Hi,” I said, trying to break the ice, “I’m here to start subletting.”
“We’re not done yet. Come back in a few days,” large girl replied.

I told her that I had my stuff with me. Large countered by saying she had finals tomorrow and they needed to study. I agreed to give them extra time, partly because she was scary and partly because I wasn't exactly thrilled with the apartment. She handed me some keys and showed me the door. Taken aback by the situation, I went back to my cousin’s house and e-mail to Katie, who agreed to credit me for time I was not there.

I came back later that week and the girls were nowhere to be found. The apartment looked like it had been abandoned in the middle of a daily routine. Dishes piled in the sink, garbage overflowing and the fridge was a disaster. There was an uncovered large metal bowl filled with a lumpy brown batter-like substance with a spoon sticking out of it. It appeared as if someone tried to make cookies, took a bite, realized it stunk and fled the scene. The smell itself crossed so many levels of foul there were practically stink lines coming off it. I quickly pitched the contents and soaked the bowl in the sink.

The mystery of which bedroom was mine was quickly answered. I tried to open one of the doors and it barely budged. I got it open enough to fit inside – but that’s as far as I got. It seemed the three girls who had lived in the apartment designated this room to hold all of their belongings. Boxes upon boxes were piled up on the floor, on the bed, taking every inch of space. Of the other two rooms, one had a lot more space – because there was no bed. That left me with the smallest room and a metal framed bunk bed. The closet in my room was still mostly full and the plastic dresser drawers were taped shut, so I was forced to lived out of my suitcase.

I didn’t know anyone in my building or in my neighborhood. I would spend all of my free time closer to work and near my family. There was nothing in the apartment for me to do. No television, a terrible air conditioner and faulty Internet that I borrowed from the neighbors - it only worked in the storage bedroom or bathroom. I bought a paper plates, bowls and plastic utensils – nothing was permanent about this place. I had become a traveling salesman, coming home to a shady motel only to sleep, shower and leave.

Independence Day was the loneliest time. No fireworks, no barbecue, no friends. The sole redeeming aspect was that the neighborhood seemed very patriotic. Loud booms were heard throughout the night as I lay in bed. For days following the holiday, I heard the same noises echo throughout the night. In order to actually sleep, I convinced myself that all of the sounds were fireworks.

In those days I was working late shifts at USH that were saved for the newest employees. By the time I clocked out, changed and got home, it was after ten. I tried to put off being home for as long as possible, sometimes by doing unnecessary errands. On a specific night, I juggled three full bags of groceries up the stairs in one trip, not wanting to leave any of my refrigerated goods in the car.

I managed to get the key into the lock, opened the door, immediately dropped all my bags and reached for the light switch. Nothing happened. Like a waiting horror movie victim, I frantically tried it several more times, each yielding the same result. Walking to the kitchen, I soon discovered that none of the lights were working – the power had apparently been shut off. The agreement with the apartment leaser was that the first two month sub-letters would pay utilities for May and June and I would do the same for July and August. This was seemingly dismissed by the large study buddies and now I was suffering. I opened the refrigerator to find my food was as cold as one would expect from a non-air conditioned Los Angeles apartment in July – and it smelled just as fresh.

The refrigerator proved to be the final straw. In a rush, I threw away all of my ruined food, packed up everything I had there, including tonight’s groceries and some hangers that didn’t necessarily belong to me. My cousin reacted surprisingly calm to the late night call asking if I could come back and stay with them until I found a more permanent place.

The next morning I sent off an e-mail Katie, demanding a refund for my rent. She wrote back and agreed, while mentioning the girls who lived there before me had changed their numbers and not returned any of her messages. Giving the key back to her that September was nothing short of painful. It was the first time I was anywhere near USC since that disastrous summer. Katie was no longer in the apartment, having moved into a large, gaudy Sorority House. We exchanged only the simplest of conversation, I handed her the keys and drove off. (I actually ran into her later on in my Los Angeles adventures. She didn’t remember me, but I knew it was her. I'll save that for another entry due out this April.) In the end I got an apartment in a neighborhood that didn’t constantly sound like 4th of July and only was two blocks away from my cousins.

