Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Only Walter is welcome here.

We've not just been experimenting with web video streaming.  Our friend Kim had us dog sit her pooch. Walter is a lovely, friendly, little guy and thankfully he doesn't have the issues of the book character.  He is also the only dog I have met and not been allergic to.  Sometimes, when he lies on my lap or snuggles next to me, I get worried that the hives and sneezing will start, but so far nothing.

I do love him and I'd dog sit for him again in an instant, but we are NOT getting a dog.

This isn't like the web streaming experiment though, right from the start Walter has been a joy to look after.  He likes it here, mostly due to the kiddy commotion and Lynn's weakness when it comes to his begging techniques.

I do love him and I'd dog sit for him again in an instant, but we are NOT getting a dog.

However, not all is well.  Firstly, I've discovered that Walter, for all his cuteness, comes with a cost.  There's the walks - apparently this is my job as the stay at home parent.  There's the letting him out for a pee - my job.  There's cleaning his yucky bowls - my job.  Picking up his sh*t - my job.  And my particular favorite, washing him after he's rolled and rubbed up in sh*t - absolutely my job.

I do love him and I'd dog sit for him again in an instant, but we are NOT getting a dog.

Yesterday, he was taken for a 3 hour hike with about 10 other dogs.  When he returned he was finished, a shadow of his former self.  He lounged about the house, following me when he felt he had to, but he was pretty much out of energy.  Now Walter could be with shedding a few pounds and he's not alone there.  So I took him for a brisk 1 hour hike round Fryman Canyon this morning.  He's now completely asleep at my feet as I type this - not even the postman could stir him now.  Doggy boot camp has begun!

I do love him and I'd dog sit for him again in an instant, but we are NOT getting a dog.

Walter is not like normal dogs and I think there can only be one like him.  He's a rescue dog, but he's got none of the attitudes that such experience can cause.  In fact, recently he was suffering with a bit of tummy trouble and so the vet had a look at him with x-rays.  There was nothing odd in his tummy, but he has a bullet lodged in his hip.  I hate to think that someone shot at him, I prefer to think he took a bullet trying to shield his owner.  If he could talk, he tell some crazy tales no doubt.

I do love him and I'd dog sit for him again in an instant, but we are NOT getting a dog.  NEVER.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Guilt & Love

Without you these would have stayed empty.
I just had that horrible feeling.  I pressed 'publish' and instantly felt sick.  I'd written in my last post that "I organized pretty much everything for the show" and, of course, that's not true. It made me think of all people that helped us and I instantly felt I'd done them a disservice.
  • John Jack at the Stella Adler, allowed this whole project to get off the ground in the first place.
  • Rochelle at the Stella Adler - basically told me how to do everything.  
  • Our friend and neighbor Kim, proof read and improved every piece of drivel I wrote for the flyers, website and program.
  • Carter, our amazingly generous friend, supplied all the equipment to web stream and film the show. His guy Chris set up the lights, the sound desk and the huge back sheet scrim.
  • Martin, despite his punishing schedule, donated the most marvelous whisky known to man.
  • Jason, a new friend, donated the lovely wine.
  • Our friend, Debs, wrote the press release and painstaking updated every listings site with the show's details.
  • The fabulous twitter pals who tirelessly re-tweeted the show's details.
  • Myra, last but not least, told me what was really needed to provide drinks after the show.  She was going to take the production photographs and run the bar... and then our tech was unable to do the run, so at the literal last minute, Myra saved the day and ran the lights and sound cues.  A wonderful lady to whom we are seriously in debt.

In short, I'm not cut out to be the stereotypical Hollywood Producer, I still feel guilt and shame and love.  So to the very idea that I could be a Hollywood Producer, I use the words of Douglas Adams, "So long and thanks for all the fish".

New Job Title

For the past few weeks I've been obsessed about trying to get audience for Lynn's play.  Everything, including this blog has had to take second place.  By the end of it we were all happy it was over, especially our boys.

I organized pretty much everything for the show, apart from the artistry which is Lynn's domain.  I cobbled together the website, configured the payment engine for tickets, manipulated the artwork for the website & printed materials, investigated printers, handed out the postcard flyers, designed the programs, hunted for donations of wine, etc.  It was a lot of work and it was quite stressful knowing that if I failed, Lynn would find herself performing to tiny audiences.  It was only when chatting to the Stella Adler students that I discovered my role had a name.  It hadn't occurred to me that this was the job of the producer.

