Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's been a long time...

The last month has been quite eventful around these parts what with classes and my internship picking up. I suppose I’ll break this update down into three different categories: work, school, and personal life.

Work has been going great. I’m starting to get to know a few of my co-workers and they are trusting me with tasks of increasing difficulty. I started out scanning files, organizing their equipment room (which triples as their filing/server room and makes WIWU’s equipment room look like an OCD sufferers paradise) filing physical forms and their electronic counter parts, mailing....stuff, and copying photos. Now I’m watching unaired, low-res, rough-cut episodes of shows we currently have in development for networks such as E!, A&E, and TLC, taking notes on when people would appear in the background, finding their picture in our database, marking the time-code of their first appearance, and eliminating them from a master list. Sounds easy but it isn’t. Imagine playing Where’s Waldo through a piece of stained glass.

Still, there are some days that are just today for example. I spent most of my day in front of the shredder....shredding. Just countless applications of people who wanted to be in one of our new shows and..failed. I even got to shred a few headshots and DVD reels. I ended up filling up to trash cans worth of shredded paper. Occasionally I got asked to come help with something else so there were a few breaks in there. For instance, the main “tech” guy around the office talked to me for the second time (the first time being when he asked if he could borrow my headphones). I thought, “SCHWEET! This guy is always doing cool things like going on shoots and crap, he’ll have something awesome for me to do.” He asked if I was busy, I said no, completely disregarding the huge stack of papers I was about to shred. Guess what he had me do....go ahead. Guess. He had me fold clothes. He said we got this wardrobe in for a shoot tomorrow and it looks like crap* (*my word) so it’d be great if I could just fold them and make them look nice. Again, sounds easy enough, but I don’t know if we’re planning a new docu-series on Sasquatch because these shirts were HUGE! I’ve never handled shirts that big before. In the end, I got the job done but I was so disappointed to have the thin line between work life and personal life blurred.

That’s about as good of a segway as I’ll get so let’s shift gears...

Personal life has had its ups and downs. I’ll start with the ups....combining them to create one giant incline and then combine the downs for one big drop. It’s a perfect roller coaster of life metaphor! Firstly, I got my car back! And it runs like a beaut. Massive shout out to Jay McCoy for finding the problem...(turned out to be a $20 part....natch). Which means I’ve had my first L.A. driving experience! And I didn’t kill anyone! Or any thing! Sure, I only drove it to church a few times and to the grocery store once or twice but so far my record is clean. I still don’t drive the 2-3 miles to Sunset Blvd. every other day for work for the obvious reasons. The first being the exercise. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but I’m all about exercise now. In an industry so shallow, you can’t afford not to be. So, in addition to the walk to work, I’ve been going to the gym about 4 times a week. (I’ve even shaved about 40 seconds off of my mile time.) The second reason is the money. I don’t have to worry about gassing up the car or paying for bus fare. Although, I have taken the bus a few times. The third reason is, of course, the sights. I never know what I might see on my way home. Just a few days ago I saw a guy dressed as Jesus just walking calmly down the street, not a care in the world. You just don’t get that when you ride the bus. Speaking of bus, I did ride the bus today. It was raining for like the first time ever since I’ve been here. It’s actually been overcast and raining on and off for the past three days, a far cry from the record breaking heat we had about a week ago.

Upon arriving at work, I learned that in L.A., rain is the equivalent to snow. Some of the conversations I heard would fit perfectly in Indiana if I replaced “rain” with “snow.” For example: waiting for the elevator to take me up to work, two people we’re talking about the traffic. This is isn’t word for word but the conversation went a little like this - “Yeah, traffic was crazy today.” “Did you take the freeway?” “Yeah, it took me four hours to get here.” “It’s this rain, people are stupid in the rain.” If she thought people were stupid in rain, she must never have seen someone driving in snow.....Another conversation involved my more important superiors or more accurately, the lack of them. A P.A. walks in and asked the assistant where Steve is (the founder of the company). The assistant replied as follows: “Oh, he decided not to come in today because of the rain.” I must say, as a side note, it is really interesting watching the relationship between assistant and boss. At times it’s almost father-daughter, it’s weird. Also, it’s cool to see the assistant receive a phone call, shout out who’s on the line to the boss, who is sitting alone in his office, and then he will just shout out “yes” or “no.” Usually, it’s no. So the assistant jumps back on the line and in a nice way of informing the caller that he isn’t worth anyone’s time, she tells him there is a meeting going on.