* I can’t remember the girls name for the life of me, and even if I could, I doubt she would want me to mention her in this context. Let’s just call her Katie so I don’t have to keep writing out “the girl who I sublet the apartment from”.
** Image courtesy of Google Maps and its street address stalking ability. I didn't actually take a picture of the building.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Escaping the Gladiators

In the late Fall of 2007, the higher ups at NBC decided to resurrect American Gladiators, a show that hit its popularity peak in the early 90's, when big muscles were king and nobody asked questions about steroids. The show was brought back to appeal to the reality television fans, to focus more on the contender’s hard luck stories than the Gladiators themselves. I was able to score an invite to a taping through a kickball league I played in. The idea was simple: invite players from local kickball divisions to a happy hour event at a nearby bar and then go to the studio to watch a Saturday taping. The players would fit the key demographics sought after by the producers - just old enough to be nostalgic about the Gladiators of their childhood and show host Hulk Hogan, yet young enough to be excited about the potential modernizations. To top it off, the group would be liquored up, thus enjoying it all the more.

That was the plan. The execution went a little different.

I brought along my two friends, Jay and Krysta, who were just as excited as I was. Krysta’s boyfriend Parker had to work and was upset to be missing the outing. We pulled up to the Venice area bar before noon, which is as good a time as any to start having beer on a Saturday. It was a very similar crowd that I had grown used to over the past year. From past experiences I knew that this group was capable of putting away mass quantities of alcohol and almost as many deep fried appetizers. The organizers of this event wisely provided buses from the bar to the studio, which were boarded by the masses. Our stomachs full of midday beer and seasoned fries, we were ready to be entertained. It was just before 2:00 when we arrived outside the lot and like drones, followed the production assistant to the audience line. The excitement level was high. Complete strangers in line forged bonds over their favorite Gladiators and events of yore. The taping of the show was to begin at 2:30 in the afternoon, the second taping of the day. Having just completed the morning filming, the old audience would exit, yielding their seats to several hundred fresh fans.

As time slowly passed, the line, which began at the bottom of a parking structure and formed along the wall and up the ramp did not move. Two things began to occur. The jovial buzz that most of the participants had achieved began to wear off and the brisk wind of a Los Angeles December began to pick up. Most people were wearing shorts and sandals because it was sunny outside - a place we had not seen in almost 90 minutes by this point.

At 3:30 the line moved. The group marched through the back lot like a bizarre school field trip. We moved in a single file line with a couple of production assistants at the head and rear. The route we were taken wove around soundstage after soundstage in a fashion that both threw off our sense of direction and bought more time for the production crew, I figure. Upon reaching the stage, the group was put into another line, this time for a metal detector. While in this line Jay was able to grab the attention of a man with a clipboard and ask a few questions, like which events we would see that day and what the names of these new and improved Gladiators were.

The names we were told varied from the typical "Titan," "Mayhem" and "Crush" to the unusual "Wolf" and "Hellga". Apparently it was spelled with two L's in order to make her appear more sinister. The man with the clipboard reassured us that Hellga was the biggest woman he'd ever seen - so she had that going for her. As far as the events went, we'd only be seeing one: Hang Tough. As a long time Gladiator fan, I respect Hang Tough as one of the classic events. Crossing a giant grid of rings while avoiding the Gladiator has a certain cat and mouse aspect to it - but it can also be undeniably boring. Someone in the creative department must have been notified of that when redesigning the games and decided it should be played over a giant swimming pool (as was the case with nearly every retooled event - someone must have paid for the pool and wanted to get their moneys worth). The other thing we learned was that we'd be seeing 16 consecutive games of the same event. Due to the largeness of the sets, instead of filming an episode straight through, they filmed one event for every different episode at one time. From a production standpoint this is logical, but from an audiences view, it's dreadfully uninteresting.

The line began moving again and we were finally shuffled on to the set. It looked small, with half of the stage occupied by the previously mentioned large pool and the other half having a large gym mat like surface, possibly a gym mat. Knowing already that our event was taking place over the water, it was unnerving to be seated at the complete opposite end of the arena, far away from the would-be action. With out group now completely sober and getting more agitated by the minute, the producers decided to unleash the audience warm up act.

