#36 – Go on an Online Date

I don’t date.

I never really have. All of my past relationships were a result of the woman pursuing me. That’s not bragging. I’m just lazy. And I think I inherently know that romance leads to heartbreak, so I avoid it unless someone brings me into it.

More or less, I’ve spent the majority of my life having the no strings attached type of relationships, which consist mainly of banging and leaving, and that wasn’t just me doing the leaving. That is until my recent relationship of nearly a year and a half, which was a brand new record for me.

Prior to that relationship, I had “Go on an online date” on my list of Discomfort Blog ideas. I never did it, because I am not that good on paper. I’m more attractive once you get to know me.

In the duration of my past relationship, Tinder hit the world hard. I took enjoyment seeing friends swipe right during down times in their daily lives. I never thought I would create an account on there, because when you’re in a relationship you think it’s never going to end. Plus, I always thought it was kind of silly that people were so desperate to meet someone that they would force a meeting.

After my ex broke up with me I decided to revisit the idea of going on an online date, you know strictly to write about something, not because I’m a horny dude or anything. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the appeal of online dating. If you fear rejection, it’s not face to face unless you want to meet up, and there’s even less risk with Tinder since you only talk to people who think you are attractive as well.

So, I scavenged through my Facebook for skinny pics and joined up a few weeks ago. I got quite a few matches rather quickly. More than I actually thought I would, which is a result of having a poor image in my head from being a former fatty. I did a whole bunch of messaging, but didn’t meet anyone in person. Frankly, I was too busy to meet anyone. I just started working on a new TV show, which ironically is the dating game show “Baggage on the Road” hosted by Jerry Springer. Only I would become recently single and start working on a dating show.

My Tinder profile pictures equipped with emojis and a cheesy line.

My Tinder profile picture equipped with emojis and a cheesy line.

The night before I left for Austin, Texas to start shooting the show I got a match from a woman who gave me her number within five messages. While out of town she text asking if I wanted to go to a concert at The Wiltern. I thought she was attractive and I appreciated the forwardness since like I mentioned previously, I’m lazy when it comes to this dating game. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at her forwardness since she is 37 years old, nine years my senior. Women that age tend to not waste as much time as younger women.

I didn’t flinch at the age gap, because I’m a bit of an old soul and I’ve been in relationships with larger age gaps. When I was 23 I dated a woman who was 35. Before you start thinking I have Mommy issues, my last girlfriend was six years younger than me.

I rescheduled with her for the Sunday after I returned from Austin. I had no idea what we would do, because our exchanges were very limited. She didn’t have a bio on her profile, and all I knew was that she liked yoga and posing with the man who we in Los Angeles call “Sunset Jesus” because he walks up and down Sunset Boulevard dressed as Jesus. I didn’t even know how to pronounce her name. It looked French, but she didn’t.

She suggested we go to a concert again. I told her I couldn’t because I agreed to be a guest on a podcast that night. Since it was Sunday, I asked if she liked football. She said “no.” I almost broke up with her right there even before we even went on a first date. She suggested a museum. In my head, I laughed because after all it was Sunday and football is my religion. Long story short, I suggested the Grammy Museum at LA Live, because if I’m going to have to go to a museum it can’t be a real museum.

I arrived to the museum first. It pains me even writing “museum.” I sat there semi-hoping she wouldn’t show up. I know I set the date, but I was already regretting it now that it was real. Plus, I could see the Chargers driving down the field on a TV in the distance.

She showed up and looked like a slight variation of the four pictures she had on her profile. I wasn’t disappointed. I mean you have to assume that online everyone puts their very best pictures up. She was exotic looking. From her pictures I had no idea if she was African American, Native American, Indian, or all of the above.

We went through the typical get to know you questions. I did my best to take interest in her likes, but I could tell we didn’t have a lot in common. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that awkward, mainly because I can converse with just about anyone thanks to years of being a journalist and working in casting. The only level of discomfort occurred when she asked, “So what do you do for a living?” I’m honest, so I told her, “I work in TV.”

I should have assumed her follow-up question would be, “What show?”

But I didn’t think anything of it when she asked, so I said, “I’m writing this dating game show called ‘Baggage.’”

“Wait, a dating show, I’m not on it right now am I?” she said without missing a beat. “That’s not what this is right now, is it? Is this one of those hidden camera shows? You’re not going to use anything from this date on your show, are you?”

Only in LA.

After I answered “no” four times, and got past that hurdle, we conversed some more. I wish that was the first time I’ve had to reassure a woman I wasn’t filming her.

She was nice, and the next day instead of telling me to take a hike she asked if I wanted to go for a hike at Griffith Park. So, I guess that means the date was a success. But I really had no interest, so I passed.

Overall, I really don’t think online dating is for me. I don’t like forcing a meeting. I prefer chance and circumstance. Tinder definitely serves as a great ego boost, but for me I don’t think it goes beyond that. Plus, my favorite thing has been stumbling upon women I know in real life and texting them screenshots of their profile.

Side note, I’ve got way more matches in cities outside of Los Angeles, like San Diego and Austin, which I think speaks to the superficiality of online dating in the plastic town of LA. As much trash as I’m talking about online dating right now, I just realized I’ll be in Baton Rouge, Tampa, Hartford, Las Vegas, and San Diego in the next seven weeks and the road is lonely. So what I’m really saying is that I’m full of shit and I love Tinder.

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35 – Write A Second End of Year Review

It’s time for my second annual list of Stupid Shit I Did & Things I’m Proud Of from the past year.

Stupid Shit I Did in 2013

I know I am getting older, because I look at the things I’ve written below and there’s no raw-dogging chicks or falling asleep with strippers in my lap. My regrets are also far less in numbers, and a bit more personal in spirit.

  • Quit a TV show: I have always been astutely aware that I am fortunate to work in television. The fact that people pay me for this shit is ridiculous. I never thought I would quit a TV show. But I did. Some days I regret it. Most days I don’t. I was good at the job. The people I worked with liked me. I was even friends with the host. I had job security. I left it all though. Maybe I gave up too early. It was a stupid move at the time, because I didn’t have something else lined up. The thing that bugs me most is that I gave up. And I’ve never given up on something before.
  • Gained 10 pounds: I put in a lot of work to get down to 150-160 pounds in 2012. And in 2013 I put in a lot of work in my career, which meant significantly less time working out. Add in the stress eating and drinking, I find myself at 170 pounds at the end of 2013. The fat boy inside my brain will always think I need to lose weight, and even though I know 170 is still skinny for my height, I still consider this to be something stupid I did in 2013.
  • Didn’t Travel More: Last year it seemed like I was in Las Vegas every other weekend. I’m ashamed to say that I only went three times this year. I did go to Chicago for the first time as well. And in traditional form I also went to San Diego a dozen times or so, however, work prevented me from cashing in on trips to New York and San Francisco. I should’ve taken the time to venture out of Los Angeles more often.

Things I’m Proud I Did in 2013

The one thing I learned from the list below is that I worked a lot. I think I need to find a balance between fun and work, because last year was my party year and this year was my work year. These accomplishments, however, are substantial, which is all that matters.

  • Work on Five Different TV Shows: This was the first year I worked on more than two shows. It’s the first time I’ve actually felt like I have a legitimate TV career.

January-February: “America’s Got Talent” on NBC

Career-wise, this show started off my hot year.

Career-wise, this show started off my hot year.

April-May: “The Test” by CBS

I found every opportunity to nap on The Test. 100 hour work weeks will do this to anyone.

I found every opportunity to nap on The Test. 100 hour work weeks will do this to anyone.

May-July: “Let’s Make A Deal” on CBS

Working on set of "Let's Make A Deal" was a blast. Felt food to see people excited to be on a show, after spending the prior month sleeping at my desk.

Working on set of “Let’s Make A Deal” was a blast. Felt food to see people excited to be on a show, after spending the prior month sleeping at my desk.

July-August: “Wall of Fame” coming to NBC

Just messing around with Jason. Means a lot working for someone who will look out for you. Had a blast in Chicago working on Wall of Fame with him. With LMAD and WOF I learned a lot about game shows in 2013, thanks to him.