Small achievements - I’ve managed to write the next episode of The College Life in my spare time as well as start on another one. Also, I’ve decided to learn After Effects while I’m here and luckily, I’m finding it very similar to Motion....woot!

Oh, yeah. I forgot about the downs....there really aren’t any. Except for the fact that I have yet to find a satisfying slurpee in this city. The 7-11 right next to my apt. only has one non-soda flaver,.....Crystal Light....Sorry, lame roller coaster.

Has been pretty cool. I’m actually set to shot my first project this weekend, it’s a script that I co-wrote and I’ll be acting mostly as the script supervisor on set but I’m also the editor so once the film has wrapped, I’ll really have my work cut out for me.

Classes have gotten really fun. We are doing a lot of things collaboratively now, which I’m enjoying. We are building characters through a painstaking process of re-write after re-write. I’ll keep you posted on that because the plan is to produce the script that I write based on this character. I know it’ll be tough to get done on time but hey, it’s what I signed up for.

There are still loads of things I could write about but this is getting ridiculous and I’m getting tired and I wanna do some AE experimentation before I go to bed.
I’ll try to do a better job of keeping this blog updated as my projects take form and my work at Asylum becomes more interesting.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

That's how I hurt my back. Doing roundhouse kicks over a chair.

So, I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news. I’m going to go ahead and give you the bad news so we can work our way up. My script didn’t get chosen. Big whoop, I say. I’m actually kind of relieved about it. I felt rushed and forced to submit a story that I didn’t really want to tell. So now I can sit on the idea a little longer. That’s it for the bad news. Not so bad, right? Now for the good news. I got assigned as the D.P. on a project! Whoop, whoop! For those who don’t know, the D.P. is the Director of Photography (Cinematographer).

To borrow (copy) from a book I’ve been reading, Movie Speak by Tony Bill, the D.P. assumes control of all aspects of the cinematography, sets up the shot, directs, the lighting, talks to the director about camera moves, etc. In addition to all of that I will also handle the storyboarding, setting up lights, and creating the final color grade of the film.

It’s gonna be awesome. I’m really excited to get to work on this script and begin learning every aspect of the filmmaking process so that hopefully I can start making my own back at IWU.

Speaking of getting to work, I took the 2-3 mile hike up to Sunset Blvd. or as I like to call it, the BPZ (Beautiful People Zone), to start my internship at Asylum Entertainment. I got there early and chilled out in the lobby of the Director’s Guild of America (DGA) building so I could stop sweating (the entire 2-3 mile hike is uphill) before I headed to the 2nd floor which houses the Asylum offices. After some routine paperwork (I got to sign a confidentiality form!), I was shown to my desk, shown to my co-workers and boss (Emmy and Peabody-winning boss), and then was shown to my work. Which was.....watching tv! Yes, that is what I did all day. I watched shows produced by Asylum and took notes on shows like......*remembers confidentiality form*....oh yeah. That’s all the intel you’ll get out of this guy. I’m a man of my word.

At 5 o’clock, I began the walk back to Park La Brea, I just let gravity do most of the work, and I saw a few interesting sights. The first one actually occurred when I was headed to McDonald’s. I came across a real life hippie woman. As I walked past her, she gave me the peace sign (who still does that?). “Hey man,” she said as if wanting to be viewed as a stoner/hippie stereotype. “Do you want to help rid the world of nuclear weapons?” I mean, that sounds great and all but at that time one of those new berry smoothies sounded even greater. So I just muttered, “No thank you.”

*sidenote/interupption: it’s 12:30 as I write this and someone just went past my apartment building shouting the F word very loudly.

Anyway, so now some stoner/hippie in Los Angeles thinks I love nuclear weapons and junk.

*other sidenote/interupption: the new smoothies at McDonald’s are stankin’ good.

Another interesting sight I had was on the corner of Fairfax and Santa Monica on my voyage back to the A.P.T. I saw a man, sitting at the corner, indian-style, chanting very obnoxiously with his hands raised to the sky. He also had a pug sitting on his lap.

