Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Hangover

Back in my days at the Big Man's, the worst part of returning to work on the Monday after Thanksgiving was that long, slow walk I'd take up to the office from the parking garage. After four and a half days off, that walk was my last gasp of freedom before being re-chained to my desk. I'd smoke one last cigarette, listen to one last song on my iPod, take a few last gulps of carbon monoxide tinted air as I teetered down Wilshire Blvd. on my three-inch heels. Everyone around me had the same resigned look about them and as I stepped into the elevator someone would, no doubt, engage me in some awful small talk.

"Have a good holiday?"
"Go anywhere?"
"God I ate so much I'll need an extra Pilates class this week."
"Man, it sucks to be back."

My commute is a lot shorter now-- essentially the three feet between my bed and my desk-- but the holiday hangover remains the same.

Turkey weekend was thankfully mellow for me. No travel necessary, as my parents live a scant four miles down Olympic Blvd. And though I usually cook the majority of the Thanksgiving feast, I left that to my mom this year. Unfortunately, my camera ran out of batteries, so I don't have any turkey-carving action shots. Mainly I watched football with my Dad and Mandy, as they peppered me with questions about my travels and when my passport would be stamped next. No fuss, no drama. Just the way I like it.

Unfortunately, I fared horribly with my Pauly's Pub NFL picks this week, making only 9 of 15 correct choices. I also bubbled out of my Sundays with Dr. Pauly match on Fantasy Sports Live, missing the money by a lousy 2.4 points. Had I kept the kicker (the kicker!) that I usually go with, I'd have found an extra $18 in my account this morning. See what happens when I decide to research my picks instead of going with my random blonde "I like those uniforms" or "he has a cool name" approach to fantasy sports? I'm totally going back to randomness next week.

I got back on the SNG horse on Saturday and Sunday, ultimately playing close to 50 of them on Full Tilt. I decided to take TripJax's turbo SNG challenge approach, starting with a $78 slice of my bankroll and the $6.50s, moving up to the $12s once I doubled that amount. Playing 4 at a time, I went on an insane run in my first 16 games, with 5 first place finishes and 4 thirds. However, it only took 12 games at the $12 level to blow all of that and nudge me back down-- only one 1st, two thirds, and an 8-game losing streak right in the middle of it all. Back at the $6.50s, things went a little better and I made another 3 1sts along with a 2nd and a 3rd. The one major thing dropping down in levels from the $22s and $33s I usually play is that I've become a lot more fearless and aggressive on the bubble. It's really amazing what pussies people can be on the bubble (I know, I was one of them!) and I'm learning how to better exploit that. I'm going to continue the experiment this week between writing sessions, seeing how I fare playing different styles, more tables at a time, less tables at a time. Not caring about the money has made me enjoy the game again and get more creative with my play.

I'm caffeinated, it's 67 degrees outside, and it's one more day that I don't have to be inside an office. That, and my loving, thoughtful boyfriend are what I'm thankful for this year (cue the "awwwwws").

I think I'll take a walk...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Showcase and the $54 Vitamins

I was scrounging through the pantry for something edible yesterday when I noticed a few bottles of vitamins on the shelf where there hadn't been any before. There were four of them. The largest was labeled "Every Man's One Daily." Another was a small jar that read "Inositol Powder Dietary Supplement." The third was 90 capsules of "StressAresst." And the fourth had a $54 price tag. It was called "Brain Vitale." They weren't mine and they certainly weren't Pauly's. So what the hell was Showcase doing with a $54 bottle of vitamins?

"Showcase!" I bellowed from behind my laptop, as he walked in the front door with a small dog on a leash.


"So, there's these $54 vitamins in the pantry..."

"Oh, God."

"Why the hell do you have a $54 bottle of vitamins?"

" you remember Suzie Bisset from college?"