Just messing around with Jason. Means a lot working for someone who will look out for you. Had a blast in Chicago working on Wall of Fame with him. With LMAD and WOF I learned a lot about game shows in 2013, thanks to him.

September-November: “Operation Repo” on TruTV

It felt great to get back into the field on "Operation Repo." Working as the AD on this show was my highest ranking credit I've ever had, and I think it's taking my career down a new path. We shot in cars, planes, and boats, and I had the time of my life in all three.

It felt great to get back into the field on “Operation Repo.” Working as the AD on this show was my highest ranking credit I’ve ever had, and I think it’s taking my career down a new path. We shot in cars, planes, and boats, and I had the time of my life in all three.

October-Present: “America’s Got Talent” on NBC

  • Start A Relationship: I’ve been serially single. I’ve always said I would remain that way until I found someone who was just as intelligent as me and worked in the same industry, because that’s the only type of person who wouldn’t give me crap about the amount of time I put into my career. I found her, and have been happy for eight months now. Probably not impressive to most of you, but definitely a new record for me.
It has been pure joy with this one. A lot of laughs, for sure.

It has been pure joy with this one. A lot of laughs, for sure.

  • Help Make Someone Else’s Dreams Come True: I spent the prior five years in Los Angeles working with people who I thought had my best intentions, but really were pieces of shit. In November of 2012 I told a comedian friend he should audition for the reality competition show I just started working on. He was hesitant and just like me, not in a great point in his life. 10 months later, Taylor Williamson finished in second place on “America’s Got Talent, is selling out comedy clubs, and is a household name. Talking out his strategy each week from the initial unaired audition to the season finale in Radio City Music Hall was an amazing experience. Unlike the assholes I associated with in prior years, he had my back, and ensured that the higher-ups on AGT knew what I did, thus securing my return to the show. We helped each other out, and he restored my faith that there are good people in show business. Below is my favorite performance that he did on AGT and the conversation that went into the development of it was one of my favorites from 2013.

  • Quit a TV Show: I quit “The Test” after five weeks because I was working over 100 hours per week. I was falling asleep on the way to work in the morning. If it was four years ago I probably would’ve put up with the abuse because back then I didn’t know when I was going to find another TV show to work on. I quit “The Test” with no promise of another show, but I ended up working on the three shows immediately after, so I pumped up my resume and got my life back.
  • Have Sex with a Friend and Not Have it be Weird: I dated this one girl in 2012 and even though we stopped dating, we remained friends. Before I got in a relationship, we even had sex in 2013 as friends. It wasn’t weird the next morning, I think because we actually have respect for one another. Who knew sex with a friend could be a thing?
  • Continue My Journalism Career: Journalism was my first love, and every year I try to revisit that passion. This year my buddy Jon Gold hooked me up with two gigs when I was in between TV shows. One was to cover an NHL game between the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks and the other was to cover an MLB game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers. Journalism still provides an adrenaline rush that TV doesn’t give me, but I have way more fun in TV.
Getting paid to watch sports is almost as unbelievable as the fact that I get paid to make TV.

Getting paid to watch sports is almost as unbelievable as the fact that I get paid to make TV.

  • Move Into Hollywood: I lived in the Valley for six years. That’s six years of driving with a buzz. That’s six years of spending far too much money on gas. That’s six years of unbearably hot summers. That’s six years of…
  • Not Repeat Stupid Shit I Did In 2012: This definitely means I am growing up.
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34 – Visit Jewish Temple

I am not a religious man….unless you count my devotion to the NFL. And if that’s the case, then Roger Goodell is my Lord and Savior.

I grew up Catholic. I had a communion. I had a confirmation. I have gone to confession. All that means to me is that when I walk into a church I can eat the wafer and drink the Jesus juice.

I guess some people use religion to feel like they belong to something greater than themselves. Others may use it to explain things that are unexplainable. Some people I imagine just use religion because they were told to believe and never questioned its purpose.

I question pretty much everything which is why in the past 15 years I haven’t been in a church other than for a wedding or funeral. I know, the obvious joke is, “what’s the difference between the two? Am I right, fellas?” But I’m not going to say that joke.

Well, that all changed about three weeks ago when the woman I’m dating asked if I wanted to go to Jewish temple on Sunday morning for her younger sister’s Hebrew naming ceremony.

At first, I made the obligatory jokes like, “Wait, Jews don’t get names until you’re 10 years old? Do you just go around saying, ‘Hey Jew, yes Jew, come here.’” For some reason she was not amused.

Then I was offended. I had been dating this woman for nearly six months and she had the audacity to ask if I wanted to go to her place of worship at the exact time on the exact day that my organization of worship, the NFL, holds its ceremonies. It’s like she didn’t even know me anymore.

I did not want to go. I don’t even like my own religion, let alone one I am unfamiliar with. But I went anyways, because I knew it would make her happy, it would give me something to write about…and I was told there would be snacks.

We arrived before her family, so we explored the compound. I made sure to be on my best behavior, because despite my disdain for organized religion I realize other people take it quite serious, and I wouldn’t like it if they treated Qualcomm Stadium, home of the San Diego Chargers, with disrespect.

The woman I'm dating told me it's a Jewish tradition to kiss this plaque on the wall before entering. Part of me believes she was just trying to see how gullible I am. Either way, I made out with that wall and turned it on pretty hard.

The woman I’m dating told me it’s a Jewish tradition to kiss this plaque on the wall before entering. Part of me believes she was just trying to see how gullible I am. Either way, I made out with that wall and turned it on pretty hard.

A female member of the temple greeted us at the front of the compound and asked if we had an appointment with the rabbi. Before I could joke, “I think it’s pronounced ‘rabbit,’ I realized that this woman thought we were there to discuss marriage plans with the rabbi. After I regained consciousness and accused her of planting that woman, we ran into her family. Other members of the temple gathered around shortly thereafter.

A few people introduced themselves to me and everyone was quite friendly. They asked what I do for a living, offered me snacks, asked where I’m from, and other typical get-to-know-you questions. Fortunately, Jews run Hollywood, so I was safe there, and I work on “America’s Got Talent,” judged by Howard Stern, one of the most famous Jews in show business.

I’ve met the father of the woman I’m dating before and that was fun because of how much he enjoys sharing embarrassing stories of her. He had more of those this time around, as did the other family members whom I was meeting for the first time. Meeting family is generally awkward, but this was not, perhaps because all of my concern was focused on trying to grasp my surroundings.

The woman I’m seeing then brought that to a nails on the chalkboard tire-screeching halt when she announced I am not Jewish.

I was feeling like an honorary Jew, one of the chosen people, until she called me out. I even was in full garb.

I was feeling like an honorary Jew, one of the chosen people, until she called me out. I even was in full garb.

“Don’t worry about it,” the rabbit said. “You fit right in with that nose of yours.”

After laughing at my large Native American/Mexican/Catholic nose, we discussed more Howard Stern, Chargers football, and they kept offering me more chocolate candies. The Jewish people were making me feel right at home with their inappropriate humor, love of sports, and infatuation with tasty treats. Boy, do the Jewish people love to offer you food. Not so different from my Mexican people.

I love free candy at 8:30am. Maybe I was born to be a Jew instead of a Catholic.

I love free candy at 8:30am. Maybe I was born to be a Jew instead of a Catholic.

The woman I’m dating explained to me that it is a very progressive temple, and not all of them are like that. I got the hint of that once they started slangin’ jokes like it was open mic at the Hollywood Improv.

The naming ceremony commenced with each young child approaching the front of the room with family in tow, repeating a prayer and answering questions about the name they were given. Her father asked me to snap some pictures and capture some video on his iPhone.

While the individual ceremony took place, other families chatted quietly and munched on their provided candy and coffee. If that was church, I would’ve been hushed several dozen times. In temple, not the case, and I was provided Twix instead of a bland wafer. Other religions should try the chocolate and caramel method.

Apparently that ceremony was not a typical one in the Jewish culture. I was told that the motivation for it was that the children did not know much about their family origin and where their individual Hebrew names derived from, so the teachers felt it would help them learn. I believe in knowing where you came from, so I actually did feel honored that her family would allow me to partake in the ceremony.