Shortly after that, I came to a spot on the sidewalk where a tree was rendering half of the sidewalk inoperable. I noticed I was on a collision course with an amazing long haired fellow that was coming the opposite way. Sooooo, I stepped off to the side and let him through first. As he came out from behind the tree, he smirked, clenched his fist, and laid on his chest cavity. He didn’t bump his chest like some meathead sports celebration, he just simply laid his fist on his chest. I don’t know if it was some kind of new agey gang symbol. Either way, we had a mutual respect, me and that long haired dude. Respect.

Other interesting adventures include my first use of public transportation. Kyle (roommate #3) and I went on a late afternoon downtown adventure this past...Labor Day. We hopped on a bus and headed east, right to the heart of Los Angeles. We had no idea where we were going. We just knew we wanted to see stuff. The first stop on our tour was the famous bench from (500) Days of Summer.

Taken with 17 days left of summer.

Then we aimlessly wandered around a small section of downtown. We saw the famous 2nd Street tunnel (used in Terminator 2) and the Walt Disney Concert Hall (from The Soloist). Oddly, everything was closed on Labor Day, all the restaurants anyway. So, we asked a security guard if there were any good Chinese eateries nearby. He told us to go to Chinatown. What a smart alec. Eventually, we found ourselves inside the Omni Hotel asking for directions. It’s a four diamond hotel....which sounds pretty impressive. And it was impressive. I used their bathroom. I probably wasn't allowed but they seemed to think I was a guest because everyone kept opening doors for me.

Long story short: we gave up on finding food downtown and just went home and found a Chinese place a few blocks away. Sweet. And. Sour. Baby.

In conclusion! I thought I might add that I was in the hot tub tonight, minding my own business, when I look over and see this man sitting opposite me:

Recognize him? He’s Conrad Ecklie from CSI (Grissom’s arch-nemesis)!

Also, here a few things I overheard in the office today:
"That's how I hurt my back. Doing roundhouse kicks over a chair."

"And that's why I don't drunk Tweet anymore."


This is where I work.

This image could scar 1000 children for life.

Video Dump!!

Walking down Hollywood Blvd. (crazy amount of people)

More Hollywood Blvd. (People gathered around Michael Jackson's star)

(500) Days of Summer

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What an adventure, gang.

What an eventful few days it has been here in Los Angeles. First off, I'd just like to clarify: It turns out that every weekday is trash day here in Park La Brea. Yes, every morning I'm awaken by the sound of hydraulics, scraping metal, and falling debris. Here's the Garbage Truck from Hell:

At the beginning of the video you hear just how loud he can get, he was relatively quiet when I was recording him.....Almost as if he knew...

The lack of sleep hasn't been dampening my fun in Hollywoodland. So fear not. I'm having plenty of fun. I just finished my first big homework assignment: writing a script for a short film (6-8 pages; no more than 10). I, of course, utilized all the real estate that I could and ended up with a 10 page script. Out of the 46 or so students at LAFSC, only 4 will have their scripts turned into shorts. Part of me really wants my script to be picked. But another part of me doesn't. I really like the story that I've constructed and if it gets picked, I'll have to hand it off to my fellow students to work on. I won't have much say in how the script is interpreted by the director. Alas, this is the life of the Hollywood screenwriter and I'd better get use to it.

I found my new favorite place to write this week as well. In the basement of my apartment building, in the laundry room. Nobody is ever down there. It's relatively quiet and it smells nice and I can sit down there and write while I wait for my laundry to dry. And it's pretty creepy down there; which can be inspirational at times. (I say this as if I've been down there more than once.)

Besides writing and laundering, we had several great experiences as a group this past weekend. First off, we all traveled to Hollywood Blvd. and got a tour of the Kodak Theatre.

If you don't know what the Kodak Theatre is it's where the Oscars are held every year. And it was elegant. Super nice. Well, the actual auditorium was under construction (Cirque De Soleil is moving in for 10 years and they'll be performing at next year's Oscars.....You didn't hear that from me.) No pictures were allowed in the theatre which is a shame but I guess when you have so many celebrities packed into one place, security is an issue. Probably the best part of the tour was walking down winner's lane. Its the hallway where stars have to walk through after they win there award. I walked down the same hall as Denzel Washington, Kathryn Bigelow, Danny Boyle, the Coen Bros., Clint Eastwood. It was awesome! Of course, I wasn't carrying a little golden dude (Oscars weigh 8 pounds) in my hand but I still got to take the walk.

