Monthly Archives: February 2012

#16 – Smoke a Cigarette

The title is a bit misleading because I have smoked a cigarette before, but it was while drunk, so that doesn’t count since I don’t recall the effects of it.

Last week I stopped by my buddy Trevor’s house for a quick business discussion. Always the antagonist, Trevor greeted me with the idea of smoking a cigarette for the blog. I’ll allow Trevor to conduct the introduction.

Personally, I have no idea why people smoke cigarettes. They don’t appeal to me because they smell disgusting and make you hack. On one hand I can count the number of times I’ve smoked a cigarette. Each one of those times was because of a woman.

Back when I was first developing my “game” in Los Angeles it was quite easy to approach a woman who was smoking outside a bar and initiate a conversation over a cig. Trevor and I did it numerous times as newly turned 21 year olds living in the big city. Despite being drunk and not knowing which side to smoke out of, it worked every time. As my game progressed, I no longer needed that tactic.

I don’t know which cigarettes I’ve smoked in the past but Trevor options for American Spirit, which I found appropriate, given my Native American heritage.

I took to the first few puffs quite naturally. I felt like the cigarette was an extension of my hand. I wasn’t feeling any immediate physical or mental effects though. I wondered if maybe it was just like chewing gum, which served as an activity that simply takes up some time and breaks up the monotony of the day. Because chewing gum, and smoking provide absolutely no nutritional value or legitimately necessary purpose.

After a couple minutes, however, I realized what I was putting in my body.

The ironic thing is that in the past I have dated women who were habitual smokers. Clearly I didn’t like them enough to get them to quit, which explains why they are now exes.

In the following video you can see the effects of the cigarette. I start to hack, and my hands were tingling. I didn’t like the feeling.

Later that day my body felt numb, I developed a headache, and I was a bit nauseous. The cig had taken its tole.

The effects of my first sober cigarette reminded me of when I started drinking alcohol and didn’t like it the first time, but eventually grew accustomed to it because of the associated social aspect. I imagine that’s the same thing with cigarettes. Fortunately, I don’t hang around people who smoke with regularity, so I don’t think I’ll ever smoke again. Of course that outcome could change in the future with the involvement of a woman.

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#15 – Learn Beginning Guitar Chords

I don’t believe in absolutes, except one: all rock stars want to be comedians and all comedians want to be rock stars.

Unfortunately, I cringe with terror when someone walks on to a comedy stage with a guitar, because the resulting sound is intolerably unfunny and not musically satisfying.

I’ve often seen musicians like Dave Grohl, Dr. Dre, and John Legend hanging out at comedy clubs. I’ve also witnessed comedians like Sam Kinison, Bobcat Goldthwait, and George Lopez open for bands. The worlds often mix.

I am not one of those people in comedy who wants to be a rock star, because my ego isn’t big enough to think I am musically talented. I am barely capable of writing a one-liner and thinking it’s just passingly funny.

In fact, I have never picked up a musical instrument, unless you count a triangle in sixth grade music class. Last Friday, however, my friend Antoinette set out to teach me the beginning chords of guitar playing.

I have known Antoinette since my sophomore year of college when we worked on the student newspaper at Cal State San Marcos. As you can imagine, I ruffled some feathers with my writing, and she always defended me when she overheard shit talkers. She’s also one of three people from college I still talk to, and the only one I still see. Clearly I trust her, and I don’t trust many people, especially when it comes to a person teaching me something.

I learn best when teaching myself, but Antoinette is a college professor, so if anyone could teach me how to do something she would be the one.

Antoinette sat me down, busted out her guitar named “Simon” and then pulled out another guitar for me to learn on. She handed me a guitar pick and then pulled out a tuner. I explained that I wasn’t so clueless that I didn’t know what a pick was, but that I wasn’t informed enough to know how to use a tuner. She explained to me that guitars quickly get out of tune and you need to adjust them before playing. Apparently, the weather can also affect the tuning of a guitar. Who knew? Probably musicians, I guess.