I don’t think I could be a real Jew though. I like bacon too much. And the hat is too small to cover the messy salad on my head when I’m too lazy to comb my hair in the morning. I’ll stick to dating one.

I think I'll stick to my New Era ball caps. I do think I can rock the scarf though.

I think I’ll stick to my New Era ball caps. I do think I can rock the scarf though.

Overall, the experience was enriching. Prior to the visit, my whole knowledge base of Jewish culture derived from reruns of Seinfeld and Woody Allen flicks. While that is still my foundation for the Jewish culture, a few rabbits have enlightened me beyond just entertainment.

P.S. the woman I am seeing remained nameless at her request. She claims she doesn’t want people associating an actual name with all the jokes I write on Twitter. After re-reading this blog, I completely agree with her.

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33 – Quit a TV Show

I’m now working on the TV show “Let’s Make A Deal.” Three weeks ago I was working on a different show.

I thought that other show was going to be the perfect 4-month gig. It is hosted by one of the nicest comedians I know, on a major studio lot, for a three-letter network.

One month into the gig I quit because…

The following blog has been interrupted by Joshua’s common sense. He signed a non-disclosure agreement prior to working on said show and under no circumstances does he want his bank account negatively affected with the threat of a lawsuit by said company.

Prior to this, I only quit one gig in my career, and that was after 13 months at the Los Angeles Times. When I quit that place I knew I no longer wanted to be a full-time journalist. Back then I didn’t have another gig to move on to. I just knew I couldn’t waste any more time there, so I left. And I left in a boisterous fashion, with an e-mail to the entire Tribune company where I admonished the assholes and celebrated the scholars.

I don’t think I can get in trouble by simply talking about me, so here goes…

I didn’t want to quit. I loved the people I worked with. That happens when you spend an abhorrent number of hours a week with the same people. (I’d tell you the actual number of hours, but I’m sure that would get me in trouble.) From the host to the production assistants, they are some of the most genuine people I’ve worked with in TV. The only people I didn’t enjoy working with were…

Once again, the following blog has been interrupted by the lawyers inside Josh’s head. We are simply trying to keep him out of trouble. We apologize for the lack of typically fascinating content in this blog. We promise it won’t happen again, unless of course Josh makes another bad career decision.

For years, colleagues told me that talk shows are the most difficult TV shows to produce. I always thought they were bull-shitting me. They weren’t. I’ve done comedies, animation, game shows, talking head shows, competition shows, and many others. Combined, they don’t compare in terms of difficulty and stress.

I was good at the job. But I wasn’t happy. I was falling asleep on my car drive to work. When I got out of work at 1am I’d pound five beers before the bars would close. I was stress-eating and gained at least five pounds. It was the first time working in entertainment that I wasn’t happy. I chose this business for a reason; I didn’t want to be miserable if I was going to put long hours into a job like I’ve seen so many people do.

Working hard or hardly working? Clearly working hard.

Working hard or hardly working? Clearly working hard.

I really didn’t know how to quit. I didn’t want to leave my co-workers in a bind, because I genuinely liked them and went to battle with them. I gave some of them warning before I made my final decision, and they all told me that if I had something else to move on to then I deserved to make the move. That’s all I needed to hear. I rarely care what others think of me (see my full disclosure in past entries of this blog), but I did care what this batch of co-workers thought of me. Since leaving, my mind has been put at ease. I still talk to most of them and they treat me like I never left.

In the past, I’ve given up important things for my career, like relationships, friendships, and sanity, but this was the first time it didn’t feel worth it, because I was unhappy. I think people tend to forget that they are in control of their own happiness. Yes, others can have a huge impact on your emotions, but ultimately you are in control of whom you choose to be around. I didn’t want to be unhappy anymore, so I did something about it.

This is what my breaking point looks like.

This is what my breaking point looks like.

Besides growing up in the entertainment world, I’ve been doing this “writing” thing for nine years, and working in TV for six years. If this was three years ago, there is no way in “heaven” I would’ve quit a television job. Back then I didn’t know where the next gig was going to come from and how long it would take to find it. To a certain extent, I still don’t know where the next gig is coming from, but I’m now secure with where I am in my career. I am a machine. I can handle anything. I could have handled this for another three months, but I didn’t need to, which is a nice place to be.

The most positive thing to surface from quitting is that I now realize my self-worth, and that is a dangerous thing for those who want to compete with me.

*Side Note: The only other time I was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement was when Girls Gone Wild was going to hire me to be a Casting Director. That story, ladies and gentlemen, is a tale for another day.

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#32 – Cover NHL Game

I didn’t know someone was listening when I said, “You’d have to pay me to watch an NHL game.”

Last Monday, I woke up to a message from Jon, an old sportswriter friend I started with in San Diego. He asked if I was interested in covering the San Jose Sharks take on the Anaheim Ducks later that night.

Before I became a “clown” who spends nights in comedy clubs and works on TV shows, I was a full-time journalist for five years and spent my nights in press boxes and newsrooms. I worked for outlets like the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune.

A few months ago I went out to support Jon doing stand-up comedy. I think it was like his second or third time ever on stage, so I felt a need to support, since our careers were crossing over. That night I mentioned to Jon that I was looking to pick up some sports free-lancing opportunities, because I missed it. He’s one of the few sportswriters I started with who has actually built up a nice career out of it.

Never mind the fact that I had a hangover. Never mind the fact that the last athletic event I covered was in 2009. Never mind the fact that I had only ever been to one hockey game in my life. Never mind any of those things, because I didn’t know the next time I’d get an opportunity like it.

“I’m way down,” I told Jon. Fact is, writing about sports is my first love. Don’t tell my entertainment career that I still look fondly back on that time of my life. Your current lady doesn’t want to hear about your exes. I enjoy watching sports more now, but writing about them produces a feeling I have yet to find doing anything else.

The first thing I ever got paid to write about was a baseball game between La Costa Canyon high school and Fallbrook high school for the U-T. I was 18 years old, and barely out of high school myself. I was frightened. I knew a lot about sports, but I didn’t know a damn thing about writing. Next week will be my nine year anniversary of becoming a writer, and I barely feel like I’ve found my voice.

Legendary Dodgers player Duke Snider was at that baseball game because he lived in the Fallbrook, CA area and frequented the high school’s games. He must’ve realized my nerves because midway through the game he approached and said, “you’re new, huh?” I knew who he was, and just like those early days in my writing career, I couldn’t find the right words to say. So, he said, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”

Duke was right, but not when it came to journalism. If it were entirely up to me I would’ve been a sports journalist my entire life, but I quit the journalism field full-time in 2008, because opportunities to work in entertainment kept being presented to me, and I quickly realized how spectacular I am on a production set. I am not being modest there for a reason.

I showed up to the Honda Center Arena about two and a half hours early, just in case there was a problem with my press credentials. My mind is exhausted with terror thinking about every possible scenario that can go wrong, and once I realize the horrible outcomes aren’t so bad I get down to business. That goes for every scenario in my life, not just sports writing. It also explains how frightening it is to spend time in my conscious.

I pulled up to the press parking lot, stated my last name, and they thought I was Curt Sandoval from ABC7 in Los Angeles.

No relation.

No relation. Bet you couldn’t tell.

“Curt does TV. Does this look like a face for TV?” I joked with the parking attendant. “Joshua is my first name.”

“Well, I wouldn’t boot you out of bed,” said the cute parking attendant.

“Wait, what?” is all I had in my head. If I didn’t have a million thoughts wondering how I was going to get through the next few hours pretending to be proficient in hockey then I probably would’ve flirted with her and got her phone number. But just like usual, my career always takes precedence over females.

“I don’t have you on the list, but I’ll take care of you,” she told me as she placed a parking pass on my car’s windshield. “Go right ahead.”

When I arrived at the media check-in table inside the arena, the kind gentleman dolling out credentials directed me downstairs to the media room where a buffet was being served.

No autographs? No one is gonna want my autograph. Oh, you mean I can ask players for autographs? I don't think we will have a problem there, unless Kobe Bryant or Albert Pujols decides to lace up some skates.

“No autographs?” No one is gonna want my autograph. Oh, you mean I can’t ask players for autographs? I don’t think we will have a problem there, unless the Ducks just acquired Kobe Bryant or Albert Pujols.