Later that evening we trekked up to the Hollywood Bowl (as seen in Yes Man) for a concert by John Williams. If you don't know who John Williams is I guarantee that you've seen at least one of the many movies he's scored. Let's see do any of these ring a bell?

- Jaws
- Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
- Superman
- Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
- Home Alone
- Hook
- Jurassic Park
- Schindler's List
- Saving Private Ryan
- The Patriot
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Yeah. He's awesome.

Class has been pretty informative the last few days. We've talked about equipment and workflow and crew positions. I applied for crew positions for our big projects this semester. First, I applied for Director of Photography (DP)/Cinematographer. If I get it, I'll be in charge of pretty much everything involving the look of the film. I'll supervise lights, I'll storyboard shots, I'll operate the camera, and I'll probably get to do the final color grading of the film as well. (an aspect of film that has very recently gotten my attention). If I don't get that, then I also have editor to fall back on. I'll be in charge of not only cutting the footage and putting together the final cut but I'll also be the script supervisor on set. That means I'll be in charge of continuity making sure props and actors look consistent from shot to shot. My final option is sound editor. I really have no experience in audio which is why I signed up for it. I would love to learn more. As a sound editor I would be in charge of recording sound on set, editing it, mixing it, ADR, even foley.

Internship update: Since I'm car-less in Los Angeles. I decided not to try to intern at Dreamworks. The more I thought about it, the more I thought that the animation world just isn't right for me. So, I'll be interning at Asylum Entertainment.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Doug Jones! Who?

Things are starting to warm up here in L.A. and I don't just mean weather wise (it's been about 97 the last few days - it is 69 as I type this). I'm talking about the creative process. The rest of the students and I are getting our imaginations revved up and ready to go. We received our most challenging and important assignment just a few days ago. 'Tis this:

- Develop your character into their story
- 6-8 pages (no more than 10)
- Interesting character + conflict + resolution
- Character must change in some way.
- Simple story + complex character
- Rules on content....non-existant

So, I'm in the process of writing a script. One of my summer assignments was to create a character and write two-pages describing that character. I had previously created a character that I didn't get to flesh out as much as I would have liked to. So, I expanded on that character, the character of Albert Ryan. Now, I must expand on that character even more and put him in a story. If you would like to read my character description of Albert that I turned in, see below and please ignore any spelling errors:

Albert Ryan is a 30 something year old trying to achieve the oft sought after goal of world fame and recognition as a successful movie star and screenwriter. Unfortunately, Albert is failing to reach what he believes to be his “life calling.” He’s a failed actor because he lacks the talent. He’s a failed screenwriter because he doesn’t know how to communicate through script. In fact, Albert doesn’t know how to communicate through any medium. At first glance, he appears to be an empty shell of a man; never communicating how he feels, what he’s thinking or what he wants. His friends all call him boring and of course, Albert is boring. The most daring part of his day is when he throws open cupboard doors in hopes of getting his face as close to the swing as possible without breaking his nose off. The only time he truly smiles is when he is trying to suck up flies using his vacuum cleaner. And Albert’s idea of a good time is whacking a golf ball around the yard for a few hours. But beneath the epidermal surface, Albert is really quite entertaining when he’s by himself and doesn’t siphon his behavior through his many psychological filters. Those filters include his natural born introversion, his fear of confrontation, and his desire to be liked by everyone; all of these seem contradictory to each other but they are the reasons Albert is so good at keeping his thoughts to himself. Even if these mental blocks cause him to endure his biggest pet peeve: being called boring. Of course, the last two paragraphs have been talking about Albert from three months ago, pre-mental breakdown Albert. Three months ago, Albert was in a relationship. I say, “was” because she called it quits after deeming Albert too boring. And that is when Albert snapped. His mind was so desperate to find a way to express his inner most thoughts upon the unsuspecting world that it simply created its own path of escape. This path came in the form of a film crew that only exists inside Albert’s head. Albert is now the star of his own documentary. The invisible film crew is now his much-needed confidante. Consequently, everyone within earshot of him is now his confidante. This has lead to all of his relationships changing, some for the worse. When he is “on camera” he is his true self. Albert isn’t acting anymore. His speech is faster, looser, more real and as a result, he hurts people’s feelings, alienates them, and hops onto a few people’s enemies list. In the past Albert would avoid conflict, now he actively seeks it out. Conflict is at the center of any good narrative after all and Albert is all about fabricating his life narrative as more exciting and provocative even if that means turning some of his friends into merely recurring characters. Ironically, now when he is alone is when Albert really struggles with his confidence. Albert’s personality has flip-flopped. Now, he’s obnoxious and boisterous while in public or the presence of company and quiet, reserved, and contemplative when by his lonesome. He asks himself why he “hired” this film crew. Is it in hopes of catapulting his acting career that he’s put so many of his relationships on the line? Or is he trying to show them that he’s not boring? Or show himself?