I had no idea an adjustment needed to be made prior to playing. I just assumed you could pick up the wooden box with a strap and start strumming. After we tuned our guitars Antoinette showed me how to properly hold the guitar and instructed me where to place my left hand. From there she showed me which fingers go where to properly play the G chord.

Nailed it...I think.

I had some difficulty keeping my fingers steady at first. I felt like I was playing the board game Operation, because the slightest touching of a string I wasn’t supposed to touch caused an awful sound. I eventually got that chord down and we moved on to the D chord.

I effortlessly nailed the D chord and was starting to get more comfortable with the contraption in my hands. Antoinette assured me that I was adjusting quickly, given my lack of musical experience. The only issue I had was that my left hand started to cramp up. We had only been holding the guitars for a little less than a half hour and I was experiencing some discomfort. I half expected that issue to arise, because as I’ve stated before, my hands and fingers are pretty jacked up from being a diabetic and breaking them on multiple occasions.

We took a short break from the lesson so I could crack my knuckles, and Antoinette told me that if I got into guitar playing then I should consider a Hendrix guitar. Apparently Hendrix had his guitar strung in the opposite direction so he could play with his right hand. My right hand is my pimp hand so it would make sense that I too played with that hand. That is no doubt the only thing I will ever have in common with Hendrix, that is unless I die from choking on my own vomit or one day become a black man.

I think this is the D chord.

We then moved on to the C chord and I eventually got the hang of that one. Through a gradual and slow process I was able to figure out each chord, but I couldn’t possibly imagine stringing those chords together throughout a song with the addition of other chords. I imagine it would become easier through repetition and practice, but I don’t foresee having the energy to make that happen.

Don't take my word that this is the C chord.

Antoinette proved to be a great teacher, since that’s what she does for a living after all. I don’t think I will be pursuing guitar playing as a hobby, however, because my hands just don’t have the dexterity for the practice. I do have a newfound respect for musicians, however, because I didn’t realize the complexities associated with the art form. I guess when it comes down to it even crappy bands like Nickelback have some talent.

Antoinette's next guitar student is down there on the floor.

In my case, I’m glad my fingers won’t allow me to have musical talent, because the last thing the world needs is another guitar comedian.

I'm thinking about every hacky guitar comic I've ever seen. That's why I'm smiling.

To see Antoinette’s guitar playing skills, click here. To listen to her newly launched podcast, click here. To read her blog, click here.

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#14 – Live In My Sister’s Shadow

I rarely judge a book by its cover, but Graffiti Moon, which was released last Tuesday, is the greatest book in the history of literature. I haven’t read the book, but I make my evaluation based on the book cover.

I don

I should probably mention that my sister Jamaica Sandoval took the picture adorning the cover. And yes, my sister’s name is Jamaica.

In spring 2011 my sister got an e-mail from someone at Random House Publishing asking if she would be interested in selling the book publisher one of her photos for an upcoming release. Jamaica thought it was a joke, much like people think her name is when they hear it.

A lot of people in my family have artistic talents that we’ve been able to monetize. My Uncle Rene the comedian. My Grandmother Gloria the hairdresser. Me the writer. My sister just so happened to find an interest in photography.

Jamaica takes a camera with her everywhere, and not just the one installed in a phone. Interestingly, however, she rarely shows off her work, instead she usually just posts her photos to

One of the photos she took last year was of her friends inside some sort of large drainage pipe. It’s a wonderful photo, of which I can’t explain the intricacies in how it was created.

A representative from Random House was searching through and came across my sister’s picture. The representative offered Jamaica a deal for the rights to the picture, which included monetary incentives for each form of the book. On Tuesday the book was published in hardcover and audio.

Now here’s how I tie in her accomplishment into something I’ve never done before. On Tuesday I lived in my sister’s shadow.

I am six years older than Jamaica, which means that I’ve had a head start in life. Pretty much every milestone she’s reached is one I did six years prior, like graduations and birthdays. Then I started my career when I was 18 years old and my name started to appear in bylines for news outlets and in the credits of TV shows. Those accomplishments casted a big shadow on her, because she witnessed my family put together binders of my article clippings and tune into my TV shows. She watched me receive a lot of praise and attention.