After indulging in pork chops, macaroni and cheese, green beans, bread rolls, ice cream bars, churros, M&M’s, popcorn, and sodas I ventured upstairs to the press box with an eventual upset stomach and about an hour to kill before puck drop.

I checked my name on the board to see where my assigned seat was located. You non-sports writers are probably questioning the elementary school treatment. Well, sports writers are kind of like children, and it would be straight chaos if there wasn’t assigned seating. Grown people who make a living talking about games have more in common with the typical pre-teen than you’d think. To prove that point, just re-read all the junk food I ate.

Damn, it's not hand-written. Guess I can't switch seats.

Damn, it’s not hand-written. Guess I can’t switch seats.

When I saw my crappy seat assignment compared to some of the star reporters like my ex-colleagues at The Times, Helene Elliott and Lance Pugmire, I immediately made comparison to my new world and thought of the unspoken parking lot caste system on studio lots. On studio lots you can tell a lot about what executives think of you based on where you are told to park your car for your meeting.

Regardless, I was in the box and in the building. I grabbed some popcorn, soda, and a cookie and got comfy against the glass. Don’t judge, free food is free food. I then conducted some last minute research and went over the game notes given out by the Ducks sports information department. In between, I attempted to create conversation with some of my colleagues, but they quickly reminded me that sports writers can be curmudgeons in their own little world. I was probably like them at one point during my five-year run where it’s hard to differentiate one game from the next and one day from the next. Monday night, however, transformed me from a 27-year-old 150-pound “clown” back into that 18-year-old 250-pound pudgy ball of nervous excitement. I was getting paid to watch and write about sports…HA!

Despite my bitching, not too shabby of a view.

Despite my bitching, not too shabby of a view.

It didn’t take long for me to get back into sports writer mode. Over the past few years I kept my journalistic mind fresh by doing free-lance entertainment reporting for The Times, U-T, and Men’s Fitness Magazine, but sports writing is a different “story,” don’t pardon the pun. The puck dropped and my mind didn’t stop trying to process everything on the ice until the moment after the final buzzer sounded. After a fight erupted within the first three minutes I immediately wished I would’ve covered a hockey game much earlier in my career.

In between the first and second period I started working on my story. You’re probably not aware of this, but sports writers are writing throughout the game in order to make deadline. I contend that the 18-minute respites in between periods weren’t put in place for players to regain their breath, but rather so journalists could work toward their words quota.

The moment I began to write under deadline, I experienced that high that I lived for in my past. It’s hard to describe. It’s a better high than any drug or substance can create. It’s a natural high that takes me to a different world. I think everyone has a unique way of experiencing that feeling. I think it’s a feeling that you only get when you’re doing something that you really, truly, purely love. I don’t know if it’s as repeatable in other forms as it is in journalism, but I hope you have something like it. Words move from my mind and on to my computer screen quite easily. Adrenaline pumps through my body, nothing else in the world matters, and it’s like I don’t even exist. I think I’ve been chasing that same high since that day back in Fallbrook when I was 18. It’s never quite the same after the first experience, but last Monday came pretty damn close. It takes trying something new to feel that way again.

I get a different kind of high working in TV. In journalism, the high for me is more extreme because the deadline is so much tighter. In TV, the deadline can take place over hours, weeks, or months; and it’s scripted. Covering a game is unpredictable. For example, I couldn’t have guessed that the Ducks were going to score three goals in a three-minute time span in the second period, which forced me to stop and change sentences in my story multiple times.

The Ducks ended up winning 5-3. I was the rotten egg in the elevator down to the locker rooms to conduct interviews, which as the last person in meant I would be first one out the box. On the long ride down I did my best to not shatter the awkward silence of 15 journalists. I fancy a joke to break up awkward situations like 15 people facing one direction in a steel box, but I simply wondered what was going through all of their minds. How many of them were happy? How many of them wanted to be there? Did any of them see me take the last chocolate chip cookie in the press box?

I stepped out the elevator and since it was my first time in this arena I allowed another journalist to lead the creative cavalcade toward the locker rooms. I ended up in the San Jose Sharks locker room first, because unbeknownst to me I was following a Sharks beat writer.

This is Joe Thornton of the Sharks. I think it captures the agony of defeat pretty well.

This is Joe Thornton of the Sharks. I think it captures the agony of defeat pretty well.

My least favorite part about being a sports writer was always the post-game interviews because I don’t enjoy the smell of sweat, hence why I’m a writer and not a construction worker. That sweat smell isn’t sweet and it hit me the moment the locker room doors opened. If I weren’t prepared for it I probably would have been physically knocked over.

In comparison, this is Emerson Etem holding the puck from his first ever goal in the NHL that night. I think this captures the happiness of victory.

In comparison, this is Emerson Etem holding the puck from his first ever goal in the NHL that night. I think this captures the happiness of victory.

After interviews were over I jolted back to the press box, finished writing my story, inserted some quotes, and was out the building by 11pm.

I actually fit in way better than I anticipated. The only time I looked or felt out of place was when it came to finding my way around the arena. I also probably should’ve mentioned in my article about the Ducks announcing during the game the contract extension they gave their star player Corey Perry. That was my biggest NHL rookie mistake. If it was my beat I would have known that was a significant thing to mention.

I compare covering hockey to when I speak Spanish. I am fluent in Spanish, but I rarely use it. When I do speak it I don’t talk as fast as I would in English. That’s how I feel about my capabilities when it comes to hockey. I speak MLB, NFL, and NBA, but I am fluent in NHL even though I rarely use it. Make sense?

I had a blast covering the game. It allowed me to revisit my past with an aspect I never got to experience before. I’m not leaving the entertainment and TV worlds any time soon, but I do want to revisit my journalism roots more often.

Anyways, here’s a link to the article if you’re interested in checking it out. I’m actually impressed that I was even able to incorporate some hockey lingo into my vernacular. Click here for the article on Yahoo!

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#31 – Write End of Year Review

I could write a traditional end of the year blog, which states all my accomplishments from the past year while discussing what big things I want to accomplish in the upcoming year. Most writers do that and that’s not original. Plus, let’s be honest, we fuck up more than we succeed. So, below is a list of the things I am proud of and not so proud of from 2012.

I will mention, however, that I am extremely happy with where I am presently in my life. I certainly wasn’t in the same mind set last year at this time when I started this blog. My intention was to showcase my writing and creativity twice a week. I wanted to post every Monday and every Thursday. I borrowed that schedule from Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast schedule because just like Marc when he started his podcast, I was not in a good place. I couldn’t get any TV or journalism gigs and was seriously questioning what the fuck I was doing wrong after getting a quick start to my career from ages 18-24, and hitting a bit of a bump at age 25. Instead of moping around I took action. After just a couple of weeks into the new year, Men’s Fitness Magazine hired me, a comedian brought me in on a pitch at Comedy Central, and other opportunities kept piling in as I continued to post on here. I resolved that the more self-created work I put out there, the more others were willing to approach me with opportunities, because they saw I was hustling and wanted that same hustle on their team. So, Trevor and I created a sister site www.DispleasureVlog.com and a TV pilot with Bert McCracken. As a result of my busyness, this blog suffered and I was lucky if I could post once a month. I still intend to keep this thing alive, and even have plans to create another personal project that I am a bit frightened to take on in the new year.

So, if you’re in a shitty situation, my advice to you is to take action and quit bitchin. You have more control over your aspirations than you think.

In the meantime, here’s my 2012 Year in Review. First, the dumb shit I did:

Stupid Shit I Did in 2012

  • Jumped out of an airplane (I didn’t experience the rush everyone else feels, nor was I nervous, so the risk of death wasn’t worth it to me)
See how calm I look.

See how calm I look.

  • Drunkenly raw-dogged a chick (Don’t worry, ladies, I’m clean. I got checked. And don’t worry, Mom, I’m not a Father)
  • Ended a friendship with someone I produced two TV shows, and a short film with who was like an older Brother to me (Mostly his fault)
  • Lost a new friendship because of my ego, lack of communication and one drunken night (Mostly my fault)
  • Was difficult to work with on occasion (Many apologies to my producing partner Trevor)
  • Fell asleep in a Las Vegas strip club with a stripper on my lap (Being awake for 48 hours straight still was no excuse)
Went to Vegas a lot this year. I love it more with every trip.

