Monthly Archives: February 2012

#17 – Get Chiropractic Adjustment

Earlier this month I shared my experience about getting a massage for the first time. That was carefully planned out. I had the opportunity to prepare myself for any expected discomfort.

Last week, I got a chiropractic adjustment for the first time in my life, and I had absolutely no time to prepare for it. I only bring up the massage in the same breath, because both processes involved lying down on a table in a vulnerable position.

I have numerous employers, but my bosses at one place are by far the best. They hire a chiropractor to come to the office and give chiropractic adjustments to their employees. This employer shall remain nameless, because otherwise everyone will be asking me to get hooked up. That’s also why there will be no pictures accompanying this post, since you would easily be able to recognize the company.

Boss #1 was across the building getting her adjustment when Boss #2 approached me, asking if I wanted to get one too. Initially I declined. I’ve never actually believed that chiropractic adjustments worked. I thought it was kind of new age, and I’m more of a believer in scientific medicine, given that I’m a diabetic and that’s what keeps me alive.

A few minutes passed and Boss #2 got his adjustment, followed by two co-workers. Boss #2 came back to me and asked if I was sure that I didn’t want one. As he finished his inquiry I heard one female co-worker scream with pleasure at the end of her adjustment.

“OK, I have to try it now,” I told Boss #2. I’m not a masochist by any means, but there’s something enjoyable about a little bit of pain. That’s part of why I enjoy tattoos.

I walked up to the table and the Doctor told me to lie down on my back. He stood behind my head, lifted up my neck from the back and to the left and in a quick motion snapped it to the right. Holy crap that felt good. He then did the same motion from right to left.

From there he moved down to my lower body. He grabbed my right leg, bended it at the knee, put his body weight on my leg. He then moved me on my left side, and snapped back in the opposite direction. He followed with the same move on my opposite side. It felt like someone set off some firecrackers in my body.

Finally, he got behind my head again and told me to lock my hands behind my neck. He then had me sit up, and he leaned me up against his knees. He moved down my back, snapping it three different times, making me sound like a Rice Crispy Treat because I Snapped, Crackled, and Popped.

I got up off the table, and immediately felt a relief of pressure on my body. He told me I had way too much stress on my body for being such a young guy. That’s what I get for spending most of my day sitting with a computer on my lap.

The Doctor told me that the adjustment is only temporary and he gave me some pressure releasing exercises I could implement myself. I had trouble focusing on the complexities of what he was showing me, because I was too busy enjoying my relaxed state of mind.

I enjoyed the chiropractic adjustment more than the massage, mainly because of the time factor. I have a tight schedule and can’t fit in an hour massage on a regular basis. I understand that the practices are focusing on different components of the body, but a more relaxed state of being is the ultimate goal, and the one that takes completion quicker is the best one for me.

Five days later the chiropractor visited the office again, and Boss #2 didn’t have to ask me twice if I wanted another adjustment. I jumped right on the table to get a second helping of Rice Crispy Treats.

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#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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#13 – Shop at a Thrift Store

I’m a Veteran of Old NAVY because the Salvation ARMY never recruited me.

I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes. I’m an Old Navy type of guy. Macy’s is the most luxurious store I shop at. But I’m also not a cheap skate, proven by my first ever visit to the Salvation Army thrift store last Saturday.

I’ve donated plenty of clothing over the years, but usually I would drop off bags at Park-N-Ride locations right off the freeway where the Salvation Army places trucks. I never visited one of their stores as a customer simply because it seems creepy to wear clothes that once belonged to a complete stranger. I don’t know where that person has been.

Over the years, however, I’ve come across friends with particularly interesting clothing and asked them where they got it. When they told me their golden nugget was found in a thrift store I was somewhat astonished. It never registered with me that I too could add to my wardrobe with a visit to a thrift store.

There’s a Salvation Army thrift store near my house, which I’ve passed by numerous times.

Look at that troika making a charge into the store.

A bed greeted me at the doorway. I had no idea that the Salvation Army sold things other than clothes. I then wondered if the store was like IKEA, and it also had cheap food to offer up. Once fully in the store, a musky smell entered my nostrils. The stench was reminiscent of old people, combined with sadness, and a touch of religion.