Tuesday was really the first opportunity for my sister’s aspirations to cast a huge shadow over me. So, I visited Barnes & Noble to purchase the book and fully embrace what it felt like not to be the beneficiary of my family’s attention resulting from my sister’s unique accomplishment.

Graffiti Moon is a teen fiction novel, so instead of looking like a weirdo perusing the teen fiction aisles I approached the customer service desk and asked an employee to help me find the book. The woman behind the counter told me the book had just come in and they hadn’t had time to put it on the shelves yet, so she went to the back and got me a copy.

When she returned with the book I felt the need to tell her that my sister did the cover photo for the book. When I did, she told me, “you must be very proud.”

I was proud of my sister, but her accomplishment also hurt me a bit. I’ve been trying to get in touch with publishers for about a year to talk to them about a book I’ve written. It’s been pretty hard to knock down their doors. I wasn’t mad that Random House contacted my sister, but she didn’t go knocking on their door like I had been for a while. For the past few months I had done everything I could to suppress those feelings of jealousy, because I just hoped that she appreciated the accomplishment, because only so many people can say their work is available in a bookstore.

I don

My work is actually available in a bookstore too, but it’s not nearly as impressive as my sister’s accomplishment. As a result of my time reviewing books for outlets like the Los Angeles Times, I am quoted several times in the second editions of books. More often than not, however, the publisher simply credits the media outlet and not the writer, so I know it’s my words but no one else does. My sister actually gets to see her name in a book.

This is an excerpt from the inside cover of The Chris Farley Show. This was the first book review I did for the LA Times.

My sister’s passion for photography is evident, witnessed by the various cameras and equipment she uses. She also does something that anyone with a particular area of expertise does. She gets frustrated whenever someone is taking a picture in her presence and is having struggles with the camera. I react the same way when someone is writing in my presence. She then can’t explain what the person should be doing, because it’s a talent that comes naturally to her. I call it the Wayne Gretzky syndrome. He was a horrible coach, because he had natural skills, which allowed him to become “The Great One.” When it came time to teaching how to play hockey, he couldn’t pass on a lot of knowledge, because he couldn’t relate to the average player.

I don’t know where my sister is going to take her photography skills. All I know is that the $60 dollars I earned for my first ever published article when I was 18 years old doesn’t compare to the significantly higher amount my sister received from Random House at age 19.

When I paid for the book I once again boasted about my sister, telling the cashier of her accomplishment. Once out the store I sent my sister a picture text message of me holding the book. She responded saying how she hadn’t even seen it yet. Then the other family members hit me up, asking if I had seen it. My sister was officially the talk of the family.

It felt good to live in my sister’s shadow for a day. I truly hope I get to experience that on a regular basis. Hell, maybe she’ll even do the cover photo for my first published book.

Or at the very least I hope she signs my copy of Graffiti Moon.

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#10 – Go Skydiving

I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life, but usually not intentionally.

I went skydiving last Sunday, and without question, it’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever done in my life.

Two thumbs up during pre-jump flight prep.

I generally don’t do crazy things unless I have a good reason to do it. My friend and colleague Trevor Wayne is quite the opposite of me. He very much does things just for an experience, so when he invited me to go skydiving for his 26th birthday it really didn’t surprise me even though I am well aware of his fear of heights.

Me and Trevor mean muggin’ in the face of death.

We were supposed to jump out of an airplane on January 8, but the skydiving school cancelled our dive due to poor weather conditions. I was quite happy, because I was not my normal self. Comedian friends had been passing away one after another due to illnesses and accidents they could not control. Here I was, choosing to participate in an activity that laughed directly in death’s face. It just didn’t seem right.

I spent that extra week conducting research to ease my mind. I asked friends who had skydived what it felt like. I also found out that only something like 1 in every 100,000 people die from skydiving. That extra week of research got me back to my normal self.