"Of course"

"Well, she calls me up the other day and tells me there's this vitamin company in Santa Monica that her company might do some business with. So she asks if I can go down there, and just ask one of the associates for help and see if he hooks me up with the right kind of vitamins and she'll pay me back later."

"So you say you'll do it?"

"I say I'll do it. So I go to the vitamin store in Santa Monica and this totally nice guy helps me out, and I tell him that I need something for stress and something that stimulates memory and he gives me all this stuff. And by the time I'm done, I've spent like, $100."

"$100 on vitamins?"

"Well, so I call Suzie and tell her the store is really nice and I had this great experience there, and that she should do business with them. And she's like. 'Ohmygod thanks! I totally owe you dinner when I'm out in L.A. next!' And I'm like, 'How the fuck do I tell her I spent $100 on vitamins?'"

"You shouldn't have spent $100 on vitamins."

"Thinking they were free, though..."

"No, not even thinking they were free."

"Anyway, last night I take a shit and Change... I'm telling you, it comes out bright green."

"How bright?"


"Was it the vitamins?"

"I have no idea. I just took some more so we'll have to see what color my shit is tomorrow morning."

"If the $54 vitamins turned your shit green will you continue to take them?"

"I don't know."

Showcase took a normal-colored shit the following morning.

But he's still stuck with a $54 bottle of vitamins.

(And hopefully, he'll pull the trigger and finally book that $54 flight and $47 room at the IP to join us Saturday and Sunday at the WPBT Vegas! You reading this, Showcase?)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Get Over It

A funny thing happened today while I was procrastinating finishing up a crapload of freelance articles. I found myself one step closer to getting over Hollywood.

Seven years, two jobs and three apartments ago, I was at a weekend brunch/schmoozefest when I heard that Sabrina, the girl who worked across the hall from me at the studio, had landed a coveted creative executive gig with one of the producers on the lot. The news instantly threw me into a tizzy. I'd heard about the job myself, and under Charlie's sage advice, decided not to go for it for sort of the same reasons you don't play A-T offsuit from under the gun in the first hour of a tournament. Jumping ship from the studio to take on a better title and slightly more money at a small company with a deal expiring in a year and no "go" movies in the pipeline would be a premature move with an easily dominated hand. There was a huge chance that I could take that job and find myself unemployed in less than a year, with an executive stripe on my sleeve and a stack of business cards, but hardly the experience I needed to move on to a better gig at a bigger company.

"You're 23 years old for Christ's sake. This is not a race!" Charlie would remind me nearly every day.

I knew Charlie was right, but still I returned home from that brunch steaming like I'd been knocked out on the bubble with pocket aces, one singular thought streaming through my mind like a ticker-tape in Times Square.

"Why her and not me?"

Even though common sense told me that it wasn't a race... well, yeah... it still was for me. Be the first, be the youngest, be the best had been instilled in me since kindergarten. I still wasn't too many years removed from being a high school overachiever. I wanted those blurbs in the alumnae magazines of my snooty high school and overpriced college.

Sabrina and I had started at the studio during the same month, worked 80-hour weeks for executives at the same rank, and had been at the whole Hollywood thing for less than 18 months. I knew I took home more reading than she did, wrote better notes than she did, and inspired more confidence in my work from the senior-level executives than she did. Even Charlie thought she was completely mediocre at her job. And yet there she was, with newly minted business cards and buckslips in her purse, buzzing around the patio of whatever trendy Sunset Strip eatery we were in, fielding congratulations and hugs from all our peers. Goddammit I wanted that kind of attention.

I called Charlie from the car on my way home and he was completely dumbfounded at the news, but he could tell I was down about the whole thing so he started making jokes about what a cuntrag her new boss was and about how she had no power on the lot and how Sabrina would probably get locked away in a windowless closet, forced to do notes on the 21st draft of that mind-numbingly boring pirate movie they'd been trying to push into production for the last decade. That's my Charlie. Always there with a snide comment to give me a boost.