The whole idea for this character came from watching The Office. I would see how Jim would non-verbally communicate to the audience through the camera, as if passing of a secret through a smirk or a wink. I tried this in the dorm room a few times with Brock and that other guy I live with. The first time they freaked out, thinking someone else was in the room. I took that idea and ran with it. With my wonderful classmates Alex Canfield and Bill Rehr, we created a fake trailer for a movie starring Albert:

Now, I'm charged with task of making that trailer become a reality.

The highlight of the last few days was getting to meet Doug Jones. He was a special guest speaker at the center last night. If you don't recognize him from his quite famous film roles don't worry. You aren't suppose to recognize him.

Here he is as Abe Sapien from Hellboy and Hellyboy II: The Golden Army

The Silver Surfer - 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Pan's Labyrinth as Pale Man

The Benchwarmers - Number 7 Robot

He stayed and talked to us for 3 hours. He talked about his roles and told us cool stories about meeting Tim Burton and Guillermo del Toro

I'll post another pic dump within the next day or two and I'll post some videos of Doug Jones telling his stories.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

And here...we...go...

Well, the move-in is complete. I am officially living in Los Angeles and residing in the second largest apartment complex in the country, Park La Brea (next to the famous La Brea tar pits - as seen in Futurama). Life here is...different. Not really how I pictured it. I'm not saying its bad because it's not. I love it! I'm excited to be here. I've met my roommates (Jordan, Carlos, Josh, and Kyle) and they seem like really cool guys even if they can't compare to the likes of Brock and that other guy I live with back home. I've met my instructors (John, Patrick, Nathan, Rebecca, Jeremy, and Chris). They are all industry professionals who know what they are talking about in the world of film. And lastly, I've explored the facilities, which are great (I'll post pictures in the future).

On Monday, we had our first day of “classes.” This really just equaled orientation, talking about rules, and playing those awkward “get to know each other games.” It was still a fun day despite the not so hot start to the day. I've already learned that Monday is trash day here at PLB. I've also learned that garbage trucks in the area clock in at 195 dB.

So I woke up a little earlier than anticipated. No big deal. I figured I would just hop in the shower and get properly woken up. Turns out our apartments are environmentally friendly. So, instead of traditional shower heads PLB has opted to use old recycled fire hoses.

Of course, that's not true. Using The Shower of Power, gives you the illusion of death. You won't actually die while bathing. It accomplishes this illusion through two methods. The first of course is its redic power washer type water pressure that is used to train UFC fighters and ward off those pesky civil rights activists. The second method is to generate so much steam that the shower will actually trip the breaker, turning off the light in the bathroom. This causes the shower taker (e.g., me) to assume the worst: death.

With my nerve endings freshly destroyed, I made my way to the school which is about a fifteen minute walk away. I have no problem with this because I enjoy walking. I'm actually planning on walking to Hollywood Blvd. sometime soon. (It's about 3-4 miles away.)