Trevor rescheduled the trip and I was psyched to go. My excitement was quickly shattered, because the forecast called for rain. By canceling our trip two times in a row I couldn’t help but feel that the universe was sending me a sign not to jump. Trevor then rescheduled the jump for January 29 and I knew I couldn’t back out. I had spent nearly a month telling everyone about my intentions to risk my life. I would have looked like a pussy if I backed out.

Ultimately, even though I prefer to be alone most of the time, I knew I would never skydive unless I did it with other people. And I knew it would have to be with Trevor, because it’s no coincidence that some of the craziest experiences of my life have been with him.

Trevor was at the dinner table when Suge Knight made me touch the bullet in his head. Trevor ran down Rodeo Drive with me to deliver life-sized cardboard cutouts of us to Ron Howard & Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment to get a pitch meeting. And Trevor was with me when I talked our way out of being arrested in Hollywood.

Other people in Trevor’s life had the same feeling that skydiving required a commune, because six other people joined, five of whom had never done it before. It was certainly an interesting group of people since Trevor is a paparazzo for TMZ. Some of his co-workers joined, in addition to his roommate Brandon Holley, who is also a good friend of mine.

Brandon, aka “Branville” is a clothing designer and also happens to be the personal assistant to a very well known musical artist. He is by far the craziest person I know. He’s always the life of the party, and I guarantee you’ve never met anyone who rages harder than him.

Branville parties for a living.

Brandon has more lives than a cat, so I knew if he was going skydiving then I would survive, because he survives everything. I know that doesn’t make sense, but I was searching for something to grasp on to.

Branville didn’t see this notice until after the fact.

I wasn’t nervous in the hours before the jump. I was actually quite calm. I think I got rid of all the nerves in the prior weeks. I could tell that Trevor and Brandon had a lot of nervous energy though. Judge for yourself and take a look at the footage of our drive from North Hollywood to Perris.

Once we got to the skydiving school it suddenly became serious as we saw people parachuting downward. A lady met us and took us into a room where she pressed play on a video that was supposed to teach us about what we were about to experience. We paid attention for the first few seconds, then started making jokes, and the rest of the video was no longer audible.

Clearly we are taking our safety very serious.

From there, we were taken to another room where the lady made us fill out some paperwork, and give a testimonial on camera that we were jumping based on our own free will, so that if something did go wrong then our families couldn’t sue.

Trevor was quite passe about reading aloud his consent to die.

I had to lie on my paperwork because it asked if I had any illnesses that would prevent me from jumping. It listed diabetes as an example. I didn’t want to risk them not allowing me to jump, so I didn’t list it.

I’m ready to die.

After we signed our lives away, we paid up, took a bathroom break, checked out the premises, and our names were called over the loudspeaker.

Trevor tried to get some alone time in order to get in the right mindset. Our buddy Clayton, who wasn’t jumping, decided to get him pumped up instead.

We were taken to get geared up and introduced to the person we’d be attached to and in charge of our lives 12,5000 feet up in the sky. My jump instructor Brett introduced himself, and said that when it was our turn to exit the plane that I should get on my right knee, rock once to my left, then once to my right and then out the airplane door. That was it.

I thought we were going to have to go through a whole class, in a room fully equipped with a chalkboard or something. I simply prayed that there was nothing important on that video we joked our way through.

As we walked our way to the plane, Brett said I didn’t look nervous. Truthfully, I wasn’t worried at all. He said it would probably hit me once we were on the plane though. It didn’t.

The plane ride up to 12,500 feet lasted about 10 minutes. I was sitting in between Brandon & his jump instructor and Trevor & his jump instructor. As we reached the destined height, our instructors told us to sit in their lap. That’s not the first time another dude has made that request of me, but it’s certainly the first time I obliged.

Our instructors strapped us on to them. I gave a fist pound to Trevor, who looked more pale than milk and then I shot a look over to Brandon who looked like Trevor’s mirror image. It still hadn’t hit me, and I still wasn’t frightened. I told Trevor, “I’m scared that I’m not scared,” and then walked toward the open door. The strap over my left shoulder was somewhat loose, and slipped off for a second. I immediately put it right back on, and didn’t think about that until later.