In the end, we got good audiences, 50-60 each night for 3 nights on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday in Los Angeles whilst there was a rain storm - not a bad result at all.

I found it most exhilarating calling the start of the show.   Basically I'd 'open the house' to get the audience seated, ensure Lynn is on stand-by, ready Myra in the sound & lighting booth, shut the doors and then the pre-show music fades...  I'm not certain why I found it such fun, perhaps it's the control, but I think it was the feeling of something actually beginning.  The producer's tasks all seem to be about planning and preparation, calling the start of the show is immediate.

The Stella Adler Theatre proved to be an excellent location, with a great stage, wonderful acoustics and solid technical set up.  The location is great too, situated on Hollywood Blvd, right in the middle of the nonsense at the cross section with Highland.  Which leads me to the conclusion that I have become not just a producer, but a 'Hollywood Producer'.  So I'm now off to buy some huge cigars.  Let's do lunch sometime, I'll get my people to talk to your people and other such clich├ęs....

Or perhaps I'll just get back in the kitchen and make dinner.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Short Shark Shock

Our 3 year old was playing with a toy shark, whilst he should have been eating his breakfast.  He's started talking to his toys and shark is no exception.

"What is it shark?  .... Oh, you want to go under the water?" he said and then plunged the shark under the table.
He then turned to me and said, "Oh no!  Where's shark gone?"
I replied, "I think he's under the water."
A grin emerged and he informed me, "No Daddy, He's under the table!"

Silly Daddy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dressing up.

I saw a pair of fabulous shoes the other day, they were a kind of high wedge.  Elegant and rustic, all at the same time.  I'd just met the wearer of the shoes at another of those Brits in LA breakfasts, so I felt comfortable enough to say how much I liked them.  However, that started one of those discussions about whether women wear such sexy shoes to attract men or whether it's just for their own personal pleasure.

Discussions like this are potential minefields for men.  In the past, I would have said that I agreed that, for most women, they choose their clothes and shoes for themselves without any thought of men.  But I might not have perhaps entirely believed that view, I'd maybe, perhaps, have just said it to avoid any, er, difficulties.  Weak or just pragmatic? Anyway, now that's changed.  I didn't just say it, I meant it.  

Being the stay at home parent, everyday is casual, dress-down Friday and I've loved it.  When I was out working, I'd always avoid wearing a suit if I could.  The only time I'd really care about my appearance was when I was out looking for, err, em.... I'm talking about before I met Lynn, I had needs!  

I'm pretty much in shorts and a T-shirt every day, so now I'm much keener to spruce up a bit when I go out.  Nothing drastic, maybe some long trousers, occasionally a shirt, sometimes even a suit.  I even wore my kilt to a gala once, though I suspect that the effect a kilt has on American ladies, is something best enjoyed before any marriage commitments... and I thought men were meant to be the ones objectifying!

I still can't fathom the female psyche, but being the stay at home parent, I think I have lost a number of my lazy assumptions or prejudices.  It's difficult to define them all, prejudices tend to be hidden from their owner; disguised as facts, or jokes, or stereotypes.  I'm clear with this one though, women dress in a way that they like, and they do it for their own self image and happiness.  As much as men might like to think that killer heels and tight tops were all chosen for their viewing pleasure, that only really exists in a certain sort of gentlemen's establishment, and true gentlemen would never frequent such a place.

It's not just female to care about your appearance.  Sure, my friends that are parents of girls, say that school free dress days are their recurring nightmare.  Boys tend to follow styles and fashions in their teens and twenties as they strive to fit in or rebel.  However as an adult, in the absence of employer or client pressure to follow accepted norms, you decide what makes you feel good about yourself, and sometimes that means dressing up.  

However, I shan't be wearing heels anytime soon.... they don't look right with my kilt.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Motorcycle Emptiness.

I'm losing it.  Truly.  I can't remember the last time I rode a motorcycle.  I'm beginning to dream of it more and more.  Sometimes I watch the MotoGP and can't really remember what it was like.  Especially that feeling of getting a corner right.  Enjoying being leant over, with the feeling that both wheels are firmly planted and ready for the increase of power as you exit the bend.