But it didn't help. Not in the least.

I arrived home and immediately closed all the blinds in my living room, shutting out the sparkling light of a March afternoon in West Hollywood. I turned on Radiohead's Kid A and started smoking a bowl. Midway through my second bongload, my smoke detector went off, it's wails piercing through the dark den of twentysomething self-loathing I'd created. The battery had been running out for days, causing it to beep for a few seconds here or there-- I'd just been too lazy to change it. So I got up off the couch and tapped at it with a broom handle and it stopped. But no sooner had I sat back down when it went off again. Sigh... broom handle...OK...

"I'm not here... this isn't happening" wailed Thom Yorke from the speakers of the Sony boom box I'd received as a Christmas gift from CAA.

But it went off again. And tapping it or nudging it couldn't get it to stop. I slammed the broom down on the floor in anguish, only to pick it up again and start swinging it at the smoke detector. It smashed into pieces, shards of plastic falling around me. What cords and wires were left of it hung from the ceiling like an open wound.

"That there... it's not me..."

Instead of just calmly pulling out the AA battery, I'd just smashed the thing to bits for absolutely no reason. I felt almost outside of myself when I did it, the rage was that consuming. And, over some D-Girl getting a promotion? Was I really that concerned with what everyone thought of me? That I'd somehow be less of a person because I wasn't the first in my "class" to become an executive? Was my identity really that tied to my career?

I went to a therapist a couple of days later. But it really was Charlie who was instrumental in helping me get over the "alumnae magazine curse." And he was right about there being a one-year expiration date on Sabrina's new D-gig, though she landed on her feet at a different studio. By that time I was getting my own executive stripe at the Big Man's. And, unsurprisingly, when I'd lose that job three years later, she was one of those people I'd never hear from again now that I was out of the game and of no use to her.

This morning I happened on a copy of one of those Hollywood trade magazines that does those "35 under 35" lists. And there was Sabrina. VP of some company with a billion-dollar financing deal talking about her goals and inspirations and what she liked to do for fun on the weekends.

I remember growing up as a girl who wanted nothing more than to be on one of those lists. To be recognized for something extraordinary at a young age. To be someone who didn't need those other trappings of life-- relationships, hobbies, a life outside one's career. Career and life were one for me. In this business, there was no separation. Work never stopped when I came home at night. Work never stopped on the weekend. And everyone I associated with was in the industry, so even when I wasn't working, I was talking about work, thinking about work, networking, creating political capital and planning long-term chess moves like I was possessed by Karl Rove. Even Charlie started calling me "Karl" for a while. Paying one's dues in Hollywood is such arduous work and personal sacrifice that at times, I'd fall asleep at night picturing the day I'd land on one of those lists. And then maybe it would all be worth it.

This morning, when I saw Sabrina's name on that list, I smiled. And really felt nothing. Except perhaps a tinge of nostalgia for that driven little ball of ambition I was at 23 and how utterly psychotic she would be reading this news. Sabrina looked good. She'd cut her hair. I wondered if she was happy. She probably was if she'd stuck with the D-game for this long.

All that mattered to me in that moment was that I was happy. That I wouldn't trade the last two years for the world. That I'd taken those first scary steps outside of Hollywood, a world I thought I wanted to dominate, and to my surprise found great friendships, great love, and the sort of happiness I never thought I needed, let alone deserved. And that was far better than getting on any list no one will remember in a week and a half.

The credit roll on a movie screen and in a deck of cards-- two places where it is so easy to expect fulfillment and yet, yield so little.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


You miss me?

I've been back from Australia since Thursday, but Pauly stayed on in L.A. through yesterday and I haven't had the chance to get in a long stretch of writing in until today. Having the opportunity to take a trip like the one I just returned from is extraordinary and I want to give it the treatment it deserves on paper. So you'll probably get to start hearing about that tomorrow.