Went to Vegas a lot this year. I love it more with every trip.

  • Went a 3 month stretch without visiting family in San Diego (That’s shameful given that I only live 1 hour 45 minutes away in Los Angeles)
Not sure why I spend so much time away from this in San Diego.

Not sure why I spend so much time away from this in San Diego.

  • Unintentionally chose work over a girl I was dating (Not the first time, and probably not the last time I’ll do that)
  • Had sex with a co-worker (Not the first time, and probably not the last time I’ll do that)

Things I’m Proud I Did in 2012

  • Jumped out of an airplane (Regardless that I didn’t feel a rush, its pretty damn cool to be able to say, “I jumped out of an airplane”)
  • Participated in a scientific experiment (My body is a freak of nature, so I’m glad I was able to help people with my shared chronic illness)
  • Trevor and I convinced Deadmau5 to shoot an impromptu video with us
  • Got a tattoo on my foot to honor my Grandpa (Don’t worry he’s still alive…as of this entry)
  • Got a job on America’s Got Talent (More than any other show I’ve worked on, this one has taught me many things, and it kept my streak alive of working on a TV show every single year I’ve been in LA)
This job has taught me so much I can't even begin to explain.

This job has taught me so much I can’t even begin to explain.

  • Gave up drinking alcohol and caffeine for the first 3 months of the year (I made up for it the following 9 months)
  • Shot a TV pilot with Bert McCracken, lead singer of The Used
  • Got my weight down to 149 pounds, the lowest in my adult life, officially losing half my body weight from its highest point at 300 pounds (I’m now probably around 160, because living at 149 just wasn’t healthy)
149 lbs looks good on me, but probably wasn't living too healthy to maintain it.

149 lbs looks good on me, but probably wasn’t living too healthy to maintain it.

  • Worked as a Writer for Men’s Fitness Magazine (What other job allows you to interview Lou Ferrigno one day and on the next day write about four different kinds of cheeses?)

http://www.mensfitness.com/training/build-muscle/how-does-lou-ferrigno-stay-so-fit

  • Was a Guest Speaker at my Alma Mater (They molded my writing ability and I got to do the same for future writers)

http://instagram.com/p/J3X-xysaKk/

  • Stopped dating a girl and actually remained friends (Never thought that was possible)
  • Pitched TV show ideas at 4 different networks, and 20 different production companies (For the first year in my career, I didn’t have to use a gimmick to bust through the front door)
  • Started this blog
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#30 – Shoot Vlog With A Celebrity

It’s a writer’s job to tell a story by painting a scene of events with his words. I’m still having difficulty finding the right words to describe what happened to Trevor and me last Saturday when one of the biggest musical artists in the world gave our Displeasure Vlog his endorsement.

For the most part, Trevor and I get along pretty well. Every once in a while, however, we get frustrated with one another, and aren’t really productive in our business that we need to conduct. That’s natural for any business partnership and friendship.

Saturday was one of those days. Because of my new gig on America’s Got Talent, my free time and flexible schedule has changed dramatically. The combination of re-adjusting to an office job and the past nine months of hustling has resulted in pure exhaustion. On Saturday we set out to shoot some vlog entries for the upcoming week, and my brain just wouldn’t kick start into joke-writing mode. When we tried to shoot a video in a parking lot we were hassled by two Paul Blart’s. Then when we tried to shoot a video inside K-Mart we were kicked out. Things were not going well, and we were pissed at each other on the only day of the week we entirely have free

Hunger set in, so we decided to temporarily scrap the shoot and find some food to eat. Trevor just started driving as we sat in silence, and we ended up back at his house. Pissed off that he didn’t tell me what his plans were, I called him out for not telling me that we were heading back to pick up his brother Tanner and then go eat. I was under the assumption we were going to write jokes for the Vlog while we ate. He could’ve told me we were on our way to free lobster dinners and I likely would’ve had a problem with it. The same goes for anything I said, just because of the back and forth petty bullshit we had been going through.

After another 20 minutes of nonsense discussion in his garage we finally went inside and kicked back for a minute before heading out to Souplantation. (If you’ve never been, stop reading now and go to Soupy P’s. I’ll understand.) I hopped in the backseat and Tanner jumped in the front seat. As we cruised down Melrose toward La Cienega Tanner broke the silence in the car when he calmly stated, “Kat Von D and Deadmau5 were just cruising down the street back there.”

With those simple words, Trevor and I got into work mode. Whatever disagreement we were having we immediately put to the side. No matter how much we couldn’t stand to be next to one another just five seconds prior, we realized what we needed to do.

Trevor’s natural reaction as a former TMZ paparazzo is to flip a bitch when someone shouts a celebrity’s name. He quickly recognized Kat Von D’s car, and pulled up right behind it. His camera was sitting on a tripod next to me because of our prior attempt at shooting, however, he didn’t have his flash. To get the equipment from his house across the street he played Frogger in the street, and dashed back through traffic to return 1 minute later. Upon his return I suggested to him, “fuck the short term money of selling pictures, let’s ask them to shoot a Vlog with us.”

Trevor’s eyes lit up, and immediately got to thinking about which topic we could discuss. I spent the prior 4 hours bitching about how tired I was and how I couldn’t muster up the energy to properly form thoughts. Realizing that we were about to ask the most famous DJ and the most famous tattoo artist in the world to help us out of the goodness of their heart gave me a shot of adrenaline, and sparked Trevor to say, “When your friends think they’re a DJ.”

Bam! That’s something that really bugs both of us. The new trend of everyone trying to be a DJ is annoying, because there are very few people who professionally make a living off of that, and even those guys are simply just making money because they mix songs created by SOMEONE ELSE! Deadmau5 on the other hand is actually a music producer, and doesn’t just mix other people’s songs.

Trevor provided the topic, and wrote his first line, which is what I asked of him hour’s prior, so that my limited free time is maximized. He said he couldn’t provide a starting point without my help. I calmly pointed out to him that this was proof that he could. I guess all we needed was to be put in a situation where we had no choice but to come up with gold. I then came up with my line, and told him we needed to acknowledge Deadmau5 after each of our lines, differentiating him between the people who call themselves DJ’s and someone who actually is one, like him.

Meanwhile, paparazzi started to notice Trevor standing on Melrose. Despite his absence from the scene for quite some time, they still played a hunch that he was waiting for someone to come out of Vivian Westwood. Trevor played it off to his former paparazzo amigos that we were just chillin’ on the street, waiting for a friend. The paparazzi eventually moved on.

I could see the anxiety build in Trevor’s body while we waited for their exit out the store. I got into “Coach” mode and pulled out a pep talk for him. I reminded him that he has created contacts with billionaires like Mark Cuban, super producers like Brian Grazer, and other people of equal stature to Deadmau5 and Kat. I put him at ease by reminding him that we talk to musicians and tattoo artists all the time. The only difference is that Deadmau5 and Kat have fame. Simply put, I was lying my ass off, because I was equally nervous. But in the hours prior Trevor kept reminding me that he feeds off my energy, so when I am in a shitty mood he tends to be as well, hence why we weren’t productive earlier in the day. I had to be positive and provide a calm demeanor.

Tanner gave us some background on Deadmau5 recently making comments about how he dislikes how everyone is claiming to be a DJ now, which made us feel more comfortable about approaching him with the topic. Trevor and I can relate to his sentiments, because Trevor despises how anyone with an iPhone thinks he’s a cameraman, and I despise how everyone with a blog thinks they’re a writer. We’ve made a living off those professions, just like Deadmau5 makes his living off his profession.

“Here they come,” I told Trevor as he picked his camera up off the ground.

“Hey Kat and Deadmau5, as a former paparazzo I just shooed away the paparazzi for you guys to make a clean escape.”

“Thanks so much,” Kat replied first.

“I have one question for you guys though. We have a blog about things that bug us and one of the things that bugs us is how everyone thinks they’re a DJ now,” Trevor said.

“Deadmau5, would you be willing to go on camera with us for it?” I asked.