I'd take a black light to that bed before using it.

I didn’t realize the Salvation Army is ran by the Christian Church until I saw hymns painted on the wall and read their mission statement in a pamphlet. Earnings from their efforts help out the less fortunate.

I didn’t find Jesus while in the store, but here’s a sampling of things I did peruse:

"I'll know I've made it as an author when my book is for sale in a thrift store." - Mark Twain's epitaph.

I finally made my way to the clothes section. I contemplated buying a hat, but decided against it.

Evian spelled backwards equals Naive. Evian spelled backwards in a thrift store equals Lice.

Then I saw the tie rack, and since I taught myself how to tie a tie, I momentarily considered adding a new tie to my collection. Well, technically, it’s a used tie. I didn’t find anything special in the rack, so I moved on to the shirts section.

All those ties had to of come from the same closet.

A yellow shirt caught my eye, so I went to the rack thinking that it was a Lakers jersey, since from a distance I didn’t see any sleeves. I separated the surrounding clothing to find this vest, which is why I moved on to the pants section.

I want to meet the person who buys this.

I didn’t spend a long time in that area of the store, because the thought popped in my head that my junk would be resting in the same area that another dude’s balls called home. I’m sure the Salvation Army washes clothes before throwing them on the rack, but I wasn’t about to take that chance before using a dressing room to test the comfort of pre-worn pants. It just seemed too personal.

I was starting to lose hope that I would find a head turning piece of clothing. I still had one more section to explore, however, and I told myself I couldn’t leave empty handed.

Interestingly enough, the sweater section is located right next to the bras section. Ladies, if you’re buying your bras at the Salvation Army you’re probably better off not even wearing a bra.

As luck would have it, my search immediately ended with my first step into the sweater section when I found this gem.

I hope this sweater was intended to be a joke.

How could I not buy that sweater? It was only marked with a cost of $3.99 dollars. I didn’t even check out the size of it. How racist do you have to be to get rid of a sweater trying to end racism? Either that, or the original owner felt racism has been eliminated?

To my surprise, the cashier notified me that everything in the store was 25 percent off for the whole day. Score! I probably should’ve gone back and bought that bed for $10 dollars. I was content, however, with my new sweater, so I rushed home to try it on.

I ended racism. You're welcome. Now when is my national holiday?

My visit to the Salvation Army taught me that the store is kind of a like a retirement home for personal belongings. It’s where items go to die if no one wants them. Overall, however, I felt the trip was a success, even though the sweater was two sizes too big at Extra Large. I donated to the Christian Church so they could help those in need. And I ended racism. All that simply with the purchase of a sweater. What did you do last Saturday? Probably not end racism.

Just in case you didn't know the definition of "Eracism."

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#12 – Get a Massage

Things have been going well for me lately, both professionally and personally, and I owe a lot of that to this blog.

In addition to becoming a well-rounded individual, my intention with this blog was to monetize my efforts. To my surprise, I accomplished that in three weeks. Several outlets have contacted me to write for them, including Men’s Fitness Magazine. While I was perusing the other day I noticed an article about how getting a massage after a workout improves muscle recovery.

I had never received a professional massage before, and since I work out like a maniac I figured it could do my body good to at least try it.

I enter most things with a bit of skepticism. I need people to prove things to me. I am just built that way. So, on Wednesday I entrusted another human being to show me that massage therapy could be beneficial like my magazine had informed me.

I did a Yelp search for massage places in my area and found a few in a two-mile radius. With nothing deciphering any of them from the other I chose the one that had hours of operation posted.

I jumped in the shower before I left, mainly in consideration for the person rubbing me down.

When I arrived at the shop I didn’t really know what to expect because of the way films depict massage parlors, especially ones in the San Fernando Valley. Jokes usually revolve around how lonely perverts visit them for happy endings (see Hall Pass).

Classy spot, eh?

The nice lady at the front desk took my $40 dollars and showed me to a room where she instructed me to take my clothes off. She said my masseuse would join me in a minute.

I placed my size 7 5/8 head in that heart shaped hole.