Later in the day we had a couple of guest speakers, a married couple who have been working in Hollywood for quite some time. They were there to talk to us about being a Christian in Hollywood. They offered up a lot of good advice on how to adjust to the culture of the tribe that is Hollywood. But I found a few things that didn't quite sit well with me. It's hard to articulate why I disagree (I'll need to think about it a little longer). The advice I have issue with is treating “Christian” as if it is a dirty word because it carries a negative connotation around these parts. They prefer to describe themselves as “Christ Followers.” I understand that you don't want to alienate someone right off the bat by immediately filling their head with “right-winger, homophobic, Republican” (their words) but I don't see why we should abandoned our label just because it's been “hijacked” by a group who's “ideology” doesn't completely reflect a “Christ-like attitude” (I'm not saying that conservative Republicans aren't Christ-like; I am one.....but let's not get into that) Don't actions speak louder than words? Are we incapable of calling ourselves Christians and then showing that we love everyone? Letting others see Christ's light through us? Is labeling yourself as a “Christ Follower” taking the easier route? I don't know. Those are just a few things on my mind. Also, you would think calling yourself a “Christ Follower” in order to avoid alienation would be an insult the the non-believers intelligence, thus, alienating them. I'm sure if you tell someone that you are a “Christ Follower,” that person will make this connection in less than .5 seconds: CHRISTian: a person who is a believer in Jesus CHRIST and his teachings = Christ Follower....

Overall, I'm glad we talked about it. It got me thinking about things even though in the end I don't agree with what they do.

Interesting anecdote: I was walking back to the apartments with a few of my roommates after our last class of the day. When I saw a short woman walking ahead of us dressed in all black. I didn't pay much attention to her until we caught up to her and I started to pass her. I turned to say something to one of my fellow students when I caught this woman giving me the evil eye while muttering something under her breath. Less than 15 seconds later, a crow dropped a deuce on the top of my head. A crow! A deuce! My head!

Logical conclusion: She was a witch.

I know this posts seems super whiney but I'm really having a great time. There just wasn't a whole lot to talk about. But there will be once the semester gets into full swing.


A montage of travel footage that sounds like I'm headed off to Mount Doom instead of L.A. It's stupid. Enjoy.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I guess that's why they call it the City of Angels.

Los Angeles truly is a city of angels. Maybe not a city full of angels but there are a few and fortunately, my mother knew them back in college. And no, Nicholas Cage was not one of them.


My updates have been a little behind schedule but I'm going to catch up with this one. First things first, we left my sister's house at 6 in the morning on Wednesday (18th). We had plans to drive all the way through the Oklahoma pan handle, through New Mexico, into Arizona, and down to the Phoenix area to spend the night with one of my sister's friend's house. The trip started out great. We stopped in Kansas to run my car through a car wash. My car was cleaned, I was feeling good, we had miles of open road ahead but that's when mini disaster struck.

Not that kind of mini disaster.

I accidentally dropped a penny into the cigarette lighter. Don't ask how or why this happened. It'll just make both of our brains hurt. All you need to know is that it sparked a few times and I ended up fishing it out in the deadliest game of Operation ever. After gaining my one cent back and losing at least one fuse, my car no longer had interior lights or power locks. “No biggie,” I stupidly thought, “It could be worse.” Oh, what a fool I was. Why did I say that? Little did I know just how bad things were about to get. We entered New Mexico and I had one thing on my mind: Slushies. Too bad the state had an unpublicized ban on any and all cool, refreshing, frozen beverages. At least that's the impression that I got because I couldn't find a slushie anywhere. Annoyed and slightly parched, we made our way out of New Mexico. We just had to make it through.....Albu-kirky. (I said, A (A!), L (L!), B (B!), U (U!),.....................Kirky! (Kirky!)) As we were getting to Albuqurkey, I was behind the wheel and noticed my vehicle, Patchy (that's the name I just gave it), was acting a little funny. Then, medium sized disaster struck, Patchy just completely shut off and wouldn't start for a good 5 minutes. This happened several times before we decided to use my trust GPS, Viki, to lead us to the nearest repair shop.

"In 0.9 miles keep right on US 101. My logic is undeniable."

Now its time to talk all serious and junk about what was going through my mind at this time. I left my mom at the shop to go for a walk to blow off some steam, think about things, and maybe mutter insults to passing vehicles who were obviously rubbing it in my face. On this walk, I had a woe is me attitude. “Oh poor, poor, Russ. Nothin' ever goes your way,” I foolishly thought at the beginning of my walk. By the end of my 2.5 mile walk, my thoughts were a bit more positive.

