The L.A. Report Ė Part 19



Hey Everybody,


A lotís happened since my last report six months ago.


Again, many of you have already heard a lot of this so you may want to skip over that stuff.


In my last report, I told you I would soon be starting a programming contract in Madison, Wisconsin, although I didnít know when.After five weeks, I finally got the go-ahead and I decided at the last minute to drive there, taking my road trip friend from St. Paul with me.Taking three days, we arrived at 3:00 a.m. April 24th and I started work on April 25th.


I lived with my sister and brother-in-law again, along with their foster daughter and their Pomeranian Zoey.My sister and I are very close so it was nice to see so much of her again (even though she still kills me at Scrabble Ė except for the three times Ė out of about 20 Ė that I managed to beat her).My brother no longer lives in Madison; he moved from there to Chippewa Falls (about 200 miles from Madison) so I was able to visit him and his family once, as well as my aunt and cousin in New Richmond (50 miles further).


My hometown of Black River Falls is 130 miles from Madison and my 35th class reunion just happened to occur in July while I was still in Madison so I drove up there for that as well.I had been to two or three before so it wasnít quite as noteworthy.As at my previous ones, most of my classmates had changed dramatically, but there were a few that hadnít changed much at all.One of my teachers was there for the first time, too.


But the best visit I had was with my three college dorm mates.One lives in Little Chute, near Green Bay Ė about 110 miles from Madison, another lives near Chicago and the third one lives in Colorado but still has family in northern Wisconsin.So we all rendezvoused in Little Chute.Some of us had seen some of us a few times since college but we hadnít all gotten together in over 30 years.We had an absolute blast, picking right up where weíd left off.We talked and laughed nonstop.The dynamics were still the same.It was surreal, in a way.We took a picture using the same pose as one we used for a picture in our dorm.I made an animated gif that alternates between the two images.Weíve hardly changed at all, right? J


Madison hasnít changed much.In fact, I went back to shopping at my favorite grocery store and everything was in the exact same place it was when I left there a year and a half prior and the prices were exactly the same.My favorite lunch restaurant was still there and I ordered the exact same dish and it was the exact same price ($4.22).


I went back to contra dancing in the exact same place and most of the same people were there.There were a few new people, too, including a woman my age that I was totally smitten with, even though we never even kissed.But she lived on a hobby farm and I couldnít persuade her to move to L.A. L


Iím sure the fall colors in Madison are gorgeous right now and the air is crisp, but the summer was very hot and humid. There werenít as many mosquitoes this year, which is a good thing, but there seemed to be more fireflies, which is also a good thing.


My work contract went very well and was supposed to last anywhere from three months to a year but after three months the client lost a major government contract and they laid off about 13 of us contractors, including one whoíd been there over five years and another one whoíd been there over ten!So after a three-week notice I was finished at the end of July.


I stayed in Madison for a couple more weeks, hoping to find another job there but I didnít so I decided to drive back to L.A.For the return trip, another friend of mine from St. Paul rode with me.We started in Minneapolis so I got to visit two more of my good friends (one was the best man at my wedding 23 years ago).On the way we stopped in Denver and I had dinner with my other sister and her family.Then we stopped in Las Vegas and stayed there for two days (-$250) and my friend flew back to the Twin Cities from there.


Remember I had my condo listed for a short sale?It sold when I was in Wisconsin, closing August 12th.Luckily, I had already moved out, to an apartment right next door to my condo building.But I had moved into it the day before I left for Wisconsin so I had lots of unpacking to do when I got back!And since itís a lot smaller than my condo Iím still trying to find room for everything!


On a sad note: my next door neighbor died a couple weeks ago.He was only 43 but he had been on dialysis for quite awhile and had a stroke a couple months ago.I had only talked to him about five or six times but he was one of the nicest people Iíve ever met.Very sad.


Iíve been back for a little over a month and I still havenít found a new programming job yet.So Iíve gone back to doing ďbackgroundĒ work again.Iíve worked on two movies - Gangster Squad (a 40ís period piece), a new Batman movie, and TV shows How I Met Your Mother, House, Community, Free Agents and The Big Bang Theory.I even got my first SAG voucher on Gangster Squad (just two more to go, then I can join SAG).None of my appearances was very prominent except on Community and The Big Bang Theory.Iíll try to give you a heads-up when I find out when theyíll be on.CBS is very good about putting full episodes of The Big Bang Theory on their Web site so you should be able to watch that one months or years after it airs, in case you miss it.


On my 3rd day back, I got right back into contra dancing.Itís great to see my L.A. dance friends again.Iíve also gotten back into hiking, although not with quite the same zeal (okay, fanaticism) I had before; I only hike one or two times a week instead of three. J


I was supposed to have a phone interview for a 3-month programming contract in San Francisco yesterday but they decided at the last minute to put the project on hold. L


So Iíll just have to do more background work for awhile, which isnít all bad.Itís only minimum wage, but theyíre usually 12-hour days (with time-and-a-half and double-time) and the food is usually incredible Ė made to order omelets with any ingredients you want, prime rib sliced to order, chicken, a couple kinds of fish, several different kinds of potatoes, pasta, gourmet seasonings, creative salads, tons of fruit, salad bar, ice cream, cake, cheesecake, bread pudding.And that doesnít even count the snacks they have in Craft Services: Tootsie rolls, mini candy bars, chips, more fruit, cereal, etc.Iím learning to restrain myself somewhat; I donít want to qualify to be Newmanís stand-in!


While most shoots are about 10 hours of boredom and an hour or two of actually doing things, they have their own appeal.Gangster Squad stars Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Nick Nolte, et. al., so there were all these paparazzi photographers across the street at our shoot Monday.It takes place in 1949 so I got fitted with a very sharp-looking 40ís-style suit and hat.Iíve worked on it three days and have at least one more scheduled.


Sorry this was so long; I guess Iíll have to write more frequently.