The masseuse knocked on the door a minute later and asked if I was ready. I hadn’t fully de-clothed because I was too busy admiring the artwork and listening to the soft chiming music that wafted from the speakers.

Talk about ambiance.

I threw my clothes on the chair and got under the blanket on the massage table. I vehemently hoped that the masseuse was an ugly chick. I didn’t know how a certain body part would behave if she happened to be hot. She knocked again, and introduced herself. Unfortunately, she was beautiful. All I could do was hope that body part would behave itself.

The first question she asked was if I could handle low, medium, or high strength. I told her to give all that she could, because I have a high tolerance for pain. Plus, I gave her a once over and didn’t think that all 5-feet-2-inches, and 100 pounds of her could hurt me too bad.

She took my arms and dangled them over the side of the table. She began on my right side and worked her way from my shoulder all the way down to my feet. She then moved over to my left side and did the same. It was very relaxing, and wasn’t painful at all.

I nearly started singing Method Man’s “Bring The Pain,” because I expected way more of it. Why was she going so easy, or was she just trying to ease me in? No sooner did those thought cross my mind before she moved back to my right side and got on top of me with all her force. She immediately found a knot in my upper back and went to town on it. It didn’t bother me too much at first, but after a good 30 seconds I was on the verge of tears. She frequently asked if I was OK, to which I responded with muttered moans of yes.

There were so many pops echoing off my body that I felt like I was made of bubble wrap. She then moved down to my lower back on the right side and found more knots. Apparently I built up a lot of tension over the past 26 years.

She then grabbed the towel and lifted it up to work on my ass region, before moving down to my thighs and legs. She tapped me twice on my rear and told me to stop clenching. I didn’t realize I was doing that, but it’s not everyday that someone is massaging my hairy ass.

She repeated the previous process on my left backside. By far, the most pleasurable part of the massage was when she worked on my legs, because I have put them through hell over the past year since I took up running.

After she finished my backside she left the room for a minute and returned with some hot towels. After she toweled off the oils she told me to roll over on my back so she could do the front side.

She then worked on the front side of each area. Each time she moved to a new region she lifted the blanket completely off of me, which brings me to wonder why she originally knocked on the door, considering every time she lifted the blanket my penis and bare ass greeted her. Not to mention she straight up massaged the ass area, and got quite close to the balls and taint. Is that normal, or was I raped?

While I laid on my back, the one body part I was concerned about causing some embarrassment ended up behaving itself nicely. Not sure how I would have handled that situation. My buddy Trevor told me he went to a similar style massage place where his masseuse asked at the end if he wanted a happy ending. Trevor passed, because the masseuse was a dude. Just playing, about the dude part, but his female masseuse seriously asked if he wanted one. I think my masseuse might have asked me if I was standing at attention.

After she finished with my ankles she notified me the hour was up and recommended that I go with the deep tissue massage next time, because of the gigantic knots in my back that she did her best to work out. The hour went by quickly, and the moment she left the room I felt like a ton of bricks had been removed from my back. My legs also felt lighter when I stood up to get dressed.

Once my clothes were back on I opened the door and she was waiting for me with a cup of water. I gave her a tip and the lady at the front desk asked me how I felt. I told her I’d definitely be back, because I could notice the difference in my appearance and comfort level.

I noticed a difference because my neck isn't hiding in my shoulders like it normally does.

I figured I’d surely be sore the next day, because she stimulated muscles I didn’t even know I had. Incredibly it didn’t even take that long for the soreness to kick in. When I got home I sat down to do some work, and after two hours I got up off my desk chair and could already feel the effects of the massage. All I wanted to do the following morning was lay in bed.

I’m generally not a person who enjoys being in a state of vulnerability, but I have to say that I most certainly will be getting a massage again. That is unless I was raped, and you’re just not telling me.

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#11 – Attend A Protest

“Are people still Occupying?”

I had that question last week, because the media has stopped covering that story. A few months ago the Occupy Wall Street movement was the headline story on a daily basis for all media outlets. The movement then spread to other cities like Oakland and Los Angeles, which received some recognition. I recall lying in bed the night the police removed the Occupy LA protestors from the city hall park, and thinking that they should just wait one more day because Los Angeles was expecting high winds that could’ve blew the protestors away the next day.