I left my body at that point. Somehow I got on my right knee, rocked to my left, rocked to my right, and threw me and Brett out the open door. I was told that in the first few seconds before I hit maximum speed during the free fall that I’d get that pit in my stomach feeling you experience on a roller coaster. That feeling never came, which means I am more likely to skydive again then take a seat on a roller coaster.

I could stare at this for hours.

I was told that we freefell for a minute. That was by far the quickest minute of my life. It’s a feeling that is incomparable to any other feeling. I was not frightened at all. I didn’t even think once about the possibility that either of the parachutes wouldn’t open. I simply enjoyed the view of the Perris mountain range and the feeling of being weightless.

Before the flight, Brett told me how to pull the parachute cord, but I told him I’d leave that up to him and his 25 years of jump experience. If he needed a joke at the 5,000 feet level to save our lives then I told him to tap me on the shoulder.

Once he pulled open the parachute, the noise from the freefall stopped, and it was such a sudden shock that I felt like I died. Nothing was audible. Then Brett shouted, “The chute opened. It’s smooth sailing from here. Now try to find some words to describe that.”

What a view.

The parachuting part was fun, but it doesn’t compare to the adrenaline rush from the freefall. It’s a little awkward dangling there, even though the view is awesome. Other than needing that part of the process to live, I could do without it.

Once we got closer to the ground Brett told me to lift my legs because we were going to land on our ass. When my butt hit the grass I felt a sense of relief while holding on to the adrenaline of the experience. I got up off the ground, gave a hug to Brett, and walked over to Brandon and the other guys who landed before me. We then watched as Trevor came down.

Something didn’t look right as he was approaching. He wasn’t lifting his feet, and he looked really limp. Once he landed, he laid on his stomach for a minute, and his jump instructor checked on him. I approached and he lifted his head, so I knew he was OK. He told us that he nearly blacked out, almost threw up, and that the left side of his body went numb after the free fall.

Once he reached ground, he said he couldn’t wait to do it again. Brandon immediately said he wanted to try base-jumping. As for me, I think I’m good never doing it again.

It was a great experience, but I didn’t really feel the extreme rush that I was expecting, which seemed like everyone else experienced. I wasn’t afraid going into it. I wasn’t nervous during the process. I get more of a rush writing something under a tight deadline. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, because the way people talked about it going into it I was expecting a way more intense feeling, almost life changing, like some had described.

After a few minutes back on the ground, I texted friends and family that I landed safely. A few weeks prior to the initial jump I informed my Mom of my intent, and she told me not to tell her when I was doing it, and just to tell her when I landed. When I called her after the fact, she was fascinated by my details of the experience, knowing then that I was safe. The reaction that shocked me the most was when I told my Grandfather, and he responded by telling me that he did it over 60 years ago when he was in the military. He signed up to be a paratrooper in the Korean War before ending up as a machine gunner. I don’t think anyone else in the family knew about his daredevil intentions. Maybe war-like circumstances would’ve given me the rush I was looking for.

Regardless, skydiving is definitely something that I recommend, because despite my calm attitude it was a fun experience. The best part for me is that I am able to say this crazy statement: “I’ve jumped out of an airplane.”

I am afraid, however, to find out what experience will make me crap my pants.

Oh, and I got this piece of paper recognizing my stupidity.

Video of my skydive can be seen here. It starts shortly after the school’s promo. My favorite part is that I didn’t even realize what my face was doing, and that my chain kept nailing my instructor in the face.

Video of Trevor’s skydive can be seen here. My favorite part is when the instructor pulls the chute and Trevor asks his instructor if they’re OK. Also make sure to check out Trevor on Twitter here.

Video of Branville’s skydive can be seen here. My favorite part is when he plugs his Branville clothing line at the end. Also make sure to check out Branville on Twitter here.

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