I came to riding on the road late.  I think I was 26.  Old enough to know better and young enough to try not to.  I rode bikes in the fields that surrounded my house from about the age of 10, so I knew it could hurt and I knew what it was like to lose grip.  The first bike I bought was a red Suzuki RF600F, a tame'ish 147mph 'sports tourer'.  I rode that bike to work every day and pretty much all over England.  I also went on longer trips to the famous Le Mans race track in France, Jerez in Southern Spain, Assen in Holland and Barcelona.

I even rode through some freezing cold London winters.  In fact, I once rode home in snow; I just rode slower with both feet down.  Snow is not for the novice, but it was still loads of fun.  At one point I slid slowly, both wheels locked and traveling at a speed that a snail would be ashamed of, into the back of a London bus!  I giggled all the way, knowing I was going to hit it, but also knowing I'd be fine and that no one would notice, except me.

I wonder if I will ever have a bike again.  The LA driving experience doesn't make me want to get in there and start mixing it with the sedate stoners and the charlie chargers.  In the car, last year, I had 3 accidents in two weeks.  Each time I was stationary; the first two were mere bumps in car parks, where I had the misfortune to actually watch someone drive into my car.  The third was a guy who just drove straight into us, while we sat at a red light; once he'd beaten down the airbag, he just drove off at speed.  I followed, till he went left through the next red light.  His registration didn't match the car, so he seemed to be experienced at this caper.

But I still miss it.  It's wrong to be reckless with your life when you have responsibilities, but surely that  applies just as much to every time we eat fatty, artery-clogging food, as it does to the risks of my motorcycle passion.  Motorcycling gives me focus; for me, it's almost like meditation.  In fact, when I think about it, the way Lynn describes what stage acting does for her, pretty much applies to what motorcycling does for me.

I dream of the canyon roads.  Give me corners, smooth tarmac, steep mountains and mild weather.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Home Comforts

Tuesday,  I went out for breakfast.  I know, the sheer decadence of it, how dare I?  Lynn told me to go and so, yet again, I obeyed.

The 'Brits in LA' facebook group holds a breakfast meet every Tuesday in Cecconi's on Melrose.  We've been living here for almost 2 years and, most of the time, I feel foreign and sort of misplaced.  It's just a subtle feeling, nothing particularly concrete.  Even the sights that have become familiar, are still somehow overseas.  So having breakfast with British folks was really an interesting experience.

Before going, I wondered whether I'd feel more at home or more displaced.  In the end, neither.  It was truly refreshing to understand and be understood.  British humour is very different for American humor - we even spell the word differently - and so it's a release to not worry so much about offending, or confusing, anyone with sarcasm.  Somehow, I couldn't face getting the Full English breakfast though, so perhaps I'm not so British anymore.

What was really invigorating was that the 'Brits in LA' aren't normal.  Not that they are odd, just that they all have an interesting story to tell.  It's not an easy move to make, coming over here, and so everyone's had a voyage of discovery.  There are quite a few actors and the like, but pretty much, you sit a table and meet interesting people doing all sorts of work.  This time I met a  race car driver and now Speed commentator, a veterinarian hospital manager and an 82 year old actor.  I felt a kind of strong camaraderie from the experience, but it didn't feel like this is home yet, and it didn't make me homesick for the UK either.

On a different note, at the weekend we went to two music gigs, first was The Gotan Project at Club Nokia and second was Belle & Sebastian at the Hollywood Palladium.  Both concerts were fantastic.  Even the support bands were great; General Elektriks and Jenny & Johnny.  The nights were very different in form, but they both had an unexpected effect on me.  

An audience having a great time is pretty much universal. We could have easily been at the Shepherd's Bush Empire or Earls Court in London and we would have had pretty much the same feeling.  We don't get to go out too much, and even when we did we rarely went to see bands.  So it was a surprise to feel so much at home in an unusual setting.  

I'm going to regret saying this, but we need to get out more.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I'm busy.  It's great.  I get to hang out with adults again.  Sometimes, I think I over exaggerate the trials that my boys inflict on Lynn and I, and sometimes, I look at old videos which I'm saving for my boys embarrassment.  I've replaced the video on this one, but the sound tells the story well enough.  Janey Godley is a wonderful friend; she's a comedienne, writer, podcaster and scary lady you can sometimes see on LA's public transport system...