“Let me answer that for him,” Kat said.

“Of course I will,” Deadmau5 responded.

Wait, what? That was way too easy. Tanner later brought up the fact that other than reminding Kat that I did LA Ink, we didn’t even have to drop any of our creds on them. We wondered who they thought we were. I think he agreed to shoot, because it was a topic he has gone on record saying that displeases him. Also, we look like them. We are tatted up, young, and look like “misfits” of society. I also hope that they admired our gumption.

Kat grabbed her bags, started packing up her car, and told us to make it quick. We knew we pretty much just had one take to make it happen, since I imagine they have busy schedules, but her statement reaffirmed that. You can see her in the background of the video.

The moment Deadmau5 agreed to shoot, I think Trevor and I both blacked out. The last thing I remember was Trevor telling me to move to the right side of Deadmau5, because in our videos Trevor always stands to my left and I stand to his right.

Trevor and I are in motion before Deadmau5 changes his mind.

We also generally do at least 5 takes on every vlog. The only time we did one take was when we were drunk and our buddy Andrew was sleeping, because once he woke up we knew the take was going to be done. We killed it in that vlog, and I think we killed it in this vlog. You be the judge.

I am glad, however, that Trevor and I started the Displeasure Vlog so that we can retrace what happened, because sometimes words can’t simply do justice to a story. Sometimes, just sometimes, pictures are worth more than 1,524 words.

Speechless

The Displeasure Vlog with Deadmau5 can be viewed here.

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#29 – Create Sister Vlog

“Hey Josh, other than money, what’s most on your mind?”

If you were to ask me that, the answer would be simply, “Well, ladies of course.”

On Tuesday night I was going back and forth via text with a girl I used to date. The text conversation ended when she failed to respond to my last text, which deserved a response. 15 minutes after my last text I look at my phone and see that she “liked” a picture of mine on Instagram. I was dumbfounded why she didn’t respond to my text, yet had the gall to notify me that she “liked” my picture. It didn’t make sense to me that she would ignore a direct text and communicate with me via a social media platform. Basically she was letting me know that she was ignoring my text.

Later that night, amidst some work we were doing, Trevor asked a girl if she wanted to hang out later. She said, “yes.” He followed up with her hours later via text to see if she was still down to hang out. She didn’t respond. Minutes later she posted updates on Facebook and Instagram, completely ignoring him even though she knew they were friends and he would likely see those updates. Basically she was letting him know that she was ignoring his text.

In both our cases, these were not girls that we had recently met. They were both girls that we have history with. To say the least, we were pissed off. We ended up hitting a strip club, grabbing some beers, going for a run, contemplating why girls play mind games, and most importantly we developed our newest project: The Displeasure Vlog.

This is where all great ideas originate.

Just like Mark Zuckerberg and Sean Parker before us, our creativity was motivated by the displeasure women created in us.

In a totally related issue, The Discomfort Blog is something that has allowed me to showcase my ability to write. It has got me a lot of work. Trevor on the other hand hasn’t benefited as much from our joint venture, because his skill set is showcased by his talent with a camera.

Trevor and I agreed we needed to create a sister site for him to showcase his skill set, because even though my success equals his success, his success also equals my success, so why not double our potential outreach for success? That thought just so happened to coincide with our displeasure with the way our lady friends ignored our texts in favor of updating their social media presence. Thus, we created The Displeasure Vlog where we will comment on camera about common displeasures that occur in daily life. Generally speaking you will be able to relate to these common day displeasures whether you are the one committing the act or the one the act is happening to.

We decided to make our first vlog entry about our shared experience from Tuesday night. On Wednesday we met up bright and early at the crack of 2pm to search for a place to shoot. At first we thought of shooting in the cell phone department of a Best Buy store since our subject matter had to do with cell phone etiquette. A quick trip down Melrose Avenue quickly diverted that thought when we recognized the trippyness that presents itself (see picture below) on the artsy part of the blocks between Fairfax and La Brea.

I’d hit it.

For our background we settled on some mannequins leaned up against a wall in front of a clothing store. After one camera take the shop owner greeted us because he was clearly afraid that we were molesting his graphite ladies. He eventually watched all six of our takes and even loosened up with a few chuckles every now and again. After taking over Guitar Center in our last Discomfort Blog entry, an alley just off Melrose was a piece of cake.

“So, do you ladies come here often?”

While we were searching for a place to shoot I noticed a white car making some similar style rounds around the block. Perhaps the only reason I noticed the car was because of the cute ladies inside. When we returned to Trevor’s car, those girls were setting up a camera in an area we previously considered shooting in. Normally women approach and ask us what we were shooting, but this time we were intrigued by what some women were shooting. It felt discomforting to be on the other side for a change, but it immediately sparked thought in my head. I proposed to Trevor that we get the female perspective on our topic. Since Trevor wasn’t drunk and didn’t have his customary boldness that accompanies his non-sober state of mind, he made me approach them.

Christina was the girl with the camera, and her friend Chelsey was her model. They were preparing a photo shoot for their fashion blog. They were kind enough to help us out, and provided a great perspective on the topic. They actually both willingly admitted that they’ve been guilty of ignoring texts and posting on Facebook. One even admitted that she did it the previous night. Because of their willingness to help we then searched Melrose for other girls.

These girls couldn’t possibly be from LA, because they were far too nice.

Trevor saw my success with the girls so he tried his luck. He struck out with the first pair he approached, and the second pair, so I stepped in again and my success rate stayed at 100 percent when the next duo agreed to participate.

It’s not exactly the easiest thing to approach a random girl on Melrose and ask her to go on camera. I kind of felt sleezy approaching girls while Trevor held a camera, and that could be due to all the porn I’ve watched which starts with a search for random MILFs to take home. Or maybe I felt sleezy because I had to break through the wall that girls have naturally built up from being hit on all the time. Even if you’re not trying to hook up with them that wall still remains up and it’s nearly impossible to get their participation in anything.

A sturdy tripod is a necessity on any porn set.

Since we didn’t get maced by any shop owners or any ladies of Melrose we immediately shot another vlog entry for something else that bugs us. Continually check our sister vlog at www.DispleasureVlog.com for funny commentary about the pet peeves of daily life.

Here’s the first vlog entry which can be viewed at DispleasureVlog.com

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#28 – Film Cooking Show with a Celebrity

(The title of this blog pretty much serves as the introduction to this video and this blog. Regardless, the intro to the blog is below.)

I think I’m a good writer. I also think I’m a bad writer. It comes with the territory.

Regardless, I have worked on some things that have been presented to audiences of millions in the form of TV shows and journalistic articles. The coolness of that will never be lost on me. With that said, that means diddlysquat to me.

The same can be said for my buddy and producing partner Trevor Wayne who worked for TMZ for three years. Producing for other people is fun, and we are grateful for those opportunities, however, that is for OTHER PEOPLE. Over the past four years we have been on a mission to pitch, sell, and produce OUR OWN TV show.

Our goal is the first thought in our mind when we wake and it’s the last thought before our brain flips the off switch. We have developed concepts, written treatments, shot sizzle reels, taken pitch meetings at production companies, and met with executives at networks and agencies. We are the definition of determination. The only thing we haven’t done is shoot our own pilot. So, in early August that’s exactly what we did.

This was one of the crazy stunts we did to get a pitch meeting at Imagine Entertainment. We delivered these cardboard cutouts of ourselves to serve as our representatives. I don’t think you need any further proof to realize how hard we’ve worked over the past 4 years.

Over the past few years we avoided shooting a pilot for three reasons: high cost, no free time, and a lack of a crew to call upon. Finally this year we came into some money, created a flexible schedule, and nurtured friendships with people who believe in us and want to help.

When Trevor left his job at TMZ earlier this year we examined our ideas to see which one would be most feasible to shoot. Our passion project is Shooting Stars, a reality show based on Trevor and his crew of twenty-something year old friends trying to make it in Hollywood.

The sizzle reel we shot for that garnered enough interest from the likes of Mark Cuban and Brian Grazer who requested to see more from us. The reason we didn’t shoot a pilot for that, however, was because the expected cost of production was beyond our means.