I had convinced myself that everything would be alright in the end. Things would work out so I could finish the trip and continue the pursuit of my dream job. After a couple more hours of waiting in the shop while playing Pokemon (Dayne, Brad, woot!), we got the problem fixed.....for $500. So, my thoughts weren't completely optimistic but they were in comparison to a few hours previously.

So we said goodbye to Albakurkee and hello to Arizona, the land of the billboard. But my disastrous day had not yet ended. I was still craving a slushie. We stopped to fill up and that's when I saw it in the corner of my eye. Visible through the station window was a giant rotating cup. Inside this cup was something red; outside this cup were the words Slush Puppie (Brown Chicken, Brown Cow). I rush inside after pumping gas to feast my eyes on the delicious frozen treats. Alas, these so called “Slush Puppies” we merely a more expensive snow cone.


Due to our slight delays, we decided to just stay at a cheap motel for the night and finish the journey to L.A. in the morning. We stopped just short of Flagstaff, AZ and put an end to this intensely disappointing day.

The next day....

We awoke and hit the road. We had smooth sailing for the entire morning. Spirits were high and the scenery was beautiful. No billboards. We entered California at around noon or noon thirty and started our drive through the Mojave Desert. I was cruisin' along, enjoying the view when -BAM!- medium sized disaster reared its ugly head again. We were broke down, in the middle of the Mojave Desert. In 115 degree heat. For 2 hours. The tow truck took us back to town to sit in a garage again and we hoped we could find this (same as before) problem. Obviously, the $500 thingy didn't fix it.

At this point, I was praying. I was wondering if maybe this is God telling me I'm not following the right path. Maybe He had given me signs all along the way and this is what it took to finally get my attention. I was also wondering maybe this is just a test; a test to see what I was willing to endure to accomplish my dream. All of these thoughts ran over and over and over again for hours. Finally, I said to God, “I'm not going to worry about anything. If I'm meant to do this, you'll provide a way.”

Not long after, my mother received a call from an old college friend, Jay McCoy, who lives in the Los Angeles area and only 3 hours from where we were stranded. Oh, I should probably also mention that he's a mechanic. I could also talk about how he said he would come get us, tow my car back to his garage, let us borrow his car to drive into L.A. so we didn't miss our hotel reservation, give my car a look over in the morning, take me and my mom out to dinner the next day, show us around the city, and use his car to carry our luggage. I should also mention that his wife, Deanna McCoy (also a college friend), took off time from work to help us out anyway she could whether it be giving us tips on traveling around the city or inviting us into her home or inviting me to come to Thanksgiving since I won't be going home for that.


Truly amazing.

God is great. And so is the McCoy family.

Hopefully, someday, I'll be able to truly thank them in a way that they deserve and a way that I can't even fathom at this point. They didn't just help us out of a jam. They have helped me pursue my dream.



Quote of the days: Nephew Sam: (while giving me a tour of the house) “And this is where I don't take a bath.”


A fountain near where I'll be living.

Santa Monica Pier

Stranded in the desert.

Suddenly, Sunflowers! Thousands of them!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Not quite out of Dodge...

(August 16th)
Today, was a rarity for the state of Kansas. A dark, overcast, rainy day. And of course, we spent a few hours of it traveling to my sister's house, near Meade, KS., which can only be reached through dirt/sand roads. In case you were wondering, dirt/sand roads + rain = driving in slushy snow and it guarantees the local car wash some business.


My mom described today as, “Uncle Russ Day.” That's because as soon as we arrived at my sister's house, my nephew Sam, wanted to do anything and everything under the sun. The overcast ruined many of his plans but that didn't dampen his enthusiasm. Instead of going outside so we could ride horses and what not, we stayed inside and watched Scooby-Doo (he was impressed by my Scooby imitation...probably because he's 4) and I was introduced to the cloying Handy Manny.

"You can do anything ever!"

Not much to update on today. We're staying at my sister's for a couple of days to get in the highly valued family time. Unfortunately, they're a little short on internet connection around these parts. So, my posts are a little behind schedule. Hopefully, I'll be able to post some videos. In a day or two, we'll be headed to Phoenix, AZ to stay before finally driving into L.A.


Quote of the day goes to my Grandpa Clark: (talking about his music collection) If Ernest Tubb farted on tape, I got it.


Grandpa's truck

The ranch that my sister lives on.