I'll of course, be joining the WPBT party in Las Vegas in December. I live four hours away and really have no excuse. Like I'd need one anyway to party with you fine folks. But for all you donkeys looking for more tournament action outside of our humble affair at the Venetian, you should check out this new feature over at Las Vegas Vegas. Their new Vegas Poker Room Directory is incredibly comprehensive. Click on the name of any casino and it will give you a complete tournament calendar for their poker room. With some of the bigger rooms like Caesar's offering like, 6 tournies a day, this is a great resource for deciphering it all.

Speaking of donkaments, I played Hoy's turbo MATH tournament last night on impulse, having not played an online MTT in at least a month. I think I got my money in good exactly once-- with Q-Q against Donkeypuncher's A-rag. The rest of the time I won coinflips and sucked out spectacularly. I ended up bubbling the damn thing in 10th place when I tried to make a move on Daddy, open-pushing with 5d-8d from the button and having the misfortune of running into his A-T. T on the flop, A on the turn and I was gone. At least I doubled up an actual blogger (not to mention a world-reknowned donkey fucker and all around great guy), and this actual blogger went on to finish second. Congrats to Daddy, and to actual blogger jamyhawk that took it down.

I plowed through my Bloglines folder over the last couple of days. It had completely runneth over since I stopped checking it upon my departure from consistent internet in Melbourne. One thing I was saddened to read (aside from Britney Spears perpetually running over peoples' feet with her Mercedes) was the news of the departure of PokerWorks' sole remaining paid blogger, Craig Cunningham. I hope he keeps up his scribblings on his own site a la the rest of the departed PWorks gang-- Amy, Maudie, Grubby, Speaker, and everyone's favorite Guinness-guzzling dwarf.

The new Truckin' is out and I have a story in it about my Key West adventures. How my beloved got this issue out within 12 hours of our return state-side I have no idea. I was ready to pass out and was still hopped up on Xanax from the plane ride while he was already tap-tapping at the laptop. But it's a doozy and has pieces from Pauly, Al Cant Hang, Sigge, and an especially moving one from Sean Donahue. Go read!

Truckin' - November 2007, Vol. 6, Issue 11

1. Existentialist Conversations with Strippers: The Afternoon Shift by Paul McGuire
The club was just the type of seedy place where you might find William Kennedy Smith or any other soused heirs to the Kennedy name, knocking back cheap scotch at 3 pm while aggressively fondling the sketchy girls with visible c-section scars and multiple fresh bruises all over their cracked-out bodies.... More

2. Lonesome Cowboy Bill by AlCantHang
My comfort zone is a dive rock club where I can chain smoke, power drink, and have my head assaulted with decibels equivalent to a jumbo jet taking off. The next step down the ladder would be the pubs and bars the exist for sole purpose of its patrons getting blitzed on various hardcore drinks. Then comes the sports bars, strip clubs, snooty yuppie bars, and hotel watering holes. Near the very bottom would generally be any place that plays country music... More

3. Seven Minutes with Olga by Change100
Olga led me all the way to the back and sat me down. She took her top off and grabbed my hands, placing them on her very soft, very real breasts... More

4. The Sleep Deprived Memoirs of I by Sigge S. Amdal
I might as well go to sleep, I thought. And I thought about sleeping forever, the eternal sleep, and how it could feel – was it cold or was it cozy – had it not been for facts contesting life after death in terms of subjectively sensory experience... More

5. Their Father's Love by Sean A. Donahue
Tying to explain the differences and the complaints of a failed marriage is too complicated for a four-year old to understand. I think I heard the phrase, "But why daddy?" more than I ever thought I could. But it wasn't my kids' fault... More

OK, time to stop blogging and get back to writing. I did update my flickr page over the weekend, with 155 photos from Down Under to whet your appetite...

I will leave you with the only thing that has made me laugh about the current Writers Guild Strike. Over at the Bronson Gate of the Paramount lot a new craze has been born... Strike Dancing.