One of our ideas, however, fell right in line with our capabilities. Exclusive Eats is a cooking show with Trevor as the host, where celebrities will invite him into their homes to cook their favorite meals while Trevor interviews them on their turf rather than in the streets like he has in the past.

Given that Trevor and I eat most of our meals at restaurants I couldn’t ignore the irony that our first pilot shoot was going to be a cooking show in his kitchen.

One of the promotional shots I took of Trevor before we decided to shoot a pilot.

We had the necessary equipment, and a well-established crew of professionals ready to make the show happen. All we needed was a celebrity. We grew with frustration after a few weeks of celebrities agreeing to shoot and then having to cancel or giving us a date too far in the future. I’m impatient to begin with, but when things don’t go my way I am downright brutal to be around. It’s unbearable to know that you’re only missing one component of a puzzle piece.

We ran dry with our celebrity contacts, but fortunately Trevor’s brother Tanner has a wealth of well-known friends because of his roots in the music industry. Tanner is an epic drummer who has worked with numerous artists, including currently with Sky Blu of LMFAO. Tanner reached out to his friend Bert McCracken, the lead singer of The Used, and he agreed to shoot with us.

On Saturday August 11 Bert said he was free on Sunday August 12, but didn’t give us a set time. He also said he didn’t want to shoot in his home. I didn’t blame him, because the atmosphere of a set can be messy, chaotic, and not something you generally want to bring into the tranquility of your home. That’s something Bert likely knew from having appeared on The Osbournes while dating Kelly Osbourne. Bert also asked if we could pick him up and bring him to Trevor’s where we decided we would shoot. Neither of those were unreasonable requests given the enormous favor he was granting us.

Essentially we had to be on call whenever he was ready. That was not the most comforting situation to be placed in because I’m used to call times with a shoot schedule. I thrive with organization.

One day this will be the cover of my cooking book, “Breadsticks Over Nightsticks.”

It’s not like we could tell Bert to give us an exact time, because after all he was doing us a huge favor. In addition, I spent the week’s prior telling Trevor that all I needed was a celebrity and I could produce magic. Tanner provided the celebrity, so I needed to hold up my end and produce the necessary footage regardless of the circumstances I was given.

Among other discomforting things thrown at us was our mad scramble to find a cameraman. The main problem with putting Trevor in front of the camera as often as we do is that he can’t also hold the camera. Fortunately we have a legit camera guy who has filmed movies like Fast & Furious and Mission Impossible III. Unfortunately for us, he was busy that day. Our buddy Brandon said he would do it, and he was a more than a suitable choice on 24 hours notice.

Brandon stepped up to the camera big time. Look at that form.

I arrived at Trevor’s house at 10am with Bert’s arrival still in question. The first and last time we heard from him was the night before the shoot when he texted Tanner the ingredients he needed to make cioppino. We held off on buying the product just in case an unforeseen circumstance arose and Bert wasn’t able to shoot.

I almost wanted Bert to hit us up and cancel the shoot, because I didn’t feel we were ready. It was what I like to call the “Impostor Syndrome” kicking in. Before I do anything hugely important that I am supposed to be good at, like writing, producing, or sex, I get nervous that I won’t be able to deliver the goods. After a moment of self-doubt I remember that I am good at those things and then rise to the occasion. It’s got to the point where if I don’t get that feeling from the “Impostor Syndrome” then I begin to worry, because it means I am about to do something that I don’t really care about.

At around 2pm we got a text from Tanner that Bert was ready, so Trevor went to Pasadena to get him and I went to Ralphs. With that text my nervous feelings disappeared. Before Trevor left, however, I noticed that he too felt we weren’t ready, because he started to have an anxiety attack in the form of shooting off a million questions in panic at me. Before I could answer his first concern he had three more to follow. I simply told him, “Go pick up Bert and we will find a way to make this happen.” That probably wasn’t the most comforting thing to hear when he wanted a definitive solution to ease his uncertainty, but the lack of time only allowed that response.

I despise grocery shopping. I don’t like anywhere with lines and my lack of patience makes searching for specific items a less than enjoyable experience. If I happen to get the wrong product or brand name I feel bad for the person making the meal, because they had a specific item in mind, and I forced them to adjust. I also felt a bit more pressure since Bert is a celebrity and this was a project that could elevate the status of my career. I also don’t cook, unless you count microwaving leftover pizza, so when Bert requested fennel, leeks, and saffron I questioned if those were food items or the name of a law firm.

Nearly $100 for soup. Not going to lie, it was more than worth it.

Ultimately, I didn’t mess up the grocery list too much, other than getting rotten fish, salted butter, and unfresh garlic cloves. Those mishaps ended up providing great footage when Bert cracked on the nastiness of the fish. Fortunately there was a silver lining, because had everything gone to plan, the video probably wouldn’t have been as entertaining. Nice justification on my part, right?

I was happy with the resulting footage because Bert has a great personality, is great at improvising, and really knows his way around the kitchen. I didn’t have to do much other than give Trevor a few questions for conversation purposes and occasionally get the guys back on track when they lost focus.

In post we ended up scrapping the idea of Trevor as the host, because Bert’s personality outshone everyone, which was to be expected since he is the front man of a very popular band. So, when pitching the show we are making Bert the host and he will cook with his celebrity friends in different episodes.

Generally speaking, I am not a fan of soup, because it rarely provides a filling meal. Bert’s cioppino, however, was remarkable. I was full after two bowls, and still wanted more. It was that ridiculously delicious. I also have a love for anything spicy, and the two habaneros he let sit in the pot gave it the ultimate flavoring.

The finished product

We didn’t want the show to be a typical cooking show and I think we accomplished that. The food is secondary in Exclusive Eats. We want the show to have an edge, like something you might see on MTV, Spike or Fuse, which is why it felt like a party atmosphere with multiple people making appearances in the background including me, Tanner, Brandon, Chicken Rich the cat, a cute neighbor girl, and Airin Older, formerly of the band Sugarcult.

The discomfort I experienced in pre-production of not having a set shoot time, and the discomfort I experienced during production of having to do grocery shopping with no food knowledge didn’t compare to the discomfort Trevor and I both experienced in post-production.

My schedule wouldn’t permit me to sit with Trevor while he edited, so I time coded footage and gave him pieces I thought were relevant and usable. He bought a new Macbook and taught himself Final Cut so that we wouldn’t have to call on more favors and wait on other people. So, I can only imagine the discomfort he experienced alone in his workstation.

Hey Trevor, didn’t your Mom ever tell you to sit up straight.

At least the wall at my house is yellow, as opposed to the blank canvas at Trevor’s.

We realized we needed to introduce the video to serve the purpose of a visual pitch so we ventured to Guitar Center on Sunset Boulevard and shot the piece you saw previously. I was totally expecting to be kicked out of the store, but no one said anything to us, probably because they’re used to the shenanigans that result from being located on Sunset.

If we ever decide to start a rock group, this will be the cover of our first album.

Ultimately, we have a lot of people to thank for giving us something to showcase our creativity and commitment to our careers. Tanner stepped up big time by bridging the gap to his friend Bert. Brandon filmed some solid footage for us to use. Our friend Jeremy created the brilliant Exclusive Eats graphic. And obviously we have Bert to thank because without him none of us could showcase our skills.

We all want to reach higher levels in our careers and we know that it requires a support team around you in order to reach the mountaintop. Plus, it’s probably pretty lonely up there if you don’t have people around you that you like.

Clearly I am deep in thought.

To view Bert’s upcoming tour dates visit The Used’s website here.

To get a quote on designs from Jeremy Podger, like the Exclusive Eats design he created, visit his website here.

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#27 Get Foot Tattooed

I’m 26 years old. The longest relationship I’ve been in lasted six months. The longest I’ve held a job was 13 months. In addition to that, I run 25+ miles per week. YOU might think I’m running away from something. YOU might think I have commitment issues.

MY response to that: “I have tattoos.”

Fuck diamonds, tattoos are forever.