I admired the efforts of the 99 percent forging an allegiance against the 1 percent, even though they were the brunt of a number of jokes I wrote. To believe in something so much that you’re willing to camp out like a homeless person while police threaten arrest is pretty impressive. I don’t even like camping out under normal circumstances in a cabin or tent.

As I watched the evacuation of the park I thought the movement was over, because subsequently the media stopped covering the protest. Little did I know, the movement didn’t stop. People were still Occupying. I got word of it via a Twitter update from someone who retweeted something from @OccupyLA.

I believe I have some pretty strong opinions, but not so much that I take to the streets to share them. I also have values, but if they require me to go out of my way to spread the word of those values I usually pass. Because of that, I had never attended a protest until last Wednesday when I made my way to city hall to participate in the Occupy LA movement.

I got information from the Occupy LA Twitter account that general assembly meetings occur on the footsteps of city hall every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 7:30 pm. Apparently, even protestors need a few days off.

I made my way down to city hall at 7pm, and found parking immediately in front of the building of my old employer, the Los Angeles Times. I got there early because I think it would be bad form to show up late to a protest. I figured it takes longer to make things change if you show up late.

I explored the area and noticed that the park was gated off. I assumed the city shut down access to the park so as not to encourage the Occupy LA protestors to set up their shantytown again. When I arrived to the assembly location there was a few scattered individuals lining the steps. I forgot to leave my S Pellegrino water bottle in the car, and hoped that the protestors didn’t think I was part of the 1 percent because of my choice in beverage.

All I want to do is play on the swing set.

I certainly had some assumptions in my head for the type of people I expected to see at the assembly. The media did its typical stereotyping of protestors as crazy people when the movement was at its strongest, but they also depicted some reasonable individuals. I figured I’d see more of the crazy people left over, since the passionately crazy individuals would be the ones who stuck around despite the lack of attention.

My assumption was somewhat accurate when I arrived and one dude would not stop shrieking. He wasn’t even shrieking words of coherence. It was just a loud sound of noise and I seemed to be the only one who was bothered by his high pitch sound. I couldn’t hear what anyone else was saying because for some reason he took a liking to me. Maybe he sensed my new blood. I knew I should have left my Pellegrino water in the car. Either way, he was ruining my ability to Occupy. In fact he was driving me away.

The assembly started right on the dot at 7:30pm and everyone gathered in closely almost like a rugby scrum. There were about 65 people who showed up, which was significantly less than the hundreds that were camping out when the movement first started. It was kind of sad, because it could have been mistaken for a class field trip if it had been daytime, since everyone in attendance was relatively young. I guess protesting is a young man’s game. At one point the shrieker looked at me and tried to get me to join the scrum with him. I was having no part of that though. I should’ve taken a picture of the shrieker, but I didn’t want to encourage him into thinking that I was approving of his behavior, and plus I didn’t know if it would freak him out even more.

Prior to this attempt to join a protest, the only other time I had been in an atmosphere of a similar nature was when Michael Moore was scheduled to come to my college campus at California State University, San Marcos. The Dean banned his visit, and instead of speaking to a few hundred kids the Association Students Incorporated moved his speaking engagement to the off-campus location at the Del Mar Fairgrounds where over 10,000 people joined to listen to his rally with peace advocate and musician Joan Baez. That event received national news, and elicited positive change, because Moore sponsored a scholarship in his name each year to one lucky CSUSM student who stuck it to the man the hardest like he had been known to do.

The energy at that assembly was electric, but even then I felt like Moore was trying to brain wash me. I received the same feeling when the shrieker was trying to gather me in with his friends. It’s a feeling I don’t like, even though I admire both of their efforts. I like to be allowed to observe and then make a decision if I want to join the cause.

Clearly the LA Times knows the Occupy movement is still going down. They can see it from their front yard.

So, I skipped my way on out of there back to my car. I had seen enough to realize that even though the Occupy movement was still going on, it had lost significant steam. My protesting efforts weren’t going to help either, but before I completely left downtown, however, I had one more stop to make.

I had to visit my old employer. That's the Globe Lobby in the background. That face should tell you how I feel about The Times.

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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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