The L.A. Report Part 14



Hey Everybody,


My last report was almost a year ago so I thought it would be a good time for a new one.


Unfortunately, most of the news is bad but you gotta take the bad with the good, I guess.


In my last report, I told you about my job at Princess Cruises.  That was a 6-month contract-to-hire that was going pretty well until near the end of the six months.  The woman I was working for got weirder and harder to figure out so I didn't stay for my conversion to permanent status.  I let the contract expire at the end of October, assuming I could find another job somewhere else.  I guess my year-and-a-half unemployment in 2001-2 wasn't sufficient warning that this kind of situation could happen again.  Well, it has.  I've been unemployed for 11 months now.  I've even been looking for contracts in other parts of the country but there's not a whole lot of mainframe (older technology) jobs around, at least not for the rate I would need in order to be able to rent an apartment in addition to paying my mortgage payment.  I've also toyed with the idea of a career change but I would have to take a huge cut in pay - that is, if an employer would even offer me a job in a field in which I have no experience.  I've learned a few new computer languages (although not nearly enough) but without real-world experience, no employer is going to hire you (the classic "Catch 22").  I've been doing a lot of miscellaneous job hunting on craigslist and found a few p.c.-related jobs and one writing one but not nearly enough to pay my bills!  So the quest goes on.


One of my goals in studying some of those new (to me) computer languages was to create a new Web site.  Most of you followed the progress of that project (  It's pretty well complete now but there are only 11 yearbooks on it.  The problem is people just don't have the time or energy to do all that scanning themselves.  I did all the scanning of Joyce's and my yearbooks.  In fact, only one of the books came from a total stranger and she went to Joyce's high school, so there's not a lot of diversity on it!


Most of you know that my last cat (Spooky) died in November so I'm now cat-free for the first time in about 18 years.  Makes my apartment a lot lonelier.  I'll probably get a couple more eventually but right now there's just too much up in the air for me.


Most of you know I ran the L.A. Marathon in March.  I finished 6,292 out of 24,528.  It took me almost 5 hours - lousy by my old standards but with MS I'm just glad to be able to run at all!


My MS is still about the same but I've just discovered that I can no longer play the piano.  My right hand is just too uncoordinated.  I can play just fine with my left hand but not with the more-important right hand.  At first I thought it was just because I hadn't played much in the last few years but I found I can play the right-hand parts with my left hand with no problem. 


At the end of this month I'm running the race I ran last year for Pancreatic Cancer research.  This year I'm running it in honor of Luciano Pavarotti, who died from it last month.  That hit me a little hard.  He was a big reason for my interest in singing and for my decision to major in music.  He had his share of critics but I personally think he was the best tenor of all time (and I've listened to recordings of all the great ones: Caruso, Corelli, Di StephanoBjoerling, Gigli, Domingo, etc.).  I'm glad I got to hear him at the Hollywood Bowl two years ago.


I got a new agent in February.  So far, he hasn't done too much for me but he did get me an audition for a national Slim Jim commercial.  I got a callback audition on it but, alas, I didn't book it.  That would have been really nice; it would have made me instantly eligible to join SAG (the Screen Actors Guild, which you pretty much have to belong to to do any big budget films or TV) and would have been pretty good money (5 figures?).  If you ever see a Slim Jim commercial where a kid gives a Slim Jim to his "Spicy Side" and all hell breaks loose in his classroom, think of me.  I would have been the kid's dad (4 lines).


My friend Elizabeth, who moved out here just to try to be a producer, has gotten into acting instead and has done a lot more than I have.  She's had bit parts on Passions, Days of Our Lives, Criminal Minds, ER, Grey's Anatomy and a couple of commercials.  Lately, I've been helping her run lines for her auditions so I feel like I'm at least a little part of the "action". 


Speaking of action, there's still a lot of things going on here.  One night this week, to celebrate the American Film Institute's 40th anniversary, one of the Hollywood movie theaters is screening eleven classic films and they're all being presented by one of the stars from the movie.  Julie Andrew is presenting The Sound of Music, Warren Beatty is presenting Bonnie and Clyde, Billy Crystal and Rob Reiner are presenting When Harry Met Sally, Kirk Douglas is presenting Spartacus, Clint Eastwood is presenting Unforgiven, Morgan Freeman is presenting The Shawshank Redemption, Tippi Hedren is presenting The Birds, Angela Landsbury is presenting Beauty and the Beast, George Lucas is presenting Star Wars: Episode IV, Jack Nicholson is presenting One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Sylvester Stallone is presenting Rocky.  As you can imagine, the tickets sold out immediately.


But nothing impressed me more than to find out Tarzan's chimp Cheetah is STILL ALIVE.  He just celebrated his 75th birthday in April (chimps usually only live to be about 50 years old in captivity).  And he looks pretty good, too.  He has diabetes so he gets insulin shots, but other than that, he's in very good shape.


Another one of our contra dance acquaintances died last month.  She died unexpectedly of a stroke at age 57.  You just never know.


That's all the news that's fit to print, as it were.


'til next time,