The word “unique” has lost it’s meaning due to overuse, but the circumstances in which I got my first tattoo truly created a unique experience. I was working at the Los Angeles Times in 2008 when I proposed a story to an editor about why I was getting my first tattoo on the reality TV show “LA Ink.” This is the resulting story:

http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-myturn8-2008sep08,0,6021396.story

The thing about that tattoo is that it really didn’t hurt. I was distracted from the pain by the cameras in my face. Plus, I have an extremely high tolerance for pain, since I am diabetic and have dealt with needles multiple times a day for the past 14 years. I did the math, and have punctured myself with a needle at least 33,000 times in that time span. That tattoo took about an hour and a half to complete, and it is my most prized possession. It was my only tattoo.

I look nervous, but I was simply listening to direction from the producers.

My buddy Trevor on the other hand has several tattoos. In fact, he has a full sleeve on his left arm. The funny thing is that I got my first tattoo before he got any, and in the time since then he has surpassed me more than tenfold. Tattoos are more addicting than a meth habit.

Nearly every time I see Trevor, which is often, seeing as how we are business partners, he greets me with a, “When are you gonna get some more ink on your skin?” or a “Would you get some more ink on ya already?” Finally, after years of his relentless badgering I finally did my own relenting last Tuesday and decided to get my foot tattooed. Peer pressure is a bitch.

Every Tuesday and Wednesday Trevor’s tattoo artist, Michael Blackstone, drives into Hollywood and knocks out tattoos on any of our friends who want work done. He usually sets up shop in Trevor’s house and tattoos as if we were on a conveyor belt assembly line.

Every Tuesday Trevor tells me to get in on it, but I don’t, because of how calculated I am about making big commitments. Hence why my longest relationship has been six months. That’s usually how long it takes me to realize if someone is or isn’t worth any more of my time. It took me about five years to decide on my first tattoo, because in case you didn’t know, that shit is permanent. Human flesh doesn’t come with an eraser and we don’t operate like an Etch-A-Sketch.

This past Tuesday was different, however, because I had spent the past few months contemplating my next piece. I decided a while back to get tattoos representing my close family members like my Mom, Sister, Uncles, and Grandparents. Those family members are the people I’ve always been able to count on, and it’s somewhat reassuring to have daily reminders of them. So, I wanted something that represents them individually, just like how my quill feather pen represents me. Every time I’m critical of something I’ve written, I will happen to peep that tattoo by pure happenstance and it reminds me that I am actually a good writer.

Trevor has something similar going on in his sleeve for his family members. For example, he has three fish that represent him and his two brothers. He also has a big Samurai warrior that is backed up by other warriors, which represents his family members always having his back.

The first family member that I wanted to honor on my body is my Grandfather. It was easy to think of something that represented him. He is more proud of his service to his country than anything else about himself. He was a machine gunner in the Korean War, and even though he is over 81 years old he still wears his dog tags proudly, which is why I set out to get those tattooed on me. The fact that he spent a couple years of his life manning a machine gun is also due in large part to his bad hearing. A small price to pay, he would say in service to his country.

A few weeks prior I had my sister photograph his dog tags so that Blackstone could have a frame of reference. A big concern of mine was placement of the tattoo. I don’t want any tattoos in a highly visible area, because I still have it in my head that this whole Hollywood dream could be just that, and I may have to go back to the real world where tattoos are not always smiled upon in the 9-5 work force. Deep down, however, I realize that writing is the only thing I know how to do well. I give major credit to Trevor and his sleeve on that front, because he has the balls to go all in.

Upon discussion with Trevor and Blackstone I settled on the area of my right foot with the chain leading up my leg. That is an area that is easily coverable, in addition to being somewhat intimate, since the tattoo is for me and not just an aesthetic attraction for others. Plus, I have nicely defined calves and feet from running.

First, Trevor laid on the tattoo table and spent the ensuing three to four hours in agonizing pain. Blackstone has been working on a large piece on Trevor for some time. It’s really extensive and detailed, and Trevor keeps adding on to it every chance he gets. About three weeks prior, Blackstone moved on to Trevor’s back shoulder. This most recent time he moved on to Trevor’s chest. Both areas were virgin skin, much like my feet. (I’d like to take the time to point out that I avoided the obvious opportunity to make a joke about virginity in a sexual way. I think I deserve some credit there.)

On the agenda for Trevor was a bird over his left chest, in addition to some lightning bolts in the existing tattoo. Trevor is relatively comprised of just bones and a Saran Wrap-like outer layer that he calls skin, so an area like the chest was bound to hurt, which the following picture proves. The most devastating part for Trevor was the lightning bolts when Blackstone switched to a 5 needle. The smaller the number, the more painful the experience.

That is the look of a man possessed.

While Trevor winced in agony, I popped open a large can of Asahi beer and a bottle of painkillers in anticipation of the expected pain I was about to endure. My belief is that there is nowhere bonier on the body than on the top of the foot. (I’d also like to take this time to point out the obvious boner joke I passed on right there.)

In between sips of beer I grabbed a razor and got to work on my right leg. I didn’t know how high up the leg we were going to go, so I started shaving about mid-way up my calf. Like I said previously, I am 26 years old. And with that statement comes the fact that I have 26 years worth of hair attached to my epidermis. Another preface includes the information that I was not in my own house and was handed one of those cheap Bic razors. I’m sure by now that you get the picture. If you don’t here’s an actual picture.

The females in my life told me that I should’ve downhill shaved. That sounds like an Olympic sport I want no part of.

I bled profusely for quite a while. I’m not going to lie, however, because the smoothness of my leg was actually quite pleasant. Ladies, I understand you a little bit better now. Now that I think about it, maybe this blog should’ve been “#27 – Shave My Legs.”

Trevor eventually finished and it became my turn at 11:30pm. But first, dinner. Blackstone and Trevor were hungry. I was fueled up on straight adrenaline, so I could’ve waited. However, I didn’t want Blackstone to pass out with a needle in his hand while he was engraving my foot. Call me crazy, but I think it’s important that my tattoo artist doesn’t pass out.

Watch your eyes. Trevor might poke one out with that nipple.

The pizza place said it would be 45 minutes so Blackstone said, “Lets get crackin.” By this time I was faded and ready to go, so I grabbed my headphones, ignored his hunger and plopped on the table.

Blackstone grabbed his Sharpie’s and went to work freehand drawing on my foot. It was quite the opposite of my first tattoo when Corey Miller pressed an original drawing on my arm and traced the outline from there.

Speechless

The following video, which Trevor shot and edited, showcases the hilarity that ensued amongst friends, including appearances by Brandon Holley and Andrew Pour. Please remember that we were all drunk or on some mind altering substance.

The tattoo process hurt pretty bad. It’s the second most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. The most painful thing was when potassium was pumped from an IV into my vein and slipped out of the vein and into my flesh. Potassium inserted into the vein burns, but potassium inserted into pure flesh basically makes you feel like you’re on fire. A 3 needle while being tattooed is right behind that on my list of discomfort. Mind you, Trevor provided that wincing face in the previous picture as a result of a 5 needle.

Brandon took much pleasure in seeing the 3 needle used on my foot.

I am really happy with the tattoo. I was only nervous during two parts of the process. First when he asked for the proper spelling of the words on the tags. He wrote it out in Sharpie to the right of the intended imprint area, but it began to rub off through the wiping down of the foot. So, right before he tattooed the letters he asked me to re-spell everything and then give it a glance over. He mistook the last “A” in “Sandoval” for an “O,” which I promptly corrected after my heart skipped two whole beats. The only other time I was nervous was when he asked if I wanted black and white, or color. I told him black and white, but he offered up the suggestion of a hybrid silvering effect, which would make it pop. I told him I trusted him, and I’m glad I did because the finished piece looks simply amazing.

I got tattooed by a Jedi.

Prior to this endeavor I didn’t tell my Grandfather of my intentions, because I wanted it to be a surprise. He doesn’t have any tattoos of his own, but he was very supportive of my first tattoo, and since this second one has to do with him I’m sure he won’t hate on it either. This tattoo will serve as a permanent reminder of my Grandfather when he eventually passes. Every time I look at it I will remember the look on his face when he told me his war stories.

Like I said prior, fuck diamonds, tattoos are forever. Plus, if you want a tattoo removed, the scar left behind is far less brutal than the one created by a female.

If you want to get tattooed by Blackstone, you can reach him via Twitter.

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