I've seen my fair share of television tapings, all of which come with audience warm up performers. Comedians, magicians, even hypnotists are dispatched into the crowd to make sure the audience does not get bored or fall asleep during the painstakingly long process of making television. This man made a few jokes, mostly at the expense of audience members. He asked what people were excited to see, and our section yelled out "Hellga" to get his attention. The man asked how we knew about her, to which I said "J-Date," a notion that went completely over his head. After some dance competitions that were wildly inappropriate for the children in the audience, there was a spelling bee which I raised my hand for - and when I misspelled the word, this man screamed in my face to sit down. He repeated this action to several more people, making the already volatile crowd dislike him even more. It was 4:45 when Krysta overheard that the new scheduled end time was going to be 8:00 pm and the staff was trying to make people stay. Originally it was supposed to run from 2:30 until 5:00, which would have been fine. Aside from Krysta having dinner reservations at 7:30, the rest of us just decided that a 6 hour taping was more than we could endure. The afternoon outing had turned into a day long torture session. My two friends and I exchanged a couple of knowing glances. We knew exactly what had to be done. We had seen Hulk Hogan walk by the set once, but we had not seen one Gladiator or event. None of that seemed to matter at this point - one way or another, our time in the studio was coming to an end.

A group of audience members were being taken to the bathroom - after all, being held captive for over three hours with nothing but bottles of water really makes you have to go. The three of us joined the group exiting the stage. Fresh air and the last bits of daylight greeted us upon exiting the arena. There were fifteen people on the bathroom field trip. The production assistant saddled with the task of chaperoning us took a diligent count before turning his back to lead the line. We dropped to the back of the pack, and as the group turned a corner, the plan went into action. As if someone had shot off the starting gun, we made a run for it. We could see the lot exit ahead of us; salvation was only steps away. As we turned through the exit gates, a voice from the security booth yelled for us to stop. Our feet stopped, as did our hearts. Was this hourly waged security guard going to make us turn back and watch the rest of the taping?

“You can’t run in the street, please use the sidewalk,” he said.
“Sure, sorry about that,” I mumbled, realizing we were going to make it.

As we hit the street, another thought came to us – the car was still parked at the bar, about five miles away. Attempts to get a cab proved fruitless. Unlike New York, out in Los Angeles patrons usually had to call for their cabs in advance unless they were at the airport or a night club. What the city lacked in accessible cabs, it made up for in Starbucks across from every major studio. We hoofed it over to one on the corner, called for our cab and headed back to the bar. The drive home consisted of primarily two discussions. One about the adrenaline we all felt while running from the lot and the other was basically me repeatedly apologizing for dragging Krysta and Jay into this mess of a day.

Word traveled back to me from a friend who stayed until the end that the taping concluded around 9:00 pm. People began leaving as the studio could not hold them against their will. Yes, they made it out of there as well, but without feeling the wind on their faces as their feet carried them to freedom. I sometimes wonder about the production assistant making another count on the way back from the bathrooms and coming up three people short. Should I feel bad if he got fired?

We never laid eyes on Helga until the show debuted later that summer. The man with the clipboard wasn't just blowing smoke at us; she was about as big a woman as I had ever seen.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year, New Format, New Title?

My new year’s resolution is to sustain this blog in a more consistent fashion. Since the move to Boston it’s been on and off at best, never more than once or twice a month. The new plan is to post every Friday. It will give me a chance to think about things to write during the week and get them up in time for people to read them over the weekend.

How am I going to maintain this new goal? I’m going to have a completely new format which will involve non-fiction anecdotes of things that have actually occurred in my life. This is obviously a nod to becoming a very big fan of This American Life and other anecdotal non-fiction writing over the past year. It really started to develop in my head when my girlfriend and I were sitting around with the neighbors exchanging some funny stories about bad roommate experiences. The thing is, I used to enjoy writing a lot. I even tried to write a few screenplays and spec scripts once I was out of school and living in Los Angeles. Somewhere along the way I lost my love for this hobby. I think I was too concerned with getting people to read them and trying to sell things than I was with trying to actually write because I liked writing. I liked storytelling. Hopefully this new style blog will help jumpstart my writing again.

Now, the business at hand: I need a new title. PLurie Thoughts will no longer suffice, as these are going to be stories instead of general thoughts. There are enough blogs that are opinionated and your average day to day routine. Give me a hand and help me think of a new title. Put it in a comment for this entry, or e-mail me your suggestions.